The Mac Lab

Tag: featured

Release the Parking Brake!

by on May.15, 2009, under Blog

bugatti_01_smVery minor spoiler: While the other starships warp away near the beginning of the new Star Trek film, the Enterprise, flagship of the fleet, remains in place with Sulu frantically trying to figure out what he’s done wrong. You can almost hear him thinking, I’ve engaged warp drive. Why isn’t the ship moving? Finally Spock calmly suggests, Did you release the external inertial dampeners? (Or at least that’s what I think I remember him saying.) And of course, that was the problem. Away warps the Enterprise and the movie shifts into high gear. (Major spoilers here.)

Ah, if only I had a Spock to calmly suggest what it was I forgot to do when one of my flagships is stalled at spacedock as other students begin their respective journeys. It happens every year. A veteran student, one I know is destined to go where no Mac Lab artist has gone before, boldly goes… nowhere. Time ticks by. I try to reach the student with every strategy I can think of. I encourage. I reason. I suggest. I cajole. I prod. I threaten. I YELL! No wait, I never yell. I communicate LOUDLY! Cold shoulder. Bad grades. Calls home. Nasty glares. Blatant flattery. One-on-ones. Nothing works! Mr. Sulu, why aren’t we moving?

Oh, it’s not as if he didn’t do anything all year long. Here’s the killer poster that’s plastered all over the school. Have you seen the HUGE version (low light, no flash, bad pic) in the lobby upstairs? And just when I thought Alex S was destined to aimlessly orbit the Earth and burn up in the atmosphere as gravity won the battle, off he goes at warp 9! Take a look at this presentation of his Bugatti, modeled from scratch in Cinema 4D and assembled/enhanced in Photoshop. That is what I’ve been waiting for! The lost time can never be recovered but it’s a lesson that both Alex and I can learn from. Don’t let opportunities slip through your fingers.

I have no doubt that Alex has a bright future and will leave his mark on the industry as he moves into the next phase of his life. He’s a talented young man and his work in here will inspire other students for years to come. Here’s one of his many Websites from last year. Right from the start, Alex embraced the curriculum and using the Flash tutorials here (I think he went back to Flash 8 days. Could be wrong about that.) and here. He quickly mastered techniques to build practically anything he could imagine. Same with Photoshop. A tutorial here (or was it here?) and there and he’s off and running in yet another direction. Every year I’m fortunate enough to have a few rookies who not only follow the rules, they embrace the curriculum and shoot ahead of some second and third year students. It’s a joy to behold! Alex was one of those students. Here’s to an equally strong finish.

Some interesting news from China, Taiwan, and New Jersey (among other places). It’ll have to wait though, as a few students and I have a field trip to Grossmont College in a few minutes and I’ve still got to leave the sub notes.

Abduzeedo: Gee whiz, I wonder who could be featured in today’s Daily Inspiration? 😉

Visitors: 17 countries and 12 states yesterday. Stuck on 81 and 46 respectively. Updated maps on Monday.

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Good News and Bad News and Good News

by on Apr.29, 2009, under Blog

bird_thing_02_smLisa R was another of those talented underclassmen who got away. Well, moved away, but it amounts to the same thing as we didn’t get to see her artistic growth after she left. She was constantly drawing. We didn’t have Illustrator back then so I believe she used Flash for much of her work. Photoshop, of course, also played its roll. So, in the spirit of her ghoul-in-the-box, I have something(s) to reveal.

Good News: Fadi G and Chelsea B took 2nd and 3rd place respectively in Beginning Commercial Digital Illustration. Way to go! I hope many of you will be able to make it to Parkway Friday around 5:00 to celebrate with them.

Bad News: The advanced students got shut out. I’m really looking forward to seeing what won as I still believe our five entries were absolutely pro. I couldn’t be prouder of you guys if you’d all won. Hey, take a look at Jeff P’s masterpiece in the Beginning category if you feel bad. Epic art! Shut out. But you’ve created work that will inspire students in the Mac Lab for years to come! You and I both know it’s great!

Good News: Yesterday I decided to begin promoting your work, slowly but surely, by submitting a piece to Abduzeedo’s Daily Inspiration once again (Remember Jeff’s?). Please let me do this as the last thing the folks at Abduzeedo would want is to be inundated with submissions from the Mac Lab. Every day or so I’ll send in another. This way more of you might have a shot at being featured to a world-wide audience. Let’s see what happens. As for this morning, I went to today’s DI (hey, he’s featured the same image I linked to yesterday) and began to slowly scroll down… Ack! Inappropriate. Cool. Weird. Wow! Yawn. Inappropriate! Then I hit a video called drunk chicks lost their car and began to think even if it is here, no way I can link to it now! I watched the video, prepared for the worst, thinking how can Abduzeedo post something so stupid? Then I got to the end. Whoa. Yes. That needs to be seen. Thank you, Fabio. Well chosen.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah… Scroll. Scroll. Wow! Cool. What’s Michael Jordan doing here? Scroll. Amazing. Fly, Red, fly! Nearly to the end. It’s not gonna be here. And… YES! Looked under the hood and sure enough, traffic from Abduzeedo is flowing in. (Google Analytics only reports once every 24 hours so Stats is very handy for instant updates regarding visitor statistics).

Moral: Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. What matters is that you get up and keep trying.

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Like Father Like Son

by on Mar.03, 2009, under Blog

rhodes_smMy dad and I couldn’t be more different. He was drafted by the 49ers. I was the only player in Watsonville High School history to play two years on Lightweight Reserves. Seriously, that’s what we were called. We played in old, moth-eaten uniforms at 8:00 Saturday mornings. A few kids would ride around the track on stingrays while we played and the seagulls screeched. I was a 100 lb, 5′-3″ specimen before sprouting in my junior year. I did learn a lot from the big guy but we never had the classic father-son relationship.

Anyway, the point of this post is to highlight someone who does have a winning relationship with his dad that plays right into the Mac Lab. Michael R is beginning to come into his own as a photographer due to his dad’s mentorship. As with Sarah, I’ll let Michael tell the story.

What the rest of you can learn from this post (besides how tiny I was in high school) is the art of preparing your work for print. You’ll find a number of tutorials on this subject on the CS3 page. Remember to set the resolution to 360 pixels per inch rather than 300 for the best prints.

Oh, and because you’ll ask… No, my dad didn’t take the offer from the ‘Niners. He took a job with the telephone company and played semi-pro in Salinas for a few years. That way he earned more than the $6,000 contract teams offered rookies back then. How times change, eh?

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The Key to Your Tomorrow

by on Mar.02, 2009, under Blog

south_pacific_smSarah S has a world of options open to her as she approaches the transition from high school to college. She’s got a terrific work ethic. She listens, thinks, and acts with a focus that’s to be admired. When she set about to create a poster for our Theatre’s latest production, she approached the task with her atypical attention to detail. Rather than trying to explain it myself, I’m going to let her tell the story behind the the poster’s design. Sarah, who just walked in (at 6:05 – late for her), just informed me that Nicole C was a partner in the poster’s concept. Again, I’ll let her tell the story.

When my wife and I discuss the future with our twelve-year-old daughter, Noël, we always remind her that school is the key. Those who embrace the learning experience have an enormous advantage over those who squander the wonder years. My wife took the straight and narrow path that led directly to a successful career. I took the long and winding road that could have easily led to an unhappy ending. If not for a natural aptitude for art and design, my story might have been yet another pointless, tragic, cautionary tale.

So, to you, author of the story of your own life. What’s it going to be? You do know that it’s not too late to change the plot, right? Every day is a new beginning. Every day is another chance to change the way you view your place in the world. Education is the key. Grab it today and begin to unlock the door to your tomorrow.

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Student Art Heading to Washington DC

by on Feb.27, 2009, under Blog

obama_robbie_smWhen I wrote about sending Jeff P’s take on the Official Portrait Challenge on to the White House, I didn’t expect others to step up as well. Robbie F wrapped up his entry yesterday and it’s going to find its way into the package as well. I just love how Robbie handled the background. Just so you know, his PSD has over 30 layers. When I suggested he move a few elements to improve the balance of his composition, he was able to do so with ease because he worked smart and didn’t box himself into a corner.

Jeff’s final image only took 23.5 hours (by his reckoning). It’s really hard to appreciate how he built this, even in a semi-close-up so I’ve included this detail for you to see. That’s 19,714 individual times Jeff clicked with the Pen Tool. (Thanks to Jeff Witchel via Layers Magazine’s Tip of the Day for counting the anchor points!)

I know a few more of you are working on this challenge so let me know if you think yours should be in the package. I plan on sending this off tomorrow after our 5 Hours of Fun™ (Mac Lab Saturday School). And because I know you’ll ask, here’s how I found the™. WARNING: Playing games in Dashboard = 4 hour penalty)

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