Friday, September 30, 2005

The Scroll Saw

One Hundred Twenty Third Post: The Scroll Saw

I have recently been interested in what a scroll saw can do. Basically what machine stamping machines do for steel a scroll saw does by cutting patterns into the wood. You really can’t stamp wood the way you could metal. Of course there is some airplane models that have their pieces stamped out in balsa wood. But for wood you need a saw... a scroll saw.

A scroll saw can be thought as carving a pumpkin design into a pumpkin. It is sort of like subtracting shapes to form a silhouette. The scroll saw carves away to make its design. This seems that is would limit what can be built from a scroll saw, but the truth is that is what defines it as an artwork. It is all based on shapes. The saw will cut any shape, but they don’t have to be separate shapes. The complex designs come when the shapes are combined. Don’t forget all the simple shapes can be glued and fitted together.

The magazine “Scroll Saw Work,” issue # 16, has everything from wooden T-Rex to Boston Terriers. Woodwork has been done millions of time and machine shops shape and cut metal, but for the home workshop wood is just easier to work with. Also, the fact that a lot of woodworking ideas have been explored just adds to the number of projects to learn from and influence the beginning wood workers own designs.

For me I am still new to the trade. In fact, I really haven’t done woodwork since shop class in high school. I know that a lot of wood work has been explored already, but I find it a place to be artistic. Bob Ross, the famous art teacher, once lived in Alaska. From there he would take an old piece of a tree stump, cut and sanded it, and then he painted a beautiful Alaskan scene and sold the painting to make a little money. I know the same can be done with a scroll saw and paint. Someone with a little skill could cut a design in wood and paint it then make a lot of money at a weekend flea market. The ideas are endless.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Some good drawing books

One Hundred Twenty Second Post: Some good drawing books

Most drawing books are written for beginners. That may be because other then drawing exercises and descriptions of technique, the person who is learning has to learn by drawing and not reading. Some things can’t be put into words. And isn’t that the reason in which we draw in the first place?

The one thing about drawing comics is that a script is written so that the artist has a subject or rather idea that they must use their drawing skills to describe. It is similar to a math problem printed in a math text that the mathematician must solve. The script does not interfere with the creative it fosters creativity by the artist using his abilities to put graphics to words.

But if you, the reader are looking for some drawing books here are some good ones:

* The Drawing Book, by John Deacon
* How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, by Stan Lee and John Buscema
* Draw the Marvel Comics Super Heroes, by the editors of Klutz
* SuperHeroes: Joe Kubert’s Wonderful World of Comics, by Joe Kubert
* Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Cartooning But Were Afraid to Draw, by Christopher Hart
* The Best of Wizard Basic Training (How to Draw), by Wizard Entertainment

These books deal mostly with drawing comics and cartoons, but “The Drawing Book” features all types of drawings and puts them into simple form that is easy to understand. It is written for young drawers, but the concepts are the same. Learning to draw comics and comic book characters is just the same as learning to draw the figure or drawing a building. Comics just use a variety of artistic subjects and talents. That is a reason they are so popular.

Until then...May the Creative Drawing Force be with you

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Picking a Paper

One Hundred Twenty First Post: Picking a Paper

In an art book that describes basic drawing, the book once introduced a study that found giving an art student an expensive piece of paper would result in worse drawings than if the student was given an ordinary piece of scratch paper. (I don’t know which book this was.) There may be some truth to this. Did you, the reader, ever have “writer’s block” or a similar feeling when drawing. It can occur at any time, but is common in the class when assignments or given or a project reaches its due date. I guess it is ironic that some people take an art class to avoid or get out of writer’s block. But the artist shouldn’t blame it on the paper.

In other events, Christmas is less than 90 days away. Seems far off but it is time to shop early to get deals, and more importantly, if you are shopping online to get the lower shipping rate. Those overnight fees that are instead sent standard shipping equals a lot more money saved to buy more gifts with. Shop now online to get gifts (such as X box 360) before they go out of stock. Of course, Christmas is not jut about gifts, but it is fun to pick out that little something you think that someone is going to like.

Just a brief Blog today, but...Until then... May the Creative Force be with You....

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Building Portfolio and Thinking about the Puzzle

One Hundred Twentieth Post: Building Portfolio and Thinking about the Puzzle

I am still doing drawing exercises trying to build a small portfolio. The thing if I get excepted to the course then more will be added to the portfolio once some assignments are completed. Well my first drawing assignment of a part of a room turned out to be ok, but is in no means the best work I have ever did. I’m going to have to improve over the next exercises.

But the thing about going back to school is the cost. A four year degree ranges from 30,000 to 80,000. The course that I was looking at on online degree in game design would be around 70,000. But the fact remains that I don’t have 70,000. I am looking to only take the courses in which I will learn the most in. I’ll post what I decide on the Blog.

I have tried the Joe Kubert’s correspondence course ( and found them to be well worth the money. For $275 you get a course book and 5 critics. It isn’t a degree, but it is a way too learn. It is an alternative to a high priced education and a way to improve and gauge the level of your artwork. There is also which has now launched online classes for less than half the price of traditional courses. The classes are new and still being developed, but again well worth the money. Both of these sites are alternative choices to traditional education, and the thing to remember is that the student will learn the same things.

On other notes, I hope that someone has seen the mechanical puzzle I put on Constructor’s Corner. I hope that the words of the description are clear. I know of one solution, but will wait on posting it. I will probably reveal one step at a time. But remember the parts are in 3D and any mechanical means can be used. This leads to a lot of room for ideas, but remember the puzzle is simple yet tricky. Until then...May the Creative Force be with You

Monday, September 26, 2005

Drawing what you see

One Hundred Nineteenth Post: Drawing what you see

I have been trying out some drawing exercises. In the first one the artist is to draw something from their room and having at least three pieces of furniture. Sounds easy, but I think it’s not. The trick is to draw what you see and if you do that you will maintain the proper perspective. But perspective is a funny thing, we all seem to have one of our own.

A simple drawing would have one point perspective. But depending upon the view there may be more perspective points. This creates a little drawing puzzle: if the artist is positioned still in the room, but moves their head does that throw off the perspective? Will someone looking at the picture see the picture as the artist saw it? Is the artist allowed to do this to show something from a view that couldn’t otherwise be seen?

You always see in cartoons and movies an artist or director forming a square with their hands. They do this trying to establish the best view. An artist works much like a camera drawing the room from his perspective. But the idea of turning the head around the room would change the camera and perspective. But sometimes on a drawing the artist can sometimes get away with changing the exact perspective to show something that would not otherwise be seen.

I am no master at perspective, but the first thing the drawer has to know is that when drawing an object you can’t see the entire object at once. To describe it in detail takes many drawing. This is true in artistic drawing as it is drafting. The trick is to know what is seen and what isn’t. Now that will change your perspective on drawing.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

More gadgets

One Hundred Eighteenth Post: More gadgets

While I was at the flea market yesterday I saw all kinds of things for sale. But one thing I noticed was that computers were everywhere. Everyone had their own paint program. From templates for signs, shirts, or bracelets, everyone had a computers and printers. It may not seem that impressive since today everyone uses computers, but it is interesting to see how computers are used to produce traditional crafts. It kinds of adds a new dimension. Crafts are being engineered much like traditional CAD programs. Easier to produce but more difficult to design.

One man was there selling rocks with designs and writing on them. The stones were etched by placing a rubber template with the design over a piece of sandstone and then sandblasting the stone. I’m not sure how the rubber stamp is created, but a if it was designed by computer and printer, it seems the craftsman engraving the rock would save hours.

The use of computers isn’t just for design. Computers can be used in inventory and display just like in stores. The seller can have a catalog of products to present to the buyer. But this isn’t the extent of computer technology. There were probably be even more designers and craftsman out there using computers and technology once laser cutters and engravers become more affordable. A laser can make cut metal into different designs. The technology is out there waiting for people to find creative ways to use it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Little Gadgets

One Hundred Seventeenth Post: Little Gadgets

I went to a flea market today and found all sorts of gadgets and crafts. I saw pictures such as a lighthouse in a stormy coast with fog that has lighting effects to make it appears as if the picture is moving. It is an awesome picture.

Besides the picture I made two more good finds. There is a “B’linQ” charm bracelet that you buy custom charms for. The design is simple. It is sort of link a flexible watch band. The charms can be interchanged to customize the bracelet. Simple design but I only have a hunch on how it works.

The second find is a key chain in the shape of a ball that has 8 screwdrivers. This is a simple idea but you wouldn’t think about it until you saw it. The screwdrivers are folded between a horizontal and vertical line cut out of the circle. It forms a cross over both halves of the circle.

The point is that among the crafts and gadgets, if you have something, a good idea you can make tangible, you might have a little treasure that could be sold at a flea market an make some money. And if it is good enough, you might have a business. But doesn’t this apply to all good ideas?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Mechanical Switch

One Hundred Sixteenth Post: Mechanical Switch

There are a lot of design problems out there, but most require scientific knowledge or higher mathematics. Sometimes we forget how solutions can come from simple methods. That is not to say the problem is easy. It just means the problem has a practical solution.

It is hard to find such problems and define them to make a brain teaser, but I am going to post to a problem I have been trying to find the simplest solution to for sometime. It was in my sketchbook on a scrap piece of paper. It appears to be a little complicated in the write up, but look at the picture. These things are sometimes complicated to describe in words. I tried to simplify it as much as possible, but once you read the problem a couple of times it should begin to make sense.

I did not write all the details of the solution yet. I am starting by presenting the problem. I will probably add hints as time progresses. There is a simple solution to the problem. It may be a little tricky to find. It probably isn’t the only solution though. I will post the problem tonight. So put your thinking caps on. And in the meantime... May the Creative Force be with You

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Weight Game

One Hundred Fifteenth Post: The Weight Game

There are thousands of weight gimmicks out there, but we all know they don’t work. Simply put diet and exercise are the only way. And as I know from experience this way is a lot of work. I have found the best way is to get the I-pod or MP3 player and just walk at a comfortable setting on a treadmill for 15 to 30 minutes. That combined with eating more of good foods during a meal and snacking less. And when you snack eat something health such as fruit.

So far following this plan I have lost 5 to 7 pounds and gained more muscle. The only problem with the treadmill is that even with a music player it can be boring. It can be boring even with a tv at the gym. People have proposed solutions such as virtual reality. Seems interesting but it isn’t practical because it is expensive and require a lot of technical know how to accomplish. That combined with the fact that it would distract the walker and throw off there rhythm is why it is too complicated.

But there is a design problem here. It could be solved simply. What can be done to make the treadmill less boring? Keep in mind the fact that it cannot distract the runner completely. In other words they must be able to do the activity while walking. It is a simple design problem but it takes a lot of thought. But until then...May the Creative Force be with You

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Better Snap Placement

One Hundred Fourteenth Post: Better Snap Placement

I have just about finished Chapter 3 of “Mastering Unreal Technology: The Art of Level Design.” So far the first 3 chapters have been excellent. The only problem I had were some of the lines not showing up on some of the tutorial’s pictures. Other than the content is excellent.

The first thing I found that could be improved in the editor is a snap function and a place to type in relative coordinates. I am not sure if these options are available yet. I know this is a level design software and not a CAD program, but relative coordinates would make lining up the brushes (brush make buildings) easier. I still need to read a lot more before I’m through with the book.

Another thing that I came across today is the card trading game “Magic The Gathering.” The game is now online. I am not familiar with the game, but I am aware of the fantasy art. There are a lot of interesting creatures, heroes, and animals painted on these cards. But what if there was a game that instead of buying cards, the player would make there own. Meaning the player would draw his card and scan or draw it into the computer and print his own deck. To keep things fair there would be a ranking or voting or set of given stats to reference that would make up the creature’s attack and defense abilities.

There are a lot of options here. You would have player creating there own game. The only problem is that with players making there own cards, the only way to make money is to host the server that is the meeting place of the players and charge a monthly fee.

I don’t know. See where you can take the idea and until then.... May the Creative Force be with You.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Drawing the Clothes

One Hundred Thirteenth Post: Drawing the Clothes

One time someone once ask a great artist why he always used nude models. He replied that it was the way that he learned to draw. He explained that it wasn’t that he enjoyed the nude models in any way other than an artistic way. It was that he had no idea how to draw clothes. Models are dynamic, rigid bodies that create an artistic mood, while clothes cover the architecture and form hard to draw wrinkles. So it could be seen that the artist not only drew nude models, it was a fact that he could draw nothing else.

When learning to draw you start with a stick figure and then fill in the details of the body. The last step is adding the clothes and filling in the details. Somehow our great artist never learned the final step of adding clothing.

You see once an artist has a vision they have do draw or paint it. For some it is the nude model, but others like Bob Ross it is the happy trees. Bob Ross once said on the show that he was having trouble painting portraits that his instructor told him to stick with landscapes. So that is what he did. And he became successful doing it!

There is something to be learned from artist like these!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Building a Portfolio

One Hundred Twelfth Post: Building a Portfolio

I recently have been considering taking an online art course in “game design.” I still believe that it is better to see what you can learn from web sites and books before paying for a class. But one thing I have just learned about the course is that the school requires considerable drawing skill. They want the student to submit 10 to 20 drawings during application. Who says that computer art has nothing to do with traditional art?

Also I am still wondering what is the best 3D package: Maya or Max. Most artists I read about use both. It sort of like a Mac vs. Pc debate.

But back to the 10 to 20 drawings. An artist should always be adding to their portfolio. My art doesn’t meet the requirements for the drawings. So if I want to apply I need to draw at least 10 drawings that represent my best work. That is where I need to find how I can draw these drawings while concentrating on the human figure. I’ll post any developments, and if anyone has any ideas on what to draw or how to build a portfolio I welcome any ideas via email.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Torque vs Unreal Editor

One Hundred Eleventh Post: Torque vs Unreal Editor

As you may know, I have recently began studying video game design on my own using the web and books as a resource. At first I did not know what to begin studying first, but now I have chosen a starting point.

My starting point is learning the 3D modelers. I choose 3DS Max because it is the one I am most familiar with. But you can’t have a game without an engine. My choices were between Garage Games’ “Torque Engine” and making a mod on Epic’s “Unreal Tournament 2004.” At first I tried to tinker with Torque because it comes with the source code. But I have found that I takes more know how because all of the games elements are in pieces. For example, it is difficult to import and place 3D models from 3DS Max and the level editing software “QUARK” is not integrated in with Torque’s engine.

Unreal on the other hand has the Unreal Editor which has direct integration with the engine so that models become easier to place. Plus it is easier to learn and see results of your 3D work from the Unreal Editor. Once the level is built, you can play it. So this has become the area I am concentrating my learning on.

That is not to say that Torque doesn’t have it high points. For $100 the game designer has the right to sell the games they have produced. Also there is the complete source code in which to modify to fit the game made by the designer. The biggest draw back is the graphics are aging and the high learning curve to produce a completed game.

For now my plan is to learn the Unreal Editor and see the models I build in 3D. Once I have mastered the basics I may move on to Torque, but your learning plan may be different.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Zelda’s Game Engine

One Hundred Tenth Post: Zelda’s Game Engine

Many of you, the readers, have probably played or at least heard of “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” game by Nintendo. This is one of the best designed games of all time. It took the new 3D elements of the hardware’s capabilities and produced the best player control of any game in the genre. The way the game implemented the new players environment and control of the 3D world is what sold the game. The game combined an action game with role playing and puzzles. But the focus here is on its engine and how advanced it must be.

The thing is with PC games is that eventually some of the games engines is usually ported to open source once the game is no longer profitable. This is not so with console games (especially Nintendo). They usually do not share their intellectual property. Well at least the programmers at Id software release the old games for the PC in order to promote learning.

But here is the interesting question: What if Nintendo (or other game company such as Epic (Unreal Tournament)) released a level editor that contained more elements than just a shooter and had options that added puzzle elements such as moving blocks, lighting torches, tripping switches similar to Ocarina of Time. Sure this elements are probably possible for advanced programmers, but it still would be easier with options available in the level editor.

This is just something that I am thinking about when I start to learn about Unreal. I am beginning to think about how I can turn my ideas into a workable mod. Though I am just starting and everything is related to level design and modeling, I would like to add more elements such as strategy and problem solving to the pieces of the game I want to eventually be able to build. You have to build your ideas on what the engine is programmed to do and also the amount of technical knowledge about game design you have.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Flash Web Templates

One Hundred Ninth Post: Flash Web Templates

As I had stated before, I am looking to bring a few design changes to my web sites. I will start with Calculated-Curves. The change there I wish to make is a dynamic Flash site. I am still in the pre-design phase. I am looking at Flash templates on the web to see what format mine will be. I decided to make my own, because it will be my own design. The templates they sell are just under $100, but are designed for broadband connections. Though they will load on dial-up, web surfers aren’t going to wait. Besides, I have dial-up myself.

I was hoping to find a book on Flash that taught how to set up the flash creations to the web. Tips like how to manage assets so the same graphic doesn’t have to be downloaded many times. I only found one such book and it is $60. I have other books on Flash and know all the basics and even a little action script, so I guess I am going to have to experiment with the website.

From my knowledge of Flash, you place the animations or interactive buttons into the HTML web page. More then one element can be placed on a page. It is the combinations of Flash elements that add to the online browsing experience. The trick is that it has to be of good design and able to capture the interests of the page’s viewer. All these design elements, combined with the ability to load on the users computer fast, lead to one great design challenge.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Noble Prize for Viagra???

One Hundred Eighth Post: Noble Prize for Viagra???

It may not be widely known for those of us not in the medical field, but the three scientist who developed Viagra won the Noble Prize. They did not win the award for the drugs usage itself. Instead, they were awarded for their research on NO (nitric oxide) as a signaling molecule.

I recently posted this on a message board, because I have heard drugs developed after Viagra would have many uses. One use being the ability to treat glaucoma and other eye diseases. But to my surprise NO can actually affect the eyes in negative ways. Anyway it is just an interesting subject, so I presented it here.

In other happenings I am looking to do new things with Constructor’s Corner and Calculated-Curves. I would like to offer my services in graphics and math. I haven’t figured out the payment method yet, but the price would be low while I gain experience and more jobs. So if you have any simple graphic jobs or anything related to the field email me at and we will discuss it. Until then.... May the Creative Force be with You.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Crane Harnesses and Circular Gears

One Hundred Seventh Post: Crane Harnesses and Circular Gears

I recently posted my answer to a MakeShift challenge on Constructor’s Corner. My solution relies heavily on the harness and how it is rigged to the crane. My question is: is there any current harness on the market meant to hold temporary objects on a crane? What I mean to suggest is there any safe way to leave the object in the air only supported by a harness and the crane cable? This would be useful for both advertisements (suspending art pieces in the air) and construction work (temporally holding complex objects in the air while they are fitted together). There is a prospective design project here.

Today I am also interested in circle. Not any circle, I’m interested in gears to be exact. I am interested in how they line up. I am working on a puzzle, but it is to early to post anything.

I also am going to reinstall all the software on one of the computers soon. I don’t like to reinstall everything, but the Screen Savers show use to recommend at least once a year. I would rather tweak the setting and get it running faster. But until then.... May the Creative Force be with You.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Printing Problems

One Hundred Sixth Post: Printing Problems

When making graphics the designer has to work with a printer. Fortunately today’s printers handle most of the work. Compared to previous methods of the past it is simple. But as many know from working with printers it hasn’t become simple enough.

The graphic part and printing part are still separate fields, but most of us do printing on our inkjet printer. And that is were we run into printing troubles. One of the most problem areas is printing continuous pages in a series. This is especially true if someone is printing on both sides of the paper. If the paper is not feed into the printer in the right direction the images don’t line up. The operator has just wasted both ink and time. The printout is wrong and needs to be printed again. This can be frustrating.

Printing today can be difficult and ink cartridges can be expensive, but at least we are not writing with drawing tool and keys are sticking in a typewriter. A good tip is to write down the direction next to an arrow and send it through the printer. Turn the paper over and repeat. Save this as reference instead of making mistakes when you print.

Monday, September 12, 2005

To Hot for the Laptop

One Hundred Fifth Post: To Hot for the Laptop

Last week I got my HP Laptop back and it appears the problem was solved. I never experienced a problem with the laptop until, I played “Need for Speed: Underground” on it. That game is alright for a desktop, but either changes a obscure setting or makes the laptop run to hot. Since it was fixed, I have been able to play other games, but I don’t think I’ll be playing Need for Speed.

As I said before I still have dial-up. So it makes it nearly impossible for me to download free game mods. I am searching for games that use the Torque engine. Usually they are free and smaller downloads. And it is nice to see what amateurs like me are creating. The only thing is that they can sometimes be hard to find. The website is there and then it is lost in cyberspace. I am looking for a Torque engine title called “Maximum Football.” It wouldn’t compare to Madden, but I would like to see how the football plays are programmed.

I have a few little projects that I am working on now. Nothing that I want to talk about now, but stuff that may appear on Constructors Corner in the future. Lately projects have moved slower, because I am searching for new ideas. But I’m sure you have ideas of your own projects to get back to, so until then..... May the Creative Force be with You.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Modeling Adventures

One Hundred Fourth Post: Modeling Adventures

Once I designed a ship. I drew it in its front and side view and then imported my sketch into 3DS Max. From there I extruded the sides and did an intersection, which forms the shape where the shapes intersect. This left me with an interesting shape, but however, the shape formed did not truly represent the shape I drew.

It is not uncommon to have variations of a model when converting it to 3D, but I want a model that represents the shape I drew because it is just a more interesting version. So it is back to the drawing board. I am going to try to apply my newly learned modeling skills into modeling the ship. I am still going to keep things basic so that if all works according to plane I will have modeled a simple ship in about an hour. (Actually it will probably take more than an hour.)

The thing here to remember is while making 3D models it is easy to forget to experiment with the tools and let the artistic side show do to the fact there are so many commands, settings, and formatting to learn. I have said in the past that I am trying to learn the “Torque” game engine. It has a pretty high learning curve. It takes numerous steps to convert a 3DS Max file to Torque’s .dts graphics file. This is what I am learning now. It is easy to add a basic shape, but there are other things such as “collision” and “animation” that makes things more complicated.

Making a game is a challenging task that even takes a team of professional two years, but designing a level or adding a graphic is something that anyone can do once they learn the basics. And that is basically where I am at: learning the basics. But isn’t that how all things start.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Making Money in Graphics; Is it possible?

One Hundred Third Post: Making Money in Graphics; Is it possible?

Recently I have been wondering if it is possible to make some money from graphic art both on the web and traditionally. With a knowledge of quite a few graphics program and average art talent, but possessing good ideas, could an artist be hired or have a small Internet business.

It would seem that the market is flooded with artist looking for work. In my area when I use Google’s “local” search feature I find around 10 local graphic artists. They appear to be mostly independent.

Computers actually make work harder to find. Anyone can do the basics on most graphics programs. So the artist is not just selling their knowledge of the computer, but more importantly their imagination. This creates a need for a skilled artist, someone who has a knowledge of good design. At the same time the designer has to create work that stands out from the rest.

I’m do not know what the market is for artist and graphic designers. So if anyone has any experience with this field of work, post your experience on the message board. Until then... May the Creative Force be with You.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Using many sources

One Hundred Second Post: Using many sources

I am currently studying “descriptive geometry.” It sounds complicated, but it is just using perpendicular views to describe a shape or line. The book I am using “Graphics for Engineers” by Earle is rather complicating a simple method of using a divider. But that is were a little trick of self studies comes into play. That is using multiple sources.

If you were studying by yourself you could just use one text book. That would work if it is excellently formatted and describes the subject perfectly, but as you probably know from school, a second source helps. It could be the second source is an outline or breaks the content into easier to manage strips. But whatever the reason, it is better to use more than one source.

I have encountered descriptive geometry before in math class, but the drawing seems to add a better explanation and a lot of simple techniques to find hard to solve characteristics of a line. I admit not everything makes sense the first time a read it, but the information presented is so interesting that I don’t many working on it for extended periods of time. I skipped the stuff in the book that I already know and went to the fun stuff. That is the thing about self study you choose the areas you want to study. Of coarse you lack the structure and instructions of a class room. I know some class room environments are rigorous, but teachers should always try to keep learning fun. Theory can be boring sometimes, but when it comes time to apply the knowledge that is when the fun begins.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Learning Curve in Math

One Hundred First Post: Learning Curve in Math

I was reading chapter 23 of “Graphics for Engineers” by James H. Earle and I was reminded that sometimes in math and graphics the reader has to read the same section at least twice. Sometimes people are sometimes discouraged when they don’t understand all the symbols and diagrams, but the only reason they do not understand is that they didn’t take the time to read and follow along with the examples. It may seem impossible or to complex, but if the reader sticks with it they will learn a lot.

In math, like most subjects you have to learn some fundamentals and understand them before attempting the more complex problems. Fortunately most books are broken into steps and are simplified. The author has to take a complex subject and simplify it. Unfortunately math can still be very complicated and hard to understand at times. Sometimes the reader just has to follow along. Latter they will understand more once the basics have had time to “soak in.” Meaning even if you don’t understand read and pay attention. You will begin to piece together the little elements which will increase your understanding as you learn more.

Fortunately there is one aspect of math that is in the student’s favor. Math takes one part of a whole and expands upon it. In other words, math can describe the very small details and describe many things. So if you only learn one little part of math, you can use it to describe many things. Restated, a little bit of knowledge in math goes a long way.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Real World Design Problem with a Truck

One Hundredth Post: Real World Design Problem with a Truck

Today I experienced a real world design problem. I had to lift with another person a refrigerator into the back of my truck. There is ramps available for pickup trucks, but lifting it wasn’t the problem. The tricky part is secure the refrigerator in an upright position sturdy enough to drive on the road.

I don’t know about delivery trucks. They must have straps on the wall of the trailer. But it is different with pickup trucks. The bed has lots of space, but the tie downs are lower in the bottom of the bed. That makes it difficult to tie a refrigerator that is high.

I am not saying that it can’t be done without ties. In fact, that is how I did it. There is a design project in finding a better way. I put some rope around the refrigerator that connected the ties to those ropes. The whole time I was thinking that there had to be an easier way.

So with this experience I propose a design problem of finding the best way to load and secure a refrigerator to a truck.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Still searching for engineering and design problems

Ninety Ninth Post: Still searching for engineering and design problems

I recently bought a book, “Graphics for Engineers,” by James H. Earle. At first glance I was not impressed. It looked like a book on introductory drafting. The books description on Amazon had promised design problems. Some of which would take a semester to complete. So I eagerly turned to chapter 9, but didn’t find quite what I wanted.

Let me start by saying the book introduced the design projects early on, which is a good format. But, at first glance they weren’t described enough. I had hoped for more design problems, but I guess that because it tells more with the drawings that define ideas and not solving the problems themselves. But I must say, some of the latter chapters have I whole lot of interesting information on making drawings that I can still learn a lot from.

I guess the design problem I wanted has to be searched for in the real world and is very hard to put in book form. I saw a program once on PBS about engineers. In it a female engineer had to design a part that would fit onto an amusement park ride at Disney World. I don’t remember much, put the cameras followed her programs as she went from idea to finished part. It was quite an interesting documentary.

But I guess if you want an involved, real world design problem, you have to search in the problems in everyday life.

Monday, September 05, 2005

World Expo to promote building

Ninety Eighth Post: World Expo to promote building

It probably be months before recovery from Hurricane Katrina. But people and business are going to need a place to live and operate. Plus the levies must be fixed and the city protected from future hurricanes.

But what if to inspire and calm people and to motivate others to help and rebuild the city, there would be a World Expo to promote building. If people could see something being done along with current relief efforts, they would be more hopeful.

To explain where the idea comes from, I will describe the article in “Computer Graphics World” June 1999 issue. In the article on pages 34 - 40, it tells the story of how Lisbon, the Capital of Portugal, host a World Expo. They decided that the Expo would not only be architecture to beautify the city, it would have useable buildings that people and businesses could populate after the fair was over.

The reason the story was in CGW is that the designers used CAD and 3D graphics to maintain, design, and keep structured when designing the buildings. They requested building offered to submission be in electronic format (preferably AutoCad) along with traditional format. This was around 1993, 1994 respectively. This let them choose the buildings and have a computer model to show.

The concentration of the article was on how they used 3D graphics, but I think the idea of a World Expo or at least showing a model of the future buildings and homes if key. The only thing is that something like this takes time. Portugal’s Expo buildings are scheduled to be completed in 2010. That is 15 years to design and build almost an entire city. But with time so will the problems caused by Hurricane Katrina be solved.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

3D & Amazon

Ninety Seventh Post: 3D & Amazon

As I have mentioned before I am learning 3D. It is a popular field now. Everyone is making their own models and mods of games. With all of the message boards and programs where does one start in learning.

I started by picking a 3D program. I figure I will learn to design on it then go from there. I found a book for 3DS Max that is a must have for any beginning artist. It is one of the Thomson “exploring” series. The title is “3D Modeling with 3DS Max 7.” This book has simple tutorials which explain all the techniques and options when modeling. It is an excellent starting point.

I might post a review on Amazon. They have the best reviews and feedback. I only wish they had a message board. I guess that they want customers to shop instead of chat, but I bet a book club or message board would actually increase sales. Just a thought, but there are a whole bunch of features available to the web designer at Amazon. Things like hosting a store on your site or linking your reviews to a web page. Just something to explore while your shopping.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Toads are the masters of camouflage

Ninety Sixth Post: Toads are the masters of camouflage

I have dozens of toads in my yard. They are funny creatures that are just happy to hop around. They cover themself with the grass. They have little holes in the ground that lead to their homes. I saw the front of one. He only had his head sticking out of his blanket of grass. He just sat there as still as ever. I did manage to capture a pretty good photo of him however.

Now lets move from toads to cows. Make magazine had a makeshift challenge to suspend a cow from a crane boom. It was a pretty cool idea and I had been looking for a design problem, so I entered my solution. I talk about it on Constructors Corner. I need to know the strength of a crane cable in tension.

I have taken a break from working on math problems for awhile. I might do a little tinkering, but I am studying 3D graphics, focusing on 3DS Max. There is a high learning curve to 3DS, but you learn a lot of material fast. It is basically learning all the modeling and texturing techniques. However, Max’s menus are vast and having many options and can make it harder to find what the user is looking for. I hope to turn out some cool 3D designs. Well I guess that is everything.

...And...May the Creative Force be with You.....

Friday, September 02, 2005

2nd Anniversary of Constructors' Corner

Ninety Fifth Post: 2nd Anniversary of Constructors’ Corner

September marks the second anniversary of Constructors Corner. It has had roughly 15,000 visits in the past year. It has been a learning tool for me and a place to post my work. I am happy with the way it has grown. Though, I believe it still needs some more content and user input.

I do have some goals for the site. In the following years I want the site to have design projects. Sometimes in school you learn so much math and science that you forget how they apply to the world. I know this has changed with many schools adding extra credit hours to have a lab where the application of the math problems are used. However I am not attending school at this time, but want to attend a class or independent project where I could apply the knowledge that I have learned. And that’s what art and engineering projects do. They are applications of the knowledge and techniques one has learned.

Another thing that Constructors Corner needs is a dynamic homepage. It wouldn’t be necessary be more fancy or complex, but would contain more original graphics and have a design that is easy to read. I have kept the design of Constructors Corner simple, but because the pages are not templates, it makes it difficult to update.

And as always I welcome comments, suggestions, or ideas for projects via email or message board. Let’s see how Constructors Corner evolves. And May the Creative Force be with You.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Einstein’s Web Site

Ninety Fourth Post: Einstein’s Web Site

Someone reading this blog may wonder why I write. I write to stay creative. It pushes me to learn something new every day and come up with a “little idea.” This technique of writing essays is a widely used method of staying creative. It is an exercise in creativity. Many do not know this but Einstein himself wrote many papers and essays on subjects that had nothing to do with physics. He wrote about his beliefs, ideas, and opinions. Many ideas are created and expressed with such writing.

But if Einstein were alive today what would he have on his website. Would it be filled with pieces of theories and math problems? Would he still be working on unification? He probably would voice his opinion on current politics and world happenings. There are tons of questions and “what ifs.” The Internet allows instant communications, so imagine Einstein working with other scientist who are at the top of their field.

I think that Einstein would published his finished theories. I have read a review on that says his published copy on relativity is much easier to understand than the books that are currently written. One would think it would be easier to understand if his work was simplified instead of making it more complex. I don’t know what Einstein’s website would look like. But I imagine it to be a place of learning and designed on the fact that the imagination is the key to discovery.

What do you think Einstein’s site would look like?

References: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Einstein, Gary Moring, 2000