Stringy Diagram

A bare corporate staffing diagram, or org chart, tends to express little more than an organization’s hierarchy, meaningless to outsiders. Or it may inadvertently make a statement about the institution’s convoluted bureaucracy.

This 2013 diagram attempts to convey the capabilities of a flat-level corporation, calling attention to the specialities of each contributor.

twisty lines v2.graffle

The diagram’s basic structure of boxes and lines originated in OmniGraffle, a Mac drawing application well suited for visualizing relational information.


OmniGraffle’s connection lines can anchor themselves to magnetic points on each piece of geometry. Adjusting the position of the objects produces tension and slack in the connection lines.


Next, the rough OmniGraffle diagram went to Adobe Illustrator for cleanup and refinement.  As of version 6, OmniGraffle’s vector export discards layer structure.  But Illustrator’s selection tools can quickly isolate elements and sort them back into layers.


A shaded circle in the layers palette indicates that the layer, object, or group has a dynamic effect attached.  The appearance palette contains a list of these applied effects and provides a way to adjust their parameters. Objects placed within an effect-laden container inherit those graphic styles automatically.


Many paths are simple two-point Bézier curves, easily adjustable using Illustrator’s pen tools.


ARC 40th Anniversary Logo

Here are some design concepts to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Architectural Research Consultants, Incorporated.

The logo’s bluish rectangle containing lowercase lettering has remained unchanged since 1976.

Yellow “40th Anniversary” tag.

Red “Est. 1976” badge.

Ornate ring of text.

Text ring drop shadow depth effect in Illustrator.
This circular design uses a hierarchy of layer styles (defined in Illustrator’s Appearance palette) to mimic bevels and shading.

Circular design with embossed edges.

Layer-based design attributes in Illustrator’s Appearance palette.
The casual handwritten typeface is Jellyka CuttyCupcakes by Jessica “Jellyka Nerevan” Lapointe.

Jellyka CuttyCupcakes.


Morto Ambulante

Unsightly Morto Ambulanteante drawing from 2008:

Gross morto ambulante picture
Zombie-like drawing from 2008

Gloppy brush smear in Scribbles drawing application:

Scribbles Application UI
Scribbles Application UI

Preliminary design idea:

Preliminary zombie sketch.
Preliminary zombie sketch.


Cartoonish depiction of Chris Walas’s Brundlefly creature from the 1986 David Cronenberg film The Fly.  Drawn using in 2008.

Gross Pinkish Mutant
A deep penetrating dive into the plasma pool.
Mutant proboscis.
Mutant proboscis.
Late Brundlefly sketch.
Simpler insectoid mutation variation.
Early Brundlefly sketch.
Rough layout sketch.
Crouchy Brundlefly sketch.
Crouchy mutant.
Rubbery Brundlefly sketch.
Rubbery limbs.
Adobe Ideas iOS Sketch
Flat inky sketch.


Wrinkly feline project constructed using Pixologic ZBrush 4 and The Foundry modo 701 in 2013:

Wrinkly snout vaguely reminiscent of a sphynx kitty.
Wrinkles vaguely reminiscent of those of a sphynx kitty.
Fuzzy papier mâché cat snout.
Fuzzy papier mâché cat snout.

Originating as a sphere in ZBrush, the kitty model grew increasingly detailed with sculpting techniques and DynaMesh topology tools.  Unrefined ZBrush geometry can become dense, inefficient, and extermely slow.  Fortunately, ZBrush offers various utilities to drastically simplify mesh information without sacrificing surface detail.

This project employed the process of subdivision re-projection and 32-bit displacement maps.

ZBrush mesh at its highest subdivision level.
ZBrush mesh at its highest subdivision level.
ZBrush mesh with displacement enabled.
ZBrush mesh with displacement enabled.
ZBrush mesh at its lowest subdivision level.
ZBrush mesh at its lowest subdivision level.
A fuzzy ear's subsurface scattering.
A fuzzy ear’s subsurface scattering.
Veins locked into place using modo's UV editor.
Veins locked into place using modo’s UV editor.

The cat’s yellow eye color and texture originate from a manipulated image of a human iris.

Yellow iris texture map in Pixelmator.
Yellow iris texture map in Pixelmator.

morph map in modo controls the eye’s level of pupil dilation.

Stretchable iris geometry.
Stretchable iris geometry.

A spherical magnet deformer gently squishes geometry out of the way, carving out a comfy socket for the eyeball.  This allows the eye geometry to swivel around without intersecting with other meshes.

A magnet deformer helps the eyeball geometry fit neatly into its socket.
A magnet deformer helps the eyeball geometry fit neatly into its socket.

The eyes remain synchronized to each other using channel links.  Morph maps and linked deformers ensure that the surrounding facial tissue stretches and slides as the eyes move.

Eyeball motion linked together using modo's schematic panel.
Eyeball motion linked together using modo’s schematic panel.

A simple facial rig provides a limited range of motion to the jaw, ears, and neck.

SNL Foundation Diagram

Sandia National Laboratories logo.

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) is one of the world’s leading nuclear and energy research facilities.  This 2014 ARC diagram was part of SNL’s Five-Year Facilities and Infrastructure Plan (FY 2015-2019), and attempted to visually describe the labs’ organizational framework.

SNL Foundation multi-colored slabs.
SNL foundation multi-colored slab diagram.
SNL Foundation monotone slabs.
SNL foundation cylindrical slab diagram variation.

Cleaner, simpler quasi-isometric design alternative using Adobe Illustrator:

Multi-colored isometric blocks.
SNL diagram with an isometric design.

Two-dimensional diagram version from The Omni Group’s OmniGraffle design application.

OmniGraffle Lab Foundation Diagram
2D OmniGraffle version.

Three-dimensional variations of the diagram used weight containers and deformers within The Foundry’s modo application.  In modo, a weight container specifies which of an object’s polygons are susceptible to effects like squishing and twisting.  The nodes in this Modo schematic view depict the strength and range of some twist and bulge deformer effects.

The Foundry relational node schematic.
Schematic view in modo.

Once wired together, polygons within a weight container (depicted in red below) will bulge and twist more readily than other polygons.  Such effects can be animated over time and are non-destructive, making it easy to revert the source geometry back to its original rest state.

The Foundry Modo weighted rotational deformer at 0°.
The Foundry Modo weighted rotational deformer at 0°.
The Foundry Modo weighted rotational deformer at 600°.
The Foundry Modo weighted twist deformer with a spiral intensity of 600°.

In the end, SNL strategic planners decided to stick with their existing in-house diagram:

Original SNL strategic framework diagram.
Original SNL strategic framework diagram.


Miro logo SVG.

In the 1990s, playing full-screen digital video often required specialized computer hardware. One such solution was a PCI card called miroMOTION DC20, which supported video capture, editing, and playback at a pixel resolution of 640 x 480 at a smooth 60 fields per second in 24-bit color.

The DC20 encoded video data using a proprietary motion JPEG format, readable only on computers also containing a hardware decoder. Computers without the appropriate hardware would display blank video or fail altogether.



Fortunately, there are some workarounds to recover orphaned DC20 video files.  If software solutions like the DC30 Xact Driver for Mac G4Morgan M-JPEG codec for Windows, or OS emulation are unsuccessful, the approach below may help.

Legacy QuickTime Pro + Handbrake

This method relies on access to a Mac running OS X 10.6 or older using QuickTime Pro.  If such a machine is unavailable, it might be possible to run a virtualized copy of OS X within VMware instead.

First, open an unplayable DC20 video file in QuickTime Player.  Ignore any error messages about missing software.  If the application refuses to even open the video, you may have to try an even older version of QuickTime.

QuickTime Pro 7 on an Apple Xserve G4 running OS X 10.4.
QuickTime Pro 7 with blank video on an Apple Xserve G4 running OS X 10.4.
QuickTime 7 movie inspector panel.
DC20 movie properties in QuickTime 7.

Next, re-save as a self-contained movie.

Save as self-contained movie in QuickTime Pro 7.

Then open the newly-exported movie in a video transcoder like Handbrake.

HandBrake 0.10.2 queue on OS X 10.11.2.

Inspect the image quality using Handbrake’s video preview.  Try exporting in a more recent video format like H.264.

Handbrake picture settings.
Handbrake picture settings.
Handbrake image quality preview.

Sadly, no transcoding process can rescue old video files from filesystem bitrot, the silent corruption of electronic data over time.

corrupted image data
Casualty of filesystem bitrot.

Magazine Sketches

Title page for a feature for Albuquerque the Magazine from 2009:

Line art logo

Preliminary version.
Preliminary version.
Closer view.
Closer view.
Design revision.
Design revision.
Simplified, more cartoony final version.
Simplified, cartoony final version.
Photoshop layer structure.
Photoshop layer structure.

Arranged in After Effects for an animated reveal:

After Effects Sketches Alphas 2012
After Effects overlapping animated alpha channels.
After Effects composition.
After Effects composition.

Test animation from 2012:


Branding project from 2001 for a New York-based software development company called Codpieceware:

Codpieceware Logo 2001

The company’s name was a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film “Clockwork Orange.”  The blue X shape borrowed from Apple’s liquid-themed system software branding, and the red figure was a nod to Beastie, the BSD daemon mascot.

Logo closeup.
Logo closeup.
Codpieceware Logo Black
Stencil Codpieceware logo.
Codpieceware logo layers in Illustrator.
Codpieceware logo layers in Illustrator.

Codpieceware sought to help users take advantage of the UNIX functionality within Apple’s new operating system.  One of their applications was a system diagnostics and analysis utility called “”

Application icon for Mac OS X 10.0.
“” Application icon for Mac OS X 10.0.
Illustrator document layers.
Illustrator document layers.

Early conceptual branding ideas:

Preliminary cartoonish logo.
Preliminary cartoonish logo.
Codpieceware "" icon concept development.
Codpieceware “” icon concept development.
Codpieceware logo concept development.
Codpieceware logo concept development.

Girl with Arrow

Attempt to copy an engraving by John Buckland Wright called “Girl or Nymph with Arrow” from “Cupid’s Pastime” (1935):

Line Art Girl
Imitation from 2007 of an engraving from “Cupid’s Pastime” by New Zealander John Buckland Wright.
Application drawing layers.
Document layers from drawing from 2007.
In-progress document from 2007.