Archive for March 2009

Make-a-flake – flash game

March 24, 2009

My little sister, who is 9 years old, loves playing games online. I’d say she was addicted really, so I try scaring her into thinking she’s going to become square eyed (based on a school book I once read) if she spends too long on the computer.

Anyway, so she was very excited the other day about this new site she came across where you can basically make your own snowflake. The flash game is very clever as it prepares a ‘sheet of paper’ for you all folded (animated) up before you and then provides you with a pair of scissors with which to cut!

The below screenshots show the various stages from creating the snowflake, submitting it to the gallery with the thousands of others on there and the options to email your design to a friend, downloading it to your computer, and choosing which format – including EPS – allowing you to make changes using Illustrator or Photoshop.

Start cutting the paper

Start cutting the paper

Preview your creation

Preview your creation

Add it to the gallery for all to admire

Add it to the gallery for all to admire

Download your snowflake

Download your snowflake

This is quite a coincidence, as referring back to my notes from the Mid point review, ‘snowflakes’ were mentioned whilst discussing the patterns. They are all unique, so the idea of infinity is conveyed through the continuous individuality of the snowflakes and yet the opposite of infinity by the fact that no two snowflakes are the same? Not sure if that makes sense.

The main points I’d like to make about this game, is that it not only engages the user through advanced interactivity but also uses an interesting subject with which to do it. There are some very intuitive elements such as the angles you can use the scissors to cut with and it knowing you can only cut from the edge and not through the middle of the paper. I suggest you give it a go so you know what I mean:
And don’t blame me if you get hooked!

Feedback from my Mid-point review

March 23, 2009

Can be read here:

Digital pattern – still image

March 18, 2009

Managed to get this done using Photoshop! Took a billion years but looks much neater than the hand made one. Wasn’t as much fun though 😦

Will explain the process for this in next couple days.

Geometric pattern

Geometric pattern

Mid-point review

March 12, 2009

The write up for this can be viewed here:


March 9, 2009

I’m really disappointed because I’ve realised that I won’t be able to get my proto-type finished in time for my mid-point review. I think it would have received a really good reaction from my peers.

But I don’t even have time to dwell on it and have cracked on with things so that I have something half decent to show.

The point of the mid-point review is for my peers and tutor to see where I am so far and as this is taking the form of a group crit (much like the one the full-timers had last month – see earlier post) it means that they need to try and understand what I present to them without me having to explain anything. But even if they completely misunderstand it help me development and amend where I’m going with the work so that I can head it in the right direction from then on.

As I’ve been exploring the traditional methods for producing Islamic geometric patterns (which is a new practice to me) I am quite proud of where I’ve got to so far – but will anyone else seeing it for the first time appreciate the result of my hard work? Also, would they need to have an interest in this area in the first place to then appreciate this type of art?

What will be most annoying is that these examples I will show are just on paper/card. And I wanted something digital and interactive at this stage. Honestly, it would have been way ahead of the game for me to have something ready at this point of the course that was a working prototype of an interactive work but it would have been cool because at least the rest of the students would understand where I was going with this. Anyway, I have faith that they will ‘think/look outside the box’, so to speak, in regards to my work – whether they like it or not.

In the above gallery are images of the stages I went through to get to the last piece which is a large hexagon broken down into further hexagons, triangles and circles to produce a geometric pattern.

You will notice that I go back and forth with the first grid designs and this is because I did soo many sheets, and at some stage or another I would realise that I had made a mistake and would need to start over. The grids or patterns wouldn’t look wrong and wouldn’t necessarily be wrong in themselves but I was trying to follow a particular strategy as laid out in an example from Daud Sutton’s book ‘Islamic Design: A Genius for Geometry’. I wanted to follow this to a ‘T’ up to a certain stage. So until I got to that stage – if everything wasn’t exactly like he’d shown then it would be wrong.

After producing the ‘grid’ and formations of hexagons within circles I then photocopied the sheets so that I could develop the patterns within the grid further. This was the stage where I would finish copying the book and start my own additions in patterns. If I ruined these photocopies I would still have the original larger grid to go back to. After deciding on the main hexagons (one large and one small) to break down further I then inked the designs on to another photocopy. I then photocopied this (yeh I know – there are trees out there waiting for revenge) so that I could cut out the main shapes within these bigger shapes. The handy thing about the cut-out template is that I can then put the shapes together on a large plain sheet of paper which has no grid and the hexagons fit together as they are already proportioned correctly, the grid would therefore be invisible.

I like the effect of light coming through these cut-outs. This is why I would love to experiment with light and how it could be used in an interactive way at some stage of my project.

This is where I moved on to the large A3 black card and started drawing out the very large hexagon made up of smaller hexagons and filled these in with the designs from the templates I had cut. Then after filling in all the parts I was left with the final design (below) which I am quite happy with – it looks much better in reality as the pencil shimmers with light and is a great contrast to the black card.

pencil on black card

Tonight I plan to turn this in to another template and have further uses for it – so watch this space 🙂

The very Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman

March 8, 2009

I’ve been back a week now and I thought I would have been blogging straight away but alas I’ve been completely run off my feet. Admittedly the first couple of days after I came back from holiday I felt like I should give myself time to adjust from being all relaxed and lazy into being in a super productive mode. Who was I kidding – it was just a waste of my own time and now I am paying for it.

But going to Muscat was great for inspiration. The Grand Mosque was especially beautiful and abundant in colourful and varying examples of geometric patterns. The architecture had all the usual features of a major mosque: minarets, arches, courtyards and an ornate prayer hall. It was spacious and clean and even minimalist in a way (except for the prayer hall which appeared to be a grand showpiece of the local craftsmanship), for the majority being large blocks and shapes of white stone and marble. Whilst walking around I found alcoves and crevices where patterns decorated the space with colourful tiles or simple engravings and cut-outs. As we were there in the morning and the sun was shining in all its glory, the effect of the light, forming shadows, reflections and generally brightening the whole place up, seemed almost like a dream. I am so glad we faced the 30+ degree temperature to venture over that day.

For those visitors who were unfamiliar with this style of decor and the history and relevance of it, there were plaques with brief explanations of why the chosen styles were used (please see gallery).

I have to say I do enjoy photography even though I’m not that familiar with all the settings that can produce better images. With my own photos I think composition works best and I like to convey the different views of a building – how it looks completely different when looking from even a step away from the previous view.

Anyway, these patterns made me realise that I want my work to be focused on a contemporary take on the everlasting traditional geometric patterns used in the Islamic world. So I just need to produce my own ones through a different medium. Not too hard right? Actually, it’s very hard just trying to decide which medium to use. But for now, with less time on my hands than I had anticipated I’m going to concentrate on making some pretty patterns of my own. Which means I need to go back to practising the traditional method I failed to complete last month.