Monthly Archives: April 2012

Alien Project – Sculpture!

This was probably one of the most exciting parts of this project, as I’d never really worked with Super Sculpey before. Now that I had created the skate deck, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted my hand to look like in terms of shape and texture. I bought a couple meters of copper wire as a way to create a mesh for the hand.

Here’s what I started out with:

– Acrylic Paint (shades of green)
– Copper wire (2 meters)
– Super Sculpey (1 pound)
– Carving tools (or use your fingers)
– An oven (to bake the clay once you’ve made it)





Shaped the sculpey after kneading it for a bit…I didn’t really end up using the mesh itself but I did use it as a reference to create the shape.



After baking, painted it with a couple shades of green and that was it!!







Kensington Market – Toronto

Located just west of downtown Toronto, Kensington Market is unique for its diverse culture and blend of clothing stores, fresh produce, cafes, furniture stores and other hidden attractions. It also holds the title for being one of the most photographed places in Toronto.






kensington cornerstone











Character Illustratation

Hours and hours of work on this illustration finally paid off today…I learned quite a bit about Illustrator thanks to this project, I really didn’t have any idea about using the mesh tool but now it seems like a very easy process.

Here is the original sketch by EriDaiho on Deviantart:

Altair Sketch

I started off with tracing out the sketch…at first I had a lot of trouble deciding where to cut off the strokes and which sketch details I should trace out. Also, I was worried that tracing it out wrong would also conflict in coloring it later. This caused me to close down some paths later on when I was adding gradients and coloring using the mesh tool. The part where I remained undecided on the tracing was the nose, which was drawn a bit funny in the sketch. I wasn’t sure of what the final sketched lines were for the nose, so I just went with what seemed to work for me.






Once the tracing was done, I took off with the mesh tool on the character’s left arm left arm. As I used the mesh tool, I found it very difficult to align it properly with the arm. This is where I finally figured out the clipping mask and why people always quickly trace out the area they’re coloring with the pen.



I wasn’t quite sure as to what the character really looked like since I never really played Assassin’s Creed, so I got an image and made a swatch with colors from that image to use as a starting point:


Amazing detail can be created using the mesh tool, and I extensively used it for most of the character…




By the time I was done, I would say 70% of my character was colored with the mesh tool:


On completion, I noticed a whole range of problems:


I realized I’d colored one of the character’s parts of the tunic wrong, and that the points where I used the gradient tool looked out of place. The problem was that the gradients were set up right, but not angled at all. I then angled each gradient in the image, as well as fixing some of the colors to make the blend in better. And finally, I had my result:

Without strokes:


Final. Though it turned out nice, the boots could have still be done better, and I didn’t really get time to play with the width tool on the strokes too much. The vambrace on his Altair’s left hand also looks like it could’ve been done better.


Alien Project – Style Guide

As part of the alien project, we had to create a style guide for our brand.
Click here to view the style guide for Enix!

Alien Project – Story

There’s been much debate over the Roswell UFO incident, some maintaining it was all a hoax while others claim it’s a huge conspiracy. An alien artifact recently discovered around the region is about to change all of that; the source, nicknamed Enix, cannot be released at this point due to the nature of this discovery. The object, in the shape of a hand, possesses supernatural powers which are transferred to any person for the duration of them holding it! Speculation has already begun on what kind of superpowers the hand provides to whoever holds it, some referring to it as the ‘Midas touch’, while others call it ‘Enix’. Media frenzy has been fuelled even further by fake videos uploaded by people who claim to have seen or touched the object; others have put off the discovery as a mass media publicity stunt or part of an April fool’s joke. The image of the hand, according to Enix, will be widely published online on December 21, 2012.

This short story and all references made in it are completely fictional. Any relation to any real characters or events is completely coincidental. Copyright © Aamir Raza.

Alien Project – Concept Sketches

Some concept sketches for the logo design, skate deck and style guide prior to working on this project:

Concept Sketch 1

Concept Sketch 2

Concept Sketch 3

Concept Sketch 4

Concept Sketch 5

Concept Sketch 6

Concept Sketch 7

Vanilla Twist

Made with real vanilla using cotton buds!!

Vanilla Twist!

Second Life – Virtual Environment Review

It’s debatable as to whether a virtual environment defines a genre of games or not, after all most of the time is spent socializing with others in them. Environments such as those of World of Warcraft, Sims, Blue Mars, Runescape, Habbo and IMVU  are quite popular for this, allowing players to participate in mini games while making it easy to chat and interact with others at the same time. Second Life takes it a step further as people are allowed to buy lands and setup their own estates within the game, for others to visit (if you’re allowed that is). Try to barge in somewhere where you’re not invited and you’ll find yourself being thrown out!

[click any image to view them in a larger size]

Website Overview ( )

A very vibrant web 2.0 style site, right away I saw the ‘Join’ button which stands out. The main banner with that join button constitutes around 80% of the layout. A news feed was present at the bottom of the page. A good add to the top of the page is the ‘what is second life’ tab which will probably be very helpful to new users of the site. Cover flow design is appealing and well done.

The green banner is being replaced by the purple one as I clicked the navigation arrows marked right at the bottom of them. The other elements in the site remain stationary.

Avatar Creation

Right as you click the join button, you’re presented with a few random avatars(your character in the game) to select right away which are modifiable later on as you start the game. I decided to go with the rabbit, I later changed it to a human person though. Next up was selecting the user name! A very straightforward process, I suppose, and similar to most websites. Kind of like every game you play, you make an account, fill in some info and choose a gamer tag. After you activate your account, you have the choice to either go with the free account or the paid account. I went for the free account, as I didn’t plan to spend much time on Second Life.

Once you’re in the game, you’re able to customize your character and there seem to be hundreds of options as to what you can do with your character. As an example here, you can change your sleeve and jacket lengths using the slider in the panel!

Virtual Environment

Starting up Second Life for the first time, you’ll be placed at this starting point with a bunch of columns and portals around you where all new players spawn. Third person view is activated by default, though there are camera settings available if you wish to look behind you while standing at one point. I tried out the arrow keys to move around at first as they’re quite common in these types of environments and it worked out well. An alternative method, as I found out later, is to double-click with the mouse to move around.

You can walk, run and even fly to access the environments, though invisible shields alike those in Harry Potter will keep you from flying over a restricted area and jumping in to crash some place. Though, there are way too many glitches in the environment. Often, you’re able to walk through walls and then end up somewhere in the sea. Here I am swimming on land somehow?

When it comes to graphics, Second Life is not exactly at the top of the list. Environments take time to load, and most aren’t exactly well developed either. Most environments are controlled by the users around their estates, and there are little or no wildlife background elements visible. The game failed to show promising results even at Ultra graphics settings. Furthermore, even with a 30mbps internet connection, nearby characters take way too long; makes you want to avoid crowds in the game, almost defeating it’s own purpose. Watching people load isn’t exactly fun:

Exploiting bugs in Second life: I pushed this person into the portal who seemed to be away in the game 🙂


Apart from gestures, which can be a pain to remember the hotkeys for, chat is the primary way to communicate. The chat button changes color if a message is received, and you’re able to see all messages sent and received by users around you in a tiny chat window. As easy as the chat feature was to use, I couldn’t tell if the other person could actually receive my messages or not. Whenever a character is typing, a typing animation is played by the character. I was hoping for chat bubbles to pop up as well, as they’re normally better indicators showing that your message went through. You’re also able to add people as friends, join groups (if permitted) and interact with people nearby in several ways. Second Life also lets you add interests/hobbies and other info in your profile to find people with similar traits.


The interface makes recurring use of rounded rectangles and little pop-ups for every feature in it, and fills up the entire screen. As simplistic as it seems at first, the Second Life interface is often confusing and jumbled. New users who try to change their character appearance are very likely to get frustrated as menus will pop up every time you try to adjust some feature of your character, ultimately filling up more than half your screen. It takes a bit of time to get used to adjusting the looks of your character, and there doesn’t seem to be a preview toggle button to see what your character looks like before and after the adjustments. Heck, I didn’t even know my character was a female. Some of the adjustments didn’t seem to work, maybe because I used a predefined character but I felt this should’ve been pointed out as there was no feedback at all.


A toolbar at the bottom controls most of the common tasks you will be using such as camera movement, walking, running, flying, talking to friends, viewing your profile, visiting destinations as well as a help section. Other options such as the minimap, destination and clothing are present on the left edge in order to keep almost all options within the screen, preventing you from having to access them from the top menu bar every time.


Notifications are presented to you in either chat or on the top-right corner, such as when you’re trying to request access to a group or are invited to some group or event. A search bar located at the top allows you to enter a broad or specific location and it takes you to the closest match to that search query. This helps as this search  bar is almost like your url bar in a browser, and is probably the most used function in Second Life as you travel from place to place.


Making use of the fly function, you simply click ‘stop flying’ to stop anytime and gravity does the rest as you fall flat on your face. Second Life does a good job of grouping similar actions so they’re more easily accessible and you aren’t distracted with other options. The ‘walk/run/fly’ button allows you to do just that, walk run or fly. Once you select the ‘fly’ button it’ll remove the other options so you can concentrate on just flying!

Overall Experience

Sure, if you’re just looking to try out a free virtual environment to see what it’s like, Second Life is a great option. That’s where it ends though. The bland environment, an ‘okay’ interface setup and graphics tone down this game quite a bit. Second Life is probably one of the more customizable environments among others, but at the same time it takes a step back in simplified design to handle all its features effectively. Though, if graphics aren’t your priority and customization is your thing, then it definitely will rank a lot better for you after you get used to its features.

Future improvements within Second Life need to be focused on further simplifying character customization, improved graphics and better environment elements.

Dream on paper…

A sketch I recently did of one of my dreams as part of an assignment.
(Click on the image to view a larger size)

Inside a Dream!

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