Top Photos of 2014

Today was a good year for creative expression all around, and these photos aren’t any exceptions!

I’m also an avid instagrammer… these are my favourites from the year. If you’d like to see more, follow alidark3000. Some of these are SLR shots with a load of post-processing… some are straight iphone snaps. Some are good quality, some aren’t… but they each warrant a place for some reason.

Wandering Earl (2011)

Earl travels the world and writes all about it on his blog – which was chosen as one of the 25 best in the world by Time in 2012. I’d like to think I had something to do with that!

Earl approached me with his idea for the site, which I built, tweaking the design as I went. Although Wandering Earl doesn’t really look like it was designed this year, it’s still working well for Earl who earns a large part of his income from the site.

Working with Earl was a real pleasure, it was great to receive his positive comments which you can read for yourself on his blog.

Singularity Bot

This piece is available to print via my Deviant Art page.

In the future when robots become conscious – or are they already but waiting for the day they know they’ll win a fight?

It started with an idea. Here’s an initial sketch of that idea…

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Pretty freaking terrible. I know. My sketches are almost never not fugly.

The first graphic version was promising though. I liked my robot. The environment had great contrast and there was an intriguing story burgeoning just under the pixels. I wanted to bring that out with visuals.

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Getting carried away, I made a bit of a mess of things… as invariably happens. I took a short break and then looked at it with fresh eyes. It needed to be tamed. Colour and light was everywhere.

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So I looked for the essence of the image and amplified only that. I love my Singularity bot.

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Shishigami

This is an illustration I have been working on as a gift for my two nieces, Frankie and Jules. The idea is that they will get the same scene with different lighting.

It was hard picking a final way to light this image. The colours and contrast has been altered using post-processing in Affinity Designer (for mac). I’m pretty happy with the result but no doubt there will be changes.

I have attempted to create a fantastic while realistic lighting for the scene creating transparent layers between objects to create a misty distance between them. The rays of light also fall amongst these layers and the objects to add depth (hopefully).

Note the giant bacteria floating around the forest. All Ghibli inspired, their incidental critters are great.

All in all an enjoyable way to pick up some new design software skills. Affinity Designer for Mac rocks.

Lighting tests (and early versions) …

The finalish image…

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Renata Jayne

Earlier this year Renata approached me about moving her children’s entertainment business into a new phase. She knew where she wanted to be in ten years and had a rough plan on how to get there, and I helped fill in the details and ship some products to get her started.

Branding decisions…

The first problem was branding, which is never easy when you’re most of your own brand. We discussed at length whether Renata would be better off using existing branding, which was geared for her on-the-road children’s shows, which she wanted to phase into more passive income and education instruction over a decade, whether she should adopt a new brand, and what that might be or whether she should go with a more personal brand.

We chose the latter, because it would be more usable across multiple fields, such as teaching and conference speaking, authorship, and also because it would also be very similar to her existing brand. Thus Renata Shows became Renata Jayne. This way existing momentum wouldn’t be lost, and future momentum in different fields could be coalesced. And, seeing as the future was still a long way off, the more personal branding would provide greater flexibility should she want to make changes to her plan, or even overall direction.

It just so happened that Renata’s graphic designer had created a great image of her with a guitar that would provide perfect branding going forward.

We created a strategy that involved blogging teacher’s tips and creating passive income assets that could pay off over time.

A new website

Children's shows and educational resourcesRenata’s website which I had helped her with previously was redesigned with her new brand and to host her new blog, shop and show information. It’s a now a good example of a simple, yet multi-device compatible WordPress based website.

A better signup form

Previously Renata used a standard MailChimp form to collect subscriber information. We decided it would be handy to know more about who was interested in her teacher’s tips, and also to know what they felt they needed. It also adds personal participation to an otherwise one-way site and a but of fun to the experience.

The Teacher’s Tips blog

The main focus behind Renata’s blogging efforts is the video tips. I helped Renata get up to speed with using an iPad to shoot, edit and upload her videos to youtube, and also use it to update her blog. It’s always fun to see people’s reaction when they learn how much they can do with their fingertips, away from their ‘office.’ Needless to say, Renata feels very empowered.

Purple Boots

I compiled Renata’s existing music into a CD and designed a CD cover using the existing graphic work. We called it Purple Boots seeing as bright clothes and boots were part of Renata’s brand and the name would reinforce that.



She has also used her iPad, exclusively, to shoot and edit her latest film clip. The investment in the technology was more than paid off by this alone.

The Cheeky Kima

Renata’s First eBook is available on the iBookstore. I created and submitted the iBookstore version from scans of delightful original artwork that Renata brought back from her trip to Africa. The story is coupled with an educational  section on African words, and Renata’s Jambo music video.