3d rolex watch rendering

Way back in 1996, I started tinkering in the world of 3d with Alias running on Silicon Graphics workstations at my first job right out of college. From there I migrated to FormZ to design trade show exhibits at my second job – but that was very short lived. I only stayed in that gig for a year, throwing in the towel to go off and design websites during the dot com boom of 1999-2001. I thought my 3d days were behind me at that point, and to be honest, I was having more fun doing websites and user interfaces than anything else I had been doing so far.

2001 to 2006 was a largely 3d-free time in my career. I was strictly focused on user interface design, occasionally messing around with an old copy of 3DS Max whenever I needed to create some basic (really basic) 3d objects for interface projects. It was so sporadic, in fact, that I never really learned my way around Max that well – to say I struggled is putting it mildly.

In 2006, I was looking to expand creatively outside of my day job, and I started shooting stock photography. I launched the Norebbo brand, and I shot photos exclusively for the first month. But it wasn’t satisfying – and I quickly noticed how difficult it was to stand out from the plethora of other photographers who had a lot more talent that I did. I needed an edge! I started thinking about creating stock illustrations instead of shooting photos, and long story short – I downloaded a demo version of my trusty old friend: FormZ. I suddenly found myself back in the world of 3d, and that leads me to where I am today.

It’s been 8 years since I got re-aqainted with FormZ, and I’m happy to say that it’s become a tool I know well and like very much. Nearly all of my 3d illustrations up until this point have been created with it, and I really like the things that it can do. But the things it can not do well (like modeling organic shapes) has been eating at me for far too long and I am at the point now where I feel like it’s holding me back.

Six months ago I started looking around for a more powerful 3d modeling package, weighing the pros and cons of each, and I ultimately decided on Maya by Autodesk. I tinkered with it for a bit, became quickly overwhelmed (lol) and ran straight back to FormZ with my tail between my legs. But two months ago I decided enough was enough and that I needed to start taking classes or running through tutorials so I could begin the migration.

It’s been a hectic 60 days – but I’m learning a lot, and I’m absolutely blown away with how much more powerful it is over FormZ. I’ve followed a handful of really good tutorials, but the Rolex Daytona watch tutorial I completed just a few days ago was fantastic and worthy of a shoutout. It’s a 57-part youtube series created by Stephan Pilz (aka Pixelbahn), and he does a spectacular job of going through the process of building this watch in Maya step-by-step. It took me 4 weeks to finish my own model, but it was most certainly worth the time – I learned so much, more than any other tutorial I’ve found so far. The results speak for themselves:

close up rendering of the rolex watch

Close up rendering of the face of this Rolex watch

Front perspective view

Front perspective view

Rolex watch wireframe

Rolex watch wireframe

Maya default surface texture

One of the things I really like about Maya is that I can quickly evaluate surfaces, even after textures have been applied

Maya viewport windows

Maya viewport windows

This is by far the most complex 3d model I have ever created, and I owe it all to Stephan for creating and publishing this tutorial. After building this Rolex and learning some really great new modeling techniques, I’m really excited about going off on my own and building some new things that I never could do with FormZ.

Yes, FormZ will always be part of my workflow (I love it too much to abandon completely), but Maya has officially become my 3d weapon of choice. This is going to be good!

presentation template for design-related topics

Exactly one month ago today I uploaded a sparse-white industrial-themed PowerPoint template that featured some nuts and bolts as the primary image on the cover slide. I was satisfied with the way that it turned out, but you might find it interesting to know that it was actually a redo of a template that I created earlier (and wasn’t totally happy with). Anyway, I decided that I might as well upload that other template as an alternative – perhaps you might like it better!

The layout of this template is nearly identical to the other one, right down to the exact same table and bullet point slides. The difference is all in the cover slide with that thick gray horizontal banner cutting through the middle. It was that element that I wasn’t so sure about in the beginning, mostly because it’s the kind of thing I’ve been doing for years – and I felt sort of guilty for doing it yet again. But the fact of the matter is that I think it works well to create a lot of contrast between the background and the nuts and bolts rendering.

Design-related presentations are very common (I’ve certainly given my fair share of them) and my hope is that this template is generic enough to use for all sorts of design topics. I personally think it would be just as useful for an architecture firm as it would be for an app builder – after all, the act of design and construction requires assembly of parts whether they are physical or digital. The chrome nuts and bolts are simply a metaphor in this case.

So which one do you like better? I almost hate to admit it, but I’m feeling that I like this darker version more…

Click here to download it!

full screen green nature scene powerpoint template

Several weeks ago I uploaded a PowerPoint template that I called “grassy morning sunrise”. The cover slide photo (and general color scheme of the deck) was based on a photo I took while on a morning walk through our neighborhood a while back, and overall, I liked the way it turned out.

But there was something about it that was bugging me, and it took me a little while to put my finger on what exactly it was. I liked the colors and the light quite a bit. The typography seemed to work ok. The accent colors of the interior slides seemed to be working as well. But…that frosted transparent panel on the cover was something I wasn’t quite sure about. At first I liked it, and then I started to think that it was unnecessary and somewhat distracting. The background photo of the bright green grass and the trees was visually rich, and I was starting to think that I made a mistake by masking it with that frosted overlay.

These kinds of things eat at me until I make them right. I knew I could do a better job with that template, so I rolled up my sleeves and made another attempt with a version that didn’t include that transparent panel on the cover slide. I also chose not to crop the photo as tightly as I did in the original version, as I thought that the sidewalk on the left side of the image helped the composition quite a bit. The interior slides are mostly the same – only a few minor color changes were necessary.

So what do you think? Is this one better than the other? I tend to think it is, but I’m curious if anyone else has an opinion!

Click here to download this template in .zip format.

industrial design theme for PowerPoint

I’ve been creating royalty-free stock illustrations for a long time now, and I’m constantly looking through my archives trying to figure out how to keep all that content fresh and viable as the years pass and styles change. There are parts of my portfolio that are really starting to show it’s age, but on the other hand there are plenty of illustrations that I think will be very useful for many years to come.

Case in point: my “nuts and bolts” illustrations. I’ve lost count of the number of 3d renderings that I’ve created which feature these simple objects, but they are just so darn versatile and conceptual in nature that it’s hard not to incorporate them into whatever I’m doing as much as I can. And that leads me to this free PowerPoint template with an industrial design theme.

If you’re familiar with my work, you’ll instantly recognize the chrome nuts and bolts that are the predominate element on the cover slide. I placed them over top of the same generic blueprint drawing that I used for my recent design and engineering Keynote templates, and then placed the title text to the left. I was originally thinking about creating some sort of dark background texture for this slide, but ultimately decided that the sterile clean look of the white backdrop was the way to go.

The interior slides of this three-page presentation deck contain the same bullet-text page and sample table that I’ve used in some of my other templates, but if you’re feeling creative, you might experiment with reusing that same image from the cover slide as a background for these interior pages. Make sure you reduce the opacity of it though – almost watermark-like so that it doesn’t compete visually with your content.

Click here to download it!

foggy hillside theme for powerpoint

The photo on the cover slide of this three-page PowerPoint template was one that I shot several weeks ago as I was taking a break during a long morning bike ride. This is the time of year in San Diego where thick fog is common in the early mornings and late evenings, and I love the way it seems to hug the hills and mountains around here. Mix in a little sun, and the result is usually breathtaking.

To be honest, I didn’t think much of this photo at all after I took it, and I came extremely close to deleting it shortly thereafter. The problem was that there wasn’t very much detail in the photo, and there wasn’t a clear subject. I was too composed to be considered an abstract texture, so I had no idea what I could use it for.

After thinking about it for a bit, I realized that it might make a nice backdrop for a presentation template. The dark area of the hillside would be a good place to overlay text, while the light top section would be a good place for a logo. With that in mind, I dropped it into PowerPoint to see what I could do.

The end result was something that I ended up liking quite a bit. I did find that the texure in the hillside was a bit distracting with light typography over top, so I blurred out the image a bit to make the fonts more legible. Much better.

The elements on the interior slides use colors that are complimentary to that cover page image, and I think the overall template is something that would work well for environmental-type presentations – or any topic that has a “zen” vibe to it.

You can download the .pptx file (compressed in .zip format) by clicking here.

free 3-page powerpoint template

Just as I mentioned in my post about the grassy morning sunrise PowerPoint template, I’m starting to integrate my own photography into my work as much as I can. It’s not always possible for my 3d renderings or airliner art, but presentation templates are the perfect scenario for incorporating these photos.

Here’s my latest attempt. The photo on the cover slide just so happens to be the interior of the inter-terminal train that runs back and forth inside the McNamara terminal at Metro Airport in Detroit (DTW). I shot it a few months back I when I travelled to Detroit to see the 2014 North American International Auto Show, and I thought an image like that might be useful for something in the future – and the fact that I’m writing about it now makes me feel good that I made the effort to take the shot. I’m always thinking ahead like this – it’s not like I’m forcing myself to do it or anything…it’s just that the designer in me can’t help but to look at everything with an designers eye when I’m out and about doing everyday things. It felt a little bit stupid to take the photo then, but it just goes to show you how even the seemingly little things can be very useful at a later date.

This fully editable PowerPoint template features three slides: the cover slide, an example table slide, and of course a generic bullet-point page. I envision this template to be used for travel and tourism type presentations, and if you just so happen to work at DTW, you’ve hit the gold mine! This is the template for you.

Please note that the font I’m using for this one is Helvetica Nueue, but you could use pretty much any ultra-thin font to achieve the same look.

Please click here to download this .pptx file in .zip format.

air new zealand 787-9

Earlier this week, Boeing rolled out the first 787-9 in the Air New Zealand livery. For those of you who don’t normally follow these sorts of things, the 787-9 is an lengthened version of the original 787-8 and is capable of flying longer distances with increased efficiency. I’ve only seen a handful of pictures of this particular aircraft so far (registration ZK-NZE), but I knew right away that I had to do an illustration of it as soon as I saw it.

The livery that Air New Zealand chose for this aircraft is a one-off special variant, and it features an all-black fuselage with the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise logo printed in white on the rear 3/4 section of the plane. The standard Air New Zealand titles are in white, as are the engine nacelles. It’s a sharp looking aircraft!

From an illustration point of view, this one was more difficult to recreate than most. The black paint meant that I had to put much more detail into the gloss and reflections – details which aren’t normally visible on white and light-colored aircraft. Yeah, I did have to take a bit of artistic liberty on some of those highlights and reflections, but that’s what being an illustrator is all about: emphasizing what’s important, and down-playing what’s not. That means something different to every illustrator, and I’m willing to bet that anyone else who creates an illustration of this aircraft would choose to handle the reflections and highlights differently.

I give Air New Zealand huge props for making such a bold statement on a revolutionary aircraft such as this. The 787-9 is going to be hugely popular with the airlines and they played the launch customer role perfectly by designing such a stunning livery for an equally stunning aircraft.

Need this illustration with a white background? I’ve got it, and you can download it here.

free grassy morning sunrise powerpoint template

Although my primary creative interest lies solidly on the digital illustration side of things, I admit that I’ve always been a bit of a shutterbug. I have a deep appreciation for good photography, but I felt like I didn’t have the patience to do it myself – it takes a lot of effort to take really good pictures! Because of that, my camera never really came out of the bag unless I was traveling or doing out of the ordinary things.

That all changed when I got my first smartphone back in the summer of 2009. The quality of the camera in that iPhone 3GS wasn’t all that great, but having a camera with me wherever I went totally blew my mind (and greatly expanded my creative horizons). I found myself taking pictures of ordinary things that I never even considered in my pre-smartphone days, and as a result, I quickly started to build up a pretty nice collection of artistic photos to integrate into my work.

This PowerPoint template is a perfect example. It’s pretty rare for me to integrate photography into my stock digital assets, but I’ve decided to flex my creative muscles a bit and start utilizing growing photo collection. Those of you who have been following my work since the beginning will understand how radical of a departure this is for me!

Anyway – the cover slide of this presentation template is a photo that I took several weeks ago during an early-morning walk through the neighborhood. I thought it would be a perfect image for a presentation about the environment or any other type of “green” topic, and I gave it a little extra design spice by overlaying a frosted white transparent card over top. I think that a really thin 1-pixel line drawing of your company logo or icon would look really cool over top of that, so please feel free to experiment with this and make it your own.

You can download this template (for free, of course) by clicking here.

precision calipers presentation templates

I recently finished up a set of stock illustrations featuring precision metal calipers, and it dawned on me that the industrial designer in me really likes the design of those little things. No, not my own 3d illustrations (ha!), but the calipers themselves. You’ll see that they are truly works of art if you take the time to really study them, especially when they are built really well with the right amount of heft and silky smooth operation. Precision tools are an amazing thing.

Anyway, I had been kicking around some ideas for some stock presentation templates featuring calipers for a long time so I spent some time this week to knock a few out. I based all of these on this single upright caliper illustration – mostly because I think they look best in this position and I thought it would be easiest to build templates around them in a simple straight-on view.

This first keynote template is a colorful design featuring the calipers over top of a purple and gray background with an abstract blueprint-style drawing texture. It’s generic enough that you could use it for pretty much anything relating to engineering and design.

colorful metal calipers presentation theme

Fully editable Apple Keynote presentation template. Includes cover, text, and table pages. Precision calipers theme.

For the next template, I decided to strip out the color of the previous one (you know me…the king of monochrome) and use little splashes of color in strategic places to bring visual interest to the template. I tend to like this one better than the first, simply because it’s not so visually busy and it lets the content stand out a little more.

dark metal calipers presentation theme

Fully editable Apple Keynote presentation template. Includes cover, text, and table pages. Dark precision calipers theme.

Note: you can purchase high-res versions of the background images for both of the above templates here and here.

The next template is a lot simpler. I really liked that light orange accent color I had been using in the previous two templates so I wanted to create a light layout that used that specific color as the core of the design. I also decided to step away from that generic blueprint image in the background and keep things really simple instead. One other thing to note is that the cube icon on the cover slide can be removed and replaced with your own.

orange and white metal calipers presentation theme

Fully editable Apple Keynote presentation template. Includes cover, text, and table pages. Orange and white calipers theme.

The final two templates are based on that stacked cube icon that I created for the previous template. I intended that to be just a placeholder corporate logo icon (that you cold replace with your own), but I thought that it was a strong enough element to use as the basis of an abstract background texture. These two templates will probably be less useful to most because of the fact that the background pattern is based on the company logo/icon, but I included them here just in case there is an odd chance that someone likes them and can somehow integrate thier own brand into them.

Blue and gray block pattern precision calipers theme

Fully editable Apple Keynote presentation template. Includes cover, text, and table pages. Blue and gray block pattern precision calipers theme.

abstract large blue and gray blocks precision calipers theme

Fully editable Apple Keynote presentation template. Includes cover, text, and table pages. Abstract large blue and gray blocks precision calipers theme.

One final thing: you’ll need Keynote to open and edit these files (and then you can then export to Microsoft PowerPoint if you’d like). If you haven’t tried Keynote yet, do yourself a favor and start using it. No, it’s not as powerful as PowerPoint, but it’s user-friendliness and the way it handles elements with pixel-perfect precision makes up for that in a big way. It took me a while to fully convert over myself, but I’m glad I took the time to experiment with it.