April 16th, 2013 – Before we start, let us be clear, the images you are seeing of the Hunter House look real, but they are all computer renderings. As CGI technologies are making swift strides to mimic reality, very few 3D rendering specialists and graphics designers are rising to the challenges modern rendering software capabilities. Self taught Swedish graphic designer Dia, is one artist who is raising the bar and mastering these programs with his creation of unbelievably realistic images. The artist uses a cocktail of rendering software to blur the lines of real life and fiction.
Dia became interested in graphic design at the age of 20 when he taught himself Adobe Photoshop. He began to mix his artistic sense with graphic design to create artwork as an outlet for self expression. This expression deepened a few years after, when the artist was first acquainted with 3D programs. Since then, Dia has been learning how to master the technicalities of 3D Studio Max, V-Ray, Snow Flow, Marvelous Designer and of course Photoshop, to create surreal life like imagery. Wanting to know more about the person behind the art, we reached out to Dia, who gave us some step-by-step insights into the creation of the Hunter House.
In Dia’s own words: The process of “Hunters house” is quite straight forward. First off, I started to make some sketches of the house. When I say sketches, some of you may think I had pen and pencil, but I actually do all my sketches in 3dsmax as a 3d model. Mostly boxes to get the main shape. For me this way is the only way to go.
After I achieve the house shape and the main idea of the concept I started to collect images from internet to have some inspiration sources. For the modelling I start with Floor Generator to make the wooden cladding for the house. This is an easy way to do something that would take a lot of time straight in 3D studio Max.
For the furniture, I downloaded some pieces from 3dsky.org and others I modeled myself. The chairs and pillows were done with the sheep wool. I knew this would be a challenge and it took a lot of testing. First I created six different hair clumps in 3DS Max with the Max Hair System. When I was happy with the look, I converted them to meshes so I could scatter them out in the model.
The material was quite hard to get right. I tested Fast SSS2 V-Ray material and different approaches but in the end, a simple material was the key, a standard V-Ray material with a sheep plaid map, then I had to fake the SSS effect and use self-illumination on the object.
After I modeled the furniture, I unwrapped and painted textures for the surfaces in Photoshop. For all cloth objects I used Marvelous Designer – this is a great program when its comes to making cloth of any type. I used it for all the pillows and the bed sheet as well.
For the exterior, the main thing here was to create realistic snow and I used a good plugin for 3DS Max called Snow Flow. Snow Flow lets you create snow in a simple way, then I re-form the placement of the snow until I’m satisfied. For example, with Snow Flow you can add some tracks in the snow or create some snow that has drifted. I used rendering.ru to implement pre-modeled trees, then I added snow to them, scattering the snow throughout the model using the Multi-scatter plugin.
As for lighting and effects, I used one HDRI dome for the exterior lighting, and obtained the depth and dynamic of the scene by adding some distance fog using V-Ray Environment Fog. It’s slower to render but it gives you a very nice result. I always try to use a low value as possible in the settings when I use V-Ray Fog and it’s often good enough. In the post work phase, All of my images of “Hunters house” took only about 20 minutes to finish in Photoshop. Since I had worked a lot within 3DS Max, I didn’t need a lot of post work.
Dia proudly works as a 3D rendering specialist at Wingardhs in Gothenburg, Sweden. “Working at Wingardhs is a pleasure, and I love what I do. Creating images on a daily basis is sometimes very hard, but lots of fun.” Dia added.
Renderings by Dia
March 26th, 2013 – If Klingon’s decided to go into the wine business, this futuristic camouflaged winery might suit their style. After six centuries in business, the Antinori family, owners of the Marchesi Antinori Winery, are re-branding their company’s entire estate with a completely refreshed graphic identity and a new state of the art facility hidden in the Chianti hilltops. The Florence-based creatives at Archea Associati are responsible for the contemporary transformation of the six generation company that is run by Marquis Piero Antinori with the support of his three daughters, Albiera, Allegra, and Alessia.
Archea’s Founding architects Laura Andreini, Marco Casamonti, Giovanni Polazzi, and Silvia Fabi worked closely with Antinori for what would be the most pivotal shift for the historic winery to date. The new facility is located in the Village Bargino (San Casciano Val di Pesa) at the foot of the hill along the Firenze-Siena. Amazingly, the 530,000 square foot building is hardly noticeable, the overall visual effect is minimal thanks to the inclusion of the work in the hillside through two ‘cuts’ that follow angular contour lines.
The new build consists of seven separate buildings, of varying sizes and heights, along with a road that connects the building itself with the main access road and a seperate road that connects the floor at first level with the floor at the second level – from an aerial perspective, the entire facility is hidden.
Antinori is a well cultured owner who has made it possible for Archea to pursue, through architecture, the enhancement of the landscape and the surroundings as expression of the cultural and social valence of the place where wine is produced. The physical and intellectual construction of the winery pivots on the profound and deep-rooted ties with the land, a relationship which is so intense and suffered (also in terms of economic investment) as to make the architectural image conceal itself and blend into it.
The façade extends horizontally along the natural slope, paced by the rows of vines which, along with the earth, form its “roof cover”. The openings or cuts discreetly reveal the underground interior: the office areas and bottle storage areas are situated on the top level and the areas where the wine is produced are arranged along the lower.
To cater to the produce at hand, ideal thermo-hygrometric conditions for the slow maturing of the the wine require the barrels to sit in darkness in the terracotta vaults. The architecture is required to work seamlessly with the production process of the grapes, which descend (as if by gravity) from the point of arrival, to the fermentation tanks to the underground barrel vault.
The offices, the administrative areas and executive offices, located on the upper level, are paced by a sequence of internal court illuminated by circular holes scattered across the vineyard-roof. This system also serves to provide light for the guesthouse and the caretaker’s dwelling.
The choice of materials and technologies evoke the feeling of local tradition and simplicity. Terracotta, for example was used throughout the space because it is a natural Italian resource that will work with the surrounding earth to cool and insulate the winery, creating the ideal climatic conditions for the production of wine.
The transformation of the Antinori Winery doesn’t stop with the architecture, Archea created an entirely new graphic identity to match the upgraded structure. Archea designed a system of symbols and icons that are now recognized on site and are commonly used for way finding. These icons are scattered around the facility and lead visitors and winery workers to areas such as food, restrooms, offices, and the shop. The icons create a harmonious dialogue with the spaces, colors, and materials, which becomes functional for the winery visitors.
The design team created an abstract version of the roof side of the facility as the new Antinori Winery logo, which is branded on the bottle, packaging, and signage.
Photography by Leonardo Finotti
February 26th, 2012 – 18 year old Dan Hoopert is only in the early years of his education at university in England, but that’s not stopping the young designer from creating and showcasing his work to the world. Hoopert re-created the alphabet with virtual wire, showing an otherwise simple serif typeface in a complex and intricate way. Basically, this is how your letter looks naked. ‘Hoopert used 3D modeling software to strip the letters down to their wires, and render the alphabet in a new light. In our ordinary daily environment, most of us scan text everyday, not event thinking about what elements actually create the form of the letter, each wire in Hoopert’s work symbolizes the architecture of each letter.
Mezcal Mano Negra claims to be the “best kept secret of Mexico.” Yes, we are talking Mexico, but this is NO Tequila!! This is Mezcal, a distilled alcoholic beverage made from 30 varietals of agave. “Mezcal was never meant to be a smooth spirit, but rather a flavorful, uncompromised, expression of it’s origin.” Though the drink has strong roots in Mexico, the company was looking to re-brand their bottle, packaging, and overall company look to appeal to an international demographic. Mezcal Mano Negra called upon Mexican branding/identity firm Sociedad Anonima for a makeover!
The design gurus played with a contrasting palette of colors like teal, red, white, and black to give the bottle a bold and powerful look. The large, black handprint played an instrumental role in the design. In early meetings, Mezcal’s people explained to the team at Sociedad Anonima that “the hand print represents the hand of the master distiller, the hand of the worker and the hand of the seeker of true mezcal.” The design team translated the company’s wishes into a life-sized handprint stamp on the glass bottle, which complements its old school medicine bottle graphics.
(Photographs: Mezcal Mano Negra)
Long before Jack Black shimmied his way into an extra medium, spandex unitard to play the infamous ‘Nacho Libre’ there were the fierce, high-flying, luchadors of Mexico. When most think of Mexico they generally envision tequila-guzzling, gun-slinging banditos… But alas, we tend to forget about the masquerade of pastel-hued spandex and glittering rinestones. No, we’re not talking about a quinceñera super sale, but about the infamous ‘Lucha Libre’ as they call it in Tijuana.
Not since American Gladiators have sequins and spandex been anything but emasculating. If you really think about it though, how could luchadors with monikers such as ‘Blue Demon’, ‘Thunder Liger’, and ‘Ultimo Dragon’ denote anything other than pure, unadulterated man brawn? It’s no wonder that Jose Guizar created a premium craft beer with these fierce, lycra-clad warriors in mind. Lucha Libre is one of the most iconic symbols in the Mexican culture, so it seems like a no-brainer that the graphic designer would capitalize on one of the culture’s hottest exports with bold, colorful lucha graphics plastered on cold cerveza bottles. “The brand’s identity is inspired by the golden era of lucha in the 1950?s, when movie heroes were not Superman or the X Men, but El Santo and his wingmen, fighting creepy monsters in a silver ’52 Alfa Romeo with surf music in the background,” Guizar explained. “The variety of styles are named after fictional characters also inspired by the 50?s lucha style; Black King (Imperial Stout), Blond Gomez (Lager) and The Vampire’s Son (Red Ale).” You heard it folks, It’s time to grab a cold cerveza, slap on a little lycra, rock the hell out of a few sequins and throw down a barrage of fiercely exotic moves that only a high-flying costumed warrior can. Arriba!
Stefan Sagmeister is a veritable jackknife of skills. A renaissance man in his own right, the famed graphic designer and typographer’s design repertoire spans the gamut of branding, graphics, packaging and album covers. The Grammy-nabbing designer is also the author of “Made You Look“ and “Things I have learned in my life so far,” a teacher at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and of course he runs his design firm, Sagmeister Inc. with work featured in solo shows in Zurich, Vienna, New York, Berlin, Japan, Osaka, Prague, Cologne, and Seoul.
We’re exhausted just thinking about it, which is why it’s no surprise that Sagmeister is currently taking time off for a little R&R in Bali. Knstrct caught up with him during his year-long sabbatical and he was nice enough to share some personal insight – his design heroes, inspirations, all-time favorite font and donning lederhosen, among other things.
Q. What is one essential that you always carry on you?
A. My fathers watch.
Q. The Internet… Has it made design better or worse?
A: Better. The audience is much more interested in design now because almost everybody is a designer themselves, – involved in type-choices and formatting questions etc. This technology driven change has not led to the predicted job losses for designers but to a desire for more sophisticated work from professionals.
Q. The iPad… Do you think print magazines can make a successful transition?
A. No. Right now it looks like consumers are not willing to pay for the kind of digital content most magazine’s have to offer in any meaningful numbers. But I am no expert on that at all.
Q. The art of the album cover… What’s next?
A. I always thought its going to be the cheaply producable, small file size graphic music video, one that looks great on the small screen and can be made by a very small team. I was wrong.
Q. Did you ever wear a lederhosen as a child growing up in Austria?
A. Yes. I even wore leatherhosen to work on my first day at a corporate job in New York. It caused a minor sensation (not in a good way).
Q. How many tubes of Neosporin did you go through after having the details of a talk xacto-ed onto your torso by your intern?
Q. What is your favorite part of a sandwich?
A. The cheese.
Q. Did you ever dream of being anything besides a graphic designer?
A. A mountain bike.
Q. Who influences your work?
A. Tibor Kalman was the single most influential person in my designy life and my one and only design hero. 15 years ago, as a student in NYC, I called him every week for half a year and I got to know the M&Co receptionist really well. When he finally agreed to see me it turned out I had a sketch in my portfolio rather similar in concept and execution then an idea M&Co was just working on: He rushed to show me the prototype out of fear I’d say later he stole it out of my portfolio. I was so flattered. When I finally started working there 5 years later I discovered it was, more than anything else, his incredible salesmanship that set his studio apart from all the others. There were probably a number of people around who were as smart as Tibor (and there were certainly a lot who were better at designing), but nobody else could sell these concepts without any changes, get those ideas with almost no alterations out into the hands of the public. Nobody else was as passionate. As a boss he had no qualms about upsetting his clients or his employees (I remember his reaction to a logo I had worked on for weeks and was very proud of: “Stefan, this is TERRIBLE, just terrible, I am so disappointed”). His big heart was shining through nevertheless. He had the guts to risk everything, I witnessed a very large architecture project where he and M&Co had collaborated with a famous architect and had spent a years worth of work: He was willing to walk away on the question of who will present to the client. Tibor had an uncanny knack for giving advice, for dispersing morsels of wisdom, packaged in rough language later known as Tiborisms: “The most difficult thing when running a design company is not to grow” he told me when I opened my own little studio. “Just don’t go and spend the money they pay you or you are going to be the whore of the ad agencies for the rest of your life” was his parting sentence when I moved to Hong Kong to open up a design studio for Leo Burnett. These insights were also the reason why M&Co. got so much press, journalists could just call him and he would supply the entire structure for a story and some fantastic quotes to boot. He was always happy and ready to jump from one field to another, corporate design, products, city planning, music video, documentary movies, children books, magazine editing were all treated under the mantra “you should do everything twice, the first time you don’t know what you’re doing, the second time you do, the third time its boring”. He did good work containing good ideas for good people.
Q. Who is your personal hero?
A. As mentioned, Tibor Kalman, because he had the most guts of any designer I know and understood that spending energy on making sure that a design appears as designed is as important as designing it. Makoto Saito for selling the same photo shoot to different clients. Rick Valincenti for continuously doing ground breaking work. Paula Scher for designing the best project of her career (the type for the New Jersey Performing Art Center), after a 30 year career, last year.
Q. What work are you proudest of?
A. Likely the whole “Things I have learned” series. The individual projects were a pleasure to design and create, lecturing and exhibiting them was a pleasure, I was pleased with how the book came out and even now, 10 years after we started the series, I have a good time talking about it. We also got a lot of positive and steady feedback about it.
Q. Have you seen any of the Twilight saga (be honest here)?
A. No. And I am not quite sure why this question requires particular honesty.
Q. Where did you put your three Grammy awards?
A. Two are on an a book shelf, the third destroyed when my dog sat on it.
Q. What is your guilty pleasure?
A. Including at least one lie when answering interviews.
Q. What does wasted time look like to you?
A. Like a lemon wafer.
Q. What advice would you give up-and-coming graphic designers?
A. Dont take any advice from tried-and-true graphic designers.
Q. What is your all-time favorite font?
A. My own hand writing.
Q. Can you successfully play an ‘Alphorn?’
A. No. But my first design job, when I was 15, was at a magazine called Alphorn.
Q. Ever caught any unsavory shenanigans on the live cam in your office?
A. Only rehearsed ones.
Hey liquid lunchers, it’s time to raise that glass loud and proud (Yes you). There’s a new brewski that’s here to help you get through those bored board meetings. WORK Labs, a Virginia-based advertising/design/branding agency has brilliantly created their own beer, making us all wonder why we didn’t think of it first. WORK Beer was the brainchild of an art director who fantasized about having his own signature brew. The agency created the beer branding by implementing their existing logo and replicating it throughout boxes, pint glasses and coasters. And did we mention the WORK Beer tap is a hammer? Now no one can possibly fault you for being hammered. It’s time to drink those coworkers of yours under the (conference) table.
The cheek kissing Manhattanites are getting excited for NOHO’s first boutique hotel, The Nolitan, opening up within the next few months. Although, management has been tight lipped about the design of the hotel, KNSTRCT got its hands on the retro graphics that will be branding the hotel. The firm to take on the project is one of New York finest branding/identity firms, Marque.
The bold and curvacious red Nolitan logo is draped over everything from bags, to slippers. While red and white candy stripes act as accent pieces on items such as the hotel gift shop’s packaging, soap boxes, and shower cap containers. Marque did a fantastic job of creating a cohesive brand for the hotel, we are excited to see how the graphics will fit in with the rest of the hotel.