Nike Soccer Illustrations

Posted in Illustration on December 26th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

I was commissioned by Nike to create some soccer illustrations recently.

This was a fun project. Part illustration, part 3d, part design. The goal of the illustration was to show a somewhat moody image of a ball and a glove (2 separate images) within a stadium environment. The Inspiration I was given was a very dark night shot of a field (no stadium) with a floating soccer cleat, and a lot of photoshop work. It wasn’t a bad illustration per-se, but it wasn’t what I would call good.

My first thought is we needed some type of human form. A ball or glove sitting in the middle of a stadium is a bit odd to me. I thought the product needed a little more context. I mentioned this to Nike, and their worry was that the product would get lost if there were soccer players on the field, so my next step was to prove the concept with a sketch.


We decided that the mood Nike was seeking was somewhat film Noire, with the high contrast, dark imagery. We pulled some reference images like the one to the left from the movie Sin City. Not the faces, but the black silhouette body forms. I sent some images like the image to the left to Nike to make sure we were on the right path.

Next step was to create some sketches of the 2 scenes, so I started building some rough scene elements so that I could visualize the scale this stadium would play.

00_stadium_render1The stadium was going to be an interesting challenge. Not only was a ball in the middle of a stadium an odd visual to me, but the ball inside an empty stadium was even worse! So the test for me was to create a composition which would show the stadium, but not the people. Ouch. I figured the dark scene with really bright field lights might somehow do the trick. I also started positioning some very basic 3d characters in poses/crops which worked well with the product + the stadium surroundings.

I realized very quickly that Vray would not be an option for this rendering, as Vray does not have the ability to render out volumetric lights. The Stadium lights needed to be volumetric, which basically means they need to have some visible shape.



Initial pre-renders ended up looking like those above. Using a photo I took of my office mate Jason (medical illustrator) kicking a soccer ball as well as some other reference images, Jason helped me to pose the characters as accurately as possible. I then positioned them within frame, and rim lit them a bit.


We then created some sketches that I used to get signoff on the concept from Nike. Shown here are round 1 and 2 of the soccer ball sketch. Nike thought that the ball in round 1 was much too small, so we had to come up with a knew composition. Once we had full signoff, I worked on rendering out the environment and the product, as Jason worked on the illustrating the final characters. Below are Jason’s final deliverables to me. They ended up brighter, and less contrasty than I had expected, but the scene’s would need some color, so I was happy with the result.


The final illustrations are shown below. I think that the Ball illustration is the nicer of the 2 images. I did some fairly heavy post work on the images to get them where I wanted them. Lots of fake fog was painted in, grain was added, filters were applied in AE. Lastly, I did a lot of color correction and tweaking to get it all working together.

The ball and grass were rendered within Vray, and the stadium was rendered with Cinema’s AR3. The cleat was also rendered in c4d. Note that the glove, although slated to be modeled and rendered, ended up being a photo I took in the studio. The ball we had modeled from a previous product, and we ran out of time to model and texture a full glove.



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Microsoft Zune for TCP

Posted in 3D on December 25th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

zune_3zune_2I worked on this project for Mitch Morse over at The Code Project. He was working with Microsoft on some branding and asked for me to render out some elements for a presentation. We rendered these in Vray. Mitch provided skins for the shoes and the Zune concept, as well as some Zune branding elements to design out the van. We also rendered several packaging concepts not shown here. Scott Wilson, an accomplished industrial designer designed and modeled the Zune (not shown).

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MSR MoRoom Tent

Posted in Animation, Flash on December 25th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

My office mate Jason Laramie hooked me up with Cascade Designs recently. He’s been working with them for a while on various illustration projects. Cascade is the the parent company which owns MSR (Mountain Safety Research), Therm-a-Rest, Platypus, Seal-Line, and Tracks.
tent_exterior_flyCascade’s goal was to animate one of their new tents, to match something RIE has been doing on their site to present their tents. A company in Washington is hired by REI to take photos of their tents in 360 degrees. The take about 2 dozen photos around the tent with and without the fly, and also take a photo of the inside of the tent. Cascade was wondering if we could do something similar in 3d which would be not only nicer, but less expensive and would run in flash.

tent_exteriorSo they sent us one of their tents, and we modeled it from scratch, down to the zipper pulls. Fitting the tent into the studio was a task. We also used cloth simulation to get the wrinkles and stretch marks in the tents so it looks more real. Vray for c4d was just out when we were working on this project, so we used c4d’s basic render engine. No GI – just a bit of ambient occlusion.

We rendered the tent in 360 degrees with and without the fly. A frame for each degree. We then rendered a camera move from outside the tent into the inside, as well as a 360 shot of the interior.

We then pulled all of the image sequences and imported them into flash, created a scripted interface using easing for the rotation and all camera moves, and tied it all together in a test interface.

You can test it out here. It’s pretty amazing the how smooth it all works. Not only is the tent rotation perfectly smooth, but the fly matches the camera angle of the tent exactly, so we scripted in the ability to control the opacity of the fly, at any camera angle. The camera move into the interior of the tent also is seamless with the exterior view. And instead of a single photo of the interior, we have a 360 degree rotation.

Note the interface is a test interface. All functional, but not designed or branded. Ultimately we will be sending MSR our image sequences and they will load them into the interface and tie them to custom buttons via XML. The final interface will also have the ability to zoom in at any frame to a high res image of that frame. Now that vray for c4d is out, the next round will also look much more real. When Cascade does send us their tent line, we will need to find a larger office!

Nike EXP Guard Animation

Posted in Animation on December 21st, 2008 by sketchbookinc

exp_stillOver the last couple years we’ve done several 3d animations for the Nike soccer group. Used for internal marketing, these animations tend to be low on creativity and high on realism and function.

This animation was done for the new EXP guard – which is the ultimate protective soccer shin guard.

See the Animation

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Nike Concept Store – Round 4

Posted in 3D, Animation on December 20th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

I worked on the first round of this project with Ziba. After that Nike took this project inhouse. I worked on this round briefly. As I recall I was filling in for someone.

Round 3 as far as I know went to Eight Inc. In San Francisco.

This most recent round Nike hired Skylab Architecture (Jeff Kovel).

Below are some renderings for this latest round. These were rendered with c4d’s Advanced Render. We also created a 3 minute flythrough of the space in Max using Vray. See the Animation

We had to rebuild the entire store in 3ds max due to c4d’s animation limitations at the time.

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Microsoft Zune Animation for Nervo

Posted in Animation on December 16th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

nervo_zuneWe were responsible for the 3d animation of the Microsoft Zune in this spot for Nervo. We also rendered all the glass pieces. Nando Costa was the designer/animator for all the rest.

The image to the left was rendered at the beginning of the project. We were given the Zune model, and within about 2 hours had it cleaned up, textured, and rendered as shown. Almost an exact replica of the Zunes images we were given as reference.

We ended up scripting a custom reflection rig within cinema which allowed us so get the reflection just right throughout the animation. HDR’s were not cutting it. All rendering was done in VRay.

Zune Attract from sketchbookinc on Vimeo.

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Nike Reuse-A-Shoe Bin

Posted in Design on December 15th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

I was hired by Digital Pond recently to design out a shoe recycle bin for Nike. Nike’s current bin is a cardboard box with a hole on top and a backboard. Not compelling, and it shows a lack of investment in a worthwhile initiative. One of the requirements was that the new bin should not look out of place in a Nike retail environment. It had to look nice in other words. Another requirement was that it should have a media component to it.

I didn’t have much time to spend on this as I was given the go ahead the week my wife gave birth. But I spent a day or so and created 3 options which I thought had some potential. The graphic is placeholder.bin_07 This version is the most playful of the bunch and takes cues from the Nike Sportswear stores and the common use of cubbies made of wood. All 3 cubbies spin, and have a hole in the top corner. The cases provide a way of seeing what’s inside without smelling what’s inside.
bin_03This option includes some curves which creates a more energetic and sporty look. The dark wood is used in a number of Nike environments including Sportswear stores and the House of Hoops.
bin_09Lastly, this version is just clean, probably the most stately of the bunch, and uses the wood with several reveals to fit into the Nike aesthetic.

Something else I was hired to do was work on some creative visuals for the Reuse-A-Shoe initiative. These would be graphics and/or animations which could be used at retail or TV/web. All of these concepts take inspiration from some existing visuals done for Nike ID.

ras_bin_splayedshoeConcept: shoe coming apart (fully realistic) and turning into 3 different athletic fields.
ras_bin_soles Concept: An outdoor court is built using the soles of old shoes. Real people would be composited onto this, and below the court would be empty.
ras_bin_meltshoeThis concept takes the most direct influence from the NIKE ID graphics that were existing. One of them has a shoe dripping color into a swirly pool of paint. This idea would be similar – but instead the shoe would be melting into an athletic court.

I don’t believe any of the sketches were presented to Nike.

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Posted in Design on December 15th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

logosHere are a few logo’s I have done over the years. My guess is NONE of them are currently in use. The one of the sketchbook is currently on my website but I need to do some rebranding. Peter Yue photographed the Sketchbook. He actually came up with the name for my company as far as I remember, circa 1998 or so.


Nike Sportswear Store

Posted in 3D on December 15th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

nsw_01Nike worked with me to visualize the new concept for the Nike Sportswear Store.

This was my first retail project rendered in Vray for c4d, which has a lot of limitations and bugs, but does a much nicer job than c4d. Nike provided the store architecture and fixturing on this project. I textured and lit everything, and then worked on merchandising. Nike provided some rough direction, and I filled in the holes.

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Aperion Speaker Renderings

Posted in 3D on December 14th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

I am working for the weekend on some speaker renderings for Aperion Audio. I’ve been working with AA for over a year now rendering out speakers as they are developed.
AA used to photograph their speakers, but the cost was high, and the quality was low. So AA decided to try 3d rendering as an alternative. The finish on the black speakers is the most difficult to photograph. It’s like a mirror, which calls for vast post work in photoshop on the photos to remove the studio reflections from the casing. In 3d you can control this much easier, although getting a nice reflection is still tough.
The other advantage to rendering in 3d is that the speakers don’t actually need to exist before they are rendered. More and more companies are catching on to this technology. Next step will be animating these speakers on the website product pages.

Hopefully one of these days we will do something more creative with Aperion. Cinema has the ability to animate parameters of any 3d object via the amplitude of an imported soundtrack. Very cool. How useful would that be for animating speakers?

Here’s an example of something a little more creative

Check out to see more renderings, and buy yourself some kick ass speakers while you’re at it!

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Columbia Fabric Animations

Posted in Animation on December 13th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

Recently finished up another project for Columbia. They asked me to animate the 3 fabric technology illustrations I worked on recently. The animation was extremely easy for the most part – with the exception of the RealFlow simulations I created. I spent weeks on this – as I am definitely no RealFlow expert.

I have been learning as I go, and am amazed as much as I am frustrated by this program. I need it from time to time, and was using a contractor to create the realflow elements in my animations. At some point I realized it would be best to buy the program and learn it for myself.

So for the Columbia animations, I had to create several simulations. The first, and most challenging, was rain pounding on the fabric and running off the edge. It’s tough enough getting one stream of fluid doing what you want – but even tougher to get hundreds of little rain droplets behaving. The toughest part of RF is getting the water to take on the properties of real water. Sounds like something that would be built into the program right? I mean, if you have a scale object with real world units inside the program, you should be able create “real world” behaving water right? Nope. You have to build your water from about 2 dozen individual characteristics. Viscosity, density, internal pressure, external pressure, etc. And beyond the fluid properties, you have about a dozen different settings for the mesh which builds around the particles which RF uses during simulation. This is your fluid actually – particles. The mesh is what you render in your 3d application.

In the end I had to look up a custom script which changes the properties of the fluid upon contact with another object. So for the Fabric animation, the rain would come down, and I would swap out each particle at the precise moment that the particle collides with the fabric. You can then add different settings to this second fluid, so that your splash could be more like what you were hoping for. I thank Dan at Columbia for pressing me for a better looking simulation as I went along. My rain was looking like bb’s for a while.

My second simulation involved creating a very viscous fluid like syrup interacting with the material. Not quite as difficult, but definitely a challenge. This particular simulation also involved a lot of tweaking with the fabric properties. As if all the other properties weren’t enough!

Lastly, I worked on several simulations for moisture particles which move up off the body and up through the fabric. This was a pretty fun simulation actually, but in the end we didn’t end up utilizing it. Just way too complex. RealFlow has gas particles, which act differently than fluid particles, and this is what I used for the simulation. I utilized an emitter under the fabric and had hundreds of particles rise until they encountered the fabric – at which point they would collect under the surface. After a time, they would pass up and through the fabric, which created a neat looking animation. Tough part was that we had to work with the illustration which we had created originally, which shows 3 fabric layers pulled apart from each other. So if you are to simulate gas (moisture) going up and through the fabric, which layer does it interact with? The middle layer is the layer which performs all the magic, but do you just ignore the other layers? Ideally this animation would be good if it were done on a non-separated section of cloth. Otherwise it becomes too complex – which it did.

I look forward to posting these animations soon.

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Coke Olympic Kiosks

Posted in Design on December 12th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

My third project with coke involves designing a custom Kiosk system for their Olympic Pin Trading program in Beijing. Where have I been all these years? Apparently Pin Trading is not something I am familiar with!

An agency in China developed a number of concepts for this project which Coke considered too young and child like, so I was to start from scratch with limited direction on where to take the look. The graphics used in the program where developed earlier for the Olympics, so my primary job was to design out a modular fixture system which could be utilized within many different venues. I was tasked with 3 sizes of Kiosk based on square footage.

The graphics I was provided incorporate a lot of rings. Obviously pulling inspiration from the Olympics.coke_kiosk_comps

With that in mind, and considering that Coke is the “catch the wave” brand, my initial instinct was to design some fairly curvy and flowing fixtures. Getting curves to fit together isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially when you are building for modular use, so in the end I decided on a simple, minimalist use of half rings. So each counter had was a half ring shape, or quarter ring shape. This allows you to create round kiosks as well as wavy kiosks and anything in between. You can have stacking fixtures, which rotate around a common axis, as well as matching overhangs and headers.

I was pretty happy with these initial ideas, but after presenting to my contact at Coke, I found out they wanted a more boxy system. Something more square and with a hint of rounding. Round 2 hit the mark, and below are some resulting renderings.coke1coke2

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Columbia Boot Animation

Posted in Animation on December 11th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

My second project with Columbia involves creating a 3d animation of the Bugaboot – Columbia’s premier winter boot. I can’t speak about the specifics of the animation nor the boot due to NDA, but I can speak some of the complexity of this 3d boot’s creation.

Columbia gave us a sample boot as reference, and we modeled everything from scratch, including an insanely complex tread. Wild. Wish the animation was a little more complex, as the detail in this shoe will never be seen at the resolution we rendered at. I’ll have to do some rendering on my own of some close-ups. This boot looks absolutely real.

I don’t have it in front of me but the boot geometry alone was hundreds of thousands of polygons, and that’s before any type of smoothing. The tread alone was around 50k polys. Sadly, Vray had a bug with bump and displacement maps when using UV coordinates, so I am glad the boot is fairly small in the frame of the animation. Vray 1.1 for c4d is now out, and we will have the ability to really improve on this. Not to mention 64 bit rendering, which will handle the millions of polygon’s without blinking. I will post images as soon as I this boot hits market.

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Nike ID @ Niketown NYC

Posted in 3D on December 11th, 2008 by sketchbookinc


I worked on the Nike ID space within Niketown New York with my friend Luis Rueda a while back. Luis has a background in architecture, and he often sketches out his retail spaces on the fly. His weapon of choice is a large, rolling, mechanical dry-erase board which prints the board’s contents onto a piece of paper. Pretty nifty.

This rendering is one of several that were done for the space. All rendered in c4d’s AR. This would have been a great VRay project.

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Aperion Speaker Animation

Posted in Animation, Flash, Web on December 10th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

bravus_microsite1I was contacted by David Stewart regarding an animation for a new speaker from Aperion Audio. I’d never heard of the company, but from the looks of it they make some great home speakers and they are right in my backyard to boot!

The focus of the animation is a new kick-ass subwoofer called the Bravus. The animation was to be kept simple, and would be scripted into flash for an online microsite. Check it out. It’s a fairly simple animation, and was actually my first in Vray. Very impressed with this new render engine.

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Columbia Sportswear Illustrations

Posted in Illustration on December 8th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

My studio mate Jason Laramie was recently hired to create about a dozen illustrations which will be used to show off Columbia’s fabric and footwear technologies. Omni-Tech is Columbia’s flagship fabric technology, which would compare to Gore Tex or Nike’s Storm Fit. All the other technologies would probably not be as recognizable to the general consumer.

Jason, in his first meeting with Columbia, realized that many of the illustrations could benefit greatly from 3d, and he mentioned my name as a possible partner on the project, and they agreed it would be a good idea to utilize me in the process.

Jason and I then sat down and brainstormed a bit regarding what we needed to do, and it was clear that the vast majority of the work should be done in 3d, with some post photoshop work as a final touch.

Jason’s first job was to provide Columbia with some rough sketches of each illustration, and we agreed it would be good to get a comp in front of them of what a more final illustration would look like in style. We decided that the Omni-Tech illustration was the most important of the bunch, so we did some research on what Gore-Tex, Nike and all the other companies with similar technologies were doing for technology illustrations. Most were pretty similar.

Big Giant created a series of hangtag illustrations for Nike several years back which were very nice yet they were a vastly different style from what Columbia was wanting.

Final images look great. Will post once things become public.


Aperion System Builder

Posted in 3D on December 7th, 2008 by sketchbookinc

system_builderMy third project with Aperion, and my second with David Stewart consisted of a “Build Your Own System” project. This was an online application found on the Aperion website which allows people to drag and drop speakers into a pre-defined room, or the users can select from pre-configured systems. 

Aperion provided me with dimensions for 3 room sizes: large, medium, and small. David provided the direction as to what to place the rooms. This was another Vray project which posed many challenged. As you can see above, there is a large shag rug in the scene. I used Cinema’s hair plugin to create the rug, and we consistently ran into problems in rendering the simple scene, as the rug had too many polygons. It was quite the process getting this all rendered believe it or not. 

the second test was in how to “build” the rooms with flash. David’s direction was to animate all the elements into the room. This can be done pretty easily as long as you keep the footage one long animated image sequence right out of cinema. But David was wanting to get each furniture element as a separate file so that he could do the animation in flash, which was much more time consuming on the 3d side. 

Aperion’s budget and our schedule ended up being the defining answer as to which way to proceed. No animation at all.

Next challenge was rendering all the speakers within the 3 rooms. There are dozens of speakers, and you can pretty much put any of the speakers into any of the positions in the room. Front, front center, side, rear, ceiling, wall, etc. Becomes a little mind boggling. We ended up keyframing it out in cinema. So if there were 8 positions, each speakers would get rendered in each of the 8 positions. We had to make sure to place the pivot point of all speakers at the bottom rear of each speaker to make this as automated as possible. We also rendered an ambient occlusion pass and an alpha pass for each frame.

Last was to composite it all together in AE, which posed some issues. Vray’s physical camera tag does not match the default c4d camera, so when we rendered the AO pass, the camera angle was ever so slightly off. Very annoying. Overall it turned out pretty well.

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Under Armour Animation

Posted in Animation on December 2nd, 2008 by sketchbookinc

ua_stillI was hired by Under Armour a few months ago to create a simple animation showing off their new footwear fixturing program. The UA footwear fixtures are a system of interchanging parts, and allows for a great deal of flexibility for the retailer.

This project was extremely quick turn. We built all of the assets from scratch, animated and rendered everything all within 1 week. Even were able to use RealFlow in one section.

All in all, it’s not the sexiest animation – but for a weeks worth of work I can’t complain.

See the Animation