Lighting watercolours for photograpy

It’s always great borrowing someone else’s fancy kit; a friend was visiting with some £160 LED light boxes so I thought I’d have a go with using this technique for capturing watercolours or other drawings done on textured paper – something that I’ve struggled with in the past, especially when trying to create icons for websites. I was absolutely delighted with the results, now I just need to find some more reasonably-priced lights that will achieve the same results.

BBC R&D project at the Commonwealth Games – video overlay

BBC R&D have a cool project called IP Studio, which is looking to ditch the direct wiring of live sound and video equipment, and allow programmes to be produced using all the flexibility the internet has to offer. The technology was showcased using a super-high-definition broadcast of coverage from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, via a sound desk and presenter in London.

This short video of interviews with IP Studio team members was produced by Alia Sheikh, and shows in their own words why they think that this is an important and exciting project.

I was tasked with enhancing the impact and clarity of key points. Once I received a cut of the interviews, I had a few days to transcribe the contents, plan and produce animated overlays. I created a distillation of the interviewees’ words, then manipulating the layout and timing with which they appeared to echo the speakers visually. With the addition of a few basic animated diagrams, the overlay was added to an Ultra High Definition version of the interviews, and become one of the first pieces to be broadcast at this resolution.

It was fantastic project to work on – self-contained, with very tight deadlines, but incorporating elements of technical communications, layout and animation design. I was delighted to get great feedback from the folks at the BBC involved.

Watch the video over on the BBC R&D blog here.

Kitchen and Bathroom hand-painted tiles

Hand-painted for a kitchen (floral), and three bathrooms (black, blue, and trees-with-bright-backgrounds).

I created these with Pébéo Porcelaine 150 paints, and Marabu Porcelain Painter fine-line pens. They’re baked after drying to become ‘dishwasher safe’, but we have some concerns around durability, so we may add tile sealant or other protective coatings before using them in anger.

The paint is translucent and shows every brushstroke, dries quickly and subsequent layers lift earlier ones, so it’s really tricky to get consistent results with – I especially had trouble with areas of saturated colour, be they solid or gradients. Textures were much easier to achieve. The pen also was tricky to work with – the ink dries onto the special (and fantastic!) nib within seconds of you getting distracted by something, so I had to keep the lid in my free hand so that I wouldn’t forget to cap the pen. When (and I don’t mean ‘if’) the tip gets clogged, I found the best way to clear it was to soak it in warm water until most of the pigment floats away, then flush it through with clean water. I’d then blow through it to get the water out as much as possible (it mucks up the ink), and use a pin and magnifying glass to remove any stubborn pigment from the weird little flanges that channel ink down to the tip of the soft plastic nib.

A very interesting and tricky medium, but I think after this many paintings I’ve got enough of a handle on things to be able to achieve what I set out to when setting paint to tile.

Inspiring web design

For informational purposes, here are some of the site themes and designs I’ve taken inspiration from in coming up with my new layout.

Gallerise by Themes Kingdom

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It’s not responsive (increasingly critical!) so it doesn’t behave nicely when the window width shrinks, but I love this theme’s alternative to a splash/slideshow at the top of a website. I hope that my version can have slideshows or gifs to make it even more eye-catching, but for now, it’s an exciting, unusual start.

Legend! by Dzyngiri via TemplateCreme


The thumbnail doesn’t show it very well, but I love this responsive theme, especially the ‘team’ section at the bottom – I think it does a great job of introducing everything on one page, in a single column. The colours used to break up the page are a bit scorching, but by using blocks instead of lines you get an interesting exercise in contrast and focus.

TXT by HTML5 Up

It’s not a wordpress theme, but I adore this design – most particularly the use of icons, and the line/text delimiters. Of course, its test text being based on the Text Adventures I adore doesn’t hurt… There are many lovely themes on their site – definitely something that I’ll be giving a second look.

I’m not sure yet exactly how I’m going to construct the website, but I’m sure I’ll be taking much more inspiration from awesome designs such as these.