Interview Project Part II – Toy Block Train

When I got the call that I was invited to interview with Declynn James, the two-year-old creative director at Brunner, I quickly set out on a new construction project. This time, it had to be something cool, entertaining. An object or toy he would be able to play with.  Initially, I had the idea of making a train conductor hat like the one Alec Baldwin wears in the Thomas the Tank Engine series. When I asked the four-year-old son of a family friend what he thought of the hat idea, he looked very very bored.

I instead settled on blocks. Toy blocks. I knew I could make them and paint them and Declynn could play with them.  A conversation with my best friend over a plate of Thai Red Curry took it all to the next level.  I told him what I wanted to do, toy blocks.  But he recommended sticking to the train idea.  We settled on making a toy train where its guts were made of toy blocks.

The best part about this night was we had just eaten, I was tired and could have very easily put this off.  Instead, I took a chance and TJ Hawk and I drove to Lowes and then to his home to start work on this Toy Block Train.  What ensued was one of the best collaborations we’ve ever had.


  • Poplar 2×4
  • Dowels
  • Poplar 1×1
  • Screws
  • Wood Glue
  • High Grit Sandpaper

We were table-sawing the tiny block pieces at midnight. But we were careful to whisper.

DSC03371 DSC03370 DSC03372

After spending a few more hours setting up the frame and sanding the little toy blocks, we finalized the design.  TJ took care of the dowels that would hold the blocks in place.  He also built a cute little cow catcher for the front, bolted the wheels, and screwed in a cab and smokestack.

IMG00819-20121027-1801It was well held together when it came back to me but needed a lot of touching up.  The screws had ripped some of the dowels and they needed to be glued.  Also, everything needed to be painted. I’ll go into the paintwork for my next post but special shoutout to TJ Hawk for all his help on this project.


Interview Project – Children’s Book

Sitting in the White House diner with my father a week after Dragon*con, I opened the day’s print of the Atlanta Business Chronicle.  Out slipped a leaflet and on it was a challenge to talented people across the city.  Prove to an ad agency, Brunner, or rather its newest 26-month-old creative director that you have the ability to imagine, surprise and delight the world with the same unhindered passion as a toddler.  Mulling over a  country ham, I committed myself to give my very best and find a way to impress this creative director, Declynn James.  This blog post as well as the following post are the projects I undertook to answer Brunner’s challenge.


Following breakfast, I spent the rest of the day in the Buckhead library and luckily an idea came to me.  Why not make a children’s book for Declynn James?  What would the children’s book be about?  Me, of course!  The book would be a transplant of my resume and work experience into a format familiar to a 2-year-old.  With library card in hand, I quickly checked out what would become my greatest literary and artistic inspiration for this project.


There were so many horrible setbacks that almost kept this project from failing.  I cannot draw, much less draw on a computer with Photoshop.  My dad recommended I turn something in to Brunner by the end of the week, which gave me approximately four days to learn how to draw, print and bind this together.

Some of my ideas turned out real bad.  I originally planned to put all the printed sheets on cardboard, but after finding out cardboard’s toxicity I switched to fun foam.  Way too much time was spent making cardboard pieces look like my face in profile.  The idea was that a book about me should look like me even in its shape.

IMG_1211It was a cute idea but thankfully a friend at Michael’s steered me in the fun foam direction.

The drawings were done using Adobe Photoshop CS5 and a Wacom Bamboo Tablet I picked up when I was in grad school.


A straight week of sleepless nights trying to make magic happen in Photoshop, I finished seven slides (technically 14 pages) telling my story from college until my return to Atlanta.  At 4am, Friday, the awesome staff at FedEx Office (not joking, the people at the FedEx office in Buckhead are amazing, thank you all so much!) helped me finish printing. Below is the gallery of the raw slides telling my story and yes they look like a 2-year-old drew them.

I carved, glued and punched holes through the side of the book with a hobby knife and stuck metal rings to keep it all together.  There were bits of fun foam flaking off but it was done!


There were several interactive bits for Declynn too.  On the college page, my beard had yarn on it.  For the D.C. page, there was an actual penny glued into the book.  The best page was the one with the Dragon*con costumes.  I made two little fun foam dolls of my Fury and Red Lantern costumes.  There was velcro on the backs of them and you could place them over me on the opposite page.


It was all very intense and really difficult for me, but I loved it.  I was able to turn the book in Friday morning, get a few brief words with one of their lead staffers and then go home and sleep.  Turns out I wasn’t the only person to think of the book idea, but I was one of the first to get it in their hands.  Also, I called them constantly to make sure I had a shot at an interview.  Persistence.

The book did its job and I got an interview with Declynn himself!  Since they kept my book, I used it to help tell my story to him.  The usefulness of the book turned out to be far more incredible than I could have predicted.  He reacted almost exactly as I hoped he would for every page.  Plus, it guided me toward talking about the most important experiences in my life.

Thank you Brunner for this amazing challenge!  It was one of the hardest and best experiences of my life!

Cheerwine Hipster Costume – Dragon*Con 2012

This year for Dragon*Con, I wanted to take a different approach as well as make my own costume pieces.  The project needed to incorporate cardboard and my favorite beverage, Cheerwine.  With limited experience in 3D model design and the inability to use Pepakura on the Mac, I settled with objects I could easily obtain, a hat, glasses and vest.  All of these fit well under a common theme, which was “hipster.”  Seeing as Cheerwine is still somewhat underground and I am the biggest fan of it among my friends, personality-wise it felt like a perfect fit.

The Vest

The vest was a thrift store purchase from a Redditor trying to sell a few knick-knacks before going to college.  While it probably would have made the project easier to cut it up and work on top of the pieces, I just didn’t have the heart to shred this antique.

The vest was rested on cardboard and that’s how I got my templates.

With the templates, I took several cereal and whole grain food boxes to make the backplate that the Cheerwine box pieces would rest on.

As you can see, it was very bulky and uncomfortable at this point.

Designing the Cheerwine pattern was based on these two classy vests.

The first two attempts really didn’t look right and didn’t make sense to those unfamiliar with what I was doing.

The end result pattern looks much better. Communicates the idea well.  The spaces in between need to be filled with Acrylic white paint.  Exhausting but the effect worked.

The back pattern is more hodgepodged. I wanted it to really have as much clear writing on it as possible.  I didn’t want it to look like the front because many of the vests I researched had a different back than front.

Because the cereal boxes were less pliable than I thought, I needed to let the vest sit overnight with clamps and 2 liter bottles in the inside.  Eventually, there needed to be bolster pieces on the side that served as seams.  They also made the vest more comfortable.

And Viola! The vest is complete!

The Hat

This is a Nordstrom Rack hat I picked up.  It fit perfectly.  But sadly, I had to chop it up.

These were my template pieces.  Using a hobby knike, I cut the Cheerwine boxes over them.

There was a lot of trial and error. Because it was cardboard, the pieces didn’t flex as much as I would have liked.

The pieces in the back won’t flip up like I planned which forces you to wear it on the back of the head.  Thankfully, that’s a more appropriate hipster style.  It became obvious that an underside piece for the rim was needed.

At last! The finished hat. Complete with my ugly mug.  It’s rough but looks cohesive enough to wear.  Trimming the edges on the inside made it very comfortable.

The Glasses

The glasses were very simple.  A cardboard cut-out and then a little Cheerwine cover

Lookin’ snazzy.  They need better insert pieces but I was happy with them as they are.  Just a little glue gun and they were ship-shape for a sweaty day at Dragon*Con.

The Complete Project

Photo (c) Bryan Humphrey (aka Mad Scientist with a Camera)

This was a fun project to put together.  Very happy with the result and got some great photos at Dragon*Con.

New Bioshock Infinite Enemy – Robot Minigun George Washington

"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."..with a freakin' minigun.

Irrational Games has kicked off a video series showcasing a few special Bioshock Infinite enemies, exiting their lengthy pause from any news of the game.  In Episode 1 we’re introduced to an uncanny-valley Hall of Presidents animatronic George Washington wielding a massive minigun.  The video talks about the character’s creation and place in the Bioshock world.  Best part is the creepy face continuing to stare at you while body focuses on a nearby turret. *shudder*  Here’s hoping we’ll see a Robot Jefferson, Robot Franklin, Robot Jackson, and Robot Lincoln.  Hit the bump below to see the video.

Heavy Hitters Part 1: Motorized Patriot

Bioshock Infinite – 15 minute Trailer Reactions, Comments, Predictions

There is no exaggeration when I say that Bioshock Infinite is one of the most hotly anticipated games in the industry right now.  It certainly commands attention within the hardcore gaming community.  Many of the same gamers who are excited for this game loved and adored the first Bioshock games.  Although, with its novel art design and spectacular setting, the game is likely to expand outside the realm of video game fandom and into the world of pop culture.

No doubt the anticipation for the game is matched by the anxiety of waiting for its 2012 release.  So to ease my own anxiety, I’ve chosen to put together this unique post.  I offer my reactions, thoughts, concerns, and predictions of the game following the viewing of the much lauded 15-minute E3 trailer.  Formerly only viewed by game journalists, Ken Levine (the Creative Director behind the project) and Irrational Games answered the outcry for more footage and delivered this gorgeous playthrough below.

If you haven’t seen it already, borrow 15 minutes from your day and, as Gametrailers says, “lose yourself in the floating sky-world of Columbia”

The way I feel most comfortable approaching this is just to cover my thoughts as I best remember them. No particular order. (edit: I started writing this about a week before GameTrailers released their play by play so don’t hate)  Onward! Continue reading

Redneck Bugatti

One of a kind piece of machinery

Driving down in Starke a few days ago, I found this delicious little gem of Redneck DIY.  I like to call it the “Redneck Bugatti”.

The thing I immediately recognized was how much it reminded me of those old fancy cars from the 30s and 40s.  The ones you would always see made fun of in cartoons.  The cab seated so far in the back reminded me immediately of the ultra-rare Bugatti Royale.  

For those of you who care to know, there are only 6 Bugatti Royales in the world.  Check here for the history.

1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic (C)

But it also looks a little like the 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic with its cab so far in the rear.

I’ve tried to let the photos speak for themselves but I’ll give a little more info.  The vehicle is actually a ’74 Midget built on a ’74 Corvette frame, with some additional metal plating at the front.  Under that frame is a horribly rusted chassis.  The owner is asking $4,000 for it.  Considering the Bugatti Royale is estimated to be worth $10 million, I’d say you’re getting a pretty good deal on it. 🙂

F Sharp Bell Corps in Green Lantern Trailer

I’m sure many of you all are as excited as I am about the new Green Lantern movie.  My own excitement was paused until I saw the recent Wondercon footage, which showcased all the spectacular interstellar and cosmic elements of the series.  Aliens glow magnificently and they are rendered with an incredible attention to detail.  While I only recently became a huge Green Lantern fan, I still had the chance to read Alan Moore’s Green Lantern short story about an alien who communicated only through sound.  The alien’s name was Rot Lop Fan, and he lived in a planet in the Obsidian Deeps, which is a lightless void.  His species learned to live without light and communicate via sound (aka sonar).



(C) DC Comics

The little story Alan Moore wrote for him is very wonderful and it features another popular Green Lantern character Katma Tui.  It’s one of the stories included in DC Comics’ DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore.  Rot Lop Fan or a member of the F Sharp Bell Corps is in the new Wondercon footage of Green Lantern but you have look a little bit in order to see him.

Right at about 3:06, and briefly at 3:20, you can make out a gray figure to the right that bears a striking resemblance to Rot Lop Fan.  Here are a few photos below where I try to point him out.

You see that gray hardback figure on the right? Let me point him out.

Not convinced?  I understand.  Let’s get a few more shots in here and get some detail.


See him in the top right?


Alright.  Here’s the one.  See those quiet opaque circles where eyes once rested?  How can you tell me that’s not him. Here’s a higher-res comparison

I’m probably not the first one to notice it but I’m definitely one of the most excited.  Rot Lop Fan’s story was great because it had that Alan Moore charm and it really helped make the Green Lantern Universe seem continually more vast and expansive.  Seeing him here does confirm what Geoff Johns said at a recent panel in Megacon about characters featured in the film.

Here’s hoping this film turns out to be great.