Saturday, February 27, 2010


Phew, it's been a week since I updated this last time! I was having a short trip to Tallinn and having lots of things to think of. I actually took a false start to our winter leave, since it's starting now. Tomorrow, I'll drive to Turku. Hopefully I'll have time to do some school things during the week! (I'm hopelessly behind in some on the things and because it's been so eventful week now, I haven't even thought of doing them yet.:P)

Couple of weeks ago, we were talking about composition with our IMP Design club. I compiled a short introduction to some of things I've heard of with the composition. (It can be downloaded as a pdf file here.) I find the whole subject fascinating, it was one of the reasons I originally applied to TAMK. I wish I had some more time to get into it. But I'm far too organised just to browse through the things. I'm much better while doing some project work and learning the things for that. (E.g. putting that pdf together was quite a lot of fun!)

It's amazing how much one can tell with just the picture composition. The force lines through the picture, the golden ratio, colours, symbolism... And most of the people don't even know how they are manipulated while watching! I like the examples in that Kimmo Pälikkö's book I've mentioned before. It opened my eyes to see why many famous paintings really are so famous. We often think that people were somehow more stupid during the Middle Ages, but at least in the arts they seemed to master many things.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Paper crafting

Today, I finally finished a project I've been playing with for some time. Couple of weeks ago, I got an idea to try to make a paper model of my fav band, Eisbrecher. (Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm hopeless.) I made the stage by computer but had to draw the band members by hand first before transferring them to the electric form. It took me some time, but it was fun! Maybe I should start a career as a paper crafter? ;)

Eisbrecher paper model

Edit: Since there seems to be some traffic to this site from Google, here is the link to the .pdf file you can download and craft yourself. Have fun! (I would be happy to see a pic of the ready made model just to see if it works for anyone else than just me. ;)

If you want to see some more fanart, check my homepage's fanart section. ;)

Monday, February 15, 2010


Last week, we had some talk about colours at school. How to implement it to web pages, what amount is good, what is a good way to use it, etc. It's all very interesting, of course, since most of the people only know the colour wheel from the primary school. Since I've done some drawing and painting in my spare time I know a bit more than that... But nowhere near enough!

To design a colour scheme for a web page, for example, is not the easiest thing in the world. One of our homeworks includes to do exactly that, based on a wireframe model of the navigation of the page. How do you create a harmonic and balanced colour scheme without being too dull and highlighting the areas of interest? Luckily, there are many webpages to help you with that. Especially Skout has several good links in the colour section to help one through. (I played a lot with them last week.) The approach for design starting from navigation, colours, etc. suits me perfectly, since I'm rather organized. We have to code a homepage in few weeks, I have to start thinking the colours for that soon, too.

Here are some random parts from It's only in Finnish, but astonishing with the amount of information about colours...
Red: On top of the typical ones, red is also "the colour of imagination which evokes feelings of celebration".
Blue: There are no known mentions about blue from the time of ancient Greece. Maybe the people didn't see it as we do?
Green: The colour of persistence, pride, even youth.
Yellow: Black text on yellow background is the best combination for printed paper. :o
Black: "Put on your thinking cap." The saying comes from the habit where the judge places a black cap on his head before announcing a capital punishment.
White: There was a white stone in the temple of the Oracle of Delfoi. The stone was said to be the center of the Earth.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

100 Suns

"If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once in the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One... I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." - J. Robert Oppenheimer

There is something otherworldly in nuclear explosions. The amount of power, destruction and death is overwhelming and completely unimaginable for people who have not witnessed them firsthand. Hopefully no one will ever need to witness them again.

But from the artistic point of view nuclear explosions are very symbolic. Michael Light's book "100 Suns" takes a photographical approach to the subject.

100 Suns
(Pic from Amazon)

I bought the book years ago fascinated by the powerful images of different nuclear bombs, their form, shape and history. The book describes each of the explosions in short details, the name (yes, each bomb was named, and often with very macabre names, too!), where it went off, how big it was and so on. Even if it sounds a bit weird, I used to use the book as a sort of coffee table book, watching the pictures and trying to realise what happened in the explosion, when the atoms got split (or fused if it was an H-bomb) and caused the chain reaction. I find it captivating to think what happens to the air in the explosion, when the shock wave forces clouds to form from clear air, how it proceeds forward and creates a short-lived vacuum until the wind blows back to fill it, etc. It feels completely insane to think that people have ever been able to create something so powerful that it's completely out of their hands when it goes off. No wonder some people said those explosions look like harbinger of death itself.

But still, nuclear explosions are good material for designers. The colours, the mushroom shaped cloud, the force and impact... All is fare in graphic design and war. The winners will eventually set the rules.

Two explosions from 100 Suns
Featuring Grable (left), 15 kilotons, Nevada 1953 and Mike, the first fusion bomb, 10,4 megatons, Enewetak Atoll 1952.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google Street View

Yes, I admit. Like x number of people in Finland, also I've been checking some familiar sceneries in Google Street View. First, it's a lot of fun, but after some time you start to get tired of the sceneries you see every day anyway. At the moment, though, when the world here is covered in snow and ice, it's quite relaxing to watch the neighbourhood in the summer, as it was when the pics were taken. It's funny how the year is such a long time that you tend to forget about the other seasons...

For me, thinking how it all was about 20 years ago, it feels amazing to browse through such a database. I always wonder what to say, when the children ask me how did it feel like when there was no internet. What did we do with our pastime? (Yes, what did we do? Anyone?) And about 40 years ago they were asking "where were you when Kennedy was murdered?". Now they are bound to ask "where were you when Google car drove past?". And you have to be pretty disciplined, if you go to the Street View and not think even for a second "I wonder what I did last summer". Well, if you are a lucky (or unlucky) one, now everyone will know what you did last summer. For me, it took some time to locate my car, but I'm pretty sure I finally found it. (No, I won't tell you where it is. I leave some room for your dirty imagination.)

Anyway, browsing through the Street View sure gives me some ideas. I wonder if you could use it to ubiquitous or interactive media. When people get tired of geocaching in real life, they can go for the Street View. There sure would be some room for looking for clues.

The house I currently live in.
This pic is by Google (surprise, surprise!)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Breaking the ice

When it comes to music, my favourite genre is Neue Deutsche Härte. Rather unfamiliar to many people, the only band that's really made it through internationally is definitely Rammstein. I've been a fan of Rammstein since 2000, but it's not the only band of NDH there is. My other favourites in that field are Megaherz and Oomph! but especially Eisbrecher.

I tend to use music as my inspiration, I don't normally use it as a background noise. I love to really listen to it, the words (yes, I can speak German), sounds, mood, etc. I love to close my eyes and feel the energy. And I love to draw ideas and strength from it to create something new.

Some time ago, I used my newly discovered skills with Adobe Illustrator to create this pic of an icebreaker (Eisbrecher in English). I think it became out pretty nice, even if I "only" created the wireframe out of a picture template. Clickety click to see it bigger.

Eisbrecher ship

Btw, it's funny, but my favourite cloth brand is also Icebreaker. I fell in love with it in New Zealand.

Friday, February 5, 2010


In this period, we are learning html coding. It's actually one of my favourite subjects. Looong time ago, I taught myself some basics in it. I didn't get very far, since e.g. CSS was quite new at the time, and I found it too challenging to learn. But I see now that I still remember quite a lot about the subject. I'm happy about that. (I have incredible persistence in certain things. I dwell into the subject for several hours a day. Some of the things I remember learning in such way are html and German language. I wish I could be so enthusiastic about everything. :P)

I don't really know why I like html, I guess I'm nerd enough. (Maybe that's become clear from my previous posts?) I like the organisation in the structure and the "code", when you need to code the special characters, like è, ë or €, into it. Maybe I have masochistic trait in me, huh? But I see every code as piece of art and sometimes I see the whole world the way John Nash sees it in "A Beautiful Mind".

We are still in the beginning of the course, lots more to learn. This weekend I'll try to recall my long-forgotten skills in the field. In a bit more than a month we need to present a self-coded website, so maybe I should start planning. There are so many different group works on at the moment, that I need to organise.

Today is 5.2., Runeberg's Day. For the date, I baked some Runeberg's tortes. It's an annual habit of mine. :) Omnomnom!

Runeberg's tortes

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Heh, I'm famous

There is a blog entry in our school's media blog about us IMPs (Interactive Media Programme students) doing the film assignments I talked about in one of my previous posts (here).

I seem to be using the camera as a pro. :) Way to go!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Books and other essentials

There is quite a lot of professional and not-so-professional literature we need to read for our classes. (We have a great library at school and it's always good for browsing.) I list here few books I've been reading recently. Most of them are mine, start of a good collection, hopefully.

Dinucci/Giudice/Stiles: Elements of Web Design (2nd Edition)
A bit outdated and very basic, but good glance at what is the whole www about. A good read, even if some parts feel like Windows 98.

Steve Krug: Don't make me think!
Entertainingly written package about good webpage design. What to do so that your page won't look like a lawnmower when it's actually V8.

Matthew MacDonald: Creating a Web Site - The Missing Manual
As stated. When you master this, you can code a perfect website and retire to Bahamas when you are 24. Or at least buy another pottle of milk.

Maggie Macnab: Decoding Design - Understanding and Using Symbols in Visual Communication
About subliminal messages in symbols through numbers. (Especially good in logo design.) You never knew how obvious it was, until it was obvious.

Kimmo Pälikkö: Creating Art - Theory & Technique (This book's net version is available for free in the author's website.)
One of my favourite books about picture composition and how to guide the viewer's gaze across the pic to where you want. It has also great examples from famous painters which reveal why some works are so impressive. All in all, an olive in my martini.

Timothy Samara: Design Elements - A Graphic Style Manual
Appealing volume. Know the rules and know when to break them - only in graphic design, not suitable for societies.

Smith/Smith/Gerantabee: Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium All-In-One for Dummies
When you master this, you can create perfect webcontent, retire to Bahamas when you are 24 and shoo off desperate companies wanting to hire you. Or get another pottle of milk.

No book is really worth reading without a proper drink. In New Zealand, I learned what good coffee is about. Unfortunately, in Finland it's pretty impossible to find, so I too often settle for filtered coffee. Here is my friend, George, enjoying some great coffee in the observatory cafe I used to work in:

George with a cup of coffee

Monday, February 1, 2010

Power in the lines

After a weekend packed with two days of work and one exhilarating evening with my two best friends in Turku, I returned to Tampere by train. I've been travelling in trains quite a lot during my life. (Six years ago I underwent women's voluntary military service here in Finland. The garrisons I served in were both pretty far off, so I travelled around 9 to 10 hours a week, mostly in trains.)

There are many things one can do in a train. One of my favourite pastimes is to watch the railroad overhead wires hanging against the sky. Because the sky is often rather featureless and the train is moving quite fast, I soon get the feeling that I am standing still and the wires are the ones that do the movement. Watching them rush forward, cross each other, duck under bridges and avoiding poles is relaxing and extremely hypnotizing. I often listen to the music at the same time and always end up thinking about staff lines, because the wires seem to be moving in the rhythm with the music. The dance with the wires also reminds me of young calves when they get to the spring paddock for the first time. They are leaping around in joy, curious to find out what's behind the next pole.

I am obsessed with power lines in general, too. Currently, I live right next to a railroad and during these severe frosts in Finland this winter I've been adoring the bright blue sparkle between the train pantograph and the contact wire while passing. (When it's cold and moist enough, the wires get frosty and the watery connection forces the electricity to be visible.) Especially when it's dark the sparkle is bright enough to light up my whole room and the surrounding scenery as well with its gloomy cold power. (Heh, the blue-cold notion again. The wires have 25 000 volts and the sparkle can reach 5000 degrees C, so not that "cold"!)

Also plain power lines are close to my heart. When I see power grid lines, I'm often thinking how the electricity hastes through the cables with almost the speed of light across the country. No rush hours, no street jams. Just electromagnetics and pure power. When I was a kid, I thought the grid poles always seemed to look like giant men who are holding the cables up so that they won't touch the ground. Sometimes I just go for a walk outside to follow the lines or to take pics of them. My favourite power pole is located close to the place I used to live in. I always thought it looks like some character from Transformers firing its weapons.

Power line