Yeah, I operate… (naval version)

You often hear about ‘operators’…mostly wannabes. In the military, there are many nicknames for them depending on where they are. One of them is “chairborne ranger,” a play on “airborne ranger.” I recently picked up a couple of “chairborne ranger” patches to add to my collection. It also sparked a though about a naval version (since most of the nicknames tend to be Army- or Marine-based).

Using elements from several Navy rates (aka jobs) and using the Trident (SEALs insignia) and the Chairborne Ranger patch as an inspiration, I created the Special Warfare Keyboard Operator device (Navy speak for insignia). The name is a play on both the SEALs and the Special Warfare Craft Crewman (boat driver).

Lots of things…

It’s been a while since I posted, so here’s some quick updates.

My second challenge coin project is now in production for a US Ambassador. That project came about from a coin I designed for a conference last year.

I may be helping a friend’s business soon with graphic support. Should give me some practice and help a friend.

Will be lending some help to my sister’s ambulance district soon too, mostly consulting on getting patches made.

Trigrams survey has gotten a few responses. Seems most of the respondents like the narrower cards. Still processing some of the comments left as well, which might lead to some design adjustments.

Trigrams Early Survey Results

After hitting up friends and family, I have initial survey results for Trigrams.

The most striking result is trend on whether to have a full 8-suit deck or split the cards into 4-suit decks Right now, the prevailing thought is offer a 4-suit pack (core suits of Water, Heaven, Fire, Earth and offer the other 4 suits as an expansion pack.

Other trends include using a character-based back instead of a more abstract one, and going dual-language with both Korean and Chinese.

As of now, the choice of card size is a little more split. Most with a definite opinion favor the traditional Poker size, but’s about a 55-45 split (when giving half of the ‘either’ category to each specific size). Going the traditional size does open up the ease and variety of producers, and could reduce costs a little. More to come on that.

Trigrams Survey

I’ve been re-examining the possibilities of taking Trigrams to production. With more time at home, I’ve started tinkering with the design a little and also researching costs. This deck has been a small labor of love, being one of 3 decks I’ve really developed into full concepts.

With that in mind, I decided to reach out and get a sense of interest in the deck. I created a small survey through Google to collect information. It covers aspects such as design elements and cost.

I am not tracking any personal information, but there is an option to supply an email if you would like to be contacted (completely voluntary) should the project move forward.

Google results

All, even amongst this quarantine, other duties have taken precedence over some of my design work. I do have another coin design in work, but that’ll be another post possibly. In the meantime, I was revisiting my Trigram card deck. For Google giggles, I did a search on ‘trigram cards’ and ‘trigram playing cards.” The results? Several of my images appeared in the top row and were also smattered elsewhere in the search results!

Yes, it’s the simple things.

And chill…

A friend of mine who runs a local screen printing business (Muddy River Ink) inspired this one. He recently printed some “quarantine and chill” shirts, which sparked an idea for me.

In these trying times, humor sometimes does help break the dreary stay-at-home life. So, in that vein, remember to Quarantine and Chill.

Creativity in a Time of COVID

First, I hope all are doing well and staying safe.

As we hunker down into a new normal of less physical interaction, adjustments must be made. In order to minimize the possible spread, my day job is now a work-from-home situation. So, when not doing telework, I maybe spending some time tinkering on various projects…..maybe even some related to the present situation.

If you are cloistered away, whether due to work or caring for family, perhaps take a moment to do something creative. Grab some printer paper and doodle, draw, journal, or just scribble. Find a coloring page on a Pinterest site and let your inner kid out maybe, or even print some for your kids. The point being let your mind wander as your body is asked to do less wandering.

Fonts of color

Recently a friend of mine who runs a screen printing business made some shirts I thought were humorous and asked where he got the logo. It was a generic one from the internet, but he had a time converting the raster image to a vector for better scaling and such. In response, I pointed him to a Reddit about font identification that I get notifications from.

I also remembered finding several color palette pages that might be of use for his business. I used a few of these in the past, especially the team color one, for the hockey jersey concepts. Figuring out a color scheme can be a tricky component of a project, especially when stepping away from simple gradients. I know from map making, the choice of colors can also affect how readable and understandable something is (think colorblindness).

Meet Map Nerd

Map Nerd: n. One who geeks out over maps, cartography, locating things, etc. See also “carto nerd.”

This creation was spurred by a co-worker, a member of a waning breed of cartographers. His suggestion of a “carto nerd” jersey led to this creation. The first iteration was a quick mashup of two icons from the Noun Project. Now, after a fresh Frankenstein session, I present Map Nerd.

You may see more of this creature in the future.

Map Nerd

GIS lends a hand to graphic design

My alter ego is in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In fact, working cartography and GIS in part led to my foray into graphic design. Recently, GIS helped my graphic design. Usually, graphic design helps GIS better portray data.

With the unveiling of the US Space Force’s (USSF) ‘new’ camo (same one the Air Force borrowed from the Army), I decided to try my hand at making a more USSF-specific pattern. Yes, the first one was a tongue-in-cheek star pattern. After that, I took a little more serious look at it.

Here’s where GIS helped out. I wanted to use a hexagon pattern. Easy enough to build in Inkscape. Sort of. Yes, I can create a grid of hexagons, but the rub came in two areas.

The first was making sure all of the cells were actually snapped and aligned. This is fairly easy on a small area, but a larger fabric area introduces lots of edges to snap together. The next issue was randomly coloring all those cells to be a disruptive(ish) pattern, the main reason behind camouflage.

So, how did GIS help? Opening QGIS is the first step. It’s a free GIS suite that runs pretty much on anything. It also has tools to generate a grid and assigned random colors to the cells. After generating a global grid (just for good coverage), I then randomly selected and assigned one of four color values to each cell. Export that to DXF (CAD file) and then import into Inkscape.

Once back in Inkscape, I recolored the greyscale cells (DXF didn’t capture other colors well) for the final pattern. Merge each color and the result is this:

Conceptual USSF camouflage pattern (sample)

For the colors, I borrowed the Navy’s NWU (aka ‘Bluberries) colors and add some green. Why green? Well….they are Space Force (you know, little green men?)