tools

Kickstarter | Penxo by john cheng

Recently I've returned to using 2mm mechanical pencils to get a more organic feel in my sketches. I love the sharp point of a 0.5 mm pencil, but it was just too rigid for me.

But me being me, I search near and far for the writing utensil best suited for me. This also means that form and function must be on the same level. In the case of my everyday carry pen, I searched for about 2 years before landing happily on the Karas Kustoms Retrakt with a Parker Pen fine ball point tip refill. The aesthetics of the pen are beautiful and the function of the Parker refill suit my writing and sketching needs perfectly.

I'm undergoing the same process at the moment with my pencil. Currently I'm using a Staedtler 2mm pencil and functionality wise, it works fine. The aesthetics portion however, are just so so in my opinion. But as always, Kickstarter seems to save the day. I discovered the Penxo today and immediately backed the project! It is such a beautiful and simple writing utensil an the perfect mix of beauty and utility. I just hope that when I receive my very own Penxo, it will hold up to it's presumed glory.

Tested: Felt Creatures with Woolbuddy by john cheng

Norm from Tested interviews Jackie Huang from "Woolbuddies" at WonderCon 2015. I saw this guy a few years back at Dcon and his kits are amazing. I'm thinking about buying a kit again!

If you're looking for a fun weekend project or a fun DIY gift for someone, this is definitely a fun project to pick up.

At WonderCon, we meet up with Jackie Huang, an artist who sculpts with felt to create fantastic creatures. Jackie's "Woolbuddies" take the form of everything from adorable owls to giant dragons and even an R2-D2 droid. We learn about the felting process and get a quick demo!

How To Turn Styrofoam, Into Solid Aluminum by john cheng

Watch the latest King of Random video that uses Styrofoam to create an aluminum positive. Time to heat up that crucible!

Here's how to turn almost any styrofoam creation you can think up, into solid aluminum. It's almost like magic! :) See more metal casting experiments: http://bit.ly/PopCanMelting Next Video: Coming Soon! Previous Video: Homemade Microwave Popcorn: http://bit.ly/MicrowavePopcorn Subscribe for new videos every 5 days! http://bit.ly/TKoRSubscribe Join my email list!

Man at Arms: Hylian Shield by john cheng

The guys over at Man at Arms: Reforged build the Hylian Shield from scratch. Awesome!

Which weapon will be next? ►► Subscribe! http://bit.ly/AWEsub Every other Monday, our team of blacksmiths and craftsman will be building some of your favorite weapons, and some weapons that you've never seen before. This week, we're recreating Link's Hylian Shield from Zelda!

Square Cash by Square by john cheng

Using mobile devices to make payments will be inevitable, thus all the different companies trying to figure out how to do this correctly especially the peer to peer aspect. Paypal and Venmo are the ones that come to mind. Square cash is a new service created by Square that uses the "$" tag with a handle you create in order go get paid. Watch the video to see how they envision this to work.

Let me put it this way, it'll make payments that much easier at conventions when a customer doesn't have cash or credit card on hand to pay for goods, but has their phone.

Create a $Cashtag to get paid fast. Powered by Square Cash, a $Cashtag is a simple name that you create and can share with anyone, anywhere, online or off. Claim your $Cashtag today.

Do With Less by john cheng

I haven't been stressed about money per se, but I've been concerned over my spending habits and have wondering if I'm living beyond my means. The idea of living paycheck to paycheck frightens me, but luckily, I've been able to save up over the years so that my fear over spending money has no real solid ground. But still, I must keep myself in check.

The key to eternal happiness is low overhead and no debt.
— Lynda Barry

I read the above quote today on Austin Kleon's blog post "Keep your overhead low" and it piqued my interest. Especially the equation he provided:

Low overhead + “do what you love” = a good life.
“I deserve nice things” + “do what you love” = a time bomb.

Seeing the word 'overhead' automatically has an association with business plans, but really can be applied to our lives as well. Too often do I see people living beyond their means only to fall back and suddenly realize that they really shouldn't have spent that money. Then I turn that lens on myself and see the same thing. We live in a world that thrives on consumerism and shuns those around us that don't have the latest iPhone, but when it comes down to it, does owning high end 'status symbols' change who you really are? I would argue no, you are still who you are, just more in debt.

Live frugally so you can do the work you want to do. Save up some “screw you” money, so you can quit a job you hate to take a job you like better. Turn away venture capital money and bootstrap so you can keep control over your business.

Remember, you define you, not your stuff. Create more, spend less.

Kickstarter - Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production by john cheng

There are many tools and practices that we use now inside InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator that had practical purposes behind them when they were produced manually by hand rather than by the computer. Some of these reasons and best practices are starting to wane due to the very fact that we rely on the computer to do so much now. It is for this reason that we must understand the history behind graphic design and the old school processes that got us to where we are today.

With that, I say you check out this awesome kickstarter project that delves into the history of graphic design and how our graphic design predecessors worked day to day.

Imagine designing and printing a brochure—without a computer. How would you set the type—making sure it fit your layout? How would you crop the images? How would you place those images alongside your text? And what would you hand over to the offset printer when you were done?
Up until just 30 years ago when the desktop computer debuted, this whole process would have been primarily done by hand, and with the aide of fascinating machines that used a variety of ways to get type and image on to the printed page.
Mad Men gives us viewers small glimpses into this detail-oriented, time-consuming process—but working as a commercial/graphic artist in the pre-desktop computer era entailed a lot more than marker comps for client meetings. Graphic Means will explore these methods and the skilled people who used them.

Willy Lastra Glass Blowing Studio in Buenos Aires by john cheng

Check out this great video of Willy Lastra's glass blowing studio in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Get a closer look into his studio as well as why he decided to open up this studio.

Un perfil sobre Willy Lastra, soplador de vidrio artesanal, en su taller de Berazategui, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Música: Mientras tanto Narcotango de su disco Cuenco -- A profile on Argentine glassblower Willy Lastra and his workshop in Berazategui, Buenos Aires. Music: Mientas tanto by Narcotango from their album Cuenco

Equil: Smartmarker by john cheng

A while back I posted on a cool whiteboard called Smart Kapp that would help you collaborate in real time with colleagues via whiteboard. Equil's Smartmarker is another similar solution that allows you to use a larger surface. I want one of these!

The new, digital marker that makes any whiteboarding surface smart. The Equil Smartmarker let's everyone stay on the same page, no matter where you happen to be. Save, share and stream whiteboard notes and drawings to anyone on any device, whether in the same room or half a world away.

Frere-Jones: Typeface Mechanics 001 by john cheng

Great posting by Tobias Frere-Jones on the subtle nuances of type design dealing with the tension between logic and optics. Better do a read up on this if you are going to do some type design soon.

Our conscious minds want to draw one shape, but our eyes need to see another. Part of typeface design is managing this eternal friction between logic and optics. It’s always there, no matter the style.

Kickstarter: CoordiMate by john cheng

MATHEMATICIANS! Heed my words! Coordimate is coming!!!

I was never a math wiz back in highschool, but i do remember having to draw graphs over and over and over and over.... I'm pretty sure there are a lot of you who remember doing this. But wasting precious time drawing Cartesian graphs only to have them come out lop sided was very frustrating. Coordimate helps you with that problem with a push of a button, literally. 

How To Make Kill Bill's 'F*ck U' Shoes by john cheng

If you are a fan of Kill Bill and noticed the detail of "the Bride's" shoes and reallllly want a pair for yourselves, I highly recommend watching this video. They'll give you all the info and files you need to work on this weekend project. Purty cool!

This video was brought to you by Premium memberships on Tested. Thanks to our members who've supported us. Learn more about memberships here: http://www.tested.com/membership In Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, one detail that appears on-screen for only a second are the soles of Uma Thurman's shoes.

5 Rules for a Creative Culture by john cheng

5 Rules for a Creative Culture by Ben Chestnut, CEO of MailChimp. What state of mind is your company in? Are you seeking solutions for problems that seem too difficult to resolve? Maybe it's time to rethink the old school "butts in seats" work culture and push for a more creative culture.

One day, MailChimp CEO Ben Chestnut discovered that his company had acquired a new tagline. Chestnut hadn’t approved, or even known about this rather significant new bit of corporate identity, but there it was—"Love What You Do"—on the footer of the company website. At most companies, changing a piece of punctuation in a line of ad copy takes three weeks of meetings between about 14 people across six departments. So typically this would be the kind of occasion that terms like "tearing a new one" and "terminated with extreme prejudice" were made for.
But there would be no new orifices created that day. Chestnut, the founder of email marketing and newsletter company MailChimp, does things a little differently. He stormed into the marketing and design departments and demanded they come up with a coloring book called Love What You Do, featuring baby Freddie Chimpenheimer (excerpt: "Hi I’m Freddie. It’s fun to be me! Is it fun to be you?"). Sure, the CEO was a little concerned that he hadn’t known about the tag, but, as he noted in a blog post on the incident, it was "pretty spot-on, so I got over it."

1. Avoid rules. Avoid order. Don’t just embrace chaos, but create a little bit of it. Constant change, from the top-down, keeps people nimble and flexible (and shows that you want constant change).

 

2. Give yourself and your team permission to be creative. Permission to try something new, permission to fail, permission to embarrass yourself, permission to have crazy ideas.

 

3. Hire weird people. Not just the tattoo’d and pierced-in-strange-places kind, but people from outside your industry who would approach problems in different ways than you and your normal competitors.

 

4. Meetings are a necessary evil, but you can avoid the conference room and meet people in the halls, the water cooler, or their desks. Make meetings less about delegation and task management and more about cross-pollination of ideas (especially the weird ideas). This is a lot harder than centralized, top-down meetings. But this is your job — deal with it.

 

5. Structure your company to be flexible. Creativity is often spontaneous, so the whole company needs to be able to pivot quickly and execute on them (see #1).

Bond: Automated Robots With Pens Imitating Human Handwriting by john cheng

I definitely could have used this service when I was writing thank you cards.

Bond is a fantastic online gift-giving service that uses automated robots with ink pens to imitate actual human handwriting and send handwritten notes to whomever.

Bond is technology for thoughtful companies. Use Bond to send handwritten cards in seconds. Visit us at: hellobond.com Contact us: concierge@hellobond.com

Diving into Rhino 3D by john cheng

In the past year, I already felt that I should get my hands dirty with some 3D rendering software so that I could add 3D modeling and 3D printing to my list of skills. It wasn't until last night that I really dove into it. I ended up choosing to use Rhino because it is currently in beta for Mac and free to download.

For my first project I knew I needed to make something simple as not to overwhelm myself with overly complex shapes. I landed on creating a new wax seal/chop that I could attach to my keys. So for the experience has been awesome! Some of my deeply engrained habits with the Adobe Creative Suite do get in the way, but all in all it's easy to get over once you get into a 3D modeling groove. Still lots to learn and experiment with but hopefully I'll be able to send this off to Shapeways soon and you'll be seeing me rock my new stamp as a keychain.

Portrait of a Letterpress Printer // Letterpress Printers Database by john cheng

A great video of William Amer and his lifelong passion for letterpress printing initially kindled by his father.

Visit willamer.com.au For more information about William Amer.

A short documentary portrait about William Amer, a letterpress printer and instructor based in Rockley NSW, Australia. For more information about William, visit www.willamer.com.au Music: Dexter Britain - ‘Ideas’ (licensed through the music bed) Edited in Final Cut Pro X and Graded with FilmConvert

Sydney, Australia may be a bit of a far reach to get some letterpress printing done, but never fear! Beauty of Letterpress has a database of letterpress locations. Check out their website to find a letterpress printer near you.