03 Nov
   Filed Under: Personal   

Boy, it’s been a while. I really need to update everyone on what’s up and what’s coming up.

- I’ve been working hard for the Mothership for the last months (hence the blog silence) and really enjoying the big workload. I’m very thankful to work with a lot of extremely talented people.

To get misunderstandings out of the way: I have not closed up shop, I have not relocated, and I am not working on Mac OS X Lion. Phew! This is also the reason I am not doing UI roundups and the likes for iLife ’11 or doing elaborate commentaries on Apple products. I’ll announce what I’ve worked on when it’s released, though!

- There will be new designs for Icon Designer, Cocoia and this blog next year!

- Icon Resource 2 is still very much being developed! Due to Retina Display and other new developments I’ve added some more material to the curriculum which piled on the delay. I’m wrapping things up for this year, so you can spend 2011 making awesome icons and interfaces. I apologize for the delay, but it’ll be worth it.

- I’ve been doing a video series on Minecraft. Check it out: the newest part, due out this week, will be very intense. A teaser:

Check out the full series here.

- Remember Composition? Vaguely perhaps? There’ll be news on that. It’s out of my hands, since I’ve been unable to complete it, but… well, I’ll save the good news for when it’s applicable.

- Speaking of old posts: I’ll be hitting up Dreamhack Winter 2010 again, thanks to sponsors like Intel, HP and others who are facilitating Pack4Dreamhack (with full press access!). Are you there? Let’s meet! I’ll be doing another ‘packing’ post and a report from the floor.

- And, of course, there’s some neat blog posts coming up. Good Old Games on extremely small touchscreen devices? Check! Pointers on Android UI design? Check! And (hopefully) showing off some work I have been doing for a PC / PS3 / Xbox 360 game.

09 Jun
   Filed Under: Apple, Design, Goodies, Icon Design, Personal Work   

I’ve updated the iPhone / iPad icon PSD I released not too long ago with some fixes and a 114×114 pixel icon template for designing icons for Apple’s hottest new device.

Download it here. I cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies, flaws and errors in this this PSD I might have overlooked, but if you notice anything please let me know in the comments.

Again, if you appreciate it, tweet this to help your fellow designers and developers make nicer icons for iPhone 4 (and beyond).

03 Jun

It’s always a huge leap for a designer to come up with designs for a platform you’re not familiar with. I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable at first when I designed my first iPhone icons and interfaces, and while the iPad was a logical extension of the iPhone UI, it still felt like a significant step to take.

Androids and doubleTwist

Imagine how I felt when I was sitting at my desk, Nexus One in one hand and pen in the other, after being asked to design doubleTwist’s media player for Android. Android doesn’t have a very nice media player in terms of design (I’m carefully picking my words here – I don’t want to offend the undoubtedly hard working people at Google) and it was easy to just go the way some developers go: make an iPhone app, shoehorn it into Android, and call it a day.

We wanted something that actually advanced the state of the art. I sure as hell wasn’t going to use an entirely new platform for months just to ape another. It was a mixed blessing to have so little limitations on what constituted a ‘native’ user interface.

Android has its guidelines, but most apps (even the Google-sanctioned Twitter app) have a very ‘custom’ appearance. We opted for a look that works well on the various devices and custom ‘shells’ (notably, HTC’s terrible “Sense” interface) and arrived at this muted, native-looking yet polished visual scheme, which also helps users navigate the app in direct sunlight, where OLED screens like the Nexus One’s tend to be hard to read. Subtle usage of textured surfaces in the application also help prevent color banding on the color-limited OLED screens.

I’m happy to have this in the hands of Android users. It’s sometimes depressing to read comments on tech websites of people exclaiming: “Why would you even care about how a media player looks or works? You play music and turn off the screen!”, but I am sure there’s a lot of people who will appreciate the thought and details that went into this app. And that makes it all worth it.

The player is available on the Android Marketplace for free for a limited time.

05 May
   Filed Under: Interface Design, Personal Work   

Steam for Mac will be available for download in a week’s time. Steam, for the uninitiated, is the world’s largest gaming platform, serving in essence as an ‘iTunes for games’. Steam lets you buy, try, and play games, stay connected with other gamers and friends, and much more. I’ve enjoyed testing the beta release of it for the last few weeks.

However, the part I disliked about Steam on the Mac is the (understandably) less-than-native looking and feeling UI. While the entire application was recently redesigned (and re-engineered to utilize Webkit as its rendering engine), it still feels less than at home between the system apps.

As a fun exercise, I’ve redesigned Steam in a way that maintains consistency with its own UI conventions and values, while changing look and feel to make it more native to the Mac platform.

You can see a comparison between Steam for Mac’s UI and my redesign on flickr here.

I won’t tease you with only vapid mockups, though. While you’re here, grab my Steam replacement icon for OS X.

Of course, if you have input on the mockups, sound off in the comments. Meanwhile, I am currently considering sending my thoughts to Gabe for further consideration.

08 Apr
   Filed Under: How-To, iPad   

Few people know that the iPad is actually very open when it comes to books. While the only means to purchase books for it is the iBookstore on the iPad itself (so far), it’s possible to import ePub files into iTunes and sync them to your device. Here’s some tips to (legally) fill up your iPad with books without spending hundreds of dollars.

You have several options for grabbing free books:

1. Download them off the iBookstore

The iBookstore has most of the Project Gutenberg library on it. Not all of them are listed, but if you search for them you’ll find them, including translations. These books lack cover art, however: you can add this in iTunes just like you’d add cover art to music. Use Google Images coupled with Tineye to find high-resolution cover art (trust me, you want it to be nice and high-res).

2. Get them off ePubBooks

ePubBooks is a website with a huge amount of free ePub-formatted books. A lot of them even have original illustrations and cover art included and are ready to drag into iTunes and synced onto your iPad. If you prefer different cover art, or want to change metadata, iTunes still lets you.

3. Convert PDF’s, LIT’s and more to ePub

While it wins no UI design prize, Calibre is a cross-platform app that outputs well-formatted ePub files from various input formats. If you have digital copies or PDF’s lying around, chances are you can convert them to a nice iBook. It handles chapter auto-generation, but sometimes you’ll have to tweak some settings to achieve the best results.

Lastly, since we did great cover art for Classics, I suggest you use some of those to decorate your free public domain books. You can find them on the Classics Facebook page here. Louie Mantia also made a fantastic Alice in Wonderland cover illustration.

If you have more sources for free (i)books and tips, feel free to add them in the comments.

06 Apr
   Filed Under: Giveaways   

I got some questions about the giveaway, but I was traveling and unable to update you all on the status.

I’ve been awarded three extra Razer Mamba mice to giveaway, so I’m extending the giveaway for 10 more days. See the original post for more information on the giveaway, and check back here in ten days for the winners!