Impossible Figure: Columns

Sometimes it feels as if what I have drawn in perspective almost is in parallel projection, which sometimes have me aiming at getting more distortion the time after that. This makes things look larger, but it also increases the risk of having to start over as things end up not fitting in the space I’m working with. With these untextured surfaces it can also be hard to see that the distortion is correct, like the top surface which becomes a very narrow shape, this is one of the reasons why I added a background grid, it’s there to convey the perspective.

Columns
Columns_00_14_012015-02-28
Linework | Fillwork

The three columns turn ninety degrees from top to bottom, this while being perfectly straight.

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Impossible Figure: Stakes

Stakes
Stakes_00_09_022015-01-31
Linework | Fillwork

Three pillars turn into a U-shape and a board.

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Simple IPD Measurement Method

A few days ago I noticed a post on Reddit about how to measure your IPD, or inter-pupillary distance, without going to an optometrist. The method required a pair of binoculars though, which I don’t have readily available, so I figured I would write down a method I’ve had on my mind for quite some time, probably about two years.

First things first, what is IPD useful for? You might have heard it before, but it’s basically a value for putting lenses in front of your eyes that matches your eyes’ position. This could be either for glasses or, in the near future, for a virtual reality headset.

The images below is what I posted to Reddit as a guide, I was planning on doing photos but it got a bit complicated to do alone so I just went ahead and did some really simple illustrations. Programmer-art if you will.

IPD_In_Mirror-02

IPD_In_Mirror-04 IPD_In_Mirror-03 IPD_In_Mirror-05

I tried to keep the language simple but it ended up being more text than I expected, that said here is the pure text version below.

  1. You need two tools to do this: a mirror and a ruler. It is probably easier if your mirror is mounted to a wall and if your ruler is metric, but those are not really requirements.
  2. Stand straight in front of the mirror, hold up the ruler against the surface so it lines up beneath your pupils.
  3. Close your right eye and look with your left eye straight into your left pupil. Shift yourself or the ruler so that the start mark of the ruler lines up beneath the center of your left pupil in the mirror.
  4. Now switch so your left eye is closed and your right eye is open, without moving yourself or the ruler. Look with your right eye into your right pupil, the center of your pupil should now line up with your IPD on the ruler!

Make a mental note of it or try to shift your focus to see it more exactly, it should be a fairly accurate estimate. It will not be perfect and it can be hard to see, but it gives you the general ballpark.

That’s it!

I eventually came up with this method after seeing my own reflection on my black phone screen, and how the same amount of me fit inside the borders independent of my distance, just like with a mirror. I imagined an app that would let me slide two circles around to match my pupils and that would be able to tell my IPD, I never got started on it though and considering how easily the above method is to do it manually it was probably for the better.

On Reddit I got a few comments that this can be done with a credit card or a ruler hold to your forehead or just as an extra request when going to the optometrist, and while that is true I just couldn’t help sharing what I had come up with :)

Oh, and happy Oculus Rift day for the people lucky enough to receive their headsets today! ;) I haven’t even gotten a shipping confirmation yet so I’ll be keeping tabs on the news feeds instead!

Posted in Virtual Reality | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Impossible Figure: Worm

As soon as I made this one I wanted to post it, but if you remember the last post it wasn’t really an option. I’m not sure why I like this one so much, it’s kind of simple while still having interesting relations between the different levels. A continuation of the basic tribar.

Worm
Worm_00_11_032014-12-27
Linework | Fillwork

This single shape makes up five impossible tribars all connected in a row.

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Impossible Figure: Block2

This one is a big contributor to why I stopped posting. When about to color it I discovered I had to cut it up in pieces to contain the fills and gradients. I was still commuting by train back then and as such I did much of my drawing while travelling, but I only had AutoCAD at home so I never got around to fixing this one. From finishing the lines it was four months before making the needed fill guide, but then I had moved onto my other figures so it took another six months until I finally colored this one, and as I post them chronologically… yeah.

Block2
Block2_00_11_042014-11-30
Linework | Fillwork

The gap at the top turns into the bottom front pillar. 

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Should you buy a VR system?

About a week ago I made a flowchart to help people decide if they should buy a virtual reality system right now. I worked on the logics of it for a few evenings after having been inspired by a comment on Reddit. I used a friend as a beta tester and posted the final chart when I felt it was good enough, precisely an hour before the opening of the HTC Vive pre-orders. This is the chart below.

Should I buy VR?

 

The credit in the corner is my Twitter handle, which also works for YouTube, Reddit, Twitch etc. I posted it on Twitter and Reddit and it seemed to have helped at least a few people with their decisions :) Now I want to expand on my thinking for a few of the steps.

The first question, do you already own a VR system? I added this because my beta tester was an Oculus Rift DK2 owner. He didn’t feel excited by VR at this point as he has experience using it and is fully aware of what it is, but that is also the reason why he will buy it. This meant he broke my flow though, and therefore I added the first step. I have to confess being excited might not be the best choice of word, being interested or fascinated might be better, but it should fit the general bill.

I’ve seen many comments from people saying the upcoming generation of VR hardware is too expensive. In this chart I ask if you can afford it and if you are ready to be an early adopter. As an early adopter you should be aware that you are paying a premium to get the first generation of modern consumer virtual reality. It’s like buying a first generation flatscreen TV or any other bleeding edge technology. The first version is most likely not going to be very affordable compared to products released in the future.

About the risk of only getting shorter or simpler titles the first year. I added this question because we haven’t really seen any of the big studios jump in on virtual reality development. There might be projects we don’t know about, but so far it has appeared to be mostly indies and smaller studios that are taking the risk on this new consumer entertainment medium. Considering that virtual reality development was and is like breaking new ground for developers even if they have had three years since the Rift DK1 a lot of that time might have been spent on experimentation and rapid prototyping, at least I’ve heard multiple developers mention this in talks and round-tables.

That said, considering how many VR games that have been made in the past, the lineup for this push for consumer VR is quite astounding, nothing short of an amazing effort by the entire industry. We will know more in the upcoming weeks as there are media events planned around GDC, which is also the reason why an end state exists where you should be on the lookout for a title that interests you. We simply do not know about all software that will come out yet. Why it is an end state and not a process is because the solution is unknown if it exists, we don’t know what will be announced, this while the fund acquisition processes have fixed goals.

So, what is missing from this chart? It’s mentioned at the end, there is no guide to which system to buy. This is still unclear to myself as well, and I will probably skip making a decision assistant for that, especially as I’m not planning on getting every single system that will release. I might make a comparison of the Rift and Vive later though, but initially those systems are not shipping with feature parity so it’s not very helpful just yet.

Posted in Virtual Reality | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Impossible Figure: Frame

Randomly this turned into a LEGO mini-figure face. As I’m typing this up I’m pondering the bottom description. When I started out drawing these I bumped into having to explain what was impossible about them, especially to adults, which is why I added that piece of text. To me it feels like pointing out the obvious though, but I guess that is not surprise as, well, I made it.

Frame
Frame_00_10_032014-10-31
Linework | Fillwork

The two parallel bars going out from the main body join a perpendicular bar even while differing in length and height.

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Christmas Card 2015

I realize that I will have this post on the same front page as the 2014 one, it shows how my relationship with my blog has deteriorated in 2014! I’ve enjoyed the simple formatting language of Markdown using Reddit and to me it has made normal formatting feel archaic. Instead of clicking buttons I could just type my formatting directly. I know Google Hangouts used to work like this but they’ve moved to using selections and keyboard commands to apply formatting now.

Another major factor has been the embedding of images. On this site I’ve tried to write things so they match up with included images, making paragraphs that makes the flow look nice. On Reddit I just embed images as links, and if people use RES they will be buttons that can expand the image if the user is interested, same with videos. Though, perhaps that is mostly useful for forum style discussions, and not article style posts on a website. It’s just so very convenient.

But! I will try my best to get back to posting random things on here, if nothing else this is a place of my own and I should be able to post whatever I want, as long as it’s legal I guess. I’ll try to not worry so much about the formatting and just pour my thoughts onto the page. In any case, end of random blabbing!

As has been the trend the last few years my Christmas card was less than well planned and done in a hurry, I still ended up with something I think looks pretty nice though, I’ll describe how I made it.

Julkort2015_large

I usually have a theme of some sort, this year there was one movie that was quite heavily marketed and as such was on my mind. Star Wars. Funny enough I haven’t actually seen it myself, not even now, but many others have already so it should be recognizable.

After googling images from the movie I found one I liked from the trailer, to make sure to get a good frame I downloaded the trailer itself from YouTube, then I stepped through that specific scene and saved a few frames with VLC.

Looking at the frame I had picked I tried to imitate the lighting situation. The picture was taken with a timer bouncing a flash in the ceiling while in my mother’s living room. Behind me people were trying to watch TV, luckily my project are often appreciated so nobody kicked me out. Then rush to Photoshop to put things together, instead of spamming images I’ve done a quick animation of the steps I did.

Julkort2015_anim

  1. Inserted photo and aligned it to the scene by scaling and rotating.
  2. Masked out the parts of my face that should be visible in the helm.
  3. Copied the visor and made it transparent where my own eyes were.
  4. Added various shadows and colored light from the visor.
  5. Adjusted color balance, brightness/contrast and levels to match the original.
  6. Adjusted the brightness/contrast of the entire image.
  7. Added text.

From my early years of custom Christmas cards I’ve gone from mailing out physical prints to emailing to just posting on Facebook. It’s a sad state of affairs, but the holiday has become stressful enough so to survive I took the easy way out. Maybe someday the process will go in reverse, we’ll see :)

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Impossible Figure: Echo

Oh look, an impossible figure! Still not sure about that term in English, it’s pretty much a direct translation from Swedish. The other word would be illusion, but that seems so generic or ambiguous. In any case, long since I posted the last one. Long story short, hectic life, software problems, computer crashes, tired of posting and then time runs away an entire year. Nuts. In any case, new computer, new year, time to get this thing up and running again :)

Echo
Echo_00_08_022014-09-28
Linework | Fillwork

Four parts connected so you can travel from top to bottom horizontally or front to back vertically.

Posted in Illusions | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Easy Monitor Backlight

– I’ve not written on this here blog for quite some time now. Not sure if it’s because of stress or just that it’s so convenient to post articles on large forums like Reddit, mostly due to limited formatting. And as there are groups of people with special interests it makes posting easy to motivate. Add to it automatic Imgur galleries and YouTube buttons… it’s just such a smooth and quick experience. It might be because I use RES but anyhow, lets migrate one of my Reddit posts from last December to here. You’ll also get my internal dialogue about my blogging woes. Also, this post never got posted and it’s now three months old!

Previously I had a huge desk on which I could have stand alone lights behind my monitor. This helped a lot with reducing periphery contrast when using the computer. Now when I live in a single room that I rent from a couple of friends I only have one small table. As I was pondering my options for a lighting solution I happened upon IKEA’s warm white LED strips. My previous experience was that LEDs most often had a cold tint and as such were harsh on my eyes. At this point I had had good experiences of other warm white LEDs so it seemed like a good solution! Much slimmer than my old solution too.

– Right here I am considering  if I should just hotlink my Imgur gallery or if I should actually upload the images to my own blog, then again, I think of the far future where services will be dead and this blog archived… I will continue with local uploads. Videos are larger so I’ll keep those on YouTube I guess.

Below is a gallery with annotated images.

– This is also something that has changed for me, which text for images that actually becomes the annotation. I think I need to find a different image viewer, perhaps WordPress has a built in one that works now… the one I use hasn’t been updated in many years! Oh, none works, I better look into this… there, swapped out the plugin! It doesn’t size very well though, and captions look like crap. Urgh.

There is a shadow square behind the monitor, but it is invisible if you're in position.  The TN panel looks much dimmer as it's shot from the side.

There is a shadow square behind the monitor, but it is invisible if you’re in position. The TN panel looks much dimmer as it’s shot from the side.

The product I used is called DIODER from IKEA, again it’s a warm white LED strip, you get four in a pack and they all hook up to the same power supply.

I have them connected to a master-slave power strip so they are automatically turned on with my computer, same as most accessories connected to the machine.

When I mounted them I just held a strip in place, without removing the protection for the adhesive, to see how the light would project on the wall. Then I moved it around until I was sure it would end up as I wanted. I chose to mount them where the back of monitor was curved, this made the strip angled slightly outwards to spread the light more.

I could have mounted one strip the reverse way to get all the cables to end up at pretty much the same place, but the 3M stickers are super crazy and I wouldn’t try to remove it now!

The LEDs are clearly visible from the side, but since taking these photos I’ve moved the table to face the corner, so it’s quite hard for anyone in the room to look straight at the LEDs which otherwise can be a bit intense.

I had four strips so one ended up at the bottom as well.

I had four strips so one ended up at the bottom as well.

As the strips were shorter than the width of my monitor I placed my webcam and DK2 tracking camera in the spots where they didn’t cover any LEDs. Even if it was neat not to hinder any of the light, I have since moved on to having the webcam in the middle again and the DK2 camera is now mounted high up on a bin rack behind my computer. Actually, I’ll add a photo of that in the end as a bonus.

– I think I got this figured out a bit, but when it comes to my blog so many question marks appear. Should I have a fixed width? Will that render properly? All my embedded images, will it look bad in the future if I change the width of the body? Images have specific sizes, how will that work with denser displays?

– What I really would have liked was to just upload images, and the blog would automatically generate the size of images needed when the software / template was updated. It can do it in a per request basis, not as a batch. If I update my site now I know I will go back and edit a whole lot of posts, actually I should do that already to move descriptions from the title/alt text to caption! Gah.

Below is the image of my current computer corner, I’ve provided it below. This was originally made as a stereo pair, but I only have one of the images below. I was trying to start a series of sorts by including the stereo pair of another Reddit poster at the time, but I never asked anyone to continue it :)

BOLLComputerCorner

In any case, now the monitor lighting lights up the entire corner, pretty nice!

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