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Posts tagged ‘Illustration’

Trials of Twin Motion

One of the things I have had to do most often for work is render out my designs.  This is predominately done using Sketchup as a modeler but I also use some Blender and MOI. The design is then rendered out using Thea render which works ok, but I’ve never really gotten it to do all it is capable of. This isn’t usually a problem as in the end I paint over the model anyway. That being said I would really like to get a better handle on the rendering side of things as it just makes it so much faster and time is money…

Back in the mid 2000’s I bought Luxllogies MODO specifically to do renderings. At the time Modo was reasonably priced and about the only program around that would do what was needed with a SU file exported as obj. I never got into its actual modeling features but for a few years it was how I did renderings.

Today there are numerous apps to do this. I’ve tried Vray to some success and a number of other stand alone render applications. They all have pros and cons. I am thinking that Blender’s Evie / Cycles may be my ultimate answer but I’m not that far in my immersion with the software yet…

Anyway recently I saw an opportunity to DL Twinmotion the real time rendering App. It’s owned by Epic Games and is basically a stripped down version of Unreal Engine. The deal was you could DL TM 2019 and just use it for free. The new version is a subscription model but this weekend I decided to break out the TM 2019 to see what it can do…

I would like to use it for the base renderings I need to produce for my final Universal work. I also think it could be very useful for future freelance projects as I’m gonna be heading into that world again very soon.

I figured the best way to learn and test would be using some old models I had laying around. I chose a speed form hover car I did a few years ago to test sub division modeling in sketchup and a piece of a set design I worked on last year…

One of the attractive features for TM is that you can import SU files directly into it. And supposedly updating the source file should update in TM. The files are easy enough to import and they appear on a base design space that looks like your outside of Vegas in the desert.

“ Bat Country “
Why is it way over there?

The interface is very bare bones and in my opinion not super intuitive. It’s almost as if it’s so simple it’s confusing. This happens to me all the time now I guess I’m just getting old :P. Anyways the geometry comes in pretty well and since I applied colors and textures in SU it’s easy to swap these out for nicer TW materials.

A concrete box

One thing I am excited to try is the function to import a SU asset such as a light source and save it as a user preference. This will be huge if I can make it work… I saw the technique on  CG Essentials a youtube channel which I watch. The guy has a ton of very helpful reviews and tutorials for a number of architectural 3D design related subjects you should check him out…

This first test was fine until I decided to try and update the SU file. I have no idea what happened here, but all the materials are whacked and the file became unresponsive. In the end I force quit the program…

WTH…

I lost everything I had done and decided to try again with a simple scene using just the assets that come with TM.

Primitive shapes and a couch

These basic shapes and objects “ the red couch, Cyprus tree, etc “ come with the APP and as expected they work well. But my goal is to bring in original designs and render them. after playing with cubes, spheres and trees for a bit I brought the hover car in again to this scene.

Hover car on the grass

The model comes in fine and with some jiggling I maneuver it to a spot on the grass. TM doesn’t handle translation of imported models very well. I’m thinking at least for now the design models need to be complete and placed exactly where you need them because moving in the renderer is a pain.

I finally achieve a semblance of a car paint color. There is no preset for painted metals “ surprising “ and the method to achieve them is not clear. If I continue down this path will need to do a deep dive on materials.

Ok having shown some success with the previous test I decide to re import my concrete bunker which has now morphed into a small modern house because I can’t leave things alone… I’m am this time bringing in some terrain and a few SU trees and plants to see how well it plays with TM…

Doesn’t look like much in SU…
Looks much more fun inside TM
You can change the sky conditions as well
The built in environment materials and assets are quite nice…
The more extreme weather stuff is less impressive, at least at first glance…

Overall I’m reasonably impressed but have many questions and some doubts. The interface is just weird to me. I feel like it’s so busy trying to be intuitive it; at least for me,  is opaque. I tend to like to know exactly what a tool is doing, again this might just be because I need more time with it. My main gripe is related to what should be its best feature. The importing of my design model and ability to update the file in SU. It works, ……..sometimes… I ended up rebuilding this scene 4 times and reimporting it because I would get to a certain point and start getting weird behavior and this would eventually lead to a force quit.. Its a great idea but from what I see here now using version 2019 on my computer it’s pretty unstable. I think maybe the actual Unreal Engine would be preferable…

For a good portion of my career I have done most of my design work in SU, It’s industry standard now for television production because of is combo of accuracy ” if you know what youre doing ” and its speed. Since working for Universal I’ve actually returned to earlier techniques and been producing a lot of hand drawn design sketches. I’m really happy about that as I love to draw and for certain, clients like to see it… Since my end date with Universal is fast approaching I  know I need to get back into gear for freelance work again. I will be doing a lot more 3D again and this rendering engine could come in handy. That is Assuming I can ever get it to work reliably.

Maybe next post I will have more success to share…

😛

I Know What You Did This Summer…

Well Its been quite awhile since I was able to post here. This is due to my having been working as Senior Designer on a Concept Master Plan for an indoor Theme Park  in Shijiazhuang China since June. Sitting here in Shenzhen I can finally put some of this down.

My internet has been an absolute joke both because of where I am in China and because I am living out of the Holiday Inn  There is no access to WordPress ( they seem to be on China’s no go list ) and even the VPN which I am using now to access WP will not work in a Chinese hotel.

On a side note, Holiday Inn in China is actually quite nice. Much better then many of the other places I have stayed while in country and extremely reasonable by US standards I believe our rooms are around $60 a night…

I quite literally do not have the time or energy  to begin talking about the project yet, especially as its not over and I will be heading back in 3 days for round 3 or 4 not even sure anymore… I am enjoying the project as it means steady work and I am proud of what we have achieved so far in spite of the many – many – many issues…

Suffice to say we are designing the largest indoor Theme Park in the world its total area is right around 246,000 square meters, 7 Themed Zones and will hold over 60 Rides, Shows and Attractions. At some point I will post a more thorough explanation but for now these are a few concept pieces most of which from our first pass.

CyberWorld Entrance

CyberWorld Entrance

Whale Puppet - Concept Sketch

Whale Puppet – Concept Sketch

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest

Kiosk Concepts - Stationary and MobileKiosk Concepts – Stationary and Mobile

Working in China is a blast but it is not for everyone…

Talk soon

D

3D Training Time

I have recently decided to beef up my 3D skills, I primarily use Google / Trimble Sketchup for my set design work and anything else that needs it but I have long wished to develop skills in a more advanced package. Sketchups quite fast and with the various Ruby scripts available is able to produce just about anything I need but I would like to try my hand at some more organic soft form shapes and even animation. Things which are well outside of Sketchups wheelhouse.

This is my desktop with Sketchup in use. The design is literally what I was doing today for a Gillette special event to be aired sometime next week. Production Designers love Sketchup as it is easy to use and accurate enough for them to produce the sets under the crazy tight deadlines we deal with…

Sketchup in use

Sketchup in use

There are many programs available and each has good points and bad, strengths and weaknesses, like anything I suppose. Of the industry standards Maya and 3D Studio Max are probably the widely most used. their price is high and from what I know the learning curve is very steep. At my stage in career I really don’t have the time or energy to devote a year or more to just learning the basics of software.

years back I did some work for a now dissolved company in CA that specialized in Architectural Illustration. My position was what they called an imager, we called it digital gardening. Basically we would take shots out of the 3D department and create still images for use in sales materials. The work was pretty mind numbing but it did spark my interest in 3D and also provided me the impetus to get out of there and back into freelancing for the entertainment industry. The company used 3D Max to produce their assets and the work was very impressive to me at the time, below are some examples of digital gardening have no idea who built the models : )

Architectural Vis using 3D Studio Max

Architectural Vis using 3D Studio Max

I need something I can use if not now then within a half year at the most this is my primary concern. My computer is full of software I have purchased with ” good intentions ” but have had neither the time nor inclination to truly master. The second major factor is price as for the more advanced packages you can expect to spend thousands just for the program and even then they usually need multiple plugins and add ons to do advanced work. Like everything in my career it takes money to play unless of course you go the route of pirated software… not something I would recommend for a number of reasons.

I currently own Luxology’s Modo which is a relative new comer to the advanced programs it was developed by the guys from lightwave I believe. Its primary use for me right now and last 2 or 3 years has been rendering which it does quite well and very fast. Unfortunately I find the other tools in Modo to be really incomprehensable. I even have peers who have taken multiple classes in it who are still unable to use it for anything other then rendering.

Thankfully its price is lower then most of the advanced programs at right around $1,000.00 . It is still an option but one I will reserve for after I give my chosen application a shot.

Here is an is an example of my current workflow. This was a project recently done for an interior designer in Las Angeles. He needed a Key art piece to present to his clients for a restaurant re-design job. I used SU to model the interior based on site photos and his direction. In Su the space is detailed but lacks the ” Ommph ” needed. Skecthup is a strong design tool because of its flexibility and speed but completely lacks any rendering function and its antiquated design does not take advantage of modern processors, so for involved scenes it can be a bit painful.

The finalized design in Sketchup. All of the elements in here with a few minor exceptions were produced custom for this job its important in y line of work to be able to interpret ” chicken scratch notes and sketches. As you can see SU only displays the design there is no real texturing or lighting here. One nice thing is a Ruby Script I have which allows me to export the camera from here into Modo so that my final rendering will match the view.

Fork In the Road Sketchup

Fork In the Road Sketchup

Exporting the scene as an OBJ file I can then bring it into Modo to apply textures and lighting, the final touches are done using Photoshop. Not the most exciting piece I have done for sure but the client was very happy. Like I mentioned earlier you can’t really beat Modo for rendering speed it handles even huge scenes with relative ease…

Fork In The Road Final

Fork In The Road Final

Back to the point of this post. I have decided to go with a software package that first caught my eye back in 2006 when I purchased a license with the idea of learning it, see above mentioned ” good intentions “. Maxon’s Cinema 4D R14 is a fully developed program that can achieve very impressive results in the hands of someone with knowledge. With this new version Maxon has beefed up its modeling tool set and added some features that really caught my eye. One very specific one is its ability to easily place your 3D assets into a correct orientation based on still photography. This has direct correlation to my work. It also has some very impressive animation abilities which I will hopefully get too in the near future. there is a strong user base and good industry tie ins especially in the motion graphics industry. As a side note it also seems to directly integrate with many other programs like After Effects, Photoshop and even Zbrush.

Just a shot of what Cinema 4D looks like inside. the look is similar to Modo…

Cinema 4d R14

Cinema 4d R14

A small side note Maxon seems to have some issues when it comes to support not sure what that will mean in the future but I had a real issue trying to download the trial software. The representatives were pleasant and helpful but even then it took days to get the demo. From what I can see online and searching various forums there really is no good training books available for Cinema so for my training I have decided to use Digital Tutors.

This is an online service specifically offering training in software for Visual Effects, Game Development and Design. The training is only available online with a subscription although they do offer a free account where you can whet your appetite and see if the teaching style works for you. Its not cheap I opted for a one month package to test it out which cost around 50 bucks, but compare that to the cost of a class at Art center and its a real bargain.

This is inside the Digital Tutors site just showing the wide variety of training available, If it works as well as I think it will I will upgrade my membership to a yearly one which I believe will go for around 450 bucks…

The various software packages available for training

The various software packages available for training

My first training course its quite long 109 segments and supposedly starts from the very basic ending with a fully rendered and animated scene.

My first Training Cinema 4D

My first Training Cinema 4D

Hope you enjoyed this my next post will be about what I am learning…

DuHaira Souk and Old Riyadh City Museum

Back in Feb I was asked to produce a series of illustrations for a master planing project in Saudi Arabia. The project was through a company I have worked with for many years BRC Imagination Arts in Burbank CA. BRC produces a wide range of Themed Entertainment designs and attractions and is highly regarded in their Industry. For this project I was to provide design and illustration on 7 to 8 key areas for a Master Plan project. Christian Lachel acted as art director and co conspirator throughout the process. Christian himself being an old classmate of mine at the Art Center and an accomplished Illustrator was extremely helpful in achieving what I think is some really fine work.

To begin the process we had a few phone conversations where ” C ” laid out the particulars of the project some background on the clients and of course the all important deadline and scope. As usual we never get the time we would like to have to work on things.

Thankfully this project was not as deadline crazy as my commercial work always is.  We planned to produce the required 7 illustrations with a possible 8th in just over 3 weeks. The work had to be done to strict guidelines both in content and style and at high res for large format printing. The end results were to be be displayed along with all of the master plan designs at a huge presentation to members of the Saudi Royal family.

Christian provided me with a great deal of  reference for style and location, architecture etc along with copies of what BRC had already provided the client. Having gone to S.A. to meet with the clients before ” C ” was able to give me quiet a lot of  reference photos of the actual site we were dealing with. The client had produced a large but extremely base model for us to start from but it was up to us to design the specific spaces for these illustrations.

Below is the master plan layout, the area is huge and is a revitalization of a long existing ” ancient ” city in Saudi Arabia Our area will be the central strip.

Master Plan Area

Master Plan Area

Some pictures from the area showing the current state. The project is hoping to preserve the authenticity of the area while creating an attraction for tourism. A mix of the old and new…

Here are some pics of the site as it was along with some historical photos we will use to guide our visuals. The idea is to keep our designs within the stylistic language of the region. Much easier said then done especially considering the timeframe we had to work with.

Site Photo

Site Photo

Site Photo

Site Photo

Site Photo

Site Photo

Historical reference photos, I have never been to this part of the world but I would love to see it someday. Aside from the lack of cars and electrical wires doesn’t seem that much has changed…

Old Ryadh Cultural Reference Photos

Old Ryadh Cultural Reference Photos

Culturalref2

My process for these pieces was somewhat complicated by the fact that I had to make use of the Architects model. you might think that makes it easier but not so here. The model they provided was gigantic and at the same time completely devoid of any of the details needed for our shots.

It actually took me almost a full day to just open their model and clean it up enough that I could actually use it. In most of my other work we actually produce all of the assets so this is not such an issue.

The Architects Model

The Architects Model

The first area to illustrate was a courtyard  fronting on a high end hotel, a cafe with open air Souk market stalls and a central water feature.

The client at this point had not really designed anything specific so it was up to us to simply take a stab and go from there. This turned out to be true of all the areas but for this first one I don’t even have the clients model to base it on.

I did however have a really cool concept sketch that ” C ” had used to sell the idea to the client….

Christian's Concept Sketch

Christian’s Concept Sketch

I set out to reproduce the sketch in 3D which later would be used as an underlay for the finished illustration. Working in 3D allows for a lot of flexibility. Knowing that in the end I will be digitally painting over this makes it that much more fun.

Below is my first pass at the plaza with a grand hotel entrance and the central water fountain. Since this was the first illustration the piece took much longer to develop then the later ones will as you are figuring out the details and visual language.

Plaza Model first pass

Plaza Model first pass

Here is a test painting we did to send off to Saudi and await feedback. Its not a finished piece but has all the elements. The idea is to get something in front of the client thats good quality all the while knowing you will be making changes.

First Pass

First Pass

The clients responds with some major changes but they are overall encouraged by the progress.

As you can see I am using a good deal of photo bashing at this point to get the idea across we plan to take things further in the final. The people are basically ethnically correct however later will have to be gone over once again to ensure that not only are they Arabic but Saudi.

Changes will be the re design of the water feature and hotel architecture. Replacement of the market stalls and addition of an elevated tower walkway system.

Finalized Plaza Design

Finalized Plaza Design

The new design with tower walkways. The grand idea is that visitors can travel throughout the spaces either at ground level or on these walkways which will have their own resting areas, interactive information kiosk and an integrated cooling mist function for comfort.

The really nice thing about using a 3D for this type of design is the ability to generate multiple possibilities for your final shots.

Alternative View

Alternative View

The final Painting. 1 week is gone but it will be worth it as we now have established a look the client is excited about and have a better handle on how to design the spaces with the correct details, materials, colors etc…

Plaza Final illustration

Plaza Final Illustration

From now on I have the architects model to use as a base for my work which will be helpful and of course increase the accuracy. I pair the monster down to manageable chunks which can later be recombined if needed.

Simplified

Simplified

The next few areas will be interior shots. A family friendly shopping and cinema center and a ” Fun Zone ” for young males. The important thing here is that we are designing this for Saudi Arabia where they observe different cultural norms. Women and children have more personal freedom then they did in the past but they still go out only with related males and wear the traditional Burka Clothing which must be reflected in our illustrations.

Christian again has a quick sketch to use for direction on this image.

Christians Sketch

Christians Sketch

After recreating the sketch in 3D and picking a view we find out the client no longer wants to show any reference to specific movies at the complex so we have to shift gears and just produce a good looking multi use space a bit disappointing as I feel it lacks a true focus but still feel good about the final effort…

Final Cinema Complex

Final Cinema Complex

The next area was a bit more fun. We designed an exciting space containing a 2 level indoor go cart racing track with assorted video game stations and motion base simulator rides.

Entertainment Zone Model Shots

Entertainment Zone Model Shots

Entertainment Zone Model Shots

Entertainment Zone Model Shots

One of the more enjoyable parts of this design was that I needed a cool racing go cart. I first tried using an existing design I  found online but we decided it would be more fun to produce our own. It bears mentioning that these are conceptual pieces so I am not sure if what I have shown here is even possible much less safe but it would be fun to try…

Sorry Honey these aren't for you...

Sorry Honey these aren’t for you…

The final Illustration. Its a segregated space so there are only males present, not what I would look for in a fun zone but again you must design for the client not yourself…

Fun Zone Final Illustration

Fun Zone Final Illustration

This next area is a informational area speaking to the unique history of Old Ryadh and future developments in and around Saudi Arabia. The focus being a huge observation window overlooking the restored old city portion of the project. This first image is just to show a bit of the process I used. The first image you see is the interior of our space followed by the render of what is outside the window. For this project I am using a new rendering plugin called  Renderin. Its kind of buggy and doesn’t have nearly the fine control of my usual renderer Modo. It does make really nice exterior shots and since I am going to be doing extensive painting on these it will be just fine.

Observation Window Interior

Observation Window Interior

The view outside towards the old Ryadh.

Outside

Outside

The final piece showing people enjoying the view with interactive touch screen kiosk and smart glass displays.

Observation Window Final

Observation Window Final

The next area to illustrate was an exterior view showing the Cultural Park with water features and various entertainment venues. Below are some model shots showing the overall scope and vast scale.

Hero View Exterior

Hero View Exterior

Model Shot Exterior

Model Shot Exterior

Final Exterior Illustration showing an animated space alive with people and activity.

Final Icon Park View

Final Icon Park View

Closeup view showing detail. These paintings were produced to be printed at very large scale. I believe the final prints were either 36″ or 48″ in width

Closeup View

Closeup View

A view from the upper walkways looking back towards the new cultural center and cinema complex. At this stage the walkways are supposed to be a translucent plex but as can be imagined this design feature will not last.

Old City Overview Walkway

Old City Overview Walkway

An example of the back and forth notes I get from BRC. Its pretty rare to get such nice clear direction and on this project with its scope and tight timeline I am glad of it…

Notes

Notes

The final Ryadh Old city overview illustration. This view is showing the activity on the elevated tower walkways with out door  cafe and informational Kiosk. This view also reflects the clients direction to scale back the ” modern ” style of architectural detail we had included in earlier revisions. This is part of the effort to retain the traditional feel of the area.

Old Ryadh Overlook

Old Ryadh Overlook

A closeup of the painting reveals me having a bit of fun. The two gentlemen down there on ground level ” brown robe ” are whats called Mutaween or religious police. In the course of searching for ref on this project I ran across many discussions of this phenomenon and thought it would be fun to include them in the painting. One account I read was about how a western man and his wife were accosted by them almost resulting in bad things because the wife was wearing a t shirt. Not sure how I would react myself but I think if you can’t accept a societies rules then maybe you shouldn’t go there…

Religious Police

Religious Police

An exterior night time shot. The main focus of course being the large ” Crystal ” tower surrounded by modern residential development… Forgive my Flare but the client seemed to like it.

Tower Exterior Nightime

Tower Exterior Night time

The final piece was to be of souk market space which we didn’t receive input for until the 11th hour. Christian again came through with a quick design direction sketch which I used to produce the final you see here. Unlike the other images we had no time to build this ourselves in 3D. Instead we took the clients model shot and reference and produced our painting somewhat freeform. I think overall it is an acceptable addition to the series.

Inspirational Reference

Inspirational Reference

The final piece.

Souk Market Scene

Souk Market Scene

At this point we received final instruction to go through each piece and make sure every person was wearing appropriate ” Saudi ” head dress. This is part of what makes my job so interesting, it can be a bit frustrating at times but the devil is in the details as they say…

In conclusion this project was both challenging and extremely rewarding. It was difficult at times to manage the large work load and the many specific needs of the client but at the end of the day I am happy to have done it. From what I know they were extremely pleased and thats always a nice feeling… I hope you enjoyed this description of my work and I look forward to sharing more with you later…

Things to come…

I have been thinking hard on ways to improve my exposure to potential clients recently. My portfolio site is doing pretty well as a place to send people interested in my work and has tons of examples of previous projects. DJGooddesign has been my online portfolio for going on 9 years now and is in its 6th design iteration.

I have over the years established what I think is a pretty worthwhile architecture with separate sections for my 3 main types of work, Design / Illustration for Themed Entertainment, Film and Television and 2 sub sections for personal work and Graphic Design.

The issue as I see it is attracting new clients while quickly conveying my skill and experience. Having recently updated the site I can identify three main problems. Number one is the long time between updates I seem to average about once every year or so. The second issue would be a lack of in depth contextual information. And lastly I think my current online portfolio is getting a bit heavy with previous work. A related desire would be to have my site optimized for use on mobile devices something that the current build is woefully inadequate for.

All of these issues can be solved with changes to the current site but I am thinking a more interesting way would be to make better use of this blog…

I am thinking that a good approach will be to regularly post examples of my current projects along with a more in depth description of the work and the processes behind it. This will serve to address two of my current sites issues by providing a regular update of the most current work and for those who are interested a deeper look at the full scope of what I do. My final issue will be addressed on the main site by adding a new archive section where old projects can go…

My current site can be found here www.djgooddesign.com , I am very interested to hear any comments or suggestions anyone reading this may have for me so feel free…

New Years Eve

The last few days I have been doing some work for clients in Los Angeles so this is first day out for me in a bit. I love that I can work anywhere I am now… The only real issue is the time difference but as I am still a night owl its manageable.

Illustration done for Robert Montlabano I just found out that we will be doing some more work so the efforts were worth it…

Illustration

As I was up late ( meaning all night ) we are heading out a bit later then usual, Fanny’s dad is going with us to have some brunch after which he will be going to meet friends and play Mah jhong. I spy these exercise machines in the park on our way  maybe later we can try and see what they do…

Exercise Equipment at the park

The street is busy with folks doing last minute errands. I have noticed the closer we get to New Years the more aggressive the driving gets. I suppose this is no different then back home around Christmas and still nowhere near as crazy as the mainland.

Neighborhood Walk

We are going to grab some food at Sun Burger, a shop that has recently opened. According to Fanny’s dad it is run by two college students and is doing quite well as they work hard and the food is good. I am told that the job market in Taiwan is really bad at the moment and because of this quite a few people are starting little side businesses. Fanny and I have discussed the possibility of combining a coffee shop with my art studio in the future, could be fun…

Brunch Time

I get a concerned look from the owner / operator but I am sure its more curiosity then anything else. The mask is either to keep himself from getting sick or from spreading germs and is a very common sight in Asia.

Not Sure

Fanny’s dad is quite a character and I am really enjoying getting to know him better. His english is good and we have been having interesting conversations.  For many years Fanny’s parents did not approve of our relationship. I am happy that we have moved past this and I can get to know them. Part of what makes Taiwan a great place is this traditional life outlook but it can be a bit difficult as an outsider.

The food is quite good and a great deal all three meals come in at around 8 US dollars, including drinks. This  would be a bit more then on the mainland but the quality of food is well worth it.

General Lin

Our bellies full we head out for our  appointment at the hospital to take the MRI, along the way my eyes are caught by some colorful flowers for sale.

Flowers for sale

The neighborhood traditional market is really interesting, these stalls sell all manor of things mostly food and clothing very fresh and still cheap by US standards. On our last trip here we went shopping with Fanny’s mom who seems to know every person here and is a great haggler, getting what she wants for the right price a skill I have never picked up.

Traditional Market

I wonder how many scooters there are in Taiwan, at times it seems like there may be more of them then people but I know that cant be true. The scooters are literally everywhere except the highways where they are banned.

Scooters

A short bus trip has us back at Veterans General Hospital and the arrow points the way. This is the second time I will have an MRI done here in Taiwan, the first before my Arthroscopic knee surgery last year and now to find out why I am still having issues. I don’t know what to expect from this but I am hopeful we can at least get a clearer idea of what is wrong and how to deal with it.

Walk This Way

Obviously I did not take this picture as I am only wearing a hospital gown for the procedure but after searching online this picture is very close to the unit they used. I  believe it is a newer model then the one I saw last year and probably no more then a few years old. The procedure is strange but not uncomfortable. You must lie down on the table and in my case the  legs will be immobilized and inserted into the opening there. The whole thing takes around 30 minutes and consist of a number of scans which the machine makes in waves. I get a pair of foam earplugs like you would use for working with a pneumatic tool. The sound is still quite loud so I can imagine if you had to be inside one of these it would not be fun at all.

General Electric

Now I can say a bit about the cost. I have to pay for the MRI scan and the doctors consultation which will happen next week after the New Years festivities. All together I will have a full MRI scan, digital copies of the scan to take home and the doctors analysis, for all this I paid right at NT$10,000 or around $350 US dollars. To put this in perspective before I left the states I had 2 Xryas made, a 5 min talk with a doc who told me I had swelling and a tech who extracted  fluid from my knee for around $ 700.

Here I will have seen the doctor 3 separate times and have physical records of what he finds for less cost then the 5 min visit to the guy in the states. If I was a citizen of Taiwan I would not even have paid that much. I find it amazing that people in the US cannot see the benefit of Universal Coverage…

Now its time to meet up with Michelle, Fanny’s classmate from University. She is here for New Years from her home in Singapore. I will be hanging out with the girls while they catch up inside the local starbucks. You have to love Dragon man here, I assume he is a paid performer but you never know.

Dragon Man

Picture Time

While the girls talk I get a chance to play with my new iPad I still don’t have my Wacom stylus but I have borrowed a good one to use till then. I am using an app called Inspire Pro here which has some pretty nice painterly effects for its brushes. The iPad of course does not have touch sensitivity but even without that I am thinking some good art can be achieved. This is just an abstraction but I had fun painting it the only issue would be the limited size and what looks to be a real color management issue. On the iPad this piece was in shades of blue but when I exported it I get this purple oh well its a process… If I am not mistaken this program allows you to recreate your work on a desktop machine at a higher resolution which will be nice. I will post more on the iPad later.

Inspire Doodle

4 Hours and much coffee later, its time to head home for dinner with the family, I am looking forward to it as I now know that Fanny’s mom is an amazing cook.

Nighttime Taipei

I keep thinking I should get some of these for my studio at home don’t think they will fit in my suitcase though…

Lanterns

On the way back I spy this lil guy on the door to an office building. Is it just me or does it look like the dragon is wearing eyeglasses? Tomorrow night is the New Year which will be spent with family sharing food, drink, fireworks and of course Mah Jhong.

Door Dragon

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