AO-Maru, Orange Men, and Other Illustrations on Zazzle

I have no sense of style. I'm not kidding. I dress horribly. I can render a good digital image, but see no problem in wearing striped shirt with aloha print surf shorts. I would not know this was a bad match unless a number of people had mentioned it.

So what business do I have attaching all of these illustrations of mine to clothing designs and stuff? Actually, I have no business doing this at all, and I do risk having my creative license revoked as a result. But it is a fact that there are others (maybe millions) like me who have absolutely no sense of style and would just love to be covered in prints of orange men and blue robots (yes, wearing both at the same time) and its to these people that I will reach out to!

So here it is, I'm setting up a zazzle store to cater to those style-challenged eccentrics who wish to express themselves through goofy little characters and clever sayings. You can even get matching coffee mugs! Examples below. (PS — T-shirt model is not me.)



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Gradient Mesh Editing Tutorial (Adobe Illustrator CS2) – Complete With Humor

TUTORIAL: Gradient Mesh Editing and Effects, Using Adobe Illustrator (CS2)

I wanted to create a tutorial on Gradient Meshes. In working with them, I've found that with a few simple tricks, the complexity of the subject almost completely disappears (Although sometimes you can't escape the tediousness.) Prolonged exposure to gradient meshes in the Adobe Illustrator workspace will also prepare your mind to understanding the workings of space-time and dimensional travel. Ok, the last statement I can't promise…but the following tutorial I can!

We will be re-creating this image:


So…where to start. The beginning, I guess! I've noticed that many people avoid the use of gradient meshes for a few reasons. The biggest of which seem to be complexity and time.

When I first got accepted onto Istockphoto, I searched a lot of Gradient Mesh based vector images, and I was simply amazed at some of the stuff people were doing with the gradient mesh tool. The skill, at first glance, would almost seem un-attainable! And they are amazing images! I'm sure it would be exciting to many of you out there who use Adobe Illustrator to know that it is quite within your ability to do this sort of work.

What I've found is that the complexity is not as bad as it seems. And time? If you strike the right chord, an image that took an amount of time can be very successful (please keep in mind that this tutorial was originally created for stock photographers and illustrators). And believe it or not, you can create simple gradient mesh images in about the same time it would take to make a nice clean basic vector image, or a simple hyperdrive circuit for a UFO. 

Gradient meshes open new horizons in your creative flow. The drawbacks to using them are quite minimal (such as compatibility with other editing software).  

So, I've planned out this highly unprofessional, mispelled, but informative nonetheless…tutorial… Bear with me. Try to fill in the blanks with educated assumptions and caffeine. No doubt this is common knowledge to a few of you out there. Also note that many different artists have many different techniques, and of course you will find a lot of standard practices in the official textbooks. This tutorial just happens to be what helps me produce good images easily, and gets me profitable attention as an illustrator under the guise of being generous with my techniques.

Ok, moving on…

1: I set up a sophisticated photography environment in which to shoot the image I'd be working from – the hood of my car, in front of my house, on a piece of printer paper. Behind the car there are some local hillbillies staging a UFO hoax by dangling a hubcap from the powerlines you see there in the backgound. Who needs photoshop? If you plan to work along with this tutorial, the photograph I used can be found here from my wife's photobucket account (Didn't I say unprofessional?): We're going to be making the Red Crayon to the same general appearance of the blue one you see here. Since this tutorial does some tricks using the RGB (red, blue, green) filter, a red, green, and blue crayon work pretty well!

2:3: As you can see below, the actual structure of the mesh is not very complicated. Even on the photorealistic vectors that some people around here on earth do, the meshes do not get much more complicated than this!


4: First, make a rectangle roughly the size of the red crayon. Then, with it selected, go to Object/Create Gradient Mesh. A window will pop up with some options, such as rows, columns, and some other stuff I don't remember. Whats important is that you type a "1" into the rows and columns. This will give you a blank rectangle, not much unlike the original one you started with, but the difference is it has a nicer personality, and its has a fill color. Its also a gradient mesh in disguise. The idea here is that starting with *NO* inner lines (rows/columns) gives you much greater control over how the mesh is formed. You'll see as we continue.


5. Now, go to your transparency pallet (I know transparencies are scary things, but you can trust me on this one) and bring the opacity all the way down to zero. Now, not only is it a gradient mesh in disguise, but its also invisible. This will help you see through to the object below as you start recontructing the basic form of the object. (In case you're not familar with the transparency pallet, simply go to Window/Transparency to open it.


6. A very important step: Go get something caffinated and turn on some music that you like. I find this very helpful in getting through boring tutorials.

7: The reason why we didn't start the mesh with any lines is this: The beginning stages of creating the mesh are most crucial. By taking your time on the most important, beginning vectors, you will find that the lines you add will fall properly with minimal need for modification on your part. So, below you can see that the mesh has been modified to fit the general perspective of the crayon. Take note that the rectangle falls short of the curved end of the crayon. You'll see the reason for this.


Now I'd like to note a few things. First, the tutorial will get a little less reading-intense about third into it! Right now is actually where the foundation for most of the main facts are laid. Hence the coffee.

Note: As you modify the mesh with the direct selection tool (which hopefully you use most of the time in your basic vector work) you will see that the mesh does not want to deform in an angular manner. You actually have to manipulate the handles like with curved vectors. The question might come to you: Why can't I just make a basic vector rectangle, fit it to the crayon, and then do the "Create Gradient Mesh" option. I've tried this, and in doing so, I noticed that the mesh derived from that particular method is a bit harder to work with in its controlability.

That having been said, by taking a little time to fit the mesh properly, you will find that the ending steps are greatly simplified for you. So try to keep the straight lines straight as possible. While you will be modifying the angle of the vector handles, the lengths should remain as unchanged as possible in this step. (If you are experienced manipulating basic vector shapes, you will quickly see what I'm talking about).

8: Here is where you get to venture back into familiar territory! The back of the crayon has to be fitted to the curve using your well-established vector skills. By falling short of the back-end-curve of the crayon, you made it easier to fit the curve overall, but also avoided having to "scrunch back" the rectangle to create it. Believe it or not, that action would have had slightly negative influences over adding future lines to the mesh.

So, fit the back-end curve as closely as possible, keeping the opposing vector handles somewhat equal in length. Then, on your Tools pallet select the gradient mesh button (thats the little wavy grid-like button, not too much unlike a mathematical depiction of space-time) and click the edge of the mesh object right at the bottom of the black band at the front of the crayon. Fit the curve as well as you can. This step is the last of those "most important" steps I've been refering to, since you've now layed the "governing lines" of the mesh. I've coined this term on the spot. It almost sounds intelligent! You will not find it in text books – yet! Basically they set the "rythm" of how your future lines will fall. You'll see exactly what I'm talking about in the next step.


9: Ok, I just took a break to feed the baby, so let me figure out what I was saying before I lost my train of thought…

Oh, I remember now.

I believe this will be the last "Long explaination" step, so that should be exciting.

Like in the picture below your going to add some more lines on the sides of the black bands, which you see. Now you can see all that mumbo-jumbo I was talking about come together. If you lay the lines on the side of the mesh like you see below, you will find that the lines generally follow the contours of the bands without modification. If they do not *perfectly* match the crayon below, thats ok. The image your producing has to be as accurate as possible relative to itself. If you manually fit every curve to the bands in the image your copying, your going to sacrifice the accuracy that comes from having set those "governing lines" and letting the computer do the rest of the work.

If your finding that the lines are not falling anywhere close to accurate, you may have to *ctrl Z* your way back to when you were laying those curves in step 8.

This might seem a little excessive, but it is very helpful in meshes bodies. Let the computer do the work!

10. Using the same method above, add some more lines to the outer contours of the outer contours. Yes, that is the best way I could find to frame that instruction. Thank goodness for pictures! What we see here, where I obvously fall grievously short in the verbal aspect, is that these lines are placed a little outside the lines that are meant to frame the black. These are going to control how far the color (black) spreads out into the mesh. I'll explain more later.


11. Finally, short explanations! Add a line to the top of the conical part of the crayon tip. Again, thank goodness for pictures.


12: Back into familiar territory again! Edit the vectors to encompass the crayon tip. The only thing you should note is that while with basic vectors you can get away with leaving your vector handles at somewhat randomn lengths (as this often does not harm the shape) with Gradient Meshes it will effect your color placements. So keep them equal, consistent, and obedient to your vector authority. You'll see this make more sense when colors are being placed.


13. You know this vector editing stuff…I'm just including the pictures for fun.


 14: Oh…here's something important. I've added another line. Ok, continue…


15: I said you could trust me! Go back to your transparency pallet and bring the opacity back up to 100! (If you don't get the joke here, transparencies tend to get vector artists in trouble a lot because they cause many, many glitches, especially in printing! Come to think of it, I think a lot of designers share a dread for transparencies.) So if you havent done so already, find a red you like. Preferably a mid-tone close to the color of the crayon.


16: Now it gets fun! With your direct selection tool, click right smack in the middle of a band area on the crayon, and then push the "I" key. "I" stands for "Eye" Dropper. It will bring up your "I-dropper" tool. Or you can push the button on your tools pallet that has a little eye-dropper. Sample a black band of the blue crayon with it. You will probobly notice that it samples the color from the exact area you've chosen. Try to sample a mid-tone, since your darkening/lightening operations in future steps will bring this value up and down.

Once you sample this, the area you selected will turn the same color that you chose with the eye-dropper.


17: Do this for all the bands, and then select the area that will end up being the wax top of the crayon. Like the picture, it should be somewhat darker. Also note that I've moved the crayon from over the original image. I think different artists have different styles in doing derivative work. Some always work with the base image directly below. I tend to use the base image mostly as a guide for form, and then as a visual guide color-wise. From this point, my accuracy level diminishes greatly, giving a lot of room for "artistic licence". Boy, thats a dangerous term. But thats just my style. In no time you'll be finding things that work better for you.


Just a quick note: If you zoom in close to the bands, you'll see how the color works with a gradient mesh. The outer lines you placed are setting a limit to how the far the gradation extends. I'd encourage you to manipulate them a bit, to see how they effect the color flow, and CTRL Z (undo) your experiments. Try direct-selecting a fill point and deleting it, and you'll see the gradient extend all the way to the next line.

18: There's a few things to this step.

Take note of where the dark area is on the crayon. Place a line in these areas:

1. The middle of the lightest point on top.

2. Below that, place a line where the dark tone has become the darkest.

3. Slightly above the lighter point on the bottom.

…or just copy what I did in the picture. You will see in a few seconds whats going to happen here.

If you look closely at the picture, you will see which anchor points I've selected. If you use a graphic tablet or your an pro with the mouse, I'd suggest using the lassoe tool to select them (towards the top of your tools pallet). It saves TONS of clicking. Once you've selected the the rows 1 and 2 from the bottom,

Next, go to Filters/Adjust Colors. I've found this to be THE most instrumental tool in creating gradient mesh lighting effects.


19. In the window that pops up, you will see a little drop down pallet (color mode). Make sure it says "RGB". Skip the blue text below if you already know some fundamentals in RGB. I'm only going to say whats relevant here. Set the values on the RGB sliders to: -28, -37, -48.


In using this method, you save yourself lots of clicking and problem solving with colors. They will all be adjusted on equal levels.

Most vector design is done in CMYK, which is used in printing. I use RGB since most of my work is created for web design. But its an important fact to remember that both vector imaging and CMYK color are complimentary sciences in design because vector work is resolution independent, and therefor will "rasterize" (or become pixel based) to any desired DPI (dots per inch), where a high DPI is needed for printing. CMYK (cyan, yellow, magenta, black) are colors used in printing. 

RGB stands for Red, Blue, Green, and is capable of a much wider color spectrum. For more technical info on this, see: The thing we need to cover here is what modifying the sliders will do for you. Believe it or not, HUGE color advantages come with a small understanding of manipulating the RGB values of the points you selected. As you can see, they all start at zero. You can bring their values negative or positive.

Most importantly: If you bring all three values up equally (Positive numbers) you will notice that it lightens the area you selected. If you bring them all down equally (negative) it darkens the selected area.

Secondarily: If, say, you bring red and green down to a negative value, and leave the blue, the image will darken, with the blue remaining, changing the color slightly. The same will happen if you leave the R and G values at zero and move the Blue value up. A LOT could be mentioned on the how to obtain different colors, but by simply playing around with the sliders, you can learn through a little experience how the relative values of RGB work.

20. Using the lassoe tool, I've selected the line in the middle of the crayon's highlight, the one just below the top edge of the crayon.


21. As meshes start getting more complex, the lines and points can start getting in your way. If you need to hide them before doing a color change, simply select the points you are going to change, then go to View/Hide Edges and they will disapear, leaving only a box around your selected object. Now you can make your color changes more accurate without having to stare through a mess of lines and dots.


22. Now its starting to look good! I've brought the RGB values of the selected points to 33, 26, and 32. Thats just me though. You might find values that work better artistically or truer-to-life.


23. Now that all of the basics have been covered, I'm going to speed it up a bit, since now the directions are more visual, than needing explanation. Here, I'm adding mesh lines to the tip of the maker, adding the detail of the flat tip. I've sampled the lighter color into the new area created. You can also note that one line is placed to hold the color, another one is placed to govern how far it extends.


24: Here I've selected the bottom edge of the mesh/crayon and did an RGB change to darken it. I merely brought all three sliders very low until it looked good. They are all in the -60-70 range. That formed the bottom shadow.


25: Here I added a mesh line just barely above the one we modified the color on. You are probobly noticing by now that my creative licence should probobly be suspended or revoked. Not everything I'm doing on this mesh is based on the original! May the vector derivative authorities have mercy on me! I'm just doing what "looks good" but I'm sure you're already getting ideas of your own. This is going to be a highlight.


26. Then I selected the points of that line and moved the RGB values back up, making this little highlight.


27. Just for the fun of it, I placed the directions in the image this time. Actually, I think I did that as a note more to myself when I was working, so I didn't forget what I did on these steps…








More mesh lines were added where edge tip of crayon wrap occurs. Once Then the middle line was selected, and the RGB values were raised, giving the look you see there. Note too, that if the color isn't "flowing" over the points quite the way you want, you can select those points and sample (CTRL I) any color higher or lower on the transition, and it will increase or decrease it to the amount you find suites you.

31. Here, I've done a similar set of modifications, bringing out the edge of the paper. I've also inset the outer edges of the mesh, making a more pronounced separate between the wax and the paper. That was a simple "Pulling in" of the vector points.


Here you can see the lines I added in this step:


Wherever definition and distinction were needed, I merely added more "columns." Usually the pattern is, one line (and resulting set of control points) to hold the colors, two to dictate how far they will extend. Thats just a re-itteration of what we've been seeing all along.


And that finishes the red crayon!

32. The green crayon is made almost completely similar to the red. The only difference is the black circle on the crayon utilizes some slightly more careful mesh line work. I'm going to be making a separate tutorial dedicated to easier mesh deformations.


 The image shown simply has some shadow effects added (shown below) and a background gradient, simply for depth.

The shadow was loosely added simply by selecting a few points and dimming them down a bit.


Similar here: 





And that completes the image. Quite honestly, the verbage is far more complicated than the actual work. After a few images of this nature, you will take to it quite fast! A sort of "logic" and "instinct" develop around the principles the more you use them, and you'll start to employ them naturally.

Once I started really getting into the gradient mesh aspect of vector work, and it started coming a little more easily, I tacked the below project:


Its all gadient meshes, with the exception of the wings which use some basic vectors and gradients. I'll be making a separate tutorial that outline the mesh deformation techniques used to get more complicated forms like this duplicated easily. Special thanks to arlindo71 for giving me the legal clearance to use one of his un-submitted images as a base image for this project!!!

If you want some inspiration on really cool Gradient Meshes, check out this lightbox!

To navigate your way to some more of my gradient mesh work, visit, there you will find all of my vector work plus the plans to create a working antigravity UFO using sciences based on the mathematics of gradient mesh deformation. Well, not really, but you'll have a similar amount of fun in discovery of your new skills! 

Here are some I've done:

Classic Pen Writing Binary Code











TAGS and Abstract Concept

ConceptColored Tags


Read and post comments | Send to a friend — A rare gem. Buy Entire Orange Man Set — Save up to 80 Percent. HUGE deal.

I often get inquiries — "Can I buy the entire set of orange men for a reduced price?" For perhaps over a year this little known opportunity has  existed on the rare gem of a website known as "".

See this link

A little factoid concerning The Orange Man practically lives there. I like to think of all of the websites I supply my art through as cities that I visit as a traveling merchant. Examples to follow:

Istockphoto is like that bustling super-metropolis filled with art and talent of every sort, fully populated with coffee shops where people exchange ideas and vision together. Its a supercity that is sparkling and refined.

strikes me as a more industrial city with merchants hurriedly running in and out, with their product selling faster than it can be stocked. Its a little more unrefined, but useful to those who have more creative ability.

and Crestock are somewhat like those medium sized towns with their own set of strengths., though, is far different. Its like a small private town, almost a gated community. Only a few artists in comparison are found here, but the selection is the cream of the crop as far as illustrations available. Its more family oriented, and there is not even the slightest hint of beaurocracy. One might think it was a private club secretly opened to the public — the best of both worlds! Any artwork bought from also has a much wider ability for use due to the user license agreement. 

This is where the orange man has truly blossomed and discovered himself, and where the best deals can be found in his use! Most sites have one or two color versions of the design mascot (also known as orange man), but has 11 color versions! is also the only site that sells them in bulk packages for a reduced rate. For those of you who have taken a liking to the orange man, its highly, highly suggested that you see both the package deals as well as the color versions.

Feel free to contact them with questions. They will treat you like family. 

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Robot piloting rocket vehicle.Robot in rocket waving.Robot in rocket vehicle waving.

For all of those loyal AO-Maru customers! FREE AO-Maru pictures! These smaller versions were created for web use without a charge! This particular series is of him in his special hover rocket. I'm sure you can adapt it to all sorts of concepts: Speedy service, Friendly Technology, Overnight Delivery…World's First Rocket Taxi Service.

3d Art, Not Expensive to Get Into

Did you know that its not expensive, or necessarily that hard learn 3d art and animation?

I have a feeling this is still not common knowledge. Check it out! Its a very, very powerful 3d package. Generally to buy a 3d package, you can expect to spend an upwards of $1000 if you plan to do anything serious. Blender 3d is open source, created by the combined efforts of programmers and 3d enthusiasts around the world. Its free to download, free to use, and free to profit from!

The catch: No fancy tuturials inside the program itself, such as the pricey packages have. But there is a large supply of knowledge on the internet, many forums dedicated to blender where you can find person/person help, and a few good books on the market.

And if I can give one little hint of advice, should you choose to check it out — Don't be intimidated! (And learn the hotkeys). It looks hard, but its not.



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Wardenclyffe Tower — First Render, Free Image

As promised, here is the first free image hot off the render pipeline! Nikola Tesla's Magnifying Transmitter. More than likely I will be producing many more images on this subject.

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Design Mascots! (Orange men evolved to different colors). Available on

My biggest personal discovery as a "designer" (I try not to use this term too much) is that there life outside of orange. This has altered my entire world, considering I was born only being able to see the "orange" part of the color spectrum. Now that I'm healed and can see more of the world (admittedly I have used some blues) in all of its wonderful colors, I've now taken all of those little orange men and adapted most of them to other color horizons…like blue…green…yellow…coffee…..

Here's some examples:

Design Mascot Bright Idea_0001_YellowDesign Mascot Einstein_0008_LimeDesign Mascot Fishing_0007_BlueDesign Mascot Contractor Three_0010_Gray

For a quick preview of these, check out my flickr sets. There are about 150 of them available as previews. has the greatest selection of these alternate colors. See here:

(If you check my other sites such as Istock or Crestock you will mostly see just orange men).  My hope is that these added colors will open up new design possibilities — or at least just add convenience!

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Here I am!

And here I am!

Well, I just moved into Vox. This is a big step for me because I've never blogged before! I'm generally not a person that likes to waste my time, or yours for that matter! :) 

However, its certainly not a waste of time if I happen to share something beneficial or useful, right?

Well, I have written an extensive tutorial on how to work with Gradient Meshes in Illustrator. To see what exactly an image composed of gradient meshes can look like in Illustrator, see the example to the right.

See the tuturial here:

My hope is to add a tutorial here now and then, which will keep this blog nice and useful for both of us! Besides that, check out my illustrations. If you have any of your own, please message me, I'd love to see them!

 - Leo


Photoreal Vectors and Gradient Meshes
Photoreal Vectors and Gradient Meshes

the Orange Factor
the Orange Factor


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Wardenclyffe Tower Magnifying Transmitter Progress

The JesterArts/Leo Blanchette Design and Illustration blog has moved to WordPress: Check it out for designer tutorials and JesterArts updates!

Bringing to Life a Historic Dream.

 I sent out the call to those interested in being a part of resurrecting this interesting, yet almost forgotten piece of history, the Wardenclyffe Tower. Especially a drafting person to fill in the technical gaps in design. The response was overwhelmingly non-existent! One could hear a cricket chirp all the from the village of Smiljan near the town of Gospić, Austrian Empire. In response to that half interested cricket, I've begun and am now well into this project of creating a somewhat realistic visualisation of this forgotten dream.

I have acculated a small collection of  visual references plus some overall measurements of the tower, but much of it as like piecing together a fossil, having to to re-invent certain parts of it to fill in the gaps that have been lost to the erosion that time tends to exert.

Despite the extremely low response, I do believe these images will be very helpful on the subject. After scouring the libraries and internet for resources, its now apparent that any future individual looking for Nikola Tesla related imaging will be benefited. See screenshots of the progress in this blog post.

Oh, Nikola Tesla was born in the village of Smiljan near the town of Gospić, Austrian Empire.

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Check Out my Webcam!

Yet another 3d robotic creation! This was a lot of fun — I wanted to make a robot that was somewhat realistic and didn't take long to render. The result was this 3d webcam robot.

He is created in blender 3d, and uses material nodes (basically overlapping material effects) as well as render nodes (sort of like an in-program post-processing tool like photoshop) to create the effect of realism. He doesn't actually require raytracing to achieve the "real" so renders take less than five minutes. In the near future I'm going to get a huge line of images produced on a variety of subjects. In the meantime, his existing images are highly useful!

Feel free to check them out!

Robot Web Cam GesturingRobot Web Cam Walking Toward Viewer.Robot Web Cam in LineRobot Web Cam Holding Business Card.Robot Web Cam Holding Pencil

Read and post comments | Send to a friend — Redesigned. Thank You

A special thanks to (Kenny Adams, Jamie Voetsch) for helping in Redesigning The new layout works beautifully, and now like, collections are available for download for the customers who require more images at a reduced bulk price. Without a doubt a lot of special programming had to be accomplished for certain functions of the website, and Kenny has been one awesome problem solver! A special thanks to!!! Screenshot below.

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Wardenclyffe Tower — Nikola Tesla’s Dream of Wireless Energy Transmission

Wardenclyffe Tower 3d Visualization,
Upcoming JesterArts Illustrations
Tesla: Man Out of Time
Tesla: Man Out of Time
Margaret Cheney

Would you like to read an inspiring, powerful, and yet sad story? Read Man out of Time, by Margaret Cheney.  Nikola Tesla was different from other inventors of his day or prior in many ways. He is credited for pioneering the concept of alternating current, creating the alternating current motor, plus a few other concepts that literally drive industry today.

But who has ever heard of the wireless transmission of electrical energy? He had hoped to accomplish this through his concept of the "magnifying transmitter". This was his greatest dream, of which all of his work was leading up to. It would be a clean, efficient, and elegant way to provide communications services and energy to the entire globe without power lines or environmentally destructive methods of any sort. It seems like a thing of the future, and yet it was on the verge of becoming a reality as far back as 1903.

The Wardenclyffe Tower which was to house the magnifying transmitter was near completion and then shut down when investors realized a disturbing fact concerning this invention: Who can profit from supplying free energy? A new type of technological society was at its birth in those days. Industry much the same as our present day was powered not by electricity, but money. So many of Tesla's inventions and endeavors were really just stepping stones to this grand invention which he would never complete due to economic reasons. He did not see this as a defeat. He stated: "The present is theirs ; the future, for which I really work , is mine."

Photo example below of the almost completed Wardenclyffe Tower:


So this project, a realistic 3d depiction of the Wardenclyffe tower, has been on my to-do list for a long time. I'll be using the free open source software Blender 3d to create it, and the resulting illustrations will be free to use keeping in stride with the purpose behind the invention itself: Keeping it FREE.

I'll be giving attention to all of the important details and will be making special efforts not to stray from accuracy. I will also do various renditions of the same model to serve educators and enthusiasts alike for any purpose they find. It will be free, and no, its not a marketing ploy. Keep checking back for updates.

NOTE: I am looking for qualified volunteers to help with layouts for the tower itself. See this thread:






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AO-Maru the Friendly Robot

AO-Maru the Friendly Robot.

I created this robot as a sort of "friendliness assistant" to designers. AO-Maru is a technological wonder, inquisitive in nature, and does his job very well when it comes to bringing to life concepts such as (obviously) robotics, web design, programming, and more. He's also been used in medical and community design projects!

Like all of my 3d work, he is created and rendered in Blender 3d. This particular model uses Yafray to render, since yafray does a wonderful job at accomplishing realism without having to wait five days for the render to complete.

In the near future I intend to render many more poses, hopefully involving unique objects besides the robot himself, and  involved in as many conceptual and useable situations as possible.

If you would like to see the entire series, feel free to visit my website or my flickr photostream.

If you would like any special poses, please send me your requests. I may be able to get a few done.

Glossy Robot Standing Holding SignGlossy Red Robot ReclinedBlue Ninja Robot Posed Defensively3d Robot Father and Son3d Robot Looking Up at Stars3d Robo Sitting Sign Green

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Orange Man Color Changes — Tutorial in Adobe Illustrator

A little known fact is that Orange Men are like little chameleons — they can change color according to your design needs!

…they just need a little help.

Thank goodness for the Adobe Illustrator Magic Wand and Eyedropper tool, which this tutorial will teach you how to use!

First, why don't you swipe this little picture goodie below: A color pallet of the default design mascot color variations. A tutorial on how to change orange men to other colors follows below.

This is an easy tutorial. It uses pictures!

Step 1: Have a vector orange man ready. If you don't have any, you can find them at

Step 2.
Look at picture below. It shows where our essential tools for this operation are located.


Click on the picture if you need to see closer. It works on all the pictures. Be sure to use back button afterward on your browser!

Step 3: Add the color pallet you swiped onto your Adobe Illustrator work area.  Picture Below:


Step 4:
Change the settings on your magic wand tool from default  number to 0. This is done by double-clicking the icon on the tool tray. Pic below. (After this I'm going to stop saying picture below, ok?)


Step 5: Use the Lasso Tool to draw a selection line around the area you want to operate on…which is usually the orange man/woman. Sometimes the orange men have props and objects separate from them. We do not want these to be affected, so we will lock them in the next steps.


Step 6: Lock inverse. Start by going to the menue items Select/Inverse. When you've selected inverse, then go to object/lock, thus locking all that other stuff you don't want to touch in this operation.



Step 7: Magic Wand tool, selecting colors. Click the magic wand tool on the tool tray or push "Y" on your keyboard. Then click the shadow/dark oranges of the orange person you are working on.


Step 8: Eyedropper color change: Having done that, now click the eyedropper tool on the tool pallet push "i" on your keyboard to bring up the eyedropper tool. The darks of the orange person should still be selected as shown above. Now click the dark blue on the color pallet to switch the color from dark orange to dark blue.


Step 9: Deselect by clicking somewhere on the empty workspace, and then repeat the steps previous on the mid-tone of the orange person. Magic wand, eyedropper, sample. Same with the highlight.


Step 10: With your design mascot completed, unlock the rest of the objects on the canvas to free up the illustration for further editing/access.


Of course, you do not have to use the color pallet. You can, if you wish, just magic-wand color areas then bring up the color options menues to switch them to whatever you wish. I don't mind!

Learn Actions

If your a designer that intends to use A LOT of orange people, then something else you may wish to learn is how to use ACTIONS. That will GREATLY reduce the clicking involved in this operation. I would not be able to generate so many color variation orange men without them. A simple search online: "Adobe Illustrator Actions Tutorial" should get you started.

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JesterArts — Mindsystems Project Overview

PROJECT: Mindsystems Robot Mascot.

This is a brief project summary for customers who would like to know the process of completing an illustration project for their business through JesterArts.

I worked with Mindsystems on the creative development of a new mascot logo, for their new product 'Mindsystems Amode'. Mindsystems runs a fun, dynamic and experienced work place…they wanted to reflect their corporate culture in their new mascot. So I came up with Mindbot! Asides from being a fun bunch to work with, it looks like their new product is awesome! ("

Here is the initial render with the bare shapes, based closely on the concept sketch:

 The details on the body of the robot were loosely represented in the initial sketch, but a lot was open to creative flow. Alex had already created a professional and attractive pattern for the website involving semi-transparent squares, so it was a no-brainer to make sure the robot himself included these. I did a vector derivative of his initial pattern, and then adapted it to the robot in the UV mapping. Squares pattern example below:

It was a great example of an ideal project in the creative flow, the fun shared, and basically what one can experience when coming to JesterArts for such projects.

Related Links:



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Announcing a New Line of Microstock Bots!

Announcing a New Line of Microstock Bots!

A lot went into the preperation of this highly optimal workflow. But now I can announce a new series of robots to make their entrance into the world of Microstock! Pictures below:


Toon Robot SEO TwoToon Robo PresentingToon Robot Heavenward


Toon Robot Sitting and SignToon Robot Holding SignToon Robot SEO


There will be more on the way! These were simply my test subjects to see if my ideas would work properly between Illustrator and Blender 3d. I also intend to do animations with this robot, which will be available on any microstock sites supporting video.

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The orange man has his own website! Thanks to the unsung heros at www.ClipArtOf.Com, this cute little hub of orange man activity now exists on the internet! This site is special! It will exist specifically for the purpose of making orange men available to the internet in much broader supply!

Curious? is where its happening. Most people don't know this, but if you put your nose to your computer monitor and smell the orange man, you can actually smell the citrus-ness eminating from the little character. Stop what your doing and smell this picture below:


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Behind the Scenes: JesterArts Character Creation

I've been doing so much 3d work lately I've been dreaming in polygons. To get to sleep I count vertices, and when I wake up I'm subconsciously thinking of rigging strategies to get the best movement out of a character.

Its time for a vacation, I think. Today I stopped at a bike shop and checked out some Kawasaki Ninjas, and for once I actually found myself interested in the real thing, and not just wondering how I'd make a model of it.

But while I'm still locked in the 3d thing, exploring new horizons with concepts, here is a small breakdown of how this stuff is done! Are you a customer? This will be enjoyable to see what is done to get to the finished product.

No doubt you've seen enough behind-the-scenes extra features — heck, a twelve year old knows it by now — to know whats involved in the creation of a 3d character! But here's another one in case you haven't had enough!

 Most 3d artists enjoy showing the rendered product, but many 3d artists want to see the wireframe where a true assessment of quality can be made. Its not enough to construct the 3d model to "look right" but the "Edge flow", that is, the arrangement of the geometry, must be properly created to allow the greatest and most natural range of movement.

Screenshot Ant Workspace1Ant Workspace Screenshot WorkflowHamster Workspace Screenshot

The hardest part of the entire process, for me, is rendering and re-rendering to get the lighting and materials right. Thats because its so incredibly time consuming. But the end results are usually worth the time involved.

Hamster and DrillJester Hamster

The ant series is probably going to be more practical to the needs of the market, and I'm glad I spent a little extra time on it. The textures were created in Zbrush, a program made specifically for adding detail onto the model as one might paint a sculpture. Here are the texture maps created for the ant:

Ant Normal MapAnt Body

The multicolored map on the left is responsible for adding the smaller geometric details in the texture. It "fakes" things like cracks and bumps in the texture. It uses the RGB values as coordinates instead of color, telling the renderer to simulate the effect of changes in surface qualities. This map is called a "normal map" because it has to do with the "normals" of the polygon faces, that is, the direction in which the polygons face.

The map on the right is a typical texture map, wrapping an image around the model itself. All 3d model textures are stored as flat images, assigned to "UV coordinates". UV coordinates are the same as XY, except with different letters, so that its not confused with XY coordinates of 3d space.

The end result is an ant of low geometric detail that looks realistic, due to a strategic use of textures.

Hope you enjoyed this brief walk-through of the JesterArts workflow! If you have any questions, let me know. These models are available on my website if you'd like to use them!


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Reel Mess Advergame in Beta Testing

I enjoyed this project greatly!

Its an advergame called "Reel Mess" where the object of the game is to untangle the fishing line. They had me do most of the art for it, so I went all out in Adobe Illustrator and did some serious gradient mesh/vector images that were cartoony enough not to be too realistic.

Heres some screenshots:



If you want to check it out before it is live, you can register a free account on If you go to the "My Profile" page and edit your profile, you'll see a checkbox in the lower right of the screen that says "I want to play beta games." If you check that, then click on the "Games" button in the main nav, you should see it at the top of the list (with a red "BETA" next to it). Play away! There is also a link to the forum for this game if you want to leave any comments.

(Please let me know if the link no longer works) 

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AO-Maru Used in Popular Science Magazine!

AO-Maru was used in Popular Science Magazine!

It was an article about medical robots! I never figured AO-Maru to be much of a doctor, but I guess he is just full of surprises! Screenshot below.

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Ten Free Images on

Ten Free Illustrations on!

When did the word "free" stop meaning "free"? You know, as in something to be given without charge. For instance, if I search out "free download" on a leading search engine I'll most certainly find 309,000,000 matches, but how many of those are actually free? Usually I can expect that it will be "Free to try, then pay after trial" or something like that, but people use the term misleadingly.

So knowing this sad reality when we say "FREE ILLUSTRATIONS DOWNLOAD!" or FREE CLIPART or "FREE LARGESCALE IMAGES!" it can be assured that its FREE! No strings attached. Now that we've covered this, here is a little preview of which ten images I've made free to the public.

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Creating Hydraulic or Pneumatic Tubes in Blender 3d Tutorial

Creating Hydraulic or Pneumatic Tubes in Blender 3d Tutorial

By "hooking" points of paths to "empty" objects in blender 3d you can create tubes that move with the objects they are connected to via parenting – in this case, a pneumatic piston used for a robot arm.

This tutorial assumes you are familiar with basic modelling in blender. So I won't go into great detail with basic functions like how to move and rotate objects, parent/child objects, etc.

So how bout some pictures to see the effect at work!

Piston level with tubes:









Piston rotated counter-clockwise:









Piston rotated clockwise:










Looking at the above examples, you can see that regardless of which way the piston is rotated, the tube sticks in place to where its connected. Its a very useful effect for many purposes, and not hard to impliment at all. For this project the piston will be used to move a robot's arm, and to make it realistic, I wanted the tubes running through the mechanical work of the robot, flexing and bowing naturally.

1: So first, in the usual manner, add a UV sphere. That is [spacebar, add, mesh, UVsphere]. See screenshot below.














2: After you've created your UVsphere and hit [tab] to get into object mode, add a path over the same spot. [space, add, curve, path]. I suppose you could use a bezier curve or something, but I use paths because they are less restrictive.  














3: Now you end up with this millipede looking thing. Thats a path. All those things comprising the millipede's legs are actually arrows showing which way the path is pointing.  












4: Move the path [g] left, so that the tip of the path is somewhere around the middle of the sphere or near its left side. It doesn't matter for this example really, we're just making a rough example to learn from.













5: To make your path into an actual tube type in the values you see here. Make sure you are in edit mode and you will see the little window here holding the values listed below. Change them to what you see in the little screenshot below. If you do it right, you will see it go from a basic path to a tube. Notice as you move points on the path that the tube conforms around it.








Please note I moved the path over a bit so you could see the example better.













6: Here is where the really cool trick comes in. Click on the path and [tab] into edit mode if you are not already there. Click [right mouse button] the last point on the path. Then push [ctrl H] which will bring up this "hooks" window. Select the "add new empty" option to add an empty object.  

An "empty object" is simply a placeholder, or an invisible object, which is handy for situations like this. They don't render, but are objects nonetheless. It'll make sence in a few steps.












7: See those arrows pointing in line with the X,Y,Z axis? That is an empty object. True to its name, its empty! Nothing but an invisible place holder. Thankfully we have this handy XYZ arrow thing so we don't lose it. Notice if you move the "empty" the path will always point to it. One more step left! 












8: If you didn't already anticipate it, we're going to make the Empty a child of the UVsphere. Do this by selecting the two of them and pushing [ctrl P] where it will ask "make parent" and you select "OK". Now the Empty is a child of the UVsphere object, and wherever you move the UVsphere the tube will go to. Now all sorts of possibilities are running through your mind — like vacuum hoses, exposed arteries on mutant beasts, cables…!

See the screenshots below to see the effect at work:
























This ends my simple tubes tutorial. Check back for more how-tos on Illustrator and Blender 3d!

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Custom Robo, Created for your Business

I get many inquiries asking me to create "custom robot mascots" for people's businesses, often "like AO-Maru" the robot I sell through microstock libraries. Here are some basic questions answered, if you ever wish to have a custom 3d robot mascot created. After the questions, see some examples of custom robots I've recently created for people.

Q: How much does a custom 3d robot mascot cost?
A: 1,500 on average, depending upon complexity. First four renders are free, then $90 a pose/render afterward.

Q: Do I own the 3d model file itself, and can I manipulate it and re-render it myself?
A: Yes, after the model is complete you get the Blender 3d file (download free program from and you can do whatever you want with it, including use other designers to create renders! Wow, cool huh?

Q: How long does it take to create a custom robo for my business/mascot needs.
A: About two weeks. May take longer depending on busy-ness. Depending on my situation, you may be on a waiting list, but be sure to contact me — I may have an open time slot.

Q: Do I have to put money down?
A: No — you pay after project is complete. Copyright is transfered at time of sale. If you choose not to pay or project is terminated, I simply keep the robot for my own use.

Q: Can my robot be animated?
A: Yes, simple animations. I create the robot for basic still posing, and is not optimized for animation. Also, animations cost different depending upon complexity.

Q: Can you supply a list of people you've done projects for of this nature so I know what I'm getting into?
A: Yes. No point in having all that money on the line and not know what your getting into!

Q: Will this be a fun project?

See past examples below.—-tuba-robot.html

Tuba Rocket PreviewTuba Cute Pose PreviewTuba Skate Board Preview—-mindsystems-project-overview.html

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JesterArts Now Selling Illustrations on

Thanks to JesterArts has taken to flight in selling illustrations on!

Whats the advantage of this? Every time you spend three minutes searching and buying an Illustration (or two, or three) on a hamster is set free to the wild.

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