paint in PS


A closeup eyeI recently got inspired to paint in Photoshop. Using a mouse and crazy brush setting I tried to create a feeling of real paint in PS CS4, so there was no fancy paint blending like CS5. Perhaps I need to get a tablet and CS5, then I can unleash Photoshop’s true painting potential.


This summer has been full of artistic experimentation, exploration and innovation. Now that the summer has passed, though not the summer weather, it’s time to post some of the things I’ve made.

Luckily I have produced many more things, which I will share in the days to come.

This was one crazy semester! So many things accomplished, but most importantly finished my thesis project. The game we created for thesis turned out to be quite good for a first attempt at game design. The reason for that is that we put in an immense amount of time into developing and refining just about every aspect of it in order to make it thesis worthy.

My group and I have yet to post the game somewhere public, so that we can get more feedback. There will be a link on here as soon as the game finds a place on the web, you can be sure of that.

Having finished thesis and the rest of the work for the rest of my classes, I am now looking forward to graduation. What an exciting time. After 17 years of education it’s time to finally apply it wholeheartedly to the professional world! Not to mention not have to worry about homework or grades for the first time in ages.



We’re going into the spring semester now and it’s my final; graduation is imminent! However, to graduate we need to do a thesis. This, of course, is no problem when you have an idea, skills and a competent team of people. Since we are the first to do a group thesis, we plan to make the best thesis this program has ever faced!

The main premise of our thesis is to create a game that gets closer to resolving the tension that exist between gameplay and narrative. We plan to eliminate cutscenes and to convey narrative to the player directly through gameplay. The gameplay will, in turn, be driven by the narrative and will reflect the mood of the narrative. The goal is to create harmony between gameplay and narrative, so they do not undermine or contradict, but instead support and enhance each other.

introducing idaho stew

Idaho Stew, the design firm that I chose to interview, has existed since 2003, as a multidisciplinary design firm. This concept is what gives them the ability to come to a design problem with several different views and approaches. Idaho stew is involved with several non-profits and also does a fair share of pro-bono work. I found out, from talking to Stu Alden, the owner of Idaho Stew, that pro-bono work has a tendency to generate paid work opportunities.

summer scholars

One of the projects with which Idaho Stew is actively involved is the Summer Scholars project: a project to promote literacy and encourage reading among youth. Summer Scholars is a Denver based program that allows for low-income and under-achieving students to become capable and well-versed students by getting them involved in literacy programs, as well as, recreation programs.

Idaho Stew became involved in this project because, their core beliefs as a design studio and designers are aligned with that of this program. As a design studio, they rely heavily on their ability to communicate, in order for any sort of communication to be possible literacy must be present. Stu decided to provide the Summer Scholar’s program with work to satisfy their design needs in order to promote and propel that which is of grave importance to his success: literacy.

mission 2M

summerScholars2_Page_4One of the most crucial sources of the Summer Scholars’ success is the ability to generate funds, which is based mostly on donations and funds raising events. A rather successful fundraising event they have had was the Mission 2M campaign in 2005; it was branded and designed by Idaho Stew. The fact that it was designed by Idaho Stew may just be the key its resounding success, as Stu was able to push a creative and unorthodox approach to designing this campaign.


Initially the people representing Summer Scholars approached Stu with an idea for a dry and boring campaign that was more bureaucratic that anything, as is demonstrated in what they wanted to call it: Summer Scholars endowment program. Stu saw right through the futility of such a campaign and offered to design something a little more exciting and engaging, hence Mission 2M.


In designing Mission 2M stew decided to engage future donors by making them feel like they are doing something more special than donating money, this was done by branding the campaign as a space mission. Each of the donors had the role of playing a special role that would help to launch this mission; they would meet for dinners and events and be briefed about this campaign as would astronauts. Each potential donor felt as if they were supporting the launch of a fantastic journey rather than participating in an endowment campaign.

All the materials created for this campaign were followed this brand identity and demonstrated the playful approach the space mission allegory, from flyers to letterheads. They all included references to a space mission, as seen in the posters which dub the children in them “Space Cadets.” The informational materials aimed at donors also featured this theme, labeling them as “classified” and giving them a look of grave importance. The information included in these materials was also organized and formatted in a way that made it seem like an official space program. The playful concept of a space mission was also underlined in the tone and vocabulary used in conveying the information.



This campaign would almost certainly not have been as successful, had they not implemented the Mission 2M approach, but Stu was persistent enough to sway them client toward his idea. The most important aspect of pro-bono work is the room for creativity and innovation, but in some cases this creative freedom does not come easy. Stu said that in order to convince the client to concur with you on a certain idea, as he did with Mission 2M, is to be prepared in the presentation of your idea. This can be accomplished by doing diligent research on what type approaches are successful for a particular problem, as well as, developing your idea enough to be able to answer questions about your it in way that promotes your idea and differentiates it from irrelevant ideas the client may have.


Another important aspect of working with Summer Scholars was the conversation that had to occur between Stu and the client, a conversation that allowed for refinement and improvement of the idea in such a way that made sense to the client. The way this is done is by making sure that the client stays focused on the idea and by always pointing them back to the basis of why this idea will work; in the case of the Mission 2M campaign the client had to be reminded of the fact that this idea is unique and would engage donors in a special way that would compel them to donate more than a campaign with a corporate feel. In making the audience feel special lies the innovation of this project, because it catches them off guard and makes them interact with the brand in a more natural way, which builds a more significant emotional connection.


The approach that Idaho Stew took to designing this campaign lead to its great success generating the sought after two million dollars in a quarter of the time allotted for the campaign, though Stu humbly says that he was happy to go along for the ride with such an amazing campaign. Summer Scholars has since relied heavily on Idaho Stew for their design needs, as they have built up a relationship of trust and understanding.

answers to initial interview questions
1. EBD does a wide variety of work for a diverse client base. Most of our clients are local and are brought to us mostly by referral from previous jobs. We do a lot of local work for retail, environmental graphics, packaging and some advertising.
2. Recent clients include Belmar Shopping District, Highline Outfitters, Aerogarden, Mici Handcrafted Italian, Mark and Isabella, Denver Office of Cultural Affairs and Denver Pavillions. We do not have any pro-bono projects at the moment.
3. We have not worked on anything directly pro bono, though we have worked with some groups at a reduced rate. Individually the employees at EBD support and are involved in several social causes on their own and often to work for them. To see what causes we work on individually look at the people section of and the line I GIVE TO.
As a studio we are active in AIGA Colorado which is a non profit professional group for designers. Through that AIGA has several initiatives which are pro-bono and benefit the community through mentorship programs and social awareness.
4. EBD enjoys working with people to produce design thats communicates with out clutter. By that I mean we focus on what the client would like to say to their audience and we work with them to get that message across in a clear, concise design that impacts the viewer and engages them to respond. Clients that are open to evaluating what they want to say and are willing to explore various avenues on how to say what they want to say are very enjoyable to work with.
5. We at the moment do very little pro-bono work as a studio. Rather our culture supports getting involved with the social causes outside of the office.
6. We are a small shop that stays very focused on working with our clients. So time is a factor that keeps us from doing more pro-bono work. That said EBD does allow time for us as individuals to contribute either time or sometimes design to different non profit groups. We are involved in different boards of these groups. This allows us the time to do projects that make a difference but not during billable times during the week.
7. We use design briefs created after meeting with a client. We have a process of bringing work in and have a work flow for each project involving internal design reviews, initial presentations with clients, time for revisions and then finally production time to create the deliverables for the job.
8.. If we do, work on a pro-bono project or take on a project at a reduces rate, it gets as much time and attention and passion as any other job we would do.
I would imagine that as the economy gets more robust then the ability for a small firm to take on pro bono and weave that into billable time would be more feasible. As mentioned before my boss Ellen does allow us time to work on projects at times that are for non-profits when time allows.
EBD is unable to engage in a considerable amount of pro bono work as a firm due to the economic situation. That being the case, EBD does, however, encourage its eployees to engage in pro bono projects outside of work on their own time. All of the employees at EBD are engaged in one or more such project; my contact, Charles, gives his time to the AIGA and to Famine Releif.
Charles has notified me that the work that he does for the AIGA and other organizations is of the same great caliber, regardless of weather the project is pro bono or paid. The design process also appears to be very similar in that in every case a goal is set after recognizing the design problem at hand and through a process of proposal and approval the task is ultimately completed and implemented to the client’s satisfaction.

background info


charles info

EBD’s site –

EBD’s most senior designer, working there since 1997.

President of AIGA Colorado, since 2008. He is in charge of event coordiantion and all the tasks that are related to it.

EBD is a marketing and design firm that concentrates on creating aesthetically pleasing brands that are lasting and honest. Their designs are elegant and simple, creating very concise brand messages and identities; each fitting to the clients purpose and goals.

Background Questions

What type of client does your company usually take on? Why?

What are some of your recent clients? (Pro bono and not)

Which of these clients did you enjoy working with the most? Why? (Pro bono and not)

Have you done any Pro Bono work for your recent clients?

What share of your work is Pro Bono?

What factors affect the amount of Pro Bono your company does?

How do you prioritize Pro Bono work and paid work?

Questions about Pro Bono

What would make you interested in a Pro Bono project?

Do you usually have to look for Pro Bono projects or do they come to you?

What steps do you take in acquiring a Pro Bono client? Are these steps different from paid work?

What sort of documents do you prepare when acquiring a client?

Which one of these documents is most important in advancing the design process?

Which one of these documents is most important in informing your design ideas?

Do you have a strict process that you follow in completing projects?

If so what steps does your process consist of?

Does the process differ for Pro Bono and paid work?

Which type of work receives a more in-depth treatment? A more extensive process?

How often are steps approved in projects? Is this more important with paid clients?

How do you measure success with a Pro Bono project? Is this measure unique to each

Does a successful project act as a springboard into that type of work (industry)?

Specific Pro Bono project questions

Is there a recent Pro Bono project that you’d be able to discuss?

Why did you choose to partake in this particular project?

Can you describe the process of developing the project? (from establishing the design
problem to actualizing the project)

Which of these steps was the most fun?

Was the client cooperative and involved in the design process?

Did the client provide you with concise goals for the project and with specific guidelines or did you have to sort that out with them?

How did you implement the project in the end?

What were some measures used to judge whether the project was successful or not?

Did the client give you feedback after deployment?

If so, did you have to do follow up work to satisfy the client?