May 302016

Anyone who practises 3D art knows it can be an incredibly time-consuming process, so help in the form of free textures and ready-made, free 3D models is always welcome. In recent years, a large number of websites have appeared offering just that and, while you have to pay for the majority of them, there are many free 3D models online too. You just have to know where to look.

Here, we scoured the web for resources and found a selection of free 3D models, which will hopefully save you time on your next project. Enjoy!

01. Animal collection

Free 3D models: Animal collection

These low-poly animals are perfect for use in real-time environments

Available in every major 3d file format, this low-poly wild animals pack are perfect for use in a variety of real-time environments, such as a mobile games and apps. The pack includes a deer, bear, wolf and boar, with the geometry on all optimised for animation.

02. Male base mesh

Free 3D models: Male figure

This base mesh serves as a great starting point for you to create your own male characters

Humans are one of the hardest subjects to recreate in 3D, so save yourself some time with this male base mesh, which acts as a great start for sculpting and designing your own male characters. Available as an .obj file, this download is free for personal use only.

03. Cyclos Roadbike

Free 3D models - Cyclos Roadbike

This road bike from TurboSquid is a slick piece of work

Get your 3D characters out and about on this nifty free road bike model from TurboSquid. It comes in 3ds Max and Mental Ray formats, and it's a perfect starting point for creating your own personal 3D bike design.

04. Goldfish

Free 3D models - Goldfish

Bring your underwater scenes to life with this free goldfish model

Bring your underwater scenes to life with this free goldfish model from Turbosquid. Available in .max and .3ds formats, this asset includes all textures and materials and should be used in accordance with Turbosquid's royalty free license.

05. Orient watch

Free 3D models - Orient watch

Accesorise your characters in style with this free orient watch model

Need to accesorise your characters? Check out this free orient watch model from Turbosquid. Ready rigged and including all materials and textures, this .max file is available for use under a royalty free license.

06. Destan House

Free 3D models - Destan House

Why stick your 3D characters in an ordinary house?

Clearly inspired by the work of iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright, this eye-catching house from TurboSquid will make a stylish home for your 3D characters. This free model is good for use in 3ds Max and V-Ray 3.

07. UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter

Free 3D models - helicopter

Download this cool UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter totally free from TF3DM

TF3DM offer thousands of 3D models that you can download absolutely for free. And this cool UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter is one of them. The four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter is available in .3ds, .obj, .mb, .lwo and .max formats and free for personal use only.

08. Daft Punk helmets

Free 3D models - Daft Punk

The Greyscalegorilla team created these brilliant, free 3D models to celebrate Daft Punk's new album

To celebrate the official release of a Daft Punk album, the Greyscalegorilla team decided to give away these professionally modeled Daft Punk helmet models for Cinema 4D. Texture and ready to render, incorporate these free 3D models into your sci-fi designs.

09. BB-8

Free 3D models - BB-8

Isn't he adorable? BB-8 here is ready rigged for animation

Everyone's favourite droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been recreated and made available for free from TF3DM. This BB-8 model by Steve Lalonde is rigged two different ways for animation purposes and comes complete with high quality textures, and it's available on .obj, .max and .fbx formats.

10. Epoca Selva table

Free 3D models - Epoca Selva table

Add some designer furniture to your scene with this beautiful free 3D model

After some designer furniture for your scene? Then look no further than this Epoca Selva table model, created by 3D designer Evgeny. The free 3D model is available in .fbx, .obj and .3ds formats and comes complete with materials and textures.

11. Wine glasses

Free 3D models - wine glasses

Save yourself lots of time by downloading these free 3D wine glass models

Creating realistic looking glass in 3D is both tricky and time-consuming. Here, 3D artist Mihai Panait has done the hard work for you, creating a set of various-shaped wine glasses. Available in .max, .obj and .3ds formats, the models are offered for use under a standard royalty free license.

12. 1953 Cadillac Eldorado

Free 3D models - Cadillac Eldorado

This free 3D model by Curro Astorza is a sweet ride

Based in Barcelona, 3D illustrator Curro Astorza is the man behind this detailed 1953 Cadillac Eldorado. The free 3D model is available to download in both XSI scene and .obj formats. The asset is free for use in both personal and commercial projects.

13. Henry and Caroline

Free 3D models - Henry and Caroline

Henry and Caroline are built with animation in mind, with plenty of controls

Created by students at Cogswell College in San Jose, this pair of adorable characters – named after the college's founder and his wife – are fully rigged for animation and designed to be both simple to use and extremely versatile. They're part of Project Avatarah, an ongoing programme to create an assortment of 3D characters for free download.

14. Turbo sonic car

Free 3D models - Turbo sonic car

Turbosquid has hundreds of free 3D models on offer, including this cool turbo sonic car

TurboSquid is the largest library of 3D products in the world. You have to pay for the vast majority of its catalogue, but they also offer hundreds of free 3D models for download, this cool turbo sonic car being one of them.

15. Glasses

Free 3D models - glasses

Want your characters to rock the Harry Potter look? Grab this free glasses download from Turbosquid

Ok, so it's not the most exciting model ever. But creating convincing looking glass in 3D is no easy task. So, if you fancy completing your character with the Harry Potter look, save yourself some time and hassle and grab this free glasses download instead. Note: only for use in 3ds Max.

Next page: more great free 3D models...

16. Animator Starter Pack

Free 3D models - Animator Starter Pack

Get all the urban detail you need with this heavyweight starter pack

If downloading a load of 3D models one by one is a bit of an effort then this should be welcome: it's a free pack of 90 models by Shaun Keenan, a freelance rigging, modelling and texture artist, it's packed with handy resources for creating a city scene including cars, buildings, houses, fire hydrants and other miscellaneous items.

17. NASA space shuttle

Free 3D models - Space shuttle

Create your own space adventure with Nasa's extensive range of free 3D models

For everything space related, head over to the NASA website where you'll find an extensive library of free 3D models. There's astronauts, lunar modules, satellites and more. Most models are in the common .3ds format but there are also .lwo, .fbx, or .obj formats available in some cases. Usage guidelines apply.

18. House

Free 3D models - House

Find this free cool house model at

This cool house is offered by ShareCG, the site that hosts the web's largest collection of free computer graphics resources including thousands of free 3D CG Models. The house is offered as an untextured .obj file but the download includes separate material files for easy texturing. Note: registration to the site is required to download models.

19. Plants

Free 3D models - Plants

Download over 100 free plant and tree models courtesy of vegetation generator application Xfrog

Help yourself to 130 free plant and tree models from Xfrog, the vegetation-generation application. Choose from a list of 30 species, then click the 'Try before you buy' button for a free model. Download formats include .obj as well as files for use in Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, Vue, Terragen 2, modo and Lighwave.

20. Cinema 4D model pack

Free 3D models - various C4D

Find all of these models in this brilliant free pack from the guys at Greyscalegorilla

This brilliant collection of free Cinema 4D models from the Greyscalegorilla community are copyright free and ready to be used in your project. The pack includes everything from a VW camper to a Lego man from various 3D artists, including Rob Redman of Pariah Studios. There is also an accompanying demo video and details on how to install the pack.

21. Lamp

Free 3D models - Lamp

Download this free wall lamp to use in any 3D interior project

Not the most exciting of models, we know, but one of those items that will always come in handy. This wall lamp is provided by online store 3D Export, where you can buy and sell models, as well as find a library of other useful free items. This lamp, offered as a .obj file, was created using 3ds Max 2010 and rendered in V-Ray 1.5.

22. Truck

Free 3D models - Truck

Visit TurboSquid for all your 3D model needs

Digital media supply company Turbosquid has literally thousands of 3D models available to purchase. But they also offer a percentage of them absolutely free of charge, although you do have to register with the site to take advantage of this service. This brilliant truck model comes in available in .c4d, .xml, .fbx, .ma, .mb and .obj formats. Photoshop textures are also available for this model. Available on a standard royalty free license.

23. Robot

Free 3D models - Robot

Download this cool robot character free of charge at The Free 3D models

This cool character is available at 3D asset supplier The Free 3D Models. There site has a huge selection of products, organised into categories, with everything from furniture and plants to food and animals. One of our favourites is this little robot model, which is available as a .obj file.

24. T-Rex

Free 3D models - T-Rex

Create your own version of Jurassic Park with this awesome, free T-Rex model

This awesome model is another from digital media supply company Turbosquid. Registration is required to download and it should be noted that this asset is only available for versions of Lightwave 7.5 and above (formats .lwo, .lw and .lws).

25. Mini

Free 3D models - Mini

Download this cool Mini model for free from 3D digital art site Oyonale

Oyonale is a site about computer graphics and digital art and has a section dedicated to free 3D models. Included in this section is this brilliant Mini model, which is available either in .obj format or .c4d, the latter of which includes textures and UV templates. 

26. Female head

Free 3D models - Ladyhead

This female head model offered by Turbosquid provides a great start for any character or sculpting work

From the over 300 free models offered by Turbosquid, included is this female head, which acts a great starting point for any 3D character or sculpting work. Available as a .max file, the site also has a male head available. 

27. Tricycle

Free 3D models - tricycle

Check out Flying Architecture to download this cool tricycle and many more free 3D assets

This gorgeous little retro tricycle was created by 3D artist Ivan Málek, who then shared it on Flying Architecture - a CG site, which provides 3D models, materials and textures. This particular model is available for use with Rhino and Modo and there is also a .obj file for download.

28. Eames chair

Free 3D models - Eames chair

Add a bit of designer class to your 3D project with this cool Eames chair courtesy of Rob Redman

Add a bit of designer class to your 3D creations with this iconic Eames chair, courtesy of Pariah Studios. Founder Rob Redman has generously offered this iconic post-war chair free of charge. File formats available are .3ds, .c4d and .fbx. Textures are also included.

29. The Other Nefertiti

Free 3D models - Nefertiti

This Nefertiti was scanned on the sly and released for free. Fight the power!

The famous ancient Egyptian bust of Queen Nefertiti is the subject of an ongoing ownership dispute between Germany and Egypt, and is on display in Berlin's Neues Museum where photography of it is prohibited.

However German artists Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles managed to scan it clandestinely to create 'The Other Nefertiti', a 3D-printed reproduction of the bust for display in Cairo, and they've made their 3D data available under a Creative Commons licence. It's free for download as 100MB torrent containing a super-detailed .stl file, or as a 20MB .obj file that you can download directly.

30. PixelLab

Free 3D models - PixelLab

Joren Kandel has a vast collection of 3D models available to download for free

3D artist Joren Kandel runs PixelLab, a blog focused on motion graphics. Having worked in the industry for nine years now, he's built up a large collection of 3D assets, many of which he generously offers as a free download.

All you need to do is sign up to his newsletter and wait for an invitation to access his 3D model freebies, in which you'll find everything from Christmas decorations and digital camera lenses to robots and architecture.

Additional contributions from Jim McCauley.

May 302016
Found edges

Different values can create a sharper contrast

An edge can disappear when a foreground object has the same value as the background, and can become sharper by strengthening the contrast between those two values. On an illustration we can play with different lighting scenarios and create parts with disappearing edges in the shadows or lights. Here I'll show you how to draw strong contrasts.

It's always useful to vary your edges between soft and hard. This helps to direct the focus of your image, and makes it more interesting and painterly. You can define differences between forms with hard edges more clearly and you can create a resting point for your viewer by applying soft edges. The trick is to find a balance that supports the story.

Sometimes it's enough to paint only a small part of an edge and leave the rest to dissolve into the background. The most important thing is to describe the dynamics and direction of the edge, but we can leave the rest to the viewer's imagination.

The face or the cape of this character is a great example for this. Because I've already painted one side of the character's face, it's fine to leave the other half fully in the shadows – the viewer's imagination fills in the missing details.

The same thing happens with the cape on the right side. It's not necessary to depict its silhouette all the way. Instead, painting the bottom edge and hinting at the shoulder part is enough to describe the whole form.

01. Block in light

Found edges

A quick line drawing establishes the composition

I want to break up the composition into a smaller lit area and a bigger one in shadow, making my character almost disappear. After a quick line drawing I quickly block in the lights and shadows, and also lay down the small reflected light patches in the dark, which will give shape to my character in the shadows.

02. Colour overlay

Found edges

Large brush strokes keep the colour overlay loose

After a quick colour overlay, where I block in the darker cold and the brighter warm hues, I start to paint everything on top. I wanted to keep this step loose, so I use large brush strokes and almost smudge my forms into each other. I avoid defining shapes and adding hard edges, so that the figure is ghost-like.

03. Placing contrasts

Found edges

A detailed face provides a focus area

For detailing my character I use the desaturated cold bounce light of the sky above, which contrasts with the warm tones in the piece. I place the most contrast around the face to create a natural focal area and leave more lost edges on the silhouette, to keep the figure mysterious and to inspire the viewer's imagination.

This article was originally published in ImagineFX magazine issue 133. Buy it here.

May 302016
Studio myths

Fouders Ben Christie and David Azurdia share Magpie's secrets

Brand consultancy Magpie's success disproves common assumptions about the way a studio should work. Fresh from a series of videos, recorded exclusively for Computer Arts, Magpie's co-founders and creative directors explain how they've gone from strength to strength.

01. More effort = more success

It's easy to assume that the more hours you put in, the better the work your studio will create. But beyond a certain point, the extra effort becomes counter-productive. Reducing the hours you spend in the office helps build in time to focus on the big picture. "People sometimes get too far into [everyday detail] and aren't able to rise above it," points out Ben Christie. "Working a four-day week gives you a bit of head space."

Christie believes the fact that Magpie's senior staff work four-day weeks is crucial to the studio's ability to sustain the quality of its output. "It enables our personal lives to work better, and that keeps us fresh," he says. "Creativity is directly linked to happiness."

02. More art direction = better work

"When you're a creative director, the most important part of your time is sitting with designers and trying to give them direction about their work, and that requires being in the studio," says David Azurdia. "But not being in the studio every day creates a good ebb and flow. The day we're not here is an opportunity [for the rest of the team] to get their heads down and not be interrupted."

As well as creating a valuable change of pace, not having senior staff on hand all the time encourages Magpie's more junior designers to develop new skills. "The four-day week is a team effort," says Ben Christie. "It enables them to get more responsibility at certain points [of a project]."

03. More creatives = more creativity

Hiring more designers can seem like the obvious way to increase your creative firepower, but it can actually be more efficient to hire project managers, reducing the time your existing staff have to spend on administrative tasks. "Employ people who are well-organised," says David Azurdia. "We have a 4:6 ratio of accounts managers to creatives, which is quite a high proportion."

"From the beginning, we realised the value of project support, so we've never feared taking on those people," adds Ben Christie. "People can be afraid of structure, but it can be liberating. If you manage projects well, it frees you up to do the bit of work you really want to do."

This article was originally published in Computer Arts magazine issue 253. Buy it here.

May 302016

You won't find a better suite of creative apps than the ones put together by Kdan. The programs can help you streamline your process and create great work, and you can get five full years of access on sale now for just $89.99 (approx. £62)!

For five full years, you'll be able to make full use of premium features and otherwise paid services from Kdan. That includes an online converter that can convert your files without degrading quality, tons of image and presentation editing tools to improve the look of your creations, and a whopping 1TB of cloud storage so you can access your files anywhere.

Five year of access to this Creative App Bundle from Kdan usually retails for $300, but you can save 70% off right now. That means you'll pay just $89.99 (approx. £62) for this bundle that will improve your creative output, so grab it today!

May 292016
How to texture hard surface models

Hard surface models offer lots of opportunities to experiment with textures and materials

A vital part of creating convincing and show-stopping 3D art is nailing the texturing. Hard surface 3D models are nice to texture as they can come with a large variety of materials and some used/weathered effects on them, which let you imagine the functionality and story of the object. In order to get a smooth texturing workflow you have to take several things into account.

The first thing is to prepare your UVs for baking. This way you'll be sure to get accurate results by reproducing all the details from your high-poly mesh on your low-poly version.

Define your smoothing groups according to your UV seams in order to avoid issues; visible lines in the Normal map for example, created by hard edges/smoothing groups transitions in the mesh.

In order to get a smooth texturing workflow you have to take several things into account

If you have identical parts with overlap in your UV, do an offset (of one unit) on the duplicated ones to bypass them during the baking. This way you'll preserve the optimisation and get a correct result during the baking process.

In Substance Designer/Painter use the Match by Name option for the baking. This will use the meshes' names to give a perfect correspondence between your low and high poly. It's always useful whether it is a character or a weapon you are doing.

Use mesh information through baked maps. For example ID maps quickly create masks for the different parts; use it as an additional map in a Substance Painter project, or as a source for a Multi-Material Blend node in Substance Designer. Use Ambient Occlusion to localise some dirt in the concave areas of the mesh. You can damage exposed areas (borders) by using Curvature to create some paint peeling, cracks and scratches.

Add life in your textures by creating small scratches and relief imperfections. Don't forget to always be coherent with the material type (its real-life properties). Adapt it. For example, if you add dirt to the part/context, you'll not add the same type if it's a fuel tank, a weapon barrel, or a part subject to frictions.

It can be really subtle; the amount and intensity can vary with the style, but when possible it will make the result more believable.

Four steps to a textured hard surface model

01. Bake different maps

How to texture hard surface models - bake maps

Save time and effort by baking different maps for your model

By baking different maps, you're able to get information for your mesh without having to paint/create them from scratch in the textures. In Substance Designer use filters from the Mesh Adaptive category of the Library and fill with baked information. In Substance Painter, add a generator on your layer mask by right-clicking on it. This will automatically use your document's additional maps to parametrise the effect.

02. Add diversity to your model

How to texture hard surface models - Add diversity

By mixing up materials you can add a lot of variety to your model

Add some contrast/diversity – it doesn't necessarily mean you have to use different colours, it can be variations in your materials. Alternating with plastic/metal/painted metal/glass parts will make each material (and your model) more appealing. Even for similar materials, if two parts use plastic, they can also be different if the parts haven't got the same purpose.

03. Make materials believable

How to texture hard surface models - Make materials believable

Grunge maps can be used to make more believable materials with varied reflections

Use the Grunge maps in Substance Designer or Substance Painter in order to quickly create interesting variations on the material's reflection. By adding some higher roughness values you are able to quickly achieve more believable materials by adding some life to them. They can then also help you to get colour variations.

04. Create your own tools

How to texture hard surface models - Create your own tools

Make your own tools so that you can add details to all channels at the same time

Use Substance Painter tools to quickly paint details like bolts on all the channels at the same time (Albedo, Normal). By creating your own tools with custom alphas, you can quickly add nice details. By doing them directly in textures, you'll not have to paint over your baked normal and will be sure to get something perfectly coherent without having to paint several times the same element on different maps.

This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 206. Buy it here.

May 282016
Still life with an unsettling twist: Morbo

One of six artworks in Six & Five's Morbo series

Buenos Aires-based studio Six & Five works at the "frontier zone" between art and design. Specialising in still life with a twist, founders Andy Reisinger and Ezequiel Pini create bold, surprising visuals with an unsettling edge.

Take Morbo [above], a hyperreal series of amorphous 3D-printed sculptures that blurs the line between pleasant and unpleasant; or No es la Cantidad, 100 artworks exploring "the weight of the continuous process" [below].

Both pieces, like the rest of the studio's portfolio, are stunning and intriguing. But how do you navigate unchartered territory in your work and remain relevant? And how do you persuade clients to come along with you?

Still life with an unsettling twist: No es la Cantidad

No es la Cantidad explores "a process that results in the process"

"You have to study art," Reisinger told us, before their talk at OFFF 2016, Bareclona's annual three-day conference on all things creative.

"Go to art shows. Go to places where there is art. Do art where there's no art. Do art where there's art and nobody wants you. Eat art. Get ill and call it art. And don't show crap in your portfolio, unless you want crap back."

Still life with an unsettling twist: Bloomberg

One of a series of editorial illustrations for Bloomberg Pursuits

Reisinger and Pini liken their way of working to having two rooms – one containing the world of art, and the other containing the world of design resources. "We're always visiting both rooms," says Reisinger.

"We like to apply design concepts to art and vice versa to break society's crystalised conceptions of each. In a commercial way, our philosophy is always to propose what we think is best; what works well and makes a strong impact."

"I'm not going to lie," he adds. "There are clients who prefer the safer route, and in that case we will propose our vision as an alternative. However, we love it when clients do well in their business from blindly trusting our vision."

Still life with an unsettling twist: Uniqlo

One of a series of images created for Uniqlo's Heat Tech campaign

And their clients do trust them. Uniqlo recently commissioned the pair to provide art direction, design and illustration for its Heat Tech campaign, while luxury magazine Bloomberg Pursuits called on Six & Five to develop the art direction of a feature highlighting 10 items it's hyping for the summer.

Travelling keeps them fresh: "We're always moving around the world. It's perfect for this kind of work because our brains are in constant adaptation for new environments," says Reisinger.

Their biggest bit of advice at OFFF 2016 for taking your work into new frontiers? "Work. Move. Share with people. Work a lot again and connect with new people."

Six & Five took to the stage at OFFF Barcelona on Friday 27 May. Follow the studio on Behance or Instagram.

May 272016
world's first-ever concept store for typography

Letters Are My Friends' poster design

Introducing Letters Are My Friends: Berlin's first-ever concept store for typography and, dare we suggest it, a world first?

Part showroom, part research and innovation lab, part design studio, Letters Are My Friends sits at the intersection of typography and new technology.

The aim, says co-founder Bärbel Bold, is to provide a real-time playground for typography – "like a record store" – where people can experiment and interact with different concepts. The combination of type and tech is crucial.

We caught up with Bold during OFFF 2016 to find out more…

Why launch a concept store for typography?

world's first-ever concept store for typography

Letters Are My Friends' poster showroom

There are many galleries in Berlin for all kinds of stuff, but very few of them care about edgy and innovative concepts where new technology is involved. Berlin is a city full of typographers, design tourists, creative coders and great designers, so for us it was obvious.

We wanted to create a physical space for type and tech, where you can experience, explore and grab, and see what happens in this field – a modulating, ever-changing typographic concept store.

Why do you want to create real-world type experiences with makers and designers?

world's first-ever concept store for typography

Experimental type. "A big part of what we do is create ways for people to interact with type using tech," says Bold

We were bored just sitting in front of our computers, so it was time to get physical again. We wanted to have our own real-time playground where we could concept interactions, and interact with concepts.

Even if it's not hyped or finished… Prototypes are worth being shown. That's why it's not really a pure shop yet, in the traditional sense - rather it's a concept store with a lab base. It means our showroom is constantly changing and evolving.

What do you hope to achieve?

world's first-ever concept store for typography

Letters Are My Friends wants to create the first real 3D font

When people understand that type and tech work together, it allows  new opportunities for creativity to happen. It's not about creating the perfect 'A' and 'B', but about a balanced dialogue in between.

We believe that language, letters and typography are the basic building blocks in any field of design. It doesn't matter what kind. It's the base for communication and in this way holds people together.

We have a fertile ground for interactions and trying out new ideas. It doesn't matter if they work. The important thing is that we keep evolving. We've just started successfully creating corporate pop-up-stores and retail concepts for clients in our showroom.

Which one project best represents Letters Are My Friends?

world's first-ever concept store for typography

The Infinite Typetrooper connects analogue with digital

The Infinite Typetrooper is a 1930's typewriter that triggers animated type on a display. People always want to play with it like an instrument.

It combines old printing technology with generated typefaces, within a haptic experience of an interactive installation. We like it because it's the end result of an iterative series of frameworks we developed to answer the question of what the most exciting part in an animation is (the transition).

Actually, The Infinite Typetrooper is an extract of the framework Buchstabengewitter, which we developed to generate an animated, ever morphing typeface, which is never static. We did the linear version, which is constantly floating from A to Z and starting all over again.

Aesthetically, it works like a two-component-concept: two geometric forms – one is inside, one is outside – are connected by lines. When the forms are rotating, for example, against each other, the lines rotate along. This simple rule-set defines a certain aesthetic, when the inner form is a static vector font base. There are infinite ways to set up the parameters!

That was fine, but we felt like we could do more with this parametric framework. So the second extract was the interactive installation version – single, touchable letters, always moving, that can be changed by the user.

What advice would you give for convincing clients to incorporate experimental type into their projects?

world's first-ever concept store for typography

Warm up party poster designs

01. Communication is key

For us, there is no difference between selling experimental type projects and selling any other project. What matters is a strong concept and how you package it within a relative context. Selling and acquisition are two fields of their own. They function via pure communication, if you're willing to build up a real partnership.

02. Build up a reputation

When you're able to build a relationship, gain trust and interest not only for your own world, then you are talking! I would say, the trick is finding the same level of openness within the pipeline through honest conversation.

03. Know what you're offering

Also a good self-assessment helps. Be who you are and don't have fear about representing and arguing for what you want. Always reflect on what you are doing.

What's the latest project you've worked on?

Letters Are My Friends

Letters Are My Friends developed its Onitsuka Tiger installation in three weeks

We developed an exciting interactive installation for Onitsuka Tiger within the Fashion Week scenography at the beginning of this year – The History of the Tiger Stripes. A stopwatch controller triggered different layers of a video showing the colourful 3D animated world of a running shoe.

The audience could affect each layer and change timings by using a VJ-tool, and experience the story in their own way.

What are the biggest lessons you've learned since launching the store?

01. New possibilities bring up new limitations and new problems

Different people in different design disciplines have different working methods, and it takes a lot of time to build up a common, calibrated language for this matrix, and conquer trust. Being interdisciplinary is a family affair, rather than a membership club. But unfortunately relationships don't work with everyone...

02. Self-evaluation is important

Good design is not only about creativity, but also about entrepreneurship. Get in touch with the numbers.

What's the main message you want people to leave your OFFF talk with?

Letters Are My Friends

Letters Are My Friends are speaking at OFFF 2016

Before seeing potential in design, see potential in people's personalities, including your own. Get to know your guts... and kern your egos! To find ways to interact honestly means value.

May 272016

Lifeblood explores the human identity in a digital world

The new brand identity for digital agency Lifeblood uses DNA samples of the comapny's founders as the basis of its design. Created to explore  the existential question of what human identity is in an increasingly digital world, this brand experience has since gone on to develop a life of its own.


The founders took samples of their own DNA for the project

"To visually embody what makes us human we began by breaking apart what humans are made of," the founders Dominic Santalucia and Travis Weihermuller explain. "Just as code forms the basis of all life in the digital world, DNA forms the basis of all life in the physical world."


The identity appears on their site and in print

To create a visual interpretation of their DNA, the agency partners had samples analyzed at a lab. These samples then became lines of equal length, with breaks in the lines formed from the information found in the DNA code.


Line breaks reflect the DNA code

Each set of lines was then randomized and the original DNA master files destroyed. The combination of the two different DNA samples gave birth to a whole new set of lines and information. As a result, Lifeblood now has its own individual identity.

On the Lifeblood site the lines are generated randomly throughout different mediums to reflect how the agency adapts and grows. As time goes on, Lifeblood will replace previous DNA sets permanently, producing a constantly evolving design identity.

May 272016

Whether you're in need of a little web design inspiration or simply fancy treating yourself, here's our pick of web design wonder this month.

01. Responsive design notebooks

Carry the core principles of RWD wherever you go thanks to these notebooks designed for your back pocket.

02. Besiter Mercury portable charger


Charge your iPhone, iPad and nano on the go with this powerful, sleek portable charger. Check model for device compatibility.

03. Oculus Rift

It's finally here! The Oculus Rift offers an immersive VR experience for tailor-made games and content. But you probably knew that already.

04. Get ready for CSS Grid Layout

Rachel Andrew walks through the cutting-edge essentials of CSS Grid Layout in this guide.

05. UX Posters

Remind yourself of the web design fundamentals with these posters inspired by vintage propaganda artwork.

06. Sprint


In one working week companies of any size can solve problems and move forward. Find out how from three partners at Google Ventures.

07. Validating product ideas

Inspired by Tomer Sharon's column, discover more about user observation in his book.

This article originally appeared in net magazine issue 279. Buy it here.

May 272016

From grid theory to the Golden Ratio, there are a set of fundamental principles that are passed down from generation to generation of designers. Every good designer should know them, and any decent design course or instructional book will cover them.

As well as written rules, design has a number of unwritten rules

But as with anything else in life, as well as written rules, design has a number of unwritten rules. Many of us only learn these from bitter experience when breaking them. So to save you the anguish, we asked some top designers to reveal the secrets that can help turn you from a good designer into a great one.

Mark the date in your calendar. This is the day you were let into the inner circle of design know-how. You'll never work the same way again.

01. Find out what your client really wants

The brief is not the end of the discussion, but its starting point

Never skimp on the discussion stage. You have to dig deeper and understand the brief – or you'll be revising the work a lot. "What is the client trying to achieve?" asks John Stanyon, creative director at Force24. "Prescriptive briefs are often a client's 'design solution' rather than the problem they wish to overcome." For more, read 5 things design clients REALLY want (but probably won't tell you).

02. The client is right, even when wrong

Who do you work for? Your client. Who knows their business better than anyone? Your client. "Leave your ego at the door," says Adam Morris, senior designer at Made By Many. "It's the user who is the final judge of whether your design is successful."

Adds Graham McDonnell, senior digital designer at Stickyeyes: "Design is always subjective and although you might be on the bleeding edge of the latest design trends, your client usually knows their audience better than you."

03. Agree outcomes at the start

"Agree the level of output up front," says Ben Woolf, head of creative brand experience at RPM. "It sounds obvious, but so many projects are started in earnest without having this agreed."

We wholeheartedly recommend Woolf's advice. The real danger is leaving your client's expectations so open that they'll run you ragged. The client is always right. But they should pay for the work you do.

04. Pen and paper first

Pen and paper focuses the mind and frees you from distractions

When you're developing a design there's still nothing more intuitive that a fist full of pens and some paper. "It helps focus the mind, frees you from the distractions and encourages you to think about content," say Michael Ibrahim Heins, designer at Lewis. "Thought hits paper immediately and stops you worrying about which typeface to choose and how big your column needs to be."

Creatives agree that computers can sometimes be limiting rather than liberating. "Computers limit your vision to what has already been created, not the possibilities of what can be created," says Ed Bolton, design director at Fitch.

05. Sleep on it

Here's a rule that's unwritten because it seems like good old fashioned common sense. Common sense that we sometimes forget. "Taking a break from your design and coming back with fresh eyes is like seeing your design again for the first time," Rob Sterry, UX design consultant at Foolproof. "Sleeping on it is even better."

06.  It's OK to start again

How many times have you carried on with a dog of a design, hoping that you can make it right?  Sometimes it's better – and less time consuming – to wipe the slate clean.

"If you can't make an idea work – move on," says Martin Wells, creative director at onebite. Chris Clarke, chief creative officer at marketing agency DigitasLBi offers a more philosophical perspective: "There is never enough time to do something, but always enough time to do it again"

07. Test your designs across media

In recent years, logos have become simpler so they scale better across different media

Web designers know from bitter experience that pages must be tested on multiple platforms. Guess what? These days the exact same thing applies to graphic design too.

"If your logo design does not work in black and white on a 2x2cm format, it is not a legible design..." says Adrien Raphoz, senior creative at FCBInferno. Designs have to work across multiple media, so you need to look at them on paper, web and mobile – and factor that in too.

08. Know when to stop

A perennial problem in the creative industries is knowing when a job is finished. "The point at which you think it needs a little something extra is the point you should stop designing," says Rob O'Neill, inhouse designer at FindMeaGift.

Scott Walker, design director at Lewis, goes a step further, saying the last stage of the process should be to strip things back. "When you think you're finished, ruthlessly strip out the unnecessary bits and you'll be left with a much clearer and refined piece of work."

09. Work in stages

We're fans of good organisation at CreativeBloQ. So much that we think it's one of the foundations of design. Freelance designer Joe Whitaker feels the same way:

"Working in stages is a great way to keep organised and look back over the progression of a project," says Whitaker. This practice can help in a couple of ways. It helps you track the progress of a job as you're doing it. In future, you'll find it easier to quote for work as you'll have a better idea how long specific tasks take.

10. Learn to take criticism

Photo courtesy of Tim Parkinson:

As a professional designer working with paying clients, people will sometimes tell you that your work isn't quite what they wanted. Don't let it hurt your feelings.

"Learning how to take criticism is the toughest part of the job," says, Ed Bolton, design director at Fitch, "Especially when you're proud of your work. But without criticism, there's no improvement… "

11. Read the brief

This advice from Steven Scott is worth quoting in full. It may seem brain mashingly obvious, but there's a really easy way to derail any job. "Sounds basic, but always read the brief!" says Scott.

"Read it once through, then once again to highlight any of the key points. Its amazing how many designers will already think they have answered the brief from a verbal discussion." You'll find more advice on fulfilling a creative brief in this article

12. Get paid up front

Photo courtesy of Andrew Magill:

We'll leave the final word to Joe Morris, commercial director at Tonik: "Take cash up front." Brutal, and straight to the point – but in this age of austerity you have to think about getting paid. Taking a percentage as down-payment on larger jobs shows that your client is serious about making a commitment.