A dual blast from the past for throwback Thursday.
After studying computer science at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a BFA in illustration/animation I founded the DreamLight studio back in 1987 to fuse the art and science of computer graphics in digital design, digital illustration and digital animation.
That same year Adobe Illustrator was first released. I used Illustrator 1.1 to create my first award-winning PostScript digital illustration – High Performance. I sent complementary copies of High Performance to the presidents of the two leading Macintosh graphics software developers of the time, Aldus and Adobe. Paul Brainerd, the President of Aldus, then contacted me and sent an early copy of their soon to be released drawing software, Aldus FreeHand, that Aldus would soon use to compete with Adobe Illustrator. Paul wanted to see what I could create in FreeHand. That’s when I began work on my next hybrid vector raster illustration – Lucid Beginnings.
I would leverage some of the advanced features that FreeHand had over Illustrator at the time such as blended shapes and clipping paths. Where I previously had to tediously build up shaded areas using individually drawn stacked layers of shapes in Illustrator I could now build more advanced shaded areas with automatically blended shapes and dynamically editable clipping paths.
I had launched the DreamLight studio in a small storeroom adjoining the computer consulting company where I was still the VP of software development at the time. As a fan of Escher I would create a self portrait in this first small studio completely reflected within a crystal ball as a promotional piece to commemorate the humble beginnings of this forward looking computer graphics studio.
When the Lucid Beginnings digital illustration was completed I met Jim Von Ehr, the founder of Altsys Corporation and the original creator of FreeHand, at MacWorld Boston. I gave Jim a signed copy of Lucid Beginnings which Jim displayed in his office for many years to come. When Adobe eventually bought out Aldus, Jim regained the rights to FreeHand in the deal and merged with Macromedia. He then contacted me to create a new cover illustration for the Macromedia FreeHand branding, as outlined in Desktop Publisher’s Journal. He also asked me to design all the application icons for FreeHand, Director and Extreme 3D. I was also honored to represent Macromedia in their advertising and honored to be featured on their Macromedia Showcase CD-ROM and Boston’s ABC affiliate TV5’s Cutting Edge show as well as traveling to NY to represent Macromedia FreeHand in the FreeHand vs. Illustrator shootout. Adobe eventually bought out Macromedia as well and unfortunately finally discontinued FreeHand.
My commemorative DreamLight Classic illustration, Lucid Beginnings, is also available on posters and merchandise.
Behind the Scenes Chapter on the Making of the Hybrid Vector/Raster Digital Illustration – Detail and Depth in a Crystal Ball
I wrote a full behind the scenes chapter all about the making of the groundbreaking hybrid vector raster illustration in The Verbum Book of PostScript Illustration. The full book is also available on Amazon.com.
Awards, Exhibits & Publications
DreamLight and many DreamLight projects were also featured on Macromedia’s Showcase CD-ROM for years.
High Performance won first prize for technical illustration in Macworld’s first Macintosh Masters Art Contest in 1988.
High Performance and Lucid Beginnings were exhibited in various shows including the international digital art show Imagine ’89 in Tokyo, the Northampton School of Design’s State-Of-The-Art show and the University of California San Diego’s Hard Copy computer art show. They were also widely published in books, magazines and newsletters thereafter including the following: Macworld & MacUser magazines, Click – The Brightest in Computer Generated Design and Illustration an oversized hard-cover coffee table book, The Verbum Book of Postscript Illustration, Illustrator 7 Studio Secrets & Illustrator 7 Complete books, Que’s Macintosh Multimedia Handbook, Verbum magazine and MacArtist – The Newsletter for Macintosh Artists.