Open Process: Blender Creative Sprint

Here’s the first in a series of experiments in exploring an open source design package and then developing an idea into a print which can then be given away and sold.

The first design package we are going to be playing with is Blender, the 3D modelling package.

What is an Open Process?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Open Process is when I share my creative process “live” (so to speak) across this blog, Twitter (#openprocess)and Behance . I’ll look at developing a print using a particular piece of software and show the whole creative process with the following goals:

  • Drive creativity
  • Develop process
  • Maintain commitment to a project
  • Educate readers

How is this Open Process going to work?

Well, I’m glad you asked that too. A typical open process run breaks down into the following stages:


The initial part of the project will involve creating some sort of brainstorm to throw down a whole load of ideas of how I can explore this piece of software and what sort of outcomes might happen.

After letting the brainstorm fester for a couple of days, it shall be reflected upon and any relevant inspiration / information will be extrapolated and explored using…


Pages and pages of quick scrappy sketches of ideas will created in order to speed decision making and choose a specific set of ideas / direction.

21 days

After that a simple image will be created once a day for 21 days. This might not necessarily be 21 consecutive days, but 21 days all the same. This is to explore ideas and processes, learn how to do things and visualise in a little more detail than quick and dirty thumbnails.


After 21 days, there will be a stand-out idea / direction / development to explore in greater detail.

Final Print

This will be detailed into a 11″ x 17″ (or thereabouts) 4-colour print that I will sell through this site. Numbered, signed and limited to 100 copies only, with the price rising for the last 10 in stock.

I’ll also probably create a desktop / ipad / i phone wallpaper which I will give away for free as well.


I’d like to do this with a few different creative products to see how feasible using these tools in a production environment is. The idea might develop and or change as I go through it, but we’ll see. This is the main idea.

And, hopefully, the final product at the end of each open process run will be something that I am proud of.


Achievement Unlocked: Blender

I like Blender. It’s 3D modelling software that can be used for pretty much anything you can set your mind to. Here are some examples:

…and probably a whole load more that I know nothing about. It’s very complicated, which shouldn’t surprise you, but there are tutorials almost everywhere that can help you learn how to use it. Plus, it’s based in Amsterdam.

I’m mostly going to use it to create low-poly images that I will try and sell as posters. For starters.

go download it and check it out:

On failure

Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you have them in your head. Your imagination has outweighed your talent, or your effort was pointing in the wrong direction, or you weren’t actually sure what you were doing. Truthfully, it’s just turned out a bit shit.

Do not worry. This happens.

There’s an old adage that goes along the lines of “Fail early, fail often” which basically means get stuff wrong whilst its still cheap and get all that silly failure business out of the way because all the ways you find out how not to do something means you’re getting close to how to actually do something. The only things that spring fully-formed from people’s heads are Gods. In particular, Greek ones.

I’d like to add to this adage and suggest:

Fail early, fail often, fail publicly

There’s nothing like owning up to your failure, putting it out there and then moving on towards something new and better.

Every failure is a success waiting to happen. Or some such bullshit. What you need to take away from this is that you learn from each failure and at some point there will be more successes and less failures.

Keep on it. You’re doing fine.

What is an open source design studio?

I decided to call Sparkwood and 21 an open source design studio before I actually defined what I thought an open source design studio was. Hopefully, this post will clear that up.

Sparkwood and 21 is an open source design studio because it attempts to do the following in a variety of combinations:

Open Process

If you go take a look at our Behance account you can see that there are always posts of work in progress. We are doing this so the community that follows us can have a direct influence in our creative and decision-making process. In turn, we are exposing our creative process so others can learn from it.

Open Licensing

We’re going to give some of our source files away under the CC BY-SA license. We’re also going to license some of our smaller images under the same. We believe this will help promote the studio and what we are trying to do.

We would see this working in a way similar to this: We design a 36″x28″ poster in Blender. Probably about spaceships or aliens. Or something. We sell the print and make our money from that. We give away the .blend source file under CC BY-SA and we give away smaller (around 1000px size) image under the same license. People can then use the source file to create their own poster if they wanted, but the number of people who have the time, skill, resources is pretty low. If they really wanted the poster, it would still most likely be bought. (Read FREE, The Future of a Radical Price, by Chris Anderson if you don’t believe us). When we license smaller images they can be used by anybody who might want to use those images to help promote their own products and services. Because they are using our images and they have to acknowledge that they are by us (under the rules of the license), then we are getting promoted along with them.

Open Tools

Where possible, we’ll be using open source software. We believe that limiting our tools helps enhance our style and so initially we are only using the following open source tools:

So there you have it. What we are trying to do is come up with a combination of the above that helps us challenge ourselves, keeps us solvent and helps create a community around what we are trying to do.

If you’ve anything to add, we’d love to hear about it. Comments are open. Thanks.


Achievement Unlocked: Low-Poly

I really like the work of Timothy Reynolds. He uses Cinema 4D to make some amazing artwork / designs that really resonate with me.

Now, I do not want to copy this guy, he does what he does and he does it really well. I love the whole low-poly, but with detail vibe, although I like to call it medium-poly. And I am going to be creating a range of images that one can buy from the Sparkwood and 21 shop if they so desire it. My subject range is going to be a little more sci-fi / x-files than Tim’s work, plus there is a whole load of different modelling / lighting techniques that I’ll be using. Because that’s the sort of thing we like around here.

And, as usual, this is going to be an open source endeavour. The kit I’ll be using to create these images is Blender for the modelling and rendering and then GIMP for the colour control and post-processing. I’m going to need to render these images at 36″ x 28″ (or thereabouts) and so I might have to outsource rendering to a renderfarm like Sheep-It.

Any questions, see me after class.

Honest Day's Work

Starting Out

Well, welcome to Sparkwood and 21. I hope it will be a long and pleasant relationship. Please don’t take all of the duvet, it gets cold at night.

Just a quick note to say that we’ve unlocked our first achievement and got our first product out. Yes, it’s those pesky Creativity Cards that you see bloody everywhere you see my presence. Well, it’s good to get them out of the way. Let’s get on with the future and creating more things.

- Duncan