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Yay for Venn diagrams!

Engineering partner, Corrie Scalisi and I had a lot of fun on our "summer project" building an interactive doodle celebrating logician and philosopher John Venn in the form of animated Venn diagrams. There's a full write up on the process over at the Google Doodles blog

I've had an absolute blast learning AfterEffects and putting it to work on an actual doodle (bye bye Flash!!....mostly). Here are some animated gifs from the doodle. Make a Venn diagram to see more!

Tagteam animation (Sophia Foster-Dimino on the rotating guitar, and me on Chris Hadfield)!


Lovers Leap

Spent Memorial Day Weekend at Lovers Leap, near Lake Tahoe. With all its sheer majesty and splendor, I'm a little disappointed in myself for squeezing out a five-minute thumbnail, but it still does a nice job of summing up a perfect weekend.


Ignite Oakland

A few weeks ago, I gave an Ignite Talk in Oakland. For anyone not familiar with the format, an Ignite Talk is made up of several speakers. Each speacker has five minutes to talk about any given subject they're passionate about, along with a slideshow of 20 images that auto-advance every 15 seconds. As if public speaking weren't tough enough on its own! Luckily, I've done a fair bit of public speaking as a Google Doodler, but this was the first time I had an opportunity to speak from a more personal standpoint.

Thanks, in advance, for taking a look!

Mike Dutton: Adventures In Doodling from Ignite Oakland on Vimeo.


Dr. Percy Lavon Julian

If you are intrigued by today's doodle on the U.S. Google homepage, celebrating organic chemist, Dr. Percy Julian, I can provide no better recommendation than to watch the PBS documentary, Forgotten Genius, illustrating both his personal life and life's work. If you prefer to read vs watch, Michael Cavna of Comic Riffs at the Washington Post always writes the most insightful – on the verge of poetic – profiles on the folks we celebrate.

It's no scientific revelation that it's the experiences from our everyday lives that inform our work, and in Dr. Julian's case, he used these experiences, overcoming tremendous challenges and racial barriers (and even a couple happy accidents) to become one of the most renowned and highly respected chemists in history.

Visually, I was presented with a familiar challenge: to create something fun and engaging for us non-science types (I confess to finding a way of skipping chemistry in high school), while still calling attention to Julian's key achievements in an appropriate (ie. correct and validated!) way. Before getting too far into the research, I sketched thumbnails of a common association – that of a chemist in a lab full of beakers and tubes:

As I read more about his work, I became fascinated with his process in the specific field of organic chemistry, and how he discovered ways to take rare and exotic components and synthesize them or discover alternate organic substances in place of more cost-prohibitive resources. Yep, that's a mouthful! So here are two key examples: His most well known triumph was the synthesis of the alkaloid, physostigmine, found in the african calabar bean, which led to a more readily available treatment of ailments such as glaucoma and Alzheimer's Disease. He also pioneered many uses from the soybean and soybean oil, developing a better process for obtaining cortisone to treat arthritis or to aid the body in the receiving of organ transplants. 

With these amazing feats in mind, I began to play with the idea of the chemical potential in plants, going as far as to have beakers growing on soy plants, or leaves growing out of metal tubes.

However, I decided clever metaphors (or just really bad puns) wasn't really the best way to go. But I did want to maintain a lighter graphical treatment, hopefully appealing to young future scientists. Combining that aesthetic with something resembling diagrams out of a school textbook was the direction I took, which felt appropriate considering the obstacles Julian personally overcame in receiving his own education.

Happy 115th birthday to the NOT Forgotten Genius, Dr. Percy Lavon Julian!


Dorothy Irene Height

Dorothy Irene Height was a giant in the Civil Rights and Women's Rights movements.  When it came to honoring her with a Google Doodle, there was no doubt in our minds that we should do one, but the question of how was something we considered for quite some time.

"Portrait" doodles are a lot like illustrations you see on currency or stamps. There's definitely an air of dignity and reverence about them and while a bit atypical to the the quirkier things we celebrate, such as Pac-Man or Dr. Who, there is still room to make them stand out creatively. You can see here that I haven't gotten that far yet. It's just a scanned in drawing with some digital touch-ups to darken things up a bit. 

I looked to the trends of magazine illustrations in the 60s happening around the same time of the Civil Rights movement. One thing I really like about this era in illustration is the ability to take photo referenced images, then mash them together in graphically interesting ways, utilizing line, value, lost and found edges, pattern, etc.

My three heroes from that era – from top left, clockwise: Bernie Fuchs, Mark English, Bob Peak. I actually learned some of the drybrush look that Mark English invented from my mentor (and close friend of English), Bill Maughan. Mark even visited my class once. He nodded at a head drawing I was working on... good or bad, I dunno.I wanted to utilize this technique to call out several things regarding Dorothy Height:  

  1. To depict not just her, but her cause. In this case, represented by the marching crowd of women alongside her.
  2. The marching crowd becomes an abstract series of dots, making their way into the form of her portrait – she was the voice of many.
  3. She often wore beautiful, large, ornate, purple hats. She wore these throughout her life, but was most often photographed in them at a later age. The purple dominates the color scheme of the doodle. The hat usually seen on an older Dorothy Height being seen here on a younger Dorothy Height signifies her being an advocate for change her entire life.

Michael Cavna of the Washington Post wrote a very elegant piece on Dr. Height, illustrating her life with words my paintbrushes were incapable of rendering.

top: Seen with President Kennedy as he signs the Equal Pay Act. below: President Obama signs a bill in her honor

Happy 102nd, Dr. Dorothy Irene Height!