Something Splendid launch Dice Painter

Published:  April 15, 2011
Alison Copley
Something Splendid launch Dice Painter

Melbourne duo, James Yencken and Jonathon Bellew form the studio Something Splendid, and with their latest project, Dice Painter, have added a bit of mirth to Twitter feeds over the past week.

Yencken and Bellow started off 2011 with the aim to dedicate more time to a few of their own creative exploits and projects. “Running a small business it’s pretty easy to get buried under a busy client workload, and it’s even easier to start worrying that you’re losing your creative energy,” says Yencken.

Dice Painter allows users to transform their Twitter profile picture into a colourful image made of dice. This follows the success of their previous project Cocktail Typer which uses 100 cocktail umbrellas as giant paper pixels to write letters. “After we launched our previous project we knew we wanted to do something similar but more ambitious. The aim was to give ourselves more pixels to work with, so we could create images at a higher fidelity,” says Yencken.

A large portion of Cocktail Typer’s traffic came from tweets, thus for Dice Painter they wanted to capitalise on the word-of-mouth promotion which resulted ­– which is why they decided to tie the whole project into Twitter. “We realised that people love their profile pictures, and it’s a fun thrill to see them rendered in a beautiful and unexpected way.”

As expected, Dice Painter required a huge amount of preparation before its launch. After 1000 dice arrived in the mail from eBay, Yencken and Bellew took to photographing them from above on the floor of their studio – a process which took about 24 hours over two days. The following two days involved rotating all of the dice onto the five other sides. “We then used the magic of Photoshop to change the colour of the dice for the other five colours; we didn’t really feel like buying 6000 dice!” says Yencken.

“The programming of the painting was quite tricky, as we decided very early on that we wanted to be able to import Twitter pictures in. Without going into too much detail, the server retrieves a Twitter image, resizes and dithers it to six colour, and tells the browser which dice should be what colour. The browser then combines six photos of the dice (all of the dice are set to the same colour in each photo) to make the final image in front of your eyes,” Yencken explains.

Besides providing a bit of online fun, Yencken hopes that the project will increase their exposure to the both the local and international design community. “People seem to love that these are unapologetically pointless; a wonderful way to kill a minute or two on the internet when you really should be working. Clients have really enjoyed it too, and while they haven’t been asking us to build them their own Cocktail Typers (yet!) they really seem to appreciate that we have the motivation and skills to put these projects together.”

The duo won’t reveal what they’re working on next, so we’ll have to stay tuned.

To use Cockatil Typer, click here. To use Dice Painter, click here. To read a profile on the Something Splendid, click here.

All images copyright Something Splendid.

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