Sunday, October 27, 2013


I see quite a few blogs and websites where people have lost interest or gotten busy with other things and just stop updating. I'm guilty of this as well. For instance, this blog hasn't been updated in nearly a year.

It's not that I lost interest in creating and posting fun art projects. I just got very busy at my full-time job for a while.

Recently, I looked at my own Dale Ankrum Design website and even this blog and decided the stagnation had to end. It was time to either shut everything down or re-brand and take it in a whole new direction.

Dale Ankrum Design is now Blue Grid Studio ( and I am running a new blog under that brand as well, the Blue Grid Studio Blog.

I don't know exactly how long Blogger retains inactive blogs, obviously quite a while. I'm going to leave everything up here for posterity as long as it lasts, but this will be my final post for Seven Percent Solution.

I'd like to thank H.B. for following the blog as well as the perhaps three other readers who ever read a post at one time or another.


Seriously, it's fine. I never set out to launch a hugely successful enterprise or anything. I just wanted to create a fun venue to post some spooky-themed art projects and I did that, so mission accomplished.

If you happen across this blog and this article, you are more than welcome to visit the online presence for Blue Grid Studio and see what's new in the world of my freelance and other side projects.

It's been a good run for SPS and I had a lot of fun creating the art it displays. Thanks again for reading and I hope to see you over at any of the Blue Grid media sites.



Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Night (1976)

As I sit at home this evening browsing the various news media projections for who will win the 2012 presidential election, and witnessing all of the "buzz" over the tight race, my thoughts drift back some 36 years to the eve of the '76 election race between Gerry Ford and Jimmy Carter.

Of course in those days, we just had the three major networks and that was about all for television. We're talking about the days when the local affiliates normally signed off at 12:30am while playing the National Anthem.

Knowing it would likely be an otherwise boring evening for me with nothing on but election coverage, my mother took me to the local pharmacy store so I could pick out a fun toy or game or puzzle to keep myself entertained.

Being in small-town Ohio, we didn't really have big-box retail, so the locally-owned pharmacy always had a pretty extensive inventory of toys and games and comic books compared to the pharmacy chains of today.

So with carte blanche to pick out pretty much anything I wanted, of all things, I chose a new Colorforms playset themed as Castle Dracula Fun House.

I was brimming with excitement to spend a long evening playing with my cool new Colorforms set full of all my favorite monsters, a spooky castle backdrop, and awesome illustrative graphics!

My last memory of that whole experience is waking up in the middle of the night on the living room floor, my Colorforms set all spread out in front of me, my mother asleep on the sofa, and on the TV: Jimmy Carter accepting his newly-won presidency.

Given the current state of this country, there is a lot of excitement and anticipation surrounding this election. And yet I cannot help looking back to a time when the only excitement I knew over an election was getting to play with Drac, Frank, Mummy, Wolfman, Phantom, and Creature, all in a castle of hidden doors and secret passages.

It's curious how such things tend to stay with us over the years. This was just one of many childhood influences that led to the passion I hold today for haunted theming and design. And though most of that beloved visual media is long-since physically gone, I always keep a bit of it close by so the inspiration and excitement never die away.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Unique Environment

From the weekly challenge series, a "unique environment" concept painting a la Scott Robertson from The Gnomon Workshop.

The gist of the process is creating a series of quick grayscale marker sketches (or the digital equivalent) and overlaying them in Photoshop on individual layers with varying layer effects.

Then, within the jumble of visual information (like finding recognizable forms in clouds or wallpaper patterns), identify the visual "bare bones" of a composition and render it to a finished view.

In working through this process, I found considerable difficulty in visualizing usable compositions hidden within the overlay of abstract sketches.

After a lot of experimentation with layer order, effects, opacity, etc. one clear landscape finally materialized.

The process work for the project is shown below:

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


Brock and I have decided to resurrect our weekly challenge to generate concept art and reinvigorate our creative drives.

This challenge tasked us with the design of pieces based on any part of the following randomly generated sentence:

"A particular pose ascends near the rock."

I simply chose the single word "ascends" around which to design this piece.

Line work and a basic shadow layer were created in Sketchup Pro and exported to Photoshop where the image was painted and composited with a few different photo plates.

Though originally intended as a mall or possibly a hotel with the perspective itself and the elevators representing the concept, the piece evolved into an airport which provided both the visual payoff of the airplane as well as another layer of "ascends" to the piece.

Monday, December 06, 2010

In the fall of 2003, to coincide with the release of Imagineer Jason Surrell's book, The Haunted Mansion: From The Magic Kingdom to the Movies,  as well as the distribution of the live action movie based on the attraction, Disney released this "book" which essentially is a collection of pieces to construct a small scale paper model of--not The Haunted Mansion--but a form of haunted mansion based more on the production design of the movie.

The ghostly blue nuts and bolts shown in the blister pack attached to the cover are the fasteners for all of the walls, floor, and partial roof.

The availability of the book was short-lived and now it fetches about three to four times the original cover price on the secondary market for a copy in new condition.

It's really geared more for the much younger as is evident in its overall simplicity and the illustrative style of the graphics. Hard core Mansion fans might collect it just because it is what it is, but once it's put together, the result is largely anti-climatic.

However, I decided to scan all of the pieces and take them into the cg realm for a bit of fun. Until an animated fly-through can be rendered out and composited, here are a few stills:

(click images for larger view)

The model was massed using SketchUp Pro 7, then imported to 3DS Max 2009 for materials, lighting and rendering. A bit of post was then done in Photoshop CS2.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In the early stages of planning for The Haunted Mansion, imagineer Ken Anderson created a series of concept sketches for the original idea of a walk-through attraction.

One of those vignettes depicts an overhead view of a dilapidated parlor with an organ and ghostly footprints leading to it.

 Having admired this sketch for many years now, I finally found the opportunity to recreate it in 3D with interpretive finishes and materials.

The model space was created mostly in SketchUp Pro 7, then finalized and rendered in 3DS Max 2009 with post done in Photoshop CS2 (click image for larger view).

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A relatively quick Photoshop exercise using a downloadable coloring page freely available on the net.

Might use it as an avatar for something.