We’ve all had that great idea we were convinced would change the world. Most of us don’t actually do anything about it, though. Creators of the products below made their ideas a reality, by taking advantage of the power of crowd-funding. Using Kickstarter campaigns, they enlisted others to help financially back their dreams.
The Radian Timelapse is a device that allows photographers to not only take a timelapse sequence, but to also control the pan and tilt of the camera while shooting that sequence. The minimalistic and lightweight device is small enough that it will fit neatly inside a lens compartment of a camera gear bag. The Radian can be used with a tripod, or even set on a tabletop and can be used with any camera with a trigger release. Settings for timing and movement—as well as when the camera should NOT shoot—are input via a smartphone and those settings can be saved for repeat use. The stroke of genius is that the phone-camera connection can be severed after implementing the settings, thus saving battery life on the phone. The Radian’s internal battery is Lithium-ion, charged via USB. The Kickstarter goals were fulfilled and the Radian will ship late summer 2014, selling for $150.
The IDRAW Comics Sketchbook Reference Guide is a nifty little journal that the creator calls a “field guide of comic book design.” It illustrates storytelling techniques and page design, inspiring the reader to better comic book creation. This successful Kickstarter project is a moleskine book that compiles illustration techniques and guidelines. There are several pages of templates for putting those techniques into practice. The Comic Sketch Reference Guide wouldn’t be complete without a selection of comic book publishers and information on the growing number of Comic Cons. The handy guide is selling for $25, or for $45 you can pick any two of the creator’s IDRAW Guides.
The JaJa ($90) is a pressure-sensitive stylus for use on tablet devices. The sleek, fine-point instrument has 1,024 levels of pressure, which allows you to vary thicknesses of your strokes, as well as the opacity of those strokes. It’s lightweight, due to its construction materials and its onboard AAA batteries. The JaJa comes equipped with a round Teflon tip that gives the tool some precision and slippage-prevention. The manufacturer says it won’t scratch the Gorilla glass found on iPads, but to take caution with any added screen protectors. There is no need to sync or use Bluetooth, and the stylus tips can even be used to convert your old mechanical pencils to a stylus! While the JaJa works with any iPad or Android tablet, only compatible apps will be able to take full advantage of the pressure-sensitivity features.
If you’ve ever been out somewhere and thought, “That’s the coolest color, ever!” and cursed your inability to recall the exact shade later, the SwatchMate Cube might be your new secret weapon. The simple little device lets you capture color quickly and easily with the push of a button. Quite literally, setting the cube against the object of your color obsession and pressing the button measures the surface color values, then stores that information on the cube. The SwatchMate acts as a shield against ambient light to better reflect the true color, and records the RGB, CMYK, and L*a*b values. You can then send that info via Bluetooth to use in Photoshop and Illustrator. The fairly simple device—which will be available mid-2014 and sell for $85—overcomes the light-adapting feature/limitation encountered when trying to “record” color from a camera.
Having a digital tablet, like an iPad, is fast becoming commonplace for many fine artists. Gadgets like the Sensu Artist Brush is bridging the gap between traditional and digital worlds, leaving the artist more time to concentrate on their art and not their tools. This well-designed brush uses fairly new technology that combines synthetic hair fibers imbued with conductive material to give the feel of painting with actual paint. The result is a responsive artist’s brush that works on the conductive surfaces of iPads and other tablets. The Kickstarter-backed Sensu combo model will run you $40 and includes a stylus (they also offer a brush-only model for $25). The combo model includes a cover to keep the brush bristles safe when not in use.
Looking for a little diversion and still claim it’s work-related? Do yourself a favor and check out The Design Deck ($22) from Ben Barrett-Forrest. Although still in pre-order status, this well-designed deck of playing cards is made for the designer in all of us. Whether you want to learn more about your craft, get a little design history, or need a gift for a designer, the dual-purpose deck is stacked in your favor. The Kickstarter campaign was so successful, Barrett-Forrest was able to have them manufactured by the same company that makes Bicycle Brand Playing Cards. Not only is the Design Deck a fully-functioning deck of playing cards, each card uses visual examples to illustrate typography, terminology, design movements, color, and even designer profiles.