Archive for the ‘Art Department’ Category

The Transmit Model

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

I got an e-mail from Kenichi, our 3D icon master in Japan, the other day:

“I’m learning and trying a new lightings. HDRI map + system light sources. It’s great, but sometimes does not work for icon design.”

He sent along three images that I thought you’d enjoy seeing. You’ve probably never seen the Transmit truck from these angles!

Man, it really makes me want a Transmit truck toy…

The World’s First Emoji Domain

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, are you comfortably running Mac OS X Lion?

Because this is our moment.

Years of technological progression, a steady flowing river of genius and fortitude, breakthrough and discovery, have sent us ever-forward, hurtling towards this. From the humble beginnings of the first wire-wrapped computer, to the rolled-up-sleeves of the hard-working women and men of The Unicode Consortium, to the dedicated Apple engineer staying late in the office to ship a major operating system update while his family sits without him at the dinner table. “Will I see Daddy tomorrow?”, his son asks, picking at his plate. “I don’t know”, is the sad, quiet reply. You see, today is built on the hard working backs of those from yesterday. And on the shoulders of those backs, we will stand tall, reaching towards tomorrow.

The release of Mac OS X Lion added an important new feature: system-wide pictograms, or, as you might call them, “Emoji”. And for the first time, these pictograms are not based on a mobile-carrier ever-shifting method of encoding via the “private” Unicode character space, but are using the officially accepted Unicode 6.0 Emoji / ISO 10646 standard.

So yes, everything we’ve worked for has led us here.

Friends, family, well-wishers: today, history is rewritten.

I give you:

The world’s first emoji domain.


Now that you’ve had a moment to recover, I’d like to give particular thanks to the country of Laos, who run the last remaining domain registrar I’m aware of that still allows international domain names that use any Unicode character. Our sincere thanks must be given to Thongsing Thammavong, the Prime Minister of Laos, for his valuable assistance in making all of this possible.

Update: I’ve just got word that, due to intense political unrest in Laos (untrue), they no longer allow Emoji domains! Yes, .la is no more. Fortunately, the territory of Tokelau (!) has stepped in to meet this intense international need! Emoji .tk domains are now available.

(Why are they so hard to register? Due to fears of IDN homograph attacks, most registrars, like .com, now only allow specific language sets to be used for Unicode domain names. The days of registering ☃.net — a previous Cabel effort in this series — are long gone. In fact, back in 2007 ICANN expressly recommended that “symbols and icons […] such as typographic and pictographic dingbats” should not be allowable code points for domain names. Fortunately, Laos didn’t get the memo.)

Now some of you might be asking, “What’s the point? How is this useful? It requires Lion, it only works in Safari, let alone on Windows. They’re impossible to type. How is this at all useful?” I understand, but you’re not really asking the right questions.

Now, I’m sure those of you who are members of the press will be eager to leave and phone your bureau as soon as possible with this discovery. Thus, I’ll bring my presentation to an end.

My friends, I’m glad you could join me on this trip into the unknown, now made known.

The internet will never be the same.

Oh, and one more thing: if you ever want to tell your friends about Transmit or Coda, just have them visit:



Yay! 4th of July Fireworks 2011!

Monday, July 4th, 2011

(Note: last year, Blogger turned off ‘FTP Publishing’, sadly disabling my personal blog. The good news? I’ve officially scheduled a migration to WordPress in 2017. The bad news? This blog post, which has nothing to do with Panic, will have to live here for now. Enjoy the distraction! —Cabel)

“Hey, Gabe! Nice to see you. You gonna take more photos this year?”, asked the friendly Blackjack Fireworks owner with the large, silver handgun strapped to his waist.

I guess that makes this a tradition, then!

Welcome to my 5th annual look at funny fireworks. (You can get up to speed with 200720082009, and 2010.) These Chinese-designed and American-targeted fireworks from Brothers, Alien, Boomer, and more, hold a very special place in my design, marketing, and explosive heart. I hope you enjoy them also.

Stunning Stock Photography

The lady in the bottom right can’t help but smile every time she hears “You’ve Got Mail!”.


Most accurate “baby boomer” photo ever. Also, please read the “Performance Description”.


Sports dudes: do these guys say “Americana” to you? (I honestly don’t know.)


Surprising Graphic Design

Time from File > New to Save as PDF: 7 minutes.

Exactly how I imagine Oracle’s acquisition of PeopleSoft went down.


Shotgun shells? Pool cue? Or is this baby chicken a suicide bomber? What is going on?

Questionable Concepts

PERFORMANCE: An eerily accurate simulation of what happens to me when I drink a grande latte.


That seems like an exceptionally bad idea.


Who can forget the classic Biblical passage where all God’s creatures die in a fire?


It just seems like a really specific thing to be blowing up is all.


Hot eats, cool copyright infringements.


So, so close.


“And this is my brother, Breaker.”


Classic! Another digital fantasy interrupted by a pop-up window that says “500 GRAM”.


The Grand Finale

Tucked in the corner of the shop, I see this. It’s like they knew I was coming.

Computer? Yes please. What could this possibly be? Stumped, I drew in closer, and discovered the secret…

This firework “laptop” actually hinges open.

Yes. The Windows key! The cursor nub! And this amazing desktop picture:

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s over — there’s no need to design any more fireworks. “Computer” has been made.

Bonus Movie

Here’s what happens when you light “Computer” on fire. Happy 4th of July, people!

CandyBar 2600, Found

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

A while back, we posted about finding rare Panic boxes from our golden, miserable videogame era.

These 1982 Atari boxes are great and all (they are!), but many asked: what about the games? We took a short trip to our storage warehouse in Milpitas, CA and, after looking through more cardboard boxes than an IKEA BESTÅ, we found it: a single production cartridge of our lost CandyBar game for the Atari 2600.

While it might not be an all-time classic, it’s definitely real — and a real trip to play again.

Check out this video!

To quote from the box: “Oh no! A huge power surge has made everything go haywire in the candy factory and the Cookbots are making delicious candy bars faster than Chef Chéf can pick ’em and pack ’em! Hurry — grab the candy bar boxes off the conveyor and get them into the Hungry Icon’s eager, waiting mouth!”

The manual further explains: “The Chef may move left and right across the conveyor belt. Press fire to pick up candy bar boxes once they are in front of Chef. Press up when making contact with Hungry Icon to feed it.”

Is the game hard? Well, about that… due to the dev crunch, we, uh, forgot to add lives. Or health. Or any way to die. That’s why marketing added the “for young children” callout on the box. We were all ashamed, but hey, we met our deadline and spent the afternoon in the hot tub. Is the game fun? Probably not.

But it’s sure nice to see it again!

And yes, like our boxes and posters, this game isn’t really from 1982. But this time, the real story is way better than the fiction.

The Real Story

TIGsource, an incredible site for indie game developers (run by former Panic intern Derek Yu) had an inspired contest: A Game By Its Cover. The idea? Take a fictional, funny game box, and make an actual, genuine game for it. You can check out all the amazing entries here.

Jason Santuci wanted to enter this contest. So he Goog’d around for ideas, and somehow came upon our fictional Atari 2600 boxes. Then he made an actual Atari 2600 game. Then he made a manual. Then he somehow made an actual Atari cartridge for us.

To summarize: a real app became a fake retro artwork joke which became a real retro game based on the fake artwork for the real app.

I love it. I also love that 2600-ized Finder icon.

Jason has the final word: “The competition at TIGSource got me off my butt to create this thing. Batari BASIC gave me the tools to do it. I’m sure some of your blog readers will take notice and spark their imagination. Indie Game development and Atari 2600 for the WIN!!!”

Better yet? If you’re handy with emulators, you can download and “play” CandyBar for yourself! Enjoy!

One More Thing: Retro Super Sale

It’s true: for the holiday season, we’ve dramatically slashed the prices on our retro posters and boxes!

forsale-1 forsale-2

A set of four retro boxes is now $9, and a set of four retro posters is now only $15.

I promise you: this is the coolest Panic collectible for you or your loved one. No internet can contain the quality, attention-to-detail, and awesomeness of these goods. We hope you like them!

Spinner Rage

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Did you know the French have over 300 words for “ennui”? It’s true. Similarly, a designer has over 14,000 words for nit-picky things that annoy them that nobody else in the world cares about. In this case, 300 words.

Hooray! I’ve found a new thing you won’t care about! Prepare to have your eyebrows melted.

Designers, do you see anything wrong with this spinner I found on the web?

It’s pretty subtle. Look close! The problem is specifically with frame five:

All the segments should get lighter as the spinner rotates. But, in frame five, the trailing segments of the spinner get darker, for a single frame. (I think the designer accidentally left two layers on at once.)

Now look at that 16 x 16 sample again. You’ll see a brief, dark flash at the very top of the spinner, once per rotation. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll never, ever be able to un-see it. Ever.

If I were to find this on just one website, I’d be all, “Huh, that’s pretty annoying!”. But here’s how this thing reached a level 8 nightmare: I started seeing this flashy goofball spinner everywhere. Everywhere!

Alaska Airlines. The Associated Press. Google. The St. Petersburg Times.

I was beginning to think I was losing my mind. Then I Googled for “spinner creator”, and… mystery solved. So:


Please fix frame 5 of your “Indicator” spinner, because everyone on the internet uses it.


For you, Panic reader, here’s my clean  16×16 Spinner.psd [6k] ready to be colored and gif’d. Enjoy!

PS: If you’re drawing a spinner like Apple’s, take heed: the inner caps are rounded, not just the outer caps.
PPS: And don’t get me started on this kind of business: