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teknidermy.com > issue > 12 > Mormegil — Man or Icon? Editor's Notes Follow-up Interview with Xymantix Skinning on the Edge Notes on Corporate Logo Design Xerraire — The Talkative One n05feratu — Art that Hurts to Look at Sell your Skin Foood for Thought Mormegil — Man or Icon Whodunnit?

Mormegil

Man or Icon?

I had to actually look up the word icon to see it's exact meanings, one which said: ‘sacred image’ (of course we skinners all know the other) and when most people think of icons, I'm sure the nick or name Mormegil or Paul Boyer comes to mind for most skinners, so lets get to know more about him.


Tek: Thanks Paul, for making time for me. 'Specially with all the bad news currently floating around about war, but of course Skinning is much more important right! hehe

Let's start with who exactly is the man behind these icons can you share some personal information about yourself such as your real name, and occupation etc for the readers that are not familiar with you?

mormegil: My real name, as most people know, is Paul Boyer. I started skinning under that name, I would post in the Stardock Library as Paul Boyer and as Mormegil at skinz.org. When WinCustomize came along they got merged together.

I am currently employed by Disney, as a computer artist. I work the ungodly hours of 5am to 1:30pm. This is nice for me however, as it has allowed me to do skinning in the afternoons, and more recently freelance GUI design.

I have a passion for Fantasy Illustration, though I have not picked up a brush for three years now. but might try again soon. Some of my older, outdated work is available at www.odyssey-3.com/illustration/.


Tek: Can you remember when you came across digital art on the internet? Was it running across a skinning website or what exactly?

mormegil: I used to be obsessed with making my Desktop look good, started using alternate shells for win 3.1, used Sidebar and PC Tools. I wanted to make my own icons. Later I started looking around the net, when it became available, and I found some shots of NeXT. That got me wondering.

This made me search for other cool stuff, and I found Windowblinds and Litestep, Litestep proved to be too much work for me. but I became fond of WindowBlinds.

Tek: Yeah, you feel more like a programmer when skinning litestep, huh?

mormegil: I think The first digital art I found however was mostly Linux/unix shells, like Afterstep. But I have to say I never really started appreciating skinning, as art until I found Skinz.org. That was a bit disjointed, sorry

Tek: And there is that name again *sigh* skinz.org =(

mormegil: Ya, gone but not forgotten.

Tek: Seems a lot of the best skinners, such as yourself, Paul, were born on skinz.org?

mormegil: I think I posted in the Stardock library first, but then skinz next.


Tek: When did you first get involved doing graphics, icons and skinning? And about how long does it take one to become the expert that you are now at it?

mormegil: I started with Icons, surprise surprise, I wanted cool Icons, so I started by making bmp files, and changing there extensions to ICO. I could not understand why they always looked so crappy, until I got a real Icon making program. about a year later. I bought Axialis Icons, 3.5 for about 10 bucks, and it use to be free upgrades for life, then I started doing Icons right.

Tek: Hmm… so 10 bucks and motivation started you? hehe

mormegil: I made some Icons I liked for myself, but that was about it then I saw early SS of OSX and I thought: “Hey, I would like Icons like that”.

Tek: hehe Who does not! /me gets excited over icons. I have OSX too Paul.

mormegil: So I copied some of the SS of folders into Axialis Icons, and made a few Mac knock off Icons.

Yes, I have OS-X, a new G4 just behind me, but off as usual.

Tek: Me too, a 17 incher, and off as usual too.

mormegil: Anyway.

Tek: Go ahead sorry… hehe

mormegil: No problem, I played with my Mac knockoff Icons for about 2 days, and saw all the OSX icons show up on the net. Suddenly I did not care so much about OSX Aqua Icons. So I started making some of my own, admittedly inspired by OSX. That is how I came up with the Original FauxS-X Icons.

By the time I got through all 6 or so colors, I knew what I was doing with Icons, Then came Desktop X And I have to say, Thank God for that. alpha blending is my best friend.

This allowed me to start doing my designs in CorelDRAW. which is my biggest strength. I like to think that if I am good at skinning, or Icons, it is just because I am a good designer. But my big advantage is Corel. IMO most skinners use Photoshop or its like. I do almost everything in CorelDRAW, v11 at the moment.

Tek: Well, every skinner or artist, I guess, chooses their own comfortable brush?

mormegil: This is true, but I think that the Vector nature allows me to work faster, and cleaner.

Tek: I've never seen CorelDraw. I only see artist/skinners keep mentioning that program. PhotoShop and PSP etc., those two are most common.

mormegil: I am kind of glad that it is not to widely used. I feel it helps me out. However in the Stardock IRC channel, I am kind of known as the Corel Pusher. I have won a few converts. I think…

Tek: Same for the Gimpers right, nice to be set apart from the crowd, makes you a unique skinner.

mormegil: I wont name names, don't want to get them in trouble with the Photoshop Mafia.

Tek: haha!

mormegil: I have used Corel for years, for all my digital art. Here is an example of a Corel I did. 100% vector.


Tek: yikes! Stunning colors and blindingly nice!

mormegil: Completely scaleable. I have a printout of it 72inches long.

Tek: Very vivid!

mormegil: That's the beauty of Vectors.

Tek: So much stuff to look at now, with all these skinning sites. It is so hard to keep up. I have to confess I never seen this one of yours, Paul.

mormegil: Anyway, as you can see my tool of choice is Corel and for touch up of Icons, I design them in Corel, IconWorkshop, which is also a great program. I use Corel all day at work also, so it is my favorite.

Tek: Well keep using that coral thingy. It seems to work good in ‘your’ hands… hehe


Tek: I think it is everyone's dream to be able to make a living or some side cash, doing something they truly love, such as their hobby. Did you ever think, when you began this, that you would be able to make some money out of it? And how did that transpire into a reality for you?

mormegil: Back in 1999 and 2000, I was very into Desktop X, And started the FauxS-X Project. At the time I hosted it myself on my personal website. That was getting about 300 hits a week at the time. When DX 1.0 came out, Stardock included a lot of my Zoomers and such, in the default theme. And quite nicely, a plug, for my site in the theme info. The problem was, when DX went up on Cnet, and such, I got 30.000 hits in a day.

Tek: yikes!

mormegil: I was very pleased. (I did not know I was paying 10 cents a meg)

Tek: hehe

mormegil: When I got a call from Verio, I had a heart attack. and pulled the site. I left one image and a ‘be back soon’ flag, and still lost a bunch of money, since I was getting like 20.000 hits a day for about a month. In the end I got hit for a bill for almost 1900 dollars, this was my reward for giving away my work for free.

Tek: OMG A price to pay for being good at what you do? hehe

mormegil: It kind of killed me from skinning for a while.

Tek: So what happened? Did you have to pay it?

mormegil: Well, skinz and Stardock, both offered to host my site. (In hind site I am very glad I chose Stardock to do it). I ended up paying about 1100, talked them down a bit.

Tek: Yeah, considering what happened to skinz and still 1100! ouch!

mormegil: Ya.

Tek: *sigh*

mormegil: Well, I kind of let the site just sit for a while.

Tek: Yeah, sounds like the site needed to sit and cool off!

mormegil: I had started working for Disney and was very busy getting settled in there, so I moved, and was closer to work. Then I had time to start skinning again, and the best thing happened Windows XP Alpha Blended Icons. Finally I could do Icons like I saw them in my head. I settled down to do the FauxS-XP Icons.


Tek: So do you make your icons on mac or win? I have the G4 but hardly use it =(

mormegil: 100% PC, never use my Mac for design. Funny that, I might be the only one to do that. Like I said, I have a 5 month old dual 1 gig G4, I use it to watch DVDs and back up my PC.

Tek: hehe Me too! I do use Excel and Word on the Mac cuz even the appearance of work looks prettier on it! hehe

mormegil: I thought I was the only one, HA


mormegil: About half way through the FauxS-XP icons I realized I was losing money again, in the amount of time I was spending. So one day I asked on the WinCustomize board, “how much would you pay for good Icons?” and asked if I asked for Paypal donations if anyone would be interested in getting FauxS-XP Oynx a month or 2 before anyone else.

The results were quite surprisingly positive. I did that, did not make much money, but it helped me justify my time spent.

Tek: Well, on WinCustomize it is a paying crowd, so the perfect place to ask w/o being too attacked and why not be paid for that kind of quality.

mormegil: I think I owe a great debt to Pixtudio, they really paved they way for the idea of a paid suite.

Tek: Yes and Pixtudio sure did pay a price too. I remember them getting beat up all over the place until people got used to the idea.

mormegil: After a while I posted Oynx for free, but then Stardock aproached me, and offered me to do a premium suite of Icons. I jumped on it. Brad gave me pretty much free rein. They originally asked me to do a set of 3 Iconpacks. I went a bit overboard. And the result was Orion.

I wanted it to be well worth the money, 1500 icons later, 3 or 4 months and a about 200 hours…

Tek: wow 200 hours?

mormegil: I still ended up losing money I think. But it was fun, and it has established me in the GUI designing world so it is was worth it.

Tek: Some experiences are priceless and also, like you said, you got a name planted.

mormegil: So, in short, when I first saw Pixtudio suite, I thought, “I wonder if I could do that?”, but never thought to try until Stardock approached me.

Since then, I have been quite busy. I did PixOS with Alexandrie and have gotten many GUI design jobs since. My only problem now is getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep. I am not quite where I want to be yet. I would love to do this full time someday.


Tek: I'm sure you probably will anyways. I seem to have missed your Orion icon set, though it apparently was right there in my face at WinCustomize, but craeonics pointed me to it (very beautiful set!). We were wondering if this was your only pay-for-icon set or do you have or plan to make others in the future? Anything there cooking now?

mormegil: I have just gotten back into doing WindowBlind skins, and I'm working on a suite of Skins to go along with Orion, and FauxS-XP. they will be free. Hopefully posted about the end of the month [March]. I am also working on a bonus pack for PixOS, which will also be free. In April I hope to post a whole suite of skins, called ATLAS. It will be free. and quite a bit different then what I have done in the past. It is kind of a tribute to my favorite book, ‘Atlas Shrugged’.

After that. I am going to take a stab at a premium suite of my own WB, Icons, Object bar, DX, Cursor XP etc… but it is not planned out yet.

I am sure I will do more, but I will not stop posting free stuff as well.

Tek: Sounds like a lot of work.

mormegil: I am not suffering from the illusion that skins should be free.

Tek: That is good to hear 'cuz the free stuff opens more doors, I think, to getting your work familiar and on everyones machines. Plus some people can't afford to pay, so at least they too can enjoy your work =)

mormegil: I like doing them, and it is good advertising for my freelance work. And sometimes I just like to give them away, because it makes me feel good to do so. Not because I feel obligated.

Tek: Exactly.

mormegil: I am a capitalist in the true sense of the word. I believe in trading Value for Value. Sadly most people think of a Capitalist as a thief. This is exactly the opposite of what a capitalist should be. OK, I will stop ranting but yes. I will be doing more Icons, skins etc. some free some for money.

Tek: Nah, I don't really think so, just people of course want free and the net got them spoiled in the past. But if the quality is worth it, why not. And nobody forces them to open their wallets right? Plus to me the biggest factor, Paul, is the motives behind some things some people do and some do actually deserve to be paid.

mormegil: I like to think so. If people don't want to buy Orion, they can use FauxS-X instead.

Tek: Yes, you're kind enough to give them both options. So what can they complain about?

mormegil: I know it is a sore subject.

Tek: it's a healing sore these days, it just took some time.

mormegil: I was very hurt by some comments made when Orion came out, but now I let it roll off.

Tek: You can't really let what others say or do keep you from your ambitions in life.

mormegil: Ya.

Tek: And sometimes, no matter how fair you are with the free stuff, it will never be enough for the greedy ones, so don't sweat it…


Tek: How do you plan a big icon set? Do you begin it with a simple idea or theme in your mind and start there or just randomly make icons and select the ones that work best and take it from there?

mormegil: With Icons, I usually start with the folder. It tends to establish the style of the set.

Tek: hmm Interesting.

mormegil: Then I move on to other common forms, like the file, and My Computer, then Internet then Trash and Desktop. By then I usually have good idea of the overall theme.

Tek: So the folder… who would think it! hehe

mormegil: Then I just go down the list, as they become clear in my head. I have a big template, in Corel. all the Icons in one file. The SS I post with my packs, is pretty much just how I design them. This allows me to grab elements from other Icons as needed.

That's about it. sometimes it differs.


Tek: So you do seem to have a defined system. What kind of work is involved in making such a huge icon set? How long does it take you to complete such a set, since icons are a nightmare for most people to create!

mormegil: If I have a style I want to match. Like with PixOS, Alexandrie showed me the WindowBlind skin and I based it on that. But otherwise I use my normal methods.

Orion took a long time because I was paranoid that people would not like it. I did most of the original pack, Cobalt, once or twice. before I was happy.

Atlas, the pack I am working on now, is going pretty quick. I am at about 30 hours, and I have about 100 Icons done. Icons seem to be my thing.

Tek: boy That takes some serious time. Most people would not realize when they grab these icons for download what goes into them, huh?

mormegil: True, in some cases. I think some people do know, and that is what they like about them.


Tek: You read the comments from people all over the skinning sites running out of inspiration here and there to create their art or skins. What gives you the inspiration to keep coming up with all your work over and over again, time and time again? Do you fear you will run out of creative ideas sooner or later?

mormegil: I am afraid of it all the time.

Tek: Really?

mormegil: I am trying to come up with an iContainer pack for Pixelpalooza at the moment. I did 4 Different Folders last night and did not like any of them.

Tek: So what do you do for inspiration? Is it music, a walk, a thought, a hormonal mood…

mormegil: The hardest part of any design job, or ‘art’ is the Idea. I fight for that, but eventually I usually come up with something I like.

Tek: That must be hard if you have a deadline. A deadline to force you to create, when you have not found the creative force.

mormegil: I love to listen to audio books, but I don't know if that can be called inspiration, more meditation. Lets me let my mind wonder and deadlines are the best motivation ;)

Tek: Sure it can, I bet… Anything floating around in the head creating thought patterns works maybe.

mormegil: I usually just start playing with shapes in Corel, and then boom there's a icon and the rest is just work.

Doreen sends Paul some leggos and blocks

mormegil: Love Legos.

Tek: But I can see that you need to move things around and look at different angles maybe to get the ideas flowing.

mormegil: My first form of Creative work.

Tek: What legos? hehe

mormegil: I spent more time with LEGOS then I do with computers now.

Tek: hehe!

mormegil: But is the same urge to create that makes me keep making skins, and Icons.

Tek: I never seen the thing behind them, nor why they are so popular, but I'm a little strange.

mormegil: I just like to make things.

Tek: It seems all skinners have that in common. We like to make our own style.

mormegil: True. It was more fun when I was a kid, now there are so many custom pieces, it makes them less free form.

Tek: The mainstream is creeping up and the companies want to simplify everything for them so everything is precut, I think, not made from scratch.

mormegil: Ya, but the creative one will make do with anything cardboard, legos.

Tek: Oh yeah, nothing will stop a creative person.

mormegil: Tape.

Tek: hehe Yes, rocks even!

mormegil: So true.


Tek: Which skinners and graphics artist to you yourself look up to? (and I think I need to stop allowing the people I interview to answer back with ‘Treetog’ or ‘Dangeruss’ to make this question harder for them!) hehe

mormegil: Well of Course, Treetog, but Alexandrie is a wonder as well. I am very proud to have worked with her on Toon-XP and PixOS.

I had a bad falling out with Carlitus over the Orion Icons. More a political thing then a art thing. But I have to say he has a great style. I still think of him as one of the greats.

pjpowell, is a great one for scripting.

Tek: Oh yeah, Phil. Yes, I remember beta testing some of his DX stuff in the past. He has persistence with that to get it right. He don't give up easy…

mormegil: Anyway MikeB is very good. There are so many good skinners these days, I can't say more.

Tek: Well, those are some good names… =)


Tek: Do you have your own fans now? And do you get alot of fan mail these days?

mormegil: I get a lot of mail, most of it spam… But I get a few, ‘just wanted to say I love you Icons’ emails a day. Got to say it feels nice. I don't know if that is quite a fan base, but it is good to be known.

Tek: Makes it all that much more worth it =)

mormegil: Ya, the ones that make it really worth it are the e-mails asking if I do freelance.


Tek: I noticed from your site you were on Tech TV? How did that come about and what was that whole experience like?

mormegil: I love TechTV. It is on in my house pretty much all the time I am home.

Tek: So what was this TechTV I spotted on your web site all about?

mormegil: Well…

Doreen was snooping for a few mins on your site and spotted that?

mormegil: About 6 months or so ago, ‘The Screensavers’ started having a live audience. I called the first day and got tickets to go see the show. This meant driving to San Francisco, but that was cool. I went to college up there for a few years and it was nice to visit the old haunts

Anyway, before I went I did a mod of my FauxS-XP Icons, and a Wall for the show. I was hoping that they would show it on the show. And maybe say ‘hi’ to me. That was my big dream.

That did not happen, I choked and sat in the audience and said very little.

Tek: hehe

mormegil: I had a lot of fun though. Ironically Brad [frogboy, Stardock CEO] had been on the show the day before, and I missed him by one day. Still have not met to this day.

Tek: oh man One day only! And you missed the Frogman! hehe

mormegil: When I got back, I decided to do a ‘Call For Help’ Theme as well. Did the Icons, and the wall in about 5 or six hours, and posted them. Chris, the host of the show, saw them and put the wall up on the show, and left it for a week or so. I was quite stoked. And he motioned my site a few time.

Tek: Chris the Lockergnome guy, right?

mormegil: Yep. I was pretty sure that was about it, but then I did a mod of my call for help wall, for the Call for Help-A-Thon, that they did on December 26th. And he put it on the show for almost 15 hours in one day. This was also very cool.

Then you know what happened? A miracle, Chris hard drive crashed. “a bit of parody of Amadaus” ;) So he e-mailed me to ask if I still had the original wall. I said ‘sure’, and sent him a link to it. I also mentioned in a PS. if he ever wanted someone to do a demo on Icons give me a call.

The wall is available over here. The Skinfactory used it to do a WMP party skin as well.


mormegil: Anyway, He wrote me back and said “that sounds good” and he asked his producer about it. The next thing I know I was on the show.

One life goal down and now I need to get on the Screensavers ;)

Tek: hehe! Were you nervous?

mormegil: Yes, I think it shows in the Video. But my wife says I did OK and she is in the Business, so I trust her.

Tek: Is the vid online? how long was the segment?

mormegil: The segment was about 7 minutes. There is a WMV on my site if you want to see it.


Tek: I highly recommend anyone reading this interview to check that link out, 'cuz I did after the interview and enjoyed seeing that! And it looked to be a fun experience Paul =)


Tek: Okay, well now, lets stroll back to memory lane, can you remember your first upload and do you have a screenshot of it? I love to embarrass people right here… evil hehe

mormegil: humm Let me think…

Tek: I love this part. 'Specially since time is really marching on for some skinners now. Neat to see how you guys are moving along and progressing with your work and some even making a living off of it now!

mormegil: Sure, hang on one moment. Actually I think FauxS-X Cobalt, then called (Aqua) that was my first. it was fausXS-X (Green) that was first. I did not want to do blue because I thought it was too Mac.


Tek: shoot Paul, it's supposed to look bad 'cuz it's your first and it looks good? =/ hehe

mormegil: I did lots of bad stuff first just did not post it.

Tek: Well, gimme some bad stuff. I need like scribbles type stuff.

mormegil: I try not to let my rejects get out on the web. ;) But I will e-mail you some of my very first Icons. They will have to do.

Tek: Okay and they better be baddddd! hehe j/k

Which Paul sent and you can view them here and they were badddd hehe


Tek: What do you yourself think is your best work to date and would you share a screenshot of that?

mormegil: I have to say my best work is probably Orion.


Tek: I myself think it was your work on ToonXP but will let the readers decide cuz I'm dropping a screenshot of both =)


Tek: And with that we can end this interview here, so ‘Thank you’ again, Paul. I really enjoyed this interview a lot! I even lost track of time…

mormegil: No Problems. Talk to you later.


And for you readers that want to view more of Paul Boyers work, you can visit his web site at http://www.fauxs-x.com.

— Doreen, April 24, 2003

Editor's Notes Follow-up Interview with Xymantix Skinning on the Edge Notes on Corporate Logo Design Xerraire — The Talkative One n05feratu — Art that Hurts to Look at Sell your Skin Foood for Thought Mormegil — Man or Icon Whodunnit?
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