Making Custom Gradient Markers At Home

When doing high-end industrial illustration work, smooth gradients add a lot of production value to the final product. However, markers designed to do this well can be difficult to lay your hands on. [Eric] decided to create his own set of custom gradient markers, using commonly available supplies.

Starting with some existing markers that have dried out, the fabric ink reservoir inside is removed. A new one is created using tampons wrapped in heat-shrink, to replicate the construction of the original. Alcohol-based ink is required for smooth gradients, and [Eric] suggests using a heat gun to harvest the ink from a ballpoint pen, if store-bought is not available. The ink is then mixed with denatured alcohol to dilute it and injected into the fabric reservoir using a syringe. Each marker gets a slightly different ink mix to hit a range of lightness values for making smooth gradients.

It’s a tidy way of creating your own gradient markers in whatever color you may find useful. As a plus, the materials to do so are cheap and easy to obtain. We could even imagine 3D-printed marker bodies being an option, though nibs might prove a touch more difficult. We’ve seen [Eric]’s work before too, like this well-illustrated guide to using cardboard in product design. Video after the break.

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“Who Is John Galt?” Finally Answered

For those who haven’t read [Ayn Rand’s] philosophical tomeĀ Atlas Shrugged, there’s a pretty cool piece of engineering stuffed in between the 100-page-long monologues. Although fictional, a character manages to harness atmospheric static electricity and convert it into kinetic energy and (spoilers!) revolutionize the world. Harnessing atmospheric static electricity isn’t just something for fanciful works of fiction, though. It’s a real-world phenomenon and it’s actually possible to build this motor.

who-is-john-galt-thumbAs [Richard Feynman] showed, there is an exploitable electrical potential gradient in the atmosphere. By suspending a tall wire in the air, it is possible to obtain voltages in the tens of thousands of volts. In this particular demonstration, a hexacopter is used to suspend a wire with a set of needles on the end. The needles help facilitate the flow of electrons into the atmosphere, driving a current that spins the corona motor at the bottom of the wire.

There’s not much torque or power generated, but the proof of concept is very interesting to see. Of course, the higher you can go the more voltage is available to you, so maybe future devices such as this could exploit atmospheric electricity to go beyond a demonstration and do useful work. We’ve actually featured theĀ motor that was used in this demonstration before, though, so if you’re curious as to how a corona motor works you should head over there.

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