From technology to politics to video games; these are the random thoughts of a geek with too much time on his hands

This month, we continue our Skinner of the Month Interview series with November's selected member; SK Originals.  SK has been a member since early 2005, and is heavily involved with the community website  He was gracious enough to take some time to answer a few questions I emailed him.


1. To start off, could you give us a quick summary of your background in skinning?
SK: I started off skinning my PDA (pocket pc). I couldn't find any media player skins for it I liked, but then I came across how to create one myself. I also came across the Skin Factory (they had some of those windows media player mobile skins) and although I didn't really care a whole lot for their skins I did find out you could skin a whole lot more than just your media player. From there I found WC and some of the community sites like who asked if I would be interested in helping with the Transformer Project they had going. The rest is history I guess you could say.

Two of SKOriginal's first WindowBlinds skins posted to WC

2. In terms of your work, you’re all over the place with WindowBlinds, cursors, sysmetrix themes etc. How hard was it to learn to create all of those different skins and components?
SK: Wow, yeah I can say overall it’s not HARD but it is a lot to get the hang of and learn. Each type of skinning program is so different. I've avoided the more code intensive ones like DX and the main media players. The actual graphics are the 'fun' part for me and I'm no coder.

3. Do you have a background (professional or otherwise) in graphic design?
SK: I have always been an artist. I did everything from drawing to painting to 3D work of all kinds. Once I started college I figured 'Well I like computers, lets give graphics a shot.' Since then I've been into Graphic Design and run my own little business doing all sorts of things. Most of my dealings are in logo design, web graphics and print media.

An Autobot SysMetrix skin

4. You are heavily involved in the community. What do you think helps make that site/community a success?
SK: Longevity has been our strong point I believe. The community has always been there and may always be. Our admins are also heavily involved in the community as a whole, including here at WC. We do our best to make everyone happy and offer as much as we feel is relevant such as news and links to things skinning and computer related. We've held contest in the past (and may have more coming), we encourage an open forum where you can express yourself and we fully support all the skinners out there in anyway we can. There is also a very useful tutorial section in our forums, we have tutorials written at the site and links to as many skinning tutorials we could find all over the net. This may not sound like much but when you consider how hard it may be to find a tutorial... it easily begins to explain itself.

5. Your LORE collection is receiving a lot of praise at the moment, and the WindowBlinds skin was selected as a finalist in the GUI Champs Most Original Visual Style event. What was the idea behind that theme? What were you aiming for when creating it?
SK: I love to make my blinds different such as my Psycho suite. I've only created one theme as an everyday user (Quotidian, which means everyday) and originally was going to be another entry but I put it out before the GUI's started. With LORE I wanted to get back to that uniqueness. I mean there are some mechanical looking skins and some brown ones and some grungy looking ones but none with all of that. LORE started as just the taskbar... I had this idea of having it just a single bar with the buttons appearing to be hanging from it. From there it grew into this retro machinery grungy sort of style. This one really took a life of its own as I created it. I didn't have an overall image of the finished skin before I started or at any point during its creation. I think that helped with the feel and look of it. I've been very happy with the results and I thank everyone who helped get me into the finals. Those are some great blinds and skinners in there, its nice to be considered one of them.

Quotidian Icons, WB and CursorXP Set

6. What are you working on as a follow-up to LORE? Do you have any screens you could share with us?
SK: There is something in the works... it’s only an idea at this stage. I tend to dwell on my next one for awhile until an original idea strikes me and I just have to roll with it. That’s probably why there tends to be a time span between most of my skins. If it wasn’t for that I would probably have twice as many skins out there right now. I'm a huge fan of the new Battlestar Galactica series and have been beating around an idea of making a skin styled after the Cylons. Plus, I've wanted to make a dark skin. I don't have any mockups as that’s not usually how I work but I have been doing some 'research' into the look and feel of those big bad Centurion robots.

7. If someone were to come up to you and ask how they could get started in skinning, what would be the first thing you’d tell them they need to learn/do?
SK: Just jump right in! You can read all the tutorials you want (and I do suggest doing so) but, until you actually get in and get your hands wet your not going to have a good feel for what your doing. I also suggest trying some of the more simple things like CursorXP, Rainlendar and SysMetrix (the later two are completely free, something else that’s nice for a beginner... after all you may not like making skins). Other than that... ask someone when you just can't figure something out. I still have to once in awhile and I've had other very well known skinners ask me questions with things that have gotten them stuck. Lastly, check out those skins you like (and the ones everyone else seems to like). I mean get into the skin... tear it down, look at its roots and figure out what is making it tick in just the right way. It’s a great learning tool to see what a finish product looks like at its core. Other than these things I have only one other suggestion... keep learning your graphics programs as well. The cleaner and fresher your graphics the better your skins will be and everyone likes that.

on Nov 10, 2006
Great interview. Great artist.
Thanks for sharing SK.
on Nov 10, 2006
Great job! 

on Nov 10, 2006
Awesome! Can i download some of your artistic abilities?
on Nov 10, 2006
Thanks all, and RomanDA... sure if we can do a trade off and I nab some of yours too
on Nov 10, 2006
I just "borrow" my SKILLS from others.. well Code that is.. LOL

Just ask Zubaz!
on Nov 10, 2006

Just jump right in!

Exactly correct - it's the only way. Very good interview and well deserved

on Nov 10, 2006
on Nov 10, 2006
Jumping in is good...
on Nov 10, 2006
Nice read SK!
Congratulations on Skinner of the Month!
on Nov 10, 2006
on Nov 12, 2006
A great interview with one of the best!

Please don't wait too long for BSG
on Nov 12, 2006
Congrats SK on the Skinner of the Month and for LORE.
Great work. You are an inspiration.
Thanks Zoomba for some interesting articles.
on Nov 14, 2006
Yes, congrats on skinner of the month, and for the GUI medal for Lore.  Also for the promotion. Well deserved.