The Phlat Synth Project

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Roland Juno-106 #roland #juno106 #synth #synthesizer

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Reader Brook Boley has been making a series of illustrations that feature iconic synths and electronic instruments, The Phlat Synth Project.

“Since I can’t own all of them,” notes Boley, “I decided to make my own.”

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Korg MS-20 #korg #ms20 #synthesizer

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Boley is considering making a series of prints for the illustrations, which are shared on Instagram at @phlatsynth, and is wondering:

  • Would people buy the prints?
  • What synths would people like to see?
  • Do people like the captions on the images?

If you’d be interested in synth illustration prints, leave a comment here or on the illustrations themselves at Instagram.

52 thoughts on “The Phlat Synth Project

  1. Honestly, I would prefer nice photos of the instruments in in poster form. But that’s a different project.

    The lack of panel graphics makes these…odd.

  2. These are very cute, i feel like i would like buy a HUGE poster will ALL OF THEM so i can own all of them too. i also like the korg radias asthetic with the blinking lights and the moog XL with wires and the volcas look cool. big modulars look nice too, old and new. Hartmann Neuron Synthesizer looks nice. DSI Pophet 12. I love elektron stuff. and Teenage Engineering OP-1. also maybe and old tiny casio synth.

    i don’t have an Instagram account, keep us apdated.

      1. Pretty sure isometric is defined by the horizontal lines of the object are tilted 30° which is viewed a lot more from above and the camera in these pictures is pretty low down which is why it looks a bit strange since the synths extends further into the background and your eyes expects more perspective distortion.
        I really like these though. They have a nice toy like look to them, and the more I look at them the more my eyes seems to adjust for the lack of perspective.

        1. I teach design. Looks like Isometric projection to me. Isometric projection looks weird because of its lack of believable perspective. With iso. objects don’t appear to get smaller as they recede back into space. Makes things look weird. Think of Qbert.

          1. I AM a designer. 😛 They are not isometric. Isometric projection is very clearly defined. From wiki:

            “the three coordinate axes appear equally foreshortened and the angle between any two of them is 120 degrees.”

            These images are not isometric as they have a 131 degree angle which is big difference. I don’t think isometric looks weird at all because of the different viewing angle than these. This is a synth with proper isometric projection:


        2. Good point about the weird angle used, in any case this is some sort of Parallel Projection and that’s why “perspective” looks odd.
          Isometric does look odd, we’re are just more used to see it because of decades of awesome pixel art (that uses a different angle too, but closer than this one to the correct Isometric definition).

      1. “Nothing wrong with isometric projection” True! It’s very useful for designers & engineers, moving stuff round and keeping it consistent regardless of aspect and perspective.

        But a wall poster for drooling synth lovers should recede with distance, or the ‘boards simply look warped and unappealing.

        Brook, any sophisticated graphics program including Adobe’s (and the much cheaper Affinity apps, on Mac) can take the work you’ve already done and apply a receding perspective to it – nothing will be lost, and the images will look natural!

  3. Good effort, but the absence of any vanishing point perspective, and any foreshortening on the keys spoils the effect for me.

  4. Bob: I guess it’s the 30/30 technique that is bothering you. It’s a drawing style without perspective, but angled at 30? and 30? in the closest corner and everything is parallel to that.

    Brook: I think this is cool 🙂 It shows your love and passion about synths and the iconic looks of them in a stylish and drawing-technically correct way. I get some serious 80’s SimCity vibes 😀 It’s nice to see people putting work and effort into projects of aesthetics.

  5. “Would people buy the prints?”

    Are you serious? These pics are bad. The perspective is distorted and the panels sloppily worked.

  6. Could be a cool thing, but the isometric slant is jarring. I looked at the Instagram feed and some of the other ones look better than these two examples.

  7. I like these very much, very very cool idea. they are perfect the way they are btw. i personally would love to buy a huge poster with all of them so i can own them all too!

    I would like to see:
    Moog System 55
    Moog XL
    Hartmann Neuron
    Korg radias with blinky lights
    Elektron stuff
    Korg Volca series
    teenage engineering op1
    littlebits synth
    Yamaha cs01
    DSI Prophet 12

  8. what would really be nice would be the the original magazine adverts in poster form, nice retro look for a studio.

    I do like these but not the a agree the perspective where clearly designed that way just looks wrong bordering on amateur. Doesnt work.

  9. Aside from the previous comments, since this is modeled and rendered you could do something that’s never been seen before: Absurd perspectives, totally different color schemes, and more obscure pieces like a wasp, a Cat, or an Oscar.

  10. I quite like them. I was unfamiliar with isometric projection, but was immediately able to get what the artist is doing. I like the subtle caption style.

    Though I visit this site often, my sentimentality about synths is not that strong. I wouldn’t buy any of these prints, but not because I don’t like them. I think they are very cool. I could see if I had a public studio it would be fun to put them up somewhere in a B room.

  11. Why i should buy a graphical reproduction of a Synth? Shure there is crazy people, wich would spent 2-3 dollar for those files.

  12. I agree with the comments about the isometric view. It works well for certain things like the pixel art posters, but this just feels uncomfortable with the synths. Even a slight bit of real perspective would be better.
    As for buying them, no i would not spend money on them. There is nothing original here.

  13. how about a normal picture of a large rack synth?
    full scale size on wall, maybe even wallpaper

    plus I hear how people like like to have pictures of “nice rack” on their wall,, i know but could not resist

  14. oh my god why is it in iso perspective ???

    and the answers would be:

    1) no for a decent poster you need more then a iso rendering of a boxmodel. Make it more interesting, add some detail shots blended in, get original style graphics and fonts, make it a bit like it would be the original commercial.

    2) all of them, but with better perspective and more love into details, we are nerds godamnit, do it right or let it be.

    3) no, not in iso for sure, also it lacks a lot of details, looks to much pixelart to me. it seems like the maker couldnt find graphics of the MS20 and left it without labels. The cables of the MS20 are to thin and not flexible enough. The side panels of the MS20 are way off, the pitchbend wheel is to small and lacks the right texture.

    For now they look like 30min of work per machine, and i would invest 5h per synth and add A LOT of details to make it worth buying

    1. Right? The person is doing these cool illustrations for free, posting on Instagram for everyone to appreciate, and gets all this crap?? These kids need to get laid, seriously.

      1. oh come on, these kids need to get laid? seriously?

        posting some half baked synths without any detail work, poorly modeled and ask if someone would be willing to buy them?

        iam 35 years old modelling since 1996 with 15 years of professional 3d work, iam in love with synths, and the first thing that comes to your mind is that we (the not-liking crowed) need to get laid ? 🙂

        Just like it for what it is, a boxmodel with an unfinished texture, and iam NOT willing to pay for that, easy as that.

      2. Thanks Boris and Kurt. I think everyone is missing the idea that these are illustrations and are designed to be “Flat” and oversimplified. Hence, the name. Making an object look real in 3D is quite an easy task. An exercise that is useless, (except for, perhaps, narcissistic reasons) considering all the images of synths that already exist on the Internet. The amazing thing about these synths is how recognizable they are even when they are simplified. I could break them down to a more basic form and they would all retain their beauty.

        I am truly surprised by the reactions here and I am glad I have supporters such as yourself. I think Synthtopia is really not my audience. But it is a rather large internet afterall and my audience seems to be on Instagram. In the end, my biggest surprise is that no one told me that you can’t spell flat with a “Ph”. ; )

    2. naaahh not tough just in love with synths. also some are doing 3d by themself, i worked over 15 years as a 3d modeller. also ISO perspective is a story of its own. not labeling and poor detail work is another story.

      I think if you post something to the public, thats what happens 🙂

      You could turn it into another question beside the tough crowd and ask “why didnt you spent more time finishing it before posting it online?” 🙂

  15. Synthtopia – “Somebody did something creative involving synths.”

    Synthtopia Comment’s Board – “Quick, trash their work.”


  16. Most of the comments here are really obscene for what the artist is trying to convey. The iso is a style they chose, all the knobs and things retain the same dimension regardless of a vanishing point. I personally think it was a good choice to not have lables on the controls. Doing so would make clutter the eyes and take away from the object form and color as a distraction. Too much intricacy at this scale would be over powering. As for synths I would enjoy seeing, the novation mini nova, Korg emx1 electribe, and the Roland jd-xa, would delight me. Keep doing what you are doing. Even da vinci gave the Mona Lisa like… 2 or 3 vanishing points, people are going to complain.

  17. So many different opinions here! It only shows one thing – there are people who love what you do and those who don’t. Most likely it will be possible to sell some of those as posters. You should make a campaign and see how many will be ordered, then print the ones ordered and continue your work!
    I wouldn’t buy one, not because of what it looks like, but because I’m not really into nostalgia. If it were with some imaginary wonder synth, then I might consider.

  18. My initial thought was that these are very cute. I like the perspective and understand what you’re going for. Kind of gives me a Micro Machines vibe. I think they would look great silk screened on t-shirts.

    Strange that when people disagree with your choice of art style, the inference is that you didn’t spend enough time or that you got some technical aspects wrong.

    Maybe the majority of synthtopians are not your target market. Too precious about their synths. I wouldn’t take everything said here to heart. Follow your own vision. 🙂

  19. I’m not sure if they are amateur and using the default parallel projection in sketchup or if the simplicity and warp are on purpose. I can see arguments either way (the cropping/aspect makes me think maybe the latter). To answer the questions

    1) no
    2) NA
    3) NA

  20. Well, if you put something in the market with the intent to sell it, like this artist is doing, and if the market rejects it, all discussions about Iso this or that quite frankly don’t matter. Shit sells, or it doesn’t. It’s that simple. And by the looks at the feedback here, the execution of these pieces is not well received.

    Now, the artist can either cry about people not understanding his interpretation of Iso perspective, or he can take this feedback and try again.

  21. The upshot of all these conversations is that the perspective rendering chosen is so bad that it puts most people off. Simply change the perspective and you’re onto a winner!

  22. really odd choice of camera lens on this, they all look distorted the end nearest the camera looks smaller that the end farthest’s like inverse perspective and just makes me feel uncomfortable to look at them.

    change the lens in your 3d app and you’ll be on a winner.

    the idea is good..the view type angle is horrible to the average viewer, if you really want to sell prints and make this a viable product you’ll need to change it.

    honest review

  23. In the spirit of equality – I thought I would open myself to feedback (critique). Here is something that sprung to mind, which I produced after seeing the renders:

    I have always had an interest in blueprints – probably since seeing some Star Wars ones years ago.

    Ok – go for it……

  24. I don’t particularly care for these. I don’t like the perspective and the lack of panel detail makes them all the more lifeless.

    I’d prefer high resolution pictures, a poster with many of them or perhaps a coffee table book.

  25. these are nice. if i where you i would change the perspective. when i look at them it seams lie the right side is bigger or distorted, but beyond that i think they should not all be the same perspective…IMO. I would not like a print but i would like a shirt or a phone case or a pillow. put them on society6 or threadless artist shops.

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