The initial design concept of the site was that the index page was to mimic the appearance of a MUSCLE 4-pack. I deviated from the concept slightly with the "MUSCLE" logo, which was a direct scan of a bunch of building blocks (nifty idea, but I realize now it didn't go well with the initial design concept). You'll notice the Halloween greeting at the top-left, and the "Grand Reopening" logo at the right. I had neglected the site for about a half a year at this time, and had just started to get back into it.
The only aspects that still exist from this time period is the background (which remained the same from the previous design), and the logo graphic. You'll notice that I added one more MUSCLE to the 4-pack (therefore making it accurate), and really accentuated the 4-pack idea with a more defined card. The card design is my own, of course... :)
2002 - February 2003
With this design, I had decided to branch further away from the "card" concept. I drew the Tortle sketch myself and scanned it in. The backgrounds appear "ripped", as if the Tortle sketch was freeing itself from the paper. This is probably one of my favorite designs... although it completely goes against my initial concept.
Other miscellaneous graphics from this time period:
A banner I used for my AKIA signature
A logo I used when I moved the page from Xoom to Newellsystems.com
February 2003 - March 2005
I decided to return to the four-pack card concept with this design. The card image was based on a scan of a four-pack, but the card was essentially completely redrawn in Photoshop to make it cleaner and more interesting with the inclusion of Kinnikuman and Meat (taken from the cover of the Comichara Kinnikuman set). The four figures represent the varied aspects of MUSCLE collecting: Tortle and the Hand are, of course, MUSCLEs; Curry Cook is an Ultimate Muscle; and the Light Bulb Guy is a Kinnikuman bootleg. The secondary pages, like Fun Crap, were also redesigned to resemble the back of the card, which was my initial idea for these pages that was never really implemented well until this design.
Secondary Page Screenshot - Collecting: Here we see a shot of a secondary page (specifically, the Collecting page) during this time period. It was my first foray into the "clean" design approach, and I wanted to add interest to the page with a Collecting-specific logo.
Main Page Logo: I always liked this logo, but the image size was just too large. At 100K just for the logo, it was a bit too unreasonable, especially for an image on the main page.
August 2005 - September 2006
I removed myself from the card concept (as it had gotten a bit cliched) with this design. My concentration on both the main page and the secondary pages is for cleanness and clarity through a simple design. Also, I wanted to make a bolder statement with the logo, while incorporating the variety of the site. I decided upon a basic, overlapping logo with various tiles to the right (randomly generated based on an ASP ad rotator).
A logo used when I moved the page from Newellsystems.com to Nathansmusclepage.com
September 2006 - July 2008
I continue my exploration into minimalism with this design. But I had many other issues I wanted to address:
1) I wanted to try replacing table structure with CSS DIV technology.
2) I've always liked the idea of having a navigation path, so I added that functionality to the site.
3) The content area needed to be expanded for current screen resolutions.
4) I was sick of being limited by the page's dark blue background just because I had a bunch of images that used that color as their backgrounds. I wanted to brighten the page up with a new background color, as well as add some new colors to play with.
Main Page (March 2007, left): At this time, I was manually updating the news by using templates, which was cumbersome to say the least. Also, you can see that the color palate included more pink (which I eventually determined to be too distracting), and the page lacked a "bottom" grounding it.
Main Page (July 2008, right): I implemented Blogger as my content management tool for news and updates, calmed down the color scheme, and gave the page a grounding bottom.
July 2008 - March 2010
With this redesign, I decided to play up the reflective, shiny trend that seemed to permeate web design at the time, presumably driven by iPods and iPhones. I also started to like the reduced lines indicative of blogs, so I worked to get rid of any distracting lines or grooves. While Blogger was my content management tool for news and updates, I was still hand-coding the content via HTML, which was a big pain.
March 2010 - The Future!
This was less of a redesign and more of a migration into a new content management tool, namely the Blogger blog format. Turning Nathan's MUSCLE Page into Nathan's MUSCLE Blog was an idea that had been percolating in my mind for quite a while. I've always thought that sites like Toypedia and University of MUSCLE worked really well with the blog format (which is why my other site, The Dork Dimension, is a blog). Administering a blog is easy and unlike the nathansmusclepage.com hosting plan, totally free. Admittedly, I was disappointed that some of my custom-coding would be lost, like the MUSCLE Archive Search. But the functionality of the blog was close enough for those custom-coded portions to be functional. I kept the 2008 design because it was still pretty relevant.
Above is a logo I used to redirect users from nathansmusclepage.com to the new blog.
2001(?) Logo: This logo marks my first departure from the basic card design. The Tortle picture actually came from the Kinnikuman manga.
MPS Logo 1 (2001): I made this logo for Darrin's MUSCLE Preservation Society web site.
MPS Logo 2 (2002): This MPS logo was for a logo contest Darrin was running at the time. I wanted to go for a religious MUSCLE experience, and to imply with the logo that Darrin's site was the "genesis" of MUSCLE sites.
AKIA Banner Logo: I created this logo for a skin that I developed for AKIA (which is now LittleRubberGuys.com).
Fruit Pie Signature: This image was used as my signature at LittleRubberGuys.com.
Little Rubber Guys Logo (Dec 07): Johnny of Kinnikuman.com fame commissioned me to do a LRG logo, and this is the result. I wanted to make a representation of toys interacting with a LRG logo, so I wanted the figures to seem as much like toys as possible. I intentionally didn't go crazy with textures to give them a plasticy look, and kept their proportions close to those of the toys.