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Ben Gillbanks

Father, web designer, video gamer, and fully grown man. By day I look after my small family. By night I develop WordPress things - and occassionally make & play video games.

My Projects

Binary Moon

My personal blog. Where I write, infrequently, about the things I do online. I generally write about WordPress, web dev, tech, and games.

Brush Ninja

A free, browser based, animation creator.

Ninja Puzzles

A collection of free online puzzles. Ever since I became a Dad I have been making puzzles and mazes for my son, and so I thought I would try to tidy them up so I can release them for everyone to enjoy.

Elementalcss

Elemental CSS is a CSS framework built for my own projects inspired by TailwindCSS. I now use it for almost all of my websites. It’s simple, and open source.

WPBriefs

A weekdaily WordPress podcast created and performed by Artificial Intelligence. You can read about the build on my blog.

Photo Edit Tools

A suite of tools for editing photos online. The tools are built with JavaScript and run in the browser. They are designed to be fast and easy to use. The tools are free to use and are supported by ads.

Pro Theme Design

Professional WordPress Themes, created with care and attention.

Veggie Advisor

Vegetarian news and reviews blog.

Binary Joy

A video game news and reviews site.

Binary Sun

A website for playing games in your browser.

Maze Maze Maze

A daily maze generator, built for my son who loves mazes.

Timeline

An abbreviated history of my professional life

Toy Story

March 1996

This might not sound like an important thing - but watching the trailer for Toy Story (not the movie, the trailer), was a turning point in my life. I had always enjoyed doing creative things but it was then I decided I wanted to work in 3d art and animation for a living. Things turned out a little different but it was this event that set me on the path to studying digital arts at university.

Digital Arts with Multi Media Computing

September 1998 → June 2001

In 1998 I went to university to study Digital Art with multimedia computing. I graduated in 2001 with a first class honors degree.

The course was very broad covering everything from Photoshop and web design through sound editing, video game development, computer programming, and special effects.

Each year we were able to tailor the course a little more towards what we wanted to do as a career. In my final year I was focused on 3d art and video games - since that’s where my passions lay.

My end of course project was an interactive 3d walkthrough of the British Museum showing some of the exhibits, and it was displayed at the British Museum.

Media Projects International

June 2000 → August 2000

Whilst at university I was asked if I wanted to apply for a job at a digital agency working on the worlds first ‘e-mall’. The concept was to make an interactive shopping center with exhibits that would encourage people to spend more money, and to return frequently.

Whilst on this project I did 3d art for 2 main projects. One was a dancing robot app - that let people put their faces on a robot and then boogey to the music. The other was a fish based virtual pet that let you feed your electronic fish each time you visited the shopping center.

Rocket Boards

August 2001 → January 2004

Rocket Boards was my first experience of making a complete shareware video game. It wasn’t my first game, but it was the first time I had tried to make money from games.

Rocket Boards is a 3d racing game - inspired by games like Mario Kart. I think I bit off more than I could chew. I had never made anything as complex as this before and it took a lot longer to make than I imagined. But I did finish it in the end and I sold it to a publisher - so people could actually buy it in the shops! The publisher paid me £4000, and I earned a few hundred extra selling it through my website.

The biggest thing I got from it, however, was the job at Miniclip. It was never said outright but I am confident that if I didn’t have Rocket Boards in my portfolio I wouldn’t have gotten the Miniclip job, and so I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Miniclip Ltd.

August 2004 → August 2015

I joined Miniclip in 2004 as a multimedia artist; to help them to make games look nice. At the time Miniclip was tiny, I was employee number 3, so we all chipped in and did a bit of everything. So I did everything from creating animations, game icons, and promotional content, through to web design, and even customer support.

Eventually they learnt that I was interested in web design so I spent more and more of my time doing that, until I eventually became the Director of Web Development; managing a team of over 20 web designers and PHP programmers.

In 2013 (ish) I decided I didn’t enjoy being a manager so I took a step backwards and moved into a senior development role - looking at the future of the Miniclip website, and testing new designs and innovations that could help to move it forward. My last big project at Miniclip was a redesign project which is still (largely) in use today.

Pro Theme Design

November 2007 → Present

Pro Theme Design is a premium WordPress themes shop. In 2007 I joined forces with Darren Hoyt to create one of the first premium WordPress magazine themes. In early 2008 we released Mimbo Pro to the world.

Mimbo Pro included a number of innovations - one of which was the use of featured images that automatically resized using a php script called TimThumb. That script had a whole story of it’s own but it lead to the addition of featured images in WordPress.

In April 2012 I had the first of our themes published on wordpress.com. I now have more than 20 themes available on wordpress.com making Pro Theme Design the most prolific theme author on the site.

MasterWP

February 2017 → February 2022

MasterWP is a weekly email for WordPress Masters. It was a collaboration between myself and Alex Denning and ran for 5 years before being aquired in February 2022.

Brush Ninja

March 2018 → Present

When I worked at Miniclip we had a social animation community called Sketch Star. This included a Flash app, and a gallery of animations, with competitions, awards, user accounts, and all sorts. It was a fantastic app with a passionate community but it was expensive to run and didn’t earn enough to justify the expense. Shortly after we shut it down I asked if I could release my own version written in JavaScript.

It took me about 5 years of noodling and procrastinating to actually finish something and release it, and that something was Brush Ninja. The app was a lot simpler than Sketch Star and there was no social aspect, but this has allowed me to build the entire project on my own.

Generative Art Store

October 2021 → Present

I love creating things, and generative art is a great way for me to combine the joy of pixel art and the surprise (and automation) created by computers. Generative art is the act of using code to create pictures. I’ve written a bit about my process creating generative art with PHP on my personal site.

Social Life

Where to find me online

Mastodon

I use this the most now. It’s a great place to chat with people, and I’m trying to post more regularly.

Github

Code and stuff. Including the code for this site.

Twitter

Mostly used for checking in on people. I post on Mastodon more now.

LinkedIn

I have an account but don’t use it much. It’s best to contact me on Mastodon 😃 (or Twitter if you must).