I love animated illustration like this video by Jarrett Heather. Illustration is hard enough, but animating it requires stunning amounts of skill and time.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought I recalled an Alien Skin product that looked like machine interfaces. I’m probably not using the right terminology to describe what I saw. Some interfaces were 3D in appearance and often had what appeared to be control knobs or panels, and animated. I thought they were referred to a some type of skin. OK, I know I’ve not done a good job of describing it. Do you have any idea wht I’m talking about?
You might be thinking of Kai’s Power Tools and other products from Metacreations/Metatools/HSC. Their interfaces were beautiful and looked very 3-D and either high tech or alien. Sadly, that company disintegrated in the .com days. For a while in the 1990s we tried to do fancy interfaces but quickly decided that our customers would be better served by system standard interfaces. We have gotten a lot of feedback that our simple interfaces are easy to learn, so that has remained our approach.
With that said, you can make some pretty cool interfaces using the effects in Eye Candy. Bevel, Chrome, and Glass are great for buttons. Brushed Metal, Diamond Plate, and Rust are good for metal surfaces. The following may give you some ideas. http://www.alienskin.com/eyecandy/examples/glass.aspx http://www.alienskin.com/eyecandy/examples/chrome.aspx http://www.alienskin.com/eyecandy/examples/bevel.aspx http://www.alienskin.com/eyecandy/tutorial-chrome.aspx http://support.alienskin.com/entries/317380-a-glass-jewel-effect-using-eye-candy http://support.alienskin.com/entries/321262-an-easy-glass-ball