Serpent Joystick by Magnus Skogsfjord

Magnus Skogsfjord’s “Serpent Joystick” was designed to be used in software demonstrations, as he is currently holding a position as a Product Manager for NX/KeyShot at Zenith Systems in Norway. This design has gone through multiple iterations over years time – where both visualization and 3D printing has played a key role in influencing the shape, design and materials. The concept was meant to be used in a crane cabin, but can equally be used as an alternate mouse for those struggling with repetitive strain injury (RSI).

I was inspired by the newest trend in automotive design, where we now see a lot of sharp transitions and knuckle lines in exteriors. I’m usually no big car enthusiast, but I’m a big fan of this look, as opposed to the the rounder variants. It is my impression that these design features has increasingly been incorporated the last 5 years in a lot of car models. A good example is to see the evolution of VW Golf from version 3 till today, which has been gradually given these sharper lines. I’ve always been a fan of contrasts in color, and I feel the same idea applies to shapes and designs when it comes to sharp transitions/knuckle lines.

– Magnus Skogsfjord


Being an NX enthusiast, it’s probably not surprising that this is my main tool when designing. I’ve never been an avid drawer, so I actually use NX as a shape exploring tool. The latest two versions has come with an toolset called NX Realize Shape, which basically is subdivision modeling, and it allows you to manipulate the shape on the fly. In terms of conceptualization, it’s a fantastic, almost revolutionary toolset in my opinion (when it comes to engineering CAD software), which minimizes the need for hand drawn sketches. For visualization I use KeyShot, to get an idea of usable color combinations, materials and textures. So I start in NX to generate 2-3 shape alternatives, and then I visualize the shapes in NX to get a feel of how the shape flows.
– Magnus Skogsfjord


I then pick the favorite, add more details to it and take it into KeyShot for a more thorough visualization process (Colors, materials, lighting etc). At the same time, I send the general shape to printing, to get an idea of the ergonomic feeling, and do changes to the subdivision model based on my impressions of the ergonomics and visual feel. After a couple of iterations of this, I start a more in-depth visualization process with KeyShot, where I create my final renders. These images goes through minor tweaking with Photoshop, to see if I can make the images more vivid.

– Magnus Skogsfjord






This is my first project where I’ve utilized 3D printing to validate my design, and I think that was my biggest learning experience. Now, I’m not talking about the technical aspect of 3D printing, but rather the value you get from actually holding your design, and to get a feel on just how it sits in your hand. With the first iteration, I could quickly establish certain factors: One, that the design was much more comfortable to hold than I expected. Secondly, the shaft was a bit too thin. And thirdly, that the buttons were positioned too far to make it comfortable for the thumbs.

– Magnus Skogsfjord

About Magnus Skogsfjord

Magnus Skogsfjord have an M.Sc. in Science from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where he studied at the Department of Engineering Design and Materials. His main focus was within product development and CAD, where he quickly gained a special interest for visualization and product design. In 2015, he won the grand prize in the KeyShot 6 beta contest with his own design of a steampunk spider. He’s been a public speaker at Siemens conferences in Dallas (2012), Orlando(2013), Berlin(2014) and Las Vegas(2015) and, to talk about his experiences with NX, with the purpose to inspire. (A little side note related to these appearances: I have a personal belief that we will gradually see more and more of what I call “Untraditional Aesthetics”, which means that any company could greatly benefit of differentiating their products by having more focus on intuitive product design and aesthetic appeal. Just think about how car engines look today compared to 15 years ago. It’s been given a lot of love on design, and most of us rarely even ever open the hood. In Norway, we even have examples of offshore equipment being given a better look, and not many of us will ever touch or see that equipment.) He currently holds the position as Product Manager NX at Zenith Systems.