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It’s Business Time

The goal of this is to create a business card for a fictional person. After brainstorming some rather unrealistic out of the box job titles, for some reason, I settled on the very real and honest profession of a repairman. For this card, I wanted to go out of the box, but still stay simple and true to the job. Here is the result…

First, I decided I wanted to give this card a rounded edge to it (which a printer would actually trim, but you get the point), as they are not only popular, but I felt would play nicely into the profession. I then took a photo of my gram’s old refrigerator in her basement (she was wondering what I was doing) and used it as the door-handle on the left side of the card, as to give the card the look of a vintage freezer door. Next, I chose the font  (Kelvinized) for the main title of the fictional repairman and job title (to which I also added a bevel). I absolutely feel the font captures the look of a refrigerator label (kind of reminded me of Kitchen-Aid or something I’d see at a Maytag store).

For the contact information, I chose Century Gothic Italic font, as I wanted this to be as clear and readable as possible. Initially that text was black, but I decided to make it a dark blue, as to give a little more life into the card. For the card’s background, I used an inner shadow to give it a sense of reflection and look more like a freezer door. To help give it a cluttered, but still clean look, I added in a post-it note on the card with the “Call Today For a Free Quote” text in a handwritten look (festus! font) in red. I added a drop shadow to give the post-it an overlapping look (not unlike what you might see stuck on a refrigerator). Although, the intial black and white of the card seemed a bit bare in color, I added blue and red text, along with the darker yellow color of the post-it to capture a sense of primary colors.

Overall, I wanted to take a tried and true profession and give it a twist. I have never seen a business card that looks like a freezer door (and I’ve seen some strange cards), so I ran with it and had some fun. The tone is very light and borderline cheesy (no, Bob Gorsky is not a real person, he just sounds like the name of a repairman), although the title does kind of sound like a bad Adam Sandler comedy that Kevin James would star in. On second thought, what have I created?

Somebody Get Me An Aspirin

Very simple for this one. Words convey emotions. I decided to not use an action word, but rather a word we can all relate to at sometime of another…Migraine.

As dictionary.com defines migraine:

A severe recurring headache, usually affecting only one side of the head, characterized by sharp pain and often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and visual disturbances.

As allergy season is upon us, I decided that a really annoying font would fit perfectly to capture the feeling of a headache. The font, Nervous is very fitting, as I’ve had it for years and never use it…it hurts my eyes if I stare too long. After hearing a co-worker talk about her “splitting headache” today, I decide to “split” up the word in half to give a sense of uneasiness. Now, if you’ll excuse me this font is hurting my eyes.

Part of a Balanced Breakfast Design

For this blog, I am reviewing two potential cereal box ideas created in Photoshop.

OatieOats

The first post on Battered Not Broken, entitled Got Milk?, featured OatieOats, a breakfast cereal focused on young athletes. First, I think the overall concept is very good, as it reminds me almost of a junior version of Wheaties. Why should all the focus always have to go to professional athletes? Then the author of the blog goes on to say, “why am I still confounded by Photoshop?” First things first, VERY few people ever master Photoshop (I came to grips with this a long time ago), it is not easy to learn. Secondly, there are some very good graphics here. I think the reddish-yellow “fireworks” (for lack of a better term) came out great. Good job with the gradient, stroke and drop shadow tools here. I couldn’t help but think that these tools would be helpful in other aspects of the design. Small details, like perhaps adding a stroke or another blending option around the “free prize” line would help that be a little more visible. By and large, a good job around the details of the football player, but to get rid of some of the detail (like around the neck), you can zoom in on the graphic, lower to the tolerance of the magic wand and erase some of the smaller details. If you are having trouble with the paintbucket, a common mistake I run into is making sure I have the correct layer selected when using the tool (simple, but it happens). Sometimes that tool is finicky, so make sure you have the area selected that you want painted. As far as the 3D look, I would create three separate layers and use the transform (perspective and/or skew) tools to manipulate the angle, but it takes some patience. Overall, good design concepts here, good usage of the text warp, blending options and nice job on the design.

Tropical Delicious

The next blog I reviewed was on As Individual as you want to be… with the post, Cereal Anyone? The author here created a box for the cereal, Tropical Delicious. There are a few things I really like here. First, I always like when the projects are created on the basis of real life events, such as the author’s vacations to the Caribbean. Great explanation of the process that went into creating the perspective of the box as well, it really gives me a greater appreciation for the effort that went into transforming the layers to achieve the 3D look. I think the colors were a really good choice, especially if they are the ones that resonates the most with the experiences the author had. I like the color and style in the Tropical Delicious font, but my concern is that as the font gets smaller, it gets a little harder to read. I thought the shape of the box and perspective were spot-on, but the author could have used the same techniques she used in the shape of the box in the fonts as well. If you right click the font and rasterize the type, you can manipulate the text just as you can the shape of the box. Overall, I like the rest of the copy (I thought the Net Weight on the bottom really made it look more official) and good usage of the Warp Text tool on the top of the side panel. All in all, I like this piece because it goes for a level of realism and the author seemed to have fun with design. I after seeing this I am now both jealous of a vacation (I have not been out to Puerto Rico since I was eight) and hungry, so really nice job here!

Seeking The Truth About Design Principles

In Tom Hanson’s post,  Finding a balance with the principles of Web design, the main point of the blog is to talk about web design principles and Gestalt theory, but I feel some of the points made can fit directly in the principles of design and color in terms of the websites covered in the post. When talking of espn.com, he says, “ESPN deserves praise for the “pop” out at you factor in balance…” While he goes on to make another point, that “pop” factor I feel adds to the visual texture. With the graphics in the background and the photos/videos in the foreground this gives the sense of visual texture. I think the background graphics (which change depending on what page you are on) also provide a good sense of rhythm, as they are blurred on the sides, giving me a sense of motion.

espn.com

The one main consistency that all of the sites have that Tom talks about is navigation. Another consistency in the sites is the top stories on the center of the screen; this is a good example of dominance in terms of the design. In terms of color, all three sites rely on only 2-3 colors (at least on the front page). I think this is a good decision because the photos (especially in sports along with the ads) take up a good deal of imagery. While I think CBS and SI go for simplicity in their sites (which is what most sports fans want), ESPN offers a little more. Depending on which page you go to, the color scheme will change to reflect that sport. So if you go to the NFL page you’ll get a green background (reminiscent of the grass/turf) or a brownish/gold color (perhaps to symbolize the hardwood court).

ESPN's NFL Page

ESPN's NBA Page

While that may seem minor, it gives each page its own unique look, while staying in line with the rest of the scheme of the site (which gives me a sense of unity).

SI.com

cbssportsline.com

Overall, I would say that a lot of the points Tom Hanson made were very applicable to not only web design, but the overall principles of design. Simple layout, uncomplicated color schemes, headline stories and easy navigation… the sports fans have spoken.

Retouch & Remix

For this post, I wanted take a photo that was very hard to see and retouch it. Here was the original….

Original Photo

As you can see, you cannot really see much, especially the background given that the photo was taken around dusk and it is too dark to see. Now to adjust…

Photo Retouched

The first thing I did was go into Image>Adjustments and tweak the brightness and contrast. Ironically, I did not really find the Auto Color/Contrast to be all that helpful and I manually adjusted the settings, helping show more of the detail in the driveway and street. A tool I found extremely useful was Curves. It adjusted the overall brightness and brought out even more of the detail of the background and leaves. I also used the red eye reduction tool for the eyes (sounds redundant explaining that).  The last tool I used was the Sharpen Filter. The picture was naturally a bit grainy (given the time of day and condition of the camera), so I used the Sharpen Filter and Smart Sharpen tool to make the photo a bit more crisp. Overall, while you can still tell that it’s early sundown in this photo, some of the details are captured in a better light. Thanks to my buddy Phil for attempting to manually recycle my very old desktop.

The next photo I wanted play around with was this Halloween picture taken a few years ago of yours truly dressed up as Slash from Guns N’ Roses (complete with Guitar Hero guitar) and the character next to me was was making a social commentary about “meatheads” you might see at a nightclub (complete with a dietary supplement).

Original Photo

Now to tweak…

The Remix

For this photo, I basically went crazy with the Liquify tool in Filters. I chose this photo mainly because I liked the background and wanted to give the new background a psychedelic feel to it. I gave the character with the dietary supplement the old Barry Bonds treatment (or a swollen forehead) and raised the height of my top hat. I also gave the guitar base an expanded, blurred feeling to it and gave the neck an almost rubbery look to it.

Overall, two ridiculous photos, but ah, the power of Photoshop.

London Calling

Human Perception Assignment 2 by ASinHD

In ASinHD’s blog, Human Perception Assignment 2, the author says, “I really didn’t have enough pictures for this assignment.” Well, I would say that’s not entirely the case as the photos used are amazing and the trip seemed like a great time. The stairs and the Stonehenge background really gave a great sense of depth. While the family photo was a little pixilated (you work with what you have), I thought a really great job was done with the magic wand tool (or however the image was cut-out) around the image, keeping details intact. In the future, I would play with the color adjustments for the images so the graphics have similar brightness levels (like the armor suit on the left). I was also include a little more detail as to the process in which the collage was created, so it gives the reader a greater appreciation for the effort put into the work. I am not really sure of the author’s skill level in Photoshop, but the details around the images were very well executed, couple that with visually stimulating landmarks and a great sense of perspective and you have a very nice collage here. Good job!

The Breakfast of Intellects

I once asked a very pessimistic friend if he was on Facebook. That friend replied, “Social media can bite me.” Well, now he can take a bite out of social media along with the rest of us, with the brand new cereal, Bloggies. A lot of us cereal lovers enjoy the logos and icons used on the boxes (or marshmallows in the case of Lucky Charms), but instead it’s the world’s first social media cereal (after all, the basis for this blog is interactive communications). Tired of seeing the world’s greatest athletes grace cereal covers that only a select few of physically gifted individuals can aspire to be? What about the unsung heroes of the world? This is the cereal for them…its Bloggies, the only cereal that can actually make you smarter.*

*Bloggies is not responsible for making you more or less intelligent and will most likely just rot your teeth (as said on the side of the box).

Ridiculous sales pitch aside, the idea for the cereal is to have a honey glazed cereal mixed in with marshmallows that represent some of the most popular social media web icons today. Delicious.com making you feel hungry? Grab a box of Bloggies while you surf the web. For the purposes of the cereal, I’ve decided to be completely selfish and throw myself on the first cover…not to say there are not dozens of potential covers featuring icons of the web, social media and technology.

For this idea, I decided to use the Vanishing Point to give the 3-D perspective for the box. Basically this entailed creating three separate layers for each panel of the box. To help guide me, I created an outline for the box using the pen tool, then was able to transform the perspective of the panels within the Vanishing Point window. For each one of the panels, I added in a texture (from blending mode) and added in a light shadow (along with an angle for the shadow) to give it a sense of perspective. The tool definitely takes some playing around with to get used to, but helped make the box look a bit more authentic. For the marshmallows, I used free icons that I was able to download and layered them into the cereal. I get an RSS feed from the site, youthedesigner.com and they provide different types of social media icons…everything from icons that look like soda caps to ice cream bars to even origami…everything that is, except marshmallows.  To get that look, I dragged in the standard square icon layers to the cereal bowl and in each layer I went into blend mode, added an inner bevel and then added a contour to give the icon almost a 3-D angle, to represent a small marshmallow.  To have the icons (now “marshmallows”) lay in the cereal; I transformed each layer with either a perspective, skew, rotate and/or scale tool, depending on where the layer was in the bowl. To have the marshmallows actually look like they were part of the cereal, I used the clone stamp tool to copy a part of the cereal itself and created another layer that I used to clone some of the cereal over and around the marshmallows to make it look more realistic (or as realistic as social media icons in a bowl of cereal can look).

For the logo itself, I wanted to have that familiar Wheaties look, but with a twist. I created the Bloggies font in a very similar fashion to the Wheaties version (Haettenschweiler font). I then took the text, converted it to a smart object and then skewed the font to give it the angle that the Wheaties logo has. I then added a stroke and inner shadow to capture the other colors in the logo. To give it that “opposite” look, I reversed the colors (blue as the background, orange as the stroke in the letters). The subhead, The Breakfast of Intellects was used with Karmatic Arcade to convey a kind of an old-school, 8-bit technology effect.

Overall, it was a fun project to create, although a lot of detail went into this. While the cut-out of my picture was relatively easy and the logo font took a little research, the detail in the cereal was very time consuming. I have always been one to notice logos (especially in cereal), so I figured why not combine the social media icons I see everyday into a breakfast cereal? I went light with the tone (as usual) and for some silly reason, the downright campy title of Bloggies for a cereal made me chuckle, so I kept it (still better than Webbies, Brainies or even worse, Foodpress). All in all, I am relatively pleased with the end result. After all, doesn’t everyone deserve their own cereal cover?

That’s right, sucka.

Two Years, One Collage

In Hall’s Mark II’s blog, The Past Two Years, Collage Style, I could not help but be visually stimulated throughout. I may be a little biased (I like The Simpsons, Billy Joel, the New York Yankees, purple Chuck Taylor sneakers, and who doesn’t have a soft spot for the Muppets?), but this collage tells quite a story regardless. The past two years have certainly been a busy, exciting, whirlwind time for the creator and it reflects here. While in some collages, the overlapping over images can be distracting, I feel it works well here as it fits within the story. I really like how there was a lot of passion and personal experience put into the design, which helps tell the (in this case, autobiographical) story very well.

Hall’s Mark II’s The Past Two Years, Collage Style

I also appreciated the level of detail that went into creating the collage (as the explanation describes). I can also appreciate how the creator experimented with various blending options to find what worked best for her. In the future, when using the Magic Wand tool, try lowering the tolerance a bit. If you zoom in while doing this, you can really get out some details with the eraser you may not want (such as the background of the Christmas tree or the background for the Muppets) in future projects. I do particularly like how the creator blended in some of the graphics (like Mickey and Minnie) with the other images. Really great shot of the Yankees parade from an excellent perspective also. Overall, I thought a very good job was done experimenting was the various blending options and tools as well as the creative, diverse selection of pictures used in the collage. I don’t think I could sum up two years of my own life (and have it be as colorful), but Hall’s Mark II managed to pull it off…nice job!

Old Dogs, Same Design Tricks

C.M. Collidge, A Friend in Need

In reviewing the classic early 20th century painting, A Friend in Need by C.C. Coolidge, it is very easy to see the painting follows many of the principles of design. The first principle that I notice is dominance, as the right light fixture overhead is a focal point, due to its contrast against the midnight blue wallpaper in the background. Speaking of that wallpaper, it displays a great example of visual texture as it has a very worn feel to it (almost smokey). The poker table also has a lot of contrast to it as the primary colors of blue and red poker chips contrast to the green felt of the table. The round table and close proximity of the dogs to one another give a good sense of unity, as the bigger dogs are in the back and sides of the table, while the smaller dogs are up front (presumably not to block the actions going on at the table). Rhythm is displayed by the two dogs in the foreground exchanging a playing card and also some of the drinks being half-full give the effect of time being elapsed. It has been said that the painting was meant to capture the working class element of the early 20th century and I can see in the kind of tired, baggy eyes some of the dogs have as well as the aforementioned worn in texture of the wallpaper (speaking of working class, my earliest experience seeing this painting was on the sitcom, Roseanne). Now let’s take a look at something a little different…

Moment Before Me by Chidi Okoye

Very different in design, but I feel this painting, Moment Before Me by Chidi Okoye also follows many of the principles of design. Obviously there is the texture, which appears to be flowing in several different directions. Aside from the lines, shapes and brushes, there is also a really great sense of contrast in color here. Many of the colors, such as the pink into violet into blue flow as they would in the color wheel. In other cases, I think the colors compliment each well which also effect the overall mood of the painting. It is a little bit harder for me to choose a focal point of the painting, but I would go with the maroon and green shapes on the left. The brush strokes also create a sense of rhythm. Overall I wanted to compare to very different paintings (also of different eras) and to see of the principles of design were still in place, which is important to keep in mind especially with my designs moving forward.

References:

  • Goin, L. (2008) 8. Colour Theory.
  • Color, Contrast and Dimension Design.
  • Callahan, E., short lecture on design elements

Exile on Crown St.

The task at hand here is for me to present a collage of photos. I have done some collages before, but it is a little tricky considering for this one I am using photos that I have taken myself (I do not take many). Most recently, I have taken several for the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade a couple weeks back. When I was thinking how I could present these photos at once, I drew inspiration from the classic Rolling Stones’ album Exile on Main St., which features a series of photographs/postcards taken by Norman Seeff as the cover.

Rolling Stones - Exile On Main St. - 1972

For my featured collage, I used a series of photos (set to grayscale) and instead placed them behind a cork board (which, yes, I photographed). What I liked about Exile on Main St. was that the photos on the album were light in tone and featured some pretty interesting characters (some of which remind me of the Vaudeville era). For the parade, I did not get many pictures of the “actual” parade, but instead mostly my friends (who are characters in their own right) “mugging” for the camera.

Blogetery in Motion - Exile on Crown St.

All of the original photos were taken in color, but converted in grayscale to have that Exile on Main St. feel to it. What was fun about creating this was there was several way to get the effects for the photos. For some I used filters (noise, distort, sketch) and played around with creating my own custom effects. Being the master at filters that I am not, I also chose to go into Image and Adjustments and play around with the color options there, which also created some pretty interesting effects. Unlike the Stones’ cover, I left a small amount of space for some of the photos so it was recognizable for the cork board to be seen. I chose Handwritten Dakota font and if you cannot easily make out the title, I created it that way on purpose (in homage to the original) and subbed out the red font for green in honor of the festivities.

For the photos themselves, I created a border with the rectangular marquee then inverted and created a white border to give the feel of a classic Polaroid photograph. I also added in the drop shadow (but kept  it light as to not go overboard with that effect), so there is a sense of layering with the collage of photos (overall there were 20 layers used for the photos). I titled the piece Exile on Crown St. simply because during the parade we all could find each other on that street (usually getting a slice of pizza at Bar).

While the photos themselves can tell the stories of good times and overall silliness by people reluctantly entering adulthood, I wanted this collage to be a part of another one…the day after the parade.

The Day After

Again, another photo light in tone, which features more perspective (including the perspective on someone walking into my room after my long day). Basically the photo is yours truly the day after the parade (which I presumably fell asleep fully clothed and never made it under the covers, but at least I had plenty of water). I made the original collage part of this photo and used the perspective transform tool to fit the angle of the wall. The computer monitor is tilted so you can see the screen and if you ICM 502-ers look closely you will notice the course blog placed in the screen (which I used the transform warp tool to fit a little better). This was another piece where I wanted to learn something I have not previously used, which in this case is the Clone and Healing Brush tools. Where the photo collage is, there was initially a window in the room, which I used the clone and healing brush tools to remove…to some success, but frustration. These tools are similar and do take some patience (it is particularly frustrating when Deke McClelland says, “New and improved for CS4″ and I am still using CS3 as I continue to wait for CS4 in the mail). Completely against Deke’s wishes, I used the Spot Healing tool, which works quicker…but created some undesirable effects along with it. Overall, it is extremely helpful to know these tools and I can’t believe I have gone all this time avoiding them.

Overall, while my friends may not think all of their photos are in the most flattering light, I wanted the collage to tell the story of the St. Patrick’s parade seen through our eyes, some partying and the next day…some procrastination (as far as school work). There is a happy ending though…I got through the first module, so let’s bring on the rest!