Taglines & Apples

Français :

A company’s tagline is basically their slogan, a statement that describes the company or creates interest in the company.   A good tagline can influence the decision of a consumer to purchase one product instead of another.   A good tagline should be short and it should differentiate the company from the competitors.   A good tagline should also be unique and should capture the company’s brand and positioning.   A good tagline should be memorable and easily read.

Taglines usually fall under five different sections; imperative, descriptive, superlative, provocative and specific.   Imperative taglines usually begin with an action verb that demands an act from the consumer.   Descriptive taglines simply describe the company, the brand, the promise or the product itself.   Superlative taglines usually make it seem like the company is the best at what it does.   Provocative taglines usually are composed by a question that provokes a thought in the consumer’s mind.   Finally, specific taglines simply states what the business does, or what category of business does the company fall under.

Take as an example Apple’s tagline, which is “Think different”.   This tagline is an imperative tagline that commands the consumer to do something, which is to think differently than other people.   Apple’s target market could be described as middle or upper income individuals who like to use their technological devices for fun, not just work, and mostly professionals in the creative media and design fields.

Design Elements & Design Principles

While studying design there are several concepts stuck in your brain for the duration of your courses.   However, you might forget about those basic concepts once you leave school.   A good idea is to have a little sticky note, or even desktop background reminding you of these basic design concepts on a daily basis.   After all, you have to keep them in mind and put them in practice every time you create a design.   It is also a good idea to look at other designs and attempt to describe them using a design vocabulary and the basic concepts of design elements and design principles.

Design Elements
Line.   A line is the path of a moving point from A to B.
Shape.   A shape is the delineated area created by lines, color, texture, or tone.
Color.   Color is a description of light energy as reflected from a surface.
Texture.   Texture is the tactile aspect of a surface, even when its only a visual simulation of the actual texture.
Value.   The relationship of lighter and darker areas of a composition.
Space.   The figure/ground relationship or positive and negative spaces are the interactions of shapes and backgrounds.

Design Principles
Balance.   A sense of equilibrium or stability achieved by evenly distributing weight.
Unity.   Visual elements in a design look like they belong together, as their interrelation forms a greater whole.
Emphasis.   Involves arranging visual elements in order of importance by making some elements more dominant.
Rhythm.   Repetition, variation and patterns that guide the viewers eye through the design composition.
Scale.   Size of visual elements as seen in relation to other visual elements.

Here is a little Wallpaper I created to remind us all of the design principles and design elements.  Feel free to download :)

Design Elements & Design Principles Wallpaper

Design Elements & Design Principles Wallpaper

My Favorite Infographics

Keeping with the theme of infographics, here I have compiled a list of SOME of my favorite infographics that I have come across with in the past few years.  I hope you enjoy them. (Click on them to open in a new window)

Class of 2011: What if social media were a high school?

Class of 2011: What if social media were a high school?

How Would You Like Your Graphic Design?

How Would You Like Your Graphic Design?

The Apple Tree

The Apple Tree

The Evolution of the Geek

The Evolution of the Geek

Sitting Is Killing You

Sitting Is Killing You

I also found this pretty cool free online tool to create a wallpaper infographic about yourself.  Try it out here:

http://www.ionz.com.br/index.html

*Make sure to change the language to English, though, because it is in Portuguese.

For more infographics visit these cool sites:

http://www.coolinfographics.com/

http://www.infographicking.com/

Infographics

Infographics, or Information Graphics, are a visual representation of knowledge.   It is a way to represent information graphically.   You have probably already seen many infographics, but you did not know that this is what they are called.   We see them all the time in Magazines and Newspapers, like the infographic depicting Osama Bin Laden’s Compound and how he was caught.   They are those illustrations, graphics, pictures, arrows and text that accompany an article and that help you understand the information contained within that article.

English: Hideout of Osama bin Laden, the locat...

I was always fascinated by these infographics, even before I knew that’s what they are called.   In fact, one of my favorite Graphic Designers is Edward Tufte, who creates amazing infographics.   Also, Nicholas Felton, whose annual reports I find to be incredible.   Perhaps because that I am fascinated with these types of designs, I love to see them in other media and not just newspapers and magazines.

I remember seeing infographics and enjoying them in illustrated dictionaries, and encyclopedias I researched for homework as a kid.   I always stopped to look at them, even if they weren’t related to the topic of my homework.   You know which ones I am talking about, those that showed you the parts of a car, the animals that live in the water, the solar system, the human skeleton, the process of water evaporation, and so on.

Nowadays, we see infographics in other places as well.   I have seen infographics being used in movies, such as the closing credits for “The Other Guys” movies.   That animated Infographic was about Ponzi Schemes, the bailout, and corruption in general.

I also love te infographics in one of my favorite movies, “Stranger Than Fiction”.

There are motion graphics infographics created sort of like a video, with only typography, illustrations, and sometimes a narrative.   People infographics like these to make a difference, to inform others about changes they can choose to make on their own to help.   For example, this infographic designed by Chris Harmon, about the oil spill in the Gulf back in 2010.

Some infographics even tell us how to do something.   Like how to make a good cup of coffee.

Expresso Infographic

Expresso Infographic

Something I found very cool is a Graphic Designer’s Resume Infographic!

Elliot Hasse Infographic Resume

Elliot Hasse Infographic Resume

There is even an Infographic about Infographics!!!

Infographic About Infographics

Infographic About Infographics

I hope you enjoyed all of these Infographics, and now you know what they are called when you see one. I will post a collection of my favorite Infographics soon.

Printmaking Experience

Printmaking: Black Cat

Printmaking: Black Cat

While attending Community College in Florida for a Graphic Design Technology Degree, I was lucky enough to be enrolled in a Drawing II class in which the professor decided to perform an experiment using us students as guinea pigs.   She wanted to teach us printmaking and perhaps if it went well, she could open a new Beginning Printmaking class in the future.   The school had the equipment necessary, those old printing presses I passed everyday in the classroom and had no idea what they were, or what were they for.   I am extremely happy to have been a part of this printmaking experiment, because as a Graphic Design student I rarely experienced hands-on projects, and was mostly assigned hands-on-mouse-and-keyboard type of things.

Jan Johnson (our teacher) came in one day and said “we were going to try something new”.   She gave us all a rectangular piece of Plexiglas some ink and said “we were going to try printmaking”.   I was scared.   I didn’t know what she was talking about.   Then she explained how we where going to try this new thing out, and I was excited.

Printmaking: The Chair

Printmaking: The Chair

Printmaking is a form of art that involves using ink to create the artwork on a matrix and then transferring it to paper or other materials such as fabric.   Printmaking makes it possible to produce an artwork several times, but that wasn’t the case with what we were doing in Mrs. Johnson’s class.   We were creating monotypes, a type of printmaking in which you create the artwork using ink and a matrix (in this case, the Plexiglas) and then transferring it to paper using a printing press.   By then, most of the ink is gone, therefore producing only one (mono) piece of artwork.   I thought that having one chance to make it right and not being able to have a re-do [like command + z] was scary, but once I had the hang of it I was very pleased with the results.   You could run the matrix on another piece of paper with the remaining ink, and have what Mrs. Johnson told me was a “ghost print”.   I had a couple of practice runs, my first one is to horrible to post in this blog, specially because it is supposed to be a self-portrait.   But eventually I got the hang of it and decided to create a series of prints with the subject being the instruments I know how to play.

So, the process was very simple.   Have an idea of what you want to print.   Draw a few sketches of your print.   Get the Plexiglas; evenly coat it with ink by using a roller.   Create the artwork by removing the ink (negative print), using your fingers, fingernails, hands, rags, cotton swabs, brushes, sponges, dried out pens or markers, or anything pointed that could also add texture. Place your Plexiglas ink-down on your paper, and pass through the printing press. This is the result.

Printmaking: Piano

Printmaking: Piano

Printmaking: Guitar

Printmaking: Guitar

Printmaking: Marimba

Printmaking: Marimba

Printmaking: Melodica

Printmaking: Melodica

Printmaking: Melodica (Ghost)

Printmaking: Melodica (Ghost)

What font is this?

What Font Is This?

What Font Is This?

Don’t know? No problem! Continuing with the “There’s an App for that” theme, here’s another great app for graphic designers.   It is appropriately called “What The Font?” and it is a great free and easy way to find the name of a particular font.   The guys from MyFonts.com are geniuses! I wish this app were around when I was just starting as a Graphic Designer, but I’m glad it’s here now.

I initially had found it by browsing for design apps for my iPhone, but as it turns out they have a website.   So if you don’t have an iPhone or another Smartphone, you can still use this awesome app online at What The Font.

What The Font

What The Font

What you do is grab an image (online) or take a photo of the font you want to know the name of, upload it, determine the characters, and BAM! They tell you what font it is.

Ok, ok… sometimes it doesn’t work quite as easy, but then you just leave a request for the font and someone eventually helps you find the name for it (you need to sign in for this, but hey! it’s FREE!).

The great thing about this is that the more people upload images and the more fonts are recognized, the easier it will be for others to recognize fonts through the automatic process.   It is a great tool and community to use and be a part of if you are a graphic designer, or if you simply want to know the name of a particular font.

Here is a little video on how to find the name of a font. You can download the first image on this post and try it out yourself! (No Audio)

 

How to Find the Name of a FONT, Using What The Font from My Font

Kuler Colors

Nowadays we can do just about anything thanks to technology.   The new answer to all of life’s intriguing questions is: “There’s an App for that”.   For all of us in the creative fields, this is good news and bad news.   This means that we will be forever learning throughout our careers.   A new Adobe Creative Suite, a new Smartphone that needs user interfaces designed, a new app, you name it.   However, this is great for us, because these updates, upgrades and apps can also make our job easier.

One of these cool tools we can benefit from is the Adobe Kuler color tool.   It is a FREE, yes, FREE online application that lets you create, share and explore different color themes.   This is great for us designers that sometimes have “color block”, and we can’t decide on a color scheme for a project.

Adobe Kuler

Adobe Kuler

The website is very simple to use.   You first go to http://kuler.adobe.com/, and simply begin exploring color options.   You can search a color theme by keyword, you can look at the newest, most popular, highest rated, or randomly.   You can create an account and upload your color themes.   You can make changes to a theme, select one color from the theme, select a rule like analogous, monochromatic, triad, complementary, compound, shades or even custom to find other colors for the one you have selected.   You can look at the RGB, CMYK, LAB or even HEX values for a particular color.   You can even create your own new theme using your own photos as a reference.

Adobe Kuler

Adobe Kuler

You can benefit from this great tool if you are a graphic designer, illustrator, photographer, fashion designer, interior designer, makeup artist, stylist, scrapbooker, cake decorator, painter, or any other person who at some point in their life has to pick a color combination for whatever reason.

Adobe Kuler

Adobe Kuler

Market-teen

As good artists, graphic designers tend to focus on the aesthetic aspects of their design.  They study concepts like alignment, color, consistency, constancy, figure-ground relationships, legibility, and other important components of the Gestalt principles of perception.  However, graphic designers need to remember the usual main purpose of their artwork and designs.  This general purpose of graphic designer’s art is usually to advertise.  Advertising is defined as the act of persuading an audience to do something; something like purchasing a product or service, changing their beliefs or even perceiving someone or some company in a certain way.  Therefore, advertising is not just fun cool designs, but most importantly the ability to persuade an audience.  However, how far can advertising go?  Where does the line between caring about customers and caring about sales is drawn?  Is one more important than the other?  Is advertising purely focused on sales potentially harmful to customers?  This is what Frontline’s episode on “The Merchants of Cool” seems to explore.

Reaching Teens and Reaching Others

A company’s main purpose is clearly to have enough sales to support it.  The same seems true for small companies, as well as the top companies, like the media giants such as Viacom, Disney, Vivendi, News Corporation, Universal and AOL Time Warner.  Perhaps this is why these big companies target the most profitable market, which seems to be the teen market.  The fact that teenagers have excess money to spend, and they influence their parents’ spending decisions, make teenagers a very profitable market.  These and other companies have even been using different tactics and venues to reach teens that they don’t use to reach other target audiences.  These big companies go to great extent to reach their audiences.  They actively study teenagers, they question them through focus groups and they even go as far as spending one-on-one time with ordinary teenagers in their homes to gather information about them.  The value of the teenagers’ opinions and preferences is so high, that they even let those same teenagers control what they are fed through different media outlets.  No other target audience receives such undivided attention.

An early MTV station ID

Image via Wikipedia

MTV and Their Revolutionary Advertising Ideas

The name of the television network MTV, stand for Music Television, and it was first launched in 1981 for the main purpose of promoting music and music videos.  In reality, the network should have been called ATV, for Advertising Television.  Advertising was the main purpose of MTV.  Sure, they advertise music artists and music videos, but they secretly advertise a variety of other products 24/7.  They advertise sponsoring products like soft drinks, clothing, and movies mostly created by the MTV parent company, Viacom.  As a result, the company is using this network to advertise the company itself and all the products and services the company sells.  It is pure advertising genius.

Advertising and Audiences

Getting this close to audiences can be very profitable for these big companies, however it can be very harmful to the teenagers in America.  While the advertising companies get closer and closer to their target audiences, they gain valuable insight into their worlds.  They learn how to relate and how to attract and persuade the audience to do pretty much anything they want them to do.  This situation is obviously very lucrative for these businesses, but what about the audience?  The audience, such as teenagers, are left with no privacy, no sense of their own.  Teenagers become so persuadable that they do not even notice that they are being influenced and persuaded, and they do not notice how this is happening.  This can pose a serious problem when teenage girls are persuaded to act more mature than they are, to dress sexually and provocatively, and ultimately become targets of sexual harassment, abuse and molestation.  Teenage boys are influenced to act immaturely and engage in activities that are harmful to their physical well being by shows such as “Jackass”.

Conclusion

Personally, I think that advertisement, such as the one used by these big companies mentioned above, are sadly very effective.  I believe that if these same companies would use their influence on teenagers in a good way, we could educate teenagers about what is right and what is wrong, instead of poisoning their brains with these wrong ideas of what being “cool” means.  Advertisements such as those by “Above the Influence” still use trendy elements in their ads, but they are presenting an idea that is constructive to the society in trying to keep teenagers out of drugs (Abovetheinfluence.com).  In this case, all the research about teenagers and what they find “cool” or “trendy” can help influence teenagers to stay out of drugs.

The video of the Frontline episode regarding “The Merchants of Cool”, definitely expand on my belief of what is wrong with society today.  How can we expect the future leaders of the world to be good ones, if all we are teaching and feeding them is ideas that smoking is “cool”, having lots of sex is “cool”, and doing drugs is “cool”.  However, as hypocritical as it may sound, we are consumers, and even though I do not agree with the impact of these advertising techniques on teenagers and their development, I don’t think that it would impact what kind of products I chose to purchase.  I do believe however, that when the time comes I will teach my children not to fall for those advertisements and not to think that those things are “cool” just because the commercial or MTV said so.  They should form their own opinions of what is right and wrong through the teaching of their parents, school and religion, and not through the media.

Frontline: The Merchants of Cool [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/

Marketing & Stereotypes: The Abercrombie & Fitch Story

Nowadays it is human nature to attempt to classify people, products and brands into different stereotypes.  A stereotype is a standard classification that individuals commonly classify other people, products and brands.  People are stereotyped because of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and even the types of products they buy and clothes they wear.  Stereotyping is not something that should be practiced, because it is wrong to assume an individual’s personality or beliefs based on their looks, clothes or products they purchase.  Even though stereotyping is not something highly recommended by society, people still stereotype other people based on such shallow observations.  One example of stereotyping based on clothes is the stereotype or label of “Preppy”, “Preppie” or “Prep” given to individuals who wear clothes sold by stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and American Eagle.

The word “preppy” actually came about in the 1950’s, and it derived from “preparatory schools”.  The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, or WASP term was highly associated with the term “preppy”.  The WASP community was mostly high-class individuals who attended such prestigious schools and dressed in a laid-back, yet luxurious clothing of brands such as Lacoste and Lilly Pulitzer.   This style was then re-launched by stores like Abercrombie & Fitch in a more affordable price for teenagers of modern days that belong to the middle and higher social classes.  The preppy kids back in the 1950’s where actually members of high-class societies, went to Ivy League colleges and universities and private preparatory schools, they owed yachts and boats, and could afford expensive taste such as Ralph Lauren.  The preppy kids nowadays do not form part of such high-class and do not own expensive boats or attend prestigious colleges and schools, but they can afford to look like they belong to the same high-class as the 1950’s preppy kids because of stores like Abercrombie & Fitch.

Abercrombie and fitch Paris summer 2011 advert...

Image by cattias.photos via Flickr

Abercrombie & Fitch Users and Stereotypes

I do believe that users and consumers of Abercrombie & Fitch clothing identify with the “preppy” stereotype.  The Abercrombie & Fitch crowds are labeled by others as “preppy”, and they do not consider this an insult, but instead a compliment.  “Preppy” kids are usually the popular kids in high schools who are concerned with looks, popularity and material possessions.  Even though some of them do not belong to high social class, they like thinking that they look that way.  The reality is that Abercrombie & Fitch is not actually a real “preppy” store, because they are not as expensive as the real “preppy” clothes like Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, etc.  However, the style does look like the more expensive stores.

Abercrombie and fitch Paris summer 2011 advert...

Image by cattias.photos via Flickr

Stereotypes and Sales

The “preppy” stereotype helps Abercrombie & Fitch sales.  Mainly because most middle-class teenagers who wish to belong in the popular group may not be able to afford the real expensive “preppy” brands like Lacoste.  Therefore, they will choose to shop at Abercrombie & Fitch because the clothing looks like the more expensive clothing and has the same “preppy” style, but it is much more affordable for teenage kids with a middle-class allowance.  The more they wish to fit in to the popular crowd the more clothing they will buy from stores like Abercrombie & Fitch.  The “preppy wannabe” crowd purchase clothing from Abercrombie & Fitch basically because of the way it makes them feel.  The clothing makes them feel like they belong in the “preppy” crowd.

The image of Abercrombie & Fitch today.

Image via Wikipedia

Stereotypes in the Advertising Campaigns

The Abercrombie & Fitch advertising campaigns most definitely intentionally designed to target the “preppy” and “preppy wannabe” crowds.  If we look at their advertisement and images placed throughout their stores we can appreciate the intent of the ads through their design, and specifically the scale of the photographs being displayed at each store.  Most of their advertisement feature clean-shaved, clean-cut, muscular, slim body, Caucasian, good-looking people.  These are the typical characteristics that fit the “preppy” individuals.  Another major effort from this company to keep the advertisement targeted at “preppy” teenagers is the fact that they hire people who fit into this stereotype to work in their stores.  There have even been lawsuits against the company because they would not hire a Muslim individual, according to her, because of her headscarf.  There was another case of another teenager who claimed they would not let her work outside of the back storage of an Abercrombie and Fitch store because of her prosthetic arm.

Branding and Re-Branding

As Graphic Designers, we should constantly be aware of our surroundings, paying attention to design styles, trends and branding.   Branding can be defined as the process a company uses to build awareness about their products and organization, as well as to extend customer loyalty.   The branding process involves several steps to ensure successful branding of the company and its products.   The steps involved include conducting research, clarifying strategy, designing identity, creating touchpoints and managing assets.   Many companies have modified their branding strategy in the last step in order to change their branding, diversify their branding or limit their branding.

A good example of a company that has managed its assets in order to change and diversify its branding is Federal Express.   Founded in 1993 as Federal express, the company later changed its name to FedEx Corporation.   Later, the company acquired different logistics and shipping companies to provide a wider list of services.   The company now has several different company services such as FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, FedEx Custom Critical and FedEx Trade Networks.   Each logotype for each service is the same; the difference is that the word “Ex” is color coded to each service.   For example, FedEx Corporation is grey, FedEx Express is orange, FedEx Ground is green, FedEx Freight is red, FedEx Custom Critical is blue, and FedEx Trade Networks is yellow.

Fedex truck

Image by Crystian Cruz via Flickr

The choice to diversify and expand the company branding was ultimately beneficial.   Because of their diversification and expansion, FedEx could now provide different types of services to their loyal customers under the same recognizable branding.   The identity risks of expanding the company’s branding to a number of different services is that the customer could be confused when identifying the company, a particular service or the parent company.   The visual branding considerations that a company must keep in mind when expanding its brand identity is, like in FedEx’s case, to not alter the original branding so much that the customers are unable to recognize the parent company.   Looking at FedEx’s decisions to expand and the branding that they chose, I think it was a good idea and it was executed perfectly and it ultimately was a success for the company.

1,000 Visits

Thank you! Today, October 19th, 2011, I have reached 1,000 Visits on this blog.   I am honored!   I wished I could thank visitors personally, but I have no way of knowing who they are.   Either way, as a special thank you for visiting my blog I have decided to write this post and leave an open thread for any special Design, Photo, Apple or even Geeky Request or Questions.   So go ahead, ask and you shall receive!

Thanks again!

What is the Design Brief? And Why Do I Need It?

As we embark on a new project for a new client, there are certain steps we must follow, before we even begin to create any designs for the project.   We can’t just simply jump on the computer and begin creating anything that we can think of for the project.   We must first complete those specific steps.   This is when the design brief comes in.

The Design Brief and its Importance

A design brief is the first step of a design project.   The brief is a thorough document that provides an overview of the entire project.   This document informs the client, as well as the designer and everyone else involved, about the steps to be completed before, during and after the development and production of the project.   The design brief is very important and should be revisited before, during and after the project is completed.   The design brief will also serve as a reference document to guarantee that the finished product fulfilled the design’s objectives, it will reach the specific target audience, and it is following the predetermined path.

Parts of a Design Brief

Design briefs can vary when it comes to content.   The design brief template or parts should be tailored to each individual type of project and client.   However, there are a couple of important sections that must always be present.   A design brief should be thorough, clean and organized so that all the parties involved have a clear understanding of the entire project.   Most design briefs usually include a cover/title page; a table of contents page; an executive summary or corporate profile of the client’s company; an overview of the current situation of the company; information about the target audience; the overall objective of the project; description of the components or deliverables; a timeline for the project’s completion; the budget allotted for the project; personnel requirements; and payment schedule.

Importance of Research

Conducting research about the target market and current competitors of a specific project is crucial.   In order to tailor a design and effectively communicate the message to the target audience and to persuade the consumer that the product is better than the competition, we must first understand who is going to read the message (target audience) and what are the competitors saying about their products.   If we launched an advertising campaign for an educational product for elementary school students and we used a scary monster as the image of the product and we had the same message as one of our competitors, we would be ignoring the target audience and the current messages by competitors.   In order for the campaign to be successful, extensive research should be conducted about the target audience and competitors.

Important Steps

I believe that the most important steps in a design brief are the project objectives, target audience and competitors.   The same goes for the creation of a new product.   In order to successfully create a product or a design package for a product, we must first know what is the message we are trying to convey, who is this message aimed at, and what are other companies saying about their similar products.   When we research and understand these three steps then we can tailor the message to the right audience.

Here is a downloadable example of a Design Brief prepared as an assignment for an Advanced Graphic Design I class, as a mock proposal for an existing company that specializes in educational software and gaming systems for elementary school children.

Design Brief Sample

Other Designs II: Environmental Graphics

Graphic Designers who wish to be true successful professionals, must be aware and knowledgeable in all matters of graphics and designs including different types of designs.  Environmental graphics are one of the many types of designs a graphic illustrator can create.  Environmental Graphics are designs that include architectural elements in order to better inform and create a spatial organization of a specific area or place.   Environmental graphic design is actually a profession in which designers create such graphics concerned with wayfinding, or the idea of using graphical icons in order to navigate an environment, such as maps and signs.

Thinking back to the beginning of civilizations, when roads where being created and buildings being constructed, back when the need for environmental graphics became clear, it is no different from nowadays.  With the advancement of society and technology, new needs will rise and new needs for graphics will rise as well.  The need to label the environment around us to better navigate it will always be there.

In my opinion, the future will bring change to the environmental graphics and their designers, but they will still be needed.  For example, cartographers used to create maps for individuals to be able to commute from one place to another.  Nowadays, technology has created interactive maps that are installed within our cars that literally “tell us” how to get from one place to another.  However, there is still someone who needs to design the digital maps and user interfaces of these navigation systems.

I also believe environmental graphics will not be obsolete, they will always have use, because people will always need to know how to get from point A to point B, whether it is from the parking lot to the emergency room in a hospital, or from Miami to New York.  The way we search for and retrieve the information may change from a physical map to a navigation system, cell phone or computer.  We might even have digital transparent air-screens pop up in front of us magically by just thinking of them, but there will always be a need for the actual design of the information, the user interface and the information itself.

One of my favorite things is actually creating maps.   I am sharing two different maps here, one of a fictitious mall and another of a building.

Fictitious Mall Map

Fictitious Mall Map

Floor Map

Building Floor Map

Other Designs I: Package Design

There are tons of different types of designs and design branches that a Graphic Designer may choose to specialize in.   For example, a Graphic Designer may choose to focus only in Web Design.   Perhaps another Graphic Designer realizes his or her Illustrating capabilities are great, so they may focus only in Illustration.   Other Graphic Designers create great logos, so the mainly focus on that and on corporate identity design.   There is also product and package design, and some professionals may focus mainly on those types of designs as well.

Product & Package Design: A Lucrative Business?

Package design is the combination of planning and creating the structure, form, and appearance of a specific product’s packaging, and it functions as an encasing, protection of the product, promotion of a brand, presenting information, and turns into a brand experience.   Billions are spent in packaging every year, and the reasons are pretty obvious.   I believe that the most important reason why product and package design is such a lucrative business is because the package of a product ultimately determines whether customers purchase the product or not, because it is the first impression they get of the product and the company.   Other reasons why packaging is important include the fact that packages protect the product, it keeps components of the product together, it identifies the product, it protects the product during transportation and makes transportation easier, it makes it easier to stack and store product and you can include printed information on the package such as the price.

Design Steps in Package Design

The package design process involves five different phases, which are: Orientation, Analysis, Concepts, Design and Implementation.   Orientation and Analysis include defining the problem, establishing goals, determining the project scope, conducting research, preparing marketing and competitive audits, researching the competition, researching the target audience, establishing positioning, establishing brand personality and setting a strategy.   The Conceptual Design phase includes making sure that the offered solution is in line with all the research conducted in phases one and two and also that the solution has on-shelf impact.   The Design Development phase implements the concept into an actual design and makes sure that it is visually sticking and interesting enough to catch the attention of the target audience and ultimately make the customer purchase the brand over the competition.   The Implementation stage is the final creation of the three-dimensional and physical box or package for the product.

Prototypes Through The Ages

Nowadays, hardly anything is created without using a computer.   But a long time ago, in simpler times, people still communicated and created things without computers.   Prototypes where created a long time ago without using computers.   We could say that the first prototypes where created in the 4000 BC years by using clay.   Clay was used to create clay models to represent mythological creatures and gods, later turned into stone sculptures.   Later, during 3000 BC paper and ink was used to plan and create prototypes of incredible monuments like pyramids.   During 1452 and 1519 Leonardo Da Vinci himself created paper models as concepts of his extreme ideas, using also other materials like wood and carving techniques.   Thomas Edison also created multiple prototypes when creating initial concepts of his inventions, like the phonograph, the motion picture camera and the light bulb during the 1800s and 1900s.   Henry Dreyfuss in the 1900s took the concept of design and prototyping to the next level and his understanding of the function of prototyping is the initial idea of our modern understanding of a prototype, because he created the prototype as an illustration of a product in context.   Before 3D rendering was invented, product prototypes and packaging where constructed by hand.   For example, a product prototype could be sculpted out of clay or wood, and a package design could be printed and assembled by hand to view the 3D version or final result.

To Window Or Not To Window?

When constructing the mock-up for a package design, there are some very important factors one should consider before deciding whether the product should be seen or if the package shouldn’t have a window.   One of these deciding factors is the visual appeal of the product itself.   If the product is visually striking by itself, then the product should be showcased through a window in the package.   If the product is not particularly visually striking then the package should make up for that and there should be no window displaying the product.

Mock-Up Package Design

A good idea to “practice” package design and see if it is something you as a designer would be interested in doing, is to create a mock up package design for any particular product.   I created a mock-up package design for a class assignment for a LeapFrog product.   Here is the package design in it’s “flat” printed version as well as in the three-dimensional version of the assembled box.

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Also, here is a 2-part video describing a simple way of creating the three-dimensional version of the package design using Adobe Photoshop.

http://www.screencast.com/t/y83nSoHJV

http://www.screencast.com/t/iZbwZprqR9u

 

More Tips on Creating a Portfolio and Presenting It

Professionals whose occupation involves creative designs such as artists, photographers, graphic designers, fashion designers and interior designers, should have their personal portfolio.   A good portfolio presents quality not quantity.   As time passes, designers should also update their portfolios, and some pieces should be re-vamped as needed.   A portfolio can determine your employment or lack of, because some companies do not even schedule an interview without first looking at portfolio submissions.   Your portfolio is then, the first impression.   Therefore, as creative professionals, we must learn what makes a good portfolio.

Not only does a designer’s portfolio should speak for itself, but it should also represent the designer’s style in the design of the actual portfolio.   This is also true for the designer’s resume, letterhead, business card, and even the envelope.   If you are unable to create a successful visual identity for yourself, then how could you do so for a client?   This is also true for your entire appearance during an interview, the way you present yourself, and most importantly, the way you present your portfolio.   A prospect client or employer will begin to evaluate you from the moment you first make contact, whether it is in person, by e-mail, by phone, or with a cover letter.

Design Conventions of A Portfolio Presentation

What to consider:

Labels.   Each piece should provide sufficient information about itself.   A title, a description, and the software you used to accomplish the piece.   Reference, if necessary, of elements used in the piece that you did not create yourself.   You do not want to take credit or something you did not do.  However, as a rule, is best to have pieces that you created entirely by yourself, than pieces you created by collaborating with other designers, or pieces that use stock images or illustrations.

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Tailoring and Interchangeability.   As a designer, you will probably go to several interviews before you find your first job.   Having a portfolio that lets you easily change one piece for another is key to tailor each portfolio presentation to the job you are applying for.   For example, if you apply for a company looking for an in-house graphic designer to create all their advertising graphics, you could switch a logo design for an ad.   Or if you are applying for a company that specializes in designing logos for companies, you can add a couple more logo designs and take out some photography editing examples.   If you were applying for a photography job at a studio, more family, children and baby shots as well as headshots would be good.   If you were applying for a job as a stock photographer, photos of objects, landscapes, animals and business subjects would be best.

Various Formats.   You never know what kind of time does your prospect employer devote to looking through countless applications and portfolios.   Why not make it easier for them by providing a link to your website with your portfolio on it, or a CD/DVD presentation.   You could always bring your classic portfolio with you if you happen to get an interview, or leave behind a CD/DVD copy or a business card with a link for them to be able to view your portfolio again at their convenience.

Prepare to Present/Explain.   If you have a great portfolio, but you don’t know how to talk about each piece and explain it, then you might as well have no portfolio at all.   Be prepared and practice to talk about each piece and answer any questions that may come up.

Follow up.   Don’t just drop of your resume and portfolio and expect it to do all the work for you.   Make sure you keep in touch and even if you don’t get the job, show appreciation for the opportunity and make sure you are kept on their records for future reference.

Update.   Technology is always changing and innovations keep coming up.   Maybe 10 years ago you couldn’t add a drop-shadow to your text, but now you can.   Update your portfolio with new pieces and re-vamp the ones you created a long time ago.   Keeping your portfolio fresh can show that you are up-to-date with the newest trends and technology.
The actual design of your portfolio.   Some designers get carried away by “designing” their portfolios.   They add background, animations, bells and whistles, things you really don’t need.   Remember to keep it simple and don’t let the actual design of your portfolio overshadow each piece inside your portfolio.

Work Selection and Sequence:

Quality vs. Quantity.   It is not about how many pieces you have; it is about the quality of each piece.   A portfolio should have between 20 to 40 pieces at the most.   An employer could get lost in all the pieces, and they probably do not even have the time to view them all.   You have to select pieces that are strong.   Don’t select pieces that you are not confident about.

Strong Start/Finish.   Several websites and individuals recommend that your strongest pieces are located at the beginning and at the end of your portfolio.   This way, when a possible employer opens up your portfolio, they are immediately impressed, and when they get to the end, they will remember you.

Location, location, location.   The order in which you “locate” your pieces is crucial.   Each piece should follow the other with some kind of connection, whether it is chronological, by theme or any other connection.   This will make it easier to transition from one piece to another and make it easier for you to be able to talk about them in person and explain the relation.

Websites  to visit:

http://www.howdesign.com/article/PortfolioPresentation/

http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/portfolio-presenting

http://www.designertoday.com/Articles/3940/Portfolio.Making.Your.Best.Presentation.aspx

http://www.youthedesigner.com/2008/06/30/12-steps-to-a-super-graphic-design-portfolio/

http://veen.com/jeff/archives/000935.html

http://layersmagazine.com/the-dos-and-don%E2%80%99ts-of-portfolio-presentation.html

http://biznik.com/articles/ten-or-11-tips-for-presenting-your-portfolio

Tips on Creating an Online Portfolio

A graphic designer or photographer fresh out of college will probably have to attend several interviews before landing a first job.  Interviewing and presenting a portfolio face-to-face can be nerve wrecking and stressful because it is difficult to talk about one’s own work, but if you attend an interview and take your portfolio with you, you can make sure that your portfolio is reviewed by the potential employer.  Having an e-portfolio, on the other hand, does not ensure that potential clients and employers will magically come across your portfolio and hire you.  Advertising and marketing your e-portfolio is a very important task that should not be left aside.  If you want your e-portfolio to land you a great job or a few freelance jobs, then you must advertise and market your e-portfolio. Lets look at some ideas to successfully advertise and market e-portfolios.

Fresh Site

In order to create and keep a site fresh, the design must remain simple, and easy to read and to navigate.  According to Steve Krug (I recommend his book), the first law of web usability, or the ease of using and navigating a website is to not make your audience think (2006).  This means that a well designed website should be obvious, self-evident, and self-explanatory.  This way the readers and viewers of the website don’t have to feel like they are solving a riddle just to check out your portfolio.  Chances are that if the viewer of a website has to make more than three clicks to get where they want to get, they will not continue to view the website and most likely they will move on.  Clogging website with a lot of text, animations and images will make a site look busy instead of fresh.  Therefore instead of adding something to keep the site fresh, the key is to keep it simple, neat and organized.

Interactivity

When visitors enter a website there are several different ways they could interact with the website.  In a good e-portfolio website there should be a good amount of interactivity with the reader.  The e-portfolio should be designed in a way in which the viewer may chose to play a slideshow of all the pieces in the portfolio, and also skip images and go back and re-visit images that caught their attention.  Therefore, a good interactive portfolio would have play buttons, pause buttons, stop buttons, forward and backward buttons, as well as a thumbnail for each piece in the portfolio.  This way the user may navigate the portfolio in any order he or she wishes making the experience of viewing the portfolio almost the same as viewing a traditional printed portfolio.

Standing Out

Usually, people tend to think that in order to stand out one should include as much text, animation and images as possible.  However, this would most likely make a website very difficult to read and navigate through.  A great way to stand out would be to think about three characteristics that describe you as a designer, for example: Straightforward, Reliable, and Inspired.  Then, your e-portfolio and website should attempt to express those characteristics and remain within the same theme of your resume, logo and promotional piece.  For example, since one of the characteristics is straightforward, then the website should not have mystery passageways to get to the point, but all the main points and information should be clearly and legibly displayed.

Attracting Visitors

Once the fresh, interactive and attention-grabbing website is in place, the next step would be to attract traffic to the website.  The first step would be to include your domain name, like http://www.johndoe.com on your e-mail signature, your letterhead, business cards and even your resume. You should also include it both as text and as a link in your promotional materials, like a web banner.  Nowadays, there are a wide variety of free ways to promote your web on the Internet.  You can create a newsletter and advertise your newly launched web to all your contacts and ask for them to forward the information to their contacts.   Just be sure not to spam your friends’ inboxes.   You can create a professional account for your business on many social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google Plus, and MySpace.  You may even create ads that circulate on those social networking sites promoting your business.  When you design websites for other companies you can place your name and website as the web designer of that page at the very bottom, with their permission of course.  In conclusion, there are plenty of ways to advertise one’s website on the web.

Good Examples

Search for other designers or photographers’ portfolios online and see what they are doing.   Lissete Rodriguez’ portfolio retrieved from Dexigner.com (http://www.zetdesigns.com/) stood out from the rest because it was fresh and simple.  She included interactivity on her web portfolio by adding rollover animations and a slideshow of her pieces.  However, even though her web included slideshows and animations, it did not distract the viewer from her work.

Lissete Rodriguez's Online Portfolio

Lissete Rodriguez's Online Portfolio

Joe Nyaggah’s portfolio retrieved from Graphicdesignblog.com (http://danjoedesign.com/) was also very minimalistic and simple in its design, which kept the site fresh. He included some rollover effects for interactivity, however, it was lacking on that function.  Perhaps his portfolio should have been presented in a slideshow manner with buttons for easier navigation.

Joe Nyaggah’s Online Portfolio

Joe Nyaggah’s Online Portfolio

Free Online Web Portfolios

There are some relatively new websites out there that have a designer network and free (for the most part) online portfolios.   These are a great way to start if you don’t really know anything about web design and development, because mostly all you have to do is upload your images and input your information.   So if you use Facebook, you can use these:

http://prosite.com/

http://www.pixpa.com/

http://carbonmade.com/

http://www.behance.net/

http://cargocollective.com/

http://www.squarespace.com/

http://www.thecreativefinder.com/

References

Krug, S. (2006). Don’t make me think! A common sense approach to web usability (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: New Riders.

Working with Clients

If you have already worked as a Graphic Designer, either as a freelancer or within a company, you already know the difficulties you may face with certain clients.   Like in any other career field, you have a client, and a product or service you provide.   Sometimes what the client expects or thinks about that product or service, is not actually what the company or freelancer offers.   The most important step is to know everything about a project from the very beginning.   Also, having constant communication with the client will help with the success of the final product, service or design.

Final Say

As graphic designers a client generally approaches us with a design problem, and we are required to find a solution.   The client is the person who ultimately has the final say on what the product should look like and how it should work, based on their own knowledge of the target audience they are trying to convey a message to.   As a graphic designer, you should approach the situation as if you where part of that target audience.   The reason is so that you can advise your client on what is the best way to reach their target audience in terms of a good design.

For example, if a client comes to you and asks for a flyer to advertise their online business like an online only shoe retailer, you may suggest that an e-mail advertisement would be best to reach their target audience (clients already using the internet, and on their client database).   However, your suggestion may be ignored and the client could still decide to go with the printed flyer.   Your job as a designer is to design the flyer and that’s it.   If they did not agree with your suggestion, then you should provide what they are requesting from you.

Freedoms

The freedoms you have, as a designer in the process, will depend on each project.   Some clients may have no idea what they want their design to look like, and they may tell you to come up with something on your own, and that you may choose colors and everything, so you have a lot of creative freedoms with those clients.   Some other clients know exactly what they want and what they want it to look like, and they would even do it themselves if they knew how to use the software, so you may have very limited freedoms with those types of clients.   Some clients know more or less what they want, but they need your design expertise to guide them when choosing design elements, typefaces and colors, so you have some limitations and some freedoms with those types of clients.   You are most definitely allowed to refuse providing services to certain clients, before beginning to work with them, if what they are trying to create is illegal, or against your beliefs, morals or religion.   But you must do so respectfully to their needs, or perhaps suggest a different designer that you know can help with their situation.

Steps to Follow

As a graphic designer, you must plan on taking several steps to assess the situation and the perceived tasks ahead to rectify the situation.   First and foremost, you should analyze each project individually to make sure that the project’s extent is within your technical capabilities.   Second, you should ensure that you have all the information from the client about the project.   Third, you should provide the client with the proper documentation about the project (design brief) and come to a written agreement about the course of action with the client, including the amount of “changes” allowed and charges that go along with those changes.   Finally, you should provide a summary after the work was completed to show the client how the design solution successfully solves the design problem.

Ethical Issues in the Graphic Design Business

During our careers, whether as graphic designers, web designers, fashion designers or any other career, we will most likely have to learn about ethics in the workplace.  Ethics do not only play a role in our normal day-to-day activities, such as attending a wedding, tipping our waiters and receiving guests in our home, ethics also are a part of our business life.  There are several ethical issues that can arise in the workplace, no matter the type of work.  Ethical issues are subjects or events that could create questions about what is right and what is wrong.  Even though there are many ethical issues that could rise in all types of jobs, there are also ethical issues that could rise in jobs that are only related to design.

Ethical Issues in Graphic Design

A Graphic Designer, especially a Freelance Graphic Designer, encounters numerous of different people and companies that they will probably do design work for.  However, the graphic designer may or may not agree with what that particular company or individual stands for or wishes to advertise.  This raises a question of right or wrong, an ethical issue, for the designer.  Graphic designers should know from early on in their career who would they not design for and who would they design for, keeping in mind that what a graphic designer creates is a message for an audience.   For example, would you create campaign posters for a politician who approves of abortion; would you create a logo for a rock band that believes in and follows the devil’s teachings; would you create a package design for a company that sells cigarette shaped candy to children; or would you create a website for a pornographic site.  The decision will always be up to the graphic designer and will most likely depend on his or her own morals and belief system.  Ultimately, if a designer does not agree with it, then he or she should not take on the work.

There are several other ethical issues that arise in fields such as advertising.  Since most graphic design products fall under this category, graphic designers would most likely have to face those same ethical issues faced by advertisers and advertising agencies.  For example, a graphic designer could be offered to produce an ad, but then he or she could find out that the information in the ad was a product of false advertising.  False advertising means to promote a feature or characteristic in a product that is in fact not true.  In this case, the designer would also have the choice to produce the ad or simply walk away.

Another big ethical issue that a graphic designer could encounter is the issue of copyright and piracy.  Copyright is the legal right that the creator of a design (or any other work) is granted.  The creator or designer owns the rights to the design.  Just like writers have ‘writer’s block’, graphic designers sometimes also have phases in which they are not particularly creative.  This could lead to using someone else’s work and ‘revamping’ it to seem as though you created the whole thing.  This is an illegal practice called piracy.  Graphic Designers should definitely avoid doing this unless they give full credit to the copyright owner, ask for their permission, or use copyright free images.

Design & Culture

Graphic Designers are usually taught about the technical aspects of the career, the software, the design elements, the design principles, and so forth.  However, graphic design is not only about the creativity and ability to create a ‘pretty’ design.  Graphic design is also about the audience for which the design was created.  Many students, and even teachers, forget the audience.  By doing so, several cultural issues may rise.

Culture is defined as the collection of customs, social behavior, and ideas of a specific group of individuals.  Therefore, what might seem as a successful design here in the United States might seem offensive or even harmful in other countries.  For example, a design that includes a hand giving the “thumbs up” may be appropriate for an American audience, but this sign is considered a rude gesture in some Asian and Islamic countries. A recent animated footage which includes the 2012 Olympics had to be removed from the organization’s website because it was causing epileptic seizures to viewers who suffered from epilepsy.  We must always be careful not to insult offend or harm the viewers of our designs.

From Illustrator to InDesign

When using page layout applications like Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress, designers are usually creating art for printing, for the web, or for mobile devices.  Depending on the final output of the design, the designer will choose a different file color mode, such as RGB or CMYK, different file dimensions, and different file weigh.  Therefore, the designers must usually create all parts of the artwork in other applications like Photoshop and Illustrator, with the final output in mind.

When it comes to Adobe Illustrator, there are two different options for creating files.  The designer may choose to “Save” the artwork, or “Export” the artwork.  When saving the artwork, the designer may choose from several file formats like .ai, .pdf and .eps.  When exporting the artwork, the designer may choose from other file formats like .tiff.  However, one thing must always be kept in mind, the designer should always save an original copy of the artwork in an editable format will all editable layers and text, which would be the original Adobe Illustrator format, .ai.

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Now, when it comes to saving Adobe Illustrator files to later use inside InDesign page layouts, we can use PDF, TIFF or EPS files.  Therefore, a second copy of the original file must be saved for the sole purpose of importing to InDesign.  Once the page layout is completed and it is time to import artwork created in Adobe Illustrator, we can select the “place” option in InDesign.  In theory, all 4 file types, AI, PDF, TIFF and EPS can be placed using the “place” option within InDesign.  However, we might encounter some problems with each file.

The Adobe Illustrator file may not place correctly if the “Create PDF Compatible File” option was not selected when saving the original Illustrator File.  The PDF file will be placed correctly, but there will not be a transparency effect for the background of the object placeholder.  The TIFF file may place correctly, but like the PDF file, the background will not be transparent, and the quality of the image will be determined by the specifications made when saving the TIFF file.

EPS files are virtually accepted by every page layout, word-processing and vector applications.  When saving EPS files from Adobe Illustrator, there are far more options available to the designer, than when saving any other file type.  An important option is saving a transparent background, which would import perfectly to InDesign.  Another important option is the “Embed Fonts” option, which will ensure that the correct font will appear when printing an imported EPS file into InDesign.  Although, the designer could always save a copy of the original Adobe Illustrator file, with all the text outlined, but it would not go well if all you had was this outlined file for last minute text changes.  Another great option is the “Include Linked Files” option, which will ensure any placed and linked files within the Adobe Illustrator original file will not be missing once imported into InDesign, which is possible, because EPS files may contain both vector and bitmap graphics.  With all of these options, it is clear that the best file format to use in this case would be the EPS file format.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of export and save options for a reason, and that is because one file format may work best for one particular type of project, and another format may work best for another type of project.  This is why there is not and should not be one particular standard file format.

 

Inspiration Can Be Found Anywhere (Part II)

Back in February of 2005, while attending community college for a Graphic Design Technology Degree, I was lucky enough to be selected by my Drawing I teacher to participate in a school-funded trip to New York, and witness something amazing.  I had only been to New York once before when I was little, I had never been to Central Park, and I had also only experiences snow once before, when I was little. The trip consisted of a three days stay in New York City, visits to local museums, like the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and a visit to Central Park, where artists Christo & Jeanne Claude had created something very special. Witnessing this amazing installation in Central Park by these artists was a once in a lifetime experience, and I am very lucky to have been able to participate in it. I enjoyed this installation very much.

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Christo & Jeanne-Claude

Christo was born in 1935 in Bulgaria; he studied art there and also in Vienna before moving to Paris and beginning to develop himself as an artist creating wrapped packages. When he married Jeanne-Claude, they began to wrap larger objects collaborating with each other as artists. Christo first began by wrapping smaller objects in different fabrics and ropes.  He would wrap items like books, magazines, chairs, motorcycles, tables, and barrels.  Later, with the help of Jeanne-Claude, he was obtaining permits in different cities to wrap famous monuments, fountains, and even buildings in fabric and ropes.  Some of the large-scale things that they have wrapped are the Kunsthalle, an art museum in Switzerland; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; 1 million square feet of the coast in Little Bay, Sydney, Australia; and the Pont Neuf Bridge in Paris.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude did other installations aside from wrapping existing objects in different types of fabrics and colors.  They also created their own installations with fabrics from scratch.  They used orange colored fabric to create a wall in Colorado.  They created a long wall that stretched 24 miles in California, using a white fabric. They surrounded the island in Biscayne Beach, Miami, Florida with a bright pink fabric. They created umbrellas out of blue and yellow fabric to decorate fields in both Japan and California respectively.  Finally, in New York’s Central Park they adorned all the walkways with bright orange gates that where constructed with metal frames and orange fabric.  Currently Christo has two works in progress including one in the United Arab Emirates and one in Colorado.  Unfortunately Jeanne-Claude will not be helping him with these projects anymore, because she passed away in 2009 do to a brain aneurysm rupture.

Color & Texture

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s artwork is a one of a kind transitory experience. They raise the money for their big large-scale projects by selling their initial sketches for the projects themselves. They must complete numerous preliminary work such as obtaining countless permits, economical resources and volunteers that would help with the installations. The main design elements of such elaborative pieces are colors and texture. Their use of different fabrics and colors is very unique. When they wrap all these monuments, or create these installations, they definitely change the environment by dramatically altering the texture of such monuments and the colors within nature.

When I was experiencing New York’s Central Park for the first time, with Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s installation in it, “The Gates”, the experience was quite interesting. The setting was a cold February in New York winter, and all the colors of the white snow and the blue skies, where split-compliments of the brown trees and the bright orange gates.  Whiteout the gates, Central Park would have felt very cold, and blue, as far as colors goes. However, the warmth of the orange made the installation pop out on the canvas that was the park. The texture of the fabric used for the gates was very fascinating. The texture appeared simple just like regular cotton, however it was very different when you actually touched it. It was permeable and had a patterned texture to it, like tiny little dots that your fingers could read. This seemed to contrast with the rest of the textures in the park like the trees and the snow. Overall, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have exceptionally and innovatively used both color and texture to alter the norm, and to pose a different view and feel in rural and urban settings.

Please visit Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s website for pictures of their work.

After this trip I took a Photography class in which our teacher took us on a walkthrough to the Las Olas Riverfront to take pictures outdoors.   I was trying to look for interesting shots.   The day was beautiful for picture taking, there was not one cloud in the sky and it was the brightest blues I had ever seen.   Looking up to the sky from the riverfront walk I saw some very bright yellow umbrellas from a restaurant on the second floor.   The contrast between the warm yellow tones and the cool blue skies, reminded me of one of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work.   I was inspired by it and I took this photo:

Umbrellas

Umbrellas

Inspiration Can Be Found Anywhere (Part I)

I first encountered Leopoldo Metlicovitz’s posters at a very young age.  My grandfather loves music, and more specifically, he loves opera.  Throughout his home there are several opera posters of the early 20th century, including two of the four seen the photo below, which are all poster designs by Leopoldo Metlicovitz.  Throughout my life I had seen these posters all over my grandfather’s home, and whenever I saw the poster elsewhere it would remind me of my grandfather and his love for opera.  I had always enjoyed the top left poster for Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, because it had certain mystery about it and I also liked the name “Madama Butterfly”.

Leopoldo Metlicovitz Poster Designs

Leopoldo Metlicovitz Poster Designs

Last year in school I had to design my own 20th century poster, and for that particular assignment I remembered those posters I was exposed to throughout my life and immediately searched for opera posters for the early 20th century to inspire me.  To my surprise, designer Leopoldo Metlicovitz is the creator of some of my favorite opera poster designs.  I enjoy the Madama Butterfly poster design because of the use of color and contrast from the inside of the window with dark red tones and the outside of the window which depicts cherry blossom trees with light pink and brown tones and a robin nesting on a tree.  I enjoy the contrast of color as well as the placement of the text underneath the seating female figure.  The use of light and dark to express the folds on the figure’s clothing is very interesting and it explains how the light from the window is approaching the figure.  I particularly enjoy how the painting explains an act of the opera where the female figure, Madama Butterfly, awaits her lover.  The rest of Metlicovitz’s designs are similar in color contrast.  The artist seems to use dark tones like red for the negative spaces and then lighter pink tones for flowers and lighter skin tones for the female figures. Negative and positive space composition in Metlicovitz’s designs is powerful like the Madama Butterfly window and the Tosca design floral borders.

Much has changed since Leopoldo Metlicovitz painted and designed these posters.  It has changed so much that nowadays these poster designs are reproduced in large quantities by the touch of a button.  The way we design has changed dramatically because of advanced in technology.  In the early 20th century, without computers, artist could replicate artwork yes, but they had to do it by hand.  Meaning that one piece of art would not be exactly the same as another even if it were the same artist and design.  Technology has made mass production possible; therefore design styles have lost their ‘originality’.  For example, the Tosca poster design by Metlicovitz seems symmetrical, but the floral border is not exactly the same on the left as it is on the right.  Nowadays, borders like those can be identically symmetrical because of technology and options like ‘reflect object’ in software such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.  Design styles have lost their uniqueness and become more ‘stenciled’, where you can see and recognize one simple design element in several design compositions because of the distribution of things such as clipart and stock images. However, the main purposes of a graphic designer’s work still remains to visually impact an audience and clearly represent important information.  This can be compared to Leopoldo Metlicovitz work, which is visually captivating, and also clearly states information about the opera or product it is trying to advertise.
I designed the poster below for the class’s assignment, and I was inspired by the posters of Leopoldo Metlicovitz that had been stored somewhere in my memory as a part of my childhood.

Early 20th Century Style Opera Poster Design

Early 20th Century Style Opera Poster Design

I dedicate this post to my grandfather Felipe Ramón Ojeda Russo, whose passion for great music has inspired me all throughout my life, both in my own music studies and appreciation for art.

For more design inspiration check out this website.

Spot Colors and Process Colors

I have already discussed the different color modes and their uses.   For example, we now know to use CMYK color mode for print publication and RGB color mode for on-screen publications.   However, there are a few other terms we as designers and photographers should be familiar with.   We should know the definitions and differences between spot colors and process colors.

Spot Color Vs. Process Color

Spot Color can be defined as a method for printing in which each color will be printed in one printing plate by using its own matched color of ink.   Process color is a different printing method in which a color is printed using only four separate printing plates that each uses four specific colors (CMYK).   The spot color printing method is usually followed when the design uses only one or three different colors.   For example, when a company wishes to match their logo’s exact colors in a publication.

Designers and Colors

As knowledgeable graphic designers we must understand and apply our knowledge of color printing processes into our designs.   For starters, designers have to choose only one method (spot color or process color) for their artwork’s file.   In order to create spot colors and process colors in any design software you can simply add a new swatch to your color palette.   You can do this by choosing a Pantone color from the PANTONE Solid Coated swatch window.   You will be able to switch between spot and process colors in the Swatch Options window.   And you will also be able to know when the color chosen is a process color or a spot color, because the swatch will have either a black dot on the bottom right corner triangle (in Illustrator), or a grey square with a grey dot on it (InDesign).

Primary Process Colors

The primary process colors in print are CMYK.   Each plate or ink cartridge will contain one of the four inks.   C stands for the Cyan color ink.   M stands for the Magenta color ink.   Y stands for the Yellow color ink.   K stands for the black color ink.   Each process color has a measurement of how much Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and/or blank does it require to make that exact color.

Benefits and Drawbacks

One of the drawbacks of using the spot color printing method is that each different ink color is somewhat expensive to produce.   Therefore, most spot color printing jobs will only have one, two or three colors.   Using more than three spot colors would result in a very expensive bill for the printing job.   When printed colored text using the spot color method, the printer will not have that much trouble, because there will be one specific ink to be printed on the paper, once, to create the text.   However, when printing colored text using the process color method, the printer may have trouble with registration.   Because the printer has to go over the same spot to create the text with each one of the inks, the text could have a slightly blurred effect if the printer is not precise, particularly if the typeface is very delicate and has fine serifs.

How to Create Spot Colors and Process Colors in Illustrator Video Tutorial

Color Modes

If you are a Graphic Designer or Photographer, then you should already know a little about the different color modes, or color spaces, RGB and CMYK.   However, if you are not aware of these concepts, don’t sweat it, it is very easy to understand.   Color modes are basically systems used to describe colors in a numerical way.   Color modes can be classified into additive and subtractive.   An additive color mode, such as RGB, will result in white by the addition of all the inclusive main colors (Red, Green, Blue) at 100%.   The subtractive color mode, such as CMYK, will result in black by the addition of all the main colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) at 100%.

Color Modes

Color Modes

Differences

RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue, and this color mode works by assigning an intensity value to each pixel on an image.   Intensity values go from 0 to 255 for each of the channel or color mentioned (RGB).   When the intensity value is set equally for all channels the result is a neutral gray, when they are all set to 0, the result is black, and when they are all set to 255, the result is white.

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.   This color mode works by assigning each pixel a percentage value for each of the process inks (CMYK).   When all the colors are set to 100%, the result will be black.   When all the colors are set to 0%, the result will be white.

The LAB color mode is an entirely different model.   This color mode is based on the human eye, and the human perception of color.   This color mode is considered device-independent, because it describes what a color looks like, and not the intensity or amount of ink in it.   The L component is the light component, which goes from 0 to 100.   The A component is for the green-red axis.   The B component is for the blue-yellow component.   The A and B components go from -128 to +127.   These numeric values are a description of all the colors that a normal human eye can perceive.

Grayscale color mode uses only shades of gray in an image.   There are no colors but black, white and gray.   Grayscale can be edited either in percentage from 0% to 100%, where 0 is white and 100 is black, or in value of shades of gray, from 0 to 256, 0 being black and 256 being white.

Duotone color mode can create either monotone, duotone, tritone or quadtone images.   Duotone does this by creating grayscale images.   The difference is that the user can select to have custom inks, either one, two, three or up to four custom inks.   A good example of this would be sepia images. The Bitmap color mode has two color values, either black or white.   This color mode represents an image only using black or white. ***When placing a Photoshop Duotone file into InDesign, the color palette changes.   The color palette will no longer let you choose values for CMY, it will only go from black to white.

Color Modes for Printing

Designers use CMYK color modes for printed documents.   The reason for this, is that CMYK color modes will better match and image on the computer screen to that on the printed-paper.   Once you create a document on CMYK mode, the printer will know how much Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black to use to duplicate the same color on your screen, because printers also use CMYK color modes.   That is why inks come in Cyan, Magenta and Yellow packages, and then Black.

Color Modes Not for Printing

One of the Color modes not used for printing is the RGB color mode.   Most TVs, and computer screens use red, green and blue lights to display the images on your screen.   However, as discussed earlier, printers work with CMYK color mode.  Therefore RGB color mode should be used for images and designs that will only be seen in screens.   But for printing, we must use CMYK.

A Bit of Color

The term “Bit” as it pertains to computers, comes from the term BInary digit (BIT).   A bit is the smallest unit of computer storage.   When it comes to colors, a bit is information about the color in one single pixel of the image.   This is also known as color depth or bit depth, which is the number of colors, that certain hardware or software can represent.   For example, an 8-bit document has 2 to the 8th power of colors (256 colors).   A 16-bit document has 2 to the 16th power of colors (65,536 colors).   Therefore a 16-bit document is capable of representing more colors than an 8-bit document.

How to create a Cool Duotone Image

Here is a quick little video tutorial on how to create cool duotone images.

Duotone Video Tutorial

Raster, Vector and Type

While typing up documents and blogs in Microsoft Word, the software is using typefaces, or fonts, to determine the style of the text or type.   The title could be set up to be 24 points and the text of the project at 12 points, and the title would be as crisp and high quality looking as the other text.   This is all possible because type and fonts are vector-based graphics.

Typefaces in a Word Document

Typefaces in a Word Document

A good strategy for manipulating type as a vector shape in Adobe Photoshop in the same way you would be able to in Adobe Illustrator is by converting the type into a shape.   In order to accomplish this, all you have to do is open a new document in Photoshop, then type some text.   Now, right click the type layer on your layers window and select the “Convert to Shape” option.   After this step, your text has become a Photoshop shape and you can scale it up or down without loosing quality because now it is a vector object.

Convert Text to Shape In Photoshop

Convert Text to Shape In Photoshop

Because Photoshop’s limited text and type editing tools, I would advise you to create the raster graphics in Photoshop, then place in InDesign as a background and add the text directly in InDesign.   However, it is possible to layout both raster images, vector objects and text copy in Photoshop and then bring into InDesign while vector objects remain crisp and scalable, including text.   This can be achieved by saving the original Photoshop file as a Photoshop PDF or Photoshop EPS file.   Then this file should be placed in InDesign.

Raster Images vs. Vector Graphics

Graphic Design students should be aware of the two main different types of Graphics that designers work with on a day-to-day basis.   These main categories are raster and vector graphics.   Each type of graphics is used for different types of projects.   If we where to download the images posted below this post we would have three raster graphics as .jpg formats and three vector graphics in .eps or .ai formats.   Furthermore, if we where to open the downloaded graphics with the appropriate software application (Photoshop and Illustrator) and zoom in as much as possible on each image, we would see clearly one difference between both types of graphics.

The main difference between raster graphics and vector graphics is that raster graphics are composed of a set amount of pixels, or small squares of different colors.   On the other hand, vector graphics are composed of mathematically calculated lines or paths and anchor points that define each shape or object.   This main difference makes raster graphics unable to be enlarged too much, because they loose quality and become pixilated, meaning that the more we try to enlarge a raster graphic the less quality it will have.   On the other hand, vector graphics can be scaled as much as you wish either enlarging or shrinking the graphic.   This is the main reason why logos, along with other types of graphics should always be created using a vector based software application such as Illustrator.

Another difference between the both is that it is very easy to convert a vector graphic into a raster graphic.   However, converting a raster graphic into a vector graphic requires advanced software skills and the image is ultimately not visually equal to the original raster graphic, but instead it is a vector version of it.   Some raster images are too difficult to convert to vector, so it could also be impossible to do so for some images.  The conversion of vector into raster is as simple as selecting the “Export” option inside Illustrator and selecting the JPG format.   Converting a raster image into a vector version requires placing the image as a raster linked file into Illustrator and manually “tracing it” using the pen, pencil or brush tools.   Ultimately, the vector version of a raster image does not look exactly the same as the raster version, and a raster version of a vector graphic looks just like the vector graphic.

Another important difference, especially when it comes to designing logos and icons, is the transparency and shape restrictions.   When you create a raster image it will always be within a rectangular shaped canvas.   Even if you save the raster image as a PNG file format with a transparent background, you will have an “invisible” rectangular background behind it.   On the other hand, when you save an irregularly shaped design from a vector based application software, the image will be the shape of the object and it will have no background, not even an invisible background.

Vector Graphics

NFL Logo

Edward Tufte’s “Airport Signal People” Illustration

Social Networking Icons

Raster Graphics

Yann Arthus-Bertrand Aerial Photo of the Orinoco River in Venezuela

Digital artwork for Zlata Studna by Rado Zilisnky

Digital image manipulation by Maciej Hajnrich

MW

Quality and Resolution Defined

During their careers, graphic designers will usually encounter clients and even coworkers that do not understand the graphic design world and common design concepts used in that world.  One of the most common concepts that individuals find hard to grasp is the difference between raster files and vector files.  This concept would be easier to understand if most of those individuals knew the definition of image resolution, which is usually confused with image quality.  It is the job of the graphic designer to learn all of these concepts and to be able to explain these concepts to their coworkers and clients, when creating a project.

Image Quality and Image Resolution

Before understanding the differences or similarities between image quality and image resolution, a definition of each should be studied.  First, we must understand how digital images are formed.  When we take a photograph with a digital camera, or we create a new document using a raster-based software like Photoshop, we are creating digital images as raster files.  These images are composed of pixels, or dots of color and digital information.  When we talk about the Image Resolution of a digital image, we are referring to a number, a proportion, defined by the number of pixels that compose the image.  When we talk about the Image Quality of a digital image, we are referring to the compression, the size of the file of the image, defined by the reduction or not of the information in each pixel within the image.  This explains that image quality and image resolution are not exactly the same thing, but they both have to do with the pixels within a digital image.

More on Image Quality and Resolution

The number or proportion of pixels in an image determines the resolution of an image.  This proportion is known as pixels per inch, or PPI, which can also be called dots per inch or DPI.  This pixel per inch ratio or proportion refers to the number of pixels inside one square inch of the image.  For example, images prepared for the web are usually saved with a 72 PPI resolution; therefore they have a low resolution.  An image prepared to print is usually prepared at 300 PPI; therefore it has a high resolution.  However, it is possible to have an image that has a high resolution of say 300 PPI, but is low quality.  This can be accomplished by creating a 300 PPI image in Photoshop using the Image Size window, and then saving it as a JPG with a low quality of 1, or even 0.  The same is true for creating an image that has a low resolution, like for example 72 PPI, and then save it with a high quality of 10, or even 12 on the image options of the saving window.

Do’s & Don’ts

As a graphic designer, you will most likely learn on your own the do’s and don’ts of image resolution and image quality throughout your career during trial and error.  Nevertheless, there are several do’s and don’ts that you should be aware of when dealing with these concepts that I have learned on the job and will share with you.

  1. After manipulating an image in Photoshop, make sure to save as a copy and keep the original images intact.
  2. Always keep a Photoshop version (with layers) of your manipulated images, and a flattened JPG version.
  3. Remember you can go from high resolution to low resolution, but not the other way around.  Therefore, always take and create high-resolution images.
  4. Always have a backup of your files.
  5. Never prepare an image for printing at less than 300 PPI.

¡Bienvenidos!

I guess I should start this blog by introducing myself. In a few words I am 26 years old, I was born in Venezuela and I am a Graphic Designer. And just to let you know, I had written an awesome introductory post on a blogger account, but they deleted my entire blog, which reminds me to advise to you to always back up everything in two separate locations.

Anyhow, I initially decided to create a blog to put myself out there as a professional Graphic Designer and share my designs and design process with other aspiring designers out there. I also wanted to share my passion for photography and my amateur photographs. However, I later thought that no one, except the people I know, would care to read such a blog and all these kinds of things are already on my Facebook page. Therefore, I want to share more than just my artwork, but insights to opinions and ideas about things I have some knowledge of… this includes Graphic Design, Photography and all things Apple/Mac… and of course the usual geek stuff.

I claim to have some knowledge in these subjects, so I think I should give you a bit of a background, so you know where this knowledge comes from. I have an Associates of Arts Degree in Business Administration. I just received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications with a concentration in Graphic Design. I have been doing Graphic Design since 2004, I have been practicing photography since 2008 and I love Apple since their Macintosh Classic II (1991).

Welcome to my blog… I hope you stick around.

MW

Melissa Wolowicz

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