From Around the Web | Spotlights & News

It certainly has been a while since I last posted here. Life has a funny way of turning on a dime, and I’ve been busier than ever ! …until my home city started accumulating record snow this season. So now that I am stuck inside for a few days, now’s a good chance to catch up on all things design that have been missed over the past few months.

Below is a collection of articles and tools to boost your design knowledge. Enjoy!


TOOLS

1. Avocode

Avocode is a program that imports your Photoshop or Sketch files and let’s you easily prepare them for the web. Some features include:

  • Open up PSDs for coding without Photoshop, and without emailing or uploading files.
  • Select layers, groups and move around in a design.
  • Generate CSS or preprocessor code for elements in your design.
  • Get accurate dimension measurements with which to build your layout.
  • Copy out text content for easy placement in code.
  • Extract color palettes and hexcodes from PSDs.
  • Export images, even from multiple layers, without having to deal with the slicing process.

2. Bjango

Bjango.com hosts numerous apps that that assist in designing for mobile platforms. My favorite one has to be Skala Preview:

Skala Preview sends lossless, colour accurate image previews to any iOS or Android device. Previews are pixel perfect. Colours are identical to how the final app or website will look on the device.  If you’re using Photoshop CS5, CS6 or CC, Skala Preview can preview your canvas as you edit. No saving, no keyboard shortcuts, just lossless previews in realtime.”

An app that lets you view Photoshop designs in real-time?! If you design for mobile and don’t already own a smartphone (rare, but possible), this app may justify the price to upgrade.

3. Butterick’s Practical Typography eBook

Need a quick refresher on typography? Butterick’s got you covered! This ebook has all the essential info you need to study up on typography: what it is, why it matters, what the rules are, composition and more. Whether you are a seasoned designer or a student, this is a must-read source (and it’s FREE!).

ADVICE

4. Should I Work for Free – Infographic

A funny infographic that takes answers the question: should I work for free? A “sailor mouth” and downloadable JPG version are available!

5. Are Print Designers Doomed?

I personally started designing print, and it’s a personal preference with my own projects (in addition to digital display) – mostly because I enjoy having a tangible object to hold in my hands. But what if you wanted to focus solely on print in your career?  This article gives some foresight, and the answers may not be what you expect!

NEWS

6. Comic Sans Typewriter 

A typewritter that uses a specific font? Sounds like something that would make any designer geek out… until you learn that this particular typewriter uses Comic Sans. No matter what you think of Comic Sans, designer Jesse England developed this product, saying:

“While making it, I thought a lot about the Comic Sans typeface and how ridiculed it is. But it is also a mark of sincerity for those who do not have graphic design experience. I’m not particularly enamored with this font, but I don’t think it deserves the flak it gets.”

I think the font has it’s uses (comics, perhaps?), but I’ve seen too many flyers abuse and misuse it to the point where I can’t help but gag when it rears its face.

7. 22 Netflix Movies Every Designer Should Watch

If you’re snowed in like me and have lots of time to kill (and/or have a Netflix account), these 22 movies and documentaries should keep you occupied and deliver a dose of inspiration.

8. Pantone Color of the Year – 2015

I wasn’t even aware of Pantone’s “Color of the Year” until I saw this article. I won’t spoil what the color is if you haven’t seen this either, though I wonder how they came about their decision…

9. FIFA World Cup 2018 Logo Reveal

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) unveiled their logo for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and it’s pretty sexy – and certainly better than the previous logos from 2014, 2010 and 2006. The article also features a break-down of what parts of the logo represent.

10. Dyslexia Font

Dutch designer Christian Boer created a font for people with dyslexia called Dyslexie: 

“‘When they’re reading, people with dyslexia often unconsciously switch, rotate and mirror letters in their minds,’ said Boer, who is dyslexic himself.”

Dyslexia is a neurological disorder that causes a disconnect between language and visual processing making it difficult for the brain to process text, affecting an estimated 10% of the Earth’s population. The article explains how Dyslexie was designed and how it works.

11. Pantone Hotel

In Brussels, capitol city of Belgium, there is a hotel that lets you sleep in a room customized with any one of 7 color palettes of your choice – starting from $223/night.

“The colorful treatment comes down to even the smallest details, such as snaps by photographer Victor Levy that are suitably hued to match the room’s color scheme and Pantone coffee mugs.”

Wait until you see the photos! Time to save for a trip to Brussels…

SPOTLIGHTS

12. Reddit Design Assets Portal

Reddit.com is a great site to get lost in an information high – but why not use it to access great design assets and tools? This portal does just that – gathering a slew of info, tools, downloads and more from around the web.

13. Infographics by Nicholas Felton

Work with infographics? Need inspiration? Want to get blown away by amazing design? Check out Nicholas Felton’s protfolio! Nicholas was one of the lead designers of Facebook’s timeline feature, as well as creator of iPhone app Reporter that measures aspects of your life via daily surveys. He is also featured in the Wall Street Journal, Good Magazine, WIRED, and is part of the permanent collection in MoMA. Wow!


There’s a lot of ground to cover, but I hope these snippets prove to be interesting and informative to you, dear reader.

Design Challenge: Album Covers #5, 6 & 7

The challenge continues! Below are album covers 5-7:

Cover #5: Fernando Romay – For Love of It 

album_cover_5

Cover #6: Mom & Me & Mom – Why Can’t the Robots Help Us?

album_cover_6

Cover #7: The O’Reilly Mercenary Army – The Sweet Sounds of Criticism

album_cover_7

I’ve expanded beyond the rules laid out for the challenge a bit; if I see a word, phrase or quote that sounds good/weird/interesting, I’ll most likely use it for the artist or album “name”.

Such was the case for The O’Reilly Mercenary Army – The Sweet Sounds of Criticism. That was inspired during the brief controversy when Fox pundit Bill O’Reilly came up with his solution to defeating ISIS in the middle east (and Steven Colbert’s reaction, and Bill’s reaction to his reaction, etc.).

I’ve also started experimenting with 3D:

album_cover_7b

Yes, I have a pair of 3D glasses to test this.

It’s nothing to spectacular – yet. It’s more finding out how to get the effect to work; then comes the creative ways to make the image “pop”.

Happy National Coffee Day!

It’s #NationalCoffeeDay (though really, every day is National Coffee Day for me). To celebrate, I’ve decided to collect some fun and interesting coffee-related articles from around the web:

The Oatmeal: 15 Things Worth Knowing About Coffee

The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser gives 5 quick tips to brewing a better cup

I’m a huge Keurig fan, but this article was an eye-opening read

Mashable enables my caffeine addiciton

Fox spreads the coffee love and gives some great treat ideas

Design Challenge: Album Cover #3

Oh time, why do you move so quickly? Album cover #3 is finally here, featuring Battle of Morotai‘s album “From Work Not Done”* – clearly meant to be a little darker and heavier:

album_cover_3

Probably something to be played on a rainy day.

I mean, if you were going to name your band after a battle in the Pacific War you probably wouldn’t play, like, lounge music or something, right? I’ve also worked in a watermark that looks like an advisory sticker, probably something I’ll keep doing from now on. This is the internet after all, and we all know the internet is full of pirates.

I would love to keep trying to make one of these per day, but as life likes to remind me: things are not always going to work out as planned. I’ll keep at this design challenge when I can, focusing on the album covers, but with where I am currently it’ll be a little more spread out. That said, already working on the next one and should be ready Soon™.

*Reminder: These aren’t real bands (yet?), but random article titles selected as per challenge guidelines.

Design Something Every Day/365 Album Covers

Recently I stumbled upon this Smashing Magazine article about designing one thing every day. The article asks “What if we spent less time surfing the web looking for inspiration and more time designing and creating things?”

I totally agree. Instead of spending time looking at other people’s work for inspiration, what if we just came up with our own pieces on the fly? Think of it as random doodling in a sketch pad (which I also advocate), but more in-depth.

One designer, Mike Duesenberg, shared a project idea he used for his design-a-day –  365 Album Covers:

This project stems from a Facebook post that went around sometime back. Anyway, the general idea is:

1: http://bit.ly/3Wz6R7. The first random wikipedia article is the band name.

2: http://bit.ly/QbeDS. The last three to five words of the very last quote of the page is the album title.

3: http://bit.ly/zTOR. The third photo shown is the main photographic element of the cover.

4: Get dirty in Photoshop and Illustrator. Experiment, be quick and don’t worry about making it perfect.

Knowing my love of music and creating album artwork, I felt this was a great starting point for my own daily designing. Below is my first cover for Radical Whigs by “artist” Abharak.

album_cover_1

They’re an electronic-alternative group, I guess?

Looking forward to the next random mix of phrases and photos to see what comes out next! Stay tuned!

Redesign The Web 3 – Smashing Books

We currently live in a rapidly changing world. Technology is evolving so fast, it’s hard for a designer to keep up sometimes. The internet is no exception, and designing for the internet can be challenging with so many programs and techniques available. Smashing Books is here to help – with their book Redesign the Web 3!

An excerpt from the Amazon preview:

“A detailed look at the business and technical side of redesign is followed by a comprehensive overview of advanced HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript techniques that you can use today. You will get useful advice on innovative UX techniques, learn about the peculiarities of mobile context in Web design and discover useful Photoshop techniques. You’ll study a practical hands-on guide to a bulletproof workflow for responsive Web design.”

Whether your a junior designer, senior designer, or just interested in design, Redesign the Web 3 is filled with contributions from professionals in the field and is a great insight into the world of web design.