Monday, May 31, 2010


This is just a test. If it were a real post I would go on for several paragraphs and use a better design as my visual. But this is just a test and the logo sample was just a tutorial. I now return to my irregular schedule.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Vectors - tut, tut, tut

This weekend I need to learn how to get a textured pebble effect in illustrator. The ones you see here are from an icon set that I'm making (Guru homework). But these ones were made in photoshop, and the assignment is an icon set in illustrator. It's that scalability thang (again).
Problem is, I haven't been able to get very close to this level of realism in illustrator.

But I frequently turn to tutorials as part of my ongoing struggle to understand, appreciate and even embrace vector images (read NOT hate Adobe Illustrator anymore).
And this morning I made this nifty sketchbook by following a tutorial I found on vectortuts:

Here's the link to vectortuts so you can go try it out for yourself. I found it very useful for subtle lighting techniques and at least one example of how to use the texturizer tool.
And now that I have a sketchbook, I suppose I should try to fill it up... um with vector based illustrations, of course.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Masters emulation exercise

So this is the denouement to my How to be an iconclast post from a few days ago. The assignment was to design a poster for #yeghelp in the style of David Carson. Here's what I came up with.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to be an iconoclast

Ok today's primary assignment is a poster for #yeghelp in the style of David Carson. In case you don't know who that is, David Carson is a typographic designer of rather large repute. Some call him the father of grunge. Most everyone would call him an iconoclast. He basically walked into the neat and tidy world of typography as a rank and unschooled amateur and ripped it apart. Then he smooshed and squished all the ripped up bits together. His designs look kinda like layers of posters weathered by rain and glue.

Arguably Carson's best known quote, and one which very much sums up his approach to typographic design is, "Don't mistake legibility for communication.".

When I first went to art school, (before David Carson climbed off the surf board and started rocking the typographic world) legibility was pretty much king of the hill. There were some notable exceptions -- groovy pyschedelic posters from the 60s, the odd spot where decoration wasn't an embarrassment, things intended for very specific audiences making wider accessibility less of an issue. But basically if we hadn't tightly held to the guiding principle of legibility first and foremost, our teachers came down on us hard. They used scalpels and glue sticks to mend our errant ways. It was for our own good, they said. Legibilty was important they thundered, nagged and whined, because communication was what typography was all about. If people couldn't read the words, you had failed in your mission to communicate.

But see, this is what makes David Carson a genius. Carson knows that communication is what typography is all about. He just thinks that simple legibility leaves out much of what communication is all about. Without anyone ever telling him otherwise, he figured out that visual communication happens prior to reading. Visual communication is there in shape and colors and textual feel, and we receive that message before we start reading. So he roasted the sacred cow of legibility. My favorite Carson moment, and a truly heroic act, is him deciding to set what he took to be a "poorly written and insipid" article on Bryan Ferry all in dingbats. It's too perfect. It's a stroke of genius.

Now the notion of emulating an iconoclast is a strange one. In this case plan B might be to veer sharply back and strive for perfect legibility using clean black and white Helvetica with mathematically perfect leading and optimal kerning. But the iconoclast thang happens to be only my spin on the situation -- really the assignment is to emulate Carson. As difficult to execute as plan B is, plan A of sticking to the assignment might actually be harder. Trying to paint like Jackson Pollack looks like it's gonna be easy until you actually try it. So I better shut up and get started.

At any rate, #yeghelp and Carson are a good thematic match. Twitter is kind of a chaos of layered and jumbled words, big on communication, but not necessarily so big on content. So I think I'll stick to plan A as assigned and settle for sending my tweets in dingbats as my own little plan B.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why do they call them sites anyway?

For years now I have been bemoaning the fact that the web is just a collection of catalogs. Now admittedly it's a very big collection and there are some pretty fancy schmancy catalogs... but still, it's all pages linked to pages. An amazing resource I said, but they're not sites in any real sense of the word. They don't deserve to be called sites in the sense of being locations anymore than a library classification code is a location.

Then I discovered Second Life and realized that the web is indeed capable of housing places that deserve to be called sites. In case you haven't been in a virtual environment, what I mean is that a page is a thing you look at, or maybe you also read it. But it's not a place that you are the way that you can be at the coffee shop or on a mountain. A page is not a site.

So then I started ranting to anyone who would listen how, now that we can make actual online places, that they would start to pop up everywhere. I declared that web 3.0 was gonna be web 3D. I was sure that the concept of an immersive environment where visitors have the experience of being in an actual place would start to leak out onto the web. Well - not so far, or at least not in any big way.

But here's one, and it's gorgeous. And I think you'll agree that although it falls a little short of providing the experience of being in a place, it's a richer, more dimensional experience than that of looking at a page.

Visit Immersive Garden

Do visit and lemme know what you think or if you know of any other websites that deserve to be called places, I would love to visit them too.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gotta start somewhere

Following the logic that if Dano does something that something is either 1. an inherently good idea or 2. that something will at least provide the instrumental good of a raise in Empire Avenue stock, I have decided to give a Blogger blog a try. If Dano does it, count me in.

So I admit that I'm in this for the boost in share price. But I think it'll be good in other ways as well. I will try to use this space as a means of organizing my thoughts about the array of pixels I bump into on a daily basis - the good the bad and the just plain ugly. Now a word of caution, my thoughts on pixels can range from mmm purty colors to pondering whether light emission is sufficient grounds to consider the experience of viewing art in pixels fundamentally different from viewing art in paint. Cuz sometimes I think those extra beta waves could explain why we spend so much time surfing on a sea of near total crap.

But most of the pixels I bump up against on a daily basis are my own. I'm a digital design student, and while it's not clear yet whether I will specialize in designing for the web or for the printed page, everything I do will come to life or possibly go to press as a pixel. So most of my pixel pondering will be about my own place in the pixel universe.
But it's not personal, it's just pixels.

yeah right