Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Photoshop is squishy

I swear, I love photoshop a bit more every day. I also love the people who think up incredibly cool and creative things to do with it, even though sometimes I have no idea who to credit. This image is the result of an exercise we did in Danielle's class at Guru Digital Arts, which is based on a tutorial from somebody who knows a thing or two about manipulating graphics creatively. I think the idea of building a bug from spare parts is just brilliant. My final image is more elaborate, but here you can really see the many creative possibilities for constructing an image this way.

I can't wait to make a whole swarm of critters from spare photo parts.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Domain Name Despair Syndrome

What's in a name?

To move from one cliche to another, anyone doubting the adage that there is no such thing as an original idea need only spend an hour or so searching for a domain name. If that doesn't do it, then the next 10 hrs spread over the course of a week's worth of pondering great names surely will. Leaping out of bed to try just one or two, maybe seven more variations on your 38th from the top of your favorites list to find that they too are all already gone, ought to convince you that if it's not true that there is no such thing as an original idea, it is most definitely true that there is no such thing as an original Domain Name idea. Go ahead and try this for yourself: you name it - it's gone.

I have been obsessed with trying to find a decent and available domain name incorporating the word or part of the word pixel. So far, I have failed. Seriously, I must have been dreaming to think that such a thing was possible. I have since fantasized about calling up the peeps who already own the ones that I wanted and offering them, um, well I'm not sure what I could offer them. A few extra bucks and the promise to do a better job with both the name and also the site design probably wouldn't suffice.

Pixelbump is gone; so is pixelthat, pixelthis, pixelit, pixelpeople, pixelpeeple, pixello, pixomatic, pixelala, pixelgaga, pixelfit, pixelpleasegodjustthisone and COUNTLESS others. Don't even get me started on pixelpump and its derivatives, or pixelanimals, pixelcolors and pixelnumbers. Gone, gone, gone and get serious. Who are all these other people who think just like me? What hope is there of distinguishing myself and my work from the ocean of others already out there if the simple first step of an original name is beyond me?

The only hopeful sign is that apparently my experience is hardly unusual. Since starting this quest a few weeks ago, I have found several people who have also suffered from what I am calling Domain Name Despair Syndrome. What makes it a syndrome is that it's accompanied by a particular neurosis, or at least this is true in my case. You see one of the names that I wanted, a name that was in my top 5 choices IS still avaialable as a dot com. It's a great name. It not only was one of my original choices, it was first in line after pixelbump. It suits me perfectly, probably better than pixelbump does, is an original derivative of the word pixel and is also a word that expresses what I take to be an important design ideal. And incredibly, it's not taken -- not owned yet. It was available a week ago, and it's still out there waiting for anyone who wants it. And I do!! Or um, at least I thought I did.

This is where our despair gets its syndrome status from the simple addition of a bit of neurosis. Here's the thing. No one but me has thought to register this domain name, which is great because that means that I can have it all to myself. But it also means that no one else wants this name. That would still be ok, indeed it should still be fine and dandy - perhaps even an indicator of personal originality! if not for the lingering effects of all the fruitless searching of unavailable names. What I think happens is that so many domain name searches return unavailable as a result that unavailability itself starts to take on the allure of a desirable characteristic. I not only want what I cannot have, I want it because I cannot have it. The more unavailable it is, for instance if both the dot com and dot net domains are gone, then the more attractive that name becomes.

Worst of all, the name that I wanted, which is available has somehow become less attractive because it is still available. Now that, is clearly evidence that I am nuts. Bear in mind that this name was my second choice when the whole process started. But after hundreds of searches just trying to see what's out there, finding that it isn't makes it less attractive. It no longer feels like my second choice. Instead it feels very much like the name that nobody else wanted. So a week later when I log onto goDaddy and see that it is still available, rather than jumping for joy or at least feeling relief, all I feel is doubt.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Creativity... I has it

Ok, after a weekend of experimentation in combining illustrator and photoshop, which produced nothing that I am willing to show... (yet anyway), we did this wee but worthwhile exercise in class today. Assignment: draw from a deck of um... sort of like tarot cards, and illustrate or express the card in 1 short hour. The card I drew was The Earthy, and this is the image I came up with.

It's pretty good for an hour's time especially considering the time spent looking for and installing photoshop brushes, browsing textures, masking out the Courbet nude etc. It was an exercise meant to jolt our creative juices into flowing, and I think quite successful all round. I am considering doing one a day as an exercise in creative discipline, but maybe I'll give myself 2 hours next time.

Credits: nude from Courbet's Nude Woman with Dog. Trees, ferns and dandelions were photoshop brush freebies from BrushKing & Brusheezy. Background textures were both freebies from Bittbox. Owen and Beth for the assignment :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Shattered... finished

How's that for a dramatic title? Just teasing -- really this post has nothing to do with being shattered. And as it turns out, I'm not actually finished the piece. But I thought that I would add a blog post to show what ended up below the header tidbit that I posted earlier. The project was an interface design for Chris Caldwell's class at Guru Digital Arts. Shattered Clothing is a (mostly) T shirt seller of wearable limited edition designs made by an inmate on San Quentin's death row. Their original website was not so good, so our job was a redesign.

Anyway, mission mostly accomplished on my part. Caldwell's main criticism was that I had not taken the grungy theme as far as I might have and that specifically the little web style buttons looked out of place and would have been better as paint smears. I was actually worried that I had gone too far with the grunge and that the thing wouldn't look like a business web site at all. But as soon as he mentioned the buttons, I knew he was dead right.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Today's tidbit

Thinking about web sites and their elements has pretty much taken over my Guru life. From site maps and wireframes to icon sets and general interface design, it's all web this week and last. Today I made a start on an interface that has to be finished tomorrow. This is just the header so far, but it's off to a promising start.