Meet the Staff: Jeff Finley

jeffpic-bridgeandtunnel150.jpgHi there, I’m Jeff, the main author of the Go Mediazine and one of the 3 owners of Go Media. I joined Go Media full time in January 2006, but I had previously known Bill and Chris for about a year and had done some freelance work for them. Prior to Go Media, I was freelancing under the alias “Mylkhead” and you can view my old portfolio at www.mylkhead.com for those of you curious to my past.

Prior to Go Media

I went to college at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and graduated in 2004 with a BS in Media Arts and Animation. I originally went into college to pursue a career in making video games or CG movies, but I left college with more of an interest in illustration and graphic design. I started freelancing shortly thereafter after being inspired by artists such as Rob Dobi, Derek Hess, and Justin Kamerer. I set out to create artwork for bands with hopes of getting my artwork in stores and potentially worn by their fans. I really liked the thought of that.

After 2 years of that, I decided

Tutorial: Extreme Sports Branding

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In issue #142 of Computer Arts Magazine (should be in stores now) you can find Oliver’s tutorial on how to design a logo and print ad for a fictional extreme sports brand. The brand he chose to invent was Yellow Snowboards. So head out to your local bookstore and pick up a copy to read the tutorial. Here is an excerpt:

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In this new four-part series, the fine staff at Go Media, myself included, will show you how a brand applies to different media. In this particular case, we’re working with a fictitious snowboarding brand called Yellow Snowboards (get the joke?). Yellow Snowboards needed a logo as well as a printed ad. In the following issues, we’ll be going over the brand’s integration to web, broadcast, and mobile forms of media.
This month’s issue covers the creation of the logo and the print ad. I’ll be going over the creation of the logo that was selected out of three concepts as well as the print ad.
For this tutorial, the print ad serves two purposes. One is to show how the logo integrates into snowboard-related imagery. The other is to serve as an example of how elements of Go Media’s vector packs can be applied to a design, the sports design is the most popular, and for the sports lovers check the codigo de bonus bet365 to learn about betting in sports.

Step one: I created three different logo concepts for this project. One relates to the joke (don’t eat yellow snow), and the other two are based around the idea of the trendy appeal of snowboarding and other extreme sports. Option 2 was chosen and I’ll describe the process of its creation.

You’ll have to get your hands on the magazine to read the rest of the tutorial!

More photos of the article after the jump.

Atticus Designs by Go Media for sale

Just noticed this, Atticus is selling two designs we did for them in the summer of 2006. Which is a long time ago it feels like. I knew they bought the designs from us, but never knew they printed them. So go get your hands on these this Christmas.

“Big A” designed by Oliver Barrett:

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Buy it here

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Buy it here

“Tag” by Dave Tevenal

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Buy it here

Make it Look Like Affliction

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As graphic designers for the apparel industry, we’ve heard the phrase “Make it Look Like Affliction” so many times. It’s a strange coincidence. You have a dozen apparel companies and bands who have absolutely nothing in common with each other except for one thing. And that is to make their shirt look like the ever so popular clothing line started by Eric Foss and Todd Beard in 2005. You know, with the dark gothic imagery, skulls, a generous helping of intricate ornaments and woodcut linework, the huge placement across the shoulders, the faded prints, the garment dying, the splatters, the grunge, I could go on! It’s an alternative clothing company’s dream! The ironic thing is, while these bands and clothing companies attempt to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, they wind up all looking the same – just not quite there.

So why is Affliction the brand that most of these people want to be like?

Here are 5 reasons:

1.) The illustration is very good. Certainly much better than most of the shirts it hangs next to in the mall. It’s hand drawn, which is admirable in the world of cut and paste graphic “designers” today. Not everyone can just

Meet and Greet at Go Media

People often wonder who is writing these blog entries and who is making all this cool art. Well, we’ve decided to do a little meet and greet – virtually. Our lovely in-house photographer Diann decided to snap some photos of all of us so you can see our smiling (or grimacing) faces!

Each member of Go Media will have their own separate post with their photos, some artwork they’ve created if applicable, and a mini bio to go along with it. You can even ask this person questions in the comments if you want. I think this will be a fun way for our readers to get an idea of who makes up the team at Go Media.

To get things started, I’ll post a group photo (click to enlarge):

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So be on the lookout too meet each one of us!

Application advice for creative jobs

Because we’re looking to expand our staff here, I want to off some key advice to anyone applying. IT IS ALL ABOUT PRESENTATION!! Some of these things are common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think about what they are doing when applying for a job. If anyone has committed any of the career crimes that I’m going to mention, don’t feel bad. I’ve made some of these same mistakes myself and learning from them helped me out immensely.

Angel artwork by Oliver BarrettThe first impression is key. A bad first impression will almost kill any chance of someone even looking at your work. For example, if you are emailing your resume, do not simply say “See attached” and that’s it. You come off as both lazy and uninterested. Why would someone want to hire you if you don’t make the effort to introduce yourself? You don’t have to write your entire life story in that first email, but say something professional about yourself and that you’re interested in the job. You could mention that you’ve worked in the industry for X amount of years, you just graduated, you’re a fan of the company’s work, etc. Do NOT mention that you are looking for a salary hike. It will never help you to mention money immediately. Also, NEVER EVER EVER cut yourself down no matter how bad you think your work is. If you think you stink, then we will think you stink. Drawing negative attention to yourself will not get you hired out of sympathy. It will draw even more negative attention toward you and the company will laugh at you. Okay, so maybe we won’t laugh at you, but we definitely won’t hire you. I’m not trying to sound like a jerk, but I’ve made some of these same mistakes and some well-timed verbal abuse really straightened me out.

A big no brainer in the first impression department is FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS. If a company is asking for 5 samples, don’t send a 9 samples, don’t send a text-only resume, SEND 5 SAMPLES! That’s a bit annoying, but nowhere near as annoying as when someone emails soliciting freelance design services when a company is looking to fill a full-time position. If the job description says “full-time,” it doesn’t mean “full-time, but maybe freelance too.” FAIL!

There are also obvious things like spelling and grammar. If there is someone specific that you are addressing, make sure to spell his or her name correctly and don’t screw up a prefix if you can avoid it (Mrs. and Ms.). Make sure you are articulate so that the company doesn’t question whether you made it through junior high.

Use complete sentences and avoid internet shorthand. “HI, U GUYZ R DA BEST DESIGNARS. CAN U PLZ HIER ME? C MY RESUME PLZ!” deserves a slap in the face. If you have actually done this, and I know some of you have, please write this on your forehead: FAIL!

The resume is obvious a very important part of getting hired and I think many applicants are not paying enough attention to it. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve received resumes created in Microsoft Word using the default settings. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it won’t help you stick out in a sea of applicants. We work in a creative field, so a well thought out resume is a great way to get noticed.

Treat your resume like a design project. Try different dimensions, colors, compositions, etc. I took a class in college called “Business and Professional Practices” and the Professor told the class about how she got her first design job. She had made a small booklet containing both her resume and some samples. She was creative with an intricate spiral binding of the booklet and made it so that anything placed on top of it would slide off. That forced her resume to be on top of the pile. A cool looking resume is a great way to capture the company’s attention.

The content of the resume can be just as important as its appearance. I would advise keeping your resume to a maximum of one page. There can be thousands of applicants for a job and no one wants to spend time flipping through a 15 page resume. You don’t have to put every job you’ve ever had on the resume. You only need to list the positions related to the one you are currently applying for. It’s a waste of space to mention that you were a soda jerk in ’98.

Samples are probably the most important part of your application. Make sure you are submitting your ABSOLUTE BEST work. If you are unsure of a particular piece of work, then don’t include it. You should be absolutely ruthless with yourself when putting samples together. Detach yourself from your work; don’t be afraid to cut your babies loose. Also, try your best to match what the company is looking for. If a company is looking for a web designer, include the best web work you can.

There are exceptions to everything I’ve mentioned, but not many. I hope you’ve learned a thing or two from this. Again, some of these things may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many crappy applications we get. If you’ve read this and still send us a stupid application, I will come through your monitor and wring your neck.

Prom Night

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This is a new shirt design that I did for some merch for a fairly popular screamy post-hardcore band. It was accepted and the design might actually see the cotton threads of a comfy shirt one day. Let’s hope that the printer is able to print it as it is in the mockup and not just crop it and center it on the shirt.

By the way, you can “love” or “comment” on this design if you want over at emptees.com – which by the way the community is really expanding lots of great designers post there. Rob Dobi, Horsebites, ATK Studios, Chris Rushing, etc. Lots of em. So if you’re a t-shirt designer or just a fan of this stuff in general, join and participate. Make the community even better!

Arsenal’s First Anniversary!

1stcustomer.jpgHappy anniversary to us! It is the one year anniversary of our Arsenal! In just that amount of time we produced eight unique sets of vector art as well as three texture packs, four fonts, two icon packs, two motion packs and more! This of course is on top of all of our design work that we do for clients. We celebrated today by having a pizza party. Woohoo!

We would like to sincerely thank each and every customer that has supported us! We are giving an extra big thanks to our VERY FIRST customer who bought a vector pack from us on November 8, 2006. This customer’s name is Dan Olson, and here is a picture that he provided to us (modified slightly) to be featured here.

Thanks Dan!

The Most Amazing Poster Ever

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This is the poster I was talking about in the post below. Just sit back and admire the beauty.

Rebuild

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Some random artwork I created for a poster that we never finished. It was the worst looking poster you can imagine! Just thought I’d post this.

Edit: This artwork is modified from the original poster. The “worst poster you could imagine” came from the idea that everyone in the office create something cool and then all those elements would be assembled into one big piece of art. I created a 3D “rebuild” text and Oliver created the word “aesthetic” out of fruit, and Bill had some vectored lady faces, and Dave had to take those elements and make them work together. Needless to say it didn’t work out the way we had planned! I took my render of the 3D “rebuild” and made it it’s own little piece of art and posted it above. I think it looks neat by itself.

Ornate Lettering Process

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I’m going to show you the process as to how I do my ornate lettering. This is a new design I did for Stone Sour that utilized this technique. Now right off the bat, this is not a step by step tutorial. It’s more of a look behind the scenes into how I work. The very core of this process is having a solid drawing ability and a good understanding of letterforms, typography, spacing, composition, yada yada. Also, I assume you know your way around Illustrator, Photoshop, and 3D Studio Max. There is no simple process to this – so yep, that means it actually takes work! So for those of you who are only interested in a shortcut to get this look, you can probably just skip reading. Because there really isn’t anything short about this. It’s good old fashioned hand lettering that’s tweaked and finalized on the computer for a vector final result. Here is how I do it:

Process

Start with a Sketch:

Sketch

No of course, it took lots of bad sketches to get to this point. I probably went through about 4 or 5 sheets of paper with lots of various concepts. Once I had one I liked, I scanned it into the computer and placed it into Illustrator. Then I started creating my first letter using the Pen Tool.

Start Forming Letters with the Pen Tool using Sketch as Reference

adding cirlces to start off

I started placing basic geometric shapes (like circles) in place of where some of my major smooth curves are going to be. For me, it’s hard to get such perfect curves using the Pen Tool alone, so I give myself some help by putting circles in. I plan to clean this up later.

add more to S

You can see I started getting a little more detail in there. Just creating shapes with only the Stroke Color on and not the fill. I’ll use the Pathfinder tool and subtract or add shapes together as I need to. Again, I will clean up this mess as I go.

solids and subtract

I started making my letters solid fills now and used the subtract tool to knock out some of the circles.

cleaned up S

You can see now that the S is cleaned up. The basic form is down and I am happy with it. I will add more fancy frilly stuff to the S later. At this point, I move onto the other letters. I will skip some of the redundant steps, but I basically do the same thing. I trace out the shapes with the Pen Tool or use basic geometric primitives to give me a good base. And tweak and tweak. I’m not afraid to merge shapes together and then tweak the points.

Continue to build the rest of the letters

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Here is the rest of word Stone in its basic form. You can see each shape I created with the Pen Tool. Some of the perfect circular shapes were just circles that were merged with the other shapes.

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This is what the basic form of the word “stone” looks like. Let’s move on to the other letters.

stone sour blocked out

Adding Swashes

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I added a swash underneath the letters to fill the negative space there and balance things out. I created this by making a custom brush in the shape of a tall triangle. This way the brush starts thick and ends in a point as it progresses down the path.

Adding Details

Now that all the basic letterforms are finished, now it’s time to add in details. Smaller swashes, frills, flourishes, ornaments, etc. These are kind of improvised based on what I’ve already created. I just eyeball it and see what might look good where. I might see an area that is begging me to put a flowery type shape there. Or a certain place that might look cool with an ornate swirl. I also duplicated my S and mirrored it and put it on the right side. I dressed it up with some cool detailing and arranged it in the piece until I was happy. This isn’t a science here, it’s just about what you think looks good. This is where I can experiment and I usually try some things that I don’t like and move things around until I am happy. This is my final piece after all the details were finished:

final vector shape

I think it looks very cool at this point, but I know there is more I can do to give it some extra kick. I will merge all the shapes into one path and import the path into 3D Studio Max. From there I can make it a solid 3D object and can get some cool effects that I cannot get in Illustrator. Well, it’s sort of possible with Illustrators 3D engine but in my opinion, it’s not as accurate and creates weird shapes. And I just like working in real 3D anyway.

Import paths into 3D Studio Max

3d Path

You can use whatever 3D program you want if you are trying this at home. But I grew up using 3DS Max. So here are my paths in 3D space. I set up a camera exactly how I want it, which is perfectly centered and in front of my object. I also moved it slightly down to sort of “look up” at my object from underneath – just a tad. This will give it more of a “big” feel.

Extrude the Shapes

3D extrude

I used the Extrude Modifier to give my text a 3D shape. In most cases I would use Bevel to give my shapes a more realistic edge to them (because real life objects always have at least some sort of bevel on the edges and are not perfectly flux together). Bevel gives edges an accurate highlight along them and can really add to the realism of the piece. But in this case, since our final output is vector and NOT a photo realistic 3D piece, extrude is the tool to use. So while extruding, I simply tweaked my settings to my liking. Now it’s time to choose my materials that will best help me export this beast in a format that I can live trace easily.

Extruded Shapes

Pick Materials

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I want my letters to be white and the sides of them to be black. This way the letters will really pop. To do this, I applied an Edit Mesh modifier to the stack and sleceted only the front faces of my letters. I made a material that was white and self illuminated. This is guaranteed to be white with no shadows. I applied this to my letter faces and then selected the inverse. As a result, everything else was selected. I gave the remaining selection a black material that was self illumincated to prevent any odd shadows or highlights from affecting my final output. This is good if you plan to live trace your 3D rendering which I am about to do.

Render a high res image

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Once I have the materials applied the way I like them, I render out a high res image – usually bigger than 2500 pixels. This gives me a nice size image to live trace. Also, render using a TGA file extension with an Alpha Channel. This is so you can easily cut your image out of the background.

Live Tracing

Before I Live Trace in Illustrator, I must go into Photoshop and separate my colors. For the whites, I select my highlights and invert them and copy and paste the now “black” letters into Illustrator. They’re ready to be live traced. For the black shapes, it’s a bit different. I make a copy of my render layer and use it’s Alpha Channel to make a selection and delete the background away. I make a selection around my rendered image and fill it completely with black. Then I give it a good sized stroke to give it some extra thickness. Then I take that into Illustrator and live trace it using the default settings. Here are the two pieces as you see them in Illustrator after they have been live traced:

two separations

Final Result

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I hope you enjoyed a look behind the scenes into the creation of Ornate Lettering.

Here are some other examples using this technique or similar:

tough or suffer

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Free Vectors: Set 8 Sampler

Vector Pack 8 Out Now!

User Showcase Highlight: Round 7

As of this writing our Go Media User Showcase has 267 entries and 152 members. Here are a couple pieces that I thought put some of the items in Go Media’s Arsenal to good use.

Combines the scribble pack and various others with photos. It’s not overworked, and I think it’s nice.

Utilizzo Design:
Last Days of Winter by Utilizzo

This design puts the Watercolor pack to good use:

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phantom planet

Great job you two. Everyone visit their flickr page to see more of their work! And keep posting your designs and you could potentially get showcased!

Go Media in “I Want Your Skull” Zine

The new issue of “I Want Your Skull” is out now and Dave and I managed to get some of our drawings in the zine. I did the dirty mullet skull and Dave did the one with the snake. Check them out:

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I Want your Skull is an indie zine that showcases the art of skull illustration and design. It’s a pretty niche market, but it’s cool. This issue has a nice feature on Justin “Angryblue” Kamerer. The zine includes artwork from artists such as Dwitt, Doktor A, Shawn Hebrank, Kevin Mcnutt, Jerry Vigil, J. Statts, Tyler Kline, Mike Thompson, Eric Talbot, Alex Barrera, Miss Pinny, Shaun Friend, Punchgut, The Pit, Scott Benson, R.M. Hanson, Nate Nolting, Ryan August, Marald Van Haasteren, Ed Syder, and Jim Altieri.

Get your copy for $20 US here.

Design Piracy – What to do when your designs are stolen

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It’s happened to the best of us and will inevitably happen to you if it hasn’t already. Your hard work and creativity are ripped off without consent, permission, payment, or even credit. Oftentimes the idiot who assembled a piece of garbage like you see above will take credit for the design entirely. You’ll even see fans of the band compliment the “poster” with remarks like “Wow, you’re really talented, you should make a flyer for me!” Or even “I always knew you could draw!”

The image above was a close recreation of a poster that some band on Myspace made using Go Media’s artwork as their “attention grabber.” Their typography was horrid and it made me want to barf. My first instinct was to be all super pissed off and flame the person who created this trash!

The Small Time Crook

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But then I sat back and took a deep breath. Was this as big of a deal as I thought? It was some band with less than 1,000 total plays and only a few hundred friends. They weren’t any good and were probably just a group of young kids who are fans of our designs. I didn’t want to sound like a complete asshole when I messaged them so I simply said “Woah, sweet design who made it?” The wrote back and said “A friend of mine created it…” Haha.

So was this kid just lying about it? Or did he have a friend make the poster and the friend stole it without the band even knowing? I wrote back and asked for the guy who created it, and he wrote back and said “Woah, I didn’t know that this was something you created. Sorry about that! I’ll take it down right away.” I didn’t even have to ask them to remove it. He was smart enough to notice my profile and portfolio and saw the original artwork in it. He must have got the hint!

This is typical of most cases of design piracy online. Small time, no-name designers wanting to use a cool piece of art for their own. They always say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right? I try to keep that in mind when “policing” any stolen art. Other examples are