Articles by Month: August 2007
Over the past week, I was out of the office. I was on tour with my band, and it was a decent time. I’m not the biggest fan of touring, but it can be fun to go out on the road and play cities that you’ve never been before. Anyway, there is always a lot of time to kill before the show starts, so we would usually stop at the local malls for about an hour or so. In a Hot Topic in (I forget what the name of the mall is) Kansas City, a shirt graphic caught my eye.
I’m sure many of you have heard the term “RSS” right? Well, it stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and my first few years of blogging and web design I completely ignored it. It wasn’t until 6 months ago I realized the power and fun behind RSS feeds. I noticed that all my favorite websites, forums, news portals, and blogs had them but for some reason, I didn’t care to click on them or learn about it. I sort of knew what they were about, meaning I could use some sort of RSS reader to view the blog. Why would I want to do that when I can just visit the website every day? I had my routine of visiting about 5-6 websites every single day and I was happy with that. But then it hit me…
I kept hearing all this hype about Netvibes and Google Reader. So, like most people, I ignored it the first 20 times I scanned past it in the news articles I was reading. But I eventually wandered over to Netvibes and decided to give it a try. After about 15 minutes I was addicted like a giddy little web nerd.
Time Saving Shortcuts
Howdy. This is week five of my series, and here are three more tips. I hope you enjoy them!
1. Time saving keyboard shortcuts: Really, every shortcut I learn makes using illustrator much more natural, but here are two biggies: 1. Ctrl+F pastes directly in front of the copied object 2. Ctrl+B pastes directly behind the copied object. These two shortcuts are really essential in Illustrator, especially when using the pathfinder. Ahh, the pathfinder… Ps- here is the whole list of keyboard shortcuts from Adobe: Keyboard Shortcuts
2. Learning how to use the Pathfinder I had no idea what the Pathfinder did before my intership with Cleveland web design company, Go Media, but I realized very rapidly that I needed to figure it out. My second night back home I sat down with the Illustrator, opened up ‘help’, started figuring out the powerful pathfinder. The Pathfinder can combine shapes, cut one shape out from another, keep only the shape where two other shapes overlap – and so much more. If you’ve not exploited the power of the Pathfinder to do more stuff with less effort, now is a great time to learn it.
3. A Richer Gradient: 1. Make a regular gradient 2. Copy the gradient and Paste in Front using Ctrl+F 3. Change the pasted gradient to a solid color that is slightly lighter than the shade in the middle of the gradient. 4. Move the solid color to the back with the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+[ 5. Change the blending mode of the gradient to multiply from the drop down menu in the Transparency pallete. The result is a gradient with richer, and probably darker tones than the original. Many of the technical tips in this series are pretty simple, but when combined and applied they represent the technical tricks I’ve learned at Go Media to make things look better, faster. And there is still more to come! Till then, happy designing.
Step by Step: How to Use Vector Packs
We get quite a few people calling every day with trouble opening or using our Vector Packs. I decided to write a tutorial specifically to help out newbies who aren’t exactly sure what they’ve just purchased. It’s amazing to know that people who aren’t designers or even own a piece of design software are buying our vector packs. I never would have expected that. This tutorial is essentially a beginner’s guide to our Vector Packs brought to you by your friends at Go Media, the finest website development company in Cleveland.
“Vector graphics (also called geometric modeling or object-oriented graphics) is the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and polygons, which are all based upon mathematical equations to represent images in computer graphics. It is used in contrast to the term raster graphics, which is the representation of images as a collection of pixels, and used as the sole graphic type for actual photographic images.”
Basically, a vector image can be scaled infinitely to any size. It can be enlarged to put on a billboard or the side of a building. It can be used on apparel and even on the web. Raster images (such as jpg, gif, tif, etc) cannot be enlarged without losing quality. So when buying design elements, you want the most versatile elements that can suit any application. Vector graphics are the way to go because they can customized however you like. That’s why we call them Vector Packs!
What’s the purpose of the Vector Packs?
The main purpose of the vector packs is to have a library or archive of commonly used vector elements that you can quickly access and implement into your designs. These are especially helpful if you are on a tight deadline and need to quickly add some flair or artistic elements. Some people buy them and simply use ONLY elements from different packs to create artwork that they never would have imagined they could create beforehand.
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Part One of Seven Easy Principles to Becoming a Master Designer.
Rules about Using Fonts:
Ok, “master designer” might be a bit of a stretch – but you can at least become a “proficient designer” by following 7 easy principles. This will be the shortest, most informative series of blog posts you’ve ever read on how to become a better designer. Please note: these principles CAN be broken… these are not laws, they’re just general guides that all of us designers at Cleveland design firm, Go Media, typically follow when putting together a design.
Follow these simple design principles and you’ll be on your way to artistic excellence.
Principle One: Limit Your fonts. A big part of putting together a good design, as you’ll see, is making sure the over-all look is consistent. The best way to accomplish a consistent look to your design is limiting the number
Adobe Illustrator Shortcuts
Hello again. These last couple of weeks I’ve been sharing some of the broad lessons I’ve learned this summer with Cleveland graphic designers, Go Media, such as learning from criticism, and realizing the importance of presentation.
This week I’m going to get more practical and share some Adobe Illustrator tips that my coworkers have taught me.
We’re all in one big open room at the Go Media offices, so I have the freedom to steal glances at the other designer’s monitors. In my inexperience I would undoubtedly see them taking an approach I had not been exposed to, or would never think of taking. I started a running list of cool techniques I saw for future reference. I’d like to share some. We use Adobe Illustrator for almost everything here, so the tips are rooted in Illustrator. (Warning: these are revelations of a Go Media intern, so don’t be surprised if some of these techniques are less than ground-breaking).
1. Oliver showed me how to do make a radial.
- 1. Draw something cool (preferably long and narrow)
- 2. Activate rotate tool by pressing “R”
- 3. Move anchor point further out from the center of the object
- 4. Hold Alt and rotate the object by 5-15 degrees
- 5. Hold Ctrl+D (which repeats the last action) until radial is closed
2. How to Rotate Text Boxes:
- 1. Text boxes won’t rotate as expected when using the handles in Illustrator. Instead, the bounding box will simply rotate while the text remains horizontal.
- 2. In order to actually rotate the text, you must use the rotate too by pressing “R”, not by using the handles.
3. A Richer Gradient:
- 1. Make a regular gradient
- 2. Copy the gradient and Paste in Front
- 3. Change the pasted gradient to a solid color that is slightly lighter than the shade of the gradient.
- 4. Move the solid color to the back with the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+[
- 5. Change the blending mode of the gradient to multiply.
That does it for this week. If you’re a student like me, I hope you learned something new today. But don’t stop here! This is just a taste of what there is to know about Illustrator – and Illustrator is just one design application! I’ll be sharing more tips next week, but in the meantime keep educating yourself.
As some of you know, I’m a stats junkie. Since I’m involved with Cleveland web design, I love web analytics and keeping track of who is coming and going from all of Go Media’s sites. I use Google Analytics of course like everyone else. But the problem with Google Analytics, is it’s slow. Oftentimes you have to wait 24 hours or more for your stats to show up. So I tried using ReInvigorate for a free solution to real time stats. It’s been great so far, but my problem is that the most of the real time stats are only for the current date or even less. I can’t look at all my referrers from the past month. But I do get them in real time.
Then I discovered Clicky. They like to call themselves Web Analytics 2.0 – which is a fun buzzword. They are real-time and have a super friendly web 2.0 style interface that makes me feel comfortable. Their stats feel more valuable when designed nice. Weird huh? The numbers are the same as anything else, but because they are well designed, I find myself preferring them over other web analytics apps.
Heyyy. The lessons at Cleveland Design firm, Go Media are abundant, and here are a few more that have been kindly passed along to me by everyone here.
When working for a client or a friend, try very hard to decide what is most important to him or her, and deliver it. Is it timeliness? Rock bottom costs? Nailing the look? If you are confused, communicate.
Soak up the company culture. I’m very lucky to be at Go Media, which values experimentation, progress, quality work, and getting the job done. Once you figure out what your company culture values, be proactive about adding value, even (especially) if it requires you to step outside of your job description. (***Note: If you happen to be stuck in a negative company culture, don’t follow this advice but fight tooth and nail for positive change!).
While I’ve learned a lot of practical and technical things at here in Cleveland with design firm Go Media, I’ve also learned some more general, but valuable lessons. In my first couple of posts I’d like to share them with you.
1. Swallow your pride / Be open to criticism
Sometimes this first lesson comes naturally, and other times it does not. Yes, design is subjective, but as an intern I have broken some basic rules on many occasions. Its good practice to not be offended by criticism because it often holds valuable lessons. Don’t have access to awesome mentors like those at Go Media? Here are some ways to get more from criticism:
- Don’t Rationalize: “But I’m only 19”, “I just started using Illustrator a month ago”, and “But business cards are boring” don’t really matter on a professional level (which is what you’re aiming for, right?).
- Instead find the reason for your rationalization – if you feel you lack experience then do some free freelancing. If you aren’t up to speed with certain tools of the trade, take a class or wait for Go Media to release some awesome video tutorials. Be proactive about improving in your weakest areas, don’t just exercise your strong points.
- Wait: Does your latest design make you giddy when you glance at it? Put it aside and look again in a couple of weeks. You might notice certain elements that would create more unity if changed slightly. Become your own critic by removing the bias from your own eye with time.
- Just Do It: Even if you don’t agree with criticism you’ve received on one of your designs, just follow it anyway. At the very least you’ll expand your horizons of “what looks good”, and most of the time you’ll find the recommendation really does help!
2. Make the most of your failures:
- This revelation is straight from the Go Media guy himself – Bill Beachy. Bill has taught me that each failure is a gem of experience and a sign of progress. Don’t dwell in past failures, but don’t ignore them either. Each one should sharpen your eye for detail, help you avoid future mistakes, and help you be proactive about creating good work.
3. Presentation is important:
After all, isn’t this what design is all about? Presentation – of anything (information, emotion, etc). So when presenting your designs to a client or applying for a job be sure to spit polish every aspect of the presentation process. Do you have matching stationary? Is your cover letter nicely formatted and addressed to proper recipient? If you have trouble remembering these presentation ‘musts’ make a checklist and file it.
Brand yourself. Spend an afternoon coming up with a killer monogram or simple logotype for your name. Keep the color scheme consistent with the rest of your presentation materials, such as portfolio covers and stationary. Showing you can create and present your own materials will convince others that you’re the one for the job.
Check out the user showcase recently added to the Go MediaZine and post your self-branding projects there. If yours is a model of awesome self-marketing it could end up here in the Go MediaZine!
There are more lessons and other practical tips to come, so check back. Till then, happy designing.