Designing for the Film Industry: Interview With Go Media’s Jeff Finley

‘Weapons of Mass Creation’ Art Campaign Kick-Off Party

weapons-mass-creation-photoshoot-header

The ‘Weapons of Mass Creation’ Art Campaign Kick-Off Party

Saturday, September 19th, 2009 • Go Media Studios, Cleveland Ohio

IMG_0014

We invited top artists, illustrators, print designers, and web designers from all over the country to come to our studio in Cleveland to participate in a photo shoot for the upcoming art campaign “Weapons of Mass Creation”. The purpose of the campaign is to give artists and designers we respect the opportunity to showcase their own work and send a positive, unified message to the community. The final ad will appear with an incredible shot of the designer standing in front of his or her own work next to the headline “I am a Weapon of Mass Creation”.

IMG_0062

To kick off the campaign, we hosted a photo shoot with rock ‘n roll photographer Chris Casella. Chris is a great photographer known for his photo shoots with Slash, Slipknot, Disturbed, and a whole load of other mainstream bands – and he made us look like rock star designers!

IMG_0059

When not getting the rock star treatment in front of the lens, designers were trading merch & business cards, eating pizza, filming video interviews with Go Media information architect Liz Hunt, or playing Wii bowling. It was a great time, and we really hope to host a sequel with an even larger crowd!

IMG_0056

Here’s a list of attendees:

IMG_0052IMG_0050IMG_0049IMG_0045IMG_0038IMG_0033IMG_0026IMG_0019

Blank Canvas: What’s Your Digital Design Setup?

blank-canvas-header

We’re starting a new feature on the Go Media ‘Zine to give our readers a chance to voice their thoughts and opinions. We’re naming it “Blank Canvas”. And if you readers have any topics you’d like to see covered, please let us know in the comments and we’ll choose from the best and use for future “Blank Canvas” posts.

To kick things off, this week’s topic is “What’s Your Digital Design Setup?” and we’d like to hear from readers about your setup for creating.

The Questions:

  • Mac, PC or other? What kind of machine?
  • What software/version do you create with?
  • Any extra hardware gadgets or tools?
  • Reference books/media nearby?
  • Inspiration?
  • What kind of desk & chair?

To get this ball rolling, here’s my personal setup:

2008 Mac Pro with 14 GB RAM. Most of my work is done Using the Adobe Creative Suite CS4, primarily Illustrator and Photoshop, but InDesign gets it’s fair share of attention. I rarely use my mouse, almost all of my interaction with the Mac is via my Wacom Inutos4 medium-size graphics tablet. Keyboard and mouse are stock from Apple. I have a basic scanner, a Canon LIDE 90. I have a dual-monitor setup, my main monitor is a 24″ Samsung SyncMaster 245T and my secondary is my former main monitor, a 20″ ViewSonic a Samsung SyncMaster 2243BWX 22″ monitor. Main monitor is calibrated using a Pantone Huey. A bunch of external hard drives, mostly for backups and more backups.

I also have a webcam set up, primarily for the microphone. Of course I have a set of external speakers hooked up. All my main computer equipment runs through a battery backup/surge suppressor in case of power glitches or outages. I also have an EyeTV which lets me watch & record TV on the Mac while I am working.

My desk is always cluttered, I have a small bookshelf nearby with various drawing and design reference books. I have a nice rolling taboret for all my drawing and art tools, including all my Pantone swatch books and color reference books. The desk I sort of built myself, it was a DIY IKEA 60″x30″ tabletop and leg setup. Lots of paper and sketchbooks nearby, I primarily sketch on laser paper sheets as they are easiest to scan afterwards. Chair is a basic drafting table chair.

There’s a drawing table next to my main computer desk, but mostly it gets used for stacking paperwork and other random stuff. I usually draw and sketch on a small drawing board sitting in front of the computer.

A tiki sculpture and an Easter Island bobble head keep me company, along with a posable wooden reference hand as well as a posable mini wooden reference manikin.

Wacom Bamboo Touch Revealed Early

bamboo-touch-early-header

Seems Wacom has a new product to be released, and the beans were spilled early by retailer Best Buy, who put the product out on the shelves before the official release date. In fact Wacom has no information on their site about the new device. Wacom’s new Bamboo Touch is a USB trackpad incorporating multi-touch, giving users an iPhone-like experience on their Mac or PC. Early reports on the pricing are around $70 USD for this model.

The model featured here is finger input only, but there’s been speculation across the web that there are going to be multiple models of the device, some which support a pen/stylus in addition to the finger gesture input. And extrapolating from Wacom’s current product lines, it’s reasonable to deduce that there may be an Intuos Touch, perhaps incorporating advanced features, and perhaps the models that include a stylus.

Any graphics tablet user who has experience with both Wacom’s Bamboo products and their Intuos products knows that there is a huge difference between the two lines (which is also reflected in the prices). It’s fair to assume that if an Intuos Touch is in the pipeline, it will be far more fully-featured than the Bamboo version of the same product.

Many might dismiss the device, thinking that drawing or sketching would be far less intuitive than working with a pen/stylus, and I tend to agree. My interest in the device isn’t for drawing, rather for rotating, zooming/scaling and moving the canvas around in Photoshop and Illustrator. A far more intuitive method for those actions other than hunting down the keyboard shortcuts every time.

Here’s a brief intro video by a YouTube user who picked up a Bamboo Touch:

Here’s the text from the box:

Smart
Gain all the benefits of Multi-Touch. Use Bamboo with all standard operating systems and applications. Custimize your Bamboo, too. Flexible and versatile, Bamboo is the smart choice.

Engaging
Engage with your computer in an all-new way from the very first touch. Multi-Touch makes complex commands as easy as a gesture, while Bamboo’s ample tablet space lets you get in touch with your work.

Natural
Make your every gesture count! Scroll, zoom, rotate or flip through photos and documents. Everything at your fingertips.

  • Multi-Touch input for intuitive and direct control
  • Use a single finger to navigate and multiple fingers for gestures and clicks
  • Use finger gestures to scroll, zoom, rotate, go backward or forward
  • Spacious touch area for all gestures
  • Four user-defined ExpressKeys for shortcuts or clicks
  • Easy USB connection
  • Interactive tutorial helps you make the most of your Bamboo
  • Overall tablet size: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.3 in (208 x 138 x 7.5 mm)
  • Wide-format active area size: 4.9 x 3.4 in (125 x 85 mm)

PC: Windows 7, Vista or XP with Service Pack 2
Macintosh: Mac OS X (10.4.8 or higher), Intel or PowerPC Processor

wacom-bamboo-touch-box-back

All you Wacom users out there: what’s your take on this product? Something you’re interested in or not? How can you envision using muti-touch gestures in your creative workflow?

Quick Global Swatches In Adobe Illustrator

quick-global-swatches-header

Global swatches in Adobe Illustrator: they’re awesome. If you’re not aware of the power that is a global swatch, they are special color swatches that are applied like regular swatches, but when the swatch is changed, all vector objects using that swatch are also updated. Similar to Symbols in Illustrator, or Instances for you Flash users. Like I said, awesome.

Global swatches come in very handy when tweaking colors in an illustration or design. Obviously you’re keeping your color palette tight, limited and harmonious so using global color swatches is the ideal method for ensuring all your elements are using the exact same color throughout the illustration or design.

Of course, this is only handy if you’re using global swatches from the go. Otherwise you need to go back, select one object using a color, go to Select > Same > Fill Color and then create a global swatch, and then apply that global swatch. Sheesh! But what if I told you you could create global swatches in one fell swoop, and convert all your existing art to the global swatches, and group them all into a color group in one step? I thought you might be interested. Read on for the how-to…

Open Your Image

Open_Your_Image.jpg

Open up your .ai file. Obviously (or not so obviously) this technique will only work with vector objects. Here I am using a cool little punk rock alien cartoon character playing bass guitar, which I recently created for a client project.

Select Your Artwork

Select_Your_Artwork.jpg

Select all the artwork for which you want to create global swatches. Here I just used the Selection tool and dragged around the chosen vector art objects.

Create The Color Group

Create_The_Color_Group.jpg

Click the “Create Color Group” button in the Swatches palette/panel. It’s the little folder icon with a plus sign superimposed upon it.

Create The Global Swatches

Create_The_Global_Swatches.jpg

After clicking the “Create Color Group” button, you’ll be presented with this dialog box. Be sure to click the “Selected Artwork” radio button as well as the “Convert Process To Global” checkbox.

Behold Your New Color Group!

Behold_Your_New_Color_group_.jpg

Voila! You now have a new color group with all the selected object colors, and you can see by the white triangle in the corner that they are all indeed Global swatches. Illustrator also handily has converted the colors in your selected artwork to these new global versions of the swatches.

Erika Simmons: Ghost In The Machine


ghost-in-the-machine-simmons-header

Erika Simmons’ ‘Ghost in the Machine’ series is an imaginative approach to image creation/illustration. The concept of incorporating elements of the subject matter as the medium is a great example of thinking outside the box. The use of the cassette tape forces the viewer to envision the process, which thus incorporates an element of the passage of time—intrinsic to the experience of music—into the artwork. The idea of introducing the element of time into musician-themed artwork has echoes of Denny Dent’s “performance portraits”.

ghost-in-the-machine-jimi-hendrix-iri5

Tell us a little about yourself…

I’m a 25 year-old woman who lives in Georgia. I am a self-taught artist. I try to focus on using found materials, or donated materials. A lot of my supplies come from places like Goodwill.

I try to make things that showcase some idea, through simply cutting up and re-arranging the pieces of everyday items, like cassettes, old books, or even credit cards. Basically anything I can get my hands on! I like working with these older, strange materials because they have a mind of their own, and come with cultural connotations for me to play with—like a springboard for your imagination.

ghost-in-the-machine-marilyn-monroe

Art school or self-taught?

I never went to art school or took any traditional art classes, but I did go to college and make up school. I waited tables to pay the bills for years. While I was working at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, the idea struck me to make some musically themed art. I had some old cassettes laying on top of a blank canvas… that’s how it all started! Mostly luck and a lot of hard work.

ghost-in-the-macine-robert-smith

What inspires you?

My greatest inspiration comes from big ideas… mostly those found in science and psychology. It is endlessly fascinating to begin to understand how we organize the world around us, how we come to understand meaning in things.

ghost-in-the-machine-bob-dylan

How did you develop the cassette tape series? What was your inspiration?

The cassette tape series came out of a desire to explore a theme of recursion… tangled hierarchy. Where is the music? On the cassette tape? In the head of the musician portrayed? Where does one begin and the other end? But you don’t have to look at it in that way to enjoy it. I tried to make something fun and easy-to-understand, but with deeper things to think about, if you so choose.

ghost-in-the-machine-the-clash

‘Ghost in the Machine’ series—the process

To make a cassette tape portrait I draw the desired shapes. Then I glue down the tape in the desired shaped that I have drawn. For my favorite ones, I attempt to cut the tape as little as possible, to make it look like it has just sprung from the case mostly intact. I fold and sculpt it into place and twist it to give the illusion of a thinner line… it takes forever, but I love it.

ghost-in-the-machine-michael-jackson

Upcoming projects and shows

Some upcoming projects… I’ve got a charity gallery show I’m participating in at UCLA October 4th with REVO. I’ll be there to help support the need for education in Papua New Guinea. Please come if you are in the LA area!!! We’d love to have you.

I’ve also begun experimenting with other media. Right now I’m using different rope textures to make portraits. Tomorrow I’ll be doing something else, I’m sure. : )

I love to do custom work for people, so if anyone ever wants to shoot me an email and bounce an idea off of me, please email me! Thanks again!

Erika’s artwork can bee seen on her website at iri5.com as well as on her Flickr account.

erika-iri5

Paparazzi!: Full Web Page Screenshots Utility (OS X)

paparazzi-header

Paparazzi! is a handy little niche utility for Mac OS X that creates screenshots of full webpages. Add a URL (or choose from a list of recently visited sites) and Paparazzi! brings up the page in a mini-browser. Save the file in your preferred format, with custom file name options (such as auto-adding the date, year, URL, page title and more).

The real gem here is that Paparazzi! takes a screenshot of the entire web page, not just what’s visible on-screen. Great tool for web designers.

paparazzi_04_mainBest of all, it’s free! Note that the developer does ask for donations of you find yourself using the app a bit, so show some love and drop a few bucks to the developer if this software is helpful for you.

Go Media’s Jeff Finley: Interview at VectorTuts

Finley-Vectortuts-interview

Just a quick heads up to let our readers know about the extended interview by Sean Hodge with Go Media’s Jeff Finley over at VectorTuts.

Jeff shares design, illustration as well as design industry insights, along with related thoughts on graphics software, balancing the personal and business aspects of your online presence, collaboration with other artists, tips for aspiring creatives, and much more.

Text Tool Tips

gomedia-text-tool-tips-header

So you’re a keyboard shortcut junkie, working on a design. You need to add text. You select the Text tool in Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign and add your text. But how does one jump to other tools—permanently or temporarily—while having the Text tool selected? Obviously if you hit one of the standard keyboard ‘letter’ shortcuts, you’re just going to enter that letter into the text box. Here are a few tips…

“Commit” the Text Box

Illustrator/InDesign: In Illustrator or InDesign, you can commit the text very easily by hitting the Esc key. The text/text box you were working with will no longer act as if it’s “live” and you can select another single-letter tool shortcut via your keyboard.

In Illustrator as well as InDesign, hitting the Esc key will also jump you to the Select tool as well. If you want to keep the Text tool active and still access the Select tool temporarily, just tap Cmd (Mac)/Ctrl (PC) to access the Select tool. Then release the Cmd/Ctrl key to revert back to the Text tool.

Photoshop: To “commit” text in Photoshop, you’ll need to hit the Enter key (note that the Enter key is not the same as the Return key; Enter is on your number keypad).  And of course, no special keyboard wrangling to move the text around—just move your cursor slightly away from the text, and your cursor will temporarily switch to the Move tool.

Thanks to Mike Shoaf for the Photoshop ‘commit text’ tip!

Temporarily Access Hand Tools

Illustrator: So you’re working with text but just need to temporarily do some moving of the canvas with the hand tool. To get the hand tool when you’re working with text in Illustrator, press Cmd (Mac)/Ctrl (PC) + Spacebar, then release just the Cmd/Ctrl key. On the Mac, Cmd-Spacebar is also the default Spotlight search keyboard combo, but if you do the tip as suggested it will work fine, even though the Spotlight search bar will pop up; just ignore it.

Big thanks to Mordy Golding for this Illustrator tip, been looking for a way to do this for so long!

InDesign Within InDesign, there’s actually a special Hand tool keyboard shortcut just for this purpose: Option (Mac)/Alt (PC) + Spacebar. In fact, I have mapped one of the stylus buttons on my Wacom graphics tablet to this Option-Spacebar combo as opposed to the standard Spacebar, and it works great even when not in a live text box.

Photoshop: In Photoshop, to temporarily access the Spacebar/Hand tool while working in the Text tool, hold Command-Shift-Space (Mac) or Ctrl-Shift-Space (PC).

Thanks to @jeremysnyder for the tip!

Know of any other handy Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign tips for using the Text tool? Let us know in the Comments section below!

PhotoKeys for iPhone

photokey-for-iphone

PhotoKeys for iPhone [iTunes App Store link] is an interesting app. In short, it turns your iPhone into a small touch screen to access the Photoshop tool palette—Move, Marquee, Lasso, Magic Wand and so on—as well as other common functions such as Copy, Paste, Undo, Save, etc. You get the idea.

screenShot1

Let’s get the first question out of the way: why? Well, I can see a few situations making this app useful: laptop users and graphics tablet users who don’t sit hunched slavishly over their Wacom all day (like I do). Many times I have been using my Wacom with my MacBook, and lurching back over to the keyboard to swap tools with the keyboard can ruin the creative flow. Yeah, I’m a keyboard junkie.

After downloading the app to your iPhone, you’ll need to install server software on your Mac or PC (Mac version—using Photoshop CS4—tested for this review). The server software is free, but of course useless unless you’ve purchased the $4.99 iPhone app as well. Also, you’ll need to have your iPhone set up to access the same local wi-fi network as the computer you are running Photoshop on. After installing, Mac users will find a new item in their menubar, and I assume PC users will find a new icon in their taskbar tray. Without configuring anything, and also without relaunching Photoshop, PhotoKeys sprung to action without a hitch.

Tapping tools in PhotoKeys resulted in an instantaneous switch within Photoshop. Impressive.

The tool icons on the ‘Tools’ screen are reminiscient enough of the Photoshop analogs that even a casual Photoshop user will have no trouble determining which button does what. At first raw glance, the ‘Edit’ screen was less intuitive as far as which buttons performed which actions. Some were obvious enough, but others not so much. I jumped in to this demo without reading any documentation to see how far I could get without needing to do so. I like to see how intuitive software is without having to read a manual or a getting started guide.

screenShot2

The third screen—’Arrows’—is basically a giant set of arrow key buttons. I found a bit of a lag when tapping the arrows repeatedly. The Arrows screen offers three modes: Nudge, Move and Clone. All worked as expected by their names, albeit the lag mentioned above. The lag seems to be more pronounced by a repeated tapping of the arrow keys as opposed to just holding down the direction you want to move the layer. Also, I couldn’t really determine a difference between the speed or distance of the Nudge versus the Move mode—both seemed too slow to me. Also, one needs to already have the Move tool selected, and there is no way to activate the Move tool from the ‘Arrows’ screen. I think a Move tool button on this screen would be a welcome and handy addition.

screenShot3

One thing that as a Photoshop CS4 user I have come to love is the “Spring-Loaded Keys” feature. If you aren’t already aware, Photoshop CS4 allows you to not only switch tools using single-letter keys on the keyboard (M for Move tool, B for the Brush tool and so on), but also to temporarily access these tools by holding down the respective key. Just as the Spacebar for time immemorial has allowed you to access the Hand tool and then bounce right back to the previous tool you were using, now all tools have that feature—just hold down the key, as opposed to tapping it to do so. A tap with still switch to the tool if desired. An extremely handy new feature in Photoshop CS4. Unfortunately, PhotoKeys does not offer any such functionality. I’m not sure if this is even feasible in PhotoKeys, but for me it would be a must-have.

PhotoKeys also seems to only offer the “standard” tool and edit set of Photoshop—in other words, the tools that are most common with most versions of Photoshop. You won’t find new CS4 tools, such as my fave—the Rotate View tool.

Omnipresent on all PhotoKeys’ screens is the “Zoom Bar” at the top of the iPhone window. this is probably my favorite feature, as it gives one instant gesture-based access to the Zoom tool at any time. It works smoothly and flawlessly. Very cool.

As someone who primarily works in Photoshop on a desktop computer extensively using keyboard shortcuts, I’m not sure PhotoKeys fits into my particular workflow. That said, the execution of this app is impressive and well-done. If anything in this review caught your attention as useful or handy for your workflow, I’d have to say PhotoKeys would be a worthwhile purchase.

Arsenal: T-Shirt Templates, Vol. 2

gomedia-arsenal-tshirt-templates-header

This second volume of the Go Media Arsenal T-Shirt Templates comes in response to popular demand and features natural, hand-created drop shadows & HDR photography for smoother shading layers. Files are in PSD format w/ layers and masks, pixel dimensions are 1200×1300.

PRV1

  • Preset Shirt Colors
  • Photos of both Fronts and Backs
  • Flat and loosely-wrinkled versions
  • Easy to use clipping masks in place
  • Smooth, realistic lighting, drop shadow & shading effects

PRV3

PRV2

Also available is a new set of Urban T-Shirt Templates featuring baggy, loose and flat-pressed t-shirt templates.

Lineform 1.5.1 (Mac Vector Graphics Software) Released + Discount Code

lineform_540x195

Freeverse has just released Lineform 1.5.1. Lineform is a low-cost vector graphics software program for the Mac, for those designers out there on a budget.

Here’s the new stuff:

  • Fixed Undo to include function names
  • Fixed text fill editing bug
  • Fixed reflection filter color bug
  • Improved layer locking
  • Fixed tool handle display bug
  • Fixed text editing background bug
  • Fixed erroneous canvas shifting
  • Improved gradient behavior
  • Improved performance with many objects on canvas
  • Improved copy/paste of multiple objects
  • Improved naming of objects
  • Fixed copy/paste display bug
  • New Lineform Clips option available in the Media Browser, Includes a number of vector clips to use in your documents

Head over to TUAW.com to get a discount code bringing Lineform’s cost to only $49.95—30% off the regular price of $79.95.

Win A Free License For Photoshop Brush Management App Brush Pilot!

Brush Pilot: Quickly Browse Your Photoshop Brushes

gomedia-brush-pilot-image-header

For all you brush junkies out there: Brush Pilot is a brand-new piece of Mac OS X software for previewing Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Elements Brushes (.abr files), Brush Pilot allows you to instantly preview your brushes without having to load them into Photoshop.

Brush Pilot was created by Jay Hilgert, the designer and blogger behind design tip blog BittBox.com.

photoshop_brush_previewer_1a

Brush Pilot automatically finds every brush file on your hard drive, just launch it and let it do it’s thing. Brush Pilot also knows what version(s) of Photoshop you have, and the interface separates your installed brushes from the rest. You can Trash unwanted brushes, reveal the .abr file in Finder, and even install selected files into all versions of Photoshop on your system with a single click, menus, Control/Right + Click, or keyboard shortcuts.

If your Photoshop brush library is out of control, Brush Pilot looks to be worth the $15 price tag. And keep your eyes peeled—we’ll be doing a giveaway soon with some free licenses for Brush Pilot for the lucky winners!

We’ve also got a brief interview with Jay Hilgert, the creator of Brush Pilot:

Tell us a little about yourself and your background

I’m a graphic/web designer, blogger and now, I guess I’m in the software business. I started out at a small design firm in St. Louis and now I blog full time, design fonts, and do freelance web design.

What inspired you to create Brush Pilot?

I got tired of Googling and searching for a tool like Brush Pilot, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. Not only could I make a tool for myself, but I could provide an affordable, and useful tool to the global Photoshop community. In short, I wanted a brush previewer really bad, and I thought there would be plenty of people just like me, who’ve waited for years for a decent solution to brush management on the Mac.

How long did it take to create Brush Pilot?

A little over a year (not working full time though).

Any interesting things that you learned about Photoshop while developing BP?

Actually, yes. I had no idea that there were 2 locations on your mac where you can store brushes. I’ve always just installed brushes in the Applications > Photoshop CS3 > Presets > Brushes Folder. Turns out that individual users have their own folder in User > Library > Application Support > Adobe > Adobe Photoshop CS3 > Presets > Brushes, although, not all versions of Photoshop use this location.

Future features/plans for Brush Pilot?

Definitely drag and drop for version 2. I’d also like to have the ability to Shift + Select files for installation/deletion, and a full size PNG export.

We’re also thinking about moving the brush names and pixel dimensions from a tooltip to displaying them under each preview.

I’m also open to suggestions.

For every great Mac app, there’s the inevitable question: will there be a Windows version?

I haven’t even thought about it yet. It’s my first app, so I’m taking baby steps.

Create A Photoshop Tool Preset for Custom Text

Quick Tip: The Adobe Exchange

adobe-exchange

Here’s a quick tip for all you Adobe software users out there: The Adobe Exchange. What is it? The Adobe Exchange (which seems to have recently been renamed to the Adobe Marketplace & Exchange) is a community resource to share and download lots of extras for your Adobe software products: Actions, Brushes, Custom Shapes, Displacement Maps, Filters, Flash Panels, Gradients, Droplets, Patterns, Plug-ins, Scripts, Styles, Templates, Symbols, Patterns and lots more. Just about every piece of software offered by Adobe has it’s own section, and of course Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are covered.