Saturday, March 21, 2009


I found this webcomic a few weeks ago and discovered this one panel that most people would not understand. But thanks to DSP, I did. And found it rather amusing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chili Cookoff Design

This piece was the most visually interesting of the group. The lightning bolts break up the text and provide a hierarchy of importance in the text. The central image is the focal point, and the text frames the image on the page. The varying thickness of line in the graphic, as well as the dark, filled top of the pepper, keeps the centered image from becoming static.

The text is problematic, in that it runs too close to the border, almost establishing a need for a bleed. Watch spacing not only around the edges, but around the image as well. "Proceeds" is crowded by the converging lightning bolts, and the text, especially in the lower section, seems to bend awkwardly around the image, rather than text wrapping. Also keep the border in mind - line up your outer border so it establishes a visual border.

The bold headline is visually heavy and attracts the reader's attention, but the rest of the text is visually flat. Consider altering boldness and font size, as well as picking a font that is a little more edgy, to be more cohesive with the rest of the design.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


2 hours after learning about the finer points of Helvetica, I felt a lot more insecure about typefaces. The importance that each person placed on the font made me think much more closely about the impact of the way text is presented.

In the movie, I saw many well-known images that I had never associated with Helvetica, but had associated with clean-cut, minimalistic design. Then looking at the design changes from the 1950s to the 1970s, even though not much more than the font changed, the entire image was affected. It was incredible how much slight subtleties can affect the viewer.

Even though the movie wasn't the most interesting, it certainly was worth watching, and I feel that I learned a lot about not only Helvetica, but type in general.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Midterm Portfolio - InDesign

For the InDesign portion of the portfolio, I chose my Dinner and a Book layout. This piece incorporated the prowess of Photoshop (creating a COB, or cut out background) and InDesign. This piece was completely black and white with a bleed. I made extensive use of rulers, to make sure that everything lined up visually. All the book titles line up with the edge of the plate or the edge of the headline. Because I didn't make the headline very large, I put a grey banner behind it to help emphasize it. I also kept one of the photos with a background, to reinforce the rectangular theme in my piece.

Then, I created visual flow by drawing a vertical line that lets the reader's eye travel down the page. The opposite side, though it has no actual line, has left aligned text and a square edge of a photo that create an implied line, thus creating the illusion of symmetry. The book and pear at the bottom gives the reader a visual stopping point, with the important information beneath it. This keeps the reader engaged with the visual aspect of the piece rather than "falling off" the layout.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Midterm Portfolio - Illustrator

For the Illustrator aspect of my portfolio, I chose the sunglasses and the car. I feel that these two projects used all of the aspects we had learned in the program and incorporated the elements seamlessly into some really cool graphics. This program was the only one I'd never used before, so I feel that I made the most improvement in Illustrator, since I started from scratch, and I think I've learned a lot.


This project taught me to use the power of suggestion rather than replicate every detail. By imitating the general shapes and creating the suggestion of shadows despite my simple use of gradients and solid colors, I created a relatively realistic pair of sunglasses. I learned the value of layers, since I could hide all the layers except the template and the part I was working on, so I could get as accurate as possible. I thought this was more interesting than simply recreating a logo, as we have done in the past.

Favorite Ride:

This was more or less the culmination of the Illustrator projects: make a realistic representation of a car (or other mode of transportation). In order to reproduce the effects, I built the car in sections, and used gradients and gradient meshes to give the illusion of three-dimensionality. I had to layer and alter transparencies, and all of this blended together to create a recreation of this Audi Aero Twin Turbo, though close up, the piece becomes obviously made of basic shapes and lines.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Midterm Portfolio - Photoshop

For the Photoshop aspect of my portfolio, I decided to showcase my photo collage and my mood piece. These, I believe, are the best pieces from this semester.

Photo Collage:

I think the photo collage was incredibly fun but one of the most challenging assignments, despite it's early appearance in the semester. This assignment required us to take 4 pictures from different sources (a black and white glossy, a color glossy, a magazine reproduction, and a line art drawing) and assemble them in a cohesive composition.

I learned how to scan photos and descreen a reproduced photo so the photo would look less grainy in the Photoshop document. I also learned how to affect single layers with different types of effects while also applying general effects to the whole document.

Through the compositional aspect, I found that making the color photos blend with the black and white segments was the hardest part, since the color naturally made those aspects pop out and contrast with the rest of the piece. In order to counter that, I decreased the contrast and brightness of the color photos. The pink purse still stood out too much, so I placed some greyscale grass in front of it, which not only lessened the intensity of the purse, but gave the whole composition a lot more depth. I then surrounded the whale with some grey-blue brush strokes to further blend him into the greyscale sky. The line art was filled with a satin overlay to give it a three-dimensional effect. Yet the piece still felt very unbalanced, so I added decorative brush strokes on opposing corners to fill the dead space and give the piece an artsy feel.

This piece helped me stretch my abilities in Photoshop. I came back to this piece and improved upon it: I added some of the blue texture to the rest of the sky, giving it a subtle color, though there is none in the original photograph; I added a Gaussian blur to the magazine photo to further descreen the image; I made minor placement adjustments and contrast/color adjustments to enhance the piece. Though no major changes were made in my revisit, I feel that the piece has improved and I am proud of the result.


This piece, though still using the collage idea of the previous work, incorporated a completely different set of ideas. The assignment called for us to create a mood using 3-5 pictures and no words, and also use channels and clipping paths to assist in that task.

I had never learned how to use channels effectively, and this assignment definitely helped me see the value in channels and the incredible asset it can be. I also learned the difference between using a brush and a pen tool to create a clipping path, and incorporated both in my piece.

I had taken an incredible picture of a late sunset with a tree silhouette, and wanted to use that in this piece. So I decided to create the mood of impermanence and mortality. In order to show that, I used this leafless tree as the background to my piece, signifying that this depletion of life (the leaves on the tree) is inevitable and always looming. I then placed a high contrast cluster of blooming flowers in the top left corner, but upside down, so that although they are still alive, they are facing downward (towards death). The shape of the flowers loosely mirrors the shape of the tree, further connecting the inevitability of one transforming into the other. I then added a clock between them, faded to near transparency, to remind the viewer that the difference between the flowers and the tree is simply a matter of time. I added in a few brushstrokes of leaves to simulate wind, and the "winds of change," and also to emphasize the lack of leaves on the tree itself.

I then created a mask using the channels of the flowers, and placed translucent silhouettes of the same image, but in increasingly smaller scale, along the bottom of the piece. Then I altered the color, creating neon versions of this flower cluster, further emphasizing the artificiality of life and how quickly it fades to nothing but an outline of what it once was.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Magazine Spread

This project showed me how much time it takes to put a simple article together. The amount of text adjustment and layout manipulation that went into this article clearly made it a nicer final product, but required a lot more effort than a non-designer would think.

This article was a three column layout with unusual margins and lots of graphics. I thought it was interesting that the yellow rectangles were colors found in the painting itself, which enhanced the design. It was fun to put all the pieces into the layout and see how everything worked together, which will ultimately help me when I design my own spreads.