Flash from the Past – Pink Flamingos ThirvePosted by Nancy Haberman on August 10th, 2012
Not Another Green Marble Background?Posted by Nancy Haberman on August 8th, 2012
For a designer, creating a new look for a green marble background is like bringing out the old bell-bottoms and believing they look as cool as they did in 1969.
Filling a “simple” request can be not-so-simple if you make a lot of blind starts, like spending an hour hunting down an old CD filled with stock marble images, just to find they are in an outdated graphic format.
A second blind start—searching stock images—another hour easily wasted as I realized, why not create an original image? Not only can it be easy, but the price is right. We refurbished our kitchen a few years back, and while out searching for the right granite counter top, I took plenty of photographs of the various granite and marbles, but none were green. Take them into Photoshop, and with a couple of well placed clicks I was able to turn my images into perfectly suitable green marble backgrounds.
There are only two steps to go from the original photograph of the gold marble to the green. First, I created an adjustment layer for “levels” to increase the image contrast. The adjustment layers are forgiving in that they allow you to manipulate the data at any time without destroying any of the original pixel information.
The second step is to create and adjustment layer for “hue and saturation.” There are three areas that can be changed within the H&S palette, but before changing anything, click on the “colorize” button. This extracts all the color from the image, assigning a default hue to all the pixels, while maintaining their original values. Next, the hue slider cycles through the “rainbow” — ROY G. BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) — stop at the desired green hue. The saturation slider adds or subtracts color, and finally the bottom slider lightens or darkens the values.
Of course, to achieve the desired result might require additional steps, depending on the nature of the original image. You might want to add additional layers of color, transparency, contrast, and texture to create a unique effect.
If you want to create a library of backgrounds and textures, do it yourself. Textures exist everywhere, and for every photograph you take, you can manipulate it in an infinite number of ways.
With today’s image editing programs, you don’t have to mortgage your home or rent out your kids to afford amazing software. I’m currently experimenting with an app called Pixelmator, a $15 Photoshop wannabe, and after half an hour of playing (and they call it work), I can say it’s certainly worth the investment. In fact, I’d recommend Pixelmator to any of my beginning design students who have a newer Mac, but can’t afford Photoshop. This app works on my iMac, now that I’ve upgraded to Lion, but Pixelmator will work with OS10.6 or later. With a little coaxing, I could be persuaded to show and tell more about this cool app, Pixelmator.
Architecture and Graphic Design Play Off One AnotherPosted by Nancy Haberman on July 5th, 2012
Each time I travel I make new discoveries, and often, insights and inspiration comes only once I’m back home and have had a chance to unwind and process the whirlwind adventures.
On this trip which began on the St. Lawrence River in Montreal, Canada, I became particularly focused on the art and design in architecture (probably because there wasn’t much wildlife or sport activities in our itinerary). I found the range in age and architectural styles to be visually stimulating without appearing to end up in a hodge-podge of visual clutter. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m a Photo HorderPosted by Nancy Haberman on July 2nd, 2012
In the small dark cavern, I would have completely missed the fact that the octopus was there at all had I not made the quick adjustments that open up the shadow details. I performed the adjusted preview in iPhoto on my Macintosh, but Microsoft’s comparable software is Windows Photo Gallery.
I learned lots of valuable lessons in photojournalism classes, many long forgotten, but a couple of lessons really stuck. Thirty years ago when, as students, we were advised to Shoot a lot, our biggest complaint was the cost of film. Today, the cost of digital equipment pales when compared to film and processing costs, so I was surprised to learn that one of my companions on a day-long adventure to the Aquarium of the Pacific was throwing away photos after she previewed them on her iPhone, deciding they didn’t “turn out.” I wondered how it was possible to make such a quick decision about the images under such poor conditions and on such a small screen.
The next day, I showed my companion a rough edit slide show of my 230 images. I put them up on the big screen tv. She, on the other hand, had only 13 images, which we viewed on her iPhone. Granted she’s not a fanatic like me, and didn’t shoot as much as I did, but I can’t help by thinking about the photos she threw away. “What if there were details in the image that she missed on the small preview screen?” I wondered. “What if she could adjust her lighting after the fact?”
My first task after downloading photos to the computer is to make preliminary adjustments to the tonal values in the images. It’s a relatively “quick” and painless process, and I finished this batch in about 2 hours, or about 30 seconds per image. Unless you are serious about photography, you might unwittingly skip this most critical step, so that’s where the hording comes in to play. Don’t throw away any photos before you perform a quick adjustment to the image’s tonal values.
In the edited photo, the reflection in the lower left is more obvious than before, so I bring my photos into Adobe Photoshop where I make all the actual refinements and adjustments. To eliminate the glare, I made a feathered rectangular selection and filled the area using the “content-aware” feature, which gathers data from nearby pixels to simulate the surroundings.
Cleveland Airport LayoverPosted by Nancy Haberman on June 15th, 2012
As we approached our gate, I couldn’t help but be struck dumb by the goofy looking dentist in the billboard posted directly across from Gate 20C. Enough to stop me in my tracks, I read the headline, and grabbed my husband, Bob, by his shirtsleeve. “Is it just me?” I asked Bob. He saw the sign, and we looked at each other. After having a good chuckle, we took seats waiting at the gate, where I attempted to test my new camera equipment.
In all likelihood, as a graphic designer and teacher of design, I am not your typical observer, but I was a captive audience during a five-hour layover. Let’s just say I had a lot of time on my hands. The poor airport gate agents had to stare at Dr. Gino’s new ‘doo day after day.
One of the agents walked over to a small group of us who were being entertained by the reactions of the rushing travelers. “Do you think we should call him?” the agent asked the group. Several passengers gathered around the sign, and the three agents pondered over the dilemma. Should they, or shouldn’t they call Dr. Gino and warn him about the ruckus his sign is causing?
“Yes, but perhaps that was his intention? It could be a genius marketing plan,” a female agent suggested. “Look at all the people who are drawn to the ad and are talking about it.”
Passersby were surely gawking and talking about Dr. Gino. Maybe they’re still talking today.
Annual Christmas Card ChallengePosted by raj on December 16th, 2011
Every year when it comes time to make the holiday card, whether for business or personal, I struggle to come up with fresh ideas that top previous years’ efforts. Invariably it’s the shoemaker’s kid who goes without shoes…that was me growing up as the shoemaker’s kid, and it’s still me as a designer, generating fresh ideas for clients year after year. No matter how much design and printing styles have morphed over the 17 decades since Christmas cards were first exchanged in London in 1843, much about the sentiments and adornments remain virtually unchanged.
Christmas cards came to Americans in 1874 thanks to Louis Prang, a Boston printer, illustrator, “father of American greeting cards” and namesake of the Louie Awards. Prang first offered Christmas cards as a commercial product in England in 1873. His exquisite chromolithography full color illustrations and printing set the industry standard for mass produced color prints displaying small animals, butterflies and flora among the popular subjects. By the next decade Prang produced designs for greeting cards representing all the major holidays.
This year’s inspiration for my greetings comes, not just in the form a greeting card, but in a practical keepsake that is multi-functional. My obsession with bookmarks stems from the fact that I haven’t give up on the printed word yet. I got the Kindle as a gift, and it was a handy gadget to carry around while traveling, provided it had no technical issues. There were issues, and I spent needless vacation hours resolving them, finally exchanging my Kindle for a new one. Since then, we’ve opted for an iPad, but I don’t use either the Kindle or the iPad as a replacement for books or magazine. No thank you, I’ll keep my print editions. Magazines just aren’t the same on a Kindle.
Nearly every print edition of a book requires a bookmark as a placeholder, and I may be reading or perusing a dozen books at once. Since I know there are many others like myself who find their electronic gadgets otherwise indispensable, but aren’t crazy about curling up with their iPad, I figure everyone needs a bookmark. So instead of gift tags, which are typically too small for the names that need to fit onto it, I’m using bookmarks, and I’ll be sending them or something akin to them this year.
Oak Creek Printworks can print bookmarks to double-duty as cards or gift tags. Click here to link to Custom Printing. We print in the following formats. Measurements indicate trim size: Gift cards – 3.25 x 2.25 inches, A2 note cards – 4.25 x 5.5 inches, A6 greeting cards – 4.625 x 6.25 inches, A7 greeting cards – 5 x 7 inches.
Pantone Guide to Communicating with ColorPosted by raj on December 16th, 2011
Just a few years ago, Leatrice Eiseman’s classic Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color, published in 2000, was out of print. In 2006 Eiseman came out with a second book continuing her color explorations, Color: Messages and Meanings. By that time, used copies of the first color book were going for nearly $200, way too steep for all but the collector.
I recently saw Eiseman’s 2000 book pop up again on Print and How magazines’ mydesignshop.com website in their “Deal of the Century” category. While it’s a bit too soon to make a hundred-year claim, I have to admit, Print and How magazines are offering those interested in the study of color a truly smoking deal.
Treat yourself and your designer buddies to a priceless holiday gift that you can be sure will be a handy resource for years to come. I’m delighted that I’m able to replace my tattered copy held together by rubber bands with a brand spanking new book for just $4.99. That’s really has got to be the “deal of the century!”