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Entries in graphic design (51)


Designing Your Own Custom Shoe

With the launch of Zazzle's custom Keds print-on-demand shoe line, it seems like a good opportunity to talk about all of the different custom shoe options online. In addition to Zazzle, companies including Converse, Vans, Nike and others offer configurable customized shoes.

Zazzle has teamed up with Keds to provide a fully custom printed shoe . Every surface of the shoe's fabric can be printed so you can use your creative spirit to make all kinds of designs, patterns and effects. They only have kids and women's shoes right now. If and when they introduce men's shoes, I'll definitely want a pair for myself! They currently cost between $50 and $60, not bad at all.

Zazzle custom shoes
Zazzle's custom shoes allow for printing on all sides of the fabric.

As blogger Sam Woodfin mentions, it's not 100% clear how the design changes with different sizes. On their t-shirts, the design stays at a fixed size for different shirt sizes. That wouldn't work with shoes. The product images seem to update with the different sizes, so I hope they are accurate. The FAQ seems incomplete; I'm left with questions answered like if they have plans for men's shoes. Still it looks like an exciting announcement and hopefully these questions will be answered in time.

Converse has customized shoes with a number of options and shoe styles. While it's not as fully customizable as you might want, they offer enough options to give you more unique looks than their off the shelf shoes. You can select different sections including the stitch color. Select colors/patterns to make unique combinations in the end. Some parts have more options than others with the fabric pieces having the most options. You can also have text stitched into part of the shoe. I have leather shoes in a customized brown and yellow with the back sitched with "SKETCHEE". Canvas shoes are $60 and leather styles are $75.

Custom Vans' are similar to the Converse customizations, but with fewer color options and with fewer pieces to customize. There are currently only two choices to pick from.

NikeID also gives a few custom color areas and allows you to search their database by color for preselected combos. Depending on the style of shoe, you can print a laser engraved repeating pattern of text or even switch out some fabric parts for leather although not a full leather shoe like converse.

A fairly ugly custom shoe I came up wth to illustrate the NikeID shoe.

Check to see if your favorite shoes have online customization options by visiting their website. More and more brands are doing it.

Ugly Open Source Design

Using Audacity this past week has inspired me to talk about the ugly open source programs floating around. Many great open source programs don't care about design. Searching about Audacity, many developers defend the look of the program as being usable. Usability doesn't make something well designed, although that is definitely part of the designers considerations.

Screenshots of Audacity. Creative Commons License photo credit: webg33k

Scribus, which I had talked about before, is an open source design tool for designers. But it's not yet looking too good. The interface isn't as outdated as Audacity, but still feels like something out of the Windows 95 era. It feels much more complicated and less polished than InDesign. Open Office has the throw back look down to a science. It looks very much like an early version of Office despite having many advanced features. (Microsoft has since made the Ribbon interface part of office making it easier to find underutilized features)

Firefox and Thunderbird have a great look because they're easily skinned. That encourages the design community's help.

Although I think that too many open source programs have pretty poor UI design (from a mass market perspective), the open media center Elisa has a fairly commercial looking pretty design too. It's pretty much inspired by Apple, but taken in their own direction.

Design is a huge part of innovation. That seems to be a place where commercial products can beat open source. Despite the criticism, a lot of this is great software in a bad package.

Live From The Field


Edit: Sorry for the odd post. I forgot that I had to tag things properly to get it to format from my phone

Publications Vocabulary You Might Not Know

Working in publishing, it feels there are always new terms to learn everyday. Here are some terms used for magazines, newspapers, books and other publications with definitions that are a bit more obscure to those outside of the business.

There's a few about newspaper sizes which have a large effect on perception by it's audiences and each format has unique design challenges.

Barn door cover
Also known as a split front cover, the barn door cover opens up with two flaps meeting at the center of a magazine cover with advertising on the inside.

A bellyband is a printed wrapper on the outside of a magazine or book. It usually has an advertisement on it. The name might help you imagine it. It's usually less than the full height of the publication and must be removed to read the magazine.

The berliner newspaper format isn't common here in the US. It's wider and taller than a compact or tabloid newspaper and folded in half vertically like a broadsheet. European newspapers tend to have greater innovation than the American market, and their doing much better economically than the US industry. This might be attributed to the greater number of commuters using public transport and the more newspapers competing in each jurisdiction increasing the perceived need to innovate. While American newspapers are competing against the internet and other news sources, the publishers seem less reactive in areas where only there is one dominant newspaper.

This is the largest of the newspaper formats. The page size is typically over 22" in height. These large newspapers are becoming less common due to the cost of printing such large pages. The half fold of the format is what gives us the "above the fold" term that we use in web. Stories with more importance are placed above the fold for display purposes. Examples of the broadsheet format would include The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun which happen to be my area's local papers.

"Le Monde is in the Berliner format. The Guardian is in the British broadsheet format, whereas the Daily Mail is a tabloid, and the Times a compact. Berliner Zeitung and Neues Deutschland are of sizes between broadsheet and Berliner. A piece of white A4 paper is placed in front for scale." Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Center spread
The term center spread can refer to a double truck—facing pages of full editorial content, the feature story in the center of a publication which could consist of several double trucks or it can refer to a double truck that "jumps the gutter—there are elements that are printed across both pages including the center margin.

[[Column inch]]
A colmun inch is a newspaper or magazine measurement referring to the width of the text column by a height of one inch. Since these publications use a design grid so heavily, it simplifies things to use column inches to determine story length and advertising space. There are generally about 25-35 words in a column inch depending on the publications size and set up.

As opposed to broadsheet, the compact newspaper has a much shorter height. The height is about halved. The format tends to have shorter stories due to its size, but it's also considered much easier to read and handle. Compacts have become popular for publications designed for commuter train/bus travel. These tend to be smaller than even the tabloid format. It's more common in the United Kingdom than anywhere else. My local compact is the Express which is a news aggregated digest produced by the Washington Post.

Credit line
The credit line refers to the citing of photo sources.

Display advertising
As opposed to the commonly known text based classified ads, display advertising is the more heavily design oriented advertising. Display ads typically should emphasize photographs and design elements more heavily than text. The reality is that clients don't often understand the difference between classifieds and display, so it is up to the designer and sales staff to communicate these aesthetical differences. Display ads are traditionally placed next to editorial content. Classifieds tend to be sectioned off since they are text which could cause confusion. Billboards and signs are also considered display advertising.

On the web, the term display advertising is more and more often being used to refer to advertising that relies on the traditional print payment scheme: page views (called circulation in print) rather than click throughs.

A double truck is two facing pages of a publication that contains no advertising, just editorial photos, design and writing.

This is a mockup or layout of a page. It could just contain a setup of several pages of the publication outlining what images and text should be put on one pages. It could also be a more specific sketch outlining the layout within the page.

A folio can refer to a single sheet of paper forming two pages in a publications' binding. It can also refer to the publication info printed on the bottom or top of a page including the page number. Newspapers and magazines often include the publication name and date in their folio line.

Full bleed
A full bleed is a page that is printed and then cut off to have ink going right to the edge of the publication.

A gatefold is a flap inside of the cover that opens up allowing for a fold out advertisement.

This is the center margin where two pages meet in a publication.

A jump is a split in a story. Whenever you see a newspaper or magazine say that a story is continued to or from somewhere else in the publication, that would be a jump. The actual text explaining where to go or where you came from is a jump line. Jumps can be due to ad placement or just to place more stories closer to the front of the publications. Newspapers can fit more stories on their front page by jumping them.

This is when a story, part of a story or an advertisement are removed from a publication and will not be printed in a future edition. If it's going to be printed in a later edition, then it would be "held" or put on "hold"

[[Masthead (publishing)|Masthead]]
While many people mistakenly think that the mast head is the logo of the newspaper, the term actucally refers to the editorial staff box.

Open Page
This is a page in a publication that has no advertising, just editorial content.

Tabloid is a small newspaper size like a compact. They can be as large as 17x11", but there are smaller formats as well. The company I work for just released a new tabloid format the almost square size of 11.5" tall by 11" wide. I'm designing the "Back to School" publication through the company at this new size this fall, in fact. The tabloid format is traditionally reserved for weekly publications and less breaking news, however with the cost of newsprint becoming increasingly prohibitive the tabloid format is catching on

Lending a Hand

I don't know if I'd call it a perk of my job, but I had my hand in the last cover photo of Maryland Family Magazine. It's a pretty odd task, but when the art director asked for my help, I thought why not. Is it wierd that they needed a child's hand and that mine is kinda convincing?

Cover photo from Maryland Family Magazine. Photo by Justin Kase Hand by Brian E. Young

Sorry if you looked at the magazine's website. I'm sure a redesign updating it from the 1991 look will come really soon.

I don't have a problem going outside of my job description. Let's see ... I've decorated for Christmas, designed birthday cards, saw the movie 300 and I can't even remember what else happens at work. I've seen coworkers have such great work tasks as filling a room with balloons (that didn't go over so well with the boss), babysitting and everyone loves a good museum trip. Have you ever had any strange odd jobs at work?
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