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The Uncanny Creativity Blog

Entries in graphic design (53)

Wednesday
Jun112008

Tons of Great T-shirt Design Stuff

T-shirts are a pretty cool form of expression. They can look like anything. They can be inspiring. They can define you as a person. Sometimes they're a bit too casual , but they can have an upscale feel with the right design. Here's a look at some t-shirts, followed up with some links to t-shirt design tutorials and galleries so you can get more shirty goodness.


This is one of my favorites. I love the colors and asymmetrical design


Jenga fans? Or construction workers?


"A is for Apple" it says. It's a print of a hand painted ink art piece translated into a pretty interesting t-shirt.


Running with scissors


In the eye of the beholder. I don't know if I like the image itself, but I like the way its done.


Conezor? Just wierd. We all do scream for ice scream


Wasn't [[There Will Be Blood]] an odd movie?


As much as I love color, I couldn't resist this long sleeve shirt. It's just a cool high constrast design.


Paint by Numbers. For the artist in every nonartist. Or if you just remember paint by numbers stuff.


I'm not a weiner. Just a fun style and much like the others on here


A vintage woodstock poster on a shirt. Very cool image


Design your own


Here are a few pages about designing your own shirts that I found. I definitely want to do more shirt design, these things help inspire me to get started. Posting things here sure makes it easier for me to find things again when I need them...
Designing Ultra SceneXCore Apparel!
From Sketch to Vector Illustration

Intricate Patterns in Illustrator

Want to see more t-shirts?


Troundup. The T-shirt Lovers Blog.
Busted Tees
Ten Bills (T-shirts for only $10 or less)
A T-Shirt Reviewer Reviews T-Shirt Review Sites!
Tuesday
Jun102008

Remixing Radiohead on Old Tech

James Houston brings us Big Ideas. It's the Radiohead song, played on old computer equipment. It's great to see people think way outside of the box. The idea of this remix is to illustrate how something can be more than what they were designed for. That's an inspiring sentiment and makes for a nice art piece.


Big Ideas (don't get any) from James Houston on Vimeo.

Want more Radiohead? Read about my trip to their Nissan Pavilion Concert
Sunday
Jun012008

Defrag Your Designs

On some level you probably want your designs to be accessible and efficient. Even if you have a more complicated or detailed design, there should be a simpler structure supporting it. Inspired by a Lifehacker post on office organization as unlikely as it sounds, I've come up with a few ideas that might help in your self-critique:

Group related items together. A grouping of things becomes a single thing. If you have a choice—loften the client or whoever will want things a specific way—move things around. Can any two ideas be links together? This might mean putting some text together, but it could also mean grouping things into a single design. You may have a heading and a subheading which you've somehow connected into a single design element. Or in web design, the group of navigational items into a bar is a pretty common example. A logo is another thing that is usually a collection of design elements into a single thing. Several designs might have to exist on a single page. Ever notice how a page of newspaper editorial may have to deal with several stories, infoboxes and images on a single page? Some newspapers feel cluttered and others combine and simplify the elements to show just about the same amount of information without looking so overwhelming.


Newspapers often have to group several stories on one page. Notice how the colored blurb boxes are their own little designs, but function as a single element in the grand scheme of it. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Create a landing strip. The idea of a focal point seems like a no brainer, but many new designers miss it. Working in advertising design, it wasn't unusual to see an advertisement that didn't have a clear headline among the tons of starbursts, images, colors and boxes. If I got the chance to redesign, the first thing I did was to make something big (or use some other eye catching technique) for impact. Maybe every bit of information in your project is just as important and needs to be bolded, boxed and starbursted ... But just pick one if you want them to get to the rest. Blogs often do this with their attention grabbing headers, although you've probably seen all the variations of it.

You didn't forget white space, did you? In your final checks, don't overlook white space. We all obsess about it and then you go and fill it all up. You don't have room in your design for white space, you cry! Well, it's much better to make things smaller than to have everything looking overwhelmingly cramped in. Especially if it actually is cramped in there. In our newspaper example, leaving things out isn't much of an option so it's most important here to give things some room.
Saturday
May312008

Defining Graphic Design

I was reading [[Wikipedia]] on graphic design topics. Most of the articles aren't in great shape without basic information on the topics we all use everyday in our profession. The web is big enough that any of the missing information can be found pretty quickly just by a Google search. I don't think that many of us in the profession would turn there for these definitions anyway. We find more focused sites about design that are secluded from the public. Anyway, it's not so great to see the weak points in Wikipedia as a resource and not great that it's where we graphic designers sit.

It's not really a complete encyclopedia, so its probably a mistake that they've defined themselves that way. It's a collection of projects and its graphic design project is underdeveloped. The [[wiki]] concept seems to work great on the small scale. Take a look at the Battlestar Wiki for example.

I gave it a shot and dove in and did a small restructuring of the [[graphic design]] article. Like many graphic designers, I'd rather focus on my own projects than edit over there but I did my part. So here we are back on my site... Like I said, it's as easy as a Google search, but lets make it just a little easier. I've compiled a few resources and articles that give a nice overview of graphic design for further reading. What else should we see when we're giving an overview of graphic design past and present.

The Design from a German stamp.
The Design from a German stamp. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Definitions


What is graphic design from Design Talkboard. Here's five definitions of graphic design to start with.

What is graphic Design? from Veerle's Blog. Commenters from around the web weigh in to create their own definitions of graphic design.

Trying to explain graphic design to a hall full of ten year olds from Johnson Banks, a London design consultant agency. Michael Johnson talks about his experience with kids and design.

History


A Brief History of Type by Thomas W. Phinney. Type is summed up through four major eras: Gutenberg, the Industrial Revolution, Photocomposition and the Digital era.

A Historical Timeline of Computer Graphics and Animation by Wayne E. Carlson.

THe History of Graphic Design and Its Audiences from the AIGA. Michael J. Golec talks about the lack of educational programs that focus on graphic design history. Most education in the field is career or studio driven.

History of Graphic Design by Nancy Stock-Allen. This is an educational site produced to assist in lectures, but it's very visually compelling and touches upon more points than I've seen on other sites I've looked at.
XIXth century advertising poster for the hydrotherapic baths of Bagnoles de l\'Orne (France).
XIXth century advertising poster for the hydrotherapic baths of Bagnoles de l'Orne (France). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Sunday
May252008

Graphic Design Meets Open Source Software

Being a graphic designer can be a pretty pricey thing. We like to have powerful computers and expensive enterprise software. I'm looking at you Adobe Create Suite .... There are alternatives that aim to meet the needs of our profession and products. Graphic design is an art and software is just a tool like a paint brush. Open Source software development has come up with such cool free products as Mozilla Firefox, Apache and Linux. I know they all sound kind of geeky and in that way there's something inaccessible sounding about it, but hopefully what you see here will help you get past your fears, uncertainty and doubt. It's all free to use so there isn't much risk involved. Open Source isn't the solution for everything, but it's as a public service that we can often tap into. We're an adventurous bunch, so let's try something different.

Here are some free graphic design programs that might just bring graphic design to the artists who can't or don't want to spend the money on the insanely priced corporate versions.

GIMP


GIMP is the most widely known Photoshop alternative. Most of the functions that you might use in Photoshop are implemented; you can crop, adjust colors, save as different file formats, use various filters and brushes. CMYK support is there but fairly weak and difficult to handle which may be completely unacceptable for most of us in the print industry. However for web design this won't be a problem since it natively supports the RGB color space. Photoshop users may want to look into GIMPshop, a modification package which is intended to help GIMP mimic the Photoshop user interface. GIMP is available on Windows, Mac and Linux.

 

 

 

PDFCreator


This handy program adds itself to your Windows printer menu. Anything you print can be converted to PDF format or various other graphics formats for you to manipulate. Very handy to have on any system.

Inkscape


Inkscape is a vector editor similar to Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator. It uses the standard [[SVG]] format which makes it compatible with other graphics programs. The interface is streamlined and familiar since they focus on usability. It includes tutorials and tooltips too to ease your transition. They've reduced the number of palettes and all palette options are available as keyboard shortcuts. The interactive tutorials and simple interface make it very easy to start using, especially if you are familiar with other drawing programs. It's definitely a good one to look into. Inkscape is available on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Inkscape Screenshot. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Screenshot of the Inkscape 0.46 user interface. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Scribus


I'm a heavy InDesign user and since it's what I use at work, that's not likely to change. It is good to know that there is an open source alternative for InDesign, Pagemaker, QuarkXPress or even the unfortunate Microsoft Publisher. It's designed to be print ready and runs on Linux/Unix, MacOS X, OS/2 and Windows. If your printer accepts PDFs or any of the other formats supported by the program, you're pretty much set. It's designed to work with professional equipment in a prepress environment. If you're interested in designing books, brochures, business cards this seems like a great idea. A lot of designers have Photoshop and/or Illustrator and attempt to use them for publication layout.

Scribus Screenshot
Scribus. Screenshot courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

KompoZer


KompoZer is a WYSIWYG html and css editor, think FrontPage or Dreamweaver. It's based on the same rendering platform as Firefox. It's meant to be easy to use for newcomers and non-technical users. Advanced users of Dreamweaver will miss some features, but everyone else can do well with the free alternative and save some serious money. It even creates nice and valid html adhering to the standard of your choice.

Kompozer screenshot
Kompozer screenshot provided by Wikimedia Commons

 

Wordpress


Wordpress gives designers an easy to manage system for implementing hugely complicated websites. It's community creates many plugins, templates and widgets that give it a lot of weight. So I couldn't leave it off of this list!

 

FontForge


FontForge is a nifty font editor that supports the very common TrueType, PostScript, OpenType formats among others. Besides allowing you to edit your fonts, it supports automatic format conversion and transformations. The documentation seems straightforward to follow so you can dive into developing your font project.

FontForge Screenshot
FontForge screenshot courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

Open Source Fonts


Fonts are software too. And not too cheap either. Luckily Open Source efforts have stepped in to provide some relief. Typeforge is a project that aims to use Fontforge to create new fonts and provide support in helping designers of various levels create typefaces. You can help them out by simply using their fonts and providing feedback. DejaVu and Linux Libtertine are open source fonts that are freely distributable and free to use in your projects. Junicode is an open source Medieval style font that looks pretty versatile. Free UCS Outline Fonts collects a variety of open fonts of this type. Open Font Library collects public domain fonts.

A few endnotes


I still love the commercial design software out there. Open Source software is still in its infancy compared to commercial software that has been developed over decades. In many ways, these programs just can't compete with that right now but in any case still serve an important niche market in our industry as an entry point for new designers, experiments for those of us who want to escape to something a little different and a as playground for innovation.

No one ever thought Quark would ever go away, now we have InDesign. While those are commercial products, Firefox is an open source project that is now a major player in the web browser world. There is also a ton of little open source programs that make my life easier, but aren't necessarily design related. It's kind of a cutting edge and fringe kind of thing sometimes and on the productivity side at other times.

One last thought, damn does the open source community really need to recruit some designers or what ... These things too often have ugly programmer created technical looking skins that is just the biggest turn off in the world... Someone get on that!