Home » Posts Tagged "design"

5 Benefits Of Shared Community Office Space

One of the up and coming trends in the creative business world is the concept of shared work environments, and these wonderful collaborative spaces are changing the way we view and do our work. For a small monthly membership fee, you can have access to a professional office, take part in social and networking events, and even get deep discounts on classes and other programs to enhance your knowledge and further your career. And the best part of investing in a local co-working group is that you know exactly where the money goes and you know that your neighborhood friends and contacts will benefit from such a powerful collaborative force in the community. Many professionals and freelancers work from home these days, but they miss out on the benefits of office life like the chance to collaborate with others and skip the distractions. And coworking lets you opt out of the bad parts, like angry bosses and sad energy-sapping cubicles. Plus, when you throw in perks like free coffee and snacks, reliable high speed internet, conference room access, locker space, and hands-on instruction, it’s hard to justify sitting on your couch in your pajamas for even one more day. Take a look at our top five reasons to join our coworking community! Opportunities for collaboration You’re pretty smart. But you know what’s even smarter? 5 of you! When you share office space with other creative professionals, you can meet people who can help you brainstorm ideas, edit your content, offer suggestions, and make referrals. There is always something new and exciting to learn from your fellow coworkers, and you can have an opportunity to share your expertise as well. Chances are also that you will meet someone in the same industry or with similar interests, and they just might become your next business partner! Healthy work/life balance Anyone who works from home or on a freelance basis understands how hard it is to keep your work life separate from everything else. Gigs and projects tend to bleed into all hours of the day and night, and it can be tough to maintain a good schedule for optimal productivity and personal satisfaction. When you come to work in a community space, you will be able to leave the distractions and obligations of home behind for a while, and focus on your assignments. And when you’re done, you can pack up and return home to enjoy your family and your hobbies. Your spouse, children, or roommates will certainly thank you for investing in a healthy work/life schedule. Inclusion in creative community It can be lonely and even stifling as a creative entrepreneur, especially when you don’t belong to a collective of other talented and passionate people. So come join the group, and immerse yourself in ideas, life, and imagination. Contribute to something bigger than yourself. Be a part of an inventive cluster of individuals who want to grow their businesses, help others succeed, and change the world for the better. When passionate and motivated people come together, amazing things can happen everywhere from sales and development to design and marketing. Skip the hierarchy What’s one of the best parts of a coworking environment? That’s right, no bosses. No hierarchy. No strict schedule. You can come as you are and work as you need to- we’re not going to bother you about deadlines or emails. Chances are you are fighting to make your own way in the world as a freelancer or small business owner, so why would you want to go back into the domain of the corporate pecking order? When...

read more

The Concepts of Strong Visual Design

Strong designs go far beyond looking cool. When you load a website, watch an ad on television or peruse magazine ads, are you looking at them with random purpose, or did someone sprinkle a breadcrumb trail for you to follow? A well-designed document leads viewers from point A to B, highlighting and emphasizing key components without shouting in all caps “HEY! LOOK OVER HERE!” While there are many creative and intricate ways to draw viewers to the important content like moth to flame, there are basic (and highly effective) methods that are commonly used in just about all of today’s media. Eyeflow Eyeflow is one’s natural visual progression through a document. Creating visual flow is like drawing a map through your document using various design elements. To help draw this map and mark your important goodies with a big, fat, subconscious “X,” designers will use anything from color or shade gradients to roadways or even an arrow. Subtler techniques incorporate less obvious materials, and piecing together a design that not only looks compelling, but compels the eye to follow a specific path is a true art form. There are no rules written in stone for eyeflow. As in, you can get creative with where people should begin viewing your document and where eyeflow should lead. Really, eyeflow should be different for almost every project you have, as your materials and goals will differ. Just remember that whether it’s an arrow, an innocuous background object, text or the central component of your design, give everything in your design direction towards your project’s goal. “Reading” Designs This is perhaps one of the most basic and fundamental rules of eyeflow. Ever since we were children, we’ve been trained to read from left to right, top to bottom. This principle of eyeflow holds true for graphic and text-laden content. This isn’t the only way to create designs, but it’s used so often that it’s important to highlight this technique. This comic book cover of Spider-Man is a great example of how top-left to bottom-right rules apply for both images and text. You can see how the illustration uses a strong headline to initially grab the eye at the top. Then, Spider-Man’s pose not only draws the eye to the center of the design, it also leads the eye from the top-left to the bottom-right of the page. All literal messages (dialogue bubbles and text blocks) follow the same path as his pose, giving the content a natural flow. Also, as Spidey’s first appearance ever, there is literally an arrow pointing at his name, saying Hello world!” without stealing the focus from the central image. The Fold While you don’t want to bludgeon people with calls-to-action and information, you shouldn’t hide them either. When creating images for websites, it’s important to remember that monitors, smartphones and tablets typically aren’t large enough to display a website’s full content. The fold is the point where a page goes from visible to off-screen. It’s typically important to place all important information above the fold, as many people will move on without scrolling through the entirety of web pages. These principles can potentially help when designing for other media than the web as well, as it will help create a hierarchy of content. Speaking of which… Hierarchy vs. Anarchy Newspapers may be an endangered species, but they sure know how to prioritize content. Typically, newspapers follow the inverted pyramid rule, where articles lead with the most important information and get to the finer details and extras toward the end. When creating your designs, it’s important to think about...

read more

Adobe Creative Suite: Introduction to Using Layers

Creating designs in Adobe CS programs is a little like making a collage–various materials are put together to make one composition. The key difference, however, is that a composition in Photoshop has to be treated as if it were in 3D. As in, you don’t slap materials next to each other. Rather, materials are stacked on top of each other. Be it text, photos, or an original design, if there is more than one source material for your project, you need to know how to manage layers in Adobe Creative Suite (CS) programs. For an easily-digestible overview on layers, check out our October blog, Cooking Up Basic Photoshop Designs. Using Adobe CS programs without understanding how layers work is like building a house without a carpenter. You’ll be frustrated, lost, behind schedule, possibly in tears and probably buried under the rubble of your project. But, there’s a silver lining. The basics of the Layers panel offers a foundation strong enough for you to start making impressive designs in a jiffy. While we will be using Adobe Photoshop for our examples, the Layers panels in Illustrator and InDesign follow virtually the same rules. So, you’ll be learning three lessons in one, you brainiacs! Meet the Layers Panel Tools, buttons and wonders abound within the Layers panel. But, before using the deeper functionality of the Layers panel, let’s get comfortable with its basic functions. Every document starts with a single layer, named “Background.” This will always be the bottom-most layer of your composition, kind of like the canvas of a painting. You can use the “Brush” or “Paint Bucket” tools to edit the background, or even import an image to replace the white color effect. Tip: Not only is the Background layer locked at the bottom of your composition, it can’t be manipulated with the Move” tool, giving you less flexibility to play with the layer. Because of this, it is often better to create new layers for your materials, rather than using the background. You can also double-click the layer in the panel to rename it, which removes these restrictions. On the left side of the panel, you will see an eyeball icon. This changes a layer’s visibility. By clicking the icon you can make a layer visible or invisible. It’s highly useful when there are a lot of layers; nobody likes working in a crowded space. Adding & Deleting Layers The “New Layer” and “Delete Layer” icons located at the bottom of the Layers panel are two highly used functions of any Adobe CS program. These functions are self-explanatory and easy to use. While deleting a layer is as simple as dragging the layer to the trash icon in the panel, there are key things to understand about adding new layers. The most important thing to know at this point is that a new layer will either be transparent or have a fill. Transparent layers start out completely blank; only elements you add to it will be visible over underlying layers. A transparent layer is indicated in the panel by a checkered box icon. On the other hand, a new layer with a fill (which can be a solid color, pattern or other design), will completely cover underlying layers. To choose settings for a new layer, you can open a dialogue box in the taskbar menu by going to Layers>New Layer. Layers Jenga Unless you have perfect foresight, you will need to rearrange layers before your project is finished. Fortunately, you can easily move layers around in Photoshop and other Adobe CS programs. To move a layer above another, simply...

read more

Adobe Lightroom©, Photoshop©, or Photoshop Elements© – Which One is Right for You?

Adobe© is known for being the “big dog” when it comes to digital corrections and changes to images. In recent years, Photoshop© has even become a verb: for example, “Look at that photo – I bet they ‘Photoshopped’ it.” However, with so many software products out there, it seems to harder and harder to know which Photoshop© program will work best for us. Let’s take a step back and weigh the pros and cons of each program so you can decide which will work best for your needs. The Classic: Photoshop© Photoshop© has been around for the longest amount of time, and it is still the go to program for professionals. The latest version is Photoshop© CS6, CS standing for Creative Suite and 6 meaning it is the sixth one under this banner. There has been 14 versions released and each one has added new features and tools, along with a steeper learning curve. In the past, when you purchased a new version of Photoshop©, the box not only contained the disk of the program but a book referencing the program and tools. This is not the case today, so in effect when you purchase the product you are on your own for trying to figure out just how to use it. That is why we have classes, books and teachers out there to help. So is Photoshop© CS6 only for professionals? Not really: Many talented photographers are using Photoshop© every day. This powerful program does have a number of sub-features that work great for professionals when dealing with a large number of files or working on an image in great detail. The most important thing to remember is that if you want to put the time in to learn it, you can use Photoshop© just like the pros. Most photographers will use Photoshop© for include color correction and exposure – some images might need some (or a lot) of work to make them suitable to prints or web posting. Other tools in Photoshop© are selection tools. These tools make it possible to cut out parts of the image to put in another image. There are also many blending tools that keep the cut-outs from looking like you took a pair of dull scissors to them and that the people or objects were really there. To do this takes many hours of training and practice. Because of the power of most of the tools and features, Photoshop© requires a lot of practice. However, for those who truly want the control or a strong artistic or creative soul it really is worth it. There is a cold truth for those of you on a budget, however: the latest version of Photoshop© costs about $800. For the Casual User: Photoshop Elements© Adobe© did come out with a Photoshop© program geared toward to the more causal shooter – this program is called Photoshop Elements©. Some may even remember that this program used to be given away with scanners and digital cameras. You can still find it at Costco or Sam’s Club for about $80, you may even find it online at Amazon for less. Does cheaper mean less effective? The short answer is no. Photoshop Elements© has about 80% of the tools and features of its big brother. What it doesn’t have are some of the sub-features that the pros use, such as special color spaces and the ability to work on many images at one time. The good news is that Photoshop Elements© does have a number of “Easy Buttons” and ways to automate processes. Plus, many of the major tools,...

read more

Vector Items Are Clean, Smooth

[Originally published in The Coloradoan on 3/23/12] Last week, I began discussing the differences between raster and vector graphics in digital images. This week is part two of the discussion and focuses on vector graphics – what they are, and how they can benefit you and your business. Whereas raster graphics, discussed last week, are made up of a grid of pixel information, vector images are not. Rather, vector images are mathematically created images made up of lines, curves, anchor points and shapes. Vector graphics can be used for simple or complex logos, diagrams and more. If you look at the detail of most major label brands’ logos (i.e. Lay’s, Facebook, GE), there is not an exceptional amount of detail in the logo image itself. In a vector logo, there is typically some simple, smooth shapes and lines with an interesting typeface on the package. For example, examine Coca-Cola’s logo. It is not a highly detailed image of someone drinking the product in an interesting, colorful setting, requiring a raster graphic. It is simply a typeface, made from lines and curves with a simple two-color design. So, as with most logos and branding, it is not about the detail as much as using a simple vector graphic in a clean and professional manner. And if you understand that these vector graphics are mathematically created from lines and curves, then we can focus on the major advantage of a vector graphic: scalability. You can enlarge a vector graphic the size of your thumbnail into the size of a billboard without having to re-create the image. Because it does not use a grid of dots like a raster, the enlarge process is no problem for vector graphics. This keeps your vector images always looking clean and smooth. In terms of which software should be used to begin working on any type of graphic, industry-leading Adobe Photoshop is designed initially for raster image editing and creation. By contrast, Adobe Illustrator is intended to work for vector graphics. However, there is definitely some cross-over between the two programs. Most professional graphic designers need both programs in their tool belt. Photoshop can be used for complex raster projects, maybe involving lots of jpg or gif files. On the other hand, Illustrator would be used for more business-related documents such as logos, brochures and simple marketing materials. Both programs are powerful applications that can help you bring your digital graphic ideas to life like never before. I highly recommend diving into both and finding out how creative and fun it can be for yourself. Stu Crair is the owner and lead trainer at The Digital Workshop Center, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Call him at (970) 980-8091 or send email to stu@...

read more