Monday, December 27, 2010

Rounded Corners, part 2

Hope everyone had (or is continuing to have) a great holiday break. Now, back to work.

In my last post I started discussing rounded corner usage by graphic designers in both print and web projects. I mentioned what you can do with InDesign CS5, and using the rounded corners script that ships with InDesign CS2, CS3, and CS4.

Today I'm sharing how to make rounded corners using Quark XPress 8. I'm using Quark 8.5, Mac. I recently learned this while working on another project. (Thanks Matt!)

My sample project was created with Landscape format, Letter size page. The font used is Fontin Sans Regular, Bold and Italic, Open Type. The image used was taken at a book signing for Patricia Cornwell's new novel, Port Mortuary. My wife Shirley is with Patricia, one of her favorite mystery writers.

Sample project

Select the picture box. With the box selected, go to the Item menu and select Step and Repeat (Option-Command-R, Mac). Set horizontal and Vertical offsets to 0. Click OK. Set frame width to 4 pt., color of your choosing. You now have two boxes stacked directly on top of each other.

Select the top most picture box and change the corners from straight to rounded. A radius of .75 inch was used here. Experiment to select the radius that suits you. Deselect this panel.

Next, select the panel with out the curves. Change to the pen tool with the plus sign (+). Add point to one or two corners as shown.

 Change to the minus point tool (-) and delete the corner point only.

With both images now selected, go to the item menu and select Merge>Union.

You will next see this following dialog. Click OK.

The two panels merge into one, completing your image with rounded corners.

Don't stop there though. Experiment. Change colors and the style of rounded frames. Make the design your own and give it your own unique look.

Monday, December 13, 2010

In appreciation, other blogs, and rounded corners

Showing my age, here's a shout out to my son Isaiah, a gifted media graphics designer who is my first official follower!

Many of us who start out as graphic designers are not able to stay in the profession for various reasons. My graduating class included 10+ Visual Communications (or Graphic Design) students. Of those, 2 or 3 are no longer practicing designers. One is a teacher (kudos to teachers). Of the others who hung-in, two have their own design business. One worked for Northwestern University, Another had an opportunity to study design in Germany. Each one of my classmates encouraged me, challenged me, and helped me grow at Northern IL University. I'm grateful for their friendship.

Today I am especially thankful for two designers who have been a part of my life since my NIU Visual Arts building all-nighters days.

Randy Capp is a gifted designer. His talent as a designer was evident in every assignment. On graduation he could have worked anywhere in the world. And did. During his senior year his life changed. He became a Christ follower (as I am).  Randy exhibited an excitement for his new faith that I had a few years before, only intensified.  And as he learned more about Christ, his talent grew too. It was exciting for me to see his growth and maturity. He left the corporate world a few years after marriage, and has designed many projects that have helped others from different backgrounds be introduced to Christianity. More recently he's served as a consultant and mentor for designers affiliated with the United Bible Societies. His humility in service has been an example to me for how someone who calls him or herself a Christian should manage the talents they have been given.

No less gifted is Michael (Mick) Shay. Like Randy,  Mick is soft spoken and modest about his gifts. But the talent rose to the surface at NIU, and has Mick continues to prosper throughout his professional career. If you've been to a McDonald's restaurant you have seen his handiwork. In his spare time, Mick and his wife have been faithful servants at their church. I've enjoyed seeing him play with the Salvation Army Staff Band. Now if we can just get together for Sunday pizza . . . !

Sharing my appreciation for his work with Randy, Mick and myself is Gary Fox, one of our design instructors and counselors. Gary made learning graphic design fun (corporate identity programs) and helped us organize our portfolios for that all-important review. Thank you, Mr. Fox, for all you did for us.

Before things get too mushy, let's change gears.

There are a number of design blogs I follow.  As this blog develops I plan to share those that I find to be worthy of your time and inspiration.

Last but not least, a mention of the new design "fad"—rounded corners. I started seeing this in a bank logo design a few years ago. (those of us in IL know the one) Lately, it seems you can't go to a website or pick up a magazine without seeing some variation of a square or rectangle with one. This was one of the features I heard a lot about at the InDesign Conference, especially with InDesign CS5. It's cool!

But did you know if you have InDesign CS2, 3 or 4 you can make them? In Design ships with a number of scripts. One of the scripts is for rounded corners. You can specify which corners should be rounded, the radius, and so on. One you have it set to your liking you run the script, and voila! You too can make rounded corners. But like that other design favorite, drop shadows, it's best to use in moderation ("with great power comes great responsibility"—Stan Lee).

You can also make them using Quark XPress 8. The process is different but effective. It's the topic of the next blog, Rounded Corners part 2.

Friday, November 19, 2010

5 years from now . . .

I recently attended The InDesign Conference. A speaker from Adobe asked the crowd to consider what designers would be doing 5 years from now. A number of opinions were shared. As our presenter described the "hats" a designer might wear, it became clear the jobs will involve creation of print and—increasingly—interactive graphics.

If you're a designer, your tool set (and mine) will include Flash, HTML5 and Dreamweaver. XML will be a language you will embrace as much as your native tongue. You will design for mobile (and maybe 3D) devices. Your design services will include ebooks of various forms. The t-square and triangle of the 1970's graphic designer will seem prehistoric in comparison with your tools of the future.

Some things about graphic design won't change. Designers will still prepare design briefs. Designers will still have to analyze the visual problem, define it cogently, and execute the most effective solution for their clients. The sense of wonder, passion and excitement we bring to design solutions will still be needed. Thinking and sketching before firing up Illustrator or Photoshop CS10 will still be essential. As our profession continues to change, effective designers will continue to do more with less.

I've been tremendously blessed to be in a field that impacts how people think, learn, purchase and consume. I hope I will have many more years to change (though at times painful) and grow. I hope you do too. Let's do it with a desire for excellence. Not for rewards or awards; let's be difference makers because 5 years from now design—and the people we impact—will still matter.

For what I learned at this conference I thank my manager Tom and my company for making it possible for me to attend. I thank Mogo-Media and Ascend Training for sponsoring the event. For friendship and helping me sharpen my skills, thanks Tina, Brenda, Matt, Don, Anne, Anne-Marie, Shellie, Eda, and Chris.

More thanks to come next time. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


After reading countless blogs and wondering if I can do this, I'm taking the plunge.

It's my hope Thoughts on Graphic Design will give readers inspiration and something to think about.  I am a graphic designer by training and profession.