Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Signs and symbols

Say the words 'clip art' and you get all kinds of reactions. Some of us would rather not use it. But it's everywhere—and it's really a good thing. It can be a time and money saver. In the hands of a skilled creative it can be transformed into something more—a unique image that complements your design. Let me show you what I mean.

For my Facebook photo profile I used a heart themed graphic. It started out in Photoshop as one of many shape graphics. I added color, used a bevel effect, and saved it as a red heart.

Next I created a layer and used a flower brush to create a collection of flowers.

Third, I saved a screened version as a pattern and saved the pattern as another layer.

Finally I saved a flattened version to my Facebook page.

For St. Patrick's Day I started a similar project, this time with Illustrator. I found a 4 leaf clover clip art on a free clip art site. I converted the SVG (scaled vector graphics) file to AI, added color and used a 3D effect. I also created a layer with screened clovers.

Brought this into Photoshop, created a yellow-gold background layer, sent to back. Saved a flattened version to Facebook.

If you use Illustrator you have symbol images that ship with the program. You can drag and drop the images into your project and scale them to the size you desire.  You can also edit the file to give the image a unique look. Here's a sample.

For vector symbols covering biological and scientific subjects, you can't go wrong using the Integration and Application Network images (IAN). The details and links for free download are here. A sampling is shown below.

Courtesy of the Integration and Application Network, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (ian.umces.edu/symbols/).

You can also find vector art for purchase at Shutterstock, Dreamstime, and Veer to name a few vendors. Enjoy, and use wisely!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Back to the Future

Keeping up with trends in graphic design skills, software and thought keeps me busy and up late lots of nights. For example, one evening I watched two videos from the recent O'Reilly Tools of Change Conference. LeVar Burton gave a great keynote on the power of story as a motivator for reading (and learning). A great reminder why those of us in publishing do what we do. And, a renewed call to use the technologies at our disposal to take the power of story to the next generation of readers in print, web, and mobile devices.

Two of my favorite podcasts are InDesign Secrets and Photoshop User TV. I'm back to listening and viewing them. The knowledge shared by these creatives is invaluable for any designer who wants to grow his or her business. The contests they have are fun too. Helpful links on their websites takes you to other resources that, properly digested, help you take your design game to a new level.

Blogs such as the ones listed on the right side of this page are great for inspiration and information. It's pretty amazing that a designer in the Chicago area can be inspired by someone in another city, state, or continent.  Pages that I have bookmarked include Graphic Design Blender, HOW Design, and Planet Quark.

A few years back I attended a Photoshop User seminar hosted by Scott Kelby's team. We received a goodies CD that I recently found and invested a few evening in revisiting the contents.  What a neat treasure trove of inspiration and photos, brushes, and textures! I appreciate it more now that I'm a tad older.

One of several movie files on the CD

Royalty-free texture graphic. © sapphire-innovations

An example of a project I worked on was for a series of illustrations that show the process of creating an article for The World Book Encyclopedia.  Here is a portion of the full page.

From 'Encyclopedia' article, The World Book Encyclopedia.  Illustrations by Jay Bensen.
© World Book Inc. Used with permission.
Speaking of late, time for me to catch a couple of 'zz's! So much to learn, only 24 hours in a day!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Show your work

Shortly after Liquid Design was posted, a designer on Linked-In asked should he show 'fake' book cover designs to potential clients. Responses varied. It got me thinking about sharing 'real' design with you.  Following are some examples.

Christmas in Puerto Rico. Cover and interior design.
©World Book Inc. All rights reserved, used with permission.

Advent calendar for Christmas in Puerto Rico, © World Book Inc.
All rights reserved, used with permission.

Cover and interior pages, World Book Encyclopedia 1990 Highlights brochure.
© World Book Inc. All rights reserved, used with permission.

More real examples next time, and other things of note.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Liquid Design

Checking out a few blogs earlier this week I saw a Photoshop tutorial on a liquid effect. You can find it here.

Here's one of a series I made.

So what can you do with it? One idea: use the image as a background element. It could be a web banner, a flyer, or as I did for the following book cover.

Book cover, InDesign

Try it!