Monday, December 2, 2013

Quotes from America's Presidents

Recently I read an article on Mediocrity in Design. The author included in his thoughts a quote from former U.S. President Bill Clinton.  The unusual quote started a side web search of other quotes from USA presidents. That led to a search of public domain images that could be used to illustrate various techniques and designs.

Public domain image of President Clinton

Image with quote. Helvetica Nueve.

Portion of image converted to black and white. Corbel font.
Right side of portrait isolated, converted and quote on left. Museo font.

Maybe you prefer a bolder type treatment.

President Kennedy was one of my heroes. Here is one of many public domain images of him, taken in 1963.
Maybe you would have selected the better known "Ask not what your country can do for you. . ." instead.

Here is Gardner's famous portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Converted to black and white, with a quote
that appeared on

Last but not least is a quote from our current Commander-in Chief. The photo is a newer official portrait from the White House website.

Yes, I kinda like the outer glow effect.
Images and designs for further exploration courtesy of public resources and Photoshop CS6 and CC.

From our last post: updates for Quark 10 and 9 that are more Mavericks and Windows friendly are available at Quark's website.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Quark XPress 10, quickly

Hello again!

There are many designers who have never tried Quark XPress. For many years Quark was the go-to page layout program for graphic designers. During the late 1990's-early 2000's, Quark the company had a huge falling out with its customers, and designers started using Adobe's InDesign instead. Quark responded—improving its customer service arm and adding features the design community wanted. With each version of Quark XPress, improvements help designers who have grown accustomed to the way it works in print, web, SWF export, and ebook formats.

This post is not meant to start a Quark vs. InDesign war. Pariah Burke covered that famously here. My 30 day trial of Quark 10 was just enough time to view the Quark features I'm most familiar with and to experience its new interface. Let's dive into it.

The New UI
Quark 10 ships with a darker user interface (UI). This is comparable to the Creative Suite/Creative Cloud applications. Anyone who has worked with these panels, layers, and so on will feel right at home.

screen grab of Quark XPress 10's user interface. © Quark, Inc. All rights reserved.
Where did Modify go?
Power users of Quark XPress use the Modify command in a number of ways. The biggest surprise you'll encounter as a long time user is looking for Modify in the Item menu or, using the key command (Command-M, Mac) to bring up the dialog boxes you're used to.

Where did Modify go?
Quark XPress © Quark, Inc. Photo: Isaiah Sheppard Jr.

Of course, Quark didn't leave us in the lurch. The Modify selections are now in the Measurement pallette.

Measurements palette (full) with detail showing Modify list items.
© Quark, Inc. Combined image: Isaiah Sheppard Jr.
While you can position the Measurements Pallette at the bottom of your device screen, it may help to move it to the top of your Workspace, similar to the Adobe CS/CC programs.

Quark XPress 10 modified Workspace. Measurements palette moved to top of image.
Other features
Quark XPress 10 added QR code creation technology to its software. You can create codes for your clients within a project.

QR code added to project layout.
Quark improved its handling of color, and increased the number of image formats that it supports.

Quark XPress 10 improved color handling.

Quark also improved the way it creates and exports projects to PDF. Quark calls it a "deeper understanding" of PDFs.

The layout in this post includes text and images from my last post on Cruising. The QR code on the page takes you to this blog.

With the wonders of modern technology you can view the completed PDF.

Recently, Jay Nelson published an extensive review of Quark XPress 10. It's worth your time to read it. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013



I enjoy being at home, but I like to occasionally get out and enjoy the wonders of the world (even if it's to my local library or Barnes and Noble).

My wife and I like to travel. Several years ago we began taking short cruise vacations. Last year we took a cruise on one of the major cruise lines, Royal Caribbean. We experienced a weather-related delay before we could board the ship, but once underway we had a great time. On one of those days the designer's hat went on and I began to notice things that helped to make my stay as a designer more memorable. I'd like to show just a couple (I won't be showing videos or posed pictures, in case you were wondering) that demonstrate the power of user-friendly graphic design.

One of the questions people want to know when cruising: where is the front of the ship?  When you're on a large vessel it can be unnerving if you don't know where you are.  On our ship, visual clues began on our door.

Each room number has a blue triangle that points to the front, or forward, of the ship.
(Red circle) The deck number was changed for privacy.

If you're walking below deck you may also see signs like this.

Clearly defined sign that shows which deck you're on, your current location,
and where the Forward is.

 On one of the ship levels there was a touch screen device that shows a user where activities for the day are located, shops on board, and yes, where's Waldo.

Touch screen finder

And if you really want to know where forward is, check out this free-standing device. It is positioned so it points toward the front of the ship.

Just point me in the right direction, he says. . .

The logo for Royal Caribbean is displayed in hundreds of ways throughout the ship, large and small, with and without the company name. There is consistency and tasteful symbol usage throughout. From the placement on the ship to their website, it's apparent the design and marketing team there takes design seriously, while using the graphics to convey a sense of upscale, fun quality.

Almost the last word: iPhone photos for this post were taken by me. Royal Caribbean name, logo, and elements featured in this post are property of Royal Caribbean International. Be inspired, but don't steal.

Finally, a big thank you to InDesign Secrets hosts Anne-Marie Concepcion and David Blatner for mentioning World Book and myself in their 200th podcast episode. What a humbling moment! A testimony to God's hand on my life and the people who have helped to shape my career along the way.  I'm grateful.

See you next time!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Wedding and book cover fun


Been busy with family doings as well as multiple projects at work.

We had a wedding in our family recently. As part of the preparations we used our creativity to help make a memory for my daughter and new son-in-law. My wife made the table settings. One of my sons organized a Spotify playlist, and served as our reception DJ.  The vocalists in the fam sang during the wedding service. My oldest son designed the wedding program.

Table cards for the wedding were designed to complement my son's wedding program design. The font used for the table numbers and heads is Little Lord Fontelroy NF Pro ($10 at, and the florid is from a vector pack. The table cards were assembled with Photoshop layers and exported as jpegs. We printed the cards and trimmed them. Finally the cards were placed in card table stands we bought at IKEA.

Also prepared but not used was a wedding favor tag design that was to color coordinate with the food that guests were to be served (beef, chicken, kid-friendly, and vegetarian).

Here are a couple of other designs I've worked on since the last post. I should say, played with, because that's a more accurate description. A friend of mine occasionally shares beautiful images from NASA on social media. I checked out the images on NASA's site, and downloaded a couple for book cover/jacket sample design/exploration.  The imagery is the star here. Comps were assembled with Photoshop.

NASA photo. Design © Isaiah Sheppard Jr.

NASA photo. Design © Isaiah Sheppard Jr.

Next time: cruising by design. See you then, Lord willing!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

InDesign CC project

Here's a sample project for a fictitious design firm. The project use examples from previous blog entries, a QR code created within InDesign CC, and social media icons courtesy of this blog site.

flyer design

When scanned, the QR code takes you to my blog. While there are other places you can create free QR codes, InDesign CC gives you a place to add them at your fingertips.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

An exercise in creating a website

Maybe you're a designer like me. You have print design samples that you want to place on the web. You have friends who design sites, but you want to "take the plunge" yourself. Where do you start?

In a word, templates.Yes, I know we have software (Dreamweaver and Muse) to perform the heavy lifting. But templates can be a great place to begin the process. Studying the styles and structures of template designers—including the underlying code—can help you decide your site's appearance and functionality. With hundreds of template site designs available, there are many designs you can obtain free and for purchase. Clear, easy to use instructions make it a less intimidating process.

Before you begin, though, you should be familiar with the process of designing sites. Here's one site. Another great resource is this one. Assuming you've already thought about the issues mentioned now it's time to look at templates. There are a lot of free designs. Some good, some not.  One popular site for free and templates for purchase and site hosting is Wix, the site I used for the examples below. Here is one of their templates.  This is a free site design that you can download after creating an account. I modified the index, or home page.

Site design from

Using the tools provided I was able to change the colors, style, and modify the template.

I also inserted my own images. With the tools inside Wix I was able to enchance images and perform simple cropping.

This example shows how you can, with a little bit of effort, create a website based on a template. Obviously there is more that can be done. I plan to continue the work with this and other designs. Stay tuned.

Don't be afraid to take the leap and try out a few template designs. Make it your own, and use social media sites, and portfolio sites like Behance to get your work out there.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Happy June, 3D or Not 3D follow up

Here's to what I hope will be a happy June. Between the weather tragedies in Oklahoma, Texas and other places, and a local teen struck by lightning a few blocks from home, it's a sobering reminder how precious life is. Take a moment to let someone know they matter to you. I hope you know that wherever and however this post finds you, your support for this blog matters a great deal to me. Thank you.

My external drive needed to be erased recently. As I was preparing to do so by backing up files, I found an older version of Photoshop CS6 before the update that turned off 3D on my system. (Thank you God and Time Machine).  I reinstalled the older version and re-named it on my desktop. I just have to remember not to double click on a 3D file, launching the 'newer' Photoshop.

3D is back!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sharing some quotes from Graphic Designers

I had a thought to share an assortment of quotes from famous graphic designers. I thought I was doing an original thing. That is, until I performed a browser search for famous designer quotes. Very. Un. Original.

Anyway here are some quotes. I've included URL's of the sites I visited. I will finish this list with a few of the ones I learned along the way.

"A logo doesn't sell, it identifies...A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it means is more important than what it looks like.”

From “Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons” by Paul Rand, emphasis by Michael Beirut, The Smartest Logo in the Room, Design Observer

From Design was Here:

Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.

Charles Eames
Good design goes to heaven; bad design goes everywhere.
Mieke Gerritzen 
Saw this one on another site.

Math is easy; design is hard.

Jeffrey Veen
From  Pokkisam:

Design is thinking made visual - Saul Bass.

From Psd |Tuts:

To design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can control or master.
-Milton Glaser

Art has to move you and design does not, unless it’s a good design for a bus.
-David Hockney

If you remember the shape of your spoon at lunch, it has to be the wrong shape. The spoon and the letter are tools; one to take food from the bowl, the other to take information off the page… When it is a good design, the reader has to feel comfortable because the letter is both banal and beautiful.

Helvetica is the jeans, and Univers the dinner jacket. Helvetica is here to stay.
-Adrian Frutiger

From my world:
Create a design and turn it upside down. If it looks good that way then it's OK right side-up.
-Don MacCrimmon, design instructor

Easy design is hard.

If anything can go wrong, it will.
-attributed to Murphy's Law

Have fun with these and other quotes.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

More overlooked InDesign Resources and changing type to outlines

I was very surprised to note that after posting my previous blog, the InDesignSecrets podcast also discussed overlooked InDesign resources. (David and Anne-Marie's program was recorded and posted before me) Check it out! One of the website notes links back to a list of 150 InDesign resources. It is a very cool list! Congrats to Anne-Marie Concepcion and David Blatner for adding Creative and InDesign Magazine to their company!

Today's post covers changing type to outlines. I was excited to show samples from various software programs. Shown below are headline size bold type converted to outlines, and further manipulated using features in the software.

First up is Photoshop (the one I opened first). In CS 6, I created a new document. With the type tool I keyed some text.

Museo 900 font (purchase via

Next the type was converted to shapes.

Type>Convert to Shape
Playtime begins!

Changed the Fill color and added a color stroke

Added a drop shadow effect to the type

Next up was Illustrator (the program I first used to create outlined type).

Type>Create Outlines

converted black to color gradient

Continuing in the Adobe family with InDesign. Created a new document, added some type. with type selected I converted it to outlines.

Image placed into the outline shapes

Last but not least is a version using Quark XPress.

Type converted to outlines, image imported into outline shapes. Added background and drop shadow.
(photo courtesy Pam S. and Tim L.)
You can also use the outline shapes as a logo.

(photo courtesy Pam S. and Tim L.)

Just because you can create type outlines doesn't mean you SHOULD, though. For long text documents, for example, it's best to Collect (Quark XPress) your legally acquired fonts with image files, Package (InDesign) with layout and image Links, or Save/Export the document as a PDF. See the following InDesignSecrets article here. See also this article and this video.  For visually striking headlines, logos, and works of art, creating outlines is one of the designer's best friends.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

One overlooked source for learning about InDesign

When you are asked where can I go to learn about InDesign, what is your answer? If you're like most  print and media designers you'll answer or If they ask about books, Peachpit Press and Adobe Press may be the names you give them. But what if you want to maximize your info search in a minimum amount of time? What are some other sources.

Here's another source: iTunes. Free and for purchase. Covering CS6 and previous versions.

Results of "indesign" search in iTunes, Mac. Various audio and video podcasts containing tips and tricks.

Yes, there IS an app for things InDesign. Several shown here.

Here's the next best thing to school: iTunes U courses. In English, Spanish, and other languages.

Detail of video topics by Western Kentucky University.

Last but not least, books available for download.

Learning isn't just for a season. Today's marketplace demands professionals continue learning and growing. Explore the offerings on iTunes for InDesign as well as other Creative Suite and productivity software programs.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

3D or Not 3D, That is The Problem

I was enjoying an episode of Photoshop User TV over the weekend. Cory Barker gave one of his many tutorials on 3D effects. I was inspired to play a little with Photoshop CS6. Episode ended, I fired up Photoshop while listening to the InDesign Secrets podcast (who says men can't multitask?). Created a new document, used the pen tool to create a half bottle shape. Added a gradient fill. So far, so good. Selected the 3D tab. But I can't select any items on the tab. Uh oh.

OH NO!! No 3D?

Seems I forgot about the dialog box that opened after a recent Creative Cloud subscriber update to Photoshop. The 3D feature that replaced Repousse (was one of the selling points) no longer works with my 128MB VRAM iMac. Adobe's response in the link and sales support is to replace the video card. Unfortunately (for me) my video card is attached to the motherboard, and possibly cannot be replaced. Bummer.

But since I was still in the mood for a little fun, I launched Illustrator CS 6. The 3D feature, while not as robust as Photoshop, still works.  Sample illustrations are below. In honor of St. Patrick's Day (the patron saint who brought the Good News to Ireland), green is the dominant color choice.

Series of stars created on a path and duplicated.

Bottle created, duplicated, added shadows. Duplicated the group and lowered opacity to simulate a reflection.

Series of squares.
 Time enjoyed.

I'd still like to be able to use the 3D feature with Photoshop CS6 again. A possible motherboard customization or new iMac is not in happening this year. Maybe Adobe will change the requirement with a future upgrade if we all ask really nicely. But as many of you have already learned, when life gives you a lemon, it's time to make lemonade. I'm grateful I have a job and can afford the Creative Cloud subscription.

This Illustrator created file has nothing to do with 3D, but it was fun to make.    

Monday, February 11, 2013

Brought to you by the letter 'L'

Today I'd like to share something you probably already know, especially if you use Photoshop: layers are your friend. In addition to the usual ways most people work, Adobe introduced the idea of layout comps years ago. I haven't heard if designers and photographers use the feature. It's still there (Window>Layer Comps [Mac]).

Some designers use layers in their layout programs to isolate elements they want to turn on or off. An example would be a layout containing one type layer for U.S. English audience and a type layer for Spanish-speaking readers.

As part of the design process, you should try using the layers in your page design program to determine which combination of font style works best with your graphics.

I created a simple restaurant menu cover design. Using InDesign CS6, I brought in an image of a salad plate and lowered its' opacity to 20%.

screen capture, InDesign CS6 print preview

On another layer I created a vertical arrangement of squares with a single rounded corner in InDesign, placing it on its own layer.

menu cover with art graphic

Now to experiment with various fonts I selected. Each font is on its own layer.

Scriptina font

Constantin font. Vertical art removed.

Fontin typeface, type positioned to upper right

American Gothic (typophiles think Copperplate), increased opacity.

One layout, several looks, one panel. Layers turned on or off:

Give this a try on your next project.