I did a photo edit for a friend. She didn’t ask for it, but long she has lamented that she had no good photos. I wanted to practice glamour edits, so it seemed like a good fit.


Meg- After- Before


Logo Practice- Pouncy! and Brawr!

Pouncy Logo

Pouncy! - No stripes

Brawr! logo

Playing a bit with some logo ideas. Going for simple lines. A bit boring seeing as how i’m using illustrator’s built in tracing tool for the lines. I’ll get better at using the pen tool to get the specific lines I want, but this is a good place to start.

Prologue to Graphic Design


This article is now available to millions of readers. They won’t all read it, but here it is, available to them instantly. Even 10 years ago that type of world-wide instant availability was unheard of. Writing in and of itself did the same thing thousands of years ago- spreading information and making it more widely available- that the internet has done now. The written word conveys information far beyond the physical presence of the individual that set down the words. Technology allows it to travel even farther. Originally devised for materialistic needs, writing has evolved from strokes in clay tablets for counting grain to its use today to own and relate ideas and property. Though the artistry, letterforms, mediums and means of transportation of have changed over the millennia, the basic functionality mankind demands from writing and graphics remains the same.

Detailed historical accounts with dates, locations and theories are available extensively, including A History of Graphic Design by Phillip B. Meggs, from which much of the technical information for this article has been found. Such an in-depth account isn’t necessary here, but some choice tidbits of history are required to illustrate the origin of this now second-nature form of communication.

As a hunter-gatherer society living in small groups, oral tradition was sufficient. Anything that needed to be known- culturally or for survival- could be passed down directly, person to person. Excluding the occasional cave painting by a particularly forward-thinking individual; mass accumulations of knowledge for the sake of a great whole were not necessary or conceived of. That need arose with the advent of agriculture.

Farming and the ability to store food long term allowed people to stay in one area. Staying usually meant an ever-increasing population that needed to be supported with more food. Then arose the questions of how to track that food. What can be eaten and what needs to be stored as seed? Which individuals or families paid their tithes in grain? How are war winnings divided? At this point in Sumeria a basic counting system, based on the number of human fingers, developed and was recorded on clay tablets. Also needed was a way to easily identify the contents of numerous clay pots. Tags with simple drawings were devised, also in clay. Here we see early graphic design emerging as images representing physical things and, later, ideas.

It was soon realized that more than grain counts and jar contents could be recorded using this method of communication. The writing itself was done on clay tablets with a sharpened reed stylus. The clay was baked to harden for durability. 300 years after th first primitive uses, the curving thin lines changed into a sharper, faster, more accurate form of writing- still with pictures and lines- using a wedge-shaped stylus pushed directly into the clay much like a stamp. These images could be simple and represent exactly what they were, or could be more abstract. A sun could literally be the sun, but it could also mean light, day, god, etc. This ability to set down more complicated ideas meant information could be passed beyond the physical location or lifespan of the one imparting knowledge of ideas. Now writing began to include land contracts, marriage contracts, and began being used for the arts- poetry and epics.

As a society, writing allowed better communication with other places to obtain a wider range of information or better access to resources. Ideas moved faster, measurements started to be standardized, laws set in stone (literally) and histories of great events recorded. Writing was very much a resource of the rich and educated because of its complexity. With hundreds of symbols, each with a myriad of meanings, it took years to learn and scribes could be in a school for decades before achieving full competence. Standard trades were still taught person-to-person, and the oral tradition was still very strong for a long time to come.

With the expanding web of information available with writing, people began to see the world get a bit smaller. The internet has achieved the same thing in modern times on an even larger scale. Not available to just the upper echelon, the internet as a technical highway allows ideas and information, through the written word and graphics, to spread in seconds. Even with all the new technology we’re still spreading the same types of information. Ideas, arts, accounts of property and ownership, directions to accomplish tasks and histories of events. Only now, instead of recording a great and epic battle we’re recording the history of our afternoon and what we ate for lunch on Facebook.

Despite the huge disparity of scale and advance of technology, many techniques developed early on are still used today. It took a few hundred years of trial and error, but eventually the Greeks decided that writing left to right, top to bottom was the most effective and standardized the practice. Before then, hieroglyphics, cuneiform and others read very differently. Not directly influenced by the Greeks, Asian writing still reads quite differently. The Phoenician alphabet, adopted by the Greeks about 1000 B.C., included symbols that represented sounds instead of ideas. The Greeks changed some of the characters to vowels and altered the alphabet further to meld well with Greek. We still use this same alphabet today with some alterations.

In Egyptian, Phoenician and Greek writing, as well as many others, we see great care taken in spacing, size, and kerning. Examples of text carved in stone show that the words were planned before they were carved and spaced to fit the stone. The great care and artistry taken by the stone carvers, even to the extent of the carver altering letters to be more artistic, like modern typography, shows that writing had certainly developed past a utilitarian means to track property. Today we still value both aspect of writing- the beauty and the utility- and use it fully in its applications. One need only look to modern logos, T-shirt design, websites, and even street signs to see evidence of the great variety of ways we use language.

The ‘how’ of how we use language though, was developed long before websites and billboards, and we still use it much the same way. Even in Pompeii there is evidence of street signs painted in bright colors for shop advertisements and malicious graffiti. The illuminated manuscripts of the dark ages could certainly be seen as the early models of web pages- a perfect balance of word and art to tell a story or impart information and lead you onward into the tome. Typographical hierarchy, then called Diminuendo, is very evident in each page; starting with a large first letter, the writing gets smaller and draws the reader in and graphic elements and colors pull the eye to detailed illustrations of everything from Genesis to Revelation.

Today we use writing or graphics for almost all communication. More than ever, every aspect of our lives and knowledge is recorded for some future reader. Arguably the most materialistic use of writing, contracts and money are still some of the most common example. The first widely available printed media was money, in China, around 900 A.D.. Today money is still printed and one of the most common examples of the written word and printed graphics. Despite hundreds of years of evolution and huge leaps in technological advancement, writing is still used to communicate the same things: Ownership, ideas, and knowledge. What about 300, 500, 1,000 years from now? With the vast amounts of useless knowledge available on the web will anthropologists and archeologist sift through it and find a society worth researching? Or will they think us vain time-wasters and a stagnant society that obsessed over the trivial and squandered our lives? What do your written words say about you? 

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book Chp:11

I am SO excited about this lesson. It talks about using the mixer brush, which is my favorite tool! Despite it being my favorite, I sometimes have issues getting it to do exactly what I want. It’ll drag a color I don’t want in, or the blending will be muddy. And I’m never quite sure how to fix it, I just play til I get something close to what I want. That’s why this is exciting- I should learn in this chapter how to use it, clean, and change the settings to do exactly what I want. Woot!

Ok- Racing again. “About one hour” is what the book says.

3..2..1..GO! (11:55)

DONE! 12:46

Not as quick, but I had some major difficulties, possible hardware issues. I think a shift key is sticking and my keyboard is randomly dropping letters and inverting digits. Not sure what’s up, I’ll have to look into it.

Technical difficulties aside- OMD that’s awesome. Coincidence that Harder-Better-Faster-Stonger is playing? I think not! That’s exactly how I feel about this tool now! There are numerous projects that I have already found it invaluable and a better understand of its calibrations will be very helpful.

So- a fun little practice exercise- it started with a blank palate and just the tubes. you sample color from the tubes and play with the wet/dry and bristles then apply the colors to the palate and mix.


And here’s the Before and After for a photo turned painting-


Masterpiece? I think not. But a good learning experience. I had MUCH better luck with the brush they had me create once I lowered the stiffness. The very high stiffness (87%) blended incredibly little paint when combined with a pen-tab as the GUI tool. I have the ability to finesse it a lot more with my Intous 3 than possible with the mouse, so once I dropped that to about 50% it started blending a lot better. Just figuring that out probably took 20 min. I think I tried every setting about 5 times before I thought to change that one.

Learned a lot that’s widely applicable. Another good tutorial.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book Chp:10

The lesson overview for this chapter includes using guides, saving selections, applying color effects, filters, layer styles, recording animations to automate a series of steps and blending images to create a panorama.

It says it’ll take 90 minutes. This is a race!

Pandora is booming.

I have my soda.

I just went pee.

3….2…1…. GO! (9:41 am)


DONE! (10:57)

90 minute Parr

76 minute actual

I’d say that’s pretty good! So why race? Isn’t rushing bad? What about quality? What about results?

My thoughts on the matter are all about efficiency. The fastest speed with the greatest quality is the most efficient. I could have nit-picked this project into obilvion and taken 3 hrs on it. But would the minute improvements be worth the additional time? There are some things that are worth perfection, and ALL things are worth adhering to high standards and best practices. Knowing where to draw the line (pun intended) is a skill that I am working on developing. Occasionally “racing” on a project, especially when I have an estimated time to compete with, is healthy and educational. Now for the finished projects!

The first is a post-card souvenir with multiple filter effects. IMHO it’s very over-done and too busy, but I followed the directions. The finished product may be a horrendous conglomerate of effects, but it did succeed in teaching me a few new things- like smart filters. /greedy fingers


The next was a panorama poster. This used the color blend tool, which is very cool. It also used the panorama tool, which I already knew about. The coolest thing was filling in some missing sky with a gradient based on existing colors, then auto-blending the layers. SO cool! You can still just barely tell, but only if you know what to look for. (click to see it bigger… I think?)


Overall, this project actually taught me quite a few things I hadn’t learned before AND I completed it 15 min faster than the projected time. /WIN all around.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book Chp:9

This lesson explores a very large number of concepts. We explore the beginnings of 3D art using the vanishing point filter, create a keyboard shortcut for the Place function (which is hugely helpful,) explore layer comps, multiple ways of merging/duplicating layers for product presentation, and different ways to group/view/merge layers for best organization.

There are 3 finished products, these are all mine. Not a lot of deviation on this tutorial, at least not in the image. Most of the comparable elements are in the organization of the layers and layer comps.

Product Concept: Black Box

VSFinal09 Black Box

Product Concept: White Box


Product Concept: Full Art


Test Post

Testing Windows live writer because WordPress’s writing interface leaves a LOT to be desired.


So far? not much better. We’ll see how it goes.


ooo! Preview featurethat shows theme! /promising.






Me likey.

Asesthetic Sensitivity: 2

Back to Asesthetic Sensitivity and how to develope it. I’ll start by restating my definition:
Aesthetic Sensibility is the knowledge and understanding of art, its concepts and its frameworks, be it music, visual art, professional/best practices, literature, dance, theatre or nature.  It includes the ability to recognize and critique composition, color, history, meaning, balance, porportion, application, expression and emotion among others.

It can be developed through ongoing immersion, study of the history, critical analysis of pieces of art, and an openness of art of every from at all times.

So now- how to develop it? Submersing yourself in art is wonderful and thrilling, but what questions should be asked and pondered for greatest growth? I’ve boiled it down to this series of questions and plan on visiting the Bellevue Art Museum, listening to some music i listen to all the time but never really ponder, and taking a look at some of my RSS feeds that have “Good examples of “X” web page” type posts and asking these questions. Might get tedious, but I imagine with practice it’ll get easier to gloss over the less relevant questions appropriate to the piece and get the jist quickly.

Things to consider when appreciating art to build AS:
Your first gut reaction.
The artist, time period, geography, and cultural influences.
What reaction does the work evoke?
How did the artist achieve this reaction?
Is it what you think the artist intended?
Materials? (types, instruments, venue… not just paint v digital. applies too all art)
Focus points. What is the mind or eye or ear drawn to? Why?
What is the art REALLY about? At least 3 layers.
Why was it created?
Do I like it? Find it valuable? Worth collecting/sharing?

Visual art: Color, tone, shadow, composition, subject, distance, framing
Music: Key, dynamics, mood, timing
Graphic Art: Legibility, intent, concept conveyance, personality/impression of brand

Door Study

For example:
Gut reaction: Beautiful. Lovely, warm, inviting tones. Great use of light. I want to do Yoga here.
The artist, time period, geography, and cultural influences. The artist is Sentimentalfreak at http://sentimentalfreak.deviantart.com/ . I like a lot of his work.  It’s very soft and moody. It is modern/current. He lives in Austrailia. Browsing his Gallery I’d say his influences are nature, fantasy, a love of color, and high-strung emotions. A lot of his work is very evocative. A lot is also very obviously skill exercises, as this one is. A work of art on its own, yes, but still practice for something.

What reaction does the work evoke? Warmth. Calming thought. Space to think. Luxurious laziness. This to me is a place where the mind can wander and move in directions unskewed by the tumultuous world.

How did the artist achieve this reaction? Warm colors, crisp whites, uncluttered scene, natural wood, interesting but not distracting wall texture

Is it what you think the artist intended? His caption is “Windows are doors for the mind to walk through.” So yes, I think that’s exactly what he intended.
Materials? 3D Art/Digital art. This is so detailed I thought it was a photograph but the comments confirm it is 100% 3D. Remarkable.
Focus points.  The light on the floor. the eye is naturally drawn to the lightest/darkest part of the picture (depending on the composition) and usually to somewhere just off-center. The light on the floor is that, then the light makes an arrow towards the window/curtains and you then take in the crisp and flowing textures of the fabric.
What is the art REALLY about? Why was it created? surface: practice light/texture/wood/shadows. Deeper: Creating something beautiful while learning/applying techniques. Deeper: Conveying a sense of mental freedom, an image to escape into, somewhere for the mind to pace.

Do I like it? I think it’s beautiful. Nothing to write home about or print and frame, unless it fit the room just so, but it’s pretty. It’s in my favorites on Deviant Art and I look to those for inspiration. A sort of mental palate-cleansing when I need a break from the tedious exercises I set for myself.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book Chp:8

Working with Vectors and Custom Shapes.

A fun one. I like it when the media is entertaining, or at least interesting. I think designing for a toy store, or small mom&pop diner/cafe/market would be really fun. There would be a lot of freedom to develop a specific look and feel to the products/marketing.

I suppose just one place wouldn’t really have the volume to support a just-designer. When you work full time for one place it seems they want an  Alice. Someone that will do everything, not just the design. They want web support, and html, and CSS, and tech support, and wireframes and and and and….. It seems like to just design, the only way is to work for a firm or freelance. I’m working on figuring that one out. Right now I keep getting in my way. I look at a job description and think- I don’t know how to do half of that!! So I don’t apply. But what if I did? What if they wanted to talk? What if I didn’t work out for that job but they knew a guy that knew a place…. I have to get out of my way.

Anyway- Here’s the rocket. Theirs then mine.



And Mine-