Bursts I

A lot of things attracted me to this painting: the variety in scale, use of thirds, overall composition and depth. This is also a particularly successful use of the blue-orange complimentary mix. Usually I'm not a fan of that color mix but I love the tones here.

Perspective Text Movie Poster

I like the white space and perspective text on this poster. I figured the perspective text would be a quick and easy trick. Well, it wasn't easy, at least for me. I tried a lot of different things in both Photoshop and Illustrator before finally finding a series of steps in Illustrator that mostly worked. I'm really curious how the designers made this one because this is my best shot (at least with the time I have available) and it's doesn't match the original 100%.

Here are the steps I used in Illustrator to create the perspective text:

  1. Type my text in and color it.
  2. Apply perspective to both pieces of text on a purely eyeballing it basis. The Illustrator way to distort in perspective is to select the Free Transform tool, start dragging a corner handle and then hold Shift+Option+Command and drag down.
  3. For the smaller text: Rotate 29 degrees, Shear -30 with an angle of 29
  4. For the larger text: Rotate -25 degrees, Shear 40 with an angle of -25
  5. Add figures and other elements.


I love the classic simplicity of this cover. I like how the designer chose to complement the strong photo with subtle and understated typography. I think the colors, the symbolism of the red apple and the slightly fancy curves of the word twilight all combine to create the appropriate mood and atmosphere for a young adult novel about vampires.

GFY ErinBurkett

This is a whimsical and artistic handwriting font. I love the extra curlicues and curves. It's created by Pittsburgh singer/songwriter Erin Burkett. Get it free from Chank.com.

Orange Dahlias

These fanciful and colorful dahlias just make me smile. I love the way the background color interacts with the petal color to create depth and dimension. These cards are available from Etsy.


Agave is plant of contrasts. Blue, green, gray, yellow. Stiff, succulent, sharp, sinuous. This painting captures the spirit of all those contrasts.

Creating Color Swatches from a Photo

The Kuler Way

  1. Login to kuler.adobe.com with your Adobe ID.
  2. Click on Create and then choose From an Image.
  3. Click on Upload a New Image.
  4. Move sample points as desired.
  5. Save your newly created swatches and go to MyKuler to view the new swatch.
  6. Click the Download button (it's pretty small but it has pop-up text: Download this theme as an Adobe Swatch Exchange File). Now you can load that swatch file (.ase) into Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator. 

The Old School Way

  1. Open your image in Photoshop.
  2. Filter > Pixelate > Mosaic.
  3. Choose a very large cell size. Good places to start for low res images: cell size of 40. High res images: cell size of 120.
  4. Use your eyedropper tool to sample colors and add them to your swatches.
  5. If you want to load these colors in other programs, on the Swatches drop down menu choose Save Swatches for Exchange. This will create an .ase file that you can then load into Illustrator or InDesign.

Compare and Contrast
Really, there is no comparison. Kuler is awesome for color creation, color mixing and flexibility. Best of all, there is a whole gallery of user-created color swatches available for free download. It's a little annoying to have to login but otherwise the speed, ease of use and integration with Adobe products make it a winner. By the way, Kuler is pronounced color—it took someone correcting me to figure this one out.

Working with the Pixelate > Mosaic filter in Photoshop is quick and easy if you're already working in Photoshop. It's good for choosing a background color or supporting element color on the fly. One of the limitations: if you make the cell size too big or the image is very busy, the colors blend into one another making the resulting mosaic a little dull.

P.S. The photo used is one of mine from Point Lobos Reserve in California.

Ten Second Staircase

I like texture and layering and often incorporate it into my designs. But this cluttered cover goes beyond a reasonable amount of texture. Between the map, clock, key, cross, horse, silhouette, border elements, buildings, numbers and more the eye is confused and overwhelmed. I'm also not a fan of the overly large initial caps. I do like the color scheme and maybe this cover would work with 1/2 of the design elements and new typography.

Simply Organic

This topic has a lot of potential design solutions but this book cover seems to be a weak effort. The childish multi-color headline, pale background and uninteresting photo make this an overall dull design. The typography is okay but the awkward hanging comma after the word "sustainable" that just keeps popping out at me.


Museo is a semi-serif font with lots of interest and character. What I like best? Three cuts are available for free from Myfonts.com

Lotus painting

I like the contrasts in this painting. Soft earthy colors mix with strong highlights and shadows. The texture and colors bring balance to the rigid grid elements of this design.

Almost Black and White Movie Poster

This poster caught my eye with it's strong contrast, simple layout and use of black and white in a sea of color posters. But once I looked closer, I saw that the black and white of Kate's face is actually has a very slight sepia tint and the scene in her sunglasses has a slight bluish tint. Gotta love subtleties like that.

I often use MyFonts What the Font to discover the name of fonts I see used in publications or posters. It works great if the letters aren't touching but has problems with letters that overlap or are very thin. But this time, I just eyeballed the font as Helvetica Neue and it's pretty close.

This was a pretty straight-forward recreation:

  1. Black background.
  2. Insert type and apply gradient to title
  3. Type some random overlay text. Add a layer mask and render clouds. Use the paintbrush to erase parts of the image I didn't want.
  4. Insert a woman's face, use CS3's Image > Adjustments > Black & White feature to get the black and white look I want. Crop it with a layer mask.
  5. Duplicate face and use splatter to roughen the image a little. Opacity at 40%.
  6. Create selections for both the left and right of the sunglasses and insert image of the mountains. Adjust color as necessary with Hue Sat.

Incognito and Terra Incognito

Incognito is a serif/script-like font with 4 styles of swash capitals and true small caps. I particularly like the lowercase g and k of the roman type, the beautiful swash capital A and the I and R of the small caps. Terra Incognito (the Latin term for "unknown land") is also part of the Incognito font set. It's a decorative font with dingbats inspired by old maps (like the compass I've used here).

"Modern yet folksy" wooden cards

It's kinda neat—postcards made out of wood. These two were my favorites. The hello card is actually an abstract peacock and I like the clever pattern/texture on the flower card.

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

A fun book cover from Chronicle Books. I love the bright colors, simple typography and strong imagery. The toes are adorable. This cover makes me want to break out into nursery rhymes: "this little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home..."

I join the masses

Why blog?

Short answer: I think I have something to say.

Long answer: I believe writing a regular blog will keep me on my toes, keep my creativity flowing. It will force me to be always looking for beauty, style, color and yes, even the absurd and the ugly. I'll also get to practice my skills (I love proving to myself that I can do something I see I see "out there") and share a little knowledge.