Spring Owl Tree


These owls are too cute! I like the interesting mix of colors and the style of illustration. Available from Etsy.

Sinfonieta


Sinfonieta sounds like it could be Italian for sinuous (it's not). This script is so beautiful and flowing it almost floats off the page. This quote is tiny portion of the poem "A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted" by John O'Donohue. I first heard of John O'Donohue from the Speaking of Faith podcast The Inner Landscape of Beauty and I love the way he speaks of beauty, nature and tuning into our inner self.

Beneath a Marble Sky


The colors in this book cover caught my eye. I love how the red sari contrasts with the yellow and tan and how the black from her hair is repeated across the bottom. I like the handwritten script and the decorative bar at the bottom. It's well done and appropriate for a novel about the eldest daughter of the 17th-century emperor who built the Taj Mahal.

Saturate with Lab


I was reading an old Photoshop User magazine while reinstalling CS3 and ran into this Lab technique from Dan Margulis. It was neat to see an alternative to using Hue and Saturation that actually brings out even more color. So here it is in my own words:


  1. Open an image in Photoshop and change the color mode to Lab.
  2. Add a new Curves Adjustment Layer. Under the Curves Display Options, make sure "Show Amount of" says Light (so your curves will match the ones I show here).
  3. Bonus trick: Cmd-click anywhere on your image and a point will be added on the curve at that exact color or lightness value.
  4. Adjust the Lightness curve as necessary.
  5. Switch to the "a" channel and click a point in the middle of the curve. Drag the sliders as shown on the right. Basically you want the curve to be practically vertical. Ignore the crazy colors previewing in your image.
  6. Go to the "b" channel and do the same thing you just did to "a."
  7. Reduce the opacity of the Curves layer to 10% or 20%. I used 15% here. If the effect isn't quit right, double click the Curves layer and adjust things until you like the final effect.


I love color and this is another fun (and useful) way to play with color in Photoshop. Definitely a keeper!

Orissan Art


This enchanting little print of Radha and Krishna is done in classical Orrisan style. Orissa is a state on the east coast of India with a storehouse of mineral wealth. The bright colors in the traditional Orissan art comes from those minerals.

Surrounded by Love


Geeky and creative, this card just made me smile. Available from Etsy.

The Blonde


I love the beauty and serenity in this piece of art. I like the contrasts in the Art Nouveau style—complex and detailed patterns and decoration mixed with solid and relatively simple areas (like her hair and dress). This piece is titled The Blonde and is by the Czech Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.

Serlio


Gorgeous, gorgeous Serlio. I love the curves and delicateness in Serlio's letter forms and serifs. The only downsides are that Serlio is a titling font (which means it's only available in all caps) and it can get a little thin at small sizes. It's still one of my favorite fonts.

Let There Be Light


This is a quick and easy way to create a light rays in Photoshop. This works well for sunsets, open doorways or can even be a neat halo effect on a person. The steps:


  1. Open the image in Photoshop and duplicate the layer.
  2. Choose Image > Adjusments > Threshold and a threshold value of 160 (this may be different for different images).
  3. Choose Filter > Blur > Radial Blur using the values: 100, Zoom and Best. Before clicking okay, manually move the zoom center to your zoom point (in this image it's the sun). Since there are no alignment controls, you may have to apply the effect and hit undo a few times to hit the exact center.
  4. Set the layer mode to Screen, 50%.
  5. Add a layer mask and using a soft paintbrush, paint the areas you wish to hide. You can also use the brush at 40% opacity to soften the edges of the rays.
  6. To color the rays, fill a layer with your color, group it with the previous layer, set the layer mode to Color and 50% opacity.

Apple cards


Sometimes keeping it super simple just works. I like the creative "looking inside the apple" perspective of these cards. Available from Etsy.

Sick


I have mixed feelings about this cover. The photography and concept are spot on—it's a creative and thought provoking image. But I can't stand the title font. Yes, I see what they were trying to do, mimic the $100 bill font but it just doesn't work for me. I would rather see a nice sanserif up there. Overall, a neat cover, good colors but needs help with the title typography.

Eat Pray Love


This is a clever book cover. I like how it ties so directly to the book's content. In the book, Elizabeth Gilbert mentions how the mood of a city or a place can often be summed up in one word. So both the title of the book and the treatment of those words tie directly to her activities in the 3 places she lived for 4 months each. Italy: eat, India: pray, Indonesia: love.

The Beauty of A4

I worked on a poster last weekend. I needed to have 3 versions of the poster for 3 different uses. The client wanted the poster in tabloid, letter and letter-half sizes. And I wished I lived in Europe.


According to the wikipedia article on letter size: "The origin of the exact dimensions of "letter" size paper (8½ in × 11 in, 215.9 mm × 279.4 mm) are lost in tradition and not well documented. The American Forest and Paper Association argues that the dimension originates from the days of manual paper making, and that the 11 inch length of the page is about a quarter of "the average maximum stretch of an experienced vatman's arms." However, this does not explain the width or aspect ratio."


Frustratingly, only some sizes in the American paper system have similar proportions. So although letter paper is half of tabloid, its proportions are completely different. This means I had to spend lots of extra time adjusting design elements to try and make the tabloid design work in letter size. And it still doesn't look quite as good as the original design. That extra white space can make or break a design.


  • Tabloid proportions: 1.5455
  • Letter proportions: 1.2941
  • Half letter proportions: 1.54

The Europeans got it right. Quoted from wiki: "The ISO 216 specifies international standard (ISO) paper sizes used in most countries in the world today. The international ISO standard is based on the German DIN standard 476 (DIN 476) from 1922. Paper in the A series format has an aspect ratio of 1: the square root of 2, although this is rounded to the nearest millimeter."


The ISO 216 also accounted for halving the preceding paper size. So A4 is both half of A3 AND of the exact same proportions. Beautiful! Every single paper size from A0 down to A8 has the aspect ratio of 1: the square root of 2.


I don't even want to get started about working in inches. If this text box is 3.125 inches then I'll make that one 4.375... Hmm, let me pull in a guide to .125 inches. What's 8.75 inches minus .125 inches?


I fondly remember my two short years of working with A3, A4 and millimeters.

Be Unique Cards


Flowing, organic, creative—is this a modern earth mother? I love how the wild and flowery hair is balanced with stark simplicity in the rest of the figure. This card is part of a set available on Etsy.

Minion


What's not to love about Minion? This classic (but not too classical) serif font has beautiful letter shapes, the full assortment of extras and great italics (without the annoying the 'h' looks like a 'b' problem many other fonts have). Designed by Robert Slimbach, Minion was inspired by the timeless beauty of the fonts of the late Renaissance.