Kate's Paperie

I love notebooks. Whenever I go to a bookstore, I am drawn to the notebook section to see the color, pattern, design and texture of the journals and notebooks. Although looking at notebooks online doesn't have the same tactile experience, it's fun to see some great designs like these notebooks from Kate's Paperie. The combination of warm colors and varying patterns is beautifully done.

Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious

This is a fascinating book—it sort of reminds of Blink and The Tipping Point. I enjoy that sort of book: scientific but written so lay people can understand. But I'm here to talk about design. When searching for an image of the cover, I stumbled on the UK version so I thought I'd share that too.

I like and dislike things about both of the covers. Here goes:

US cover
I think the illustration is well done. It's easy to understand that the figure could choose to either follow logic and obey the sign or follow his gut instinct. I like the slightly quirky serif font for the subhead and the author's name. However, I think that overall the typography is a little too small and weak. The colors yellow and black are also very appropriate since that color combination is often used for danger signs.

UK cover
This cover breaks the mold of what I'd usually expect a book cover to be. The whole cryptic/word search style for the cover is fun and different. The simple sanserif font works well and there is enough contrast to pick out the words "Gut Feelings." I always eliminate unnecessary hyphens so the "UN-" in UNCONSCIOUS irritates me and looks like a mistake. The "&" is also begging to be moved up to the previous line.


I like the contrasts in this piece. The vibrant red poppies cheerfully stand upright while the lone bud droops. The blue background creates a melancholy mood which is balanced by the whimsical cheerfulness of the bright red flowers. Beautiful! Available from Etsy.

Handwriting - Dakota

Although it's not very often, sometimes I need a informal handwriting font. Handwriting - Dakota has that "sloppy everyday handwriting" feel and nice variation between the letter-forms. It's available free from Fonts101.com.

Metallic Sun

I noticed this striking and cheerful sculpture while wandering around the Dallas airport. I love the multi-colored texture of the metal and the gold accents.

Crow Collection of Asian Art

I was in Dallas over the weekend and managed to visit the Crow Collection of Asian Art. It's quite a varied collection with beautiful statues of Buddha and art from India, Cambodia and more. My favorite piece was a 12 foot by 30 foot carved pink sandstone facade of a Jaipur residence.

I also noticed the logo. The typography is light and elegant but what really stood out for me is the beautiful rendering of the lotus flower. It conveys that Asian art feeling so completely.

Quick Portrait Retouching

The experts can and do spend hours perfectly retouching the photos in magazines and advertisements. The rest of us are often just interested in basic techniques for fixing up for a friend's wedding photo or something like that. So here are some steps for quick photo retouching. Thanks to stock.xchng user varyamo for the image used in this example.

  1. Open the image in Photoshop and apply Curves if necessary.
  2. Duplicate your original layer and clone out any blemishes and distracting details.
  3. Duplicate the cloning layer and choose Filter > Blur > Surface Blur. I used a radius of 2 px and threshold of 30 here.
  4. On the surface blur layer, create a layer mask and fill it with black. On the layer mask, paint white with a soft paintbrush to reveal the areas of skin. Reduce surface blur layer opacity to 40% or whatever looks good.
  5. Create a merged copy of all of the layers below with the shortcut Cmd-Opt-Shift-E. 
  6. Apply a localized sharpen by choosing Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. I used an amount of 500, radius of .3 and threshold of 6 for this image. Use a layer mask to hide any parts that become too sharp. (Steps 5 and 6 are tricks from Lynda.com instructor Chris Orwig—he's got some great retouching training videos in the Photoshop CS3 Portrait Retouching Techniques series.)

Tada! A quick and beautifully retouched image.

Plitvice Lakes

No words—just spectacular!

I stumbled into this photo in the Fotocommunity Galerie. The site is in German but you don't really need to know German to figure out previous (zurück) and next (weiter). This site is always worth a browse for the high quality photography.

Plitvice Lakes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and national park in Croatia. The minerals and algae combined with the angle of the sun create some amazing blue and green shades in the water. In 1991, it was the site of the first armed conflict of the Croatian war that resulted in fatalities. Plitvice Lakes National Park was recognized as mine-free in 1998 and is one of the most popular Croatian tourist attractions today. Wikipedia has the full story.

My Work: Nritya Seva

Here's a recent poster I created with input from others (Radhanath's photography, Govinda's typography advice and Anapayini's modeling). I often design Anapayini's Bharatanatyam event posters and this was was a fun project. Nritya means dance and Seva means service—this title refers to the love and service the dancer offers through her art. I love the composition and colors in this photo of her feet—the beautiful dancing costume and painted feet just draw you in. Generous white space gives this poster a modern feel and the title treatment adds that traditional touch. Fonts used: Brioso Pro and Cronos.

Fractal Flame 7

I'm not usually a fan of abstract art but I like this piece by Matthew Tourtellot. I like the motion, the spare use of color and the wispy edges.

One Perfect Day

I've been meaning to feature this cover. I read One Perfect Day last year and found it a well written and interesting glimpse into the $161 billion wedding industry. It's so perfect that the cover is a stapled receipt on top of traditional wedding typography.