When Post-Its Aren't Enough

I read organizing books for fun. (Yes, a bit nerdy but I really do enjoy it.) Julie Morgenstern is one of my favorite authors so I was excited when I got her latest book from the library: When Organizing Isn't Enough, SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life. The cover design is pretty boring but what got me the most was the pitiful post-it notes. So here's how to create some better post-it notes:

  1. Create a new document in Photoshop.
  2. Draw a square with the rectangle Shape tool and fill it with light yellow.
  3. With the Convert Point tool (under the Pen), manipulate the 4 corners of the shape. Turn up the corners and add movement.
  4. Duplicate the yellow shape layer and move the copy below the original layer. Fill the copied layer with light gray. Choose Edit > Free Transform (Cmd-T) and expand the copy by 110%.
  5. With the Convert Point tool, manipulate the gray shape so the bottom corners show and top corners are hidden beneath the yellow post-it layer.
  6. Duplicate the gray shape layer and rasterize it. Apply Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur of 5 px. Turn off the original shape layer. (I always keep the original vector just in case.)
  7. Add a light yellow to medium yellow gradient above the yellow post-it layer and on the fly-out menu on the Layers panel, choose Create Clipping Mask.

And the book has been interesting, helpful and well-written so far. I just couldn't help commenting on the design.

My Work: Fire in the South

Fire in the South 2 is a 32 page magazine/report on (obviously) fire in the South. It presents the comprehensive research of the Southern Wildfire Risk Assessment to legislators and fire professionals. The first Fire in the South report wasn't professionally designed and it showed. For this second report, my clients wanted a punchy, colorful magazine look that emphasized fire and fire colors.

I've been working pretty intensely on this project for the last week and a half. I've just sent off the final proofs to my client today. Yeah!

Blue Soul

Nature does it best: gorgeous color combinations and delicate tints of color. From fotocommunity galerie.

Web Inspiration: Background Patterns

I like how these background patterns add subtle texture and color while supporting the overall page design. The websites:


My favorite thing about Alita is it's unique Postmodern cut. In this sample, I've mixed Alita Postmodern characters (the w, k and more) in with Alita Regular.

Tricks for Selecting Table Strokes

I've been doing a lot of tables for a report I'm working on. These two tricks came in handy for easy selection when applying strokes.

1. To stroke only the outside or only the inside of a cell or cells:

  • Select the cells  you'd like to stroke
  • To stroke the outside of those cells, double click any inside line (turns inside lines off)
  • To stroke the inside of those cells, double click any outside line (turns outside lines off)

2. To stroke only one side:

  • Select the cells you'd like to stroke
  • Triple-click any highlighted blue line (turns all lines off)
  • Select the side you'd like to stroke


This art fulfills every child's dream: you're finally allowed to color in a book! I like the concept of using typography as a background texture — it works really well here. The gothic Swedish text provides ornate contrast to the simple tree illustration. Available from Etsy.

My Work: Extension Symposium postcard

Sometimes I just have to surrender. I work at the University of Florida and some clients want design with UF's college colors. So I stick on my Gator hat and Photoshop bleeds orange and blue.

Celestial Seasonings Redesign

I guess I haven't bought tea for a while because when I went to find my favorite Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer tea, I couldn't find it. Not because it wasn't there but because the Celestial Seasonings brand has been updated and redesigned.

It's interesting how we get so familiar with the colors and shapes on our usual brands that we don't even read them anymore — we recognize them by shape and color alone. This brand update was different enough that I was unable to go by shape recognition and was forced to read box by box until I came to my tea.

I actually really like the new design, especially the new logo, the use textured elements and the new illustrations. It will just take me a little longer to find my teas.

Dear Adobe.com

Adobe makes the products designers love to love and love to hate. Dear Adobe.com is an independent outlet for gripes (and a few raves). Some of them really hit the spot...

Europe 2008

Highlights from my travels included: visiting a 19th century castle in southern Belgium, hiking in the Swiss Alps, eating wild blueberries at 6,000 ft, quiet reflection in the Swedish countryside, mild and breezy summer weather, window shopping in Amsterdam, and beauty in unexpected places.