Clever Photoshop Ads

I found these ads for Ziplock bags and Old English wood polish in the Communication Arts Advertising Annual — clever and well-executed pieces of Photoshop work.

In Case of Rain

I like these two layered photographs by KarrieWelbornPhotos on Etsy. The raindrops look like clear crystals suspended in the sky and I keep looking back and forth between the different layers.


Proforma is a tight modern font with sharp serifs and a clean no-nonsense look. I like how flexible it is. It works well with all sorts of projects. In 2007, TIME magazine was redesigned and Proforma was chosen for their new text font.

Google Fight

Google Fight is a hilarious and effective way to compare Google results for different search terms. As shown in the sample search above, I sometimes use it as a spell checker for uncommon words (usually the item with the most results is the correct spelling but not always).

The Drunkard's Walk

My favorite thing about this cover is the die cut circled letters that randomly spell out "random" from the full words of the title. The Drunkard's Walk has a simple and interesting cover design and the die cuts add another level of interest.


Pacifica has some beautiful packaging for their perfume, soap and candles. I especially like the color variety and the simple vintage-inspired vector art.

Restoring Acrobat's Launch Speed

If you remember the days before pdfs and Adobe Acrobat Reader, you know how much easier the world of document sharing is with this invention. But if you've been around since then, you've probably also noticed how bloated Acrobat has gotten and how annoying it is to use because it takes SO long to load.

Today, you can reclaim Acrobat and restore Acrobat's launch speed by disabling all unnecessary plug-ins.

  • To disable a plugin, find the plug-in and move it out of the plug-ins folder. If you have a Plug-ins Disabled folder provided, move it into that folder. I've kept EScript.acroplugin, Reflow.acroplugin, Search.acroplugin, Spelling.acroplugin and WebLink.acroplugin active and disabled the rest.
  • Mac OS Plug-ins folder: Control-click the application icon, and choose Show Package Contents. Then double-click the Contents folder and open the Plug-ins folder.
  • Windows Plug-ins folder: Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 9.0\Acrobat\plug_ins
  • You can always re-activate a plugin by moving it back into the Plug-ins folder.
  • This information is available in the Acrobat 9 Help File under Manage plug-ins.

Update: I'm finding out the hard way which other plugins I really need. So far I've needed EScript (required to view pdfs online) and WebLink (opens links from pdfs in a web browser).

Brand Redesigns: Pepsi & Tropicana

Some package redesigns are great—more attractive, more user-friendly, more interesting than the original design (Publix brand and Celestial Seasonings, for example). Some are not so great—less attractive, less user-friendly, more boring than the original design. The new Tropicana and Pepsi packaging, in my opinion, fall into the second category, worse than the original design.


PSFK has this neat image of Pepsi's logo progression over the years. The current logo looks like it should fit in the line up before the last 4 Pepsi logos — it's flat and boring, the curves are awkward and the logo text is so small it's hardly there. Since English is read left to right horizontally, if a designer chooses to use vertical type, that type has got to be even more well designed, interesting and easy to read than the same type if it was horizontal. I don't think this typography makes the cut.


Tropicana has had the same design for so long so I'm sure it was time for an update. The old design was a bit old fashioned but the new one is just... boring. I like the updated logo text but the rest of the text looks awkward. It looks like the designer couldn't decide which text to make prominent so decided to make it all big. On the previous carton, there was better distinction between the logo type, juice description, amount of pulp, and other items (pasteurized, carton size, etc). The new carton feels like a typographical jumble.

Creating Soft Focus

This effect goes by all sorts of names in the world of Photoshop: soft glow, soft focus, dreamy effect, glamor effect, etc. Whatever you might call it, here's my version of a subtle / barely there soft focus effect.

  1. Open your image in Photoshop. Remove any dust or distracting elements. Apply any necessary Curves adjustments.
  2. Duplicate the background layer. Apply a Gaussian Blur of 10 px (you might need more or less, depending on the image quality).
  3. Duplicate the blurred layer so you have two blurred layers. 
  4. Change the bottom layer's blending mode to Soft Light with layer opacity of 30%.
  5. Change the top layer's blending mode to Normal with a layer opacity of 30%. This is where I stopped for the flower photo.
  6. People images look best when features we expect to be sharp and in focus (eyes, eyebrows, lips, etc) are sharp. So, on the top blurred layer, add a layer mask. Using a soft paintbrush, paint with black to reveal the areas you'd like to be sharp. For this photo, since the little girl's bangs were so close to her eyes, I made portions of her bangs sharp too.
  7. If any areas of the photo are too dark, apply a Curves adjustment.

Thanks to stock.xchng users Egilshay and andreyutzu for the photos.

Yulia Brodskaya's Paper Art

Quilling is an art form using rolled and shaped pieces of paper. Yulia Brodskaya takes quilling to a whole new level with her creative and colorful paper illustrations. These are some of my favorites from her online portfolio.

My Work: Center for Public Issues Education Logos

Here are 2 of the logos I designed for The Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources. I had to come up with an abstract way of depicting agriculture education and make the 11 word logo title work.

HistoryShots & American Political History Poster

In my search for vintage design inspiration, I stumbled onto HistoryShots, a beautifully designed site that "creates high-quality information graphics that provide context to interesting subjects, time periods and events." I like the muted colors and design of this History of the Political Parties poster. It's fascinating to see the twists and turns the American political parties have taken.

Animator vs. Animation

Here's a cute and creative animation that has a lot of fun with Flash. Click on the image above to be linked to the actual animation by Alan Becker. Thanks to Linda for bringing this to my attention!

Joom Pillows

I absolutely love this combination of powerful punchy color and simple nature vector art. Available from Etsy.