Gratitude: A Journal

It's hard for me to restrain my designs to this level of simplicity. I often want to add just a little more texture, a little more color variation. But this simple journal cover shows how calming and interesting simplicity can be. From Chronicle Books.

Design by Humans

I like the creativity and artistic expression in these T-shirt designs from Design by Humans. As a bonus, the Design by Humans site is simple, well-designed and easy to navigate. The pop up clipouts (pop up when you zoom in on the shirt designs) are neat feature even though some of the clipping masks need work. Shirt links: The legendary smell of flowers, Circular Reasoning, and Migratory Pattern

Ocean's Twelve

I know this movie came out quite a while ago but this is still a great poster design. I love the overhead perspective, the simplicity of form and color, and movement in this design.


Filosofia is a modern serif with symmetry and grace. I like the extras that come with Filosofia: the condensed Filosofia Grand, the Unicase cut (used here for the author's name) and the little decorative ornaments available in the Fractions cut.

Creating Vector Jewelry

I don't know how many people might find this useful but, since I had to figure out it for a recent project, here it is: my technique for creating rhinestone or diamond vector jewelry. In my case, I had to create a tiara but this technique would work well for vector diamond necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Maybe even pearl jewelry.

Creating the Tiara

  1. Begin with a vector image of a diamond's face. (If you can't find one, create one by tracing a photo). Recolor the diamond using shades of gray. I used 5%, 20% and 35% black in this example.
  2. With the pen or paintbrush tool, sketch the outlines of the piece of jewelry. Apply a colored stroke and no fill. The drawing can be quite rough since you can always make later adjustments.
  3. Zoom in on the tiara. Copy and paste the diamond. Then scale the diamond down very small. It should be scaled down to the actual use size.
  4. With the diamond selected, go to the Brush panel and in the drop down menu at the top right, select New Brush. In the next dialog box, choose New Scatter Brush. In the Scatter Brush options box, choose Size: 100%, Spacing: 100%, Scatter: 0%, Rotation: Random from -40 degrees to 60 degrees, and Rotation relative to: Path. Down in the Colorization section, choose Tints and click OK.
  5. Select the tiara path and apply the new diamond scatter brush. Change the color and weight of the stroke as desired. Adjust curves and points of the path as necessary.

Adding Sparkle
If you'd like to add catch lights or highlights to your jewelry, here's how you create star-like sparkle.

  1. Use the Round Rectangle Tool to create a long horizontal shape. 
  2. Create a transparent white (Opacity 0, Location 15) to white (Opacity 100, Location 50) to transparent white (Opacity 0, Location 85) linear gradient and apply it to your shape.
  3. Using the pen tool, remove the corner points, leaving only the 2 endpoints.
  4. Copy your shape, paste in front and rotate 90 degrees.
  5. Select both shapes, group them, copy and paste in front, scale the group down and rotate 45 degrees.
  6. Repeat step five twice, freely rotating the shapes until they look about right.
  7. Copy and group the sparkle. In the Transparency panel, change the layer blend mode to Screen 100%.
  8. Add sparkly highlights to your vector jewelry as desired.

Web Inspiration: Color

Color is a powerful weapon in the arsenal of a designer. It sets the mood and tone of a design and holds the design together. Colors can have strong conscious and unconscious associations which allows a designer to convey complicated ideas and concepts simply by choosing the right colors.

I like these website color schemes for different reasons: the charming whimsy of the apple green with the multi colored tights, the conservative variety in the navy and tan, and the rich warmth of the earth tones.

The American Package Museum

Take a walk in the past at The American Package Museum. Looking at these designs and imagining the painstaking detail work that went into them, I am very grateful to be a designer in this day and this time. If my ability to design was directly related to my adeptness with an exacto knife, rubylith overlays and manually aligning pieces precisely on a page, I probably wouldn't be a designer today.

Sharpening with High Pass

I have the Unsharp Mask formula burned into my head from design school years ago: Amount-100, Radius-1 px, Threshold-3. These amounts are, of course, just starting points but they work pretty well for most high resolution images. I still use Unsharp Mask from time to time but I've discovered a better way to sharpen. From the Photoshop Help file:

Sharpen Edges and Unsharp Mask: Finds the areas in the image where significant color changes occur and sharpen them. ... For professional color correction, use the Unsharp Mask filter to adjust the contrast of edge detail and produce a lighter and darker line on each side of the edge. This process emphasizes the edge and creates the illusion of a sharper image.

High Pass: Retains edge details in the specified radius where sharp color transitions occur and suppresses the rest of the image. (A radius of 0.1 pixel keeps only edge pixels.) The filter removes low-frequency detail from an image and has an effect opposite to that of the Gaussian Blur filter.

The most important thing to remember: "High Pass retains edge details ... and suppresses the rest of the image." This is what makes High Pass the better way to sharpen. Lower contrast areas like skin pores and background noise aren't sharpened the way they would be with Unsharp Mask. I've also found High Pass to be more effective than Unsharp Mask at sharpening slightly blurry details. The technique:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop.
  2. Duplicate the background layer.
  3. Apply Filter > Other > High Pass. A good range for low/medium resolution photos is .5 to 2 px and for high resolution photos try 3 to 6 px.
  4. Change the blending mode to Overlay (my favorite), Soft Light or Hard Light and reduce the Layer Opacity if you wish. 

Note: If you get any weird color shifts (pretty rare), desaturate the layer (Cmd - Shift - U or Image > Adjustments > Desaturate).

Thanks to stock.xchng user Muscari for the image.

Peter Callesen's Paper Art

Notice the delicate details on this remarkable paper cut artwork by Peter Callesen. More at

My Work: Blueberry Jamboree

I designed this fresh and friendly poster for the Escambia County's blueberry and bluegrass festival: the Blueberry Jamboree. Based on that design, I also created a 2 color t-shirt design and web header. I'm sure there will be more event materials to design as the event date gets closer.

Bonus: got to use Spoon Graphics Sticky Tape brushes.

Dogwood Blossoms

Spring is here! (At least in Florida.) My favorite part of spring is flowering trees, especially dogwood trees. This delicate watercolor captures the white dogwood blossoms beautifully. From Etsy.