Old Border Road

A lot of little things please me about this book cover: the misty horse photo - burnt to reds and yellows, the white tab, the simple and understated typography, the flowering line art bursting out from the side.

Holiday Cards from Cocky Rooster Design

I love how the type wraps around and within a form to create a holiday shape. Beautifully executed! From Cocky Rooster Design.

My Work: Japanese Magnolia Card

I design a holiday ecard every year for colleagues, friends and family. This year I decided to create a frosty top layer partially wiped away to reveal a flower (japanese magnolia from our garden - my husband's photo).

The Difference between FSC and SFI

As a designer, I use a lot of paper. I use the most paper when printing jobs for clients. Nothing like printing 25,000 copies of something to use up a ton of paper. These days I often get asked to choose certified paper for print jobs. So what's the difference between FSC and SFI certifications?

These two older articles from Treehugger explain FSC vs SFI: Article 1 and Article 2. In summary:

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

  • Never harvests more than what grows back
  • Protects biodiversity and endangered species
  • Saves rare ancient trees
  • Guards local streams
  • Supports the local people
  • Uses narrow skidding trails so as not to disrupt the rest of the forest
  • Prohibits replacement by tree plantations
  • Bans toxic chemicals
  • Bans genetically modified trees (no GMO)

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)

  • Allows large clearcuts
  • Allows logging close to rivers and streams that harms water supplies
  • Allows use of toxic chemicals
  • Allows conversion of old-growth forests to tree plantations
  • Allows use of genetically modified trees

Some certification is probably better than no certification and I think SFI certification is improving its standards but at this point, I'm choosing FSC.

From a purely practical point of view, if you are a tight print schedule, FSC tends to be more responsive with my local vendors (getting back within hours) rather than SFI (24-36 hrs).

Florida Gardener's Resource

This beautifully realistic flower on the cover of Florida's Gardener's Resource caught my eye. I like the background texture and typography too. It's also a nice layout/design inside - lots of photos, type is well organized and pleasing to read. A good resource for my bookshelf!

Matilde - Free Font from Type Depot

This is a sweet free font from Type Depot. Download Matilde.

Prana's Beautiful Footer

I love this oversized footer on Prana's website. The design is subtle and artsy and calming.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Typography: Ligature, Loop & Stem Poster

Everything you ever wanted to know about the the actual parts and pieces of a font is on this elegant typography poster from FPO.

Art from Volume 25

I love these sweet and whimsical posters from Volume 25.

Paste It in InDesign

Copying and pasting bits of text is even more efficient when you take advantage of all the Paste options InDesign has to offer. Most of the time, when I'm pasting in text, the box or the text area I'm pasting into already has a style applied. I want to make sure the text I'm copying takes on the new style, leaving any previous formatting behind. The following options help keep that formatting in place while pasting text.

When pasting into InDesign from outside of InDesign (email, web, MS Word, etc), make sure your preferences are set up correctly to strip away any extraneous formatting. Under Preferences > Clipboard Handling, check "Text Only" in the "When Pasting Text from Other Applications" box.

When pasting within InDesign, from one text box to another, use Edit > Paste without Formatting (Shift-Cmd-V).

Going Backwards: Extracting a Jpg Tile from a Photoshop Pattern File

It's pretty easy to go forward in the pattern making process—use Photoshop to define a pattern from an existing graphic. It's a little trickier to extract the original file — convert a Photoshop pattern to jpg.

A lot of the free patterns available online are available in Photoshop pattern (.pat) format, but if you want to use a Photoshop pattern as a website background, you need the original tile in jpg or gif format, not the pattern file. Here's how to get an accurate jpg file from a Photoshop pattern (so you don't have to guess where the seams are, crop, test, crop again, test again):

  1. Open your file in Photoshop. Choose the layer you want to apply the effect to and choose Pattern Overlay. In the Layer Style dialog box, Pattern Overlay, scroll through the patterns to select the pattern you'd like to use. Click on it to select it.

  2. With the thumbnail view still open, hover on the pattern you selected for a while until its tool tip appears. The tool tip will tell you the original file name and pixel dimensions of the original tile! (If there's somewhere else this information is, I'd love to know - this was the only place I could find.) Write down or screen capture the pixel info. In this example the pattern is 250px x 307px. Click OK to to exit the Layer Style dialog box.

  3. Select Image > Canvas Size. Select the top left corner of the canvas (patterns are always applied from the top left corner down) and enter the pixel dimensions from the previous step. Click OK to crop the canvas.

  4. Export the cropped file as a jpg or gif.

  5. Bonus step: If you would like to test your file in Photoshop to be 100% sure the tile was created correctly, make sure the file is flattened, select all (Cmd-A) and select Edit > Define Pattern and save your pattern. Create a new document at a much larger size than your pattern. Then choose Edit > Fill, choose pattern, find your pattern (usually new patterns move to the end of the list) and click OK. The pattern should fill the document seamlessly.

Southern Savers Magnolia

I saw this sweet magnolia web header at SouthernSavers.com. Love the colors and vintage style.

No Coast Craft-o-Rama Poster

Folk art with sophisticated color scheme and a little grunge: poster from No Coast Craft-o-Rama event.

Book Cover Inspiration: Moody and Dark

These covers show the drama and atmosphere that the color black can convey. I love the moody silhouette and type on the branch in the To Kill a Mocking Bird anniversary cover. I like how the colors work together in The Bells cover. Torment's strength is artistic photography and interesting fonts. The over the top gothic swirls and grungy photo make Beautiful Darkness deliciously dark.

Using Photoshop CS5's HDR Toning Adjustment as an Image Correction Tool

There are so many different ways to adjust an image in Photoshop: Curves, Levels, Brightness/Contrast and more. CS5 introduces one more way to adjust images: HDR Toning. HDR toning can be used to create artistic photographic effects but applied at low settings on high contrast images it works to preserve highlight detail while illuminating the shadow detail.

  1. Open your image in Photoshop. Select Image > Adjustment > HDR Toning.

  2. Set the Method to Local Adaption (it may already be set on this setting). Tip: if the saturation default is high, set it to 0 first and then adjust the rest of the settings.

  3. If you want your adjustments to look realistic, keep the settings low and don't make drastic adjustments. For this specific image, I used: Radius 50px, Strength .50, Gamma 1.14, Exposure 0, Detail +30, Shadow, +10, Highlight -20, Vibrance 0, Saturation 0.

  4. Click on the down arrow by Toning Curve and Histogram and make any necessary Curve adjustments.

  5. If artistic/drastic adjustments is what you're looking for, go wild. Making major adjustments in the HDR toning settings will yield images like this:

Thanks to sxc.hu user mossholder for the photo

Torn Paper Art

I like the texture and variety of colors in these torn art collages. Man - CD cover, T.I. Paper Trails album. Woman - collage by Derek Gores.

Conserve Rain Water Poster

An eye-catching poster. I like the contrast of the bold umbrella icon and the subtle cloud texture.

Trimming, Expanding and Revealing in Photoshop

A few of my favorite useful little Photoshop commands reside under the Image menu.

Image > Trim. Crops out all transparent pixels. Favorite use: No more eyeballing it! Using Trim crops to the exact edges of an image. Trim preserves drop shadows too.

Image > Canvas Size (Cmd-Opt-C). Expand the canvas size. My favorite part of this dialog box: Checking 'Relative' and typing in an amount is a speedy way to evenly add white space on all 4 sides.

Image > Reveal All. Expands the canvas to show all pixels hidden off the edges of the image window. Especially useful when layering multiple images and something gets lost off canvas.

Screenshots on a Mac - Good, Better, Best

When I worked on both Macs and PCs, I always appreciated the extra ease of use and control in taking Mac screenshots. Now that I'm always on a Mac, I usually take screenshots for granted. However, today I'm excited to add a new keyboard shortcut to my screenshot repertoire. The basics:

Cmd-Shift-3: Take a screenshot of your entire screen.

Cmd-Shift-4: Take a screenshot of specific area of your screen. Select the area by drawing a box around the area with the crosshairs.

The new (to me) shortcut: Cmd-Shift-4 + Spacebar
Press the first 3 keys together and then, when the crosshairs appear, press the spacebar. The cursor will turn into a camera. Using the cursor/camera, select a specific window or panel to take a screenshot of only that panel. The screenshot image will appear on a transparent background if you open it in Photoshop.

For even more detail on Mac screenshots, see this guide.

Dagoba Chocolate

I like the bright and natural look of Dagoba's website. There are lots of special touches that make this website sweet: the little waving leaves on the right margin, the vintage plant sketches, the rough edges on the textured paper border, the beautiful central photograph.

Straighten a Photo in Photoshop CS5

One of my most appreciated one click features in Photoshop CS5 is the Straighten button. It's so easy to use. Open a photo with a crooked horizon.

Select the ruler tool and draw a line along the horizon. Click the Straighten button and Photoshop will straighten and crop your image automatically.

Photo courtesy of jawcey

Oh Joy!

I love the idea of reinventing the use of icons. Here instead of an envelope for contact, a cart for shop, etc... the design blog Oh Joy! uses flower and leaf silhouettes as icons in the website header.

Jupiter Pro

Jupiter Pro, a better Trajan? Or just a really great titling font with lots of extra swashes? Beautiful either way. And there's a condensed version too.

Type Heavy Posters

Sometimes the challenge of focusing on the type with little or no other graphics can make a poster even more interesting.

University of Otago Magazine

The University of Otago's magazine cover design has interesting and elegantly modern typography. The inside design is restrained with lots of white space.