Selasa, 28 Februari 2012

A Lifetime Commitment.

'Claude Montreal a fan of my 'Tribal Tattoo' artwork.'

My artwork via my web sites is seen by a lot of people. Some of which have nothing to do with graphic design or illustration. Such is the case in regards to this post. Apparently a gentleman from Canada by the name of 'Claude' stumbled up my 'Tribal Tattoo' artwork (See Below) while surfing the net and then while in Cancun visited a tattoo shop called 'Second Skin' where an artist by the name of 'Ray' reproduced my artwork on to his back. This is only the third time (that I am aware of) that someone has used my artwork to get tattooed onto their body permanently.

'Tribal Tattoo face.'

Like I said in a recent post, I am a weenie when it comes to tattooing. I don't have any and if I did decide to get one it would be a temporary one at that. I could never commit to my own art, I get sick of it too fast. I am glad Claude likes my art and I wish him the best with his life time commitment to my art on his back, he's far more daring then I am.

Kamis, 23 Februari 2012

Google, Yahoo.....Cambur?

'Logo Options I presented'

I'd be remiss if I didn't also post about projects I worked on that were less then successful. This post is case in point.

I was contacted by a couple engineers who are trying hard to become the next Google or Yahoo. (Easier said then done) Their expectations clearly defined their desire for a logo type they could use to brand themselves with.

Googles logo isn't a looker, that is for sure and there are a plethora of better logos for companies offering similar services and they haven't been as successful so all though I believe in a strong logo it's only part of the bigger branding picture which will only be as believable and effective as the quality and usefulness of the services being offered.

On logo projects specifically I require a lot of upfront information from clients, this helps me gauge perceptions and expectations as well as understanding them personally, their business and their target audience. After receiving this and other information I proceed to work out my concepts and the end result is presenting what you see above.

About a day after sending off the comps I received an email that contained a report card of tests these engineers apparently ran the logo comps through. In a nut shell my logos didn't pass their tests. I found it both amusing, frustrating and ignorant so I decided to share it with others.

Here was their evaluation criteria. (My comments in response to them follow each and are shown in italic)

1) Highly Recognizable: I liked the fact that you provided the initial concepts in solid colors as this is something I do to test the typeface recognition factor. Some question I ask myself are: Can I spot it instantly? Can I recognize it well even if I change the colors and effects?, is the font unique? Can the logo be identifiable even if it's reduced to 75px wide.

How do I test this condition? I reduce the size of the logo to 75px wide, I transform it to grayscale, I print it both by itself, and with some dummy text around, etc.

Disney and Yahoo are examples of logos that I see pass this test.

Of all of the logos that you provided me both #1 and #4 easily pass this test also. The others don't convince me.

If you mean by 'Recognizable' that it has visual equity then I'd have to say that is not what a logo accomplishes. This IS what branding accomplishes and that is facilitated with how well you market and advertise. If you do that well any mark good or bad will work to be frank. You do that with a well crafted design and it only makes it more effective. All four I have provided accomplish this in my opinion.

You say it's unrecognizable after you scale it down to 75 pixels. Well that's because you're not suppose to scale down art to create small onscreen graphics. It just doesn't work that way. Creating GUI content is part creative and part science. You build your art at 100% so it rasterizes art when you take it into Photoshop at a 100% this helps clarity and even then you need to go in and finesse the pixels to make it look it's best. So the only reason they failed is because you are attempting to do it the wrong way. (See my attachment showing all four very recognizable at 75 pixels in width)

Furthermore none of these four options are merely a font typed out. Number one I created from scratch. The rest are modified to he point they look very little like the typefaces I derived them from.

'My mock-up at 75 pixels wide to show that these do work.'

2) Readability: This is something I find extremely important. That's why I prefer spelled letters instead of handwriting-like letters like in the Johnson&Johnson logo. It is a great logo, I am not saying it's not, but it is not for an internet search engine for sure. This is a component that causes frustration, some designers have tried to satisfy condition #1-Highly Recognizable at the expense of #2 Readability.The first time I came to the US, I saw a guy carrying a computer that I liked, I looked at the logo and went back home to see if I could buy one. I typed on my web browser www.DOLL.COM and no computer site showed up. I want to avoid these kinds of mistakes. I believe a logo can be both readable and unique, again my old examples Disney and Yahoo, with Yahoo being the most readable of the two.

Your logos #1 and #4 in my opinion do not pass this test. I basically try to test and see if my brain can read the name in a blink. I showed your logos to several people and some of then read Combor, Canbur, and Camur (#4's "b" is not very noticeable)

The letter "C" should be capitalized.

Actually I ran all of these comps by eight different individuals (7 non-designers and 1 designer) who did not know anything about this project. One of them was a 9 year old girl and they all read them fine. I am a bit confused how you not being able to read 'DELL' pertains to these marks? That said I modified the 'm' letter-form to improve the readability.

3) Portability: Another reason why I reduce the logo size to 75px width is because the nature of our business involves engaging in co-branded deals and partnerships, application development etc. What I mean by this is: Try to envision Cambur:
a) Powering the search feature of another site and showing a very small "Powered by Cambur" logo next to the search box
b) Creating a desktop-based application that requires an icon, a firefox plug-in, extension, a favicon for the site.
c) Creating a browser toolbar.

On this logo #1 does a much better job than #4. In addition, the reflection effect or mirror effect that you did on all logos is not optimal because it does not pass this test. I like other components of the web 2.0 style, this one is not very portable.

Once again you build to size. This is easily done so your getting the cart before the horse. Further more you made it clear you wanted a logo type not a graphic mark for a logo. Even though you said that I still added secondary elements to the logo types you could use in that respect. A logo is not a desktop based icon, it can be but then that needs to be made clear up front.

If you wanted an icon for these usages that would either be part of the logo development as a secondary branding image or just another project after the fact to create a desktop icon. A desktop icon is never a name or word it's an iconic mark which would and can be developed for a, b and c as you describe. Google uses a 'G' and Yahoo a 'Y!' AOL uses the running man and so on. Think square proportion.

4) Neatness and Presence: This is the easiest component to test, I simply re-size the logo to 300px wide and I place it on a "Test" page similar to the google interface that I have attached for you to use. If I like what I see, and it passess all of the tests above, then I approve the logo.

Regarding the Web 2.0 style: I like the reflection effect, but I don't think it's portable, so I prefer effects like this: (please look at the logo), and the other type effects on the forum I sent you about corporate web 2.0 redesigns.

Like I've said you build to size you don't merely scale at will and expect it to look good. Frankly even though you scaled it for this you can tell it looks good. I assume you don't like it though?

The web 2.0 reflection I only added because you mentioned that upfront. And that would only appear in places like the header of your web site, not on badges or co-branded applications etc.

Yes I can add layer effects to the mark to get subtle shadowing etc. None of which will hold up at the smaller viewings however. This is all detailing work though and something I'd do in the next stage of the process.

Well the client hated the logo concepts as you can see in the above tests he ran them through.

Since this new criteria was not provided up front when I requested such information made me realize this whole process was going to be an uphill battle dealing with engineers who fancy themselves as designers and view me as an extension of their arm. Some times it's worth educating a client and winning them over to a vision you have for the project or helping them understand something. Frankly I was too busy to deal with this type of situation so I made the decision to end it before I got in any further suggesting that they should find a new designer because I don't think I am a good fit for their project based on the new information they provided.

I don't like doing this but sometimes it happens. In this project I struck out pure and simple. But to continue with the baseball analogy I'll have another at bat soon and hopefully I'll hit a frozen rope to deep center. Thankfully this isn't the norm but rather the exception with my business. Live and learn.

Rabu, 22 Februari 2012

Israel Trip

Update: The trip is now over and it was a total blast. To view my online gallery of around 500 pictures click here.

Well, I left on the 18th and have been traveling around Israel now for about three days so far. Lots of cool places I've been able to visit and I've been taking all kinds of photos. My internet access and speed has been somewhat problematic and not very reliable. When a hotel says they have internet it doesn't mean broadband so the photos I have posted are a very small sampling of what I've taken so far.

So I sit in the grand court of a hotel in old town Jerusalem typing this. Hebrew and Arabs talking all around and I am drinking some kind of grapefruit juice. The internet is cool in that I can somewhat share it with you via this blog. So enjoy a few Israeli interludes I have had the past few days.

'A beautiful flower at Caesarea.'

The first place we visited was the Roman city of Caesarea built on the coast of the Mediterranean. The ruins were awesome and since there is so many fragments of antiquity they don't mind if you take pieces as long as they do not have certain features, so I grabbed a few of those.

'On top of Mt. Carmel overlooking the Megiddo Valley.'

We traveled to the top of Mt. Carmel which overlooks the Megiddo Valley. The future location of the battle of armageddon. While we were there the Israeli air force was flying jets through the air space so that was cool too.

'Steep stairs going down into an underground tunnel.'

In the Megiddo Valley was the 'Tel Megiddo' an ancient city that has about 26 layers of various ages built one on top of the other over time. To get water to the top they had to build a tunnel going straight down and out to the natural spring below. The picture above shows this access way. Of course it would have been san stairs back then.

'Zimbabwe gentleman.'

Met this Zimbabwe gentleman at Nazareth of all places. He was the founding pastor of a Church and their members were traveling in Israel right now. Very nice guy.

'Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee.'

Got up at about 5am to watch the eclipse then watched the sunrise over the Sea of Galilee. Too cool.

'St. Peters fish for lunch.'

When in Galilee eat like the Galilians. I am not a big fish person but I had to try it. It tasted pretty good but was very bony.

'Ruins at Capernaum.'

Up on a hill overlooking the shore of Galilee is the ruins of the apostle Simon Peters home. Next to that is the ruins of the first century synagogue. Hard to take a bad picture at this place.

In between all the cool pictures of the various locations we are visiting I am also capturing a bunch of great ancient textures I'll be creating a set with. Of course I am getting all kinds of strange looks though when were at a famous location and everyone is taking a picture of the main attraction and I am standing facing a wall or bending over and taking a texture picture of a wall or cool mosaic floor etc. LOL

Will try to post more later in the trip.

Minggu, 19 Februari 2012

Dithered Shading

'247 - Breaking Out a New Style'

I had a magazine assignment come in that was a super quick turnaround. The theme they wanted for this spot illustration was pretty generic too so I decided to handle my detailing with shading and using a dithered method. I was surprised how much fun it was so I've decided to try this again on another upcoming assignment.

'Dithered Tiff Image used for shading.'

All the shading in this art was done using three different sized dither tiffs like the one shown above. I just colored them and masked them into place. I purposely kept my art simplified using basic shapes since the deadline was so tight. This along with shading using the dither made the project go much faster.

I'll have a tutorial on this method of shading posted at '' soon.

Sabtu, 11 Februari 2012

A Crappy Illustration


I usually wake up right after the scene where somone hires me to draw poop and realize it was just another silly dream. Well this time it actually happened. This illustration will be 1 out of about 20 I'll be doing for the 'Upper Deck Company' to be used in a card set called 'Gross-Out!'

Lots of things could be said about this illustration.

"Von, that looks like crap!"
"Your portfolio looks like a steaming pile of $#%!"
"Did you use a number 2 pencil to draw number 2?"
"You CAN polish a turd!"
"Art happens!"
"This must be your brown period?"

I plan on doing the whole set in this simplified style so it should all tie together well when I am done. I have all my sketches done and it's going to be fun.

Some of the other topics I'll have to illustrate will be 'Vomit', 'Bad Breath' and 'Urine'. All of which will be scratch -n- sniff too so kids will love them. Yeah, it's a crappy job but someone has to do it. ;-P

Rabu, 08 Februari 2012

Lull Before the Storm

"Essential Nonsense" doodle.

Sometimes I cannot control inspiration. Something I see or hear inspires me to draw. Today I was talking to a friend on the phone and something they said caused me to draw the above face. I can't even remember what exactly it was but when I hung up I had this cool piece of art.

Animated Nonsense.

Right now I am buried in work. But it's a strange position. I am waiting for final specs and details about each of the projects before I can start on any of them so I enjoyed this little respite of creativity before I get flooded in deadlines.

Small Business -vs- Corporate Giant

'The classic, tired and poorly designed Gold's Gym logo.'

I really enjoy doing logo identity work for small business owners. Helping them kick-start their new business with a logo identity that'll equip them to play with the big boys.

A recent client of mine use to own three "Gold's Gym" franchises locally. Over the years the franchise fee they paid monthly continued to climb eating into their profit margin. This year they decided to sell all of their locations and open up one new location under their own brand name.

'The Fitness Experience logo. Two formats.'

I always try to provide two formats for a logo so as it will work in any context regardless of proportion. The top incarnation I have nested the core mark inside a nice shield shape. The shield graphic is an iconic representation of the human torso. Cut-in on the sides yet still strong and bold. Fit if you will.

The bottom version is more airy, fresh, healthy and vibrant.

'Business card design.'

One of the best ways for a small business to market itself is to have unique business cards that stand out in a sea of marginal cookie cutter cards normally distributed to the public. In essence a business card is more then passing along mere information it's also communicating and advertising your brand and over time just adds to the bottom line equity of a business.

'Interior poster design. 1 of 3.'

In addition to a new logo, identity pieces, building and street signage I suggested they produce a set of '3' posters they could display inside their facility. The clients budget wasn't huge but I worked with the print vendor and we agreed on a fair price to digitally print '30' of each poster at 18x24 inches for a very reasonable price.

'Interior poster design. 2 of 3.'

I will assisting a web developer to flesh out their online presence as well.

Working on projects like this make me realize that a designer can effectively play a part in changing their local design culture in a positive way. It happens one project at a time.

'Interior poster design. 3 of 3.'

My client likes the fact they no longer have to pay a monthly franchise fee and they now have a better logo as well.

Kamis, 02 Februari 2012

Tango Presentation Icons

'NOVELL Presentation Icons'

This project was my first venture designing icons in the 'Tango' style popular with Linux. These however are not GUI icons, they are for presentation usage such as Print Collateral, Powerpoint, and in PDF documents to relay information within NOVELL.

One specific attribute they requested was to work into these a nice glassy effect. This can be somewhat tricky and a good rule of thumb is to only apply it to a surface that would naturally have one under the right circumstances. Thus the icons with paper content don't get that treatment.

The agency that hired me for this assignment was 'angryporcupine*design'. How cool is that for a studio name? I love it.

Last Daze - Propaganda III Poster

'Last Daze - Start Soma Propaganda III Poster'

Recently I was invited to submit a poster design for the 'Start Soma Propaganda III Art Show.' I haven't done a lot of politically motivated art before. Don't get me wrong I have strong convictions, I just haven't had much of an opportunity to create for that type of theme. So when this invite was offered up I decided to participate.

One thing about propaganda art is that it seemingly never celebrates that which is good. As far as I can tell (and I may be wrong in this assumption) all the art done under the umbrella of propaganda tends to be highlighting the negative in regards to politics, social issues and the like.

Personally I view the world and our role in it from a bigger point of view, I try to understand how various aspects of different subjects relate and facilitate each other and from that type of observation I tend to draw conclusions that some may label as conspiracy. That's fine, its a fun topic to design for so I just decided to put together a garden variety poster that reflected a broad range of subjects I've been thinking of lately and weave them together in a compelling way.

- The Love of Money / Greed
- Power from Wealth
- Military Industrial Complex
- Microsoft Windoze Global Infestation
- Wars and Rumors of War
- Pop Culture
- Pornography
- Big Pharma
- Invasion of Privacy
- Driven by Consumerism
- Entertainment Mindset
- Drug Abuse
- Nuclear Threat
- Mark of the Beast
- Death & Destruction

If you'd like to download a pdf to print out a copy of this for yourself just click here to download.

Switching from FreeHand to Illustrator

Poster art for Adobe.

Well it's been just over a year since I switched to Illustrator. You can read all about the real-world design project (shown above) that led to my switch and the back story of the move from Macromedia FreeHand to Adobe Illustrator here.

My first official design job from beginning to end in Adobe Illustrator was the above poster design. I've given myself a year to get use to Illustrators methods and functionality. You can see my entire process of creating the art above and my struggles to use illustrator for the first time beginning to end on this project via a free tutorial on my other site

I've noticed a few nick-names former FreeHand users have given Illustrator since switching and all prove to be accurate ironically enough. Here are some I've heard. (Feel free to share more in your comments below)

- Frustrator
- Castrator
- ill-luckstrator
- #$@!strator

See a trend developing?

Bubbling ideas. Or as I like to call it, "Slow Boiling."

I've had a lot of FreeHand users contact me about switching. So I decided to share a few plugins for AI that I use which helps building vectors go a lot smoother and faster in Illustrator. It is kind of sad that these tools exist if you think about it. If an application was adequate why would anyone be motivated to create essentially the same type of tools that already exist in the app for the most part? It's because Adobes are found wanting pure and simple.

Plugins I suggest for Illustrator
- XtreamPath: These tools work better then Adobes own tools which says a lot about Adobes lack of progression with their base tool set and improving upon it. They simply never do and it shows. These tools speed up my build times greatly so it was well worth the price.

- Point Control: Adobe promised with CS3 that point control would be added and improved. At best it's still hinky and clunky. This plugin works great and I use it all the time and avoid Illustrators lame and lacking point control tools.

- Better Handles: Another excellent plugin for Illustrator. The whole idea of point control is what this plugin does so well and makes so easy. Sad that Adobe refuses to realize how wanting their core tools are to the point (Pardon the pun) that it's inspired other software developers to step in and make them work the way they should. Well done Nineblock Software.

A replacement for "Collect For Output"
- Art Files: In FreeHand it was easy to gather content for final production you simply used the "Collect For Output" feature and it would gather everything into one folder. I still can't believe Adobe doesn't have this simple feature in it's app? That is just stupid. But thankfully a company offers a great little app called "Art Files" and it works the same way. Sure it'll take longer just because it's not integrated into Illustrator but hey everything will take longer now that you're using Illustrator so stop whining. (Sorry, kind of reflected Adobes attitude towards FreeHand users there)

Setting up Custom Keyboard Shortcuts to Mimic FreeHand Functions.
I have set up a bunch of my own custom keyboard commands to make building go faster in Illustrator. Below is a list of the ones I personally use. This makes running the function one key press rather then a combination of keys. It also helps me do what I did in FreeHand even though Illustrator wasn't set up to do it that way.

F1: Paste Inside (Have both mask shape and content selected)
F2: Cut Contents
F3: Clone (An action Copies, and Pastes in place))
F4: Send to Back
F5: Bring to Front
F6: UnGroup
F7: Fix Compound Paths
F8: De-Select All

All of these plugins and custom keyboard shortcuts are merely workarounds for a poor user experience in Illustrator. Of course Adobe fan boys will now feel obligated to post but frankly they don't know any better. Sure they are use to it and don't see it as a problem then again they have nothing to compare it too either. Kind of frog in the kettle if you will.

Bottom line Adobe has neglected Illustrator over time, they continue to stuff it full of new feature bloat which makes Adobe marketing weasels hot and bothered and tool hacks excited but does nothing for professionals who don't rely on pull down menus to achieve their design and or illustration. Adobe continues to develop new tools at the expense of improving existing tools and methods. Simply put there is no balance.

Will they improve the base building of vector shapes? I doubt it so it's my hope that another company will create a better drawing application and thus encourage Adobe to do what they should. My vote is Apple, but I know I am dreaming.