Category: General

Think before your rip-off other designer’s work – especially Panic Software!

Thinking of using Panic Software’s Transmit icon for your Web project? Think again. Panic has put together a page on their site showcasing all the latest Web designer’s who have blatantly ripped-off their work, most notably their Transmit icon. What’s amazing is not that these designers have ripped-off the icon for their own use, it’s that in many cases, they didn’t even bother to remove the Panic icon from the side of the Transmit truck. I don’t know if Panic has taken legal action against any of these design “hacks,” but cheers to them for keeping a good sense of humor about it!

Pantone Goe System libraries available for Adobe Creative Suite

If you recall reading my announcement of the Pantone Goe System back in September of 2007, you’ll be happy to know that you can now download the entire Pantone Goe System color libraries for Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop from the Pantone Web site. The free download requires you to register with an annoying amount of personal information (address, phone number, etc…) but I guess that’s the price we pay for being on the cutting edge. That being said, I haven’t come across any printers or designers using the Goe System as of yet, so there’s probably no rush. Still, it’s nice to have nearly double the amount of Pantone colors available.

Apple Store Arrowhead Mall opens to large crowd and cranky security

The latest Apple Store in Arizona opened this weekend to large crowds, and cranky, party-pooper mall security. When I arrived a half hour or so before the Apple Store was set to open, there was already a line stretching halfway through the mall. Most patient customers were waiting with coffee in one hand, iPod/iPhone in the other. The first thing I noticed was the age group of the Mac-oholics waiting in line. It wasn’t the typical 20-something geek crowd I generally see at Apple Stores. Instead, a host of 40-somethings, and a very large handful of 50+ retirees just wanting to see what the fuss was all about. I spent a few minutes explaining that the long lines was indeed typical for all Apple Stores, and that while many probably were interested in seeing all the goodies in the store, some were simply in line for the free t-shirt. This wasn’t my first Apple Store opening, but it was certainly the most crowded – and I’m not referring to customers. The Arrowhead Mall is located near Arrowhead Ranch in Glendale, Arizona – a big money part of town where the “if you have to ask how much, you can’t afford it” crowd calls home. There were (I’m guessing here) around 40-50 Apple Store employees in bright orange and cyan colored shirts buzzing around the store front, with several of them walking up and down the mall checking the length of the line, which 15-minutes after my arrival had doubled. Perhaps whomever was in charge thought they were going to busy selling iPhones. I still think it was the free T-shirts. Just before the store opened, all the store employees filed-in for a last-minute pep-talk. Lots of clapping and yelling could be heard through the glass store-front. It was at this point where the party took a moderate down-turn. The mall security (politely) asked me to stop taking photos because it wasn’t permitted inside the mall. Not wanting to cause a big scene, I decided to stop – because they’re well within their rights to ask me to leave. It was then that I noticed another security officer starting acting like a traffic Cop, rather rudely directing the flow of people when the store opened, as though people were too stupid to know that moving forward was the thing to do. At one point it appeared that he was ready to use whatever means necessary to stop a woman and her kid from cutting in line… the problem was, they were trying to get into another store that the flow of traffic from the line was temporarily blocking. Sheesh. Arrowhead Mall security needs to lighten-up! Despite these minor mall mishaps, the Apple Store Arrowhead appears to be off-and-running at full-speed. I took a quick peek in the store and got the heck out (I don’t like being in the middle of large groups of people). The store itself looked about the same as the Biltmore Apple Store, just a bit smaller – so there was really nothing new to see.

How much to charge for design work

The never-ending, no right-or-wrong answer, how do I figure this out question that every new freelancer has. Design: Talkboard has an article that covers some of the things you should consider when trying to come up with your hourly rate. In addition, you may wish to take a look at some links I wrote about in the past that may help you figure out your hourly design rates. You can read them here, and here.

9 rules to creating a logo you can live with and still get paid

Logo design is one of the most difficult aspects of design. It’s one of those things you have a hard time separating personal taste from good communication and branding. Here are a few rules I have come up with for myself over the years when I work on a new logo.

Do NOT show a client any logo design that you don’t really love.

This is the most important rule. Many years ago I had this stupid idea that I would “show the cool logo” along with “two crappy logos to make the one I like look even better.” The problem is, the client almost always chooses one of the crappy logos and then I’m stuck using it. Never ever, ever, EVER show a client a logo you don’t love!

Show the logos in black & white ONLY.

I explain that we will work on colors only AFTER the final design is approved. The reason is simple, you don’t want to give them yet one more thing to focus on. The client WILL spend a ridiculous amount of time just thinking about the color scheme instead of what they should be thinking about, which is how well the logo conveys their brand/image. Also, with little exception, 60-80% of the clients work will probably be in black & white or one color, so it needs to look good in black & white. And when I say black & white, I mean BLACK and WHITE, no gradients or tints.

I ALWAYS design my logos in Adobe Illustrator.

Any logo, even one for a Web site, needs to be scaled for different use. Designing a logo in Photoshop leaves you with a ceiling you may not be able to live with later on. Designing your logo in Illustrator also allows you to “break it apart” and use the pieces in other aspects of the client’s work. It gives you flexibility in how it’s used (outdoor, ads, multi-media, etc.) and keeps it easy to edit later.

Go straight to the top.

Never accept a logo design job where a committee of 10 people must approve the design. You’ll end up taking a great logo and turning it into a giant puddle of monkey piss in a matter of hours trying to please 10 people. Find out who the decision maker is and work ONLY with them. If there is no single decision maker, then don’t accept the job! You’ll thank yourself for it later!

Make sure the logo works at ridiculously small sizes.

This goes along with the black & white rule. Clients will use that logo on all sorts of things, including imprinting it on a pen. The logo must work at a small size! You might also consider how it will work in a tall skinny ad, a square ad and a wide ad layout. Is it easy to fit into the “flow?”

Avoid using filters, effects and other gimmicks.

A logo is a big investment for a company. Creating a trendy/gimmicky logo will result in it looking outdated and cheap next year.

Create simple artwork.

Don’t get too complex with the design or the way you build it. Don’t use more than two fonts and one single graphic image. A logo that is too complex serves to do nothing but dilute the brand and look horrible at small sizes.

Create offspring.

OK, not THAT way! Once you have a design you like, check to see if there’s a way to use only part of the logo. The Coca-Cola logo is a perfect example. You can use the scripted type, but you can also just use the ribbon design and people still know it’s Coca-Cola, even though it doesn’t say it. Apple Computer is another great example. Apple stopped putting the word “Apple” with the logo years ago, yet you still know it’s Apple. You might also want to create a horizontal and vertical version of the logo to give you and your client a little more flexibility.

My final bit of advice is to think ahead.

Don’t design a logo that looks cool on a blank piece of paper. Your client most likely will want to use it in ads, in TV commercials, on banners, billboards and even on a truck. Design a logo that “works” with a lot of different end-uses. Make sure the logo is balanced. Does it work well at the bottom of an ad, regardless of whether it’s in the lower left, centered or lower right? Does it look good with a Web address centered below it? Does it work on a dark background? Will it look good on a coffee mug? Of course rules are made to be broken. You’re the designer, you make the rules. But you have to assume the worst, look at all possibilities and put yourself in the mindset of the client. While you may not end up with an award-winning logo every time, you will have a happy client and, hopefully, a very nice logo.

The 100 most influential advertising taglines since 1948

TaglineGuru put together a list in 2005 of the 100 most influential advertising taglines since 1948. Our favorite computer maker topped out at #6 with its “Think Different” campaign from 1998. It’s great to look at the list and think back to all the great advertising over the years, but in looking closer at the list, I’m wondering who responded to the survey that resulted in it. For instance, how does 7-Up Cola come in higher with “The Uncola” than Charmin’s famous “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin?” Also listed are the Top 50 U.S. City Slogans, where we find What Happens Here, Stays Here (Las Vegas) at number 1.

Dealing with screen artifacts on transparent PSDs when exported as PDFs

If you place a PSD file with a transparent background into Adobe InDesign and export it as a high-res PDF, you may notice that the edges of your placed image look horrible. There’s usually a black & white halo around the edges of the transparent PSD (see the image above for example). You won’t see them on a placed TIF file, and they generally don’t print anyway, but they’re annoying nonetheless. Fortunately, Bob Levine at InDesignSecrets has finally spilled the beans on what the problem is, and how to fix it. In most all cases, it’s as simple as turning off the Smooth Images feature in Acrobat. Read Screen Artifacts on Transparent PSDs in Exported PDFs Can Be Deceiving…Most of the Time for more information.

Rant: The iPhone – Just shut up already!

A while back, I ranted about developers, PC writers, bloggers, Microsoft and Mac users in general. Today, I want to chit-chat about the iPhone. The iPhone, it’s the 2nd-coming of Christ. It’ll make your stupid kids smarter, your fat-ass smaller, your husband’s beer-belly smaller, and your ugly wife hotter! The iPhone makes your e-penis huge like no amount of Viagra can. It’ll deposit $100,000 into your bank account today, and it’ll eradicate every douchebag in Washington D.C. and replace them with hard-working, honest Americans with the touch of a button. With all that up-side, it’s no wonder that every Web site I visit, I get a heaping helping of iPhone B.S. shoved down my grocery pipe.

My RSS reader of choice actually puked on my keyboard this morning, and I’m pretty sure I saw an iPhone Mail icon mixed in the puddle of mush. Sites I used to love reading are gagging like a cat with a furball in its throat with iPhone articles. Enough already! (more…)

Introduction to High Dynamic Range Imaging (HDR) photography

HDR, or High Dynamic Range Imaging seems to be all the rage these days. HDRI is described as:

In image processing and photography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI) is a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic range of exposures (the range of values between light and dark areas) than normal digital imaging techniques.

Digital Photography School has a fantastic Introduction to HDR Imaging, covering the methods used to achieve the effect. Photo by Wil Hybrid