Tuesday, September 30, 2008

imperfect perfectness

In reading this weeks article assignment, I found the part about the spacing in the font letters very interesting. The article says "One such feature that is quite noticeable to the readers’ perceptual system is symmetry." The LILAC example was really interesting showing how imperfect spacing results in visually perfect appearance.

This is not a new concept, it has been around for thousands of years. I was reminded about the Parthenon in Athens. Ancient-Greece.org has a good article showing how the ancients knew how to space objects so they appear perfect. This article says

"The architects of the Parthenon appear to be excellent scholars of visual illusion, an attribute undoubtedly sharpened by years of architectural refinement and observation of the natural world. They designed the columns that appear at the corners of the temple to be 1/40th (about 6 cm) larger in diameter than all the other columns, while they made the space around them smaller than the rest of the columns by about 25 cm. The reason for this slight adaptation of the corner columns is due to the fact that they are set against the bright sky, which would make them appear a little thinner and a little further apart than the columns set against the darker background of the building wall. The increase in size and decrease of space thus compensates for the illusion that the bright background would normally cause."

VisualIllusions.net points out some other interesting visual illusion facts on the Parthenon, such that the base line is not perfectly straight, that is it buckled to appear straight. It is amazing how the ancient architects were able to take into consideration all these variables.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


It took me a very long time to even find a comic that I would consider using for our homework. I wanted to find something simple with clearly defined shapes that I could use the magnetic lasso to section off. I found a good site to search for comics. Check it out and see if it helps-it has all the classic favorites. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some fun with colors...

Since we are going to be focusing on colors next week in class,
I wanted to share some pics that I took over the past few years that have alot to do with colors. But first a little background. All my cameras have always been Canons, and probably always will be. Besides their durability, (which I can personally say is very good) they have this feature, which as far as I know, no other brand offers (please feel free to correct that if you know of any other kind of brand with this feature) the ability to heighten a selected color, and gray out all others. The effect is really cool and it gives new dimension to shots. Here are some samples, what do you think? Does this add to the shot, or really just take away from the it?

Watch where you step on that sidewalk!

Through e-mails that have been sent to me and watching a special on NatGeo, I have been amazed by artist Julian Beever. In class, since we've recently been exploring the use of depth and perspective combined with emotion, Julian's art is a prime example of this.
With just the use of chalk, he creates insane illusions on sidewalks all over the world. He travels to cities around the globe spending hours upon hours creating illusions that attract crowds of people walking by. Check out these images that will have you asking "how did he do that?"
My personal favorite is "Arctic Condition" seen here as the first image in this video displaying his mind boggling works of art. He not only limits himself to 3-D illusions but also does sketches of famous people and recreations of Picasso. I wouldn't even try and guess how to go about re-creating these images in photoshop!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Collages-pictures and cropping and layers oh my!

I haven't starting my collage yet; but its already starting to intimidate me. Just for fun I went to YouTube and looked up collages-surprisingly there are more than 40,000 videos! Warning: a lot of them are not in English. Some are tutorials, others are timed to music-but I suggest checking them out if not for a lesson just for aesthetic appeal.
In high school I used to make collages with magazine clippings on subject folders and sell them to people. I am looking forward to the project but I now its totally different in photoshop than with scissors and glossy magazine paper. Good luck everyone.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Joy of Magic Eye

I had taken for granted that not everyone can experience the joy that is the "magic eye" experience. While we were in class, looking at websites, I heard a few people venting frustration over not being able to see the images "pop". Like beauty, these optical illusions are in the eye of the beholder just as much as they are in the mind. Perhaps that is part of the appeal to optical illusions - that not everyone can see them. Perhaps the rarity makes them fun.
Well, the rarity, and the painful squinting, and the overwhelming satisfaction when the squinting pays off.

The importance of visual aesthetics

I never realized how important the appearance of a website is. "The Role of Aesthetics in Web Design" article we read really made sense, I just never considered how important aesthetics are in web design. Whenever I look at a website, I don't consciously think about the design, but I recognize it and note it. If I don't like it, I tend to navigate away from the page. This rings true in the article discussing aesthetics. The expectations of users is something I think a lot of people don't consider when they are making a website. Organization of the aesthetic material is also important when designing web space. Not over-doing it is also important. Many web designers put too much into their site which overwhelms the user. Basically, there is a lot of thinking that goes into creating a website, everything from use and placement of visual aesthetics to the text within the site. This article really brought visual aesthetics into perspective for me. 

Friday, September 19, 2008


After last weeks class I was happy to do a follow up reading on optical illusions. As we were looking at the illusions I was curious in them and had wanted to learn more. I found it fascinating that I could see something that clearly at first glance was not there. The Michaelbach website was my favorite in terms of pictures of illusions.

In the article "Optical Illusions," they defined an illusion as "1. something that decieves or misleads intellectually; 2. perception of something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature" (ACNR Vol. 6 Number 2 May/June 2006). The illusion I was most mislead by was the ballerina. It looked at first glance that she clearly was circling in a clock-wise direction, then all of the sudden it was like my mind played a trick on me. She was moving counter clock-wise. I can see why people would be interested in studing optical illusions, even as far back as Aristotle, people were interested in this idea. I was fooled in terms of perception versus reality while looking at these pictures and I think not only is this an interesting science but also one worth paying attention to.

A whole new world

Considering this is my first introduction to Photoshop, I find it interesting. I delight at the fact that I can create colors, images and symbols that match my imagination. The book provides excellent example of how to maneuver through Photoshop with its details and graphics.

I have appreciated abstract art for some time and but trying to recreate it was a challenge. It made me admire the artwork of Kandinsky and Escher.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


So I work at a newspaper. Needless to say things are drastically changing in the business. Newspapers are getting creative with their content and design. Once upon a time newspapers used to be filled with text from top to bottom. Next photos were introduced and helped create focal points and helped to draw attention to the big stories, advertisements ensued and so on. Many papers today include teasers or boxes that help draw your eye in to promote other parts of the paper and even the web. Its something I have to think a lot about at work. Especially because we recently underwent a massive redesign at the paper. New font, alternative story formats and lots of variety. Overall, the redesign was well received by our readers after time. Its hard because many people who read newspapers are older and are used to the way things have always been. People don't like change. Anyway the company that owns my paper is Gatehouse media. They have a website that features the best page designs of the day. People who work at the papers often log on to see if they made the cut. Check it out and get a feel for how things have changed since you last picked up a paper. 

Alexander Calder @ Whitney

I dated an art major in college. When I told him of my lack of interest in art, he tried to convince me that anyone can develop their art talents, even minimally. I countered that I couldn't even draw a stick figure of a human correctly. I drew a human stick figure.

Much to his disbelief, he knew I was right - I'm not exactly Picasso. Not even close!

I do, however, appreciate great art. I'm a fan of Van Gogh and Monet, Warhol & Dali, but only know the greatest hits. My husband got me into Escher. We even have some posters (not orginal) in our home.

I particularly love Alexander Calder. Blame Antiques Roadshow. Someone had this little tiny mobile by Calder and it was worth a fortune.

Walking through LA about four years ago, I spotted nearly the same mobile - on steriods. It was HUGE! I dragged my husband and kids over yelling, "That's a Calder, isn't it? I really think it's a Calder." My family thought I was nuts, but my husband was impressed.

I have since spotted two other Calders in DC and NY, and my kids have grown used to my latest obession. Don't ask me explain why I like his work - I just do.

Just this week, my boss got an invite to a new exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art in NYC.

You guessed it - CALDER!

Just another excuse to get to New York.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some pretty cool pictures

I was looking online and some photoshop projects and I came across this very cool piece of software. It'a called Photomatix. I guess how it works is you take three versions of the same picture. One that is underexposed, one that is overexposed and one that is taken at the correct exposure. With piece of software (that I assume is very expensive) it blends all three pictures and makes them into one. When looking at the picture of the Eiffel tower, all parts of the picture are so clear it almost looks fake! As do some other pictures, but it's still pretty cool. Click here for the web gallery. Enjoy!!!

Optical Illusions and you

I came across this article on AOL this morning that will make your eyes dance! It's pretty interesting. What you see will surprise you. The use of aesthetics in these pieces of art are pretty fascinating. Some we have seen in class while others are pretty new. My personal favorite was the monsters running down the hallway and its use of perspective and angle. It's funny how different works of art can make your eyes do some pretty crazy things!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What makes design credible?

The Role of Aesthetics in Web Design states that one of the major functions aesthetics play in web design is to convey a message about the sender. They send this message if it is intentional or not. I thought this idea was really interesting and I remembered hearing that studies found professional looking websites garner more trust from unfamiliar users simply because of their look and feel.
I found this article that describes how website design conveys an idea to the user about the credibility of the sender. It also points out specific areas of design and how they affect the users' perceptions.

the offering

I was in Paris earlier this year for a few weeks and they were celebrating the anniversary of the student riots at La Sorbonne. Around the area of the university they had some large displays of photos taken during the riots. I took a picture sof one of the photo displays that, while I would characterize myself the farthest thing from a 'hippie,' I think is very intense and I wanted to share it with the class....

There are many details that add up to make this a fantastic shot. I like that the photographer chose to frame the shot so that the police would be in a long line, all with the same stern expressions and all with their weapons pointed towards the students.

Also, I like the student's expression and turned up hand indicating a peaceful offering. And the fact that hes offering a flower. I also like that the student is in the foreground and there is only one student in the shot. This makes the viewer feel as if they were one of the students facing a wall of police unwilling to bend.

Monday, September 15, 2008

3-D images

It's always fun playing with the magic eye books and its website. When we crossed our eyes and blatantly stared at the images for a couple minutes, I forgot how much fun they really were. I would love to see a special on the planning, design and actual production behind these crazy works of art. Or maybe they don't want to reveal the secret, sort of like Colonel Sanders' fried chicken recipe.

Is there an article or maybe a segment on Discovery channels' "How It's Made" that shows the behind the scenes with these works of art? Working with Photoshop, I can't imagine how many layers go into one of these drawings. My mind would probably explode based on my first experience re-creating Kandinsky's work of art. I find the whole notion of illusions and different perspectives on how we look at shapes to be really amazing.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Deviant Art

At the moment, I don't have much to contribute in terms of reflection. After struggling with Photo Shop for the longest time, and finally understanding that it's a little more complicated than Paintbrush (remember that?), I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of it. Granted, that while I've been sick, staying in bed and playing with shapes and colors has been a lot of fun, but honestly, I don't know how I've survived without this application for so long!

In the meantime, however, I've been pointed towards the Deviant Art website by a friend of mine. I'm not sure how many people know about it, but head on over for some very interesting art and animation work submitted by an online art community. Just another community to be addicted to :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Photoshop: 400 ways to do one thing

Talk about overwhelming! Opening Photoshop for the first time was very intimidating. Reading the first chapter of the Adobe Photoshop how to book was helpful, but just as daunting. Then, after flipping through the book and seeing some finished projects... the possibilities are endless!

another thing I found endless were the many ways to do the same thing. For example, to zoom in on your picture, you can use the mag. glass tool, or press shift +, or type in the %... and so on. I think once I get used to the program, things will get easier. However right now, the sky literally is the limit....

Copy a Painting

The assignment to create a copy of a Kandinsky painting in photoshop sounded intimidating, especially since his work tends to consist of complex shapes. As I got into it, I found it tedious, yet challenging and captivating. I decided early on not to spend the next month trying to make a completely faithful reproduction, so I settled on something that was "in the spirit" of Kandinsky's work. After just over an hour, I decided I had something that was easily identifiable as a derivitive of his work. Actually I was quite pleased with it and surprised I was able to see it through to that point.

Fluent Interfaces

After Reading How Fluent is your Interface? I was intrigued in looking at how different symbols have such different meanings in each country. From this article I realized that there is a need for a universal language of meanings in the world of computers. By universal language I do not mean changing languages or making a new language, but it seems that there is a need for a set standard of words that can be translated and used with no offense anywhere in the world.

I was unaware that the symbol of a stork in Singapore meant maternal death and that the symbol OK was considered vulgar in both Germany and Brazil. Or that there are numbers that are considered unlucky in different countries. There should be an easier way in the begining of the process of creating programs to unversially assign a language that can be used for all countries. It seems as though we are up to date on technology of the programs but not up to date on their language. It is interesting how there are not simultaneously in tune.

Photoshop Frustrations

I have just spent the last four hours sitting in our sub-zero temperature classroom shivering and attempting to figure out how to use the Photoshop program. Part of the problem was remembering all of the things we did in class last week, THAT was not easy. Luckily, one of our classmates was here with me and between the two of us we were able to sort of figure things out. In my reproduction of the Wassily Kandinsky drawing I became very frustrated in trying to make circles transparent and outline them. I also did not know how to combine colors into each half of the circle. If I see the word rastersize one more time I'm going to scream !! The other issue was trying to make the entire background black without it either blending in with the shapes on the screen or my brush strokes ruining the shape I had drawn. When I started doing my own drawing, it was easier to play around with the shapes and positioning them to where I wanted them to be. This is going to take a lot of time to practice and tinker with.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The New Facebook

Since I heard some of you talking about your Facebook infactuation last class-I thought I would pose the question: What do we all think of the 'new' Facebook Zuckerburg and gang are preview on the top of the homepage? I too am Facebook-aholic if you will. 
I think this relates to our reading "The Role of Aesthetics in Web Design." I am not a fan nor are many of my friends because the 'new' page seems far less organized than the older version. From a designer standpoint does the newer Facebook interface improve or complicate the usability? Think about the visual and interactive effects? Will it catch on...I think it will since many of us will just learn to deal because we can't go a day without checking for 'notifications.'
I just thought I would throw this example out here because we are learning to be designers but we are already users.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Welcome the new class to our visual aesthetics class blog. This is your space to share your findings and thoughts. Use it frequently!