Friday, October 30, 2009

New on the shelves

I just came across this Associated Press story on a recently released book called "The Bauhaus: Six Masters of Modernism." Written by Nicholas Fox Weber, the book retells the story of a septet of artists who were able to give the German arts school its level of prestige in the early 20th century through their ground-breaking work. One of those artists was our friend, Wasily Kandinsky.

Two others were the husband-wife tandem of Josef and Anni Albers, who actually wound up in Connecticut in 1950 after Josef accepted the position of chairman of the Department of Design at the Yale University School of Art. Josef Albers was one of the forefathers of the modern ideals of visual aesthetics known probably most famously for his series of different colored squares entitled "Homage to the Square." Anni was a renowned textile artist and printmaker in her own right.

Back when I worked in Arkansas, I did a cover story on a traveling art exhibition of Albers and spoke with one of the curators at the Josef & Anni Albers Foundation in Bethany (Conn.). It should be noted that Webber is the foundation's executive director. I just now realized how close that is to Hamden. Has anybody ever visited the foundation's galleries? I certainly will try to one of these days.

first exposures to typography in childhood

Thinking about the fascinating world of typography I was reminded of a distinct childhood memory. I don’t remember exactly what age I become enthralled with Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” but it is a book I doubt I will ever forget. For those of you who lack this wonderful childhood memory and don’t know what I am talking about, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” is a book consisting of a collection of children’s poetry. The poems are matched with illustrations all by Shel Silverstein and make great use of the art of typography. The way the book connects illustrations with the written poetry can not only feed the wide imagination of the children who read it, but also serves as a great typography tool for learning and discovery.

I also discovered an interesting list of the 40 examples of beautiful typography in advertising design. While these ads are very well designed and fully utilize the art of topography it is also interesting to see how well typography in advertising can be a vivid form of subliminal messaging…

The Wonderful World of Fonts

Before last week's class, I was quite unaware of just how important fonts are and the extent to which they can affect your target audience. In a search for further knowledge about them, I came across this site which gives some history behind serif and sans serif fonts and presents a few interesting facts (at least I thought so) as well. For example, I was completely oblivious to the idea that serifs help the eye to stick to the line and thus facilitate reading.

After reading the article, I decided that my font library needed a little expanding and went on the hunt for some downloadables. The result of which procured two the following two web sites: (pay for fonts) (free fonts)

Both have some really creative designs, although I'm not sure I'm ready to start paying for fonts just yet...even if they do give me a 'super-cool' comic look.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Photoshop Fun

I have found myself becoming a bit obsessed with Photoshop as of late. I’ve been checking out tutorials online, Photoshopping random pictures, and just playing around with some of the tools.

Additionally, I’ve been surfing the internet for cool pictures that other people have put together with Photoshop. It’s fascinating what people can do! Check out this picture below (I know it’s a little gloomy… but it looks awesome). I am not exactly sure how it was made… I did some research and most sources are telling me that Photoshop was used. I’m assuming images were put together – it looks far too realistic to have been drawn. I know the Flying Dutchman appears in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies; so maybe an image was borrowed from there. I’m not sure, but either way – the visual aesthetics of this image are crazy! I would love to be able to create art like this.

A Web for All

Having entered web addresses for several decades now, it is difficult to conceive them being represented in anything other than Latin characters. In a revolutionary move described by one as "the biggest change technically to the internet since it was invented," ICANN is going to approve the use of non-Latin characters in web addresses. Users will now be able to use and register web addresses in a variety of character sets, including Arabic, Hindi, and Cantonese. It remains to be seen whether this move will help or hinder international communication.

Monchrome Master

The black-and-white photos of Ansel Adams sparked my interest in photography in my undergrad years. They were so stark yet beautiful. They seemed to convey the feel of color while using only grayscale.

I was reading recently about his view toward color. His comments were especially interesting because we've spent so much time this fall studying the subject. This quote from 1967 caught my eye:

"I can get—for me—a far greater sense of ‘color' through a well-planned and executed black-and-white image than I have ever achieved with color photography."

Arts critic Richard Woodward says this about this photographer, who died in 1984:

The Infinite Scale in Monochrome
"For Adams, who could translate sunlight's blinding spectrum into binary code perhaps more acutely than anyone before or since, there was an "infinite scale of values" in monochrome. Color was mere reality, the lumpy world given for everyone to look at, before artists began the difficult and honorable job of trying to perfect it in shades of gray."

Back in Adams' day it was often hard to get realistic results with color. I wonder what he'd think about digital photography today. Would he have been more willing to use color with the amazing advances in quality and reproduction?

Woodward writes about Adams' rare use of color in the 1940s in the current issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

in this article in Smithsonian Magazine.

Graphic fonts v.s. browser fonts

Fonts are really important in any design. One of the most important acpect of fonts is to look at the graphic font versus the broswer fonts. Prof. Ewa mentioned that in the last class, but here is an article that explains this issue and provides more details about it:

Colors and moods

I was searching in the Internet for the relationship between colors and moods. I found really interesting article about colors and what kind of mood they do represent.

For example, Blue represents peace, calm, trust, etc. You will find really interesting information about this aspect of colors on

Also, the website has amazing articles about colors aspects; for instance, colors that move.

I really advice you to check this website out.

Arial v. Helvetica

I'm a word person. I notice words. I like words. And because of that, I found out I notice fonts, too. How well do you? This site allows you to pick which is the "real" logo — and the answer is the difference between Arial and Helvetica.

If you do well there, try this one.

Typography lists

Here's a list of creative uses of typography in Web site logos. Just for some ideas ...

And to go further, the site also has an interesting list of logos that rely on punctuation. I wonder, which fonts are they using?

Doctor up your images

From Zombie to Vampire, I guess Picnik can help you alter your photos. Enjoy!

Say Hi to Barley the Vampiredog.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Creating Business Cards

Since we're working on business cards this week, I though that these Photoshop tutorials on how to create them may be helpful. There's 19 of them, each dealing with a specific look - from modern to cool to sleek.

A timeline for Photoshop

I was reading a blog and thought I would pass along the information for this program for photoshop which keeps track of saved versions of images.

According to the website "PixelNovel Timeline is a revolutionary version control system built for designers who use Adobe Photoshop. Timeline features a unique user interface that allows you to always see the file's history and save file versions and get file versions without switching from the main Photoshop window."

Monday, October 26, 2009

One blog - Two interesting posts

Since we are studying fonts this week, I thought some people might find this post relevant. Rich Typography On The Web: Techniques and Tools

Also this post has some really interesting website treatments.
Showcase of Web Design in Ireland

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A New Look for CNN

Well, it looks as though CNN has given their site a redesign. Personally, I like the new look and feel their content is much better organized. They've even included an option for users to personalize content and organize by correspondent, subject, or keyword. And how about the use of thirds, huh? So what do you think?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Typeface kerfuffle

Ikea changed its typeface from Futura to Verdana, and many were unhappy.

Ikea is known for its good design -- visible in its ads, products, store layouts -- so the switch from an iconic font associated with the company to a font designed for screen, not print, for its catalogs is kind of puzzling.

Friday, October 23, 2009

still learning

I think this is a really interesting Photoshop effect. I have recently started looking for tutorials to create the effects I want. When I am working on a Photoshop project I tend to get to a point where I feel completely stuck. I cannot figure out which tool will manipulate the image the way I want it to. It's incredibly frustrating. This is when I find using the proper tutorials to be most effective.

Sometimes, I wonder if I just capture the image with dumb luck, but usually that is not the case. I've come to realize that time and patience produces the best visual design. While we have been using Photoshop for some time now, I still find myself with a lot to learn

Eyetracking Study

What and how are you looking at websites? That's exactly what researchers were looking at in 2006 under the guidance of Jakob Nielson's eyetracking study. Interestingly enough the study found that people tend to look at information in "F" formations or patterns on websites. This might explain why it's preferable to place navigation on the left side of the screen and logo's tend to be placed in the upper left corner of the screen.

The Power of Perspective

Stressing the importance of perspective in photographs is a new technology emerging out of the University of California, San Diego. Sneakey, giving the user the ability to duplicate a key from an image or a video still, analyzes a key with a given perspective within a photo and aligns it to the proper orientation to allow for duplicating. Save for the application of data points, the software does nothing more than can be achieved in Photoshop by using the transform function (distort, perspective, etc.). The software gives credence to the power of technologies like Photoshop and the many applications they can yield.

Brain Boost

Using the Internet is a simple brain-training activity that can help improve cognitive function in older adults. That’s according to a new study released in Chicago today.

Basically, the study shows that those who learn to use the Internet to seach for information experience a surge of activity in key decision-making and reasoning centers of the brain. This kind of surge helps to slow the brain’s decline as people age. I'm going to test this theory now by searching for free web images. Personally I'm doubtful of any enhanced brain activity on a late Friday afternoon.

Looking at the World Differently

My Visual Aesthetics class has made me look at the world in a new light. For example, the other day my brother was wearing light blue jeans and a navy blue shirt that had other blue colors striped in it. So, when I saw him I said, “Nice monochromatic color scheme.” He had no idea what I was talking about.

Additionally, I’ve found myself becoming more and more critical of the visual aesthetics of websites. Having to evaluate websites for class had made me more aware of the behind-the-scenes of the website development. For example, I evaluated, and in my paper last week. Originally, I would have looked at the websites and formed judgments without reason. Now, I can look at them and criticize them or praise them on the basis of color schemes, use of the rule of thirds, white space, etc. It certainly is nice to have knowledge to back up a critique.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hyper-realistic use of Photoshop tools

I came across this picture before I began taking the Visual Aesthetics course. I thought, 'Whoa, what a cool image, I wonder if this is even a real photo' (Its been my computer wallpaper for the past 7 months).

I now lean back and laugh at my naivete.

After becoming familiar with Photoshop in the past month, only now can I understand how the artist took the photo and employed certain Photoshop tools, such as Blur and other simple lighting effects to give the traffic and streetlamps a surreal, hyper-realistic feeling.

Kind of takes away from the mystery of the photo, but hey, it makes me feel smarter to know.

Click on the photo for a more detailed view. : )

Simple Yet Eyecatching!

Self-taught designer sparks attention

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spooky Artwork

In the spirit of things, with Halloween just around the corner and an assignment due shortly with a related theme, I searched out a place on-line to find some good examples of ghoulish collections and came across a site promoting an annual Halloween art exhibit in Chicago...the link to which is HERE. They have a sizable collection of original photos and paintings throughout 60 galleries, and my personal favorites include a series of three paintings by Steve Gilberts, who so accurately depicts an ominous night sky using varying shades of blue...muhahahahahahaha!

3D Effects in Photoshop

It seems sometime that it is really hard to create 3D effect in Photoshop, but it is not that bad to learn. All you have to do is to imagine how your shape will be, and draw it. I always wanted to create this kind of effect, but I did not know how. One way of creating 3D effect is to go to the 3D menu in Photoshop and try to explore it. I found a cool tutorial that gave me an idea about 3D effects. The tutorial is Create a Shiny Earth with Photoshop 3D Layers.
The other way is simply trying to draw something and make it looks like 3D.
In my opinion, tutorials are the best way to learn Photoshop tools. The good news is Internet has many of them and lots of the tutorials are totally free.

Guggenheim Museum turns 50

An article in the New York Daily News celebrates the Guggenheim Museum's 50th anniversary with 50 interesting facts about the building, its designer, and Guggenheim himself. One popped out at me:

32. One of Guggenheim's favorite painters was Kandinsky; he bought more than 150 works by the artist. An exhibition of Kandinsky's work is on view at the museum through the end of the year.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The man behind the paintings

I don't normally associate a magazine like Vanity Fair with doing an in-depth piece on figure such as Norman Rockwell, but the current issue of the magazine has just that.

"Norman Rockwell's American Dream," written by David Kamp, explores the life of the iconic painter from his less-than-picturesque childhood in New York City to his third marriage to a school teacher. It's definitely worth the time to read it.

The article also contains photographs taken from a new book by Ron Schick, "Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera." The photos were all posed shots that Rockwell would essentially copy onto the canvas. Several of the photos and paintings used in the article were the ones analyzed in class, including "Girl at Mirror" (1954) and "The Problem We All Live With" (1964).

Furthermore, the Norman Rockwell Museum, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, will debut "ProjectNORMAN" on its Web site next month, giving viewers access to more than 18,000 photos that Schick went through to compose the book.

Mickey Avenue

Continuing with my Disney theme, and since we are going to be talking about typeography soon, I thought it would be interesting to look up Disney Fonts - I came across this really cool website that talks about the type of fonts used at each park. It's amazing how many fonts they use.

Two things

One, there's more really neat infographics here:, which collects infographics from around the internet. My favorite is this one.

I also found this from the New York Times that talks about the bento box as a way to understand Japanese attentiveness to aesthetics.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Clutter-Busting for News Sites

I always figured most news sites would have pretty well designed home pages -- especially the ones that newspapers create. After all, they design a print layout every day that needs to be clear and easy to use. But in this interesting article, some industry experts complain about cluttered, difficult-to-navigate home pages on most news sites.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Web Sites Past & Present

Soooo...apparently this is what the first web site ever made looked like. I wonder if Tim Berners Lee ever thought that visual aesthetics could be applied to his original design to create something much more interesting...

Visual information

I love a good infographic. Sometimes, it's easier to represent data visually than in words, so a creative infographic does not just educate people, but does so in a way that is striking, memorable and serves as an entry point into a page (physical or digital). The stuff at Information is Beautiful is indeed beautiful.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Simple but Heavy

The best part about the Star Wars prequels that came out earlier this decade was the first image that was released to the public to whet their ravenous appetites - a sparse teaser poster for 'Episode I: The Phantom Menanc', depicting a young Anakin Skywalker and the fateful shadow of what we all know he will inevitably become. It was a straight mudslide for Lucas from this point on.

This poster shows how powerful a simple image can be...and how Photoshop can help.

You can almost hear the Imperial March theme playing....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blog Usable

Hello, hello! Back again with a link to an interesting blog entitled Pretty Usable. Topics include aesthetics, persuasive design, web standards, and a few others that are an integral part of web page design. I'm still exploring the site, but it seems full of helpful information. What do you think?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Font Lawsuit?

An interesting news article that I came across. NBC is being sued for overusing a font. View the lawsuit here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Creating Web Site Awesomeness!

For anyone interested, here are a few helpful hints on creating web sites I found on Cyberindian.  It's been an interesting process for me so far and I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone's work.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Colors, colors, colors...

I came across a rather useful and interesting web site on colors, which can be found at It discusses a broad range of topics including color theory, why color matters for kids, and even how color effects us...definitely a helpful tool when analyzing web site color schemes as well. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has found a similar site...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Building a picture

I came across this blog about a new program called PhotoSketch. Essentially you draw outlines of images you want and tag them with a description and this program fills in the image by pulling them from the internet into a photoshopped picture.

Apparently the actual site for PhotoSketch is down due to high demand, but this blog gives you a couple examples of how it works. I look forward to trying it when the site is back up.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Tonight is the big Vikings vs Packers game and my friend had this posted on his facebook site. I think someone created this the first time he retired. Being from MN I don't know what to think. It will be an intersting game. I thought it was a very well done picture.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Making room(s)

I came across an interesting article that refers to what the colors of a room in a house can say about the inhabitant. Although I would never go so far as to paint a room midnight blue, I would say it is my favorite color. According to this site, dark blue evokes sadness compared to the calming effect of light blue. Maybe I and our far university should lighten our tastes up to therefore get an extra dose of happy? No thank you.

Another morsel to chew on concerns the color white, which the article says "can make the room seem unfriendly." Is neutrality unfriendly? I don't think so. Considering that white and off-white are popular choices for rooms, I find this to be a bit of an odd statement.

The room I'm currently in features mostly beige walls (I like the calming effect of butterscotch?) although they were this color when I first moved in and painting them is priority No. 4732 right now. What do the color of the rooms in your house say about you?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Those Creative Deviants!

Hey all, I found some really incredible work at a site called which showcases some really fantastic visual artwork ranging from photographs to 3D to digital to flash...pretty much anything you can think of. Definitely a few levels above my Kandinsky, that's for sure! :)