Wanting to start with something easily palatable, I began with the Question of the Week. The family brainstormed some ideas, then laughed as we continually came back to ‘what if Spain defeated England‘ during its 1588 attempted invasion. Spain, then the dominant world power with its wealth re-invigorated by colonies and exploitation in South America, could have gone on to holdings and an empire greater than the one the British eventually developed.
Certainly, England’s American colonies (if they ever existed) would have been vastly different. The first and most obvious difference would be the language, so I wrote the post in Spanish (with a link to the English translation) to immerse the reader into what life could really be like. Running with the idea, I tried to incorporate some humor (Australian tacos?) as I tried to project a modern world after a Great Spanish Empire.
I buckled down and watched the videos and did Canva.com tutorials, writing a fairly lengthy blog post about points I picked up.
A hopeful shut-in, I intended to do my DesignBlitz entirely from online ads. Unfortunately, I told my wife about the assignment, and she dragged me to Target to do some real work. There were actually a lot of points from the Adobe 8 Principles of Design throughout the store, and I only used 9 of the 25 images gathered, all of which demonstrated use of various principles.
I also resolved to just do as many Daily Creates as possible. Why not, right?
Taking a critical look at design concepts in ads, a short trip revealed some really interesting concepts.
Last stop was Kabob Corner for lunch, so it appears first in the Instagram feed. This logo is very well done, demonstrating balance, clean use of white space, use of complimentary colors, hierarchy of their store name, repetition (“kabob” x 3), and proximity in the skewer as part of the name and overtop of the writing.
Note the difference in the layouts of the National Enquirer and Elle. Enquirer packs as much info (much bold for stress) as possible onto the page, subconsciously implying that the rag is full of information. Elle’s cover is busy, but does make use of background and space. Note their feature, Kendall Jenner, dominates the page (even overlapping the top edge) while her name appears in a subdued font below her face. Elle seems to say this edition features a larger than life young woman you should know.
I like this display’s non-traditional use of space, it’s simple and subdued fonts, and it’s ‘white’ (pink) space. It seems to convey their brand as clean and good-looking while standing out in a non-traditional way.
This font-less ad simply promotes Target’s brand. Note how the polka dots appear both behind and in front of the subject, incorporating one ‘different’ object (the flower) into the design. While busy, the ad is well-balanced, uses color and contrast effectively, oozes with proximity and repetition (the ‘dot’ is their logo), and alignment. It seems to convey that Target’s customers are part of the brand.
This endcap ad demonstrates balance, passive use of color, and incorporates humor.
The front of Chex cereal boxes are uniform, use a consistent background color palette and font style, and demonstrate balance, proximity, contrast in the Chex font color, hierarchy, and space.
This Sugarfix stand demonstrates a clean, simple use of negative space, hierarchy in their brand name, and colors that contribute to its simplicity.
The balance and use of color in this poster promoting ‘summer’ products really stands out.
Note the cases displayed on the left. They show proper use of space, color, balance, repetition, and alignment, all within the Target color palette. Note how the model faces them longingly. This ad conveys desire for product without using a single word.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the work of either of the Ted Talk presenters.
Paula Sher reminded me of the genre of drawing and text (design) permeating media of the 70s and 80s, during which time I grew up (and exposed to ‘leftovers’ from the 60s). Perhaps that’s a testament to her reach and impact as a designer. I grew up hating that sort of text and accompanying art. The closest thing I can associate the change in art, text and graphics pre-1960-ish to what followed for at least two decades is what happened to Tom and Jerry.
You remember Tom and Jerry?
The early years are neatly drawn and animated with supporting sound and music appropriate and in sync with the visuals. The franchise eventually changed.
The art is flat, the artist lazy. The sound effects are blaring and annoying. The music is some kind of bastardized skat Jazz. I can’t even watch them.
Nevertheless, Ms. Sher did cast many pearls of wisdom during her presentation. She shared a perspective on the difference between being solemn and being serious with which I could not agree more, having lived it. Passion doesn’t die with youth, but passions devolve into seriousness with repetition and expertise. If we’re lucky, we find new passions without losing what we learned. Her points on being solemn versus serious when it comes to design clearly come from a well-respected and hard-working, accomplished designer, which did earn my respect. I also liked her close, encouraging experimentation and risk of failure. I’m glad I’m the kind of person to volunteer first, to at times try something different, even if I stumble.
David Carson incorporated more humor into his presentation, at times self-effacing but unable to cover his obvious acclaim as a designer in his own right. His first real lesson on how design conveys a message, stenciled versus ‘psycho-killer’ text on a garage door, brought laughs while making a clear point.
His self-effacement climaxed at the 9-minute mark when he says, “I hate the stuff that’s hard to read” while showing a sample of his work that was just that. This, of course, is my personal objection to much of his shown work. Much of it is hard to read, some almost puzzles. This approach, though, did contribute to another lesson, that of provoking a response. Carson told of the effectiveness of some of his work in gaining attention and initiating reactions through disjointedness, making the viewer look twice or pause to think, as evidenced in a surfing ad and a “cigarettes shrink dicks” poster.
Another excellent point Carson makes dealt with how any particular message incorporates into a work as a whole, pointing out layouts from major magazines that inadvertently and to the detriment of both works juxtapose messages with opposing points. He showed examples of an article on 9/11 set against bright and happy ads on opposing pages. It’s important to take a step back and see how any individual message works in context.
Finally, the Canva.com tutorials presented some basic (at times almost obvious) fundamentals of text, color, position and other elements to consider when creating a visual message. The modules were short and to the point, clear and easily understood.
¿Y si la Armada Española hubiera sido derrotada? ¡Qué diferente sería el mundo! Si de alguna manera Dios hubiera considerado adecuado permitir que esa maldita Elizabeth ganara en lugar de la poderosa España, el mundo entero sería un lugar diferente.
¿Quién hubiera colonizado América del Norte? ¿El Holandés? ¿El Inglés? ¿Qué idioma hablaríamos hoy? En lugar de Isabellia, ¿cuál sería nuestro nombre de estado? Elizabethia? ¿Cuál sería el lema del estado en lugar de “Isabellia es para amantes”?
Afortunadamente, no tenemos que preocuparnos por eso. Sabemos que nuestros poderosos antepasados, losespañoles, conquistaron Inglaterra, lo que eventualmente llevó a la conquista o colonización española de gran parte del mundo,extendiendo la cultura española por todas partes. No has vivido hasta que hayas tenido tacos australianos. Nuestro lenguaje es la lingua franca, engrasando las ruedas de comercio internacionales y creando hilarantes híbridos. Puedo reírme durante horas escuchando el español con acento Escocés o Indio.
También afortunadamente, pasaron invadiendo Irlanda. Nadie quiere salsa en sus papas.
What if the Spanish Armada had been defeated? How different the world would be! If somehow God had seen fit to allow that cur Elizabeth to win instead of mighty Spain, the whole world would be a different place.
Who would have colonized North America? The Dutch? The English? What language would we speak today? Instead of Isabellia, what would our state name be? Elizabethia? What would the state motto be instead of “Isabellia is for lovers”?
Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about that. We know that our mighty ancestors, the Spanish, did conquer England, eventually leading to Spanish conquest or colonization of much of the world, spreading Spanish culture far and wide. You haven’t lived until you’ve had Australian tacos. Our language is the lingua franca, greasing international wheels of commerce and creating hilarious hybrids. I can laugh for hours listening to Spanish with a Scottish or Indian accent.
Also thankfully, they passed on invading Ireland. No one wants salsa on their potatoes.
There are always speed bumps on the paths of starting something new. And as an old dog learning new tricks, I found this week particularly bumpy. Hopefully, as we get rolling things will even out a little and I’ll get my sea legs.
I started the week by printing and reviewing the syllabus. I also reviewed the first and second assignments, picking the Introductions as the first sub-assignment to check off the list.
I took a drink from the fire hose on the weekly summary, losing points for writing it in stream of consciousness style (I also had some profanity in there, which, in hindsight was a poor decision but did reflect my mood, now edited out) but hitting all the wickets when it came to linking, tagging and writing a dynamic, fun post.
After much time reviewing the videos and instructions, I tried my hand at the Photoblitz. I recruited the help of my lovely assistant and we traipsed outside to shoot the cat (I wish). Only mildly uncooperative (which is unusual for her), the cat finally acquiesced to my paparazzi attempts to document a simple brushing. Done with the shoot, I posted the ordeal on Instagram, then writing a blog post, pointing out techniques I used (or tried to) from the reading.
Finally (for about the third or fourth time), I went back through the Week 2 instructions to see if there was anything I missed. Have to admit I’m confused about the Daily Creates. The assignment says to make 2 but on the Slack page the professor said to do one by Wednesday and then three more by Sunday. I’ll err on the side of caution and do more.
For my Photoblitz I decided to do a simple story that still had a beginning, middle and end. My helpful assistant, Brenda, and I debated between brushing the cat or cleaning my workshop table and settled on the cat.
But first, a note on the cat. I’m allergic to cats. We don’t have a cat. We’ve never had a cat. A cat lives on our porch. She doesn’t help with the rent. Last summer we held a barbecue and enjoyed our fire pit set back in the woods, attracting the attention of a curious kitty. Of course, my wife had to pet it. So she coaxed it over. Long story short, this once emaciated feral animal now enjoys the life of Riley, demanding food four times a day and ballooning up to Jabba the Cat proportions. Her name is Aunt Jemima.
The beginning. This photo introduces the setting and characters. Brenda comes out the front door and greets the cat. Anything actually involving AJ requires lots of talking and preparation. Brenda’s head was closer to the upper left rule of thirds crosshair when I pressed the shutter.
Rising action. Brenda takes up the implement of her work. I was going for a “converging lines” shot here mixed with a change in perspective, but didn’t get enough of the bench in the shot. Hindsight is 20/20, and since I realized this only after shooting I couldn’t re-shoot it.
Conflict. Like I said, lots of talking and preparation. Here Brenda explains to AJ what will happen and shows her the brush. It sounds silly, but without this step the cat may have freaked. This photo is a metaphor for complexity. While you know brushing will be good for her, she doesn’t necessarily get it and will make the process exponentially more complex if you skip this step. Note the grass in the next image. AJ, not entirely comfortable with the whole brushing idea, got up and walked away, even though she usually likes brushing (reinforcing the complexity of the situation). Thankfully, she let Brenda follow her and continue.
The brush makes an interesting pattern in the cat’s fur as huge chunks of it detach and float away. The photo shows a repeating pattern. I wanted a closer shot with the rows more prominent, but the cat wouldn’t let me get closer with the camera.
Frequent breaks are part of any interaction with AJ. During one break, she found Brenda’s foot particularly interesting, which was awesome because getting a shot of someone’s foot or shoe was on the list. Some elements from the Tips page show up in this image, including higher contrast and working with light/shadow, paying attention to the moment, and depth of foreground/background as the grass rolls away from them.
The original idea for getting a shot through a frame or opening called for the slats on the porch rail. The cat negated the idea when she walked off the porch. But these shrubs actually worked out better. This shot also has an interesting quality with the shadows, as AJ lay down right on the edge of the shadow cast by a tree.
Climax. Finally at ease with the idea of being brushed, AJ settled in and let Brenda do her business. The look on the cat’s face represents joy. This image is also fairly well balanced, with Brenda large and active to the upper right and AJ smaller and sedate to the left. There’s also an interesting triangle formed at the points of Brenda’s head, her left knee and her right ankle.
Denouement. Time was up, and it was time to go inside. I tried to use the rule of thirds in this image, but it’s hard to compose when your subjects are moving. Brenda is roughly in the upper left crosshair, but AJ is too far down the frame to hit the lower right crosshair.
So what did I learn during this assignment? Planning your photo shoot is a balance of what you expect to happen and what actually happens. I printed the list of what to capture from the Photoblitz page and made some notes of what I thought I could capture. All of that went out the window when the cat got up and walked off the porch. Of the 58 images I took during this shoot, these eight best told a “story” while demonstrating some of the techniques from the video, the Photography and Narrative page, and the Tips page, all of which is hard to remember when you’ve got a 15-minute deadline hanging over your head as you work. The bench ‘leading line’ shot didn’t work in hindsight, so I learned to make sure I actually have the shot or effect I was going for before moving on. I tried several shots into the light, but none of them worked out with the afternoon sun so high. This assignment also called for posting to Instagram, from which I learned you cannot post from a laptop to Instagram and that Instagram will crop your photos to fit its format. I used an Olympus digital camera for this assignment and did not edit the images.
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You ever see those old — like Renaissance old — paintings set side by side with famous people of today and the person in the painting looks exactly like the celebrity? Yeah, that’s because it is the celebrity. Okay here’s my admission. There’s a small group of immortals roaming the Earth. We tend to become famous because immortality can get really, really monotonous, and we like doing exciting things that attract attention. But we’re starting to encounter problems. At first, like in the 1800s, photography was just an interesting novelty. As it became more popular, some of us started showing up in the paper periodically. This was my first encounter with that situation. So there I was, in the hallway trying to catch a glimpse of that assassin, Oswald they called him. Then some nut job jumped out and shot him. The photographer caught his (and my) reaction right as the bullet struck. What are the chances?
So, how’d I do it?
First, I selected the images, importing them into Photoshop. The one you know, I’m sure. Here’s the other:
It’s me holding my friend’s baby (pretending she made a stinky). First, I discarded the color information, then selected the copy portion using the magnetic lasso tool with feathering set to 5. I copied and pasted the selection onto the Oswald image, then sized and positioned it using the transform tool. I darkened it and added some pixelation using the noise tool to better match pixelation in the image. I trimmed the neck to make it fit into the man’s collar and also used the clone stamp tool to remove a little of his chin and nose. Finally, I used the smudge tool around the edged of the pasted selection to smooth out the edges.
Anne Rice and Mr. Patrick Whiskers are in a heated legal battle over the rights. There’s a lot of $$ at stake, but such is life in Hollywood!
How’d I do it?
I started by finding the highest-resolution image of the original movie poster, copied it and pasted it into a new Adobe Photoshop document.
I shot a selfie of Mr. Patrick Whiskers and then loaded it into photoshop, using the polygon lasso tool with feathering set to 20 to capture the mustache, which I copied and pasted onto the movie poster.
I used the transform tool to resize and position the mustache on Tom Cruise’s face.
For the fonts, I tried several and ended up using plain old Times New Roman, which most closely resembled the poster’s font. I made a new text layer right overtop of “VAMPIRE” and typed “MUSTACHE,” then adjusting the size, kerning, and height to best match the original. Matching the color was trickier, and I used the eyedropper tool to match a color in “VAMPIRE.” Something still wasn’t right. Looking closely at the original, there appeared to be a slight darkness added to the original poster’s font edges, which I duplicated by adding an outer glow effect on low settings.
To erase “VAMPIRE,” I made my text layer invisible by clicking the eye icon in the layers queue, then used the clone stamp tool to overwrite the poster’s font with its surrounding colors. I cleaned this up with a wipe of the spot healing brush tool, then made my text layer visible again and was pleased with the result.
Now that I had a template for the font, I duplicated that layer and repeated the process above for the line “THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES.” However, I discovered that both the font color and kerning are a little bit different on that line, so I adjusted the kerning to better match and used the eye dropper tool again to select a more matching font color. Obviously, the font size needed adjustment, and I settled on 9.
Then I repeated this process again to replace Brad Pitt’s name with my own, increasing the font size to 15 (though nothing matched perfectly) also bolding it to better match the poster.
And there you have it: Mr. Patrick Whiskers’ blockbuster hit!
Wait! Who’s Mr. Patrick Whiskers, you ask?
Once, during a deployment, I became obsessed with my new ‘stache. I held a Facebook naming contest. While I had many, incredibly good suggestions, my children ultimately won out. One wanted to name the mustache “Patrick” while the other wanted “Mr. Whiskers.” Well, there you have it.
For my first mid-weekly post, I’d like to present a little stream of consciousness when you try to teach an old dog new tricks.
Okay, let’s get started here. All right, what’s this? Sign up for my own domain name. That’s interesting. Oh, there’s a helpful guide. Hmm… Well, that was helpful, I suppose. Okay, let’s sign up. Oh, it went back to that page. Okay, here’s sign up instructions. Oh, that’s the same page I just looked at. Dang. Let’s try this again. Sign up for your own domain name. There. Log in or sign up, let’s try that. UMW sign in. Blah, blah, blah. Oh. What the heck is this? UMW Domains? Now what? Let’s go back to the instructions and see if that helps …
2 hours later …
Well, here we are. New website created. New accounts on Instagram, Soundcloud and YouTube. And I’m a Twit now. Fine. What’s next? Where were those instructions? Okay. Brief Intro to cPanel? They make it sound so easy. Create subdomains? Dangit. I’m lucky to have made one.
What’s next? Install WordPress? No. I don’t want to install software on my computer. Okay, it’s for a class, so … so … so it put the ap on the webpage and not the computer? How does that work? Okay, who cares? Moving on.WordPress Basics. They may as well have written it in Greek. And now Aski-what and JetPack? Start with aski-whoever. Okay … hmm … Where the Heck is this Aski-whosit? Install it? Where is it? What the Heck?
3 hours later …
WHAT THE ACTUAL __? HOW THE HECK DO THESE PEOPLE GET ANYTHING DONE? ***DANGIIT! YOU KNOW WHAT? DROPPING THIS CLASS WILL NOT BE ENOUGH. I NEED TO DOUSE THIS LAPTOP IN KEROSENE, LIGHT IT ON FIRE AND SLOWLY WALK AWAY. JUST DO SUCH-AND-SUCH! YEAH, RIGHT …
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What’s my favorite type of story? How about all of the above? Except Romance maybe. Still, some of those graphic scenes can get interesting …
Narrow the list down to just one? That’s crazy!
I love all genres, as long as it’s a good story. What makes a good story? Good plot. Good, multidimensional characters. A text that says something more than just the words. Something with theme and symbolism and metaphor all woven in so subtly I don’t catch them on first glance.
That’s tough these days. The “story” gets shorter and shorter as the years go by. I blame the wave top nature of media today. It used to be headlines. If the headline didn’t pull the reader in, they didn’t read the story. Today the headline is the story. Did you know there’s a trend now to try to write complete stories in just a few words? I’d like to say it’s Twitter’s fault, but Hemmingway (allegedly) did it a century ago.
So, if I had to pick a single genre, it would be yes.