An audio reflection is an echo

Moon Graffiti presented an excellent example of using sound as an integral part of storytelling. The producers effectively Image result for sound effects during storytelling used recorded audio, sound effects, and background music woven with a compelling narrative of mixed fact and fantasy.

The audio pushes the imagination, bringing the adventure of a lunar visit and subsequent crash to life in the listener’s mind, just as Jad Abumrad describes in the first video.


Related imageAlong with realistic (perhaps mixed with early recording from the actual mission) voice acting simulating the flight, the producers bring in tense background music and sound effects to heighten suspense. The writers increase the tension with dialogue, adding realistic emotion when one astronaut becomes fascinated with the moonscape in the face of their impending death while the other remains concerned about practicalities of their situation.Image result for apollo moon landing They argue about fixing the radio instead of completing their mission. The sound effects and music throughout immerse the listener in the story.


Overall, Moon Graffiti is very well-done both technically and from a storytelling standpoint. But can I make something like this?



Two down …

Image result for day of rest

Took a day of rest Thursday. That was needed.



It didn’t help Friday, though, when I jumped back in head-first.

Image result for everyone speaks spanishBegan with the alternate history book cover design. I immediately thought text book, and started in. In keeping with the idea that we’d all speak Spanish, I kept the book title in that language. Probably put way too much time into it, but think I did a good job demonstrating some concepts from the reading and watching.


Image result for taco bell .gif funnyThen I took up the alternate history assignment from the bank. Had a hard time coming up with a concept, but when my wife said there’d be Taco Bells everywhere I knew what I’d do. When I found the image with flags all over it, that sealed the deal.


Image result for funny rockGoing through some of the potentials in the Assignment Bank, I chose the Triple Rocktroll Lyrics (2 stars) and Messing with the McGuffin (2 stars), both of which were fun to do. I used Photoshop to create these in layers, applying the Canva tutorial lessons where possible.


Started checking out some of the other students’ blogs and was relieved to see I’m not the only one struggling with a few things when they commented about the rough start. But I have to say that as an antisocial introvert, commenting on others’ posts may be the hardest part of the course. I made some comments, but don’t know how to go back to find them after they’ve been moderated to link them here.Image result for everything's fine gif


Somewhere in this time, I knocked out a daily create here and also here under the idea that I ‘Gotta Catch ’em All.’

Image result for pokemon prank gif



Flower in the desert

I went dark with today’s Daily Create.

I wanted to do a sort of apocalyptic ‘flower in the desert’ sort of thing. I’m not entirely pleased with the final result, but do think it hits close to the mark.

I started with an image from the Abandoned America page, and found an image of a girl crying. Importing them into Photoshop. I used the Transform tool to size and position the elements and removed the color.

I wanted a cluster of plants for her to cry about. I found some flowers and used the magnetic lasso tool to copy the portion I wanted.


I pasted the image, then sized and positioned it.



Finally, I used some filters to make the black and white portions crosshatch and the plant vibrant.

yo quiero

America would be a much different place had the Spanish Armada defeated England.

Here, I changed all the white in the U.S. Flag to gold to honor the alternate heritage (gold and red of the Spanish flag). That was a LOT of tedious coloring… Bringing that tree branch in front of the one sign was also tedious…

I also added some signs for the national restaurant…

Here is the original, by the way …

Yet another book you don’t want to read…










Following the alternate history of ‘if the Spanish Armada had conquered England,’ I made this textbook cover (in Spanish because that’s what we’d all speak).

Using tips from the Canva tutorial on fonts and weight, I started with the title, “La Armada Espanola.” I knew I wanted it large, the most dominant feature. I chose a fitting font style and increased the size to fit the page.



The sub-title, “Historia de la invasion que selló el destino de un imperio” (History of the invasion that sealed the fate of an empire), I originally kept the same font but much smaller and with an extra space between the words for legibility. I later changed the sub-title font style to contrast with the title style, per Canva tutorial instructions.


I went online to find an image of the British Empire, which would likely not have risen if the Spanish had won. I imported it into Photoshop, highlighted all the Spanish Empire countries with the magic wand tool and made them all the same color with the Fill option. I then changed the color to a gradient with the colors of the Spanish flag.


I found fitting images and copied/pasted them onto the cover. I started with the ships at the top. I wanted the title font to match the colors of the Spanish flag, but it blended in too well with the golden hues of the armada image. Black was also too hard to read. I tried other colors, but settled on white. I experimented with inner and outer glows using red and gold, but discarded these in favor of a bevel (though I did keep the glows for the sub-title).


I kept importing images to support the ‘story,’ but the first version I made for this book cover was too busy.


I took a step back and reviewed some design fundamentals from the Canva and Adobe sites, de-cluttering the look by removing some of the images. I added an image of Elizabeth I (defeated by Philip in this alternate history), but made her much smaller than Philip and beneath him on the page. I also nudged the background ship image to the right to make it look like it (and Philip) was running her over.





I zoomed out and looked at the image as a whole, thinking perhaps the muted colors of the map unbalanced the image. So I went in and intensified the colors a little, adding a gradient color to the oceans.



Week 2, Week 6, What’s the Difference?

Image result for spanish armadaWanting 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 inImage result for spanish kangaroo 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 tutorials, writing a fairly lengthy blog post about points I picked up.


Image result for "shut in" gifA 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?

Ad-ing it up: DesignBlitz

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.

Layout & Design

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 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.