Archive for Design Thinking

How Much Graphic’s Experience Do You Need?

As a freelance writer, how much graphic experience do you need?

Writers often find themselves involved in the visual components of their writing. This can range from making aesthetic choices for a document to sub contracting a graphic designer to taking a DYI approach and creating graphics themselves.

These days, things are a lot more visual as everything moves online where people tend to even read visually—scanning, foraging, and generally jumping around compared with more traditional linear reading styles.

I just edited a blog post for Webtech Wireless, one of my main clients, and apart from having to revise the text on an image, I designed to improve the overall look and feel of the image. So, not really a functional improve, just an aesthetic call to improve the overall look and feel of a very technical article.

Original

I didn’t have the source for this image—it was just pasted as an Excel® chart in Word®. I find that most graphics created in Microsoft programs look really clunky and, well let’s just face it, nerdy.

Odometer original

Original Excel graphic

Revised

To revise the original, I started from scratch and redrew the content in Adobe Illustrator. I didn’t intend to go quite this far, but one thing led to another and pretty soon I’d built up these dreamy layers of gradients, Gaussian blurs, reflections, and transparencies. I think I’d go for some Jell-O salad now.

Odometer revised

Revised graphic in Adobe Illustrator

In the end, a lot of technical material was rendered a little more, er, palatable with an eye-popping image. Read the article…

The Future of the Book

With touchscreen technology poised to become a ubiquitous part of our lives, the future of the book is likely to change dramatically as well.

From TED.com – “Software developer Mike Matas demos the first full-length interactive book for the iPad — with clever, swipeable video and graphics and some very cool data visualizations to play with. The book is Our Choice, Al Gore’s sequel to ‘An Inconvenient Truth’.”

Learning Adobe Illustrator

In 2010, I determined that I wanted to improve my Adobe Illustrator skills and so I started creating a mandala a month. Below is the final result.

Usability Fun and Games

I convinced myself that applying for a job through the IBM web site was a good use of my time, but I didn’t factor in how much fun it would be.

Like many mega corps, the IBM site asks us to upload our résumés and then goes on to ask us to enter all the same information again manually, field by field. By the end, we’re likely to conclude that any job we should ever get at IBM will net us similar mindless work. But who knows, filling out online applications is my form of Vegas—’cause ya’ never know…

Here’s the kicker. In the section for language competency, I was given a list of languages and a ranking system from which to choose: fluent, intermediate, basic knowledge, and no knowledge. I don’t know what the value is in adding information about a skill in which one has no knowledge. I mean, I could go on and on.

I couldn’t help myself, so I obliged!

No Knowledge required

Latest image – September

I’m resolved to knowing everything there is to know about transparencies and gradients. Here’s the latest mandala—for the month of September.

July is about change

I’ve been speaking with a lot of people recently who’ve expressed how much change they’re going through these days. Maybe it’s the economy or the realization that the environmental chickens have finally come home to roost, but it does indeed seem like change is in the air.
For my 2010 Mandala a month, I’ve called July’s entry “Change”. Although a mandala is fairly static, the fascination I have with mandala’s is how they focus my mind. It’s like watching a fire. It’s mesmerizing.
By way of explanation, this mandala is based on the golden mean – that is, the number 1.61803399. There have been a lot of studies done into design in nature as well as asthetics that indicate this number prevails. For example the nautilus is based on it.

This isn’t a scholarly document, so I’m not going to go into details about how the golden mean (ratio) comes into play here, except that it does.

My first draft of turning this into a mandal was promising, but not really up to standard (my measurements were off for one thing).

The problem was that I couldn’t figure out how the circle came out of the square, so I decided to jetison the squares and look at circles instead. The core concept, still fitting with the nautilus (golden mean) ratio and placement resulted in the following:

I then replicated it four times, recoloured it, used that set angle at 45?, played with opacity, shading and voíla!

July - Change

Roman Antics

This is such a clever way of visualizing data creatively that I had to share it.

New Photoshop Skills

An intended consequence of taking the Kelby Photoshop seminar last week at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre was to pick up new skills. And learn new skills I have!

To the right is an example of my new skills with creating realistic reflections and luminosity in an object. Also, I’ve started using my WACOM pen with different brushes to create artistic layered effects.

In the space of three hours, I popped out four flashy images on this theme.

May Mandala

I just finished my May mandala. In 2010, I completed one mandala image a month for 12 months as a way to improve my Adobe Illustrator skills and just for sheer diversion. May’s mandala is based on the himalayan poppy, also known as Meconopsis betonicifolia. There’s a sky-blue simplicity about these poppies that I find inspiring.

See all my Mandalas in Facebook (one per month for 2010).

Planning and Ergonomics

In a collaborative environment with multiple teams, communication is critical. To illustrate this point, a picture is worth a thousand words, no?