Type is the clothes our information wears

Typefaces dress our words and tell the reader what kind of thing to expect. Like clothes, the typefaces we choose help say things about the words before anyone even begins reading. The thing is, while we all have our favourite bits of clothing, things we feel particularly comfortable or confident in, we don’t wear the…

Graffiti creativity

Graffiti is… what? “Graffiti is a creative art form.” “Graffiti is destructive vandalism.” “Graffiti is gang-related.” “Graffiti is about individual expression.” Which of these statements is true? The reality is one, some, all or none, depending on which particular graffiti you’re talking about. Yes, there’s a lot that’s just territory marking, but there’s also work…

Airline safety card designs

A form of standardised international illustrated instruction? On a recent trip to Turkey I realised something: there’s one thing that you’ll find on every commercial airline flight you’ll ever take. No, not dodgy food (some flights don’t serve any, which can be a hidden blessing), I mean those airline safety instruction cards that are tucked…

Digital sketch books – can they work?

Can the iPad really replace the designer’s traditional paper sketch book? If you’re a designer, the odds are high that you use a sketch book. If you don’t, you should. Sure, you can use your Mac to throw together all sorts of ideas, but there are two important reasons why Illustrator, Photoshop and whichever DTP…

Design a new character for a typeface

Designing the character behind the face. Of all the design discipline specialities, typeface design is probably the most monastic. Creating a new font takes skill, serious attention to detail, and a perseverance that a medieval monk would respect. Not only do you have to consider the aesthetics of stroke weight, overall form, and the effect…

Art Therapy for design block: The CD Cover game

A creative challenge for you… What do you do if you find yourself staring at an empty page, unable to get your creative juices flowing? Design block is no fun, and it happens to all of us on occasion. Fortunately, one of the best ways to shake people out of a creative slump involves a…

With resolution, size does matter

When I teach I constantly have to remind myself that things that seem simple because I learned them years ago weren’t always easy to grasp the first time around. Image resolution is a bit case in point; understanding the relationship between a bitmap image’s resolution, pixel dimensions and printed size is simple once you know…

Cover design challenges in the digital world

Is it possible to design sophisticated magazine covers that communicate and sell in the virtual newsstand when all we can show are low-resolution thumbnails? “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” We all know the saying, but do we pay any attention? Of course not. And that’s why we also say that first impressions matter….

One-trick specialist or flexible expert?

Don’t be afraid to play around with established production methods. If you know enough about them you’ll find creative ways to subvert them. When you look at designers today you see people who are faced with massive multi-skill requirements. Photographer? Check. (Everyone has a digital camera these days, even if they’re not actually good at…

Color perception: more than meets the eye

Color plays a crucial part in how we perceive things, so understanding its emotive effects is fundamental to creating effective designs. How do you react to colour? The hue of things has a surprisingly strong affect on how we perceive things and even on how we feel, both physically and emotionally. It is thought that…