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Posts Tagged ‘design’

So long as you go about it ethically, I don’t see any shame in shortcuts. On a general note, most of what has given us as a species an edge could reasonably be categorized as such. And personally, I am particularly in favor of techniques, tools and strategies that help me fill in gaps of time or talent.

I’ve mentioned drawing, and how I can’t. Oh sure, I used to be able to draw an almost perfect circle freehand and once drew the world’s most beautiful eye while I was supposed to be studying verb conjugations in high school French class, but that’s about the extent of my talents in that department.

That doesn’t stop me from wanting to do more. If only my fellow monkeys had developed some tools that could help me make up for such deficiencies!

Cue computer drawing programs, yes, but then what? There’s still the difference between what I see in my mind and what comes out on the page or screen.

I came across this tool the other day: the Da Vinci Sketch Addon for Photoshop. 

* * *

Ooh, I said to the cat (who paid as much attention as usual, which is to say none), that is exactly the sort of art I like, part beauty, part craft, part epistolary exploration. Too bad I had to move away from Photoshop. Now what?

First, despair! Cue gnashing of teeth and rending of garments (just kidding, that’s wasteful and I really hate to shop).

Then it was time to get to work.

I decided to see if I could replicate some version of this technique in Affinity Photo. After forum diving, video watching, and a visit to The notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, I produced this:

The Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch, sculpted c. 150BC. Original photo by tabitha turner on Unsplash, text and doodles by Leonardo da Vinci. I don’t read Italian, much less Renaissance mirror writing, but I would love it if this was Leo’s to do or shopping list. “Note: buy looser robes with draping like this, because I like a healthy breeze around my private parts.”

* * *

Not bad, aside from the fact that it took forever and could use some real hatching and more dramatic outlines and the shading crashed the program about a dozen times. Still, it was progress I felt ok about.

Working through that puzzle also gave me time to think, and in that time I realized a couple of important things:

  • my computer is not the only computer in this house, and while the desktop upstairs has had the tech equivalent of a stroke and can’t be trusted with anything not backed up, I did manage to rebuild it into a functional system and it is now running a deprecated OS,
  • six bucks is not a lot of money, and
  • don’t I still have the disks for CS5, which includes Photoshop, kicking around somewhere?

True, true, and yes, yes I do.

Cue exciting graphic adventures!

* * *

I may have also sprung for a couple more tools from the same developer. Still affordable, and still worth it. This is what the Da Vinci Photoshop action produced, plus several other versions:

Da Vinci action
vintage sketch action
architecture sketch action

* * *

Have I been having fun? Yes, and here’s my absolute favorite so far:

When Leo met 3PO. Original Image by Gerhard Janson from Pixabay 

Shortcuts can be terrific so long as they don’t impede learning. In this case, I got the mental workout of deconstructing and rebuilding an effect, plus the practicality of pre-built actions.

Also C-3PO:)

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“Just because things hadn’t gone the way I had planned didn’t necessarily mean they had gone wrong.”

― Ann Patchett

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Photo by Daniel Angele on Unsplash

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The Eyes Have It

Well, I thought I was going to write about something else today, but apparently (apropos of this previous post) I wanted to draw eyes. It’s what I would have done for that earlier post if I hadn’t hit a little hiccup in the software department.

I recently had to give up Photoshop and the rest of Adobe’s Creative Suite. Ok, I didn’t have to, but the subscription software model gives me hives, so I switched to Affinity Photo. It’s a little like trying to bake a cake in someone else’s kitchen. Same concept, same goal, but everything’s in a slightly different place and the ingredients are all different brands. So I’m having fun teaching myself what’s what and where.

And this is me experimenting:)

original image: Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

That’s a lot of eyes!

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I can’t draw, but I do love designing things like maps and logos and books and fun gifts. I use software to make it all work and shortcuts can be a terrific time saver. That’s why I’m excited to report that I recently discovered a very helpful trick for aligning objects in Illustrator.

I came to Illustrator from Freehand and found myself tripping over simple things. This particular tip fixes an issue that’s been bugging me for years, so I wanted to share in case I’m not the only one. (Maybe you already know this trick? Good for you, now give me a sec to share this bit of wisdom with those of us who have been less fortunate;)

I use Illustrator CS5 so ymmv, but here’s the gist, paraphrased from this useful article:

Select the objects you want to align, then (here’s the important bit) click once on the object or guide you want to use to control the alignment of the other selected objects. No shift key needed, just a straight click. The Key Object will show a heavy border outline around it. Align as usual.

It should look something like this:

Enjoy!

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This is the coolest thing: a designer decided to tackle fifty problems in fifty days. I think it’s terrific when creative people find ways to use their talents to fix problems, particularly when they focus on challenges most of us have been living with for years. It’s easy to get used to doing things one way even when that way is not optimal, and once acclimated it can be hard to even see the issue, much less fix it.

http://50problems50days.com

This is what happens when creative people look at the world with fresh eyes, and decide that they can, and should, do something to make it better. Constructive creativity for the win.

What “fifty problems” would you choose?

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