Tuesday, December 04, 2007

GRAPHIC DESIGN TECHNIQUES
Why Drop Shadows Don't (Always) Work.
Graphic design is not decoration; rather it is the facilitation of clear visual communications. Often, your first instinct might be to add a drop shadow to a headline, thinking the design would look too plain without it. The fact is drop shadows rarely improve a headline's appearance.

Consider the design's figure/ground color contrast relationship. Black is the darkest color, and white is the lightest color. The example below (left) already exhibits a strong color contrast between the display type and its background. Adding a gray drop shadow (right) reduces contrast thereby reducing legibility, making the headline harder to read.
   

That's not to say you should never use drop shadows. Given a low-contrast situation (as in yellow type on a green background), adding a slight shadow might actually improve contrast and legibility.

Which of the black and white examples above do you find easier to read, and which of the color samples below are more legible? See what I mean?

   

The next time you feel inclined to add a drop shadow onto your display type, consider its effect on the figure/ground color contrast. You might be surprised to discover the design works better without the drop shadow.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

SEQUENTIAL ART
Psycho Shower Scene Controversy
Let's continue our Saul Bass kick for one more posting. The well-known graphic designer famous for the AT&T logo and the opening title sequences of several of Alfred Hitchcock's films (and a lot more--too much to list here!), created the storyboard art for Hitchcock's Psycho shower scene.

Paul Martin Lester writes in Visual Communications: Images with Messages that Hitchcock invited Bass to direct the famous Psycho shower scene (p. 154). Imagine that! The scene that epitomizes the Master of Suspense's sixty-year career; the sequence synonymous with the name "Hitch;" one of the greatest scenes in movie history, directed by someone else--albeit one of the most well-known graphic designers in history. I believed it; after all, graphic design is more than simply putting images on paper. On a deeper level, it involves "visual thinking," translating communications into graphic media. The shower sequence conveys a strong sense of terror and shock, without showing gore, as most of today's movies do.

I recently found this web page created by Dr. Glen Johnson, English professor and Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at Catholic University of America. Johnson notes that Bass had made the assertion that he directed the famous shower scene after Hitchcock's death. Both actor Janet Leigh and assistant director Hilton Green refute Bass's assertion. A comparison of Bass's storyboards with the completed scene reveals a few differences, indicating Bass did not direct the sequence.

This, of course, takes nothing away from my personal admiration of Bass's work, but the Psycho shower scene could only have been directed by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

MOTION GRAPHICS
More Movie Title Sequences
Feeling a bit disappointed that the website in the previous posting didn't showcase any movie opening titles by the great Saul Bass, I've linked to some of his opening sequences that I found posted on YouTube, instead. I've included Casino, thanks to Francis's suggestion. And who could forget the work of Maurice Binder, renowned for his opening title sequences of all the pre-Brosnan 007 movies.

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho by Saul Bass
Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder by Saul Bass
Ocean's Eleven by Saul Bass
Martin Scorsese's Casino by Elaine and Saul Bass
Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo by Saul Bass
Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can by Kuntzel Deygas
Dr. No by Maurice Binder

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

MOTION GRAPHICS
Forget the Film, Check Out the Titles
Check out this cool website devoted to celebrating the creativity of movie opening titles. Saul Bass should have a lot of great stuff in there.

Monday, September 17, 2007

SUSTAINABILITY
Platform Green
AIGA Miami is back in action for 2007-08. Join them at Grass Lounge to kick off the season in consciously green fashion. Go and see the latest and greatest issue of Platform--their charter publication--that puts the focus on environmental and sustainable issues that surround our community. Members receive their free issue, which will be available for sale to non-members.

Listen to Marc Alt, co-chair of AIGA's Center for Sustainable Design, talk about their mission and what designers can do to incorporate green thinking and sustainable practices into their professional lives.

Thursday, September 20, from 7-10 pm
Grass Lounge, 28 NE 40th Street, Miami Design District. 305-573-3355
miami.aiga.org
TYPOGRAPHY
Typeface Designers Mix Art, Engineering
For all you type geeks out there, this fascinating article appeared on Earthlink.net News September 16th. Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones, partners at a New York type foundry that bears their names, discuss the finer points of type design including x-heights, swashes, corners and terminals.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

SOCIAL ISSUES
Should Graphic Designers be More Involved in Social Causes?
Bruce Nussbaum comments on the level of social involvement typically (perhaps stereotypically) attributed to graphic designers. His September 10th article appearing in BusinessWeek.com points to the recent nervous response by Miss Teen USA contestant Caitlin Upton to a question about geography posed during the competition. Upton plans to go to Appalachian State University to study graphic design.

Nussbaum generalizes that graphic designers, unlike industrial designers and architects, are not interested in using their design skills to help people in, say, rural Africa or Asian villages. But is he right? Graphic design can be a powerful force in capturing people's attentions and making them aware of important social issues. "With great power comes great responsibility," says the adage about superhero powers. Graphic design can be just as powerful, and graphic designers can be just as heroic when they are involved.

Monday, September 10, 2007

JOURNAL
Ellen Lupton Discusses Success
In an August 28th journal article appearing on AIGA Voice, Ellen Lupton writes that success means more than just getting a job or earning money (true, those things are important). True success is a deep personal satisfaction in doing what you love--and it's independent from money. It's an interesting article; have a look!

Monday, September 03, 2007

LOGO DESIGN
LogoDesign.com Reviews Presidential Logos
The blog website LogoDesign.com reviewed campaign banners for the candidates of the 2008 Presidential Elections. Take a look and vote for your favorite.

Friday, June 01, 2007

COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Communications 'Professionals' a Disgrace to Our Language
A very humorous and informative article about communication professionals mangling the English language. Keep in mind that as communicators, our job is to do so clearly, so enjoy this article by Eric Webber, posted May 25th on the Advertising Age website.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

ADVERTISING
Global Warming is Coming!
DraftFCB/Toronto's new billboard campaign for the World Wildlife Fund creatively conveys its message by employing a cast shadow that expresses rising water as the sun travels across the sky. The article, appearing in the May 24th issue of AdCritic.com's Print and Design email newsletter, states the billboard campaign will be up in Toronto through June, after which the billboard will no longer be situated in the sun's path.

Sign up for AdCritic.com's free Print and Design newsletter by clicking this link: adcritic.com/design/signup/

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS
Design Can Change
Design Can Change is a cool website/initiative about being a little "greener" in our careers... designers, artists, printers, suppliers... We all can help just by taking the environmental impact into consideration when we set to create or to produce printed materials, besides just remembering to turn off the lights whenever we're not using a room or reusing printed paper or the other side for sketches... ; )

Check it out here:
http://www.designcanchange.org/

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

ADVERTISING
V-me Launches with a Creative Campaign
V-me, a Spanish-language network that debuted in March, owes its amazing visual design style to New York's CA Square Design Studio. In an interview appearing in the April 19th issue of AdCritic.com's Print and Design email newsletter, John Begert, V-me's chief marketing and branding officer said, "the brand had to express quality, warmth and positive energy in a modern way that would resonate with our viewers, while avoiding the stereotypes of traditional Hispanic marketing."

V-me, pronounced in Spanish, sounds like "veme" or "see me." The network is a partnership with PBS, and produces programming in four main areas: kids, lifestyle, current affairs and movies. For more information, visit v-me.tv.

Sign up for AdCritic.com's free Print and Design newsletter by clicking this link: adcritic.com/design/signup/

Sunday, January 14, 2007

ADVERTISING
Bus Ads in New Zealand Match Up for Unusual Campaign
Draft New Zealand, an ad agency in Auckland, is running an unusual campaign promoting New Zealand's premier dating website NZDating.com. This story appeared in the October 19th issue of AdCritic.com's Print and Design email newsletter. Creative Director Chris Hunter says "[The two busses] run on a tight loop circuit, so they're quite often together. I can’t be exact about the figure, but it's certainly often enough to make it worthwhile. Most locals will see both buses within a short space of time, so they'll get the message even if they don’t see the buses side by side." And even if they see only a somewhat confusing half-message, "it adds to 'talkability' and word of mouth," he believes.

Sign up for AdCritic.com's free Print and Design newsletter by clicking this link: adcritic.com/design/signup/
TECHNOLOGY
Apple Launches a New Revolution in Mobile Phone Technology
On January 9th, Apple introduced iPhone, combining three products — a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, searching, and maps — into one small and lightweight handheld device. iPhone also introduces an entirely new user interface based on a large multi-touch display and pioneering new software.

iPhone is a widescreen iPod with touch controls for playing music, audiobooks, videos, TV shows, and movies — on a 3.5-inch widescreen display.

iPhone is a revolutionary new mobile phone that allows you to make a call by simply pointing your finger at a name or number in your address book, a favorites list, or a call log.

iPhone features a rich HTML email client and Safari — the most advanced web browser ever on a portable device — which automatically syncs bookmarks from your PC or Mac. Safari also includes built-in Google and Yahoo! search.

iPhone will be available in the US in June 2007 in a 4GB model for $499 (US) and an 8GB model for $599 (US). Cingular, the largest wireless carrier in the U.S., will be Apple’s exclusive U.S. carrier partner for Apple’s revolutionary iPhone.