Sara and I got into watching NCIS. I like the dialog, but find the characters to be static. Others love it because they’ve grown attached to the characters, and I get that.
Gibbs, one of the main characters, often says, “Never apologize, it’s a sign of weakness” (an old John Wayne quote). Because of this decision he’s made, he rarely – pretty much never – apologizes.
This was a legitimate decision. At some point he realized that an apology can make you look weak, but it also keeps good relations. Because of his experiences, he prioritized looking strong. Probably he didn’t want people to take advantage of him down the road. He’s decided ahead of time to not apologize.
I have made the opposite decision. I care very little whether or not I appear weak, and would prefer to keep good relations as often as possible. That doesn’t mean I want to just let people walk all over me though… and so when I have offended my own code of conduct, or when I’m accidentally standing in someone’s way in the grocery aisle, I apologize.
In both these cases, the person making the decision has realized potential consequences, chosen a priority, and made the decision accordingly. That’s how I define “legitimate”. And, I believe, we will always feel better for having made a decision this way. Here’s three examples of decisions that go the same way, but the only difference is that one was thought through, the other was not.
- The joy received from eating this candy bar trumps the weight or sluggishness I may gain from it.
- De-stressing in front of the TV after work is more valuable to me at this point than working on my novel.
- Trolling this griefer on my Facebook page will give me more satisfaction than the grossness I feel from associating with it.
- Eat a candy bar without thought for health, then complain later about how hard it is to lose weight.
- Waste hours in front of the TV, then tell a favorite author at a signing that “I don’t have time to write a book”.
- Argue on Facebook instantly, instinctually, angrily, and then wallow in misery afterward.
We are not predominantly logical beings, we make instinctive decisions. Those instincts are there for a reason, though they don’t always lead us to what’s best. So sometimes legitimizing a decision will have to be made in retrospect:
- I ate that candy bar and now I feel gross. What can I do to help myself not eat too much candy in the future?
- I wasted the evening on a Netflix binge and hoped to get some writing done. Next time I’ll stop after the first episode or two and figure out what I really want.
- I argued on Facebook – but I defended my point and never let myself degrade to the point of attacking on a personal level. If I did, I would apologize and take it back.
That works too. It puts me in the direction of being aware of my decisions and why I made them. It empowers me to make better decisions in the future. It doesn’t waste time or energy on useless guilt or shame, but still takes responsibility.
In the face of my own struggles (anger, addiction, bipolar recklessness and recurring depression), this way of thinking makes all the difference. I can very clearly challenge and evaluate my decisions, past and present, and then accept the consequences rather than constantly agonizing.
Our final project was to put together a portfolio booklet to show off our projects.
In place of project corrections, I chose to do a whole new project. My mother was putting on a production of her music, celebrating women from the bible. She needed a program for the performance. It was a last-second deal that was rushed – it needed to be printed the next day, so I spent 2 1/2 hours on it straight in one evening. Most of this time was spent on editing copy, selecting fonts, tweaking placement and proximity in order to make the content easy to read/skim. This was the evening of March 24th, starting at around 7pm – the performances were held the same week on the 28th and 29th.
This portfolio is meant to display my designs and show what I’m capable of. For the most part, I feel that my gift as a designer has very little to do with beautifying or embellishing – I feel I am actually weak in these things. However, I do have great strengths when it comes to solving a problem, and using good principles of design to make those decisions. Because of this, I wanted a design for the portfolio that wasn’t meant to strike awe with its beauty, but to rather come across as simple, professional, and effective in it’s ability to fulfill its intent.
Which in this case – the intent is to show that I can solve problems in the realm of visual media.
The direct audience at this moment is my teacher and class, but the long-term audience may be potential employers who are looking for a guy just like me.
I used a monochromatic scheme using navy blues and varied tints/shades on that hue.
Adobe Caslon Pro – an Oldstyle serif fontface.
Body Copy Font
Gill Sans – a humanist sans-serif made for readability.
The image pattern on the page edges is of my own make – I was inspired by tile designs, tetris, and the way tempered glass breaks. Don’t ask me exactly how that works, it’s in that weird realm of the brain dude.
The assignment was to create a brochure for a product, event, or company. It was to be duplex-printed, including at least 5 photos – one of them full bleed, and one of them text-wrapped.
For mine, I chose an event I’ve attended called Writing for Charity. This event takes money donations from aspiring writers, who then have an opportunity to attend a conference/workshop where the events are hosted by successful industry professionals – in this case, usually children’s book authors.
They can also sign up to have their work critiqued by an author of their choice at the event, provided that author’s group is not already full. The attendees donate money, the authors donate their time, and the proceeds go to bring literature to children in the community.
I decided on an asymmetrical fold early on, I thought it would be a good way to give the most vital information (such as date and location) some prime real estate – a portion of the inside of the brochure that would still be visible when closed. I measured guides out in InDesign for 6 1/2 inches in from the left (outside). I gave myself 1/4″ margins on each page and started with type.
I used the illustration found on the event’s website as the foundation for a lot of my decisions. I found a similar font to the illustrated lettering, called Cabin Sketch (display), in my collection of Google Fonts. As luck would have it, Cabin (sans-serif) also comes in a sans and condensed family which match up well with the display font, so I used those for my body copy.
I pulled most of my colors from the illustration, muted but colorful tones – I almost wanted the flyer to look like it was made with colored pencils. For the most part this included reds, oranges, greens, and blues – making this a tetradic color scheme.
Using grids within my asymmetrical fold, I was concerned about my layout feeling too blocky, or linear, so I used Illustrator to create a simple curved shape which I then imported into the background on the inside. This way when the fold is closed, the shape appears to be a long rectangle – but when opened, an interesting curve guides the eye into the page.
Inside the brochure I listed the events in order by time. I made several choices here to make this massive amount of information easier to skim. Paragraph styles made these quite easy to implement.
- Each subheading (time) was bolded and colored blue, with some spacing above them to better associate each time with its events.
- Each event title uses a deeper value, and is ex-dented.
- Each list of panelists uses a lighter value (while still readable) in order to make the thick blocks of text breath a little more. Subsequent lines are indented in order to further distinguish the event titles.
Two photos included in the pamphlet follow the aforementioned curve. The illustration, being the most important visual element of the entire pamphlet, bleeds off the edge of the front and comes back in on the inside flap – where words wrap around the image.
On the back is a picture and name for every participating professional (mostly authors). Each is outlined by a 1-pt stroke using one of the colors in my scheme.
Paragraph styles save you a world of hurt. Tetradic color schemes are difficult, but by focusing on value and desaturating when things clash, they become manageable. Each new design project should push you to try something you haven’t before – in this case, layouts involving more fluid elements. Finally, designing something that is going to be precisely folded is kind of tough. Fun, but tough.
The mission: create a business card and letterhead in InDesign using a new logo. I decided to use myself, since I can’t imagine using stationery for any other purpose. (For example, the websites I run or write for.)
I created a logo in Illustrator using my initials (SSL) in Myriad Pro (humanist sans-serif). I overlapped one of the “S” glyphs over the others in the same color as the background, giving what I thought was an interesting effect using negative space.
I thought I might like to try a watermark – hey, it’s my first stationery design, so why not? I made a copy of the logo on another artboard, reversed the colors and brightened them to almost-white with a slight blue tint. From InDesign, I used the Place functionality to add the watermark background and two business card designs to the document.
I created two business cards, one to fulfill the needs of the assignment, the other for preferred use. If I were to ever print business cards, I will probably be moving relatively soon and I don’t want to have to re-print them if my address and number change. More permanent methods of contact are preferred, such as email. On top of this, I really wanted the business cards to stay simple – minimalistic, like my design style.
I used the colors from this website, a scheme I picked from Kuler over a year ago at this site’s last redesign. It is an analogous color scheme using blues and blue-greens of various values. I created colored bars across the top of the card and stationery using these colors. I dunno, I don’t have a lot of reasoning behind this choice – I just liked it, and since I didn’t have any other details for them to clash against, they stayed.
Takeaways: I don’t think I’ll be designing stationery professionally any time soon, but this was a great way to stretch my wings and have a go at something new. I particularly enjoyed using negative space as shape, and hope to employ this way of thinking to even greater effect in the future.
The project: take a quality photo and use editing techniques, text, and graphical elements to create a finished product.
I took a picture of one of my favorite family board games – Forbidden Island. I’ve found the game to be simple and fun, and versatile enough to get just about anyone involved in playing. A game usually lasts a short 15 minutes, which isn’t burdensome on the impatient (like my wife and I), and best of all it’s cooperative – all players working together to recover treasures before the island sinks.
The photo was taken Friday the 21st. I set up the game on a black sheet on our kitchen table. Lighting was tricky, but having the dark backdrop helped balance out the difficulty in getting ideal light.
The original photo:
I made the following edits in photoshop:
- Edited out a corner of the background in the photo by covering it in a black shape to match the sheet.
- A slight levels edit made the rest of the colors brighter in comparison to the black, making them stand out slightly.
- A vibrance/saturation edit brought out some of the colors, most noticeably the yellows.
- A selective color edit was performed on the cyans in the photo to make them a deeper blue.
- A sharpen edit on the focused elements of the photo, most notably some words on the center cards and details on the game figures.
Each new edit was performed on its own copied layer (non-destructive editing). While show/hiding the last edit with the original, the changes are noticeable (you can replicate this effect by opening the two photos in separate tabs in your browser) – but not so much when the photos are sitting side by side. I suppose this is actually a good thing – edits should not stand out too much.
The intended message is to remind adults to stop and enjoy themselves in the moment, the way children take advantage of every moment. It combines this photo with a quote from Fragments, “Time is a game played beautifully by children.”
Quote Font: Amaranth, a sans-serif with some display-like qualities.
Citation Font: Josefin Slab, a slab-serif (just in case that was in question).
Each of these typefaces were found on Google Fonts, and I sampled the quote using the Wordmark tool. It’s a neat web app that allows you to plug in some sample text and view it with all the fonts installed on your computer. You can choose favorites and filter the results to compare those – perfect for most visual design projects.
The color scheme is triadic, taking advantage of the primary colors (red, yellow, blue) used in the board game’s design (brightened and desaturated for readability).
The final product:
Takeaways: I was most nervous about the photography aspect of this assignment, but felt like I was well-rewarded for taking a ton of photos and trying many different things: lighting, angles, settings, etc. Lighting is still something of a mystery to me, but I did learn that when shooting indoors, it’s best to get as much light as possible without making things glint or shine.