The Mac Lab

Archive for October, 2009

LogoMotion (Week 8)

by on Oct.24, 2009, under Blog

fadi_wipA designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Here we are at Mac Lab Saturday School™ number two. Early on, I threw out a challenge to the kids: Who’s going to provide this week’s blog image? Fadi G had about a dozen ideas in various stages of completion and when he tried to submit this one I asked him to zoom out to see what it looked like when reproduced small. As the rest of the page came into view, I immediately pointed to a different design and said, “That’s brilliant!” (No larger version yet and this still needs a little editing, like any work-in-progress.)

When you’re designing your own logo, you should always strive to make it relevant to your skills and interests. Make it both personal and professional. The reason I was so immediately taken with this idea is that Fadi’s becoming an Illustrator expert. Out of all the ideas on his page, this is the one that shouted FADI! to me. To him though, it was just another idea. No big deal. I’m still not sure if he really likes it or not but it’s too late to escape this week’s claim to fame. Sometimes, especially when designing logos, less is more. Check the quote at the top of the page again. That message will be with us the rest of the year. Count on it. Perhaps some clever student will design a poster with typographic finesse that captures the essence of those words. I sure would like to display that quote forevermore on the Wall of Fame. (Hint, hint.)

Oh, and for anyone else considering the Adobe-esque logo angle, it’s officially been taken. You’re going to have to come up with some other brilliant idea. Lucky for you I got up in the middle of the night to begin constructing third party logo galleries to help you to get a feel for what I’m looking for: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | More are on the way. Check out the other links on our Inspiration page to feed your imagination.

This post is subject to editing as it was written in the midst of MLSS chaos. 😉

International Update: The Republic of Haiti and the Republic of Kazakhstan bring us to 127 countries (the countries in white have yet to visit).

1026: The Republic of Moldova just joined the Mac Lab party. If 128 have now visited, how many does that leave? (Didn’t think you’d learn about geography or global politics in the Mac Lab, did you?) Now, back to our irregularly unscheduled deprogramming…

Simplify: While you’re trying to simplify your design, think about simplifying your name as well. George M was working on his design this past Saturday. When he asked for a critique, I suggested shortening the four-word grouping he was playing with. After a few minutes, George M (last name spelled out) Graphic Design had become GeoGraphics. He’s not only got a catchier name (and his own TV channel!), his design challenge just became more manageable. Simplify!

Inspiration: Back in the day, whenever I was working on a new design, I’d have my morgue file handy and I’d page through it over and over again. To say I’d seen some of those images over 1,000 times would be an understatement. Only a fool would believe I was wasting time. I was feeding my imagination. A morgue file is a living breathing resource. It changes just like you do. Are you the same person you were five years ago? Five months ago? Five days ago? No, of course you’re not. The imagery may not have changed but you have. With each new viewing, new connections are established. Plus, new imagery is always being added to a morgue file. It’s one of the lessons my first graphic design professor taught me back in 1974 and it’s a lesson I took to heart because it worked for me time and time again.

As with many things, today’s morgue file may be digital rather than physical. Though I’d encourage you to begin your own, I’d caution you that it can be a time consuming process. For me, it’s a labor of love rather than on onerous task. (I brought in one of my old morgue files if you’re interested.)

Think about this: You only have 180 hours per class each year. If the Mac Lab were a full-time job, that’s only four and one-half weeks on the job. (And you wonder why I encourage you to come in early or on Saturdays.) I know you don’t have time to build a solid morgue file so I’m building one for you. It’s right here. I’ve already spent far more than 180 hours on this project. When I saw that many of you were becoming overwhelmed sorting through the thousands of logos found via Grand Central Linkage, I spent about 20 hours sorting through the pile and pulled out 100 of the best examples for you to focus on: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | This morning I found a page featuring negative space in logo design. I continue to search for resources to help you to succeed and I’ll be adding more logos as I find them. All that remains is your commitment.

Look through these pages: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | (Yes, again.) Now, work on your own design. Begin by simplifying the name of your business. Think: GeoGraphics. (No, you can’t use that name. It’s just an example.) How might you simplify your business name? If possible, think: alliteration. Continue to produce thumbnails. Hint: These will be scanned and included in your portfolio.

Reminder: Simplify!

Updates: Period 1 just had 3 simplicity home runs! Three long names shrank and three designs saw the light by shedding unnecessary clutter. Example: Christian L was using CML Design & Illustration as his business name. Check this out. Simplified! Period 2: Katie Photography + Simplification = PhotoKat. Yes! Period 3: Ryan Inkel got simplified. Last period, one budding designer was trying to work out a simplified name. I pointed to the last three letters of his last name. DNA is a pretty evocative name for a creative firm, isn’t it?

1027: I’ll keep things short today as I hope to be adding updates with student success stories as the day progresses. There’s a new series of tutorials you might find of value. Watch this video to see what I’m talking about. Check out Abduzeedo’s Great Visual Identities.

Featured Artists: This year’s Logo Gallery is open for business.

1028: I’ll be at Kearny High School to observe The School of Digital Media Design today so continue to work on your logos. Do I have to say it? Simplify! Learn how to use the Pathfinder as well. Trust me. It’s a skill you’ll learn to love. Reminder: Misbehavior = Saturday School!

1029: Looking forward to checking progress today. Short video to share during class. Hint: Has something to do with simplicity.

1030: Overview of the Droid typographic fail: Smart vs Prime (Yes, I forgot the n in punctuation. Hey, I got up at 2:10 this morning!) | The Droid Fail | Glyphs and Tips | Update: McGarryBowen is the agency with egg on its face. Update 02: Several students have told me that they saw the Droid ad last night and it’s been altered so that all of the apostrophes are consistent. But they claim all of the apostrophes are vertical (primes). If that’s true, well, I’m going to have to see that to believe it because that borders on the inconceivable. Unbelievable Update 03: Here’s the latest version of the Droid ad (thanks to Steven K for locating it on Verizon’s site). Now all 9 apostrophes are incorrect. Typographic incompetence! Thank you McGarryBowen for providing this once in a blue moon teaching moment!

It’s a mystery to some, but in design, less really is more. More = Clutter (produced in-house by Microsoft employees in 2005.)

Next Week: Multitasking begins in earnest. The final project before 3D and Digital Arts go their separate ways. See a preview of what I’ll be looking for, design-wise, right here. (I’ll have more on Monday. 02 is complete. 03 is currently under construction.) Choice of subject matter is wide open but your design must be simple and elegant. The Elements and Principles of Design will come into play in a big way. See Looking Ahead in the 1023 update for more information.

No Mac Lab Saturday School™ tomorrow. Next dates: Nov 7 and 14. Happy Halloween! Be good. Have fun. Be safe. Don’t egg my car!

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Sewing the Seeds of Art (Week 7)

by on Oct.19, 2009, under Blog

hana_i_and_d_smIt seems, then, to be one of the paradoxes of creativity that in order to think originally, we must familiarize ourselves with the ideas of others.
— George Kneller

Just as we used the first self portrait gallery as a reference for our self portraits this year, so we will use the first logo gallery as a starting point for our next project. Similarly, I expect the quality of this year’s logo/identity creations to surpass prior efforts (Hannah Johansen). Today, your task is to research, to familiarize yourself with the work of others. First, as I’ve said, look at last year’s gallery. Next, I’d like to introduce you to something I call Grand Central Linkage. Please watch this short video to understand today’s quest for inspiration.

Progress Report: A word about grades. Grades are on time sheets.

1020: A bit of synchronicity in that Terry White (who’s responsible for us using InDesign for our initial Website designs) posted The Importance of Attending Workshops a few minutes ago. (He’s an early riser too!) I was at Ben Willmore‘s Photoshop for Photographers seminar yesterday and boy do I have some new ideas to share with you! It’s not too early to begin exploring your photographic vision. In fact, the adventure may be right outside your door.

Want a Freebie? Have you noticed the NAPP link in the right sidebar? (That’s the group who throws Photoshop World and Seminars like I attended yesterday.) If you’re serious about learning Photoshop (and the rest of the Creative Suite), NAPP a bottomless learning resource. If you ever do join, use the link from the blog and I get a perk or two. If 12 people join, I won’t be the last technology teacher on Earth without a cell phone any more. Note: There’s a freebie for you too (see: lower left of page). Discounted rates for students and educators.

1021: Because of the presentation yesterday, most of you didn’t get a chance to read yesterday’s update. Please do so now. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

Now, while I’m at a Final Cut Studio workshop today, here’s what I expect from you. After reading and following the instructions above, explore the 5 Stages of the Creative Process. That’s a post I wrote over the summer and I want you to begin to understand the creative process. Read it. Reread it. Click the links. Ponder the quotes. Spend some time there. Have you really tried to understand? No? Try again. Yes? Watch this video. What are thumbnail sketches? Link to a quick overview. One last link. And just for students in multiple periods.

Reminder: Thumbnails are small, quick sketches of your logo ideas. You should be able to fit 10 or more on a single page. DO NOT make finely detailed drawings. This process is quick and simple. You’re brainstorming and capturing ideas without trying to refine them. No one, and I mean NO ONE will be “finished” with the assignment today.

1022: Yes, I’ll be asking to see your thumbnails today. Yes, you’re supposed to have saved them. Yes, I told you that yesterday (and the day before). Yes, you finally get to work in Illustrator today. And yes, you’ll continue to work out your ideas in thumbnail form for the rest of the year. Now watch this video.

Visitor Update: The Palestinian Territories makes 125 countries to visit the blog. Yes, I know the word “country” is a bit nebulous in this case, but it’s only a matter of time. To be honest, I never even imagined we’d see a visit from there. Our 175,000th page view will occur in a few hours. Little milestones recorded here. Side note: Both New Jersey and Florida have visited over 1,000 times (from 150 different cities).

If I were Looking for a Job: I’d apply right now. Note that an online portfolio is required. If the job is filled and the link is a 404, here’s a snapshot of the page.

1023: I just noticed that we had our 2,000th comment a few days ago. Simply amazing participation! All who’ve commented are to be commended.

Looking Ahead: Some of you are wondering what’s on the horizon and I figure now is a good time to give your right brain a preview so it can begin working on ideas while you’re otherwise engaged. (If that makes no sense, you didn’t read or understand this.) Digital Arts and 3D students will soon part company but not before both classes complete their own logos (including the Pathfinder workflow — trust me, you’re going to love it), avatars, favicons, and one optional typographic project. After that, 3D students will begin with the Mac Lab 3D 1-2-3 Intro to Cinema 4D: the spaceship, the logo animation, and the animated camera projects. (Old tutorials here. New ones coming soon.) Digital Arts will dive deeper into typography but will have expanded freedom of choice in their subject matter. Examples include redesigning corporate logos, movie or band posters, book covers, CDs or DVDs, or anything that begs for a new and improved version (including public service posters promoting appropriate causes of your own choice). The overarching goal is implementing the elements and principles of design while developing a mastery of typographic form and function.

Do you want creative freedom in here? Play by my rules and master the fundamentals. Read everything I post and follow the video tutorials. Resistance isn’t really futile, it’s just self-defeating. If you’ve not lived up to your end of the deal, it’s not too late to change your ways. And remember, if you want to catch up (or get ahead), we’ve got another Mac Lab Saturday School™ tomorrow. I’ll arrive around 6:30. As always, it’s first come, first served. Alright, back to your logos.

P.S. Almost forgot to mention that I’ll be loading piles of cool fonts (and other resources) on your computers within the next week. And while I’m mentioning things I forgot to mention, Rotoball 2010 is on the horizon (cue Shaun) as is this 15 seconds of fame project! Oh, and did I mention photography? Painting with Light? And what about… (Too much to mention. Though, interested parties might check this at home. Hint, hint.)

It’s going to be a fun year!

Opportunity: The Student Creative is asking Mac Lab students to submit designs for a logo. Who’s going to step up?

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Gallery 021 — 0910 Logo/Identity Designs

by on Oct.19, 2009, under Galleries

cl_design_wip_smWho will earn the right to anchor the second gallery this year? Here are our initial winning logo/identity designs.

The students are getting rolling now. Fadi landed the feature art in Week 8’s blog post. The next home run was slammed by another Mac Lab heavy hitter, Christian L. If you read this post you’ll see that Christian successfully simplified CML Illustration and Design. That solution is pure genius! Other designs are starting to take shape and the gallery will begin to fill later this week.

Twenty-five logos in first eight days. Who’s going to step up next?

0910 Logo/Identity Designs

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X-Ray Vision and Other Super Powers (Week 6)

by on Oct.10, 2009, under Blog

fadi_g_01_smArt is never finished, only abandoned.
Leonardo da Vinci

There’s a difference between You’re never finished in the Mac Lab and This work is ready to be displayed. You see, the self portraits in our first gallery of the year are already a vast improvement over those in the first gallery of last year, but no matter how good the work may be, none of it is finished (Fadi G). Make no mistake though, it’s not abandoned either. One of the big adjustments students have to make in the Mac Lab is to understand that I expect every one of you to improve upon every one of your projects, ALL YEAR LONG! Read this post to get a better feel for what I’m talking about. I’m serious. Read that post, click the links (you don’t have to read everything at the other end of the links), and make an honest attempt to understand what I’m trying to tell you. Embrace the Mac Lab frame of mind.

The Progress Report: The Mac Lab is like a garden. Most of the seeds I’ve planted are just now struggling toward the light. A few have broken out of the soil and have begun to reach toward the sky. It feels like a record crop but, as the Little Prince says, One never knows. Trouble is, the school district wants answers right now; I’ve got to assign grades by this Friday. I’ll finish the guidelines for you this weekend and point you at our unique rubric. All you have to do is follow instructions, take care of your minutes, and good grades will rain down.

Post written during Mac Lab Saturday School™ and is subject to further editing. 😉

1012: The Progress Report has to be based on something so here it is: Your time will account for up to 50% of your grade and your portfolio will account for the other half. The time sheets are self-explanatory (the A, B, C, etc. breakdown in at the bottom of each page on the clipboard). Additional details may be found on the Student Page. The portfolio is not so cut and dry unless you refer to the rubric. But there’s a problem…

Some of you have been in here since day one. Some of you added the class in the past two weeks. Mix in language issues and familiarity (or not) with the operating system and other software and it’s kinda hard to expect the same results from everyone. That’s why every one of you is going to self-assess using the rubric. And that self-assessment will be included as the last page of your portfolio. See the Self-Assessment videos on the Creating and Maintaining Your Website Page for more details. This video will get you started. Important: You need to watch this too.

1013: Third time’s a charm. Oh, and one last thing.

1014: Hmmm, how does this work? Oh yeah: Grades close on Friday. Skocko says my grade depends on following instructions and taking care of minutes. Instructions say create, upload, and update my site (plus self-assess). My minutes are listed on the clipboard (the rest of those movies, as you well know, are on the Students Page). I can get an A or a B if I take care this. Question is… Will I do it?

Hint+Correction: Yesterday’s post contains two videos that will help you save time. One of those videos incorrectly identified Craig as the source of a tip. The credit should have gone to Atheer. As a stand-up guy, Craig lobbied for public disclosure. I agree. Thanks, Atheer!

1015: Focus on the assignment. The assignment is spelled out in this video (from 1013). How can you have watched that video two days ago and still be confused as to what’s required?! Put your work in progress in the portfolio. After you upload, continue working on your self portraits. Want to know why we’re working in this order? Watch this Video! (It’s new and it’s magical.)

1016: I’m off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Cathedral City High School’s Digital Arts Technology Academy. Hmm, doesn’t quite work as a song. Oh well, while I’m away, I want you to complete the assignment to the best of your ability. See 1013 and 1014 for details (1012 also). As a complete and utter softie, I’m going to rescind my decree of yesterday and allow those who know to help those who don’t. BUT DON’T TOUCH THE MOUSE! Feel the pain of teaching. Dang it though! It’s time for everyone to start pulling their weight. Use the flagnoggin’ tutorials!

For those who “finish” early, read or review the Collaboration 2.0 post. Our high school friends from China make an appearance in the comments. Still need something to do? It’s time you explored the Mac Lab Twitter info in the widget in the right sidebar. If it’s glitching, which it sometimes does, try going to the source.

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The Fifth Element (Week 5)

by on Oct.05, 2009, under Blog

trevor_m_01_wip_smcommon sense. 1. Native good judgment; sound ordinary sense. 2. The set of general unexamined assumptions as distinguished from specially acquired concepts: Common sense holds that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter ones.
— The American Heritage Dictionary

So, which is it? Is common sense 1 or 2? Is common sense always a good thing? Does common sense always make sense? These are not rhetorical questions. Think. Answer! Which one makes sense to you? I’ve got to admit, when I first came across some of these quotations, I was puzzled. You see, my preconceived notions got in the way. I’d always been told that common sense was a good thing. And it seemed that I was missing it completely because when my dad would get frustrated at me (which happened quite often), one of his favorite rebukes was, “Gosh darn it! Don’t you have any common sense?” (He’d actually use a stronger version Gosh darn it! if you know what I mean.) I used to feel bad about it until I began to understand the dual nature of what we call common sense.

Abstract finger painted words, to dance the metaphor
Makes the rhyming reason, for those who will explore
Twenty-six, pick-up sticks, word pictures do you see
Common sense, evidence, in conflict do they be
Look the question in the eye, extract what’s make believed
Prism bends the lighted path, like notions preconceived
— Skocko / Dream Yet Complete

Do you get it? Did you even try? I know, I know… What’s this got to do with Digital Art or 3D? I’ll let Loren Eiseley help you to find the answer to that last question:

Is not the real business of the artist to seek for man’s salvation, and by understanding his ingredients to make himself less an outlaw to himself?

In the Mac Lab, you are an artist (Trevor M). The artist within, that quality of self which some of you are beginning to discover, will help you find success in your life’s journey. It’s one of the great secrets, as J.C. Kumarappa well knows:

If the nature of the work is properly appreciated and applied, it will stand in the same relation to the higher faculties as food is to the physical body.

I’ve just given you a precious gift. I have no idea if you’ve clutched it to your heart or rejected it without a second thought. Such is the life of a teacher. I’ll let Dan Simmons give it one more shot:

For our race to reach the next true satori, for us to move to that next level of consciousness and evolution that so many of our philosophers proclaim, all facets of human endeavor must become conscious strivings for art.

In return for your efforts to understand this post, I’ll share another secret with you today. Do you like movies? I do. I promise that when I show you how the Rule of Thirds works, it will wreck the experience… at first. Then it will open up a new level of appreciation for the art. I guarantee that you’ll love movies more than ever after adding the Rule of Thirds to your conscious awareness. Visual literacy, sometimes, is simply coming to understand what you already know. The trick, sometimes, is to free yourself of preconceptions. Don’t let your common sense get in the way.

1006: I talked all period yesterday about the Rule of Thirds so I’ll keep this short. If you didn’t read (or didn’t get) yesterday’s post, read it NOW. If your desktop isn’t set, do it NOW. If yours was set incorrectly, fix it NOW. If you’re reworking your self portrait (hint, hint), use the Rule of Thirds to create a better composition. I’ll work on the InDesign Website process today while you take care of business and the tutorials will be up tomorrow (if all goes well). Designing a Website with InDesign? Now there’s some uncommon sense!

Milestones: Yesterday the Republic of Paraguay became the 123rd country to visit our little blog. We also had our 10,000th unique visitor. Interesting stats about the last 30 days: 9,907 Visits from 95 countries including 49 states plus the District of Columbia (no West Virginia) accounting for 50,580 page views.

Peek at Photoshop World: I still have lots to tell you about it but here’s Scott Kelby’s take (do this at home or outside of class) Mean Scott Kelby | PSW in Pictures | Jet-Lag Monday | And oh do I have something to share about meeting these guys in McCarran International Airport. (Sometimes it pays to be too cheap to spend $4 for a little bag of Twizzlers.)

Featured Student Artwork: When Christian showed up at 6:25, I apologized and told him I had to rip his head off (the blog). I’d written the post but had to scramble to find new artwork yesterday morning because I’d been out of town (at PSW). Trevor M, a Mac Lab Rookie, is also taking an unusual approach to the self portrait project. Please note that this is a work in progress. When he completes it, it’ll be uploaded to the ’09 Self Portrait Gallery. Is yours ready for consideration? Show me! I’ll add any and all worthy projects.

1007: Man, you guys were high maintenance yesterday. Couple that with family obligations last night and an early morning in the Skocko household (the girls got up at 4:15 to head to YAT for Fox‘s early morning feature on Peter Pan, their latest production) and we get a one day delay on the Web workflow tutorials. No worries though as it’s very simple. All requirements for the progress report (next Friday) will be straight forward and easily achievable. Work hard, follow instructions, take care of your time, and you’re guaranteed and A or a B. (More details next week. If you’re working hard, don’t sweat the progress report, you’ll do fine.)

Teacher Angst: Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been oscillating between My plan is working perfectly! and What in the world was I thinking?! True, we are spending an inordinate amount of time on the Pen Tool and self portrait, but think about what else we’ve begun to learn about… Visual Literacy to Digital Literacy. The Rule of Thirds to the Elements and Principles of Design. We’ve touched on Color Theory and have repeatedly explored the Inspiration Section as I’ve hammered on the concept of feeding your right brain. (Soon, not today, I’ll require you to read about and embrace the 5 Stages of the Creative Process.) But most importantly, you’re beginning to understand that the Mac Lab is a different type of classroom. You’re learning that you’ve got to be self-motivated. You get to work at your own pace but you have to work hard. You’re coming to understand that moral and ethical behavior are required (admittedly, not a new lesson for everyone). You’re never finished in the Mac Lab! isn’t a whip to make you work harder; it’s a reminder that you can always improve upon your artwork. And speaking of that, just look at how much better this year’s crop of self portraits are compared to last year’s. (If you don’t see a big difference, wait a day or two as I’ve seen a whole bunch of others that are nearing the initial completion stage. Once again, the students raise the bar.) I’d love to feature your self portrait too. This project sets the tone for the rest of the year so you might as well throw yourself into it! Resistance is futile.

Visitor Update: The Republic of Yemen is our 124th international visitor.

Don’t Let Advertisers Poison Your Mind: Sequence of events: Ralph Lauren published a grotesquely Photoshopped image of a model. Photoshop Disasters republished the image, rightly pointing out the disastrous final result of a Photoshopper Gone Wild. Ralph’s lawyers hit Photoshop Disasters with a DMCA and his ISP automatically removed the offending image. (Make no mistake, it is an offending image, but Ralph and his crew are the offending parties, IMHO.) Boing Boing also ridiculed the image. Ralph’s lawyers struck again. Boing Boing fired back. Bravo! It’s high time the “fashion” industry is called to the carpet right here in the Mac Lab as well for yet another pathetic attempt to poison of the minds of our youth.

Hey, Ralph! If you want to make clothes for Barbie, switch to the toy industry. If you want to make clothes for women, try a little honesty in your representation of the female form. [END OF RANT]

1008: Yesterday, as with every day so far, I asked you to read the blog. Today’s no different. What is different is that today you have an assignment. Now, I realize that some of you don’t like reading the blog but I made it clear early and often this year that reading it wasn’t an option. If it was a deal-killer, I told you to take another class. If you don’t follow instructions today, you’ve got an extra hour. No debate. No excuses. No exceptions. Any questions? Good. Today you’re going to create and upload your own Mac Lab Website. If you do anything other than what I’m asking, you’ll receive a personal invitation to spend an extra hour in the Mac Lab. Watch this movie and do exactly what it says.

1009: Would you believe we’ve had visitors from 200 cities in California since April? That’s amazing to me but far less amazing than the facts in the second paragraph. Finish the steps from yesterday first then watch this movie.

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