The Mac Lab

Tag: self-promotion

Capturing Imagination (Week 24)

by on Mar.08, 2010, under Blog

danny_o_ctf_smOur attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us.

It says in this week’s bulletin that those words are Edmund Burke‘s but I’m unable to verify that. And that reminds me of an exchange in Richard Bach’s Illusions. One character says, “You’re quoting Snoopy the dog, I believe?” The other replies, “I’ll quote the truth wherever I find it, thank you.”

The truth is, that quote is so close to what we talked about last week (especially on Friday), that I couldn’t NOT use it. If you also consider Norway’s pro-Pritchard voice, you’ll see another connection. (Check the byline under Dispatches from the North.) He and I may disagree on educational strategies (among other things), but we both, to some extent, admire Burke.

As for my educational strategies, once again we’re at a crossroads. To those who get it and are pushing the artistic boundaries, you may continue to build your own creative communities in the Mac Lab. To those who don’t get it, to the second-semester students who are still tracing sports figures, cars, third-party artwork, and yourselves, to you I say: STOP IT! You’re flatlining. You need to experiment. You need to try something new.

If you’re still wondering what to try, I’m guessing either you didn’t click those links or you didn’t read what’s at the other end. Yes, you’ve been there many times before but did you know there are dozens of tips and tutorials waiting to be discovered… waiting for you to wake up and smell the inspiration. Need a specific idea for a project? Check the bottom of the Jobs page.

Until further notice, no tracing of sports figures, cars, third-party artwork, and/or yourselves. No endless GarageBand mixes. No pointless stab, shoot, kill Flash animations. I want you to work at your digital arts and 3D skills in class. If you’re in here outside of class and want to finish one of those projects, that’s just fine. But in class I want you moving forward. Understood?

Do you need a push? Here are a few tutorials you just might enjoy: 01 | 02 | 03 |

Thanks to Danny Owens for the first kinetic typography project in the Mac Lab. Since he’s working for a customer, this is a perfect example of what I like to call feeding two birds with one seed. What we’ll eventually shoot for is right here. (Yes, it’s blocked at school but I guarantee you that it’s worth checking at home!)

Wondering about Alice? Went to see it yesterday (in 3D, of course). Though imaginative and well-made, it didn’t suck me in like Avatar. Don’t get me wrong, it was worth the money. The acting (except for Anne Hathaway, whom I usually enjoy) was top notch. Johnny Depp was his usual brilliant self but Helena Bonham Carter (more self-centered and understated than the typical evil villain) really shone as the Red Queen. The story and sets (real and imagined) were wonderful. As odd as this may sound, my favorite part was the animation during the final credits. Sumptuous!

Scholarship Opportunity: Last year we found out about this at the last minute and I posted the info over Spring Break (read that if you’re interested in applying). David Baca was our only entrant and he won a $1,000 scholarship.

0309: New features in Photoshop you might like: Resolution Magic | Smooth Panning and Zooming | New Navigator | Rotate Canvas | New Brush Sizing Option | Clone Stamp Preview | Adjustment Panel | Deleting Layers | Dodge and Burn Tools that Actually Work |

0310: A gigantic Mac Lab thank you to the Canel family for a whopping $1,250 donation! And Qualcomm is going to match it. (Does anyone else smell new computers cooking? Yum!)

Yes, I’ve sent you to the 5 Stages of the Creative Process over and over. But I’m wondering how many of you read this while you were there:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

The reason I bring it up again is that this video popped into mind when reading Seth Godin this morning. Adapt. Change with the times. Or better yet, be one who helps to set change in motion.

Photoshoppers Only: Watch this video. Interested? Look for A Different Look at the Beach right here. Enjoy!

0311: As Chris mentioned, the beach tutorials are two years old. I’ve pointed you guys at the older tutorials many times this year but few of you ever explored. Sure I’ve developed some new workflow strategies since then but the core skill-sets are still valuable. Speaking of which…

Photoshoppers Only: Watch this video. Interested? Look right here. Enjoy!

Jobs Update: The Jobs page is rapidly expanding. Check out the fantastic new work there. (And the exciting new opportunities towards the bottom of the page.) As Christian says (I edited his comments to spare those of you who might be offended. What’s that you say? Oh, why would you be offended? Because he’s telling the truth, and as they say, sometimes the truth hurts.):

Going back to what I alluded to earlier, it’s been pretty hectic lately. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that if anybody says that they have absolutely nothing to do, they’re [not paying attention]. If someone says they don’t know what to do, then they must be [not paying attention]. I have more open projects, halted projects, and incoming projects then I can imagine.

Ah, it’s like the protagonist in Stranger in a Strange Land says (paraphrased):

Among my people, the busier one is, the more one is asked to do.

What planet are you from, stranger?

0312: What a moonrise! I’m in early printing 20 of Kyle Wheaton’s posters for admin with the image of that slivered moon rising over the mountains resonating in my mind. Oh, the perks for early birds!

Speaking of birds, thanks to Kate Austin for our new twitter look. I’ll probably continue to tweak the layout over the next few days.

JOBS JOBS JOBS: The list keeps growing. (Yes, it’s grown since yesterday.) Are you going to let the usual suspects grab all the fame and glory? Go and find a job to tackle!

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Follow Your Dreams (Week 16)

by on Jan.10, 2010, under Blog

philip_b_magic_words_smHold fast to dreams
for if dreams die,
life is a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly.
Langston Hughes

Ross Ching made a fan vid. Now he’s booked solid with paying gigs after Death Cab for Cutie made his video their own. Victor Navone landed his dream job after crafting Alien Song. Animation student Shane Acker went Hollywood after Tim Burton saw his short film: 9. Uruguayan Fede Alvarez landed a $30,000,000 contract after making a $300 video.

The connection? Each artist dared to follow his dream.

The Internet has irrevocably changed the way the game is played. Stellar work is still the key, but marketing oneself has evolved. Even high school projects can go viral once in a while. No word on Hollywood calling on that last one. 😉

Note: Since flickr is blocked at school (we’re working on changing this), here’s Bud Caddell’s poster used (above) to illustrate following one’s dream. I find it especially relevant that he says:

I’m blown away by how this spread, the comments I’ve received back, and the links across the web. In almost every post about the image, someone asked for a poster, or mentioned printing it out to hang somewhere close by. So I’ve created a poster, using Zazzle, with a much higher res image.

Do you get it? It’s like I’ve written: Find something you love to do and learn to do it so well that someone will pay you to do it. (In case you didn’t get it the first time around, that’s what Bud’s poster says too.) The Internet is your ally in making this happen.

What do you WANT to do with your life? Philip B knows. Philip is a sophomore and first year Mac Lab artist. He’s logged over 5,000 extra minutes (that’s over 80 hours) in his first 15 weeks. Why? Because he wants to be a digital artist. It’s for students like Philip that I suggested blogging for those who know the path they want to follow. It’s never too early to begin your career. I’m impressed with the kids’ start. (Yes, I’ve read all of your posts.) Here’s the initial blog line-up:

Collin May | Danny Owens | Christian Lim | Julia Henderson | Philip Behnam | Fadi George | James Wirig | Steven Moyer (alum)

Take advantage of the opportunities presented to you in the Mac Lab. Other success stories and info on finals to follow. And since some of you didn’t see it… Try this if you’re looking for ideas. Hey, the Mac Lab twitter page is packed with inspiration for you. Take advantage!

Visitor Update: The Bailiwick of Jersey (yes, we had a prior Baliwick) and The Republic of Ghana are countries 135 and 136 to knock on our door.

0111: Yes, it’s confirmed. Prezi seems to handle line-art poorly. Don’t sweat it for this round of portfolios. The important thing is to try a new presentation technique. We’re all learning together. Perhaps you can discover other alternatives? anyone? Hey, it’s kinda cool. Watch this video. And it gets even better.

Job Board Open: We’ll be soliciting graphics and multimedia projects from the school at large. If you’d like to participate, see me. Jobs link at top of page.

0112: Embedding and/or linking to your new portfolio. So easy a teacher can do it! Preserving the Old Site | Embedding the Prezi | Embedding (full-screen mystery) | Text Link to | Linking to Old Site | Fame and fortune for he or she who solves the full-screen mystery! (Okay, maybe just fame.) Christian L claims the prize but since it looks so much better hosted on let’s just link to the site. If you want to do both: Click.

Student WordPress Update: Mario Shamhmon | Kate Austin | Troublesome Game Design (Kyle, there’s no “supposedly” about it!)

Hey! Check the Job Board!

0113: If you’re interested, check out the Photoshop Top 40. Free at

Required: As it says in the 0108 update here, you’re required to have an avatar this week. See the instructions linked from the 0108 update. When finished, post a comment here (scroll down after clicking) to prove you’ve done it. Also, some people don’t like the look of the Prezi or on their index page. If that’s you, feel free to design an image and place it on your index page. Select the image and link (in Properties, just like making a text link) to Prezi or Important: NO! Under NO circumstances do I want to see your old InDesign site on your index page.

New Mac Lab Bloggers: Kyle Wheaton | Chris Canel and Kyle Rodenbo (collaborative effort)

Best of the Mac Lab Video + Galleries: I need to update both. If I forgot to grab your best work, let me know. Not sure? Look in this year’s galleries: Self Portraits | Logos | Posters | 3D Logos | Collaborative Projects | Illustrations | 3D Renders | Photography and Photoshop Galleries coming this weekend. I’ll accept submissions now. (Am I missing any categories?)

0114: Is this Arabic, simply beautiful, or both? Speaking of that…

Attention Mac Lab Light Painters: Click | Click | Click (Scroll down to: Best New Student Art Challenge of 2009) Several light painters have already stepped forward. (Don’t forget to submit your images to me.) There’s still time for you to join in the fun. A few cameras are available for this weekend.

New Mac Lab Bloggers: Alumni Lauren Carlton (now at UCSC) | Shaun Cunningham (transferred to Lakewood High School)

Reminders: Is your work in this year’s galleries? Self Portraits | Logos | Posters | 3D Logos | Collaborative Projects | Illustrations | 3D Renders (I’m also updating the Best of Video with the best of your submissions) The Job Board has unclaimed projects. Also, about 100 students still need to comment for avatar proof-of-concept. Go here and scroll down to see for yourself. (BTW, most of you made fantastic avatars!)

0115: Has anyone even tried this? Heck, it’s a brilliant idea for each month’s desktop pic! Six rotating projects for the remainder of the 0910 school year. Heck, why not create a Mac Lab Calendar for the 1011 school year? Lots of other project ideas on the Job Board. And I can’t believe that so few have played around with the Blob Brush! Polly want a project idea.

Last chance to submit avatars today. (Scroll down after you click.)

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Composition Competition Compilation Complication

by on Apr.10, 2009, under Blog

fruit_bowl_smKim L was commenting about how much she liked Aaron L’s bowl of fruit in this post and that made me think of Nicole C’s wonderful render from last year (she’s in Digital Arts this year) and that made me think of how the District doesn’t consider 3D to be an art class and that made me think of how unfair it is that 3D students are excluded from the Annual District Art Show and that made me think of the deadline for entries to the District Art Show (April 24). Whew, that’s a lot of thinking! Since I have only four (recognized) art classes, we are only allowed to submit eight entries (two per class). With all the great work already produced this year, many deserving students will miss the cut and I’m going to have a tough time picking the final eight submissions. I’ll let you know how I’d like you to submit when we get back from break but your work has to be pinned to a wall in the show so you have to be working at print resolution to even be considered.

Speaking of deadlines and contests and segueing into today’s final exam requirement, Layers Magazine just announced another Back Page Contest (May 7 deadline) which might be good practice as all students are required to design and print a CD (or DVD) front cover insert and the disc itself. It’s a self-promotional piece so you’ll be including your own name/logo and artwork in your design. The disc will contain your work for the year, something I require you to archive and preserve so you won’t be another of the scores of students who have contacted me after graduating asking if I still had their work (I usually don’t). I’ll provide one disc and one slim jewel case for each student and the first print for the insert and disc is free. Instructions and specifications will follow (but this isn’t all that hard to figure out). This is just a heads up so the assignment won’t take you by surprise.

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Fame, Fortune, and Digital Immortality

by on Mar.19, 2009, under Blog

830_final_final_smWhen opportunity knocks, answer the friggin’ door! Alex S delivered on the school’s poster for STAR Testing next month but I had to push him so hard throughout the process I’m lucky Child Protective Services didn’t show up to arrest me for assault. Now the push comes to get the students to actually try on this high-stakes test for the school. Our goal is an API of 830 (if you couldn’t tell) and the poster will be plastered all over Valhalla. The district will undoubtedly take note of the campaign and I’d be surprised if Alex doesn’t receive some type of official recognition for the work. Never a bad thing to add to the paper-thin résumés you’ll all be churning out in class soon (hint, hint). And speaking of that knocking you may be hearing right now, here comes a couple of more opportunities for all of you (yes, even 3D)…

Got Plans? is a huge district-wide event and they need a poster. Hannah J’s design was chosen two years ago (the artwork went down with a hard drive crash over the summer) and I see no reason why one of you shouldn’t win the contest this year. Here’s the requirements and here’s the winning design from last year. The deadline is noon, April 3, 2009.

Layers Magazine has another Back Cover Design Contest. See the site for details.

Unsure of what to do? Here’s some Instant Inspiration.

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The Secret of Identity Design

by on Mar.04, 2009, under Blog

dean_02_smI love watching kids work out their ideas. ARD allows me to monitor the entire classroom. I can see every monitor, offer suggestions, and sometimes help stragglers find their way back to the task of the day (with an invitation to spend a little extra time in the Mac Lab to pay for the transgression). A few days ago, this design by Dean S caught my eye. I suggested he use Illustrator’s Pathfinder (here’s a very simple introductory tutorial) to add the rounded elements to the D and N as well to see if that made the design more interesting. After a bit of arm-twisting, Dean finally came up with this. As much work as it was to get him to take that step (I had to threaten to do it myself and claim the design as my own – I know, I’m shameless), I’m wondering if he’ll consider playing with the shape of the D and N to see what they’d look like if altered slightly.

Back in the day, identity design was my favorite job. Logos, letterheads, business cards, signage – I loved it! I’d spend days tweaking a design, trying to find that magical place where it felt perfect. More times than not, the simpler it got, the better it felt. If I had Dean’s original concept, I’d run through a dozen or so variations to see how they’d change the overall look. If you’ve forgotten some of the basic logotype principles, refer to the tutorials on the CS3 page. For a much more developed (and different) feel for what I’m talking about, watch this video.

Yesterday, Justin from CartoonSmart posted about LogoInstant, a terrific new site that intends to post a new logo a day. (I’m interested to see if they can keep that up.) One caution, though: NEVER design your logo in Photoshop (unless you know how to keep everything in vectors). Use Illustrator! Look here for more logo links. The reason I’m reminding you, yet again, about your logos is that we finally have all the Hydroshield discs (CD and DVD), jewel cases, and ink for our CD/DVD duplicator/printer. Your final project in here, besides the online portfolio, will be to create your own demo disc. You do want it to look good, right? It all begins with the logo.

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