With Adobe recently announcing their plans for Creative Cloud a notable absentee from the list of apps they’re pushing was Fireworks. The web/screen design tool has long been rumoured to be dropped by Adobe and it has finally happened, Adobe will be doing no more updates (aside from bug fixing) beyond CS6. This leaves a pretty hefty gap in the market in my opinion. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Design’ Category
I recently replaced my 6 year old Macbook Pro 17″ with a sleek new 15″ quad core MBP with retina display. Admittedly I wasn’t fully convinced on whether to go for the retina version or not, but I figured that its better to embrace new technology than to shy away from it – more machines will surely have retina displays as time passes.
A (not so) small problem
My first day using the new machine to design on hasn’t exactly filled me with confidence. Ordinarily I use Photoshop for almost all my web design work, so I began by setting up my standard sized document that I begin with – 1200 x 1200 pixels. At 100% zoom this takes up around a third of the 15″ screen. Its absolutely tiny. It’s so small in fact, that you simply cannot design that way. Fonts are illegible and its like designing on the back of a postage stamp. Easy fix, zoom in to 200% right? Wrong. While 200% zoom feels about right on the monitor, fonts appear fuzzy, images look like poorly compressed jpgs – its not a workable solution.
A (partial) solution
For new projects I’m working with a document at double size. It displays well on screen and can be saved at 50% size for anyone wishing to view on their non retina display screens. It works but it feels wrong. It feels like a hack. Not only that, it doesn’t work if you’re editing files that have been created on a non retina display. You’re either back to working at postage stamp size, or zooming in to a fuzzy mess.
I’m not sure what the solution is and to be quite honest I’m thinking it was a mistake to buy a retina display. If anyone out there has found any workarounds then please let me know as I’m a little bit lost at the moment!
I’ve done a little more digging on this and other than some users suggesting use another monitor (which is neither practical for me as a freelancer nor the type of solution I want having spent just shy of £2,000) or simply zoom in to 200% (which kind of ignores the issue), I haven’t found any real answers.
Interestingly, if you set up the same size document in Photoshop and Illustrator and view it at the same zoom (100%), the visual difference is huge, the Photoshop document is displayed at half the size of the Illustrator version. This makes absolutely no sense to me considering both apps are retina enabled.
With Adobe announcing their move to subscription based pricing for all their products last week I’m left wondering whether I actually need Creative Cloud? (more…)
Those lovely folks over at 123-Reg are currently running a ‘My First Website‘ competition and while I don’t hold out much hope of winning (writing has never really been my thing, I’m a designer – most of us can barely spell) I thought it might make an interesting post, so here’s my story…
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Netscape Navigator was one of the most popular browsers, I landed my first job as a web designer, despite the fact that I’d never even been on a website before. The year was 1999 and I was an enthusiastic 20 year old with a mission to redesign the internet (well, sort of). The subject matter for my first website project wasn’t particularly inspirational, an office park in Manchester – but I wasn’t going to let that hinder my progress. I started out looking for inspiration, trawling the depths of coolhomepages.com to see what was currently considered to be cool (this is pre-awwwards kids!) – without a doubt the site of the moment was hoover.com – an all singing, all dancing flash website that was visually streets ahead of the competition.
The decision was made, I was going to design something that offered a similar experience for an incredibly bland office park on the outskirts of Manchester – what could possibly go wrong? (I’m actually cringing writing this). Using my limited photoshop skills I started to put the design visuals together, a lethal combination of overlaid transparencies and drab office park photography- the lemon yellow I used is still burned into my retinas to this day!
To look at what I produced today (and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone) it would be considered a relatively straightforward website build, but back in ’99 I had designed a site that was incredibly difficult to code – transparencies and rounded corners were luxuries that web designers dare not use. The build was a series of nested tables and almost entirely image based (any front end developers reading this will be wincing), there was no responsive layout, no @font-face and no CSS! Still, at least I didn’t include a mouse trail (big at the time).
The Saving Grace
Fortunately for me and you the readers there is no trace of the hideous yellow beast that I designed. It was redesigned many years ago and in the best interests of my design career I opted not to keep the design files or indeed any reference to that project. Its clear that I’m not particularly proud of my first project but I’ve learned that that is a good thing. If, after 14 years I looked back on a project and liked it then it would show a huge lack of progression and development on my part – sometimes I can barely even look at work I completed a month ago without thinking of ways I could improve it!
There always seems to be one obsession in my life, up until recently it was The Walking Dead TV series but that has now been replaced by an amazing digital art program called ArtRage.
Initially after leaving school I went on to study illustration, followed by design so I guess it makes sense that I still have a desire to create non-commercial pieces of art. I’ve tried many times to get back into both sketching and painting but something always stops me – either forgetting my sketchbook or just not having the time to set up the necessary equipment. After completing a recent digital painting project in Photoshop I started looking around at alternative solutions. Photoshop was just way too cumbersome for the task – step forward ArtRage.
So far I’ve had the demo of ArtRage 4 for just 48 hours but I’m completely blown away by it. It just works exactly like it should – I didn’t need any tutorials to get up and running. The best thing I can say about it though is that it feels like painting, from the texture of the canvas to the paints mixing together. It just feels great to use.
If you’ve never tried ArtRage and have any interest in making art I would highly recommend it, it’s around $50 to buy.
Here’s a quick painting of Ted Danson* that I did…
*Ted Danson should have been Hellboy.