This Blog Life
This Blog Life
This Blog Life
This Blog Life
This Blog Life

    What is a magazine?

    According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the organisation that gives the official tally of who sold how many, the digital version of a magazine isn’t a version of its print sibling if it has ‘five percent less content or fifteen percent more content than the physical edition’. I see the logic behind this – […]

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    Cropped fluro penny

    Invisible ink – still lots of fun!

    I bet at least some of you experimented a little with invisible ink when you were young. Lemon juice was my chosen method, because it was easy, but mainly because I didn’t really know anything else. It dried clear, but heating the paper brought out the writing or drawing in brown. It was good, schoolboy […]

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    Video vs text? Fight!

    What’s the future of text? I’m going to be talking about this at a seminar in October, and it’s a fascinating subject. But right now I’m thinking about something a bit different: as things go increasingly digital, will video take over traditional magazine content? Strange question. Here’s where it came from: an ex-student of mine […]

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    Tattoo design

    Would I get a tattoo? I don’t have a specific thing in mind, but the concept is an interesting one: can I come up with a design that I’d like to apply to my body? Something that I can’t change, at least not at all easily? That’s a tough one… as a designer I’m used […]

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    Digital skeuomorphism

    Skeuomorphism is probably not a word you’ve heard much in your life. Not until summer 2011, anyway, when it took the Mac world by storm, thanks to Apple’s design retro-realism in key parts of Lion and iOS5. A skeuomorph is, in a nutshell, something that retains ornamental design cues to something that was necessary in […]

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    Signage design is a creative challenge

    Where are you going? I don’t mean in the metaphysical sense, that’s too deep for right now. I mean do you know what direction you’re facing, where you should be heading, that sort of thing? When did you last glance at a sign or a map? Some people have what’s called a ‘good sense of […]

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    Book binding tips, tricks, advice and secrets

    I love what’s possible in digital design and production, but the truth is there’s something that digital products lack when compared with print. This missing quality is tactility, the effect of touch and physical behaviour as a part of the overall experience. Even in print this is all too often forgotten as a part of […]

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    Print effects without ink?

    How can you print without using ink, without applying some kind of colour to a surface? There are two processes that come to mind: embossing and die-cutting. They’re not generally options we get to play with as a rule, but that’s no reason not to look into the possibilities. Embossing can be done with print […]

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    White space is not a lazy designer’s excuse

    There’s a handy saying that I learned many years ago: “when in doubt, leave it out”. It was said about writing, encouraging people to cut out superfluous waffle, and it is something that’s well worth remembering. It could also be said about designing, particularly when it comes to page layout design. White space, sometimes called […]

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    from Kaufmann-Mercantile - show-card-writing-1942

    Comic book and showcard fonts

    One of the first projects I give my Magazine Publishing students involves creating an eight-page graphic novel, done in teams of two. They can use any story they like, anything from a re-imagining of the Jonathan Livingston Seagull story to their bus journey to college. The main focus of the assignment is production and project […]

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    QR code - blobby, big

    QR codes: enter the matrix!

    Quick Response (QR) barcodes are more interesting than you might think, so it’s worth considering them. Just make sure they work as expected before going live… You’ve probably seen a QR code, even if you don’t know what they are or do. QR codes are basically a two-dimensional form of barcode, with data encoded in […]

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    Walk, Don’t Walk

    The curious life and times of Ampelmännchen I’m in Berlin as I write this, and I’ve noticed something curious about the pedestrian crossing signals here; there are two distinctly different kinds in this city. Both are the expected red and green silhouette variety, but the ones in what was the GDR-controlled East Berlin are curiously […]

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    Gill Sans Bold Extra Condensed

    Creative Design Briefs

    In which Keith explores the answers to a question and finds confirmation in a particular typeface design… I was asked an interesting question the other day. “Do you believe that creative briefs hinder the artistic mind?” This had the feel of a set question, and it turned out that this was the case; it was […]

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    Paper Planes: Fly me to the moon…

    Paper planes are a fun design exercise – and they’re even heading into space! Recently, purely for my own interests and obsessions, I’ve been putting together a new iPad magazine about longboards and longboarding. That’s very exciting, but there’s something special about working directly with real, tangible, non-virtual paper. Not just by putting ink on paper, […]

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    iPad layout 1

    No natural affordances in iPad mags

    No natural affordances: big problems with digital magazines. The world is going crazy for digital design and publishing. And I have to put my hands up and admit that I’m a fan and a part of that. Creating layouts for the iPad is exciting; there’s a sense of liberation from some of the traditional restrictions […]

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    Bass featured image

    Static graphics vs animated media

    There’s more to creating good animations than most designers think, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. In my experience, many designers — perhaps most of us — harbour a secret desire. No matter how into our particular form of creative mark-making we are, there’s a part of us that wants to work with moving […]

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    stop signs

    Type is the clothes our information wears

    Typefaces dress our words and tell the reader what kind of thing to expect. Like clothes, the typefaces we choose help say things about the words before anyone even begins reading. The thing is, while we all have our favourite bits of clothing, things we feel particularly comfortable or confident in, we don’t wear the […]

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    Preflighting: boring but important

    Know more about preflighting than your software or you’ll get caught out. Grammar purists, look away now; this is all about a word that’s made its way from composite adverb to standalone verb. Preflighting is the act of going through a series of important checks before committing yourself. It originated in the flight industry (hence […]

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    Graffiti creativity

    “Graffiti is a creative art form.” “Graffiti is destructive vandalism.” “Graffiti is gang-related.” “Graffiti is about individual expression.” Which of these statements is true? The reality is one, some, all or none, depending on which particular graffiti you’re talking about. Yes, there’s a lot that’s just territory marking, but there’s also work that is individual, […]

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    Beach 3 - corrected and masked

    Hanging in the (white) balance

    White balance can make or break a shot, so take the time to understand its foibles When is white not white? That’s a trick question, by the way. I’m not about to try and prove that white is black, but this is a serious issue. What colour something is – or, more precisely, what colour […]

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    Airline safety card designs

    On a recent trip to Turkey I realised something: there’s one thing that you’ll find on every commercial airline flight you’ll ever take. No, not dodgy food (some flights don’t serve any, which can be a hidden blessing), I mean those airline safety instruction cards that are tucked into every seatback pocket. These show graphically […]

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    20 Sketch books with MessagePad

    Digital sketch books – can they work?

    Can the iPad really replace the designer’s traditional paper sketch book? If you’re a designer, the odds are high that you use a sketch book. If you don’t, you should. Sure, you can use your Mac to throw together all sorts of ideas, but there are two important reasons why Illustrator, Photoshop and whichever DTP […]

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    19 euro examples

    Design a new character for a typeface

    Designing the character behind the face. Of all the design discipline specialities, typeface design is probably the most monastic. Creating a new font takes skill, serious attention to detail, and a perseverance that a medieval monk would respect. Not only do you have to consider the aesthetics of stroke weight, overall form, and the effect […]

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    18 CD covers 06 - kaibara87

    Art Therapy for design block: The CD Cover game

    What do you do if you find yourself staring at an empty page, unable to get your creative juices flowing? Design block is no fun, and it happens to all of us on occasion. Fortunately, one of the best ways to shake people out of a creative slump involves a no-pressure, pure-creative bit of fun. […]

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    Freelancing and internships

    Negotiating the minefield of how much to charge and judging the morals of working for nothing. This is the time of year when new graduates are waking up to the fact that they’ve finished their courses and are starting to get worried about that big question: what do I do now? You have your portfolio […]

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    Paper facts and recipes for discerning designers

    Graphic design processes are almost always about putting marks on surfaces, and those surfaces are almost always paper. We take this medium for granted, but do we really know much about it? We talk about ‘dead tree publishing’, reject the paperless office concept by consuming tons of the stuff, recycle it (probably not as much […]

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