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November 16 2013

11:08

1963, l’America in Vietnam: nel profondo della guerra

All’inizio del 1963 più di 10.000 soldati americani furono spediti in Vietnam. In questa galleria le foto che la rivista LIFE ha pubblicato nel Gennaio del 1963 , “We Wade Deeper Into Jungle War”.

Tags: Style
10:55

Una nazione in adorazione di Adolf Hitler

Le straordinarie immagini a colori della rivista LIFE della Germania durante il periodo Nazista. La galleria completa su LIFE
Tags: Style
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05:36
Reposted bySchrammelhammelMrCoffeinmybetterworldkonikonikonikonikoniambassadorofdumbgroeschtlNaitliszpikkumyygittimmoejeschgeKameeel

June 04 2013

14:40

Android Stencil Kit: il kit indispensabile per disegnare su carta le vostre App Android

Si chiama Android Stencil Kit ed è prodotto da UI Stencil. E’ una griglia di metallo con tanto di matita e block notes dedicati per poter rappresentare su carta il prototipo delle vostre App Android. Se sviluppate sulla piattaforma di Google non potete farne a meno. Per gli affezionati di Apple invece c’è anche la versione per iOS.Costa 28,95 $ e potete acquistarlo sul negozio ufficiale.
DETTAGLIO
La griglia in metallo
BOX
La confezione con matita e griglia

May 16 2013

18:49

Vitsoe 620 Project di Dieter Rams

STYLE | Interni d’autore firmati Dieter Rams
Dieter Rams, Wiesbaden, 20 maggio 1932.il suo approccio al design è noto con la frase: «meno, ma meglio»
Da Braun
al design d’interni

Dieter Rams è conosciuto come uno dei designer più influenti della nostra epoca. Dagli anni 60 in poi, come responsabile del ha disegnato veri e propri oggetti di culto che, negli anni recenti, hanno ispirato il lavoro di Jonathan Ive e dei più grandi successi commerciali di Apple.

«Good design is as lit­tle design as possible»

Il contributo al design di Dieter Rams non è rimasto confinato solo agli elettrodomestici di consumo ma anche agli elementi d’arredo. Quella nella foto è denominata 620 Chair Program. Una poltrona singola o combinabile con altri elementi prodotta da Vitsoe e firmata Dieter Rams.

620 Chair Project
Una poltrona, molteplici forme

I singoli elementi, disponibili in diversi colorazioni, sono modulari e possono essere unite per comporre un divano. L’unica nota dolente è il prezzo. Ogni pezzo parte da un minimo di 3.500 dollari. Non per tutte le tasche. Ma per un pezzo di design del genere non ci si può aspettare meno. Potete acquistarlo qui.

620-chair-2

April 16 2013

10:51

Website Stencil Kit: il kit indispensabile per ogni webdesigner

Sarà che la carta continua a mantenere il suo fascino. Sarà pure che per le sessioni di brainstorming, scarabocchiare su un classico foglio è assai più produttivo del ticchettare su uno schermo digitale. Questo non potete perdervelo. Si chiama Website Stencil Kit ed è prodotto da UI Stencils. Il pacchetto è costituito da un block notes, una matita e un’utilissima guida in metallo che consente di rappresentare, su speciali fogli di carta, il wireframe di un sito web includendo l’iconografia più diffusa. Costa $26.95. Indispensabile e decisamente molto stylish da esibire per ogni designer che si rispetti. Sono disponibili anche una versione per iPhone e iPad.

Website Stencil Kit, guida + matita

Website Stencil Kit, guida + matita

Website Stencil Kit, dettaglio.

Website Stencil Kit, dettaglio

Stencil Kit per iPhone

Stencil Kit per iPhone

April 11 2013

13:13

WVIL Camera: l’evoluzione della fotografia digitale passa attraverlo il wireless

Il nome completo è Wireless Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens. È un concept di una futuristica videocamera digitale disegnato da Artefact. La particolarità di questa camera, oltre all’ampio schermo touch posto sul retro del corpo in alluminio e magnesio, sono le lenti intercambiabili che comunicano attraverso la tecnologia wireless con il processore della videocamera. In pratica si può scegliere la lente più adatta allo scatto che si vuole fare semplicemente poggiandola sul corpo della camera.

Inoltre è previsto un particolare dispositivo per rendere compatibili i classici obiettivi delle comuni videocamere Reflex digitali.

L'ampio schermo touch screen della WVIL Camera

L’ampio schermo touch screen della WVIL Camera

April 09 2013

19:12

L’inconfondibile fascino di un Mac in stile vintage

La composizione è di Ernesthon. Una scrivania dal gusto vintage e dal design che ricorda lo stile degli interni della metà del secolo scorso, tra la fine degli anni ’40 e gli anni ’60. Il piano del tavolo è in legno di noce mentre la sedia in teak.

Il monitor collegato a un Mac Mini nascosto nella parte posteriore della scrivania è un Apple Display da 27 pollici a cui sono abbinati una Wireless Keyboard e un MagicTrackpad. La lampada sulla sinistra si chiama 356+ BRASA e potete trovarla presso qualsiasi punto vendita Ikea.

La scrivania vista da dietro. La soluzione perfetta per nascondere i poco eleganti cavi.

La scrivania vista da dietro. La soluzione perfetta per nascondere i poco eleganti e inevitabili cavi.

Tags: Style

April 06 2013

13:07

Tree of Light di VormStudio

La lampada che nella foto si chiama Tree of Light. E’ un’imponente lampada da terra in legno e metallo di due metri d’altezza, disegnata dagli olandesi Anke Boelens and Renier Winkelaar di VormStudio. Forse non è per tutte le tasche. Ma chi non vorrebbe averne una nel proprio studio di casa?

Tree of Light di VormStudio

Tree of Light di VormStudio

Tags: Style

March 30 2013

15:05

Tivoli Remix, The Hansen Family

Si chiama The Hansen Family. E’ uno studio Norvegese che realizza elementi d’arredo di design col legno. E poi c’è Tivoli Audio che realizza prodotti audiofonici, in particolare radio. Il risultato del mix tra i due si chiama “Tivoli Remix”, questo mobile dal design essenziale e dal gusto molto vintage. Impossibile da non desiderare nello studio o nel salotto di casa.

Per chi invece ha meno pretese c’è Sound Sideboard, il fratellino più piccolo. Decisamente meno d’impatto ma pur sempre molto elegante da tenere in bella vista.

The Hansen Family, Tivoli Sound Sideboard

The Hansen Family, Tivoli Sound Sideboard

Tags: Style audio legno

March 02 2012

10:00

A Beginner’s Guide to Combining Multiple Fonts

Using multiple fonts in the same design can get tricky if you don’t have knowledge of basic theories and good practices. In my opinion pairing fonts is one of the most difficult parts of the design process. If you have no idea where to begin, then this article will guide you through the knowledge you need for now. Browsing the internet for tips about pairing fonts can get confusing, because there are many practices designers use. Therefore I researched a lot in the past couple of weeks and I will present you what is, in my opinion, the right way of doing this.

The question I get asked the most is “how many fonts should I use?” I always tell people this depends a lot on their aim and general design patterns, but usually I do not recommend more than two. In my opinion two is what you should go for, not more. This is because all fonts, like people, have a personality and an overall effect. If you use two fonts with total opposite effects, they will clash and this will kill your design. Too many strong personalities together can create an awkward atmosphere, it is the same with fonts.

However, even if I usually say two, there are no rules that say how many different fonts you can use. You just go for as many as you think it’s appropriate for your design. The biggest challenge is creating harmony between different typefaces, so the less fonts you use, the easier is going to be to achieve this harmony and create a powerful effect. You can always go for fonts with multiple weights and variants, but they also need to compliment each other at the same time.

Another question is “to buy or not to buy?”. It depends on the project. There is a reason why some fonts are free and some cost $100 for 10-12 variants. Quality is the main advantage of a premium font. Maybe some will not notice the differences, but experts will definitely appreciate a premium font more than a freebie. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying free fonts are bad, but there is a difference in quality. The difference is in the small details such as thickness, forms, white space and kerning.

Kerning may not be perfect in free fonts, because font developers do not put as much work into it – and why would they, as long as it’s for free and they don’t get anything out of it? There might be some tools out there, such as kern.js, which might help improve the kerning, but it is not very practical to do this for large bodies of text.

Although a limited number is recommended, if you can create harmony, use as many fonts as you wish.

Image by stitchindye.

Another advantage of using a premium font is the originality. If you pay for your fonts, there is a higher chance not many have and use that one, while using Arial or Verdana is something most beginner designers go for. Another thing worth mentioning is that by paying for fonts you also encourage the community and keep it going. Font designers will only continue their work if they can get something out of it and you are one of the ones who can pay.

If you ask me, I think you should buy fonts instead of using free ones. Quality has always been important to me – and I suppose it is to you too – therefore such a financial investment would make sense.

You should also think about what fonts you want to use before you go and buy them. If you use a typeface for headings on your home page, don’t use another one for headings on another page. Think of the main reason you choose a font for. Is it mainly body text or headings? Is it maybe a magazine for young people? All these details should be spottable in your font choice.

How to achieve it

Achieving proper font pairing relies on concord or contrast, but not on conflict. The fonts need to work well together thanks to some shared qualities or need to be different between some boundaries. Conflicts between them can be created if the typefaces are too similar and look just like one or are way too different.

To achieve contrast you will have to look for style (Blackletter, Monospace, Slab Serif, Script and so on), size, weight, form (proportions of a typeface are equally important – the length of the descenders, the curvature of the shoulders, the movement and its direction etc.) and color.

As in the example above, two fonts of different variants work really well together. Lucida std and Lucida Sans, developed by the same designer, work really well when combined. This is simply a classic one. A decorative font for the heading and a legible and simple one for the body – no way to fail here.

Let’s see some other good combinations.

Georgia and Arial, again.

Rotis Serif and SansSerif, typefaces by the same designer, work really well together as well.

You can see above examples where hierarchy is shown through size, but there are also other ways of doing it. Just look at the examples below.

Here the hierarchy is shown through weight, while both fonts have a 35pt size.

Both fonts have a size of 35pt and the same weight, but the color is different.

Impact and Calibri show a clear difference and create a visible hierarchy.

Now enough with the contrast. Let’s see what concord is about. Two elements with concordance suggest that a trait is spottable in both typefaces. It can be the kerning, proportions, cap height and so on. The easiest way to create concordance is to use fonts from the same family. You can see an example above with Helvetica used in both heading and body. A great typeface with concordance between variants is the Droid family.

It is quite easy to play around with the same typeface. Fonts from the same family create harmony together and this is also where I advice you to start playing and experimenting.

Not let’s see what the conflict is. Its name says it all; as said earlier, it is something you should avoid doing – pairing conflicted fonts will kill your design. The example below illustrates this concept perfectly.

Although they create contrast, as they should, this contrast is way too big. This is because the heading typeface is a Blackletter, while Helvetica is a neo-grotesque typeface. When combining fonts, they should always be from the same classification. I’ve seen some examples ignoring this rule which worked just fine, but let’s face it, it doesn’t happen too often. The proportions, weight and size are different. The curvature doesn’t look the same at all and the axes are off. Something quite easy to notice is the direction of the letters. While Blackletter fonts have a diagonal direction, the more modern ones are built vertically. There are just too many elements not working well with each other, the fonts are just not congruent enough, so in conclusion they do not work well together.

Bottom line

This article should be enough for becoming accustomed to the rules. It is only beginner course presenting you the three most important concepts in font pairing. Always keep in mind that us, designers, have to be creative and going over borders now and then does not do any harm, but don’t overdo it. Try being creative, but if you see it is not working, reverse back to something more simple and effective.

Font pairing is not easy. It required many of us years to master and some other ones even more than that. But it is from these three concepts we all started. Make sure you know them and are able to apply them in the field and learning to combine multiple fonts for the desired effect will be a piece of cake for you.

Until next time… what do you think about using multiple fonts in a design? Is it something you do often, or you prefer to stay out of it for now? How many fonts have you combined mostly in a design?

February 21 2012

21:00

How to Choose the Perfect Font for Your Needs

Comic Sans! I remember the days when I used to go with Comic Sans whenever I was confused about what font would suit my requirements. It looked like it was handwritten yet it was a font. You realize how wrong you were when people start criticizing your work. I was a kid back then so it was alright on my part to make mistakes and learn. But, once we enter the professional field we have to think twice before finalizing a decision. Same goes with fonts. The design of a font matters a lot in every format of text. It takes years of experience and plenty of intuition to develop that gut feeling required to analyze a font for a respective situation.

This discussion will cover some basic pointers that you must keep in mind while hunting for the best font for your upcoming design. Remember, at the end of the day, the end result must be aesthetically pleasing. 

NOTE - My examples and my text in this discussion might look overly simple but it has been done with a purpose. The whole idea is to provide you with an explanation using the simplest possible style. (Was this a disclaimer?)

Analyze Your End Result


Isn’t that obvious? You can’t start searching for the best font unless you are sure of the end market for that font. Jot down the kind of viewers that you are expecting. Will the readers of your website be night life lovers or white collar employees? All this depends on the type of content and your niche.

See, it is very easy to just decide on a font and go with it when your readership isn’t huge and you’re just starting out. It is later on that you will understand how much the wrong font selection can effect your site (after you’ve finished this article, there will be no reason for you to make bad font decisions). Once you understand your goals these tips will be more meaningful.

The White Space


Those who smiled after reading “The White Space” know exactly what I mean. A font that does not care about the spacing between two letters can mess it up big time for you. Tightly placed letters can confuse an eye and result in visuals that aren’t actually there. Properly calculated white space helps the eye to run as fast as the mental skills of the reader permits.

I don’t mean that white spacing must be taken care of all the time. There will be niches where the abrupt spacing of letters will give a high to its readers. But, such cases are rare.

Don’t Over Experiment


It will be weird if you opt for a font with uneven shapes and sizes just because they provide the artsy look you want for your text. If you end up with fonts that have artistic deformations then the reader’s brain will take more time to process the information. Like, the below image I tried to over experiment with fonts and you can see the end result. Total confusion!

The delay in time might just be enough for the reader to move on to another window. Something that you don’t want! Do you?

Headline Fonts aren’t Meant to be Paragraph Fonts


Get it? C’mon! Wasn’t that simple to understand? There are fonts that are designed for a specific purpose. Fonts that are specifically designed for headings. You use them for headings and the reader will be in awe of your choice of font. But, just because a font looks good as a header or paragraph font, that doesn’t mean the opposite is true.

A font designed for headings will never fulfill the purpose when used in paragraphs. Now get it? Huh!

The Classic Choices


Times New Roman might not provide your design with an over-the-top edge but it also won’t look terrible. These good old fonts have been around for ages and they have been used over and over whenever designers were confused about the right font.

It might not give you the high that you are looking for but sometimes these fonts are just enough (like the font selection in New York Times). Perhaps, they are the high quality font that will complete your design. You just don’t know yet!

Avoid High Contrast


So, how does contrast apply into the world of fonts? Wasn’t this supposed to be inclined towards the world of photography?

Enough kidding! By contrast I mean the difference in design of two fonts. It is suggested that you don’t use two completely different fonts on the same page and, moreover, next to each other. Please understand that it is the gradual change which is soothing for the reader’s eye. If you end up confusing the reader’s mind by drastically changing fonts at short intervals then it might just kill the purpose.

Designers have to choose fonts that merge with their design and not fonts that pop out and kill the design. Make sure you help the reader save time instead of wasting their time while they try to understand what is happening.

But, do get a Little Cheeky


Some of my above tips might prevent you from getting cheeky, but that does not mean that you are not permitted to experiment. Though you got to stick with the standard decision throughout the design yet there can be these occasional texts that will stand out and leave your readers wanting for more. Experiment!

The Magic Formula to Wrap this up


I guess we have already done plenty of reading over here so I thought why not submerge my traditional conclusion with the last (and the most obvious) tip. See, at the end of the day it will be your choice that will prevail so instead of thinking too much just follow the basic steps that you would follow in any situation (which is nowhere related to fonts):

  • Look for familiar fonts and create a list.
  • Look out for fonts that you haven’t seen before. You will have to dive into forums and various typography websites but the research will be worth the time spent.
  • Start playing with each font in your end result and see which suits your design the most.
  • Increase/Decrease the size of font and make them uppercase occasionally. See how they look.
  • Choose with your gut feeling.

Remember, if you like it then you will be able to represent it too. But, if you aren’t confident with your choice then you will find 10 critics killing your hard work. Be confident (and vigilant)!

November 28 2011

19:48

How to Find Your Individual Design Voice


  

In the design world, volumes have been written advising the newbs, and those with some established street cred, on the ins and outs of being a top shelf designer, and many of these posts will either be focused on or at least include a brief mention of finding your own voice. Your individual style that will give your work that unique and distinctive edge most crave. However, in stark contrast, there is actually very little offered or written on how to achieve this. Only mentions of its importance. Enter this post.

Hopefully this discussion will help you dissect your design approach to find your own voice that lays in wait beneath it. The voice that will aid your work in standing out from the others in the field who have flare and flash, but not individuality. Too often we fall victim to the trends in the community and begin following them without even attempting to make them our own. To inject our own flavor. Because, in all honesty, we have never really given it a try. Schools, businesses, anyone that offers to teach you design tend to only build you a framework, but so many of us forget that we are supposed to fill in the rest.

Here are some tips that we hope will help.

Step 1: Learn the History

Oddly enough, learning the history of the design field is actually taking a step in the right direction. If you want to get a rough and tumble introduction into the ins and outs, ups and downs of the design world, then look into its history. The beginnings of it all, the evolutions of the field and its practices is a fantastic place to gain that insight. Watch as the dominating themes grow and change over the years, shaping the field and pushing its progress.

Taking this sort of grand overview of the entire field and its history is also a great way to see where the field has failed to progress. What areas it needs to have people pushing the envelopes, as it were.

Resources

Design is History is a wonderful site to explore the field of design.

Interactive Design History Timeline is a unique and fun way to get an overview of the design up through the 1950’s.

Step 2: Learn the Basics

The learning doesn’t end there (it actually never does). The basics also need a little attention during this phase of your development. Learn the various design principles and the essential elements that all work together to breathe life into your work. There are fundamental rules that are used to guide the field and that designers are expected to know. And that we are expected to follow, to some extent. Some designers feel like they can skip over the basics, but that is a huge underestimation of all that they can teach you about design.

One of the main lessons that we need to take away from the basics is the communicative properties that these fundamentals possess. When we learn about these building blocks of design, it gives us the ability to use those blocks to their fullest potential regardless of our adherence to all of the underlying rules as we understand them. It effectively empowers us to be able to break the rules that guide our work.

Resources

Principles of Design is an in depth look at the fundamental and guiding principles that govern the field.

The Lost Principles of Design is a useful post from Fuel Your Creativity that examines these design basics.

Step 3: Forget Everything You’ve Learned

Once we have gotten all of the history and basics down, have learned all of the ways that our designs communicate with the viewers, and have an understanding of the rules, comes a fairly key step in developing a unique style and voice of our own. We have to forget everything that we have learned. Throw out the rulebook that we have been depending on, before it becomes something of a crutch that keeps us from daring into more innovative waters. Don’t mistake what we are saying, it is important to have this foundation, or framework in place. But too often we allow these basics to confine our creativity. To limit our potential as it boxes us in.

If we are going to find our own voice in the design world then we have to break out of the box and think for ourselves. The box is comfortable, sure. Full of all of the familiar, but that is not necessarily the way forward. That is more often than not, the way to stagnation as we play it safe. So on this journey we have to first build the framework before we effectively tear it down and rebuild it as we see fit. But without knowing how it all fit together in the first place, we might find it difficult to make it come together for us as we craft our own style.

Resources

CSS Drive Gallery – Unconventional Designs category has a slew of sites that you can check out to see the ways that some have broken out of the box.

Awwwards | The CSS Website Awards is a site dedicated to finding and featuring inspired, original designs.

CSSelite – Unique CSS Gallery is another CSS gallery site with a section that is dedicated to unique styles.

Step 4: Question Everything

Inspiration is a wonderful thing, and is something of a staple of the design process, but we have to remember that when we look at other designs, we need to be dissecting them. Digesting the piece and questioning every aspect and element of it. Design is, for all intents and purposes, strategic and artistic problem solving. Though there are those who might argue with that (especially the artistic part of the equation).

Through a thorough dissection of a design, we can gain a useful understanding of the reasons behind every design choice that was made in a piece. Armed with this knowledge we will be able to craft designs to fit any solution we may need. This will strengthen our design voice, so we should never stop asking questions.

Resources

Dissecting Web Design: The “App” Site is a great example of how we should begin to pick designs apart to find out ways we can learn from them.

Dissecting Web 2.0 Design is another fine example of getting into this questioning frame of mind.

Step 5: Be Weary of Trends

Trends are a powerful force in the design community, and as we set out to find our own voice we need to be able to spot those that we may be drawn to. Though it is not just about being aware of them, as much as it is that we need to beware of them. Trends are fine, and can always be beneficial to play around with and incorporate hints of from time to time. They can open up both our designs and our eyes to techniques and the like that we would have otherwise missed out on. Or worse, dismissed without mining it for potential. So we are not saying that they do not have a place, and one that can be construed as valuable in the web design world.

We just have to be careful is all. If we cannot distinguish the trends from variations on our own style, then we risk never truly being as original as we believe that we are. When we think we are breaking new ground, we are simply treading over areas that have already been covered. It takes some work to make a trend your own, as it were, and to seamlessly blend them into your style, but it can work. There are reasons trends take off, and it is usually because of the somewhat unique solutions they provide. Dissect those trends and connect with the reasons behind them and you are more likely to be able to distill bits of them into your own voice.

Just Google ‘Web Design Trends’ and you will be busy for quite a while

Step 6: Try

It may seem a bit trite, but when it comes to breaking out of the comfort zones and finding our own individual design voice, we cannot be afraid to just try. So often, we allow our fears to hold us back and prevent us from taking risks with our work. But if we never try, then we are certainly never going to find our own unique style. When we design, we should never be afraid to try something different, to explore a previously unheard of route to find the solutions we need. If we think of something to try, no matter how outlandish it may seem, give it a go. We might just find our way to something magical that we would have missed out on otherwise.

It is often hard to find a tale of someone in history who made a name for themselves in their chosen field by sitting on the proverbial benches never daring forward. We cannot be afraid of stepping into new areas and trying new things with our designs, or else we relegate ourselves to a place of near irrelevance. Design is about exploring ideas and finding those solutions that engage and mesmerize. If we cannot find new ways to keep the audiences attention held, then our work is not exactly a success. And often times the best chances we have at drawing them in, is by coming at them in a fresh new way. This tends to mean trying something different.

Resources

Tuts+ Network is a fantastic resource hub for tutorials that can help you gain more confidence in your skills so that you will go for it!

Web Designer Wall is a site where web designers can find some amazing tutorials and some trend info to be on lookout for. Great place to find new techniques and things to try.

Designers Toolbox is a valuable resource hub for designers of all flavors. When you get ready to try out your skills, this site can hook you up with some of the goods you’ll need.

Step 7: Fail

The biggest reason most of us are afraid to heed the advice just mentioned, is because of that fear we spoke of. That fear is often of failure. Which when you think about it, is really quite silly. For we tend to learn extremely well from our mistakes and our failures. If nothing else, we take away that we have what it takes to keep going and try again. But there is usually more that we end up learning from this failure. We find the incompatibility of certain elements and techniques with particular messages for instance. So failing is not something to be feared, but embraced if we are going to find our own design voice.

One way to think about it is like this. Almost every great feat of innovation that has come about, not just in design, but overall, did not work on the first try. There are often numerous failures that lead up to that one victorious moment of breakthrough. Each failure teaching a valuable lesson along the way. Pushing the innovators forward with each mistake, not setting them back as most would deem it. We also cannot discount the amount of accidental innovation that comes from failure. Wherein we stumble upon entirely new or unrelated ideas to pursue, perhaps for our current project or for a future one. So failing can take our work and style to new heights if we are not afraid of it.

Resource

How Failure Breeds Success is an amazing and inspirational article on the Businessweek Blog with examples of businesses that embraced and learned from their failures.

Step 8: The Criticism Schism

As we explore these new avenues to find a voice that feels right for us, we are going to need to get feedback from the community on our work to make the most of this growth. When the critiques start to come in, we need to recognize when criticism is genuinely constructive, and when it stems from those in the field who disagree with our breaking of the rules and daring off on a path of our own. Understand this will make some people uncomfortable, even feel challenged. Unfortunately, their criticism will generally not be that helpful to us in these cases. So it is vital that we be able to separate the two for your own sake and sanity.

It’s human nature, and the design field is subject to its whims just like every field is. When members of the design community, especially those who will always play it safe and by the rules, come across works that step outside the boundaries of what is generally thought of to be acceptable, they have a hard time seeing anything beyond those rules that have been discarded. So any innovation you hoped would engage your audience in a new way, is going to go right over their heads. Their critiques will all, possibly somewhat harshly, be connected to the principles or rules that you ignored. This can help you determine if their critiques are beneficial, or a bit biased.

Resources

21 Resources for Getting Design Feedback is a collection of wonderful places to turn for getting some honest and useful critiques of your work.

Web Design Criticism: A How-To is one from the old archives here on Smashing that will discusses how to give and in return take criticism of your designs.

The Art of the Design Critique is another great post that can help with the criticism schism aspect.

In Conclusion

So there are numerous steps that we must take to find our own unique design voice, and each of them are as important to the process as the one that precedes it. If we overlook or underestimate any of them, we undercut our journey to find our style.

Are there any steps that you feel should have been mentioned here that we left out? What was the hardest part of finding your own voice, or if you have not yet, which step do you foresee having the most difficulty with?

(rb)

May 23 2011

10:00

7 Ways to Create Your Own Unique Style in Design

Let’s be honest: the big secret to becoming a well-known and super successful designer is to have your own unique style. Sure you’ll bag some clients by perusing tutorial sites, but when you really develop your own style, that’s when you’ll own the world! For some, this is fairly easy, but for some this is a tough task. Well 1WD has compiled a list for you so you can  get started on creating your own unique style.

1. Take Your Own Pictures

Chances are, if you’re using a stock site (especially a free one), you aren’t the only one who has used that particular stock picture. While designers may have their own style, there’s something a bit unsettling about finding two different designs using the same stock photos. If you have the capability, go out there and take your own pictures. Digital cameras nowadays are becoming more and more affordable with better technology. This really allows you a chance to be unique by not just using original pictures, but your shooting technique may be something worth watching out for. A bonus for taking these pictures is the ability to offer something new to the design world. This can help contribute to your popularity by submitting your photos to stock photo websites and popular design blogs.

2. Use Your Scanner

I’ve seen many designers (including myself), who use this technique: when you are almost finished with a design and it still needs that ‘umph’, whip out some printer paper and draw some stuff on it, whether it be characters or scribble lines. Fire up your scanner and scan in it into your project. You can doctor up your image a bit by using your filters or by live tracing it in Illustrator. Either way, you get something that is entirely from you and represents your artistic side. Don’t just stop at drawing things either, scan in different textures or items. If it can fit, try scanning it! You never know what kind of effect or look running it through the scanner gives. Using this technique can give a design a very individualistic feel, whether you can draw or not!

3. Edit Your Fonts

Don’t get me wrong. There are a ton of great fonts out there, some of which are free. Font designers are also pretty consistent in releasing fonts, so there’s a lot to choose from. However, the truth is, when the design world finds a good font, we kind of latch onto it and it spreads like wildfire. Everyone uses it. In an attempt to change the monotony of typography, why not edit your fonts so the look may change a bit. Whether you decide to just change your tracking or leading or adding or subtracting something, make it your own. And what happens when you can’t find that PERFECT font? Make your own! You don’t have to create a whole type set, but oftentimes, when I feel stuck looking for that perfect typeface, I’ll just grab my pen tool and make my own font.

4. Use Other Design Programs

It’s pretty popular to use  Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator in the design world, and while are industry standard, you may not be able to do everything in them or at least get the look you are going for. Do some research and look for programs that are specific to the types of techniques you’d like to incorporate in your designs. Try pairing your designs with different programs such as Cinema4D or any other design programs. You have the potential to make really complex yet stunning designs people can’t try to copy by using just Photoshop. The outcome could be greatness!

5. Make Your Own Patterns

There are plenty of tutorials on how to create your own patterns, so why not make your own? If I am looking for some uniqueness, I will quickly and easily make my own patterns. Making your own patterns works the same way as snapping your own photos does. There are tons of patterns online and pattern designers (like myself) release designs almost constantly. Once one gets really popular, though, it becomes the new standard quickly. Creating your own can not only give you a sense of uniqueness, but if the pattern is really good and useful, why not release it and give variations of it to the world? Whether you decide to share or not, if you just use some creativity, you can come up with some crazy beautiful patterns no one has ever seen (or thought of) before.

6. Break the Rules a Little Bit

In the design world, there can be a lot of different rules about where to put what and how to make whatever. There are different styles that you can design within that may or may not have more rules than another. Break the rules a bit and create something you wouldn’t normally see. Blend different styles and forms and come up with designs that need their own category. Breaking the rules is really about being a trendsetter and creating a bit that people wouldn’t normally consider. Don’t go too nuts or try to reinvent the wheel, but use subtle differences that could mean the difference between one style and another. Taking the time to cultivate this technique could really end up being a part of your signature style.

7. Use Filters Subtly

This one is particularly for the newbies; when you get into your design program (we’ll use Photoshop as the example), it’s easy to want to use the filters and use them heavily. The result can sometimes end up being a very cheesy look, but I say use your filters subtly and see what you can come up with. Sometimes when using your distort filters and artistic filters lightly, you can end up with some really nice sophisticated looks. Some of those ‘cheesy’ filters when used lightly can create a pretty neat look!

This is just a short list, but the idea here is to just be as creative as possible! And as technology increases, try to incorporate as much as possible into your designs. If you are really working on trying to create your new style, try going into your design program and not use a thing that doesn’t belong to you. Create your own patterns and your own brushes and fonts. Don’t rely heavily on design resource aggregate sites to take your work to the next level. After all, that is someone else’s work which are just trying to pass off as yours. Do your own thing. No holds barred!

Do you have any tips and tricks that have taken your work from cookie cutter to standout?

July 21 2010

12:49

March 21 2010

10:00
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