Monthly Archives: March 2017

Spot Tips and Work with Good Graphic Engineers

It is an unfortunate truth that in our society, engineers are underrated. Compared to the scientists, architects, and politicians they work with, the engineers remain relatively unknown and are just those behind-the-scenes ‘elves’ who hold the ship together.

Are engineers disrespected, under-appreciated, overworked? Is their role in society valued and rewarded? This debate is ancient, and it comes back into the light whenever something big goes terribly wrong. NASA scientists landed men on the moon, NASA engineers mixed up feet and meters resulting in the loss of an expensive satellite. You see my point.

What is A Graphic Engineer?

The design profession has it’s engineers too, and they are just as underrated as their sciencey counterparts. Their arena isn’t space tech or tall buildings, but rather packaging die lines and website code. I’m not talking solely about the production people, proofreaders, mechanical artists, programmers, etc., but rather those individuals who dedicate themselves to becoming Graphic Engineers. The Graphic Engineer (GE) is not identified by his job title or his skill with software, but rathey by his mindset, his personality, and his work habits. He is someone who views the world differently and approaches every problem from a slightly steeper angle of incident.

The GE is a valuable member of any successful design team, and a good engineer can make everyone’s job easier, but they’re not always easy to manage or to work with. Here’s how you might identify, and then accomodate your GE, to get the most out of him, and your team overall.

How to spot a Graphic Engineer

Is obsessed with Details.

Not just the obligatory ‘detail-oriented’ that every job description in the world includes, these people go above and beyond what most folks would consider ‘a closer look’. Spotting a misused Em Dash from 30 meters is just the beginning. Editor: One of the 15 signs you’re a bad graphic designer.

Values the methodology, sometimes over the results or the time frame.

Embodying the philosophy that “anything worth doing is worth doing right,” the GE will go out of his way to ensure that any process is done to the letter, including documentation and feedback, which often go overlooked. He’s the one most likely to create immaculate CSS style sheets, even if it’s just for an internal login page. Table styles in InDesign, layer comps in Photoshop? Most likely put together by a GE. Best practices, after all.

Never accepts good enough.

Along with his obsessive nature, the GE has an overdeveloped sense of duty, and never leaves a job unfinished. For that matter, he re-defines the word ‘finished’, and will take those extra precautions to ensure quality. After all, it’s his butt on the line when something goes wrong. Just like NASA.

Lives in a world that always needs fixing.

Rather than simply striving to make the world more enjoyable or more beautiful, the GE strives to solve problems, correct errors, and iron out all manner of wrinkles in the day-to-day of our profession. It’s a very blue collar approach to graphics but show me where the leak is.

How to get the most from your Graphic Engineer

Now that you’ve identified your groups GE (raise your hand if it’s you! – Editor: You got me spot on!) , you have to understand a few things about how he works. Because GEs are unlike regular employees, a bit of tact is required to get the most out of your engineer.

Give him space.

This is both physical and metaphorical. Clearly, all GEs work better with a larger desk, larger monitor, more sunlight and square footage, and an ergonomic chair, but at the same time, I’ve never met a GE who worked better with bosses hovering and peering over his shoulder. In fact, that’s probably the easiest way to get shoddy work when you need it most. (Editor: Amen)

Ask his opinion.

Personalities aside, GEs always have opinions. And those opinions are often based on independent research, industry knowledge, trial-and-error, prior experience, and good old fashioned gut instincts. In other words, those opinions are valuable and ignoring them simply isn’t smart. GEs want to improve their general situation (they live to fix leaks, remember?), so their advice is usually constructive. Also, ignoring those opinions can lead to bitterness, depleted productivity, and the wording of those same precious opinions and ideas.

Let him rant.

Since engineers are often under tremendous pressure, they may need to let off some steam. (pardon the metaphors) So let them. Do whatever you can to get the most out of your GEs, even if that means shaking things up in your studio. Ranting often brings to light feelings and thoughts shared by many members of the team but why not let your hardest thinker explain why the current situation has gone pear-shaped.

Learn from him.

The engineer is naturally a teacher. By providing knowledge, he helps elevate everyone around him and thus feels less aliented. Also, this makes his job easier because the rest of the crew is meeting him half way (or at least part way). Considering GEs are often well versed on the latest trends, languages, software techniques, and professional happenings, you might actually learn something when he pulls out the “well, actually” during a meeting.

If you’ve never spared a thought for the Graphic Engineer, now’s the time. Next you need him to tidy up a messy style sheet, extend a poorly cropped photo, or a revive hand-me-down Mac, show a bit of appreciation and understanding. Graphic Engineers are the glue that hold together the gears of the creative industry. Imagine your life without them.

Introduction and Inspection of Minimalist Design

Minimalism in design has been around for some time, and today it seems to be a welcome alternative to overly busy and unnecessarily cluttered websites, posters, ads, and logos. For those new to this art form, the concept of minimalism is mostly concerned with stripping away excess and strategically placing remaining elements. The result can be a calming, yet powerful design that is streamlined to convey its message. You can find minimalism in all art forms, from architecture to fashion to logo design.

To get the most out of a minimalist design, whether it be for something as small as a logo or large as a billboard, be sure to use the right elements correctly. Color, layout, white space, graphics &  typography all play an important role in minimalism. Below we look at these principles of design and how they relate to minimalism.

Minimalist Color Choices

In minimalist design, color choice is strategic and the amount of colors used, should be kept to a minimum. Black, grey and white are the most powerful colors and allow for a single accent color to have a greater impact.

All colors are acceptable if they are used properly; however, the colors with the greatest contrast are generally used together. Therefore, most designers choose bold and bright primary colours for minimalist design.

Effective Minimalist Layout

A minimalist design layout is especially challenging because every element with which you are working, is essential. Content for websites and posters should be laid out in such a way that the viewer can find what they need without much thought. In other words, the page should make sense.

White Space

Negative space serves to give power to the small bits of information that it surrounds. The greater the empty space, the more power an object within it gains. Negative space also serves to structure a group of elements and create balance.

Graphics

The use of images in minimalism is very intentional. Designers choose graphics for their effectiveness and in minimalist design use them when the image is more effective than a written message. Graphics should be used sparingly and strategically, and should be relevant to the topic.

Typography

Typography in minimalism should be just as strategic as any other element. In any design including minimalism, no more than two or three styles of fonts are appropriate. Many designs use one font for headlines, one for body, and possibly one for navigation on websites or for any special text or subheadings. Usually more than three types makes the design look cluttered and hard to understand.

Minimalism on the Web

In the last ten years, minimalist website design has become quite trendy. Unfortunately, some designers have misunderstood the idea behind minimalism and create web pages void of content that simply don’t make sense. However, at the root of the minimalist movement, great designers have created stunning websites that are not only pleasing to look at, but are also easy to navigate. While minimalist design is not practical nor thematically possible for every every website, those websites that can use it should take advantage.

Minimalism in the Media

Brochures, packaging, and ad campaigns have all seen their share of the minimalist design. However, it is in posters and logos that you see it really take hold. Many designers choose to use this streamlined design for everything from movie posters, to band posters, to ad posters. The reason for this is the effectiveness of conveying a strong message quickly and cleanly. Used correctly, minimalist posters are designed to use each of its elements to send one message. The result is usually a poster that is not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing.

Minimalism in logos

Minimalism in logos is an important concept, since the purpose of a logo is to be easily remembered and associated with a company. As a result, minimalist logos are often the most popular type of logo design since it keeps the logo simple enough to be memorable. The tricky part of a minimalist logo is to make a design that is easily recognised for the company it represents, while also reflecting the brand’s goals.

The best free tools and colors of Design online

Colour whether you like it or not, is one of the most important parts of any design or artwork. It has the potential to make or break your work and this is why I have compiled a list of the best colour tools online. You can use these sites to help you out as they implement colour schemes for you, provide resources and give you inspiration.

The Ultimate Colour Resource

 Colour Lovers – The ultimate resource in my opinion for colour in general. It is great for choosing a colour scheme and the site also monitors trends and gives power to its users. You can submit news, read articles & interviews and compare colour palettes and add comments. It’s great!

Choosing a colour scheme / palette

KrazyDad – Experimental Colour Picker

Etsy.com – A creative and fun way of choosing a colour

 Color Blender A free online colour matching system including palettes. You can choose one colour and then it suggest a cool blend for you.

Ficml.org Colour Wheel – An addictive and very colourful way of choosing a colour scheme.

Colour Schemer – This one isn’t actually free but definitely worth mentioning. It is a small program that implements colour schemes for you. I havn’t actually tried it myself but the screen shots look great.

 Photo Colour Matcher – This is quite a handy tool as it lets you have a picture and then it matches that picture to get a colour palette. Great for brochures or things that have to match around a central image.

Colour Matching Sphere – Another cool way to choose a colour scheme

Colour Inspiration

Stock Photographs – Use Flickr or iStockPhoto to get some colour inspiration. Try searching for things related to the piece of work you are working on.

 UrbanCowboy and 57Even – These are two of my favourite artists who use great colour schemes in their work.

Other Tools

Web 2.0 Color Palette – If you don’t know about Web 2.0 I suggest you check this out.A great tool for anything Web 2.0

A bit of fun

Some forbidden colour schemes

How room colours can effect your mood

Colour Theory – Great for developers

Quiz – A quiz to find out what colour you are.

Scariest Colours Imaginable – Speaks for itself.

Colours of the Top Magazines

Why Red is so powerful

Colourblind test – A test to see how colour blind you are.

Colours For Christmas – Palettes for that time of year.

How to Create a Poster Your design and experience

I want to share with you some of my poster design  work and the tips that  I  came across during the process.

Over the past few months I have been working for a Nightclub in Newcastle, Australia designing their in-house posters (you can see a few below) advertising different events held at the club.

The problem with designing these in-house posters was that I had to design them to be printed at A3 and A5 while also being able to be viewed correctly in a square format at 150 x 150 pixels on the web. This was quite a design problem, but I did learn a lot throughout this process.

The 3 posters above were the first ones that I had designed without any knowledge of poster design.

After reviewing these posters on forums and with other designers I learnt that the first 3 posters I had designed were too busy, and there wasn’t a clear hierarchy.

This lead me to do a bit of research on poster design (which I should have done in the first place).

In a nutshell, I found that an an effective poster should be …

  • Aesthetic – It should get attention so the message is delivered.
  • Focused – It should focus on a single message.
  • Ordered – The sequence should be well-ordered and obvious.

If you then compare the first 3 posters to the poster I designed after the research (below), you can clearly see the difference. The poster now has a clear hierarchy with DRU HILL being the main focus and the date as the 2nd focus. It is aesthetic, focused and ordered thus making it a successful poster.

On a similar note, I have just designed an invite for my 20th birthday. This year, I have a fluoro (it’s spelt fluoro not fluro if you didn’t know) theme for my party as fluoro is in fashion this summer in Australia. Below is the invite that I designed for it. I was influenced heavily by the electric style of the clubs here in Sydney, along with their random combination of images and vector graphics.

What are your opinions? I take constructive criticism well so fire away 🙂 It’s how you learn.

For further tips on poster design check out Effective Poster Design.