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Photoshop App Slicey: Best Thing since Sliced Bread?

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 23, 2013

Slicey © MacRabbit Web designers still working in Photoshop: rejoice. Begian app development firm MacRabbit has created Slicey (formerly Layer Cake), an app which exports layer groups from Photoshop files as independent images. The app works as a drag-and-drop: users drag an existing Photohop document to the app to have the layers exported. The app even recognizes tags, permitting the user to label a group with the appropriate tag (such as PNG). Slicey even trims the transparency of the exported image. Even better, Slicey can export Retina 2x versions of graphics created from vector shapes and effects.

The app is easy to use, and MacRabbit’s website includes downloadable PSDs which demonstrate the various export effects.  MacRabbit and Slicy have a friendly, informative interface – just what you’d expect from a company which derives inspiration from its pets.

Brought to our attention by @aisleone

Mixed Reactions to Adobe’s Creative Cloud™ Subscription

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 22, 2013

Adobe® Creative CloudTM logoIn the three months since Adobe® announced it’s discontinuing its boxed version (and perpetual license) of Creative Suite® products in favor of a cloud-based subscription service, reactions from professional creatives has been mixed. The move provides both a deterrent to the rampant piracy of Adobe® software as well as a more stable revenue stream, since currently many users are unable or unwilling to pay for costly upgrades. Adobe® has bundled significant additional features in with the Creative Cloud™ software sets, including integration of a personal portfolio site via Behance® Prosite, integration of Typekit® webfonts, syncing of personal settings, tutorials, and more.

A cost analysis of the individual plans show that for Adobe® product users who purchase upgrades frequently, the cloud subscription service will lower costs initially. CNET calculated that the Design Standard boxed set would cost $1,648 for the initial cost and one upgrade, versus $1,800 for three year’s worth of Creative Cloud™ – and that would include eight additional software packages (such as Premiere Pro®) and online services.

For those users who skip version upgrades as a savings tactic, the new model will be more expensive. (This savings tactic may have been on the way out. Adobe® attempted to offer upgrades to CS6 only from CS5 and 5.5, but after a firestorm of criticism, changed the policy in January to permit upgrades from CS3 and 4). Digital Arts calculated that the tipping point on Cloud subscriptions – the point at which the monthly subscription becomes more expensive than a perpetual license – is 26 months for a CS6 Design Standard and 38 months for the CS6 Design and Web PremiumCS6 Design and Web Premium. Students are impacted the most; the tipping point for CS6 Design and Web Premium Student and Teacher Edition is just 20 months at the student subscription rate.

The backlash against Adobe® resulted in an online petition asking Adobe® to “Eliminate the mandatory Creative Cloud™ subscription model.” Protesters have a number of concerns beyond the pricing structure, including worries that Adobe® will hike up the monthly fees at any moment, and concerns about Internet connectivity, access to files, etc. (Adobe® has addressed many of the misconceptions about the Cloud model in their “5 Myths about Adobe Creative Cloud™.”) As of mid August, the petition had gained 38,000 signatures. Some users have been turning to alternatives to Creative Cloud™ and Adobe® products.

Adobe®, however, has been on track with their projected subscription levels since the release of Creative Cloud™. In a mid-June MacWorld article, Adobe® reported a total of 700,000 subscribers, and expected to reach their target of 1.25 million subscribers by the end of 2013. So far, Creative Cloud™ seems to be a success as a pricing model. But as a solution for piracy, the jury is still out; one day after the official release of Creative Cloud™, a torrent link to a pirated copy was uploaded to The Pirate Bay. Reports are that the copy works fine.


Adobe® Creative CloudTM totems

Putting a Face On It – Inside Book Jacket Design at Random House

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 30, 2013

Chip Kidd & cover art by Seth in Inside Random HouseRandom House has posted a series of videos highlighting recent publications and giving an inside peek at the publishing house. One of their most recent uploads features some of their most noted art directors speaking on The Art of Cover Design. The video offers intriguing insight into their approach, as summarized by Robbin Schiff: “Our job is not to illustrate the book. Our job is to intrigue the consumer, set the tone, set the stage…” Key to their process is thorough research, including meeting with the editors, interviewing the authors about what their mindset was as they were writing the book, and closely reading the book manuscript.

While each art director brings his or her unique sensibility to the design process, they all take inspiration from the author’s words. The process is very intuitive; Chip Kidd describes getting a feel for a typographic versus illustrated versus photographic solution for a particular work. Sometimes surprising elements are incorporated. Peter Mendelsund, the designer of Stieg Larrson’s The Girl… trilogy, describes using a photocopy of his daughter’s hair in the cover design for the Girl Who Played with Fire.  The insight into the arduous process of repeatedly revising the designs, often working in tandem with illustrators, is priceless.

Brought to our attention by @brainpickings

Below: In the video, Peter Mendelsund, Chip Kidd, and Robbin Schiff discuss the process behind the design of selected book jackets.
Random House book covers

Creative Freelancers Conference: Recaps & Resources

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 29, 2013

Miss the Creative Freelancers Conference in San Francisco this summer? There are a number of wonderful blogs posting links to recaps and resources. Guild member Cedric Hohnstadt posted on his blog a brief summary of the conference, as well as a list of articles written by conference presenters, and recaps from other attendees. The list includes some real gems, such as a link to Jessica Hische’s “The Dark Art of Pricing” article, as well as a recording for daily podcasts from HOWLive published by the design blog 36 Point.

Cedric cites the Pinterest page of Ilise Benum, the conference host, as the source for many of the links. The page features images repinned from a number of attendees, and gives a nice peek at the conference goings-on. Another good resource is the Creative Freelancer blog associated with the conference. The blog has published  articles written by  conference presenters with common sense advice, such as 7 Ways to Keep the CFC Momentum Going by Tom Tombusch and a video interview with Sara Horowitz of the Freelancers Union on How Not to Become Extinct.

Pantone Clock: Watch Time Pass By in a Rainbow

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 26, 2013

Pantone Clock - mobile © Pretty KlicksScottish web design and online marketing firm Pretty Klicks has created a lovely way to watch time fly by. The Pantone Clock displays a full-screen clock which cycles through sequential Pantone swatches on the minute. Stefan Pretty of Pretty Klicks credits with New York City-based UX designer Yona Lee with the original idea. In her Behance portfolio, she posted comps for a similar Pantone clock, but one in which the time displayed would match the Pantone swatch number (so that 2:14 would show Pantone swatch 214, for example). Pretty Klicks has plans for the clock, including a mobile app, and is soliciting comments via their Twitter feed.

Pantone Clock © Pretty Klicks

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