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Communication Design

The Challenge: Draw a Letter a Day

Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 28, 2013

Draw a Letter a Day, © The Weekend Lab

 

Need a quick creative break (and coffee just won’t do it)? The Weekend Lab is hosting a fun project, Draw a Letter a Day. Visitors to the site are invited to draw a designated letter on screen, download it to their computers, and submit it to either The Weekend Lab’s tumblr page or tweet it to @TheWeekendLab. The project’s tmblr page shows a charming range of letter ideas, from a stick-figure A to a Dino-the-dinosaur D. Since the letters are drawn on screen, each has a wonderful hand-drawn quality.

The project was designed by Savannah College of Art and Design graduate Andrew Herzog, and has already appeared on Best CSS. If you’re interested in participating, dive in soon. The project launched on October 23 and, with one letter appearing per day, is due to complete by November 17. As of Monday, October 28, they were already up to the letter F.

Images © The Weekend Lab.

CARE for Sandy, One Year Out

Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 25, 2013

Care for Sandy before & afterOn the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, it's fitting to revisit one of our favorite charities — one which creatives with good Photoshop skills can assist. CARE for Sandy (Cherished Albums Restoration Effort) was started by creative director Lee Kelly in response to a web post about a wedding photo which washed ashore after the hurricane devastated Staten Island. While tracking down the photo's owner and offering her restoration services, Kelly realized she could tap into her network of colleagues to organize assistance for other owners of damaged photos. On November 10 — 11 days after the hurricane slammed the metro-New York City area — CARE for Sandy was launched.

In the year since then, the organization has conducted numerous scanning events in Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, accruing a backlog of thousands of photos in need of repair. Over 550 volunteers have contributed their services so far, removing spots, grime, and scratches, repairing heavy water damage, and even rebuilding entire areas of the photos that have flaked or torn off. To date, over 1,100 photos have been adopted for restoration by volunteers. While CARE is not at the moment running scanning events, families or individuals can submit scanned photos to the organization by following their submission guidelines.

The CARE for Sandy website offers numerous resources for potential restorers or those with damaged photos. Amateur restorers intent on building their skills should visit the website's Restoration Toolbox. It features a number of how-to videos on clone and heal tools, color correction for restoration, and masking tips, as well as guidelines on avoiding painted or noticeably artificial results. For those with photos that are  stuck to their frames, or have become "photo bricks" – photos that are stuck to each other once dried, or maybe even still moist, creating a solid “brick” of photos — the website has posted Salvaging Tips.

Moving forward, CARE for Sandy faces significant challenges. One is finding restorers with advanced retouching skills; as the website’s before and after gallery demonstrates, many of the photos require restoration skills which verge on the magical. Another obstacle is the abandonment of restoration projects (often with no communication) by volunteers who either become too busy or realize that their projects are too advanced for their skill set.

As an incentive to lure volunteers, the build-your-own-website company (and Kelly's webhost) virb has extended a discount of 50% for three months to CARE for Sandy volunteers. An additional incentive is a commemorative exhibition being planned for as early as this Spring, which will showcase the volunteers’ retouching skills. (CARE has received an impressive amount of press coverage – yet another perk for volunteers.)

While CARE has about 150 active volunteers at any one time, they are actively looking for more assistance from qualified individuals. Individuals interested in assisting can register online. For those wanting to see a sample of the kind of restoration work which is required, the website has posted ten “Adopt Me” galleries categorized by priority and skill level.. Kelly can also use help for a number of activities beyond photo restoration, from printing and framing photos for families, to creating content for CARE's news blog and contacting photo recipients. After countless hours of running CARE for Sandy, Kelly could also use a bit of personal assistance. As an experienced freelance creative director, she's always looking for paid work herself. After all, someone needs to pay the bills.

Above and below: some samples for CARE for Sandy photo restorations. Images © CARE for Sandy.

Adobe Reports Cyber Attack Breached Information for 2.9 Million Customers

Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 04, 2013

On October 3, Adobe reported that cyber attacks enabled attackers to download the customer data of about 2.9 million customers, including customer names, encrypted credit or debit card numbers, and expiration dates. Adobe does not believe that decrypted credit or debit card information was removed from the Adobe systems.

The attacks also permitted the removal of source code information on Adobe products, including Adobe Acrobat, ColdFusion, and ColdFusion Builder. While Adobe isn't aware of any "zero-day exploits" targeting Adobe products, they recommend the use of only supported versions of the software.

Adobe is resetting the passwords of affected customers, and has sent an email notification to those users with instructions on changing passwords and Adobe IDs. Adobe is also contacting customers whose credit or debit card information may have been compromised, and has notified banks processing Adobe customer payments. Federal law enforcement has also been contacted by Adobe.

Adobe has posted a security announcement on their website, as well as a blog post on the illegal access to their source code.

Copyright Office Closed for Government Shutdown

Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 02, 2013

Because of the Government shutdown, the Copyright Office is closed as of October 1st, 2013. While you can continue to use the online electronic copyright registration system, your copyright registrations will not be processed until the Office reopens. We'll keep you posted on when that happens.

Pushing Pixels: A Fresh Approach to Incorporating Photoshop into Web Design

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 27, 2013

Photoshop workflowIn the past couple years, since web developer Ethan Marcotte’s call for responsive web design, web design has seen significant changes. For designers coming from a traditional print background and accustomed to working within fixed dimensions, the developments in web design have posed a significant challenge to their traditional way of working. Web designer and educator Ian Yates addresses the limits of developing website layouts within Photoshop in his article, Photoshop's Role in a Web Design Workflow.

In the early days of website development, Photoshop, with its robust tools for building layered graphics from scratch and its familiar interface, was the natural software choice for designers. With a limited choice of screen resolutions current, many designers worked assuming a fixed dimension based on the most common screen size. The workflow went from presentation of a static comp, rendered in Photoshop, incorporation of client feedback into the comp, and development of the website based on the final approved design. This workflow wasn’t perfect in that it ignored the inherent fluidity of websites and range of browser window sizes, but it functioned well enough.

With the advent of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, a workflow that begins with the dimensions of the website – what Yates termed “establish a fixed canvas and work inwards.” Responsive design requires “thinking from the content outwards, not the page boundaries inwards.” Additionally, working from a static Photoshop layout gives clients the expectation of pixel-perfect fidelity, and doesn’t take into account the flexibility of web typography and browser-rendered page elements.

Instead, Yates proposes a fresh approach to web design which incorporates Photoshop, but isn’t reliant on it. In his workflow, the designer begins with a planning stage in which the relationships between content are sketched out and further developed in wireframes. Photoshop is utilized to develop the colors, textures, and visual elements of the website. The final step is to develop a working prototype of the website. Yates includes several links to resources for each step in this workflow process.

Yates’ article appears on the website, Tuts+, a hub of articles and tutorials on design and illustration, #D and animation, game design, development, audio and video production, and more. Tuts+ offers a wealth of resources for creatives at no cost – many of their articles and tutorials are openly accessible. More extensive tutorials are also available on Tuts+ Premium at a cost of $19 per month.

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