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  2. If you want to stay competitive in today's workforce, you'll need to constantly be educating yourself. And unlimited knowledge is exactly what you'll get with SitePoint Premium Courses: Lifetime Subscription. With this subscription, you get premium access to a massive collection of courses, e-books, tutorials, and more on all different kinds of topics. Whether your interest lies in blockchain technology, JavaScript coding, web design, or project management, you'll find training opportunities to learn important skills. Increase your employability in the workforce, and become a better employee at your existing job. Enjoy unlimited downloads, and get immediate access to new content when it becomes available – new stuff is added every month. Try SitePoint Premium Courses: Lifetime Subscription for just $39.99 (£31.47). Related articles: Customise sites with these responsive WordPress themes 28 outstanding examples of CSS Why you really do have time for creative side projects View the full article
  3. Today
  4. There’s no hiding it: we’re genuinely excited about the talk Sarah Parmenter will be giving at our Generate London conference on 19-21 September. She’ll be addressing a subject that’s increasingly important in our industry, yet not often talked about. “[I’m looking] at how everything we’re learning about social media at the moment needs to be wrapped into web design,” she explains. “I believe this is as important as learning about responsive web design was back in 2012 or 2013. Nowadays, we have to understand marketing strategies and there are loads of other elements to our jobs that are growing beyond just dealing with code.” Of course, some companies think social media means they no longer need a website at all but Parmenter dismisses these as outliers. “The majority of firms still recognise the need to have a website; a base of their own online,” she says. “However, the sea-change we’re experiencing is more about the decreasing effort that people are putting into that base.” Changing client priorities Clients, in short, are moving their priorities away from website maintenance and more towards Facebook advertising. “But what they don’t realise is that the whole thing needs to work together,” she points out. “It’s not enough to just have great Facebook advertising, for example, if the call to action on your website doesn’t instil confidence in someone to buy your product. So the whole thing feels like a house of cards at the moment. If it’s not all lined up properly, the whole lot falls down.” Keeping everything working together properly is an increasingly onerous job. But it’s one that’s mainly being dumped on web designers. “The job has been growing into a beast,” she says. “Most of the people in this industry love what they do. But we’ve been bolting on all these extra facets to our jobs, and we’ve not really been putting our prices up in line with the new skill sets that we’ve had to learn.“ “For example, when responsive web design arrived, everyone was really excited about it, but it was really hard work. I remember having to sit down and relearn everything: it was like when we went from tables to CSS layouts. Yet no one’s rates really went up in line with that.“ “And nowadays, I feel like understanding marketing strategy and social media, and how we actually design for that, is another bolt-on to an ever-growing job title that doesn’t really reflect the totality of what we do any more.” In fact, she’s not even sure whether the job title ‘web designer’ is still useful. “Employers keep adding to it,” she complains. “I’ve spoken to so many web designers at conferences whose boss has told them: ‘Our social media account is on the web, you’re the web person, you’re now our social media manager as well.’ And they’re like ‘Wait? What? How has that been rolled into my job title?’” It needs the whole industry to collectively say: ‘Right, we’ve been too cheap, too long’. People need our skills, so we all need to collectively understand just how much goes into what we do these days, and collectively raise our rates. Sarah Parmenter So what’s the solution? “It needs the whole industry to collectively say: ‘Right, we’ve been too cheap, too long’”, argues Parmenter. “People need our skills, so we all need to collectively understand just how much goes into what we do these days and collectively raise our rates.“ “That’s a very difficult thing to do, of course, and I don’t have any easy solution to how to go about that. But we need to face up to it as a profession; this isn’t a problem that’s going to go away.” In the meantime, her talk at Generate London will be full of real-world advice on how to make our web designs work with social media. “It’s a practical talk,” she stresses. “It’s about how to look at audience insights, how small changes to the way you work can help you add value. Essentially, I want people to be able to go to their boss and say: ‘I’m doing all these things and I’ve identified a brand new market that we should be targeting: please can I have a pay rise?’” This article was originally published in issue 309 of net, the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers. Buy issue 309 or subscribe to net. Want to hear more from Sarah Parmenter on making the most of social media? Sarah Parmenter is giving her talk Digital Marketing Strategies for the Busy “Web Master” at Generate London from 19-21 September 2018 If you're interested in learning more about marketing, make sure you've picked up your ticket for Generate London from 19-21 September 2018. An award-winning designer with clients including Adobe, Ellen Degeneres, Apple, Blackberry and News International, Sarah Parmenter will be delivering her keynote – Digital Marketing Strategies for the Busy “Web Master” – in which she will discuss the idea of quarterly website design reviews with a “design once use everywhere” mantra. She will also dig into the ever-changing world of Instagram algorithms, Facebook marketing and topical social media takeaways for immediate implementation. Generate London takes place from 19-21 September 2018. Get your ticket now. Related articles: 10 must-have social media tools for artists and designers 15 power tips for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram How to create a killer social media campaign View the full article
  5. Yesterday
  6. What are the best wireless headphones out there right now? With so many products available, choosing the right earbuds can become tricky – so we've done the hard work for you (if you call trying out headphones hard work, that is) to bring you a list of the best wireless headphones available right now, for a range of different budgets. Whether you're looking for in-ear, on-ear, over-ear or noise-cancelling cans, we've got the perfect option for you here – and the best prices, too. Which are the best wireless headphones? If you’re looking for a great all-rounder that will suit most scenarios, we think the Optoma NuForce BE Sport4 are the best wireless headphones you can get right now. Coming in at under $100/£100, these earphones provide the perfect balance between cost and quality – and they're great for sport, too. If you've got a bigger budget, we'd recommend the Sony WH-1000XM2 wireless headphones, at number three on this list. But the right wireless headphones for you will depend on what you want to use them for, and how much you have to spend – which is why we've curated a wide range of options below. How do you choose the best wireless headphones? Before buying a new pair of wireless headphones, first think about what sort of situations you want them for. If you’re looking for the best headphones for running, sport or working out, for example, you'll want them to be waterproof and have a decent battery life. You'll also need a secure but comfortable fit, and you might want the ability to let ambient sound through – to keep you safe from traffic or muggers. If you’re searching for the best wireless headphones for gaming, meanwhile, you’ll be more concerned about latency, and what happens if power cuts out mid-session. Above all else, you’ll need to know the cost – and whether they will actually work with your hardware. To help you make the right decision, we've highlighted the best wireless headphones across a range of different categories. Read on to pick the right ones for you... The best wireless headphones right now When it comes to the all-round best wireless headphones, Optoma's NuForce BE Sport4 earbuds are our top pick. These are a rare find that do it all, at an affordable price – and they boast a stylish design, too. They were actually crafted specifically with exercise in mind (so they're technically our best wireless headphones for sport, too) but that doesn't stop them from being a brilliant set of everyday wireless headphones. In fact, it only makes them better as they come fully equipped with extras you wouldn't usually find in other non-exercise specific models, without the extra cost. For example, these bad boys are fully waterproof, so you don't have to worry about the weather. They also have a decent 10-hour battery life, and will give you two hours of use with just a 15-minute charge, which is handy if you're about to head out. If you prefer the sound quality of the BE Sport4 without any of the cords, try Optoma’s new true wireless form factor: BE Free8 and BE Free5 in-ears. But for the best balance of build, audio quality and price, Optoma's brilliant Sport4 wireless headphones are our winners. The best in-ear wireless headphones If you're looking specifically for in-ear wireless headphones, you might choose the Optoma NuForce BE Sport4 earbuds (at number one in this list) – but if you've got a little more cash to spend, try the excellent Sennheiser Momentum Free Wireless Bluetooth earphones. These headphones are amazing value, offer durability, can connect to two devices simultaneously, and provide some of the best audio of any headphones we’ve tried, at any price. And with high frequency up to 22,000 Hz, you get a great balance between bass, mid and high ranges. Competition for the best in-ear wireless headphones is tough, of course. Prices range from what you might spend on a latte, right up to what you’ll pay for a tricked out MacBook – so we've keep things under two hundred bucks here. Alternatives include the excellent sounding RHA T20i; 1MORE’s flagship Quad Driver in-ear headphones; the more expensive Optoma NuForce HEM6 wireless headphones; and for truly wireless earbuds, the Jabra Elite 65t True Wireless headphones. The best over-ear wireless headphones When it comes to over-ear wireless headphones, Bose and Sennheiser both have horses in the race – but it’s Sony that comes out tops, with the company's superb WH-1000XM2 headphones. For just under $300/£300, you get hi-res audio that will make your ears sing, fantastic noise-cancellation, 30 hours of battery life and Sony’s Smart Listening tech, which adjusts audio based on ambient sound, should you still wish to hear what’s going on around you – when you're talking to colleagues, for example. They also boast cutting-edge gesture controls (which take a little getting used to). Of course, this all comes at a price, but if you're after great-sounding audio and loads of brilliant features, the Sony WH-1000XM2 cans are the best over-ear wireless headphones you can get right now. The best budget wireless headphones Our pick for the best budget wireless headphones are the TaoTronics TT-BH07 IPX6 Waterproof Wireless headphones, which deliver the best overall package, at an exceptionally affordable price. For less than $20/£20, you get a great looking, good-fitting set of headphones, with an IPX6 rating, which means they'll cope with the very worst the elements can throw at you (and they also sport magnetic ear buds that connect handily together when not in use). These headphones feature technology that you see in headphones well over £100, and decent Bluetooth connectivity. The sound isn’t as good as more expensive options, but at this ultra-low price you’re getting a bargain. (Want an alternative? Try the RHA S500u headphones, which have a narrow soundstage but sound ridiculously good for the price.) The best wireless headphones for gamers The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless headphones are a little pricier than gaming options such as the Corsair VOID Pro – which do a great job for under $100 / £100 – but they're well worth the extra spend. They don’t try and shout their way to the top with garish neon and flashing lights, and have a more stylish and minimalist aesthetic than most gaming headphones – which should appeal to designers as well as gamers. But it’s the sound that will ultimately blow you away: the Arctis Pro Wireless headphones provide hi-fidelity audio that's unsurpassed in this price range, improving your overall gaming experience, and enabling you to steal a march on your competition. One major downside, though, is the fact they only support PS4 and PC (leaving Xbox One owners out of luck). The best wireless headphones for sport While the NuForce BeSport4 earbuds (number one in this list) get our vote for the best wireless headphones for sport, a better value option is their little brother, the Optoma NuForce BeSport 3. These headphones give you nearly all the benefits of the newer model, but at a lower price. The only real difference between the two is the BeSport 3 headphones offer slightly less range. However sound quality is unsurpassed at this price point, they're water-resistant up to IPX5 and boast a 10-hour battery life (again, with a 15-minute quick-charge providing two hours of playback). Bear in mind that high-impact sports require a really secure fit to keep the buds in your ears. The angled nozzles on the BE Sport3 let you insert the earbuds deeper for a better fit. You also get a range of eartips, so you should find a fit you'll like – and there are even wing tips to keep the earbuds stable during exercise. The best wireless headphones for iPhone With its AirPods, Apple has created another game-changing product, packing a huge amount of tech into two, standalone earbuds – or pods. Both pods contain a microphone, providing crystal-clear audio when dictating or making a call. And this is important, as AirPods have to work seamlessly with Siri, because with no buttons, you have to rely solely on your voice to control them. For this reason, we wouldn’t recommend them for any products outside of the iOS/OSX ecosystems, even if they can connect to them. No other headphone has this amount of integration with Apple’s OS, and – as is usually the case with Apple – a huge amount of thought has gone into how people actually use them. On top of this you get five hours of listen/talk time (increased to 24 hours using the charge case), a quick charge time of 15 minutes for every three hours, and great sound. There’s no noise cancellation, though, and it’s a one-size-fits-all approach (which won’t suit people with particularly small or large auricula). However, with its AirPods, Apple has managed to make ear buds a desirable object, which is no small feat. Read more: The best laptop for graphic designers 20 tools that make freelancing easier The best iPad stylus in 2018 View the full article
  7. Thinking about a career in design? Then there's some stuff you should probably know before you make that choice. You know, the things they don't teach you at design school. To get the lowdown on what life's really like in the creative world, we spoke to 10 designers, all at different stages of their careers – each of whom shared something they wish someone had told them before they entered the industry. The best laptops for graphic design in 2018 The advice ranges from the practical (about experimentation and failure) to the forthright (about being a knobhead and not getting laid much), as well as the things people never say about colour theory, the hard truth about not liking what you do, and the fine art of shutting up. Yes, these are 10 things you should definitely know before you become a designer... Lead image: Med Badr Chemmaoui 01. Read the books, then ignore them "Read all the design books," advises SomeOne founder Simon Manchipp SomeOne founder Simon Manchipp says it's important to know design isn't just a job. It's a vocation. You should never stop thinking about it. You also need to not chase the money: chase opportunity. Learn how stuff is done "the right way." But know how to do it your way. "Read all the graphic design books," Manchipp says. "Then ignore all the design books." But perhaps the most important thing is this: "The best design comes from not thinking about design but about people." 02. You’re learning a craft, not just a lifestyle. Peter Saluk is manager at New York studio Karlssonwilker – which recently gave its website a smart redesign. Saluk stresses that design is a craft, something you learn and hone throughout your career, not just a lifestyle. But this doesn't mean you should put the blinkers on. "All your outside interests will inform your practice," Saluk says. "Keep your outside interests." All this ties in with one thing they should definitely tell you before you become a designer: "If done right, you’ll be wrong a lot of times." 03. Do it like Picasso Marta Yarza is creative director at London studio Yarza Twins. She says it's important not to feel frustrated if your early work isn't very 'ooh'. Nobody became a designer in a day. It's a process that takes years. Which is why Yarza is particularly fond of Pablo Picasso's famous quote: "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." "My advice is, before you become a designer, do design yourself, experiment, try new things and don't be scared of it," Yarza adds. "Try to mix disciplines. Try to bring something new into the industry, and always try to add a value to our society through your work." 04. Create your own opportunities Not waiting around for opportunities has led Ana Abreu to exciting projects, like this one for the government of Schiedam Ana Abreu – aka Humana Studio – is a Portuguese designer working in Rotterdam. She says travel is important for designers: "By experiencing new cultures, your design will evolve in a way you never expected." This leads onto the one thing she wishes somebody had told her. "Don’t wait for someone to give you an opportunity. Create your own opportunities." Once you have a chance, it's important not to let it slide. Never stop working hard, Abreau says. "Be different and stay creative." 05. It's the best of jobs, and the worst of jobs NotOnSunday director Trev Townsend says it's important to know you're not the only designer in the world. In fact, there are millions of designers, all keen to get ahead. "Therefore it's super competitive," he says. "It’s the best job in the world when you work with great people and it’s the worst when you work with dickheads." The key thing every new designer should be told is to put the work in – and keep putting the work in. "For me, it’s just about enjoying what we do, as we spend a lot of time doing it. Oh, and always do self-initiated work. It’s so valuable in all stages of your design career." 06. Everybody thinks they can do it "You're entering one of the few industries," Mark Richardson says, "where everyone thinks they could do your job." Richardson – aka Superfried – says you have to stand your ground and remember the client hired you to solve design problems, not to make whatever picture they already have in their head. "Always question the brief," he says "Don't assume that the client has actually ascertained the source of the problem and knows what they require to solve it – that's your job and the reason you've been hired." 07. Know when to speak up and when to shut up Daniel Greene is creative director Wolff Olins. He says: "Learn about empathy. Grow a thick skin. Have the courage to speak up and the good sense to listen." This is about getting the balance right; knowing the difference between being assertive and being pushy. "Confidence is infectious," Greene says. "Over confidence is not. Take comfort from the fact anxiety strikes everyone. Enjoy the victories and learn from the defeats. Aim for progress, not perfection." Last but not least, he says: "Always be kind." 08. You don't have to like it Craig Oldham had to learn the hard way about being a designer – which is fully documented in his brilliant book Craig Oldham's new book OH SH*T WHAT NOW?! is full of things they should tell you before you get into design. But the Manchester designer says one thing immediately comes to mind. And it's something that took him a while to figure out: "What I had to learn the hard way – and I'd put serious money on other folk too – was that, as a graphic designer, you don’t have to like the work for it to actually work. And that’s the most important thing: that it works. Tough, but true." 09. Don't be a knobhead Chris Myers, senior creative director at LOVE in Manchester, says there are a few things you need to know: Firstly, the work doesn't always explain itself. "You need to be able to tell the story of your work. Be articulate and clear, and make sure you bring your energy into the room." Secondly, it's important you don't look at design in isolation. "If your passion is design, and you spend every waking minute only consuming design magazines and blogs – like a lot of creatives – you’ll only see things through a design lens. In other words, your work runs the risk of going unnoticed." And, lastly: "Don't be a knobhead. Design is important, but it’s not life and death. Try and retain a sense of humour and don’t take yourself too seriously." 10. You won't get laid much There's a ton of stuff Fredrik Öst wishes somebody had told him before he got into the industry. Öst is founder and creative director of Snask in Stockholm. "You're getting involved in an industry full of people who bullshit," he says. "Make sure you're not one of them." When you're starting out, it's easy to become overly defensive about your work, but try to relax. "You won't really be able to defend your design in a rational and sober way until you're experienced enough to not give a fuck about how you come across." And there's one more thing. Maybe it's down to the deadlines, the late nights, the weekends, or maybe it's not as glamorous an industry as people think it is, but Öst wishes somebody told him what he learned: "You won't get laid much." Read more: The best free graphic design software 10 great examples of graphic design portfolios Why graphic designers need to master UX View the full article
  8. Is Edel Rodriguez Donald Trump's most hated artist? That was a question asked by Hollywood Reporter back in February 2017 – and the answer is most likely yes. Trump supporters to vote on Space Force logo The Cuban-born illustrator has unleashed a devastating visual commentary on US politics since Trump was elected president. He's imagined Trump melting, as a baby surrounded by nuclear warheads and burning American flags. But it's his provocative covers for German magazine Der Spiegel – Trump dressed in a KKK hood; Trump decapitating the Statue of Liberty – that have ignited public outrage. Illustrator Edel Rodriguez in his studio Rodriguez arrived in the US as a political refugee at the age of nine. He didn't speak English, so drawing became a universal language. And over two decades later his ability to transcend language and background through bold, simple graphics remains a hallmark of his work. At Cape Town conference Design Indaba, where we caught up with Rodriguez, he was described by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut as "an artist who reacts in real time to events we see on the news and translates them into indelible moments of social commentary". Here, we find out how a small and personal campaign of online graphics spread to the covers of magazines before ending up at protests around the world – and how Rodriguez became part of the story. You're the most prominent illustrator of the Trump era. What is it about your work that's caught the world's attention? Following the Charlottesville tragedy, Rodriguez depicted Donald Trump wearing a KKK hood for Der Spiegel magazine Edel Rodriguez: I don't think the world had ever seen a president quite like Trump, so they didn't know what to do, what to say, how to confront it. There was a lot of shock about what was going on. When people are in shock, they sometimes freeze, trying to figure out how to react. Trump's actions were a barrage, a constant, daily attack on everything democracies were accustomed to. When my visuals started to appear, confronting this man, I think there was a release of emotion and outrage. It gave people something to hold up, to throw back at the cause of their angst. People had had enough, and these images gave them the weapons they needed to fight back. The fact that major magazines like TIME and Der Spiegel were publishing the images raised it to another level. Some people were probably wondering if they were alone, but the magazines confirmed their outrage was rightly placed. What drives you to create such politically charged images? What is it that you hope to achieve through your work? Edel Rodriguez for Time magazine: Total Meltdown I have very immediate, guttural reactions to abusive behaviour. If I'm walking down the street and see someone being taken advantage of, I'll most likely do something about it. I've chased down purse snatchers, thieves, things like that. My father is the same way. I spent a lot of my youth on a tow truck with him, and he taught me a lot about right and wrong. He would talk back to shady characters, drug dealers, etc, if he didn't like what was going on. I've witnessed a lot of wrong things in the United States over the last two years: the mocking of a veteran, John McCain, and of a handicapped journalist, insults aimed at the parents of a dead soldier, disgusting language about women, and I'm just reacting to it in the same way. My main goals are to inform people who might not follow the news as keenly as others, encourage those who want to fight against what's going on, and to stop this president's behaviour from becoming normalised. In your view, which of your illustrations has been the most powerful or provocative? America First grew from Rodriguez' outrage at Trump's Muslim ban The America First cover for Der Spiegel, which shows Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty. When the Muslim ban was announced I was outraged. Banning people from entering the country based on their religion, while they were travelling – as the planes were in the air – is the behaviour of a dictator, of a tyrant. It's not what America should ever do, especially with the country's long history of welcoming people who have been persecuted because of their religion. I had a prior image that I'd done of a terrorist with a knife, beheading himself, a comment on ISIS's level of violence. As a reaction to the Muslim ban, I took the existing terrorist image and pasted Trump's head on it, along with the beheaded statue on one hand, and the preexisting knife on the other. I was comparing him to an extremist, who had killed the American Dream. I posted it online and it received a lot of attention. A few days later, Der Spiegel called to give me a cover assignment on the Muslim ban. I did a number of sketches but none were quite there. They saw the beheading image I'd posted and said they wanted to run it on their cover. I made some minor revisions and they went ahead and published it. Before the magazine was on the newsstands, people began downloading it from their Twitter feed and printing giant posters of the image. It appeared at airport protests that night and the next morning, and led to a lot of newspaper articles and television coverage. The biggest challenge was dealing with film crews, radio stations and journalist requests, all of that. Plus dealing with all the angry messages and hatred from people that disagreed with the cover. How much of your work is driven by a desire to show that the US is still a place where people can speak their minds? An illustration for a New York Times article on gun control and gun violence in the US Most of my political work about the country is driven by this motivation. I believe in the ideals of this country, and I'm thankful for all the freedoms here. I want the world to see what is possible here: the idea that one person can directly confront the president, can comment freely on what's happening, and isn't imprisoned for it. This isn't possible in many countries around the world. At a craft level, how do you make images that all people – no matter their education, background or language – can understand and relate to? Rodriguez’ Newsweek cover on sexism in Silicon Valley had people tweeting in shock I don't have a specific process; it varies according to the topic and the assignment. Sometimes the idea arrives out of thin air, fully formed; other times I end up doing numerous pencil sketches until I find the right direction. I do want my images to communicate to everyone, regardless of their visual education level. Sometimes I feel that designers are making things to be seen or appreciated by other designers. The visual language becomes very abstract, or multi-layered, and the point – or the communication – is often lost. For me, communication is key, communicating to everyone directly. The art is in the service of the idea. This is why the images are so graphically simple, why some elements repeat from one image to another. I've now created a familiarity within the visual language, and want to get to the idea as directly as possible. Tell us about your alternative cover for Fire and Fury… Edel Rodriguez’s alternative Fire and Fury cover When the book came out, the cover visuals were very flat. I started getting messages from people saying I should have been asked to do it, or wondering what I would have done with the cover. I don't like to have questions hanging out there – I wondered what I would have done with it myself. So I made a book cover design from an idea I had after the neo-Nazi torch march in Charlottesville. The original sketch had a large Trump fire coming from the tiki torches, which I removed and replaced with a landscape of Washington DC. I posted it on my Twitter account, expecting a small reaction. Instead it's the most shared image I've made – more than the magazine covers. Many people downloaded the image and pasted it on their books because [they] didn't want to look at the existing one. Fire is a recurring theme in your Trump illustrations. What does it symbolise for you? Edel Rodriguez for Time magazine: Year One He's like a wildfire: unpredictable, jumping from one place to another, dangerous to the country. I've used fire in a lot of my work going back many years. I grew up in Miami around race cars, pin striped flames, paint and body shops, and so on. My family was in the used car and junkyard business, and I loved hot rod races. I think that has something to do with the visual. How does working in such a politically and socially charged environment affect your mental health or outlook? Hate In America, for TIME, captures the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy I have a fairly even keeled and content personality. Not much affects me or brings me down. I have an ability to stay calm throughout all of this; it's my nature, I guess. I also value free speech greatly and respect another person's right to have an opinion, even when it's full of vulgarities or insults. I've never been involved in an ongoing project where I felt [like] I was on the right side of history more than I do now. I have no doubt about it. This is about what is right and just. When you have justice on your side, nothing affects you. You just move forward. What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into creative activism and has real passion to encourage change, but doesn't know where to start? Edel Rodriguez for Der Spiegel magazine: The age of fire and fury If you feel a calling to speak up about topics that move you, then just go for it. Don't ask for permission; don't wait. Put it out there and see what happens. Have empathy for others and speak for those who can't. Make work at the service of others. You may be surprised at how many people will connect with it. This article was originally published in issue 280 of Computer Arts, the world's best-selling design magazine. Buy issue 280 here or subscribe to Computer Arts. Related articles: How to design the perfect political poster New straight-talking designs come up trumps Can Melania Trump be best at logo design? View the full article
  9. One of the biggest challenges in business is finding time to get everything done. Following through on strategic goals requires time, and time can often seem in short supply. There are plenty of productivity tools that profess to help you work more efficiently. And some of them do help, but there are also things you can do to without turning to tools. 22 ways to boost your productivity Managing distractions is critical if you’re to get everything done that you need to. Unfortunately we live in a world filled with interruptions. Smartphones might be very empowering but they can also be incredibly distracting. One of the unfortunate by-products of having a computer in your pocket or on your wrist is it can feel as if your mind is being pulled in a thousand directions at once. Getting into a ‘flow state’, where you become so absorbed in a task that time seems to evaporate, improves your productivity hugely. The secret to maintaining this state is to put a stop to interruptions so that you can keep the flow going. Carving out time for flow helps hugely. Identifying potential interruptions and then establishing strategies for managing them is key. Here’s how to get started finding your flow state. 01. Switch off your notifications Develop a strategy to help compartmentalise notifications. You can begin to build a barrier around your productivity by managing alerts, wherever they occur. A good place to start is switching off vibrations, silencing audible alerts and removing those ever-present little red badges that annoy you with their ‘something’s urgent’ calls to action. 02. Don’t start the day with email With your notifications tamed, it’s time to turn your attention to email, messaging applications and social tools, all of which are equally drawing your focus. Of course, these communication tools are vital to keep everything flowing smoothly, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t compartmentalise their usage. If at all possible, try not to start the day with email. Dealing with email first thing in the morning has the potential to derail your day, destroying your productivity. Checking email – even if you don’t reply right away – can play on your mind, overtaking your subconscious, rendering it very difficult to get anything worthwhile done. 03. Don’t check email all the time Setting aside ‘do not disturb’ time for email – not just for evenings but during the day too – can help you focus on core goals without your mind being interrupted. Checking email mid-morning and mid-afternoon gives you uninterrupted periods you can use to get things done. 04. Take care of critical tasks first Set aside timeboxes for critical tasks at the start of the day. This gives you the mental space to focus on important goals, before distractions creep in. If you can hit a milestone early on, so much the better: this will give you a welcome morale boost. 05. Try ‘timeboxing’ Timeboxing is a time management strategy that compartmentalises activities, ensuring you make the most of the time you have available and maximising your chances of achieving flow. This technique can help you build a schedule that defragments your day, giving you space to focus. By timeboxing activities you can manage time more effectively and maximise your productivity. This article was originally published in net, the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers. Buy issue 308 or subscribe. Web design event Generate London returns on 19-21 September 2018, offering a packed schedule of industry-leading speakers, a full day of workshops and valuable networking opportunities – don’t miss it. Get your Generate ticket now. Read more: 8 simple productivity tools for designers 9 ways to smash UX on a small budget 10 time-sucks for creatives and how to minimise them View the full article
  10. Volunteering for your community is a noble aim, but how many of us actually follow through and take part? In an effort to get more people involved, an amazing new piece of London street art encourages you to 'Do It For Others' – and it's pretty compelling. Created by mural artists Graffiti Life, in collaboration with papercut artist Poppy Chancellor, this five-metre-tall mural in Ebor Street, Shoreditch is the largest ever piece of papercut art to grace the walls of the capital. The massive mural displays two pairs of piggy-backing women, illustrated in Chancellor's distinctive fun-loving and energetic style. It's an empowering image that perfectly sums up the playful attitude of the project. Poppy Chancellor and Kayleigh Dyer strike a pose with the finished mural Supported by volunteering champions NCVO, the mural also contains a call to action to help prospective volunteers turn their ambitions into reality. "A lot of people might feel that they don’t have the time to volunteer, however even if you give your time once a month or once in six months that’s still a huge help to an organisation," explains Graffiti Life project manager Kayleigh Dyer. "I think if everyone volunteered even a little part of their time it would really improve society as a whole. That’s why I’m so passionate about it.” This positive approach meant that Chancellor's papercut art was perfectly suited to the project. "I really love her work and wanted the mural to show that volunteering can be fun and empowering, rather than something you just do for your CV," Dyer adds. "I’ve been a really big fan of Poppy’s work for a couple of years now after finding her on Instagram, so it was a dream to have her on board." If you're out and about in London, you can find the mural on Ebor Street in Shoreditch, just opposite Shoreditch House, until Sunday 19 August. Alternatively, you can see how the giant papercut was made by watching the video below. Related articles: Adidas mural celebrates young football legend 22 incredibly cool design office murals Banksy murals remember an American art legend View the full article
  11. Do you use Wordpress to power your website? If so, you'll be able to get a lot of use out of Visualmodo WordPress Themes Mega Bundle. This bundle features 31 different and versatile themes in a wide variety of categories, giving you plenty of options for your site. Even if you don't have much experience building websites, it'll be a breeze to use Visualmodo, thanks to the auto-updating and cross-browser compatibility. Download new themes quickly, and customise them in no time at all – so they can go live in a jiffy. Streamline the process of building your brand new website with Visualmodo WordPress Themes Mega Bundle for only $29.99 / £24. Related articles: Top tips for building a WordPress theme 23 great examples of WordPress websites 40 brilliant WordPress tutorials View the full article
  12. Concept artists play an important role in the development of video games. They’re the bridge between the art director's vision of the game and the artists who produce the in-game assets. They're responsible for making sure that the concept art tasks follow the designated production schedule; showcase the established design pillars that have been established early on; and track down relevant production information from other departments if this is missing. Just what is concept art? As a lead concept artist, my team and I face exciting and fun challenges every day. Not only do we need to embrace the technology changes within the digital painting process and learn new software, we're also expected to continuously grow as artists by practising traditional drawing and painting techniques. Here, I want to discuss in detail the role of a concept artist within a video game production, and the significant impact this role has on the game's finished look. Hopefully it'll inspire you to channel your efforts into breaking into the games industry, or if you're already a busy concept artist, help you to up your game! 01. Know all the art pillars Concept artists need to know all the visual benchmarks Concept artists are the link between the art directors and the 3D artists. We have the crucial role of reinforcing the established art pillars through our work and having daily conversations with the 3D artists. This is the bread and the butter of our job. You should know the check list of the visual benchmarks like the back of your hand. 02. Explain your thought process to the art director Always talk your processes through with your art director Your art director should be an integral part of the concept art process. Don't submit the final piece of artwork without going through your design process with them first. Talk about how you'll be approaching a shot, and then continue with composition sketches and colour palette proposals, and then show the final artworks. Not only will the art director give you valuable insights, but you'll also be able to explain and justify the thought process behind your aesthetic choices, which may lead to further discussions. 03. Always back up your concepts with photo reference Plenty of references will make life easier for the 3D artists Photo references are the foundation that will generate realism in all your works. Even sci-fi video games will feature a significant amount of real-world designs. References increase the soundness of your artistic choices and show that you've done your visual research properly. They also serve as great visual support when your deadline is tight and you have to do something loose. Provide the reference materials along with your speed painting: this will make the 3D artists' lives much easier. 04. Provide sketches whenever possible Sketches can gelp generate ideas and get the visual ball rolling Before the level artists start a big map, they need some visual prompts to get things rolling. It can be looking through photos together, navigating in the game engine, or providing sketches to give a general direction of how the silhouette of the map should be approached. A sketch can generate ideas and iterations can be done quickly. Many level artists like this type of interaction, because they're directly involved in the design phase of their assigned map. 05. Stay in touch with the lighting department Don't overlook the power of lighting Lighting has a strong influence on how your concept art will be interpreted in the game. Make sure you sync with the lighting crew and seek their feedback. If your shot is dependent on the time of day or specific lighting fixtures, the shadow shape or how the light diffuses can affect your composition. Lighting artists can let you know how much artistic freedom you would have based on engine constraints and how you can use that freedom more efficiently. 06. Consider the level artists Level artists need plenty of guidance to help turn your concepts into in-game reality Highly rendered concept art, with lots of mood, ambiance and VFX, doesn't always help the level artists. They usually need clarification on modelling and texturing. Listen to their requirements before deciding on what kind of concept art you'll be generating. A piece of line art or a material chart can be more efficient for delivering design clarity. 07. Don't ignore 3D tools when creating concepts 3D tools can be a godsend, so make sure you use them when necessary A production has a limited budget and timeline, so you need to use all the available tools to be productive and efficient. If a 3D screenshot can help you to nail the perspective faster and more clearly, go for it. If render passes can speed up the process of polishing high-level concept art, don't hesitate. If you need in-game assets to be part of your concepts, ask a level artist to export those objects. You need to be a fast thinker and a pro-active team player. 08. Always respect the deadline A single missed deadline can have a massive knock-on effect, so don't let things slip Deadlines are crucial within the production process, especially when a lot is dependent on concept art being created at the beginning of the pipeline. Missing the deadline can affect all the departments that have scheduled their tasks based on the date of completion of the concept pieces. It's important to let others know as soon as possible that you might miss the deadline, so that alternative approaches can be discussed, such as a looser rendering level with supporting references, or start the task with the available in-game assets instead of painting from scratch. 09. If in doubt, ask Not sure about something? Ask for more details! Some shots might have size or navigation constraints. If in doubt, ask. Level designers are always there to answers such questions. If the purpose of a task isn't clear, ask which department will benefit from the artwork. This will enable you to gather information about their needs. If the deadline isn't specified, ask for details so that you can plan your painting process accordingly. 10. Share art with the VFX team The VFX team can help you get the ambiance and mood right in your concepts Concept art can trigger fresh ideas for the VFX team, so keep them in the loop. While we provide level artists modelling, texturing and layout information through concept art, we also need the VFX team's support on the realisation of the ambiance and the mood portrayed in the concept art. What kind of smoke, fire or steam effects will suit certain maps? Effects artists are the experts, and can provide you the most accurate answers. 11. Share digital assets with your fellow concept artists Don't keep everything to yourself; share and enjoy! I believe that a culture of sharing is the key to ensuring that a concept artist progresses artistically and technically within the production. It can be custom-made brushes, 3D components, cool plugins, nice cut-out shapes or relevant photo packs. Sharing those tools can make our work more consistent in terms of quality and it can avoid repetitious art tasks. If one artist cut out 10 types of vegetation from references, it doesn't make any sense that another concept artist should spend time cutting out the same elements. Sharing tools and resources can give you more time to concentrate on the areas that need your design talents, instead of tackling run-of-the-mill art tasks. 12. Seek feedback from your peers Your fellow concept artists can be a great source of feedback and ideas Your colleagues are your best advisers, because they know the production requirements and you see them on a daily basis. They can also provide you with bonus information or materials that you wouldn't expect if they happen to be are working on some shots that are relevant to yours. Furthermore, the fact that all the concept artist share a similar vocabulary, in terms of composition, value, colour and lighting, will make the feedback sessions smooth and efficient. 13. Don't be a perfectionist Never forget: done is almost always better than perfect Any video game production is expensive and complex, and the concept art aspect is only one of the many important cogs in this machine. Your concept art is a tool to deliver the final game product, rather than being a finished product in its own right. Yes, there's a quality bar to reach, but your concepts aren't fine art masterpieces that you can spend hours polishing to perfection. You need to learn when to stop. Being an idealist in this environment can have a negative impact, both on your work productivity and on the project's schedule. 14. Understand the production value of a piece of concept art Always remember that concept art is a vital part of the production process All artists have a gut instinct to make their work as visually appealing as possible. However, it can help to shift this point of view when it comes to evaluating the worth of concept art pieces. A concept artist may deliver a piece of line work that has a significant impact on the level artist's task. You could then say that the line work has a high production value, because it makes a strong contribution to the overall production efficiency across different departments. This article originally appeared in issue 134 of ImagineFX; buy it here! Related articles: Concept design tips for artists 11 digital artists you need to know about Just what is concept art? View the full article
  13. Releasing a new high-profile branding project into the wild can be a daunting experience. Emotions and opinions run hot on social media, and sometimes criticism can be brutal and unrelenting – even the best logos have their haters. Over the years, some of the most hated logos have won people over as the rest of the branding scheme rolls out. Others, like Gap and Tropicana, have been canned almost as soon as they're released. Read on for our guide to seven other logos we all love to hate. Some have since evolved or been dropped. And some are still very much alive and kicking... 01. Yahoo Designed in a weekend... but given a 30-day-long PR fanfare that ended not with a bang, but with a whimper Yahoo's logo isn't necessarily a car crash, in the grand scheme of bad logos over the years. But it arrived in a fizzle of disappointment following the PR frenzy that the company tried to whip up. Back in 2013, a different 'new logo' was unveiled every day for a month to build the drama, and then the final reveal was... well, arguably the least exciting of all of them. Unlike other high-profile rebrands, it didn't make any significant alternations to the brand positioning or even the way the logo was used: it was just a skin-deep change. The fact that it was 'designed' by their non-designer CEO, Marissa Mayer (with Yahoo's in-house design team) over one weekend makes it worse, particularly given what Mayer said on her blog: "I love Adobe Illustrator. I'm not a pro, but I know enough to be dangerous." Well, quite. There are several lessons here. Get a designer to do it, rather than your "dangerous" CEO, and spend enough time on the design. Smashing it out over a weekend isn't a badge of honour when you're a global brand. But also, make sure there's something worthy of a dramatic reveal before planning a month-long PR countdown – you'll only draw more attention to its inadequacies otherwise. 02. Kraft Foods Kraft Foods redesigned its logo twice within the course of five months, without improving it either time In 2009, Kraft Foods actually changed its logo twice. First, it ditched Kraft's well-known red, white and blue 'race track' logo – still in use on consumer packaging – in favour of lowercase type, with a red swoosh that ended in a burst of random shapes at the top right. Just five months later it changed its mind, because bursts of colours should always occur on the left-hand-side, and swooshes should be light blue. Kraft Foods' initial rebrand announcement stated that the new logo "signals to employees, consumers and investors what the new Kraft Foods is all about.” The fact that it was binned within a matter of months doesn't bode well for clarity on that point, and the fact that the changes are purely cosmetic – swapping one bad logo for another – makes it all a rather futile exercise. Again, there are a few lessons here: if you're going to rebrand, do it confidently, and for the right reasons. Save the cosmetic tweaks for the design process before the launch, not after. And don't chuck out a strong, well-recognised logo unless you've genuinely got something better. 03. Bing Bing: stretched and distorted to uncomfortable proportions, and then pared back to yawn-worthy neutrality Where to start with Bing? In a way, it's not really fair that the world's number-two search engine is always going to be compared to Google when it comes to branding and UX, just as Microsoft as a whole will to Apple. But this aside, the original Bing logo is a visual disaster by anyone's standards. It feels uncomfortably stretched and distorted horizontally, almost like the client accidentally used the 'what not to do' version out of the branding guidelines, and no one had the guts to tell them. The letterforms are ungainly and out of proportion to each other – which makes the fact that they were drawn from scratch even more head-scratching, as these decisions were all made deliberately. Of course, Bing has rebranded twice since that fateful blue-and-yellow mark first reared its head. First came the folded 'b' symbol and achingly neutral, 'Microsofty' typeface, picking out the yellow from the original logo. Then it went teal green, with a capped-up 'B' to match Microsoft's other brands. It's still pretty dull, but anything would be an improvement on the original version. 04. iTunes 10 The much-hated iTunes 10 icon has been pared back as part of the flat design revolution... but the music note remains Never let it be said that Apple is untouchable when it comes to branding. When its new icon for iTunes 10 was unveiled, the loss of the CD was understandable. As well as having a good crack at killing off the format for real, alongside streaming services such as Spotify, iTunes has evolved into a full-blown entertainment destination – a portal to movies, TV shows, apps and games as well as music. So... why the glowing, bevelled music note, rather than something more all-encompassing to represent entertainment? The backlash went far beyond that, though. The internet exploded with hate for the new icon, with many attempting their own versions – and the tradition of fake Twitter accounts for logos was born with @itunes10icon. Subsequent revisions in 2014 and 2015 killed the much-hated glowing blue bevel in favour of soft orangey-red, and finally the three-colour orange, purple and cyan outline gradient that's still used today. But the music note still stands alone as the symbol for iTunes' wealth of multimedia content – time for a rethink? 05. JCPenney After an unmitigated disaster that dropped logo recognition from 84% to 56%, JCPenney reverted to its old one Although its current logo looks like it did back at the start of 2011, JCPenney would no-doubt like its customers to forget what happened in between. From 2011–2013, the US department store chain mismanaged its brand (and its business) so comprehensively that it needed a 30-second TV apology. Dubbed “the most meaningful update to the company’s logo in 40 years”, JCPenney's 2011 rebrand came at the end of a highly convoluted 200-logo competition, won by a University of Cincinnati student. JCPenney became lower-case, the 'jcp' in a red box. Just a year later, it changed again, dropping the rest of the name altogether. The 'jcp' sat in a blue box at the top-left of a red outline box, evocative of the US flag. It was heralded as a new dawn for the store, but what followed was one of the worst performances in retail history, with mass layoffs, confused and upset customers, and a loss of almost a billion dollars, culminating in that televised apology. Clearly branding was only one of JCPenney's problems during that period. But its application was woefully inconsistent and confusing. Most stores still used the old logo. Some used the 2011 one, and a definite minority had the up-to-date 2012 logo. In a poll of logo awareness, the brand went from 84 per cent before the 2011 rebrand, to just 56 per cent for the latest one. By 2014, JCPenney shrugged its shoulders and gave up, returning to its original logo. The lessons here are numerous, but they include avoiding radical changes to a well-known brand in quick succession without a strategy in place, and always rolling out a rebrand confidently and coherently to avoid confusion. The whole affair stands as a cautionary tale for how not to manage a brand. 06. Olive Garden If you're going for a fresh and contemporary vibe, leave the Clip Art-style leaves alone US restaurant chain Olive Garden would never claim to offer the authentic experience of enjoying al fresco pasta in Italy. Its old logo wasn't going to win any branding awards, but in a way it was a good fit – the faux-stucco texture, giant grapes and swirling, larger-than-life script type lending the 3D signage an almost theme-park-like feel. It was the 2014 rebrand's totally failed attempt to become fresh, contemporary and artisan – replacing 'restaurant' with 'kitchen', for instance – that grated with so many. In the place of the grapes are generic olive branches that could have been pulled straight out of a Clip Art library, and the rough, scrawling type has morphed into an unsettlingly digital-looking, awkward script font. No one would deny that the old logo was in need of a shake-up, but it had some personality at least. The lesson here: don't sacrifice the soul of a brand in an attempt to feel contemporary, especially if you miss the mark with that too. 07. Uber When Uber swapped its bold 'U' icon for an 'atom and bit', people were not best pleased While Uber may well have been in need of a branding update to make it fit-for-purpose for its relentless global expansion, the rebrand it received left people dazed and confused. In place of the bold, confident 'U' was the so-called 'atom and bit', designed to reflect how Uber's network was woven into the fabric of the cities in which it operates. It's a nice though, but the main pay-off was millions of Uber users suddenly struggling to find the app on their phone as it lost its stand-out overnight. The lesson? If you're on the cusp of 'owning' a letter in a crowded, space-restricted environment like a mobile screen – 'U' for Uber could have achieved the kind of recognition that Facebook has built for its 'f' icon, for instance – then try not to fumble that opportunity. Related articles: 10 most hated logos (and what they teach us) 8 iconic American logos that changed branding forever The best logos of all time View the full article
  14. Last week
  15. Microsoft rolled out 60 patches for its Patch Tuesday release, impacting 19 critical flaws and 39 important flaws. View the full article
  16. 'Foreshadow" and other vulnerabilities in Intel processors can be exploited to steal sensitive information stored inside personal computers or personal clouds. View the full article
  17. This is similar to taking a room key for a building and turning it into a skeleton key that works on every door in the building. View the full article
  18. The attack targets IKE’s handshake implementation used for IPsec-based VPN connections, opening the door for MiTM attacks or for bad actors to access data carried in VPN sessions. View the full article
  19. Portability or power? For decades, we’ve been wrestling with the same problem: portable computers can’t be powerful, and powerful computers can’t be portable. Well, the MacBook Pro (13-inch, mid 2018) is one attempt at squaring that circle: a small, light, slim computer for use on the road or in ‘third spaces’ such as coffee shops, which you can pair with an external graphics card (eGPU) to dramatically boost its power when you’re at your desk. Best laptops for graphic design in 2018 And as you’ll discover as you read this review, the new MacBook Pro and Blackmagic eGPU broadly deliver on that promise: it’s okay to be excited about this, even though there are caveats. First, to be clear, these are two separate new products from two different companies (even if Apple did collaborate with Blackmagic Design on the eGPU), and you can buy one without the other. We’re reviewing them together here, because we think the pairing is interesting and compelling. Blackmagic eGPU review The Blackmagic Design eGPU is engineered around a powerful Radeon Pro 580 graphics card The 13-inch MacBook Pro, we’ll get to, but it’s worth starting with a quick bit of background on eGPUs in general. Historically, the graphics card inside your computer simply drove the display; it worked out what to show, and passed that to the monitor. The best 4K monitors for designers Broadly, there are two types of graphics card: ‘discrete’, which are their own self-contained mini-computers, and tend to be both powerful and power-hungry (impacting battery life in laptops); and ‘integrated’, which draw less power (and so are better for battery life in laptops) but are less powerful. You might quickly surmise, then, that a good solution would be to use an integrated graphics card on a laptop and plug in a discrete graphics card when you need more power. But while this has been possible on Windows for years, it was only with a recent update to macOS High Sierra that Apple supported it. eGPUs are great, then, because since they’re not constrained by the same power and temperature restrictions as inside a laptop, they can be hulking great monsters. This can be inelegant, though; traditionally, you got an eGPU setup by buying an empty case, then buying a graphics card to fit inside it. Because the chassis doesn’t know what you’ll put in it, it has to default to the ‘worst-case scenario’ in terms of heat, power and size, which can lead to needless noise and power draw as it tries to vent. The Blackmagic Design eGPU, by contrast, is engineered around a specific card, a powerful Radeon Pro 580, so it can be smaller, quieter and more elegantly engineered. There are downsides, though: the card is fixed, and can’t be upgraded; it’s basically the Mac vs PC argument writ small. There’s one other major thing you need to know about eGPUs, too. While the operating system now supports it, this doesn’t mean apps can actually access its power. Currently, the state of support for eGPUs is messy and ad-hoc. More on this later, but let’s start on familiar ground with the MacBook Pro... MacBook Pro 13-inch (2018) review Apple’s laptop line had languished for longer than many were happy with, and while the older versions that don’t have the dynamic Touch Bar above the keyboard remain un-updated, both the 13- and 15-inch Touch Bar models are updated to be more powerful now. We’re focussing on the 13-inch here, but it’s worth saying that the 15-inch MacBook Pro (mid 2018) models get 6-core processors, a doubling of the max SSD size to 4TB, and, thanks to a switch to DDR4 RAM, a higher RAM ceiling of 32GB. With the 13-inch, though, we’re talking a 2.3GHz eighth-gen Intel Core i5 (with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz), or a 2.7GHz eighth-gen Intel Core i7 with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz. We’re reviewing the latter; the £270 upgrade is worth it for creative pros. The base config is 8GB RAM, though our review model is maxed out to 16GB (£180+); 256GB SSD is standard, though ours has had a whopping £1,400 extra spent on it to take the capacity to its max of 2TB. Graphics card is a Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655, and this can’t be changed. MacBook Pro 13-inch (2018): power The 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro Touch Bar models are more powerful now Performance is generally very strong, even if you don’t make allowances for this being the ‘baby’ laptop. It’s responsive (in part thanks to the ridiculously fast, circa-3GB/sec SSD), and with eight virtual cores, it didn’t creak with anything we threw at it. Of course, where the performance trade-off is most obvious is with exports and renders, but even there, it actually has nothing to be ashamed of; a 4:10 4K project in Final Cut Pro with effects, colour grading, titles and more exported using the Apple Devices 4K preset in 4:44, a little over real time. It gets hot and noisy when under load, though, and, compared to the iMac Pro, its thermal recovery – how quickly the fans can die down after heat has been generated – is much poorer. This is part of that power/portability trade-off. There are other improvements away from raw specs too. New to Apple’s laptop line is the T2 chip, its custom silicon controlling the system. This might sound esoteric, but it’s in part responsible for that SSD speed, and it dramatically improves the security of the system, with, for example, hardware-level encryption and tougher barriers to circumventing security policies. MacBook Pro 2018: features We also welcome True Tone to the Mac for the first time, a system that debuted on iOS for reading the ambient light around you and adjusting the display’s temperature to blend in. While this might strike you as the last thing creative pros working in colour-critical applications might want, note first that it can be turned off, and second that, actually, you probably don’t want to. Unless you have a proper process of regularly calibrating your display and creating/sharing profiles – and that’s part of a chain all the way from clients to output – then colour is always going to be a bit of a crapshoot. And honestly, allowing the display to blend with the ambient light temperature in your broader field of vision throughout the day instead of forcing it to stay fixed is likely to deliver an overall truer colour into your brain. Your mind does constant adjustments itself, analogous to True Tone in a way, and it’s probably wise to go with the flow. In short: True Tone looks natural, and you should try it. (It won’t affect external displays, except for the Apple Thunderbolt Display and LG UltraFine 4K and 5K Displays.) The Touch Bar puts all the controls at your fingertips Some folks hate the Touch Bar – a dynamic, long touch screen that replaces the function keys – and in particular the absence of a physical escape key, but try it before you swallow this received wisdom. Apps need to support it – most significant developers do, by now – but the constantly changing, context-sensitive way it puts controls at your fingertips can be, if you rewire your muscle memory, a significant productivity boost. The Touch ID button sits to the right, allowing for Apple Pay and unlocking – though if you have an Apple Watch and let it unlock the MacBook Pro, it’s done pretty much by the time the lid is open. The keyboard has been tweaked. It’s still the ultra low-travel butterfly mechanism, which takes a little getting used to, but there’s now a thin membrane under each key. Officially, Apple tells us this is to make it quieter – it feels like it succeeded in that – but it’s as likely to be related to widespread reports of failures with the previous generation keyboard, thought to be caused by debris getting under the keys. There are four USB-C-style Thunderbolt 3 ports, two on each side. And while you might take umbrage at having to dongle-up to do something as simple as plugging in a USB stick, they do offer some welcome flexibility (being able to plug power into either side, say), not least because unlike the previous generation MacBook Pro, all four ports are full speed. MacBook Pro with Blackmagic ePU Besides, one of the handy thing about the Blackmagic Design eGPU is that it doesn’t just house a graphics card – it also acts as a dock. There is one additional Thunderbolt 3 port (supporting the LG UltraFine 5K, and likely Apple’s upcoming display), an HDMI 2.0 port for UHD and 4K DCI at 60fps and four USB 3.1 port. The Blackmagic eGPU doesn’t just house a graphics card, it also acts as a dock Plug it in, therefore, and you could be hooking up storage, peripherals, displays and more with one cable, and it also charges your MacBook Pro. The only significant omission is networking; it would be nice to have had a Gigabit or faster Ethernet jack there too. As it is, you’ll have to buy a USB to Ethernet adapter if you want a wired connection. It’s big, too, though designed with some flair; it looks good on a desk, and though it makes an impact visually, there’s little aural impact. Even left running overnight at 80%-plus load, the fan was nothing more than a soft hum, and would be inaudible in a working studio. It also barely got warm; impressive. But the eGPU computational boost is key, and it’s not a simple answer. While some power gains can come free, apps really have to be adapted to be able to tap into the full power of the eGPU, and in any case, a graphics card is only used for certain types of task, with the main CPU doing most of the grunt work. We need to remember, too, that though Thunderbolt 3 is fast, at 40Gb/sec, it’s slower than internal interconnects. Faster framerate One area where it’s easy to see gains is in the traditional job of GPUs: displaying stuff on a screen. If, for example, we run Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration at 1920x1200 on the internal display using the Iris Plus integrated graphics, we get a frame rate of 6.76fps on the Very High preset. These numbers are emblematic of the dramatic improvements an eGPU can add, say, for previewing VR content hooked up to the HDMI port. If we plug a 1080p display into the HDMI port on the eGPU and use the same quality preset (albeit driving 10 per cent fewer pixels), this jumps to over 50fps. Indeed, if we turn everything to the maximum we can, we only drop a little below 47fps. Few people will buy an eGPU just to run games – especially since this Tomb Raider title is one of the few that explicitly supports it – but these numbers are emblematic of the dramatic improvements an eGPU can add, say, for previewing VR content hooked up to the HDMI port. However, its more general effect on pro apps is harder to measure. Benchmarking eGPUs on the Mac can accelerate apps that use Metal, OpenGL, and OpenCL, and we can get a sense of this using synthetic benchmarking apps such as LuxMark and Cinebench. For LuxMark, which tests OpenCL performance, rendering the LuxBall with the MacBook’s own internal GPU scored 2,693, and that score more than quintupled to 13,685 with the eGPU. The gains were much less dramatic in Cinebench, which is measuring OpenGL. The internal GPU scored 33.7, and the external seemed to give different result depending on whether the window was on the internal display or a display connected to the HDMI port on the eGPU; 60.2 and 75.4 respectively. Unigine’s benchmarking tool – especially useful for getting an idea of performance in VR authoring environments – gave 8.6fps (scoring 358) on the internal GPU/screen, rising dramatically to 35.1fps (1468 score) on an external display connected to the eGPU’s HDMI port. Even when maxed out, the Blackmagic eGPU still runs Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration at just under 50fps Going further, and trying to get genuine benchmarks for real world use in pro apps, it gets messier. You might think Apple’s flagship pro app, Final Cut Pro, would take good advantage. But even though we can see in Activity Monitor that both the internal and external Blackmagic eGPU are being used in exporting, albeit not at full capacity, the difference in our test export wasn’t dramatic; 4:38 versus 4:44 without the eGPU. There is a little script that can force apps to use the eGPU even if they don’t officially support it, called set-eGPU; but it made no appreciable difference to the final FCP export time. These exports, though, were all running from clips that have been pre-rendered, and actually, we did see a speed-up in the time to generate these background render files in this scenario; 9:24 with the eGPU forced, down from 15:36 without it. It’s worth saying that, of course, this eGPU solution from Blackmagic works very well with its own colour grading, FX and editing tool, DaVinci Resolve. We weren’t able to test it, but Blackmagic claims speedups of 4× to 7× depending on task, and indeed you could likely boost any improvements further, since in theory you could connect up to three of these eGPUs to the MacBook Pro at once. Note, mind you, that they’re not supported at all in Boot Camp. MacBook Pro and Blackmagic eGPU: verdict Ultimately, we love this pairing, at least in theory. The Mac is decently powerful in its own right, and small, slim and light enough to get work done in awkward spaces; sometimes it’s not practical to work on a desktop, though that will still give you the absolutely best power possible if you need it. The addition of a meaty external graphics card is wonderful here, so long as the apps you’re using support it, but at the moment, that picture is just too fuzzy. If you’re thinking of buying, look at the bottlenecks in your workflow, and try to ascertain if they can be sped up with an eGPU. Talk to whoever makes the tools you rely on to find out their roadmaps before you commit, and remember that an eGPU on the Mac can accelerate apps that use Metal, OpenGL, and OpenCL. Badger folks till you get an answer, because the potential here is huge. Also read: 8 must-have products for a smarter studio View the full article
  20. Adobe's August Patch Tuesday release impacts Flash Player, and Acrobat DC and Reader. View the full article
  21. Agile development has evolved quickly over the last 20 years, thanks to new methods and tools that make it easier to innovate rapidly. Top tips for nailing project management It provides a way for developers, designers and managers to focus on providing the best product to their customers through feedback, iteration, collaboration and adaptability. For the web, the agile process has provided a fundamental shift in how we deliver products to our users. Let's examine what's involved. Traditional waterfall process The waterfall process is often cumbersome, costly, time-consuming and demeaning to the real people who need the product: the customers Most of us are familiar with and have experience of the traditional waterfall approach to creating a website, where the stages are defined as milestones, with a clear start and end date. Waterfalls usually consist of four phases: discovery, design, development and deployment. In the discovery phase, we tend to talk with the client's stakeholders, usually staff or board members that wanted to give input and examples of what they liked for us to follow. Rarely does this stage involve talking with actual customers to get their input. The design phase uses the outcomes of the discovery to create compositions, usually of a complete page design with often limited rounds of revisions. This is followed by the development phase, which takes the completed page-design comps and builds them to spec, making sure that every pixel is in the proper place in order to execute the masterful vision of the designer. And finally the deployment phase starts, usually with a beta launch in which quality assurance is carried out on the site for a few weeks. It then launches to the public, sometimes with a beta signifier on the logo as a badge of honour. The problem with this is that all of your discovery happens weeks, maybe even months, before anything is actually put in front of a customer. Often the features that we assumed would be awesome fall flat once the users are able to interact with them, making our entire effort a partial waste of time and money. This waterfall process is often cumbersome, costly, time-consuming and demeaning to the real people who need the product: the customers. Enter the Agile Manifesto Another popular ingredient used in the creation of working software is to approach it in small cycles. This gives the opportunity to build, test and ship the product every one to two weeks The modern-day agile development process was sparked by the 2001 Agile Manifesto. It was penned by 17 developers who were fed up with over-controlling management and outdated feature requirements that didn't focus on what the user wanted or needed. The Manifesto has four key beliefs that provide the foundation of the agile movement as we know it today: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to change over following a plan Even though the Manifesto was born in the early 21st century, it grew from previous development methodologies as far back as the mid-20th century that were agile in nature, such as feature-driven development (FDD), extreme programming (XP) and even Scrum. Each of these beliefs have tools and resources that make it easy for you to put them in place right now. 01. Individuals and interactions A focus on the people that use our products and how they use them is extremely important. In the past, other methods like waterfall have neglected the user and outright ignored their humanity. Human-centred design, also known as design thinking or agile design, focuses on making us get out of our chairs to interact with people and see how individuals use our product. There are three key areas of human-centred design: observation, analysis and ideation. Within these areas are some examples that might be familiar, like one-on-one interviews (observation), personas (analysis), or prototyping (ideation), to name a few. Companies such as Ideo and Luma Institute provide vast resources on how to conduct qualitative exercises with real customers. 02. Working software Trello offers a clear way of managing sprints using a Kanban style of task management that is popular in Silicon Valley We shouldn't wait for a product to be perfect before sharing it with the world. Customers value transparency and collaboration. Make them happy by giving them working software quickly and improving it consistently. An often-used buzzword you'll hear that embodies the ideals of working software is minimum viable product or MVP. The concept is that we should ship early and often so the product gets in front of real users to test and improve. Using agile principles has offered me a creative problem-solving method at work. In addition to directly impacting business performance, applying agile to my IT projects has driven team collaboration and effectiveness in achieving business results. Victoria Nwobodo, IBM Another popular ingredient used in the creation of working software is to approach it in small cycles. This gives the opportunity to build, test and ship the product every one to two weeks while continuously making improvements. These cycles are called 'sprints'. Sprints also reinforce your brand in the eyes of consumers. They'll feel content, sometimes even excited, to know you'll regularly be adding new features. The project-management application Trello, offers a clear way of managing sprints using a Kanban style of task management that is popular in Silicon Valley. Version control systems such as Git also complement the sprint workflow by being able to commit code, branch it off to try new features, merge it to push to production and even go back in time to bring back previous solutions or see why something didn't work before. 03. Customer/team collaboration Your users want to feel heard and acknowledged, especially when your product frustrates them. Creating a culture of collaboration can help you connect to these customers in ways you never thought possible. A great way to start collaborating with users is to invite them to provide feedback on features that have not been released to the general public yet. This gives you the chance to get an assessment of how well the features work while giving the customer a sense of inclusion. The development methodology is sensitive to design decisions and ideally, said decisions would be best made as teams. Henri Helvetica, web performance analyst Another important way to collaborate is to ensure your team and customer testing segments are a diverse group of people. Create a culture of inclusion that focuses on all ethnicities, genders and abilities. There have been many horror stories in the tech industry where a lack of inclusion ended up alienating a core demographic and ultimately causing the death of a product. Create a culture of inclusion from the beginning and always keep working at improving it. At the Generate New York conference, Dan Mall made an excellent presentation on the importance of creating a common language and trust between your designers and developers. In his talk, Dan equated a roller coaster to the importance of creating a shared experience among the team to design, build and test together – both early and often. Designers and developers work best in an agile environment when they understand each other's struggles. Educating each other through lunch-and-learns, story reviews and check-ins, allows your team to grow by learning from each other. Tessa Kriesel, Pantheon 04. Respond to change Hotjar provides heatmaps, user recordings and several other features that shows how a customer interacts with your product The needs of our customers are ever evolving. What worked last year will need to work even better and faster this year. Customers come to expect improvement. To handle this, the agile process forces us to measure what works. Tools like Google Analytics provide a quantitative understanding of where users are going on your site, while something like Hotjar reveals how your visitors are clicking and scrolling. Hotjar provides heatmaps, user recordings and several other features that shows how a customer interacts with your product. Launching a product is only half the story; the other half is continuously reviewing analytics and user feedback to make sure the thing you built is actually accomplishing your goals. Mario Pabon, Underdog Another practical tool is UserTesting. This tests real users, either yours or ones the tool supplies. They run through questions and talk to you with their microphone as their screen is captured on video. This can become an invaluable asset to gather feedback from a wide array of customers. Keep in mind that your budget should focus on user testing and measurement as much as design and development. It's the only way we can see how users are interacting with a product. One of the greatest things about digital product design is that we get to make educated guesses about the way people will use what we dream up. We get to be wrong, and we get to improve upon our mistakes. Dan Mall, SuperFriendly Elise Chant provides a free template on Trello to start your own Scrum board An important part of responding to change is managing expectations of when new features can be completed or bugs squashed. The Scrum Framework combined with a tool like Trello, Jira, or Asana can handle this. Scrum is an agile framework that outlines the roles of team members, assembles a list of needs called a backlog, defines how to handle sprints, sets a method of reviewing sprints after completion and many other useful tools. Agile design systems Systems like Atomic Design focus on simple components that can be iterated upon The movement in web and app design to utilise systems for easier prototyping and testing of smaller pieces of content is another expression of agile design. Systems like Atomic Design or the Bootstrap Framework focus on simple components that can be iterated upon. Design systems also make the product future-proof, unlike waterfall designs. They can keep evolving; even across different devices and use-cases, the design system has the capacity to grow. The best thing about agile is that it shook up the practice of design… Agile broke the stranglehold of waterfall, and since then, many of us continue to reinvent the way we work, just as we reinvent what our digital medium can be and do. Jeffrey Zeldman, studio.zeldman Your agile future We've outlined several ways you can utilise agile methodologies in your work but keep in mind that it's more important you focus on processes than allegiance to specific tools. Take it upon yourself to seek out ways to introduce more collaboration, testing, and measurement into your work. Outline what you want to accomplish and the tools will fall into place as necessary to help you iterate your way to success. This article was originally published in issue 308 of net, the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers. Buy issue 308 here or subscribe here. Related articles: Get started with an agile workflow Best project management software 10 top tips for project delivery View the full article
  22. Soft drinks aren't exactly renowned for their health benefits. Pepsi Light's marketing revolves around its zero sugar and zero calorie content, but in an effort to build its outdoor credentials further, a new series of poster designs turn the drink's logo into a range of sporty activities. Logo design: everything you need to know The print adverts, created by advertising agency Sancho BBDO for Pepsi Colombia, see the familiar red white and blue curves of the Pepsi logo become landscapes and sporting equipment for active characters, thanks to a clever use of negative space. These include a surfer cresting the soft drink's logo, and a diver plumbing the depths of an ocean of Pepsi Light. In the project description for the ads, Sancho BBDO says the following: "Throughout its history, Pepsi Light has highlighted feminine curves; those linear figures that, at least conceptually, established the light spirit of our drink: thin, curvy women who freshened themselves with zero sugar and zero calories." Crikey. However the agency wants to do more than simply highlight these "feminine curves" with its abstract ads. "It’s here where our curves, those that we have strengthened for more than 125 years, are going from something merely aesthetic to something really meaningful." Check out these strengthened, meaningful curves in the posters by clicking left to right through the gallery below. Related articles: The best logos of all time Famous logos redesigned as fonts Logo design: everything you need to know View the full article
  23. Respondents in a survey from Venafi said they believe voting machines, encrypted communications from polling stations and databases that store voter registration data are all vulnerable. View the full article
  24. To download the accompanying files for 3D World issue 238, simply click the link below each article and a zip file will automatically download the content to your Mac or PC. If you've missed this issue or other editions of 3D World, order a copy. If you have any problems downloading this content, please email: rob.redman@futurenet.com Tutorial: Design Apocalyptic 3D garments Take the hassle out of modelling clothes for your characters with this handy tutorial This guide will take you through the process of creating realistic clothing for your characters. Download the files here (1.8GB) Tutorial: Create a tracker in Apple Motion 5 Get your subjects under surveillance with this motion tracker tutorial Discover an easy-to-use MotionTracker in Apple’s Motion 5’s graphics software . Download the files here. Tutorial: Create and pose a fun character in ZBrush Swan Lake, anyone? Who says crocodiles can’t be ballerinas? Well, we’re about to make that dream come true with the power of ZBrush. Download the files here. Training: 3D Bootcamp Laubwerk, the developer of the Plant Kit plugins, has recently released the SURFACEspread plugin for Cinema 4D SurfaceSPREAD from Laubwerk is an affordable Cinema 4D plugin that offers a huge range of ways to add variety to a scene. Download files here. Training: Q and A Our panel solves your CG problems In this issue our panel includes Simon Edwards, Oscar Juarez and Pietro Chiovara. Download the files here . View the full article
  25. Got a website you want to boost? For just $59.99, (£46.96) you can do just that with Dragify Build, Host & Rank Bundle: Lifetime Subscription. Maximise your leverage of SEO using Dragify SEO Site Scan – this handy tool gives you a clear breakdown of how your site is performing on search engines so you'll know the adjustments you should make. With Dragify Website Builder, you'll be able to build your own website and customise the layout, without any coding experience whatsoever; simply use the intuitive drag-and-drop interface. And with Dragify Website Hosting, you can rest assured that your site visitors won't be bogged down by slow loading speeds. Check out Dragify Build, Host & Rank Bundle: Lifetime Subscription for only $59.99. Related articles: The best colour tools for web designers The web designer starter toolkit Beware the cutting edge of web design View the full article
  26. When I first switched from a traditional to a digital illustration workflow, my painting techniques worked pretty well on their new canvas – but my work seemed to lose some of the spontaneity that had been easier to achieve with traditional media. To create this in my artwork, I've developed a traditional process that takes advantage of some of the flexibility of digital tools while still incorporating the unpredictability of natural media. How to make delicious textures with pencils My favourite topics to paint are the surreal and supernatural. I often incorporate fairy tale symbolism into my work: creating an atmosphere that's haunting is essential to my style. With this workshop, I'll reveal how building up details slowly and allowing underlying layers to show through can add an otherworldy quality. I'll also show how using mixed media can lead to interesting and unique results. Before we start, it's worth pointing out that it's important to learn how to make mistakes. To understand a process, you have to know how to correct it, and how to let some mistakes be. Confidence is something that shows through in your personal style, and there's a sense of security in taking risks on the canvas once you know that if you mess up, you can correct the mistake – and sometimes even improve on the final result. I work in a limited palette, almost grisaille, so that I can focus on form and value. The subtleties that I can express with a limited colour range are well suited to describing surreal and dreamlike scenes. When I establish a strong value structure and an interesting composition, adding colour becomes a much easier task. Knowing that placing a warm grey next to a cool grey will make the former read as brown and the latter as blue is essential to understanding colour. Most of my recent art is in a cool limited palette, and I occasionally add a key colour when it's important to the narrative. 01. Sketch thumbnails to generate ideas Don't spend too long on your thumbnails I grab my best pencils and start with a sketch on cream-coloured paper. Originally I began this piece as a horizontal composition, so I had to make some changes to get it to work as a portrait. I usually spend less than half an hour on each thumbnail. This stage is for generating ideas and figuring out the general composition. 02. Create a refined sketch A refined sketch helps get your shapes and dimensions right Making a refined sketch enables me to quickly make corrections, add new layers for ideas, and refine without worrying about overworking media. I also double-check all my shapes and dimensions. 03. Graphite underpainting Trace your sketch onto a sheet of polypropylene vellum Once I've moved onto a computer, I tape a sheet of polypropylene vellum to my screen, which acts as a light box. Now I can easily transfer the sketch by tracing and then refine the details. Working on polypropylene can be tricky to get used to, but it does allow for reworking. I can also build up some interesting textures at this stage, but I don't want to spend too much time on the underpainting. 04. Underpainting with walnut ink Walnut ink underpainting allows you establish your painting's flow and value structure This step is on the opposite side of the vellum from the graphite drawing. By painting freely with the walnut ink, I get a better sense of the flow of the painting, and create some interesting texture to work on top of. I'm also able to establish my value structure. 05. Produce a small-scale study version A small-scale version lets you see if your final painting's going to work I have an easier time and am more confident in my decisions when I create a small version of the larger painting I'm going to create. It doesn't need to be detailed, just large enough to test out the value structure and make sure the composition holds up when reduced. 06. Apply a layer of gouache A thin layer of gouache makes life easier as your painting progresses After printing my underpainting lightly on high-quality watercolour paper, I apply a thin layer of white gouache to the surface. It creates a barrier between the pigment and the paper so that I can move the media around and wipe away mistakes without doing too much damage to the paper. I use permanent white, but if it needs to be more translucent, zinc white can be applied. 07. Defining light shapes Don't worry about details when defining your shapes Once I've applied the gouache layer, I need to ensure my shapes are well defined before I make more decisions. I don't focus on the details inside the shapes because these might be lost in a later step. I only tackle the areas where there's an abrupt change in value. 08. Bring in some dark shapes Fill in your dark shapes with India ink Now I can fill in the dark areas with India ink. I leave a little room around the light shapes and then blend the ink to give it a soft edge. If I've applied enough gouache on the underlayer then the blending is easy. I do this with a spent felt tip marker or one of my Molotow refillables. 09. Building up texture Smudge the ink with a damp, balled-up paper towel to add texture Although I'll be building up texture throughout the process, now is a good time to lay down the broad strokes. I use a balled-up, damp paper towel and smudge the ink to create a sculptural sense of form. Sometimes the paper towel will start to dissolve, or the paper will begin to pill. Allow the paper to dry and then smooth away the raised texture with a dry, clean rag. 10. Refining edges Try to refine your edges without outlining them The painting looks pretty messy, so it's time to pull in some of those details. Edges are important. I try to avoid outlining, although it's a natural tendency for me. I try to turn my edges to create more depth, and give my work a sculptural quality. I use coloured pencils that smudge beautifully on the gouache surface. For a softer gradation I use a dry smudger, while for a more painterly stroke I use a felt tip marker filled with water. 11. Correcting the ghostly hands Made a mistake? Rub it out with clean, damp felt tip marker and try again The right hand feels inelegant to me, and is disrupting the flow of the painting. With a clean, damp felt tip marker I scrub out the hand. Once the paper is dry, I use a rag to smooth down any raised fibres, after which I put down a thin layer of gouache. Now I can redraw the hand from scratch. 12. Emphasising the head Always take time to ensure focal points like heads and hands are spot-on The head, along with the hands, are easy focal points, so I spend time getting it right. Tackling modelling shadows and cast shadows below the nose and chin and getting the shapes correct will lend character to a face. 13. Drawing butterflies Use a light touch to give the butterflies an ethereal look The butterflies are a key value, and also act as a focal point. I use gouache to highlight the wings, and a grey coloured pencil to draw subtle shadows. I want them to be otherworldly, so they require a light touch. 14. Adjusting dark values Balance your dark areas with more India ink I reapply my India ink in the dark areas. I lose some interesting texture, but the painting will be too busy if I don't even out these areas. I use a thin layer so there's still depth and I'm careful not to ruin the edges that I've carefully established. I use the wet paper towel to adjust the modelling shadows in lighter areas. 15. Tweaking light values You can use a white pastel to do the same with light areas Now I can go back and fill in the lighter details. I also go over the dark areas with white pastel, which I smudge to create a gradation. For texture I use a Grainer brush that's been cut to resemble a comb. This part of the process is meditative for me: I enjoy drawing in small details and creating texture. Once the painting is finished I spray it with a casein-based workable fixative. This article was originally published in issue 161 of ImagineFX, the world's best-selling magazine for digital artists. Buy issue 161 here or subscribe to ImagineFX here. Related articles: Create organic textures in ink How to add texture to your pastels with primers Achieve unique textures in your oil paintings: 3 top tips View the full article
  27. I fell into illustrating children’s books. I was working as an animation director and a freelance illustrator for seven years, but it became so competitive in the animation industry to win a pitch, and work was drying up. Sign up to Computer Arts' newsletter to get the latest design news Then an opportunity came up: I was asked to illustrate a children’s book by Peter Bently, a book called Cats Ahoy! published by Macmillan books in 2011. This book ended up winning the The Roald Dahl Funny Prize, and changed my career path as a result. Here's how I start each new children's book illustration project. Look at reference I look at lots of reference when I’m working on a book. Inspiration might spring from a trip to a national park, a wildlife documentary, a film, or other illustrators’ and artists’ work. Sketches of Cyril, the main character in The Squirrels Who Squabbled. Jim Field wanted him to have appeal as the comical underdog These things all help inspire my work. Sometimes I’ll find a reference photo of a landscape that inspires a composition, or it might be the dramatic lighting from a movie I’ve seen that helps me develop lighting in a composition. I gather lots of reference images from Pinterest that help me create a mood board for each book I’m working on. I refer back to these frequently throughout the process, so my head stays in the same place. Mix analogue and digital I have a 2017 MacBook Pro 15-inch connected to an LG 27UD88 monitor. I also use a Wacom Intuos5 Pro tablet. I use Photoshop for all of my final digital artwork and use a lot of Kyle T Webster’s brilliant Photoshop brushes – varying the opacity and flow to create different textures. Get Adobe Creative Cloud After trying out lots of different sketches, Field settled on this design for the character of Cyril I hop between digital artworking at my standing desk and a lightbox for the hand-drawn elements. For the final artwork, the main characters and overall background layout are hand-drawn in pencil. I’ve tried to draw directly on the computer but it never has the same feel as by hand, it loses the energy and spontaneity. My goal when artworking is to make my illustrations look as hand-painted as possible. I want to avoid them looking digital, so I avoid filters and limit my use of gradients and obvious blending mode effects where possible. Map the story When I read a story for the first time, it plays like a movie in my head. Coming from an animation background, I ‘stage’ the story, following the same process as I would for an animated film. Field added colour over the pencil sketch in Photoshop to bring the character to life and provide a taste of how the book will look The Squirrels Who Squabbled by Rachel Bright is about two squirrel characters, who are intent on having the last pine cone of the season; each will do anything to get it. Cyril, our ‘hero’ character has partied his way through the season and has no food left. Bruce the ‘anti hero’ has planned ahead and has a mountain of bounty for the winter, but still feels he must have the last pine cone. Create thumbnails I always start with a sketchbook and pencil. While reading the story over and over to myself, I make lots of character doodles and sketch out thumbnail ideas. Some compositions come to me straight away; I know exactly how I feel they should be, and they rarely evolve much in terms of composition. Some, however, are very tricky and can take a long time to get right. Once the key character designs were resolved, Field created thumbnails and then a very rough storyboard of the whole book Once I’ve built up a collection of thumbnails, I’ll then drop the best ones into InDesign with the text, so I can get more of an idea of how the book is flowing. Once I’m happy, I’ll share this document with the team for feedback. Getting the thumbnails right at this point is essential. They are the backbone structure of the book. If there are flaws in the visual storytelling here, then making it pretty in colour at the final stage will be a waste of time. Make roughs Once we’re all happy with the thumbnails, I work them up to roughs, again working in pencil and paper. I then start introducing colour in photoshop. it’s at this stage that I start to get more of a feel of the finished book. Roughs were used to refine line work and finalise colour references. Colour proofs were then made for a final check of the artwork before it became a book Choosing the right colour palette for a book is something I always find quite a challenge. The Squirrels Who Squabbled is set in the last days of autumn, so I wanted lots of lovely oranges, reds and browns soaked in sunshine. At this point, I also start to think about the lighting in each spread, sketching in the shadows, so I can be consistent with the direction of the sun from scene to scene when it comes to the final art stage. These elements give the illustration a greater sense of realism. New challenges This spread in the book (see the gallery below) is a turning point in the story. My art director Grahame Lyus suggested we make it a vertical spread, to make it work better with the action and better suggest the turn of events to come for the characters. I think this stems from my animation background, but I see a picture book as the best 24 images from a film. Each page must bring the text to life, communicate the story and I try to bring something else to the story visually. Each book is a new challenge to develop myself further as an artist. This article was originally published in Computer Arts, the world's best-selling design magazine. Buy issue 279 or subscribe. Related articles: How to break into children's book illustration How to illustrate children's books: 7 top tips 23 stunning examples of book illustration View the full article
  28. A "wave of litigation over IoT liability is on the horizon," according to an attorney who has represented plaintiffs in the 2015 Jeep hack. View the full article
  29. Sloppy Android developers not following security guidelines for external storage opens the door to device takeover and more. View the full article
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