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  2. Researchers at CyberArk have developed a bypass for Windows PatchGuard that leverages Intel's Processor Trace (Intel PT) technology to execute code at the kernel. View the full article
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  4. When we reviewed Adobe Illustrator CC 2017 recently, it was obvious that the Creative Cloud 2017 release remains a fantastic tool for all kinds of design work – from crisp vector logos, to app icons, to UI and web prototyping, to illustration to... well, pretty much anything, really. But of course, Illustrator isn’t perfect, so we wanted to find out what creative pros really need from the app. Here's what they want Adobe to improve for the next version of Illustrator. 01. Improve Colour Picker options Photoshop currently offers superior colour picker options “This has bugged me for years,” says illustrator and design lead at Havas helia, Aaron Miller. “If you have the colour picker window open, you can’t simply select a background colour from anywhere on the screen or apply a swatch like you can in Photoshop. The cursor should change to the Eyedropper tool, so you’re free to select any colour.” 02. Boost bitmap rendering “Illustrator’s vector capabilities are second to none, but its bitmap rendering for the canvas and exporting are a long way behind,” explains Marc Edwards, founder of Bjango. “In terms of antialiasing steps for shapes, there are only a few possible steps: 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% opacity.” 03. Fix the snapping bug Illustrator Von Glitschka is very vocal about what he wants from the next version of Illustrator. “Fix the damn snapping bug that was introduced through a CC update four-plus years ago,” he says. “Snapping is a fundamental feature of vector building, and to have a so-called pro app fail at that level is absurd.” Not sure what he means by the snapping bug? Watch the video above, which he sent to Adobe’s engineers. 04. Sort out the stability "Illustrator CC 2017 21.1.0 is the most unstable version of CC yet,” continues Glitschka. He points out that at Adobe MAX in October, Adobe announced it would be focusing on making Illustrator more stable, but he hasn't seen much evidence of this so far. “I’ve been tracking my crashes since 1 January 2017 and so far I’ve had 41. March alone had 11. At Adobe MAX, Adobe stated that for the first time in 25 years Illustrator has a larger user base than Photoshop. Now, if that is true – and I’ll assume it is – why not make Ai rock-stable?” 05. Add snappy text alignment Want to align your text centrally within a button? You can't... yetIllustrator CC 2017 brings a lot of new text enhancements, but Miller wants more. “I know many people use Illustrator for a more design-based approach and work with type,” he explains. “Something that InDesign does really well is to offer the ability to align text vertically within a text box. This combined with central alignment of the paragraph would mean text could sit ‘centrally’ within a button, for example.” 06. Enable better rendering Edwards also wants better rendering performance. “Enabling Illustrator CC’s GPU rendering option improves performance, but reduces rendering quality even further,” he says. “Illustrator’s pixel preview also has many rendering issues, including stray pixels and other artefacts. Gradient rendering with dithering would improve the quality of canvas rendering, and also bitmap output, too.” 07. Increase artboard limits At the moment, artboards are capped at 100Artboards have made it possible to create multi-page documents at different page sizes, but Edwards doesn’t think the functionality is quite good enough. "I’d like the artboard limit increased from 100,” he says. “For larger projects that use artboards for exporting, 100 artboards are often not enough.” 08. Let us copy beloved effects Miller wants to be able to copy effectsThe Appearance panel is great and shows the effects and properties applied to a shape, but Miller wants more. “I do wish you could copy an effect like you can copy layer styles within Photoshop. This would make making working with effects so much easier. There are ways around this – like using graphic styles – but they feel counterproductive.” 09. Bring back default anchor points “Two releases ago, Adobe decided on the fly to remove anchor points being shown by default on vector shapes. Who asked for that? No-one, it just did it,” muses Von Glitschka. “It got so much blowback it added a preference to return it to normal.” 10. Communicate with designers better “The Illustrator team gets pushed so hard to develop features that will be used to push CC services,” says Von Glitschka. “They care more about that than stability. They’ll also actively remove features that don’t encourage CC use. For example, on the Adobe Draw app for iPad they removed the feature that gave users the ability to simply email your art to anyone as a PDF. They replaced it with uploading it to CC, so you can’t share it easily. It’s a convoluted hot mess.” Related articles: 21 Illustrator shortcuts to speed up your workflow Create product icons in Illustrator 100 amazing Adobe Illustrator tutorials View the full article
  5. This tutorial will take you through how to design and model a new furry 3D creature. To create this strokable creature we will follow my workflow, working on the base character, blocking the hair and fur in, and adjusting the scene. In addition, you will see the design process I use to create a new piece, including blending my reference images with renders and how I rework the main subject to step up the overall quality of the design. There's a video of my process below, followed by a step-by-step breakdown of my process. Download the supporting files here01. Find a concept First, find a good reference image to work fromFirst, I look for a reference image that's natural but strong. I go to, where people put amazing photos up for free commercial use. I want a scene with good lighting that I can use for a backplate. I decide to test a kitchen scene. 02. Set the scene Work out the shapes of the scene and box model themNow I have my image, it's time to set the camera and perspective. With Maya it's not that easy to get the angle right – I have to tweak and eyeball a little bit. My workflow here is to get the basic shapes of the scene and box model them. Once I have the basic shapes, I set the camera and the view angle. It's really important to take your time here and make sure you have the perspective right because this will define the success of the scene. 03. Establish the basic light setup Use your reference photo as a lighting guideNow it's time to set up the light. In my reference photo I can see an area of light at the top of my scene, so I put a light there. I add one more physical light behind my camera as a secondary light. For realism and to blend the scene and the backplate, I normally add a dome light with the backplate images, which generates GI and a little ambient light, providing a dim illumination of the scene. 04. Work on character conceptualisation A basic character gives you lots of potential to play aroundI want my character to do something similar to the man in the reference image, and to blend in with the pasta in the photograph. I design a really basic character to play with – just a blob with arms and two eyes. It doesn't even have legs, because this guy will always be behind the counter. 05. Test the scene Render a quick test to spot any early issuesWith everything blocked in and the main character in position, it's time to test the scene. I put all the models in the scene with no visibility to cast shadows and render the first test. I blend the render and the photograph to test the scale, the model, the light and the angle of the camera. I find my backplate has a green and blue tint over the shadows that I'll have to remove later. 06. Do some basic grooming Use groomable splines if there's no animation involvedIt's time to start grooming. I use Core XGen, though this technique will work with any other hair system. When working with hair, the important thing is to achieve a good flow and an interesting silhouette. For this kind of character, with no animation, I like to use groomable splines. I think about how the character moves and behaves, as this will affect his fur. This specific character has to work a lot with his hands and gets covered in steam often, so his hair will look heavy and not that fluffy. 07. Adjust length and silhouette With the flow sorted, block out the silhouette and lengthOnce I have the flow of the hair, I start blocking out the silhouette and the length. I give my creature shorter hair on his hands but furrier, pointy ears and longer hair on his armpits. I block out the eyes and the mouth. 08. Set up the hair Use a random expression to give the hair some varietyNow I generate the hair for the first time to check its fidelity and how it looks. When you first generate the hair it often comes out in chunks or planes. I test first with a really low density hair, and don't overscale the model. For the hair, I break the connection on the Width and set up a random expression to define with float rand (float min, float max) to help me control the hair and add some variation to the width, making it look more natural. One the hair is visible, you can adjust the flow and length. 09. Employ the clump modifier Work out the basic shape of hair clumpsFor this groom, I use a short hair with a mid-density on the base clumps and closed tip to enhance the effect of humidity, and a higher density on the second level of clumps with an open tip. I make the clumps thicker than the regular hair, so they appear sticky. I want small groups of hairs with a wavy configuration on the noise, to look thick on the roots and thinner on the tips with a wavy end. 10. Use the coil and noise modifiers Use coil and noise modifiers to vary your clumpsOnce I have the basic shape of the clumps, I need to add a little bit of randomness, as the clumps start to reveal more detail. To add new variations I use the Noise Modifier, and for this case I also add a Coil Modifier with a low influence to simulate the wetness and oil on the hair. For the noise, I use a base modifier to add the first layer of variation, affecting the tips more than the bases, with a frequency of 4 and a magnitude of 1. This means each strand will move four times from base to tip with a max magnitude of 1 over the tips. Next page: Give your creature character and add some props 11. Make the hairs more realistic The cut modifier gives hairs a more realistic lookNow I use the Cut modifier to simulate some hairs to be cut, broken or shortened over a random parameter, giving a better shape at the edges and a more realistic look. I test the amounts depending on the scales of the hair until I'm pleased. I normally reduce 20% of the hair, and the values vary depending on the groom. For this character, I reduce between 0.0 and 0.2 units per hair. 12. Refine the shape Now it's back to the groomingWith all the basic modifiers in place, it's time to start grooming again. Now I can see how the groom will look in the future, and the shape is clear, I can adjust the basic groom to have more variance, or to be smoother, to have clumps and coils, or to have a different flow, in each part. The groom can change any time but with all the modifiers in place it's better to work out the shape now. 13. Set up the strays Add a bit of frizz with the noise modifierNext, I use an expression to define a custom percentage parameter on the Noise Modifier. With this expression on the Magnitude attribute, I can define how many hairs I affect with the noise parameters, giving me a custom stray attribute for a flexible frizz effect. Here I add two new Noise Modifiers on top of the Cut Modifier with different attributes to make the final look. 14. Test assembly Do a second test to see how it's all coming togetherWith all the modifiers in place, I do a second assembly test. This time I add a basic colour to my groom and render with the same set-up, with a colour correction for the backplate. I find some problems with the blending between the render and the actual photograph, but can see that the light is working. In Photoshop I add an exposure adjustment with a gradient to add more light into the render to blend it better into the scene. The model isn't quite working, so I decide to start exploring different options. 15. Explore characterisation Step back from your character to get a fresh perspectiveWhen working on a scene, you need to explore and to correct yourself, feed your brain and sometimes even stay away from your work for a while so that you can see it with fresh eyes. For this project, I needed to try out some different methods and add new elements into the scene. Here I try an apron, a chef's hat, different mouths and facial hair and even some weird mouth drawn onto a Post-it note. Finally, I decide to work with the apron and hat. 16. Adjust the pose A more flexible pose adds life to your characterTo make the props work I need to make the pose more flexible. I add movement to the hands and rotate the body, but keep the basic shape from the photograph as I still want to use the pasta from the backplate. I make the ears longer and separate them to give more movement and a better silhouette. 17. Model the hat A jaunty angle works wonders for any hatFor the hat, I use a really basic workflow. With some references and taking the early concept into account, I model the base shape in Maya and play around with the model to see where it could work.The hat works in the centre of the head, between the ears, with a little tilt to look more relaxed and cool. After that I take the model into ZBrush to work on the final detailing and use some cloth alphas to make the final look. 18. Model the apron Realistic aprons are harder to make than you realiseIt takes me more time to finish the apron. I work on the base model directly in Maya and test it over the groom itself because it needs to collide with the hairs. I mainly model the basic shape on a really low-poly and set the parts where the stitches should be. In ZBrush I decide to add a far higher level of detail and put a lot of work into making the apron look as realistic as possible. With the cloth alphas and also using the Dam_Standard Brush, along with stitches alphas, I manage to make a good-looking model and surface texture for the apron. 19. Test the props Do a props test to see if it all works togetherWith all of the models done, it's time to test them in the scene. I import both objects and try them directly with the high-res models. I really like the hat but am not sure about the apron. There is still something missing in the main character, a kind of lack of connectivity. I know the image I have in mind but need to make it real in the scene. 20. Redesign the character Don't be afraid to go back and remodel your characterAfter some thought and a break from looking at the screen, I decide I need to reshape the main design. I work directly in ZBrush to adjust the eye cavity to make it friendlier. I also decide to add a big mouth with some gigantic teeth, and rework the hands. The main shape is still there but the character has a lot more personality. Next page: Retopology, final render, and post production 21. Retopology Rework the topology to ensure the hair still fitsAs he now has a mouth and bigger eyes, I'll need to make selections to adjust the shapes of the hair and where it should grow. I work the retopology of the character completely on Maya, as I want total control over the flow of the edges and loops, and the new tools in Maya 2017 make the character animation-ready. 22. Make the UV map Make a UV map ready for adding texturesI need to paint the textures, and to do so, the UV will be useful – even if XGen uses Ptex it's still necessary to have a good UV map. Once more, I decide to test the new UV tools that come with the Maya 2017 update 3, which are now simpler, amazingly fast and really easy to use. 23. Re-groom It's time to go back and groom againI re-groom the new character still using the groomable splines. I repeat most of the process from before but this time I spend more time on the basic groom. I select just the faces that I want to grow hair from, leaving the eyes and the mouth out of the selection. I work even more on the flow of the hair, add eyebrows by making the hair longer over the eyes, and add more noise into the actual groom, not just on modifiers. For the hair between the character's ears, I make the hair longer and use the Part Brush to give it shape. I also reduce the length of the hair around the eyes and the mouth, giving a gradient effect between the long and short hair. 24. Import the modifiers Save time by bringing in the old modifiersI want to use all the old modifiers, so I go to the old XGen scene and right-click on each modifier, hit Save Modifier, and name each one in order as this will affect the result. To re-import them into the new scene, on the Modifiers tab I click on the folder icon and select Load User. I import my saved modifiers one by one to build up the same result as before. This time I create masks over the clump modifiers to affect less of the face, producing a smoother result with fewer clumps there. 25. Create the moustache Use XGen's Guides to make a moustacheI decide to reintroduce the moustache. For this kind of hair, the best way to work is using XGen's Guides as it's faster and the results are great. Working with guides is really easy – I draw just half of the moustache guides, repeating the same process of making the shape and adjusting the size with a rand expression as before. When I find a shape I like I just mirror the guides and the moustache shape is done. For the final detail, I use the Move Guide tool to make some irregularities on the groom. I follow the same pattern with two Clump Modifiers, a Noise Modifier and finally a Cut Modifier, with just a few strays. 26. Paint the colour This will look less horrifying once it's on your modelTo add colour to the groom, I need to create a custom attribute for the render system to read the information. To do so, I go to Preview and Output and in Custom Shader Parameters I create a Custom Colour Attribute using the root_color convention. Next I click on the option next to the Attribute to create a map. I click the brush icon and with the Maya 3D paint tool options I start painting my textures. I use a fox's colours as a reference for this guy. If you want to create a custom texture you can generate the Ptex map with Mudbox or 3DCoat – just remember to overwrite the map that Maya created for the custom texture. 27. Create material Use Redshift to create your materialsI use Redshift for this render. The basic material for hair is almost perfect, so I just make the reflection a bit glossier. I create an RS Attribute Lookup to call in the root_color info. I connect this to the internal reflection of the RShair, and with a multiply/divide node connect the Transmission colour and change the value of the multiplier to 1.5. I finally connect the RS Attribute Lookup to the diffuse slot of the RShair and change the weight of the diffuse value until I like the result. 28. Do the final render Try to match the original photograph's depth of fieldNow I set the render configuration. For smooth results with Redshift, activate Hair min pixel width under the OPT tab on render settings, to solve the transparency of the hair and fix the tessellation, making hair smoother and reducing the render time. For the render settings, I use max samples of 512 and change the adaptive error threshold to 0.01 as I want almost no noise on the render. On the camera I set an exposure photographic lens and a bokeh lens to simulate the DOF on the photograph. 29. Blend the render and the backplate Now you need to put everything togetherWith the final render in place, it's time to begin the final assembly. First I remove the colour and try to leave the backplate as clean as possible to make the blend with the backplate. I always try to remove any colour information and use the backplate in its pristine state. I mix the render and add a mask for the foreground to leave the table and the plates behind the render. Having the render on the scene means I'll need to colour-correct the render so that its colour intensity, saturation and white and black points are close to the backplate's from the image. I put a B&W adjustment on top of everything to help me to fix the values of the render from there. 30. Post-production and effects The free Nik collection is great for post-processing in PhotoshopWith both the render and the backplate under the same lighting conditions, it's now easier to work on the post-production elements. I normally use the Nik collection pack to help me with the process and with blending it better. At this stage, I can also add effects to the scene – I add more steam coming out from the stove behind the character. With a radial blur, I give a motion blur effect just to the arms. 31. Colour grading and cropping A few final fixes and you're good to goFinally at the end of the road, I can finalise the colour grading, fix the contrast and give more balance to the tones, including lightening the colour of his moustache. I am still not too sure about the look of the scene, but I flip it around horizontally and it creates the effect I was hoping for. I work a little bit more on the contrast on the wall to make the character's silhouette more visible and striking. I finally do a crop with a little rotation of the composition to fix the tension points and the render is done! This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 223; buy it here! Related articles: How to create furry cartoon characters Make your own character bible How to use blend shapes to animate characters View the full article
  6. Creating a design targeted towards children can be hard. If you try too hard to be 'down with the kids' you'll just appear foolish. Perhaps the best way to approach designs for kids is to speak to them on their own terms. That's the thinking behind these 10 child-friendly fonts, which range from young childlike crayon writing to fun bubble writing to neat cursive handwriting worthy of full marks in any school writing test. Comic Sans, be gone! These kids fonts would look perfect on packaging designs, posters and books. 01. Kids Crayon A great font with a cheeky messageFormat: TT Getting us started on our list of the best kids fonts is the appropriately named Kids Crayon. Doing just what it says on the tin, this textured font is taken from the crayon handwriting of creator Ian Williams' five-year-old kids. With all the idiosyncrasies that only kids could create, this charming font will only set you back £7.99 (about $10). 02. Kids Script This font balances calligraphy with children's writingFormat: OTF, TT Kids' writing isn't necessarily always clumsy and chalky. Take Kids Script, a font that is based on the calligraphic handwriting models used in Spanish schools in the 1940s. It might sound an esoteric starting point, but the result is a fresh font with a unique edge. Download the three-font family for £49.99 (about $63.50). 03. PF Kids Pro This series came about while designing birthday invitationsFormat: OTF PF Kids Pro is another font that uses real life writing as a starting point. In this case, the daughter of Alexandros Papalexis can find her writing immortalised in font form. Created while designing invitations to her birthday party, this rough around the edges font is available in three weights for £140 (about $177.50). 04. La Mona Kids This kooky font has lots of attention-grabbing gimmicksFormat: OTF Time for something completely different. Speaking to kids in their own handwriting is all well and good (and there's more of that to come) but sometimes a font needs to grab their attention. Enter La Mona Kids, a fun bubble writing font loaded with odd details that are impossible to ignore. What's more, you can grab the eight fonts in the family for just £35.99 (about $45.50). 05. Butterfly Kids We're not sure this is the best tag line for a kids' fontFormat: OTF Head over to the Butterfly Kids download page and you'll see the font describe itself as being all about "spreading cheer! Be fun. Be cute. Be happy!" With its curly letter shapes and OpenType ligatures, we'd be hard pressed to disagree. This single font is yours to download for only £13.99 (about $18). 06. Cool Crayon The beauty of blackboard chalk without the horrible noiseFormat: TTF Another font from the school-inspired camp, Cool Crayon is a typeface that emulates the gritty texture of blackboard chalk. (Although we can't help but think, do kids these days even know what blackboards are? Answers on a postcard... or maybe a Tweet.) This font is available free for personal use only, but you can licence it from designer David Kerkhoff's site Hanoded Fonts. 07. CookieMonster We all sat next to someone in class who dotted their i's with heartsFormat: TTF Maybe it's just us, but this font is a typographic flashback to sitting next to someone in school who dotted their i's with love hearts and more than likely wrote in neon gel pen. Either way, Cookie Monster is a fun kids' handwriting font that you can download for personal use for free (or negotiate a commercial license with the designer, Des, via the contact details in the font description). 08. Crayon En Folie (It's French for pencil madness)Format: TT If none of the other pencil fonts on our list are quite what you're looking for, perhaps Crayon En Folie is what you need. This kids' font takes your standard pencil typeface and gives them a splash of colour. Download it for £10.99 (about $14). 09. JollyGood Sans Condensed It's not, we repeat not, Comic SansFormat: OTF A cute font with Sans in the name? Don't worry, JollyGood Sans doesn't have the nauseating edge of Comic Sans. In fact, this typeface is pleasant on the eye and slimmed down so you can fit more letters on the page. And given that it's made for posters and books, it's a practical design choice, too. Download eight fonts for £70.99 (about $90). 10. Kids The definitively named kids' fontFormat: TTF When a kids' font is simply named Kids, you know you're on to a winner. Evoking the inky block lettering you'll find in exercise books (again, are they still a thing? Or is it all iPads in classrooms now?), this set comes with uppercase and lowercase letters, plus a whole host of numbers and symbols. Best of all, you can grab it for free. Read some of our other great posts, like: Great free handwriting fonts Typography rules and terms every designer must know 10 different fonts to give your projects a unique edge View the full article
  7. WordPress is the perfect platform for just about any website, from a simple portfolio page to an online store. To get the look and functionality that your site needs, you can count on professionally crafted themes from TeslaThemes. Get lifetime access for just $39 (approx £30). TeslaThemes is known for its high quality, premium WordPress themes. It's already crafted more than 66 incredible themes and is adding new options all the time. With lifetime access, you'll be able to make use of any of these themes any time you want. Plus you'll get full HTML documentation, step-by-step instructions, plugins, and customisable PSD files to make them work exactly how you want. If you want a lifetime’s worth of the expert craftsmanship of TeslaThemes, you can get the collection now for 84% off. That makes your total just $39 (approx £30). It's a great price for a must-have resource for anyone building a site, so grab it today! View the full article
  8. JavaScript started its life as a browser-based language used for adding interactivity to web pages, but it has evolved tremendously over the past few years. Once Node.js enabled JavaScript to be run on the server, it opened up a world of possibilities, and more language innovations were inevitable. As the language grew, these evolutionary stepping stones led to the next major version of JavaScript: ECMAScript 2015 (previously known as ES6). Along with this new version came a new release cycle. After its major update in 2015, the JavaScript language will now start seeing smaller updates every year, allowing it to keep evolving through smaller, more frequent iterations. Let’s take a look at some of my favourite JavaScript tips, tricks and tools. These will give you some web design inspiration and they're sure to blow your mind, especially if you haven’t kept up with how JavaScript has grown up over the years. These tools are split into different themes – navigate to the page you want using the drop-down menu above. 01. Write tomorrow's JavaScript today with Babel Babel allows developers to write code using the latest version of JavaScript without sacrificing compatibility with older browsersNot all browsers understand ES2015 code yet, so in order to use the latest features of the language today, we need a tool like Babel. This transforms ES2015 code into normal ES5 JavaScript code that all browsers are able to interpret. It is common for developers to include Babel in their deployment process through build systems such as gulp or webpack. This approach allows devs to use the latest tech while ensuring their apps remain compatible with old browser versions, but only at the deployment stage. 02. Explore new ways of declaring variables In ES2015, JavaScript introduced two new ways of declaring variables: let and const. let is used when a variable will be reassigned, whereas const keeps a variable from being reassigned. Note that using const does not freeze arrays and objects, and it doesn’t stop properties from being mutated. Instead, it just keeps the variable itself from being reassigned. The main benefit that both let and const deliver over var is that when using var your variables get scoped to the top of the current function, therefore making the variable available to the whole function. In contrast, let and const are scoped to their closest block, allowing developers to declare variables within if, while, for and even switch blocks, without worrying about the variable scope leaking outside of that context. JavaScript is among the fastest growing programming languages03. Use arrow functions to keep 'this' intact Another feature that’s been added to JavaScript recently is arrow functions. These have the ability to keep the this context intact, especially when using it within callbacks that might get called from somewhere else (i.e. adding an event listener with jQuery, and so on). Essentially, arrow functions replace the need to add .bind(this) at the end of a function declaration. There are two main ways of writing arrow functions: one-liners and multiple-liners. One-liners have only one expression and return the value of that given expression, without the need for curly braces. Multiple-liners, on the other hand, have curly braces and the return keyword must be used explicitly. 04. Use promises to avoid a callback can of worms JavaScript does a lot of its operations asynchronously, so passing callback functions while waiting for other things to happen is a pretty standard pattern. The problem begins, though, when you’re executing an async action that will trigger another async action, and so forth. You’ll likely be passing many nested callback functions, which will make the code cluttered and harder to read. Promises solve this problem by helping you execute code in the right order, in a concise manner, while keeping operations asynchronous. The API is pretty neat: you tell the code to do something, then something else, then something else – and you’re even able to catch errors along the way. Learn JavaScript for free and stay up to date with the latest news on JavaScript.comNext page: Functional programming tips 05. Replace 'for' loops with 'map' to keep things simple Let’s pretend we have an array of numbers and we’d like to produce another array by doubling all of the numbers from the first array. One way to do this is to declare an empty array, write a for loop, and set a number in the second array by looking up the index on the first array and doubling it. Or we could use a more concise solution by mapping an array to another array: 06. Replace 'for' loops with 'filter' This time, let’s pretend we have an array of numbers and we’d like to produce another array containing only the even numbers from the first array. Again, one way of doing this would be to declare an empty array, write a for loop, and write an if statement to check if the number at the index is even (for example). Or, we could use the filter method available for arrays: 07. Use 'reduce' instead of 'for' loops For this exercise, let’s calculate the sum of all of the numbers in an array. One way to do this would be to declare a variable that has zero as its initial value. Then, we would write a for loop and traverse our array, taking each number and adding it to our newly created variable. Or we could use the reduce method: Of course, we could combine all three concepts by multiplying all the numbers by 7 and adding all the numbers that are smaller than 20: 08. Take advantage of immutability Data immutability is a common concept in functional languages. Immutable data allows programs to detect changes early on by comparing object references, instead of having to continually check and iterate through objects to see if we need to refresh the data on the screen. Since, by default, objects and arrays are not immutable in JavaScript, there is a library to help accomplish this. It’s called Immutable.js and it was developed and open-sourced by an engineering team at Facebook. Next page: Server-side JavaScript with Node.js 09. Node.js: Avoid switching language context This platform for developing server-side web apps has opened up a world of new possibilitiesNode.js is what allows JavaScript to be used on the server side. This has some interesting side effects, like making developers crazy-productive because they don’t have to change the language context when switching back and forth between client and server code. It also allows libraries to be shared between the client and the server, which decreases the amount of duplicate code one has to write. 10. NPM: The world's largest package manager With over 300 thousand packages, npm (the node package manager) has become the biggest package manager in the world, containing more packages than Java’s Maven Central Repository, PHP’s Packagist, and even .NET’s nuget. Plus, the level of collaboration that happens within the community means writing an application has never been so convenient. 10 really useful responsive web design tutorials11. NPM: Bring in frontend dependencies This has grown into the world’s largest package managerOver the years, there have been many recommended practices around bringing in external dependencies into your local codebase. What are the best practices for using libraries like Bootstrap or Zurb Foundation? Including them from a central CDN or downloading everything manually from their website? With the rise of the npm, an increasing number of developers are getting rid of alternative solutions like Bower and simply sticking to npm for everything. Yes, even CSS dependencies. Next page: JavaScript UI frameworks and libraries 12. Angular: One framework to rule them all Angular is a JavaScript framework maintained by Google with the help of the open-source community. The first version of the framework was based on an MVClike pattern, cleaning up a lot of the clutter we saw in larger codebases that relied on the jQuery-style of programming. The newest version, Angular 2, has taken things to the next level, transforming Angular into a full platform that allows development of not only web UIs, but also native mobile development and more! 13. React: The view library that shook the UI world This JavaScript framework is maintained by a team at Google with the help of the open-source community, and the latest version makes it suitable for native mobile developmentReact is a view library. This might sound small and innocent, but don’t underestimate it, as this little library put a dent in the whole UI development world. When React launched, it garnered contrasting opinions from veteran web developers. Fortunately, the Facebook engineering team knew it was on to something. Applications written with React carry a component-based architecture, keeping things small and composable. It often adopts functional paradigms to solve problems. 14. Ember: What if Ruby on Rails spoke JavaScript? Opinionated framework Ember.js has the world’s cutest framework mascot: TomsterIf you’ve ever used Ruby on Rails to write a web app, you’ll know it uses the convention-over-configuration paradigm. This means it’s very opinionated about how apps should be written, which is exactly what the team behind Ember delivers for JS developers. Ember is a very complete framework with predictable development practices. This makes it easy to use all the best practices while writing applications. 15. Redux: State of management for all One of the hardest parts of writing apps with highly dynamic user interfaces is keeping up with the application’s state. This is the problem the Redux library addresses. Redux is commonly used alongside React and is slowly being adopted by the Angular community. It helps you write applications that behave consistently and it offers a great developer experience. So if you’re writing an app that might become very large, you should consider using Redux from the get-go. Next page: Other fun JavaScript features 16. Try visual regression testing with PhantomCSS Every developer that’s been around for long enough has accidentally pushed a bug to production at one point or another. There’s no shame in that. Especially with UI development, it’s hard to prevent errors within CSS and HTML markup. Or is it? It turns out there is a package called PhantomCSS that helps with visual regression testing. It works by taking screenshots of before and after changes and calculating the difference between the two images. 17. Go beyond 'console.log' Using console.log() to display data in the console while writing JavaScript apps is pretty common, but did you know you can use other console methods – such as dir() and table() – to help you visualise data while developing? That’s right; for a more interactive way of visualising objects in the console, use console.dir(object). If you have an array of objects you’d like to visualise, you can use console.table(array) to create a beautifully formatted table displaying all your data. Much easier on the eyes. 18. Use 'debugger' One feature that often gets overlooked by developers is the debugger keyword. Instead of using console.log() to do some pseudo-debugging, simply add the debugger and modern browsers like Google Chrome will add a breakpoint so you can have a deeper look at your app’s state, including all local variables. 19. Remember semicolons are optional Did you know that semicolons are (mostly) optional in JavaScript? The official JavaScript language specification has a feature called automatic semicolon insertion (ASI) that has caused riots within the community – pitchforks included. The reality is that an increasing number of developers are dropping semicolons in their JavaScript code, mostly due to personal preference. If that’s something you’re interested in doing, be sure to use a code linter such as ESLint to help you avoid some bugs and pitfalls. 20. Have a strict-typed codebase A project by Facebook, Flow uses type inference to find bugsAn argument that some devs coming from other languages like to use against writing large-scale JavaScript apps is the lack of a strict type system. If that was only reason that kept them from migrating, it’s time for them to reconsider! There are two main projects that add an optional strict-type system to JavaScript: Flow, which was developed at Facebook, and TypeScript, developed at Microsoft. While using different strategies, both these projects aim to add catch bugs early by adding a JavaScript-friendly type system to applications. This article was originally published in net magazine issue 285. Buy it here. Related articles: 12 must-have code testing tools 5 hot new ways to use JavaScript 20 top examples of JavaScript View the full article
  9. Motion design is a necessary skill for the modern web. With web animation thriving, everyone from UX designers to front-end developers needs an appreciation for what motion can add to their work. The character and energy that motion brings to an app or system interface works wonderfully on the web, too. Motion is a valuable interaction design tool. These are exciting times! So how can we develop an eye for motion and put traditional animation principles into practice for web design? Great interface animation is useful, conveys information and does it with restraint and style. That's a tall order, but it's not out of reach. Restraint and style is where motion design skills come in. Well designed motion keeps our audience focused on the quality experience instead of distracting them with awkward bells and whistles. Classic animation principles Web animations are enticing to visitorsThe bible of animation, if there were one, would be The Illusion of Life by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas. This book features the 12 principles of animation by which Disney imitated life in its animated films. These principles are time-tested, and even though they're written for an entirely different medium, we can apply them to animated interactions with great results. Learning to identify each of these principles will help you develop an eye for animation and give you a basis for evaluating and designing interactions. The 12 classic principles are: squash and stretch, anticipation, staging, straight ahead and pose to pose, follow through, slow in and slow out, arcs, secondary action, timing, exaggeration, solid drawing and appeal. They don't all apply equally to our efforts in interface animation, but it's still helpful to know what each entails. We'll take a closer look at the three principles that are particularly key to interface animations: timing, secondary action and follow through. Web animation timing and spacing The bouncy motion of the dots in Dots conveys an energetic playfulness and creates momentumMy improv teacher always tells us that timing is the key to comedy. As it happens, timing is also the key to animation. In animation, timing is all about how long an action takes. In the classic text, it's said that correct timing makes an object appear to obey the laws of physics. It gives cues as to the weight of an object and which forces have acted upon it. When it comes to interface animation, our goal isn't always to replicate the physical world, though. We tend to focus on the aspect of timing that establishes an object's 'personality'. So much can be communicated through timing! Learn more about interactive web animation with award-winning SVG specialist Chris Gannon, at Generate London For web animation, spacing comes down to the easing (the timing function) that we apply to an animating property. Easing determines how speed changes occur across the duration of an animation. That's how we indicate mood and personality. The duration of an animation also plays a role here, but the easing does most of the talking. Strong bouncy timing, like the motion of the dots in the Dots game, conveys an energetic, playful feeling. It can often feel even a bit childish at times. Scroll down on the game's website for a short animation and look closely at the way the dots move – when they fall into place they bounce back up a little. The bounce is short, which informs us the dots have some weight to them. The animating object moves the same distance in each frame, to give a steady speedAt the other extreme, linear easing appears mechanical and lacks life. Linear motion holds a constant speed across the entire duration of the motion so there's no slowing down or speeding up at all. That's impossible in the real world, thanks to things like gravity! Linear easing communicates nothing useful about the mass or nature of the moving object. The funny thing about timing is that despite its potential to communicate, and all the effort we might devote to choosing it, all animations have to happen quickly. One of the biggest motion design crimes out there is to make your UI animations too slow. It takes practice to get timing right, but the more you do it, the better you'll get. Prototyping animations is very effective for getting your timing down. Secondary action in web animation The 3D rotation part of the form-expanding animation in the Checkout flow is an example of secondary actionSecondary action is additional animation that complements, or occurs as a reaction to, the primary animation. In traditional animation, this might be something like a character whistling or moving her arms around while she walks. In interfaces, it's how nearby elements move in reaction to the main motion. Websites and apps can't whistle or move their arms, so the opportunities for secondary action aren't always as obvious. However, they do have related elements and some elements that move together. Those are prime candidates for secondary action. Twitter's heart animation is a good example of secondary action. The main action is the heart scaling up. The circles and little particles that fly out around it are secondary actions that enhance the heart's effect. Follow through and overlapping action online Follow through and overlapping action are two closely related concepts that deal with how an object comes to a stop. Follow through is the motion of overshooting the final destination by a small amount and then coming back to settle into place. In the Slides changelog timeline, each item in the list shoots out a little further than its destination before settling back to a stop. That's follow through in action. Similarly, overlapping action is the concept that not all parts of an object come to a stop at the same time. For example, a dog's floppy ears keep moving forward even after their body has come to a stop. Unless you're working with some sort of physics engine, you'll be faking or approximating these concepts with easing choices or keyframe placement. There's nothing wrong with that. Hinting at these familiar concepts with any type of animation goes a long way to creating a more realistic feeling. Next page: Putting animation principles into web design Putting animation principles into web design To start with, everything in our example moves in and animates at once, like one solid connected objectIt's fun to read about these principles, but they're more useful when we put them into action. Let's take a stab at putting these techniques into practice with some CSS animation. Our example is an animated alert box that confirms your booking at a fictitious cat café. It animates onto the screen to let us know our booking task has successfully been completed. Our starting point is a bit, well, lacking. Our alert box does the bare minimum: it animates into view, followed by the associated button, which fades in below it. There's nothing all that compelling about it... at least not yet. Set the timing of your web animation This is the easing our example starts with, using the ease-out keyword in CSS Contrast this with our ease-out easing. The curve extends past the top, creating the follow throughTiming is always a good one to start with. Our alert box is using the ease-out timing function, so it comes in at a higher speed and then slows into place in a low-key kind of way. Not bad, but it's still a little lacklustre considering the task at hand. This is the last step in our transaction. We've just finished our task and booked something fun and exciting (at least, if you like cats). A little more energy and excitement is in order for this situation! A change to our easing will help take care of that. We'll keep the general feel of an ease-out, but we'll amp it up with a custom cubic Bézier function created on We'll have our new easing shoot out past the end point and then snap back into place. Our new animation now reads: With that change we've accomplished two things: We've created follow through action by having our box overshoot its destination. We've made the motion feel more energetic by using a curve with more drastic speed changes. In our example of how it looks now it's still too slow, but we'll address that at the end. Add secondary action to your web animation Our button is a prime candidate for some secondary action. It's related to our main alert box, and it can appear slightly afterwards. Its delayed fade-in hints at some secondary action, but we could create a more dramatic effect by having it slide out from under the body of the alert box, as if it's sliding down into place as a reaction to the alert box's upward motion. To accomplish this, we'll add one set of keyframes for that slide down action: Add that animation to our button in addition to its fading in, with slight delays on both so they happen when the main motion has mostly completed: It's already looking like a much more sophisticated and energetic animation! Add some overlap to the animation All of the content within our alert box is moving at the same rate, like it's a flat piece of glass with the text etched onto it. This doesn't fit with our goal of creating an energetic, fun mood with the motion. Animating the text inside the box separately will create some overlapping action to give the motion more life and create the effect of energy transferring from one element to another. To accomplish this, I'll add one more set of keyframes for a less pronounced slide in. I'll apply these to the h2, h3 and the paragraph inside the box, each with a delay. The new set of keyframes is a shortened version of our slideIn animation: All three elements are assigned that animation with varying delays: Our example is really starting to shape up now. Sass variables to manage delays and durations Sass can save you some headaches when it comes to adjusting related durations and delays. I like to set my related durations and delays relative to a global Sass variable – like $dur:.6s, for example – then multiply that variable as needed for related delays and durations. It's a huge time-saver. Add final touches and speed the whole thing up In our final version, the alert box container, text content and button animate in with complimentary motionWe tend to keep animations slower than they need to be while we're designing them. And for good reason: we need to see what's happening in order to make our design decisions. It takes much less time to 'read' an animation than it does to design it, though. Our eyes and brains work very quickly when reading motion, so speeding up our animations is almost always necessary – sometimes as drastically as half the speed. Don't be shy in chopping these durations down. To finish off our example, we'll cut down the durations and adjust the delays accordingly. Optionally, we can also add in some Sass variables for the cubic Bézier values and durations to tidy things up. See our example in its final state. After those few tweaks, our alert box animation is looking much more polished. All the motion involved has been aligned to the message we wanted to convey, using a few of the classic animation principles. These techniques, along with the other eight in the list, can be applied to nearly any web animation task. The more we put them into practice, the better our motion design skills will become. Want to know more about web animation? Award-winning SVG specialist Chris Gannon will talk about interactive web animation at Generate London on 21/22 September, while Aaron Gustafson will explore adaptive interfaces and demonstrate how they smartly morph to meet their users’ needs. The two-day/one-track conference will also cover conversational interfaces, web performance, accessibility, building interfaces for the next billion and much more. If you want to stay ahead of the game with advice from the industry's best, reserve your spot today! This article was originally published in net magazine. Related articles: Understand the 12 principles of animation 10 golden rules for responsive SVGs Happy 30th birthday GIF! View the full article
  10. You're reading Designing Content Upgrade Signup Forms that Grab Attention, originally posted on Designmodo. If you've enjoyed this post, be sure to follow on Twitter, Facebook, Google+! The best email opt-in forms use a lead magnet to draw attention and gather emails. You can spend weeks tweaking a signup form but the biggest factor is usually the content offer. There’s a special type of lead magnet called a content upgrade which gets placed on a relevant piece of content. This usually converts much higher and it’s […] View the full article
  11. Having started life as a private label brand in 2009, watch designer BREDA has come a long way over the years and now operates out of a watch design studio in Dallas, Texas. In fact it has even made big steps forwards during the last 12 months, with its watches addressing some of the design and material flaws we pointed out in our BREDA Valor watches review. As ever, BREDA is a brand that focuses on creating premium watch designs within an accessible price range, so it's a relief to see that the craftsmanship is finally on par with its reasonable pricing. The watches we were given to review come from BREDA's Bresson range. While we found the Valor selection of watches a little lacking in terms of the strap material quality, this isn't the case with the bold and chunky Bresson models. Each comes with thick, genuine leather straps that look more than capable of standing up to being repeatedly fastened day in, day out. The strap material is an improvement on BREDA's previous watchesThe centrepiece of a Bresson watch is its durable case. Just like the stitchless strap, the case has a robust feel and weight to it and is comfortable to wear. And while it's chunky, you won't feel one arm weighing conspicuously more than the other while you're wearing it. Taking its name from photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, the Bresson watch "captures elements from the lens of a camera." Time itself is displayed with an easy to read matte dial and a white watch face with embossed minute markers. The result is a design that has an elegant functionality that both looks good and meets the practical demands of the user. The only issue we ran into while reviewing this range was a usability flaw with the buckle. On one model the buckle unclipped itself while the strap was being fastened, but this was easily clipped back into place and the watch continues to be worn just fine. The stylish packaging keeps the watches nice and safeBresson watches come in an appropriately minimalist cardboard box and sleeve that store the timepieces flat to keep them safe. This is great as it keeps the leather strap in mint condition. Other BREDA watches are supplied in a square box that wraps the strap around internal packaging, so it's good to see that the attention to detail is carried over from the watch to how it's presented. Retailing at $90 (or roughly £70), the Bresson watches deliver much more than other BREDA ranges at just a fractionally higher price. With these timepieces you get value for money and quality craftsmanship to boot. The Bresson range could easily suit day to day wear or be saved for special occasions, so be sure to check it out. Related articles: The 6 best VR headsets for 2017 What if Apple made a Surface Book? Review: Adobe Creative Cloud 2017 View the full article
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  13. Microsoft said Wednesday it would extend its Edge bug bounty program indefinitely. View the full article
  14. Pairing font is a constant challenge for designers and typographers. Putting the wrong fonts together can create a discordant look that ruins a design, while letters that share similar themes or measures can bring a project together. To help creatives match their fonts successfully, Fontjoy has turned to deep learning to make the whole process quicker than ever. Created by designer and engineer Jack Qiao, Fontjoy builds on a similar font mapping tool released earlier this year. By extracting the feature vectors from images of nearly 2,000 fonts, Qiao was able to create a formula that can systematically sift through styles and find fonts that share key characteristics. Users click on a letter to choose a fontOn Fontjoy you can play around with font pairings by selecting styles from the options in the sidebar. Simply choose how similar or contrasting you want the fonts to be by adjusting a scale at the top of the site, then click generate to instantly find a match. The controls take a bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of Fontjoy you'll be able to lock you favourite fonts and experiment with pairings in no time. Fontjoy saves an age-old problem for designers and typographersFor experienced designers Fontjoy might prove to be little more than a starting point for your own experimentation, but for beginners the site is a useful tool in understanding how font styles can work together or against each other. And with Qiao explaining how he created the mapping algorithm on Github, there's even some insights for those who want to start getting into machine learning. Related articles: Great uses of typography in portfolios 10 different fonts to give your projects a unique edge Genius map tool sorts fonts by how they look View the full article
  15. OpenVPN patched four vulnerabilities privately disclosed by Dutch researcher Guido Vranken, including a critical issue that could lead to remote code execution. View the full article
  16. Pearlfisher originally specialised in packaging, but over its 25 years in business the agency has shifted focus to branding, working with iconic clients such as Cadbury, Starbucks and Innocent. Brand strategists Molly Rowan Hamilton and Kristoffer Fink Parup explain how Pearlfisher's Strategy division works, and reveal some of the tools and techniques they use to get to the heart of a brand. Here are their four golden rules for developing a brand strategy: 01. Look to the future to see the present "The big question always is: 'What do you want your brand to become ultimately?'" argues Fink Parup. "'Where is it 10 years down the line, and why is that so?'" By asking this kind of open question, he adds, you can reveal the deeper thinking behind a brand, as well as any underlying issues or blind spots. "We might have a different opinion about what's going to be relevant, how the industry is shifting, and we can have a conversation about that." 02. Engage in informal conversations Interacting with clients on a conversational level feels less like an interview and helps to humanise the process. "Often clients will express things they don't necessarily realise they're expressing," observes Rowan Hamilton. "Ideas and solutions can just come about, and it's our job to see them, and to extract meaning." When it comes to challenger brands in particular, she continues, it often helps to start by asking what their competitors are doing wrong. The design language Pearlfisher created for non-alcoholic beverage Seedlip is influenced by the distillation of natural ingredients03. Understand the brand's trajectory Pearlfisher works with challenger and iconic brands, and everything in between: "We map brands out on their trajectory upwards towards iconic," explains Fink Parup. "Of course, once you reach iconic status, there's still competition – it's not like some kind of nirvana where nobody's going to touch you." It can still pay to have that scrappy challenger mentality to shake things up, and Fink Parup gives Virgin as a great example of that. 04. Tailor strategy to market position Depending on where a brand is on that trajectory, the goal of the strategy is different. "For a challenger brand, you need to know what to challenge, and how," Rowan Hamilton points out. "For iconic brands, it's more about nurturing – understanding why people love you, and cherishing that to keep you as iconic as you possibly can be for as long as possible." Often, she adds, people's affection for a brand originally stems from its original challenger mentality. Want to learn more from Pearlfisher's branding experts? You can watch our interviews with them: Build an iconic brand Develop your studio culture Design with strategy in mind This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 265; buy it here! Related articles: Create the perfect brand voice 4 expert tips for creating a killer brand strategy 10 top tips for branding success View the full article
  17. Working from home seems like heaven – the commute is non-existent, there are no arguments about whose turn it is to make the tea round, and you can even work in your pyjamas. Designers and artists especially can gain the most from working from home as it allows the creation of a personal work environment and schedule suited to you and you alone. Personally having the ability to work from home has enabled me to see much more of my family and also work with a wider range of clients than potentially are available if I was just working as a studio freelance artist. However, there can be problems. It can be hard to manage client expectations, and there are all those little home chores to distract you. There are also issues that might not have even crossed your mind: can you send large files from home? Is your free graphic design software up to the task? Will you still know how to network after being stuck at home all day? After freelancing for several years for clients both at their studios and from my home base, I'm going to share some of my tips for working from home effectively. 01. Make your own space Making your own space is critical to working from homeThe most important element for any creative work is to find a dedicated work space. If you're sharing with a partner or housemates (and especially if kids are at home too), putting a laptop on the kitchen table and thinking that is an office is not going to work – for you, or the people you live with. It's their home as well. 10 things nobody tells you about going freelanceIn my case I am lucky to have an old shed with power (but no heating) that I work in during the day, and when I need to work at nights I have desk set up away from the main living space. This enables me to work and not get in the way of my wife when she wants to relax. So try and find a space in the house, which is not a bedroom, that can be dedicated to work. 02. Give your clients access Tools like Dropbox can make working from home with clients a seamless experienceThe most important bills I pay as a home-based freelancer are not for software upgrades or for new computers, they are for unlimited fibre internet, Dropbox Pro and my smartphone. These give me the ability to be available to my clients, through Skype and screen sharing. I keep my work files on Dropbox grouped by client. I then share them with my clients so that they can have immediate access to my work files if they need. This system has worked with clients from Soho to San Diego, and helps dispel any worry a client may have in not having direct involvement in the work that they are paying for. Dropbox also keeps my computers in sync, which means if I am travelling to meetings or am away from the house I know I have access to all of my work files in the cloud on any device. For more options, take a look at our post on free tools for sending large files. 03. Be disciplined Dedicate quiet periods to useful tasks such as updating your portfolio website Working from home successfully is dependant on treating it as seriously as working in an office. It may sound counter-intuitive but I still find it is useful to get ready for work if I am working from home. I get dressed in clothes that I would be happy to wear if I was working at a client's studio, and make sure I am available to clients from 8.30am to 6pm when I am working from home. If you do not have any billable work due on that specific work day, try not to make that a reason to switch on daytime TV. Instead, make yourself the client: update your design portfolio, website or your showreel, check in with existing clients or potential new ones, spend some time doing training, and if you spend that day on personal work, make sure it is in a format that can be used for self-promotion. 04. Work when it's best for you Smartphones and tablets mean you can stay in contact with clients when you're outThe payoff for this personal discipline is that you can organise your day around when you're naturally at your most creative or productive, as well as scheduling things like rendering or application compiling at a time and location that suits you. The caveat is to make sure you're not suddenly working a schedule that impacts on downtime. Try to maintain the number of hours you would want to work if you were working in a studio. The key reason for this is to avoid burnout, but it also ensures you're not losing money if you're working to an agreed day rate with your client. 05. Stay active Build some exercise into your routineOnce you've managed to get ourself into a routine where you are successfully working from home it can be easy to forget that there are some benefits to working in a studio. As much as we all hate the commute, at least the walk to the car or train is exercise. So try and get out of the house at least once a day – even if it is just to buy some lunch. Personally I took up running. My least productive part of the day is between 10am and 11.30am, so using this time for a run and making it an early lunch hour means at least I feel I am doing something useful with my time, as well as being reminded why I work at home in the first place (I live in the South Downs). 06. Don't become a hermit Consider meeting clients in coffee shopsThe other thing that working in a studio offers is human contact. While Twitter and other forms of social media are brilliant for news and banter and can keep the hermit tendencies at bay, do try to make a couple of days every few weeks to meet with clients, have lunch with friends and generally get out of the house and see things other than the wall behind your computer screen. Related articles: How to conduct a successful project debrief 85% of freelance graphic designers were asked to work for free last year 6 must-have skills for young web developers View the full article
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  19. It's a mixed bag this month. As always, we round up the best new art books: there's a love letter to the Arctic by an artist who has undertaken several expeditions to paint its wildlife, people, and places; there's a book about art and magic and advertising; and there's another that teaches you the techniques of the 'Famous Artists School’. Fancy having a crack at Chinese brush painting? We've got that covered, too. We're exploring the art of the old American west and street art from New York City in the 1980s. Plus, we've got some nice gear to smarten up your workspace. And we've also got a cool new product from the PANTONE Living range. 01. Beginning Chinese Brush Learn to paint birds, flowers and traditional Chinese landscapesThe new book in the 'Special Subjects' series offers everything you need to get into Chinese brush painting. Artist Monika Cilmi is your guide. She helps you to pick the right brush, learn basic techniques, brushstrokes and composition, as you practice painting birds, flowers, and traditional landscapes. Cilmi also shows you how incorporate these traditional methods into your own artistic approach, whatever that may be. 02. Wolf hair Chinese brushes These top-rated Chinese brushes are an affordable option for beginnersThese top-rated Chinese brushes, made of wood and wolf hair, come in three sizes. They hold a lot of water, handle ink well, and are nicely balanced. We’d recommend them as a good entry-level brush, but they are also capable of tackling more advanced projects. Plus, they’re very affordable, so you don't need to spend a ton of money to make a start in traditional Chinese writing and painting. 03. Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists School This book follows the renowned Famous Artists School's courseThe Famous Artists School is an art correspondence course founded in 1948 by Albert Dorne, Norman Rockwell, and other members of the New York Society of Illustrators. This book is based on the course, and takes you through the processes of these artists. Each chapter takes you through lessons and exercises in classic drawing technique. There's also a ton of pieces taken from Norman Rockwell Museum and the Golden Age of Illustration, but particularly interesting are the before-and-after examples of student work. 04. Keith Haring: Posters exhibition See 100 posters from the American artist and activist's short careerThis month's oh-man-I-wish-could-go-to-that exhibition takes place at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg. Keith Haring: Posters features 100 posters that show how the American artist and activist's style developed over his short career. It features work in support of human rights, tolerance, education and AIDS awareness, as well as stuff Haring sold in his New York Pop Shop. The exhibition is a cool retrospective on the work of one of the late 20th century’s most influential artists. 05. Once Upon a Time ... The Western The book explores the American west's impact on art, culture and societyThis new book explores the facts and fictions of the American west, the 'story of nation-building, triumphs, failures and fantasies.' It features art by American west artists like Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Remington, but also works by modern artists such as Andy Warhol and Kent Monkman. The book looks at the Western in film too, from early works by John Ford and Sergio Leone, to recent productions by Quentin Tarantino and Joel and Ethan Coen, all the while exploring the genre's impact on art, culture, and society. 06. Holiday Art Creative Gift Box Dip into travel journalling with this dedicated setThis new art travel set from Snapdragon has a travel diary with alternating blank and lined pages so you can keep a written and illustrated journal of your travels. The Scottish brand also includes an eraser, pencils, a pencil sharpener, and a pencil case to keep them all in, stackable watercolour paints and watercolour postcards, and lead holder and spare leads – everything you need to take your art on the road. 07. Illusions: The Art of Magic This book offers a fascinating insight into the early days of art and advertisingDuring the ‘golden age of magic' – between the late 19th and early 20th centuries – magicians fought an advertising war. Devils, demons, skulls, skeletons, and glamorous assistants, pictured on elaborately designed posters, were used to pull in an audiences. This book contains 250 of those posters. Experts look at the social context in which the posters were created and the artists employed to create them. It's a fascinating look at the early days of art and advertising, and how the two overlap. 08. PANTONE water bottle Looking for some unnecessary but cool homeware?The new PANTONE Living range has a loads of cool lifestyle stuff that you don't really need, but you do really, really want. Made from impact-resistant material, with a stainless steel screw-top, this is a tough, long-lasting water bottle. It's good for the environment and all that, but mainly it just looks dead smart. And, obviously, the bottles come a range of colours – Black 419 being our favourite. 09. Personalised oak pen and pencil holder Smarten up your studio with this range of oak stationeryBespoke & Oak Co. – a British company based in the Forest of Bowland – has a new range that includes some cool stuff to smarten your studio. This handmade solid oak pen/pencil holder comes with a personalised message on the bottom. There's also ton of matching gear, so, if you’re so inclined, you can completely oak-ify your workspace with everything from oak stationery to oak iMac stands. 10. David Bellamy’s Arctic light Cool down with this love letter to the ArcticComing off the back of several expeditions, this book by David Bellamy is a love letter to his 'beloved Arctic.' The artist writes beautifully about his travels in the region, sharing the challenges of painting outdoors in one of the toughest environments on Earth. It's illustrated with Bellamy's atmospheric watercolour sketches and paintings, each one showing his love for the people, places, and wildlife of the Arctic Circle. Related articles: Review: Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable brushes 5 things you need for oil painting ImagineFX 150th anniversary issue: Look inside! View the full article
  20. Avaya released a patch last week for a remote code execution vulnerability in its Avaya Aura Application Enablement Services software. View the full article
  21. Web design is a skill that just about anyone can have use for, whether it's to build your business or just to build a web presence for your hobby. Master the skill and the apps that experts trust with the Web Design CPD Certification Bundle, on sale now for 97% off! Web design all starts off with the languages of HTML5 and CSS3. You can add the foundational languages to your repertoire, then learn how to make the most of them with the Web Design CPD Certification Bundle. Once you master the coding languages, you can learn how to use them with Adobe's powerful tools – Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver – to take your design to the next level. You can get the Web Design CPD Certification Bundle, which usually retails for $1,596 for all four parts of the bundle, on sale now for 97% off the retail price. That's a saving you won't find elsewhere for a bundle this useful, so grab this deal today! View the full article
  22. So, you've decided to start your own blog? It might be to share your expert drawing tips or just to drum up a bit of interest in your design portfolio, but before you rush into anything, consider this: the web (and in particular the blogosphere) is a crowded place. With so many blogs out there, it's important to make sure you know how to start a blog that stands out from the crowd. Your blog needs to be attractive, creative and clever. But more than that, your blog design needs to speak to your readers. It needs to tell them why you're different, what you're offering, and why they should take the time to read on. So, do you need to know how to start a blog that will attract and enthral? Here are 10 tips that will get you started and help you take your offering from interesting to inspirational... 01. Choose a blogging platform You're spoiled for choice when it comes to platforms, and most are freeThere are several blogging platforms out there, from Blogger and WordPress to Tumblr, Squarespace and Ghost. Or if you're feeling bold and know your code, you can create your blog from scratch. Which platform you choose will very much depend on what you're most comfortable using, how involved you want to be with the creation process, and what you plan to put on it. The good news is that most of these are either free blog platforms or offer a trial session so you can give it a whirl and see if it suits you. 02. Decide on the blog's content Sort out your content plan or you'll be heading for yet another abandoned blog of shameYou want to learn how to start a blog, but do you know what you want a blog for in the first place? Blogging for the sake of blogging is pointless – you'll soon get bored and your carefully crafted site will soon be home to nothing but tumbleweed. Sometimes it is a good idea to grab a notepad and pen before you even start. Jot down the types of blog posts you'd like to publish so you always have a reference point you can come back to if the ideas seem to have dried up. Only then should you move on – you know how to start a blog, now it's time to design and populate it... 03. Keep your blog design simple Free Wordpress themes such as InterStellar offer simple design When creating a design blog, it can be tempting to go crazy. After all, you want your blog to stand out and for people to remember you. How harmful can a rainbow of colours and a plethora of fonts be? The answer is: Very. Keep your blog design simple. Stick to no more than three colours, and three fonts. With fonts; you need a heading, subheading and body copy font. Your main text font can then be enhanced by different weights or attributes, but keep these to a minimum. 04. Use contrasting colours The design of The Fox is Black is based on a simple black and fluoro yellow colour scheme Don't go crazy, and keep to a simple colour scheme. Contrasting colours can work well in the right design. It's a good rule of thumb that your blog features a main primary colour, a shade of grey, and a colour for your call-to-action. 05. Embrace white space The Entyce site isn't afraid to make use of white space When finding inspiration before you create a design blog, don't be afraid of white space – it can really enhance your design and keep it looking professional. Don't be afraid to leave some parts of the design empty where it warrants it. You should also use white space as borders to help highlight key parts of the blog. Remember, sometimes less really is more. 06. Keep your design goal-driven Web design resource Treehouse uses its blog to promote its courses If the purpose of your blog is to get conversions – whether that's sales, signups, or enquires – then everything else comes second. This means you should create a design blog that is designed with three things in mind: Topic: What is your blog about? Value proposition: What makes it unique? Audience: Who is your main target audience? To get conversions, your design blog needs a strong call-to-action in its design, be that headlines, prominent buttons, or even arrows. A goal-driven design will help your blog convert, and keep visitors coming back time and time again. 07. Follow conventions Superdream makes its posts easy to navigate It can be easy to forget about the important features of a blog when getting creative with the design. Whatever your blog ends up looking like, make sure you keep the main conventions of a blog in place. These include: Sidebars Headers Subscription options Author attribution Search bars These all make your design blog easy to navigate, which is a highly important feature. Keeping these elements in place will make your content easy to find, and keep your visitors on the blog for longer. Together, all this adds up to a goal-driven design. 08. Experiment For Print Only uses bold graphics and grids Although for the most part it's important to follow conventions, that doesn't mean you shouldn't break the rules from time to time! Try a few new elements, and experiment with colours, fonts, and placement. By mixing things up, you create a visually exciting experience for your audience. Just make sure that your readers can always find your posts, and exactly what they're looking for. 09. Make it responsive Test your design with a tool like Google's Resizer Nowadays, responsive web design is a prerequisite for any respectable design blog. Work closely with a designer and developer to help produce a design that is both eye-catching and functional. 10. Promote it! WIth a tool such as Hootsuite you can easily do most of your social shizzle in one go There is no point in knowing how to start a blog without learning how to promote it too... This is where social media comes into its own. Create Facebook and Twitter pages for your blog, or use existing accounts to shout about it. If you are involving a lot of images in your blog, why not set up Pinterest and Instagram accounts, too? Most modern blogging platforms such as Squarespace provide integration for everything from Twitter and Instagram to Tumblr and Dribbble, so you can spread the message quickly and effectively. Related articles: The 14 best free blogging platforms 12 must-have code testing tools The 34 best free WordPress themes View the full article
  23. Great collaboration means pulling together everybody's different areas of expertise to develop great ideas, and sharing workloads to get much more done in less time. Here we talk to Alison Coward – founder of creative teamwork facilitator Bracket and author of Effective Workshops – about how to improve teamwork. What can people do to improve communication and teamwork? AC: Firstly, you can make a big impact by having better meetings. All teams have to meet, but often there are too many meetings, and most of them are unproductive. Each time you call a meeting, ask the question: what is the purpose? Then choose the most appropriate format for it – a quick check-in, feedback meeting, ideation session or something else – so that you can make the best use of everyone’s time. Secondly, make time to have conversations about how your team works together. This includes the types of meetings you have, but also how people will stay up-to-date throughout a project. What tools will you use? How will you share new ideas? What do you expect from each other? Understand how and when everyone does their best work, then use this to design processes that will make for productive working. Finally, encourage everyone to be as transparent as possible in their work so that, at any one time, everyone can see tasks and timelines and what the project status is. That way the team can identify bottlenecks and feel a shared sense of responsibility. Coward says that meetings need focus to be effectiveAnd what are the biggest obstacles to better teamwork? AC: Avoiding conflict is a big one. When teams feel that they have to agree on everything to keep the peace, it leads to groupthink, which then leads to mediocre ideas. The fact is, the best teams are diverse in their ways of thinking, skills and expertise. This will naturally lead to tension, but this conflict is necessary to challenge and improve ideas. It can be uncomfortable, but if managed in the right way (like Pixar’s Braintrust), it can create a great environment for outstanding work. I also see teams struggle to make the switch between ideation (divergent thinking) and decision-making (convergent thinking). Ideas need enough space to breathe, incubate and develop. But then to make progress you need to select ideas and critically evaluate them. Teams get stuck when there isn’t clarity between the two. My tip is to clearly separate divergent and convergent thinking, especially in workshops. How can workshops (rather than meetings) transform projects? AC: People love the energy of a great workshop, and providing there is good follow-up, it creates momentum that continues after the event itself. It can give people the confidence in their creativity, and show the benefits of effective collaboration. Workshops are dynamic, with people standing up, moving around, using the walls to display and work through ideas. A typical meeting format is more static and, without facilitation, a few voices will dominate. Workshops are better for problem solving because more than one person can get involved at the same time. How do you help creative teams work better and more effectively? AC: The majority, although not all, of my work takes place through workshops – either facilitated, training or a combination of both. Sometimes I’ll work with a team on something specific – to kick off a project, brainstorm ideas or develop a strategy. This involves figuring out what they need to achieve, designing and running a workshop that achieves that, and then doing what I can to help them put it into practice. It could even be as specific as helping a client to design a workshop for a session they want to run themselves. But essentially I’m designing a process for a productive discussion, and to be an objective outsider. Or it may be that I’ll work with a team to help them improve the way that they work. This involves a bit of training on the principles of great teams, bringing in examples and research. Then I’ll work with them to identify an aspect of their work that they’d like to improve and design a new method or habit that they can try. I love these sessions because it’s a great opportunity for a team to turn their creativity and design skills on themselves. Different companies are developing 'team habits' to promote teamworkLooking at companies that get teamwork right, what do they do well? AC: I really love finding innovative examples of teamwork, and it’s great because more teams are sharing aspects of how they are trying to work better together. I like to call these 'team habits'. For example, Asana set up No Meeting Wednesdays across the whole company, so that everyone has a day where they can get their heads down and focus. It’s not mandatory, but workers are encouraged not to have any internal meetings on that day. I liked the way that the Nordnet Design Studio decided the best format for each of their meetings, and then set up a weekly, monthly and quarterly rhythm for when each meeting would run. Buffer recently shared the ten agreements they’ve created for using Slack, which can easily become overwhelming. By creating these simple rules, they’ve helped their colleagues to be as productive as possible. The thing about all these examples is that they’re ever-evolving. These teams will keep experimenting, reviewing and updating processes as they need to. It’s like they’ve developed a skill for it, and see it as a problem-solving and creative exercise. Can you talk us through a recent project you worked on and how you’ve helped the client? AC: I ran a series of workshops with the senior management team at a fast-growing creative company. They were starting a big recruitment drive and wanted to package up their values and systems so that they could create a good onboarding experience. When we ran the first workshop, the first thing we realised was that they were all so busy they hadn’t had the time to properly explore their strategy. They all had different ideas of the company’s potential! So we looked at aspects of branding, culture, competitive advantage and their business model. They told me that the workshops were a pivotal moment for them, as they led to a series of breakthroughs that really helped them to boost their growth. Coward will share her tips for finding a good balance between creativity and productivity at Generate London What can people expect to take away from your talk at Generate London?AC: My talk is about designing teamwork, so I’ll look at the ways teams can take a proactive approach to better collaboration. People will get practical tips about making small changes that will have a big impact, whatever their role in a team. I’ll reveal how to run great workshops, creating a good balance between creativity and productivity and building good team habits that stick. Generate London, taking place on 21 and 22 September in the Royal Institution, will feature 15 other great presentations for web and UX designers and is preceded by a full day of workshops on 20 September. Don't miss the opportunity to learn from the likes of Steve Fisher, Leonie Watson, Anton & Irene, Zell Liew, Aaron Gustafson and many more. Reserve your spot today! Related articles: Learn to run design and content sprints Why you should embrace design thinking How to be truly customer-centric View the full article
  24. Whatever design discipline you work in, a decent knowledge and understanding of typography is one of the most important things you need to develop. Luckily, the web is packed with free, quality resources for learning about typography – if you know where to look. Whether you’re a newbie starting from scratch, or want to build on your existing typography skills, you’re sure to find plenty to sink your teeth into with the following offerings. 01. Typography rules and terms every designer must know Learn the basic terms and rules with this comprehensive introduction to typographyTypography is, quite simply, the art and technique of arranging type. It's central to the skills of a designer and is about much more than making the words legible. This comprehensive glossary sets out the fundamental concepts and terminology of typography in words you can understand. 02. Butterick’s Practical Typography This free online book by Matthew Butterick, author of Typography for Lawyers, is a great introduction to everything you need to know about typography. The book begins with the five key rules of typography (which should only take 10 minutes to read and digest), followed by chapters on why typography matters, type composition, text formatting, font recommendations, page layout, and sample documents. With a comprehensive appendix, there’s everything here to help raise your typography knowledge from newbie to intermediate. 03. Infographic: a designer's guide to typography and fonts The Logo Company's stylish infographic clearly explains the alphabet of typography termsThere's a lot more to typography design than meets the eye. In fact there are a range of rules and technical terms relating to the construction and make up of fonts that most people simply don't know about. To help demystify things, The Logo Company has put together this stylish infographic that clearly explains an alphabet’s worth of typography terms. 04. Typography cheatsheet Typewolf’s cheatsheet will help you use typographic characters properlyTypewolf is an invaluable blog for keeping up with the latest in fonts and typography. And here it's supplied a handy cheatsheet to help you use typographic characters properly, including quotes and apostrophes, dashes and hyphens, and correct grammatical usage. 05. Master the finer points of typography Typography is an essential part of the communication process, whether it’s used in print, on screen or in any other media. It’s used to attract attention, engage the reader and convey meaning, and this article explores the aesthetic dimension of type to see how it serves and enhances design. 06. How to choose the right typeface When it comes to picking a typeface, you can't rely on gut alone. Making the right choice depends on function, context and a whole host of other factors. These quick tips will help ensure you go about it the right way. 07. Guide to font pairing This article explains the basics of choosing great font combinationsPicking great fonts can seem like an impossible dark art for most people. This article explains the basics of choosing great font combinations and then offers the author’s favourite combinations to try out in your own designs. 08. Four techniques for combining fonts Building a palette is an intuitive process, and expanding a typographic duet to three, four, or even five voices can be daunting. Here, Hoefler & Co explains its approach for mixing font families, by keeping one quality consistent, and letting the others vary. 09. Expert tips to improve your kerning Kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between letters to achieve a visually pleasing result. Some designers find it easy, others a tricky process where success is achieved more by luck than real judgement. This article brings together 10 tips to put you on the right track. 10. Guide to typography on your homepage These top tips will help you nail the typography on your homepageTypography can often make the difference between a good and a great website. This article brings together five tips to nail the typography of your homepage. Next page: 10 more great resources for learning typography 11. Understanding typographic hierarchy Typographic hierarchy is a system for organising type that establishes an order of importance within the data, allowing the reader to easily find what they are looking for and to navigate the content. This article offers a simple example and explains how you can achieve typographic hierarchy in your own designs. 12. How to achieve better typographic hierarchy in web design If you can’t put your finger on why a web design isn’t working, the odds are good that it’s an issue with your visual or typographic hierarchy. This article offers six tips for designing online content that people will actually want to read. 13. The rules of responsive web typography This article takes the mystery out of responsive web typographyResponsive web typography is tough – you need to have both design chops and technical know-how. This article explains all the principles and systems you need to know to take the mystery out of responsive web typography. 14. Control web typography with CSS font The way a browser loads your fonts has a big impact on the performance of your website. This article explains the different ways to tell the browser do it, and which to use when. 15. Master accessible web typography Readability of content is probably the main goal for almost every website. To this end, Fontsmith has worked with Mencap to research, test and design accessible typefaces for those with disabilities. In this article, we present some of their findings. 16. How accessible is your typeface? This infographic explains how to gauge the accessibility of your typefacesAccessible typography gets your message across smoothly, and makes it more legible for people with learning difficulties. This infographic from Fontsmith explains how designers can gauge the accessibility of their typefaces. 17. How to create your own font Where exactly do you begin if you want to make your own font? If you're a designer or illustrator new to this discipline, this article explains the first practical steps, the common software you can use and the early considerations to get you going. 18. The 10 commandments of typography Learning typography is as much about what you shouldn’t do as what you should. This article looks at common type mistakes, how you can avoid them and some suggestions for further reading along the way. 19. Typography tricks every designer should know Pro designers share their top typography tipsWant to push your typography skills further? This article shares 10 typography tips and tricks from professional designers that you can use to boost your design skills and impress friends and colleagues. 20. Top-quality typography tutorials This post brings together the web's best typography tutorials, all in one place. You'll find typography tutorials on adding colour to your type, designing text effects, making a typography poster, illustrative typography, and more. View the full article
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  26. Router manufacturer TP-Link recently fixed a vulnerability in a discontinued line of routers that if exploited could have been used to execute code on the device. View the full article
  27. Researchers find flaws in an internet-connected drill, but say minimal, hard-to-find bugs indicate there is hope for IoT security. View the full article
  28. Whenever you create vector art in Illustrator, simple tasks can become a hindrance to your workflow. So instead of becoming frustrated, take a look at our list of Illustrator shortcuts right here. They're guaranteed to speed up your workflow once you get the hang of them. Whether you want to change the size of your text, deselect a layer or merge a series of layers, we've got it covered! There are also some handy hints for brushes, saving and closing, and viewing options. Introduce the shortcuts slowly into your practice so you're not overwhelmed by the sheer amount to remember. Handy Photoshop shortcuts to speed up your workflow 01. Select all items on layer Mac: Option+Click layer Windows: Alt+Click layer Quickly select all the items on one particular layer – including those that are locked and not visible (to select only the visible, unlocked objects, click the select circle in the layers palette). 02. Hand Tool Mac: Spacebar Windows: Spacebar Move around your artboard without disturbing the content. This shortcut can't be used while editing typography. 03. Hand Tool (Editing type) Mac: Cmd+Spacebar Windows: Ctrl+Spacebar Move around your artboard without disturbing the content. This can be used while editing type, but you have to start moving the cursor around very quickly after releasing the Cmd/Ctrl key, otherwise Illustrator will start adding spaces to your text. 04. Activate Zoom In tool Mac: Cmd+Spacebar Windows: Ctrl+Spacebar Zoom closer into the artboard. 05. Activate Zoom Out tool Mac: Cmd+Option+Spacebar Windows: Ctrl+Alt+Spacebar Zoom out of the artboard. 06. Access Selection or Direction Selection tool Mac: Cmd Windows: Ctrl Switch between the Selection or Direction Selection tool – a big time saver. 07. Move Selection 10 pts Mac: Shift+arrow direction Windows: Shift+arrow direction Shift your imagery and/or typography accurately and quickly. 08. Add to a selection Mac: Shift-click Windows: Shift-click Create multiple selections, with the ability to add more if needed. 09. Lock selected artwork Mac: Cmd+2 Windows: Ctrl+2 This is a handy way to lock down those layers that keep getting in the way. 10. Unlock all artwork Mac: Cmd+Option+2 Windows: Ctrl+Alt+2 Unlock previously locked layers all at once. 11. Duplicate Mac: Option+drag Windows: Alt+drag Just drag your selection while holding Option to duplicate the file. 12. Scale proportionally with Selection tool Mac: Shift+drag bounding box Windows: Shift+drag bounding box Never distort your images again: scale them proportionally with this method. 13. Sample colour Mac: I Windows: I Sample colour from a vector, gradient or image with the eyedropper tool. 14. Show/hide artboards Mac: Cmd+Shift+H Windows: Ctrl+Shift+H Each artboard is bound by solid lines that represent the maximum printable area, with a canvas area beyond these boundaries. This shortcut shows/hides the artboard boundaries. 15. Show/hide artboard rulers Mac: Cmd+R Windows: Ctrl+R Make sure everything lines up by toggling rulers on. 16. View all artboards in window Mac: Cmd+Option+O Windows: Ctrl+Alt+O Shows you multiple artboards at once. 17. Decrease/increase type size Mac: Cmd+Shift+< or > Windows: Ctrl+Shift+< or > An effective way of changing your font size directly in front of your eyes. 18. Decrease/Increase leading Mac: Option+up/down Windows: Alt+up/down Quickly adjust the kerning without having to keep clicking in the character tab. 19. Decrease/Increase kerning or tracking Mac: Option+arrow L/R Windows: Alt+arrow L/R Adjust the space between your text in Illustrator with this handy command. 20. Align text left/centre/right Mac: Cmd-Shift-L/C/R Windows: Ctrl+Shift+L/C/R A great way to experiment with the alignment of your text, this shortcut will enable you to do it quickly. 21. Save for Web and Devices Mac: Cmd+Shift+Opt+S Windows: Ctrl+Shift+Alt+S If you prefer not to drag your mouse around a number of options, use this shortcut. Related articles: Review: Adobe Illustrator CC 2017 Make a logo in Illustrator 100 amazing Adobe Illustrator tutorials View the full article
  29. Last month saw the release of the poster for Spider-Man: Homecoming. The design was – well – pretty crowded to say the least. Featuring Peter Parker, Tony Stark as himself, Tony Stark as Iron Man, new baddie Adrian Toomes and the Vulture twice, plus both fireworks and lasers, and the Manhattan skyline and the Washington Monument squished in for good measure. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for the internet to react, with fans and critics offering a unanimously negative response. Some even took the time to mock up their own versions, arguing that there was no way to make the poster worse than it already was. And while some called it a bad Photoshop job and others branded it plain amateurish, the collage-style it evokes is nothing new. Click the icon in the top right to enlarge the image The likes of Drew Struzan and John Alvin became iconic for their illustrated, collage-style, ‘floating-head’ poster designs, so why is it that posters of a similar style now seem lazy and inauthentic? Is it all down to lazy Photoshop work? Or is it simply that mainstream movie posters are mimicking the apathetic movie industry – producing sequel after sequel, remake after remake – that despite what the poster looks like, the movie will sell well anyway. Illustrator Sam Gilbey, who has produced pop culture artwork for properties including Marvel's Avengers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Karate Kid and Flash Gordon, argues that the introduction of Photoshop may have harmed the industry by making it easier for inexperienced designers to put together collage-style posters without the design skills to back them up. “Obviously you think of the masters like Richard Amsel, working pre-Photoshop, and you can see how marketing departments have often thought they can now produce something similar internally,” he explains. “If you’re simply moving photos around though, you’re not going to get that cohesiveness that an illustration can bring you. A skilled artist can take all those disparate elements and weave them together into a beautiful composition, whilst capturing the aspirational ‘feel’ of a movie at the same time. Of course now the fantastic thing is that as an artist you can use Photoshop to aid the process. The ‘problem’ is that you don’t need to be an artist to give it a try, or to understand how good compositions and colour palettes really work.” Out of context It seems that colour palette and composition is where this Spider-Man poster begins to go wrong, as illustrator Graham Humphreys explains. “My first impression is an issue with colour balance and the obvious cut-outs – the images don't appear to exist in the same context,” he says. “Even though we are used to seeing unrealistic scale and smaller elements alongside larger ones, effects of colour and light should allow the suspension of physics and scale. In this poster, it would appear that no such consideration has been applied. It looks more like a page in a scrapbook – a concept in itself perhaps, but not one clearly intended (or relevant) here.” This recent Transformers poster is another casualty of the scrapbook-style approach The participants gaze in all directions without having any idea there might be someone else in the same poster Graham Humphreys He adds that when the poster composition needs to be of the floaty-head variety, there still needs to be a form of narrative. This is usually achieved through eyelines, emotional expressions and reactions, which can add a layer of interest and insight into the film’s storyline and characters. “Here, the participants gaze in all directions without having any idea there might be someone else in the same poster! In addition, they are all closed-mouthed, neutral gazes – with the bizarre exception of a curiously happy young lady in the bottom right,” he continues. “The angle from which the heads are viewed are also numerous and without order. There is no narrative of threat, romance, fear, good, evil... in fact none of the theatrical tropes that are recognisable human traits and cinematic emblems. Unless boredom is the intended threat.” Marketing casualty Sadly, BLT – the agency that produced this poster – was unable to discuss any specifics of the poster due to the client relationship. However, this particular design is jarringly different to the posters the agency initially released, which saw Spider-Man hanging out in various NYC spots. Initial designs feature Spider-Man hanging out in NYCBLT is also responsible for some of the best poster designs and campaigns in recent months – its fantastic Baby Driver campaign and the brilliant rom-com Deadpool ad for example. So why such a break from form? “One thing that I can recognise is client intervention,” explains Humphreys. "Endless changes that will please executives, accountants and marketing needs, but changes made in ignorance of the visual cohesion that might have made a good poster. Most designers and illustrators will attest to this endless mortal combat." Perhaps the cult of celebrity and the selfie have crushed the soul out of mainstream cinema posters Graham Humphreys “Mainstream posters, by and large, are marketing tools intended to appeal to a wide base that it is assumed has no interest in lasting design or creative integrity. A quick look at the work of Saul Bass will tell us that this wasn't always so. His amazing work on mainstream releases shows us that a cloud of disengaged headshots isn't the only way a poster can communicate the core of a film. "With access to so much imagery and visual stimuli now (more than ever), how have we become so visually illiterate that only a roughly assembled photograph of the cast reassures us we are going to be entertained? Perhaps the cult of celebrity and the selfie have crushed the soul out of mainstream cinema posters. I hope not.” Alternative routes Gibley argues that it’s not all bad though. With an increase in alternative movie poster design (see the likes of Olly Moss and Mondo), studios have clocked on to the fact that this type of aesthetic can give their movie an edge (and allow them to sell a bunch of prints). Moonlight, The Lobster and Green Room are all examples of studios producing interesting, timeless pieces, giving hope that there are still decent mainstream movie posters out there. "It feels like overall, decent movie posters are actually becoming more common, even if they’re being done in parallel to the main campaigns,” Gibley says. Alternative approaches stand out even more in the current marketHe points out that, although it's a shame not many actual campaign posters are being assigned to individual artists and designers, it's exciting to see alternative interpretations being shared on social media or given away at IMAX screenings. On top of that, many older movies are getting new artwork when they are re-released on Blu-ray. "Whilst that Spider-man one stands out for being particularly terrible, hopefully the negative reaction will actually keep moving us onwards,” he adds. Related articles: 5 outrageous product placements in movies Are these vintage concept movie posters better than the originals? The top 25 movie posters of all time View the full article
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