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  1. Almost 30 years ago, Wallace and Gromit went to the moon on a Grand Day Out that would launch Aardman Animations into global fame, and earn the company and its art director Nick Park a place in the hearts of the nation. A string of hits later, and Bristol’s best-loved animation studio is still going strong. The 27 greatest animated music videos And for the past decade, its interactive department – which was founded off the back of a Channel 4 online animation project, 4mations – has grown in tandem. Aardman Interactive’s first official employee, group creative director Daniel Efergan, shares how it happened… Did you help build the concept of the department? There was a seed that started it. A guy, Paul Deane, who now works at the BBC – he’s like the grandfather of interactive – pulled us all together around the 4mations project. We delivered it, and then it was like, ‘Okay, if we’re going to keep doing this, what should we be?’ Even that didn’t go quickly. It felt like a startup company in the middle of Aardman; we were just surviving for the first year. Did you get much support from the rest of the Aardman network? Everyone was supportive, but one of our journeys was helping everyone understand what interactivity means, and the potential of it. Ten years ago, we were marketers. There wasn’t a structured funding model, or ways to make money outside of being a form of advertising for other stuff. As the industry has grown up, we have grown up with it to transfer into a tangible product that has value in itself. How do you develop a strategy for a project? For us, it’s always about the idea. We try and ensure that the love and care and passion comes with it, so we fight against splitting apart the idea creators and the people that produce the project. Over time, you end up with people over here going, ‘Oh, I’ve got this great idea,’ and throwing it over this virtual fence to a load of production people, who are then like, ‘I’ve got to make this, and I don’t necessarily love it.’ So we make sure that the creative directors and the producers really care about what they’re doing. Pitch it, believe in it and deliver it all the way through to the end. The idea itself depends on a project-by-project basis. We are very hand-built, which suits the culture of Aardman. We don’t tend to lean on technical engines or previously supplied processes over and over again, potentially against our own benefits of efficiency, but it means we consider each individual idea as its own thing. Sometimes that means getting lots of people in a room and shaving ideas off everyone’s heads to work out what the best thing is. Sometimes it involves two people sat in a quiet, dark room by themselves, talking through something until you get the right thing. Sometimes if it’s more open, we’ll ask lots of people to come up with ideas, then fan the flames of the ones that seem most interesting, and then we’ll try to get the person that believes in that idea to become the leader of it. How do you maintain such a passionate and driven team? Trying to keep our team enthralled and excited is something I hope we do quite well. Part of that is establishing a culture for people to step into, which sets up how you feel as you walk in the door in the morning, and that’s quite complex. I have experienced cultures that feel great, and then can pop so quickly. One of my biggest jobs is spending time to get the most out of people, and that’s a lot to do with setting up a correct culture. Choosing people to bring into it is the second part, and that’s hard to get right. In all honesty, I am useless in job interviews. I think people will be a certain way, and after 10 years I’m always wrong. So, I lean on other people’s insights. We bring people in, work out their skills and whether they can do the job, and then bring them back in to work out what they’re like, and if they will fit into the culture. You used to be a programming lecturer. Any advice for designers who want to learn coding? First, you need to understand what we mean by programming. There’s the sort where you type commands into a blank text file, and for a visually-led person it can be really bloody frustrating when because it’s a comma rather than a semi-colon, the whole thing doesn’t work. But before any of that is understanding algorithmic thinking. Breaking down problems in a way that a computer would think about it. That skillset – thinking about how things can be constructed in that way – is most important, because it allows you to design in a way that translates nicely into programmatic systems. Do designers from a more traditional background struggle with that? Sometimes trying to get people to think in that way is a skill, but you’ve got different kinds of minds. I’ve found my creative directors fall into one of two types. The metaphor I use to communicate this, both to clients and myself, is the puppets that we have here at Aardman. There is usually a metal skeleton underneath, and then there’s the flesh – the plasticine – that makes it look like what it is. For an interactive project to work, you need an inner structure that is quite programmatic and pragmatic in the way it’s constructed, and then you need the flesh, the character and the way it looks to the world. Some creative directors see the outside and go, ‘I really want it to feel like that’, then work out what skeleton they need to hold it together. Some see straight through to the skeleton, then work out how to colour it in later. Both get to the same end result, but they approach it differently. Which one are you? I’m the skeleton. I see patterns and structures and interconnecting ways that things work, then translate them into the way people feel. What advice would you give a smaller digital agency? It’s about caring. Find something you desperately want to bring into the world, and do that. Now, that and money is where sometimes the conflicts come. Most people don’t pay you just to do things for yourself, but trying to juggle that line so that the things you’re making, you really, really want to exist – that’s what makes you passionate and successful, and should see you through. This article was originally published in issue 278 of Computer Arts, the world's best-selling design magazine. Buy issue 278 here or subscribe to Computer Arts here. Related articles: Inside Aardman Animations Top animation tools for digital artists The best software for digital artists View the full article
  2. Sometimes, design is about creating work that's familiar and reassuring to both clients and customers alike. But every now and again, you get the opportunity to break from the norm and pursue a project that's exciting, innovative and based on fresh ways of thinking. 20 pro tips for creating inspirational mood boards These are the kind of projects that most of us live for. But there’s one problem. When you are asked to be brave and experimental, there’s a chance that your no-holds-barred, imaginative muscles have atrophied through lack of use. So if you’re struggle to find your creative mojo, get inspired by these 10 amazing projects, which all harness experimental design to push boundaries like never before. 01. Interactive dancing robots Public art is often criticised and, perhaps worse, ignored by the pubic it’s meant to serve. So to celebrate the final month of Hull 2017 UK City of Culture, Jason Bruges Studio created four large-scale art installations that nobody could walk past and not notice. The work entitled Where Do We Go From Here? featured 6m-tall robots that interacted with passers-by and performed a sound and light show. Off-the-shelf 3D software was adapted to make the robots do their own unique dance, explains 3D visualiser Adam Heslop. “We regularly build plug-ins for Cinema 4D that allow us to directly control and manipulate real-world hardware,” he says. “Normally, we build a real-time link so that we can scrub the slider and see how the hardware behaves. But these robots are a lot more complex and potentially hazardous so we decided to design choreographies in C4D. “We built our own inverse kinematics plug-in so that we could apply all the motion graphics tools to design each robot’s choreography. We were then able to press a button, which would export a robot program from Cinema 4D, which we could then load into the robot’s system, press Go and watch it unfold.” 02. Microscopic typography The typography used for this poster was 3D-printed at microscopic size When The Beautiful Meme was asked to advertise a new exhibition held at London’s Francis Crick Institute, Europe’s largest biomedical research facility under a single roof, the team wanted to do something in keeping with the institution’s essence. So they woked with its scientists to create a microscopic headline, which was 3D printed with a 100 micron depth. The headline template was flooded with fluorescent beads. The letterforms were then studied and photographed under a microscope before introducing the colours used to map patterns in cell dynamics. “The processes that the Crick Institute used to create the microscopic type were all new to us as an agency,” says creative director Tom Sharp. “So we had to be very adaptive to the results of the process, and allow them to define our approach to some extent. “Our agency is as enraptured by science as much as we are by art – they are both quests to enrich life and deepen consciousness – and so this was a delicious project for us.” 03. Branding with built-in asset generation Last year, Pentagram was asked to create the branding for Graphcore, a machine learning hardware start-up based in Bristol, England and Palo Alto, USA. Intriguingly, as part of the identity, Pentagram built a shape generator the internal team could use to create assets themselves. This carefully balances a degree of randomness with some solid design principles. “There’s a lot of things that are very considered about it, like shapes and colour and how small the grid can get and how big the grid can get,” says Pentagram partner Jody Hudson-Powell. “But within that very prescribed set of parameters there’s a nice texture that comes from random; there’s a kind of unconsidered consideredness. The other thing is when it doesn’t work the user just doesn’t save it. There’s still a human at the end of the process who’s gauging whether it feels right or wrong.” Handing over this degree of control of the identity to the client may seem unusual. But Hudson-Powell felt it fitted the project perfectly. “Graphcore didn’t have any internal design resource – they’re a bunch of engineers trying to do something really f**king complicated,” he explains. “So it’s necessary to create useful things they can work with and they can generate themselves. If you don’t do that, they end up not knowing how to use this expensive thing they’ve just bought from a design company, and finding Creative Commons imagery to use in its place.” 04. Adaptive typeface FS Industries’ Fontsmith is an ultra-adaptive typeface In the rapidly expanding digital space of 2018, fonts are having to do more and more things and more and more devices. With FS Industrie, Fontsmith set out to create a utilitarian typeface with its own unique character that works no matter your message or medium. The adaptive font is basically a stop-gap until variable font technology has caught up with the needs of designers. “One of the key challenges we set ourselves was coming up with a type design that could adapt to a broad range of widths and weights without compromising its tone of voice,” explains type design director Phil Garnham. “It had to be clear in all its guises, whether it was being used for interface menus or variable data advertising, and it needed to reflect the ‘now’ in every sense. What we set out to create was not just a typeface, but a type system with five widths and seven weights. With italics, that makes for 70 variants for each character.” “It is the spirit of variable design and flexibility that drove us to create FS Industrie,” he adds. “A response to the changing nature of type, for brands that are responding to the changing nature of work”. 05. Magazine with 8000 covers Creative Bloq’s sister magazine Computer Arts has made an artform out of the ‘split-run’, where an issue has four or more collectable covers. But that’s nothing to the astonishing 8,000 variations Eye magazine produced for its 94th edition last year. The graphic design and typography publication generated the thousands of individual covers using a variable data program called HP Mosaic. “To make ten seed files, Paul McNeil and Hamish Muir produced a file in which the letters of the word ‘eye’ are repeated in fixed increments and in three layers, each set in a different font of their TwoPoint or TwoPlus typefaces,” explained editor John Walters in the magazine. “They are shifted laterally in distances proportionate to the letter spacing.” 06. Indie publishing meets AR An artsy take on AR comes from Danish indie mag The Exposed Another magazine taking advantage of new technology is indie magazine The Exposed. Well okay, augmented reality itself is not that new. But this Copenhagen-based contemporary arts publication pushes it forward by integrating AR into the storytelling itself. The opening story of issue 2, for example, reported from Masdar City, the ambitious development in Abu Dhabi that is seeking to become the world’s most sustainable eco-city. Point your phone at the pages and an audio narration begins, giving more context and personal recollections on his trip and the strange world he found there. The experience is something like listening to a podcast while also browsing through a collection of associated photographs, and draws the reader/listener deeper into the story. Elsewhere in the mag, video is used to similar effect. It’s an innovative approach that we’d like to see more publications experiment with. See our post on top indie mags to see more magazines breaking boundaries. 07. Coding meets quilting The fashion world has always been proudly elitist, but could new technologies make it more democratic? Based in Salford’s Islington Mill studios, the artist collective known as > thread {}, aka Sally Gilford, Cheryl O’Meara and Vicky Clarke experimented with an innovative quilting processes that uses coding to digitise human data drawn from a group of local youngsters, and used them to create an immersive installation at the studios. “It was like a love-hate relationship with fashion in liking the creativity but not liking the machine behind it,” explains O’Meara. Adds Clarke: “I’ve been interested in the hack space and the maker movement, and the idea of creating one-off products that you’ve really involved in personally. So the idea of working with the code and the data, but also the analogue and digital processes, means you can create quite small runs and one-off works. So it’s the anti-mass consumerism of the development of artworks, really.” You can learn the details of how the technical process in the video above. 08. Sustainable fashion Algiknit is finding ways to make fashion design more sustainable Another thing about fashion that many designers would like to change is that it’s one of the world’s most polluting industries. So there’s been a big movement lately towards developing the use of more sustainable materials. One company in the forefront is the wonderfully named AlgiKnit, which has prouduced a rapidly renewing biodegradable yarn made from kelp, as well as a biodegradable sneaker. “If clothing is going to continue to be disposable, why not make it disposable in a way that makes sense – that actually benefits the earth, in a way that has a positive impact instead of a negative impact?” says Aleksandra Gosiewski. “It takes longer to create a mind shift, so why not first create an alternative that already fits into the same mindset? This is a first step to something else.” 09. Animated graffiti What do you get when you cross animation with AR with graffiti? ‘GIF-iti’ of course. That’s the phrase coined by London-based creative Insa, a member of our Illustrator Hotlist for 2018, when he started creating his unique animated paintings. Yes, that’s “street art” that paradoxically is only viewable online. GIF-ITI is made via a laborious physical process involving numerous layers of painting and meticulous planning. Insa then photographs each hand-painted layer then uploads and overlays them to create the final piece, a looping GIF file. This comes to live when viewed through a mobile app. 10. Messy magazine design Richard Turley’s art-directed designs for Mushpit reflect its “scattered” aesthetic To round up our feature, we thought it important to note that experimental design doesn’t have to involve technical innovation. You can just experiment with new approaches using nothing but your own imagination and a bit of gumption. And that’s exactly what the makers of Mushpit, one of the most visual exciting print publications on the market right now, have done. For the 10th edition of the satirical fashion, political and feminist magazine, co-founders Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts brought designer Richard Turley on as art director. With the theme of ‘courage’, the issue’s three-way split-run cover placed an ironic image centrally, with typewritten coverlines and handwritten details on a white background. Says Brandes: “We worked with Richard Turley to find a coherent aesthetic to match our tone of voice; messy, scattered and at times sort of brutal.” Related articles: 5 sensational new websites to be inspired by Infographic: How the world of work is changing 10 indie mags you should read this summer View the full article
  3. The C programming language has truly passed the test of time. There are very few environments where it does not thrive. This is mainly due to its high execution performance, which, unfortunately, comes at a price: C does not support many of the features expected in a modern programming language. Mozilla unveils radical new brand identity Mozilla Research's Rust is an attempt to create a better mousetrap. Its language design remains focused on high performance and being close to hardware. However, its syntax and compiler also take advantage of the various benefits offered by modern programming language research. Given that Mozilla's mission is the creation of an 'open web', it should not be surprising that the company is working tirelessly to bring its latest brainchild to the web. While Rust can, in theory, run on the client via systems such as Emscripten, its real power lies in the creation of efficient backend services. How to start using Rust The Rust installer provides a semi-graphic installation environment While package managers such as 'apt-get' surely made developer's life easier, package list maintainers are, by and large, known to be no friends of excessive speed. Because of that, many, if not most, distributions' package caches are heavily outdated. The Rust team has solved this problem by providing a dedicated installation script, which sets up the system it is run on efficiently. Deployment, then, is a two-step process: first, make sure that the CURL downloader/parser is available: Then, in the second step, download the installer and pass it on to 'sh' using the pipe operator. 'Sh' is a shorthand for the default shell interpreter of your workstation, which will then proceed to run the code at hand: During the installation, the Rust installer will display a variety of prompts similar in appearance to the ones shown in the picture on the right. Simply follow them to achieve a default installation. In some cases, the Rust deployment will fail with an error which is similar to "error: could not write rcfile file: '/home/tamhan/.bash_profile' ". If this happens during installation, use 'sudo -s' to get a root shell, and then rinse and repeat to proceed. Run a sample With that out of the way, it is time to run our first small program. Rust files, by default, have the file extension '.rs'. Create a file called 'firsttest.rs', and then provide it with the following piece of code: C and C++ programmers often wonder why invocations of the 'println' method require the use of an exclamation mark. The answer is simple: Rust implements 'println' as a macro, which gets invoked in a different way. Given that Rust is a compiled language, our example must be processed before it can be run from the command line: Advanced decay Describing a complete programming language, such as Rust, in the limited space we have available here is impossible. So let's start by formally pointing you to Mozilla Research's comprehensive documentation. One feature which is sure to impress C programmers involves the use of the 'match' command: in addition to direct comparisons, it also enables the use of range operators to greatly simplify the design of advanced programs: Garbage-at-hand Classic garbage collection has its weaknesses: most implementations bring the program to a screeching halt from time to time. To get around that Rust uses a set of so-called 'zero-cost abstractions' to emulate a similar behaviour in a less annoying fashion. In principle, every resource is created with an owner in a fashion similar to Qt's parent-child subsystem. However, a feature called 'borrowing' enables the programmer to transfer ownership between resources temporarily, thereby passing them around the system. Unfortunately, a complete discussion of the possibilities of Rust's memory manager would break the limits of this article – let it suffice to declare that Rust provides a very unorthodox, but workable form of memory management. Create a new project Similarities to NPM are purely coincidental... While C and C++ code can be broken down into libraries, doing so is an annoying and somewhat uncomfortable task. Furthermore, making sure that all the required libraries are where they are needed is something even seasoned developers like to avoid. The JavaScript community has long solved this problem via products such as NPM. Projects are described via a project structure file, which – among other things – contains references to libraries and other elements needed during the actual compilation run. In the case of Rust, a package manager called Cargo does a similar job. Creating a new project can be accomplished through the use of the 'cargo new' command in a fashion similar to the following: When the creation process is complete, a folder structure similar to the one shown in the picture at the bottom of this page will be generated. .toml files act as 'controllers' – in the case of our newly-generated project, the file contains the following structure: Similarities to the .ini files of lore are not purely coincidential: in a fashion not dissimilar to NPM, the ancient configuration file format is also used to describe the configuration files used for Rust projects. The '[dependencies]' block is of special interest for us – it contains a list of all external libraries, which need to be present for the compilation to succeed. Add a packet Creating a web server by hand is an annoying job best left to masochists. We will, instead, opt for a framework. Sadly, finding the right one is not easy – as visiting AWWY's list of web development frameworks reveals, there are a lot of candidates. We will pick Rocket, if only because it seems to be quite popular and has seen an update released in May 2018. Sadly, Rocket's developers tend to take a liking to newly introduced language features, which is why frequent updating of your Rust installation using the following commands is required: The next step largely is a question of taste. Most libraries come with pre-provisioned starter projects, which developers can simply siphon from GitHub. Doing so for your 'prime' library is not necessarily a bad idea – although once more than one library is involved, a manual approach tends to be more fruitful. Next, open the .toml file, then modify the 'dependencies' section as per the following in order to include a recent version of the Rocket framework: Rocket is unique in that it requires the inclusion of a total of two packages: in addition to the main framework, a separate code generator file is also required. Either way, our version includes a specific version of the two libraries – Cargo can also accept wildcards, which enable the program to 'pick its poison' without any help from us. With that out of the way, one problem remains: enter 'cargo run' in the folder containing the .toml file in order to perform an assisted compile, which will – among other things – download the relevant code libraries from the repository and compile the whole enchilada for you. Next page: scaffolding and in-depth analysis Create some scaffolding Rust's package manager can also run compiled programs Simply including and downloading a library is no fun: we want to see Rust in action. To achieve that, a sample program must be written – the scaffolding for which is the topic of the following steps. Before we can really get coding, however, a small problem must be fixed. Rust's compiler does not allow for the use of advanced language features by default – if your application cannot be compiled due to feature use, you will need to fix the problem via the following command sequence: Applying the 'set nightly' command in a folder containing a .toml file modifies it to mark its contents to be run using the latest version of rustc – with the flag set, the compile process should succeed. Next, open 'main.rs' and replace its contents with the following code: Invoke 'cargo run' after saving the changes to see the output shown in the figure below. The package manager isn't limited to loading code, but can act as an advanced build tool. 3, 2, 1, lift off! Rocket's developers, obviously, were inspired by the work of missile teams: make of this what you will. Like most other web frameworks, the actual applications are created as a collection of 'routes', which are assigned to a web server class. In this case, but one route is created – a 'get' call against '/' will yield the returning of the string 'Hello World'. Incidentially, the main issue faced by developers coming to Rust from other languages is the somewhat odd syntax. Function return types are declared via an arrow following the header: Careful onlookers will determine that the snippet above generates a function returning a Boolean value: Rust knows about a few dozen data types, which must be formally specified at declaration to prevent the passing of invalid types in a fashion similar to TypeScript. While the 'return' statement is supported by Rust; a special case occurs whenever the last line of a function is an expression. It is considered the 'return' value – a good example for this would look as per the following code: With that now out of the way, our next step involves the creation of a brand new route: Rust's language design advocates the use of attributes: the elements inside the '#[]' construct are additional properties, which get applied to any element standing nearby. In our particular case, the affected element is a function going by the name of 'world()'. The next problem involves adding the new route to the above-mentioned web server element. This is easily accomplished as per the following: This code is interesting mainly because of the use of the code generator: 'mount' takes the 'routes!' macro, which generates code on the fly. With that out of the way, you can now perform another recompile, which will enable you to convince yourself of the correctness of our code – the Rocket handler will now detect a total of two routes. In-depth analysis Rocket’s Runner is extremely talkative Providing resources on request might make for a nice demo, but is lacking in practicability. A more interesting test involves accepting parameters from the client, and using them to modify the system behaviour as a whole. The first step involves modifying the declaration of the route so it includes one or more parameters. Passing in a numeric and a string variable can be accomplished via a folder structure: During compilation, the program will reveal a folder structure. Prove the correctness of the product by invoking http://localhost:8000/world/world/tam/40. The product also takes care of malformed requests – invoke http://localhost:8000/world/world/tam/tam to see a 404 error. Understanding this behaviour requires a look at the routing infrastructure: like most other web frameworks, Rocket 'throws' incoming requests from route to route until one matches. Developers can also specify route rank via a numeric value: Do the JSON Another aspect involves the creation of well-formed JSON. To use it, a set of supporting libraries must be added to the .toml file – a lot of advanced features are not domiciled in Rocket, but in 'rocket_contrib': Using the 'features' array lets us fine-tune the inclusion: you don't need to include all parts of the library. We furthermore load a group of helper libraries, which simplify serialisation. Now we've edited the .toml file, it is time to return to the main Rust code. The newly-added elements must first be imported into the namespace: A structure must be declared, which describes the format of the generated JSON object. We will limit ourselves to a numeric and a string value – be sure not to forget the attribute by mistake: One problem remains: a JSON object must be built and returned in response to an incoming query: Invoke the route we declared above, and feast your eyes on the output! To learn more about Rocket, check out this seriously useful guide This article was originally published in issue 273 of creative web design magazine Web Designer. Buy issue 273 here or subscribe to Web Designer here. Related articles: 5 future web design job titles An introduction to frontend testing 4 tips to develop your developer skills View the full article
  4. Today creative software giant Adobe reveals the latest iteration of its Creative Could service. As you would expect, some of the company's most popular apps have seen some significant updates, but the big news about town is Adobe's all-new, video editing app Project Rush. 6 best laptops for video editing 2018 Video dominates the internet - you know that, we know that, Adobe knows that, which is why its been busy working behind the scenes to develop a new tool that reimagines how we create and share online video. The Adobe blog describes Project Rush as "the first all-in-one, cross-device video editing app that makes creating and sharing online content easier than ever'. The integrated desktop and mobile solution means the days of not being near your PC no longer means you can't make video edits - your smartphone will now give you the access you need, providing simplified editing, colour, audio, and titling at your fingertips. Not only does Project Rush harness the power of Adobe's Premiere Pro and After Effects, it also features a direct sharing functionality – optimised across all channels – which makes it possible to share content on social media even faster. While there's no official release date for Project Rush at present, Adobe will be sneak previewing the software at VidCon US, the conference for those who love and make online video, in the next couple of days. In the meantime, if you can't wait to get your hands on Project Rush, you can apply for the beta and then let Adobe know what you think. We're impressed with what we've seen of Project Rush so far, and keen to get our hands on the new software, so watch this space for updates and reviews. Below are more details of some of the other apps affected by the latest CC update. Want to sign up? Make sure you check out these top Adobe deals first. Adobe Spark Post for Android (Beta) Adobe Spark Post is now available to Android users too! Adobe Spark Post is a free online social media graphic design software that enables you to add text, apply filters, resize, crop, and rotate photos. Adobe Spark Post was previously available on iOS devices and the web, but Android users will be pleased to learn that, as of today, they can finally join in the party. Lightroom CC This latest release of Lightroom CC includes additional new features to both the desktop and mobile apps The latest iteration of Adobe's image manipulation software Lightroom CC will be able to synchronise both presets and profiles, including custom-created presets, and third-party presets and profiles between Lightroom CC for Windows, Macintosh, iOS, Android, ChromeOS, as well as on the web. This gives users access to any preset purchased on any device, enabling photo editing anywhere and everywhere. This release also includes additional new features in the Windows and Mac desktop apps and iOS and Android mobile apps, two new Technology Previews, and an update to Lightroom Classic. Adobe XD Following the Adobe XD May release, including the launch of the free XD CC Starter plan, Adobe is updating the platform with Overlays and Fixed Elements (see video above); improvements to viewing, interacting and collaborating with shared prototypes and Design Specs; a new math calculations feature; and design feature enhancements. Read more: Edit videos with Adobe Premiere Pro CC 95 top Photoshop tutorials The 60 best free Photoshop brushes View the full article
  5. Web development is a highly lucrative career path, and more job opportunities are opening up across the world all the time. If you want to launch a successful new career or just pick up some extra money in a side job, check out The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0. The comprehensive course goes deep into the world of coding, helping you build a solid foundation in such programming languages as HTML5, CSS3, and Python. You'll also practice building actual websites, such as a blogs and e-commerce sites, using tools like MySQL 5, Wordpress, and PHP 7. By the course's end, you'll be able to put your new knowledge into real-world scenarios. Try out The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0 -- it's on sale now for only $25. Related articles: How to use Markdown in web development 20 useful tools for web developers 6 must-have skills for young web developers View the full article
  6. You're reading How to Design a High Converting Email Newsletter [Infographic], originally posted on Designmodo. If you've enjoyed this post, be sure to follow on Twitter, Facebook, Google+! An email newsletter is an essential part of every website owner’s strategy. A good email allows you to better connect with an online audience, gather information about user wants and preferences and even sell products online. According to a report, … View the full article
  7. If you want to get ahead in design, you need to think outside the box when you're looking for work. Sure, you won't get anywhere without a solid design portfolio and a decent CV, but sometimes you have to take a risk and make a grab for an unexpected opportunity; it might just get you noticed by the right people. We asked some designers about the most creative or unusual ways in which they'd found work. Here's what they had to say. 01. Instagram followers Louise Fili collects typography inspiration on her Instagram feed Art director Louise Fili reveals, "As a designer of restaurant identities, I had long been following the trajectory of Jody Williams, a celebrated chef who made a name for herself in New York restaurants including Il Buco, Morandi and Buvette. I was pleasantly surprised when I returned from Rome to find an email from her – she was opening a new restaurant called Via Carota and wanted to talk about the graphics. "When we met, I discovered how she had found me: she had been following me on Instagram (where I post Italian signs almost exclusively), and then Googled me to find that as a day job I happen to be a graphic designer for restaurants!" For more on this, take a look at our article on how to make money on Instagram as a creative, or for Insta-inspiration, check out our list of the graphic designers you should be following. 02. Hidden art "I sometimes leave little original artworks out in the city or at events for people to find and keep," says illustrator and graphic designer Stina Jones. "I pop my business card on the back for the recipient and also post clues on my social media feeds so anyone who already follows my work can find them if they're in the area. "From time to time the pieces (and my tweets about them) get picked up by someone unfamiliar with my work who has then gone on to either buy something from my store or contact me about a project." 03. From coffee to books Coffee proved to be a great way for illustrator Dylan Gibson to get noticed. "It started with an artwork of the deli where I buy coffee to help me start the day," he says. "I gave the deli a copy for their wall. The owner of a nearby toy shop saw it and commissioned me to do a shop front for her in a picture book style. I posted that on LinkedIn, and a publisher saw it and gave me two picture books to illustrate. The work from those two books is still getting me work today." 04. Experimental artwork Artist and designer Ari Weinkle dabbles in experimental design in his spare time. "A great way to attract new clients is to create personal work that's weird and experimental," he says. "For example, I've created several rather strange typographic experiments – one based on varicose veins, another on animal appendages. Both led to exciting projects from medical illustrations to features in films." 05. Cupcake design "When I was first starting out as a designer, I made a die-cut stencil of the logo of an agency I'd always wanted to work for so that I could create branded icing tops for some cupcakes I'd made," reveals creative director and designer, Luke Finch. "I then delivered them personally to the studio with a quirky illustrative note to the owner saying "The more you weigh, the harder you'll be to kidnap – stay safe, eat cake." The URL I put on there (Lets-Have-A-Luke) was a new one I'd bought that redirected to my WeLoveNoise portfolio." 06. Your own 'weaknesses' Sam Part turned his dyslexia into a killer self-promo campaign "I think when approaching interesting ways to get people involved and interested in your work, it's really important that you embrace your own work and what it is," says illustrator Michael Driver. "There was a really nice project a few years back by Sam Part – a Kingston design student who played on the fact he was dyslexic by making lollipop casts of his own head that acted as business cards. "The lollipops came with a tag that said 'I'm a lickable guy'. His tagline was about making his weaknesses his strengths, and I think that the project was brilliant and rang true to him." Read more about the project here. From the archive. This article was originally published in 2016 in Computer Arts magazine. Subscribe here. Read more: 7 ways to craft a killer self-promo campaign 10 good reasons for turning down work 5 things clients really want (but probably won't tell you) View the full article
  8. Researchers were able to discover a way to hack the device in less than an hour. View the full article
  9. Suspira is a dark jewel of demonic delights from Dreadful Press, the independent publisher behind controversial witchcraft magazine Sabat. Investigating monsters of the invisible (imagined) and visible (real) worlds, this debut issue feels as if it was written and designed at night, in a fever dream of Jungian darkness. There's a macabre yet beautiful cabinet of curiosities hidden behind its blacker-than-black cover. 10 ways to make your magazine cover stand out Despite an obvious affection for B-movie exploitation flicks ("Enter if you dare..." the website warns), Suspira is no blood-junkie gorefest, but rather an esoteric collection of dispatches from the borderlands of the unconscious. For editor and creative director Valentina Egoavil Medina, "Fear is what we don’t know… the universal monster that is the reflection in the mirror." The shadow self looms large: mental illness as demonic possession is explored in Aviv Grimm’s intimate discussion of depression and sleep paralysis (This Unrest) and Susannah Russell’s essay on the representation of vampires and werewolves (Idols Cast In Our Likeness) dissects them to extract their all too human DNA. Elsewhere, Medina’s interview with Rue Morgue’s Andrea Subissati (Speaking of Monsters) examines the cinematic depiction of monsters from Dracula to The Shape Of Water, and finds them "100 per cent socially constructed … a reflection of our own anxieties and apprehensions." "Kiss me and I'll claw you to death" White space, type and image are perfectly balanced throughout What makes Suspira so refreshingly contemporary is its resolutely female perspective and determination to "dissect sinister subjects through a feminine lens." Well-worn male tropes are revitalised by Suspira’s female-centric agenda, which excels at making the familiar unfamiliar. "We wanted to erase the misconception that horror as a genre and as an industry is predominantly male," Medina explains. "To approach the genre with a sensitivity that it hasn't necessarily been granted in the past, partly due to a desire to please primarily a male audience." We wanted to erase the misconception that horror as a genre and as an industry is predominantly male Valentina Egoavil Medina, Suspira editor A critical study of the exposed pathological behaviour of men could hardly be more timely. In what Medina describes as, "this moment of monstrous men," Alexandra Furssedonn-Howard’s essay – The Monstrous Feminine – calls out mythological subjugations of women as thinly disguised reflections of men’s timeless fear of castrating woman, possessed by dark arts and exhibiting terrifying sexuality. “If (women) do not work within the patriarchy and do what is expected of them, they become the stuff of horror in the eyes of men,” she says. In lesser hands, Furssedonn-Howard’s piece might be dismissed as polemical, but her writing is so compelling, the only possible response is one of uncomfortable recognition. Fascinating as Furssedonn-Howard’s essay is, what raises it to the transcendent is the choice of accompanying photographs by French artist Patrick Jannin . Rather than simply illustrating the piece, Jannin’s disturbing stills of animal-masked sub/dom sex rituals complicate and subvert it, triggering a queasy confusion in the reader. This ambiguity is a defining characteristic of the whole magazine, which endlessly encourages complexity over dogma, asking questions rather than answering them. "Virgins, whores and mothers are all candidates to become monstrous, if they do not do what is expected of them." Alexandra Furssedonn-Howard’s essay cuts to the heart of Suspira’s philosophy. His dark materials While Suspira’s dark subject matter might be divisive, the design conjured up by German-based Studio FAX’s Dario Gracceva and Aldo D’Angelo are impossible to resist. The magazine looks wonderful, with endlessly inventive and ambitious treatments. "We were able to meet up regularly to discuss and brainstorm ideas,” Madina told us, “there was no single way of approaching the designs, instead, we focused on translating the written content into a visual context, deconstructing each topic and reconstructing it visually.” Notions of good and evil (good versus bad taste) blur throughout, but there’s an undeniable honesty to the magazine, which is clearly a passion project created with fierce integrity From sumptuous photography to pseudo-biblical type-only layouts – all deployed with a delicious variety of paper stocks and special inks – Suspira is perfectly paced, every turn of the page a step into the unknown. Slogan-satirising soundbytes of disruptive typography – YOU HAVE A THOUSAND THRILLS! – co-exist with medical diagrams of conjoined fetuses, the pages flickering past in a sensory overload of fearless WTF antagonism and analyst-couch angst. From beginning to end, the design refuses to settle into a recognisable template and that such an varied collection of treatments should still coalesce into a unified identity is testament to Studio Fax’s own dark arts. Despair, dread and desire Horacio Quiroz’s surreal artwork exploring the "boundaries and tensions between the beautiful and the grotesque" simmer with malevolence. But horror, like sex, is a deeply subjective realm, each individual responding (or not) according to their own pathology. The magazine’s title, although in part a nod towards Italian horror director Dario Argento’s Suspira, was primarily chosen due to Medina’s emotional attachment to the Spanish word suspirar: to sigh. “You can sigh from relief, sadness, arousal, infatuation and even fear,” she explains, “and in a way I wanted the magazine to be able to evoke all of those feelings, luring out a sigh here and there.” Her magazine more than meets these objectives, with intelligence (and chills) to spare. And while it’s an unfortunate reality that female voices need to be expressed more often and louder to be heard above the male status quo, Susipra’s stunning execution proves how vital and exhilarating this experience can be. Buy Suspira magazine here Read more: Graphic Design for... review View the full article
  10. Watercolour is an incredible medium that, with the right art techniques can be used to make the most magical and unique images. It can create anything, from helping you with how to draw landscapes such as a bright sunny day as well as a deep dark night, or even with how to draw animals. Here, we'll create a mysterious starry night using watercolour and masking fluid. To create the randomness of stars, I will spray it onto paper using an old toothbrush. When this stage is done, I can colour the sky with dark shades and different tones. The branches of trees will then cover some parts of the sky, especially near the horizon. I'm using a wet-in-wet technique here, but note that masking fluid should be used on dry paper only. Any small details can be painted on the dry paper too. And, remember, to save time you can always use a hairdryer. A word of warning: before you start using masking fluid for watercolour, cover your brush with soap. This will prevent the masking fluid from sticking to your brush. However, as a precaution, it's best not to use your favourite brush for it. You can also use the end of brush handle to apply the fluid. 01. Place spots on watercolour paper The spatterings of masking fluid will become stars later on First, I place light yellow and blue spots on very wet watercolour paper. It will form the colour of the stars. I then dry the paper using a hairdryer. Then I add masking fluid using a toothbrush, as shown above. These spatters will soon be stars! I remove any unnecessary drops and let the paper dry. Note that the masking fluid should dry completely before starting the next step. 02. Paint around the masking fluid Mix dark and light colours together to create a striking sky I then wet the paper again, to paint a gradient. I place the dark colours on the top and mix them with warm tones near the horizon. I use Payne's Grey, Perylene Violet, Permanent Mauve, Manganese Blue Hue, Ultramarine, Phthalo Blue, Orange and Lemon-Yellow colours. Then, I add a yellow and blue glow around stars. They are still masked, so I paint around the masking fluid. 03. Remove the masking fluid Erase the masking fluid to reveal a starry sky It's now time to remove the masking fluid using an eraser. I paint tree branches using dark tones, and wash out a few branches with a wet flat synthetic brush so they are visible on the dark background. Every time I erase masking fluid it feels like a miracle! We are now done. Read more: Art techniques: top tutorials for painting and drawing How to draw: 98 tutorials 15 beautiful pencil drawings to inspire you View the full article
  11. Remember when a movie budget topping $100 million was big news? Today, no one bats an eyelid at those sort of numbers. It's simply assumed that, to have good-enough CG to satisfy the multiplex masses, you have to spend the GDP of a small nation. How to get your first CG job Or do you? Every now and again, we'll spot something online that looks like a blockbuster, but was actually made by small team working on a shoestring. Admittedly, we're talking short films, not three-hour epics, but even so, the level of artistry on display can be mind-boggling. You often can't help wondering: just how on earth did they do that? We chatted to the teams behind four such projects to find out the answer. "We focused on reducing render time" The 'small team, big project' phenomenon is most often seen in film festival and competition entries, which every year just seem to get better and better. Take DREAVELER, an entry to 2018 Pause Fest, Australia's premier creative, tech and business event. It's a captivating, all-CG short, set in a future world where death only happens by means of euthanasia. The subject may be a little grim, but the CG dreamworlds are utterly awe-inspiring. So it's certainly a surprise to learn that its creators, Taehoon Park, Hyunsup Ahn and Jihoon Roh, made the project in their spare time and over the course of just three months. "We spent one month for the story and animatic, and two months for production," says Taehoon. "We mainly used Cinema 4D for animations and rendering, After Effects CC for colour correction and compositing, and Maya and Marvelous Designer for the character modelling." Using Octane meant that DREAVELER rendered super fast So how did they get it all done so quickly? "We focused strongly on scene optimisation and reducing render time," says Taehoon. "I used an awesome GPU-biased renderer called Octane, which is super fast and realistic – I'd totally recommend it to everyone." But more important than technical shortcuts was having the right mindset, he stresses. "I don't think you need a large number of people," he believes. "As long as they have the ability, two or three people can make great scenes. The important thing is good teamwork." "Embrace the restrictions" DREAVELER stands testament to just what can be achieved in your spare time, and that was exactly the thinking behind another inspiring short, created by a small team at Blue Zoo animation studio in London. VIA is a short animated film that tells the journey of life through the use of epic, beautiful environments and meaningful character animation. "I wanted a project that I could work on during spare moments between work projects," explains its originator, Izzy Burton. You might think that only being able to focus on a project during unpredictable, fragmented moments would prove frustrating. But, says Burton, it was actually helpful to the creative process. "The short took 18 months to complete," she recalls. "And the benefit of this stretched-out timeline meant that I could leave it – sometimes for a few weeks – and come back to it with fresh eyes and more advice from colleagues and friends, meaning the story and visuals had time to become the best they could be." VIA's environments are as important to its narrative as the characters Initially VIA had been planned as a one-woman-show project, but as the story became more elaborate and even more characters continued to be added, Blue Zoo brought in a team of 3D artists – Chris Rais, Pietro Licini, Anthony Delliste, Dane Winn and Phil Brooks – along with producer Tom Box and production manager Chantal Baldwin. Says Box: "One of the main ways we achieved such a high-quality project with such a small team was to embrace the restrictions and see how we could use them as a challenge to how they restricted the storytelling process. This resulted in using very small 3D characters to limit the 2D animation detail required, and forced the storytelling to use the environments instead of relying so much on character performance." "We just took the time to do it right" While "embrace the restrictions" is a great mantra for a personal project, there's one area where you may find yourself refreshingly free of restrictions. Unless you have a contest to enter, you could decide not to set a deadline – leaving you free to finesse and perfect your work in a way that just wouldn't be possible when working on a commercial production. And that's exactly what VFX artist Julien Vanhoenacker found when creating A Drop, a spectacular seven-minute short with shades of Inception, about a man plunging off a tall building into an unknown sci-fi world. Vanhoenacker started the project as a way of developing his skills as a director, and found the lack of ticking clock hugely liberating. "Most of my projects are TV scenes with tight deadlines," he explains. "Here, though, we just said: let's shoot it, then let's post-process it, and it's done when it's done. So that's how we achieved something that I think looks pretty good, with a small amount of people – because we just took the time to do it right." A Drop came in at a total cost of about $5,000 The film was shot in Bangkok, partly in a gym and partly in an abandoned building: you'll be astonished by what Vanhoenacker has created for so little money. That's largely due to most people working for free. "If we'd had to bill for it, it would have been, I don't know, $100,000 or something," he admits. "I think in the end we spent around $5,000, of which the post house kicked in a couple of thousand. We had to pay for the operators and the transportation, but got a camera for free. We had most of the gear for very cheap. I think all the actors combined was maybe $1,000." Going out and asking people to work for free, or for low rates, might sound like a tall order. But Vanhoenacker actually didn't need to; it just happened naturally. "I initially planned a much smaller project," he says, "But then more and more people got interested in joining in, friends of colleagues, friends of friends, and so on. The thing just developed, and suddenly these actors wanted to be in the movie, [and next] this guy wants to DOP it and is providing hardware. I had a whole stunt team that showed up and said, 'Okay, we are going to do it for free.' So the thing got bigger and bigger as it went." "Have a good, solid plan and stick to it" Another sci-fi short that people were champing at the bit to help on was SENTiNEL. That's largely because it was directed by Ryan Connolly, who is well known within the industry for his filmmaking web shows, Film Riot and Film State. In SENTiNEL, a man wakes up in an empty field and discovers that he's being chased by a flying drone, which sets off a desperate race for survival. The artist behind the drone was none other than Andrew Kramer. As the creator of the Video Copilot tutorial platform, After Effects plugin developer and an artist who has worked on JJ Abrams films like Star Trek and Super 8, Kramer certainly didn't need the exposure. But even the most celebrated artists can have their arms twisted for the right project, it seems. "Originally, when Ryan first told me about the short, I offered to help with the design of the ship," Kramer recalls. "At Video Copilot we'd been developing a new 3D model kit of objects that can be built into various sci-fi vehicles, Element 3D, so I thought it would be a good challenge to make something for a real short. Then, the day before Ryan planned to shoot, his long-time VFX guy took off unexpectedly and he was left trying to figure out a plan. I decided not to leave a friend hanging!" SENTiNEL's CG elements took just over two weeks to put together With the help of two colleagues, Dustin Hudson and Taylor Ellis, Kramer did the 3D ship design and compositing, along with all of the explosion impacts – which equates to over 25 total shots – in a little over two weeks. "Seeing how everything came together was really satisfying," he says. "Constraints on time can really help you solve interesting problems in a positive way, like using heat distortion instead of FumeFX. The key is to make an impact with the shots and I think it added a cool look as well. And for me as the developer of Element 3D, it's rewarding to see the kind of VFX that can come out of a simple plugin right inside After Effects in only a couple of weeks. And his advice for anyone wanting to emulate their success? "Even when the budget's low, you always want to do a good job," he stresses. "I knew going into it that we'd get inspired and that is a difficult place to try and fight against your own ambitions – especially when there is a deadline and limited resources. So having a good, solid plan and sticking to it as best you can is necessary. The more projects you work on, the better you understand what is possible and how well you can scale projects with additional help." This article was originally published in issue 234 of 3D World, the world's best-selling magazine for CG artists. Buy issue 234 here or subscribe to 3D World here. Related articles: 10 of the best productivity tools for CG artists The 27 greatest animated music videos Top animation tools for digital artists View the full article
  12. The IP cameras have a slew of bugs allowing bad actors to control them, add them to a botnet, or render them useless. View the full article
  13. You don’t buy the iMac Pro because you want it; you buy it because you need it. And the only reason you need it is if having its huge power at your disposal literally and specifically makes you more money. And, as it goes, for this to be true, you’re likely to be a VAT-registered company, in which case, the hair-raising £9,188 spec we’re reviewing here actually works out at £7,657. The best cheap Apple laptop deals And if all that sounds like we’re trying to talk you into buying one, let us say right now that most creative pros, even those who consider that they put heavy demands on their hardware, don’t need the iMac Pro. It commands huge reserves of power, but there are few who can put enough pressure on it to capitalise on that power. The traditional Apple creative pro market – illustrators, image editors (even those doing heavy manipulation of raw files from anything short of medium-format digital backs), film editors working even in 4K up, even many 3D modellers – don’t need its power. They can’t access it. They can’t feed it enough work. But for a stealth make-over, the iMac Pro looks exactly the same as the 27-inch iMac 5K Bar the dark grey finish – which, aesthetic judgements aside, blends more sympathetically with many modern dark pro apps’ interfaces and the coming macOS’s Dark Mode – it looks just like any other recent iMac, but Apple has done lots of work inside to allow the high-end components to vent heat. This is important; powerful chips generate heat, and the iMac’s slim shape would normally be antithetical to this. It works hugely well; the fans aren’t silent under heavy load, but they can vent the heat so well that there’s almost no impact on performance even on hot summer days (as would happen with less well-designed systems, which throttle performance as heat builds), and perhaps just as important, they spin down as fast as they spin up once the load has passed. iMac Pro specs Build-to-order options let you specify from 8 to 18 cores at 3.2 to 2.3GHz respectively – we tested a ‘sweet spot’ 3GHz 10-core – with 32–128GB RAM, 1–4TB SSD, and either a Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB RAM or a Radeon Pro Vega 64 with 16GB RAM. We’re talking a mix of configs from £4,899 to £12,279 including VAT, just for the core machine. The workstation-class CPUs are all preposterously powerful, and they support Intel’s AVX-512 tech which allows developers to squeeze even more performance per cycle out of the hardware; we’re likely to see this tech implemented in Apple’s own pro apps first. The 18-core option will likely be most useful in scientific contexts rather than creative. If it’s formal benchmarks you want, other folks have delved deep into that, but let us give you a flavour: a test we did of transcoding a 4:10-long 4K ProRes clip using Compressor’s Apple Devices 4K and Better Quality 1080p presets as well as its Blu-Ray mastering preset took 7:18 on the iMac Pro, and more than twice as long on a first-gen iMac 5K which was specced to the hilt and so itself no slouch. The SSD is silly-fast; in the region of 3GB – gigabytes, not gigabits – per second. This doesn’t just mean fast file operations such as reading untranscoded high-res raw video footage in Final Cut Pro, but also adds to the responsiveness – the perceived speed – of the machine. Apple has achieved this in part by using two SSDs together, controlled by its custom T2 chip (responsible for much else in the system), and though they won’t tell us exactly what they’re doing, only confirming it’s not using one of the RAID standards, we do have some un-answered concerns about data integrity. The Ethernet ports support 10Gb/sec speeds (10 times faster than the broadly adopted Gigabit Ethernet standard), which is significant if you frequently pull files off a server or SAN – so long as your network infrastructure matches it. iMac Pro display In addition to the built-in 5K display, you can add either four 4K displays or two 5K displays. The built-in display is nice, but it doesn’t support HDR (and so if you’re working with very high-end images or footage, you’ll be missing colours unless you add an external mastering monitor), and though it supports P3 colour, this focus on the kind of colour space dedicated to displaying images on screen does come at the cost of poorer colour performance for print-intent work in the Adobe RGB colour space. You can connect two 5K displays or four 4K displays, to augment the already huge pixel count of the iMac Pro’s built-in 5K Retina display. Frustratingly – not because anyone in their right mind would buy an iMac Pro just to use as a monitor, but because having the flexibility to do so now, or the option of retiring an iMac Pro to that role after it’s been superseded, is great – Apple hasn’t restored the pre-iMac 5K feature, Target Display Mode, on the iMac Pro. With the 5K, there was a bandwidth issue with Thunderbolt 2 that prevented you from connecting another machine to it and using it as a dumb monitor. But we understand that restriction is gone with the iMac Pro’s Thunderbolt 3, and Apple isn’t telling us if TDM’s absence here is due to technical, political or engineering priorities reasons. One literal footnote: where before you had to decide if you wanted a VESA mount to allow you add an iMac to a wall mount or adjustable arm (say, beside other displays), it was delivered with one fitted and couldn’t be switched back to use the more usual foot; with the iMac Pro, you can add or remove the foot and VESA mount yourself. Why designers shouldn't hack their Mac Pro And that’s in one sense the only upgrade you can make; it’s an iMac! That said, though the RAM is in practical terms not user-upgradable, you can have it upgraded for you post-purchase if you like. (It’s high-end ECC RAM, which is less susceptible to corruption and crashes, which is significant of you’re talking about the chance for a multi-hours render to screw up.) There is one more key upgrade thing to cover. Apple’s wager with the iMac Pro is that some people will value the simplicity and appeal of the all-in-one over the tinkerability of a traditional desktop. And given that CPUs are improving at a comparatively slow pace, mixed with the fact that there is a lot of headroom in the iMac Pro’s overall performance, this is probably a generally safe bet. There’s a problem, though: GPU performance is still advancing fast, and with lots of professional creative and scientific applications increasingly deputising compute-heavy tasks to the GPU, having an un-upgradeable GPU in the iMac is a pain. It’s deeply powerful, but don’t be lured into thinking that just because you’re a creative pro, you need an iMac Pro There’s a solution, though. MacOS now has built-in support for external GPUs connected over Thunderbolt, and though the hosting solutions are currently very expensive, this does at least technically provide a path by which the iMac Pro can avoid obsolescence in years to come as GPUs get more powerful. There is a bottleneck: though hugely fast in the context of transferring files, Thunderbolt 3’s bandwidth of about 40Gb/sec is significantly less than the bandwidth offered by the PCI-e ports you’d find inside computers. But depending on what you’re doing with the cards, this is unlikely to be an issue at least for the period we’re taking about here, in extending the useful life of an iMac Pro bought today. Should you buy the iMac Pro? The ‘trashcan’ Mac Pro was supposed to be Apple’s triumphant love letter to the pro market, but it didn’t work out; we know there’s another Mac Pro attempt in development – a modular system and an Apple-branded display – but in the meantime, we have this, the iMac Pro. Its demure good looks, even the very we’ve-seen-it-all-before basic design, belie the complete gut-and-remodel work Apple has done inside to create a thermal envelope that can shrug off in such a slim body the great gouts of heat the workstation-grade components kick out. It’s deeply powerful, but don’t be lured into thinking that just because you’re a creative pro, you need an iMac Pro. If you need it because it will let you do more extreme work in less time, it becomes not a question of whether you can afford it, but whether you afford not to have it; companies like this are likely to be VAT-registered and so can claim the VAT portion – significant in this case! – back. We know you want it. We want it too! But chances are it’s not for us. View the full article
  14. Every business needs a marketing strategy, and MailChimp can help you achieve your marketing goals. With MailChimp 101: Learn Email Marketing, you'll learn how to build your brand effectively and reach your audience through the virtual world. This course will take the guesswork out of what's effective and what's not in the world of marketing, and you'll be able to effortlessly launch marketing campaigns that reach lots of eyeballs and boost your business. Learn how to optimise your content and build your brand effectively by using MailChimp metrics. Try out MailChimp 101: Learn Email Marketing for only $9.99. Related articles: Promote your brand with content marketing How to market yourself as a freelance designer: 7 top tips 8 great business cards for marketing professionals View the full article
  15. Creative director at CBA Italy Giacomo Cesana recently said ‘3D modelling is the new frontier of graphic design’. Where 3D was once used mostly for pre-visualisation purposes, it’s now a growing design trend, with the creative industry paying much more attention to this exciting medium. Innovative brands including Apple, Nike, Squarespace and WIX have all realised the power of 3D, using it to create striking, vibrant geometric compositions in their most recent advertising campaigns. And with 3D’s capabilities also becoming fully realised with augmented and virtual reality, it’s rapidly becoming the skill to have on your creative resume. While the leap into the extra dimension might seem a little daunting for those currently working solely in 2D, the introduction of various graphic designer-friendly 3D tools and training in recent years has made mastering the art of 3D much easier than you might think. Investing a bit of time in mastering this new skill could be a seriously lucrative move, and there’s no better time to start. Are you already designing in 3D? If not, here’s a list of reasons why you probably should be. Everyone will want you If you’re wondering whether the move into 3D is really something you have time for or worth it, trust us when we say the answer is unequivocally, yes. Aside from the obvious benefits of developing your creative skillset, 3D is the foundational skill for motion design, augmented and virtual reality, 3D printing, visual effects and more, meaning you’ll be able to tap into a whole new client base. With forward thinking brands already exploring 3D space, this added skill set will also make you far more marketable than creatives working solely in 2D. It’s much easier to learn than you might think Mastering a new skill takes time and patience, especially one as vast and complex as 3D. But the introduction of new 3D tools in recent years has meant it’s no longer such a daunting prospect. Whether it’s awesome geometric 3D art, elements for your website, 3D typography or abstract 3D designs that you want to create, new graphic designer-friendly 3D software makes all of this possible in minutes. If you use a tool like Vectary, which provides editable templates, drag and drop options for objects, textures and lights, meaning you can create your very own 3D scene instantly. Vectary also provides the option to share a 3D scene with other artists in the design process and collaborate/comment in the same space. Gain greater control in your designs 2D images will always be crucial to the creative process, however it’s not always easy to envision the final shape of a 3D object with a 2D image, especially when you’re dealing with complex geometry. By creating a very basic 3D model, unexpected or unwanted results can very quickly be spotted and dealt with at the early concept stage, allowing a lot greater control and accuracy over your designs. Revive your mind Despite what others might think, working in the design industry isn’t all always exciting. In fact, for those who do it every day, it can be very easy to get stuck in a creative rut. A great way to combat this is by introducing new easy-to-use 3D tools and creative workflows to your daily schedule. Why not combine 2D and 3D techniques to help shake things up a little, or add some 3D renders to a 2D sketch to give it an element of realism? You could even use a 3D model to the inform dimensions, perspectives and shading on a 2D illustration. If nothing else, there’s a lot of fun to be had in 3D space. Even if you don’t ever plan on using the designs you create, it will certainly help creative sparks fly. For more inspiration on what you can make, head over to Vectary’s blog or Instagram. View the full article