Enrich your design: leaflet printing from Solopress

26 October 2012

The Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine: An Honest Overview

I recently witnessed a graphic designer friend of mine purchasing what I personally deemed to be one of the most ridiculously overpriced ways of digitising paper format information. Introducing the Evernote Smart Notebook, created in collaboration between Evernote and Moleskine.

Don’t get me wrong, Evernote is a brilliant note taking platform. I use it on a daily basis to sync notes via the cloud to all of my devices which saves emailing individual pictures and corresponding notes using separate programmes. But as you’ll notice from my tone, I’m not a great believer in the benefits that Moleskine’s Smart Notebook provide.

This new “innovative” notebook is available to buy in both small (A6-A7 size) and medium (A5-A6 size) from $24.95 on Moleskine’s website - the innovation being that you can use a smartphone loaded with Evernote’s application to take a photo of your handwritten notes and illustrations. Sounds like something I was doing 5 years back with my Nokia N95 and a £1 notepad from my local high street. But wait! There’s more.

The pages within the book aren’t your regular ruled lines. They are dotted ruled lines, which according to Evernote accurately skews your work once the app has read the dot pattern so that you eliminate the problematic slanted shot of a page. The other version of the notebook also contains pages with dotted lines but as a grid pattern - more suitable for graphic designers.

Another supposed benefit of this book & app combo is the removal of shadows from the photos you take of the notebook, however, as a photographer myself I’m not convinced by this. First of all Evernote advises that “using your flash ensures that you’ll get the highest quality image” (http://blog.evernote.com/2012/08/24/the-new-evernote-smart-notebook-by-moleskine/) in which case you won’t get a shadow - you can even try this now by taking a snap of a word on a piece of paper with your smartphone. Secondly, the automatic removal of shadow, if true, is an amazing innovation as in my experience this is quite a lengthy Photoshop process, which has lead to me just re-taking photos. Hmm?

Last but not least is my favourite selling point: stickers! Yes that’s right you get stickers which allow quick tagging of your pages. All you have to do is stick one on the appropriate pages and your notes are categorised into the corresponding notebooks that you’ve registered each of the stickers to. But what do you do when your stickers run out is my question? Costly methinks when you could do this manually via the app.

So what are my final thoughts on the Evernote Smart Notebook? Well the upside is that you get 3 months of Evernote’s premium service which gives you a whopping 1GB upload allowance per month as well as a few other service related features. The downside is I don’t understand who this notebook is targeted at. Serious graphic designers and illustrators will have their methods of digitising their creative work using tablets, scanners, and a range of software suites. So who?

Give us your thoughts on Evernote’s Smart Notebook. A new age designer’s essential or a flash in the pan waste of money?

23 October 2012

Blade Runner Poster Review (TuVie Day)

Directed by the brilliant Ridley Scott, Blade Runner is a fascinating film that was way ahead of its time and a good portrayal of the future city scenery that would be adopted by sci-fi films to follow in later years such as The Fifth Element and plenty of others.

The story follows the life of a Blade Runner named Deckard (Harrison Ford) – an agent that tracks down engineered humans, known as replicants in the movie, and terminates them in the year 2019. It’s a fairly standard cop hunts villains type of movie, however, they are also hunting for him, which adds another element of excitement to the plot.

Movie Poster Analysis

John Alvin, who also created the Gremlins and Star Wars Anniversary movie posters, created the movie poster for Blade Runner. The poster is an impressive piece of artwork, which identifies the replicants and the humans clearly and separately by adding sharper detail to the illustration of Deckard’s face in comparison to Rachael (the female character on the right) who is illustrated as a replicant through less sharpness and slightly thicker watercolours. She also looks similar to the Anime illustrations like Astro Boy.

The awesome scenery of the city tops is illustrated well to provide the reader with the futuristic element of the film and the punchy one liner “Man Has Made His Match…Now It’s His Problem” subtly opens you up to the theme of androids effectively.

Overall, the movie is perfectly illustrated in this poster and doesn’t leave too much to the imagination so as a first time viewer of it you’d get the gist of what it is all about.

22 October 2012

Moving Away From Apple Products A Little Bit

Apple is clearly one of the most popular brands for portable devices from tablets to smartphones in the UK. I'm not trying to spark a debate between Macs and Androids but it’s an observational analysis that most people have at least an iPhone or iPad on the London tubes.

After already owning an iPhone 4, I thought about getting the 5 but decided against it as my phone is still in great condition and I wouldn't be getting much more out of the new iPhone that I don't already get from my current model. This was the first instance where I've not followed the trend, as great looking as the iPhone 5 is.

Following this I decided I'd like to get a tablet because starting up the PC or Laptop at home is taking forever before I can quickly browse for something on the internet, and the tiny screen on my iPhone can be irritating unless if I'm out and on the go. The iPad was of course the first product I looked at because of the experience I've had with my iPhone.

I'm not sure why, maybe its the fact that I'm becoming wiser of the true value of things with age, but I couldn't justify parting with £330 of hard earned cash for the convenience I was after and the new iPad mini is rumoured to retail at around £300 - still far too much for my liking. So I decided to turn to the android side of life.

After looking at all the different tablets on the market I'd assessed that the Nexus 7 was the next best thing. The screen size is perfect - not too big and not too small. Also, I know that HTML5 etc are supposed to be making flash somewhat obsolete but I was relieved that I wouldn't get caught up as a casualty in one of Apple's corporate wars.

It has made me think though am I moving away from the Apple trend because I've always been a fan of their products since the launch of the iPod like many others who were attracted and bound by this innovation? As competitors begin to open up the mobile market for alternatives will I be brand hopping? I'm not sure.

On an Apple plus note, I'll be looking for a laptop later this year and I can definitely say that I can find no competitor for the MacBook pro yet. As an amateur designer, my experience with laptops and PCs so far using Adobe software hasn't been as smooth as I'd like. We'll see what they come up with in the following months but so far it looks like I'll be heading back into Apple's arms by the end of the year.

18 October 2012

Brilliant Ideas for Great Flyer Design

Flyers are a brilliant traditional print medium that has multiple uses, from wedding invitations to advertising. They can be printed on a range of different stocks to impress those receiving them including gloss, silk, and a variety of others, giving an attractive 2D design further depth.

There are some basic “rules” that should be learned before diving straight in and creating a flyer which are outlined in this article: “How to Design a Successful Promotional Flyer”. Once you’ve read that you can start getting creative and creating something completely original to suit the purpose of your flyer, be it for personal or business use.

In an attempt to inspire you before you begin putting pen to paper, we’ve sourced some really attractive and captivating flyer designs that you’re going to love. Read on and let us know what your favourites are.
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16 October 2012

The Fall Movie Poster (TuVie Day)

Last weekend I stumbled across this movie, as my folks were half hour into it when I walked through the front door and sank into the couch ready to be captivated. To be honest it’s less about the poster this week than it is about the beauty of this great film that in its own right is a fantastic piece of visual art.

The locations and scenes within the movie are wonderfully directed, transporting you from a 1920s infirmary to a fantasy world and back through the stories of a stunt man to a little girl who has also been admitted for a broken arm.

I don’t want to give a great deal of the plot away other than that but if you watch the trailer you’ll get a great idea of what the film is about and witness a handful of the incredible scenes that combine to form this awesome movie.

The poster for The Fall is actually very reflective of the themes and scenes within the movie from the Taj Mahal outline to the butterfly nose. The main character in the fantasy story, “The Masked Bandit”, is displayed to the left with the little girl from the film’s eyes in the centre of the poster, making this design one that gives you everything from the film but no clear idea of the relevance they have. This is definitely one you will have to watch to find out more.

Check out the trailer for The Fall below:

9 October 2012

TueVie Day - 500 Days of Summer

If you've been following my blog series you'll have noticed that every Tuesday is Movie Day, which is why I've decided to re-brand as TueVie Day! Appropriate right?

So, this week we’re going to look at a great film poster for a movie that is ideal for couples or if you’re in a feel good-ish mood you could watch this on your own too: 500 Days of Summer. The storyline is fairly good and entangles a love scenario with a pursuit of happiness story, starring the beautiful Zooey Deschanel and the very cool Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Looking at the film poster, its design is simple with Joseph Gordon-Levitt wearing a plain white T-shirt that has the title of the film and scenes of the movie placed on it. Features of the T-shirt have been maintained through the design, i.e. a crease is visible through the movie scenes to make it look like it was actually a printed design.
Although the design gives away the fact that it is a romantic movie, there is not much giveaway of the actual storyline, however, the scenes provided are typical of films of this nature, which have proven to sell seats in the past. What is unique is the choice of light blue and white with a grainy gauze over the design, giving it a vintage indie-style appearance (appropriate for the film style itself).

Overall, I enjoyed the film and suggest you take a look at the trailer below to get an idea of how fun the film is.

8 October 2012

Getting to Grips With Adobe Illustrator

This week I began playing with AI to transfer my paper illustrations to PC - yes PC not Mac (maybe a Mac one day when I have the dough). I've been getting my head around the various tools it has to give my work justice, which has meant reading plenty of tutorials online and following them to see how each of the different functions works. It's been fun to say the least but it takes some patience and getting used to.

To share some of the resources I've been using, as a total beginner on AI, I have selected my five favourite tutorials from last week which you can learn from if you are also a Noob or maybe refresh yourself if you've not used a range of tools it has for a while.

5 Adobe Illustrator Tutorials for Beginners

How to Create a Cute Bunny Vector Character

This tutorial shows you how you can take some really basic shapes and transform them into a cute little bunny. This lesson can provide you with a first step towards creating some original and unique characters of your own. To begin this tutorial visit: http://vector.tutsplus.com/tutorials/illustration/how-to-create-a-cute-bunny-vector-character/.

Create a Rolling Stones Style Mouth n Tongue

This tutorial takes hand drawings into account, as your first step is to scan in your drawing from paper to digitise it. This is exactly the kind of stuff I'm looking to do so open your eyes to this one and learn how to make your own cool Rolling Stones style graphic. Have a read of this tutorial at: http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/tutorials/create-a-rolling-stones-inspired-tongue-illustration.

Thug Bunny Symetry Tutorial

Learn how to create illustrations with symmetry in the simplest way possible in this tutorial. The bunny looks pretty awesome. I promise this addition is not just because I like bunnies as I noticed the first tutorial is of a bunny. This one is more about learning how to make your design more symmetrical. Read how to do it at: http://illustrationclass.com/2008/07/07/thug-bunny/.

Making a Cake Illustration

Nearly as good looking as the real thing, this tutorial teaches you how to make a tasty looking treat. Moving through a range of different tools this one takes you into a 3D element of illustration. Try this tutorial at: http://vector.tutsplus.com/tutorials/illustration/how-to-create-a-detailed-cake-illustration/.

Create a Vintage Badge

I turned to this tutorial because I'm going to look for an interesting way to brand my work with a logo or stamp of some kind. This vintage style appealed to me the most which could also be of interest to you if you're looking to sign off your work somehow. Find out how to make this vintage badge at: http://abduzeedo.com/vintage-badge-illustrator-and-photoshop.

That's all for now. I hope you find some inspiration in these tutorials as well as learn how to transfer your paper makings into graphic designs. Good luck and have fun the same way I have. Just be patient.

5 October 2012

Autumn's Natural Beauty

I love this time of year, mainly because I know that Christmas is around the corner, which means I get to spend some quality time with my family. The other reason is because of the transformation in colour that happens to our natural environment.

What was once green is now becoming a mixture of reds, browns, yellows, and oranges. The streets begin to look as though they are on fire with the litter of leaves whirling around in the brisk air, almost like a delicate ballet of colour.

The change from summer to autumn is perfectly captured in this photograph which is today's IP favourite from Deviant Art user Kariliimatainen. Admire its beauty and get ready for the chill.

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