Cinemagraphs and the GIF Revolution

A cinemagraph is a wonderful blend between still and motion pictures. It uses the famous GIF image format as a container, but “underneath” it actually uses video footage. Although initially it may look just like any other photograph, its beauty consists in the fact that only a portion of the image is moving, while the rest of it is frozen. As you can see in the below example.

Image Source: Cinemagraphs.com

Motion graphics artist Kevin Burg and photographer Jamie Beck, are the two pioneers that made this technique come to life, and they used it originally to give a cinematic twist to fashion imagery.

Stay tuned and soon I’ll be sharing with you a number of ways to make your own stunning cinemagraphs. 🙂

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Website Design – Don’t follow their example

In a world and time when for (almost) everybody involved in webdesign the buzzwords are – optimise for mobile devices, HTML5, CSS3, SVG and gorgeous aesthetics – you can still find out there, in the Internet realm, places or sites that were left in a different era, maybe Ice Age? 🙂
So, without further ado, I present to you 3 of the worst designed sites, but please feel free to share with us if you have other examples of this kind.

Aiseikai Hospital, Japan

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Arngren, Norway

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RogerART, USA

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Just as a final note, I went and looked for similar tops back in time, and I’ve discovered that these 3 websites had pretty much the same appearance 5-6 years ago! At least, they’re consistent in their own way. 🙂

Free image source

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Whether you’re looking for the right image to insert in your blog post or a vector icon for your next project, freepik.com can be your answer. Having already over 1.4 million free photos, PSD and vector files on offer, this site is surely a place you should pay a visit to next time you can’t find the proper image solution in your own database.

Happy searches! 🙂

It’s time for a very cool text trick!

Today I’m going to share with you one of the coolest tricks in the industry, that not many designers are aware of (or so I’m told 🙂 ).

Given scenario – you’ve just received, from one of your clients, a file called “Logo.pdf” and you’re told that it contains the identity artwork he wants to be used in the banner you’re going to design for him. You open it in Acrobat, all looks good, so happy days so far.

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But then you try to open it in Illustrator (for example) and you’re prompted with this screen:

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Font not found on the system? How come? We’ve just seen the file in Acrobat and it displayed with no problems. Yes, but that was just an image or a preview. But when we try to edit the file, that’s when the problems arise, if we don’t have the original typeface installed on our system or if the fonts haven’t been outlined in the first place. And if your client then tells you that’s all they have, can’t get in touch with the designer that created that file, and you’re his only hope, then it’s time for a trick (made out of 5 steps) that will save your day (and your client’s, as well)!

Step 1 – Open the file in Acrobat Pro and go to Tools > Pages  > Watermark

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Step 2 – Inside the Add Watermark window go to Source  > Text. Press any letter or number key. Then go to Appearance > Opacity and drag the slider to 0%, and click OK.

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Step 3 – Go to Tools > Print Production > Flattener Preview

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Step 4 – Go to Transparency Flattener Preset Options and check the button for Convert All Text to Outlines. Then Press the Apply button (from the Apply to PDF area) and then OK.

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Step 5 – Save the file and that’s it!

All you have to do now is open the file in Illustrator or your preferred editing application and you won’t get any warnings or errors, because all the characters have been converted to outlines / curves already.

One more reason to enjoy your life! 🙂

The fairest of them all

So now that we all know more about how to unveil most fonts’ true identity, the next step is to build a strong portfolio of top-quality typefaces. And when I say that I’m referring to fonts that can be “deployed” for lots of different projects and still make your artworks look professionally crafted and consistent.

After many weeks of searching, I found what I believe to be one of the most comprehensive collection of typefaces, both sans and serif, that can be successfully used for the corporate and public sector design materials.

This list of more than 80 typefaces was compiled by Smashing Magazine based upon suggestions from designers and web-developers from all over the world, and it also contains many of my favourite fonts.

From now on, whenever you feel in need to try a different typeface or approach, but lack the inspiration, just go back to that wonderful list and you’ll surely find something that suits your purpose.

Playing Sherlock Holmes with fonts

You’re asking, why should I do it?

For many reasons, but I’ll just name a few.

Let’s say, you’ve seen a really cool and attractive font printed on some wedding or conference invitations, or you were browsing the net and saw an ad using an unusually good-looking typeface, or one of your clients brings a business card and says that’s all he has and you need to reproduce it (this happens way too often! 🙂 )… the list can go on and on, but the big question remains… what do you do to accomplish the task of identifying that particular font?

Well, there are lots of different ways you can go in the search of this answer, but in the next lines you’ll find the options that I’ve tried and found to be the most effective along the years.

1. WhatTheFont

This should be your number 1 stop if you managed to scan or get a photo of the typeface you’re after. All you have to do is upload that image from your computer or from a web hosting site and click the big green button to continue. Then you’re taken to the Character selection page where you see the letters identified by the system and you have the chance to help it (if not all characters are recognised) by filling the empty boxes with the corresponding letters/numbers for the highlighted characters. Press again the green button and there you go to the results page. Here you get to see a list of possible matches with the typeface’s name and direct link to the buying page. If you feel that none of the returned answers matches the font you’re looking for then you’re encouraged to go to… option number 2.

2. WhatTheFont Forum

This is your next logical stop if the previous option failed to render the desired outcome. This place is full of font identifying nerds, as the site’s administrators say, who find great pleasure in solving difficult cases. But to be able to post a photo with the typeface you’re looking for, you need to register and become a member of MyFonts, don’t worry though, as it’s all free.

3. Identifont

This service uses a different angle to tackle the issue of finding the right font. In case you don’t have an image of a particular typeface, you can try searching by its appearance, in which case you’d have to answer to at least 10 questions about the look of different glyphs (like serif or sans-serif, shape, style, height etc.); then you can try to identify a font by its name (if you know at least a part of it); the third option is looking by similarity (here you’d have to have a starting idea and then try to narrow down the possibilities); the fourth tab lets you search for a typeface based on a symbol or shape (for example, all the fonts that contain: stars, flowers or horses); the last option present on Indentifont’s website, is also the least helpful for all those who aren’t quite font gurus, trying to find a typeface by searching after its designer or publisher.

Succeeding as a font detective is not always easy, even with great helpers, like the options listed above. But, one thing is certain, the more you try to ID different fonts, the more you’ll learn about them and the easier will be to track others down next time, or even get to know many of them by heart.

That’s all for now, good luck Sherlock! 🙂