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My teaching philosophy is simple, learning new skills should never feel intimidating or overwhelming. My computer classes focus on basic principles you will use everyday. Each lesson is broken down into small easy to understand tasks that gradually build on one another. Although much of the subject matter we discuss tends to be on the technical side, it is always taught in a simple, practical manner. My goal is to make sure students gain a total understanding of how and why things work the way they do.
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Bucky Jones – Illustrator
Candice Davies, Author Illustrator
Tara Urbach – Artist
Weekly Video Tutorials
A great way to sharpen your skills in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign?
Creating a Soft Edge Vector Mask .AI
Using the Photoshop Liquify Filter
Cleaning up PDF’s Hidden Layers With .AI
Cleaing up the Brush Strokes in .AI
Summer is over, unless of course you live down south in which case it’s still 80 degrees and the leaves are still green. Can’t complain at all this is the best time of year here. With the fall semester now in full swing it’s time for a teaching schedule update! Here’s what’s coming up with BobTeachesArt and a few of the classes I will be teaching online and locally.
Local classes – Digital Illustration
What you’ll learn:
- Overview of vector and bitmap formats
- Intro to vector / Adobe Illustrator
- Intro to the drawing tools
- The pen tool
- Working with Brushes
- Understanding and applying color
- Creating final vector image
- Intro to Bitmap / Photoshop
- Basic drawing tools
- Working with layers
- Masking techniques
- Working with color
- Creating final bitmap image
- Creating and online portfolio / final project online.
All in One Easy to Find Location
Some of you may remember a couple of weeks ago when I was complaining about the brush tool in Adobe Illustrator. I mentioned it sometimes gets a little sloppy on tight curves. I was frustrated that after so many years of using this program I still hadn’t found a decent solution. I decided to see if any of my fellow artists had any better ideas. That’s when I hopped on Facebook and asked for your help. There were a lot of suggestions. Some were actually pretty good. As you know though I am always trying to find more efficient ways to use these programs. I was beginning to lose hope but you guys came through with some great workarounds. Three in particular caught my eye.
I spent the last week and half trying out these solutions. I put all three to the test by actually using them, on real live paying jobs, for real live actual clients. While they all had their strong points I felt couldn’t just keep them to myself. That’s why I decided to dedicate this week’s video tutorial to the top three ways to fix sloppy brush strokes in Illustrator. Before I go any further however I’d like to thank my pals Wendy Martin and Tara Urbach for their winning suggestions. For everyone else please feel free to use these tips to improve and speed up your work flow. If you’re reading this and you know another artist who might be struggling with the same frustration by all means please send them a link and let them know where you found it. Happy Illustratoring, see you next week!
Thinking about a career in design? Here are 5 super easy to remember tips that will improve your design, keep you out of trouble and help catapult you from rookie to pro. The great thing about these tips is that they are 100% timeless and 100% free. Adopt them now and I promise you they will benefit you throughout your career. So in no particular order here are the five most important things you should remember about great design.
1. Legibility first, design Second.
As designers we love things that are beautiful. We want our viewers to look at our work and fall in love with it. Design should of course be beautiful but how do we know when we’ve gone too far? The answer is very simple. Our number one mission as a designer is legibility. When the message become illegible the design has failed. Keep your designs beautiful but never let that get in the way of legibility. It is a common mistake but remember the ancient story of narcissus. One day while wandering the forest he happened upon a stream. Gazing down at the stream he noticed his reflection. That was as close as you could get to a selfie in those days. Narcissus fell so in love with the beauty of his own reflection that he became blind to everything else around him. It was all he could see. Do not be like Narcissus. He would have been a terrible designer. Falling in love with your design at the expense of legibility is an affront to the god of Legibility and she will not take it lightly.
2 Use decorative fonts sparingly.
Remember way back to rule number one when we talked about legibility first, design second? Well, I suppose you could consider rule #2 as an extension to rule #1. Decorative fonts can be beautiful. You see them used everywhere and sometimes when used correctly they can be a thing of beauty. Be careful though they can be difficult to read in large amounts. Hell, they can be difficult to read in small amounts. If you are ever tempted to use a decorative font please remember to use them sparingly. Think of it this way. Cake is delicious. Cake with icing is even more delicious. No cake all icing is pretty much inedible after the second bite. Think of decorative fonts as your icing. Make sure you don’t forget to put some cake in there somewhere because too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing.
Visibility is just as important as legibility. Here are some very simple rules for improving text visibility. Why? Because if your type is invisible no one can read it. If no one can read it your design fails. The following is a list of situations designers often run into. Study these carefully and remember as a designer it’s your sworn duty to remember and apply these rules on a daily basis. Although you may find a few to be tempting but don’t take the bait, keep your type visible by avoiding the following scenarios:.
- If you are using yellow type on a white background, stop it! It’s invisible, it’s impossible to read and when you step back it completely disappears. Yes, even if it’s just one letter in a headline. Don’t do it.
Bob, are there any exceptions? I know sometimes clients can be insistent so if you simply must use yellow on white you’ll need to do two things. First have your client sign off on the design acknowledging that they’ve made a terrible decision. Second push the yellow it as close to orange as you can get away with. Add a drop shadow, an outline or both. Either way good luck you’re going to need it!
- If you use 6 point text or smaller, you’ve probably developed a lot of enemies along the way. 6 point type is unreadable even to eagles and fighter pilots. Give your reader a break and go with a larger font size.
Bob, what size should I use? 10-14 point is the sweet spot for most typefaces when it comes to body copy. Headlines are a completely different story and a topic for another post.
- White type on a light colored and or textured background is something best left to amateurs and hacks. Especially when it comes to body copy. Do not do this to your readers unless you hate them or want to be responsible for their migraine headaches.
But Bob, I love working with patterns and pastel colors. Great, keep the patterns as simple as possible and make sure there is very little contrast. Remember the focus is on legibility.
4. Guide the reader.
As designers we set up simple rules to help guide the reader through the message. Certain design elements like headlines, bold text, italicized fonts, etc. create focal points. Think of your focal points like elements on a map. They are there to help guide the reader along the way. Not all focal points are equal. Some information is more important than others. Understand where you want your reader to go and use your focal points accordingly. If all focal points carry the same weight your design quickly becomes confusing. Where do want them to start, what comes next, what information is less important? Answer these questions before you begin then convey that information throughout your design. Not only will your design be great but your readers will thank you.
5. Visual VS. Headline
Diving a little deeper, let’s take a look at one of the most important areas of design, your message. Every good designer knows that since the focal point is the most important part of the design it should reflect your message. Know your message. What is your story? Grab your reader’s attention then tell them your story. Most non-designers and clients have a difficult time with this concept. Many want to shift the focus to their logo, thinking that’s the most important part of the message. Bigger logo, bigger logo they cry until the message becomes so watered down nobody has any idea what you’re talking about. The focal point should always reflect the message. It can be conveyed by many things a photo, a headline, a well written story but be careful. Make sure whichever you choose reflects your message.
Are there exceptions to these rules? Of course, there are exceptions to every rule but you have to know the rules before you break them. Understanding and use these five simple rules will vastly improve your design. There are many more rules when it comes to good design. If you want to learn more of them stick with me on BobTeachesArt.com and I will show you. For students who are lucky enough to join me for classes in the Raleigh area this is exactly the kind of material we focus on in The Ultimate Dream Team Class here at Wake Tech. For those of you outside the Raleigh area, don’t worry there’s no need to sell your houses and move to North Carolina. I’ll be bringing this material to an online classroom very soon. Want to find out when? Excellent! just sign up for my super cool mailing list and you’ll be the first to know! Cya next time!
They Found YOU.
This week’s post is just a quick tip to help get you out in front of your competition. Super simple, super fast. A very basic rule every business knows but doesn’t always practice. I guess this is as much a reminder to myself as it is to the companies I’ve been trying to hire for the last few weeks. So without further ado here is this weeks advice especially for all my freelance and entrepreneurial friends out there. Follow Through!
Low hanging fruit.
How it works
- What do they have in common?
- Why did this one fall between the cracks?
- What was the request?
- How could I have I responded in a more timely fashion
Part two the website. You might be thinking, what in the world does your website have to do with your email? Well I’m glad you asked because here’s how it works. I went to my website and prepared a longer more detailed explanation of the questions people were asking. I dedicated several pages of the site to corresponding categories of requests. This gives me an opportunity to keep my email response short and sweet because nobody wants a fifty page email response. Some people do want more info however and this is a great way to let them choose how much time they want to dedicate to the decision making process. We call that the ol’ one, two punch.