Yes, the articles on Design Reviews I have written about guitars and guitar related design have been so very popular that I have decided to create the new, wonderful and very special Guitar Design Reviews website. That’s both .co.uk and .com folks. Since starting Design Reviews my favourite topic has been guitars really and it is good to have a dedicated domain for this area so I don’t bore the more general design/illustration bods who pass by here.
I’m still working on the look and design of Guitar Design Reviews, and there are some under-developed bits, such as the shop, but I’m quite happy at how far it has got to now with 4 pretty decent articles so far;
- The Harley Earl inspired tail-fin chrome guitar
- Jackson Surfcaster SC4 Guitar Review
- 5 all new original guitar headstock designs
- Fender Stratocaster and Aviator Sunglasses desktop wallpaper
And lots more articles coming up of course. As well as the above I have another 6 headstock designs done, 3 other guitar body designs done and I have material for about another 4 guitar reviews right now. That’s not bad going.
Update – I am up to approximately 25 published articles now. Also I have moved the guitar headstock articles from here to there!
Please head on over and have a look! Mark
Since I last wrote about Serif Drawplus on the blog there have been some major changes by the software company. First of all, Drawplus has been updated from X2, through X3 and now stands at version X4! Also and probably of more impact to the freebie loving computer users the downloadable free version has completely changed. Instead of making available an old version for free, Serif have decided to release a new up-to-date little brother kind of version call DrawPlus Starter Edition. I’ve seen and heard of quite a few other companies doing this recently, it seems to be a new trend for software developers.
This is bad and good news as you have probably guessed. The best things about the new Starter Edition in my opinion are;
- The new interface. It’s a lot less clunky and Windows 95 looking than the previous free version! The docked tabs seem more sensible in their layout. They are very very much like Adobe’s tabbed palettes. Some have more options and flexibility than Adobe’s, others less. The balance is good though.
- DrawPlus’s fills, transparency and brushes. All seem to have better, more accessible and immediate use than in Illustrator. Immediate because there’s so many more useful presets and when you drag the mouse you see the fill or transparency transform in real time. In Illustrator and older versions of Drawplus you could only see the reault after you let go of the mouse, so it was a guessing game with any kind of gradient.
- Effects. They work really nicely, like Adobe’s Styles but I like having material thickness and fathering right there on the palette itself. The Starter Edition has just a few of a massive range of materials and textures that is included in the full X4 version. Enough to test, quite a crafty ploy to make you feel like buying the full version!
- Tablet support. The brushes are highly configurable, and look great. I didn’t use a tablet in my test though, just the mouse.
The not so good things are of course the things that are unavailable to Starter Edition users. As well as having less fills, brushes etc available, some portions of the program are ghosted out so the options/facilities are unavailable. Notably these are;
- Export/publishing options
- 3D projections and planes
- Colour palette designer
- Flash animation
There are still lots of things available to make the program fully functional in many ways, it might be all you need! If you’ve never tried Drawplus yet love working with vector graphics it’s definately worth trying this new Starter Edition. I am really quite tempted to upgrade it to the full X4 version because other than the interface there are lots of other things in this new version of the program I would like to try out. I only own full version 6, which came out in 2001 according to Wikipedia! Also for work, it has CMYK and Pantone fill palettes now available. Mostly I’d like to try the 3D planes feature which could help create some great isometric designs and logos.
I’ll update you with my findings if I buy the X4 upgrade.
A couple of years ago I designed some CD covers to match up with some music I recorded and had on old tapes in boxes in the garage! I recorded a lot with a couple of friends in about 1990 or so. Recently with the increased power offered by the average computer and the availability of cheap or even free software to record and multitrack I got interested in making music again. Using just my old Strat, computer and a wah wah pedal I have made quite a few new recordings. The original lineup of friends now live quite a long way away and we haven’t met for years but I have replaced them with synthesised and computer generated versions! And they don’t argue with me!
Here are the four album/CD covers I designed, one includes a sound clip to go with it, recorded about 3 years ago.
The following don’t have sound clips attached at the moment. Quagmire was mixed down at half speed for the first few seconds by accident, but I liked it so kept that in
A BBC theme inspired piece of music follows, made on a Yamaha keyboard in 1992
Finally back to some distorted “space rock”;
inspired by Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, which I had just got for Christmas a year or two before in the late 1980s!
If I get some comments about this I might put up more samples other than just for “We control the horizontal”, the other three CD covers are associated with tracks from around 1990. All the CD covers are designed and illustrated in Adobe Illustrator. I used photoshop a little on the Space Sponge CD above for inserting the sponge into the helmet and making the moon into a green sponge!
You might notice the first of the 4 CD covers has a different logo, this new logo is for new stuff since 2006, just things recorded by myself. Also I’ve found out there’s some band in the US of A called “The Ebbs” so the name’s gone already. I wonder if the name was gone in 1990 when we made the first recordings…
The wife and I have just enjoyed a little excursion down to Devon and Somerset but mainly Somerset. We saw some great places and scenes and tasted some fantastic local brews. We highly recommend a tipple at Sheppy’s Cider Farm, which has been churning out lovely cider since 1817. I’ve just noticed you can buy their cider online too, nice…
On the way back from the seaside one evening we managed to shoot some lovely sunset photos. My wife particularly likes these, and she took them all. Her ideal sunset scene has a skeletal tree or two in front of the sunset scene. This time of year is the last chance to get these shots before the trees are all full and covered in leaves.
I’ve chosen the best six and hosted them here, you can open the large versions by clicking on the composite scene below.
The six pictures are all approximately 2Mpix images, they have just been cropped down a little but not too much, so they might be useful for various bits of design work, please feel free to borrow them. The pictures were taken with a Canon camcorder with a good lens, the pictures look nice and crisp in their full size pixel preview.
This week I have just completed a website for my daughter, it’s called “Classical Event Music.co.uk“. She and a group of friends aim to provide music and musical entertainment to social events and gatherings throughout the northwest of England/Wales. Or if the price is right, anywhere! The reason it took so long is gathering the media/photos… The site design was finished in October last year as you can see from the page first post. Oh, another thing I just did to complete the site is design the great little favicon in Illustrator, looks pretty cool to me, it’s just a simple treble bass clef and a champagne glass composite image. Pretty funky for a 16×16 pixel image.
The best part of the site is the audio/video media page, lots of great audio tracks to listen to to hear the solo and ensemble playing. There’s one video there at the moment too, hopefully more to follow.
During my postgraduate degree course a quarter of my studies were in industrial design. There has always been a struggle between two contrasting design ethics, the minimalist form/function camp and the stylist camp. Sometimes the minimal look with it’s form constructed from the ground up to be perfect for it’s function, can be beautiful looking. But as with anything that has to appeal to human fickleness and fashion, people get bored of that shape, that beauty, so styling is essential in modern consumer goods, to product differentiate and for your products to prosper.
Let’s move on to automobile styling. Many cars produced in the last decade have a very similar ‘born in a wind tunnel’ look to them. This is because of a push for fuel economy, greenness. A car shape can make a big difference to drag and therefore fuel consumption. Now if every car manufacturer wants good fuel consumption results and have spent years optimizing the engine efficiency they must really have some brand styling to make their cars more appealing than a competitor. Along with the styling comes a degree of ‘quality’, reliability and brand identity positions to make the car more desirable.
To create eye catching styling, but remaining aerodynamic auto designers have been designing ‘within the shape’. Mostly they alter the lighting panels within the shape and also the side and area of the windows. Notable are the new Astra and C3 windscreens and the rear lighting panels on ther Civic.
A lot of auto design styling uses transparent sections, lights areas and shapes. Incidentally I have personally noticed the back of many newer model cars look like cartoon animal faces, German cars are mostly angry bears.
You can look at car reliability tables and the most recent tables I saw put Honda at the top and Renault at the bottom. Though Honda aren’t the most expensive cars, people pay heavy premiums for many European marques such as BMW, Audi and Jaguar which also rank lower in the reliability tables than American brands like Ford.
Compare and contrast wind tunnel designs above and the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado from the golden age of motoring!
Personally, because outrageous Harley Earl designs are no longer available, I just choose my car based upon functionality; economy, size and reliability. Interestingly, Nissan has produced a vintage styled modern engined small car called the Figaro, I hope this trend will be built upon and bring more style choices to us.
What the future holds for car design with fuel prices now at £1.20 per litre is surely even more efficiency considerations and alternative fuel source hybrid developments. Lets also hope for a bit more styling variety.
I’ve just found a great link of the Top 10 Concept Cars of the Fifties, containing lots of great pictures of 50′s concept cars including Harley Earl’s day to day car, the 1951 General Motors Le Sabre. Check it out, well worth a look!
It’s been a long time since an update to my blog here, mainly because I got a day job that was partly as a blogger! You know what it’s like, if you do a job at work it’s hard to come home and do the same kind of thing in your spare time. Anyway, I’ve had the recent ‘good’ news of being made part-time, so I have much more time and inclination to work on Design Reviews. Please indulge me and have a look at some recent logo designs I have worked on. Of these only one was successfully adopted by a customer, and even that one I preferred an alternative design I’d made.
Starting with that the logo for WebProjectNW (North West). My favoured proposed logo followed by the actually adopted logo.
WebProjectNW is a pretty good site too, it links up web developers and people who want websites in North West England. It’s a bit like MyBuilder which I recently used to find an electrician to work on my house, with excellent results.
Moving onwards, some un-adopted logos that I made recently and think are quite fab;
Finally, for my good friend Mike over at FileQuake.com, a new logo for his wonderful download archive/reviews site. It might be getting restyled soon using one of the branding ideas below, watch that space!
Dear readers, we recently moved office, I’m talking about my day job here. I had to get my desk ready for transportation, so I got the parcel tape and started taping up all the drawers. I’ve been at this job for two months but, while taping up, I found a very thin upper drawer, a little stationery drawer. As you can see below I had uncovered the melancholic stressed-out remains of my predecessor.
What does this picture make you think about? Is it a little wabi sabi?
Please leave a note in the comments! If anyone wants I can upload the 3MPx original images.
A week ago I looked at Wabi-sabi, the beauty in imperfection. That was all about objects, things created by manufacturers, craftsmen and artists. This time I’m looking at people, more specifically; some of the most beautiful faces of the 20th century!
It really is a case of letting the pictures do the talking. But before I insert all the pictures into the post I’d better explain to the less observant and well practiced in ‘spot the difference’ that each pair of photos has one difference. Some obviously asymmetric element, an ‘imperfection’ perhaps, of course it’s a beauty spot. You can actually get one for yourself here in the UK, with prices starting at £75!!!
In chronological order let’s look at the beauty spot lineup.
Now you might be confused looking at these beautiful women whether the beauty spot makes any difference at all, so I’ve thrown in a wild card. This might help you decide whether beauty is enhanced by the mark or not.
Now I really want to encourage readers to make imperfections within their design work, whatever that may be. But never go the easy way of making imperfect things straight off the bat, first you have to achieve something you believe to be perfect and THEN give it some Wabi Sabi Sauce! It’s a sacrifice isn’t it?
Finally, in corporate work where you might need to use a © or a ® you might be able to use it as a beauty spot, but probably not… The next blog post won’t be about wabi-sabi principles, but I am going to re-visit this subject and it’s application in day to day logo and illustration work soon.
Isn’t being perfect a bit weird? Well it is for us humans, but for the things we covet and buy a lot of the stuff can possibly be ‘perfectly formed’. Shiny new iPod, shiny new BMW etc etc. That is until you get up to the very high end of things, oddly, where ‘hand made’, ‘craft’ and ‘characterful’ become major selling points. Now words like rustic, antique and crafted replace flawless, pristine and precision made.
Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic which embraces objects of art with imperfections, roughness and asymmetry. It’s a kind of art I liked without even knowing there was a name for it, until now… More than once the Design Reviews blog has discussed eroded, aged, worn, halftoned and other ‘lo-fi’ effects in illustrator and vector graphics in general.
Guitar enthusiasts have been buying into hand-made and artificially aged or ‘reliced’ guitars for quite a while now, look at the picture above. A relic will have quite a premium on the price tag! Just think of how many years you would have to own and play a guitar to make it look that used. Quote: “Fender’s Relic line accounts for more than 12% of its $5 million annual sales.” Another very popular market for aged and worn appearance is clothing; think of faded stonewashed jeans and distressed leather jackets. Of course don’t forget antiques either.
As I noted earlier the Wabi-Sabi idea can be put into your illustration and logo work quite easily now with the modern versions of illustrator which are less about pure lines and shapes than before. There’s a lot of vector tools that can cross over into areas that were once Photoshop only avenues.
I have a couple of other articles planned about Wabi-Sabi style graphics, beauty and design coming up which I think will be very interesting. And I hope to put up some polls for feedback too. Come back next week!