Archive for November 2008
The song ‘Russian Skidoo’ has been recorded since summer 2005, now I’ve only just got around to making the CD cover for it. I drew all the trees and snow textures on a background layer in Illustrator. Also in separate layers I drew the guy and the skidoo. That look a while, balancing the amount of detail to be sketched with what I wanted the finished article to be like.
Illustrating the shapes of the skidoo was no problem but it took three revisions to draw the helmet! The picture I was looking at had a guy with lots and lots of stickers on the helmet and I got too involved working close up and made something far too detailed, twice. This picture is of a guy speeding through the night in a snow storm so it’s not necessary at all to have that detail. Then when I finished I fired up Photoshop and used a combination of the motion blur and the wind tools. The snow wasn’t so tricky, inserting a new layer in Photoshop using the noise filter and distort filters to make it wavy, then altering the opacity of that layer.
I’m quite happy with the result, from the ingredients I started with. If I were to do it again I would focus on a detail of the skidoo, coming almost straight towards the viewer, perhaps looking like it’s about to run into the camera. Could do that for the back cover though… If it’s better it can be swapped with the front image! Sound clip here; The Ebbs (UK) – Russian Skidoo.
The streets of Taiwan are teeming with businesses, it’s very rare to see a residential only area. Commonly the houses have 3 or 4 floors with the ground floor used as some kind of shop, all the shops are open to at least 10pm. In quieter cities you might go in to a store and the family is there watching TV or eating so you feel intrusive.
Anyway all these shops have many kinds of logos, some don’t, they just have some Chinese writing. Last week on my way to Taichung City (pop. 1,064,440) I shot these logos with my phone-cam, an old Sony K800i. Partly because of my inspiration from LogoDesignLove and partly because some of the logos are cool, stylish or funny. Take a look below, 15 logos in 15 minutes…
Have you every ventured into Pants Kingdom or La Fatte? Everyone must recognise Domino’s Pizza. Now I wish I’d spent more time taking some more/better shots.
I’ve been away for the last month in the far east, Taiwan. Whilst over there, the home of many of the tech companies that provide the gadgets we love to use, I was tempted beyond my resistance limits to buy some computer hardware. Today I will try and answer the question; “Lightscribe – is it worth the effort?”
Disc labeling is useful, so most people will keep a CD marker pen next to their disc box for the scrawling of disc name (if you’re organized enough to use a disc cataloging software program) or a contents list of sorts, onto the surface of the disc. For a graphic designer, rather than a calligrapher, this isn’t very satisfactory. So ever since the average computer user has been able to make their own CDs there have been ways to make more professional/designed on CD labels.
I remember using something called ‘PressIt’ about 15 years ago, an awful contraption that was just a plastic spindle with a disc to transfer a printed sticky paper label onto the disc surface. The disc labels came two up on an A4 sheet. I found the paper a bit too thin and poorly surfaced to make a good job. Also the plunger contraption didn’t facilitate perfectly centred and ripple free labeling, so that kit got used about 3 times.
I’ve skipped a generation perhaps, because I’ve never had an inkjet printer that was capable of printing onto the surface of a CD/DVD. But now I have a brand new LG Lightscribe DVD writer and a pack of HP Colour Lightscribe DVD+R.
The first thing I noticed, I knew nothing of the technology before buying this drive, was that colour is just monochrome shades. The 10 pack has 5 shades, you can see in the picture below on the HP top sheet from the pack. Also you can see two of the discs I’ve used. I was in Taiwan using a new computer so I only had a few photos on the computer I could use for a label. I quickly made up these labels in Photoshop as 300dpi images at a size of 12cm x 12cm. On screen I used a circular masking layer so I could see what bits would be cut off during the printing onto disc.
The discs look pretty nice on the main picture, but you might have an impression of the slight soft focus on the discs by looking at them and the HP label in comparison.
Let’s look at the quality closer up. This is from my scanner. You can definitely see the softness here, especially in contrast to the plastic/foil markings on the inner ring. It’s a bit like a motion blur or mis-registration from multiple laser passes. Below you can see the original photo section at approximately the same size and rotation. It’s quite a lot sharper.
For another comparison I’ve changed the pic to similar tones to the green of the disc. Compared to the scan, the colours and tonal range have been matched but it’s not so blurry, the text is much more legible.
I’ll be using and trying these discs some more, I used the ‘best’ setting in the Cyberlink imaging software and the media is ‘version 1.2‘. The DVDs both took about 19 minutes to etch the images upon.
One thing I might test is to incorporate lines of various weights in an illustrator drawing and print it onto a light scribe disc to test the resolution of the process. The Lightscribe website suggests “When using images from your digital camera or scanner, use the highest resolution possible to yield the best label quality.” From my results I’m guessing that 150dpi would be the most efficient res, my 300dpi image was not necessary – it didn’t benefit with extra sharpness.
Now I might have sounded a bit negative in the review but weighing everything up I think it’s worth having a Lightscribe drive. The discs look nice, the drives are not expensive, the media isn’t much more expensive if you shop around. If you want to add an extra drive or replace an old slow one I’d definitely go for a Lightscribe or Labelflash capable drive.