Fazai38 posted a couple of articles showing some examples of inspirational posters. I’ve a few favourites but at the same time (and coincidentally) Computerlove posted about Negro Nouveau’s new typefaces with a graphic that was happily similar to the Deerhoof poster. I rather enjoy the similarity of the basic motif, and the different effect each of the two implementations give.
I like the little bubbling flask motif on the “We Are Scientists” one, and of course I’m going to like the one that resembles guilloches.
I came across this site the other day - Ridiculous Design Rules. I’m not quite sure what the basic premise of the site is - whether it’s to collect ridiculous rules together and collectively point and laugh at them by giving them stars, or to collect rules together and rate them as ridiculously good or relevant. It’s very odd. I thought of the ridiculous design rules I’ve encountered before but they tend to be about the audience, or users, for example the truly ridiculous and unproven (and unprovable) “99.9% of people set their browser to the correct language” to the too-many-caveats-to-say-one-way-or-another, “text on screen is unreadable compared to print”.
Whatever you think of the rules or how they’re presented, the site does have some beautiful illustrations by Niels Shoe Meulman - only four for now, but hopefully a lot more soon. I’m particularly taken with the cat picture, it’s a nice Latin script variety of the kind of illustrative Arabic writing I’ve posted about before. Very nice indeed. You can see them larger on the site, or on this Flickr set.
Again, some other things that have been doing the rounds but got stuck in my pile of ‘things to look at’. These travel posters by Steve Thomas, Amy Martin and Adam Levermore-Rich promote travel to exotic eras and destinations, such as the Crimson Canyons of Mars, Tranquil Miranda, or the Winter Wonderland of the Ice Age.
I like the ones for destinations in the solar system by Steve Thomas. Aside from their obvious fantasy, I find them a little poignant though. They evoke the ideas of the early 20th Century when we were going to colonise space pretty soon and it was going to be amazing. Except we didn’t, and space is pretty expensive and we’re only just starting to get space tourism, and even that barely above our atmosphere. Still, perhaps looking at these posters we can live in hope! Well, not for Uranus, what with it not having a solid surface and all, oh, and Venus needing some hefty terraforming… but Mars is about right! Oh, except it’s brown, not red. Ho hum:
Lastly, the ones that are from the universe of Firefly and Serenity. I have to admit I’ve not watched either so I can’t really comment other than to say they’re rather attractive. You can buy them here though.
Banknote patterns fascinate me. I can get lost for hours in all the details, seeing how the patterns fit together, how the lettering works, the tiny security ‘flaws’ - they’re amazing. Central to banknote designs are Guilloche patterns, which can be created mechanically with a geometric lathe, or more likely these days, mathematically. The mathematical process attracted me immediately as I don’t have a geometric lathe and nor do I have anywhere to put one. I do, however, have a computer, and at the point I first started playing with the designs (mid-2004) Illustrator and Photoshop had gained the ability to be scripted. So off I went, using the hypotrochoid equations on Mathworld to create rather rough and ready patterns - scripting at this point didn’t have a very usable set of functions for creating beziers, so I had to use crummy line segments. The process took ages and served just to prove to me that I could do it, but the results were too poor to go much further.
Then, a couple of years later I discovered Grapher on the Mac. Aha! Now here was a program that could create the patterns I was after and export to EPS. Well, kind of. It could create the patterns, most of the time, and export to EPS, though not always. I got a couple of patterns out of it and had a look round for other options. Again, not much - not much that I could afford, that is.
Then we get to now. I give Grapher another go, and at last, I can create and export patterns:
There are still some extremely frustrating limitations though. First of these is the resolution of drawing the graph. I’m sure for most graphs the default resolution is fine, but when creating these patterns you need tiny increments. Tiny tiny ones. If the line is going from one side of the graph to the other and back again a thousand times in a couple of radians, you don’t want the graph program to start dropping line segments, or corners, or anything really. Grapher does allow you to increase the resolution, but it’s not sticky - change anything in the equation and it pops right back to the default. Every. Single. Time. The same thing seems to happen with the line thickness too - I wanted all the designs to be at 0.1, but it kept changing it back to 1.0. Frustrating! There are a couple of other UI things I’d change, like having an option to keep axes at 1:1 ratio to each other, even when you resize the window.
Another, deeply irritating frustration with the whole process is to do with Illustrator. Try and open an exported EPS in it, and you get “An unknown error occurred”. Photoshop can accept the EPSs as placed objects, and InkScape can (eventually) open them, so Grapher seems to be outputting valid EPS files. I suspect that the number of lines in the graph is causing the premier vector editing app in the industry to fall over. Oh dear.
Still, after all this, I can still get the patterns made, and get them into an image editing program, which is quite something. Now I just need to find the magic numbers to create just the right patterns I want.
Note: I know there are programs devoted to creating these patterns - Excentro being apparently one of the most popular, but I’d rather use the software tools I already own first. I played a bit with Excentro and it certainly makes some things a hell of a lot easier - but I’ll hold off buying it for now until I’ve got an actual project I can use it for.
Note 2 (27th August 2010): I have since bought Excentro and have used it on several projects, including this one for Wired, and I can confirm it is an excellent tool. The UI is a little palette-heavy (it can feel a bit crowded) but is perfectly usable and extraordinarily powerful.
I’ve been enjoying The Superest for a while now (since it started I think) after following a link from Chris Glass (I think), and while every post on it is good, it’s the ones by Kevin Cornell that I look forward to the most. Apart from the fantastic illustration, there’s often gorgeous lettering to look at. His site, Bearskinrug, is a joy to visit as well.
I’ve nabbed some of his work from The Superest to illustrate the point - I put them on a cards for my own amusement, as the site reminds me of Top Trumps (and because I think you need to visit the site to see the full ones). Go and visit this, and his main site.
This site is astounding. I’ve been browsing through it for, oh, an hour now, and there are more and more amazing images. Some of them (my favourites) look like they inspired, or were inspired by, Edward Hopper, and others seem right from Ladybird books I had at junior school. They’re quite inspiring and evocative - looking at the first one here, I’m taken right back to visiting my grandparents when I was a child:
John Gruber (Daring Fireball) linked to this interesting article on Android, which is worth a read, but stop a moment and admire the illustration by Christian Montenegro. It’s quite something - the flat slab of technology and this glorious fountain of swirling colour coming out of the sharp-edged screen - if only real phones were nearly as exciting, with 3D display technology like that and everything. I’d go for an interface that launched out of the phone like that.
Yes, more stamps! This time courtesy of Richard at Ace Jet 170 who posted this article about a set of Israeli stamps he bought. They depict three environmental concerns, air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution, and were apparently designed by Eliezer Weishoff (thanks to Yotam for the info). The stamp itself shows the problem situation with an additional detachable design depicting (iconographically) the ideal; butterflies visit flowers, fish swim among seaweeds and ears hear birdsong. Yes, that is an ear - the least successful image of the three I think - though I do like the birds in the tear-off.
I was asked for prints of the Polish stamp designs and I’d certainly like to, but I need to research the copyright. I traced the designs for my own understanding, and I’d love it for more people to see these designs at large scale and up close, but I’m not going to violate anyone’s copyright - I am a designer after all! Of course, if anyone’s a copyright lawyer in the UK/EU and fancies offering some tips, I’d greatly appreciate it.
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