Thursday
Aug232012

A bit blown away.

I was going through my photos today from a recent trip to Alaska. I was disappointed to find that the best photo of my husband and I had a woman in the background. I tried cropping it, but it just didn't seem as nice without that extra bit of background. So I decided to try my hand at Photoshop's Content Aware.

Content Aware isn't terribly new, but I never bothered using it because these features are never as good/easy as they look in the demos. Boy was I wrong! I followed this tutotial, and it really was quick and easy. I made NO other edits to the photo.

Before:

After:

So yea, I'm a bit blown away!

Tuesday
Feb082011

Hold on to your Logo

Too many times I've had a new client come around that doesn't have a usable copy of their logo. And most of the time, they don't have a way of contacting the original designer. This can prove to be both time consuming and costly to recreate the logo.

The problem is, most people don't really understand what versions they need of their logo to preserve it.

Many people think that as long as they have a JPG they can stick into Word or an email, all is fine. Or if their logo is on their website, they can store it there for the future. Unfortunately, these are raster images, and can not be enlarged, and often not printed correctly.

We all know that good logos are not cheap, so to protect your investment make sure your designer provides you with an Illustrator EPS (vector) file. And hold on to it safely!  You will probably not be able to open it, but thats OK. These EPS files enable your logo to be enlarged infinately, and printed professionally.

Two more things to know about your logo. Make sure you know what fonts were used to create the logo. The designer might not be able to provide you (legally) with the font, but he or she should be able to direct you as to where to get it.

Know your color palette. The logo designer should design using the Pantone (PMS) colors. So, for example, your logo colors could be PMS 295 and PMS 185. Also, if you can, hire your logo designer to create a "brand book" to dictate how to use the logo, so you can pass on the guidelines to future designers.

So now I ask, my dear (few?) readers. Do you know where your logo is?

Monday
Jan102011

Tour of Grays Harbor Paper Mill

This past Friday I was fortunate enough to be invited to join TCC Printing and their xpedx rep for a tour of Grays Harbor Paper Mill. Since I'm not that great at explaining mechanical things in detail, I'll show a bunch of photos I took.

After a 2ish hour drive, we arrived at the mill:

TCC's owner Michael told us all a good reason to never use Imitation Vanilla. Apparently, when he was last at the paper mill (about 20 years ago) there was an imitation vanilla plant right next door, feeding off the waste of the paper making process. Gross! Glad I buy real vanilla :)

Moving on... We walked around and saw the outside of the mill and their fuel pile (aka Hog Fuel), which was made up of sawdust and woodchips leftover from the logging process. But it was cold and rainy, so no photos!

Once we returned to the warmth of the inside of the mill, we first stopped in the control room:

Looks complicated! From there, we went to get our first glance at the giant paper machines. One was from the 1920s and the other was from the 1960s:

From there, we were allowed to climb up onto the machine and even touch some of the pulp:

 

From this stage, the paper dries and runs through a whole lot of rollers:

And finally, at the end of the machine the paper all makes it onto one huge roll:

Before ending up as either sheets or a roll, the paper goes through the calendaring process to stregnthen the sheet and make it smoother:

From there, it goes on to its final form, either a less-giant roll, or into sheets:

Once paper is sheeted and measured into reams, it eventually gets put into cartons. Then the cartons go down various conveyer belts to get automatically arranged on palettes. I thought they kindof looked like little soldiers marching one by one:

And thats pretty much where my photos end. It was definitely an interesting trip! I learned all about the paper making process while in school, but it was nice to finally see it all first hand. Thanks TCC and xpedx!

Friday
Oct222010

Web Graphics: GIF vs. JPG vs. PNG

I can't count how many times I've looked at a website and come across a graphic or photo that was saved incorrectly, resulting in bad quality. I've had clients request images for their websites often, and I always try to give advice as to what file format is the best. I've tried to explain why, but I've never found a good article online, so I thought I'd create my own guide to point clients to. First a summary on when to use each type of graphic.

GIF
A GIF is an image with a maximum of 256 colors. It is best used for solid color graphics such as logos or text. A photo should never ever be a GIF. Also, GIFs allow for transparency and nice sharp edges on solid colors. GIFs can also be animated to create an easy web banner without flash knowledge (but animation should be used very cautiously!)

JPG
A JPG is what we most commonly know as a photo format. If a JPG is used for something with solid colors (like a logo), you often get some degradation in the solid colors because the JPG tries to add in extra colors when they are not needed. Also, JPGs do not allow for any transparency or animation.

PNG
PNGs are relatively new to the web scene, but in my opinion they are somewhat "the best of both worlds". They allow for nice sharp solid colors, and great photo quality. And a bonus, they allow for transparency.

Now its time for some comparison images to really show you what I'm talking about.

Logos

From left to right, we have a GIF, JPG and PNG. The GIF and PNG are both nice and crisp, with a transparent background. The JPG is fuzzy with a white background. The right choice here: GIF or PNG.

 

Gradients

 

 

 

 

 Again, from left to right, we have a GIF, JPG and PNG. This time, the JPG and PNG look nice and smooth, and the GIF is full of dots and lines. Also, the PNG allows for the gradient to be transparent (but can also have a white background if needed). The right choice here: JPG or PNG.

 

Photos

Again, from left to right, we have a GIF, JPG and PNG. Just like in the gradient example, the GIF is full of dots. The JPG and PNG look great here though. If for some reason the cow was on a white background, he could also be floating in the PNG version. The right choice here: JPG or PNG.

 

So I hope this gives a clear idea as to when to use what format. When in doubt, try it out and save your graphic in all three formats to compare and choose the best.