Monday, December 13, 2010

Cameron Graphix is finally Live

After about 5 months of the "Coming soon..." Flash splash page, the site is finally complete and live. Check it out and let me know if you need any web design done. I'd hate to think I gave up a year of my life+ so I could settle back into things have always been!

14 months of training - Finally Over!

I finally finished my program at Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division. The program was really excellent and this was my final term. It's not bittersweet as many would say when moving on to a new portion of life.  There was nothing really all that sweet about the following:

1) Three all-nighters - started doing homework at 7:00pm, worked all night, then went to "work" at The Ink Well, then came home, then did homework until 10-11pm, then finally went to sleep.

2) I was told when I started school that I should expect to do 10-15 hours per week in homework. When you figure that out, you're only talking about 2-3 hours a night...  Personally, there were many weeks where I had 5-7 hours a night!

3) Work a 40 hour a week job, then go to school for 35-60 hours.  That leaves a total of no more then 12 hours a day to spend time with family and sleep.  What suffered was sleep.

4) Getting on average 5 hours of sleep a night for 14 months.

5) Never watching TV, movies or playing video games. I know, not essentials, but it is nice to relax and have fun on occasion!

6) Family vacations inevitably fell during times when I had 24 hours of homework due and of course I can't bring a desktop computer, two monitors, keyboard mouse and all peripherals needed, plus 100 miles of extension cord to the camping trip.

Well, I finally get my life back!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Barakade Fotografie

This site has been a work in progress for me. It was originally created as a full-flash site. The site was designed by me to be a three-dimensional, interactive experience showing the photos of Rob, an associate of mine. The original design showcased three tabs and looked essentially the same as it does now, but when you clicked a new tab (side), the top tab would slide out of the frame to the right and move down below the bottom tab. This looked really neat, but caused a few problems from a usability standpoint... What if you wanted to go from Gallery to Contact directly?  Would the top tab, then the next tab need to move? Are the tabs fully independent and allowed to move in such a way that you never have to see two tabs move prior to seeing the information you want?

I have been revising the site slowly over the last few weeks. First, the photographer revised the copy that I originally wrote. Then, he added several photos and removed a few.  He also wanted to more closely integrate his social networking information with the site, so wanted me to add the "Like" button.  I had the footer originally embedded in the Flash movie, but found that having it fall below the Flash movie worked much better. I still have a bit of a problem with a long loading time for the movie and would like to add some sort of a loader animation to make that wait time less excruciating.

Check out the site at

Friday, December 3, 2010

My web site

I'm on the last week or so of my classes at AiO (Art Institute Online) and in my portfolio class, one of the projects is to create a portfolio (duh) and post it online.  As a result, if you look at my site in the next week or so, you'll have something besides the Flash logo saying "coming soon..."  I'm going to start work on the site tonight so stay tuned.

Here's my current URL: Cameron Graphix

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Welcome to my Blog - A test for "Designers" to see if they're for real

If you've found my blog, you're probably a friend or business associate, so welcome, first of all!  I wanted to start this as a way to keep in touch with my clients, friends and do a general talk (and possibly rant) about all things graphic and web design.

LOGO CREATION TEST FOR "Designers" (read - those who need to do some more training before calling themselves this)

One thing that I've noticed in my long-standing graphic design experience, both in my current and in past jobs, but also as a new graphic and web design professional is that there are a lot of "designers" out there.  I'm sure you noticed the little quotation marks around designers, and I'd like to identify some ways to know if who you're working with really knows what they are selling or if they're most likely a newbie that's charging too much for their rather basic work or farming you out to a design house.  Here are a few questions you can ask to test them:

1) I'd like to make some printed materials for my new business. I was thinking a business card, envelope and letterhead to start. Do you have a PMS book? 
            Now, if they're thinking you're talking about something to do with women, this is a "designer", not a graphics professional.  PMS is a shortened term for PANTONE® which is a color system for reproducing color on presses. This can also translate to fabrics and many other things. Check out for more information on the Pantone matching system.

2) Ask the designer if they have any sample logos that you can view on their monitor.  If they immediately open up Photoshop as their go-to design tool, this is where you should run screaming (or I would).  Photoshop is an OUTSTANDING program for doing RASTER work, but should never (if possible) be used to design a company logo.  The problem with Photoshop is that it uses Pixels, rather than mathematical points to make up the image.

What this translates to in layman's terms is that you have a certain amount of image information in small colored-squares that make up your logo.  When you make that logo smaller, what happens in the program is that it takes a look at those pixels, decides which of them it can discard in order that the image fits into the smaller space and chucks them.  If you want to make the image larger, the program again looks at the image, and invents pixels and adds them in.  Now, I don't know about you, but I don't want a program looking at my logo and discarding parts of it, nor do I want a program that invents parts of my logo and adds them in.  Here's an image I found which illustrates this concept a bit better:

VECTOR files on the other hand, created in such programs as Adobe Illustrator, the previous Macromedia Freehand, Corel Draw, and some others use mathematical points to identify strokes, fills and textures. Modern vector drawing programs allow nearly full freedom to create including complex textures, gradient colors, lighting effects and the like, but are fully scalable (meaning you can put this on a pen, or stretch it to fill up the side of a building or bus) with NO QUALITY LOSS.

3) Ask the designer what color-space they use for designing logos for print.

If they don't know what you're talking about, this is another one of those "designers" that you should probably stay away from.  There are two primary color spaces (or spectrums) that are used widely by us designers.  CMYK or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, blacK - also known as Process Colors are used by offset and digital presses.  These four colors create most visible colors and are what you see in full-color postcards, magazine ads and just about any printed piece you come across.  Basically, the press puts down dots in various patterns from rosettes to stochastic or FM-screened patterns which when viewed from a distance of 1-2" or more fool the eye into seeing the plethora of colors you see on the printed page.  When viewed from very close or with a magnifying glass, you will see the different dots in yellow, pink or light blue, plus black. Take a close look at any of that junk mail you have on your table or desk and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Another color space that is widely used is RGB or Red Green Blue. This is the visual light spectrum and is used primarily with video display devices, monitors, cameras and the web.  This spectrum is made up of approx. 16.7million colors (depending on bit-depth) and is the widest spectrum of color available.  A JPEG photo file is nearly always RGB.

So, if the designer uses RGB for their print images, this is another one of those "other designers" which you'll want to walk away from politely.

I hope this is of some help and I'll try to periodically give you some tips and insight into graphics and the web here at my blog.  Have a fantastic week!