Web Design Trends for 2017

Being that I am a newbie when it comes to web design, I have done some reading to see what is going on in the [very] vast world of web design.  Some of the things that always seem to be discussed concerning graphic design are what the “trends” for the current and upcoming year are.  Web design is certainly not an exception — people in the industry are always anticipating what could be happening next!

The following list are some of the things that I am excited about:

  • Layouts that let content shine:  it is amazing how much technology and web design have changed, even just over the past couple of years.  A shift recently has occurred; causing the focus to not be just having a “pretty” website for consumers to look at, but a website that goes back to what the actual function of a website is:  to consume the information that the website communicates.  The result has become a more minimalist approach to the design (which I rather like), and this allows for the information to really take center stage.
  • Big and Bold type:  along with the concept of letting the content take the spotlight, another concept that is being utilized is using large fonts to communicate the information the website holds.  This is another simple concept but I like that it truly makes a bold statement about what the goal of the website is when the visitor goes to the landing page.
  • More of Bright colors: continuing with the concept of simple design, another trend that we could see more of this year is the use of bright color more often.  Bright colors certainly make a statement, and that is a step that the client should want to take, should this be utilized.  Going even further into this concept; people seem to be losing their minds over the observation that some websites observed are not only utilizing bright colors, they are using lots of gradients to show different shades of bright colors.  Now, I like a good gradient as much as the next guy, but I think that they must be used with discretion.  I think that gradients are like a good spice: just the perfect amount and you’re golden,  but use too much and you’ve ruined the dish.
  • Unique layouts:  another way that web designers see to be finding creative ways to present information to readers is with unique layouts!  Specifically, this is happening with broken grids.  Some ways that designers are utilizing this concept in their designs are through overlapping typographic and graphic elements and [seeming[ to randomly combine text and images.  I really love seeing these things because it breaks the website up visually, and it is aesthetically pleasing because it produces a bit of a surprise for the viewer, but not too much to where it makes the material difficult to read.

These are just some of the things that people are talking about to look out for in web design for 2017.  Of course, these are all just speculation and only time will tell exactly what the popular web design things end up being for this year!

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How 3D/Animation Has Changed My Life

The past four weeks have seemed like a whirlwind of information and learning with regards to my most recent class, 3D graphics/animation.

There is truthfully so much that concerns the 3D/animation world and only so much can be covered during a four week span.  However, this class and everything that I have learned has without a doubt left an impact on me!

Even though my animations are simple animations, I have learned how much work really goes into animating figures.

I have always been a huge fan of animated films and now I can begin to understand just how much all the teams of illustrators put into the films that we enjoy.

Recently, my wife and I watched the 2013 Pixar film; Monsters University.  We are like children in the way that we love watching animated films as often as we can!  When I was watching this movie most recently however, it was like my eyes were opened for the very first time.  Even from the very first scene with the scene being set with a row of houses surrounded by trees, and the morning sunlight shining brilliantly through those trees; I was able to see a glimpse of what those animators went through even to make just those few first seconds of the movie!

Animation takes so much patience and so much manpower.  I am even more impressed with everything that is able to be accomplished with todays animated films.  It really isn’t a surprise at all that these movies take years to complete!  All the folks involved in the animation process are superheroes in my book, and I just can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

What IS Rendering?

If you have even just a little bit of experience with or knowledge of video or 3D/animation production, you are familiar with the process of rendering.

I have had some exposure of and experience with rendering recently, but the more I work with After Effects and render out footage the more I wanted to better understand what exactly  is happening when I wait for hours for the footage to fully render.  I did a little bit of research and I what I found certainly helped me to better understand this whole process.

The process of rendering is by far the most technically complex aspect of 3D production, but like many complicated processes, I find it easy to comprehend in the context of an analogy:  just like a [film] photographer must develop and print photos before they can be viewed, graphic designers that work in the 3D realm must also ‘develop’ their footage before it can be viewed.

When a designer works on a 3D scene, the model they are working on is actually a mathematical representation of points and surfaces.  The term rendering refers to the calculations that are performed by a 3D software package’s render engine to translate the scene from a mathematical configuration to a finalized 2D image.  During this entire process, the scene’s spatial, textural, and lighting information are combined to determine the color value of each pixel in the flattened image.

How the computer mathematically does all this work is truthfully beyond the power of my brain to comprehend, but without getting into extreme detail (as well as delving into things I don’t even understand), this is how rendering works!  I find it fascinating that our computers and the programs that we use every day are able to accomplish these complicated tasks.  I also love that I don’t have to fully comprehend everything that goes into making the rendering process work, but I am still able to use and benefit from it!

Animation Studios + 3D Printing

When I discovered 3D printing, my mind was pretty much blown (which I think it is safe to say is the reaction that most people have when they discover the magic behind 3D printing).

An industry that has benefited from the use of 3D printers is the movie industry.  I recently read an article that discussed the animation studio LAIKA that relies on using the software and 3D printing hardware to make its films.  With recent improvements on the technology that the [really good] 3D printers use, LAIKA has the ability to print thousands of precise colors and subtle gradients in plastic, which achieves color accuracy that has not been accomplished with 3D printing before now.

The way in which LAIKA most utilizes the 3D printer for their films is pretty simple in concept:  faces.  LAIKA’s designers produce the puppets’ (they produce stop-motion animated films) faces, and they the 3D printer is used to print literally tens of thousands of slightly different facial expressions for each character that is utilized during filming.

LAIKA actually pioneered this specific technique on their first film Coraline and they have continued to continually change things up with each film that they have produced.

3D technology is amazing and is constantly changing, and it has produced incredible applications to so many industries including film.  I cannot wait to see where this technology goes in just the next few years!

Typography: Symbol Fonts

When I think of typography, the first thing that crosses my mind is probably not the wide array of symbol fonts that exist.  Even more exciting, a good number of these fonts are also free to download and use to your hearts content!

Below I have included a few symbol fonts that I have found interesting and that could be useful in many different graphic design projects.

  • Glyphyx One

glyphyx symbol

The symbols in the Glyphyx One set are all related to transportation in one way or another.  Containing symbols from cars and bikes to taxis and helicopters, this font would probably be a great option for an information graphic.  (The “leisure” themed items seen above come from the Glyphyx Two set).

  • Cittadino

cittadino

This free symbol font is an eye-catching collection of pictograms, which apparently are already featured on the Milan Metro map.  Designed by a Moscow based desire, this set includes both upper and lower case letters as well as numbers.  Talk about real-life design solutions!

  • Rosette

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This eye-catching and beautiful set of rosettes was created by a font designer and calligrapher that was formerly an architect.  I love hearing of great “conversion” stories of designers using their already honed skills and directing that into design careers.  This designer certainly made the right choice and I would love to use one of these in a project soon.

  • Kalocsai Flowers

kalocsai flowers

This set of flower symbols is very attractive and I think that has to do with the simplicity of the flowers.  There is beauty in simplicity, and I really like this set.  What makes it even better is that these are free to use!

  • Adhesive Nr. Seven

adhesive nr. seven

Yet another set of symbols that are free to download and use, these textured banners are widely versatile and I think they can be used with a wide variety of design styles.

  • Vintage Wedding

vintage wedding.png

Unfortunately this set is not free (costs between $20 and $108), , but it has symbols that are able to be used for design solutions other than just weddings. This is a very large collection of symbols at 432 icons that can be used for many different celebratory occasions including baby showers, Valentine’s Day, birthdays…

Drawing: It’s Not So Bad!

In the past four weeks I have done a good amount of drawing, which is saying something!  I have never considered myself to be a drawer in any regard, but I have found drawing to be (and I’m sure it will continue to be) a useful skill.  Drawing has helped me to visualize the work I am doing before I even go into Illustrator to start designing.  It has helped me to have definite direction in the design from the very beginning, which I have found has saved me a good amount of time.

I have seen that my drawing has improved, even over just the past few weeks.  Practice truly does make perfect, and I know that my drawing will only get better the more I practice it.

fox

The above is my favorite drawing that I have done over the past few weeks.  I am very proud how it turned out, and it is certainly my best so far!