Month: February 2014

Corporate Identity

Corporate identity represents the look of a company. Many successful corporate identities are not just a successful logo, but the design and implementation of a visual system which defines their image, marketing and advertising. The logo itself is only one component of the visual system in corporate identity.

Here are 3 agencies that have well known corporate clients.

Carlos Segura started the Chicago-based and world-renowned creative agency Segura Inc. Well known clients include Toyota, Gatorade, MTV, ESPN, Mongoose, Q101, among others.

Landor Associates is a branding agency with  locations in New York, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and  Paris. Like many agencies, Landor Associates helps companies redefine their corporate image. FedEx, BP and Craft are some of their clients.

Pentagram has been around for over 50 years and is a large independent agency with offices in the U.S. and Europe. They are associated with Tiffany and Co, Penguin Group,  Windows 8, Nissan, Walgreens, Lucy’s Fried Chicken, and Citi. Pentagram is known for simple and clean designs.


Gestalt – how visuals are perceived and why graphic design works

Gestalt: a set of theories that explain how visuals are perceived as a whole that is greater than the sum of their parts. The human brain and vision work in tandem to interpret the world as it is but these theories explain why design elements work in the manner in which they do.


We view things that are similar to each other as related. In this example, the four separate circles appear as one group, and the twelve outer squares appear as another group.


We view things as simply as possible. In this example, we perceive two “X” shapes, instead of something more intricate.


We view things that are near each other as groups. In this example, we see two groups of circles, not just six separate circles.


We view things as describing paths, even if interrupted. In this example, we see a circle, even though it’s interrupted by other lines.


We view things as wholes, even if incomplete. In this example, a star is evident in the negative space, even though the entire contour isn’t rendered. Also, we perceive the star, and not just five separate shapes.

Illustration Styles

Illustrations are found in comics, magazines, books, websites, and animation. Successful Illustration artists are notable for their own personal style that sets them apart. Though styles can be vastly different, they all share a common thread: consistency in style and accuracy.

Here are some illustrators that have very unique styles.

Charles S. Anderson inklogo

Charles S. Anderson Design is one of the most influential agencies in the country, if not the world.

Chris King king

King is a character illustration artist who specializes in comic book art. His work is highly stylized but also has as sketched quality.

Bill Watterson watterson_bill_1988_

Watterson is the artist behind Calvin and Hobbes, the famous comic strip about a boy and his tiger. His style shows that real life accuracy is not as important as consistency.

Lester Beall beall_mailer-1

Beall’s work can be described as immediate. His illustration style focuses on the immediate reaction with bold colors and use of photos.

Milton Glaser milton-glaser-dylan

Glaser is one of the most influential graphic designers in the past 100 years.

Drawing from Reference in Illustrator

To draw from reference in illustrator when you have a image that you want to work with, there are two approaches you can take:

Trace. You can place a layer above your photo layer (make sure your photo layer is locked) and trace directly above that with empty fill paths. You can trace precise contours and proportions this way and fill the paths later.

Reference. You can also place your photo next to your later and draw this way. Its not as precise but will allow you to use your creative juices in interpreting the photo. Using this method, guides will be helpful to help make sure proportions are correct. Use the paths with empty fills just as in the tracing method.

Regardless of the method, using reference photos along with a thorough understanding of your tools is a process of design and will help you to create wonderful illustrations with precision and creative flair.

The most essential tools in adobe illustrator

Vector graphics are all about precision. Adobe Illustrator is used to create vector graphics which are based on a system of points and paths. These points ands paths are precise and use a mathematical grid that allows shapes to be sized without loss of quality. Here are some basic and essential tools to know in adobe illustrator.

Pen tool

The Pen tool is the main drawing tool that allows you to create any shape you want. With the pen tool, you click and drag to create corner points and curve points rather then actually drawing objects. With the pen tool you draw the points that define the lines.

Shapes tools

In the illustrator tool bar there are a variety of shapes that you can use, such as the rectangle, ellipse and star tool. Though it may seem simplistic to use these basic shapes to create an object, it is important to remember that most objects are really just a combination of shapes. Combined with the Pen tool, designers can quickly and accurately create a graphic.

Fill and Stroke

The fill and stroke are attributes that can be applied to a shape, path and text. The fill is the color of the object and the stroke is the outline with which different thickness and styles can be used. Fill and stroke don’t always have to be applied, as a shape doesn’t have to have a visible stroke or fill.

Selection tool and Direct-Selection tool

The Selection tool is referred to as the “black arrow” tool, and the Direct-Selection tool is commonly referred to as the “white arrow” tool. These tools are similar but have slightly different purposes.

The Selection tool is a more general selection tool that can be used to select, resize, and reposition whole objects. It’s also useful for selecting multiple objects to create groups.

The Direct-Selection tool is more focused and it can select and reposition individual points and paths. It’s also useful for selecting one object within a group of objects.

Pioneers of compositing

What is compositing? It is the art of combining a multitude of processes and objects to create a complete and final piece of art. Though compositing has been around longer then the advent of computer design tools, todays technology has allowed designers flexibility and precision in their creations.

Four design and art pioneers who created well known and studied layouts and composites are Neville Brody, April Greiman, Stefan Sagmeister and Barbara Kruger



The power of Masking as a design tool

The Masking tool

Masking is a wonderful design tool. It’s used in print, web, and video. It can be used to hide things or reveal things and it allows you to create intricate composition.

The masking tool can be used to hide or expose. It can hide things from sight, but the content is still there and fully editable, separate from the mask. With the creative software used in the design industry, you can resize the towel, change its shape, reposition it, and even use it to restrict certain effects to specific areas. Masking tools also reveal things that were previously hidden. With software like Illustrator, you can create all different shapes that will reveal the composition beneath it.

Masking is the process of making some areas visible, and some not. These are the two approaches to using the masking tool.


Image editing and its pioneers


Image editing is the act of making adjustments and corrections within a medium such as print, web, video and animation. Its important to have a clear goal in mind when you are editing an image. Exploration in design is good but without a clear goal of what you are creating, it may no come together. Having a basic understanding of both how to adjust imagery, and why to make said adjustments, is foundational to your ability to create stunning work.

There are 3 notable people in the realm of image editing. Andy Warhol, David Carson and Bradbury Thompson.

Andy Warhol was famous for his pop art which is well known today. His experimental work with the screening process allowed him to create many copies of an image with different colors.

David Carson had a new approach that caused a frenzy in the design world. His work emphasizes that the whole is greater then the sum of its part.

Bradbury Thompson successfully blended photography, typography and color. His work may be decades old but the technical precision in which he created his designs looks contemporary.