Category Archives: Design

iPad Journal: Affinity Photo for iPad!!

Affinity Photo on iPad

Affinity Photo on iPad

I’ve been using the Affinity apps, Photo and Designer, on my Mac for the past couple of years and thanks to them I’ve largely left Adobe behind. In fact, I only use Adobe for InDesign projects and for Illustrator’s trace functionality. It’s rare that I open up either Illustrator or Photoshop and I look forward to the day that I don’t need to have them installed. The Affinity apps are, in my experience, true replacements for those two Adobe apps.

As I’ve transitioned more if my work to iPad I’ve been waiting and hoping for the Affinity apps to make the jump. Monday at the WWDC event it was announced (via an on stage demonstration) that Affinity Photo was now available for iPad. I purchased it immediately and after a few hours of trying it out I can say I am very satisfied. I should note that I’m using it on an iPad Air 2, not a Pro, and that performance is excellent. I’ve already used the app to do work for two clients and expect to do a lot more. This is a full version comparable to the Mac version rather than something only a small subset of features. It is a fantastic experience. I can’t wait to give it a go on the new 12.9″ Pro next week!

By way of comparison, I’d previously been trying to use Pixelmator on iPad and while it occasionally proved useful for bitmap-based work it was never as powerful as I needed and so I often ended up back at the Mac using Affinity Photo or Affinity Designer. With Affinity Photo installed I will likely remove Pixelmator altogether. There really is no comparison. Now I’ll be able to that much more work on iPad. The only difficulty that I expect to encounter is in the area of available fonts but that’s a shortcoming of iOS not this app. In such cases I’ll save a copy to my Mac towards the end of the project and finish it off with the Mac Affinity apps.

Once Serif releases Affinity Designer for vector focused work I’ll have a nearly complete iPad toolkit for graphic design. I expect I will, from that point on, only return to the Mac for InDesign and for projects that require additional, Mac-only fonts. I also expect that one day Apple will allow for an easy way to add fonts as we see fit.

This is exactly the kinds of app needed to help move the iPad toward being a fully Pro tool for those of us that do this kind of work and who choose an iPad as our primary device. I can say, without a doubt, Affinity Photo will be one of my most used iPad apps.

Recent Work: Midwest Tiny Houses and Sheds

I don't just love tiny houses, I live and work in one. It suits me very well because I don't own much stuff and what I do keep around serves a function. Not much clutter in my world. My small space has served me very well and I don't see that changing for any reason. A couple months ago a local fellow started a new tiny buildings business and asked me to do a website and other marketing materials. Of course I was excited to see a new Fredericktown business and one that was going to be building tiny houses made it all the more interesting to me.

In the short time they've been around they've already built several buildings including a couple of cabins and garden sheds. Midwest Tiny Houses and Sheds will be building for local clients but are planning to build and deliver their buildings to clients in the St. Louis area and Cape Girardeau too. Basically they'll be focusing (initially) on St. Louis and Southeast Missouri.

I've had a first hand look at the construction and it's solid and well crafted. These are beautiful buildings that will last many years. Looking forward to seeing them thrive.

Juno Mission Infographic

When I'm not creating something for a client chances are pretty good that I'm reading about astronomy, physics, space exploration or some related area of science. I've often used those interests as the ingredients in a variety of a for-fun graphic design projects. If you follow NASA at all you probably know that this past July we put the Juno spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter. On August 27 NASA announced that Juno completed it's first extended orbit around the planet and has begun the next orbit. There will be 35 more in total. In celebration of the mission I put together a Juno infographic:

Space Exploration Themed Posters Part Two

I continue to enjoy Affinity Designer. In fact, after three months of use I far prefer it (as well as Affinity Photo) to Illustrator or Photoshop. As of this moment my plan is to only use the Adobe apps if a client/project requires it. These new Affinity apps by Serif are fantastic and did I mention they are not rented via subscription but available for purchase the old-fashioned way? Buttery smooth, fully featured and a pleasure to use.

In my downtime this summer I’ve continued working on my series of space exploration-themed posters which I’ve made available on Red Bubble.

A vector illustration of Marathon Valley

This view from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows part of “Marathon Valley,” a destination on the western rim of Endeavour Crater, as seen from an overlook north of the valley. The scene spans from east, at left, to southeast. It combines four images of the rover’s panoramic camera on March 13, 2015, during the 3,958th Martian day of Opportunity’s work on Mars.

Marathon Valley was selected as a science destination because observations by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter yielded evidence of clay minerals, a clue to ancient wet environments. Opportunity has been exploring the Meridiani Planum region of Mars since January 2004.

Moon Walk

“For me, the most ironic token of [the first human moon landing] is the plaque signed by President Richard M. Nixon that Apollo 11 took to the moon. It reads, ‘We came in peace for all Mankind.’ As the United States was dropping seven and a half megatons of conventional explosives on small nations in Southeast Asia, we congratulated ourselves on our humanity. We would harm no one on a lifeless rock. That plaque is there still, attached to the base of the Apollo 11 lunar module on the airless desolation of the Sea of Tranquility. If no one disturbs it, it will still be readable a million years from now.” -Carl Sagan

Space Exploration Themed Posters

My trial run with Affinity Design continues, this time with a series of space exploration posters featuring Carl Sagan quotes.

Mars Rocket

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan

Rocket Launch

“Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.” – Carl Sagan

Space Rocket

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” – Carl Sagan

Permaculture Poster Design (& Affinity Designer First Impression)

Before I go any further, let me say this isn’t much of a review or even a mini-review. Just my initial impressions.

I’m a regular user of Adobe CC but not a big fan of the subscription model. When I recently learned of Affinity Designer and the upcoming Affinity Photo I figured it was worth checking out. The reviews for AD thus far are very high and having used it for a couple of projects I can see why. The Permaculture-themed poster below started as just a quickie to test out some of the basic tools I’ve come to expect from Illustrator and I’m happy to report that AD was a pleasure to use. Everything from the pen tool to text to text on a curve were easy and buttery smooth. As with Illustrator, layers are easy enough to use to group elements for editing and locking. On a couple of  test designs I tried a few of the other basics such as shape building and editing as well as applying gradients and various styles, all worked just as one would expect.

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What’s missing? Right off, there is no workspace outside of the defined document margins which is something I definitely miss. Illustrator and InDesign both allow for the storing of elements outside of the defined art board or document margins. Also, no export for web. Perhaps I missed it but I certainly didn’t see it and I’ve looked a couple times. I know that I can set a document up as having an intended use for the web but that’s not what I’m after. I want to be able to set up for print and also be able to export or save for web.  Found it! Right in front of me but called “Export Persona”. The only option I don’t see is the option to resize the dimensions at time of export.

I’m guessing that I’ll find other features missing that I’m used to having but as of this moment I intend to switch to AD for any design work that I would have previously used Illustrator for.

The Typography of Alien

A pretty fantastic post about the typography of Alien.

My third post about typography in sci-fi has been gestating for a while now. Indeed, it’s been slowly taking shape – you might say it’s been forming itself inside of me – for really quite some time. I’m delighted to say that it is now ready to burst forth from my allegorical chest, and to spatter allegorical typographic blood all over your allegorical faces. Welcome to Typeset In The Future: The Alien Edition.

Mini-Review: iDraw for iPad

My main work machine is the 2012 Mac Mini. I’ve written before about my transition to a standing desk for health purposes. That said, I do want to be able to use the iPad as a tool to get work done. Having a flexible workflow is good and it would seem a waste, with the increased power of the iPad Air 2, to not utilize it when the need arises. My initial thought was that it would come in handy for editing the html of client websites and yes, that is a breeze with Diet Coda and Transmit. But why stop there? Those were tasks I could also accomplish with the 3rd gen iPad.

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In recent days I have also begun wondering if I might not also be able to get a bit of graphic design work done with the iPad. Adobe does not yet sell an iPad version of Illustrator or Photoshop but there are other options available. Pixelmator is the most recent crossover from the Mac. It has some pretty fantastic photo filters and the handy ability to be passed back and forth to the Mac version. It can also export to psd for crossing over to Photoshop when I’m back to my Mac. That said in the little bit of dabbling I’ve done with it I’m finding some frustrating limitations which I’ll likely explore in more detail soon. Suffice it to say for the purposes of this post that those limitations led me to try out iDraw and that has proven to be a great decision.

iDraw has been available for the iPad since the first iPad release in 2010 and there is a Mac version too though I’ve not tried it. Last week I downloaded the iPad version and have been giving it a spin. Fantastic. This is an app I can use to get real design work done. I’ve not yet used it for a client project though that will come soon enough. I’ve done enough with it in a few hours to know what it is capable of. Not surprisingly, it’s not as fully featured as Illustrator or Photoshop but it does have the most important tools and they perform very well. In fact, the iPad handles everything I’ve tried to with iDraw with ease.

I created the example image in my first spin with the app. Shape building, styling with gradients, adding text to a path are all very straight forward. I started with the rectangle tool and then used the pen tool to begin adding new points and then used the path tool to make my pen handle and tip. Apply stroke and gradient and then tweek. As with Illustrator, all the objects are put on one layer but layers are supported and easy enough to create. I used the same process for creating the inkwell. Styles include drop shadow, inner shadow, inner and outer glow. Multiple instances of these effects as well as multiple fills can be applied to each object. Very handy to be able to apply multiple gradients to single objects.

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The brush tool is very easy to use with width and smoothing options though I only found the one style brush tip. Will need to investigate. Adding text to a brush stroke is easy enough as is styling that text after adding it to the path. Adjusting the path or moving the text to different points along the path are also very easy. As you might expect, there are plenty of object options such as alignment, path combinations and more.

When you’ve finished you have quite a few options for using and sharing images. Before sending to any of the iOS 8 app extensions for sharing (Transmit, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) you have the option to choose the file size, resolution, and format: pdf, svg, psd, png or jpg.

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