The CreativePro Weekly Top 10, vol. 9

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1. Earlier in the week, I posted news of Astute Graphics new (and excellent) Stylism plug-in for Illustrator. The plug-in adds controls to objects on the artboard that you can use to work with graphic effects, so you never have to go hunting through umptynine panels, fields, or dialog boxes. Since the plug-in is brand new, I don’t (yet) have it covered in my lynda.com course on the other Astute Graphics plug-ins. But, on the Stylism page at AstuteGraphics.com you can check out a whopping 28 video tutorials on the plug-in, plus sample artwork produced by some amazing artists.

2. Font Men is a short film telling the story of Jonathan Hoefler or Tobias Frere-Jones. It doesn’t include details of their recent split, but it does illustrate the passion and expertise they put into their typefaces, and it has some wonderfully entertaining motion graphics that bring the process of type design to life. You may never look at the letters O, H, and D the same way again.

3. “Gestalt” is one of those fancy words usually reserved for Intro Psych professors and art museum tour guides. Use it outside those contexts and you run the risk of coming across as a pretentious windbag. But all of us are familiar with the concept of gestalt, that an ordered whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. Like…

Smashing Magazine’s Design Principles: Visual Perception and the Principles of Gestalt is a thorough guide to using techniques like proximity, similarity, and continuation to create works that are indeed greater than the sum of their parts.

4. Quick: what’s the most expensive liquid in the world? Chanel No.5 perfume? Dom Perignon? A bottle of Poland Spring water at Fenway Park? Nope. It’s printer ink, with retail prices for desktop inkjet cartridges that work out to well over $10,000 per liter. Must be all the unicorn tears they put into it. Anyway, I think it’s wonderful that one youngster, 6th grader Suvir Mirchandani, tried to save us all a bunch of dough by proposing a way for federal and state governments to dramatically reduce their ink consumption. He calculated that switching to a font like Garamond could save us upwards of $400 million in ink per year. Pretty nifty. But as font expert Thomas Phinney points out, the savings is based on the fact that Garamond is about 15% smaller at the same point size as the fonts currently in use. So you could set any font 15% smaller and save that amount of ink (and unfortunately end up with reduced legibility as well). And there are some other problems with the assumptions underlying the $400 million figure. Still, it’s an interesting question, and a noble effort. 

5. Here’s a story that would make celebrity selfie snappers like Ellen DeGeneres cry. The ICC World Twenty20 is an international cricket tournament going on now in Bangladesh. But fans hoping to snap a selfie with one of the players will be disappointed to know that amatuer photography is banned at the tournament because Getty owns all the rights. Yeah, that same Getty that recently announced you can use their images for free. Let’s hope this isn’t the start of a trend of selfie suppression. Or would that be a good thing?

6. Speaking of stock imagery, “This is a Generic Brand Video” sets stock video clips to words by McSweeney’s Kendra Eash. It brilliantly exposes the lazy clichés so often found in brand-promoting propaganda, er, commercials.

7. Do you thirst for gorgeous type? Enjoy a little Soda Typography at the Bigstock blog, just for the taste of it. 

8. A couple weeks back I wrote about a design guide for street light banners. But some folks actually have to paint the street itself. Like the guy in this video called Street Typography. It takes a steady hand to create 5-foot tall lettering with boiling hot paint and no Undos. Notice how the guy always keeps one hand behind his back. Show off.

9. Font-To-Width (FTW!) is a script for web designers that fits pieces of text precisely into containers by choosing the appropriate width or weight variant from large type families. It does not scale the font-size, but it does allow for letter- and word-spacing adjustments. It’s a work in progress, but you can download it from Github and try it out.

10. Pantone as Pixel is a project by a Spanish designer Txaber, to create images from Pantone color chips. The original images are converted into color mosaics, and then each color is replaced with the corresponding Pantone chip. One at a time. By hand. Yikes. But the results are pretty darn awesome.

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