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Unsharp Mask

Although it sounds backwards, “Unsharp Mask” in most cases will enhance clarity and make images sharper and clearer. While this filter may appear to have an affect the entire image, Unsharp Mask is only applied to the edges of an image. It accomplishes the “sharpening effect” by adjusting the acutance, which refers to the clarity or transition at the edge of an image. Unsharp Mask is a great way to increase clarity of detail in photographs.

This filter should not be applied to every image, but only on images that need a crisp sharp look. If enhanced detail is not needed in an image, using this filter could result in unwanted noise or added graininess to the look to the image.

Images that are great candidates for this filter would be images that contain a large amount of detail. While there is a large range available in the setting, small amounts of these settings accomplish the sharpening need. Applying this filter too much can over emphasize certain textures and unwanted detail, as well as, in some instances create a halo around images. All of which would be unwanted results.

One thing to always remember about this filter is it is not a solution for a photo that is not in focus. While it may look better with the application of the filter, it won’t make a out of focus photo sharp. Another thing to keep in mind is that it should be applied to images last, after all other editing has been done. This will ensure maximum clarity.

Some suggested setting for unsharpen mask.

Subject              Amount         Radius          Threshold
Soft subjects       150                 1                     10
Portraits             75                   2                        3
Moderate sharpening 225       0.5                      0
Maximum sharpening 65         4                       3
All-purpose sharpening 85      1                        4

For starting values of the USM filter for different uses, try the ones suggested by PhotographyJam:



Figure Drawing - Gouache Paint, Color Pencil

Objective: Figure drawing of Olympic Event & render appropriate color in two different traditional mediums.

This illustration was rendered in gouache paint.

This illustration was rendered in Prisma color pencils. 

Color Choices - Complementary - Warm & Cool Colors.

OBJECTIVE: Give your impressions of how the artist might have approached the choice of colors.

I chose an illustration from Mark Bender. He is was one of my instructors at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh when I attended back in 2002. I always enjoyed his style and great use of color. In this piece you see that he has a warm and cool color contrast. His rich blue and green works very nicely with the vibrant orange and yellow. The color pallet choice is actually complementary which gives greatest contrast and great harmony. I also find it interesting how he chose to place the man working in realistic colored clothes. The man is dressed in blue coveralls and a white shirt. His arms are rich golden collection of orange and yellow. In addition to creating a great contrast and harmony, the colors selected are quite realistic and what you would expect to see.

By Mark Bender



Product Mockup - Prospective & Color Rendering

OBJECTIVE: Create a line drawing of a product that would be good in an Olympic ad. Then do a color rendering of that drawing.

I first chose the product of "painreliever" This specific product is a actually produced by the Publix brand.
After I had the drawing completed I used Prisma Color Pencils to render the drawing in a monochromatic blue color. 

Great Color Design Application!

Here is a great site with a free color application that could be a great color tool.
Check it out the Color Scheme Designer


Effective Use Of Color - Triadic Color - Illustration

Image Source: http://www.unstage.com/2009/10/great-use-of-color-in-digital-art/
In this illustration titled “kitchen” by Zain you see an example of an artist using a triadic color scheme. This means that the color pallet consists of three main colors that are equally spaced around the color wheel. It is a solid scheme to use as it provides strong contrast but maintains balance or harmony of color.
The artist establishes a cool feel with the use of blues in the top of the illustration. This was a great technique as the cool tones allow the viewer to be drawn in to the illustration, which creates a greater illusion of depth. In addition to the perspective and shading the use of blue makes this kitchen space appear very deep especially with the contrast of the pink warm tone, which is the one of the other colors used in the triad.

The pink tone adds a splash of warmth, but is secondary to the coolness of the more dominant blue. While the piece is quite sad and mellow looking do to the dominate cool color, the use of the warm pink tones on the bottom, are a great way to lead the front of the piece toward the viewer. This contrast of warm and cool is a great technique for this piece as it creates an illusion of an extended visual field a great use of color in this exaggerated perspective drawing.

Finally the artist uses a touch of yellow, which completes this triadic pallet. This aids in the established light source and gives the viewer a feeling of sunlight. This also pushes the blue primary color to appear darker and possibly sadder and helps the viewer realize the intended tone of the piece where the girl is stuck inside working, on a beautiful sunny day.

AIO Lecture


Emotional Impact of Color

QUESTION:  "The impact of color on the emotional feel of a piece can add significantly to the message of the illustration." Explain by giving examples.

Color is a key component in an illustration in aiding the viewer in establishing the correct emotion. A very simple example is the use of complementary colors like red and green. This combination in most situations in the American culture makes people think of Christmas. While looking at the color green alone the viewer may assume growth, fresh, go or safe, it does also have some negative associations like greed and jealousy. It is amazing how adding the complementary color of green to red has created this holiday brand color. 

By itself color red has other emotional effects on people like the association of heat, fire, power, it has also been associated with a signal to stop. The color red is even used to represent love and passion. 

Pink is another color that has been a way to establish femininity. Most children wearing pink clothing are assumed to be female. Also consider how the popular retailer Victoria Secret has taken the color pink and branded their store with this color. Even the Breast Cancer Awareness has adopted this color for their movement.
Some color combinations even can effect how the piece is visually viewed. For example Warm color combinations have a tendency to appear to move in the direction of the observers and seem to be in a closer proximity. To push away from the viewer one could chose to use a cool color combination, which would will aid in the scene pulling back from the viewer. In other words, warm colors will appear to be larger than cool colors.

One key thing to keep in mind about color is a viewer may respond differently to color depending on their culture and background. While it may seem that response to color could be a natural response, it is really based on conditioned influence or association of a specific culture. An example of this is how in the Chinese culture the color red may be associated with luck,  or celebration, but in South Africa it is the color of death or mourning.

AIO Lecture


OUTPUT Resolutions LPI

Newspaper ads
Magazines and brochures
High-end magazines
Annual reports
High-end brochures
300 dpi laser printers
600 dpi laser printers
1200 dpi laser printers

Production/Output Consideration

QUESTION: When you start a new project, should you be concerned about what method of printing will be used for the final product?

When starting a new project if is very important to know the final output. First of all, the output will determine what resolution you will need for your images and graphics. A designer would choose a different resolution based on the final output of the project. The resolution used in a newspaper is different than a magazine and the resolution of a magazine is different from a high-end brochure.

The final output will also determine color abilities or limitations. Is the project using a CMYK or a specific pantone color? If it is a screen print the color pallet could be limited. Knowing the color limitations may also reduce your options available with specific filters and effects.

The format the file is saved in could also become an issue as well. Many printers have reported issues with trying to print TIFF files that complex colored designs. Some printers may require a specific format for production and have specific guidelines how the file needs to be set up. One printer may want .125” bleeds set, while another prefers .25”. Many printers offer a profile that will set up the file to their spec’s, or instructions of how they want the file setup. Another thing to consider is has the file been setup with the appropriate trapping, chokes and spreads.

Fonts are often an issue when it comes to printing and production especially if a design uses TrueType fonts. While TrueType fonts offer some benefits to designers, they are known for their history of causing printing problems. Many times to avoid printing, and clarity issues a designer should choose Type 1 or post script fonts for their high resolution output and reliability.

Drawing Line & Shade Concepts

Line and Shade Drawing Concepts from Instructor:
by: Victoria Vebell - AIO Intermediate Illustration.

1. Drawing is creating the illusion of 3D space on a 2d surface.

2. There are no lines in the 3D world only edges seen by the contrast by what's behind it.

3. A line is an abstraction of an edge.

4. Lines create shape, shading creates form.

5. Light creates unity of form by all the objects having the same direction of the light source.

6. Shading is made up of different tones of value. All value is judge how light or dark it is by comparison to another tone.

7. The human eye can see about 40 different values.

8. A trompe l'oeile (fool the eye) artist can render maybe 15 -20 different values in a drawing.

9. A very good artist can render 10 different values.

10. Every good drawing must have a pure white and a pure black.

11. The more different values you can render the more realistic your drawing will be.

12. This is the basis for eye movement, the more contrast you create in an area the more your eye notices it and appears to come forward. The converse is true, the less contrast you have (the closer your values are together) the more that area recedes and your eye slides over it.

Think of it this way, on a sunny day everything looks clear and sharp.... more contrast of values. On a foggy day, the values are all muted and close together and everything seems soft and fuzzy.

13. Realistic rendering takes time and patience. Building up the tones to black will make your drawings more realistic and stronger.

14. Using vine charcoal is a bad choice for small work. Pencil or charcoal pencils both with a paper stump is the best choice.

Tip: to keep your shading from smearing, put a clean white piece of paper under your hand:)! Also if an area gets too dark, use a kneader eraser and dab it slightly. You also can re-establish your white areas by making a point with your eraser and draw the lights back in.

Instructor: Victoria Vebell - Intermediate Illustration - AIO


Mac User Repair Disk Permissions

A basic rule of thumb for all you mac users out there. After any software or updates are installed you really should repair your disk permissions.

So many users have no idea what that even means. It is a very simple process.

1. Before Repairing Disk Permissions, Shut Down All Programs.
2. Go to Applications>Utilities>Disk Utility

3. Select the Drive to repair. (Note if you have more than one drive select your main or home drive.)

4. Then choose Repair Disk Permissions.

5. The process may take a few minutes. NOTE DO LET THE APP RUN ALONE. Most users are tempted to go out and do other things while this runs, Please refrain from the temptation.

Typography - Mixing typefaces

Designers should feel free to mix typefaces in design. In some situations using contrasting fonts will result in emphasis on certain words. Using complementary typefaces may help establish a clean visual hierarchy to organize the text and quickly lead the viewer through the layout. However, it is cautioned that using fonts that are too similar can cause a clash and be confusing to the viewer. An example of this would be using more than one script typefaces in a layout. At the same time there are a few things a designer may want to be mindful of when choosing typefaces to use in the same piece.

The first thing to consider in font selection for any piece is considering the intended audience. A brochure for in a pediatrician’s office could take on the look of a child like handwriting for the typeface, while it would be completely inappropriate in a cosmetic surgeons office. Keeping the intended audience in mind when choosing and mixing fonts is key to selecting a font that will enhance the design and communicate efficiently.

Another thing to keep in mind is the typography in most cases I the voice in the design. The look and feel of the typeface then becomes the tone or personality. In our culture today most people know that if you are using all caps in a text message or email, that the sender is shouting, yelling or angry. With this in mind it is important that the personality reflects the piece and enhances the communication.

In the lecture it mentioned how mixing typefaces would be a great way to show emphasis. Consider trying to whisper and shout in the same line. Using a thin font may whisper while a contrasting thick font may shout. One thing to keep in mind though when mixing fonts is leaving a dominant font to reduce confusion in the design.

AIO Lecture Week 2


Anti Theft For Laptop and Phones!

Prey lets you keep track of your phone or laptop at all times, and will help you find it if it ever gets lost or stolen. It's lightweight, open source software, and free for anyone to use. And it just works

How it works!
Basically you install a tiny agent in your PC, Mac or phone, which silently waits for a remote signal to wake up and work its magic.

This signal is sent either from the Internet or through an SMS message, and allows you to gather information regarding the device's location, hardware and network status, and optionally trigger specific actions on it.

Get it now: http://preyproject.com/



Reduce PDF file size in Adobe Acrobat

Many times you create a pdf and the file is just too big. Maybe you art trying to email the file to a client, or upload the file to an online server. In these instances reducing the size of your pdf file is ideal.

This process is actually quite simple in Adobe Acrobat.

1. Simply have your file open in Adobe Acrobat.
2. Go to Documents> Reduce File Size
3. Select your compatibility- ( I always suggest -Retain Existing)

Your file is now smaller!

Typography Leading.

What is leading? In typography it is best defined as the amount of added vertical spacing between lines of text.

A rule of thumb often used by designers who manually adjust leading is to set leading 1½ -to-2 points larger than the point size of the type.


TrueType Font Issues

TrueType Font Issues:

In spite of these impressive benefits, many designers may not use TrueType fonts. TrueType fonts have been known to have reputation of causing printing problems when TrueType fonts are interpreted through PostScript output devices. Another reason why TrueType is not the best choice is that experienced designers notice small quality issues in the structure of the TrueType characters. In addition the file size tends to “inflate” when TrueType fonts are included in a page layout file.

Type Classifications

For a large list of type classifications, go to the Adobe link on this page:

CD Templates

CD Template Sites:

Printing Issues With TIFF

Tagged Image File Format (abbreviated TIFF). Designers may not want to use .TIFF files as there has been know issues when it comes to printing.

Printers often find TIFF files difficult to work with. Avoid using TIFF files in complex multicolor designs.

Perspective line drawing

Objective: Complete a perspective line drawing will be man-made objects of your choice (buildings, machinery, furniture, etc.)

Generating Good Ideas!

Question: There is no formula or procedure for coming up with great ideas. Discuss some methods that will help in generating good ideas for illustration.

When working on any project I normally have a few ideas that come to mind right away. However I have a 4 main avenues I tend to work through in coming up with good ideas.

Conceptual Notes:
Most would call them some type of thumbnail but I prefer to call them “conceptual notes”. They really won’t mean much to anyone but me. These notes will consist of symbols, graphs, text and even a rough sketch, very rough sketches. I use anything to get the idea out and move on. This is a process I use if I am just slammed with ideas. After I get the ideas out, I may try to brainstorm and workout a few concepts so that I don’t black ball myself into a corner.

Sometimes I have no idea where to start. I am working on a project where I have no experience with the topic. In this case I will start with some research. I will surf the web, for information, images, logos, websites, and maybe contact someone with more knowledge to gain a better idea of where I should even start.

Think Tank:
My all time favorite way to come up with great ideas is working in a “creative think tank”. Surrounding myself with other creative, or people that maybe quite concrete with an objective to keep me on track, or even people that don’t have a clue of what to do and are afraid of the challenge; I enjoy the group interaction. I find that sometimes the best idea comes from the worst suggestion.

Consult My Muse:
If all else fails and I cannot get a jump on a concept I talk to my wife. I tell here what I am trying to accomplish and maybe some rough thoughts I have, and she can normally help me clarify the direction I should head. My wife is not an artist, but she is very creative. Consulting another person and bouncing ideas of them can really help one figure out what will work and what won't, which helps eliminate many bad ideas.

Illustration Shading

Question: Although lines are extremely useful, line-only drawings are not as effective as drawing can be. To really bring drawings to life, shading needs to be used." Discuss the importance of shading in illustration.

Shading gives dimension to an illustration. It allows the viewer to observe a sense of volume and allows the artist to take the viewer more realistic understanding with object appearing three-dimensional. It also allows the artist to reveal the light source and can even give the viewer an idea of the setting of the piece. Many different techniques can be used to accomplish shading such as hatching, crosshatching, pointillism, blending, veiling, stumping, circular technique, and even scribble technique. In some cases an artist may even choose to work backwards by choosing a dark stock to represent the darkest point, and add a light colored medium to build to the highlight.