Drawing – back to basics

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Brenda Hoddinott's DrawspaceEverything is so digital these days that it’s easy to forget that there was once a time when most creative work was done by hand. From Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel to setting lead type by hand.

For those of you who might also be harkening back to the earlier, arguably more simple, days of the creative work, Brenda Hoddinott has put together a site that’s chock full of basic drawing lessons. If you’ve ever wanted to get your hands back into the drawing game (Now, be honest, we all picked up a pencil and some crayons at one time or another as children.) Drawspace is a good place to start.

Online lessons are free, but if you’d like to download PDFs of any lesson to save, she asks you to upgrade to a “Premium” membership for $20. This will last you three months, which is definitely more than enough time for me to realize just how difficult it is to draw anything in perspective.

And, since everything these days will remain firmly digital, you can always scan your masterpieces and catalog them with Portfolio


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At Extensis, everyone is encouraged to be creative. Of course, depending upon each person’s job responsibilities, this can be expressed in many ways – from an elegent programming solution to a flashy product demo at an event.

Recently, technical support representative Pete Soloway put his artistic talents to use while helping users on the phone. His white board art depicts a happy couple (Suitcase and Portfolio) out on a picnic.
Pete's art

If you look closely, you can also see a happy Font Reserve frolicking in the background.

Well, after only a small amount of research, I located many purveyors of white board (dry-erase) art, including this amazing stop motion animation.

Are you an aficionado?


Holiday gurfing

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Ahh, the holidays. They bring out the best and worst in all of us. The best can come in the simple joy of spending time with family and friends, and the worst in the form of a raving stressball trying to find a parking spot at the shopping center. I find that the good tends to outweigh the bad, but when I’m in need of a little holiday levity, I fire up the laptop for a little frivolous surfing. So here are a few of my favorite holiday sites to bring just a little more levity to the season.

This sweet nutcracker comes with a chalice some bling.
www.pimpmynutcracker.com

If you’re also concerned about how much junk food you consume, why not try out one of these alternate advent calendars.
Swankola’s Audio Advent Calendar
Leslie Harpold’s Advent Calendar

Rooney Design Advent Calendar
Banjo Bunny’s Advent Calendar

Let it virtually snow, virtually snow, virtually snow…
Online paper snowflake maker

Everyone loves a good animation:
Singing Santa & reindeer
Ma Ma Ma My Menorah

Oh, and if you feel like being creative, MyFonts has an interesting post about holiday fonts.

Heck, if you have the opportunity, I’d even recommend a little gurfing (web surfing as a group). So, snag one of the projectors from the office and set up a little gurfing theater in your living room!

Please share your favorite holiday websites in the comments.

Addendum: In the interest of full disclosure, my future brother-in-law Nathan coined the term “gurfing.” I have merely purloined it for this post.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Leslie Harpold recently passed away, so her Advent Calendar is no longer being updated.


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If you’re a Mac user, you most likely know a number of keyboard shortcuts for commonly used tasks in the Finder. During my decade working at companies that have a healthy mix of Mac & PC users, and I’ve found that we Mac users are typically very savvy with their shortcuts. Perhaps it’s because as Mac users, we had to deal with the limitation of the one button mouse for so long that it became a necessity to find other speedy ways of completing a task.

So, knowing how much use I’ve gotten out of Command-C + Command-V (Copy & Paste).¬† I can say that it’s always better to know more shortcuts. To that end, I recently found this fairly complete list of Mac OS X shortcuts, directly from the Apple’s mouth.

And, to not leave my fellow Windows users in the dark (heck, I’m a cross-platform kinda guy), this link contains some nifty Windows OS keyboard shortcuts. Even if they are a bit arcane (whomever thought of Alt-F4 to quit a program should have his head examined) it’s definitely worth your time to check them out.

And, I’m off with a three-fingered salute.


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Kuler is a new online color theme generator that allows you to explore, create and share color themes. The tool is very intuitive and can be used for quick inspiration as well as for practical purposes. After you’ve found a color theme that you like, you can download the theme for use with Adobe Creative Suite applications. Be sure to check out and rate submissions from other Kuler users.

To start exploring color themes, visit the Kuler site.

Kuler


Pet calendar fundraiser

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calendar coverEvery year, the employees of Extensis and LizardTech design and publish a calendar of employee pet photographs. The calendars are then sold as a fundraiser for the Oregon and Seattle Humane Societies.

People of the Pacific Northwest have a long tradition of being animal lovers, which is evidenced by The Oregon Humane Society having an extremely successful adoption rate. For example, in 2004, they placed 97% of all dogs and 74% of all cats brought into the shelter.

Calendars are $17, and if you would like to get a copy for 2007, please send an email to Jennifer or David. They’ll hook you up.

calendar page 1 calendar page 2 calendar page 3


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nwp coverNewwebpick.com is a design-related website that has a lot to offer, including a downloadable e-zine that’s chock full of experimental design, typography, sculpture, odd-ball toys, photography, product design and even some graffiti.

You can grab their most current free 100-page e-zine. The full 400-page version will only set you back a buck and a half. Be sure to also check out the community-oriented aspects of their entire site too.


Halloween creativity

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Halloween is a great time to flex the creativite muscle. For me, I’ve always been a fan of the concept costume. Some of the best ones that I’ve seen over the years include:

  • Cause-man – A friend once dressed in a black leotard covered with hundreds of twists of ribbon in every color.
  • I’m you – Another friend dressed in a full length dressing mirror around his neck, and would walk up to people and say, “I’m you.”
  • Broken record – I went to a party a few years ago covered with broken vinyl hanging from speaker wire. A good use of some ancient scratched records, and a good excuse to repeat everything that I said.

If you’re not a person who enjoys a costume party, you can always use your photoshop matte painting skills to turn a photo or your house into a spooky haunted house. I’m not sure if my 1950’s ranch would have quite the same effect, but I’m sure willing to try!

So, what’s your favorite costume? Is it a concept costume? Or perhaps you prefer a sexy costume over somthing scary?


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