the journal

Archive for the ‘graphic design’ Category


Joshua Tree Spring Colors 2008

Filed Under graphic design, local travel, photography

I put together a collage incorporating all of the different blooming wildflowers and cacti that I photographed last weekend:


I made it so you can use it as your desktop background image as long as you have a resolution of 1280×1024 or 1920×1200. Refer to this page to find out which flowers/cacti are pictured.


Behance Dot Grid Notebooks

Filed Under graphic design, kahunna.net

There’s something about a nice notebook that gives inspiration to its user. The perfect notebook for me is one where thoughts and ideas seem to flow fluidly and easily onto the page as if the nine sister’s of Zeus themselves have made residence within its covers. Yeah, you could say I’m a bit finicky when it comes to notebooks – but in today’s market, I can be.

For five years, I’ve been using Moleskine journals to sketch out web designs, plan work projects, and chronicle adventures in foreign countries. Handmade in Italy, these little faux leather notebooks are extremely durable.

But move over Moleskine, there’s a new cat in town. Behance has created an elegant notebook that might just shelve my unused Moleskines. Called the Dot Grid book, these graph-like paper spiral notebooks were created by the New York-based company as “an alternative to traditional lines and boxes. The light geometric dot matrix serves as a subtle guide for your notations and sketches.”

Behance Dot Grid Notebook cover

Behance Dot Grid Notebook

After reading about this notebook on The Geniant Blog, I had to get one. Unfortunately, the only place I could find to purchase it – online or otherwise – was directly from Behance, and they were sold out. I checked the site a couple times a week for a month until they became available. Two arrived in the mail a few weeks ago and it was love at first sight. The covers felt like velvet. The paper was sturdy and much larger than I had imagined. One would say that $14 for a 50-page book is fairly expensive, but measuring at 9 inches x 10.5 inches, these notebooks are about twice the size of a large Moleskine. With the spiral spine, I feel I have a lot more freedom to explore the page with my pen whereas it can be difficult to write/draw in the gutter of a Moleskine pocket-sized Plain Notebook.

Behance Dot Grid Notebook

Behance Dot Grid Notebook

Of course, Moleskine will always have a place in my heart… and pocket. They have proven their worth on many rugged backpacking trips through deserts and jungles. I don’t see myself ever toting around a Dot Grid on my travels. However, if I think of a website idea or design that I need to jot down or sketch, I’ll be reaching for the Behance’s Dot Grid.

After my first two arrived, I returned to Bahance’s website and ordered four more, just in case they sell out again. (Tip: do a google seach for Behance + coupon before you order.)


Flash Preloader

Filed Under graphic design, retrotravels.net

I’ve been taking Flash classes at my local college so I can continue a few projects I’ve dabbled in the last few years, like retrotravels.net. Here’s a preloader I made for the site. A preloader is what a user sees while a flash animation is loading. (Don’t expect this one to finish, though. If you see a watch face, then that’s the whole show, folks.)

Since retrotravels.net will allow users to explore old guidebooks from my collection, I want to give the sense that they are going back in time while waiting. Do you think I should add the “percentage complete” or a progress bar underneath the watch face? Let me know in the comments section.


Vector: Past & Present

Filed Under graphic design

I remember when I was a teenager, I would spend hours in front of the computer creating art. My program of choice was Aldus Freehand 3, back when AOL Dragon disk, circa 1993charged by the hour and the Internet wasn’t cool yet. I spent many evenings after football practice using lines and Bézier curves to transform the movie poster for Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story into a vector graphic. (I’m pretty sure I only finished Bruce’s pants, but I won’t know for sure until I can find a Mac that can handle a 14-year old floppy disk, pictured at right). As my high school yearbook’s graphic artist, I created sport-equipment icons – like baseball bats, lacrosse sticks, and tennis rackets – and curved text logos with gray scale blends. Anything the editors wanted, I felt that I could create in Freehand. I felt impressed enough to photograph some of my work for a portfolio (pictured on left). Yes, photographed. That’s how new digital art felt at my school.

That was thirteen years ago.

I haven’t made a vector graphic since leaving high school and going off to college, where I traded in my keyboard for a shovel in pursuit of a degree in archeology.

Skip ahead a few chapters in my life and here I am, aspiring to become a better graphic designer. Since 2000, when I was introduced to Photoshop 5, I’ve become more comfortable creating raster graphics, or graphics created with pixels. I’d like to expand my horizons and get back into creating vector graphics, but I’ve learned that it isn’t like riding a bike: my skills are rusty. At first glance, you’d think that vector artwork can be limiting – but you’d be surprised.

The smart kids over at Stanford University have recently created a logarithm that will transform any image (photo, artwork, etc.) into a vector graphic. The results are amazing. Check it out:

Vector Bee

It might take a closer look to tell that one of these images is a photo and the other is a vector graphic. Vector Magic allows you to upload any image and they’re super-duper computers will crunch it and spit it back out as an image made completely with lines, Bézier curves and polygons. Until last week, the service was free, but these guys added some business smarts to their computer smarts and are now selling their processor services at an average of $2 bucks for each download. Each new account will get you two free downloads (sign up before March 5th and receive four downloads for free). The bitmap (PNG) versions are still free and you can upload, vectorize, and preview the results for free.


Peter Cross

Filed Under graphic design

Do you remember the date that you told your parents what you wanted to be when you grew up? You know, like an astronaut or a cowboy? Although my aspirations weren’t as unrealistic, I do remember when I wanted to grow up to be an artist. For Christmas in 1985, I received Trouble for Trumpets. This wonderfully illustrated book has been read countless times since and has survived in one piece (including the tattered dust jacket) after a dozen or so moves. Even today as an adult and a graphic designer, the 32-pages of artwork by Peter Cross is mesmerizing and still an inspiration. I wish I could tell you to rush out and pick up this masterpiece from your local bookstore, but it has been out of print since the time my Aunt purchased it in 1985. It is possible to find it on used book websites, but they run for anywhere from $80 to $200 USD. I saw mint condition copy with its dust jacket go for over $500 on eBay!

Equally as rare is the follow-up book, Trumpets in Grumpetland. First published in 1984 in England (1985 in the US), it has been on my wishlist for many years. Again though, like Trouble, it is out-of-print and in a price range out-of-touch for many. A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to find a copy online for $25. The seller didn’t seem to know that the book goes for $50-475, or maybe they were and I just purchased a book torn to shreds and colored with crayon by up to 23 years of children.

This was not the case!

Today I the Postman dropped off a beautiful copy of Trumpets in Grumpetland! Being Saturday, I spent an hour to “read” the 32-page book. Although it doesn’t have the same depth and detail as Trouble does, the artwork by Peter Cross is still beautiful and meets my high expectations. (I had been waiting 22 years, mind you!)

This ends my collection of Peter Cross books, sadly. He has moved into the greeting card industry and has done some equally-exceptional work. But no more Trumpets. No more Grumpets. If you search for reviews of these books, most will end by asking some important questions: Why hasn’t these two books been reprinted? Why didn’t they release a third title, which Trumpets in Grumpetland hints at? I think these books should be shared with children for generations, but without parents having to shell out a ton of money! A campaign should be started to bring these books back into print, but those who have seen the artwork most likely own the books, thus a Catch 22 is created.

So what to do? My answer is to post some of the artwork here on my website. I hope I don’t end up like a Trumpet and get in trouble for doing this, but the art must continue to be shared!

Trumpets in Grumpetland:
Trumpets in Grumpetland pg.13 Trumpets in Grumpetland pg.23
This one can be zoomed in on to see the richness of the artwork and the hidden “easter eggs” (it takes a while to load):

Trumpets in Grumpetland pg. 08-09


Update: Design & Gallery

Filed Under graphic design, international travel, photography

I have updated two sections of my site with some new material:

  • I have opened up the Design section, showcasing some of the work I have done for various web and print projects.
  • I have also added a few new albums with some recently taken photos. I just returned from Morocco earlier this month so I’ll have more photos to add shortly. When you check out the Gallery, you might notice that I’ve changed the look of it (yet again). This time I used a Flash plug-in called AutoViewer. It works better than the last Flash plug-in I used, but it still has a few kinks to be worked out. For now, check it out in Internet Explorer. Why don’t you give it a whirl and let me know what you think?