Saturday, February 19, 2005

Web Design Tip of the Moment

I had seen the following question posted online recently and I thought that I would post it and also post my thoughts too. Here's the question: I have an idea for a logo design and merchandise for posting online and I would like tips or pointers on how to configure it.

The logo that you are planning on posting should represent either your or your client's identity. Sinse you haven't mentioned the merchandise, it would be best if you would think of a common thread between the logo and the merchandise. You can start by sketching ideas out on paper, once you have a design that you are confident meets the goal of commonality, you can then go to Fireworks, Photoshop or any other graphics program and begin to convert your design to reality.

One thing to keep in mind, the logo on the web site, the theme of the web site, the meaning of its colors and layout should be designed around the logo to compliment it and your merchandise.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Site Metaphor and Graphic Style...Huh???

Here is an interesting email that I saw and I thought that I would post it for all of you to see.

what is a site metaphor and what is graphic style considered?

I would really like to know in order to get a better grade in my Dreamweaver class. One of the projects I'm working on in our book asks us to study several museum western art sites and then explain what the site metaphor and the graphic style were for each. I'm clueless as to what these terms mean and I though maybe you all could help me.

These are some of those esoteric terms thrown around in academia because everything has to have some fancy name. Some sites use a "site metaphor" to get their point across. For example, an art museum site might set itself up to look like an actual museum, with an overly important entrance area, sections of the site described with wording like "gallery" and "museum shop", and pictures displayed in fancy-looking frames. Basically, they are using the metaphor of the art museum to say, "Look, we're an art museum aren't we cheeky and creative."

It's sort of like going to a restaurant that wants to present itself as old-fashioned, so they hang light fixtures that look like torches and do their menu up to look like an old newspaper or something. It's okay if it works, but it's really easy to go overboard.

The graphic style is tougher. I'm guessing that the it is not only the the use of colors and images on the site, but it's placing those colors and images into the correct context. For example, if the site methaphor indicated castle from the middle ages, if the images indicated space ship or had a metal feel to them, you would not be very receptive to them. So try to choose colors and create images that help integrate the overall idea that you are trying to convey with the site.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Add A Drop Shadow??

I have an image, what do I do to add a drop shadow?

If you need to enlarge the canvas in order to apply a drop shadow, you can enlarge the canvas and apply the drop shadow to the origional image without enlarging the origional image.

But remember that increasing the canvas size will in fact increase the image size. They will be the same. If you must stick with the original size you would
first need to decrease the image size within the canvas. That would create a border around it. That is where you would place the drop shadow. The amount of drop shadow you want will determine the amount you decrease the image.

Open image>select all>change image size>apply drop shadow.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

When to best use Unsharp Mask?

I like to increase my file sizes using Photoshop's Bicubic Interpolation system. This involves increasing a 200 ppi file up to 300 ppi. I do this in small increments at a time. Up to now, I have been adding Unsharp Mask at the end using about 200-250%. While I have no complaints with my final results, I thought that I would be better off using a small amount of Unsharp Mask, maybe 40-50% with each incremental increase.

Of course there are as many strategies as there are users; but my suggestion is as follows:

1) If the files are from a digital camera, I would perform some light unsharp mask on the files after the first incremental interpolation: and then after the final incremental interpolation. I would perform the final unsharp mask based on the final image size to be printed. If there is a possibility that the image will be resized in the future to different sizes for different uses, I would make a duplicate copy of the file without the final application of the unsharp mask to keep as an archive copy and use copies of the archive file as the base upon which the final unsharp mask will be applied according to the sizing of the image required for the purposes at hand.

2) If the files are not from a digital camera but from scanner or another source, I would skip the preliminary application of the unsharp mask and then proceed with the rest of the steps suggested in 1).

Here is another take:

1. Always apply your unsharp mask to a separate duplicated layer above your main layer (change the duplicated layer to "luminosity" blend mode). This way you won't end up with any color shifts.

You also may want to apply unsharp mask selectively to the channels (usually your blue channel will need more masking than the other channels).

2. Always make your color corrections, file edits, touchups and general work on your photo BEFORE you make any size changes, or use unsharp mask at all. This goes hand in hand with keeping an original untouched file as your starting point. Always work on a copy of this original, not the original itself. This way you can always go back to it later.

3. Apply unsharp mask very sparingly after each incremental shift upwards. VERY sparingly. If you are going down in size, unsharp masking is not quite as important, but can still give you some good results.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

New Version of IE Announced

Bill Gates announced today that IE 7 will be entering beta testing by Summer 2005 discussion thread. The new version will have new security features (or security holes big enough to drive a truck through if the weasels in Redmond release the usual garbage).

If there is something you'd like to see in the new version let Microsoft and the IE team know. The more complaints (or feedback, yeah that's what I mean) the more likely they are to address and fix some of the problems that they will no doubt release the product with.

Of course the last thing I say just because I like to hear myself talk, they won't do anything with your complaints except through them out like they always do.

And if you really don't care what they do and want a superior product now, you can go to Opera.com or Mozilla.org and download their browsers.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Dreamweaver Grids...

Someone recently asked me how to turn off the grid that had appeared in the main workspace of their Dreamweaver application.

To turn the grid on and off from the main menu, select:
View > Grid > Show Grid (Untick this option)

Additionally, there are also two other settings that affect the grid in Dreamweaver, they are:

Snap To Grid (will cause elements to snap up against the sides of the grid)

Grid Settings (controls all of the settings of the grid)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Submit Button On A Form

The following question was asked recently on one of the lists that I subscribe to and I found in very interesting. If you have any comments I would love to hear them.

Question: Does anyone know how to properly set the "Submit" button on a form to launch an email program or to send an email?

Answer: Launching the email program or sending the email actually has nothing to do with the subimt button. You need to set an "action" on the form itself. In Dreamweaver, select the form, then in the property inspector, you will see a box labeled action.

If you want to send it as an email, you can simply type mailto: and the email address. However, this is far from ideal, as it actually works just like a mailto: on a hyperlink. When the user clicks the submit button, the browser will launch the users default email program (Outlook or whatever they have on their machine) with a new message addressed to whatever you put after mailto. They will then have to send the message themselves.

A far better way is to use a server-side script to send the message. There are lots of scripts available for free on the net that you can use. First, check with your webhost and see if they have one already set up on the server - a lot of them provide that as a service now. If they don't, find out what scripting languages they support. Most likely, it will be Perl, PHP, ASP, ASP.NET, and/or ColdFusion. If they support Perl, go to www.scriptarchive and download Formmail. It comes with all of the necessary instructions to set it up and use it.

If they support PHP, ASP, or ColdFusion, you can go to www.kaosweaver.com and download their Kaos Mailer extension for Dreamweaver, which gives you a nice dialog-box interface to fill out. However, this requires a bit more set up on your DW site, so if you decide to use this, post another message and I can fill you in on the details of using it.

Once you have whichever script you want installed, you will simply provide the path to the script in the action box on the Property Inspector for the form. This way, when your user clicks submit, the email will be sent to you with no further user interaction.