Blog: Secrets from the Chef

Cone Gradient in Adobe Illustrator. Episode One: A False Trail

Dmitri Joukov, 18 April 2006 Comments (2)

Adobe Illustrator Master-class

Angel (cone) gradient in Adobe PhotoshopOnce upon a time there was a conversation about the various opportunities, advantages and disadvantages of vector-based drawing programs, and it was then that Yegor said, a hint of sadness to his voice, “I wish we had some cone gradient at hand, like we do in Corel Draw”. To which I had a delicate question, “Ah, why would you need the cone gradient?” I’ve been feeling uneasy about this question for many years. Who would ever need such a trite thing as the cone gradient? Yegor said, dreamily, “It’s so good when it comes to drawing compact discs!”

Our professional specifics sometimes requires that we draw a wide range of everyday life objects, CDs included. It is true that creating a CD icon is a painstaking process over and over again. How good it would be, had we an opportunity to take two circles, cut one of them from the center of another and apply the cone gradient to the object. Tempting, is it not?

Everyone knows, though, that Adobe Illustrator does not allow you create those cone gradients. How should we draw this CD in Adobe Illustrator then? All right, my beloved reader, I hope you are ready! If need be for preparation, I would recommend reading my article “Pure Vector”. Don’t forget to turn on the Scale Strokes & Effects option, it’s the last time I remind you about it.

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What could outrank Basecamp?

Yegor Gilyov, 12 April 2006 Comments (1)

Basecamp Criticism Tools Usability

There is hardly ever a person who could be surprised by a convenient and nice extranet system. “Oh! You are using Basecamp! Great!” — that is what our clients tell us after they have received an invitation to visit turbomilk.seework.com. Basecamp has become a de facto standard, and 37signals, its developers, showed up as recognized gurus of web applications design and usability.

Basecamp screenshotWhen we started using Basecamp, it felt like we are in heaven. The system simply did its job without making us think that we are too dumb to use it. A complete absence of tweaking options (except coloring the interface) turned out to be a great advantage of no necessity to spend the time and efforts to do that tweaking. Just launch — and work. However, after a year of active use of Basecamp (several dozens of accomplished projects later) I started to think we need to take a more sober look at this system.

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A bottle… or not a bottle?

Dmitri Joukov, 31 March 2006 Comments (0)

Master-class

bottle-bottle.jpgWe are a small office, and sometimes it happens that you fell all alone early in the morning or late at night. Working becomes impossible. Grief and sadness kick you off the working mood. We’ll get rid of this problem right away and make ourselves a new colleague, never hungry and never tired.

Many of you are likely to take good care of their health and order pure drinking water (it can be even iodized) delivered to your office in big nineteen-liter bottles. Those bottles are a gloomy and hideous sight, whatever measures dispenser designers take. Well, it’s all in our hands! Let me tell you…

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Pure vector

Dmitri Joukov, 6 March 2006 Comments (2)

Adobe Illustrator Master-class

Many of you are likely to be using such bitmap effects as Blur and Feather to get nice highlights and shadows. It would be good, but if you were to rasterize such a picture in high resolution you would either have to pre-set the high resolution of the bitmap effects or to enlarge the picture itself in the Adobe Illustrator. Below are some simple tricks to allow you get rid of all that fuss and create modern nice scalable icons (and not only the icons) without using bitmap effects.

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Swift 3D

Yegor Gilyov, 28 February 2006 Comments (2)

Tools

I should confess of being skeptical as to 3D modeling in icon design. Really, on the 32×32 or even 48×48 scales these technologies have no room to swing a cat. Simple objects are easy to draw without modeling and complex objects will be a mess anyway. Slight mistakes in perspective building are not critical, whereas it is more important to match the lines with the pixel grid which is done only manually. Shades and highlights will look better in such a limited space if a skilled hand does that instead of a machine — and not at the expense of the result!

But times, they are changing.

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Inkscape

Dmitri Joukov, 14 February 2006 Comments (5)

Tools

Inkscape logotype

Many are already aware of the cunning evil Linux users having devised a way to use vector-based icons in the GUI… What will they use to create them? Now that’s a good question! They started making their own vector-based drawing program. Linuxoids are strange, but nice and generous people. No wonder their editing program is platform-independent and free. It is called Inkscape.

As a matter of fact, this icon — the logotype of Inkscape was created with this program.

What now? Inquisitive minds go to the official web site and download the version for their platform (the Mac OS version is about 14Mb, and about 8MB for Windows) and then try to create something. All the rest go on reading.

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Donald Norman’s Three Aspects of Design

Yegor Gilyov, 11 February 2006 Comments (0)

Fundamentals

A couple of hours ago, on the Olympia Stadium, Turin, the Flame of the XX Winter Olympics was ignited. Now that’s a good point to recall the pictograms which go beyond computer interfaces. Traditionally, every Olympic Games have a unique set of pictograms representing various sports. This is how we have a brilliant opportunity to look at different approaches to one and the same task of design.

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A Glance at Microsoft Expression

Yegor Gilyov, 10 February 2006 Comments (0)

Tools

Why did I pay attention to this product? According to Microsoft’s idea, the Expression family of products is intended to satisfy the needs of interface designers for Windows and for web. Thus, Expression Graphic Designer (MSEGD) is to be the first tool specifically intended for designing interface graphics (except Flash, but Flash has a much more limited scope of application).

Its “brother” is the Interactive Designer, which is promised to fulfil the eternal dream of interface designers, that is, to create interfaces without the programmers’ involvement (do not mix it with RAD Tools. It had quite different objectives).

Breathtaking prospects. Launching the program…

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The Icon Book

Yegor Gilyov, 7 February 2006 Comments (0)

Books Fundamentals Icon design Reviews

If one studies the evolution of user interfaces since the 80’s of the last century up to now, it is difficult to get rid of the feeling that the trade of icon-building, which hardly was able to become an engineering science (e. g., in the Macintosh System 7 interface) can now be regarded as a fine art (Windows XP and Mac OS X).

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InvisibleCRM

Dmitri Joukov, 2 November 2005 Comments (0)

Case Studies

InvisibleCRMInvisibleCRM is a technology provider of tools engineered to increase user adoption and ROI while working with enterprise applications.

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Nivaria

Yegor Gilyov, 23 March 2005 Comments (0)

Case Studies Icon design Usability

NivariaNivaria Content Manager is a complete CMS solution built by Nivaria primarily to cover it’s needs of fast and cost-effective web site development…

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Estrada

Yegor Gilyov, 1 December 2004 Comments (0)

Case Studies Icon design

EstradaEstrada is CMS developed by Gandalf Development. It’s one of the first commercially available CMS. Estrada is primarily used by universities and federal agencies around the United States.

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Rasterizing in Adobe Illustrator 10 & CS

Yegor Gilyov, 4 November 2004 Comments (0)

Adobe Illustrator Icon design Master-class

Many a stumbling block is there on the way of a patient icon designer. Some you jump, some you push away but still once you stumble. The question “how to make a tiny nice picture — an icon — from a big nice picture?” is in the first lines on the top problem list. In other words, how do you make a raster icon out of a vector-based picture without the loss of clarity and sharpness of the image?

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Icon Design by Caplin

Yegor Gilyov, 19 August 2004 Comments (0)

Books Criticism Icon design Reviews

It was with greatest surprise that I understood that the moment we’d been waiting for so long arrived a year ago. The first book dedicated to “computer pictogram design” was published in Russia.

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