All entries for November 2004

November 22, 2004

MacWorld Conference @ MaxExpo 2004

The MacWorld "Conference Seminars" were held at the Design Business Centre alongside MacExpo 2004 on the 18 and 19th November. Adobe software is now pretty much ubiquitous, and such seminars are a good opportunity to get some fresh inspiration and see commercial designer and artists 'in action'.

The first session: 'Digital Art Masterclass' featured digital artist Jose Villarubia some of his work and talking the group through his techniques and artistic sources. The work he showed was generally sourced photographically, illustrative and derived from classical sources. His tecnhique is generally quite simply, advocating the use of a small number of layers, focusing on atmosphere and emotion. Other work he showed was the colorization of line artwork for comics, also interesting to see the way in which he builds up mood and character through the use of colour and lighting.

The second session: 'Digital Design Agency' was run by members of the Illustration design agency 741, looking at the concepts, best practices, tools and techniques behind some their recent work. They are a multi-disciplinary agency consisting of a wide group of illustrators with varied skill sets, some working mainly in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. It was this harmony between Illustrator and Photoshop that I was most interested to see. The tendency seems to be to work pretty much as I do: using PS to composite and as the dominant package, but Illustrator/Freehand where a cleaner, sharper vector result is needed. The illustration work was shown by four different members of the group, ranging from painterly styles through to calligraphy. I was slighty dissapointed that the artist who works pre-dominantly with vector-based linear work wasn't there, it would have been interesting to see him build up his artwork from scratch. However, the other members of 741 demonstrated their processes in a humourous and engaging manner and it was good to pick up tips and tricks.

A very crowed MacExpo was also a chance to browse through a well stocked book shop, to see the latest G5 a bit closer up and to see other Adobe products demonstrated.

November 18, 2004

'Priority working' traffic calming

Twice a day on weekdays I drive through Coat-of-Arms Bridge Road in Stivichall. The section which joins it to the Kenilworth Road has two 'Priority working' sections – room for one lane of traffic only and a large sign depicting who has right of way. Usually this works well and people seem to understand it and use the system courteously. There seem to be a small proportion of people who don't understand the system, but they are few and far between. However, there are another small group of people who understand it but deliberately flought it. This happens to me on average twice a week, as it did this morning. I am driving at the designated speed and start to move toward the middle of the road to move into the single-lane section. The driver coming towards me decides to speed up and rush through, forcing me to stop. I have no desire to provoke a road-rage incident (which part of 'Give Way' don't you understand) but I do wonder what would happen if I didn't back down and stop but continued. We would meet in the middle of the single lane and have to break suddenly. If there were an incident like that and two vehicles collided (I am sure it has happened on those systems) I wonder if they would automatically be a fault legally since it was my right of way.

November 15, 2004

Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason

Four years on, I did wonder how this film would follow on from the success of its predecessor. In the 'Edge of Reason' Zellweger is more neurotic, more embarrassing and definetly bigger than she was at the end of the last film! Her relationship with Colin Firth takes a nose-dive, and her life unravels through a series of hilarious events before it lands the right side up.

As a follow-up it is open to criticism for being simply a watered down version of the first film. At times bitter-sweet, the film does draws on the same themes, humour and neuroses as before but I found it just as funny, and Zellweger on top form.

November 03, 2004

Harnessing the power of red

Flicking yesterday evening between the US election coverage on CNN, Sky TV and BBC 24, (yes, sad I know) I couldn't help noticing how similar the screen graphics were. Basically, all contained shots of both men (not unpredictable), with large sections of red with white and black text. News updates flash across the screen usually with white text reversed out on a white background. This is reflected on the websites too. The predominant colours on the BBC 24 homepage are red and black, the CNN site has its main heading in red, with dark blue.

Working with colour all day as I do, such details can't escape my notice. I suppose that red brings a sense of drama and immediacy and grabs the attention in a way that other colours simply do not. In Britain the colour red also has a traditional political connotation of its own.

Red seems to be intrinsically encoded with a sense of immediacy, boldness drama and even danger. Red makes a visual statement that cannot be ignored. What is the origin of this? Maybe it is derived from nature, from the colour of blood. Wherever it derives its influence, its seems to be universal.

Interestingly enough, Mugabe has banned the colour red TV in Zimbabwe because it is the symbol of the opposition. Clearly he has taken the power of association very seriously.

November 01, 2004

Pumpkin pie recipe

Follow-up to Pumpkin pie from Hannah's handbag

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups pumpkin puree

I used half the quantity of white sugar and still found it very sweet so you might want to use just brown. If I made it again thats what I would do.

Pumpkin pie

Having been very kindly given a home-grown pumpkin (thanks Carol), I decided to do something traditional with it. I'm not a big pie maker but I found a recipe: 2 cups of pureed pumpkin; a pot of double cream; some milk; three eggs; brown and white sugar;cinnamon and nutmeg, inside the usual pastry crust. It was very rich and sweet (even though I put less sugar in than was suggested) but actually quite tasty, and went down well with the hoardes at Sunday lunch.

November 2004

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