Category Archives: Design Process

Quick Image Editing

I found this sample I made a while back. So much goes into processing images. photos are taken with a wide range of detail so that there is enough info to color correct, plenty of clean up, etc.

Never ever assume the beautiful image you are looking at was what came through the lens. Click for larger images.

food clean up split image animated

food clean up split image

original photo samples

Quick Wedding Photo Editing

My friend Travis over at Travis Williams Photography [nice logo, btw] recently contacted me about a wedding he had just shot. The bride and groom had a 15″ height difference, which seemed normal to me as my wife and I have a 14″ difference. The problem was that in shuffling the family around for their wedding photos, he had the bride and the groom on the top step which would be completely normal except the height difference with the rest of the family came out looking unbalanced. Could I fix it? Sure, that would be easy. I wasn’t going to have to do anything difficult in Photoshop other than make a hole where the groom once existed and slide a copy of groom down a bit and clean it up a bit. You could do the same thing with a photograph in the magazine, but this was a wedding photo. No do-overs on taking these photos.

Here is the couple by themselves, which will be normal because that is their normal difference in height.

wedding photo edited in Photoshop

And then as a family. Just by looking at the lengths of their arms, I wouldn’t think anyone is over 5’7″, and being a step down doesn’t help. Sort of makes the groom look like an NBA center.

wedding photo edited in Photoshop

With a few minutes of editing, I masked out the image, removing the groom and leaving the family.

wedding photo edited in Photoshop

I dropped the groom down a bit on and cleaned up the area where he used to be and it worked out fine.

wedding photo edited in Photoshop

Even though the mother’s shadow had dropped down a bit, it still looked believable as there aren’t any other shadows to make hers look poorly offset. To fix the shadow, that would have taken a lot more work, and it wouldn’t have been noticeable unless there was a smart CSI checking out the photo. The groom does look a little out of place – his body proportions don’t match up, making his torso seem short and his legs too long. Time to crop the photo to remove the legs on everyone.

wedding photo edited in Photoshop

And with that, there is now a great wedding photo made better with a little image editing in Photoshop. I’ll post some difficult photo editing projects another time.

Deuces Wild Triathlon Festival Clothing

Every year the people over at put on a series of races in Show Low, Arizona as the Deuces Wild Triathlon Festival. Not only is it a great chance to head to the mountains, but all the proceeds head to charity. As with most large races, every entrant receives a race shirt of some kind, and these shirts are not just a t-shirt [anyone that runs in a t-shirt knows they are not “sweat-friendly”].

This year, the process began 6 months in advance, with a choice of one of the many colors of fabric that the manufacturer provided. At least we started with a sky blue. Where we finished… well, you’ll see.

Pine cones and trees were the requested imagery, getting away from the infamous Club from the playing card that gave the town of Show Low its name. Though the pine cones were attractive, the tree struggled a bit.

Plenty of mockups ensued, even trying another color to see if would help the tree pop a bit better. They tended to look a bit wintery.

Dozens of typefaces are chosen from the many thousands we have, and the beginnings of a path to something attractive is started.

The original trees were scrapped fo one with more detail, and blue racing stripes were included. At the bottom are 3 spheres [similar to what would normally make up the Club] which was a happy accident.

The direction of the blue trees with the swirling ribbons was approved, and that resulted in several more versions, with the text added near the end. Some trees were lacking in contrast, while the first two just didn’t have much punch.

Too much blue! Time for some other colors, and after the samples were passed around some of the staff, the ribbons were referred to as being too feminine. Chips taken out of the ribbon along with hotter colors was the fix.

The blue fabric was given the boot and a chile color was chosen. Both the green/yellow and blue/red combinations looked good on the color.

With the production time to get thousands of shirts done before the race getting shorter and shorter, it turns out that the manufacturer did not have enough chile fabric. Two other colors were chosen, both workable, and the yellow [manly] ribbons looked good as it faded into the yellow shirt at the bottom.

Not enough of that material either [and remember, this is special sweat-wicking material, too]. They had plenty of moss green, though, and once the cuts in the ribbons were removed, the green/blue/yellow version was approved.

ALMOST approved — they were just short of moss so a midnight blue for the women was chosen, and the green/yellow was swapped out for pink/purple. Below is the approved art for the shirts for both men and women.

We weren’t quite done. This race is put on by a small army of volunteers, and shirts were needed to make these volunteers easily identified. While running through the backwoods, would you take the direction from some one telling to run “that way” or trust a person with a volunteer shirt on? Take the first choice and you may end up in Colorado. The light shirt was chosen, and with the simplified logo [dare we say it] it may have upstaged the race jersey.

We’ll be posting more designs for clothing that we have worked on, and expect photos of the clothing as well.

El Tour De Tucson ’06 Poster and Jersey

Tucson is well known as one of the best cycling communities in America. Pro cyclists [and triathletes] come to train here, and many move here for the year-round training that our weather provides. Well, we’ll take a ding for the summer, but you just need to get out early in the morning to get in your miles. The Perimeter Bicycling Association of America Inc. [based in Tucson] puts on several events each year, with November’s El Tour de Tucson being the largest. With about 9000 cyclists each year, there is a mix of top-level athletes as well as thousands that set the 108 mile event as there goal and spend the prior months getting into shape to reach that goal. Starting in August there are more and more cyclists out on the roads on the weekend, all in their brightly colored jerseys. Being a cyclist myself, I applaud everyone for making the effort to get into shape. Being healthy is a good thing.

Starting with the Lance Armstrong poster in 1998, I have designed 6 El Tour de Tucson posters and 2 Tour de Phoenix posters. Some are painted traditionally, some have been done entirely on the computer, and the poster for 2006 was a bit more of a line drawing. Every year the process is mostly the same: work on coming up with some promising sketches, and once approved, complete the poster and then make modifications from there. I have always wanted to make some miniature cyclists riding on a cactus, so that is where I started, trying out a few color variations.

The colors seemed to be okay, but the sketches didn’t strike anyone as all that impressive, even though the thought was to paint the poster. That would be hard to mock up without completing the poster – far too many hours on the chance that it may be accepted. I moved on to pencil sketches for the composition and this was chosen — not a whole lot of detail. [click image for a higher resolution version]

Taking that sketch, I made a quick series of color mock-ups and I was given the green light to go ahead. As a side note, that is always a good thing to get, especially when there is not that much to look at.

I redrew the branch and inked it in for a clean-but-rough line, scanned it in at a very high resolution and auto-traced it in Adobe Illustrator. Then came the fun of keeping the art to 5 spot colors and coming up with an attractive design [more on the 5 color limitation in a bit]. After a fair amount of work, 5 colors that worked well together were chosen and the artwork grew into a warm/sunlit side and a cooler shadow side. [click image for a higher resolution verison]

Here is an enlarged version of the nine cyclist bugs, which I also printed out as die-cut stickers on our large format printer. For the kids race, my kids had these stickers all over their bicycles and helmets. There is a bit of a petroglyph feel in these bugs.

The mountains around Tucson were added with the same warm/cool color selection, and because of a time crunch all three branches were the same illustration with the branches recolored. That would be the one thing I would change if I had a chance: the branches and the bugs all needed to be unique. No two bugs alike. Ah well. Most people don’t realize they are all the same until I point it out [I am sorry if I ruined the magic].

After several attempts to fit all the text on the poster in an attractive manner [I love my typography – I believe that is what sets my poster design apart from many of the other posters] I matched the curve in the text at the top with a blue notch at the bottom. It was a hit. But I wasn’t done…

The El Tour folks needed the clothing to match the poster, which is why there was a 5 color limitation. Granted, I was allowed to blend the colors together which was probably a bit of a nightmare for the production artist at the clothing manufacturer. Several comps were created and this one was selected way back at the beginning of the process. Rough, but it was a good direction.

Once the poster was complete, the design had to be reworked to fit into all the different sized patterns. The mountains were too busy so they were dropped out and just the ocotillo branches and bugs were left.

Here is a close up version of the jersey pattern. The art had to fit the smallest jersey as tightly as possible so that the text wouldn’t look like it was floating in the middle of branches and thorns. Pockets were taken into account, and on the front there was the issue of the zipper.

This shot was sent to us from Squadra, the clothing manufacturer. Jerseys, jackets, shorts, and socks were all part of the package — and they sold out, making it one of the most successful jerseys ever. That means I did my job — it was both an attractive design and a successful product for Perimeter Bicycling. As a bonus, I get to see my jerseys being worn all over town. They are most definitely bright and eye catching. [click on the image for a higher resolution version]

Holiday Card

It is getting to be that time in Tucson when someone finally turns the heat on. What better way to escape the heat [other than literally escaping the heat] than to revisit a holiday card from the prior year. Paragon Space Development specializes in environment controls [read that as creating products for both space and dive suits] and their marketing people came up with the great idea of combining the two and have some divers floating in space. Taking their mockup [below] it became a quest of finding the right images and compositing them as realistically as possible.

A few other ideas were worked out, using the comp images from iStockphoto to see which images needed to be purchased.

The last comp was the one, so the two stock photos required were purchased…

and with a bit of masking, modification of the stars and adding to the glow of the earth, a fitting holiday card was born. It is easy to find a decent holiday card, but it takes a little more thought and energy to come up with a card that is worth keeping. Paragon did just that.