Thought you’d enjoy this. Blow it up to full screen and sit back for 10 minutes.
Thought you’d enjoy this. Blow it up to full screen and sit back for 10 minutes.
Designer Jo Hodge (DJCAD graduate and PhD student) is creating toys and clothing which lets parents and children who are separated through work, illness or family breakdown to communicate online.
In May, Jo and Hazel White are running a workshop as part of Handmade: FutureEverything where you can try out Jo’s tweeting toys, her Skyping scarf and create your own designs. Jo will make up a selection of the designs (chosen by the public) which will then be displayed online at Pigeon Post.
More details over on Hazel White‘s blog.
Here’s a little secret for you: when I was younger I wanted to be a set designer. I would have been hopeless at it, given the things I made out of cardboard at the time, all parcel tape and glue everywhere, my Star Wars action figures stooping to get through doors that didn’t quite slide properly.
Anyway. We all need our dreams.
Over at the BBC blog the production designer for 32 Brinkburn Street, Andrea Hughes, has written about her experiences. Not a piece of parcel tape in sight. She says:
Initially, the producer, director and I proposed a colour tone to run throughout the entire piece. It was important that the drama would flow when cutting between the two time periods.
The colour palette … ensured that the drama felt like one piece rather than two stories merely stitched together.
The period props were sourced from a few places in Manchester (prop houses, coin collectors etc) but in particular we used a prop house in Lincolnshire which has several floors of props covering several periods.
… They can supply almost anything from wallpaper to carpet, to washing powder boxes to lollipops.
We had to choose our props wisely in order to keep to our budget and I chose not to use authentic period wallpaper as this is particularly expensive.
Instead I searched around to find modern wallpaper of the correct tone for our piece and which had a flavour of the period – rather than merely being a historical reproduction.
This would then be aged down – a painting term meaning to dirty the walls with dark washes of paint and which can be done lightly or heavily depending on the effect I’m after, ie, the attic set needed to feel like it hadn’t been lived in for decades and was subsequently heavily aged down.
Read the rest of her piece over at the BBC TV blog
I’m not jealous.
UX Magazine has a good overview of the concept of a “persona”. Although the focus is on developing a “user experience” personas can also be used in other design fields. For example if you’re developing a brand, or interior, or even a range of jewellery, having a “persona” to hand can help you fix in your mind who you’re designing for.
“What Is a Persona?
A persona represents a cluster of users who exhibit similar behavioral patterns in their purchasing decisions, use of technology or products, customer service preferences, lifestyle choices, and the like. Behaviors, attitudes, and motivations are common to a “type” regardless of age, gender, education, and other typical demographics. In fact, personas vastly span demographics.
Read the full article at Personas: The Foundation of a Great User Experience | UX Magazine.
These are the videos I used in the lecture on 19 November
British War Posters
This video shows a selection of recruiting and other morale-boosting posters from the British. Compared with the German and Russian selection shown in the lecture, they are less aesthetically accomplished. However, it could be argued that because they used a visual language that was entirely familiar to its audience, borrowed from advertising imagery at the time (and largely produced by the same people who created commercial advertising) the posters were far more successful than some of their ‘better’ designed European counterparts.
Music: Pack Up Your Troubles
British War Artists
The British armed forces have a long history of official artists, what we would now call ‘embedded’ (nothing’s new, it seems).
They were commissioned to capture the atmosphere and story of battles and other engagements for regimental histories. Hundreds (thousands) of paintings and drawings were made which have rarely, if ever, been seen.
Many are kept in the archives of the Imperial War Museum but are now available to view online.
This video, a mood setter for the lecture, shows a small selection but they are much more impressive when viewed ‘properly’ on the IWM website. Some of the images are quite horrific and seem to bring home the true extent of the conflict much more than photography or film could do.
The music is the Agnus Dei, from Benjamin Britten’s ‘War Requiem’ composed in the 1960s.
The work combines the Catholic requiem mass with the poetry of Wilfred Owen.
In this movement the tenor sings the poem ‘At A Calvary Near The Ancre’ while the choir sings ‘Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserer nobis/ Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserer nobis/ Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem’ (Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace).
The words of the poem, together with an explanation, are below:
One ever hangs where shelled roads part.
In this war He too lost a limb,
But His disciples hide apart;
And now the Soldiers bear with Him.
Near Golgotha strolls many a priest,
And in their faces there is pride
That they were flesh-marked by the Beast
By whom the gentle Christ’s denied
The scribes on all the people shove
And bawl allegiance to the state,
But they who love the greater love
Lay down their life; they do not hate
The poem describes a ‘Calvary’, a crucifixion scene that was often placed at crossroads in France (examples still exist today). Owen uses the fact that the figure of Christ has lost a limb to describe some of the absurdities of religious attitudes to war.
“Near Golgotha strolls many a priest” refers to the chaplains who accompanied troops to the Front and who claimed that wounds gained in the fighting were things of which to be proud. “Flesh-marked by the Beast” refers to the Devil and to the enemy, the claim being that the war was a righteous one, and that God was on ‘our’ side (the same of course being claimed by all combatants).
“The scribes on all the people shove/And bawl allegiance to the state” is a description of how the pulpit is used to denounce those who object to the war.
The last two lines are ambiguous, and in his setting of the poem to music Britten appears to read them as saying that those who are willingly laying down their lives are doing so for love of their friends and family, and strangers back home – this is not a time for hate. This would be typical of Owen, who often used irony in his poems; he is saying that the priests are advocating hatred, which is exactly the opposite of the message embodied in the crucifixion scene that sparked the poem.
Wilfred Owen was killed at the age of 25, a few days before the end of the war. He had originally been sent back to Britain suffering from shellshock. Posted first to a hospital in Scarborough, and then to Ripon (scene of Britain’s biggest army camp) he chose to return to the Front, despite his opposition to the war, rather than accept a safer posting back home.
I’ve posted a new tutorial: Subscribing to RSS Feeds: What and Where Are They?
As with all the tutorials this is particularly relevant to new Level 2 students doing BDes and BSc design programmes at DJCAD.
A dress made from 12,000 springs taken from clothes pegs is one of the highlights of a new art show opening at Abertay University in Dundee.
The 500 Miles North show was sparked off by the Courvoisier Future 500 list, a network of people involved in art, business and culture.
The university invited the Scottish-based artists on the list to create new artworks for the contemporary art show.
Clare Brennan, artist and assistant cultural projects officer at the university, brought together all the artists on the list.
She said: “This is a hugely exciting project, bringing together artists from completely different disciplines and pushing them beyond their comfort zone.
A British solar-powered plane lands after two weeks in the air. Pretty impressive.
It’s a shame the “obvious” uses are military. Maybe there are some more immediate benefits to society?
The UK-built Zephyr unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has confirmed its place in aviation history as the first “eternal plane”.
The solar-powered craft completed two weeks of non-stop flight above a US Army range in Arizona before being commanded to make a landing.
The Zephyr flight is the second event of note this year in solar-powered aviation. Earlier this month, Andre Borschberg became the first person to pilot a manned solar plane through the night.
The Guardian has a fantastic article looking at how technology has been portrayed in literature through the centuries. Turns out textile mills scared the heeby-jeebies out of some of our greatest writers…
For centuries, literature has been haunted by technology. When Blake shudders in fearful awe before the tiger, don’t be fooled into thinking that he’s contemplating nature. What the animal, a product of “hammer”, “chain”, “furnace” and “anvil”, really represents is the industrial revolution. Blake, like Quixote, grappled with dark satanic mills. His contemporary Mary Shelley also created monsters from machines: her Frankenstein, our culture’s most enduring parable of technology gone haywire, was written largely in response to the replacement of human textile workers with automated looms, and the subsequent torching of cotton mills by Luddite armies of the newly unemployed.
Once you’ve set up your WordPress blog it’s time to get it looking just the way you want it.
The first step in doing this is selecting a "theme" and then customising it. In this tutorial I’ll walk you through the steps I took but if you want fuller information, then take a look at WordPress’s own theme support page or you can take a look at their video
This is the "behind the scenes" bit of your blog and you’ll probably spend a bit of time here over the next few years! Only you can see this (but bear in mind you can give other people permission to contribute to your blog, which is useful for setting up group blogs for team-based projects)
I won’t go in to too much detail on the dashboard here – WordPress has lots of online help available to find out how to moderate comments, add polls and so on.
You will see that you already have one post and one comment on your blog and that your blog has a "theme" (Twenty Ten)
A post is an article that you write and add to your blog. A comment is something that someone writes on a post. You can disable comments, or "moderate" them, which is a way of approving them before they appear. You can also delete comments later. This might become important if your blog gets lots of followers or spam. For now, though, you can probably leave comment settings as they are.
Another tutorial will show you how to create posts (but it’s actually really easy and you can probably work it out for yourself). For now we’re going to edit the look of your blog so click on your blog’s title at the top of the dashboard.
This is the default blog. It’s pretty dull. Fortunately you can change things either by applying a new "theme" or creating your own.
Let’s take a look at the main elements of the page so you can get a hang of some of the terminology we’ll be using later.
1. Mini dashboard. So long as you’re logged in to WordPress you’ll see this at the top of your blog. You can quickly access the full dashboard from here, or edit the existing page or create a new post. A page can contain more than one post.
2. Blog title. This is what you chose in one of the earlier steps. You can change this via the dashboard, or replace it with a graphic (which is slightly advanced so I won’t show you how).
3. Banner. This appears at the top of every page. There are ways to change this so it looks different on different sections
4. Navigation bar (or navbar). Your blog can have different sections (see Johanna Basford’s blog for example – one page can be a blog, another page could be a portfolio of your work, and so on. For now you automatically have an "about" page". If you want to expand your blog, it’s a good idea to draw a diagram of what you will have.
5. Page/post title. This is the title you give your page or blog post.
6. Post. This is the text of your blog entry.
7. The edit link only appears while you are logged in to your blog. Clicking this allows you to edit your post.
8. Comments section. This is where readers can add their comments.
9. Your blog description or "tag line". All WordPress blogs have the same description by defaul. I’ll show you how to change that later.
10. Sidebar. You can edit what appears here but by default you have an archive of previous posts and a list of categories. I’ll explain how to use categories and tags in another tutorial. The "Meta" menu allows you to log in to the site etc. You may want to hide this later when you know how. You can add other sidebars and widgets when you get a bit more confident with WordPress.
We’re now going to change the two main features of your blog. First, let’s look at the "About" info.
Return to your dashboard and click on the "Pages" button on the right hand sidebar.
Pages are the sections of your site. You can add and remove them here. At the moment there should be just one. Edit it so that it gives a bit of information about you.
You can upload images here, or movies, and you can format your text using bold, italic, bullet points and so on.
Don’t go overboard here – keep it simple. If you understand HTML you can click on the HTML button to get into the code but if you’re not sure what you’re doing, or you want an easy life, stay on the "Visual" page!
It’s a good idea to turn comments off for this page, after all you’re just telling people stuff about yourself, not trying to get their opinion.
Don’t forget to change the title of your page as well. "About William Hogarth" or "More about me" or something.
When you’re happy you can clcik the blue "Update" button, or use the "Preview Changes" button to take a look before committing yourself. But note that no one will see any changes until you press the blue button.
Time to make your blog look a little nicer. Designing WordPress themes is pretty complex so my advice is not to bother until you’ve got a spare month or so. Your best bet is to use one of the many free templates which range from excellent all the way down to "you’re kidding me, you really thought this looked good?" There are also some companies that sell themes and some of them are very good indeed – well worth a look if you want to establish a professional-looking web site, but for now that’s something you can think about later.
In the dashboard click on "Appearance" in the sidebar and then "Themes". You’ll be presented with list of free themes that WordPress is hosting for you.
Click on a theme to see a preview of your blog using that theme. Because you’ve only just started, there won’t actually be a lot to see so it’s not easy to get an idea of how the theme will work. Remember you can always change your mind later so don’t worry too much. The theme in the picture looked okay but now I see it "in the flesh" I’m not so sure.
When you’ve selected a theme you like, click the "Activate" link in the top right hand corner
I went with the Modularity Lite theme for now.
You can upload your own image to use as your page header in most themes. The "Custom header" page will tell you the size of the optimal header in pixels and this measurement is what you should use if you’re creating something in Photoshop or Illustrator. Alternatively you can upload a photo and WordPress will let you crop it to the right size. It could be a photo of you, or of one of your designs, for example. Be arty! Make it say something about you or your work or interests. (i.e. don’t show a picture of you and your boyfriend, or your pet hamster, unless you’re making an ironic statement).
You don’t need to add text and, as always, you can change it later.
I mentioned earlier that "pages" were sections of your blog. This can get a bit confusing so let me try to explain it a bit more clearly.
Your blog on WordPress is a web site. The "blog" part of it is the main bit and currently it sits under the "Home" button. If you look at your blog now you’ll see "Home" and "About" or whatever you changed its name to.
Your blog can have as many sections (or "pages") as you want. For example let’s say you are a textile designer who likes taking photographs and travelling the world. After sitting down with a bit of paper you’ve decided you want your blog to have separate sections for your textile work, your photography, and your travel journal. Add your actual "blog" (think of it as your news or thoughts page) and your "about me" page and you’ve got five sections. You add those to your blog using the "Pages" button on the dashboard.
In the image above you can see I’ve got just one page, the "About Design Studies" page I edited earlier. To add a new page, just click "Add New".
I’m going to add a new page called "My portfolio".
This next screen is basically the same as the "about" page we edited earlier. Unlike your blog, you don’t add posts. This is a "static" web page that you build up as if you were designing it in InDesign or Word. I won’t go in to too much detail here because one of the powerful things about WordPress is you can use "widgets" to add things like slideshows or "lightboxes" to display photos or scans of your work. This tutorial is about creating the blog so I’ll leave that for now, but feel free to look at the widgets and experiment. If you do something wrong, you’re not stuck with it and you can always delete a page and start again!
There’s a separate tutorial on creating posts elsewhere but for now let’s just change the default blog post that WordPress created for you when you set your blog up.
Click on "Posts" in the dashboard and then on "Hello world!" to edit the post that’s already there.
There’s lots to take in here and most of it will be covered in a separate tutorial. For now, all you need to know is 1, 2, 3.
1. This is the title of your post. Take special note of what I’m about to say. Never, ever, write a blog post without a title! For some reason, most students in previous years decided to write post after post with no title. That’s like reading a newspaper where the articles have no titles. Always give it a title, otherwise it will either appear as "untitled" or have the first line of your post as the title. Most unsatisfactory.
For now, change the title from "Hello World" to something else, more appropriate. This is your first blog post so make it interesting but short and sweet. You can always delete it later when you’ve got something interesting to say.
2. This is the post itself. Write some quick introductory text here about what you hope to use the blog for. Top tips:
never say "we’ve been told to start a blog". This may be read by people in industry. and no one likes a whinger.
Remember your audience. Who are they? Not just your tutors and friends, but people all over the world. Write with them in mind.
Check your spelling – if spelling and grammar aren’t your strong points, write your post in Word and run the spelling and grammar check.
See the button with the green tick and "ABC" on it? That’s WordPress’s built-in spell checker. Use it!
If you want to, upload a video entry rather than text – if you’re happy to explore the functions, then do. It’s your blog!
3. Decide if your post is going to have comments or not. Usually this should be checked by default, but there may be reasons why you don’t want comments sometimes.
When you’ve made your changes, click the blue "Update" button.
Remember earlier when I pointed out that your blog’s tagline is "Just another WordPress.com site"? We’re going to change that now.
Go to "Settings" in your Dashboard and then "General". Change the tagline to something interesting, short and sweet. It could be "Contemporary jewellery from Scotland" for example. Be quirky if you want, if that’s part of your personal "brand", but don’t be silly. Your blog is an important tool for networking and getting work, particularly as you approach graduation, so start as you mean to go on.
While you’re in the settings you can change things like your timezone, how the date is formatted and so on. Bear in mind if you’re from the US or China, you may want to change the date settings here to reflect how these things are done in your country – or change them when you return. You can change the default langauge here if you didn’t do it earlier.
You don’t have to do this, but you can add a blog icon on the settings page. The icon is a square image that will appear in the browser bar. It’s a nice touch that can add to your brand image. Choose something interesting or create a special icon. You can crop it down when you upload the image. It will take a while for it to appear across your blog and you can of course change it later.
You’ve now set up your WordPress blog! There’s not much there now of course but over time it will build up.
As you get used to the idea of posting you can come back and make changes to the template, add a different banner or even get more advanced and use different templates for different pages.
Draw a diagram of your blog showing the different sections (pages) you want to add and make a plan to add the. Visit other WordPress blogs to get ideas for things like slideshows and lightboxes, and look at different widgets that are available for things like "blogrolls" and Twitter feeds.
We want you to take ownership of your blog. Let it be not just a record of your university studies but of other things too – your photos, drawings, projects, journeys. By the time you graduate it should not just be a repository of your best design work but a scrapbook of your time at DJCAD – a useful tool for you and for people who may want to commission you or employ you.
In other tutorials I’ll show you how to add links to posts, embed Youtube videos and so on, but why not see if you can figure these things out for yourself? Work with someone else if you want and don’t be afraid to ask someone who knows what they’re doing for help and advice. And if you are the person who knows what they’re doing, offer to help others!
This video from WordPress shows you more about choosing a theme.