Subtraction Action

I knew this was going to come up eventually. I had considered mentioning it right in the “about”:/index.php?s=colophon article. But I suppose I was hoping no one would bring it up, so I didn’t.

Well it has come up, and I suppose I’m relieved. See I *know* this design looks very similar to “this”:http://www.subtraction.com/ site. I have them both open side by side at the moment.

I did the “comp”:/images/home-page-comp-AC.jpg for this in late December, then played with it a bit in early January. As you know, if you’ve read any of my earlier posts, I started a new job Jan 3rd, and have been too busy to maintain this site.

I first saw Subtraction last week, when it was mentioned on one of the blogs I follow. “Shit!” I immediately thought. “Holy crap this is good” was my second thought.

You know that feeling, where for just a second, you thought you had an original thought? Where you’re so wound up you’re practically on tip toes with what a fantastic-never-before-seen idea you have, when before a breath can blast past your lips you overhear your now ex-best friend telling someone about what a wicked idea they’ve just had, *and it’s just like yours, _only better_*?

Fuck shit damn fuck.

That was pretty much how I felt.

Well, seeing as I only had 2 days between jobs to work on my site, see my family, do some shopping, etc, it was either go what I had just designed, or live with the old site. There was no living with that drab old thing, so I decided to move ahead.

Still, I had to do something about the site’s old tagline: *”a derivative web site”*. It was cutting it a little close to home.

Hearing the comments a couple of you have made, I’m glad I did decided to go ahead. I don’t have the time or the talent to design a site like Subtraction. I can only hope that experience will help me get to that level of design.

Thanks again for the comments.

About Almost Cool v2

Well, things certainly have changed around here! It looks… stark. And small.

We’ll deal with stark in a moment, but *re:small*, I’ll have a style switcher thing coming in the near future, which will allow for easy font scaling for those less ocularly gifted.

Stark the site is, and with good reason. Focus here at AAC v2 is on _the word_. Both in terms of *content* and *typography*. Not a lot of pictures. Few colours, just plain text, an idea or two, and data. Lots of data.

I’ve trashed the sidebar, with its unmanageable list of links. In the short time this site has been up (Oct 04), I believe RSS penetrated our workflow to the point that most of us have our own rolling list of sites we read. Rather than show you all 80 odd sites I follow, I’ll point out the stellar articles and hilarious hi-jinx using the new meta-data info that will accompany each article.

The meta-data will float beside shorter articles, and follow longer pieces. It will include info like a pull quote, links to relevant sites, books of interest, the music that spawned a piece, etc. Whatever was going on at the time I was thinking about or writing the relevant article.

I’ve been thinking a fair bit about meta-data lately. *Meta-data is information about information*: the track info that accompanies your mp3s, the datestamp on your digital pictures, etc. We’re all becoming database administrators, and I find that fascinating. More on this in coming days.

I’ve used a simple layout for v2, again to focus on the article. The article container, that is, the imaginary box that surround each individual entry, can be configured in 2 ways, depending on how long the piece is. I just choose *override form* from textpattern’s Advanced Options menu for long articles (like this) to allow the text to span the full width, otherwise I get 2 floating columns. The meta-data itself gets stored in the article’s excerpt as xhtml.

If you’re unfamiliar with textpattern, don’t worry. I’m just including this for them’s thats interested.

This is very much an early launch. Still to come:

* sIFR for call-outs
* properly styled comments
* a remaindered links section
* archive
* random headers
* style switcher
* much much more

So stay tuned.

Art

Almost Cool v1 featured a couple of examples of my “work”:http://www.flashlightdesign.com For v2, I thought I’d change the focus from _work_ to _art_; the difference being that _art_ is work I do for no sake other than the doing of it. If all goes according to plan (*ha!*), this will be up and running shortly.

In the meanwhile, feast your eyes on “this old goodie”:http://www.flashlightdesign.com/pages/patterns.htm

Monday brain dump

Proof that I’m not the only nut who thinks blogging will change business, Gates Says Most Businesses will Blog

Eyetools offers a very interesting take on the power of proper design. Learning something about eye tracking seems like a very, very handy use of one’s time.

After reading the article about it in the Globe and Mail this weekend, I finally caved and bought a bunch of index cards to use as a hipster pda This is a true case of monkey sense. Just watch, before you know it, everyone is going to be throwing away their palms in favor of good old pen and paper.

cd cover

I haven’t had the opportunity to do any cd work yet, but I’m really intrigued by it. I’m a music nut, which kind of goes without saying. But I’m also intrigued by the limited size and the need to convey a mood, rather than a specific literal meaning.

In that spirit, I thought I’d make a couple of mixed tapes (mixed cds doesn’t sound right) for a few friends. I’ve been listening to some really excellent new music lately, and want to share the discoveries.

I’ve been working on a pretty cool new site that will be launching soon. It’s very satisfying, but severly left brained. I felt like letting my mind loose a bit this evening, so had a beer, and fooled around until I came up with the image above.

Click the _Read More_ link below to see the whole thing.

!/images/44.jpg (no evil cd cover large)!

Gradient Mess (um, I mean Mesh)

Inspired by a posting at “Veerle’s”:http://veerle.duoh.com/comments.php?id=265_0_2_0_ blog, I bring you my short hand method for working with gradient meshes, those nasty bastards of the Illustrator world.

_You may want to begin by clicking on the image above to open a larger view in a new window._

It may also help to read “Veerle’s”:http://veerle.duoh.com/comments.php?id=265_0_2_0_ excellent tutorial first, as I’m not going to go into much detail here (too much work to do today).

So, without further ado, I present Peter’s Amazing Time Saving Approach to Gradient Messes (aka PATSAGramM):

First I drew the outlines of the clothing (each on a separate layer), then duplicated each layer.

On the duplicates, I converted each object to a gradient mesh using *Object/Create Gradient Mesh*, and set the number of rows to something quite high (I think around 15 by 15, can’t quite remember).

Next, I selected the *warp tool*, and used it to push the mesh to mimic the movement and creases of the fabric (double click on the tool icon on the toolbar to change tool settings).

After that, I shaded the objects using the eyedropper and direct selection arrow using only shades of grey (this allowed me to concentrate on values, rather than colour). The quickest way to do this is to select the direct select arrow (*shortcut key A*), the nselect the eyedropper (*shortcut key I*). Now, when you hold down the command key (aka apple key) or control key for you pc users, the tool switches back to the direct select arrow. Cool, huh?

I then returned to my original layers, and coloured the object with the appropriate solid fills.

The magic step was putting each gradient object on top of its solid coloured match, then changing the transperancy to multiply.

I had always intended to go back and finish this image, but now it looks like I’ve lost the original file… Back to the drawing board I guess.