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Pierre-Alain D.→Progeny

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre-Alain D.

Pierre-Alain D., founder of 3mmi Design, is a french digital artist / illustrator & webdesigner who has developed a dark -but not only- and intense vision of graphic design through the years. Working mainly for the music industry, he also like to work on all kind of graphic projects.

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Vengeance For The Angels

Described once by a blogger as a “one man graphic army”, in addition to photomanipulation, he also like to work on photography, web design, programming, music and video report. He also created and managed for 6 years a musical webzine, which gave him a broad vision of music and its universes, and music is his main inspiration…

Let’s enjoy some of his amazing works:

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Winds Of Horus

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Time To Revive

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→The Belly Flame

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Seeds Of Life

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Progeny

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Origins

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Mechanic Of Time

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Hand Of Gaïa

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Gates Of Atlantis

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Black Empire

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Attrition

That’s it folks! I hope you enjoyed the selections, and i am looking forward to hear your impressions!

 (Images are displayed here because they are licensed by their creator under Creative commons – Attribution. Exclusively to showcase and promote the artists work!)

Stock photo from Dreamstime

Introduction to the Design Process

For many people design is just “firing up photoshop” or “playing with the mouse”. After all when it comes to design everyone has an opinion and actually “knows” better. We probably all have heard at some point things like:  ”Of course this pinkish colour will do fine in my manly mustache products! My little daughter chose it for me!”. And other gems similar to this.

The purpose of this article is two-fold:

a) To give non-designers a better understanding of what is design and it’s process. Maybe along the way busting some of their misconceptions and hopefully help them realize how much those design contests and cheap design is really harming their business.

b) To help junior designers understand more about the creative process & design thinking, and how can they be creative on demand.

Let’s begin with a fundamental definition: Design is a process. Its purpose is to turn a brief, requirement or idea called the “design problem” into a finished product or “design solution”.

Stages of the design process

The design process comprises of stages (which we’ll separately discuss briefly).  At one point or another, each designer develops his own steps. But generally speaking are the following:

1) Define : First the problem must be defined through a brief, so that we establish what the problem is and understand who is the target audience and what our constraints or restrictions are.

2) Research: We research and review our information about the design problem at hand, historical data about the company, the competition, potential obstacles or expectations.

3) Ideate: We brainstorm, generate potential ideas and we identify the needs and motivations of our end users.

4) Refine: Those ideas we got will need to be reviewed against our design brief’s objective, refined, and the most efficient of them are being prototyped. The prototype aims to test aspects of the solution & of course its not yet made with the final materials.

5) Implement: The final design solution is implemented and we deliver it to the client.

6) Learn: Obtain feedback and learn from what have happened throughout the design process.

The necessity of a proper briefing

Designer’s shine the most when they have an actual problem to solve. And because sometimes we got carried away and tend to solve the wrong problem, a proper briefing is crucial.

The brief is the key in successfully establishing what is the design problem at hand. The more detailed and properly prepared the brief is, the more accurately the designer will assess the problem at hand, and deliver the proper design solution. At its bare minimum a successful brief should at least be able to give the answer to five simple questions. The famous five W’s: who, what, when, where, why.

Who is the client and our target audience? If its not clear in the current brief it should be made clear. Ask the client to explain the meaning behind their company and current logo. Their company values & mission, strengths and weakness and how their audience perceive their brand. Its also important to have a understanding of the company’s target customers and also their competitors.

What design solution the client is thinking of? And also what kind of applications the client thinks of?  If it a visual identity what additional items are required? Does the company already have a logo or brand identity established? Is there a specific idea already under consideration? Or maybe a specific art style is desired? Its then the designers obligation to question the solutions validity depending on the target audience. A brochure for example might be less appealing to a younger audience than a web site. Or the client insisting on using a cartoon character when its totally unfitting of his brand image etc.

When will the design need to be ready? Unlike to the common misconception designers do like to have things ready before their deadlines. But for that is necessary to know exactly when the design needs to be ready. The designer should also inform the client if this time-scale is achievable. And take into account the availability of any outside associates or requirement might be necessary for the project. Maybe the project needs for the designer to hire a photographer and coordinate a photo-shooting,  for a commercial advertisement, or there is extra time necessary for post production etc.

Where the design will be used? Its important to know the medium the solution will be applied to, as the specifications of the design will be different. Will the design need to be printed? If so the material will might be enforcing further restrictions. Will it be presented in a video or online in the web? The designer should inform the client of these restrictions, and offer alternative solutions.

Why the client thinks this design solution is required? Finally its important to make sure that the client really needs this specific design solution, and not a different one. For example a client don’t having any dynamic content on his web site and asking for a wordpress site. Or preparing an online campaign when his target audience in majority is elderly people that don’t use computers. With people having varying experiences of design services, the quality of the provided briefs might also be different. So whether you are the client or the designer, it is important to clarify all the ambiguous points first so that both of you are in understanding and have shared expectations.

Sometimes it might be better to cooperate and have a non-robust brief re-written by answering at least those 5 questions, rather than having the wrong design problem defined (and end up with the wrong solution)

Why research is crucial

Part of the research may have been initiated by the person who assigned the job, or the research department of the company,  or is up to the designer to do all the research on his own.

Even the humblest design assignment requires collecting basic information about the design’s purpose. the target audience, and competition. High stake campaigns demand extensive research, analysis and planning.

Several data gathering methods exists on that purpose and will give us insights on the attitudes and behaviours of the target group, helping us effectively communicate our design with that group, and also avoid alienating them with wrong choices. Additionally they will help us understand the approach of the competitor’s products, brand and organization and help us form a more effective campaign.

Regardless of who will gather the initial research data though, and however big or small is the design job, there is a bare minimum of data that we need to know in order to proceed to the ideate stage.

1. Who is the audience?

Knowing your audience is critical for developing visual communication the resonates. Focus groups, surveys, and opinion polls are several commonly used methods to collect insights about where our target audience leans and how it interprets the messages.

Various secondary data resources include public reference libraries, newspapers, books, trade periodicals, blogs, conference papers, official statistics, business reports, internet search etc.

In the end we should have been able to at least gather some key data for our target group, like gender, age, socio-economic demographics concerning them, education, income level and their lifestyle aspirations.

2. What is the communication objective?

Meaning what we want our audience to think or feel from the design? Are we creating conviction or preference? Stimulating actions or behaviours? These communication objectives will affect almost every design decision, from the format we’ll use to the font.

3. Does the design need to coordinate with past design work?

Does the company has an already established visual identity or branding our design need to conform? If so we’ll need to study the company’s branding manual and printed materials and ensure that we’ll provide them a solution that will work alongside their existing design and not against it. Incorporating these guidelines to our design solution, will strengthen the company’s  branding, and we’ll not risking alienating the existing client base.

4. Who are the competitors?

Knowing the competitions’ visual communication strengths and weakness, is essential in preparing our own campaign. It will help us focus on the successful ideas and also avoid using visual elements that might correlate our campaign with theirs.

5. What is our budget? How the final product will be delivered?

Don’t be afraid to ask this question and don’t be alarmed if your designer ask you that.The projects budget is very important to determine many important design decisions, like how many colours we’ll use in a print application, if we’ll use special inks or special papers. What quality photo material we’ll focus on acquiring etc.

How the final product will be delivered is also of out-most importance both to determine budget costs, and also at design decision level. If the design will be used for print or for digital media, makes all the difference in the world. And also what kind of print or what kind of digital media we are aiming to deploy. Finally what are the dimension and specifications we’ll have to work with.

Research Outcomes

This preliminary research will help us identify the drivers that stimulate the target group to act on a design, but also the barriers that could impede the success of our design, and we’ll be able to move at the ideate stage.

Note that the research stage usually takes a lot of time and involves effort to successfully identify drivers & barriers, especially in complex and high stake campaigns, and its outside of the scope of an introductory article to fully analyse it, but hopefully it gave you some insights of the process involved.

Brainstorming (or how to be creative on demand)

With the design brief completely understood and our research data at hand, in the idea generation or ideate stage, its time to create & evaluate concepts that may solve our design problem.

If you had been in the habit totally skipping the previous 2 steps and jumping right on your computer, be a bit more patient. We won’t be using our computer any time soon.

Hopefully by now you understand that a designer’s job is NOT to operate Photoshop or Illustrator, anyone can do it after spending several hours watching video tutorials. Computer software is just a tool at our disposal & designers had been solving design problems long before computers were invented.

There several brainstorming techniques we can utilize to help us generate an idea, and can be applied to generate ideas in general, not just on design problem solving.

As David Sherwin, successfully describes in his book: “Creative Workshop”, “Being creative on demand is, well demanding. Sometimes ideas won’t flow without a little extra prodding in the brain cells”. And it’s quite true. The creative process really is hard work & dedication with only a tiny part given over to inspiration.

We have several articles discussing brainstorming, idea generation and creativity in our website, so i won’t be repeating these information here. Feel free to search our website and also consider reading:

You can also find some books i highly suggest on the topic at the end of this article.

Prototype and Implementation

So we got several ideas, and at this stage many designers will either start producing a first draft in the computer, or turn their best rough sketches into more detailed and polished sketches.

Either way afterwards, all will end up presenting 1 to 3 of these drafts or polished sketches to the client to chose one, depending the agreement between them. After the clients choose the idea to proceed with, next comes the refinement of this one best idea to the final version of the design solution.

At the refinement stage a variety of typographic choices and images maybe tested. Elements might need to be resized, repositioned or recoloured to achieve the best result. A design contains many different aspects that need to come together in the final job.

And unlike common beliefs, design does have rules and one should know them to achieve these best results, either by following them OR breaking them on purpose. (Breaking a rule you are unaware of, in most cases is a certain recipe to disaster.)
I won’t go into much details on the design theory since its beyond the scope of this article, but I’d like though to mention a small list of things to consider concerning each individual part of the whole. Its not complete by any means but are the most commonly misused elements by inexperienced designers, or design software users.

The images we use, can communicate in many different ways. They can have different cultural and social interpretations, or evoke different emotions. The way an image was taken also have tremendous importance. Badly photographed, or low quality imagery we’ll have your audience thinking about how bad the photographs are than your message.

The typefaces we might use in our design have their own distinct personalities and not all are appropriate for every design job. Some appear serious , others playful, others modern etc. The way we set our typography is of utmost importance because it helps or hinders the message we try to communicate. And think about how many times we’ve seen a logo or poster, and thought that something was amiss or felt wrong. One doesn’t have to be a typography master to realize that a font like hmm lets say comic sans, would probably be unsuitable for a lawyers image!

The shapes type we used, their size and their placement in a design can also convey different messages. They might evoke feelings of harmony, or of balance or of tension.

Finally colour is a very powerful communication tool in our disposal. It makes things stand out, creates emphasis and also can have strong symbolic and cultural meaning, allowing us to communicate more efficiently with a target group, but also alienate it if wrongly chosen.

After the design is refined it can then presented again to the client for the final approval before it gets to mass printing or publicly appear in a website.

The essential steps of the design process completed. Whatever you do don’t forget to get feedback on your final design from fellow designers and learn as much as you can to further improve your skills, and also evaluate all the things you learned in that process.

If you were a non-designer reading the series, i hope i didn’t tire you much. I tried to explain the process in the simplest possible way avoiding using as much as possible design slang terms. I hope i helped you understand a bit more about a designer’s work & what steps are involved in a design process.

Further Reading/Bibliography:

9 Graphic Design and Digital Photography Tips you need to know2

9 Graphic Design and Digital Photography Tips you need to know

Here are my top tips for photographers and graphic designers looking to make an impression on customer and client alike.

9 Graphic Design and Digital Photography Tips you need to know   9 Graphic Design and Digital Photography Tips you need to know

For Digital Photographs

1. Keep those deeps Black and Bleak: making the deep of a photograph dark makes a photograph rich and textured. Consequently, this added depth and rich texture adds realism to your photos.  In other words, it enhances the texture and increases the richness making more it attractive.

2. Working in the Shadows: Manipulating the level on the shadow in a picture will add character to your photo. These changes also give your pictures depth and will help to manage those over saturated photos, and bring a sense of contrast in certain situation.

3. Vignettes: This effect is very easy to apply. The vignette works well with most digital photos and effectively darkens a photos edge to manipulate the space around an image and also helps to pull the eye.

4. Put digital speed and mobility to use: Because digital files are so mobile, easy to copy and manipulate, you cut down on the time you would need to spend developing photo. Programs like Photoshop makes getting the shot right a matter of time and not luck.  A digital file provides you with the opportunity to create portfolios quickly or provide a number of options for any project.

9 Graphic Design and Digital Photography Tips you need to know   9 Graphic Design and Digital Photography Tips you need to know2

 Graphic Design

1. Keep your look current: In order people to be drawn to your site you need to have your finger on the pulse of the current state of graphic design and ensure your designs are always up to date. This will help ensure that people take you designs seriously. While there are some stylistic exceptions no one, for example, would take a tech site seriously if it looked like the page hadn’t been up dated since 2007. Remember that first impressions matter and you don’t want a clunky, out of date design obscuring good message

2. Keep Function in Mind : Most of the graphic designs conceived today are centred on function. Creative people may be tempted to make a complex and striking design, but it is best that you lean more towards simple function in all of your projects. Users want their functions, buttons, tabs, and knobs to be as simple as possible and ass user friendly as it can be conceived.

3. Seek to surprise: In every industry but in the Worlds of graphic design and online commerce especial you want to be able to grab the attention of you potential customers. In graphic design you have thousands of ways to effect the user, including, typography, animations, formatting and illustration. You only get one chance to make real impression, so these elements should be found on your home or landing page.

4. Size variations matter: If you are creating a logo or brand insignia you take the time to work with different sizes to get an idea of how they work with or against the eye. These elements can be viewed at many different sizes and care must be taken that it reads well under any condition. Of course you want to make sure that the logo or object is not so huge that it is difficult to transport or overwhelms.

5. Simplicity is your Friend: Though you may be tempted to go overboard with the overall design of a new project you should ways strive to keep things simple. A design with too much going on is hard to see and ultimately a waste of your efforts. Try to keep it under two colours and font and try and subtract more than you add.

Paper Craft - Mixed Media - Graphic Design work by Paper Acrobat (6)

Graphic Design Inspiration: Meet Marc aka Paper Acrobat!

Hello folks!

Today we have the pleasure to introduce you Marc (Paper Acrobat) and his creative designs utilizing mixed media art techniques and paper craft.

Marc is a Graphic Designer and Illustrator based in Cheshire, UK. He work full time as a designer for a communications company but he loves to develop and share his own personal projects.

He has a particular interest in mixed media and hand made designs such as pyrography, lino cutting – even Lego – but his main passion is paper cutting. He loves the fact that with just a scalpel and some colored card you can create amazing designs that just somehow feel more personal than digital creations.

His favorite designs are simple linear and clever. He tries to make his work quirky, humorous and thought provoking – and loves word play and anything with a twist.

Lets now enjoy some of his awesome creations!

 

Graphic Design Inspiration: Meet Marc aka Paper Acrobat!   Paper Acrobat 10

 

Graphic Design Inspiration: Meet Marc aka Paper Acrobat!   Paper Acrobat 9

 

Graphic Design Inspiration: Meet Marc aka Paper Acrobat!   Paper Acrobat 8

 

Graphic Design Inspiration: Meet Marc aka Paper Acrobat!   Paper Acrobat 7

 

Graphic Design Inspiration: Meet Marc aka Paper Acrobat!   Paper Acrobat 6

 

Graphic Design Inspiration: Meet Marc aka Paper Acrobat!   Paper Acrobat 5

 

Graphic Design Inspiration: Meet Marc aka Paper Acrobat!   Paper Acrobat 4

 

Graphic Design Inspiration: Meet Marc aka Paper Acrobat!   Paper Acrobat 3

 

Graphic Design Inspiration: Meet Marc aka Paper Acrobat!   Paper Acrobat 2

 

Graphic Design Inspiration: Meet Marc aka Paper Acrobat!   Paper Acrobat 1

 

Feel free to check out Marc’s portfolio for more!

And if you want to get featured in a future article you can read here how!

All included images are copyrighted by Marc (Paper Acrobat) and are displayed here with his kind permission.

solution

How To Tell If Your Web Design Company Is Scamming You

There seems to be a growing concern amongst many business owners – they fear that their web design company, whom they also trust to host their website and to register their domain name, may be scamming them. Often, the full extent of the company’s power over their clients is not revealed until the client wants to switch web hosts or they want to upgrade their website – why else would the company need to alienate their clients?

There are a variety of ways that a design company may choose to deal with what they have dubbed ‘traitor clients’; those who have decided to take their business elsewhere. They may send them a large bill for switching hosts, often known as a cancellation fee. They may cancel the client’s account completely, which can cause email issues. They may point the domain name to a different website. And they make take the website down until further notice.

It is these sorts of actions that make many people believe design companies are holding too much power over their clients. Why should you be punished for looking for a better deal? You are within your rights to do what you like when you like with your own business, especially as you ultimately own your website and your domain name. This is the reality becoming clear to many clients who have discovered that their design company hasn’t been honest with them.

As with any sort of business venture, there are a number of loopholes in the web design industry that have actually allowed companies to take full control of their client’s web presence. For example, if you haven’t signed a contract specifying that you have sole rights to your domain name or that you will pay certain fees, then there really isn’t much you can do when the design company turns around and takes you for everything you have.

So, how can you go about taking power away from the design company and keeping it within your own grasp, where it belongs? It is recommended that you go out and register your desired domain name before you contact a designer to create a website for you. This way, you will be in possession of all documents relating to the ownership and registration of your domain. This does not, however, prevent companies from scamming you in other ways.

When choosing a web design company to take on the creation of your website, there are a number of questions that you should ask to ensure that they aren’t trying to scam you:

  • Do you provide a contract for all of your projects?
  • If I register my domain name through you, will my contract state that I own the name in all circumstances?
  • If I am late in making payments, does your company policy state that you must cancel the account?
  • Is it stated in your contract that I cannot switch to a different host at a later date?

At the end of the day, you should be wary of web design companies that do not require their clients to sign contracts for every aspect of the project. Without a signed document, there is no way that you can prove your ownership of the website or even of the domain name – for all you know, the design company is trying to sell the whole thing out from under you.

 Article by John Fulton

John has been working as a freelance writer for Zeemo. The company is known to provide excellent and reliable online services such as web development, graphic design, SEO services and web design Melbourne for over a decade now.