A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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30 Beautiful Photo-Centric Web Designs for Inspiration

There’s something about photographs that manages to attract the attention of web users. Indeed, photos can be excellent design elements in a web design. Watch the file sizes of your web pages though; you have to strike a balance between aesthetics and page response times. From images of scenic landscapes to photos of people, the sites in this collection demonstrate the inspiring and visually tantalizing use of photos as chief elements in a web design.

Gube, Jacob. Design Instruct (2011). Design>Web Design>Graphic Design


3D Effects

Three-dimensional illusion effects are powerful devices that can achieve excellent results. They can also add significantly to overall page filesize, and can reduce usability if overused, so should be used deliberately and with care (unlike the title image above, see cooltext.com if you want one).

Hunt, Ben. Web Design From Scratch (2005). Design>Web Design>Graphic Design>3D


The Absence of Light   (PDF)

If you ever create shadows in your designs or illustrations, check out these tips for making them richer and more realistic.

Campbell, J. Scott. Adobe Magazine (1997). Design>Graphic Design>Image Editing


Accentuation in Technical Illustration

There are various ways to accentuate a specific part in its installation position. However in order to keep the printing cost as low as possible, it is recommended to opt for stylistic devices that are all in black and white.

ITEDO Software. Articles>Graphic Design>Technical Illustration>Color


Accessible Data Visualization with Web Standards

When designing interfaces for browsing data-driven sites, creating navigation elements that are also visualization tools helps the user make better decisions. Wilson Miner demonstrates three techniques for incorporating data visualization into standards-based navigation patterns.

Minor, Wilson. List Apart, A (2008). Design>Web Design>Graphic Design>Charts and Graphs


Acrobat 9: Grayscale PDF: A Smaller PDF

If you've designed a flyer or newsletter and are distributing the document in PDF format, the color is likely a critical aspect of the document. If, however, your PDF file is part of a workflow in a law office, the color may be incidental, and may actually add nothing to the document's purpose other than bloating the document's file size.

Mankin, David R. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Articles>Document Design>Graphic Design>Adobe Acrobat


Add Inspiration With Illustrations

Which comes first, the concept or the artwork? The assumption has always been that you first figure out the concept, then find the art to fit. But even if we leave many things in our life unquestioned--design shouldn't be one of them.

Will-Harris, Daniel. Typofile (2003). Design>Web Design>Graphic Design


Adding Reflections to Water in Photoshop

Denny Tang shows how to add sparkle to your images of water in this Photoshop tutorial.

Tang, Denny. Graphics.com (2005). Design>Graphic Design>Image Editing>Adobe Photoshop


Adobe Photoshop CS Layer Effects

In this topic, you will apply Bevel and Emboss and Outer Glow effects to an Adobe Photoshop CS type layer.

Adobe (2004). Design>Graphic Design>Software>Adobe Photoshop


Adobe Photoshop CS Type Layers

In this topic, you will create a Photoshop CS type layer in which you will add and format type.

Adobe (2004). Design>Graphic Design>Software>Adobe Photoshop


AIGA Design Forum: Professional Practices

As a champion of creativity, quality and a strong sense of community, AIGA is a valuable resource for designers seeking support for the work we do. Professional Practices focuses on important issues designers face daily, from the pragmatic matters of management to the pursuit of design excellence and integrity. Sometimes our work can be magical, other times our work can be mundane, and on any given day we believe this forum is the place to seek best practices, share success stories, and address the challenges of our profession.

Shelton, Sam. AIGA. Design>Graphic Design>Professionalism>Community


Airbrush Tutorial: Basic Painting Technique

Airbrush is a much less forgiving endeavor than digital illustration. The first use of the airbrush started in the 1890s and was accomplished by blowing air through a tube with your mouth. With airbrush there is no command>undo. Mistakes are costly as they usually result in the need to do a separate piece of work as a patch or fix and have a printer strip it into the main image.

Hulsey, Kevin. Kevin Hulsey Illustration (2006). Design>Graphic Design>Technical Illustration


American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA)

The purpose of AIGA is to further excellence in communication design as a broadly defined discipline, strategic tool for business and cultural force. AIGA is the place design professionals turn to first to exchange ideas and information, participate in critical analysis and research and advance education and ethical practice.

AIGA (2001). Organizations>Graphic Design


Ampersands With Attitude

Ampersands have long been the character in a typeface with which typographers can indulge themselves. Sweeping curves, flirtatious finishes and bold statements – these are the things that make ampersands an exciting character to use and, better still, to design. There are, however, two problems.

Smashing (2008). Articles>Typography>Graphic Design>Fonts


Analysis of Team Design Review

Every other team meeting, three team members get 30 minutes each to talk about projects they are working on, and they get to demonstrate some of the cool things they are integrating into the project. As a team, we look at the project and both learn from what they’ve done, and make suggestions on how they might improve the project.

Pehrson, Paul. Technically Speaking (2009). Articles>Collaboration>Graphic Design>Assessment


Antialiasing Explained

Antialiasing is a method of representing perfect, continuous vectors on imperfect, discontinuous display devices so that they look as perfect as possible.

IsoCalc. Design>Graphic Design>Typography>Technical Illustration


Applicability of CGM Versus SVG for Technical Graphics

As certain traditional technical and engineering applications become established on the Web, they bring with them information resources that mix text and data with significant technical graphics components. Technical graphics for such applications as aircraft maintenance manuals are characterized by high volume and complexity, stringent fidelity and interoperability constraints, and long life cycle. W3C has two standards for Web based graphics, WebCGM and SVG. WebCGM was specifically standardized for technical applications. SVG has much broader applicability. In a nutshell, the usual formula is 'WebCGM for Web-based technical graphics, SVG for graphic arts and creative graphics.' Still, the questions continue to arise. why there are two formats, and isn't it possible to use the one for the other application? When one takes a careful and detailed look at the two formats, in the context of the particular requirements of technical illustration, then specific differences emerge. This session will present such a comparison, from both the theoretical, functional perspective, as well a practical real-world (implemenations and interoperability) perspective. The comparison is based on an ongoing study that has been conducted within the CGM Open consortium and the Graphics Working Group of the Air Transport Association.

CGMopen (2003). Design>Graphic Design>Technical Illustration>Online


Art Direction and the Web

Introduces the principles and techniques of the art director, and shows how art directional concepts can shape memorable user experiences.

Hay, Stephen. List Apart, A (2004). Design>Web Design>Graphic Design


Art from Turmoil: Stock Promotions Blitz Metaculture   (PDF)

The stock catalog, a tool that was once used for research, has become a funky book that you look through for ideas and inspiration.

Shinn, Nick. ShinnType (2002). Design>Graphic Design>Publishing


The Art of Icons

Being "minimalist" and "streamlined" is not always most effective. Have you ever written yourself a quick, shorthand note, only to find later that you had no way to unpack your own great idea? Icons work similarly. They are pictures – meant to provide a visual shorthand to users moving through a task. While research indicates that icons are best when initially paired with text to increase recognition and learnability, users experienced with a given set of icons will begin to ignore the text, scanning for and acting from the image alone.

Michaels, Mary M. UI Design Newsletter (2007). Articles>Graphic Design>User Interface


Artistic Distance

If you are passionate about what you create, it is impossible to completely disassociate yourself from your work in order to objectively evaluate and then improve it. But the ability to achieve “artistic distance”—that is, to attain a place that allows you to contemplate your design on its own merits—will enable you to improve your own work immeasurably and, ultimately, to cast off the immature shackles of ego. Learn to let your work shine by letting go of it. Acquire the knack of achieving artistic distance.

Burton, Paul. List Apart, A (2012). Articles>Web Design>Graphic Design


The Association of Medical Illustrators

The professional objectives of the AMI are to promote the study and advancement of medical illustration and allied fields of visual communication, and to promote understanding and cooperation with the medical profession and related health science professions. Its members are primarily artists who create material designed to facilitate the recording and dissemination of medical and bioscientific knowledge through visual communication media. Members are involved not only in the creation of such material, but also serve in consultant, advisory, educational and administrative capacities in all aspects of bioscientific communications and related areas of visual education.

AMI. Organizations>Graphic Design>Technical Illustration>Biomedical


Attractive Vectormaps: A Call for Well-Arranged Webmaps

If a user has a choice between two maps he/she will often use the map with the 'better' design. This means a map, besides being readable, should be visually attractive, comparable with other maps and eventually deliver some tools to navigate and interact with a map. A further problem is that a lot of maps are not always self-explaining by default. SVG offers some possibility to make maps well designed. The readability is dependent on several factors: e g. the chosen colors, used fonts or minimal dimensions for symbols, line-styles and fill-patterns. The article is pointing to basic principles for designing visually attractive maps.

Dahinden, Tobias. SVG Open (2002). Design>Web Design>Graphic Design>Sitemaps


The Awesome Power of Visualization 2: Death and Taxes 2007

Visuals that provide insights come from 1) a deep understanding of the goal / objectives 2) from thinking beyond what standard trend lines or stacked bar graphs can provide. Something non-normal to grab attention and yet communicate insights (sort of already contain recommendations and action items and not just data).

Kaushik, Avinash. Occam's Razor (2007). Articles>Graphic Design>Technical Illustration>Log Analysis


Ban Comic Sans

We call on the common man to rise up in revolt against this evil of typographical ignorance.

Ban Comic Sans. Organizations>Graphic Design>Typography



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