Archive for August, 2012
As we’ve discussed in previous articles, the basic concepts behind inkjet printing can be applied to many areas outside of document printing. You’ll already be familiar with the concept of 3D printing, where small amounts of material are laid down in layers to form three dimensional objects. This technology is already available for consumers to buy, and many hobbyist 3D printing kits are on the market. In a recent development, scientists in Glasgow, Scotland have devised a method that, in the future, will allow drugs to be printed in the same way.
Pharmaceuticals, especially for those with chronic illnesses who require regular repeat prescriptions, are expensive. Much of that expense comes as a result of having to maintain an expensive infrastructure, including laboratories and factories. Additionally, it is impossible to produce the exact dosages and mixture of ingredients that patients require in a mass production environment. If, in the future, patients were able to download prescriptions from their doctors via the Internet, with specially tailored dosages and mixtures of drugs, there would be a revolutionary change in both the cost and convenience of obtaining medication. Imagine being able to wake up in the morning, instruct your computer to produce your heart pills for the day, and have them waiting for you after you shower.
Web applications have come a long way in recent years. With the introduction of HTML5 (in addition to existing Flash technologies) the complexity and feature-richness of online applications has come on leaps and bounds. Just a few years ago the idea of doing a quick photo touch-up or drawing online was unthinkable, but now we have a plethora of available services to choose from. There are numerous advantages to using web-based applications. They tend to be less heavy on resources than their desk-bound cousins and they are cross-platform, meaning they can be accessed from any of your devices that are capable of running a browser. This week we’re going to look at 8 applications or resources that you can employ in your artistic endeavors.
Some of these use cutting-edge HTML5, so you’ll need a recent version of Chrome or Firefox to take full advantage.
Pixlr from Autodesk is a suite of three different applications with varied levels of complexity and functionality. The Advanced editor is a fully featured image editor, where you can create and edit pictures using many of the usual tools you’d expect to find in a comparable desktop product. The other applications are intended mainly for photo-editing. Pixlr Express allows the application of filters, enhancements, touch-ups stickers, borders and labels to photographs. Pixlr-o-matic is the little brother of Pixlr Express and has a fun and simple to use interface for applying Instagram-like filters to your photos.
In the last final entry of our short series on fonts, we’re going to have a look at an aspect of typography that most people are likely to have practical use for at some point: font combinations. Whether you are printing a memo, a label, an essay, or any other document, choosing the right combinations of fonts can make the difference between an aesthetically pleasing read and an eye-watering mish-mash.
Combining the right fonts can be tricky, there are many thousands of fonts out there to choose from. There are, however, a number of principles that you can apply which will almost always result in visually pleasing combinations. Keep in mind, these principles are not rules by which you must abide under penalty of being arrested by the font police. Choosing fonts for a document is an art, it takes a delicate discernment of the overall appearance of the page, but, you won’t go far wrong if you stick to these basic guidelines.
In last week’s article we looked at the story of a font as it developed from the handwriting of a king’s librarian in Renaissance Italy to the go-to font for a modern multinational corporation. This week, we’re going to have a closer look at fonts themselves. We’re going to delve into the arcana of typology and hopefully develop some appreciation of the complexity that’s involved in creating those little marks on screen and paper that are all but transparent to most of us.
Next week we’ll round off our short series on fonts with a look at how the professionals combine different fonts to make a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing document.
First things first, what most people call a font is actually known by professionals as a typeface. Typographers use the term font when they want to refer to one particular size of a given set of letters and characters. So Times New Roman 10 pt is a different font to Times New Roman 12 pt, but they are of the same typeface.
When we’re scrolling through the list of fonts in our word processors, looking for the perfect combinations for printing, not many of us stop to consider where they came from. It might not seem a particularly interesting topic, but, cast your eye over the line of text you’re reading now. Each of the letters in that line had to be designed by someone; a decision was made about the thickness and height of every “h” and the size of the “hole” of every “o.” Each letter has to fit in with its brothers and sisters along the line. A good font is a masterpiece of design, and some of them have histories that go back to the birth of printing.
Garamond is a font you might have heard of: in the later years of the last century it was made famous by Apple, who used it in nearly all of their advertising and documentation. The name Garamond originates with one of the creators of the font, Monsieur Claude Garamond, a punch-cutter from France. Punch cutters are the people who made the metal shapes from which letters were cast back in the days of letterpress printing, before modern laser and inkjet technologies (as in the image). Garamond lived in the late 14th Century and was responsible for — among other things — the introduction of the apostrophe into the French language.