Posts in Design
Online figure drawing

I live close to the Art Director’s Guild headquarters in Los Angeles, which has weekly evening figure drawing classes. My daughter and I go there occasionally, but I recently discovered a site called Line of Action that has a useful figure drawing practice system. It shows you a series of figure models posing for specified periods of time, just like a real figure drawing session. The hands-and-feet tool is especially useful (and challenging) for me. — MF

DesignClaudia Dawson
Graphic inspiration

I collect visual reference books to provoke me when I make things. I recently discovered the work of the prolific illustrator Charley Harper, who in part created the graphic look of the 1950s and 60s. His illustrations are witty, spiffy, and timeless. Many hundreds of his designs have been gathered into a nifty book called Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life. It’s not nostalgia: I get at least 10 new ideas each time I open it. — KK

DesignClaudia Dawson
Typeset in the Future

I’m spending hours studying this coffee-table book celebrating the typography and design used in science fiction movies. What do we see on screens “in the future”? More broadly, this dense picture book, Typeset in the Future, is a roundabout way to examine where the interface design of technology is headed. — KK

DesignClaudia Dawson
Easy background removal

This new website became an instant hit, and for good reason. Just upload any photo of a person, animal, or things, and it will erase everything in the background, replacing them with transparent pixels. It even works well when the person in the foreground has wispy or curly hair. — MF

DesignClaudia Dawson
Geological modern art

Some of the best modern art on my walls are geological maps. These graphics are bright and cheerful while boasting scientific integrity. Geology from around the world can be used, but I favor geologically extreme places like this sample from Utah. For maximum of both art and science I highly recommend the Geologic Atlas of the Moon maps. Last printed in 1977, these Pop Art gems are now available as downloadable PDFs. (Crop and save as a jpeg.) I print mine on a 20 x 30 inch Costco poster board for $25. — KK

DesignClaudia Dawson
Vintage sewing patterns

Vintage Patterns Wikia is a collaborative website where you can search through pages and pages of sewing patterns from the past. A lot of the patterns are available and for sale on eBay or Etsy and if they’re not, you can add your contact information to the wiki page in case it becomes available in the future. I found a $2 robe pattern in great condition through the site. — CD

DesignClaudia Dawson
Design your own shirt

I’ve ordered a few custom t-shirts from Uber Prints, and I am very happy with their customer service and product. They have recently widened their selection of styles, and for most there is no minimum order requirement. — CD

DesignClaudia Dawson
Logo inspiration

I have started dozens of projects and ventures that require logos. Logobook is an online library of thousands of logos, organized in categories. It’s fun to browse if you’re logo-curious like me. They are all black and white, which I like. (All logos should have black and white versions.) — MF

DesignClaudia Dawson
Design inspiration

If you are looking for an illustrator or looking for inspiration for your own design, Dribbble is a fine place to start. Enter a search term and you’ll be presented with a grid display of work by dozens or hundreds of contemporary designers. You can save your favorite images to any number of “buckets” for later perusal. — MF

DesignClaudia Dawson
Digitize printed text

When I need to quote a passage from a paper book or a Kindle, I take a photo of the page with the TextGrabber app (free for Android/iOS). It scans it and turns it into ASCII text, which can be emailed, texted, or saved. It’s very accurate and has saved me a lot of time. — MF

DesignClaudia Dawson
Web graphic tool

I wish I’d found Snappa sooner. It’s an online tool for creating web and social media graphic tiles from photos or art. You can upload your own images, or use their images. You can go as simple or as wild as you want with the modification options. A basic account is free. — MF

DesignClaudia Dawson