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Tampa Website Design Service

One of the things our website design company hears all the time is how stylish and perfect a client wants their website to be. It's a perfectly reasonable request, right? Even though we make sure to give them what they want, it's important to realize website design is about a lot more than what you would traditionally expect. There are secret treasures you can incorporate into the design and it will be so much more successful, so let's go through a quick list of them now. 1) Stop Using Fancy Words The design of your website is obviously meant to impress visitors,...

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Responsive WordPress Website

An increasing number of people today are surfing the web from mobile devices. This has led to the creation of responsive websites. What is a responsive website? A responsive website adapts its layout and content to fit any screen resolution and size, be it mobile devices, smartphones, tablets or desktops. WordPress, the most popular CMS (Content Management System), fortunately has a multitude of responsive themes to cater to the increasing use of mobile devices. Here are some reasons why your site should be using a responsive theme:

Server-Data-Migration

MIGRATION DATES: Wednesday 4/15/2015 to Sunday 4/19/2015 OLD SERVERS: cpanel10.primary001.net & cpanel11.primary001.net NEW SERVER: cpanel25.primary001.net Due to poor service and support issues we experienced with our current data center provider back in March, we've decided to migrate 2 of our server to a different provider that we have used in the past and did not experience any major outages with. The server has been ordered and is currently being built. We’ll work on migrating customers' accounts to the new server sometime next week. There shouldn't be any downtime during the move. If there is, we will do everything we can to keep it to a...

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(Clockwise from upper left)

Jeff Maul
Client: Jeff Maul
Location: Portland, OR USA

The guy who cut my hair wanted a simple graphic representation of his name to promote his work. The design appears in International Logos & Trademarks III, the 1996 PRINT Regional Design Annual, Letterhead and Logo Design 5, New Logo & Trademark Design (Japan), Bullet-Proof Logos, The Best in World Trademarks 1- Corporate Identity (Korea), LogoLounge – Volume 1, The Best of Letterhead and Logo Design, Logo Design for Small Business 2, and New Logo: One (Singapore).

Read about the creation of this logo on bLog-oMotives.

VanderVeer Center
Client: VanderVeer Center
Location: Portland, OR USA

The VanderVeer Center logo is the centerpiece of the rebranding of the medical spa facility and its anti-aging services. Design efforts featuring the logo appear in The Big Book of Layouts, The Big Book of Letterheads, 100s Visual Logos & Letterheads (UK), The Big Book of Logos 5 and Design DNA – Logos: 300+ International Logos Deconstructed. It also appears as a case study in my own book, Identity Crisis!

Read more about the VanderVeer Center identity project on bLog-oMotives

What’s For Dinner?
Client: What’s For Dinner?
Location: Portland, OR USA

What’s For Dinner? is the business of a personal chef and caterer. The logo is featured in the books Logo Design for Small Business 2, New Logo and Trademark Design (Japan), and Logo and Trademark Collection (Japan).

Thomas Fallon • Architect
Client: Thomas Fallon
Location: Portland, OR USA

Type of the period was used for the identity of this architect specializing in Arts & Crafts inspired residential design. It is featured in Logo Design for Small Business 2, American Corporate Identity 2006, 100’s Visual Logos and Letterheads and The Big Book of Logos 5.

All logo designs © 2011 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. All rights reserved.


Pixels are not what most designers are thinking about when they launch Adobe Illustrator, but there are some pretty awesome things Illustrator can do with them. By default Illustrator is set up to be a resolution independent vector drawing and print layout tool—in short, not for pixels—but in this tutorial we will go over a few techniques which can add pixel-perfect design to it’s list of uses.

As regular MediaLoot visitors will know I have previously posted a few articles discussing the advantages of using Fireworks instead of Photoshop for certain design tasks, this tutorial will hopefully do something similar for Illustrator by demonstrating it’s widely unknown ability to work well with pixels.

Background

The inspiration for this post came to me very recently whilst working on a premium icon pack called Vector Application Icons, my aim for this set of icons was to create a collection of monochrome icons for web applications and other uses such as toolbar icons in iOS apps. The icons needed to be fully scalable for flexibility, so using vectors was a must, but I also wanted them to look crisp and sharp at tiny sizes (all the way down to 16x16px).

Photoshop could have done this, but it’s vector drawing abilities are not the most intuitive around, and Fireworks would have worked okay too, in fact this is what Fireworks was designed for! But honestly, for me neither of them can compare with Illustrator when it comes to super fast, pure vector drawing.

So, with this in mind, I started reading up and testing techniques for working with pixels in Illustrator, and these are the top 3 techniques that I learned and now want to share with you guys.

Technique 1: Setting up a pixel based document

Step 1

Open up Illustrator and create a new document as usual (Ctrl+N)

Step 2

Underneath the Units drop down menu select Pixels as your unit of measurement, any values currently in the Width and Height fields will be converted to pixels. This usually results in a figure with a decimal point, so for example 100mm would become 283.46px, this is no good if we want a pixel perfect document though because there’s no such thing as ‘46% of a pixel’, there can only really be 0% or 100%, so let’s just change this value manually to an absolute amount, in this example that would be 283px rather than 283.46px.

working with pixels and pixel grid in illustrator

Step 3

If it is not already expanded, click the little arrow to the left of the Advanced label to display 3 extra fields, these are the secret fields that let you set up a document centered around pixels.

working with pixels and pixel grid in illustrator

Step 4

Underneath the Color Mode drop down menu select RGB, as you should hopefully know design for screen always uses a RGB (red, green, blue), and design for print should use CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black).

working with pixels and pixel grid in illustrator

Step 5

The next field underneath Advanced is Raster Effects, this determines the resolution that the document will render effects such as Drop Shadow, Feather and Glow. Because we are working with pixels for screen output, there is no need for this to be anything higher 72ppi, it will just take longer to render effects.

Step 6

The next field underneath Advanced is Preview Mode, there are 3 options in this drop down menu, one of them is Default, which is the standard behavior in Illustrator, another is Overprint, which previews the document as it will appear when printed, but as you may have guessed by now, the option we are interested in is Pixel.

working with pixels and pixel grid in illustrator

Where as the default behavior in Illustrator is to display crisp sharp lines no matter how much you zoom into the document, selecting Pixel Preview Mode will display individual pixels if you zoom in beyond 100%. So, instead of perfectly smoothly lines, you will see pixelated images, this might not sound appealing but being able to see the pixels is essential for creating “pixel perfect” designs.

Step 7

Finally, you should see a check box at the bottom of the window that reads “Align New Objects to Pixel Grid”. Selecting this option will make all new objects drawn within Illustrator snap to a pixel grid. Bare in mind though that this option only applies for new objects, not objects pasted into the document from elsewhere.

Technique 2: Snap to pixel when transforming objects

I mentioned in the final step of the last technique, that setting Align New Objects to Pixel Grid only works on newly created objects, drawn within the document, for example if you use the Rectangle Tool and draw a rectangle on the canvas it will align the edges of the shape the nearest pixel on the canvas (no half pixels) and set the width and height of the shape to the nearest absolute pixel values (no decimal points).

However if you want to modify your shape later, you run the risk of un-aligning that new shape from the grid, and likewise if you copy and paste a vector shape from another source into your document, it will not adjust the shape automatically to snap to the pixel grid (with good reason).

The solution lies not under a contextual menu, or in the Align tool palette where you may expect it, but within the Transform Tool.

Step 1

First make sure you have the Transform window open (Window>Transform)

working with pixels and pixel grid in illustrator

Step 2

Select an object, either drawn in Illustrator or pasted from another source,

Step 3

You may notice the checkbox labelled Align to Pixel Grid tick this if it isn’t already. If your shape was drawn in Illustrator and is already aligned to the pixel grid, then any transformations you now apply to it with the Transform Tool will not break the alignment.

working with pixels and pixel grid in illustrator

If your object was pasted from another source and is not aligned to the pixel grid then you will notice as soon as you tick Align to Pixel Grid, the object transforms, and probably becomes much sharper than it was before, the only side effect to this technique is that adjusting objects to fit to pixels will alter the original paths slightly, sometimes giving undesirable effects with smaller shapes.

working with pixels and pixel grid in illustrator

Technique 3: Convert an existing document to pixels

The techniques so far assume that you are starting a new document and that you will be drawing new objects or pasting the occasional shape from other sources. But what if you have an existing document such as a website design or icon that you want to make pixel perfect without leaving Illustrator? Simple, just follow these few steps to convert existing default Illustrator documents to pixel based Illustrator documents.

Step 1

Firstly, if your document is not currently using pixels as it’s default unit of measurement, secondary click on the document rulers (ctrl+r to show rulers) or go to File > Document Setup… (ctrl+alt+p) and change the unit to Pixels.

working with pixels and pixel grid in illustrator

Step 2

Now, let’s turn on the pixel preview, go to View > Pixel Preview, now when we zoom in higher than 100% we can see individual pixels, rather than smooth vector lines and shapes, as mentioned in technique 1 the only way to get pixel perfect designs is to actually see the pixels.

working with pixels and pixel grid in illustrator

Step 3

To change the Document Raster Effects Settings you can find the settings underneath the Effects menu. Change the Resolution to 72ppi, as we are working with pixels for screen not print, and anything higher is not necessary.

working with pixels and pixel grid in illustrator

Step 4

Now we’ve successfully modified our document and set it up for pixels, but our existing content is not yet aligned to our new pixel grid, never fear, we can resolve this with one fell swoop.

Open the Transform (Window>Transform) window if it isn’t already and make sure all layers are visible and not locked, then Select All (ctrl+a), and tick the Align to Pixel Grid option in the Transform window.

Before you do this you may want grab some popcorn and watch your document intently while you tick the box. As if by magic, you should see your document instantly get sharper and crisper as it aligns itself to the pixel grid and gets rid of any pesky decimal points in pixel values.

Conclusion

Whilst Illustrator is most suited to vector drawing and print work, it does have the ability to work extremely well with Pixels, and this is a good thing because it closes the gap a little between the enjoyment and flexibility of drawing with vectors and the preciseness and crispness of working with pixels for screen.

Some users may already be familiar with Illustrators’ pixel ability, whether it’s by selecting the “Web” preset when you create a new document or through experimentation and years of experience, so I’m by no means claiming to have uncovered anything new in the software here, but hopefully with these tips at least some of you can say you’ve learned about a new side to your old friend Illustrator, that you didn’t know it had.


In this tutorial we will be using Adobe Photoshop to create a modern map with dropped pin icon. This tutorial assumes familiarity with Adobe Photoshop at an intermediate level, for example you should understand the basics of layer styles and how perform most basic functions, this covers lighting and vector drawing techniques, and will teach you the fundamentals of icon design in Photoshop, including using basic shapes, masks and effects to create an attractive, sleek result that is scalable for different sizes and devices.

Final Result Preview

Here is a quick preview of what we’ll be making in this tutorial:
vector map icon photoshop

Step 1: The Document

Note: Mac users replace CTRL with CMD

Let’s start off by launching Photoshop and creating a new document, enter the values show in the image below to create a 128x128px 72ppi document.

vector map icon photoshop

With rulers visible (CTRL+R) click and drag 4 guides to the edges of the document, so that you have a 128x128px square within the guides.

vector map icon photoshop

You can then increase the size of the document to give yourself a larger canvas to work with (CTRL+ALT+C), I’ve chosen 610x300px to work with for the tutorial but any size larger than the original 128x128px will work, or you can skip this step all together if you prefer to work on the exact size canvas.

Next, add two extra vertical guides to the document, splitting the main area into 3 sections, the central section should be about 20% smaller than each of the other 2 sections.

Feel free to set a background color or pattern that you like, but be sure to keep it subtle so as not to interfere with drawing the icon.

vector map icon photoshop

Step 2: The Base

Next, select the Rectangle Tool (U) and draw a slightly off-white (#f5f2f1) rectangle on the canvas within the guides at about 114x94px.

Apply a Drop Shadow layer style with the following settings:

  • Blend Mode: Multiply
  • Opacity: 42%
  • Color: #000000
  • Angle: 90
  • Distance: 3px
  • Spread: 0px
  • Size: 4px

And also apply a 1px stroke, aligned to the outside, with an opacity of: 80%.

Select the Pen Tool and create 2 new points along the top line of the rectangle shape where the vector line and the vertical guides intersect. And repeat for the bottom line of the rectangle.

vector map icon photoshop

Select the Direct Selection Tool (A), highlight the 2nd and 4th points along the top and bottom line of the rectangle (hold down shift to select multiple points) and nudge all 4 points up 10px (Shift+UP ARROW).

vector map icon photoshop

Using the Rectangle Tool (U) draw two more rectangles above the original shape, keep them the same height as the original shape was (about 94px) and for the width go from the two middle guides out to the edges of the shape, whatever this distance is, is the width they should be.

Your result should look something like this now:

vector map icon photoshop

Set the fill of both new rectangles to #f5f3f2.

vector map icon photoshop

Apply a gradient overlay on both shapes, set the first color stop to #ffffff and the second color stop to #ebe3de, on the top row of stops in the gradient editor, set the first stop to 0% transparency and the second stop to 100% transparency.

Both shapes should have exactly the same styles at this point, but we want the right-hand rectangle to appear slightly lighter than the left (assuming your light source is coming from the right-hand side of the document) so set the Fill opacity of the layer to 0% so that as the gradient fades out to 0%, so does the fill and you can see the layer below rather than the layers solid color. Leave the left as it was as it is now darker than the right-hand side..

vector map icon photoshop—update—

The next step is to select the Direct Selection Tool (A) and highlight the top right and bottom right points on one of the new rectangles, and again nudge both points up 10px (Shift+UP), then repeat for the other rectangle.

The goal here is get the two new rectangles to align with the first shape we drew, resulting in a base shape and two ‘panels’ on either side of it, sitting flush.

vector map icon photoshop

Now we are going to draw some dividers, use the guides if necessary and with the Line Tool (U) draw two lines alongside each other where the fold would be on the shape, going from the very top to the bottom of the shape at that point (as show below). Set the left-hand line to white (#ffffff) and the right-hand shape to black (#000000).

vector map icon photoshop

Set the black line to just 5% Fill Opacity and then group the two lines (CTRL+G) and duplicate the group. Nudge the group over to where the next fold would be on the map.

vector map icon photoshop

Next, we will create a shadow below the base of the map, hide the layers you have created so far, and on a layer below the others draw a black ellipse using the Ellipse Tool (U) at about 76x18px.

vector map icon photoshop

Convert the shape to a Smart Object Filter > Convert for Smart Filters.

vector map icon photoshop

Then apply a Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.. effect at 10 strength.

Because we converted it to a smart object first this effect is non-destructive and be modified later on if required.

vector map icon photoshop

Our map should look like the below image at this point. And that’s actually the trickiest bit done!

vector map icon photoshop—update—

Step 3: The Map

We’re going to draw some roads onto the map manually now, so lets start off by drawing one straight road horizontally from the left to the right of the document. Use the Rectangle Tool (U) and draw a rectangle at about 115x4px stretching horizontally across the whole map.

vector map icon photoshop

Apply a 1px Stroke aligned to the inside with a color of #bbb1ad.

vector map icon photoshop

Using the same techniques from the base of the map, create 4 new points on the road you just drew, where it intersects with the folds of the map, using the Pen Tool. Then with the Direct Selection Tool (A) select the new points and nudge them up 10px (Shift+UP) to match the shape of the map.

vector map icon photoshop

With the road shape layer and Rectangle Tool (U) still active, select Add to shape area (+) and start drawing some more lines using the same techniques. You can have a bit of fun at this stage, and if you’re up for it draw the area around your own house or workplace to make it personalised to you.

vector map icon photoshop

Still using the Rectangle Tool (U) draw a new shape layer and contour it to the shape of the map, if goes over a fold you will need to again create 2 new points and nudge them up 10px (Shift+UP).

Color this new shape light green (#aae1a0) and set the opacity to about 25%.

vector map icon photoshop

Your map should now look like the image below, with a similar layer structure.

vector map icon photoshop

Step 4: Lighting & Shading

We will now create a light source for the document at around about a -45 degree angle, to do this create a new layer and set it’s opacity to about 75% so that you can see the map below when you start painting on it.

We will begin by creating the shadows, so select the Brush Tool (U) and a soft round brush at about 50px diameter, then cover the whole map area with black (#000000) as demonstrated below.

vector map icon photoshop

You can now draw on a light source, using the same tool but with a solid white (#ffffff) color, draw a few strokes of light emanating from the bottom right hand side of document as demonstrated below.

vector map icon photoshop

Now we need to trim the light effects to the shape of the map, so go back to the very first shape we drew (the base of the map) and using the Direct Selection Tool (A) select all of the points, copy (CTRL+C) the vector paths and go back the lighting layer we were working on, paste (CTRL+V) the vector paths and then select Layer > Vector Mask > Current Layer to create a vector clipping mask on the layer, trimming it down to the shape of the map.

vector map icon photoshop

Set the blending options for the lighting layer to Soft Light and around 80% opacity, depending on what looks most natural or how strong you want the lighting to appear.

vector map icon photoshop

Step 5: The Outline

Duplicate the first shape we drew (the base of the map) and move the duplicated layer to the top of the document.

vector map icon photoshop

Set the fill opacity of this layer to 0% and apply a Stroke, aligned to the inside at 4px and fill color #ffffff.

vector map icon photoshop

You should now have something like the image below.

vector map icon photoshop

Step 6: The Pin

Using the Rectangle Tool (U) draw a light grey #eeecec rectangle at about 4x32px where you want the pin to be on the map

vector map icon photoshop

Zoom (Z) in and adjust the anchors at the bottom of the small, thin rectangle to match the angle of the map.

vector map icon photoshop

Using the Ellipse Tool (U) draw a small brown (#6b5d55) ellipse below the pin and using the Transform (CTRL+T), rotate it to the angle of the base shape.

vector map icon photoshop

Next, still using the Ellipse Tool (U) draw the head of the pin, holding shift while you’re doing this will constrain the proportions of the ellipse, making it a proportionate circle. It should be about 16x16px in size and a red color (#e54a40).

vector map icon photoshop

We have the basic shapes that make up the pin now, all we need to do is apply some layer styles to each object.

vector map icon photoshop

On the Pin layer, apply a grey (#aaaaaa) stroke, 1px, aligned to the inside.

And a Gradient Overlay at 90 degrees.

  • Stop 1: #b3b3b3, location: 0
  • Stop 2: #f4f1f1, location: 50
  • Stop 3: #b3b3b3, location: 100

On the hole layer apply a Drop Shadow:

  • Blending Option: Normal
  • Color: #ffffff
  • Opacity: 100
  • Distance: 1px
  • Spread: 0
  • Size: 0

vector map icon photoshop

The head of the pin needs quite a few layer styles:

Inner Shadow

  • Blend Mode: Overlay
  • Color: #000000
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Angle: -90
  • Distance: 5px
  • Choke: 0
  • Size: 15px

Inner Glow

  • Blend Mode: Normal
  • Color: #b50101
  • Opacity: 35%
  • Noise: 0
  • Distance: 5px
  • Choke: 0
  • Size: 6px

Gradient Overlay

  • Blend Mode: Normal
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Angle: 90
  • Stop 1: #ffffff, 0% opacity, 100% location
  • Stop 2: #ffffff, 100% opacity, 0% location

Stroke

  • Blend Mode: Normal
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Position: Outside
  • Size: 1px
  • Color: #ad2220

vector map icon photoshop

Using the Ellipse Tool (U) and Pen Tool, manually draw a shadow for the pin at about a -45 degree angle, or following the angle of the light source we created earlier. It should replicate the shape of the original object but taper as it gets closer to it.

vector map icon photoshop

Convert the shadow layer to a smart object (Filter > Convert for Smart Filters)

vector map icon photoshop

Apply a Filter > Gaussian Blur blur at about 3.2% strength.

vector map icon photoshop

Your layer structure should look something this at the end of the project.

vector map icon photoshop

Conclusion

vector map icon photoshop

And there you have it, congratulations! the final product is an elegant, modern map icon that is scalable up and down with only stroke and blur amount tweaks being needed.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and please let us know if you have any issues.


This HTML5 + CSS3 “Coming Soon” template was created to serve as a placeholder web page that you can use whilst a clients or your own website is in progress. It gives you the functionality to update the template with your progress so far on the project, and count down to the launch day. It uses a beautiful progress bar and status indicator to convey progress information to users who visit your site before it’s ready.

This template uses HTML5 and CSS3 for gracefully degrading styles. Cross-browser tested in IE7/8/9, FF, Chrome, and Opera. All coding is elegant and simple, making design changes and customizations easy to do!

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HTML5 Coming Soon Template

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