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Echoes – Week 16 (Dec 7, 2009)

posted by Matt Ward on Dec 8, 2009.

Echoes: Week 16 – Dec 7, 2009. This is the sixteenth edition of my weekly Echoes posts, in which I feature some of the best work that I have found on the web. Features one logo, one piece of art, one tutorial and one website.

Well, it was quite a week here at the Echo Enduring Blog! The response to my “The One Thing You Need to Do to Become a Better Designer” post was tremendous! It has become the most popular article on here by leaps and bounds, and been tweeted more than I would have every expected (325 at the time of writing)!

Actually, I really have Twitter to thank for the incredible traffic spike that I’ve seen over the past few days. A couple of the biggest design related accounts actually Tweeted the post, which was a huge source of traffic to the article! It also appeared on the front/popular pages of several major social bookmarking sites – DesignFloat, DesignBump and Delicious, for example. So thanks to everyone who promoted the post! I really appreciate all of your support!

Now onto this week’s Echoes.

Logo – Musikings

This week’s logo does a really good job of playing with two different shapes and concepts, both of which are related to the company name, fusing them into one modern and attractive design.

Musikings

Musikings

I really like this one. Probably one of my favorite logos that I’ve seen in a while (I’m actually kind of surprised that I hadn’t run into it before now). It does a really good job of combining the musically iconic symbol of level (volume) bars with the shape of a crown, effectively combining the concepts of both music and kings.

I also really like the typeface on this one. It is sleek a modern and works really well with the overall design. I don’t ever remember seeing a font quite like it, though of course I certainly haven’t seen all the fonts that exist out there. Still, I can’t help but wonder if it’s custom. Either way, I like it and I think it works quite well in this logo design!

Art – The Polar Express

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to feature some holiday-related art over the coming weeks, and I’m going to start it off with this one, which is perhaps only very loosely connected with Christmas. It’s “The Polar Express” by Raphael Lacoste.

The Polar Express

The Polar Express

Like so many of Lacoste’s other works, the landscape in this one has a strikingly barren feel. The colours are cold and stark, and there is something strangely fantastic about the entire piece. The train itself looms high above the tiny town, seeming to dwarf the buildings, like some sort of mechanical behemoth.

There is also something fantastic about the mountains in the background, which almost look more like spines running along some monster’s back. Of course, this only adds to the sinister feeling of the image.

All in all, it’s an interesting concept. I’m not overly familiar with the story of the Polar Express, but my understanding is that it has something to do with going to visit Santa Claus. Maybe I’m totally off-base on that one, but if that’s really the case, I wonder what kind of Santa this train is taking its passengers to? Somehow, I doubt that it’s the same jolly old elf that Coca-Cola has made so famous!

Tutorial – Create a Watercolor-Themed Website Design with Photoshop

I think that “how to design an (insert adjectives here) website in Photoshop” tutorials are probably one of the most common type of blog posts out there today (after lists, of course), and I know that I’ve featured several of these in the past. Well I’m back with another one, which made this week’s Echoes pretty much entirely because of just one of its 30 steps!

Create a Watercolor-Themed Website Design with Photoshop

Create a Watercolor-Themed Website Design with Photoshop

This is a pretty sweet tutorial – probably one of the most original Photoshop website tuts that I’ve seen in a while – but I would like to direct your attention primarily to Step 5, in which the author explains how to use the Art History Brush to transform a fairly ordinary looking photograph of some trees into a bold and beautiful watercolour image, which is used as the foundational graphic for the entire design!

This looks like a pretty sweet technique, and one that gives you a lot more organic control than something like a filter would (because you use a brush). I haven’t actually had the chance to try this one out yet, but I am definitely putting it on my list of things to do this week (more likely – weekend), whenever I find a few extra minutes to just sit down with my tablet and stylus.

Other than this fifth step, the rest of the tutorial is still pretty useful. It really runs with the watercolour theme, building it in through a variety of different elements, and is a prime example of how you can really maintain a strong theme throughout a design. Still, I think that the History Brush technique is what makes this tutorial really rock!

Website – BlankMag

Horizontal websites (where you scroll left to right rather than up and down) are certainly becoming more popular, but by and large, they remain the rare exception when it comes to website design. As such, a well achieved horizontal design – like BlankMag’s site – can really stand out from the crowd.

BlankMag

BlankMag

As a magazine that is touts itself as being about global trends and pop culture, nothing less than a unique and trendy website would be appropriate for this magazine. They achieve this quite nicely, with a really minimalistic design. A plain white background dominates, accompanied by a simple typographic menu and an equally simple drop-down selection box for navigating through various issues of the magazine.

Added visual interest is achieved primarily through pages from the magazine, which are ordered in two page spreads, stacked horizontally across the screen. For me, this is the coolest part about this particular site. I mean, really, what better way is there to showcase the quality of your magazine than with the kind of extensive collection of sample pages that appear on this site (which are reduced enough to make the content all but impossible to read)? The horizontal scrolling also makes for a unique user experience, and I really dig the way in which the sample pages are templated in order to look like open magazines.

Overall, the design is simple, elegant and very chic, all of which works exceptionally well for a magazine of this type. Great site design.

Well that’s it for this week’s Echoes. Which ones were your favorites? As always, if you know of any designs, tutorials or art that merits being included in a future post, feel free to let me know about it!

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About the Author

Matt Ward is a digital artist who lances freely under the moniker of Echo Enduring Media, and specializes in graphics design, illustration and writing. He is also the Creative Director for Highland Marketing, a creative direct marketing company based out of Waterloo, Ontario. You can follow Matt on Twitter

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