My Graphic Design Process Shown in Video

I have created a short 2 part video showing my graphic design process to create a piece of packaging design for Betty Miller a company producing pet food in a more natural way.

Graphic Design Process Video Part 1

My graphic design process in the videos starts with creative brainstorming and image research. This is followed by sketching, then working up a few design options on the computer to show the client.

Graphic Design Process Video Part 2

The second video shows how I go from ideas and sketches to working up the final design, including producing a 3d packaging visual which can be used by the client to help sell the product.
Part 2 can be downloaded here (25mb)

learn logo design online

Photoshop Video Tutorials to Help You Learn

Photoshop has to be one of the hardest of the graphic design programs to get a grip of. I remember thinking I would never understand it when I first started. There are just lots of different ways to accomplish the same thing with photoshop, I know personally I have only scratched the surface of what it is capable of. Jennifer over at Laughing Lion Design has created some video photoshop tutorials which are worth taking a look at to improve your photoshop knowledge.

photoshop design video tutorials

There are loads of other photoshop tutorials out there if you need them too, take a look at Tutorialized which lists 9082 photoshop tutorials, that should keep you busy for a while 🙂 .

Adobe also have their own video tutorials in all their products including photoshop at www.adobe.com/designcenter/video_workshop/

Cool Colour Features in Illustrator CS3

adobe illustrator tutorial

I bought Illustrator CS3 a while ago but hadn’t really looked into all the new features. I found a flash video from Adobe Illustrator Techniques showing the new colour features that Illustrator CS3 offers which look like they could be really useful. The first is the ability to easily change all the colours in your illustrator document using a palette showing all the colours you have you have used. These colours can easily be tweaked to try out different colour variations, you even have the option to convert a full colour job to a two colour one at the click of a button.

Another great new feature is the colour guide which lets you explore different colour combinations by providing you with various complementary colour swatches based on one of the colours you have used. This could be ideal for experimenting with colours for logo designs.

Take a look at the video for a tutorial on how to use these features.

Create Your WordPress Design Locally on Your Mac

I have read several articles about how you could set WordPress up to run locally on your Mac but it always sounded really complicated so I had avoided it and just set up an online test site. I wanted to start creating myself a new website in WordPress so I gritted my teeth ready for problems, but it worked really easily. I know Macs have built in Apache (required for WordPress) but I had read that the application MAMP made setting things up much easier as in one go it installs Apache, PHP and MySQL, everything you need to run WordPress.

I downloaded MAMP and it installed easily (into my Applications folder), then downloaded WordPress and installed inside the MAMP folder in a folder called htdocs (its already there ready) within that I create the folder called WordPress which WordPress was installed into.

wordpress MAMP folder

Start MAMP (click the application and then start servers) then click phpMyAdmin and create a new database I called mine “wordpressrd” but you can call yours whatever you want (you can then close this window). Then from within your WordPress folder open wp-config-sample.php and you need to input some info. All the info should be the same as below apart from you need to change your database name to whatever you called it.

define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘wordpressrd’); // The name of the database
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘root’); // Your MySQL username
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘root’); // …and password
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘localhost:8888’); // 99% chance you won’t need to

Save this file back into your WordPress file as wp-config.php

Now you need to open your browser window at http://localhost:8888/wordpress/wp-admin/install.php where you will be given a user name and password to take note of. You should then be able to see WordPress local at http://localhost:8888/wordpress/. To login to the admin panel just go o http://localhost:8888/wordpress/wp-login.php and insert the user name and password you were just given.

You can then start to add themes/plugins etc into the themes folder just as you normally would if WordPress was online. It means you can tweak your design to your hearts content without anyone else being able to see it.

CSS Resources for Web Design

CSS web design resources site

As some of you know I am trying to learn XHTML and CSS and it’s very slowly beginning to sink in. I signed up for an Open University Course which I am so far unimpressed with, however I did find this site full of CSS resources mentioned in one of the forums. Holy CSS Zeldman contains a lot of links for CSS tutorials, CSS basics, CSS validators, online tools, CSS layouts and templates, books, accessibility etc etc. What’s good about this site list is that it is well laid out and split into sections making things easy to find.

If like me you are trying to learn a bit more about web design and CSS or are just trying to solve a problem with one of your designs you would probably find a suitable link to help you with your coding.

WordPress as a CMS – Content Management System

I have been intending writing a bit about using WordPress as a CMS for a while now. This post is made up of several parts –

  1. Website examples of WordPress being used as a CMS
  2. My endeavours as a beginner to use WordPress as a CMS
  3. A series of tips for using WordPress as a CMS by graphic and web designer Jennifer Farley from Laughing Lion Design
  4. A series of links about using WordPress as a content management system and useful WordPress Plugins that I have found when trying to research the subject.

If you are looking to set up your own WordPress website you can download my FREE GUIDE HERE (no sign up or email required)

1. Website examples of word of WordPress being used as a CMS

As many of you probably know as well as being used as a blog WordPress can also be used as a CMS or if you didn’t know here are a few examples of sites that use it. (Found via www.codex.wordpress.org). Click on any example to go to the sites.

Wordpress CMSWordpress CMS

Wordpress CMSWordpress CMS

2. My endeavours as a beginner to use WordPress as a CMS

Weather Pops WordPress websiteI have been experimenting with WordPress as a content management system myself, all be it by adapting an existing template as my coding skills are still not very strong (so please be gentle with me).

My experiments have been on a site I wanted to create for my characters designs The Weather Pops. I was looking to create a simple website fairly quickly as I am attending the brand licensing show in October.

After searching for a suitable theme to start with I settled on the Blixed WordPress Theme for its simplicity and the fact that the pages did not have a side bar, as I only wanted header navigation on my main pages. I tweaked the CSS on the pages so that the width of the content was the same width as the header.

The newer versions of WordPress give you the ability to create a Static home page, ideal if you want to use WordPress as a CMS. You can set this in your admin panel under OPTIONS – READING

static page in wordpress

What I was really looking for though was something that would allow me to specify both a static front page and a blog page as I wanted my website to function as a website first, with a secondary blog. I found a plugin which allowed me to do this called Filosofo Home-Page Control which allowed me to set both a home page and a “virtual” location for my blog. If you look at www.theweatherpops.com/blog it appears that the blog aspect of the site is in a blog folder, when in fact it isn’t, it is just part of the rest of the site.

Wordpress static home page

The website is very basic but it gave me a taste of what could be done with WordPress.

3. Using WordPress as a CMS by Jennifer Farley from Laughing Lion Design

www.laughing-lion-design.net
Jennifer is an experienced web and graphic designer and also a design instructor. Make sure you take a look at her blog for loads of photoshop tutorials. Jennifer’s Laughing Lion Design website also uses WordPress as a CMS

I took my first tentative steps from using Blogger to WordPress (WP) as my blogging platform about 8 or 9 months ago. Initially my plans were to use WP solely for blogging. I had read quite a bit about it and lots of the blogs I was visiting seemed to be using it so I decided to give it a go. Within a very short period of using WP I realised that it offered so much more than just making it easy to publish a blog.

So what else can you do with this baby?

It is possible to use WP as a complete Content Management System (CMS). Not only can you write and edit posts easily, you can also write, edit and add PAGES easily and for me that’s what makes it so great. This means that you can set up the design or look and feel of your site and continue to add as many web pages to your site as you need, when you need them. No more pleading with clients to REALLY think about each section they need before you start designing, if they forget something you can add it in later with little or no problems. Many people believe that they must have the blog posts on the front of their website if using WP but the fact is you can set any static page as your home page and have your blog “inside” the main site.

Another factor which makes WP a joy to work with is the number of superb plugins that are available. WP is an Open Source application which means it has been developed by a community of people who are genuinely interested in creating good quality, FREE applications. Plugins could be considered smaller, “helper” applications that plug in to WP and give extra functionality to your site. To find out more about the type of plugins available check out – www.codex.wordpress.org/plugins
So let’s take a look at a couple of examples of where you could use WP to manage different types of website.

a. News or Magazine Site

gridlock wordpress themeWP lends itself very well to this type of site. Feature articles can be kept on the front page with latest news listed chronologically on another part of the page. You could also set up different category pages such as Fashion or Sport. To see a WP theme using this style, check out Gridlock at www.hyalineskies.com

b. Gallery Site
As well as displaying images, gallery sites sometimes allow commenting (no problem for WP) and rating of individual items or lists of top rated items. This sort of application can be put together using WP with the WPG2 plugin – www.wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wpg2/ which allows random, recent, daily, weekly, popular images, and albums to be displayed as image blocks in the WordPress Sidebar.

c. Portfolio Site
Very similar to a gallery site, the portfolio site usually consists of one or more pages of thumbnails which when clicked allow the visitor to see a larger version of the work. You could of course include the WPG2 plugin to allow rating, but if you’d rather just show your work without them, a wonderful plugin that you can use is NextGen. This is a plugin I have used for many of my clients and I cannot tell you what a time saver it is compared to the old method of individually resizing thumbs and then linking them up. Great stuff.

d. E-Commerce Site
These days, it’s very important to be able to add some sort of E-commerce functionality to a site. Everyone has something to sell, don’t they? This type of site is generally made up of product page with descriptions and thumbnails. Also required is integration with some type of payment service. I use Paypal as the payment service for my clients because it really is simple to setup. But what about the E-commerce functionality? How does that tie in with WP? Well needless to say there is a plugin available …

The imaginatively titled “WP E-commerce” plugin is available for download from www.instinct.co.nz It’s one I’ve used on two client sites without too many hassles. The main problem I came across with this was the particular themes I had designed didn’t quite sit right with some of the product pages, but that was my fault rather than the plugin.

So that’s a short round up of just some of the ways you can take your WP blog and turn it into a fully fledged CMS with tons of functionality. You’ll find there are plugins for all kinds of things, the ones I listed above are some that I like and use for my own and my client sites, there are many more out there to play with.

4. A series of links about using WordPress as a content management system and useful WordPress Plugins

Semiologic
Semiologic is a WordPress theme that has been designed so it can be used to build a website rather than just a blog – ie. act as a content management system. I downloaded it put it on a test site to experiment. It basically contains a series of wizards and set up features that you can activate without any coding knowledge. There are a lot of layout variations you can choose from – 1 column, 2 column, 3 column and you can choose the width of your website as well, there are a few skins build in too. What I though looked pretty good was how easily you could duplicate the skin and create/amend it to adapt to your own liking if you had a bit of CSS knowledge. Using widgets you can drag and drop what you have in the sidebar too. (if you choose to have a sidebar)

web design layouts

Free guide on how to set up a WordPress Blog

  • Five WordPress Enabling Plugins
    This article from Blaze Media talks you through 5 WordPress Plugins which make it easier to use WordPress as a Content Management system
  • Creating Custom Templates for WordPress
    Charity at Design adaptations gives a step by step guide to creating template pages in WordPress –
    “One of the ways I use WordPress as a CMS is by way of custom templates. The kind of pages which can be added using template files that you define are virtually limitless. Say you want to showcase your Portfolio. You might need a layout vastly different from your default pages.” Charity has several other articles about using WordPress including Configure WordPress as a CMS.
  • 5 Reasons to use WordPress as a CMS
    David Peralty at Blogging Pro shares his 5 reasons that WordPress should be used as a CMS.
  • WordPress Ecommerce Plugin
    A plugin from Instinct.co.nz which brings ecommerce to WordPress. (as mentioned above by Jennifer)
  • How to Install WordPress Locally on Windows
    J David Macor gives a step by step guide on how to get WordPress running locally on a PC, ideal if you want to test your WordPress website before releasing it publicly.
  • How to Install WordPress Locally on a Mac
    Michael Doig gives a step by step guide on how to get WordPress running locally on a Mac, again ideal if you want to test your WordPress website before releasing it publicly.
  • Using WordPress as a CMS
    Blog helper has several different articles about using WordPress as a CMS including how to use WordPress to create a portfolio site
  • The Revolution CMS Theme
    Brian Gardner has created a premium WordPress theme called Revolution – a magazine style CMS theme.
  • Another to Adaptations to WordPress to Use it as a CMS
    This article from pqdb.com gives more information about working with categories, adding a FAQ page, a contact form and making sure the whole WordPress website is searchable.
  • WordPress Sandbox Theme
    The Sandbox theme at Plaintxt.org is a very minimalistic theme ready to be styled in any way you wish. If you are looking for a fairly blank canvas to start your WordPress CMS website and know a bit about CSS it could be a place to start.
  • Customise your WordPress Login
    David at David Airey has an article on how to customise your WordPress Login page. This could be useful if you are using WordPress to build a CMS website for one of your clients and want the login page to fit in with their corporate look.
  • How to hide pages and rearrange your menu in WordPress
    Randa at Randa Clay Design discusses how she worked out how to rearrange wordpress navigation and hide elements she did not want to appear.
  • Using WordPress as a CMS
    Char at Essential Keystrokes talks you through how she made a website using WordPress as a Content Management System.
  • From Weblog to Cms
    This article by John McCreesh at Onlamp.com can show you how to create a static home page if you are using an older version of WordPress.
  • How to Create a WordPress Theme
    An article by Jonathan on how to put together a WordPress Theme from scratch.


    If any body else knows of any useful articles/plugins for using WordPress as a CMS please let me know and I will add them to the list.