Trial a Wacom Cintiq Pro or MobileStudio Pro in your creative team

Trial a Wacom Cintiq Pro or MobileStudio Pro in your creative team

We’re offering up an awesome opportunity for you to trial Wacom’s powerful Cintiq Pro or MobileStudio Pro tablets in your creative team for a limited time. To be in with a chance of trying the tablets, simply get in touch and we’ll add you to our waiting list!

If you’ve been thinking about kitting your studio out with Wacom’s leading design tablets, now you can put them to the test before you fork out the cash for them. So, which tablets are available to try?

Wacom Cintiq Pro 13 and 16

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The Cintiq Pro lineup comes in two sizes: the Wacom Cintiq Pro 13, which has a 13.3″ display, and the Wacom Cintiq Pro 16, which very logically has a 15.6″ one. They both feature sleek edge-to-edge displays, which lead to slimmer, swisher designs and a more realistic ‘pen on paper’ feel. The 13″ model has an HD screen while the 15.6″ has a 4K resolution one, and they’re colour accurate for 87% and 94% of Adobe RGB respectively.

The Cintiq Pro ships with the ridiculously sensitive Wacom Pro Pen 2, which boasts 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt support and virtually no lag. It also has a built-in kick stand, and an optional Wacom Stand with three levels of elevation for anyone who wants more flexibility. There are no on-tablet ExpressKeys, but anyone who prefers physical buttons to the Cintiq’s touchscreen controls can invest in a Wacom ExpressKey Remote.

Wacom MobileStudio Pro

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Wacom have packed your entire creative studio into one handheld device. MobileStudio Pro runs on Windows 10, and with powerful Intel processors, supports full versions of your favourite creative software like Photoshop, Premiere Pro and more, as well as email and word processing applications like Outlook, Word and Excel.

The more powerful configurations are 3D-ready allowing users to run demanding creative 2D, 3D and CAD applications wherever they like, so you can ditch your laptop.

MobileStudio Pro boasts top-notch displays with 4K resolution on the MobileStudio Pro 16 and 94% coverage for Adobe RGB. This means you can render each fine brush stroke perfectly and reproduce even the most subtle shades. Like Cintiq Pro, the tablet is accompanied by the Wacom Pro Pen 2 which features four times more accuracy than the previous version.

What do I do next?

Simply get in touch with us and let us know that you’d like to try either Cintiq Pro or MobileStudio Pro. We’ll add you to our waiting list, and you’ll hear from us as soon as we have an available slot, although you may not receive a trial tablet if we experience overwhelming demand.

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Want to find out more about our Wacom offering? Visit our online store, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and gossip, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 or like us on Facebook.

A day in the life of… Senior Brand Designer Zoe Scott-Smith

A day in the life of… Senior Brand Designer Zoe Scott-Smith

We caught up with Zoe Scott-Smith, Senior Brand Designer at Threerooms Branding Agency in Nottingham, to find out about the kind of work she does, their projects, the technology they use, what keeps her inspired each day, and which industry trends they’ve got their eyes on…

Tell us about the kind of work you do at Threerooms? 

Threerooms is a digital-first branding agency, so as Senior Brand Designer, I get to work on lots of varied and exciting brand projects. The great thing about branding is that each project is completely bespoke and crafted to the individual client, so even though the creative process can be similar, no project or day is the same. I work closely with clients from the get-go, too – from initial brand workshops, through to rolling out bespoke and tailored brands. Brand workshops are a great chance to truly learn about the client, and understanding how a company or business began is one of my favourite questions. You can delve deep into their personality, ethos and find out what drives them.

What are some big projects you’ve been working on recently? 

I have been working on lots of really exciting top brands, covering everything from universities, the emergency services, charities, packaging for drinks, the beauty industry, and even a brand new aquatics brand. I absolutely love getting stuck into creating a new brand. Even now, I find the creative process such a rewarding journey.

Aside from brand jobs, I have been creating a range of illustrations and wall graphics for one of our clients. It’s a lot of fun working with so many different creative mediums.

zoe_sketch

What technology does your team rely on every day? 

There are lots of different tools that we rely on day to day. Adobe Creative Cloud (everything from InDesign and Photoshop to Illustrator and Lightroom), as well as 3D software such as Cinema 4D and web software like Sketch. Aside from design software, InVision is our go-to presentation software, as it lets us to upload and present our visuals while allowing for easy commenting and feedback.

When it comes to communication and collaboration, software such as Podio, which acts as our main central hub, is key. Other tools like Forecast help us map out different project schedules, while WorkflowMax lets us keep an eye on invoicing and time allocation management. Google for Business is especially handy for collaboration, and – of course – Spotify is my go-to for much needed tunes.

How does this compare to the technology you were using at the start of your career?

I am quite lucky – when I was starting my career, a lot of the other, lesser known design packages were being phased out and I jumped straight into Adobe CS4! Without making myself sound too old, the technology really has evolved so much. When I started in the industry ten years ago, it was a print-dominated world – web software like Sketch wasn’t around and terms like UX weren’t commonplace. The work felt more isolated, so collaborative tools have really paved the way for more unity and open-thinking between designers.

Regarding interaction with clients, back then it was a bit more of a “here’s a bit of paper with amends scribbled on it” approach. Collaboration tools are not just a way for designers to feed back, but are a huge part of client interactions, too. It is essential for this process to be as smooth as possible to avoid hiccups and allow designers more time to do what they do best. Internally, collaboration tools allow the team to quickly provide feedback from everyone’s perspective, and enable us to understand their comments more clearly. Ultimately, this makes for a better project outcome.

What technology has had the biggest impact on Threerooms? 

All the latest technology trends have had a huge impact on the studio. We pride ourselves in keeping up to date with the latest trends, advancements and tweaks as they all add up in their own way, and usually help to simplify and advance the creative process.

There are a few different things we’re excited about, the first being Dimension, the new 3D software by Adobe. We’re also looking forward to Adobe Spark and InVision Studio.

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How do your team stay productive during busy, stressful times?

We’re armed with our headphones! But in all seriousness, when it’s busy and time is of the essence, being able to pull the team together for input and feedback is ideal for discovering new creative routes and re-energising. Working in a close-knit team has some huge advantages, too. We all know what eachother are working on and can offer input, fresh ideas and collaborate between ourselves, which really helps to enhance each project.

What keeps you inspired everyday? 

The main sources of inspiration are obvious – Behance, Pinterest and Dribbble. However, when a challenge arises, team get-togethers provide the best source of inspiration. You find that with several design heads together, problems are quickly resolved.

I have to mention our beautiful surroundings! With our studio being based at Strelley Hall, it’s amazing how much of a difference having a tranquil setting can make to your creative thoughts. I once heard that the Pixar team often take a drive to ‘nowhere’, passing through serene landscapes to rattle through their creative problems – I think we could be on to something!

Of course, music is a huge source of inspiration for everyone. Nothing is better than throwing your headphones on or cranking up the studio speaker and blasting out your favourite tunes for tackling the tricky tasks at hand.

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Do you use any design tablets, and if so, how do you use them?

I used to dabble with Wacom’s a fair bit – I think they’re great to use. I guess I don’t particularly miss the interaction of holding a pen-like device though – whenever I am needed to create bespoke illustrations, I instinctively grab my brush pens and do them raw. Something about this tactile approach is rewarding and offers greater control.

I then use the Adobe Capture mobile app to snap my hand-crafted illustrations, which then sync instantly into my chosen Creative Cloud library as a vectorised illustration. I love how this app still retains even the slightest imperfections – the smallest splatters of ink or alterations in a line – which all add to the character of the overall look.

Are there any industry trends that your team are thinking about incorporating into your work in the near future?

I think it’s important to always look to the future, and to consider what we need to incorporate in order to keep Threerooms ahead. With logo animations being one of the dominant trends at the moment, we are looking to push animation in all of our work, from logos all the way through to websites. In addition, we’re looking to push modelling advances by using the latest Adobe software like Dimension, and we’re also thinking about the possibilities of VR and how we can shape new experiences in that environment.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your work and how do you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges for all designers is to ensure we are still generating creative ideas and staying ahead of the trends. I often find myself scrolling through the latest and greatest branding examples, questioning why certain things were done in certain ways, what they were looking to achieve, and most importantly, absorbing everything I see.

Outside of the creative process, the biggest challenge would have to be client deadlines, which we overcome by utilising our workflow tools to assist with timeframes. Budget constraints can also be a challenge, however we find our process of in-depth workshops helps us to achieve the end goal quicker by fully understanding the client’s needs from the outset.

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How important is collaboration for your team, and how has technology helped with this?

Collaboration is massively important, and enables us to get the best out of our projects. We never underestimate the value of getting a fresh pair of eyes on our work, and are always doing internal reviews to enhance collaboration on all of our projects. With everyone’s eyes on each project, it allows us to continually push the boundaries in what we create and feedback on each other’s work. Not only does it lead to great results for Threerooms and our team, but also for our clients.

Threerooms are a leading brand and creative agency in Nottingham. They help marketing teams and business owners add value to their brands through impeccable design and effective brand strategy.

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If you’d like to find out more about about any of the creative kit mentioned above, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook. 

Top accessories to make designers’ lives easier

Top accessories to make designers’ lives easier

Chances are, you already know the basic rules of creative productivity in the workplace – keep a tidy workspace, and always have the tools you need available. But what gear should you look at to stay as productive as possible?

Designers often rely on a fair few bits of kit to make their day to day lives easier, and this is something we know all about. Having dished out great accessories from leading vendors for over 25 years now, we know exactly how to help creatives do what they do best. We try our wide range of accessories ourselves, so you can rest assured you’re picking up something that’s reliable and beneficial.

Below, we’ve put together our top five recommended accessories that we think will give your creative workflow a boost…

Satechi USB-C Thunderbolt 3 Pro 4K HDMI Hub

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As much as we love the latest MacBook Pro models (they’re great for all kinds of design work!), you might find yourself stuck for ports every now and again. That means you’ll have to root around for the right adaptor to make sure you can use all of your essential accessories at once.

Luckily, there’s a way to combine all of those adaptors into one. The Satechi USB-C Thunderbolt 3 Pro is a slimline hub that clips onto the side of your MacBook Pro, utilising its two USB-C ports. In return, it provides you with an HDMI output, two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot and a MicroSD card slot. It even has a pass-through power USB-C port, so you can still charge your device while benefiting from all the additional ports. And the hub is even colour matched to your MacBook Pro, in case you’re fussy about that sort of thing.

Our Product Manager, Taylor, says…

“The Satechi hub is a great companion for a designer’s MacBook Pro (it matches!), and ensures you’ll always have access to the ports you need. So no more picking and choosing which devices to use or charge while you’re hard at work in the studio or on the move!”

Shop now – £66.66 (£79.99 inc VAT)

STM Kings 15 inch / 22L Luxury Laptop Backpack

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Out and about and need to do some design work on the go? We reckon the STM Kings Luxury Laptop Backpack will suit you just right. Store your laptop, Wacom tablet, pens, pads, phone, chargers and documents, as well as anything else you might want or need to cart around – the STM Kings backpack can hold it all.

It also comes with a handy CableReady system, allowing you to route a charging cable through the backpack without getting knotted up – especially useful if your battery is running low and you need it fully charged for when you arrive at the studio. It even comes with ‘The Stash’, a small zippered bag that’s really useful for organising your batteries, cables, pens and other bits and bobs.

Taylor says…

“You can’t go wrong with an STM Kings laptop backpack. Not only is it easy on the eyes and comfortable to carry, it has enough space and built-in compartments to carry everything a designer could need while on the move.”

Shop now – £99.96 (£119.95 inc VAT)

Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD

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Fed up of fighting through a forest of cables in order to get to your desk? Is it becoming a distraction to your creativity? The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock is capable of running dual 4K displays, and allows you to connect up to eight (yes, eight!) different devices through a single Thunderbolt connection – perfect for all your charging and accessory needs. Tidy workspace, tidy mind!

Taylor says…

“This Belkin Thunderbolt 3 dock is perfect for making sure all your productivity needs are met, without compromising your desk space with loads of wires and cables. Designers will also find the ability to connect dual 4K displays especially useful, providing plenty of screen real estate.”

Shop now – £313.49 (£376.19 inc VAT)

Griffin Notebook Elevator Stand

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The Griffin Notebook Elevator Stand not only raises your MacBook up to a more comfortable height (important if you’re going to be staring hard at your screen all day), but it also frees up some desk space so you’ve got more room to create with your Wacom tablet and sketchpad, as well as area for your new dock, headphones and three cups of tea that have all gone cold…

Taylor says…

“We’ve got these all over our office – we couldn’t do without them! Not only do they make it easier to look at your laptop screen for long periods of time, but they give you more room to work while at your desk.”

Shop now – £29 (£34.80 inc VAT)

Logitech Slim Combo Case for iPad Pro 10.5″

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If you’re using iPad Pro for design work, particularly while you’re on the move, this Slim Combo Case from Logitech is ideal. It’s versatile and multipurpose, and helps transform your iPad Pro experience into something more closely resembling a laptop, so it’s perfect for all the email sending and admin work that’s part and parcel of design workflows. The case’s Smart Connector pairs with and powers the keyboard, and provides four distinct modes: typing, viewing, FaceTime and reading. It also features full-size backlit keys and a built-in Apple Pencil holder.

Taylor says…

“iPad Pro is often the tablet of choice for designers, and this Logitech case helps add a dash of productivity to mobile creative workflows by providing a keyboard that can be used to make writing emails, briefs, feedback and more so much easier.”

Shop now – £99 (£118.80 inc VAT)

For more information, get in touch with the team by calling 03332 409 306 or emailing sales@Jigsaw24.comFor all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Creative trend: The rise of interactivity and animation

Creative trend: The rise of interactivity and animation

The days of static web pages, emails and designs are behind us, and with interactivity and animation rapidly gaining momentum over the past few years, it’s safe to say immersive content is here to stay. Offering up richer experiences for customers and users, interactive designs are proving much more effective and engaging, and creative businesses have been quick to adopt the trend and make it their own. So what kind of interactive, animated content have they been creating and how could it affect business and generate better marketing results?

Due to the fundamentals of human psychology and visual perception, ensuring the effectiveness of your visual communications is key – that’s why usability and accessibility are so important to any digital or online experience. Linear, easy to use interfaces, intelligent personalisation and specialisation should be your top priorities when it comes to UX (user experience), and in 2018, interactivity and animation have an essential role in all of that.

As a form of interactive storytelling, these mediums have proved successful with customers and are now an integral part of marketing engagement. Reportedly, 88% of online customers are less likely to revisit a website if they’ve had a bad experience, while 75% of judgments about website credibility centre on a site’s aesthetics. To top that off, a massive 94% of first impressions are based on design, showing just how important it is to create engaging content that offers something unique and different, with interactivity being the key hook to keeping customers engaged with whatever your company is offering.

Interactive creativity

We can’t have a conversation about the rise of interactivity and animation without discussing the actual content that’s being created. While some websites opt to have video backgrounds, this can lead to noticeable performance issues. To overcome this problem, web designers have begun employing background animations – known as ‘particle backgrounds’ – instead of video. Created from lightweight javascript, particle backgrounds let animation form a part of a website’s natural background, reducing load times while still engaging customers in a unique, thought-provoking way. Taking this one step further, so-called integrated animations are another way that designers have taken advantage of browser technology improvements, and are particularly useful for keeping a user engaged throughout the duration of their visit to a website. They can be used to liven up a typically dull loading screen, display something fun and attention-grabbing while hovering over a link or image, or react according to a user’s scrolling and navigation patterns.

Mobile-optimised websites are another facet of interactivity that’s taken hold in recent years. In 2016, smartphones and tablets overtook desktop to become the population’s browsing device of choice. Desktop’s portion of browsing traffic dwindled to 48.7%, while mobile web browsing’s share of the action had risen consistently since 2009. That meant that developers, marketers and eCommerce giants had to respond accordingly – they started to create sites that were just as easy to navigate on mobile as they were on desktop, if not easier. Featuring stripped back, minimalist designs, mobile-friendly sites are seen as nigh-on essential these days, making it even easier for customers to interact with their favourite brands online while engaging with products and content. Likewise, responsive design has even helped revolutionise desktop browsing. These days, websites typically respond to the size of the window they’re being viewed in, and react and resize depending on how the user manipulates them. In the coming years, designers will have to accommodate newer mediums such as AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), which demand deeper interactivity for users.

But what do actual creatives think to these new interactivity standards and the inclusion of animation in design? We asked our resident Web Designer, Jamie, for his thoughts – “With mobile phones and tablets becoming today’s primary devices for browsing, I think responsiveness is key to giving equal experience to a user, regardless of screen size. And if you want to capture a user’s attention, animation and interactivity are great tools that draw on the curiosity and playfulness of a person’s mind.” Our Graphic Designer, Videographer and Animator, Simon, added “The presence of motion graphics on a web page or email immediately draws a user’s attention and provides an extra level of engagement. Animated GIFs or longer animated videos embedded in the page can also help get an idea across more clearly than a still illustration or icon in some situations.”

How can interactive designs and animation benefit business?

A number of industry marketing studies suggest that brands which utilise animation and interactivity (and have paid particular attention to UX design in general) will see the results. According to one study, one in three people will abandon a purchase if they can’t find the correct information, suggesting an interactive site that responds to a user’s needs and displays information more clearly would retain their custom. Similarly, visit-to-lead conversions have shown to be as much as 400% higher on websites with a better UX design, while a more user-friendly UI (user interface) has raised conversion rates by 200% in some cases. It’s also worth noting that 97% of business customers consider usability to be the most essential component of mobile apps, something that interactivity and strategically placed animation could help companies take advantage of.

If you’re more concerned with email design, polls have routinely ranked interactive emails as the number one email marketing trend. Interactive emails can consist of a news story feed, polls, navigation bars and tabs, feedback functionality and more. In 2015, Ticketmaster trialled an interactive email containing a poll. It let recipients vote for the best music video of the year, best female video, best male video and best rock video, all without clicking away from the email – and it paid off! On top of better than average click-through and engagement rates, the email received 182% more opens than standard email communications. Some companies have even gone so far as to include the ability to place orders within an email, and while few have perfected it, it’s led to an uptick in sales within these communications.

Want to get started?

Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there to help you bring animation and interactive design in-house. A designer’s first port of call should always be Mac, which is ideal for any creative looking to immerse themselves in animation. Built with enough processing and graphical power to handle intensive animation generation, Apple hardware is perfectly suited to the requirements of modern creative workflows. If you want the best of the best, the brand new iMac Pro is fully equipped to take on 3D animation, which’ll really put you ahead of the competition!

Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes everything you could need to get started (as well as tutorials to lend a hand along the way), is essential if you want to achieve the industry-standard and remain competitive. Popular Adobe apps for animation include After Effects, Animate, Illustrator, Photoshop and new Character Animator. Simon thinks highly of Creative Cloud’s powerful tools, too – “Motion graphics are increasingly simple to produce within Adobe Creative Cloud. The timeline window in Photoshop is great for compiling short sequences, while After Effects has every tool you could ever need to produce longer, more complex animations.” You can find out more about Creative Cloud here, including features, applications, benefits for your studio, and price plans.

If you want to know more, give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Our first look at Adobe Character Animator CC

Our first look at Adobe Character Animator CC

Last month, we took a look at the latest Adobe Photoshop CC features following MAX 2017. This time round, we’re delving into Adobe Character Animator – Adobe’s new live motion capture and multi-track recording app for controlling layered 2D puppets drawn in Photoshop or Illustrator. 

Character Animator allows users to create 2D animations and bring them to life with incredible accuracy. The app actually copies your facial movements, so characters act and react realistically in real time. Once again, I caught up with Xenia – our Senior Designer – to find out all about her first thoughts on Character Animator, what she managed to create while experimenting, and how she’s planning on using the software going forward.

What were your first impressions of Adobe Character Animator?

“The first thing I realised was just how easy it was to go from not knowing anything about animation to suddenly being able to animate easily in a few simple steps – and it looks good! When you first start with Character Animator, there are pre-built options that take you through basic face animation so you can get to grips with it. There are preset characters too, so you don’t have to create your own from scratch in Photoshop or Illustrator first – you can just get started right away. When you click on a preset, it opens up in Photoshop as well as in Character Animator so you can customise it and replace elements.

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I think it would take a long time to create a character that’s really beautiful in Photoshop, as they’re built in individual layers. As far as I can tell, that’s how Character Animator knows how to target different body parts for animation, whether it’s eyebrows, eyes, nose, arms or whichever. And if I edit a preset animation in Photoshop, it’ll automatically update in Character Animator.

Character Animator screenshot 1

The app uses the webcam footage and audio from your computer to animate various points on your face. First, I had to set a rest pose by looking at the monitor with a neutral face, which helps the animation respond better to any facial expressions.”

What did you create during your first try of the app?

“Well, when you open an initial template, one of them is a blank face. When it loaded up in Photoshop, I experimented with customising the background and eyebrows. I left the mouth and eyes as they were – they require a bit more work and I’d need to capture lots of different facial expressions for Open, Close, Left, Right and more, and as it was my first time, I didn’t want to get too much into them just yet. Once I’d saved my creation in Photoshop, it loaded up in Character Animator and I started animating it with my own facial movements and voice.

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I noticed that it isn’t quite as intuitive or responsive as I expected it to be – there appears to be a slight delay and the character missed my mouth when it opened a couple of times. However, having looked a bit more into settings and options, it appears that you can tinker with things to make animations much more responsive and accurate. To be honest, I was genuinely surprised by how quickly I picked it up. All I did was watch a few official Adobe tutorials online and follow the instructions in the app. The best thing is that Character Animator does exactly what it says on the tin, and works exactly how Adobe say it will – I’m very impressed overall. It means that people who aren’t very experienced with animation and apps like After Effects can achieve a good standard with minimal skill, knowledge and time.”

Character Animator screenshot 2

What are you excited to do with Character Animator in the future?

“Personally, I’m looking forward to making my own story and animating it! Thinking about future work though, I think it will be fun to bring a dull project to life with animation without adding too much to my workload. I noticed that Adobe have additional preset characters available for download, so I’ll definitely be experimenting with those when I can. And the app lets you add animated characters into live streams that respond to your facial movements in real time. That could be great for a future social media live stream or something like that.”

If you’d like to find out more about the latest Adobe Creative Cloud updates, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email adobe@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

A day in the life of… artist, illustrator and lecturer Jo Berry

A day in the life of… artist, illustrator and lecturer Jo Berry

We sat down with freelance illustrator, artist and lecturer Jo Berry to find out about her work in the field of scientific imaging, what she’s working on right now, and the technology she uses to bring her creations to life…

What have you been working on recently?

I’ve been working with scientists a lot over the past few years. And I’m working on some different case study projects right now with five different research institutions. One of them is Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg. I went over there last September to work with them in their laboratory, as I’m really interested in microscopy and advanced imaging. So what I’ve been doing is going into different labs, observing research scientists in action and participating in scientific experiments over a range of different subjects.

A couple of years ago, I went down to the Natural History Museum and I worked with their electron microscopes to examine natural objects such as butterfly wings and radiolarian – lots of things that were really, really tiny and you could only see through an electron microscope. I’ve been doing quite a lot of work with the images and data that I obtained there.

I’m also working with the University of Nottingham. I’ve been working with the med school there for a number of years, collaborating with their cell signalling and pharmacology department. They also have a top of the range SLIM (School of Life Sciences Imaging) department, where they image all sorts of biological cell samples to find out how they operate. They’ve been working to find out more about the heart, diabetes and obesity. So I’ve been taking film and static images of scientists at work and collecting a range of data to create new interpretations of science and art-data visualisations.

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How do you use creative technology like Mac or Adobe Creative Cloud?

The scientific department at the University of Nottingham has PCs, so I don’t use Macs there. However, at home I have two Macs – including a brand new one – and an Apple laptop, and I used Macs while I was working in Sweden. For me, working on Mac feels more natural and it’s just something that I’ve gotten used to. The only thing I’d like is a bit more flexibility for the programs that I use to be able to move across PC and Mac.

At the university, I take the information and data I’ve gathered and load it into the scientific software they use on their PCs, and then I export it so it can be used in Adobe software. I mainly use Photoshop to crop and to layer, and I spend a lot of time doing digital drawing in Illustrator. I do my drawing very specifically as I do a lot of laser cutting – so it’s done for the purpose of being laser cut or exported into another 3D program. However, I love the simplicity of these drawings and see them as artworks in their own right.

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What aspect of digital design and drawing are you interested in?

I’m really interested in the pixilation that is part of the imagery that comes out of these scientific computations. Of course, they look like really slick, beautiful images but they’re actually made up of hundreds of thousands of pixels. So I’m interested in simplifying the pattern that you get with the different colours and layers of these images. In Adobe Illustrator, I’ve been using squares and rectangles a lot recently, and I match them together with Pathfinder. I do this to create intricate drawings that are sourced and created digitally, and then can be moved into another program to be reprocessed as laser cut images at a later date. I take a long time drawing, and I aim to be able to show real depth and intricacy in the images. I’m also interested in making things that combine science and design, and creating something that is another interpretation of science.

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You mentioned your work with film earlier. What does that involve?

I capture moving images of cells, then export them into Quicktime and use them to make stills. But I make movies, too. I’m doing a lot of work with Premiere Pro at the moment, and I’m looking to doing even more of those sorts of projects going forward. I’m currently studying part-time for a PhD, so I’ve been documenting what I’ve been doing while I’ve been going into these labs with a handheld Panasonic camera. So, I’m getting all of this data from these experiments – still images and film – and I’m trying to put them together so I’ve got footage of scientists actually working. Then I’ve been combining this footage with these beautiful, moving scientific images to create a sort of montage documenting exactly what I’ve been doing and observing.

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What has your experience with Premiere Pro been like?

It’s quite simple and I find it a bit like putting together a collage of sorts. But of course, even after you’ve sorted out your timeline, you’ve still got to do the audio to go with the images. I think it just takes time to sit and do it, and learn it all properly. To be honest, everything I’ve ever learned on a computer I’ve done by just getting hands-on. I also like to learn software based on how I think I can work with it.

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Could you tell me about your work as a lecturer? 

I lecture in illustration at Birmingham City University in the department of visual communication. I teach illustration to first and final year students and I also train them in Adobe Illustrator. Obviously, I really like working in a cross-disciplinary manner as I’m interested in both drawing and technology, and there are opportunities within the department to do that. I enjoy finding out how you can use a computer and digital programs to create things such as drawings, movies and whatever else. Jo_Berry_Image11

What technology has had the biggest impact on your work as an illustrator?

Adobe. Working in Illustrator has had a profound effect. About ten or fifteen years ago when I first started working in Adobe Illustrator, that completely changed the nature of my work. At the time, I was doing an advanced research fellowship at Loughborough University, and I was trying to make light drawings in unusual ways. I was making light boxes where I was drilling holes into perspex and lighting them. But then as soon as I started working in Illustrator and I could laser cut, everything became so much more sophisticated. It moved away from craft, and became design. I really liked the purity of Illustrator, because you can work in a very linear way with shapes and Pathfinder, and include the computational source material.

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What creative and design trends are you thinking about as we head into 2018?

I don’t follow trends – I’m not really bothered about them. I mean, I read and follow a lot of different things, and I’ll go to exhibitions and people will say “are you thinking about doing this” or “have you read this or that”, but I think you’ve got to find your own individual voice. Of course, this involves research and a design process, but it’s important to really think about what you want your work to be about. And that’s what I encourage my students to do. I tell them to come up with their own ideas and concepts, and not to copy anybody else or be too heavily influenced. I suppose we’re all a bit like sponges – we soak everything in, but it really is essential to find your own voice while grounding it in knowledge.

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Exhibiting regularly and widely throughout the country and internationally, Jo’s work is highly regarded, with pieces in the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), Arts Council England (ACE) East Midland Collections, Nottingham University Medical School and Zeiss, Munich. Residencies include the Florence Trust Studios, London, the Natural History Museum, London and Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham University.

joberry.co.uk 

If you’d like to find out more about about any of the creative technology mentioned above, give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook. 

Our top five budget products for creatives

Our top five budget products for creatives

Looking for new tech for your team but shopping on a budget? From MacBook Pro to Wacom tablets and more, here are five great value products that’ll get the job done!

1. 15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pro

16GB RAM, 2.7GHz quad core i7 processor, 512GB flash storage, AMD Radeon Pro 455 2GB graphics.

Perfect for both at home and in the workplace, and running all the creative applications you could need, this powerful ex-display MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is highly portable and can be easily plugged into a display when you want to get into some more serious work.

Save £670!

£1549 (£1858.80 inc VAT)

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2. Wacom Intuos Pro Paper Edition

Up to 8192 pressure levels, built-in Bluetooth, customisable ExpressKeys.

With this creative pen tablet from Wacom, you’ll be throwing your mouse away and never looking back. The Intuos Pro Paper Edition is great for creating, and accurately emulates the feeling of drawing on paper. It’s ideal for those who frequently work with Adobe Creative Cloud, and is a handy tool for navigating around your files and desktop.

£316 (£379.20 inc VAT)

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3. EIZO 24.1″ FlexScan EV2455 display

1920 x 1200 native resolution, supports USB 3.0, VGA, DisplayPort, HDMI and DVI-D, ultra-slim 1mm bezel, LED-backlit IPS LCD panel with 178-degree viewing angle.

Ideal for viewing at different angles as part of a multi-monitor setup, the EIZO FlexScan EV2455 is a display that’s easy on the eyes and budget, and delivers optimal performance, quality and reliability for creatives.

£299.79 (£359.75 inc VAT)

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4. Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud is the industry-standard creative solution, letting you create amazing content, collaborate across desktop and mobile with powerful apps and syncing tools, and make sure you’re always one step ahead of the creative curve. With immediate access to new products, the latest features and exclusive updates as soon as they’re released, you can make sure you’re always up to date too.

Single app plans start from £303 ex VAT.

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5. Canon EOS 750D DSLR with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens

The Canon 750D is one of the best DSLR cameras available for beginners, and is perfect if you want to avoid the cost of buying a separate camera and camcorder. Packing advanced features, it’s capable of great quality video and capturing a high level of detail in a variety of scenarios.

£599 (£718.80 inc VAT)

Shop now

For more information, get in touch with the team by calling 03332 400 888 or emailing sales@Jigsaw24.comFor all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Is the new iMac Pro right for your creative team?

Is the new iMac Pro right for your creative team?

Apple’s long-awaited iMac Pro has finally arrived, and it’s an absolute juggernaut. Packed full of staggeringly powerful tech, Apple designed this beast with the most demanding creative workflows in mind. But with such impressive specs, iMac Pro comes at an unsurprisingly high price point – so can you justify making the purchase, and how could it improve your day-to-day creative processes?

While it looks almost identical to the mid-2017 5K iMac (minus the dashing Space Grey paint job), iMac Pro is a completely different machine. Lets take a look under the hood…

Display

– 27″ Retina 5K display.

– 5120×2880 resolution.

– 500 nits brightness.

– P3 wide colour gamut.

Processor

– Base model: 8-Core Xeon.

– Upgradable to: 10-Core Xeon.

– Upgradable to: 18-Core Xeon.

Memory

– Base model: 32GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory.

– Upgradable to: 64GB.

– Upgradable to: 128GB.

Storage

– Base model: 1TB SSD.

– Upgradable to: 2TB SSD.

– Upgradable to: 4TB SSD.

Graphics

– Base model: Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB of HBM2 memory.

– Upgradable to: Radeon Pro Vega 64 with 16GB of HBM2 memory.

I/O

– Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

– Four USB 3.0 ports.

– SDXC card slot with support for UHS‑II.

– 10Gb Ethernet using RJ‑45 connector (supports Nbase-T 1Gb, 2.5Gb, and 5Gb).

So, what’s it good for?

If you’ve been using iMac before now, you’ll know just how good the platform is for creative work. But iMac Pro takes things to the next level. It’s perfectly suited for everything from video editing and music production to 3D animation and software development and much more. Compatible with up to 18 cores and packing up to 128GB DDR4 RAM, most of the work creative professionals do will benefit greatly from iMac Pro’s extra computing and graphics power. Subsequently, tasks like video encoding and editing in particular will enjoy noticeable performance boosts from the additional processing cores, while even 3D rendering will become that bit easier thanks to ample memory.

If your team are preparing for the future and want to adopt new technology trends, iMac Pro will to be a great addition to your creative workflow. As demanding new formats and technologies like 4K, 6K, 8K, virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality become increasingly popular, it’s imperative that you have access to a machine that can keep pace while you’re hard at work. Thankfully, early benchmark tests of the hardware found inside iMac Pro suggest it’ll outperform previous generation iMacs on all fronts – that means you’ll see a definite improvement over your last iMac and you won’t have to think about upgrading your hardware for the foreseeable future.

With two GPU variants available – Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB HBM2 memory and the more impressive Pro Vega 64 with 16GB HBM2 memory – iMac Pro is the ultimate bit of kit for graphics work. Creative teams will find VR applications working much faster than on an older iMac, enabling you to embrace and experiment with the new medium like never before. Likewise, iMac Pro’s powerful GPU will be a big plus for any games development projects you might be working on, and rendering in video editing programs like Premier Pro and Final Cut Pro X will also benefit.

Is it worth the upgrade?

Firstly, you should ask yourself if your team’s existing iMacs are meeting your workflow requirements. If your work doesn’t need need masses of computing power behind it, you probably don’t need an iMac Pro which, as mentioned above, has been built specifically for the most demanding creative projects. Of course, iMac Pro’s A10 Fusion coprocessor and SSD will undoubtably save you time when booting the machine and loading apps, but if you don’t mind waiting a few extra seconds it’s probably not worth forking out for.

With that being said, anyone looking to embrace new technology trends or push the boundaries of their existing video, software, audio, animation or development work will benefit from having an iMac Pro in their office. Complete with hardware never before seen in an iMac, iMac Pro delivers an experience you can’t get with any previous model and will provide an unmatched productivity boost that’ll more than make up for its top-end price.

You can purchase iMac Pro from our store here, starting from £4079 (£4894.80 inc VAT).

For more information about iMac Pro, get in touch with the team by calling 03332 400 888 or emailing sales@Jigsaw24.comFor all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

How did the creative industry perform in 2017?

How did the creative industry perform in 2017?

2017 has come and gone, and what a year it’s been. Creative agencies have produced impressive content and campaigns during the last 12 months, and we’ve really enjoyed seeing everything they’ve created. But how did the creative sector fare economically, which campaigns have been the most engaging and successful, and what economic factors should you be thinking about as we head into 2018? 

To get a real picture of the creative industry’s economic impact in 2017, it’s worth examining its performance over the last few years. Looking back, the sector’s GDP contribution has grown year on year – from £63.4 billion in 2010 to a whopping £91.8 billion in 2016. 2016’s figure even grew by an impressive £6 billion on 2015’s number, and there’s no sign of 2017 bucking the trend. But why is that? For a start, 2017 has been home to lots of effective creative campaigns – lets take a look at some of them…

Lucozade: Contactless bottles

As part of an awareness campaign, Lucozade treated London commuters to a free trip on the underground back in May. During rush hour, the company handed out bottles of the energy drink that had contactless pins on the bottom, allowing commuters to simply scan the item at the gates and board their train without spending a penny.

Airbnb: Don’t Go There. Live There. 

After market research suggested that 86% of Airbnb users wanted to experience a new place like someone who actually lives there, Airbnb were inspired to launch their ‘Live There’ campaign. Hosted entirely through social media, it focused on Airbnb’s unique service – offering tourists the chance to live in an actual home rather than hotels while travelling, and encouraged deeper integration into local communities during a stay away.

Addict Aide: Like My Addiction

Addict Aide launched a campaign on Instagram to help shed light on alcoholism and how social media can be used to promote and encourage it.  Having caught the attention of the right audience – teenagers and young adults – the campaign ultimately generated 5 times as much web traffic for Addict Aide’s homepage.

Heineken: Worlds Apart

Heineken set out to prove that having a simple conversation over a beer can bring even the most diametrically opposed people together. Having been given three tasks to complete, participants would only discover how different they really were towards the end of the beer maker’s social experiment.

Tesco: Discover app

Having teamed up with Engine Creative, Tesco built an AR app to enhance the shopping experience for their customers. Tesco Discover allows shoppers to scan pages from their brochures, where they can access an array of related information, images, video, competitions and more. The app also builds on Tesco’s successful partnership with Disney, letting users scan Frozen-themed books and stickers to bring a 3D scene from the movie to life within the Discover app. Customers can even take virtual selfies with various Frozen characters within the AR app.

Embracing new mediums

Right now, the creative industry accounts for around one in 11 jobs in the UK, and that number is rising – unlike other industries, the creative sector is one of the least likely to lose jobs to automation. Combine that with industry-wide collaboration, entrepreneurialism and a raft of new trends, and you’ve got a recipe for continued growth. And creatives have been quick to incorporate fresh mediums into their work this year.

From augmented reality (AR) to artificial intelligence (AI) to social media live streaming to virtual reality (VR), agencies throughout the country have jumped on these tools and used them to create engaging content for their audiences. Inside the creative industry, the best example of this is the rapid growth of a field known as ‘createch’ (which grew 11.4% in 2016). Createch is an area in which technology is used to enable and enrich creativity (particularly for things like audio, video and storytelling), allowing content producers to deliver new services, products and experiences to consumers. As a result, new, immersive technology mediums like the ones mentioned above have encouraged continued innovation in this field and are sure to deliver further growth and development in 2017, particularly as the technology becomes more advanced and readily-available.

What to look out for in 2018

It’s estimated that by 2018, the value of the creative industry in the UK will grow by almost £9 billion to a total of £100 billion. And with the continued success of UK exports in games, design, film and TV, music and more, it’s essential for creative businesses to be ahead of the curve and prepared to experiment with new technology and creative mediums next year.

To help with this, the UK government are investing £500 million in AI, full fibre broadband and 5G (the fifth generation of telecommunications standards). And with over 2 million people employed in the creative sector in the UK, this money is expected to bolster the country’s position as a creative market leader on the world stage.

As the UK moves closer to severing its ties with the EU next year, it’s also worth considering the affect Brexit could have on the industry’s talent pool. While creatives are currently free to travel throughout Europe for business, this could soon change and agencies will have to rely on the UK’s workforce to provide the talent and skills they need. That means businesses will likely have to refocus and invest in the training and development of UK-based workers in 2018 in order to avoid falling behind in the years to come.

If you want to know more, give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email designsolutions@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 

When’s best to refresh your team’s creative technology?

When’s best to refresh your team’s creative technology?

If you’ve had your current technology setup for a while now and it’s still doing a perfectly good job, upgrading probably isn’t even on your radar. And that’s fair enough – spending on new kit can be expensive, and moving over to fresh hardware can be a hassle if you don’t really need to. But it’s important to remember that as new software and standards are released, your tech will gradually begin to slow down. 

It’s easy to sit back, relax, and deal with something as big as a complete technology refresh only when you absolutely have to, and having the very latest hardware isn’t exactly essential. With that being said, why should you bother upgrading your kit, when exactly is the best time for a refresh, and how can you ensure you’re getting the best value for money?

Why?

If you want to stay ahead of the competition, having access to the latest hardware is obviously a major plus and should prevent you from falling behind. Powerful tech allows you to explore and experiment with new mediums – for example, only Creative Cloud users have access to Adobe’s incredible tools for things like VR, AR and 3D animation – and means your existing workflow and projects will benefit from increased efficiency and productivity no matter what your creative vocation is. Likewise, if you’ve started to notice your current setup wearing down and underperforming, it’s time to start plotting a refresh. Once your tech starts causing problems for your creative workflow, you’ll find it harder to hit deadlines and meet the requirements of stakeholders and clients.

When?

Answering the ‘when’ question is a bit trickier. A lot of it comes down to the amount of money you have available for an upgrade at any given time, what’s happening in your business (whether you’re in the middle of large projects, restructuring or hiring new staff, for example), and how critical a kit update is for your team. It almost goes without saying, but keeping an eye out for deals and sales could be ideal if you need new hardware but are limited in the budget department. So try and time your purchasing plans with upcoming sales and jump on bargains when you see them, and if you can purchase a large amount of gear in one go at a discounted rate, you could save yourself more than a few quid.

How?

When planning out your creative technology upgrade, consider searching out trade-in/buy back deals. Once you’re sure you’ve received a good offer for your existing tech, trade it all in for cash to put towards new hardware. It’s also worth staggering your upgrade process, starting with the oldest tech and working up – that way, it’ll be easier to manage and you won’t have to splash out on a large outlay.

In terms of manageability and affordability, you’ll find it easier if you partner up with a reliable supplier that can offer you expert guidance along the way, and advise you on the best choices for your creative needs and budget (like us!). It’s also well worth looking into Device as a Service (DaaS) models for your purchasing. DaaS provides businesses with a rolling agreement for the very latest hardware, and includes support, repairs, warranties and more for one price, per user, per month. Likewise, leasing arrangements are a great way of spreading the cost of your new kit, allowing for increased flexibility and simpler budgeting than a big, one-off payment. You can find out more about our leasing options here.

If you think you’re ready to upgrade your team’s setup, take a look at our Creative Kit Configurator – it’s the best way to ensure you get the perfect, cost-effective tech for your needs. Simply select the type of user you’re buying for, then customise different parts of the setup to suit your specific requirements.

For more information, get in touch with the team by calling 03332 400 888 or emailing sales@Jigsaw24.comFor all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.