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. 

Receive 90 days’ free Creative Cloud with Wacom tablets

Receive 90 days’ free Creative Cloud with Wacom tablets

Thinking of forking out for a Wacom tablet? Now’s the time! Jigsaw24 customers will receive a free 90 day Adobe Creative Cloud membership with the purchase of selected tablets between 1st October 2017 and 31st March 2018.

Wacom and Adobe are teaming up to help creatives hit the ground running as soon as they buy a brand new Intuos Pro, Cintiq, Cintiq Pro or MobileStudio Pro tablet. With three months of free Creative Cloud, users will be able to access Adobe’s entire collection of creative apps for Mac, PC, smartphone and tablet and get to work right away. That includes 29 separate desktop apps and 10 mobile apps, including favourites such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Premiere Pro. Customers will also have access to exclusive Adobe services such as Adobe Stock, Typekit and Behance absolutely free.

Ideal for mobile working, collaboration and productivity, Creative Cloud allows users to sync, share and create on the go thanks to Adobe CreativeSync, which powers Creative Cloud Libraries and lets you access your favourite creative assets anywhere, any time. Throughout the 90 day period, you’ll also receive new features and updates as soon as they’re available, plus in-app tips to help get you started if you’re new to Creative Cloud.

Which Wacom tablets are eligible?

Wacom Intuos Pro range

Intuos Pro Medium

Intuos Pro Medium Paper Edition

Intuos Pro Large

Intuos Pro Large Paper Edition

Wacom Cintiq range

Cintiq Pro 13″

Cintiq Pro 16″

Cintiq 13HD

Cintiq 22HD

Cintiq 27QHD

Cintiq 27QHD Touch

Wacom MobileStudio Pro range

MobileStudio Pro 13 (i5 128GB)

MobileStudio Pro 13 (i7 256GB)

MobileStudio Pro 13 (i7 512GB)

MobileStudio Pro 16 (i5 256GB)

MobileStudio Pro 16 (i7 512GB)

How do I redeem my free membership?

Just follow these simple steps:

1. Purchase your chosen Wacom tablet from us between 1st October 2017 and 31st March 2018.

2. Register at www.wacom.com/en-gb/register to get your personal voucher code before 15th April 2018.

3. Redeem via Adobe. Visit www.creativecloud.com/redeem.

For more information about this limited time offer, visit Wacom’s website.

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.

Our first look at the latest Adobe Photoshop CC features

Our first look at the latest Adobe Photoshop CC features

Following their MAX conference in October, Adobe released the latest version of Photoshop CC. It offers a variety of new features for designers, digital photographers and illustrators, and our design team were eager to get their hands on the newest iteration of the app and put it to the test. 

With Adobe touting the effectiveness of the Curvature Pen, Stroke Smoothing and Variable Font functionalities, I sat down with Xenia – our Senior Designer – to hear her thoughts on the enhancements, how she’s been using them and how they’ve affected her creative workflow.

Curvature Pen tool

“The Curvature Pen tool is really useful, and it’s taken the hassle out of drawing curved shapes and straight line segments. I like that it lets me plot basic points in a rough shape initially, then move and adjust each point when needed – and double clicking provides an angular point rather than a curved point which is helpful, too.

Overall, I’d say it’s much easier to use, intuitive and accurate compared to the regular Pen tool, and its helped streamline my Photoshop workflow by cutting out the time consuming, unnecessary tasks that used to make drawing simple shapes kind of awkward. Plus, the tool makes it quicker to create paths without losing accuracy, which is ideal for when I’m cutting out certain elements of photographs.”

curvature_pen

Stroke Smoothing (Pulled String Mode)

“I’ve enjoyed using the new Stroke Smoothing functions in Photoshop, particularly Pulled String Mode. My favourite thing about it is that it’s given me more control over the brush tool, which feels much smoother and creates less jagged edges – it’s a way better experience. As you use it, you can see the brush rotate and twist carefully, making the brush strokes much more accurate and precise, and cursor movements inside the ‘smoothing radius’ don’t leave a mark on your design. This has allowed me to create softer curves and rounded elements. It’s nice because it means I can put more time and care into my work, and helps me get things right on the first try without having to redo things.”

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Variable Fonts

“They’re okay, but not as useful as I expected them to be. Variable Fonts let you customise certain attributes of fonts with sliders, such as weight, width and slant, although some Variable Fonts only let you adjust one or two attributes rather than the whole lot. And while this has still been helpful, not every font is as ‘variable’ as I had expected, meaning you’re limited to Adobe’s predefined list of Variable Fonts.

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The list appears to be quite large, but is actually just made up of slightly different variations of the same few fonts. If I’ve needed to use a Variable Font, I’ve just found myself looking for one in the list that most closely resembles the font I initially wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I like that you’re able to quickly toggle different options with fonts, and it’s helpful for when I’ve been experimenting with quick layouts and I’ve wanted to see how a font may impact the overall design, but I think it could use some work. With a bit more development, it could be a really handy feature and I’m excited to see what Adobe do with it going forward.”

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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.

 

We pit our senior designer against herself in a series of productivity challenges

We pit our senior designer against herself in a series of productivity challenges

Across a series of productivity challenges featuring Apple, Wacom and Adobe, it’s Xenia versus Xenia in an intergalactic battle to find out which tools make our senior designer more efficient in a creative environment. They may not be quite as scientific as a benchmark test, but they’re marginally better soundtracked.

Round one: Wacom Intuos Pro v keyboard and mouse

Can a Wacom tablet help you stay more productive? Find out whether an Intuos Pro or a keyboard and mouse can make you 150% more productive (and a lot less stressed).

 

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Round two: Apple MacBook Pro with TouchBar v regular MacBook Pro

Could the addition of the TouchBar really save you 94 hours in a year? Xenia blasts off in this challenge to see just how much of a boon for productivity the TouchBar on the Apple MacBook Pro is…

 

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Round three: Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries v Finder

Xenia faces off against herself for a final time to see just how productive Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries can make you – spoiler alert, it works out as saving you 1/5 of your design time!

 

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For more information on the best design technology to help you stay creative, get in touch with the sales team on 03332 409 306, email sales@Jigsaw24.com or visit Jigsaw24.com/design.

 

We’ve renewed our place on the G-Cloud 9 Framework

We’ve renewed our place on the G-Cloud 9 Framework

Big news! We’ve successfully renewed our relationship with the government’s G-Cloud 9 Framework for the supply of cloud software services and support for the fourth consecutive year. 

As part of the agreement, we offer a full range of services and support through the Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) Digital Marketplace to bolster cloud-based working across the public sector, including local government, health, education, not-for-profit and devolved administrations.

The CSS is a public sector organisation that acts on behalf of the Crown to drive savings for the taxpayer and improve the quality of commercial and procurement activity.

Our G-Cloud 9 Framework offering includes:

Cloud software services

– Adobe Creative Cloud.

– Managed fulfilment of Apple technologies and services.

Cloud support

– Apple audit services.

– Cloud help desk services and support.

– Active directory (AD) Apple integration cloud services.

– Hosted Apple management.

– Bring your own device (BYOD).

– Apple VPP (Volume Purchase Programme) service.

– Apple cloud consultancy services.

– Apple DEP (Device Enrolment Programme) consultancy services.

– iPhone and Apple Watch managed services.

– Tech bar services.

– Adobe Creative Cloud VIP programme.

If you’d like to find out more about each service and support solution, including scope, planning, pricing, implementation and much more, you can visit Jigsaw24’s section of the G-Cloud 9 Framework Digital Marketplace here.

Want to talk to us in more detail about cloud services and support, and the G-Cloud 9 Framework? Give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email gps@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 

Do Creative Cloud Libraries make you work faster?

Do Creative Cloud Libraries make you work faster?

Pfeiffer research has recently shown that using Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries can lead to a tenfold increase in productivity when it comes to performing key tasks. 

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, so rather than take these (admittedly thorough) benchmarking tests at face value, we thought we’d get our Senior Designer to face off against herself in an arcade-style design-off. It may not be as scientific as a benchmark test, but it is marginally better soundtracked.

If you want to know more, 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.

A day in the life of… Stuart Tolley from Transmission

A day in the life of… Stuart Tolley from Transmission

We caught up with typographical designer, art director and author Stuart Tolley to find out what he gets up to while plying his trade at Transmission, his Brighton-based studio. He’s got years of experience working on magazines, a passion for minimalism (he even wrote a book about it!) and prefers to do things the old fashioned way. So we asked him all about how he’s adapted to changes in the creative industry since beginning his career, his work, the technology he uses, what keeps him inspired, and his predictions for the future of design.

What have you been working on today?

Today I’ve been working on typographical experiments for the covers of a forthcoming book series. I’ve been picking apart the headline type using Adobe apps to typographically represent complex theories about psychology, sociology, economics and creativity. I mainly use InDesign, which I combine with Photoshop and Illustrator for other parts of the work.

You’ve authored some books of your own; what were they about?

The first one was called Collectors Edition: Innovative Packaging and Graphics, which is about the renaissance of vinyl records and limited edition publications. My second book, MIN: The New Simplicity in Graphic Design, is about the rebirth of minimalism in graphic design.

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Could you tell us a bit more about your work on minimalism?

Well, MIN has been out for about a year and is published by Thames & Hudson. There have previously been books about the history of minimalism, but no one has published an up to date book about it, particularly in the last 5 years.

We’ve become accustomed to the stripped back designs of contemporary technology and this is really important to me, as I didn’t want the book to be a historical look at the style. I think people are really aware of minimalism now, particularly with the stripped back user experience and product design of Apple devices – this is all part of a decluttered lifestyle, which is something I wanted to tap into. The reductive nature of the book has informed a lot of my studio projects too, because I like working with quite abstract concepts and then stripping them down to their barest form.

What are the biggest challenges you face in keeping the studio up and running?

The main challenge is balancing all the [on-going] design projects we have coming through the studio. We’re a small studio and I take care of all the creative work – I like to do everything myself as well, which I suppose is a bit controlling.

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What technology were you using back in the 90s, at the start of your career? 

I graduated from university in 1999. There were a small amount of computers within the university, but at the time I was using the photographic dark rooms to enlarge my negatives and creating a lot of photographic work. We were on really basic versions of editing software back then – I think I might have used Photoshop a handful of times.

The thing is, I was right on that cusp. Magazines were produced using a cut and paste layout system, with lots of rulers and measuring grids. Of course, I missed all of that and started work when Quark was the main publishing tool. Before I left university, I was using the photocopier all the time to print stuff, cutting and pasting, using lots of tape to stick it all down – really hands-on work. Then as soon as I started work people were like “Right, now you need to use QuarkXpress”.

What technology has had the biggest impact on your studio?

I use a lot of Adobe programs. I really am a slave to Apple and Adobe at the minute. A big change was when InDesign overtook Quark, which was the industry standard. I think the biggest change for me personally is how social media and marketing have developed. The internet is now the mainstream form for viewing information, especially since the explosion of smartphones.

There was a period, maybe a decade ago, where I was working on print and magazine projects, but nobody was interested in print at all. Just a constant stream of “nos”; people were demanding apps and stuff for tablets instead. But magazine apps haven’t really taken over as much as people predicted, and instead we’re witnessing a golden era of independent magazine production that’s targeted at very specific audiences.

How did you adapt to the latest trends, whether it was online, video or animation? 

I didn’t. The rise of digital design and user experience has exploded really in the last four or five years, all while I was making my books. I was kind of blissfully unaware and then popped out the other side of it. That’s when I realised the design industry had changed quite a bit. But, for me, it’s quite important to just stick to your guns and say, “You know what, this is what I love to do and they’ll be an audience for it.” I think once I realised that, that’s when I decided I didn’t need to be making loads of apps or websites just to keep up, because there are so many people that are doing that anyway.

Transmission_5

When did you get your first Mac?

My first Mac was a big old [Power Mac] G4 desktop, which had a great big screen. It was all that was available at the time and I got it almost as soon as I left university and had enough money. I was working at Sleazenation magazine at the time and used it to create freelance work on the side. I now have an iMac with a Retina screen, the highest spec I could get, which I use as my main computer.

So how would you say the G4 you were using compares to the top-spec iMac you have now?

The new iMacs are much more streamlined. What you’ve got now is a screen on a stand, whereas before you’d have your [tower], hard drives and a massive monitor with a deep back to it, wires everywhere. Now it’s all part of the decluttering, minimalistic process. You know, the wireless keyboard and mouse, stuff like that – I just embraced it, it was fantastic. 

Do you use any design tablets, like Wacoms?

Some of my friends swear by [Wacoms] but it’s just not something that I’ve ever tried or embraced.

How do your friends use them?

One of them has a huge one; it’s basically just a screen that he draws into. It’s an incredible bit of kit – but as they’re illustrators, they need the ability to draw and work freehand. Whereas I would say my work is more typographical, which I can handle on a mouse.

What Adobe apps do you use the most? 

I use InDesign the most, but I do vector-based work in Illustrator too. I use Photoshop for colour correcting, retouching and things like that. I also use Bridge quite a bit for manipulating images in raw mode, but InDesign is definitely the one I use the most – all day, everyday basically.

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What upcoming trends are you thinking about for the future?

I’ve just created a book about minimalism, so I’m quite interested in the opposite of that. The whole point of the book was that there have been these very ornate designs around for a long time, then minimalism comes along and it refreshes everything. But there will always be a reaction against a current design trends and you’ll probably see a reaction against minimalism in the next few years.

So what will the reaction to minimalism be then?

I think there will be a point where everyone gets bored of things looking really clean, and minimalism just won’t be doing its job anymore, because everything just looks the same. You see it within the independent magazine industry, which are all currently being produced in a minimalist design style. They’ve all got a little logo, top centre, and they all look exactly the same. There are magazines coming out that are totally different, really energetic, and they’ll stand out because they don’t look like everything else. That will be the biggest change; a style will come along that’s more playful and experimental.

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How do you stay productive during busy, stressful times?

I go and sit on the beach. I’ll just take a sketchbook and go and make notes, draw and come up with ideas. It always works. Guaranteed.

What keeps you inspired everyday?

I often change career path and that keeps me inspired. I still work within editorial design, but I’ve shifted quite a lot. I think that’s something that I would like to continue doing, mixing formats and styles. I’ve just been commissioned to work on an exhibition in Brighton this September, so I’m already thinking of ideas for that in the back of my mind. It’s just about doing lots of side projects and changing direction every so often. It’s frightening, but it’s important to do it.

Transmission is a graphic design studio and editorial consultancy, working with clients in the cultural, commercial and charitable industries.

www.transmission.design

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

 

A look back at the last quarter century of creative technology

A look back at the last quarter century of creative technology

We’re celebrating our 25th year providing products that help everyone from studio managers to graphic designers to video producers stay productive and creative. As part of the festivities, we’re going retro and taking the plunge into a nostalgia pool filled with Zip drives, beige Power Macs, primitive social networks, old school design apps and more! 

Creation and innovation can be a tough business, but it’s worth it. A quarter century of hard work has led to countless milestone moments and tech developments. See for yourself how far we’ve come…

1992

– Roger Whittle founds Jigsaw24. The colour orange is never the same again.

– Animation gains a new dimension as classic horror game Alone in the Dark introduces us all to the joys of 3D polygon character animation, traumatising at least one member of the team so badly that they give up gaming forever.

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– Neil Papworth wishes Richard Jarvis “Merry Christmas” in the first ever SMS message.

1993

– The PDF is born (this may well be the least cool entry on the list, but the ‘compare document’ feature in the latest version of Acrobat DC is a lifesaver, and the new editing toolkit is properly brilliant).

– The internet is born. Cats everywhere shudder but don’t know why…

– NVIDIA is founded; gamers swear by their high-powered GPUs to this day.

1994

– American telecoms company AT&T run the first ever internet ad banner campaign. A single bead of sweat trickles down the forehead of every person working in the print business.

– Photoshop 3.0 is released and introduces the world to layers.

– Iomega’s Zip drive is released.

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– Apple launch their ‘Serious Business Computer’ ad, which we strongly urge you to watch:

1995

– JavaScript is released. Jamie, our Web Designer, says “JavaScript is crucial to web and non-web projects and it’s hard to imagine working without it. But the range of libraries can be baffling, so I prefer React and Angular.”

– Sony releases the first PlayStation, beginning an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in children.

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– Coca-Cola’s iconic Christmas truck advert airs for the first time. All together now: “Holidays are coming, holidays are coming…”

1996

– The first CSS specification is published.

1997

– Apple encourage us to Think Different for the first time; science responds by cloning Dolly the sheep.

– IBM’s Deep Blue defeats chess champ Garry Kasparov. We know we’re not an IBM outfit, but credit where it’s due.

– Google domain name is registered. We could not have compiled this list without it, so feel compelled to include it.

original_google_homepage

1998

– Wacom release the first Intuos tablet. There is much rejoicing. Graphic Designer Liana says “I remember getting my first job and being amazed by Wacom. I’d spent all of my time at uni huddled over an 11” MacBook, trying to do everything on the Touchpad, which obviously has nothing on a nice big Wacom.”

– First ever Google Doodle. Bit rubbish, to be honest.

– HDTV is introduced. Everyone becomes picture quality snobs.

1999

– The mighty Nikon D1 becomes the first DSLR to challenge the market supremacy of film cameras.

– Budweiser asks “Wassup?”

2000

– Post-apocalyptic horrors promised during the Y2K Panic fail to materialise.

– Everyone buys a Nokia 3310.

– Sony launches PlayStation 2, the best-selling video game console ever.

2001

– Apple launch iTunes and OS X, ushering us into the modern era of Mac.

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– Microsoft remove that Paperclip thing from Office. It is not missed.

– Wikipedia is launched. Students everywhere are elated, and nobody wins an internet debate ever again.

2002

– InDesign becomes the first ever Mac-native desktop publishing tool.

– Gartner calculate that one billion personal computers have been sold since their arrival in the 70s.

2003

– The first ever Creative Suite is released, including the all-new Premiere Pro.

– The Dalsa Origin becomes the first commercially available 4K camera.

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– Skype is launched, making video conferencing several thousand times easier.

2004

– Facebook beings its journey to world domination. People Poke each other.

– MySpace arrives, and manages to trick a generation of teenagers into learning HTML by letting you customise your profile.

myspace_home_2004

– Motorola release the Razr V3 flip phone. It’s really thin.

2005

– Adobe launch Creative Suite 2, featuring Smart Objects.

– The first YouTube video is released. Elephants’ trunks are really cool.

– Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle becomes the first film released on Blu-ray.

2006

– The .gif standard becomes freely available, making written language obsolete and neatly dividing the world into gifsayers and jifsayers.

– Jack Dorsey sends the first ever tweet (and is too edgy for vowels):

2007

– iPhone arrives, and promptly shifts 1.4 million units in its first year.

Apple_iPhone_1st_Gen

– CS3 arrives, meaning you can finally use Photoshop on a modern Mac without having to go through Rosetta.

– Cadbury rehabilitate Phil Collins’ image with their classic drumming gorilla ad, which none of us can believe is really ten years old.

2008

– Nikon’s D90 is the first DSLR to introduce video recording.

nikon_d90_1

– Artist Shepard Fairey creates the iconic Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster.

2009

– James Cameron’s Avatar becomes the highest-grossing film of all time.

– Microsoft launches Windows 7, sealing the fate of Vista.

2010

– iPad is released.

– The first commercially available jet pack is launched.

2011

– Adobe introduce Content-Aware tools.

– Wacom introduce the Cintiq 24HD. It weighs as much as a not-so-small child, but we all want one anyway.

– The number of Apple devices sold in this one year is larger than the total number of Macs sold ever. We imagine a lot of people spent this year frantically working out how to make their website responsive.

– Steve Jobs passes away aged 56.

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2012

– The final boxed version of Creative Suite, CS6, is released, which we mention only because our marketing team won a prize for their campaign and have been insufferable ever since.

– Jony Ive gets a knighthood; rumour has it he commented witheringly on the maximalist design of the medal.

– The Hobbit is the first movie filmed at 48 fps. Viewers suffer eyestrain.

– The world doesn’t end. In your face, Mayans.

2013

– Kenneth Grange scores a knighthood, joining Ive as Britain’s most decorated designer.

– Adobe launch Creative Cloud.

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– Film Gravity uses the most complex lighting setup in film history, using a custom-built light box with 1.8 million high-powered LEDs to film zero-gravity footage.

2014

– YouTube announce that they receive 100 hours of new video content per minute.

2015

– Windows 10 is launched, if you’re into that sort of thing.

2016

– Mobile browsing overtakes desktop for the first time.

– Harambe the gorilla dies and is memorialised forever in meme form.

2017

– Carter Wilkinson makes a plea to Wendy’s for a year’s worth of free chicken nuggets. It becomes the most retweeted tweet of all time, currently standing at over 3.5 million.

– Twitter shut down online video service Vine. At least it lasted longer than its videos.

– Jigsaw24 turn 25; immediately has crisis about logo.

If you’d like to find out more about about contemporary creative kit, give us a call on 03332 400 888, email sales@Jigsaw24.com or pop your details in the form below. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.