Nuggets of Truth!

The VFX behind 72 grisly Game of Thrones deaths

Creative web design! - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 10:00

Fans of fantasy drama Game of Thrones (that'll be just about everyone, then) will know the show's producers don't shy away from blood and gore. Season 6 was one of the more gruesome yet – VFX studio Imagine Engine was responsible for many of the death scenes, using 3D art and VFX to hike up an impressive bodycount of 72 over the course of the season's 10 episodes. 

So the studio's already impressive design portfolio also now includes 22 killed by sword, 14 by slit throat, one by pike and one memorable death by dog (ouch!). But its not all doom and gloom, the team also harnessed the power of VFX to bring one character back to life. Watch the film below to find out how they did it. 

“Some shots were really specific, like someone getting their head smashed directly against a wall,” says compositing lead Edwin Holdsworth. “To get the look right for that we filmed real meat being smashed. We used the same technique for shots where one character has their hand pulled apart. The best way to match the level of gore needed was to pull some meat apart, and use that in the comp. It all felt more realistic that way!”

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Let’s say you wanna open source a little thing…

CSS-Tricks - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 09:43

Let's say you've written a super handy little bit of JavaScript. Nice! Well done, you. Surely, the world can benefit from this. A handful of people, at least. No need to keep this locked up. You've benefitted from open source tremendously in your career. This is the perfect opportunity to give back!

Let's do this.

You're going to need to chuck it into a GitHub repo. That's like table stakes for open source. This is where people can find it, link to it, see the code, and all that. It's a place you can push changes to if you need to.

You'll need to pick a license for it. If the point of this is "giving back" you really do need to, otherwise, it's essentially like you have the exclusive copyright of it. It's somewhat counter-intuitive, but picking a license opens up usage, rather than tightening it.

You'll need to put a README in there. As amazingly self-documenting you think your code is, it isn't. You'll need some plain-language writing in there to explain what your thing is and does. Usage samples are vital.

You'll probably wanna chuck some demos in there, too. Maybe a whole `/demos/` directory so the proof can be in the pudding.

While you've made some demos, you might as well puts some tests in there. Those go hand-in-hand. Tests give people who might use your thing some peace of mind that it's going to work and that as an author you care about making sure it does. If you plan to keep your thing updated, tests will ensure you don't break things as you make changes.

Speaking of people using your thing... just how are they going to do that? You probably can't just leave a raw function theThing () in `the-thing.js`! This isn't the 1800's, they'll tell you. You didn't even wrap an IIFE around it?! You should have at least made it a singleton.

People are going to want to const theThing = require("the-thing.js"); that sucker. That's the CommonJS format, which seems reasonable. But that's kinda more for Node.js than the browser, so it also seems reasonable to use define() and return a function, otherwise known as AMD. Fortunatly there is UMD, which is like both of those at the same time.

Wait wait wait. ES6 has now firmly arrived and it has its own module format. People are for sure going to want to import { theThing } from './the-thing.js';, which means you're going to need to export function theThing() { }.

So what should you do here? Heck if I know. I'm sure someone smart will say something in the comments.

Whatever you decide though, you'll probably separate that "module" concern away from your authored code. Perhaps a build process can help get all that together for you. Perhaps you can offer your thing in all the different module formats, so everybody is happy. What do you use for that build process? Grunt? Gulp? Too old? The hip thing these days is an npm script, which is just some terminal commands put into a `package.json` file.

While your build processing, you might as well have that thing run your tests. You also might as well create an uglified version. Every library has a `the-thing.min.js`, right? You might as well put all that auto generated stuff into a `/dist/` folder. Maybe you'll even be super hip and not check that into the repo. If you want this thing, you grab the repo and build it yourself!

Still, you do want people to use this thing. Having the public repo isn't enough, it's also going to need to go on npm, which is a whole different site and world. Hopefully, you've done some naming research early, as you'll need to name your package and that must be unique. There is a variety of other stuff to know here too, like making sure the repo is clean and you've ignored things you don't want everyone to download with the package.

Wait what about Yarn? Isn't that the new npm or something? You might want to publish there too. Some folks are hanging onto Bower as well, so you might wanna make your thing work there too.

OK! Done! Better take a quick nap and get ready for the demands to start rolling in on the issues board!

Just kidding everything will be fine.

Let’s say you wanna open source a little thing… is a post from CSS-Tricks

Cult YouTube illustrator launches exciting Kickstarter

Creative web design! - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 08:57

Friday inspiration: If you’re into fantasy art, you’ll likely know digital artist Ross Tran. He’s been entertaining and educating art fans through his YouTube channel, Ross Draws, since 2011. 

For the last four years he’s been developing an original character, Nima, and her story. Alongside his energetic brand of video art tutorials, Ross Draws fans will have noticed Nima regularly popping up as the subject of his walkthroughs. 

Now Tran has launched a Kickstart to bring Nima and her unique world to life in a slick art book, packed with sketches, key scenes and stunning cinematic paintings. “I want Nima’s world to excite people the way I was drawn into the world of Avatar the Last Airbender,” he explains.

He’s offering a range of tiered rewards to people who pledge, from high-definition wallpapers and a PDF book of sketches through to signed posters, character postcards, a Skype session with the in-demand artist and more. 

Head over to his Kickstarter to find out more.

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PWA Stats

CSS-Tricks - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 08:17

A community-driven list of stats and news related to Progressive Web Apps

Things like:

Twitter Lite saw a 65% increase in pages per session, 75% in Tweets, and a 20% decrease in bounce rate. Twitter Lite loads in under 3 seconds for repeat visits even on slow networks.

It's in the same veins as WPO Stats, which is focused solely on web performance and positive effects of doing a good job.

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PWA Stats is a post from CSS-Tricks

Explore the Giant Design Asset and Vector Bundle

Creative web design! - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 07:53

No designer should be without the assets they need to create. If you feel like your latest project is missing something, explore the bundle of new assets in the Giant Design Asset and Vector Bundle, on sale now for just $69 (approx. £54)!

Each and every designer is sure to find something useful in the Giant Design Asset and Vector Bundle – there is nearly $2,500 worth of assets in the form of templates, icons, vectors, stock photos and more packed into this massive collection. No matter what your next project calls for, you’ll have the resources to make it happen.

The Giant Design Asset and Vector Bundle is valued at $2,497. That means you’re in for a massive saving by grabbing this bundle on sale now for just $69 (approx. £54)! Don’t let this pass you by, grab this deal today.

Peek inside ImagineFX issue 151 – out now!

Creative web design! - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 07:30

Last month ImagineFX celebrated its 150th issue, but it's showing no signs of slowing down. Issue 151 is on sale now, and it's packed with all the awesome advice, interviews and insights you'd expect from the world's leading digital art magazine. 

Buy ImagineFX issue 151 now

On the cover this month is an astral-themed portrait by Tran Nguyen. Flip to the Workshop section to find out how she combined ink, pencils and paint to pull together this mesmerising design. Read on to find out what other treats you'll find inside the issue...

Find out how this English artist brought Terry Pratchett's world to life

English artist Paul Kidby’s work is synonymous with the world of Terry Pratchett. The ImagineFX team caught up with him to learn how he went from honing his illustration skills under the watchful eye of a mysterious neighbour to hashing out book cover ideas with one of the world’s finest fantasy authors.

Take a closer look at this award-winning artist's portfolio

Aaron Miller’s work has attracted clients such as Magic: The Gather, Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons. This month, the team chatted to the award-winning artist about the importance of learning traditional techniques, and why classical religious art paved the way for the fantasy genre. 

Spare a second thought for your mental wellbeing

Artists have a reputation as free-spirited beings, but look closer and there's a tendency towards perfectionism and the unnatural pressure of being creative to a deadline. Suddenly burnout doesn’t seems like a real risk. This month, the ImagineFX team asked leading artists about their experiences of stress, and for some advice on how they deal with it.

Top tutorials

How to harness the unpredictability of watercolour

If you’re looking to expand your skills (and who isn’t?), there are plenty of practical tutorials to be found in the pages of the new issue, too. Emily Hare shares the thinking behind her delicate creature illustrations, and explains how to embrace the unpredictability of working in watercolour.

Improve your worldbuilding skills

Creating an effective environment can be a careful balancing act, but Anna Hollinrake has it down pat. This issue, she shares her worldbuilding tips in an in-depth guide to creating a scene filled with colour and life. And there’s a video to follow, too. 

Make your first strides in a new medium

If you really want to push yourself, how about turning your hand to a new medium altogether? This issue marks the start of a four-part series exploring how to get going with gouache. Learn all about the gear you need, how to get set up, and the techniques for mixing the colours you need. 

Subscribe to Imagine FX and save up to 47%

Google's free cloud storage app is finally here

Creative web design! - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 06:57

Earlier this week, Google unveiled the launch of its long-teased Backup and Sync feature. The tool gives everyone the opportunity to protect a whole computer's worth of system files via its cloud storage, and all for the princely sum of absolutely nothing.

Promising to be a 'simpler, speedier and more reliable way to protect the files and photos that mean the most to you,' the Backup and Sync app is sure to be a godsend for creatives with images and assets spread over a multitude of devices.

The app replaces old Google uploader tools

The tool works like a turbo-charged Google Drive in that it automatically stores files that are saved onto a computer's internal hard drive or other devices such as memory cards. If you've ever been thankful to Google Drive for saving a document all by itself, imagine that joy and relief but for your images.

Backup and Sync replaces the Google Photos desktop uploader and Drive for both Windows and Mac computers, and if it delivers on its promised ease of functionality, we could see the app rivalling the likes of Dropbox.

If there's one catch, it's that Backup and Sync has a 15GB cap due to the ceiling imposed by free Drive accounts. This leaves users with two options: pay for some more storage or be selective with what you backup to Drive.

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7 best new fonts of 2017

Creative web design! - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 05:00

Like any design element, we all have our favourite fonts to fall back on. But you don’t want your work to get stale. So it’s good once in a while to check out the latest new fonts to hit the market.

And while we all loving getting free fonts, if that’s all you look at, you’re certainly restricting your scope.

So in this post, we gather together the best new fonts (paid-for and free) to grab our attention this year so far. We're sure you'll find a font that inspires you among them.

01. Inkwell

Jonathan Hoefler’s Inkwell is based on handwritten designs

If there’s one font that regularly attracts bad press from the design community, it's Comic Sans – even the artist whose work inspired it hates it. So it’s great news that type designer Jonathan Hoefler has come up with a more professional alternative, in the form of Inkwell, a font family based on handwritten designs.

Suitable for both print and digital, Inkwell comes in a variety of styles: serif, sans, script, Blackletter, Tuscan and Open. It has a soft and friendly look, while retaining the character set, weight range and high technical quality of a professional typeface. It costs $399 (around £309) for the full package of 48 styles, each in six weights.

02. FS Irwin

FS Irwin is inspired by New York City’s subway font

Released in March this year by boutique font foundry Fontsmith, FS Irwin is a humanist sans-serif font that’s clean and highly legible. It was created by Fontsmith’s senior designer Fernando Mello, who says he was inspired by the cosmopolitan nature of New York, and more specifically the city’s subway font. 

FS Irwin is characterised by a sense of pureness and simplicity, while details in the lower case letters, such as the angled, chiselled spurs and their open terminals, add extra touches of visual interest to prevent it becoming too bland. 

Extensively tested and precisely drawn, this text-oriented font is extremely versatile, and Fontsmith suggests it could be used for both playful and serious designs. It's priced at £180 for the family of 12 fonts.

03. Gilbert

Gilbert is a tribute to the late Gilbert Baker, creator of the rainbow flag

In March this year Gilbert Baker – the artist and activist who designed the rainbow flag, a universal symbol of gay pride – sadly passed away. To honour him, Ogilvy teamed up with type foundry Fontself and LGBTQI organisations NewFest and NYC Pride to create a cool new font in tribute. 

Baker designed the iconic flag in 1978, and so the font takes its palette choices from both the flag itself and the hues of that era. Its creators hope that it will be used for rally and protest banners. 

Currently in preview in two versions (a standard vector font and a colour font in OpenType-SVG format), Gilbert is free to download from the Type with Pride site, along with accompanying artwork. The aim is to eventually develop it into a full font family, and you can keep an eye on progress towards this goal on this blog

04. Masqualero

Masqualero is inspired by the music of Miles Davis

Another font inspired by a legendary creative, Masqualero takes its name from a classic track by Miles Davis on the 1967 Sorcerer album. Designed by Jim Ford of Monotype’s in-house studio, the serif font offers an enticing mixture of sharp and rounded shapes that nicely mirror the contradictions within the jazz great’s music.

With potential uses including publishing, mastheads, headlines, logos, packaging, signage, book covers and annual reports, this colourful and evocative typeface offers a great way to add a vibrant feel to your designs for £170/$199 for 14 fonts.

05. Ricardo

Created by Dutch designer Jasper de Waard, Ricardo combines the clarity and visual simplicity of geometric type design with the friendliness and readability of a humanist approach.

Ricardo is provided in three subfamilies: Ricardo, Ricardo Alt, and Ricardo Ita. The first is the most conventional, and thus the most suitable for longform body copy. The second has a more geometric feel, with simplified shapes for the a, j, u, and t. The third offers a slightly more off-kilter, cursive alternative to the standard italics.

This lovely font is suitable for both body type and display text, such as in branding and marketing. It comes with 812 glyphs, supports more than 100 languages, and includes arrows and case-sensitive punctuation. The complete family package costs £142.99(around $185).

06. Zilla Slab

Mozilla’s new branding came with a new font, which has since been released to the community as a free download

Back in January, Mozilla released a striking new logo and branding for 2017. And more recently, it’s made the font used in its creation a free download for everyone to use. 

It was designed by Typotheque, which drew on its own slab serif font, Tesla, as the basis for its development. With smooth curves and true italics, Zilla Slab provides a business-like look and feel, as well as a high level of readability at all weights.

The first free font to be provided by the Mozilla Foundation, Zilla Slab is also open source so you can contribute to its development on Github.

07. Noto Serif CJK

The shape of particular characters in Noto Serif CJK adjust depending whether the text is vertical or horizontal

If you’re creating designs that need to be translated into both Eastern and Western languages (or which combine different alphabets within the same design), you’ll be pleased to discover Noto Serif CJK, which was released in April.

The result of a partnership between Google and Adobe, this font is designed to look consistent across Chinese, Japanese and and Korean (CJK) characters as well as the English, Cyrillic and Greek alphabets. It’s free to download from Google Fonts, Github or Adobe Typekit, where it’s titled Source Hans.

Noto Serif CJK serves as a companion font to Noto Sans CJK (aka Source Han Sans), a sans serif released in 2014 that also maintains its style across CJK scripts.

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