Best of the Blogs: March 31, 2011

In each installment of the Best of the Blogs column (see the debut here), I’ll divide the things I find into categories; for example, Typography, Photoshop, and Web. When appropriate, I’ll also include links to the blog where I first saw an item.

If you have a suggestion for a blog I should be checking, let me know by posting the URL in this article’s Comments.

From basic selection tips to avant-garde Helvetica, type accommodates all.

Stymied about typeface selection? Read How to choose a typeface at Smashing Magazine.

When choosing those typefaces, be glad you didn’t have to choose from the 1923 American Typefounder’s Catalog, linked to by Coudal Partners. It’s a fascinating specimen.

LetterCult’s annual custom letters review is an amazing collection of 2010’s best lettering. Save at least an hour to get through the entire batch. It’s worth it. Via Coudal Partners.

Learn type history with Mike Parker’s Story of Type posted at The Font Bureau. The timing is apropos as Parker, who worked in both metal type at Linotype and digital type at Bitstream, will receive the rarely bestowed Type Director’s Club Medal on April 6.

Another titan of type, Meta designer and FontShop founder Erik Spiekermann, is being honored with an exhibition at the Bauhaus-Archiv Museum of Design in Berlin in light of his receiving the German Design Lifetime Achievement Award, notes The FontFeed. If you can’t get to Berlin, watch this video of Spiekermann articulating how type serves society, via Design Observer.

See the world rendered completely in type in this Typographic World Map posted by Fast Company Design.

Wonder if that typographic map includes Chartwell, the infographic font from

Dig deep with this explanation as to why the point size and the em square are not what you think by Thomas Phinney.

Helvetica is the typeface you either embrace or reject. In the former category is this “LiveType” font in which Helvetica reinvents itself based on what the other letters do (at least I think that’s what it does). Thanks to Coudal Partners for the link. In the latter category is this tongue-in-cheek Helvetica Detector, via Aqua-Velvet.

InDesign & Quark
These InDesign tips range from the essential to the esoteric.

“Adobe Indesign Tips I Wish I’d Known When Starting Out” is a nice primer—or reminder—about some “gotchas” in InDesign. Thanks to Smashing Magazine.

You may also want to check out “5 Things You May Not Know About InDesign CS5” by Terry White.

Here’s a fun tip about how to draw concentric shapes in InDesign, from InDesignSecrets.

Wrestling with how to make copy fit in your InDesign layouts? See how one expert copy fits text from Gilbert Consulting.

Now here’s an esoteric tip about the oe ligature in InDesign CS5. Who knew?

And for you QuarkXPress users out there, Planet Quark looks more closely at the new ShapeMaker feature in the upcoming QuarkXPress 9.

These links can help you make pretty text or write scripts—kind of a left-brain/right-brain thing.

Learn how to “Tug and Twirl Text” among other Illustrator Must-Know Text Effects via Noupe.

Mordy Golding tells you how to create a script that will convert PDF pages to Illustrator artboards, posted on the Real World Illustrator blog.

Photoshop and Lightroom
Can you ever know too much about Photoshop? I thought not.

First off, our go-to-guy John Nack assures Mac users that OS 10.6.7 and Photoshop CS5 have resolved their conflicts.

Here’s a simple but valuable tip about color coding Photoshop layers from the divine Julieanne Kost.

Photoshop CS5 boasts impressive HDR features, as Peachpit Press points out in “Understanding HDR toning in Photoshop CS5”.

If you want to go deeper into Adobe Camera Raw, you may like these new video tutorials by George Jardine, former Photoshop and Lightroom evangelist at Adobe.

Print this out and tack it above your desk: It’s a Photoshop etiquette manifesto for Web designers via designer-daily. Even print-centric Photoshop users should take this to heart.

I love black-and-white photography. If you do too, click over to “Making Beautiful Black-and-White Images in Lightroom 3” via Jules Café.

This handy round-up of “30 Awesome Photoshop Text Effect Tutorials” comes from I find it amusing that the tutorial “Create Colorful Ornamental Text Photoshop” is accompanied by an image with “I’m a Loser” as sample text.

There’s a bunch of good advice for photographers here, so read on.

The great thing about a digital SLR camera is that you can change lenses. But if you’re new to DSLR, how do you know which lenses to get? Beyond Megapixels lays out which three lenses you should buy first.

Another camera option that also lets you change lenses is a compact interchangeable-lens camera. Macworld reviews the best.

Once you’ve figured which camera and lenses to buy, watch this podcast for 10 tips for packing your camera bag by Derrick Story at The Digital Story.

If you’re confused about exposure—what it is, how it works, etc.—you’ll want to read “Back to Basics: Exposure Explained”, from Beyond Megapixels.

Digital cameras don’t capture images in black and white—that conversion happens in image editing software—but it might be helpful to shoot as if you were shooting in black and white. This post from Digital Photography School explains.

Gear up for a busy summer of shooting by learning how to find clients for your photography business. Already got clients? Get more cash with these 20 ways to increase sales in your photo business. Both posts are from GoingPro.

With graduations, weddings, and other festivities, spring and summer are high seasons for portrait photography. Make that grad glad and that bride blush with these 10 techniques for amazing portraits from Digital Photography School.

Holga and Lomo toy cameras that capture images on film are all the rage. Want to get that analog look with your digital camera? Digital Photography School says that Alien Skin’s Lo-Fi software bridges the gap.

Go really low-tech by making a DIY Cardboard Hasselblad Pinhole Camera. There’s even a downloadable template! Thanks to CRAFTzine for the tip.

For digital photographers there are few things worse than a flaky or failed memory card. Here’s one way to rescue images from a damaged SD card via Jules Café.

Less-is-more Web design and do-more-with-less coding are some recent blog topics.

These 35 minimalist Website designs from youthedesigner feel like a breath of fresh air in a crowded room.

Even sparsely designed websites can have densely packed code. These ideas from Design Festival help you prevent a bloated homepage.

See how typographic hierarchy affects the meaning and design of your web page. This post on TypeKit’s blog has exercises and examples that illustrate the point.

Hongkiat compiled an informative and thorough beginner’s guide to CSS3.

Looking to spiff up your email newsletter? Noupe’s free HTML newsletter templates could help.

If straight quotes bug you, here’s the code to add curly ones.

Clear advice and hidden messages rise up from the design community.

When I clicked through this post on Neatorama, I was surprised and mesmerized by these hidden messages in popular logos. I will never look at a Tostitos bag the same way again.

Speaking of packaging, see what Dieline deemed its top 10 package designs.

The amount of data isn’t what makes a good chart. Design is. Check out these lively examples of how to design charts for better typography and color, courtesy of Noupe.

Long before Twitter, design legend Massimo Vignelli spoke his own pithy words of advice. At a recent gala honoring him, Pentagram’s Michael Bierut designed a program featuring Vignelli’s maxims. (Fun coincidence: the Helvetica Detector mentioned above lists Vignelli as a Helvetica Criminal.)

Go to page 2 for links to blog posts about creative professionalism, books made into Kindle covers, Adobe’s museum, and much more.

Posted on: March 31, 2011

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