kerning: [kur-ningnoun, Printing

1.  the setting of two letters closer together than is usual by removing space between them.

I would venture to say that if done right, most people wouldn’t have a clue that there is an adjustment in spacing between characters. People would only notice if done incorrectly. It’s basic Typography 101 for readability and legibility.

Compare yourself to the professionals with this kerning game developed by Mark McKay at Method of Action.

Kerning Game for Method of Action

Making it REAL

Experience truly is the best teacher. When it comes to turning your artwork into real world, tangible objects, unexpected challenges often arise. Those challenges mean you have to truly understand (as best you can) the hows and why things work or why they fail.

My Adobe Illustrator training has spanned so many facets because the program is used by so many graphic arts, etc. The old adage, “jack of all trades, master of none” comes to mind. If you really want to hone your skills in a particular field, you have to first understand the generalities and work your way down to the nitty gritty.

In this case, I was challenged to do something relatively simple: create interesting spiral shapes within a fixed dimension (approximately 73″ x 67″). The shapes would have to be cut out by a CNC plasma cutting machine, boxed in (3 dimensional), tacked and welded to be fastened to a hardy backer wall. Within the spirals would be river rocks.

Questions arise such as how many spirals? How big? How much decay? Thick to start or the reverse? What should the ends of the spirals look like? How to create a pleasing balance? This was my final result after many iterations:



Simple enough, right? Well..not exactly. Most CNC machines (water jet cutters or plasma) require DXF files (Drawing Exchange Format) files, used with the industry-standard AutoCad programs. Illustrator, it turns out, doesn’t export DXF files very well. Well, I should qualify that statement by saying that they are just two different animals, used primarily for two different purposes. DXF files like lines, not fills, bounding boxes, etc.

Well, we finally got them cut.

Steel spiral cutouts

Steel spirals cut from a CNC plasma cutting machine. Thank you GFC Precision!

Very cool to see what you’ve created on your computer screen translated into a tangible result! So, after boxing the spirals in, applying a patina, and clear coating, it was time to install them.


Diego Velazquez, from Santa Fe Metal Design, Installs the Spirals

So, this is the as yet unfinished project (final photos to come).

3-D Steel Spirals with Patina

3-D Steel Spirals with Patina

So, I have whetted my appetite by using the skills that I have learned in a real world fashion. Not without its complications, but bring on the complications! I have learned so much and will continue to learn.


Making the Pixels Pretty

Spring 2015 blossoms

Spring 2015 blossoms

Mother Nature does most of the work to make things beautiful I’d say. Capturing its magnificence is what I strive for in camera. When my amateur photography fails, using Adobe Lightroom for localized adjustments is fantastic. Photoshop gives the most options but sometimes you simply don’t want to deal with all of the layers.

Good enough to eat! Food Photography Tips

When it comes to visual appeal, nothing can succeed or fail so much as food photography. We’ve all been there. You’re perusing a menu at a restaurant, drive-thru, or even television. Sure, that food SOUNDS good but the lighting is bad, the colors are flat. Maybe you hope that it tastes better than it looks? I am always baffled that some restaurateurs put so little into their visual presentation, since pictures really do “say a thousand words”.

With some basic knowledge, anyone can make foods more appealing. This is a great resource that I found that will be tucked away for future reference. Maybe you don’t have a restaurant but LOVE to take pics of your food for Facebook or Twitter? Bon Appétit!

Using the Rule of Thirds for Proper Placement

Using the Rule of Thirds for Proper Placement–photography courtesy of

Color Inspiration

I came across this lovely website that just has me in awe. It is called Design Seeds. Jessica, the creator, has created the most inspiring color palettes I have ever seen. She encourages people to use her custom color palettes in their own projects. Hex codes are available for each color. Breathtakingly BEAUTIFUL!

Color is such a great communicator and good design is all about effective communication.

Design Seeds "Winter Tones"

Beautiful “Winter Tones” color palette created by Design Seeds 2015 (–Try it and you’ll LOVE it! is the ultimate resource for anyone wishing to learn online. Most graphic students know about it and use it. Anyone can learn various skills, such as photography, animation, business, design, audio, coding (to name just a few) from top-notch industry users and instructors.

It is a subscription based tutorial service that is worth every penny! However, you don’t always have to pay for it. Check out your local library. Many libraries subscribe to Lynda and all you need is a library card! Albuquerque Public Library offers this service. It’s a useful treasure.

Even so, they often have free tutorials available, such as this one: Draw Flowering Vectors with Deke’s Techniques

Here are some of my takes on this brief tutorial. What fun it was! Why don’t you give it a try?

Flowering Vector Illustrator Tutorial (Purples)

Flowering Vector Illustrator Tutorial (Purples)

Flowering Vector Illustrator Tutorial (Blues)

Flowering Vector Illustrator Tutorial (Blues)

Photogenic animals

Some animals (like people) are more photogenic than others. This is our beautiful 3-year old Labrador mix. Now, what she’s mixed with is a mystery. Little brownish spots dot her mostly white fur, reminiscent of a heeler. This one is the subject of many hugs and kisses on a daily basis. Under such duress, she’s always accommodating. She’s got an older brother and sister (both rescues from a puppy mill). I’ll get some good pics of them, too.

Our puppy, Sonja, the apple of our eye!

Our puppy, Sonja, the apple of our eye!


Sound Typography “rules”

Typography rules poster

For a beginning typography student, these are wonderful rules to remember. Good combinations of font styles reinforce your messaging and bring compositions to life. Breaking the rules often results in monotony or too much embellishment.

For a simple guide to basic typography rules, this is a fantastic link to bookmark:

Butterick’s Practical Typography