lørdag den 25. november 2017

Margaret O`Rorke: Ceramics Artist, who brings light to life

Margaret O'Rorke is one of the artists and a person that I really admire. I was lucky to meet and work with Margaret for five month in her studio in Oxford. It was a time with a lot of learning and I got insight into her way of working with material and form. I saw her way to inspiration and how she brought her projects to life.

Margaret cleverly and very creatively combines porcelain and light in her works. She treats the material with respect for its intrinsic beauty and creates amazing, sensitive masterpieces. You can sense the source of her inspiration, but you can also fly away with your own imagination.

Margaret is a very open person. She is curious, observant and interested in people, science, nature, and, of course, life. She is full of positive energy, which she gives to everything and everybody around her. With her ceramics, she brings life to the light, and as a person she brings light to life.

After she finished with her professional education in 1959, Margaret didn't have the possibility to work professionally as a potter. Instead she ran a catering business together with her husband. Margaret is not just a wizard in the studio, but also in the kitchen, where she excels in making food. The true wizardry comes, when she magically conjured a meal out of almost nothing during my stay of study.

However, at the age of 40 she returned to her dream to make ceramics. And now at the age of almost 80 she is full of energy. She travels around the world with exhibitions, talks and workshops. She is the author of the book "Clay, Light and Water".  Her pieces are represented in galleries and private collections and public spaces. Together with her son she is now founding a new lighting company with her creating ideas for manufactured translucent porcelain lighting that will be more affordable. 

With her art and life attitude Margaret inspires courage and she is a great inspiration for me.

onsdag den 8. november 2017

New Adobe Illustrator Update October 2017: Custom Scripts as Actions

А new update for Adobe Illustrator is released and it has some really cool new features. I find the Puppet Tool very useful and the updated Properties Panel is cool.
But there is one thing I am particularly happy about: You can now run your Custom Scripts as an Action!

The function has been there for years, BUT there was a bug in the program, that made the action stop working when Illustrator had been closed and reopened. When Illustrator was reopened, the actions were not functional and you could start to make your actions again from scratch. This bug existed in Illustrator since 2015. 2015! For almost THREE YEARS. But now Illustrator developers have at last fixed it, so we can fully benefit from this super feature! Hallelujah!

So today I'll talk about how to make you custom scripts works as an Action. This is just amazing and I'm sure you will love it.
I have a couple of custom scripts I use every day. As examples: the dimensioning script and date script. The first script I found many years ago here. It is not the only script for that task, if you search on the net you will find some other scripts, that put dimensions on your artwork.
The second one I found here. I customized this script a bit as I only use the date of creation.

How to install and use a script is usually well described on the page you download it from. So I will skip that part, and instead I'll skip to how you can make a custom script work as an action.

Start to open Action Palette. Go to Window and choose Actions.

Create your own Action set by going to an upper right corner and choose New set from the drop down menu.

In the dialog box, you can type the name you want to use for your Action set. I called mine for Productivista.

Now you can create a New Action by going to the upper right corner and choose New Action from the drop down menu.

It will open the New Action dialog box. Give your action a name (I called mine for Dimensions) and choose a Function key (I took F7). Press Record

Then go again to Action Palette and choose Insert Menu Item

The Insert Menu Item Dialog Box will appear. Start to type the name of your Custom Script in the text field and then press Find. If you saved your action in the right place in your computer its name will be found by the program.
Press OK and then remember to stop recording the action by pressing the Stop Playing/Recording button.

Now you can activate your custom script by pressing the shortcut key. In my case it is F7.
It is really amazing! And after the update, your actions are still there even after you restart your Adobe Illustrator.
The same way you can put your other Custom Scripts to work and it will save you a LOT of time and enable you to work much more productively with your artwork and designs.

I hope you find it useful and will become as fond of this feature as I am.

søndag den 29. oktober 2017

Simple trick to merge colors in Adobe Illustrator


Today I will show you a simple trick about how to merge colors in the Illustrator swatch palette. Usually I use it if I can see, that there are two almost similar colors in my artwork. Sometimes also for other purposes, but more about this later. It really depend of the specific artwork.
As a first step you must create a color group.
Do this by first selecting your artwork.
Then go to the swatches panel and press the New Color Group button.
The next step is very important: In the New Color Group Dialog Box mark the check box "Convert Process to Global".
Your new group will appear in the Swatches panel.
You can see, that all swatches now have a little triangle in the lower right corner. The triangle means that they are all Global Swatches. You can read about the differences between Process, Global and Spot colors in my previous blog post here.
In the artwork I am using in this example,  I have to orange colors, that are very similar to each other. I can´t see any reason to have both of them, so why not merge them?
In order to do so:
  1. First select the swatch you want the color will be
  2. Then select the swatch you want to overwrite by holding the Shift key or Cmd/Ctrl key
  3. Then choose the Merge Swatches command from the Drop down menu in the upper right corner
The two orange colors will be merged and the Artwork is updated "automagically".

This can also be used more extensively. Now, let us say, that I want my artwork to be only Black and White.
By pressing Cmd/Ctrl key or Shift key I choose all swatches I want to be Black and merge them the way I described earlier.
I do the same with all swatches I want to be White

I end with only two swatches in my group. Then its very easy to change the colors. I just double click on the swatch I want to be White and change it in the pop up menu.
And do the same with the Swatch, that is supposed to be Black.

This is a very simple way to manage your swatches. There are a couple of other smart tools in Illustrator, which helps you to recolor artwork. I plan to explain them in my future posts. Let me know in the comments below if you find any smart uses for your artwork ;-)

tirsdag den 10. oktober 2017

Process, Global and Spot colors in Adobe Illustrator

Hello again,

Here on Productivista I want to make a series of blog posts dedicated to the theme: Changing colors in Adobe Illustrator.

First I want to make a brief introduction to the differences between Process, Global and Spot colors.

I´m one of these persons, who loves autumn.  That´s why I created an autumn inspired illustration for my posts about color changing.

Process colors swatch

In Adobe Illustrator Process colors are a mix of some primary colors. For example CMYK or RGB.
I will start with making a swatch of the color I used as a background. In order to do it I choose the orange rectangle and go to swatches panel where I choose "New Swatch" from drop down menu in the upper right corner.
 In option dialog box I give my swatch the name "Background" and then press OK.
My new swatch appears in the swatch panel and this swatch is a Process color swatch.

Global Color Swatch

In order to create a Global swatch you just need to mark the checkbox "Global" in the Swatch Option dialog box.
It will create the swatch with a little triangle in the bottom right corner.

The distinction is crucial. There is a big difference between Process and Global swatches. A Process swatch is just a placeholder for the colors and not linked to the drawing. Now, try and apply the Global swatch to a couple of elements at your artwork. Double click on the swatch and the Swatch options dialog box will appear.

Remember to put a check mark in Preview and you will see changes on the fly.
You will see, that when you change color values in the Swatch option dialog box the color will be changed at every place the Global swatch have been used: in fill, in stroke, in gradient or even in symbols.

Spot Colors

You can recognize the Spot colors by a little dot in the white triangle in the lower right corner of the colored square on the swatch.

The Spot colors indicate, that the person in the printshop must create a separate plate for these areas. Usually spot colors are swatches from one of the Pantone books, but you can also create your own Spot color. Choose "Spot Color" from the drop down menu in the Color Type option and press OK.

The color choice for the custom Spot Swatch doesn't really matter, because it usually just used to communicate with your printshop responsible. If you want some special effects in your artwork, for example if you want to make some areas shiny or metallic or put some glitter on, then you can use spot color to tell the printshop that they must make a separate plate for it. And you must of course tell them separately, what effect you want to use.

Let us say, that I want the small flying leaves in my illustration to be printed in gold. Then I will assign my own Spot color to them, as you can se below.
I choose my color to be 100% Magenta (as I explained before it really doesn't matter, what color you choose) and I name the swatch "Gold". The printshop then create a separate plate for them and use it to apply a golden color on the area.

I hope you find this information useful. I will be back next time with a simple trick how to easily merge swatches.

søndag den 17. september 2017

How to create a seamless pattern (old fashioned way)

To my followers, welcome back. In this post I will show how to create a seamless pattern in Adobe Illustrator.

Adobe introduced a new Pattern Options Dialog back in Illustrator version CS6. Users of Adobe Illustrator were happy about this new feature and in forums people commented how difficult it was to design patterns before that.

I must say that I'm not a big fan of the Pattern Options Dialog and I still prefer to create my patterns in the good, old fashioned way. In my opinion it is not difficult at all if you know what to do, and it is much quicker, less complicated and more flexible.

Here are my tips.
For creating a pattern you need a tile. Create a square or rectangle. It is very important to know the exact dimensions of it. I made mine 20 x 20 mm.

Now I have a square with a green fill ( just to make it visible). I also draw some simple shapes to work with. Then do the following:
  1. Choose your object (in my case is a star) 
  2. Place it in the top left corner
  3. Press "Enter" in order to open the Move dialog box
  4. Type your dimensions (in my case is 20 mm) in Horizontal Position
  5. Press Copy

The copy of a star moves horizontally at exactly 20 mm in the next corner of the square.
  1. Choose both your object (in my case stars) in the top corners
  2. Press "Enter" in order to open Move dialog box
  3. Type your dimensions in Vertical Position
  4. Press Copy

You can place some figures in the side as well and copy them on the other side of your rectangle.

In the end you can fill inside of the rectangle with objects.
Important: To define a pattern your rectangle must comply with the following:
  • It must have none stroke and none fill 
  • It must be placed behind all your objects for the pattern

  • Select your tile 
  • Drag and drop it in the Swatches Palette

At this way you create a seamless pattern. and you can assign it to your objects as fill or stroke.
It is possible to rotate or/and scale patterns in your object. Just remember to set a check mark on preview, so the changes will be visible on the fly.

In order to rotate a pattern, do the following:
  • Choose your object
  • Double click on the rotation tool in tools panel. The rotation dialog box will appear.
  • Choose the angle of the rotation ( in my case 45°)
  • Uncheck Transform Objects. 
  • Press OK

If you want to scale the pattern:
  • Choose your object
  • Double click on the scale tool in tools panel. The scale dialog box will appear.
  • Choose scale percent at Uniform (if you want the proportional scale)
  • Uncheck Transform Objects. 
  • Press OK
The created pattern has a transparent background. If you want to make a pattern with ground solid color there are two different ways to do it.
In the first case you can use an Appearance palette and add an extra fill to your object, as I described it in my previous blog post

The other way is to keep the rectangle with the fill that have been created to begin with. The simply make a copy-paste in back (see this blog post) and remove the fill from copied rectangle.
  • Choose the rectangle with a fill
  • Press "Ctrl/Cmd+C"
  • Then press "Ctrl/Cmd+B"
  • Remove fill from copied rectangle
  • Then select all elements in your tile and track-drop it in the swatch panel

It is possible to update/overwrite patterns. Press Alt wile tracking you tile into Swatches panel. Move the mouse on the pattern swatch, you wish to update/overwrite and drop it, when highlighted. It is a bit difficult to coordinate.

At the end I just want to give some bonus information. Earlier in this post I introduced a shortcut "Enter" witch opens a Move dialog box. You can use it to move objects, group of objects, as well as single points. It can save you a lot time.