A few quick thoughts on drop shadows

Setting up a drop shadow on some type seems pretty straightforward right? You can use the drop shadow tool or maybe just duplicate the type and move the copy behind the original and offset it a little bit; at least this used to be my thought process before class with Ed Benguiat. Below is an example of what you might get if you set the drop shadow that way.

The drop shadow in the preceding illustration is an exact duplicate of the shape above it. The problem with the method shown above is that even though it reproduces the shapes perfectly, the shapes aren't uniformly thick at all points. When drop shadows are added to type they are no longer just representations of shadows, they become part of the rhythm of the word. The lack of visual consistency caused by technically correct drop shadows breaks up the rhythm of the word.

The example above shows the inconsistencies in the diagonal and round shapes. The diagonals get way too thin or disappear altogether and many of the round shapes end up too heavy. One solution to this problem is to cut apart the letterforms that make up the drop shadow and adjust it manually. Below is an example of the drop shadow manually adjusted.

Problems like this remind me that I need to trust my eyes and not just the numbers.


Something I completely fail to understand

When littering the objective is usually either convenience or laziness.

Why would someone go out of their way and climb over/under the scaffolding just to get rid of their coffee cup like that?


Usability isn't just for the web

This sign always puzzles me as I walk by it into the grocery store. The objective of the sign seems to be to get customers to bring shopping carts with them from the parking lot into the store to assist the people who have to gather the carts in the parking lot. It seems like a really nice idea but there's one major problem. Look I even did a little infographic to explain it.

If the sign had been placed out in the parking lot where all the carts are it probably would work great. Now it accomplishes two things as you walk into the store. It could make you think, "oops I should have brought a cart in… oh well." or possibly, "oh yeah, I need a cart" then causing a customer to grab from the ones by the door. In either circumstance the sign fails not because of bad design, but because of bad placement. This is where usability is crucial. Good design doesn't end with making sure the type on the sign is legible; it's also placing the sign in such a way that the people that need to use it can get the information they need at the time that they need it.


This is Maya Olivia

I'm an uncle today.

There are some more great pictures over on Steve's blog