Heavy Hitting Twitter Traffic

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(Click to enlarge)

Every now and again, people discover a post I wrote back in 2006 that discusses the Fedex logo, and presents an interview with its designer, Lindon Leader of Leader Creative.

A Twitter user tweeted the Fedex article, and before I knew what was happening, a flock of followers were hammering my server. I had to install a WordPress plugin called WP Super Cache, that presents viewers with a frozen static HTML page instead of the normal version that WordPress generates for each visitor. That spike would have been four times higher had I not acted.

Meanwhile, there’s a steady but calmer stream of fascinating comments being posted on older articles. Many of the comments are from people descended from the artists featured in Articles & Texticles, as well as owners, past and present, of pictures shown here.

Have a peek at articles about William Orpen, and Ivan Choultsé for starters.


Die Duckomenta Gerben Steenks

I was going to post a few images of the new exhibition of Die Duckomenta, but the idea of wading (or waddling) through a hundred and twenty versions of the same joke made me grab just a couple of the non-duck images. (below).

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Based on that Dancing Dutchman.
(Click these thumbnails to enlarge them, please)

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With a nod to Kurt the Kunstmeister.

A friend and colleague, Gerben Steenks (known as Gur-B), worked at the coalface of the Mickey industry in deepest Duckburg for a while, and was paid to put a graphical twist on the old menagerie of Disney characters.

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(Do keep clicking on these thumbnails!)
He’s now freelance and producing some amazingly unhinged work that’s impossible to classify, yet instantly attention-grabbing.

A small sample:

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I hope Gerben is thinking of selling prints of these.
Link to the Gur-B blog.
Link to Gur-B Flickr page.

The B in Gur-B
(The B in Gur-B)


The Best Photoshop Tip I’ve Ever Forgotten

There are so many handy tips about obscure Photoshop techniques floating around, that sooner or later, some of the more arcane ones just float off, beyond the reach of memory. Well; my memory, anyway.

The research I do entails a lot of scanning, and of all sorts of materials. Typescripts, books and magazines, and even old faxes that can all take a huge amount of Photoshop tweaking before they yield their textual hearts to the OCR software and become malleable, editable text once more.

I once found a tip that made it really easy to discover the exact angle that an image of a page needed to be rotated by to make it perfectly vertical once more. That was a few years ago, and through lack of use, I forgot the darn thing.
Many trial and error filled hours were spent trying to gauge tiny fractions of a degree of rotation so as to straighten my pictures. What an obstinate waste of time.

Today I was trying to clean up some old notes written by Richard Williams about various animation topics that will form a new series of posts here. Some of the notes had been photocopied at extremely wonky angles to the photocopier, and I thought it would be a good moment to re-learn the beautiful and subtle rotation photoshop technique. I rediscovered it at the Tek-Tips forum (1,354,000 members) that I normally consult for hardware problems, and there’s a huge community of people discussing tech tips about every minute aspect of computing.

You can see it demonstrated below. (all the images get bigger when you click them)

First: Scan your image –

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Your typical wonky scan that needs to be rotated. But by how much, exactly? One degree? One and a smidgin?
First you need to get to the Measure Tool. This is not an everyday tool, I suspect from the fact that it’s buried way down a right click submenu, and it’s probably most commonly used for measuring the edges of right angled components. However, it also measures angle, much to my joy.

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Dig down by right clicking on the eyedropper tool and you’ll find it.

thumbnail of Underline the feature whose angle you want to measure
Drag the Measure tool along the baseline of the text, or whatever it is whose slope you wish to measure. This example shows the very thin line of the Measure tool on the baseline of some type, between the two purple arrows.
O.K. Now click on Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary and Tadaaah!! the angle in degrees is already in the box, awaiting your next click Clockwise or Counter Clockwise….

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Accuracy and convenience. Who could ask for more? Just click OK!

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Straight up! The grid shows how accurate this method is. To remove the grid press Ctrl and “H”

Coming soon: The Richard Williams Notes

Speculative Cigar Box Samples

Here is a selection of beautiful samples of the chromolithographic printer’s art, applied to cigar boxes.
They seem to be speculative samples that were sent out to North American cigar packers around 1880 -1910, judging by the costumes.

While it’s fortunate that whoever runs the Brasilian website containing these images has gone to the trouble of collecting and showing them to us, it’s a pity that there’s such a heavy handed application use of elliptical cutouts that often spoil the presentation.

Naturally, I was attracted to the more bizarre images….
(As usual, please click the small pictures to enlarge them.)

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Cuba. Home of the fine cigar.

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Don’t they smoke stogies, rather than cigars?

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Cow Girl, surely???

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Hey, have a Segar before you blow your horn solo…

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“Easy on the terrible puns, please…”

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“A woman is an occasional pleasure but a cigar is always a smoke.” – Groucho Marx

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A brilliant, almost 21st Century, brand name on this one, and the best ampersand I’ve seen in ages.
I’m curious about what the little girl is doing with the dog, though. Doesn’t that amount to abuse?

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“*Cough* O.K. Get your coat: – you’ve pulled. *Cough*”.

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I can’t even conjecture what might be happening here, nor guess its association with cigars.
Let’s move along swiftly to the next please….

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The connection with cigars becomes increasingly abstruse as you plough through this collection of cigar box labels. …. Next!

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Is this one of the people who is posing such a threat to the US Army in Iraq at the moment? If so, it’s a damn’ fine disguise!

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The Man. “The first sample is free, kids…”

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Here are some links. (They don’t obey any known logic system. That I know of.)
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
Link 4
Link 5
Link 6
Link 7


This is one of the oddest websites I have seen in a while. I cannot remember what I was researching when I found it. All I know is that I was held entranced in its soft and quirky grip for a time that seemed to last for ages, but in reality was probably very short.

I give you – Colourcountry.

thumbnail of Splash page for Colour Country

thumbnail of Tube map of London's East End

I’ve made this conjectural map a bit bigger in the next picture. Anyone familiar with the uneven distribution of underground lines in London, and who lives in South East London, will appreciate the desire to see this map become a true reflection of the reality on the ground.

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In your dreams!

There’s a lot more to the site than new twists on maps, however. You must take a while to look at the “Gentleman’s Enquire Within“, alongside the rest of the curiosities on offer.

This Is The End, My Friend. The End….

One of the mantras in screenwriting is that you have to know the end before you can write the beginning. Or the middle.

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(If you click this thumbnail, it will get slightly bigger, but not much!)

This set on Flickr concentrates on the very, very end of the film. In truth, it’s the bit that really comes after the end.

Flickr user Fliegender presents a set called 24fps that shows screengrabs (from TV) of classic The End titles, and invites us to enjoy the typographic experience.

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Such classy type design.

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Some of them are in colour –

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Personally speaking, I can’t look at these without some very corny cinema music going through my head.

There’s even a Flickr group dedicated to these end title cards.

May all your endings be happy ones!

One for Luc Desmarchelier

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(Cliquez l’image minuscule pour l’agrandir)
There’s a less scabrous version here, albeit with terrible pincushion distortion.

Rummaging around on the Onslow auction site for some posters by Eric Kennington, I came across this little gem by a French poster artist that I’d never heard of before; Jean d’Ylen. Socks were blown off. Have a look at this next one:

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Is this boy the boss of poster composition, or what? There’s only one place your eye can possibly focus.

I found the Kennington posters I was after, but just before I left the site, I was abruptly pulled up by this poster design that’s frankly so weird and whacked out that I believe the artist must have been paid in kind by the Gilbeys company.

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(Click to embiggen)


D’Ylen wasn’t just a very competent poster designer. In true French tradition, he placed enormous emphasis on the theory behind his practice, and wrote a book on the economics of poster advertising.
He was way ahead of his time.