Tag Archives: art

BOOK REVIEW: The Art of SEO and The Art of Community

O’Reilly’s two books The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization and The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation tackle two important aspects of web design that have been heavily researched and written about in the past couple years. There are a lot of books on the market about social media, online communities and search engine optimization, and these two books offer thorough surveys of their respective topics.

The Art of SEO


The Art of SEO is written by four authors, which generally worries me because such books often feel like compilations of diverse voices rather than a unified piece of writing. The authors mostly avoided this, making The Art of SEO a good read. It seems like an advanced book with a lot of technical information that SEO intermediates and experts will appreciate but novices and readers in other professions—such as marketing and design—might find dry and hard to slog through. I’d expect some IT professionals who are in charge of corporate websites will also find the book helpful.

The other thing about The Art of SEO that impresses me is it has some cutting-edge information, such as coverage of Bing.com and other new search engine technologies. One thing I would have liked more of in the book is general tactics and emphasis on strong content, and less emphasis on all the little tools and technologies out there. A commenter on Amazon.com used the old phrase “not seeing the forest for the trees,” and I think this is close to the truth.

The Art of Community


I think The Art of Community is really interesting because it’s the only book I know of that focuses on online communities—social media circles, news sites, mailing lists and so on. Jono Bacon used to manage the Ubuntu Linux community, so he has a strong pedigree working with online communities and I thought his insight was very remarkable. He has some good anecdotes and also has contacts who moderate other online communities and have been quoted in this book.

Being about human behavior and online participation, The Art of Community is not too technical and is often more about psychology than technology. I was really surprised at the level of planning and thought that goes into creating and conducting an online community, but there really is more to it than setting up a list server and letting users go at it. Given that the subject matter really is human behavior and emotions, sometimes I wished The Art of Community had more compelling stories and didn’t read so much like a textbook, but I suppose it wouldn’t be right for Jono to reveal some major flame wars in these pages.

The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization
Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Rand Fishkin and Jessie C. Stricchiola
Published by O’Reilly
Rating: 8/10

The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation
Jono Bacon
Published by O’Reilly
Rating: 9/10

Pantone: “Move Forward, Give Back, Chip In”

PRESS RELEASEPantone, an X-Rite company (NASDAQ: XRIT) and the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries, today announced the Move Forward, Give Back, Chip-in Program. The program makes it easier and more economical for designers, product managers, printers and all color decision makers to get up-to-date with the world’s most advanced color tools, while donating needed funds to support art education.

Updating PANTONE® Color Tools saves valuable time and money, and most importantly, guarantees that the final results of each project are exactly as intended. To help alleviate the cost of new tools, Pantone is offering a rebate of up to $500 to participants who trade in their old products. From the proceeds of new product sales, Pantone will make a donation of $25,000 to the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. In addition, Pantone is collaborating with Rush to encourage the expression of creativity and emotion through color by providing PANTONE Color Tools and learning materials to the children in its programs.

“We know achieving accurate color is vital to our customer’s business and creative vision in today’s fast-paced design environment. The only way to ensure precise color is by working with the latest, most technically advanced color tools,” explained Lisa Herbert, executive vice president of Pantone. “The Move Forward, Give Back, Chip-in Program was designed to make it more affordable for customers to trade up to our latest products while doing something good for the community.”

Specifying colors from older guides not only causes inaccurate color matches and costly errors; it prevents users from working with essential color data needed to meet the current demands of a digital workflow. Newer products, such as COLOR BRIDGE® and GoeBridge™, include HTML and sRGB data, as well as CMYK equivalents for all solid colors in the guides, providing the necessary color information for multimedia design.

Additionally, in response to prevalent industry trends, all PANTONE Graphics Guides since 2003 are now printed on brighter, whiter paper stock, which could alter a color’s appearance when compared to older guides. Furthermore, for the graphic arts, printing, publishing and advertising industries, the unavoidable fact is that PANTONE Color Standards are printed with ink on paper. Regardless of their treatment, ink will fade, paper will discolor, and the varnish in the ink can alter its true and original color over a period of time.

In today’s global marketplace and economic climate, the speed at which fashion and home furnishings designers take ideas from the design studio to market is one of the most critical factors in a product’s success. The inability to achieve accurate color standards in a timely manner can result in late deliveries and a loss of sales and profit. Updating to the PANTONE FASHION + HOME SMART Color System, introduced in 2007, arms designers with the digital support and technical benefits to effectively compete in today’s retail environment. Using the SMART Color System saves time and money by reducing the color development cycle by as much as 50 percent, and allows designers to make crucial color decisions later in the product manufacturing process.

Trade-in/Rebate Program

Users can return outdated PANTONE Products to Pantone to receive the following rebates on PANTONE Color Tool replacements:

For Graphics Products, trade in:

  • A METALLIC or PASTEL FORMULA GUIDE and receive a $15 rebate on the purchase of any PANTONE Graphics Product
  • Any other Graphics Guide and receive a $25 rebate on the purchase of any PANTONE Graphics Product (except METALLIC or PASTEL FORMULA GUIDE)
  • Any SOLID CHIPS Book and get a $50 rebate on any PANTONE SOLID CHIPS two- or three-book set

For FASHION + HOME SMART Color System products, trade in a:

  • FASHION + HOME TP guide and receive a $50 rebate with a purchase of equal or greater value (except a passport)
  • FASHION + HOME TP specifier and receive a $100 rebate with the purchase of any product (except a color guide or passport)
  • FASHON + HOME TC cotton selector and receive a $150 rebate with the purchase of a cotton product (except a color guide or passport)
  • Trade in a FASHION + HOME TC swatch file and receive a $500 rebate with the purchase of a swatch file or swatch set

Customers can determine if their products are outdated and how to return them to Pantone for a rebate by visiting www.pantone.com/chipin. The PANTONE Move Forward, Give Back, Chip-in Program will be in effect until December 31, 2009.

About Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation

Founded in 1995 by brothers Russell, Danny and Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, a 501 (C) 3 organization, is dedicated to providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant arts exposure, access and education as well as providing exhibition opportunities to early and mid-career artists and artists of color. In addition to the 2,000 students served each year in its education programs, Rush exhibits the work of 40 to 50 emerging and community-based artists in its galleries; welcomes over 10,000 gallery visitors; distributes grants to nonprofit arts organizations; and provides unique opportunities for young people interested in careers in the arts. Rush currently operates two exhibit and education facilities, Rush Arts Gallery and Resource Center and Corridor Gallery. Rush Arts Education Programs are designed to inspire students, provide positive alternatives to high-risk behaviors, and support increased academic performance. More information is available at www.rushphilanthropic.org.

About Pantone

Pantone, a wholly owned subsidiary of X-Rite, Incorporated, has been the world’s color authority for more than 45 years, providing design professionals with products and services for the colorful exploration and expression of creativity. Always a source for color inspiration, Pantone now offers paint and designer-inspired products and services for consumers. More information is available at www.pantone.com.

About X-Rite

X-Rite, Incorporated, is the global leader in color science and technology. The company, which now includes color industry leader Pantone, develops, manufactures, markets and supports innovative color solutions through measurement systems, software, color standards and services. X-Rite’s expertise in inspiring, selecting, measuring, formulating, communicating and matching color helps users get color right the first time and every time, which translates to better quality and reduced costs. X-Rite serves a range of industries, including printing, packaging, photography, graphic design, video, automotive, paints, plastics, textiles, dental and medical. For further information, please visit www.xrite.com.

REVIEW: Corel Painter 11 Produces Beautiful Work, Makes Small Improvements


Corel Painter is one of the few applications that is a gold standard in the design industry but is not produced by Adobe, which is refreshing to me. The new Corel Painter 11, produced two years after its previous version, arrives in a small environmentally-friendly package and comes with a batch of new features, both large and small, that together make Painter 11 an interesting upgrade.

New hard media variants


Painter has always boasted a huge number of brushes and media, but Painter 11 adds to the heap with 40 more hard media variants in a variety of media including acrylic, chalk, colored pencil, watercolor, pastels and pencils. Ten of these variants are in the new Markers category, which is worth exploring; I particularly enjoyed the Leaky Marker and Dry Chisel Tip Marker, and the Fine Tip Marker made some cool effects at larger sizes. The Markers are designed to emulate rendering markers.


A Hard Media palette has also been added to the gob of Brush Control palettes, offering control over tip shape and behavior when given varying degrees of tilt and velocity. The palette performs perfectly and gives more control than most users will ever need; the one thing I wish it had is a reset function. I also wonder if 20 Brush Control palettes is too many. Corel should consider the usability difficulties inherent in such a large palette interface and perhaps streamline the group.

One more thing: I am so excited to see Painter 11 now organizes its brush category menu in alphabetical order!

Selecting and transforming

Painter 11 Transform tool
Painter 11’s Transform tool gives users the same transform functions found in Photoshop and other image editing apps.

The other two major features added to Painter are the Polygonal Selection and Transform tools. Painter is arriving late to the Polygonal Selection party: Photoshop and other graphics applications has had such a tool for years. Painter has traditionally focused on recreating the painting experience, but I think Corel has realized users also need the selection and transform features found in other applications. Thus, the Polygonal Selection tool makes its debut—along with the Transform tool, which functions a little differently than Photoshop’s Free Transform function but does all the same things. Here’s a tip: hold Option when you select the Transform tool from the toolbar, and Painter will create a copy of your selection or layer and transform that, leaving the original untouched.

A variety of productivity and compatibility enhancements

My reviews of Adobe’s CS4 applications grappled with the dilemma of whether an upgrade succeeds by its new killer features or its small improvements in efficiency. I have always expected upgrades to wow users with great new features, but CS4 focused more on productivity and Adobe has been promoting this as “the new killer feature.” Painter is a mature application and, if Painter 11 is any indication, Corel may be pursuing the same productivity goals. Many of Painter 11’s new and enhanced features are small tweaks designed to make things easier:

  • The Colors palette now includes the controls previously found in the Color Info palette, and it can be enlarged up to 800 pixels wide for easier color selection. I’m very glad they made this change, because the small color triangle made it hard to select an exact color. I’m also glad to see one palette do the job of two. However, Painter 11 also has new Color Variability and Color Expression palettes that creates a net gain for color palettes.
  • The Mixer palette has been similarly enhanced so it can be enlarged like the Colors palette. The Painter documentation also says users can add mixer swatches to the lineup of swatches on the Mixer palette, but I was only able to add mixer swatches to the Color Sets palette.
  • The keyboard has become a more useful tool in Painter 11. The arrow keys adjust the saturation of hues selected in the Colors palette.
  • The messy Color Managment dialog box from Painter X has been redesigned into something much simpler and effective. Painter 11 requires just an RGB and CMYK profile (Painter X managed five profiles for a variety of hardware and colorspaces) and the profile handling options are in plain view (in Painter X, users had to click an unmarked icon). Painter 11’s color management options are still no match for Photoshop’s, and there is no method to create custom settings, but it is an improvement. One more improvement: unlike Painter X, Painter 11 allows access to the Color Management dialog box without an active document open.

Color Management box comparison image
Comparing the Color Management dialog boxes from Painter X (top) and Painter 11 (bottom) shows a major change—from confusion to relative clarity.

Painter 11 is also compatible with more third-party technology and image formats:

  • Painter 11 understands color profiles in a variety of image formats, including PSD, TIFF and JPEG. It also open PNG files, which Painter X could not do.
  • Tablet pen tilt is better understood by Painter 11, adding realism to digital brushstrokes.
  • Painter 11 is optimized to run on Intel Mac, PowerPC Mac and Windows Vista PC computers.
  • According to the documentation, Painter 11 has improved its handling of Photoshop (PSD) files, with support for layer masks, alpha channels, layer merge modes and layer sets/groups. I tested this with a PSD file I used for a retractable banner project, and it seems both Painter X and Painter 11 understood the file perfectly except for layer styles, Smart Objects and text layers (which are rasterized).


Painter 11 is a solid upgrade, with a couple major new features and several smaller improvements designed to enhance efficiency and third-party compatibility. Those using Painter IX or older should consider the upgrade: for US$199, you’ll get a good assortment of new tools and compatibility improvements. Painter X users have a tougher choice because I don’t believe there is a big difference between Painter X and Painter 11, and in any case a $200 upgrade in today’s economic climate may be a harder sell for any user. A free trial of Painter 11 is available at www.corel.com so I would suggest you try before you buy.

If you have never used Painter before and are considering Painter 11, I would heartily recommend it if you enjoy painting and drawing. Painter has always offered the best painterly experience found on a computer, and Painter 11 is an improvement over its predecessor.

Painter 11
Rating: 8/10