👋 Oi, mga repapips, Brian Dys here! I love music, photography, and creative stuff like UX design and art. This is a place where I collect my thoughts and works. Apart all these, I’m Jaycelle’s better half and Bryce’s dad. 🥰
This semi-rabbit hole exploration started this laid-back Saturday morning when I saw that Shotcut has an update that supports JSON animations. That’s when I found out about LottieFiles where you can get free animations that are downloadable as JSON files. It’s interesting to know that I can now add vector animations in Shotcut, however, the latest version of Shotcut (22.06) has a bug that fails to export to my favorite setting which is “YouTube” in MP4 format.
This led me to wonder how I can integrate Lottie animations in Figma through a plugin and there were two things that I discovered for myself:
- I can add the vector frame of the Lottie animation in Figma, and
- I can enhance my Figma prototypes using GIF animations from LottieFiles
Next week, I have an upcoming presentation to the design team about an introduction to DesignOps. One type of visual approach that I am planning is a static timeline chart that shows how capacity planning works. Then I remembered how Prezi animates their presentations — that’s how I wanted it to be. So I created Figma components that resizes in each frame depending on the zoom focus. Then each frame is connected in sequence through the prototype instant animate.
In Figma, it works in reverse compared to Prezi in the sense that:
- In Figma, the frame is fixed, and you define the subject’s zoom and angle
- In Prezi, the subject is fixed, and you define the frame’s zoom and angle
Here’s the Figma prototype I experimented with:
Recently, I hopped on to Spotify as an artist. I released several electronica singles under the label Weet Weew. The experience was liberating in the sense that I’ve been putting it off for quite some time and finally got to grapple with it. I got to revisit some old compositions and reacquainted with a DAW (digital audio workstation) of choice: FruityLoops.
Preparing for a (rather bleak) future when crazed fans would ask me for autographs, I thought I needed to have one. So I practiced using a big round-tip marker and settled with a 0.6 mm-tip pen.
With a trusty scanner, I scanned it with a resolution of 600 to be able to “blow it up” and properly enhance it. From Photoshop to Illustrator to Figma to its destination, Spotify — it took me around an hour to do all this.
We’re using Adobe Photoshop to prepare the material for vectorization in Illustrator.
- File → Open
To open the material
- Image → Adjustments → Desaturate
To convert it to grayscale
- Image → Auto Contrast
To make the paper whiter and ink blacker
- Image → Adjustments → Threshold
To convert the paper to pure white and ink to pure black; yes it will pixelate, that’s why it’s important to have a high resolution material; some areas might be lost, so you might be working on several layers with different threshold amounts
- Window → Channels
Copy and paste the artwork into an alpha channel and select it (it will select the white part, so, invert the selection to select the black part)
- Window → Layers
Go back to the layer while the selection is active
- Layer → New → Layer Via Copy
To copy and paste the black part into a new layer
- Layer → Delete → Layer
Select the original layer and delete it
- Manual Adjustments
Now you have a line art (with transparent background) that is fairly easy to adjust — like if you need to extend or erase some parts
- File → Save → .PSD
Save the file as Photoshop file
We’re using Adobe Illustrator to convert the prepared material into vector. Sure, from the scanned material we can go straight here — I personally see the result is better when we prepare the material prior vectorization.
- File → Open
To open the .psd file
- Photoshop Import Options dialog → Convert Layer to Objects
To keep the layers (if any) in the material
- Select the Object
To select the particular layer we will vectorize
- Window → Image Trace
To customize settings for vectorization
- Object → Image Trace → Expand
To vectorize the object and see its layers
- Manual Adjustments
Now you have vector objects — remove any unwanted layers like solid backgrounds (to make the background transparent); also prepare for the desired artwork and artboard size
- File → Export → Export As → .SVG → Use Artboards
Save the file as Scalable Vector Graphics file; for handwritten signatures in particular, the default setting for SVG Options will do (it’s a different case when you have images and fonts in your material)
Figma is awesome because you can use it for free and it is web-based (use it alongside Facebook on the other tab of your favorite web browser). Really, this part is optional — it just so happened that my Spotify header image template is conveniently in Figma (you can use Photoshop or Illustor, too).
Right after I uploaded my updated header image to Spotify, I turned to see that my notebook has grown itself some robot doodles, courtesy of Bryce. Consequently, I asked him if we would like to color it in Photoshop and that lit up his face!
One of the items in the reading list is about copying and how it is inherent to design (and child development, actually). As designers, we pride ourselves of our originality — personally, to the point of stubbornness. I recall a period in my career when I avoided looking at other people’s works as inspiration — out of fear of being unoriginal. It was pride, as I retrospect.
Collaboration is key to almost anything one wants to accomplish efficiently. All of us rely on each other even indirectly. Copying is inevitable in a world where no person is an island. Legalities and what your conscience says, that’s a different story.
Sharing for free
“Really, you’re giving it away for free?” A mentee uttered in surprise (pertaining to a solicited advice). Perhaps our session provided her with some nuggets of wisdom (as it should be). I could imagine lightbulbs flashing in her mind as we discussed about her career.
“This is also how I got them through the years,” I said, “for free”.
To all the generous folks out there sharing their thoughts, resources, and anything that helps anyone, I’m also paying it forward.
In the spirit of copying
I liked the style of the copying article so I replicated it in the “Libre Sakay!” graphic design. If you would like to spin it out yourself, feel free!