Meta Refreshed.

Meta Refresh 2014

It’s been close to 5 months that I have moved to Bangalore.  Today, I attended Meta Refresh 2014 for the first time along with a bunch of designers and developers from Adobe. One of them was a even presenting about SVG. I was pretty excited about the whole 2 day conference and the sessions that were going to be conducted. However it kind of didn’t go that well. Meta Refresh turned out to be a bit disappointing for me. Leaving that aside, the conference had a lot to offer despite the overall disappointing set of presentations. I wanted to do a post that covered the entire 2 day conference, but decided to only throw in the most relevant bits I picked up.

Vision is different from ideas.

I have a vision. I have an idea. I have a vision and an idea. I going to take that vision and that idea and build a product. I’m super awesome. No. Vision is the long term goal. Idea is the path to that goal. Ways to get there change. Some work. Some fail. Some ideas are good and some are bad. Having said that, it’s only natural that we change our path to our goal as often as possible. Sometimes we change our steps, improve the idea, sometimes backtrack or ditch the idea, because we thought of a better way – a better idea. The point still stands – the vision never changes, despite the ideas that change. This is a subtle warning that we often very easily overlook. Define our products on a vision and not an idea. Change how you want to build it. Don’t change what you intend to do with it. Decouple the vision for a product from the idea you have for the product. People on a team need to have different ideas. But most importantly they need to have one vision. Building your product involves validating your vision. Post that validating your idea for it. Validate, prototype, test and iterate on the ideas. But focus on the vision. When both the idea and vision merge what you end up with is a product based on an idea but a compromised vision. Drive the vision on a solution to a real world problem. Drive the idea on user’s feedback. Very often we are building products with a vision that already have others in the same domain. Simple – We need to disrupt. We need to incrementally improve. That’s where we need to change our ideas. There is no harm in building products with a vision, a vision shared by thousands of others. What matter is the way we solve it. The way we fulfil our vision. They way we build it. The idea we build it with. Have a vision. Have several ideas. Many may have the same vision. Don’t bother. A few may have the same idea. That’s where you need to improve. You need to disrupt. Keep the vision, change the idea.

It’s not full responsive. It’s  called full responsibility.

You designed a fully responsive site for your product. Awesome.

  • Case A: I’m guessing that means it’s fully accessible to your all the users. Well my site site can easily resize within the browser. Well most browsers. Well most modern browsers. Okay maybe guys with IE probably won’t be able to access it.
  • Case B: I’m guessing that means it’s fully accessible to your all the users. Well my site site can easily resize within any browser. Definitely all browsers. Yes, I even considered for IE. Okay maybe it will work but I’m sure if it’s still functional.

Clearly full responsive is not full functional. We build for the web. The web is a medium. Browsers allow us to access that medium. And what the web contains is experiences. When we build, we need to design for full responsibility. Responsive is good. Responsive is needed. But functional is more important. To think of it the web grows so fast. The way the people access it changes every day. The medium through which they consume these experience changes every month. And the content experiences that define this web change every second. The web is changing faster than we can imagine. Build with backward compatibility. Don’t just design for backward accessibility. Design for backward functionality. I guess here’s where it makes sense to build your online product as a stack of blocks. Build it in a way that even if a block doesn’t play well with browsers from 3 years ago, that domain of users can still access as well as use it. It’s hard to build with independent blocks and fall backs, but that’s the need. You can’t assume that just because you keep up with the fast moving web, so do your users. The pace is very different. Their access point, and means to access the web change slowly. So designing full responsive is not the answer. Designing for full functionality is the answer.

Design for the workflow not the task. 

We often tend to build products with a single model. A model that we assume fits all our users. If it doesn’t we usually state those aren’t our users. We engineer products based on a model that is almost always focussed on a task. Very rarely on a workflow for that task. Online transactions for example. I keyed in my card details and hit submit.

  • The task is very simple – Debit the amount for the user’s account.
  • The workflow was equally simple – Take the user’s payment details, debit the amount and provide a confirmation.

However we focus  and only design only for the task. So while the experience of filling in my card details was easy and provided a sense of security, the other half of the workflow – waiting for the confirmation wasn’t that good. After I hit submit, pop up windows appear with the age old rotating GIF loaders, some including even blank screens, all one after the other keeping the user pinned and clueless till it all goes away and few seconds later a confirmation message appears. Clearly we missed this part of the workflow. The part where the user waits for his confirmation. In the offline world, the user hands over his card, it’s swiped and the transaction is completed. Doesn’t it make sense that we map this same experience to the online product we are building for that same very task? Yes off course. What was missing in the above design was the part where you continue to engage a user even after he has completed his part of the workflow. It’s absolutely necessary to engage the user with visuals that don’t boggle him but atleast let him know that stuff’s happening behind the scene. Having said that, progress bars or animated GIFs are not the best options. Designing for these workflows involve carefully replicating the user’s offline mental model with value proposition and trust symbols. In the real world the when the user swipes his card, does he see how the transaction being processed from the device to the provider? No. So then why online? Think about it. All he cares about is, take the money, give me my service and confirm it’s completion. Hide the unwanted details but map every single action with relevant feedback.

Design Escalators not Elevators.

Probably the best thing I heard all day. Design escalators and not elevators. Both serve the same purpose. Take a person from point A to B without having him to walk that path. Heres the thing, you lose power, the elevator stops. The person is stuck. You lose power, the escalator stops. The person is not stuck. He can still walk up. Design needs to be like this. Design needs to have a fallback functionality. Products need to be able to engage with users even when they have no power or means to and for that they will need to rely on the design  – needs to be like an escalator.

Humans of New York

Humans of New York

A while ago I stumbled across this amazing Photography project by New York based photographer – Brandon. Quoting Brandon – “Humans of New York provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City.”

In the summer of 2010, Brandon set out on a goal to construct a photographic census of New York City. I thought it would be really cool to create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants, so I set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photos on a map. I worked for several months with this goal in mind.”

Along the way, Brandon’s project – HONY, took a completely different turn. Brandon started curating stories and quotes from his anonymous New York City subjects. He started including these small stories and quotes along with the portraits on his blog. “Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog, which over the past two years has gained hundreds of thousands of followers. With over 300,000 followers on Facebook and 120,000 followers on Tumblr.”- Brandon

HONY Stories





Humans of New York

 Humans of New York

Humans of New York

Humans of New York

Humans of New York

Humans of New York

( Image credits: All of the images featuring on this post belong solely to Brandon.)


Brandon curates his portraits and short stories of New York City on his website – & Facebook page –  I have followed several of his portraits for weeks and now months. Leaving aside the Photography aspect of this project, what really amazes me is the kind of stories and quotes he captures. I have seen everything from brave, compassionate, heartwarming to inspirational content in Brandon’s work. His work is pure and unadulterated stories of folks from New York City. He captures some amazing portraits that sometimes tell a visual story even in the absence of textual content. I find his work non subjective and very inspirational. Checking his page daily is now a habit. There is always something heartwarming or encouraging one can find there. Armed with a camera, Brandon manages to really tell stories of the inhabitants of the City.

I really find his project inspirational. His work is a proof of passion & love for what he does. To  see his entire set, check his Facebook page or website. If you love stories then this is for you – Stories. Recently Brandon, even went out in aid of the victims of Sandy. He set up an indiegogo page to collect funds for the relief of the victims of Sandy. Brandon in collaboration with Tumblr built a beautiful relief campaign for the victims of Sandy.

HONY & Tumblr Hurricane Sandy Fundraiser

HONY + Tumblr

Extract from the indiegogo page:”Tumblr and Humans of New York are teaming up to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. For ten days beginning November 11th, we will be documenting and sharing the stories of those affected by the storm. We hope to show all sides of the story, featuring not only the victims of the storm but also the first responders and volunteers who are helping them recover. Hurricane Sandy revealed the power of nature, as well as the power of humanity. We aim to document both. By doing so, we hope to encourage YOU to contribute the relief efforts.

The purpose of this fundraiser is to collect donations. However, to spice things up a bit, Tumblr and HONY are teaming up to provide incentives and rewards for donating. Tumblr is throwing in some cool Tumblr gear, and HONY is providing prints and other goodies. We are covering these expenses ourselves so absolutely all money raised will be going to relief efforts.”

You can check it out here.

It’s not every day you see someone like Brandon following his passion and curating stories from strangers. His project assumed a different direction along the way, but I love it. And I think a lot of you out there would agree with this fact. Humans of New York is without a doubt among the best photography projects I have seen.

Brandon, keep doing what you do.


About the Photographer : Brandon

Brandon in action

Hey there.  I’m Brandon.  I get really passionate about things.  At some time in my life, I’ve been obsessed or borderline-obsessed with saltwater aquariums, the baritone euphonium, reading, piano, filming, financial markets, New York City, and photography.  I studied History at the University of Georgia.  During my senior year of college, I took out $3,000 in student loans and bet it on Barack Obama to win the presidency.  A friend heard about this bet and got me a job trading bonds on the Chicago Board of Trade.  I traded for three years.  It went really well for a while.  But then it went really badWhoops. After I lost my trading job, I decided to move to New York City and take portraits of strangers on the street. Mom wasn’t too happy about that decision, but so far it’s gone pretty well. I’ve taken nearly 5,000 portraits and written 50 stories. And I’ve met some amazing people along the way.Feel free to drop me a line at

CS6 Review Session – Episode 3

Over the past 2 episodes of the Adobe Creative Suite CS6 review sessions, we looked at what’s new in the overall CS6 package as well as a couple of new features and enhancements in Photoshop CS6. In today’s episode, we will go one step further and checkout some of the not so obvious upgrades and enhancements that Photoshop CS6 has to offer. Today I am going to focus on a couple of tools that most of us use on a daily basis.

Crop Tool:

Everyone is pretty familiar with the CS5 crop tool. However the new CS6 crop tool is different. In CS6 when you click on the crop tool icon, what you notice is that the crop tool creates anchors around the image and at the corners. Now you can easily use these anchors and drag to select the area you want to crop in your image. What many don’t notice is that this new crop tool automatically centers the crop section as you drag while creating your selection. Another feature is that while you are making your selection, it also gives you the exact dimension of the crop selection. Another neat feature is the crop presets that are available. Using them you can easily crop images while maintaining the original aspect ratio or even choose to crop it to a whole new set of dimensions based on a preset. Apart from that, you can create your own presets too. For those who find the whole new crop tool too complicated, you can easily jump back to the old CS5 crop tool but just changing the settings for it.

I score the crop tool a 5/5 for:

  • Auto centering the cropped area.
  • Adding presets.
  • Incorporating straightening an image in the crop tool
  • Additional setting like crop shield and delete pixels options

Dealing with Layers:

I did cover the topic of layers in episode 2, but I wanted to get inside it just a bit more. Managing layers is never an easy task. Once you hit a large number of layers, organizing and renaming them is a real headache. However with the new CS6 layer options and features it’s made much easier. CS6 allows you search your layers or rather filter them based on a particular field. You will notice the new icons on the top of the layer panel that allows you to filter the layers in order to search the layers based on pixel layer, adjustment layer, text layer and shape layer. So incase you are looking out for that particular shape in the layer stack, all you have to do is filter them out based on text layers and your search is made much easier. Similarly you can also locate your pixel and shape layers. Another awesome feature is where it allows you to search the layer by name, mode, attribute or color. So incase you are one of those guys who rename every single layer, you can easily search your layer using this feature. Similarly color coding your layers is helpful as CS6 also allows you to search the layers based on color.

I score the new layer features a 6/5 for:

  • Firstly making layer management a piece of cake.
  • Precise and helpful filters for layers.
  • Preset search and layer name search options.
  • Multiple layer operations.


Preset Transfers:

This is again something I spoke of earlier but never got into much detail. Migrating from one version to another is always a matter of concern if you work with a fixed layout and preset library. However CS6 allows you to migrate your Presets from the earlier versions of Photoshop. In order to do so, all you have to do is jump over to Edit > Presets > Migrate Presets. Once you locate the preset you want, simply save it in any folder you wish and then simply add this same preset via that folder. Then all that’s left is to simply hit the import preset button and you are done. Migrating presets is that simple with the new Photoshop CS6.

Now here’s a random thought for Adobe: “Could there be an auto migration feature that automatically imports your presets from the previous version during the set up and installation of CS6?”


Content Aware tools:

Photoshop CS6 has a couple of new content aware tools like the new content aware move and the content aware patch tool. Let us begin with the enhanced content aware patch tool. The patch tool is an old feature but integrating it with content aware is new. So now you can easily make a selection using the patch tool and replace it content aware! Once you have made your selection, all you have to do is simply drag the selection and let go once you feel the area is closely substituted with another patch from the surrounding image.

To understand the difference between the content aware patch tool and the content aware move tool. The content aware patch tool will simply replace the selected area with another desired section of the same image. As for the original pixels in the selection, they get deleted and replaced by the new ones. As for content aware move, what happens is the selection you make can easily be dragged and dropped elsewhere on the image. Photoshop blends the selection against the new background. Whereas the area that the selection is cut out from will automatically develop a new set of pixels that blend in based on the content aware feature.

I score the content aware tools a 5/5 for:

  • Making deletion of unwanted elements in an image so easy.
  • Allowing the user to add subtract elements in the image without having to bother about blending them in.

Brush Features:

Photoshop CS6 has a whole new set of brush features to offer. This is something that not many have noticed. In CS6 you can now easily change the angle of the brush. Always wanted to do that right? Well CS6 allows you to change the angle of the brush while using it. Simply head over to the brush setting and change the brush dynamics. Similarly you can also preview how the brush is actually being held while using it. Apart from that, it also allows you to space out the brush elements so that in just one click you can draw many objects without having spaced too closed and touching each other. The brush features aren’t too simple to understand at first glance, but play around with them for a while and its pretty simple after that.

I score the content aware tools a 6/5.


Paragraphs and Characters:

For those who work with a lot of text and layout in Photoshop itself, this is a pretty neat feature. Imagine you have separate text layers and want to change the text size for each of those layers. In the old version you have to individually change each layer. However in CS6  you can easily change all those layers in just one click. Working with paragraph and style options makes work much more easier. You can also save your styles and use them in future.

That’s all for today’s episode of Photoshop CS6. Incase you missed the previous 2 episodes I have the links down there for you. The next episode of this session will be somewhat more interesting and interactive. I plan to do an online quiz which you can take and test you knowledge while at the same time learn about the new features in Photoshop CS6. Do make sure you check this blog out for future episodes!

Previous Episodes :

  • Episode 1 : What’s new in CS6
  • Episode 2 : What’s new in Photoshop & Illustrator CS6 Part 1
  • Episode 3 : What’s new in Photoshop CS6 Part 2
  • Episode 4 : How well do you know Photoshop CS6 ? (Quiz) – Upcoming Oct/Nov

Who am I – A Designer or Engineer ?

    “How Design intersects Technology ”                                                      

 The Question !

I have always been asked, how come I design when I’m an engineer ? What exactly are you planning of doing? Well I think I have an answer.

“What do you want to be?” and “What do you enjoy doing most?”

Two frequent questions that knock our doors at unprecedented moments of life.  Answering them is not a challenge, but rather a quest. How often do we give these two questions a thought? At a certain level of comparison shouldn’t these two questions have answers that interlink somewhere? Settling down to facts, every person wants to be “The Man on the Job” who he is confident of living up to and most importantly happy to be.  This is the very stage in life where a cold war is triggered within our own state of existence. The Heart and the Mind two unwilling competitors who don’t give in without a fight. Our Heart and Mind are said to have a brain of their own. Not literally. Start on Career –The toughest decisions you have to make. Initialize your thought process, and it should unwind something like this.

The Mind: Money, fame, respect, physical ability and mental capacity.

The Heart: Happiness, enjoyment, least stress, maximum confidence.

The Unsynchronized heart and mind !

These are the tags they shuffle our decisions through. Yes though they seem intertwined, they are a dense network that stimulates our final conclusion after analysis over past, future and the current phase. The line drawn here is thick and still not noticed by many. The unsynchronized phase of events that kick-off and are yet to be followed is just the start to this undesired war.  Why is it so, the lack of co-ordination between the two most essential units we live with? I am no doctor or scientist, nor do you need one to explain what I am going to say. Channels: Yes both these opponents draw in and out through different channels.

The mind is conditioned by random events and facts every moment through knowledge, voice and imagery that it picks up perpetually. It is a dependent kit vulnerable to sudden change in opinion. It takes a call after analysis to suit the current needs. The Heart on the other hand:  Well hard to tame. Well concealed within, the only bugs that it’s shield can’t withstand are emotions. The heart channels emotions related to various events and happening of the past and present. It subjects the decisions to what our body would emotionally prefer. Whereas our mind channelized to our body’s materialistic and most concerned needs. Not all are that lucky to have a friendly heart and mind. They both work at the same moment but in different directions and are trying to win the race which has no only one winner. The Heart decides what we love doing, whereas the Mind decides what we want to be. (In my opinion)

Story Of my Life !

Today, I believe the Mind is the winner. Ask an individual what he wants to be in a professional career. You will hear the most frequent bloom streams like Law, Medicine, and Engineering. Definitely nothing wrong in that. But don’t you think so many people out there want to be the same person? Are all happy to be this or are they just flowing with mainstream conventions. I am astonished by the fact  thousands of people out there, share the same dream. Is that what they want to be? Or are they happy to be. The point I am trying to make is the answer to the two questions: Have all these people convinced their Heart and Mind. Or are they living a war deep within their thoughts. Whose dream are they really living? Couldn’t our talent, happiness, ability and desire just patch like a big puzzle to show us our dream. I love my ability to be creative in terms of art, but I want to be a person who is completely equipped with the knowledge to pursue a career in Computers. (I suppose  at least 6 out of 10 people are in a similar boat!)

Ok I am in Engineering and they definitely don’t teach drawing or creativity. Thought process ends here for me. The mind wins since it suggested that I get into the Tech field. The heart lost since I yet hadn’t seen a way to bring out my creativity. Not that I wasn’t happy but it wasn’t to my heart’s content. How on earth was I supposed to be happy with this decision? I had to find a way to correlate by reason being here and possible vents for my talent. Seeing how talented I was in designing people bombarded me with statements saying I should have pursued another stream. How do I convince them that I love doing that but I want to be an Engineer.  By now you’ll have reached a stage where you think I am completely retarded or confused. Yes, that was a stage, but no longer. Since

This is the part where I think I’m awesome ! – My Story

I was unlucky to have a “Unfriendly heart and mind”. I figured I would have to negotiate a way out. Simple terms, link two different opinions and draw a final conclusion which I take creditability for. Now I am in a technical phase, constantly surrounded by things I like and don’t. I want to be able to pull out my creative strings along. After almost a year of relating with my subjects that I will encounter, a little personal research, guidance and help. The verdict was made. Digital media & design: The intersection of design and technology for me. It took a lot to convince myself what I had chosen was right or wrong? The decision I made is supported by what my heart says and also my mind suggest. Over the past years I have studied every thing from Microprocessors to Operating systems and web engineering & planning. There are certain areas I want to go back to and then there are certain I don’t want to. Apart from that, it’s close to around 4 years since I bagged my first client as a freelance designer. Over the years, I have evolved through several experiences of working with start-ups, NGO, agencies and even clients from hell. Print was like the best thing that happened to me. For a while at least. I was good with communication design on paper, but wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to take it to the next level. That’s where the magic happened.

I moved on to web. The first 2 years with web were scary. I was still learning to adapt and design for it. I refrained from any client projects till I felt I had a strong base in web to be able to deliver for a price. I watched, learnt and experimented. To my luck, the semester in college at that very moment had me involved in database and web technology concepts and programs. It aided my learning process. Soon I joined a group of freelance developers who primarily worked on web applications and products. The idea was simple. They needed a design consultant for print. I needed to learn the tricks when it came to web. Over the period of time, I worked on several projects with them. Designing simple UI elements to website banners and forms, I gradually watched what they did and how they did it. I call this phase visual learning. I never understood how the coded at first. I watched, went home, tried, failed,asked again, watched, tried again, partly successful, repeat. I enjoyed every bit of it. Few months down the line, I pulled off my first website with PHP and Database. Few months later, dabbled in WordPress and launched my own portfolio website. It’s been a long trip. Print got lost somewhere in there. I realized I was happy with where I was heading but yet not fully convinced. I wanted that exact point of intersection of design and technology. I realized it was time to start liking a few things that I didn’t and reworking some of my concepts. I spent months looking for the right channel to couple my 2 areas of interest.

That’s the time I decided I want to get into digital media. For me digital media incorporated both my engineering skills on technology, platforms and code along with design, interaction and creativity. I tried to work and learn more about how design intersects with technology and I realized it’s not rocket science. It’s just there, you have to look at it right. Design is a part of every thing. From the cup that you sip your coffee to the experience you archive while reading this post. I thought I was at a crossroads of my career. Today I stand with this belief that the world needs design heroes. Yes, Design heroes –  dudes who know how to engineer the experience, create  functional design and overlap them not just  to build  a product that delivers but to construct a “Brilliant! that is insane” type of product.

Learn from yesterday !

I don’t know if I would ever realize what I truly wanted to do. But today I feel every experiment, every client, every project and every failure taught me something. Something that in the long run helps me correlate my areas of passion and interest. The best example of this would be my experience with User interface design. When I started working on client projects for websites and applications, I always managed to pull off visually appealing designs. Never did I have a client who told me “I don’t like what I see”. My designs were a match to the brief. Here’s where I went wrong. 4 out of 5 clients came back to me after a week and asked me to tone down the design just a little bit. Confusing right ? I mean they liked it and now they want me to cut a few parts out of it ?

Well all had the same reason – ” The coders can’t really implement that aspect of the design.” Haha, I consoled myself by saying they hired the wrong guy to do the coding. I gave it another thought sometime later and I realized that my designs were visually amazing but they weren’t functional at all. That’s the phase where I embraced my computer academics a little more. To be precise I focused on web development and languages. I sharpened my JavaScript, HTML,CSS and jQuery. I experimented with them. Learnt and studied various processes involved to translate design to code and code to design. Researched the new tools and techniques that were in use. I realized, it was time to fabricate what I want to do and what I love to do. I had to really weld together my design skills and computer education to start delivering functional designs. Designs that could work. Gradually I learnt I needed to incorporate various factors like usability, interaction, user scenarios and customization. Then I realized what I needed to learn was User Experience design. That’s where I stand today and that’s where I plan to continue from. This is my definition of the precise point of intersection of design, creativity and technology. Last month I worked on an interesting UX project and guess what, I watched my design come to life a 100% without any chopping . It was priceless. I feel I have come a long way at the age of 20. Not boasting but, I feel I have reached a stage where I’m very confident of what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.

Keep Calm and think again !

I want others to understand that choosing something that you feel is right for you according to present scenarios  is not right. Well suppressing your emotional desire for it is completely wrong. I suggest everyone should take some time off to answer these two questions and see what their answers turn out to be. Start linking and correlating. Figure out ways to be a person you would love to be and not a person you’d want to be. This is something you decide no one else.  You love music and want to be a person equipped with literature? Who said its miles apart? Link them and I am sure something will pop up. Be it any stream or desire it’s up to you to find that bridge that gets it together. It may take time but the joy of settling on a decision that you wanted and happy with is priceless. Break away from conventional society of thought and moral perspectives, explore your options. They are never few doors and doors are never locked.

Finally what I want to conclude is that no matter what soup you are in at any stage of life, no matter how grave the battle gets.  Correlate, Negotiate, and finally you call the shot. Life is going to give you lemons when it comes down to decision-making. You got to make the Lemonade! Often it’s your mind or maybe your heart that’s going to decide. Its time you stand up, think and unite with the two to achieve what ‘YOU’ want.  The Heart and the Mind are two dangerous gifts we have. You can’t keep both happy without a little compromise. Go ahead Live your Dream. You are the architect and builder. Make it epic and “awesomize” it !

Design for love & work for money.

You still wondering, who am I ? 

Jonathan Pimento

CS6 Review Session – Episode 2

It’s been more than a month since I started using Photoshop CS6. So far I have nothing to complain about, in fact my experience working with it has been great. Migrating from CS5.5 to CS6 was a little challenge. New workspace, new tools and a whole new set of visual elements to get used to. This episode I aim at covering at couple of new features in Photoshop and Illustrator CS6. In the following episode (3) we will look at some of the more hidden and advanced features these softwares have to offer. To begin this session, we will look at the more basic and primary changes Adobe has incorporated in the new CS6 softwares. What’s new with Photoshop CS6 – Part 1. Firstly what everyone has probably noticed is the new look they gave Photoshop. Apart from the new icon and splash screen design, I am talking about the new tools and new variable backgrounds. The new features start right with the installation of CS6.

  • Importing from CS5 to CS6
  • The new interface in CS6
  • Manage your layers more efficiently
  • Background Save + Auto Recovery
  • Content Aware

1. Import your presets from CS5 to CS6

Firstly the most important aspect the Adobe incorporated is importing your CS5 workspace and presets to CS6. Photoshop CS6 allows you to import your presets and workspace settings easily without any hassle. It’s so much better than having to go back and import each of those presets and actions. So 5 points to Photoshop CS6 for making migration so simple and effective. If anyone wondering how to get around this, simply go to Edit > Presets > Preset Manager

2. The new interface in CS6:  Background UI

The new interface in Photoshop CS6 allows you change the workspace background color. It allows the user to select from 4 options ranging from Dark grey to medium dark, medium light and light grey. Based on your preference, with a single click you can change your workspace to give it a more open and wide or more compact and sophisticated look. My question here – “Adobe what the hell took you guys so long! This is bloody brilliant!” Personally I work with the darkest grey option and simply love it. Especially because it helps me design a little more comfortably. My white canvas now stands out more distinctly than it used to in CS5. To check this new feature simply head over to Edit > Preferences > General > Interface … You can easily customize your workspace settings there. Since you are there, I would suggest drop by at the other setting options too. For example head over to performance and adjust your RAM settings to your preference. Similarly jump to File handling and enable background save option etc. Couple of tweaks and adjustments and you can have Photoshop run like butter on a hot pan. I’m serious. I manage to run CS6 on my 2.5 GB workstation smoothly after I adjusted the RAM settings and scratch disk options. Try it, experiment and you’ll enjoy the experience!

  Tools & general UI: As for the general interface and tools I heard Adobe has pulled off a major makeover here! Apparently it includes 1,800 new icons and 250 new cursors. This was done in order to establish a common identity with the same tools in the other softwares.   Smart move I say. I never really counted any of those icons but I bet they have. You can easily guess that the interface has undergone some major changes and upgrades. They have pimped so many tool icons, I don’t even know where to start from. But at the end of the day, the new UI and icons together offer a complete new feel and experience while working with Photoshop. So again here I give Adobe a 4/5 for UI changes. Minus 1 because a lot of amateur users claim they find the new look too scary and complicated. Personally I prefer calling them blind. But honestly the new interface kind of throws you off a bit while you start. It takes a while to settle in and adjust. However I believe professionals use this and I’m happy this software is changing in this direction. So sorry amateur users, if you can’t manage the new interface, you have to learn. Just a heads up – Head over and change the background UI color to the last option. It may resemble home for you. Adobe I’m throwing in a few brownie points here just to cover up the minus 1. Because I personally love this new feature.  

3. Manage your layers more efficiently

Managing layers was not much of an issue. But hey I don’t mind if they made it simpler! And that’s exactly what Adobe has done! They have improved managing and organizing layers in CS6. That one thing we all dreaded was searching through the unnamed stack of 30 plus layers. Imagine then trying to organize and name them. Well Adobe here is where I give you the standing ovation! Filtering your layers by just one click! Whoa ! What were your engineers smoking? This is simply brilliant. Now if you look at the layers panel you have an option at the top that allows you to filter and view similar layers based on kind, name, effect, mode, attribute, color! You can easily turn on and off the option with a sweet minimalistic switch over there! You can even segregate the layers based on pixels, adjustment, type, shape and type! It makes managing your layers so easy and comfortable. I mean what more could you ask for?  Adobe you get a 6/5 here for thinking out of the box. Kudos.

4. Background Save + Auto Recovery

Finally Adobe heard my prayers. I have cried several times, and I’m serious here. Worked for hours together before Photoshop crashed due to some reason and I never saved my work. I have lost my work a couple of times like this earlier! Now why would Photoshop not have an auto save seriously?  I once asked my friend why on earth does Photoshop not have an auto save? He replied because real men hit CTRL+S every few seconds. True that. I made it a habit eventually! But with the new CS6 you don’t need to do that. It provides and auto recovery and background save option.  Simply head over to Edit > Preferences > File Handling  and you will find both these options there. For those lucky folks who have never lost any of their work in this manner and don’t really get the point of auto save and recovery. Here is an example. Imagine you were working in Photoshop on a project and haven’t yet saved it. Now say for instance your annoying niece decides to press a few button while you take that pee break. When you return, your niece has successfully managed to open up 5 or 6 applications and chocked you PC. As in most cases, its hung and you need to restart. But what the hell! I haven’t saved my Ps work file. Chill bro, just hit the restart button like a man. Photoshop background save and auto recovery will work its magic on the next startup. You will find your file saved for you and can resume work.  Adobe I give you another 6/5 here. No more tears. Thank you.

5. Content Aware

  Whenever I wanted to show off my skills using Photoshop, the first thing I would do is use the content aware fill to magically replace a tree in the background or remove a part of a image and blend the empty space with the surrounding. So for those of you who already know how the content aware fill works, here is content aware move! Dude this new feature is just insane. Imagine with this feature you can easily select a part of the image and place it somewhere else without creating additional layers! It’s really hard to explain this tool improvement. Just watch these videos to understand more on this awesome tool! Adobe you get a 5/5 for this!

For more new features and tools of Photoshop CS6, do tune in for Episode 3 where I dig deeper into what’s new with Photoshop CS6 Part -2 !

What’s new with Illustrator CS6 – Part 1

Now when it comes to illustrator again there are a couple of things that overlap with Photoshop. New interface and new tool icons along with the variable background. Besides those we have a lot of new changes and features in Illustrator CS6 as well.

  • Mercury Performance Engine
  • Pattern Creation feature
  • Image Trace options
  • Improvements in type options

 1. Mercury Performance Engine 

This is not something that you see as soon as you start Illustrator up. But this is a rather more technical enhancement from Adobe. To put it in the simplest terms,  with the new Mercury performance engine you can utilize all of your RAM to help open, work and save large files in Illustrator. This new feature on CS6 allows the user to manage complex effects and designs with large files in Illustrator CS6. It works for 64 bit systems and is a brilliant feature that provides stability and capability to handle complex and large files in Illustrator CS6.

 2. Pattern Creation feature

This is an interesting new feature in Illustrator. The new pattern creation feature allows you to create a vector pattern and repeat it without any hassle in Illustrator. Creating a tiled pattern and editing it is very easy. Just head over to  Object>Pattern>Make. The object now repeats on the art board. So simple. Just imagine the stuff you could do with vector patterns !  You can control the pattern in the pattern options. Also it updates the pattern as you work on the object. Pretty neat and handy I say ! Great job Adobe !

 3. Image Trace Options

Bye bye Live trace and hello Image trace. This is a new feature that replaces the old live trace option in CS6. I tried the new image trace and I think it works much better than the live trace. Along with that there a couple of new trace options that will come in handy. Few among the new ones are Shades of Grey and Silhouettes (Which is kind of just a rename but enhanced trace option)  Try them out and for sure you will find a difference !

 4. Improvements in type options

The new improved tool options let’s you play around a little more. Users can now use the arrow keys to change fonts in context for selected text. Similarly Glyphs for caps, superscripts and much more can be adjusted and modified from the Character panel in Illustrator CS6. Obviously these features become more relevant as you start using CS6. You can adjust your characters and text more easily in CS6. Just hit the Character option and the options should display. There you can adjust the base-line shift, kerning and rotation of the characters. All in one place for simplicity !

So that’s about it for this episode of the Creative Suite Review CS6. Hope you enjoyed it and tune in for the next episode where we dig in deeper into Photoshop and Illustrator Part 2. If you feel there are a couple of basic and new features that should be highlighted, just drop a comment and I will see to it !


Episode 3:     25 September 2012

  • 1. Whats new in Adobe Photoshop CS6 Part -2
  • 2. Whats new in Adobe Illustrator CS6 Part-2


Kyoorius Designyatra 2012 – The Divide

This is probably the most “exciting” post I have ever done. Simply because it has so much digital, design and learning packed in it. From 30 August 2012 till 1 September 2012, Kyoorius – ‘Where Creatives Meet’ organised a brilliant 3 day design event called Designyatra . This was the 8 edition and theme for this year was – “The Divide” This year they had an additional day dedicated to understanding the divide in the digital area of design – The Digital Day. The entire 3 days featured some mind-blowing and amazing creatives from Adobe, Google, Microsoft and Nokia. Besides these tech creatives there were many other designers and entrepreneurs too. Since I am a big fan of design and digital media, there was no way I was missing out on this event! So bags packed and I headed to Goa for Digital Day 2012 – The Divide ! The conference was organised by Kyooruis at the Grand Hyatt | Goa. Digital Day was the first of the 3 days of Designyatra. This special one day dedicated to digital, boasted some of the best in the industry –

Before I get into the details of who said what and why, first a loud applause to Kyoorius for the kickass setup and detail put into the entire branding and design of the event. I loved every bit of the passes and stationary provided.  Great design and creativity put into everything right from the badges to the notebooks. Kudos. Anyone who was there that day would agree to the fact that they can’t remember every single thing that happened because it was way too awesome and action packed. Listening to each of these speakers talk was pure joy. The day started with an opening note from Mr. Rajesh Kejriwal – Founder Kyoorius Magazine after which the ever so energetic and lively Debbie Millman took over the show. First up – Robert Wong !

1. Robert Wong – Chief Creative Officer | Google

“He made us cry with that dear Sophie video. Can you believe that ! “

Robert without a doubt was probably the funniest guy on stage. He very safely begun by dedicating a fair part of his presentation to why you should keep your wife happy. Soon he shared how he was into accounting and landed up in Google simply by designing some Gmail shortcut stickers for the keyboard which later back fired. Robert being a part of the Google family gave us an inside perspective of how Google is trying to out do themselves everyday. He focused on how it is important to do something that makes life simple and enriches it. He played a series of videos that highlighted his team’s work at Google for various products. He said –  spend 99.9% of your time MAKING, to do good things that matter ! He even spoke about how Google sold and marketed a browser – Chrome (Which everyone thought was not possible. I mean seriously, who sells a browser to the user ?) Also showcased a new product of Google – Exquisite Forest and spoke on how the video was designed for Google’s Glass Project. The best part of Robert’s presentation was – every video he showed us had so much emotion to it. They were real stories of real people and how Google was transforming lives. It wasn’t some creative guy making shit up.I personally loved the Dear Sophie Gmail video which is a true story of an engineer working at Google. Apart from that the Chrome Speed test and the Exquisite Forest videos which were interesting, another really touching story was the – It gets better video -” Beginning with one inspiring video, Dan Savage used the web to create the It Gets Better project–a movement that has generated thousands of uplifting videos that give hope to teens.”  He also spoke about how they did a hangout with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. It was Google and the real world connecting.  Robert also said – “I don’t like to make ads. I make demos and documentaries.” Robert really rocked the show and it was a great start to the event. I really love the note on which he ended his presentation – “Make the World better, Do EPIC shit people ! “ – That’s Robert for all of you ! (Completely unrelated, the T Shirt I got at the event happens to be designed by Robert! Yippee!)

There were many videos he shared. but I can’t remember the names of all of them. Here are a few .

2. Sander Ejlenberg – Creative Director | Ice Mobile & Muse

” customize + personalize = awesomize your brand interface via mobile and digital.Mobile  “

Sander was amazing. He had so much to offer in terms of design and storytelling with digital on the mobile platform. He presented some of his work with Ice Mobile and Muse. We heard a lot about how the mobile interface was the key  to the unified experience.  I clearly remember this piece of work he showcased  for ABM AMRO Mobile Banking – ” Together with ABN AMRO IceMobile developed Mobile Banking by ABN AMRO. With the Mobile Banking application you can check your balance, transactions, view and make transfers via your mobile phone. The service is primarily available as an app for iPhone and iPad, and will very soon be available for Android and Blackberry.” Some really important points he focused on were,  how important an interface is while establishing an enriched user experience. He also mentioned about how its important for brands to market and story tell using digital and mobile content in today’s world.

3. Aapo Bovellan – Director Brand Marketing | Nokia   and

    Bruno Maag – Creative & Managing Director | Dalton Maag

” What do you guys smoke ?  ” Bruno to the Bengali folks !

This was another really interesting and yet surprising presentation. By the end of this session by Aapo and Bruno, everyone had new-found respect for Nokia. It begun with Aapo speaking about what went into establishing a unified and personal branding for Nokia. Right from their product design to their packaging. Some key points by Aapo were – Make a product, you love yourself. Focus on doing your own thing. A lot of solid points by Aapo on how Nokia believes they are the first mobile and how they stay unique to it. 3 points I really loved were –

1. Understand who you really are.

2. Make an original product.

3. Have a focused identity.

I really enjoyed the Nokia Pure view  short film. At some point I remember, Aapo saying Nokia made the best maps. I really wanted to see the look on Robert’s face at that moment. (CCO at Google) Soon Aapo was joined by this amazing dude – Bruno From Dalton Maag. And then this was a deadly mix. We were just taken on this amazing trip with the new Nokia typeface – Nokia Pure ! Oh man it was amazing to see and understand the effort and design process that went into the new Nokia type face. It was mind-blowing to see how many different languages it supported and will in the near future. Nokia was really living up to the line – Connecting people. I remember Bruno spoke about how they were building it for Gujrati, Tamil, Hebrew, Arabic etc. What I clearly remember was Bruno saying – ” When it came to Bengali, we had a lot of struggle. I mean seriously what do you guys smoke ?” Bruno spoke about how challenging it was to build the new type to support Bengali at first. Similarly what political challenges they faced in China and similar religious barriers they had to overcome in other parts of the world. On a whole the entire presentation was really amazing and filled with some kickass facts about Nokia ! Oh also these Dalton Maags they gave us are just amazing. The display some client projects and also the new Nokia Pure Typeface. At the end Nokia did us proud.

4.Nic Roope – Founder & ECD  | Poke (UK)

” Digital has really become big now. But in the process, we have managed to piss everyone off  “

Nic was simply so fucking interesting ! And I am not exaggerating that even one bit ! He may come to look as a stern and serious guy, but hey,  he is a really great person to talk to. I think he showcased some of the best digital media projects during the entire day. His projects had not only a digital aspect but a balanced feed of digital, design as well as technology put into play. Most of his work with Poke was really innovative, kinda out of the box. He spoke on how digital has become a medium to share and how simple it is to tap its potential if done right. He highlighted how sometimes you just go with an idea and make it big. I really enjoyed the work he showcased. They had a creative as well as a funny edge. Some of the projects were an advertisement for Diesel Eye wear, Phone Fund for Orange and a never-ending web page !

Here are a couple of them :

5.Rodney Edwards – Principle Design Manger | Microsoft

” The design idea needs to be bigger than the design team !   “

Finally Rodney gets on stage. I was really looking forward to hearing him speak about Microsoft’s new direction in design and branding. Rodney took us through a series of images that explained Microsoft’s new design philosophy. He explained how Microsoft was moving into a direction to unify all its products with a common visual identity. Three points I really loved about his presentation was

  • “Take pride in craftsmanship. Devote time and energy to small things that will be seen more by many”
  •  “Engineer the experience at every stage” Microsoft’s learning from  Apple
  •  The design idea needs to be bigger than the design team !   “

He did dive into how they were building the new Windows 8 UI and how the were trying to establish and enrich the whole user experience. A part from that,  a couple of previews of apps and layouts that they were working on for Windows 8 on tablets and hand-held devices. Since we had the opportunity to ask the speaker questions, I really wanted to get Rodney on the topic of Microsoft’s rebranding that just occurred.  I  tweeted the question to Debbie Millman and yippie ! At the end of the presentation Debbie put forward the question to Rodney.

Q:  Debbie : “Rodney what is the design philosophy that went into  rebranding  the new Microsoft logo and how has it been received – Jonathan  ”

Rodney explained that the step in rebranding the Microsoft logo was a part of unification of the overall brand and products. They aimed at establishing a unified identity with the logo and products. He also said, it was to make it more human.

6.Micheal Gough – Vice President Experience Design | Adobe

” You build a portfolio that will get you hired !”

Micheal Gough was the man of the evening. Without doubt the last but the best presentation by Micheal Gough – VP😄 for Adobe. Micheal went down to the core of what drives a company like Adobe in building these cutting edges tools that help deliver in the digital loop. He was very honest in every word. He spoke about the creative cloud and how it would shape up in the near future. Also how it aims at making the Adobe softwares more available to the crowd. He spoke about how Adobe is trying to reshape and build better tools that will help cater to the growing and changing needs. He made a really lovely and inspirational presentation which I thoroughly enjoyed. But the best part was what happened after the presentation. Along with a few others, I had the opportunity to sit down with Micheal Gough and a couple of other from Adobe like Phil and Jay Dutta  and have an open conversation with them.

This was the real fun part. I must say Micheal loves telling stories. And I wanted to hear more, even after the session ended. Micheal gave us a brief of how he landed up with Adobe. Starting his career in Architecture and then moving on to design with a sports news channel and other places. He also did a stint with Nike and later joined Macromedia and ultimately Adobe. He shed light on how we must follow what we want to do. Measure our capability and make wise decisions. He explained how he took up the creative director job at Nike and left it. Simply because he felt he couldn’t do it. We shouldn’t go by the job title and designation but follow what we want to do – Micheal’s advice.  We even asked him a couple of question. I remember someone asked him what kind of tools were developed by Adobe for managing and visualizing data. Micheal explained that currently Adobe isn’t heading in that direction. He also spoke about, if someone plans to step in that arena he has got to be good in numbers, and design to correctly interpret and present data. Someone else asked him on how Adobe predicts what is going to be the next best tool while developing their products for the digital world where change is a constant factor. He explained, Adobe can’t predict but they keep advancing and build better tools. They innovate while at the same time upgrade their existing platforms. He would make that sad simley face every time someone went near a topic that involved Flash. (Something very close to me – Micheal Gough) He spoke about how Adobe is building some new and wide range of tools based on HTML 5 technology. It seems pretty exciting ! He focused on how the creative suite tries to improve their tools and build better ones. A surprising statement he made was Adobe is working on some open source tools !  My goodness. Just imagine ! To which someone promptly replied – ” Will illustrator be open source ?” Micheal  – “Haha, Illustrator and Photoshop never.” He also spoke about how Adobe is trying to integrate illustrator and Photoshop to help cross-platform work process. While he spoke about how they working on some new HTML5  based tools I asked him why is Adobe still selling Dreaweaver when they have successfully launched Muse, which essentially does the same thing but quicker. He explained saying just because we made a new tool, we won’t chuck the old one out. Plus a lot of money is made on the sales of Dream weaver. He said, the Dreaweaver team doesn’t sit silent. They will not wait for another software to out beat them, but in fact will find ways to out beat themselves before someone else. Which makes completely sense. He strongly supported the notion of experimenting and learning from mistakes. He said, there was a time when Adobe tried to integrate all the creative suite products into a single software and failed miserably. He said, however we learnt from it and continued developing. Mistakes help you decide better. Build better.  The point I really like about the Creative cloud was what that Micheal explained – When we need to fix a bug or tools in a version of a software, it takes 18 months to release a corrected or fixed one. However  with the creative cloud we can provide the new fix as soon as it is ready. Plus the cloud in the future will help several creative to collaborate and work on projects. Meeting and listening to Micheal was a delight and a memory for me. Before we departed I also had a quick word with Jay Dutta –😄 at Adobe. It great talking to him about what kind of designers Adobe hires and how they work. As I describe this evening – An Adobe overdose ! I personally am a big fan of Adobe and work with so many of their softwares. Recently I started a series of review sessions on the new Adobe Creative Suite CS6 on my blog as a part of the Adobe User Review Program. Having an opportunity to sit with these folks from Adobe has given me a lot to think about.

At the end of the day, I would say this was an awesome event. I learnt so much. I left Goa with a head filled with so much inspiration after meeting hearing these amazing folks. I don’t think I slept that night. What I loved was that every speaker spoke on conquering the divide via unification rather than going into detail about the divide itself. Having a chance to meet folks like Debbie Millman, Micheal Gough and Sander Ejlenberg is bucket list stuff for me !  Debbie deserves a huge round of applause for hosting the event so well and connecting the audience with the speakers. It was great meeting a lot of fellow designers and creatives. One thing is for sure, next time I am staying for all the 3 or more days Designyatra 2013 will have to offer. Great job by all the speakers and the Kyoorius team.

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