Inkscape Class Day 5

This past Thursday morning, I taught the fifth session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.) Thursday’s Class Thursday’s class was primarily a working class. First, we passed around a sheet for the students to write out their name, band name, and T-shirt size so EmbroidMe Chelmsford can have the correct size T-shirts ready to go. Then we passed out sheets with a calendar / schedule for the rest of the class. We’re halfway through the course – there are 4 sessions left – so the students’ due date for their design is the end of the second-to-last class on February 5th. Then, I set out a sheet with some suggested band names that any student who was still stuck on a name could pick from. One idea for using this sheet in your own class could be to cut the band names into little squares and have students pick them out of a hat early on in the course. The students seemed to have settled on either using a band name of their choice (one student …

Unpackaged Open Font of the Week: League Gothic

League Gothic is a sans-serif Gothic typeface, originally designed by American typeface designer Morris Fuller Benton in 1903. The League of Moveable Type has made this typeface available as a font under the the Open Font License as it was designed pre-Steamboat Willie and is under the public domain. Morris Fuller Benton designed over fifty typefaces, including well-known (to designers at least) ones such as Franklin Gothic, ATF Bodoni, Century Schoolbook, News Gothic, and Parisian. How can you use League Gothic? It’s a very bold and strong font, easily readable from far away. Actually, it reminds me a lot of the Marvel Comics logo, so naturally I used it to create a tightly-spaced Batman (DC Comics) related type specimen. In all caps, the font has a very tall feeling because the legs of the letters are very tall – the x-height seems to be much taller in proportion to the full letter height than in other typefaces. The League of Moveable Type page for League Gothic has a nice type specimen for the font – it’s a clear and readable typeface for info graphics, but also could make for a nice, epic-feeling logo. League Gothic has coverage of some accented …

Inkscape Class Day 4

This past Thursday morning, I taught the fourth session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.) Thursday’s Class Thursday’s class was the first class the students really got a big chunk of time to start working on their project. With only 20 minutes or so under their belt, working on their rock band logo assignment, they’ve already come up with some pretty impressive designs! Music Artist Logo Review We started class off by walking through example logo designs from music artists of various genres – I pointed out some of the features about each logo and asked the students to think about how they contributed to the message the logo put across. I also pointed out that they should think about the kind of message they want their logo to send, and brainstorm ways they could change up the design of the logo to follow that message. For example, I contrasted the curves, hearts, stars, and bright colors of Katy Perry’s logo to the sharp angles of Metallica’s logo and asked them to think about each band’s …

Inkscape Class Day 3

Yesterday I taught the third session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.) Yesterday’s Class Yesterday’s class was jam-packed with information, and it proved to be too much material to allow the students enough time to really play around with and try out the techniques in the lesson! We covered: Using the pen tool to create Bezier curves The different types of nodes Working with node handles Converting nodes between types Adding & Removing nodes Scaling and rotating nodes The pencil tool Simplifying Paths The tweak tool The fill tool Converting type to paths The general approach I wanted to take was to show how to manipulate the nodes on a path in an advanced way, then show additional ways to create paths and form paths (pencil, tweak, fill, type) and show that the node manipulation skills could be applied to any path created using any of those techniques or the shapes from lesson 2. I think it was a little too ambitious for only 40 minutes of classtime, though – I’m feeling the crunch of having …

How to set up the Canon Pixma MX860 with Fedora

So for Christmas I bought myself Unclutter Your Life in One Week by Erin Doland of unclutterer.com. One of the things she suggests in the book is to create a personal digital library of documents, scanning in (most of) the papers you’ve got lying around and shredding and recycling the paper copies. Actually, I think it’s a pretty awesome idea – I had a neatly-bundled, chronologically-ordered stack of SprintPCS phone bills from 1999. I’m now on my 3rd phone carrier since Sprint – so why was I letting that useless junk take up my space? One complication Erin’s advice introduces is that scanning a couple filing cabinets’ worth of papers you do want to keep some record of with a typical flatbed scanner is time-consuming and not exactly fun. Erin suggests using an ADF (Auto-Document Feeder) scanner like the Fujitsu ScanSnap – problem is, for $1100+ I’d be substantially towards my way at buying another car. Does the ScanSnap work in Linux? No idea. Then I started to notice that many $200 and under multi-function inkjet printers had ADFs built-in. I have a non-color laser jet which is really great, but I can’t print in color or print photos or …

Unpackaged Open Font of the Week: Tuffy Infants 2

Tuffy Infants 2 is a font derived from the Tuffy fonts created by Thatcher Ulrich. The Tuffy fonts are a really cool example of how folks around the world can work together to create new things under open licenses. Thatcher, who is from New York released his first Tuffy under the public domain in 2004. Jowaco, from York in the UK, created both Tuffy Infants 2 and Tuffy 5 as derivatives of Thatcher’s original Tuffy fonts. That being said, Tuffy Infants 2 is a sans-serif font. Note I’m not an expert on classifying fonts, but I believe it is a humanist sans-serif font like last week’s font, Junction. Looking at the loop in the lowercase k, the finial in the lowercase ‘a’, ‘m’, and ‘d’ – among other parts of the letterforms – there seems to be variation in line with a humanist-style font. Tuffy Infants 2 is nice, clean yet organic – and it also has a very fun feel from the merry curves of its letterforms. Jowaco suggests it would be used well for teachers creating type for their students. Tuffy Infants 2 has no license – it is under the public domain. Fedora Font Wishlist Entry:https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Tuffy_Infants_fonts Upstream …

Inkscape Class Day 2

Early this morning I taught the second session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.) Today’s Class Today’s class was split up into two major sections. T-Shirt Technologies and Specifications First, Walter Miska from EmbroidMe Chelmsford went over different T-Shirt printing technologies and gave the students the specifications for their T-shirts that he has so generously volunteered to produce at the end of the class. Here’s a list of the T-shirt printing technologies he covered (and he showed off samples of each, I wish I thought to take photos!): Screen printing Screen printed transfer Sublimation Transfers Direct-to-Garment Walter produced a great worksheet running down the details of these – he has given me the okay to publish his worksheet here (and on the course website) under a Creative Commons Attribution license. You’ll find it in the files list below. The students’ designs will be printed on light ash grey t-shirts. The maximum print area is 13″ wide and 15″ long. Walter’s going to use the relatively new direct-to-garment technology to produce the shirts. It turns out it’s …

Car Smash

Woke up this morning to find our car smashed up. The person who did it allegedly fled. We’re in contact with the police and we’re very hopeful it’ll all work out. You can virtually rubberneck here if you’re interested. I’m just way worried right now, because I need that car on Tuesday morning to make the next Inkscape class session and I don’t think it’s safe to drive, and I’m not sure how that could be righted in time. I’m trying to work that out now.

Inkscape Class Day 1

Early this morning I taught the first session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. The course is part of Red Hat’s community outreach program. My fellow Red Hatter John had come up with the idea for the program at a school meeting and made it happen, I created the curriculum with the help of the Fedora Design team, and my fellow RH designer Eve and I have volunteered our time to run the course. Red Hat has also donated some Wacom Bamboo Pen + Touch tablets to the school to use during the course. This program is something we’ve been working on making happen since last October so I’m very excited to have kicked things off today. The Plan There’s a theme that spans the entire course, involving a rock band: Blanchard Records, Inc. is a young record label and they’ve just signed a deal with a hot new band. They think this is going to be their big break, so they want to make a big splash – and it’s time to release a new album and kick off a worldwide tour. There’s just one small problem. The band doesn’t …

Unpackaged Open Font of the Week: Junction

Junction is a humanist sans-serif typeface developed by Caroline Hadilaksono. The font actually reminds me a lot of Myriad which is very popular humanist sans-serif typeface – but Junction has some unique personality traits to it. Check out that uppercase ‘D’ in my type sample above – it kind of looks like a tongue sticking out at you! It’s a spicy font 😉 Typography terminology is a bit intimidating, but I’ve been reading up a bit on the history of type and its terminology to help make this series of posts more useful. I’m about halfway through Ellen Lupton’s excellent typography book Thinking With Type and the first section of the book details the history of type from calligraphy to metal blocks to fonts on a computer. Really fascinating stuff and a very enjoyable read. That being said, I wanted to point out that Junction is a humanist sans-serif typeface. Humanist refers to the calligraphic-like way the strokes of letters are ended and how the line widths are not one consistent width but vary depending on where in the letter they are (unlike Helvetica or Futura, where the line widths are very consistent and don’t vary at all.) Humanist typefaces …