Monthly Archives: February 2015

Portraits are old school!

I’m just kidding, portrait photography will always rock!

However, if you wanted a portrait for a gift and were looking for something a bit different (but not as scary as a commissioned original portrait painting from an artist of your choice), then think 3D!

This is my friend Rachel. She had this portrait made for her Grandma who lives too far away to visit often. It’s a brilliant idea. The company she used mostly do corporate events (also a great idea – what a lovely team building exercise – to get a set of mini-models for the office or as prizes) but they do personal portraits too. Apparently, the shoot is as fast as a normal shoot as you stand in the middle of a ring of cameras and they all fire at once. You get to approve it before they ‘print’ and are allowed a couple of tries.

Original portrait 3D model

Original portrait – 3D Rachel

They’ve been around for a while. My3Dtwin ( started back in summer 2011, then there appears to have been a publicity campaign in October 2013 with even Asda offering the service ( And this is a good article from the Guardian (also Oct’13 During this research, I found they’re quite popular for wedding cake toppers too – how perfect is that? Price and quality varies but with 3D printing technology improving all the time, I hope they’ll be the photobooth of the future. I’d have one!

Value design

I bought my rhubarb and vanilla body scrub because it smells nice. It wasn’t until it was sitting in my bathroom, half empty, I had a moment of appreciation for the packaging. It caught me by surprise as it’s an own-brand product that only cost £1. Design isn’t normally a major feature of own brands, partly because it’s one of the corners that can be cut but also because they’re purposefully designed to represent ‘value’.

What I like is that they’ve printed the inside back of the container the same colour as the product. That’s it! From a practical perspective, it always looks full and I don’t have a cheap looking plastic tube in my bathroom as I use it. But what really does it for me is that it matches exactly! How much time was spent getting that right or was it a lucky accident? Orange is a difficult colour to match so I might have to try some orange and pomelo to find out!


As a brand, they look nice in the store, too, but there is a minor oversight I hadn’t noticed. While I was looking on google for the design agency (I didn’t find the answer or I’d credit them), I found a tweet by Chris ( who pointed out that ‘some fruits are darker than others’. Even the product photographer struggled with this passionfruit and melon bath foam. Don’t let that put you off though – they still smell nice – and what do you want for a pound! (link below to Wilko online)


Blast from the past

I was having a clear out the other day when I found these. There were 2 calendars – one paintings, one drawings – each with 12 birds. There wasn’t a date on them but I think I was about 15 and I made them for my grandparents. I’ve still got the book somewhere I copied them from. I’m quite pleased with myself, especially with the paintings!



Who are you talking to?

I saw these posters at the weekend and they got me thinking about the design process.

I can imagine some trepidation when this brief came in. Sex is a sensitive enough subject, plus anything with people in can be an equal opportunities minefield. Using animals instead is a good solution. They’ll brighten up the place (East London) and who doesn’t like nature? It can probably be done with stock shots (which, knowing local authorities, might well have been part of the brief). And they’ll be educational. Did you know this animal does it like this? Then bring it back to the point with ‘whatever way YOU do it, use a condom’. All good. Let’s go.

I like them but that’s what made me wonder – are they working? It doesn’t matter what I think because they’re not aimed at me. The URL suggests they’re for young people. I’m not suggesting young people aren’t interested in nature or that the posters are badly designed, but I can’t help thinking they need to do more. Even if the young happen to look up, would they recognise they’re being spoken to or would they think ‘aww, flamingos. Wildlife park.’ and turn back to their phones.

I’d like to think some research went on (more extensive than mine which involved asking one 14 year old what they thought*) but there isn’t always time. There is, however, always time to ask ‘does this creative answer the brief?’. When the ideas are discussed, and again when they’re settled. When the visuals are chosen, even when the work is complete, it’s worth revisiting the brief and checking you’re still on track.  ‘Does this solution say what we want to the people we want to talk to?’.

I don’t know. Maybe they started out looking quite different but the approval process watered them down – that can happen too (the people paying and approving are often not the target audience either). Or maybe they’re fine and teenage pregnancy numbers in the borough will plummet. Either way, if you see flamingos with their heads in the water, look away.

(*’wildlife park’)



Macs and Adobe are amazing – the things we can do! But how many of us change our settings?

I was watching a retouching class, full of top tips (CreativeLive – Pratik Naik – brilliant!), but I wanted to share this one because the whole room went ‘oh yeah, why don’t I do that!’

To speed up your photoshop retouching, go to edit/keyboard shortcuts and change the default settings to suit you. Allocate the actions you use the most (heal, clone, zoom, brush, brush size…) to keys close together on the left side of the keyboard, leaving your right hand free to draw (if you’re right handed). Here’s the best bit though. Make one of the keys the rotate command. Yes, you can rotate the canvas. This is the thing nobody was doing! When you’re using strokes to retouch, your hand has a natural arc. Now you can easily rotate the canvas to fit your stroke, not the other way round. And when you’re done, there’s a button at the top to reset it straight. Who knew!


An idea you never thought of but totally wish you had

It’s inspiring when you see creativity by others and think ‘wow, that’s good. I wish I’d thought of that’.
I love this video (if the link works)…

With thanks to:
Agency: DDB Group Asia Pacific
Motion Design: Tamara Haentjes