Style Guides

I cannot express how much I love style guides, moodboards, all that stuff that's like a Gestalt magic wand on a project to make a bunch of seemingly disparate parts into a congruent whole. I work on this type of stuff a lot.

I'm also kind of obsessed with making them easily digestible, one page or as short as possible because the main concern is that someone reads them at all, let alone thumbs through a bunch of pages enough to grok everything. That doesn't really happen so I'm very straight-forward about it.

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Helping Link

My favorite style guide I've ever made is this one I made for a Vietnamese refugee non-profit in Seattle.

Designed elements of this style guide are:

  • Logo (I updated the logotype, the original logomark had been provided)
  • Typeface
  • Background texture
  • Background repeating vector pattern
  • Inspirational photos with style transfer & gradient mapping applied
  • Brand flower
  • Color palette
  • Photographic theming for figures & objects

Making this style guide made it easy for me to throw together a bunch of promotional material for their Gala event relatively quickly.

I love to use style transfer for branding & games because once I figure out a formula that works well for that project's style, I can repeat the process on literally any other 2D image and get looks that strongly align. Also I just think Machine Learning is cool and I'm amazed that we, as humans, managed to not only teach computers to be artists but teach them to be any visual artist at any time in that artists life.

Sometimes the computer is a better artist but usually it's not however if you do enough style transfers and combine the best parts in Photoshop then you can pretty reliably repeat that process and get good results from any image.

Once the color palette is agreed upon, I pull out the gradient mapping. Gradient mapping is unique to Photoshop as far as I know (please correct me if I'm wrong). It's not just slapping a gradient across the image. What it does is it converts the image below it to black and white and then colorizes it by turning all your blacks into navy for example and all your whites into pinks for example and the gradient hits all the grays and colors in between if that makes any sense. If you want more control over the black and white image that the gradient map takes in then you can use a black & white adjustment layer in between them. From there you can add a levels adjustment layer to bring your mid-level values up and down but if you're a little lucky then you will have handled your levels tuning with the black & white layer you've already tweaked.

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When I'm not doing deep neural network machine learning style transfer for a style guide, I'm often making word clouds.
I find politicians are very partial to word-clouds. They're very message focused.

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Fox for Office

A good friend of mine, Kelly Fox, was my first political candidate branding job.
I designed many things for her:
- a logo in multicolored, monochromatic & dark background variations
- font stack
- colors
- gradient
- poster
- mailer (designed everything but the icons)
- business card
- yard sign
- reproducible art style
- formula for good vibes (priceless)

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Joe Todd for Council

I met Joe through a Black Lives Matter mural project in Renton WA and was happy to help him with an announcement for his campaign that included a word cloud portrait as well.
Joe's photo and logo were provided and I worked with what I perceived to be his existing branding.

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Ladon Robotics

I did this style guide for a startup called Ladon Robotics that's making an autonomous boat to circumnavigate the earth and optimize the freight shipping industry.
I'm currently working on their robot boat controller interface as well.

As usual, this style guide feeds into everything. For example, our pitch deck.

The following 3 images are slides from our the Powerpoint we show to investors that I designed in collaboration with the the team. The rest of the slides were all based on template pages I designed as well.

When we do site testing, I usually bring my DSLR camera. Here's some of my shots.