Tag Archives: tips

Questions to Ask Yourself On Making Tough Life Decisions

I think we can all agree that life can be a real b*tch at times, as it puts us in situations that require us to make difficult decisions – decisions that, no matter what, would entail heartache, headache, or both. Some of them require a true sacrifice, while others involve big risks.

To help you deal with such trying moments in your life, here are four questions you could and should ask yourself before making the final decision. I hope at the end of the list, you will find the answer that is already in your heart and make the right and best choice. So here we go:

1. “What does my heart say?”

Listen to your heart. Breathe in, breathe out, and listen. If it doesn’t work, try a few more times. Close your eyes, breathe in, breathe out, and listen… Don’t focus on the big mess of thoughts in your head right now. Focus on what your gut feeling tells you. Find that answer and hold on to it.

Always trust your instinct. I’m not saying that your parents’ or your friends’ advice and suggestions are bad for you – and we should always be appreciative of the love and concern from our loved ones, no matter how much they may bug us – but at the end of the day, it is you who knows yourself best.

You are the one who truly understand what you want and what you do not want. Deep down, you know what’s best for yourself.

This is your life. You must be its dictator. Don’t let someone else do your thinking and soul searching for you. The responsibility to seek the truth inside your heart lies in your hands. Don’t let other people’s guesses about your life, or your future, sway or mislead you. Use your own intuition.

It is not always easy to listen to your heart, and it works differently for different people. For some, the best way to do so is to go out for a quiet walk alone; the peace helps them sieve out the more significant things in their minds. For others, running or hitting the gym, and experiencing the pain and the weakening of the physical body, helps to clear up their heads. (This is why many athletes are such clear-headed, focused and determined people.) In any way, always listen to your heart.

2. “What am I afraid of?”

Difficult decisions come with high stakes. When there is much to gain, there is much to lose. Ask yourself: What am I afraid of losing? Is it money? Love? Reputation? Dignity? Popularity?

Or is it because you’re afraid of disappointment, to lose hope in yourself if you fail? Sometimes we are afraid of making big decisions that involve huge changes in our lives because we fear that if we do fail, we might not be able to pick ourselves up again.

To counter this fear, you need to accept that we all fall from grace from time to time. Know that no one is invincible, or immune to a little misstep here and there, and occasionally, a huge one. We are all humans, not gods. Well, even angels and gods can fall from power.

And yet, as ordinary people, each of us possesses a special gift: the resilience of the human spirit – the ability to bounce back each time we fall. Fall down seven times; stand up eight. When life knocks you down, stand back up and keep trying.

Sometimes, we don’t wish to be the one making the decision also because we are afraid that if we were to be wrong, the responsibility of it all falls solely on us. There is no one else to blame, no one else to point the finger at. However, you should also realize that everyone makes mistake.

No one is perfect, or 100% right all the time. Yes, there would be a price to pay if you fail, but then again, you would also gain something in return: a lesson. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Think of it as meant to be. Be determined to get something out of the decision and the experience that follows, whether you succeed or fail, rise or fall.

A Japanese proverb reads: “Anzuru yori umu ga yasushi.” Its literal meaning is that giving birth to a baby is easier than worrying about it. What it serves to explain is that the fear you experience is probably greater than the danger itself. Your attempt is likely to be easier than expected. So if you are afraid, then do it afraid. Trust me, courage will follow.

3. “Who/what am I doing this for?”

You have to figure this out right from the start. This is what will anchor you during the fight and the struggle following the moment the decision is made. This is what you will go back to, again and again, whenever you feel discouraged, disappointed or hopeless.

Is it just for passion? Is it also for money, or success? Is there something else? Often, our bigger goals are combined with other small or hidden goals, which we fail to perceive or choose to ignore. Never let yourself be denied of the truth that is already inside you.

One day the suppressed truth will pop up when you least expect it and tell you that everything you’ve worked for is done on the basis of a lie you tell yourself. So be honest with yourself. Know who you are and what you want. Take this as a learning process to get to know yourself better as a person.

When you know what you want, make it your goal. Focus your mind on it, and be happy about it. Remember: Positive emotions will put positive energies towards your goal. This positivity will make your journey towards achieving this goal smoother, as it will attract other good things along the way.

The law of attraction can work in many mysterious ways. Make a conscious effort to stop worrying. Think about the good things, not the worst-case scenarios.

You don’t always need to take great leaps of faith. Sometimes, it’s the baby steps that matter. Take one step at a time; take each day as it comes. There is no shortcut to success. If you want it, you’re going to have to work for it. But always keep in mind: Enjoy life, not endure it.

4. “If I don’t do this now, will I regret in the future?”

Yes, regrets. We all hate regrets because regret makes us feel empty, like something is amiss in our life. Regret makes us feel like we have done something that we shouldn’t have, or we haven’t done something that we should have. Regret makes you wish that you could turn back time, so there’s a second chance for you to make things right.

Regret can be addictive, because it puts us in a cycle in which we imagine the could-haves, and then become disappointed upon realizing the impossibility of them becoming real. To relieve ourselves of the pain, we go back to imagining again because then, in our minds, we feel powerful and in control once more.

For every decision you make, there is an opportunity cost. Simply put, in life, you win some; you lose some. You can’t have everything. This especially applies to time. You do not have all the time in the world. Life is short. I say this because life is unpredictable; one day you are here and the next you could be gone.

Well, the truth is, we don’t have full control over everything, even if we’d like to think that we do. Lost chances can keep us up all night because they prove that things can come and go without our approval, or without us being at all prepared for their departure. An opportunity does not need your permission before slipping right through your fingers.

When you choose to stay in your comfort zone instead of stepping out of it, you might miss out on an opportunity that will not come by a second time in your life. In the worst of scenarios, regret leads us to hate ourselves. Our lack of courage and prudence makes us feel so small and so incapable of achieving something bigger than our present self.

Regret is a powerful emotion that can topple even the most spirited person. Do not let regret into your life. Let the could-haves be. What is in the past is exactly that, in the past. It cannot be changed.

At the end of the day, we all want to be winners in life. We want to know that we have made the right decisions. Success is a matter of perception, just as happiness is. They are both very subjective. Keep in mind that no decision is purely good, or bad. No matter what decision you make in the end, believe that it is your best choice. Choose to be positive and confident about it.

In ending, I’ll leave you with a quote from Paulo Coelho:

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”

 Listen to your heart. Be bold. Set a goal. Take a chance.

ADSpiration: Interbest’s Male Stripper Billboard

Just this morning, as I was browsing through the net some visual inspirations to fuel my hump day, I came across this genius campaign made by  a Dutch outdoor advertising company, Interbest. They used a male stripper to build awareness of their billboard visibility in a campaign that has won Gold at the 2011 Clio Awards. The campaign involved a progression of billboards each showing the overweight man in fewer clothes with the text: “The sooner you advertise here, the better”. Just in time, the billboard is taken up with an advertisement for Radio 2, BBC’s national radio station. The campaign is a development of an earlier series of billboards which won a Silver Outdoor Lion at Cannes in 2010.



Credits to the genius brains behind this campaign, Y&R Not Just Film’s  team, art director Marq Strooy, copywriter Robin Zuiderveld, production manager Tilly van Duivenbooden, photographer Morad Bouchakour, account manager Jacqueline Loomans, and advertiser’s supervisor Meindert Van Den Heuvel.

Designing a Project Without A Design Brief Is Like…

Here are the best of Designing a project without a design brief is like…

#1. Filling an order for a steak in a restaurant kitchen which reads, “I’ll have a cow piece, thanks.”

#2. Playing charades. Designer: “Okay, you’re pointing to a paper, so this must be a print project… no? Wait – Web! You’re holding up three fingers, so you need it in three weeks? WHAT?! THREE HOURS?”

#3. Being a fortune teller with a crystal ball. Designer: “Ooooh, I see you have a big event coming up. You will need an advertising campaign. It will be all wrong until 4 a.m. the night before we go to print. Yes, the Great Designer never guesses, she knows.”

#4. A forensic artist drawing a suspect. Designer: “From what you described, this is what you want for your brochure.” Client: “No, that’s basically my competitor’s brochure. I wanted that but BETTER.”

#5. Buying your wife surprise jewelry. Designer: “Last time we met, my client mentioned tri-folds. She probably wants a tri-fold. And she always signs her email in comic sans. She must like comic sans. And the design will match her signature!”Image

Why You Can’t Buy Creativity

“The work had better be good, I’m paying them enough.” Over the years I’ve heard this statement – or versions of it – from many different managers charged with getting creative work out of their teams.”

From a conventional management perspective, it probably sounds like common sense. But to anyone who understands the nature of creativity and what motivates creative people, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Rewarding people for hard work is a great thing to do, but it’s no guarantee of loyalty – and certainly no guarantee of creativity. And using rewards as an incentive – or even a threat – has been proven not to work when it comes to complex, challenging, creative work.

When you’re focused on a reward, you’re not focused on the work itself. And as any creative will tell you, doing outstanding creative work – whether solving a technical problem or creating a work of art – requires 100% focus on the task in hand, to the point of obsession. You have to love what you do.

Of course companies need to pay people well. If they don’t, compensation becomes a bone of contention, and a distraction from their work. But if you really want outstanding creative performance, you need people to focus on intrinsic motivations – factors inherent in the work itself. Things like challenge, interest, learning, meaning, freedom, and creative flow. They are what really motivates creative people – and the research demonstrates a strong link between levels of intrinsic motivation and creativity.

“If you really want outstanding creative performance, you need people to focus on intrinsic motivations – factors inherent in the work itself.”

In The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida discusses the results of an Information Week survey of 20,000 IT workers, who were asked “What matters most to you about your job?”. Florida points out that not only did money (an extrinsic motivation) rank only fourth, behind three different types of intrinsic motivation, but that “nine of the ten highly valued job factors are intrinsic”. And remember, it was a survey of IT workers, who might be expected to take a more hard-nosed approach to motivation than more artistic types.

You Can’t Buy Creativity – You Have to Inspire It

Money buys you people’s time. It should also guarantee you basic professional competence. But you don’t get outstanding creativity by simply offering more money. You get mercenaries.

If you want real creativity – the magic ingredient X that sets the product apart – you need to inspire it, by showing them what makes the work fascinating, challenging, meaningful, and fun. And you need to give them freedom to do it their way, rather than micro-managing every step.

How to Keep Your Creative Spark Alight

If you’re a creative, you probably experience a tension between following your own creative inclinations vs giving the market (your boss, clients, or customers) what it wants. Spend too much time on your own pet projects and you risk disappointing the VIPs in your working life. But if you spend too much time on well-paid work that doesn’t inspire you, your creativity will fade away.

So it’s vital to strike a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in the work you take on. Sometimes you need to take on a less glamorous project or job to pay the bills – if so, make time for more interesting creative pursuits, in the evenings and weekends if need be. This will keep your creative spark alive and make you less resentful of the grunt work.

And challenge yourself to take a creative approach to any job you take on, no matter how unpromising the brief. It could be as mundane as packaging elastic bands, but if you keep coming up with original and valuable solutions, you’ll earn a reputation for priceless creativity.

What Motivates You and Your Team?

Think about the best piece of creative work you ever did – what motivated you to do it?

Any tips on motivating and inspiring creative employees?


10 Killer Photoshop Tricks

I am a fan of tutorials. I never really had that hardcore Photoshop learning back on my school days (sorry to my college instructor), up to date, I can say that roughly 80% of what I know about editing applications are all hard self-study and bugging peers.

I just found a very useful tutorial that I think is worth sharing, Enjoy!

Believe it or not, if you’re using Photoshop to design website, you’re on the right path to become a successful web designer. This is simply because Photoshop is one of the most advanced tool in the design industry that can make your creative imagination comes true with its plethora of professional tools which boost your productivity at the same time.

But how well do you know about Photoshop? Sometimes we’re wondering why certain web designer can design a website layout with extremely heavy graphics in 5 days, while we need around 10 days to complete that kind of design. It’s probably not about how fast you can click, it’s about how well you know about Photoshop, how you gonna unlock its full potential to boost your productivity.

We want you to know how to unlock its full potential. Yes, that’s why we created this post, to provide you 10 extremely useful Photoshop tips to boost your design speed. There can be shortcut, feature or setting you don’t know about, but not anymore. With this article you gonna learn them all, and you will design faster, and faster.

Note: Shortcut keys mentioned in this article are in Windows Photoshop format. If you are using Mac, be sure to know that Ctrl = Cmd (Command) and Alt = Opt (Option).


10. Undo, More Undo Please

I totally believe that we designer are very addictive to undo something, even until when we made a mistake on sketching, we tend to ‘undo’ it.

Well as you might know by pressing Ctrl + Z in Photoshop you can undo the previous action you made, but when you press the same key combination again, it will redo the previous action. This is quite unnatural and troublesome as you always need to undo multiple times to get to the state you want.

Believe it or not, Photoshop has a specific button for multiple undo, and it is Alt + Ctrl + Z. Yes, by using this key combination you can undo multiple times, according to the value of History States you set in Edit > Preference > Performance.

If you’re used to common Undo’s key combination which is Ctrl + Z, you can simply press Ctrl + Shift + Alt + K to access Keyboard Shortcut panel and change Undo’s key combination under the Edit section to Ctrl + Z.

9. Sampling Color, anywhere!

Stumbled upon a nicely designed website and wondering which exact colors is it using? This happens very often when I’m seeking inspiration during the time I’m doing site layout in Photoshop. For me I will launch a color picker, pick the color and get its hex number, then click on the color palette in Photoshop, then input the hex number then get the color, pretty annoying isn’t it?

Well you don’t really need to suffer like that, you can actually just click on Eyedropper tool or pressing I to activate it, then click on the Photoshop’s work screen and drag the Eyedropper icon to anywhere on the monitor screen to get the color you want. Yeah, it’s really that easy.

8. Flexible Guide

Tip #8 is actually combination of 2 tips, I hope you don’t mind about getting more tips. As web designer we have to deal a lot with guide to position an element correctly, in other words is pixel perfect.

How do you create a guide? Click on View, New Guide then decide it’s horizontal or vertical guide, input its position and click Enter? Alright, you can save these works by just pressing Ctrl + R to activate the Ruler tool, click on the tool and drag it down to create a horizontal guide, or vice versa.

Besides instant guide creation, here’s another useful tip for you. While dragging a guide with Move tool which can be activated using V key, press and hold Alt key to change the horizontal guide to vertical guide, or vice versa. Now you can probably consider yourself as professional on using guide.

7. Fun Layer Style Cloning

Layer styles are very entertaining when you can just apply them to make, let’s say, a social media icon looks pretty charming and unique, but it will be very tiring if you want to apply same layer styles to all social media icons which usually come in multiple pieces.

Have you ever realized that there’s an fx icon beside your layer? Well everything exists for a reason, if you press Alt and drag the fx icon to another layer, it will copy first layer’s styles to the one you dragged to, convenient isn’t it?

Also if you are interested about the common use of that fx icon, it allows you to move a layer’s styles to another and all you need to do is simply drag the icon to another layer without pressing Alt key.

6. Element Centering Made Easy

n order to achieve a pixel perfect design, we oftenly have to position element to exactly where it should be. This seems easy as you can just create some guides and snap the element to those guides, but it will be daunting if you want to absolute center an element in certain area, which requires a lot of guides, measurement and focus.

In fact you have a way to make this entire process a lot more easier, click on the element’s layer which you want to absolute center, then press Ctrl + A to select the entire document. After that, fire the Move tool and you will see some icons beside the option, Show Transform Controls. Click on the 2nd icon to vertical center the element, then click on 5th icon to horizontal center the element, there you go, an absolute centered element.

You can not only absolute center the element in entire document’s area, but also absolute center it in certain area. Let’s say I want to absolute center an element in footer area, I can simply select the footer area by using the Selection tool which can be activated by pressing M key, then absolute center the element in that specific area. You can study other alignment options beside the Show Transform Controls option, they are very useful for aligning your elements in a wide range of situations.

5. View Selection, One At A Time

Often in designing a layout you need to check how an element looks exactly by its own or by few elements, for example in website layout below, I want to check slider’s buttons to confirm that they do not have transparency so they look exactly the same with or without slider’s image.

In past I have to turn off the visibility of slider image’s layer, slider background’s layer and even content’s background layer, but now I can just simply hold down the Alt key, then click on the ‘eye’ icon beside the button group to turn off all layers’ visibility so that I only view those buttons. After I checked them, I can just repeat the trick again to bring all layers’ visbilibity back.

This trick is also extremely useful while it comes to image slicing. You want to slice slider’s button without any other element like slider image, so you can use this trick to turn off all layer’s visibility to just slice the button, then repeat the trick to recover all layer’s visibility so it saves a lot of time wasted on turn on and off layers’ visibility.

4. Customize Font’s Tracking, Anytime

This particular tip shows you how to increase the font’s tracking in certain part of the type easily, so it might only be used on certain specific situation like logo or button creation, but it’s a professional tip that can save lots of time on finding fonts with suitable typography for your logo or button creation.

Alright, let’s say I want to decrease the tracking of the type, ’360′ so my logo’s type looks unique that visitor remembers it easier. I can select ‘POLO360′ by using Type tool which can be activated by pressing T key, then hold down the Alt and press < button to start decreasing the type’s tracking, which will bring the result above.

You can use this trick to tackle tracking issue of some artistic fonts, so there’s no worries about tracking next time you want to find graphical fonts for your logo creation!

3. Instant Layer Selection = Win

Layout design is an exhausting job as we have to tackle lots of issues such as typography, spacing and graphic, but it will be overwhelming if we want to find a specific element’s layer from hundreds of layers.

Let this trick makes your designer’s life easier. Activate the Move tool using V key and hold down the Ctrl key, then click on the element and you will automatically select the element’s layer. It’s really that simple but keep in mind that if you put elements into a group, then by using the same trick you will be selecting the group’s folder that contains the element you clicked, as shown above.

2. Smart Object For Smart Designer

Just as its name, Smart Object makes your editing smarter by carrying out 2 primary functions: perform nondestructive transforms and perform filtering. This feature comes in very handy especially when you’re producing a site layout with heavy graphics like stock photos, social media icons and UI kits, and all you need to do is right click a layer, then click ‘Convert to Smart Object’ to enjoy its benefits.

The first function says that once a layer is converted into a Smart Object, you can transform it anyway you want without losing its original quality. In our case we want to make the image slider smaller so we convert image slider’s layers to Smart Object and transformed it into something smaller.

Ouch, it’s just too small so I decided to change it back.

Looks like everything’s okay and nothing happened right? Below is the result if you applied a backward transformation without converting layer to Smart Object.

So you can probably see the difference here, especially slider’s buttons part. The backward transformation without Smart Object applied on layers makes the slider and slider’s buttons lose their quality. So by converting a layer to Smart Object, you can transform it to any smaller size you want but once you regretted about your decision, you can change it back without losing quality.

Another benefit by converting layer into Smart Object is once you applied filter on a Smart Object, a filter’s layer will appear under the Smart Object’s layer so you can disable filter easier by just turn off the visibility of the filter’s layer, and that’s called nondestructive filtering, great time saver for your project.

1. A Snapshot Of Beautiful Past

Now you learned how to undo multiple times, copy layer styles, faster layer selection and using Smart object these great time saving tips. Well, these are really handy skills that greatly boosts your productivity but how about after 2 hour’s work, you regretted your editing and decided to start from the middle? Redo it completely will be very exhausting and boring even you applied all killer tips you learned before, so that’s when Snapshot kicks in.

Snapshot allows you to create a temporary copy of any state of your editing so when you have trouble on improving your design and decided to go back, you can simply click on a snapshot to bring you back to the state you desired. To take a snapshot, you just have to open History palette, and click on the 2nd icon you see on the bottom of the palette.

There are also some useful features for snapshot like you can take multiple snapshots so you have more choices and you can name them so you remember them easier. Ultimately you can also use these snapshots to compare different effects you created for your design.

However, be sure to remember that once you closed the document, snapshots will be deleted instantly so if you want to keep those states, you can click on each snapshot and save the document as another file.

Reflection: You’ve come to the end of the article, great job. By this time you should got enough time-saving killer tips to boost your design speed, but always remember that learning is the best way for you to know more about your Photoshop, thus increasing your productivity. So keep learning more, and you will become a more competitive web designer of all time.

Well we’ve shared our best, how about you? If you don’t mind, please share your Photoshop killer tips to let us know the better way to use Photoshop, thanks for your generosity!

credits to Alvaris Falcon for this tutorial.

The Transparent Screen Trick

Here’s an easy optical illusion you can do to make your laptop or computer screen look see-through. The optical illusion of transparent screen is a simple yet effective illusion. These Illusions are created by taking a digital photo of your surroundings then place it as the desktop background of your monitor or screen. That way, they appear to have a fully transparent display.

okay forgive me, it's not an excellent photoshop job here, but hey, it's my first try years ago. (lame excuse...hehehe)

It kind of reminds me  of the The Human Condition, painted by the great surrealist Rene Magritte, who did some paintings on an easel that has been placed inside a room and in front of a window, with the painting completing the scene in the window. Below you’ll see the 40 awesome illusionary effects of transparent display. Have fun making your own see-through screen illusions!


Okay, I’ll keep this short, it’s a shame to confess that a lifetime of being an artist still had not allowed me to acquire the wisdom to decide which DSLR Camera would be a good grab.

I’m desperate, I’ll admit I am at some time a compulsory buyer, so as Kath (who is she? she is just my other-half-to-be). I’m impatient when it comes to waiting and checking and canvassing when I am about to buy something. HELP!

BIG THANKS to those who would bother to waste time trying to help a n undecided newbie. The third picture that I’ll take with that cam would be for you! (of course the first would be for us, the second would be for my Snoop! Haha!)

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