Friday, June 21, 2019

Public Information A3 NCFE Legislation and COP Poster

Here's the fun Public Information A3 poster I created for my NCFE Level 3 Course (Training & Education), an academic RQF-level course designed for those going in to teaching or training.
I hope it proves useful to someone. Mine's geared to those specialising in training in the creative industries.
I love training people to do what I can and the course proved both rewarding and useful in this regard.

Full-size PDF available on request.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Wix Pros & Cons (+ 2 bug fixes!)

If you thought Wix was just for Hobbyists and Amateurs you're wrong. In the last two years it's sorted it's SEO issues and turned in to a fairly fast and realistic solution for even middle-sized companies.

This means anyone can use this cheap and fun platform to get a site up.
Not everyone SHOULD though and, if you need a website, you really need to understand why.
Along the way you'd do well to learn from our experience with Wix and avoid, or at least be aware of, some major pitfalls. With thanks to Lara Sargent, my co-pilot on this journey.

TLDR: Despite all the below, I'd recommend Wix as, without a career in web design behind you, it's your best shot at getting the job done and if you do have the skills but don't have a couple of weeks to get a site done, it's great.

1) At a time when Gradients are a hot design trend, Wix can't do Gradients.
Nobody knows what Gradients did to make Wix dislike them so much but it must have been pretty bad.

2) Many elements still can't be Cut & Pasted.

3) Many elements just can't be grouped (eg- Strips)

4) You can't style page elements as you would like. Want a border around that? Unless Wix thinks it should have a border you can't have one. Beginner-level CSS code will allow you to style most aspects of every element in a web page. In Wix all that goodness is locked away from you.

5) Font Awesome and Google Fonts are weirdly implemented.
You can use them (if you add them in yourself) just in a really inconvenient way.

6) Wix Support is terrible. I have several tickets in to Wix Support regarding how poor their Support is. I plan to make a chain of them when I have enough and link the most recent to the first, thus creating a never-ending Support Ticket Loop that will ensure the employment of Wix Tech Support staff for generations to come.

7) If you switch to Mobile View in the Editor it will make a rough job of sorting your page elements in to something like a logical, tidy order.
That's what Mobile View is for- it does most of the work for you but you'll need to do the rest. You need to remember though that Wix frequently uses Z-Index ordering to generate the Mobile View version of your site. This means that if one element is on top of another, the topmost will be positioned higher up the page when you switch to Mobile View.

8) You have no direct access to the HTML that Wix generates.
Wix Code / Corvid is a horrible way to generate all the elements of a website page that any web designer will be familiar with. You want a box with an image and text? Learn the basic languages of the web- HTML, CSS and Javascript and you've learned enough to say "make me a box with an image and text please". Hey presto, it's there.

In Wix Code you need to learn another programming language just to tell Wix to say those simple words for you. You can't pop the hood on your site and rewire it, you can't even access the code that makes your web pages without going to extraordinary lengths. To use another mixed simile, it's like you already know how to drive but have to become a hacker to just get in to your car every morning.

9) It's buggy and can crash, leaving you with no way to restore to a previous state.
Here's some of my favourite Wix bugs. Auto-save in the Wix Editor will record multiple History States for you, allowing you to go back in time to before Auto-save over-wrote the working version of your web page. It can be a lifesaver until it stops recording properly and leaves you with more than a dozen history states that are all identical (and therefore useless). The Wix Editor Colour Picker can go crazy, actually moving the colour swatches out of the way of your mouse pointer just as you hover over them to choose a colour. It's like it's trying to make your day worse. Try using Wix in another Browser to get around a bug, and switch back to the first browser if you encounter another.
The Mobile View Bug, though, will have you tearing your hair out in frustration.
Newbs to Wix will waste a lot of time trying to make the Mobile View of their site, struggling against the Editor to make a decent layout. Some may never stumble across this fix, as I did.

Fix Number 1: I found that hiding ANY element on the mobile view of your web page in the Editor then unhiding it will force the page to reload with (most of) it's elements reordered to respect your layout.
Try it. Switch from the Editor's Desktop View to Mobile View and you get to enjoy how the Page Anchor Bug drops all your carefully positioned Page Anchors to the bottom of the screen. Switch back and they may just stay at the bottom of the screen in Desktop View, forcing you to start the job of manually positioning them all again. Nice.

Fix Number 2: The order of work in Wix is- Desktop, Mobile and last of all, add your page anchors. That workflow will save you hours, or even days, of wasted effort.

10) Just because ANYONE can make a site easily in Wix, using a Template or not, that does not mean that they SHOULD. People often misunderstand Design and what Designers do.
Sure, a lot of it is making things look pretty and being creative.
A lot more of it is deploying a deep understanding of not only what looks good and why but also how to make things well, so they actually work. Because you can drag elements around in the Wix Editor and click to generate an (often poor) mobile version of your site you may think you're also the ideal person to check how well your site works across all devices and browsers.
Unless you're a seasoned web pro you almost certainly aren't.
There's just too much to consider and you'd have to do an incredibly thorough job, even if you did know everything to look out for. If you use one of the many excellent Wix Templates as the basis for your site you'll find this will stop being a lovely Wix Template from the moment you alter it. The more you add or change the further it will get from looking, and operating, like the Template you chose.

I hope this article helps someone.
It's got great SEO tools now and just remember- it could be worse... It could be WordPress.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Brighton Develop Conference 2017

I attended the Brighton Develop Conference on Thursday 13th July 2017 to research the games industry, and because it looked fun.
Surprisingly it was incredibly informative and a great place to get recruited, if you're looking for game dev work in the UK.
There's far too much to get round in even three days but that's all you've got.
From "Taking the Sound of Star Wars: Battlefront to VR" to "The Making of Horizon Zero Dawn", it's a packed event.

Here's some of my rough notes from the experience, as some folks have asked me to share them:

Want to start your game company up, legit?
You can get it done today for £6.99 with "Company Formations 247"

EGX = Eurogamer Expo (big in the Euro game sector)

Games to check out: Journey and Depression Quest, enjoy and examine the subtexts.

Jeroen Janssen of Happy Volcano (currently working on a game called "Winter") gave a great talk min how not to screw up your first approach to a gaming company.

What he wants to see on business's cards:
1. Name
2. What do you actually do?
3. Show me what you got!! Ensure you're showing some well printed imagery/urls
4. A picture of you, so he can remember who you were (these guys see a LOT of people).
5. A fairly good amount of white space, for writing down what a terrible/great person you were when he met you, etc.

Put in the effort- bells and whistles to wow, Behance is OK, though your own site looks more professional.
Show the range of your work- styles, etc.
Best work first
No filler
School projects/past experience work really help.
Evidence of group project work is OK, if it's clear what you did.
Personal work is a must! Interesting one this, he's of the opinion that it really shows what you're about, so indicates if you'll be a good fit for his company.
Do not be a one trick pony
No Manga- he's not a fan, but obviously if you're going for a job on a manga-style gameHere you should ignore this :)
Details: textures up close, details and close ups of artwork and assets.
Do not do the sliced texture overview shot- whatever it is, he hates it.
Show your work "in Engine", demos how it sits in context.
Be prepared to talk through your work- practice this with your assistants and minions :)

Include links to portfolio
Start date and end date for internships (mainly of use for students)
Attachments: no attachments, just URL to folio (other industry sectors and Art Directors may not share this opinion).

Internship fairs and business events
Research the company- what games it's making, who they are, what they do.
Show your work on an iPad (good for high-res work, colours look right for screens), charge your batteries- conferences are long!
Respect your assigned time slots.
Finish a piece of work, whether it's a game or groups of characters, etc.
Finished projects show you can complete projects to the appropriate standard.

Not all session notes are relevant or interesting enough to include here but I hope this excerpt encourages you to book your ticket for next year, it could be the best conference you attend in 2018.

See you there! :)

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Got my Education and Training Award!
In need of Digital or Natural Media Art training, beginner to advanced? Just get in touch.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Just enrolled at Chi College on the NCFE (Training to Teach) course!

Monday, November 14, 2016

New Business Cards

Just got my new business cards from!
It's always good to get a new batch of business cards and this time I thought I'd give Moo a go.
The cards are slightly darker than expected and the waxy matt finish makes them difficult to slide out of the holder, or over each other- so budding croupiers may be disappointed.
On the whole though I'm very pleased and I love the ShowCase card holder too.
Moo are good value and you can have up to 500 different images on the backs of a single batch, so I'd recommend them.