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- Building a design in Photoshop
- Converting Photoshop design to HTML and CSS
- Setting up MAMP on Mac and WAMP on Windows
- Moving HTML and CSS into a WordPress theme
- Building navigation
- Using custom fields
- Creating a commenting system
Skill Level Intermediate
It's time for us to dig into some real design work in Photoshop. First, let's explore what Widget Corp. has provided to us as assets for this project. If you have access to the exercise files, all these assets will be available in this chapter 01_02 folder here in the Assets folder. So they've given us a logo, they've given us some product images, and they've given us some text files. Let's go ahead and open up that logo by dragging it to Photoshop icon in our dock. Now I say they gave this to us, but of course, Widget Corp.
is a fictional client of ours and really this file came from iStockphoto. So really cool looking logo though, isn't it? One of their needs that we established earlier was that they wanted their website to really be clear that they're widget making company, no ambiguity about it. And this widget logo really does that for us already. If we use this properly in the design, there will be no doubt about that they're widget making company. So through meeting with them and reading this text that they gave us and looking at these product images, we've kind of gotten a feeling from them that kind of a relaxed corporate looking site is going to be the way to go for them.
Now, these product images, let me go ahead and show you these. They give us three for each one of their products. So I'm going to go ahead and drag these three down into Photoshop, so you can just see what they gave us. There is a large version, a regular size version, and a mini version, if we need it. So in these product images and in their logo you can see some grays and light blues and kind of some relaxed colors that will probably work pretty well for the design as we move forward. If we were to go with red and bright yellow and like a guy surfboarding on the homepage of the website, it's probably not going to jive very well with their corporate feel and their logo that already exists and stuff like that. No need to rock the boat there.
A great technique when starting a new design from scratch is to use what's called a mood board. And a mood board is just a design file. It literally could be a piece of paper, but it could be a Photoshop file as well. It is kind of a scrapbook of little bits of design that you kind of think are cool or appropriate for the mood of the site. So I have here in this Ideas folder as part of the exercise file, the file called Example Mood Board. I'm going to double-click and open up that in Photoshop. Now this, what you're looking at here, has nothing to do with Widget Corp.
and the project that we're going to be moving forward with. It's just an example of what a mood board could be. So it's just these swatches of color around, there are some typography exploration, there is images in the background, you can see this top image is blurred out, and we have some blurred text that kind of go with that. There are some textures going on and some different kinds of fonts with opacity. Just lots of stuff going on here. It doesn't look like a finished design at all. It's just giving us a feel for something, like maybe this design here is kind of an urban thing, as we can see some buildings and some underground kind of stuff going on here. It's just a feel.
So we're going to do that for Widget Corp. with our own mood board. So I am going to make a new file in Photoshop and give it some kind of arbitrary pixel dimensions here. We're just kind of playing around, and we just get this white canvas. And the white isn't so bad really. I mean, white is chill and relaxed and corporate. No problem with that. So maybe the content of our site will be on white, but we should work on a background. So let me just grab the Rectangle tool and just make a square here that will be representative of our background.
Maybe we'll make it kind of neutral gray color, a darker gray. Now when you have two flat colors like this next to each other, it's a little boring. It's a little flat. Let's give that background a little bit of noise, just to loosen it up a little bit and provide a little text here. And then now we can give it a whole bunch of noise, but that would be annoying and a little over the top for us probably, but since we're kind of going for chill, so just a very-very light amount of noise can kind of go a long way for visual interest. So that's kind of neat, kind of imagining our content over here and this being our background over here.
Now they did give us this logo, so let's open that up in Photoshop. I can grab our black arrow tool and just drag it over to our other project here. I am going to press Command+T to resize this thing. Command+0 to get my resize handles all in the screen, then hold Shift as I resize this, just so it's a more manageable size. That's all I'm doing here. Now, one of the first things I notice is that this logo is looking good on dark as well as white. So it's a kind of interesting that way. Not that our logos are able to do that, so that's kind of neat.
Another thing I often like to see in these mood boards is separators or way to partition content from one another. In a corporate site like this, one pixel rules I think are pretty neat. So let's grab one of those. I grabbed our Line tool. I'm going to hold Shift and draw straight line. And that's kind of nice. That might be a way to separate our header from our footer, or blog post from each other. I am not sure yet. And when I see one pixel lines like that, a lot of times I'll think of Helvetica Neue, in their Ultra Light font. I think that's really nice.
We could just go ahead and type WIDGET CORP in all caps and that font really reminds me-- It looks itself like a one pixel line, so that's kind of neat. We can just play around here. We're not exactly designing their website right now, even though this is kind of starting to take shape a little bit. We're just kind of dropping stuff on the page and getting a feel, getting a mood. That's the whole point. Now, as we are playing around with mood or we're looking around an iStockphoto, we found this file. I'm calling it mailmarks here.
And I'll press the Spacebar just so we can take a peek at it, and it has all these like stamps and stuff that looks like it came from the Post Office, pretty neat stuff. I was thinking, maybe this could work in our design, you know. It looks corporate-y to me, just in that corporations get and send mail and stuff. I think this would work. Most of the site is going to be pretty sterile and clean, but having a few kind of rough edges like this might be kind of neat. So I'll go ahead and open that up in Photoshop and maybe we'll just grab like one of these postmarks or something and drag that in there.
I'll grab the Lasso tool and just draw a really loose selection around that and grab our black arrow and just drag it over here. Just so we have a reference to it, just anywhere in here. Maybe we'll grab some more stuff, just in case, for playing around. I'm just lassoing around in this area in this JPEG file we have, dragging that over to? I'm not sure. I mean those are looking pretty humongous, so again, I've selected their layers and pressed Command+T. So I can resize them and then just holding Shift.
Holding Shift will keep their dimensions straight as I resize, so that they don't get distorted. That might work. We'll see. I could even see knocking them down in opacity a little bit, so they're not as strong on the page. Playing around with color is also important in your mood board. I can grab the Rectangle tool here, and just kind of maybe draw some bars in here and pick some colors. Now sampling colors from already existing elements on the page might be a good idea. Their logo has all kinds of blues in it.
Since it's gradients, there is light blues towards the top and dark blues towards the bottom, really dark blues, and that's kind of neat. We could base our color scheme off of their logo. There would be no problem with that. I want to grab that bar and drag it to the page down here to duplicate it, and then grab my black arrow and just move it. So we can pick another color, maybe another blue. It's kind of neat. I'll duplicate it again. We're just playing around with colors, playing around with feel.
We don't have to stay in all blue. That would be boring if we did that, so we could branch out. That actually that's working for me. That looks kind of neat. Just playing around with color, playing around with different graphical elements, using their logo, setting up some background textures here, playing around with typography. That's what a mood board is all about. So let's go ahead and save this as our mood board, and we'll use this later as we start building out the actual design structural files.