Category Archives: Misc

2013 NCAA® Basketball Tournament Bracket – Ribbon Style


(click the graphic to a bigger image, or just download the full-size PDF NCAA® Basketball Tournament Bracket)

Last year I copied Hyperakt’s radial style tournament bracket, but this year I wanted to come up with my own design. The result is this ribbon-style tournament bracket which takes the usual bracket layout and adds three layers of visual information:

  1. The height of each team’s ribbon represents their seeding: The higher the seed, the taller the ribbon. You can see at a glance whether each game ended in an upset, and Cinderella runs like those by Florida Gulf Coast, Wichita State and La Salle stand out.
  2. The width of each box represents the points scored by the team in that game. Blowouts and close games can be seen at a glance, too.
  3. The color of each ribbon is that team’s official color. Not a big deal, but it looks nice.

The only drawback is that the bracket had to be created at a large scale, otherwise those lowly rated teams wouldn’t show up at all! So, click the top graphic to see a larger image, or download a PDF.





Photoshop: The Importance of Black & White Conversions

I worked on a tiny little ad today that reminded me of a larger issue: The importance of converting color images to black & white without losing the feel of the original image.

Here’s an example using a photo of the Veranda Fireside Lounge at Rancho Bernardo Inn (Robert Miller, photographer). It clearly was lit very carefully to highlight specific elements and give the scene a feeling of warmth and depth.

The original, color image with its soft, glowing feel.

The simplest way to convert the image to black and white is to just desaturate it and convert it to grayscale. At a glance this works fine, but in fact the image has lost a great deal of what made it so striking in color.

The image after the default grayscale conversion. It looks okay, but the warmth and glow have been lost.

Fortunately, Photoshop makes it almost as easy to create a really good black and white conversion that retains the feeling of the original image.

When converted with Photoshop’s Black & White Adjustment layer I was able to select a filter (green, in this case) that retained the glow found in the original color image.
Compared to the default grayscale image above, for instance, notice the glow on the chairs in the foreground, the pillars at the right edge, and the fireplace in the background (further improvements should be made, but this shows just the basic difference).

Someone may think the different is insignificant, but the final image definitely does a much better job of getting across the feeling of the venue. Even if a viewer can’t point specifically to what’s different, they are sure to respond to it.

Photography: Olivia Blake Slideshow

When I was choosing a theme for the Olivia Blake e-commerce site on Shopify, I chose one with a slideshow on the homepage to make it interesting to look at yet still easy to build and maintain. The only thing I had to do was create the slides.

Olivia Blake dresses are all about fairly simple silhouettes brought to life with great fabrics. Since I had collected a handful of swatches during my first meeting, I figured they could make for a cool slideshow.

I got out my Panasonic LX3, laid the fabric down on my white keyboard tray in some nicely diffused light from a window and went to work. Rather than just shoot straight down, I took advantage of the Panasonic’s fast, wide-angle lens to capture images with a very shallow depth of field and lots of interesting angles.

In Photoshop, I added the green rectangles and turned the slideshow into a (very brief) tour of what Olivia Blake has to offer. I sketched the dresses in Illustrator, mostly with my Wacom tablet, but finessed with the pen tool and finished by adding brush strokes.

You can see the slideshow in action at