important points to remember when creating a Flash intro



important points to remember when creating a Flash intro

Once you have gone through the advantages and disadvantages of using Flash intros and have decided that the web site cannot do without one, you need to remember several important points when creating the intro. The points are concerned with providing a pleasant experience for the visitors like providing adequate navigation and handling the control of the intro in the visitor's hands.

Because Flash intros were a way for a beginner to prove his or her ability in implementing the latest technology several basic rules were not followed. Most of these points follow from simple common sense.

Provide a "Skip" button in the intro

Make sure that you provide a "Skip" (or "Skip Intro") button from the very start so visitors who either don't want to view the intro or who are on low bandwidth net connections can quickly go to the meat of your web site. Do not test the visitor's patience by forcing them to view the flash intro in its entirety.

Provide static HTML links below or better still, above the Flash intro

Remember to provide static HTML links to the important sections/pages of the web site. This is especially important if the navigation menu in built in the Flash intro. This set of static links can be placed below the Flash but if the intro covers the entire active vertical area of the browser put the links at the top of the Flash intro.
Adding static HTML links serves two main functions -
1. Provides a option for the human visitor to jump to the page/section directly without waiting or the intro to load.
2. Helps search engine bots to index other pages/sections on the web site.

A "Loading" bar or message

If the Flash intro exceeds 50kb, make sure you put the "Loading" message. The best is to provide a "Loading" bar (a bar that expands in a defined area) or numbers as percentages with which visitors can ascertain the time left for the Flash intro to load completely. You can actually create very elegant "Loading bars" by using elements from the web site design. For instance, you can fill up a heart on a web site with a romantic theme.
If the Flash intro displays nothing till it loads fully, then it is imperative for your to have the "Loading" message or bar. If visitors don't see something in a few seconds, they will simply close the browser window or click on the Back button.

For very large Flash intros

If the file size of the Flash intro is very large, it would take a bit of time for it to load. In such cases, it's a good idea to keep the visitor involved in the page by displaying animated messages or small vector art. Remember, you have to keep the visitor engrossed in the intro if you want them to wait patiently. Do not shove in sale pitches in the preliminary messages... the best bet would be to ask intriguing questions (concerning the business of the web site, of course) so that they expect the answers when the intro loads.

Provide a link to the Flash plugin

Though the percentage of net surfers who have Flash installed on their system is more than 90%, there is no harm in providing a link to the Flash plugin download.

Music in the Flash intro

If you have music embedded in the Flash intro, be sure to put a button with which the visitors can mute the sounds. Further, if you have a good command of the ActionScript language and you have this long playing music in the intro, it would be a good idea to provide volume control.

Placing keywords for Search Engines

Make sure you place keywords of the web site in the META tags and also as plain text below the intro. Do not think that including keywords in the HTML comments will work (as most crummy SEO companies would recommend). Also, do not try to hide the text by making the text color the same as the background color. In short, do not try to spam the search engines. Search Engine bots are quite advanced nowadays and ignore or penalize spamming techniques.

Finally, make sure the Flash intro has a purpose - a reason to be there on the web site... just because it can be done, doesn't mean you have to do it.

How to Add Depth of Field to your Photos with Adobe Photoshop



Adobe Photoshop allows artists to alter photos and images in amazing ways. One of the more subtle (and often very effective) changes that you can make to an image is to add depth of field.

What is Depth of Field?

The term depth of field is used to describe the area in a photo that is in focus (as opposed to being out of focus).

For instance, when you look at a real landscape, outside, some objects will be in focus and others will be out of focus, depending on what your eyes are looking at within the scene at any given time.

Photographs of that same landscape, no matter how well they are produced, may not be able to recapture that same depth of field that you saw and remembered.

Photoshop lets you create depth of field where there was none before, or enhance the depth of field that’s already present. You can use this technique to tweak a photo to be closer to the original impression you had of a scene, or if you just want to exert more control over the final image.

How to Add Depth of Field to Images

Every image will be different, but the first step is to select the area which you plan on blurring, or putting “out of focus.”

In this tutorial I’ll be enhancing the depth of field already present in the photo below, so I’ll be selecting primarily the left half of the image.

Depth of Field Photo

As you can see, objects naturally become more blurred the farther away they are from the focal point of an image—this means that your selection will need to fade out as it gets closer to the main subject.

To create that “fading” selection, first enter Quick Mask mode by double-clicking on the button near the bottom of the tool bar.

Under “Color Indicates” choose “Selected Areas” and press OK.

Choose Quick Mask Mode

Now that you’re in Quick Mask mode, choose the Gradient tool from the toolbar and draw a line across your image. It should add a fading red section over the top of the picture, like this:

Gradient Selection

(Make sure the red fades out towards your planned focal point—that’s very important.)

Once the gradient is in place, exit Quick Mask mode by clicking on the same button near the bottom of the toolbar. You should see a selection box on your screen, covering roughly the same area as your gradient.

Selection Box

Now it’s time to blur. From the main menu bar select Filter >> Blur >> Lens Blur. A new screen will appear with lots of options on the side and your picture in the middle.

Lens Blur

The only thing that matters, though, is the radius slider. Move it left or right to adjust the amount of blur that you’d like.

You’ll quickly find out that too much depth of field looks unnatural, and may distract from picture rather than enhance it—so use this technique with care.

Once you’ve found the perfect amount of blur, click OK, and you’re done!

7 Watercolor Tips for Creating Intense Colors and Strong Values



With watercolors, it’s not always easy to achieve pure, intense colors and a full range of values. Worse yet, when you scan a watercolor painting for reproduction, you’re likely to lose even more of the color and contrast.

The best way to avoid these technical problems is to adjust your painting style to achieve the strongest colors and values from your watercolor paints possible.

Here are seven different ways that watercolorists can create darker values and stronger colors to enhance their paintings:

1. Use artist-grade watercolors.

Even if you stay away from toxic hues like Cadmiums or Cobalt, artist-grade watercolors have more color and less binder, which means extra pigment on the paper and more concentrated intensity.


One of the reasons that artist-grade watercolors have more intense pigments is because the pigment particles may be milled finer, so that more of them fit in around each other in the same drop of gum arabic.

In pan watercolors, how the pigments are treated while the pans are being made can also affect their strength. Yarka St. Petersburg Professional watercolor pans are poured and dried rather than extruded, which protects the delicate pigments and results in colors that dry with nearly the same intensity as they look when wet.

2. Make test swatches and let them dry.

Watercolor has a unique problem of drying about 50% lighter than it looks when it’s wet, especially on watercolor paper. So it may help to simply mix a wash that’s twice as dark as you want, then test it on a scrap of watercolor paper first.


Let the test swatch dry thoroughly and adjust the wash up or down by adding more water or more paint till you get it to the value you want.

3. Let your painting dry, then glaze it.

If the painting’s already done and looks too light, you may be able to go over it again with a glaze to make it darker.


First, let it dry thoroughly—your painting must be bone-dry for a glaze to work. In a moist climate that would be letting it dry overnight. Mix the same colors again, or mix them slightly darker, then gently go over the light areas again with a glaze.

Paint area by area until the entire painting is one or two steps darker. Keep hard edges intact by letting them dry completely before adding any adjacent glazes.

Watercolor will go over other watercolor without mixing or reactivating if you work fast (don’t linger over one spot, or scrub into the dry paint below) and of course, always make sure that it’s completely dry to begin with.

4. Use paint right from the tube.

For bold areas of intense color, don’t bother diluting the watercolor! Squeeze out a bit of Cadmium Yellow or Payne’s Grey and dip the brush right into the creamy, gooey paint. Smooth out your strokes if you like, but paint directly in tube color without dilution to get the purest colors and strongest darks.


This is also a great technique for getting good dry-brush effects as the tube paint is thicker than any washes. Test it on scraps to discover how much you need to put on the brush to get either full coverage, or a good dry-brush effect.

5. Undersketch with watercolor pencils.

Watercolor pencils are made up of concentrated color, so any sketch lines or patches done with good artist grade watercolor pencil can be covered heavily and rinsed to create a strong color.


Use more pressure and multiple layers of color for dark tones before washing. Watercolor pencils are especially good for creating small, dark, colorful accents. Draw them in, then wash with a pointed round brush.

If you draw directly onto the paper while the paper is damp, an even more intense color may result.

6. Use pen accents.

Hatching and stippling can also give a beautiful textural effect to a watercolor painting that’s come out too light, since you’ll be reinforcing the lighter value areas without changing their hue. This is an excellent way to add details at the end of a painting.


Using watercolor with pen and ink produces a gorgeous traditional style, reminiscent of Audubon and numerous other classical watercolorists. India ink used with a brush can fill in flat black areas for maximum intensity, while colored inks can sometimes have a stronger intensity than watercolors.

Penwork is a great fix for many problems in failed watercolors. Consider looking over some of your old faded paintings to see if they can be spruced up with a technical pen, dip pen or the new breed of archival extra-fine point pens like Sakura Pigma Micron, Pitt Artist Pens or Prismacolor Archival Markers.

7. Work out your value range ahead of time.

Do a monochrome version of the painting first, even if it’s small. Create a few notan or charcoal sketches of the subject, then try it with an ink wash or watercolor wash in monochrome blue, brown or black.


Coming up with a notan will help you plan your areas of light and dark, as well as build a good composition from the very beginning.

Professional Photography



Would you like to photograph anything you want, anywhere you want, anytime you want, any way you want, with a great professional camera system? Would you love to travel to luxury destinations and photograph whatever, whenever you want?

The only way to do this is to keep your real job and do photography on your own time.

If you want to photograph professionally you'll make less money, have to shoot the boring stuff in crappy locations for which you're hired, shoot it the way the client wants, and probably have to shoot everything as if it's some big emergency every time. You'll probably only be able to afford beat up old gear that's "good enough."

Making a buck in photography is a lot tougher than keeping a real job. The photo jobs and locations that pay the most are the most boring. Think you're going to have people hiring you as a travel photographer? Guess again.

It's exactly like golf or surfing. Golf is fun, and it's almost impossible to get people to pay you to do it. Only one guy in ten million makes lots of money in surfing, photography or acting. Everyone else who makes the money does it in something allied to the field, like making or selling product or the dream.

We all know the few actors who pull in $20 million per movie. Did you know the average annual income of the many SAG (Screen Actors' Guild) members, the majority of whom we've never heard, is something more like $20,000? The SAG website's FAQ page offers this advice on how to become a performer: "Develop another career to supplement your income." People pay photographers less than actors.

A person who studied stage lighting in college and worked in Hollywood discovered that almost no one makes it in the fun job of lighting. The people who make more money more regularly are those who become lighting salesmen.

Who makes more: an actor, or an agent who earns 10% from each of the 20 clients they represent?

If you want to make money in photography, it's probably not by doing photography.

You can become a super star photographer, but it's all in your self-promotion and luck. If you want it hard enough you can do it. In America you can do anything you can imagine, however if you want to make money and have fun making photos there are easier ways to live.

how to be an animator ?



There are a number of different career paths for animators. We often think of animators as the talented artists who create the cartoons we love, either for film or movies. Animators continue to work in these areas, but increasingly, many are employed creating animated graphics for a variety of projects.

This can include websites, online advertisements and video games. Animators can find full-time employment with movie or television production companies, with advertisers, web design firms, video game companies or with animation firms. Free lance work is another option for animators, particularly those specializing in web animation. Most entry-level positions will require an animator to have a bachelors degree in a related field such as fine arts or media. There are a number of animation schools that offer course work specifically in computer animation and associated technologies. In addition, a strong portfolio of work, which a training program can help you to develop, is an essential part of landing a job in computer animation and becoming an animator.

What is the outlook for the video game designer?



What is the outlook for the video game designer?

Video games are big business. We're talking about a multi-billion dollar industry that has now outgrown many other industries in a very short period of time. Video games are no longer looked upon as kids entertainment. Walk into any video games outlet, and you will see 20-30 year olds checking out the latest versions of Grand Theft Auto or the Sims. With the recent releases of the Xbox 360, the PS3 and the Nintendo Wii, producing games will be harder and a lot more involved. Video game designer teams producing these games have ballooned in size to meet the demand of a next gen experience.

So what does this mean for you? Basically, there are a load of opportunities to get into the video game industry. Video game popularity and complexity is exploding, and so are the opportunities at game companies and studios.

What qualities do I need for game design?

There are some qualities that game companies will be looking for when hiring someone into their fold.

First off, you really should like video games. You should be the kind of person that hears the theme song to a game in your sleep. These companies want to hire someone who knows what makes a game good, and what makes a game bad. They want someone who knows good level design vs poor level design. The only way to do this is by playing, and playing AND playing video games over and over again. There are a load of people who spend all their time playing these games. Why should they hire someone then that hasn't put their time into gaming, and doesn't have the same passion for games as others?

Secondly, they are looking for someone with good problem solving skills. There are so many bugs and potential problems when designing a game. This ranges from collision detection to making things look convincing. You need to be the type who is willing to solve a problem even if it kills you. Hopefully this will not happen. ; )

Finally, they are looking for someone who can do things in a crunch. The gaming industry works at a torrid pace. Yes, you need to be patient, but you need to be awfully efficient in what you do.

Are you ready to take it by the horns and ride? Perhaps video game design is the career for you. There really has never been a better time to get on board. Maybe you'll become the next hot video game designer.

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