Friday, June 27

Top 3 Overused, Misused and Abused Software Effects

Wowzas! Time flies when you're working like a maniac! Oh well, if you're reading this thanks for being a steadfast Juggling Man blog reader! On to the article!

Before I get started I'd like to point out that though this article's purpose is to point out certain design faux pas that seem common, it certainly doesn't mean that one should quickly discount an effect as being tacky right. All of the below effects have been used very effectively by skilled designers. However, wether it be because of their commonality or for some other reason, the effects listed below tend to come off as well, tacky.

#3 on the most overused software effects list: The Drop Shadow!

Let's get this out of the way. Adding a drop shadow to images of your product will not make potential customers flock to your product thinking that your loaf of bread or whatever is magic because it can levitate. Also, drop shadows generally don't belong in logos!

Drop shadows tend to work better on screen. Why? Though print technology has come a long way, there are still many circumstances where a drop shadow will not reproduce well. If the stock is of inferior quality for instance. In which case it will just look like blob of ink. When do drop shadows come in handy? Well, when the design piece calls for a real shadow. Say you cut out a photo of a person to use in a layout for an ad. Good use of a drop shadow might make the image appear more natural if a shadow is cast behind the person.

Use drop shadows sparingly and with common sense.

#2 on the list: Lens flare!

I remember the first time I used Adobe Illustrator and found the lens flare tool. I played with it for about 15 minutes! Woo! Lens flare!

That got boring quickly. But apparently many have a much wider attention span than I do because I see lens flares all over the place. What's a lens flare? It is light refracted through a lens that creates an effect that looks something like this:

It's actually a photographic error but sometimes, when the light is at just the right angle and the aperture setting is just right, you can get a very dramatic and gorgeous lens flare effect. But those are rather rare and generally a lens flare is undesirable. Software can reproduce this effect (sort of) so that you can apply lens flare to anything! Even your cat!

Lens flare has been used successfully in some good designs but more often than not the effect just looks cheap.

Flare at your own risk.

#1 Most Overused, Misused and Abused Software Effect:

Drum Roll please ...


My goodness! Some people love their bevels don't they? A false assumption, similar to the one associated with drop shadows is that bevels will make things "pop". The truth is a bevel will likely just look like a cheap effect. Beveling has been put to good use in combination with subtle gradients to create some truly lovely logos. But more often than not bevels are applied as an after thought to text or images and end up making things a mess. See example below *shudder*.

If you're like me and are often tempted to just use effects simply for their novelty appeal; remember, nothing beats good ol' fashioned application of design principles. Not even a bevel.

What other effects have you noticed are overused, misused and abused?


Shayla said...

Hello, I've got an award for you over at my blog

aibrean said...

Amen! I made a blog post for logo design because Photoshop effects are being carried over (such as web 2.0) and I mentioned that it will date it. We are on the same page :)