As of 20 Apr 09, this site is a work in progress, but I’m hoping that now that I have the artwork figured out, I can port my content from my old site and new material in alignment with my current professional interests. This material will be organized under “Navigation:” to your left.
So far, I’m happy with this theme as it allowed me without too much effort to style the pages with artwork similar to my business cards.
The most challenging part was coming up to speed on a new graphics tool. I’ve long been a Visio guy, but Visio just doesn’t have the chops that Inkscape (an open source alternative to Adobe® Illustrator®) has for doing web graphics.
As far as Inkscape vs. Illustrator,goes, I’ll admit that I don’t know Illustrator well but it clearly has the edge when it comes to tweaking fonts. I’m hoping that the Inkscape method becomes more comfortable with use.
If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, let me explain. All fonts (at least in there vertical dimension) are characterized by four horizontal guide lines. From top to bottom, these are the ascender that runs across the top of capital letters and certain tall lower case letters such as l and f, the mean line that runs across the tops of most lower case letters, the baseline that runs across the bottom of most letters, and the descender that runs across the bottom of letters such as g and p that dip below the baseline. From the above explanation, you might assume that all letters, and component parts of same, would reach the appropriate guidelines and stop right there without slopping over the line. Reasonable assumption, but not true.
Font definition is an art, and like all art that which looks good trumps “the rules” every time.
In a line of 10 or 12 point type, these deviations from the rules are not even noticeable to the untrained eye but blow your page title up to 60 points and the deviation no longer look good – in fact, they look terrible.
Illustrator provides tools to create handles around individual characters so that they may be tweaked individually. Inkscape provide a bunch of keyboard shortcuts that will manipulate the character to the right of the cursor. Unfortunately, some of these conflict with other software on my machine (VMware), so I haven’t gotten around to using all of the tools available. It’s really distracting when you want to tweak a character but you jump to a different virtual machine.
The other challenge was converting the artwork from SVG (scalable sector graphics) to PNG format for the web. I know that SVG is coming to the web, but I don’t know how well it’s supported yet. Also, SVG is based on an XML description of the drawing and my artwork contains images and textures that contain the URL of the image. So, one round trip to load the image, and then one or more to download components of the image.
I know PNG works well enough for now.
After trying several SVG to PNG converters, all of which mangled the image in some way I dug a little deeper into Inkscape and found that it does Export Bitmap and one of the forms is PNG. Problem solved.
As I continue working on this site, I will comment on various tools and methods here, and in blog posts.