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What NOT to do when designing

Recently I stumbled upon a blog called Photoshop Disasters. It reminds me to pay attention when I’m working in Photoshop. Missing hands, extra fingers, and limbs that bend at funny angles are all reported to this site. Some are incredibly amusing and most will make you wonder how it is that this got into the magazine in the first place. Is it simply that people are too busy to notice small details? Is it lack of skill?
It makes me think about my future career. The sad fact is that most of us will never be world famous designers who get paid a million dollars and given a wonderful time-schedule. Depending on where the designer ends up working, his or her hours will be spent at a fairly fast pace. At this pace little things will eventually slip by. In smaller or less-funded works this will more than likely be over-looked or remain unseen. However in larger works it could cost the company a lot of money. Extra hands where someone went through and simply cut out an image without really looking it over, in a rush to make a deadline, could be explained by this.

So, where does taking the time to look over your work come into play? Is it our responsibility as designers not just to put out work, but to take the time to look at the work?

Another possibility is that when someone is working on something for long enough then you simply memorize the image and take it for granted. I call this the “Long Essay Syndrome”. English professors for years have been telling students to put aside their essays for awhile then come back to them, and suddenly they will find most of the errors they missed. This could be applied to Design as well. If you’ve been working on the same project for 5 days, and you keep looking at it, you forget that there should be a back to that coat, or that there’s an extra finger on the hand. Another way to combat this, I’ve found, is printing it out. Even a small version gives you a new perspective of the piece.

It’s probably too harsh to blame designers straight off the bat for minuscule mistakes. It takes many people to make a major image. Someone probably had to OK  the image, design the cover, have the cover OKed.

On the other hand, quality is very important and as a designer, we must constantly seek to put out good, quality work on a limited budget or time schedule.

Just some thoughts.


  1. John Cipriani wrote:

    I too have see the unfortunate side effects of bad photoshop. Either the artist is to blame for lack of taste, or the employer is to blame for trying to achieve perfection in design. However, it is still bad taste. I’ve seen similar posting like photodisasters but other blogs have given links to the original photos that look better than the photoshopped. Usually the “perfected” version is full of anatomical anomalies including huge lips, missing body parts, anorexic limbs, and sometimes it’s just freaky. I see these sort of alterations in fashion magazines where perfect skin and body is sought after. However, it’s just sad to see these kind of mistakes on Movies (see Mad Money for example) where hundreds of people see the cover before it is released.

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 8:48 am | Permalink
  2. Sarah Yarbrough wrote:

    Wow! That website is pretty hilarious, but also kinda of sad, since magazine/ads/whatever tried to pass those images off as legit. I don’t understand why people would think that overtly disproportional models would look good. The pictures with the extra fingers are really creepy. Why would that be on a cover?

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink