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The WordPress community is big. Really big. We're talking thousands of designers and developers, tens of thousands of writers, and millions of users, all contributing to pushing WordPress forward. And one very popular way to do this is designing and developing free WordPress themes.
Blog Tags: WordPress - cms - themes
Blog Added: January 09, 2017 06:52:27 AM
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UV mapping for beginners

New to the world of UV mapping? We take you through the fundamentals of this critical 3D task.

Known as the most tedious task in 3D, especially for beginners, UV mapping is also the glue that binds models, bakes and textures together. It's a crucial task, too, as a bad set of UVs and their resulting output can make even the best 3D models look awful. Whether you love or hate UVs, there's no escaping them – they are essential to understand.

Some of the most common problems that novices run into when starting out with UV mapping is finding the whole process an incomprehensible soup of terms and concepts, as well as never quite knowing where to begin, especially when working on hard-edged models. 

However, if you get into the habit of doing a little prep and find a UV mapping tool you click with, it's not quite the tedium it used to be.

UV space fundamentals

UV mapping

Try using a UV grid rather than a checker map – a UV grid will show a lot more issues, such as flipped polys

The reason why a UV map is the glue between model and textures is that it's not only the flattened and mapped topology of your model, it's also the basis for your map bakes. This means you need to take your mapping into consideration as you model – bad UVs give bad bakes. You can always tweak bad curvature, height or occlusion maps in Photoshop CC at a pinch, but bad normal or similar map output can be a real pain to fix if you don't keep them in mind from the get-go.

This means the first thing you need to know about UV mapping is what UV space is. Based on a 0 to 1 grid, with 0.5 as the middle coordinates, a UV map consists of your 3D model's XYZ coordinates flattened into 2D UVW space – or tile, as it's called.

Depending on your modeller and mapper, 3D's horizontal X-axis equals U in 2D space, vertical Y equals V, and the depth coordinate Z equals W. There is no madness to the letters, only method: 2D's UVW is used solely to avoid confusion with 3D's X, Y and Z. This equalling of coordinates is – to put it simply – how 3D space translates into flattened 2D space.

UV mapping

Make sure your mapped UV groups have sufficient gutters. Look for the Spacing settings in your UV mapper

You may be wondering why 2D space also has a depth coordinate. This is to make sure that no matter how you choose to map, flip or stack your UV'd bits and pieces – called islands or shells – the depth coordinate will ensure they show correctly in 3D no matter their mapping. 

It's also vital that all your model's flattened polys need to be inside the UV tile in order to provide your baker and renderer with accurate texture information.

Some renderers and texturing applications take this a step further by also providing support for something called UDIM – U-Dimension. In simple terms, UDIM makes UV mapping and texturing easier by enabling you to create multiple UV grids for the same model by allowing you to have 10 tiles on the U-axis, and an (almost) infinite amount on the V-axis. 

As with a normal UV tile, you can't have polys outside of the UDIM tiles' boundaries either, but we'll get to that later.

Pre-modelling considerations

UV mapping in Substance Painter

Be careful not to go overboard with your groups and textures. As well as heavy game engine load, they'll also slow performance in, for example, Substance Painter

Now you know what UV space is, we can move on to the few fundamental concepts that apply to UV mapping no matter your model, UV mapper, or whether you're using a single-tile UV map or UDIM. 

First and foremost, a UV map needs to be as distortion-free as possible. This means that a texture won't look stretched or pinched when applied onto the model. It also needs to maintain scale. Textures applied onto a model should not show disproportionately to each other. 

For example, the head of your mech shouldn't have a much smaller scale and details than its torso, and even worse if the arms have even larger details. You can of course work around this by using triplanar mapping when working in apps such as Substance Designer, for example, but the best thing is to get it right straight out of the gate. 

As well as no distortion, a good UV map also has borders and padding. Avoid seam trouble on the tile's edges by adding a three- to four-pixel border, and get into the habit of creating enough space between your UV islands to handle edge padding and gutters to head off trouble at the pass. Even two to three pixels is often enough to avoid texture bleed and normal mapping artefacts when baking, and almost all UV mappers have functionality for this. Use it.

It also pays to keep your layout tidy and economical, with similar items arranged together, or stacked on top of each other where possible to save space. This will allow more room for the items needing finer detailing or with higher visibility; the larger the item on a UV map, the larger the texel density, meaning the more space it gets for painting and detailing. 

UV mapping

UDIM is a much easier way to UV map, as it lets you visually separate your UV groups or materials over several tiles

When you start modelling, make sure you build proper geometry, and keep in mind your intended end result can impact your UV map and its layout. If you're creating a game model, for example, you'll need to be very aware not only of your high-res mesh's detailing so the lower-poly mesh can hold it, but also how you cut your UV seams, as every cut means a doubled vertice count in-engine. 

Neither Unreal or Unity support UDIMs natively at the time of writing, which means your map needs to fit on a single tile. 

And it's never too late to start thinking about normals and smoothing groups. A lot of artists seem to think of a normal map as a glorified bump map. This is not entirely correct, as it has a few more uses than height or depth maps. In a nutshell, normals are the directional pointers for a polygon (face) or group of polygons. 

UV mapping

You can avoid some normal and potential flipping issues by using the binormal tangent export option when exporting .fbx files from your modeller

The direction they face defines the direction of smoothing, and the side or direction your materials display on. For example, if you're creating a scene inside a box, it would be natural to have the texture on the box's inner walls face inward, not outward, so you can see it. 

You define this by setting the direction of your normals. Most modellers have a function that enables you to see the direction they're facing in – usually that little pointer in the middle of a polygon pointing in or outwards.  

UV mapping

It's easy to forget that normals are more than a normal map basis – they also control the direction of a surface and smoothing groups

In addition to the above, and as they are items you can hand paint details on, normals also control smoothing groups. A smoothing group's function is to make your model appear smoother without adding polys to the mesh. It's a sort of pseudo-subdivision surface where if two or more polygons share an edge and are members of the same smoothing group, they will render as a smooth surface. 

If not, a hard edge is created. This will render as a corner or an edge, and this edge will need to be separated when UV mapping to avoid baking artefacts. This means that even a simple thing like tidying your mesh as you go can yield baking, time saving and UV mapping benefits, as it'll steer you clear of tasks such as leftover poly clean up, too many deleted poly fixes, and tidying unclean edges, which often only become visible (and a potential clean up time sink) when you start the process of UV mapping or baking. 

If you're UV mapping a hard-edged model, be a bit wary of flipping islands and stacking them, especially if you're mapping on a single UV tile rather than UDIM. Even though it can really speed up your workflow and save you UV mapping time to only map half of your figure before copying, flipping, welding or stacking your shells, you run the risk of ending up with weird lighting and lighting seams. 

UV mapping: two guns

Smoothing groups need hard edges. In the gun's case, the body has two smoothing groups, meaning it needs a hard edge where the mesh hard edges intersect

A workaround for this is to use an .fbx export with tangents and binormals checked, but it also helps to use multiple, non-flipped UV maps or sets, at the cost of load and the convenience of having everything in one map. 

Hard-edged UV maps

Now you know your space and are aware of some of the basic workflow considerations, it's time to start mapping for real. Bring a UV grid, elbow grease, and patience. The UV grid should have letters and shapes on it – the plain black, checkered map is not good for spotting errors like flipped polys and smaller distortions, even if your UV mapper shows stretch (blue) or pinch (red) in the model view.

The patience is because UV mapping can be time-consuming. Despite the wonders of the various auto unwrap buttons littering the UV mapping landscape, keep an eye on the auto unwrap results, as an auto unwrap function by itself has no concept of what the important and non-important areas of your texture will be.

UV mapping

Unless you want a whole lot of islands to clean up, UV map as you model, and create groups and/or materials before auto unwrapping

If you're absolutely stumped as to where to begin unwrapping, look at your model, and, if you haven't already, divide it into groups or material groups. Then go for the largest, or most complex items first. These areas are often the most visible and time-consuming parts of your UV map and texturing, and it's here you'll have the least leeway when it comes to time and errors.

This brings us to cutting and seams, which is where the main difference between UV mapping organic and hard-edged models lies. The reason for this is that because a mech has more edges than, say, a fantasy archer, they tend to need more seams in order to reduce distortion. But also because of normals, baking and error prevention.

In addition to high-poly details and smoothing, normals also facilitate better shading. In order to make use of this on a hard-edged model, you'll need to take some precautions when cutting your UV seams. 

As mentioned, if you have a smoothing group or polygon ending and another one starting, a hard edge is created, and that edge is going to need to be cut and get some padding (never less than two pixels). This gives room for error reducing tangent twisting and avoids issues such as gradients, black lines or LOD issues down the normal baking line.

UV mapping

Some programs don't respect welds, so check your export settings before unwrapping externally to save yourself an ocean of poly islands

Take care with where you put your seams and how many you cut. A cut on a hard edge can't be avoided, but as far as the rest are concerned, try cutting your mesh in places that aren't so obvious or visible. You can also try cutting these maps approximating the way they'd be separated in real life for a good result and ease of texturing.

Staying on track

Once you've started getting into your UV mapping groove, keep an eye on your straight lines. Be careful when using the Relax function. It's a godsend for many organic maps, but can really skew your lines on a mechanical mesh if you don't use your UV mapper's pinning or constraint function properly. Test it thoroughly.

Make sure to keep your lines as straight as you can, as hard-edged models often show distortion more, and are more subject to being textured with decals and straight-lined items, which will look skewed if the UV map is skewed.

Once you're getting near the finish line, run a final check with a different UV grid and a set of generic textures, just to check everything is mapped. Once you're done, it's ready, set, bake!

This article originally appeared in 3D World, the world's best-selling magazine for CG artists. Subscribe here

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Convert Flash games to HTML5

Create games that work on all browsers and platforms.

Flash is slowly being abandoned by Adobe in favour of HTML5 and JavaScript; its official end-of-life is set for the year 2020. And that's where this article will come in handy.

The tips described below aim to help HTML5 game developers avoid common mistakes when converting Flash games to JavaScript, as well as making the whole development process go as smoothly as possible. All you need is basic knowledge of JavaScript, WebGL and the Phaser framework.

Changing your game design from SWF to JavaScript can yield a better user experience, which in turn gives it a modern look. But how to do it? Do you need a dedicated JavaScript game converter to get rid of this outdated technology? Well, Flash to HTML5 conversion can be a piece of cake – here's what an experienced JavaScript game developer has to say about the matter. 

01. Improve the HTML5 game experience

Converting a game to another platform is an excellent opportunity to improve it, fix its issues and increase the audience. Below are few things that can be easily done and are worth considering:

  • Supporting mobile devices
    Converting from Flash to JavaScript allows reaching a broader audience – users of mobile devices support for touchscreen controls usually needs to be implemented into the game. Luckily, both Android and iOS devices now also support WebGL, so 30 or 60 FPS rendering usually can be easily achieved. In many cases, 60 FPS won't cause any problems, which will only improve with time, as mobile devices become more and more performant.
  • Improving performance
    When it comes to comparing ActionScript and JavaScript, the latter is faster. Other than that, converting a game is a good occasion to revisit algorithms used in game code. With JavaScript game development you can optimise them or completely strip unused code that's left by original developers.
  • Fixing bugs and making improvements to the gameplay
    Having new developers looking into game's source code can help to fix known bugs or discover new and very rare ones. This would make playing the game less irritating for the players, which would make them spend more time on your site and encourage them to try your other games.
  • Adding web analytics
    In addition to tracking the traffic, web analytics can also be used to gather knowledge on how players behave in a game and where they get stuck during gameplay.
  • Adding localisation
    This would increase the audience and is important for kids from other countries playing your game. Or maybe your game is not in English and you want to support that language?

02. Achieve 60 FPS

When it comes to JavaScript game development, it may be tempting to leverage HTML and CSS for in-game buttons, widgets and other GUI elements. Our advice is to be careful here. It's counterintuitive, but actually leveraging DOM elements is less performant on complex games and this gains more significance on mobile. If you want to achieve constant 60 FPS on all platforms, then resigning from HTML and CSS may be required.

Non-interactive GUI elements, such as health bars, ammo bars or score counters can be easily implemented in Phaser by using regular images (the 'Phaser.Image' class), leveraging the '.crop' property for trimming and the 'Phaser.Text' class for simple text labels.

Interactive elements such as buttons and checkboxes can be implemented by using the built-in 'Phaser.Button' class. Other, more complex elements can be composed of different simple types, like groups, images, buttons and text labels.

03. Loading custom fonts

If you want to render text with a custom vector font (eg TTF or OTF), then you need to ensure that the font has already been loaded by the browser before rendering any text. Phaser v2.6 doesn't provide a solution for this purpose, but another library can be used – Web Font Loader.

Assuming that you have a font file and include the Web Font Loader in your page, then below is a simple example of how to load a font. Make a simple CSS file that will be loaded by Web Font Loader (you don't need to include it in your HTML):

Now define a global variable named WebFontConfig. Something as simple as this will usually suffice:

Remember to put your code in the 'active' callback shown above. And that's it!

04. Save the game

Now we're in the middle point of our Flash to JavaScript conversion – it's time to take care of the shaders. To persistently store local data in ActionScript you would use the 'SharedObject' class. In JavaScript, the simple replacement is the localStorage API, which allows storing strings for later retrieval, surviving page reloads.

Saving data is very simple:

Note that in the above example the 'progress' variable, which is a number, will be converted to a string.

Loading is simple too, but remember that retrieved values will be strings or null if they don't exist.

Here we're ensuring that the return value is a number. If it doesn't exist, then 0 will be assigned to the 'progress' variable.

You can also store and retrieve more complex structures, for example, JSON:

There are some cases when the 'localStorage' object won't be available. For example, when using the file:// protocol or when a page is loaded in a private window. You can use the 'try and catch' statement to ensure your code will both continue working and use default values, which is shown in the example below:

Another thing to remember is that the stored data is saved per domain, not per URL. So if there is a risk that many games are hosted on a single domain, then it's better to use a prefix (namespace) when saving. In the example above, 'myGame.' is a prefix and you usually want to replace it with the name of the game.

If your game is embedded in an iframe, then localStorage won't persist on iOS. In this case, you would need to store data in the parent iframe instead.

05. Default fragment shader

Convert Flash games to HTML5: Custom default shader

A custom default shader can be used to replace the tinting method in Phaser and PixiJS. The tanks flash white when hit

When Phaser and PixiJS render your sprites, they use a simple internal fragment shader. It doesn't have many features because it's tailored for speed. However, you can replace that shader for your purposes. For example, you can leverage it to inspect overdraw or support more features for rendering. Below is an example of how to supply your own default fragment shader to Phaser v2.

06. Change tinting method

A custom default shader can be used to replace default tinting methods in Phaser and PixiJS. Tinting in Phaser and PixiJS works by multiplying texture pixels by a given colour. Multiplication always darkens colours, which obviously is not a problem; it's simply different from the Flash tinting. For one of our games we needed to implement tinting similar to Flash and decided that a custom default shader could be used. Below is an example of such a fragment shader:

This shader lightens pixels by adding a base colour to the tint one. For this to work, you need to supply negatives of the colour you want. Therefore, in order to get white, you need to set: 

07. Inspect overdraw

Convert Flash games to HTML5: Overdraw shader

The picture on the left shows how a player sees the game, while the one on the right displays the effect of applying the overdraw shader to the same scene

Replacing a default shader can also be leveraged to help with debugging. Below we've explained how overdraw can be detected with such a shader.

Overdrawing happens when many or all pixels on the screen are rendered multiple times. For example, many objects taking the same place and being rendered one over another. How many pixels a GPU can render per second is described as fill rate. Modern desktop GPUs have excessive fill rate for usual 2D purposes, but mobile ones are a lot slower.

There is a simple method of finding out how many times each pixel on the screen is written by replacing the default global fragment shader in PixiJS and Phaser with this one:

This shader lightens pixels that are being processed. The number 7.0 indicates how many writes are needed to turn pixels white; you can tune this number to your liking. In other words, lighter pixels on screen were written several times, and white pixels were written at least seven times.

This shader also helps to find both 'invisible' objects that for some reason are still rendered, and sprites that have excessive transparent areas around that need to be stripped (GPU still needs to process transparent pixels in your textures).

08. Why physics engines are your friends

Convert Flash games to HTML5: Phaser physics debug

The left part of the image is a scene from a game, while the right side shows the same scene with the Phaser physics debug overlay displayed on top

A physics engine is a middleware that's responsible for simulating physics bodies (usually rigid body dynamics) and their collisions. Physics engines simulate 2D or 3D spaces, but not both. A typical physics engine will provide:

  • Object movement by setting velocities, accelerations, joints, and motors;
  • Detecting collisions between various shape types;
  • Calculating collision responses, i.e. how two objects should react when they collide.

There is a Phaser plugin that works well for this purpose. Box2D is also used in the Unity game engine and GameMaker Studio 2.

While a physics engine will speed up your development, there is a price you'll have to pay: reduced runtime performance. Detecting collisions and calculating responses is a CPU-intensive task. You may be limited to several dozen dynamic objects in a scene on mobile phones or face degraded performance, as well as reduced frame rate deep below 60 FPS.

09. Export sounds

If you have a Flash game sound effects inside of a .fla file, then exporting them from GUI is not possible (at least not in Adobe Animate CC 2017) due to the lack of menu options serving this purpose. But there is another solution – a dedicated script that does just that:

How to use the script to export sound files:

  1. Save the code above as a .jsfl file on your computer.
  2. Open a .fla file with Adobe Animate.
  3. Select Commands > Run Command from the top menu and select the script in the dialogue that opens.
  4. Now another dialogue file pops up for selecting the export destination directory.

It's done! You should now have WAV files in the specified directory. What's left to do is convert them to, for example, MP3, OGG or AAC.

10. How to use MP3s

The good old MP3 format is back, as some patents have expired and now every browser can decode and play MP3s. This makes development a bit easier, since finally there's no need to prepare two separate audio formats. Previously you needed, for instance, OGG and AAC files, while now MP3 will suffice.

Nonetheless, there are two important things you need to remember about MP3:

  • MP3s need to decode after loading, which can be time-consuming, especially on mobile devices. If you see a pause after all your assets have loaded, then it probably means that MP3s are being decoded
  • Gaplessly playing looped MP3s is a little problematic. The solution is to use mp3loop, read more in this article posted by Compu Phase.

This article was originally published in issue 277 of creative web design magazine Web Designer. Buy issue 277 here or subscribe to Web Designer here.

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A beginner's guide to watercolour brush techniques

Get more from watercolour.

Various brush types and application can result in a soft and dewy composition, or a hard-edged, vibrant scene. Primarily, I’ll use the highest quality round Kolinsky Sable brushes I can find, but I began developing my watercolour techniques with student-grade brushes to discover my preferences.

Although they got the job done, cheaper brushes suffer from stray brush hairs, an inability to hold as much water as I like, and pointy tips that don’t last too long. Once I invested in higher-quality brushes, my technique improved greatly. 

Once you’ve discovered the brushes that you enjoy working with most, it’s important to treat those brushes kindly. While watercolour doesn’t require harsh mediums and rigorous rules to work with, some care goes a long way in preserving your brushes, and that includes reserving them for water media only.

Working with a brush that was previously used with oils or even acrylics will diminish its effectiveness in carrying water and pigment. Keep your brushes upright or flat and pointy and your paintings will thank you for it.

01. Watercolour brush types

Four different watercolour brushes next to the type of stroke they make

The types of brush Kelly uses from top to bottom: Size 1 Kolinsky Sable Liner brush, Size 2 Kolinsky Sable round brush, half-inch synthetic Flat brush, size 1 squirrel hair Mop brush

Every brush has the potential for many uses with watercolour, and some are better than others for specific tasks. Round brushes are the most commonly used because of their versatility. Liner brushes are excellent for maintaining width, and Flat brushes are able to create crisp edges. Finally, a Mop brush is ideal for soaking and distributing large amounts of water.

02. Contouring with a steady hand

A pair of paint strokes dragged across watercolour paper

McKernan paints on Arches 140lb hot press watercolour paper

To achieve precise strokes, your application technique requires a steady hand. Sitting while aiming for precision is best, but you can also stabilise your hand with your little finger anchoring the paper (I tend to use Arches hot pressed watercolour paper.)

Another technique when using a Round brush is to twist the brush while dragging, to achieve thinner lines. Remember, the larger the Round brush, the more versatile your stroke will be.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, when loading up your brush with watercolour, you need to pay attention to the ratio of water pigment as this affects the fluidity of the paint as it's applied to the surface. It's also important to practise gaining control of the brush by creating strokes that butt up against each other but don't overlap.

03. Varying the line width

A comparison of the strokes made by a narrow and flat brush

With experience you can create consistent colours in a single stroke

To get the most out of your brushes, learning to vary the line width can contribute to some expressive strokes. This helps to develop a sense of the watercolour that your brushes contain in one stroke, which in turn assists in consistency.

Take the tree paint test on the left in the image above. A large round brush is excellent for creating its branches that vary in width. Meanwhile the trunk is a good example of how, once you're comfortable, you can challenge yourself to maintain consistency as the watercolour dries.

As for the brush test on the right, this shows how a Flat brush can create flat shapes, zigzags and expressive marks. It's possible to create varying widths with Round and Flat brushes, demonstrating their versatility on paper.

04. Drybrushing creates interesting effects

A test sheet of drybrush strokes

Test out different brushes and discover the different kinds of drybrushing marks they can make

Especially effective with a Flat brush, drybrushing is achieved when the bristles separate because there’s less moisture present. This can be used to create a range of effects, including hair, grass and wood grain. The shorter the brush, the easier this is to achieve. 

Try varying your application technique with coarser brushes, such as scrubbing, patting or dragging at various angles. I enjoy creating expressive eyelashes by twisting a lowmoisture Round brush.

Drybrushing can be tricky with sable brushes, so you may want to experiment with brushes that encourage more texture with coarser hair, such as synthetic blends, hog or ox bristle brushes.

05. Combining brush techniques

A portrait of a woman that incorporates a range of watercolour brush techniques

This lively portrait uses several different watercolour brush painting techniques

With time and practice, you’ll discover ways in which you can combine techniques to create interesting results. In my portrait above I've combined several different brushstrokes to create a dynamic painting.

 For filling in the face, I’ve used my trusty size 2 Round brush, layering several times to build up my value range. Meanwhile I’ve used my liner brush on the hair outline. This enables me to more easily maintain a consistent width in the stroke.

If you look closely, you'll see pencil marks in the bottom left hand corner. To lighten pencil lines before applying watercolour, roll a kneaded eraser over the lines to gently lift the graphite. Later on, this makes it easier to erase once the watercolour is dry. Finally, I’ve used a Flat brush to lay down a base layer with dry brush texture at the edges.

Watercolour requires some intuitiveness and so the more comfortable you are with your brush techniques, the more receptive you’ll be to those magical moments when the watercolour tells you what your next move will be!

This article originally appeared in issue 163 of ImagineFX, the world's leading magazine for digital artists. Subscribe here.

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5 ways (not) to lose followers on social media

Here's how to avoid annoying your followers on social media.

The world of social media is a fickle one. Even if you're lucky/dedicated enough to amass a million followers on Instagram, you'll still need to work hard to keep from losing those followers once you've got them. 

To find out the worst social media sins, those ones that have you reaching for the Unfollow button, we asked our readers on Twitter and Facebook what annoys them the most about brands and other creatives on social media. 

We also, rather unscientifically, asked around our office to see what gets design journalists' and art editors' backs up online. Here's what you shouldn't do if you want to keep your hard-earned followers...

01. Talk politics

Various people mentioned this as a big no-no, which is interesting seeing as some big brands, such as Nike, have used politics in their campaigns recently. Nike's decision to use outcast American football player Colin Kaepernick in its campaign with the slogan 'Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything' led to admiration from some, and outrage from others (for more on this, take a look at our article on divisive ad campaigns). 

The thing is, Nike is big enough that it doesn't matter if a few thousand people decide to burn its trainers or boycott it. But if you're not Nike, steer clear of politics, even if you're pretty sure a lot of your audience agrees with you.

02. Post irrelevant content

social media

If your account primarily shows your illustrations, then it's fine for you to also show your followers glimpses of your everyday life. In fact, it's a good idea. But if you suddenly go on a five-post rant about your latest car, or decide to share every minute of your day, documenting every meal consumed, for example, then you're playing with fire. This leads nicely to our next point.

03. Post too often

There's nothing more annoying than opening an app to find it flooded with posts from one account. We don't want to see all the images of your holiday drip fed to us one at a time over a period of hours. Nor do we want to see images of the same bag from 100 different angles across 10 different posts. 

How often should you post? That depends on how much you have to say, but according to Social Report, you should post three to five times a day on Twitter, once or twice a day on Facebook and Instagram, once a day on LinkedIn, and three times on Pinterest. 

Most of all, you should try not to post just for the sake of it. Post because you have something you want to share with your audience, or else you run the risk of boring people with 'filler' content. 

You should also be wary of posting exactly the same thing across platforms, as people may get irritated by seeing the same thing several times. Try and tailor your message for each platform.

04. Try to be too cool

social media

Several people also mentioned their pet hate as brands trying to be too 'millennial' or 'cool' by using slang, or overusing the same phrases – one Twitter user, Krissy, gave the example of using 'Fri-yay' every week.

Frankly, we don't know what you kids are talking about, we ❤️ Fri-yays.

Seriously, though, if you wouldn't use a phrase or word in real life, you should avoid it on social media. We also agree with the commenter above who said you should aim for originality and creativity in your posts. Think about it: if you can't be creative on social media, why would someone hire you to be creative elsewhere?

05. Use too many hashtags

We've all #seen this one. #allthetime

Brands that overuse hashtags in their main posts, so you can barely read what they're trying to say are #annoying. 

There's also the ones that post about 50 hashtags under the main post, or in the comments. This seems a little needy. #sorrynotsorry

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10 future design tools you need to know about

Adobe engineers reveal future design technology.

A favourite for many at Adobe MAX 2018, Sneaks is the session where audiences get an inspiring and entertaining look into future technology at Adobe. 

Hosted in the South Hall of the LA convention centre, it was quite a sight to see the main doors open and MAX attendees quite literally running to the front to find seats. Excitement and anticipation filled the room, and, as the show got underway, it quickly became apparent why. 

This year's Sneaks was co-hosted by senior Creative Cloud evangelist Paul Trani and comedian Tiffany Haddish, who came into her own as she helped Trani introduce each project, leaving the audience laughing their way into the next Sneak. 

But the real magic came when the Adobe engineers made it to the stage. This year there are some truly outstanding innovations, which were, quite rightly, met by huge appreciation and applause. But before you get too carried away, remember these tools don't exist yet and some might never actually make it into Adobe's shipping software. However, the innovations inform the future product development at the very least, so everything you see here has serious potential.

So, without further ado, here's the MAX Sneaks class of 2018... 

Brush Bounty

Sneaks kicked off with Brush Bounty, a new tool that allows users to add simple motion to illustrations using a brush. Impressive in itself, but it didn’t stop there. With Brush Bounty, the motion can be altered depending on a number of variables, including the number of likes a project gets on social media and the weather conditions in a certain country, at a specific time. With Brush Bounty, a smartphone can also be used to control the direction of the animation. Mind blowing stuff.  

Project Smooth Operator

Using Adobe Sensei technology, Project Smooth Operator identifies the most interesting parts of video footage and reframes it accordingly. The technology intelligently works out what’s important in the video and crops it to that, so you always have your point of interest in frame. Genius. 

Fantastic Fold

Designers everywhere dealing with complex packaging designs rejoice! This Fantastic Fold tool analyses a dieline and automatically determines the folded 3D shape as well as interactive mapping between the 2D and 3D representations. This tool not only bridges the 2D and 3D worlds, it would also mean never again will you design a super-cool box and not have the designs match up when it's folded. 

Project Waltz

A mobile companion app, Project Waltz allows you to control 3D virtual cameras more precisely on a 2D surface, with precise and natural camera motions. 


The project that easily got the biggest cheers, Fontphoria uses Adobe Sensei technology to automatically transform a static image into an alphabet or complete set of fonts. It makes modifying text so easy, it's magical.  

Project Fast Mask

Rotoscopers beware, there's a new tool (almost) in town. Project Fast Mask is another project utilising Adobe new’s AI technology, with Adobe Sensei accurately identifying an object and applying a mask across multiple frames of a video, making a laborious manual editing process almost automatic. 

Project Model Morph

One for the 3D artists among us, Project Model Morph is an intuitive and easy-to-use tool for editing 3D man-made objects. Anyone who works with 3D geometry will know how time-consuming editing thousands, if not millions of polygons can be. Project Model Morph does all the hard work, scaling objects easily and quickly, preserving symmetry, and eliminating distortion.

Moving Stills

Want to animate a photo? The Moving Stills tool animates any image, so that it appears in 3D. Again, using Adobe Sensei technology, Moving Stills uses deep learning to generate videos from a single still, meaning that a job that would usually take hours to achieve can be done in a matter of minutes.

Project Kazoo

Charismatic Adobe engineer Zeyu Jin put on quite a show, impressing the audience with Project Kazoo, another tool using Adobe Sensei magic to effortlessly turn your voice into music.

Project Good Bones

This was another huge crowd pleaser, and seeing as editing vectors can be a complicated process, it's not hard to see why. Project Good Bones enables intuitive and shape-aware editing of complex vector graphics objects via automatically added segment handles and ‘bones’ connecting them, thus creating a skeleton. 

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