September 30, 2016

Collage: September Diptych

It's been a while, but I finally made some new desktop picture collages. This month, I was not very creative and just searched Flickr with the word "September".

Because I have two monitors, I created two complimentary collages, like I did with my fog diptych.

September 1 by S. King

September 2 by S. King

The first image is on my main monitor and the second is to my right. I like how looking from left to right is like looking from the beginning to the end of September, from the last days of summer to the start of October and Halloween season.

Here are the 4 images I used as my sources:

Crop Rotation (Sunset & Cows), Dorset
harvest moon september 22nd 2010
Fonti del Clitunno  [Explored]
Hello Flick Family. Read My Story. Know My Name :))

I used the Pixellate > Pointillize filter a lot in both collages. For the second, I also used the halftone filter. One of the pointillized layers from the boat image is in the moon picture, to add more texture and color. I used the threshold filter on a cut-out of the cat to make the shape stand out and look more like a shadow.

September 14, 2016

Poem: Midlands September

Photo illustration by S. King. Mosquito image credits.
Some day soon
Mosquitoes will lie dormant
And the water in the air
Will retreat
To clouds, lakes, and rivers.

Some day soon
I will walk outside
And my shirt will not
Stick to my back and chest.

Some day soon
A breeze will make me shiver
And I will open
Every window in my house
To let it in.

Some day soon
Summer's tyranny will end
And we will dance in the streets,
Wearing jeans,
Rejoicing in the victory of Fall.

September 11, 2016

Creating a weekly family schedule

My husband and I both work full-time and we have two elementary-age kids. This means that our life can get pretty busy sometimes, what with everyone's activities, obligations, doctor appointments, etc.

Several months ago, my husband wished for a way to organize our chaotic schedules, to have a big-picture idea of what was coming instead of just being unpleasantly surprised by his phone alerting him that David has a basketball game across town in 15 minutes. Synced smart-phone calendars help, but they don't do a very good job of giving all four of us a picture of what our week will look like.

In the past, we'd also had laminated chore charts on the fridge so we could check off everyday chores. He wanted to bring those back, too, so I took it up as a design challenge to save fridge space and combine the two: weekly calendar and daily chore chart. After all, I'm a graphic designer turned UX specialist. This sort of thing ought to be right in my wheelhouse!

After several iterations, here is what I came up with. This is an example of a weekly schedule from a few months ago.

Here are some of the notable features of this design:

  • Only 4 activities fit on each day, a reminder that it's just not realistic to try and do too much in one day.
  • The schedule begins on Monday, because that's how we think of our weeks: five days of school/work followed by two days of weekend. Also, some events go across the whole weekend and having Saturday and Sunday next to each other makes it easier to show that.
  • The chores can be changed each week when I print out the new schedule. For example, this week I added making & delivering a cake to the chores. 
  • Originally, I had initials next to each chore showing who was supposed to do what. I ended up getting rid of those because everyone already knows which chores are theirs.
  • We can use this schedule to plan meals for the week, seeing ahead of time which days we'll have a lot of time for cooking and which days will be 'Leftovers a la Microwave.' If I were a terribly organized sort of person, I might even add the menu to the schedule (but I'm not, so I won't).
  • Even the youngest member of the family can easily see which days are busy and which are not, especially useful if you want to know when you can invite a friend to come over.
I'm still working on the design of the weekly schedule, refining features based on user feedback. For example, I'm experimenting with the best way to display multi-day events like the camping trip shown here (especially tricky since this has to work in print, not just on the screen).

I'd love to hear any feedback you have on this design, especially any ideas for improving it!