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In bookstores is a fantastic book written by Andy Clarke entitled "Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design". It approaches the use of CSS from a designer's perspective, which is an exciting new concept. His explanation of proper structural mark-up is easy to understand, utilizing a graphical approach. The book also has a very good section on designing web pages using the grid as a basic guideline. By laying grids over screen shots of beautifully designed sites it illustrates how some designers use the grid to get unique results.

For years, the promise of 3d modeling as an everyday drafting tool has been advertised to architects and designers, but it has never really been practical. Now it seems with software such as Autodesk Revit Architecture, it is now a very real option.

The downside is the usual cost and learning curve of high end software. Another is the additional office time that must be spent on each project to develop a complex 3d model. The advantages, however, are numerous. Every design can be completely developed and rotated in 3d space, with any number of people working on the model at the same time. The design can be refined in a way not possible with 2d cad. All plans, elevations, and sections are generated from the model, thus model development and working drawing development happen at the same time. Best of all, any design changes that are made to the 3d model are automatically reflected in all documents. This keeps the whole project set coordinated and accurate. From a marketing standpoint, the model can be rendered to generate visualizations for brilliant presentations of the design.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 has many capabilities for working with HDR images. For those not familiar with the concept, normal images are either 8 or 16 bit, with luminance storage from black to white. HDR images store much higher luminance values using 32 bit floating point values. Photoshop has the ability to create 32 bit images. The command is found under the Automate menu, and is listed as Merge to HDR...

The process begins by taking a series of photographs using different exposures, from dark to light. It is best to use a tripod and take the exposures a couple f-stops apart. The minimum number of shots is three, five to seven shots are better. The Merge to HDR command will automatically align the images and create the 32 bit file. The last stage of the process allows setting the preview balance. This setting is for previews only and does not affect the actual luminance range. The file should be saved as a 32 bit file to preserve the entire range of luminance values.

The newest release of Corel Painter has an exciting feature called the RealBristleā„¢ Painting System. The technique enhances the interaction between the paint, the canvas, and the brush, creating a very traditional feel. The bristles in the brush behave in a very similar manner to that of a traditional paintbrush. Because the brush system is also customizable, many variations are possible. There is an animated demonstration on the Painter Studio website.

Another feature is the Artists' Oils painting system. Using the Mixer palette, you can mix different colors together just as you would traditional paints, and then load the brush with a finite amount of paint from the blended colors. As the paint is used up, the brush stroke becomes fainter, just as it would in traditional media.