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Blueboy Letters 2.0

Okay, my weekend was filled with various frustrations and headaches. Since I did not see a feasible way to correct the issues with my previous design (and make it not look like a smorgasbord of links randomly placed) I created an entire new theme. I am having a difficult time getting my design to adjust well to various browser sizes so for now, everything is static.

My current theme can be found here. However, be aware that many pages are still being worked on so only look at Home, Collection, and About (haha).
No links currently work within Collection, also (I am currently building those pages). However, if you would like to view what I have designed so far for my letter pages, you can see a live example here.

Is my text still too big? Looking at it now, is my side navigation taking up too much space? Is it distracting? Does it push the background image off the browser screen for you? If you take a look, please let me know your thoughts, thanks!


I commented on Amy’s blog this week.

 

Design

While thinking about the design for my final project I knew one thing for sure: I wanted a blue layout. The reason for this plays into not only the name of the website (Blueboy Letters) but the College as well. Illinois College (IC), founded in 1829, has its mascots Blue Boy and Lady Blue. Basically, students of IC are Blueboys and the slogan is “True Blue”. Blue goes to the core of what I remember about my time in undergrad, and that is what I wanted to bring into the design. However, I am far from being the blue that IC associates itself. I chose to go with a softer blue, with a purple tint to it. IC’s blue is a dark blue (logo below). I did not go with this blue because this is not a website about current times, this is about WWI. I thought these almost washed out looking colors would give a feeling of age.

The section of the website I coded for this assignment is what I currently am designating the “Learn” section in the top navigation. The page linked on my portfolio is the SATC (student army training corps) page within the learning section. There will be fully functional links to other topics the visitor may want more information about. These topics will be updated as a need for them is discovered.

View my design page here.


I commented on Amy’s blog.

 

Progress with the Blueboys

This weekend I was able to complete the tentative layout for a section of my final project, the (brief) soldier profiles.
There are more than double the amount of men I created a profile for, but I chose, for this project, to limit myself to the men I was able to find photos and information on over Spring Break. This left me with 15 profiles which will include, when relevant, full name, hometown, activities while in school, major, branch of the military they entered, rank in the military, additional images, and lastly a link to their letter(s).

I have been able to collect this information from two sources, both contained within the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives at Illinois College. The first is the Rig Veda Collection; an extensive collection of the yearbooks (called a Rig Veda) for the College over the years going back over a hundred years. The second is a collection of index cards containing the military information of the students who served in the World Wars. These cards were created and updated by Mrs. Rammelkamp, the wife of the then President of the College. As the profiles currently are, I still need to search for these 15 soldiers in the index card collection. I have digitized versions of the cards so it is only a matter of finding the time at this point.

All profile photos were extracted from senior and junior year yearbook pages. I am lucky that in the early 1900s every senior received his (women attending MacMurray, the all female college at this time) own page containing information.
The list of soldiers can be seen on the right as a secondary navigation, viewable only within the Profile page and on soldier profile pages.
Screenshots of two pages:

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 3.41.39 PM
The bear image was cropped from a yearbook page discussing the war and edited to have a transparent background.
Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 3.42.07 PM


I commented on Kater’s blog.

 

Images, oh my!

This assignment was much more time consuming than I had originally anticipated. I had missed doing “artsy” stuff so much that before I realized it I had spent 5+ hours just colorizing one photo! I quickly wrapped that up and moved on once I realized that. However, I had a lot of fun working with the tools and seeing my final results!

I worked mostly with photos I will be using on my final project, but these edits will unfortunately not be useful for my in the long run. The images I edited are better represented without edits, except perhaps to fix the fading like I did with my restoration example.

You can find my image assignment here.


I commented on Danielle’s blog.

 

Photoshop

I always found Photoshop daunting, but now the tools seem more manageable!

I found the Lynda videos fascinating and very helpful! I am working primarily with archive photos and documents so all of the techniques shown in the restoration video should come in handy. I have no intention of doing any restoration work on the letters as I think it would take away from its authenticity, but the repair work will come in handy for the “profiles” I want to create for significant figures (president of College at the time and men with high quantity of letters-to start).

It’s a small aspect of the video, what I was excited to be shown the workspace feature! That is an amazing ability that I intend to take full advantage of! Being able to have a workspace for different activities in the future will be extremely welcoming (I enjoy drawing digitally, hence why I am so excited about the feature).

Learning all the tips and tricks to coloring black and white photos will be a lot of fun to implement. I always loved looking at colorized historic photos, and now I now how to do it myself! All of my photos are lacking color, but I am not sure yet if I intend to bring any color to them since I have no way of keeping the colors accurate (majority are of individuals). I think it will be worth a try though, even if it ends up being only practice.


Posted on Amy’s blog.

 

Photos

I’m just going to dive right into the Morris series, because wow was that ever interesting! I was familiar with the FSA photographs, but did not know anything about the speculations about their authenticity. It brings up an interesting issue that we will be facing with our projects. Will our photographs be considered authentic? It is such a tricky question because it will largely depend on who you are talking to and what their definition of authenticity is when it comes to photography.

We are starting to learn Photoshop skills so we can edit our images to appropriately fit within our websites, but how much editing is too far? Does is depend on what the image is? I think if the image is being used as evidence for a point, then there should be no editing done. However, I think some editing is acceptable if the image is being used to bring life to a page and break up text. And to be clear, I am considering any modification to a photo (even cropping) an edit.

Morris also brought up the importance of captions. We have the ability to choose how each image will be perceived by our viewers with captions. For example, I have a photo of SATC men posing for the camera with a shovel. The photo has no previous caption, so what I tell the viewer on my site would be my interpretation alone. The photo could be seen as a hard working student taking a break to pose for a photo, or it could be seen as a student slacking off from his duties while his fellow students work behind him. Both of those options portray drastically different views of the student; I’m inclined to go with the first based on my research on the topic.

Even though I have background knowledge on the students, in general, shown in the SATC photo collection, I could easily be accused of editing the photo by providing a caption like the one above. To avoid this, I think I will go with a more generic caption which describes that it is a student in the SATC at Illinois College; along with the archive information for retrieving the image.


I commented on Alicia’s blog post.

Archive Visit

Over break my partner and I decided to go back home (Chicago area) so our families could meet our three month old son. Since I am so close to the archive where the content for my final project resides, I decided to take the Amtrak down there today to work in the archives and grab more material. This trip was mostly to collect more information on the soldiers who wrote the letters and obtain pictures for their profiles on the site. I was not able to gather information on everyone, but a good chunk of them will have a decent amount of info and a photograph as well. Well I now have a lot of information to go through (including a catalog card for every alumn who fought during WWI) and am starting to create my database for all the letters. Hopefully it is tidy!

I also started collecting the materials for my summer digital project, another for my Alma Mater’s archive. The summer project will be building a website for oral histories (audio and transcription). This one will be a lot more challenging, I think, since I will have to think about how best to incorporate the audio aspect as well the ability for archive staff to add material as needed. My best bet for this one may end up being Omeka, but I would like to explore Drupal first.

Color

To start this week I re-did my type project. It should now work across operating systems and browsers.
Please let me know if it does not work on yours: [Type Assignment]

I found the talk on resolution and file size for images in White Space is Not Your Enemy extremely helpful. Over the years I had noticed images looking differently depending on the file type, but I assumed it was due to the quality of the program (Microsoft Paint in particular). It will be helpful for my coming project to know that my graphics should be in 72 dpi for the web; before reading this I was planning to shoot for 300 dpi. However, I am planning to still display the letters as 300 dpi for full view with a 72 dpi thumbnail. I also had no idea a JPEG file loses some of its data each time it is opened. I have no idea why that would be useful, but it explains why I saw images lose quality once they were opened and saved in Microsoft Paint, even if I made no changes.

The Paletton tool was a lot of fun to experiment with. I enjoyed how you could add complementary colors and fully customize everything. After playing with it for awhile, I saved a color scheme I think I may use for my final project. Also, there are a lot of tools in “28 best tools” that will prove very useful. One I know I will definitely be using is GrayBit. That website looks like the best way to ensure my final project is accessible. I really wanted to use The Color App, but it is $10 and there is no way I can afford a $10 app for how little it would be used.

The Lynda video was interesting to watch. I enjoyed all of it and can see how vital this step is to creating an effective web page. My favorite parts, though, are simple grid and the icon fonts.


I posted on Tamara’s blog.

 

Type Assignment

My assignment can be seen here.

This was definitely an interesting one. For my assignment I decided to work on a page I want included in my final project. For those of you that were in Clio I with me, I am redoing my WWI Letters project. Even once it was all done, I was not happy with the design and layout of my website last semester. Omeka and my lack of html knowledge limited what I could accomplish with the design. Now that we are learning these tools, I can make the website I really wanted all along. Or, at least, I have a shot!

Before I designed anything, I looked at the Google fonts with a handwriting style. I knew I wanted something with a cursive look for my headings, to give the feel of a letter. However, many were too fancy. My website will showcase letters written by WWI soldiers, I needed a font that gave the feeling that a man wrote it instead of a woman. I found “Homemade Apple” to fit my needs nicely. I chose another handwritten font for my main text as well, “Delius”. I thought they went nicely together. In the event that a user’s computer cannot read these, though, the headings default to cursive and the main text defaults to Georgia.

For my background, I used a stock photo from Deviantart once again. All credit for the photo belongs to ftourini. Lucky for my, the photo is transparent making me able to change the background behind the photo to black. I was very happy for this because I thought a pure white background (behind the letter) would not only look weird, but distract the viewer given the rest of the design.

My biggest challenge to overcome was definitely the columns. They were acting funky. The right column would not stay in place until I messed with the top margin while the second one required no alterations in its code. I also found that having the pull quote floating to the right of the first column prevented the second column from aligning next to the first. I hope that made sense haha Basically, the columns would not sit next to each other until the pull quote was on the left side, away from the other column.

Thanks to Alicia, I had an easy time getting my footnotes up. I used The Site Wizard’s instructions. They were super easy to follow and everything links back! I created a lot of extra space at the bottom of the page so you can see how everything works (correctly!). If you scroll so that you can only see the footnotes, the links will take you back to the section of the page the footnotes references. I think that’s pretty nifty! Definitely a new skill I’m glad to have!


I commented on Jenna’s post.

 

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