CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH–The aesthetic judgment of Paul Gaskill, a graphic designer working on a brochure for Valley View Apartments, was "severely clouded" by a desire to use a new Adobe Photoshop plug-in, coworkers at Blue Moon Design said Monday.
"Looking at this brochure, it's obvious Paul just wanted to use the 'wave' frame effect from that new PhotoFrame 2.0 software package we got last week," fellow Blue Moon graphic designer Jared Mahaffey said. "There's whacked-out, psychedelic edges all over the place–on the photos, on the floor-plan charts, even on the text boxes, for God's sake."
The wave effect, one of PhotoFrame 2.0's many features, creates a distorted wavy edge around the perimeter of a photo at the click of a mouse. Using the plug-in, a frame can also be distorted, colored, scaled, or softened–effects used inappropriately and excessively by Gaskill in his brochure for the Parma, OH, apartment complex.
"Clearly, Paul was extremely excited about this new plug-in," said coworker Danielle Rice, pointing to a warped, psychedelicized photo of Valley View's on-site laundry facilities. "He was like a kid in a candy store."
According to Rice, Blue Moon Design received PhotoFrame 2.0 on Sept. 20 as part of a MacWarehouse order. Gaskill, she said, installed it on his computer the same day. After an hour of experimenting with the plug-in's various features, he was overheard declaring it "some killer software," exhorting coworkers to come over to his desk to "check it out."
"If you think [Photoshop's] Ocean Ripple [filter] is cool, you've got to see this new PhotoFrame stuff," Gaskill told several coworkers gathered around his workstation. "I can hardly believe all those times I went to the trouble of using a quick mask, blurring the image, then pixillating it with the 'crystallize' effect to refract the softened edges. Man, those were the Dark Ages."
While Gaskill, 29, admitted to making liberal use of PhotoFrame 2.0, he insists that it was appropriate for the job at hand.
"Sure, I was eager to try out the new plug-in," Gaskill said, "but only because it was perfect for this job. The wave-frame effect gives Valley View Apartments that dynamic, cutting-edge feel it needs. It communicates that Valley View living is so convenient and affordable, it'll blow your freakin' mind."
Despite Gaskill's confidence, fellow Blue Moon graphic designers say they would have given the brochure a more traditional look.
"It's an ad for an apartment complex, not a head shop," Mahaffey said. "Why would you want to show Valley View's 'convenient on-site parking' and 'friendly office team' through a hallucinogenic haze?"
Mahaffey said this is not the first time he has seen a graphic designer led astray by an exciting new Photoshop plug-in.
"It happens more than you'd think around here," Mahaffey said. "With Marty [Boyd], it was the blur features. 'Motion blur,' 'gaussian blur,' 'radial blur'–you name it, he'd blur it. With Rebecca [Almeida], it was the Alien Skin Eye Candy effects. The temptation is always going to be there."
Alarmingly, Gaskill's journey of graphic-effects discovery may only be beginning. The wave effect, Mahaffey said, is just one of hundreds of PhotoFrame 2.0 options. With the plug-in, users can easily make an image glow, cast a shadow, and create charcoal outlines. Mahaffey said he expects to see many of these effects surface in Gaskill's work in the near future.
"If he goes deeper into the Volume 3 digital collection, there's going to be real trouble," Mahaffey said. "Unless we can somehow break through to him, we're going to see 'Comet,' 'Disco'—good Lord, even 'Bubbles'."
Though it claims no responsibility, Extensis, the Portland-based maker of PhotoFrame 2.0, expressed regret over the botched Valley View brochure.
"I'm sorry to hear that a less-than-perfect brochure was created with our software," Extensis CEO Greg Fleming said. "Perhaps we could make it up to Mr. Gaskill with a demo version of Suitcase 9.0. It's packed with automated features that make it easier than ever to use literally thousands of great fonts, everything from Snowcap to Alphabet Soup Tilt."