We love deciphering the evolution of a logo, and we love a good quiz. Put the two together and it's design geek party-time. This particular quiz is a jaunt through car logos of the past, and a fun exercise in matching past logos to a well-known brand.
It contains lots of big hitters in the car industry, who all have iconic logos that wouldn't be out of place in our best logos roundup, so it's easy to assume you'll smash this quiz. But if previous logo memory challenges have taught us anything, it's that it isn't always easy to recall the specific components of a brand's logo – even when you've seen it hundreds of times before. Plus, who's to say the current logo looks anything like the original?
Car specialist Dave Spence created the quiz, which is made up of images of original logo designs with the wordmarks blanked out. So, working out the answer based on shape, typography, style and colour should be easy, right? In some cases that's a breeze, but other logos are so transformed that it's not as simple as you'd think. In fact, there's one in particular that may as well have contained the wordmark, as even that bears no resemblance to the current brand name.
Volkswagen has one of the most well-documented logos in the design industry, with its previous incarnation being subject to stringent trademark rules that were disregarded for the digital era in its newest update. So that one isn't so tricky. But though other car brands feature on our pick of the 7 best car logos, you may not be so familiar with their history, which makes for a more testing, well… test.
The first full adventure for Woody, Buzz and the gang since 2010, Toy Story 4 didn't just introduce new characters like Duke Caboom (above), Gabby Gabby and Forky. When it came to the level of visual detail and complexity, it brought things to a whole new level.
Last night at Vertex, the sell-out event for 2D and 3D artists brought to you by our sister magazines ImagineFX and 3D World, Pixar’s Dylan Sisson spilled some of the secrets of how the Oscar-winning animation was made.
For the rest of us meanwhile, read on, as we share some of jaw-dropping facts from Sisson's talk.
01. The level of detail was just incredible
A few numbers will illustrate how far Pixar has travelled recently in terms of the level of detail in its scenes. Sully from Monsters, Inc. in 2001 was famously covered in over one million hairs, which was impressive at the time. But fast-forward to 2019's Toy Story 4 and even that number starts to look tiny.
"For instance, if you count all the leaves on the trees in this movie, you’d have about six billion," Sisson noted. "That’s quite a bit, right? Unless you start counting the needles on the pine trees. We had over a trillion pine needles in the carnival scenes. This is the size and complexity that we’re dealing with now."
Shortly after, Sisson made mention of 50,000,000 individual dust fibres too, but we were starting to pass out from the shock, and it all became a bit of a blur.
02. It all took an astronomical amount of computing power
One of the most costly and time-consuming parts of the animation process is rendering, which basically involves high-powered computers pulling together the various elements of a CG scene, including all the geometry, lighting and motion effects, into the perfect final image.
At Vertex, Sisson stunned the audience of 2D and 3D artists by showing them a single frame from Toy Story 4, and revealing how long it took to render. "This is the most expensive frame in Toy Story 4, and it took about 325 hours to render on four cores," he revealed, to audible gasps. "So that's over 1,200 hours per frame."
Why so long? "We had a chandelier taking up half the shot," he explained. "And in order to get the transparency, those rays [of light] had to bounce around this giant warehouse. So that took so much time to render – and that’s including running a de-noise pass on it."
When Sisson was asked in a later panel whether a chandelier was really necessary for the scene, he jokingly shrugged and remarked ruefully: "We could have had a pinata instead; that would have saved us a lot of trouble."
03. Pixar broke some of its own lights… on purpose
When you're making a 3D animation, one of the most challenging things is to create lighting and shadows that look natural, and the more elements there are to light, the trickier that becomes. So Toy Story 4's carnival scene was no picnic for the artists at Pixar.
"There were over 17,000 lights in the carnival scene," Sisson explained in his talk. "We had the Ferris wheel, we had all these different rides, and they were all creating illumination. So we didn’t really have a direct light source in the night time scenes, we just had this pool of light from all these individual lights."
And here's our favourite fun fact: Pixar ensured a super-high level of realism by making sure not all the lights were actually working! "In fact, three per cent of these lights are burnt out," Sisson revealed.
This is not something most viewers are going to notice consciously, but on a subconscious level, it really helps you believe in the world. And it's this kind of clever thinking that really marks Pixar out from the pack. This was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to lighting cleverness, though.
More importantly Pixar used a technique called "Globally Calibrated Exposure", which means all the lights in the movie were calibrated, allowing the lighting team to have exposure control baked into their setups.
“If you’ve ever used a DSLR and changed your aperture, we basically created the same kind of setup for Toy Story 4," explained Sisson. "This is a practice that’s common in visual effects for movies, but this was the first Pixar film we rolled this out on, and it really gave a physically based realism to the lights. It was also very efficient because we could accurately change the exposure for different shots, from night to day."
04. Gabby Gabby was originally blonde
One of the new characters in Toy Story 4 is Gabby Gabby, a vintage doll created in the 1950s who's voiced by Christina Hendricks. She's a redhead in the movie, but originally she was meant to be blonde. Why the change? Because, would you believe it, it made her cheaper to animate.
As Sisson recalled, "The character design department pitched over the original design, and the technical team was like, “Does she have to have blonde hair? That takes like five times the amount to render as she would if she had red hair. And she’s in a lot of different scenes.”
The character department agreed to the change, and the technical department breathed a sign of relief. Because as Sisson explained, blonde hair is more challenging due to the way it interacts with light.
"In order to render blonde hair, we’re not just rendering the yellow colour; we’re sending a ray in and it’s bouncing around maybe 80 times within the hair," he said. "Blonde hair is really transparent hair, so if we make it less transparent and more opaque then maybe we send the ray in and it bounces around about eight times. That reduces the rays we're sending in the scene, and reduces our workload considerably. We get a good result either way, but it’s a cheaper one with red hair."
05. Duck and Bunny were super-expensive to make
As the example of Gabby Gabby shows, Pixar is always looking for new and inventive ways to save money. But Sisson stressed that this should never be at the expense of the story's needs, and offered an example of when the character designers pushed back on a technical request.
It involved another couple of new characters in Toy Story 4, Ducky and Bunny: two carnival toys who have longed for a kid to call their owner. "They're these incredible twins with neon yellow hair and neon blue hair," he explained. "Well, neon yellow hair is the most expensive hair you can render. And if you have neon blue hair, that’s super-expensive to render as well."
So, as before, the technical team went back to the designers. "And they were like: 'Can’t they just like be brown and black?' But the response was, 'No, they have to be these colours!' So the technical team took the hit for all the shots they were in, because it was important to the narrative.”
07. The cobwebs were woven by AI spiders
The story of the cobwebs was one of the most surprising parts of Sisson's talk. "We had some software bugs in Toy Story 4 which actually helped us," he revealed. "We created these AI spiders in Houdini, and they would go into these nooks and crannies and start weaving webs. We’d render these webs out and that was pretty helpful."
Just let that sink in for a moment. The cobwebs you saw in the film were not crafted by human artists, or pulled in from a reference library, but generated by digital spiders that don't actually exist. We are so living in the future right now.
08. There are endless Easter Eggs to discover
If you have young kids, a time will probably soon approach when they just want to watch Toy Story 4 on repeat, all day long. But don't worry: even if you eventually tire of the plot, you can always amuse yourself by looking out for Easter Eggs. And according to Sisson, there's a LOT to look out for.
"Check out the props in the antique warehouse," he noted, "because we have over 2,000 props from previous Pixar films." Pointing at the screen, he noted: "Here's some carnival stuff from Coco that we just dragged in, here's a snow globe from Knick Knack [a Pixar short from 1989], here's Arlo the Good Dinosaur, here's a Pixar image computer… so there's a bunch of stuff in there to look for."
Yes, you read that right: over two thousand. Have fun trying to find them all!
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When Apple revealed the new Mac Pro in November, it also announced that a set of optional wheels would be available for the heavyweight machine. It wasn't until a month later that the price of said wheels was revealed: $100. Per wheel. That adds an eye-watering $400 to an already eye-watering $5,999 for the Mac Pro (and that's only the basic model), with the option of adding a maxing out the specs for a grand total of over $53,000. We'll give you a moment to dry your eyes.
So problem number one is the cost. And now, YouTuber Marques Brownlee has discovered another pretty major flaw with those wheels: they don't have brakes. So, if you're planning to use them, you might want to take a spirit level to your desk or floor first. If it isn't perfectly straight, your $53k Mac Pro might just roll off into the sunset (and it won't be rolling into our best computers for graphic designers list at that rate).
After watching Brownlee's video, the omission of some sort of wheel lock seems pretty glaring. And when it comes to suggestions for how Apple might fix the problem, Twitter users are on a roll (ahem). We're particularly fond of this Wedge Pro concept (and its genius tagline) by the ever-reliable @JonyIveParody:
While we did gawp at the price of the Mac Pro and its many upgrade options ($999 for a display stand?), we did concede that it isn't aimed at most creatives – you're more likely to find it rolling around the offices or production suites of companies with lots of cash to burn. If you're looking for something more affordable (and less likely to run away), see today's best deals below.
Ask anybody to name an Adobe product and we bet they'll say Photoshop. Ask for more and you might hear Illustrator, InDesign or After Effects. But do you think you could name 50? Us neither – until now.
When YouTuber Humtog couldn't find an official introduction to Adobe's entire Creative Suite and beyond, he decided to make his own – and the result is 10 minutes of essential viewing for any kind of digital creative. While there are tons of detailed Photoshop tutorials and Illustrator tutorials around, this is the first time we've seen every single app explained in one place:
All those icons look like some kind of creative periodic table – which is appropriate seeing as there's an Adobe app for pretty much every element of digital creativity these days. It's surprising that there isn't an official whistle-stop tour of Adobe's entire offering available, but we can't imagine it being much clearer than this. As well as introducing each app and what it's generally used for, Humtog points out differences between similar-seeming apps such as Photoshop vs Lightroom. A particularly nice touch is the animated character who occasionally pops up with the sort of questions we're usually too embarrassed to ask ("but isn't Flash, like, dead?").
As well as being useful and informative, the video is a fascinating window into the huge world of creativity offered by Adobe. You could be a seasoned pro at one of these tools and never have heard of another. As one Reddit user writes, "This is a better explanation than I've ever heard and I've used many of these tools in some professional capacity for almost 20 years. Phenomenal video!"
Humtog says the video took over a year to make, and he "stopped making it mid-way due to how time-consuming it got". Thankfully, his hard work seems to be paying off. At the end of the video he jokes that he'd like to improve his current subscriber count of two – and right now he's on 3.33k. On the strength of this video alone, we'd say he's definitely worth a subscribe.
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These Adobe apps mean there need be no end to your creativity. Your projects will reflect the limitless possibilities that the precision editing and compositing tools deliver. These tools enable you to create stunning, multilayered artwork by combining images, play with colour and effects to elevate your images, move or remove objects within your images, and even turn photos into paintings or 3D objects. You don't want to miss this offer, but you need to put your skates on as this is your last chance. We repeat: the offer ends TODAY!
Packaging is a layer of communication between a product and the customer. It serves the practical purpose of holding and protecting the product, but also needs to draw eyes to the product on a crowded shelf or online storefront. To stand out from all the competing options, it needs to tell us something about what makes the product different.
There’s been a trend in packaging design towards minimalism in recent years, with clear and clean layouts breaking down the noise that accompanies the surfeit of choice on the shelves. Now tougher economic conditions and increased competition are leading to renewed use of stronger patterns and illustrations to create greater emotional connection with the customer and stand out from the competition. Here we round up seven pattern trends to look out for in packaging this year.
Everyone wants to be seen as nature-friendly at the moment and many brands are seeking to communicate their green credentials in their packaging. Patterns inspired by nature can suggest organic, natural ingredients in food and cosmetics, and a general concern for the environment.
Like all over the design world, a lot of this is happening through flat design, such as in Darling Clementine’s illustrations for Maud’s Teas. But designers are taking influence from everything from vintage botanical illustrations to the bold forms of CW Stockwell's classic Martinique banana leaf wallpaper. Greens and browns are being joined by more varied vibrant but still earthy colours. In eye-catching pattern designs for Pukka teas,The Space Creative gave the products vivid colour schemes and patterns with repeated motifs evoking each flavour.
Expect to also see a return to more detailed patterns and illustrations. Examples like Mamba Studio's concept for La Selva coffee show a return towards a maximalist trend, of which more later. Of course, if the product is being presented as green and natural, for credibility design is best followed through with the use of recycled and recyclable materials.
02. Geometric shapes
Though hardly a new trend, the use of geometric shapes in packaging design continues to be strong in 2020. Expect to see those shapes getting bolder and taking on more extreme dimensions in darker monochromatic applications in a bid to stand out.
This could be by zooming in closer on thick lines, with less repetition of a pattern like in the packaging for French confectioner Ladurée’s range of macarons that pays homage to Carven by using the fashion house’s traditional brand green in thick, bold stripes. Conversely, using very fine lines in black and white can achieve an Art Deco or even tribal-looking feel that conveys a raw energy and more organic aesthetic in the packaging developed by One Darnley Road for London Fields Soap Company.
Pattern can be created through texture as well as colour and illustration. This is something we're seeing more of as brands continue to experiment with packaging materials. Textured patterns can create a mature, sophisticated feel. Die cut windows offer the chance to create patterns that reveal the product itself, or to make layered patterns that produce clever effects. Meteorito Studio were awarded at the 2019 Pentawards for its layered packaging design for Secretos del Agua’s Christmas gift pack. The packaging tells a story about the beauty brand's mission and use of water by layering die cut shapes to create depth and give the impression of a grotto as a natural source of water.
Textured patterns can also transform the feel of packaging substrate. Japan's DNP used a black matte polyolefin wrap with a textured pattern to give plastic the premium feel of glass in their bottle design for Awanama sake. They used a pattern that resembles traditional Japanese Satsuma Kiriko cut-glass design to create a sense of heritage and luxury while also serving as a light-blocking barrier to extend the shelf life of the drink inside. The innovative design won the diamond award at the DOW Packaging Innovation Awards.
04. Metallic and holographic patterns
The application of patterns in special colours using foil stamping can make a product dazzle on the shelf. Metallic patterns in gold and silver have long been used to add a classy vintage feel to products like chocolate, but more vibrant metallics and holographic patterns can appeal to younger customers. Iridescent and holographic patterns have been most used for packaging cosmetics but are now being applied to all kinds of packaging, from tea to fries. It can create a modern, even futuristic look, particularly for exclusive, limited-edition products.
Foil stamping on Greenfield tea packaging designed by Alice Macarova created a look that was as novel as the brand's limited-edition ice cream-inspired flavours. Embossed stamps with twin varnishing in matte and gloss play with light and shadow to conjure up the iciness of the unusual inspiration.
In China, mooncakes are an important gift during the Mid-Autumn Festival. With so much competition among manufacturers, the use of laser holographic foil stamping to create abstract iridescent patterns representing the moon’s rugged surface make K11’s product stand out as a limited-edition luxury option that feels like a work of art. Holographic patterns are being used for even the most humble of products. In Australia, Hungry Jacks (Burger King) used holographic packaging for fries to deter Seagulls from pinching them, and raised ordering a side of fries to an Insta-worthy moment in the process.
The gradient trend has been all over digital and print design and is now firmly in product packaging too. Gradients provide visual interest and dynamism without overwhelming information on the packaging. Something that’s grown out of the trend is the use of multiple gradients or hazy, blurred patterns to evoke a mood or sensation. The cans for Kin, a range of non-alcoholic drinks made from nootropics, adaptogens and botanicals, use warm hazy backgrounds to echo the products' claims to create a feeling of euphoria without the headache the morning after. The look taps into the current retro futurism trend to create a sense of nostalgia coupled with an optimistic vision of the future.
Ingrid Picanyol’s labels for Jaume Jordà’s Viamic range of wines initially look like blurred abstract patterns but are designed to resemble Instagram-like images. The sense of mystery is intended to invite us to disconnect from the online world and reconnect physically over a bottle. The imagery is strikingly abstract and creates a clear brand identity across the range.
06. Maximalist design
Many of the trends we’re seeing show an overarching tendency to step back from the recent penchant for minimalism to inject louder personality into designs. Tougher competition on both physical and virtual shelves means brands are tuning up their presentation to grab attention and create a desire to know more. Considering that 81% of consumers have tried a new product because of its packaging, it makes sense. Although minimalist designs cut out the nonsense, many consumers like the mystery that more complex packaging design can provoke, and packaging that makes a statement is also more likely to be shared on social media.
The label for Forager’s Keep whiskey designed by Greg Coulton uses ornate leaf motifs to give a magical, almost fairytale-like fantasy sense of fun to the product. Kevin Cantrell Studio gave another drinks maker, Star Union, cut-out patterns, illustrations and type covering the majority of the surface area on bottles of brandy, vodka and grappa leaving no chance that the products go unnoticed, even if they're seen in a thumbnail image on an online retail site.
07. Neatly structured layouts
Despite the return of maximalism and more elaborate patterns, there is still a lot to be said for the minimalist trend seen in recent years with neat, structured layouts creating an almost apothercary style. What we’re seeing now is that apothecary-style minimalism combining with brighter colour and pattern to produce something that is still very clean but with a less austere feel. This kind of 'minimalism plus' boasts the simplicity and tidiness of minimalist design but with added fun and warmth.
SOSOLIFE's packaging designed by Korea’s Triangle Studio uses dabs of colour to add a sense of whimsy to their otherwise understated packaging for biscuits, soups and noodles. Packaging for Slovakian spice range I Can Spice designed by Dekoratio uses a crisp central label but on a bright patterned background to give the product more personality on the shelf, while still being simple to interpret.
Adobe MAX Creativity Tour London was packed with inspiring stories, jaw-dropping demos and fascinating creative insights. And if you missed out on the main event, you can catch up on all the talks from the comfort of your own home (or desk) right here. It's ideal for a shot of inspiration and motivation in these dingy winter days. Whether you're a designer, illustrator, blogger, photographer or budding student creative, there's something here for you.
The evening kicked off with a fascinating and useful insight into the tools you're almost certainly using to bring your projects to life: Adobe Creative Cloud. There have been several headline-grabbing updates to flagship tools, as well as exciting additions to the CC family, but you might not be quite clued up on all the changes.
Principal Creative Cloud evangelist Rufus Deuchler offered a speedy tour of the most exciting updates, from the Sensei-powered brushes in new art app Adobe Fresco, to XD's powerful new co-editing capabilities, to Photoshop's downright amazing Object Selection tool. Get up to speed below.
The second talk shone a light on the incredible showcase of talent that was the McDonald's 2019 Christmas advert. Designers from Leo Burnett and Passion Animation Studios took to the stage to reveal how they came up with a concept that would capture the nation's hearts, and share how they brought it all to life. Catch up on their presentation below.
Rounding off the evening in style, Jamal Edwards MBE joined Adobe's Claire Darley on stage to chat about how he made the journey from getting his first camera aged 15 to curating stages at Wireless and recording interviews at 10 Downing Street. It makes for incredibly inspiring viewing – it's worth tuning in to hear the section on Edwards' hilariously cheeky guerilla marketing tactics alone [2 mins 50].
For more insight and inspiration, plus information on those Adobe Creative Cloud updates, head to the Adobe website.
Adobe MAX is heading to Europe
There's more exciting news for designers who can't make it across the pond for Adobe's annual US bash – in 2020, MAX will be coming to Europe for the first time!
Adobe MAX Europe will take place 15-16 June 2020 at the Feira Internacional in Lisbon, Portugal. The festival will bring together the world’s biggest brands and most inspiring minds to celebrate Adobe’s vision of ‘Creativity for All’ – as well as, of course, revealing the latest innovations coming to Creative Cloud.
To register, head to the Adobe MAX Europe site. Don't hang about though – there's a special launch discount that means if you pick up your ticket before the end of February, you'll pay less than half price!
Have you been thinking about developing your mobile app but have no idea where to start? You've come to the right place. Master the essential skills of designing and programming mobile apps with the help of The 2020 Mobile App Developers Bundle and learn everything you need to start up a successful career in this in-demand industry. Your creations might even end up making our list of the best iPad apps for designers.
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The rivalry between McDonald's and Burger King has played out across billboards and online for years, with the competing chains taking countless swipes at one another – all in the name of healthy (ahem) competition. But this week, a new fighter unexpectedly entered the ring: Nando's.
The beef began last week, when Burger King launched a mouldy new ad (below) showing exactly what happens when its famous Whopper is left to age for a month. Spoiler alert: it isn't pretty (and yet, weirdly, sort of is).
The mouldy burger is shown with the tagline, 'The beauty of no artificial preservatives'. It's an up-yours to McDonald's, referencing the common rumour that their burgers never decompose. We admire the boldness of the ad – it takes serious photography skills to turn a decomposing burger into a thing of such strange, grotesque beauty. We kind of love it.
The ad has led to strong reactions online. They seem to fall into two distinct categories: those who are repulsed, and those who love the dig at McDonald's. This brings up our main criticism of the ad – it's potentially too much of an in-joke. Without knowing exactly what Burger King is poking fun at (everlasting Big Macs), all we're looking at is a mouldy burger – which isn't making us hungry.
Enter Nando's. While Burger King was no doubt awaiting the next move from McDonald's, the chicken restaurant swooped in with an unexpected response of its own:
If you ask us, it's a bit of a cheap move from Nando's. The joke is simple enough (the Nando's burger hasn't had time to rot because it's been eaten, hence the crumbs), but without the impressive photography of Burger King's effort, this packs less of a punch. And worst of all, it's yet another burger-based in-joke. If you haven't seen Burger King's ad, the Nando's post makes little sense. Somebody needs to break it to the fast food chains that people might not be following the burger wars as closely as they think. Thanks goodness we're here to give you the highlights.
Serif's Affinity apps – Affinity Publisher, Photo and Designer – have quickly become popular among creatives, and a just-released version 1.8 update has made all three apps even more attractive.
We've long been fans of the Affinity range; its apps offer comparable functionality to Adobe's Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign CC, without tying you into a monthly subscription. There's always the lurking worry, though, that if you switch over you might lose a vital feature or be unable to access your old work, and this new update addresses some of those concerns.
What Serif's most excited about is the updated version of one of the best InDesign alternatives, Affinity Publisher, which now offers InDesign file import – after a fashion. Sadly it's not full-on INDD support; rather, Publisher 1.8 supports IDML, the less-loved InDesign file format that's built for cross-version compatibility.
It's definitely a step in the right direction, and if you've been considering switching to Publisher but have a large back catalogue of InDesign documents that you still need to be able to work with, this will ease the process.
Reinforcing its credentials as a serious option for professional print workflows, Publisher 1.8 also provides live preflight checking, with a preflight panel that'll instantly alert you to possible errors in your documents. So rather than find out about things like missing or low-res images, overflowing text and bleed problems when your work comes back from the printer, you can spot and fix them before you send off your finished documents.
Publisher 1.8 also enables you to merge multiple documents into a single file and to import spreadsheet data from XLSX files, plus smart master pages and a host of other fixes and improvements. And to make your life even easier, you can now save your documents as template files that can be re-used as many times as you want. It's not just Affinity Publisher that's getting template support; it's also been added to Affinity Designer and Photo, and templates can be shared across all the Affinity apps.
While Publisher's getting the spotlight with this 1.8 update, there are some great new additions to Designer and Photo on top of the template support. Affinity Photo now allows you to import PSD smart objects as embedded documents and edit their layers, and it also supports an expanded range of plugins, including the brilliant Nik Collection 2.5 from DxO, making it an even better option for photo editing. It also has better lens correction, improved metadata handling and support for Canon's CR3 RAW format.
Meanwhile Affinity Designer has a new Stock panel to make it easier to add royalty free imagery to your work, and it also features improved expand stroke functionality that gives you accurate results with fewer nodes.
One last upgrade that should delight anyone using Affinity Designer and Photo on iPad is the addition of customisable keyboard shortcuts. If you have a keyboard attachment, you can now speed things right up by creating your own shortcuts (and if you don't have a keyboard, check out our selection of the best smart keyboard deals).
There are plenty more improvements and additions rolled out today across the Affinity range; you can find out all the details here.
The MacBook Pro is undoubtably one of the best (and most popular) laptops for creatives, and the line-up is due a refresh this year.
After the hugely welcome MacBook Pro 16-inch was released in November, it jumped straight to the top of several of our best laptop lists, including the best laptops for graphic design. The web is now awash with rumours about how the 13-inch MacBook Pro will fare in 2020, and based on leaks, it looks like we could be seeing an update to that model as early as next month. What might this look like, how much will it cost, and will there be an update to the keyboard? Here's everything we know so far.
MacBook Pro 2020: Tech specs
Until Apple officially reveals the new MacBook Pro, we can only speculate about what it will offer internally. That said, leaked benchmarks reported by our sister site TechRadar suggest we might be getting a 13-inch model armed with a 10th-generation Ice Lake processor, one of the best-performing mobile chips around. The least we'd hope for with a refreshed MacBook Pro is a performance boost, and these leaks suggest that's exactly what we'll be getting.
MacBook Pro 2020: Release date and price
Right now, rumours are pointing to March 31 for the next Apple Event, which means the new MacBook Pro could make its first appearance at the end of next month (alongside a reported update to the iPad Pro). While the release dates for new iPhones are easy to predict (they're nearly always revealed at Apple's September event), the last four years have seen MacBooks released in October, June, July, May and November. The latter was the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which didn't even get a release event. While we can't rule out Apple announcing the new model via a simple press release, we're holding out hope that we'll see it at the rumoured March event – if not before.
Pricing details are similarly vague. The only thing we probably shouldn't count on is a price drop. Apple is known to keep prices the same when a product is refreshed. The current MacBook Pro 13-inch starts at $1,299/£1,299 for the 1.4GHz processor base model, and the 2.4GHz model begins at $1,799/£1,799. We're not expecting to see prices drop any lower than that, so it's definitely time to start saving.
MacBook Pro 2020: Design
If there's one design change we're hoping for with the MacBook Pro 2020, it's an updated keyboard. Of all the controversies Apple has faced in recent years, the butterfly keyboard saga has been the stickiest (quite literally – we've enjoyed many a trip to the Genius Bar with stuck keys). Not only has Apple issued a rare apology for the defect-prone design, but it was even targeted during a speech by director Taika Waititi at this year's Oscars.
Thankfully, a better typing experience seems to be on the horizon. Last year's 16-inch MacBook Pro saw a return to the traditional scissor switch mechanism beneath the keys, so we hope (and pray) that Apple will see fit to update the keyboard across its entire MacBook Pro line.
Another design triumph with the recent 16-inch model was the reduction of the bezels around the screen, allowing for a larger display within a similar body to the previous 15-inch model. We called the new screen "gorgeous" in our MacBook Pro 16-inch review. If Apple takes a similar approach again, we could see a 14-inch display within the current 13-inch body. Or, if the display size remains the same, perhaps we'll be getting a smaller machine. Only time will tell which way Apple decides to go.
MacBook Pro 2020: Specs and what we'd like to see
In terms of screen size, we'd prefer to see a 14-inch display within a similar sized machine than a reduced overall footprint. That extra inch of screen would make all the difference for creatives – and if portability is paramount, there's always the much slimmer MacBook Air.
But most of all, we want to see the 16-inch model's lovely new keyboard come to the smaller MacBook Pro. And the Air. The sooner we can brush this butterfly business under the carpet and move on with our lives, the better.
We'll update this post as and when more news drops on the new MacBook Pro 2020. But if you can't wait that long to get your hands on one, you can currently get some great deals on the current MacBook Pro models. Here are the best prices in your area:
The best ampersands tell you a lot about a typeface. Thanks to its unusual structure, the curly symbol that's a substitute for 'and' is the character that can make or break a typeface for the type-conscious designer. It's a character that asks the typographer to make certain creative decisions above and beyond the A to Z letter set, the numerals and standard punctuation, and the care that goes into an ampersand is often indicative of the attention to detail that has gone into the typeface across the board.
As a designer, the ampersand can be your plaything. It's the maverick character in the set, the one that really tested the typographer in its creation, and the one that can bring the right atmosphere to a project when used at a large scale.
If you'd like to assess the ampersands in a range of fonts, have a rummage through our rundown of the best free fonts around.
What is the ampersand?
While today it is considered a punctuation mark, the ampersand used to be the 27th letter in the Roman alphabet, following Z. People would say 'X, Y, Z and per se and' as the figure itself means 'and'. 'And per se and' was shortened into a word in the 18th century and today we have 'ampersand'. Its form derives from the Latin word for and, 'et'. In some ampersands – commonly the italic form – this combination is more clearly seen than in others, and the character has evolved its highly unique form.
Read on for our pick of the best ampersands of 2020.
Ampersands don't come much better than the refined and classic forms found in the Baskerville typeface family. Originally designed in the 18th century by John Baskerville, in Birmingham, England, it was influenced by Bodoni and Didot. In the Regular version of the typeface, the ampersand feels gentle yet authoritative, and the ampersand in Alan Fletcher's iconic V&A mark is very similar to Baskerville's. Move to Baskerville Italic and a strong, creative and cursive feel emerges the letters E and t shining through more clearly.
Mention ampersands and for some designers, it's Miller time. Although designed in 1997 by Matthew Carter, this is a typeface based on the sturdy, all-purpose Scotch Roman fonts of the early 19th century. Select Miller Display Italic, however, and you'll unlock an ampersand that's as beautiful and flowing as a Highland spring. Somehow, the slightly extreme elevation of the top right ligature doesn't feel out of balance at all.
Elegant, and a little extreme, no typeface better reflects the modern penchant for high contrast serifs than Bella, created by Manchester typographer Rick Banks of the F37 Foundry. Newly available as Bella Pro, this font family boasts an ampersand that oozes luxury in both regular and italic forms – it's a character that looks like it's lounging around in an expensive cocktail bar, waiting for the action to kick off.
This redrawing of William Caslon's classic English typeface from the 17th century was created by Dalton Maag in 1991, and its six fonts deliver a swirling ampersand drawn in a style usually reserved to italic versions of a typeface. Despite its deliberately over-egged curves, it still feels anchored and well-structured. It's hard to go wrong with a Caslon. The one shown here is King's Caslon Display Regular.
Designed in 1974 for ITC by Joel Kaden and Tony Stan, American Typewriter was inspired by classic slab serif mechanical typefaces. However, unlike its influences, it isn't monospaced and has a funky, fun feel reflecting the decade in which it was born. This is perfectly encapsulated in its playful ampersand, and comes across throughout its weights and styles. Doesn't it resemble a cat dangling a paw, ready to swipe a toy mouse nearby?
This free font, created by Santiago Orozco, was inspired by early modernist typefaces as well as typewriter fonts and extends the designer's original Josefin Sans into new areas. The ampersand found here is tall and unusually thin, but still well-balanced. It has the feel of a symbol or an icon, with a sense of motion, and looks almost as though it's posing the question: "And?"
There are numerous typefaces called Bronx, but look out for this one by Jen Wagner Co, which extends her very angular serif Manhattan with a softer-feeling outline font. It's so inexpensive that we've seen it listed as a free font but $6 is more than worth it for the ampersand alone. With languid curves, the outline gives it an upholstered air – comfortable without ever seeming over-stuffed or stuffy.
Australian designer Monib Mahdavi's typeface Flux brings us an ampersand that doesn't mess around – it's clean, lean and flexible. Unlike many on this list, it's a good candidate for body and display uses. We like the way that, as a form, the E and t hold together rather stiffly, like new dance partners who are serious about not putting a foot wrong.
Heavily influenced by traditional typography and wanting to bring its many nuances to digital type, Jonathan Hoefler's Hoefler Text was an ambitious launch back in 1991. Despite a heavy nod to the classics, Hoefler was an innovator and his ampersand, here seen in italic, is as individual as its designer. It really feels like it has three distinct strokes – carefully and deliberately placed, and perhaps that's how it should be used.
Oh, baby, yes! Here's a typeface with an ampersand that needs a double garage to park in, and then some. Like the prehistoric pachyderm it's named after, Mastodoni brings scale but also borrows from the elegance of the traditional typeface that inspired it: Didone. Here's a worthy, extreme contrast competitor to Bella, which is all about luxury and excess.
Like a boomerang that comes flying back to you with unexpected force, Windsor's ampersand has a ligature that swooshes around overhead in a way that sets it apart from the rest. It's an example of an ampersand that might just be better than the typeface it comes from – Windsor is often used to say 'old style' and thus has a rather cloying feel in general. Thank goodness for its exuberant ampersand.
Designers of script fonts tend to go wild with their ampersands but Mediengestaltung held things together rather well with their free font Chopin Script producing something elegant, restrained, unique and – yes – harmonious. The typeface has some lovely swirling capital letters, while the ampersand brings a sense of motion reminiscent of a bow delicately bringing the strings section to life.
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