DIY Midori Style Traveler’s Notebook

A notebook is an excellent companion to bring along with you. In our case, as designers it is almost a necessity. I’m the kind of person who enjoys journals and notebooks and often find myself over spending on moleskin and various other sketchbooks. This was the case for everyone in our team. Every person was carrying multiple different books for different projects.

We wanted to reduce the clutter and have something that would allow us to be more organized and consolidate everything together so we don’t have to carry a thousand different books.

Midori Traveller's Notebook Pixel Drop
Midori Traveller’s Notebook

Doing a bit of research online we read about the Midori Traveller’s Notebook. A Midori is a notebook system – a journal system which basically consists of a leather cover and an elastic cord into which you can place multiple books at once. It is a very interesting system that has gained immense popularity over the past few years and the perfect solution to our problem.

You can buy the official Midori from Jet Pens for $50 but we decided to turn this into a fun little DIY project as a break for everyone in our team.

DIY Midori Style Traveler’s Notebook

1. To start things off, you need to get the leather that would make the cover of your Journal. Try to get a high quality leather that would age well and last for years. Dharavi in Mumbai is one of the largest leather markets in the country. A quick trip helped us get some good quality leather.

DIY Midori Style Traveler's Notebook Pixel Drop
Dharavi Leather Market

2. Next you need to decide the size of your Midori, I suggest using universal sizes so you can easily find books or even simply staple a few sheets together and put them in.

DIY Midori Style Traveller's Notebook Pixel Drop
Cut the leather in the size you want.

We decided to make in 2 sizes – A5 and A6. Make sure to measure the leather at least 15% bigger than the size of the notebook so the books don’t come out when folded. For example, if you you choose A5 which is 148 x 210 mm, cut out your leather in size 170 x 235 mm. It’s ok if your leather is a little bigger, you can always trim it off in the end!

3. After cutting the leather, you need to now make 5 holes in the center seam for the elastic cord.

DIY Midori Style Traveller's Notebook Pixel Drop
Make the holes in the leather as marked above

The first hole will be right in the center of the seam, followed by 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom.

4. Now it’s time to put the elastic in. Take a long enough piece of your preferred elastic cord and divide it in half. Take the loop half of the cord and insert it in the the middle hole leaving the loop to come out of the other side.

Push the loop end of the elastic through the center hole

Make sure that the loop is about the width of your book so it can act as a lock when you close the book.

Keep the loop the same as the width of your book.

 

5. Now put each end of the elastic through the holes on each side and then though the remaining holes on the other side as well.

Push both ends of the cord through each side to form a bind

6. Finally now tie off the ends together to create a holder for the book to slide in.

DIY Midori Style Traveller's Notebook Pixel Drop
Tie off the ends and insert the book

7. To add in additional books, simple take another piece of elastic cord. Wrap it around the spine of the 1st booklet and tie a knot. Then you can slip a booklet in on each side!

This is perfect if you want to have separate books for different projects.

DIY Midori Style Traveller's Notebook Pixel Drop
Warp a piece of cord around the spine to add another book

So there it is! our own version of the Midori Notebook is ready. It is absolutely easy to make and ingenious enough to help you maintain all your notes into 1 proper system.

DIY Midori Style Traveler's Notebook Pixel Drop

App Animations with Lottie by Airbnb

We have all heard of (or even used) Airbnb at some point – a giant that has dominated and revolutionized the travel industry for the past few years. So, it came as a pretty big surprise when last week, they released Lottie, an open-source tool that helps add animations to native apps. We decided to try our hands on Lottie by Airbnb and give you guys some quick impressions.

Lets start with the basics:

What is Lottie?

Lottie by Airbnb

Lottie is an iOS, Android, and React Native library that renders After Effects animations in real time, allowing apps to use animations as easily as they use static images.

Why Lottie?

Lottie by Airbnb

Animations are awesome. It enhances the user experience of an app. Animations make your app “cool” but implementing them is really hard. Most of the time, developers use generic animations or are limiting its use due to technical difficulties. Using Gifs or videos are inefficient and heavy. Manually creating curves, and re-making animations on code is extremely time consuming and hard.

According to the engineers of Airbnb – that’s all about to change thanks to Lottie. After a year of in-house development and testing, Lottie will allow designers and developers to use animations, without having to fiddle with image files for countless screen sizes or thousands of hard to maintain code lines.

How to use Lottie?

Lottie only works if you use After Effects to create your animations. It is based on Hernan Toririsi – BodyMovin extension.

Step 1.

Download and install BodyMovin by Hernan Toririsi. There are quite a few methods to do this as listed on BodyMovin Github page but here is the easiest of them all.

a. Download the Zip file from the link

b. Extract content and get the .zxp file from ‘/build/extension

how to install Lottie by Airbnb
Run bodymovin.zxp

c. Download and Install ZXP installer from aescripts.com and run the extension file.

How to run Lottie by Airbnb
ZXP Installer
Step 2.

Now that your done setting up. Its time to run After Effects.

a. Open your AE project and select the bodymovin extension from Window > Extensions > bodymovin

bodymovin lottie Airbnb
Bodymovin Extension

b. A Panel will open with a Compositions tab. On the Compositions tab, click Refresh to get a list of all you project Comps. Select the composition you want to export. Select a Destination Folder and then click Render.

bodymovin Lottie Airbnb
Render with Bodymovin

c. Look for the exported json file in the Destination Folder

STEP 3.

After you finish rendering of animations, its time to load them up on your app. Depending on the platform of your choice, download the Lottie Library for iOS, Android or React Native and install based on the platform.

Since the animation is a JSON file they are quite small in size therefore reducing the load on your apps. The Animations can be played, resized, looped, sped up, slowed down, and even trigger based on interactions. 

 

All-in-All Lottie has been a welcome surprise by the folks at Airbnb. We are still tinkering with it but are pretty excited by the possiblites. For now it only supports solids, shape layers, trim paths, alpha mattes and masks in After Effects but updates are expected.

We really hope that this sets off a trend of animation tools from the big players. They are hard to write!

App Prototyping with Adobe XD

So last time we talked about the benefits of Sketch App for initial designs of an app. Things were going fine for us. We designed on Sketch. And then we would try to figure out our app flow. This would involve getting screens arranged in their order of sequence and sharing the pic between us which always turned out to be horrible and confusing.

Quantum iOS app Flow
Imagine having more than 20 screens here

Or otherwise it would be going old school. Taking printouts and physically figure it out on a white board. All these methods lacked one essential component for any successful design – feedback from initial testers. How can we make the users get the sequence – we had to rely on their understanding rather than them experiencing it. We could only be sure they understood it, if they held it in their hands and get a first hand experience. Figure out where they could go wrong, how we could minimize or negate that possibility through better design.

Then Adobe hit back with Experience Design (XD).

Adobe XD was exactly what we were looking for. XD allowed us to make real prototypes on real devices that we could give to real users. This brought out a great clarity to us and the users. It greatly simplified our process. Changes could be made in the initial stages itself.

Just take a look at what our whole artboard looked like in XD:

The Game Quantum on XD
Adobe XD interface
The Game Quantum on XD
Linking each screen to create the prototype

Don’t get intimidated by these images. It is far more easier than it looks. All you need to do is link the various buttons in the screens based on your app flow – Its just drag and drop and literally takes less than 10 mins!

 

Prototyping with Adobe XD
Linking the screens together is just drag and drop

Hats off to the Adobe guys for getting this product out in the market. Mind you, the product is still in beta, but damn it’s awesome.

There are however a few things missing in Adobe XD:

 – XD does not give you the ability to animate individual elements. For ex: you won’t be able slide in a single button separately on the screen. It only allows screen transitions for now.

 – XD does not support Photoshop import. Yes, you read that right. Currently, the software only allows vector imports. This can be a big problem if you already have your app designed in Photoshop.

 

But since the software is still a work in progress we are hoping they would add additional features. Oh and the whole thing is just under 80 MB. Kudos Adobe! 

Adobe XD can really become the de facto prototyping tool. The Windows version of the software was just release in beta sometime back. In the end it will all depend on how much Adobe decides to charge us when they come out with the full version.

All in all, there is no denying the fact that there is a new player in the prototyping wars. And this newbie happens to be the oldest of them all.

Adobe XD is currently available in beta free for Mac and Windows HERE

 

If you are looking for some quick tutorials. These are our top picks. 

How to Use Adobe Experience Design CC By Terry White

How to Create a UI Prototype By Rafiq Elmansy

Design with Sketch App

We have always used Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop for the initial prototyping of our app designs. Though a bit of an overkill, we were familiar with it and hence stuck with it for a long time. Then a friend introduced us the Sketch App. And it just blew us away..

Sketch app

Firstly, it’s less than 50 MB installed on your hard disk. 50 freakin MB. Can you imagine that? Adobe Illustrator is more than 1.5 GB and Photoshop is well over that. We became a believer right then. Of course don’t get us wrong. Illustrator is still one of the best when it comes to making accurate drawings that involve stylus inputs and Photoshop is the king of digital image manipulation.

Sketch vs Illustrator vs Photoshop
Photoshop vs Illustrator vs Sketch

If you google you will find a million comparisons between Sketch, Photoshop and Illustrator but believe us Sketch wins when you are looking at getting started with the initial screens of the app and it wins in Web Design because of its superior grid layouts, ability to export all layers separately in one go and get CSS attributes for your designs!

Design with sketch app Pixel Drop Studios
iOS Ui Template in Sketch

And the templates included are so much handy. They have templates and export options for almost every iOS device screen size, Web Design and most popular Android ones. It is a match made in heaven for studios like us.

design with sketch app tutorial Pixel Drop Studios
Pre-Installed Templates in Sketch

So Sketch has now become our de facto software for building our initial designs.

It is available for download from their official website. You can first download a Trial version and then purchase the licence if you like from HERE.

If you are really interested here is a small list of awesome free tutorials that will help transition to the software. Note that some of the tutorials are of Sketch 3 while the latest version available right now is Sketch 4 but be assured that the learnings in them still apply!

For Readers:

Official Sketch User Manual

Marc Andrew – Sketch App Tutorial Series

Sketch Tutorial for iOS Developers – Robert Chan

Sketch for Beginners – Sebastian Gabriel

For the ones who prefer videos:

Sketch Tutorial Series – LevelUpTuts

Introduction to Sketch for Web Design – CharliMarieTV

Sketch for Beginners – Patrick Benske

Pixel Drop Studios Branding

We love Behance. Back in college days it was our only source of inspiration for design and it’s a great place see the works of so many amazing artists from all around the world. 

Few days back we decided to Reboot our tiny studio and redo the entire branding and identity. You can check out the new Branding of our studio on our Behance Page HERE.

Pixel Drop Studios Branding

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