Not long ago I finished a portfolio web site for local photographer FuR Gebhardt. FuR is probably best described as an artist, since her work goes beyond photography and delves into glass work, in which she has created colorful, beautifully crafted pieces. You may visit her growing portfolio at Planet FuR Productions.
When FuR and I first began brainstorming how the site would look, she mentioned the possibility of incorporating a planet into the design, as her website is called Planet FuR Productions. I liked this idea, though at first I wasn’t sure how I would approach it. My first idea was to create a vector design, providing a more cartoonish & quirky look. After spending a few hours sketching out and and creating a mock-up in Illustrator, I just wasn’t feeling it, so I decided to rethink my approach.
For some reason National Geographic and Omni magazine came to mind, as I envisioned a more ‘realistic’ looking planet with a nebulous backdrop. Inspired, I began my new layout. I quickly ran into the problem of finding a planet that I could use. I didn’t like the idea of using stock art or an actual photograph of one of the local celestial bodies, so I attempted to make my own.
My first result was nothing short of unspectacular. Really. But my second approach resulted in pretty much what is seen here, just a bit more rough. FuR is fond of purple, and hoped to have the color in some part of the overall design. As highlights, link and borders, it didn’t quite have the spark either of us had hoped for, so we opted for the more burnt-sienna color for those elements. Still wanting to honor her desire, I adjusted the hue of some of the planetary layers to bring out just a touch of purple.
The planet image is actually a texture of sedimentary rock, which has been sphere-ized (among other things). The galactic background is really a texture of fireworks against a black background, which, in my opinion, looks rather well as stars and star-clusters. I could have probably found a royalty free image of the actual galaxy, but I liked the idea of creating my own.
For a bit of variety, the About page has the planet in a state of solar eclipse, while the gallery pages have only the star backgrounds, with a reduced opacity to bring the gallery thumbnails forward.
This WordPress design uses the NextGen gallery plugin for the home page mini-gallery as well as the individual photo and glass galleries. It also includes a contact form and popular social networking icons.
Coding the design was a bit tricky with the mini-gallery on the front page, but went smoothly after that. The site is currently XHTML and CSS valid, as well as compliant with all major browsers. Included is a separate conditional stylesheet to display the site correctly in IE7.
Working with FuR Gebhardt was a fun and enjoyable experience and I look forward to working with her again in the future!