How the Internet Is Being Restricted & Handicapped Based on Geographic Data

 

web6You may be aware that the Internet is not as free as you were once told. It started out pretty free or the idea behind it was connectivity with users around the world and no hassles of government interference or control. You may recall the Usenet groups that made communication among people from all over the world a breeze before the World Wide Web even appeared.

“The Internet is at once a world-wide broadcasting capability, a mechanism for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard for geographic location.”

This is an interesting statement made by the Internet Society on the Brief History of the Internet. It however, represents a long lost idea. The idea of freedom of communication being made possible online and without interference of any kind to limit the flow of these ideas or other forms of information.web10

The Internet is much more than just the World Wide Web and websites. It consisted of many services, Usenet being an example I previously mentioned, before Tim Berners-Lee’s idea became a reality and has been before the 90s in such capacity.

According to Web Foundation’s article titled History of the Web:

“As the web began to grow, Tim realized that its true potential would only be unleashed if anyone, anywhere could use it without paying a fee or having to ask for permission.”

This was truly a time of potential and exploration. However, both the WWW and the Internet as a whole have since started to be much more limited in terms of geographical barriers and content control. Geoblocking of content, nations around the world controlling the flow of information and many other hamstrings exist today to a global and free Internet.

A Prime example of this is Netflix. You cannot watch the same content from even your own Netflix account abroad, say in Europe, than you can if you opened and ran your account from the United States. A lot of the content, such as TV shows, will not be available due to various licensing agreements that Netflix made with the producers or providers of such content. It all comes down to money and influence.

Another example of unequal access to online services and Internet restrictions based on geolocation data include the recent European privacy laws, called GDPR, that made many websites that do not comply with the new GDPR law unavailable to European users. This is based around Europe protecting privacy of user information and preventing data gathering for further targeted advertisements among other things. Last time I checked, I could not even open up the LA Times online when connecting from a European IP due to this issue. This is really a U.S. problem or problem with U.S. media not wanting to comply with GDPR.

Such unequal access to media will prevent the flow of information from being free and global. It will also prevent as global collaboration among journalists and media networks as a whole. It is also worth pointing out that this is very disadvantageous for average Web surfers and users who cannot get an unbiased picture on world news due to being prevented from accessing content or articles from even renown media channels, like the aforementioned LA Times.

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With a quick search I found more information on such sites and media. The Guardian has written an article mentioning this problem called LA Times among US-based news sites blocking EU users due to GDPR, but it is not the only major publication. According to the Guardian’s report:

“Visitors to newspapers owned by Tronc Inc – formerly Tribune Publishing – which also includes the New York Daily News, the Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel and the San Diego Union-Tribune, are being redirected to a page with the message: ‘Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries.’”

This also means that many of us who want to travel and access our Netflix shows abroad will have to forego watching certain things we want to watch or go the route of purchasing VPN services (usually for a fee) in order to trick Netflix and other content providers or media into thinking we are in a different geographical zone (notably the U.S.).

Netflix is not the only example. In fact, many social networks, such as Instagram, offer geoblocking to an extent. Many even adhere to censorship from governments around the world such as China and North Korea to prevent web users in those countries from getting the full content of the site or network or prevent access altogether.web9

Besides the Web and Internet as a whole being manipulated and controlled by entities, whether governments (like China’s) or companies like Netflix, to bar users based on certain geographic demographics or geolocation, there are greater issues at play. You may have heard of the recent Net Neutrality rules controversies and how the Trump administration in the U.S. has not favored net neutrality, but sided against them.

According to a CNET write-up on the matter:

“Supporters of net neutrality say the internet as we know it may not exist much longer without the protections. Big tech companies, such as Google and Facebook, and internet luminaries, such as Tim Berners-Lee, fall in that camp.”

This shows that there may be different price hikes for different Internet speeds and broadband access to different users and companies rather than a free and equal share of the pie. This is all based on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) having a heavy hand at deciding how U.S.-based Web traffic and online connectivity rules play out; and this FCC being influenced by politicians or having chairman appointed by presidents.

What is interesting is I had no idea how restricted online access can be until I started traveling or living abroad. This combined with Google’s geoblocking that prevents me from gaining access to U.S.-based Google search without typing /ncr (no country redirect) as part of Google’s url (www.google.com/ncr) are just hassles that should not exist. I found many websites, including Dropbox’s and Apple’s that automatically switch to the language of the country I am connecting from even when I try to switch the url to US or ENG or search for the U.S. based version of the site.

It is interesting how far this approach to Web traffic will go in terms of if it will continue to divide users based on geoblocking or over time if Web access will become more inclusive regardless of geographical location. I hope for the latter as many who are on a trip or those living abroad, but wanting access to the same content they had access to at home, do. Many business leaders and network professionals I am also sure want access to the premiere, or many times U.S.-based, versions of sites and services as they may be superior (Netflix example again) to the versions they are being forced to consume abroad.

Even website creation can become a major pain when switching regions or trying to create a site in English for a global audience. Here in Poland I created a site using Weebly and it automatically displayed Polish for me without asking me if that was the language I wanted to use for both the site itself and the menus. I have since switched to English from the dashboard, however some of the default text that isn’t changeable (maybe unless I went into CSS or HTML and did it by hand) is still displayed in Polish forcing me to delete it. Here is an example of what I am talking about:

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Notice that even though it says upload in English, the text actually shows up as pobierz, which is the Polish word for upload once saved. I do not know hot co change it as it is greyed out and default and you can only change the file name of the file you upload through drag and drop. However, there may be a way to do it via the CSS and HTML editor, which I do not even know if I can access without the paid version of Weebly’s plan as I cannot find that editor.

For instance, the drop down menu of archives in the news section of my template says “Archiwa” and the month in a smaller font below. Both of these words as part of the section are in Polish. I can change archive by hand to archives, but the month is hyperlink and unchangeable. What is odd is that even if delete this section and then find it in the menu to the left, it is in English. But once I drag it down to the same section, the text becomes Polish again.

These are all hurdles one has to overcome when traveling or moving into another country and dealing with so much geoblocking, geolocation tracking, and services being thrown down our throats we do not necessarily want (in the even of streamlining the web creation experience as outlined above making it more of a hassle as a result of not allowing us to change the hyperlinked text).

Personally, it will take a long time, and many dictators from around the world to disappear before the Internet truly becomes a free and global phenomenon. There are many hurdles still at play that are preventing even services such as Netflix from being equal around the world both in content and cost. Companies offering services should be the first to realize the importance of net neutrality and geoblocking woes, but when licensing and money are at play it becomes a different game.

However, there is still hope things will start turning around soon. According to the latest news (since I started writing this piece), California may soon approve a a net neutrality bill that would become the largest in the U.S. Again, this is strictly dealing with U.S. politics related to data and the FCC and not something that should affect users worldwide, but it can send a message and have a ripple affect down the road. California is a huge player when it comes to the Net, Web services and Silicon Valley is located there, after all.

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This is good news when it comes to data caps and neutral access across sites and networks to U.S. broadband and fiber-optic cables. However, it still does not address the issue of geoblocking of the same content across the globe despite users paying the same if not more of a premium for the service. Again, Netflix comes to mind as the example of this. It also does not address the issue of major media and websites being unavailable to European users due to the GDPR.

I really hope there will be a time when the ideas of what the Internet and the Web should be will come to pass and where someone can log online from anywhere on the globe and access the same services. This will not only open up new job markets and the ability for remote workers to have a fair and equal chance at competition and being productive, but also give kids an example to absorb the same information as their peers in the developed nations, particularly in the U.S who get all the online services available with the click of a mouse.

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Found some Older UBM Techweb & Trainsignal Samples of Mine: Publishing Some Here

0A2E241D-E004-4B73-BB6F-0E507966264BAs some of you who have been following my work or my portfolio may know, I used to write for a number of IT-related (enterprise or B2B) websites and media. They included Trainsignal (an IT coursework company that now is called Pluralsight or was bought out by them) and a network of enterprise B2B websites covering topics such as big data analytics, cloud computing, virtualization, networking and more called UBM Techweb.

2CA30822-A376-4ABE-BB49-EEFCFD24F57BMost of this work is not published anymore and I reserve the author rights, so I have decided to publish some samples here and some are already published on my portfolio. Please note that they are my copyright, but if you want to work with me on publishing any of these pieces or have me rework them and turn them into a new feature based on more up-to-date happenings in the enterprise and tech world, please let me know.

 

Here was a story based on interviews I conducted with cloud computing experts over Skype from Silicon Valley that offered insight on where the technology at the time (this was a few years ago) was heading in terms of enterprises and markets as well as the difference between private, public and hybrid cloud offerings. The larger story had two more interviews and was a longer and more in-depth feature, but UBM Techweb published this focused piece below on hybrid cloud (I will try to look for the larger feature as I may have it still saved somewhere and share it):

Keep in mind that even thought I mentioned both Pluralsight and UBM Techweb, most of the samples above were published by various UBM Techweb sites I wrote for, so I will try uploading and sharing more of my Pluralsight stuff here as well. I also did some offshoots of stories for one that would be tailored for the other. For instance, the David Linthicum and hybrid cloud computing article above I published as part of the larger (and in three parts) cloud computing comparison (with two other analysts interviewed and added into the larger story) for Trainsignal, but the focus on hybrid cloud and Linthicum story linked above was published on a UBM Tech site

0E3DB233-2933-46D6-9E82-F95BB1C0CF5BI enjoy improvising and changing angles as well as stories to suit different topics, media or simply angles. I have a lot of experience of covering enterprise and IT topics that I can definitely turn into a story of a unique angle or use some interviews or older stories to put together something interesting based on new research, happenings or events. This is just part of my larger backlog, so if you are interested just let me know on any of these stories or angles.

Also, most of the topics I covered and would not mind starting to cover again could be described as technical analysis of the IT, enterprise and B2B industries. Some of the topics, as you can see, are more technical in nature while others are more newsy in nature. Others srill, may be more of an informed opinion based on research and analysis from different siurces. The entire private vs public vs hybrid cloud piece (if I can find it) could even be clwssified as a white paper. Anyway, if you enjoy my coverage of this industry, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will keep updating this post and may turn it into. new section under portfolio or add some content there also.

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I Launched a New Website Using Weebly This Time Around Called Artistic Counterculture

F8C41266-706D-4CC9-9634-4EBB0E8A22C8So I have decided to launch a new website using a visual and drag-and-drop style of a web design interface called Weebly. The website is available here. It has been in the planning stages for months. I wanted a service site that is less of a personal site focusing on me, my ontent and resume, but on services I or my friends/co workers can offer. I also wanted a site I can showcase some of my skills, such as graphic design and video editing, past writing, reporting and type.

Again, I used Weebly for its creation process and surprisingly I mostly did it all from my iPad, although I also used my Macbook Air for certain things or simply because I did not have my iPad at hand. Weebly is similar in some ways to WordPress and different in many ways as well. I would say that I prefer it to WordPress when using the app on iPad and how easy its drag-and-drop interface is when compared to the mobile WordPress app. It is seamless from mobile and allows you to add videos, slide shows, backgrounds to image layouts with ease.

Obviously, it works more efficient or loads faster as you upload new content from a Mac or PC than iPad, but it is still great on Apple’s tablet from my experience. Once you make your changes, however, be sure to publish them after clicking preview on the upper right-side bar. It even has blogging integrated and many styles of templates you could work from.

Another reaosn I prefer Weebly to WordPress in certain instances is that it is simpler to use overall to accomplish certain Web design tasks. You do not have to worry about navigating various menus or sub menus such as WP Admin, or the various plugins to accomplish basic tasks. It has search, maps and various things integrated form its main drop down menu you access when clicking the plus sign. You then just drag such features onto where you want them to appear on your landing page or any other page of the site.

6DE83E73-0497-4C23-91B6-FFD48E55171BThere are obviously a lot of advantages WordPress has over Weebly and similarities as well. It is good to be able to use various web design services, apps and software and get a good perspective that way on the type of templates or sites you want to work from. WordPress seems more integrated with CSS and HTML in custom creation of content and editing, but then again I am currently just starting to work with Weebly and on the free plan, so I will see going forward what else it offers.

I also like how you can use WordPress, as long as you have at least a personal site plan, to store multimedia content and share the url of such files or content elsewhere. You may have noticed that the search bar in the image above does not appear on my Weebly page. This is because the feature that I accessed simply from the drop-down menu is not available with the free version of the site. Another advantage of WordPress I find is how easy it is to modify the custom url of a blog post, or site section for further sharing and linking.

I have been using the Artistic Counterculture tagline or brand name in certian instances, such as some content on my Facebook sister site as well as some video content I uploaded to Youtube. Thus, I figure this is a great name to my site and potential company (or at least an icon/emblem of my services) I am in the process of realizing. The reason I choose Artistic Counterculture because I enjoy mixing street art, urban culture, graffiti and the like with an artistic flair. I enjoy taking pictures, capturing video content from my iPad or digital camera and modifying it or adding effects to make it art. I also enjoy traveling to strange or scary places and adding flair to the captured content I find there with the aid of visual tools — whether video or still images/graphic design.

Also, if you have been following this blog, you may have seen my other recent posts such as this one, which showcase the way I combine street art through photogrpahy with graphic design for added flair and ideas. This is also part of my Artistic Counterculture idea. I think the name sounds right for the type of content I enjoy doing, hence the reason I used it for the new site, which again is: https://artisticcounterculture.weebly.com

I like the way the portfolio section looks on the new site and the way that Weebly let me organize it with my custom background of a rock wall I actually took from my iPad and uploaded it to Weebly. I also like the slide show feature of Weebly and utilized this on the landing page of my site or the home page. There are clearly advantages of using various templates and some services have better ones than others, but overall with certain workarounds and navigation you should be able to create the type of content you need for your site or brand across services, with some differentiations along the way. The other thing, is some services have better free vs paid tiers than others as well as advantages and disadvantages like I already mentioned above. Bottom line, however, is you can always use custom HTML code and CSS to design things your way outside anything a service or template may try forcing on you or your design.

WordPress really just started out as a blogging service and turned moe into custom web design software over time. Weebly offers blogging as part of its templates pages, from the get go, as you can see in my template along with a news section. This is one way it integrated full web design with blogging as just one of its features rather than the focus.

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I also like how Weebly has the various insights integrated right into the main app rather than having to navigate to see how many visitors or clicks you got from some separate menu. Anyway, check out my new site and send any suggestions or comments as well as ideas. I may try integrating more of this site with it or link between sections, however I still have uet to add a full service page with a bullet list (I simply linked to the Facebook sister site). So it is obviously a work in progress. Also, you may have noticed that a lot of the content I have posted over the last few months, or so, on here I have integrated into the new site across the pages and into the portfolio as well. I will try to keep the themes or focus more segregated as it is a bit of a jumbled mess right now.

Oh and yes I do get that the background may be a bit unsuited to the writing on the portfolio page due to the rock wall image. It makes the writing a bit hard to read, but I am still trying to figure out if there is a way to segregate that background or rock wall into only secitons with specific content on the sub page (portfolio) and not across the whole page. However, I am not willing to rid of the beautiful background just yet.

Some Recent Graphic Design Ideas for Potential Posters, Game or Album Covers, Ads & More

Recently, I posted some fresh graphical content, including a video clip showing my digital media and multimedia skills combined into a wave style of transcendence. In that recent write up, I mentioned going on a trip to Israel and capturing some cool street art, which I planned to use in future graphic design content. Well, it only took me a day or so from my other blog post to start coming up with ideas.

Here is some of my recent work using these ideas and media as it fits into the sci-fi style of graphic design I enjoy doing immensly. I combined multimedia skills across a wide variety of formats from photography to multiple raster apps. I captured the main head, which you will see in the graphics below, as a photo I took of graffiti from the recent trip to Tel Aviv. I then masked it as a stand-alone object and combined it with other self-created assets in order to create something unique. I think the idea could work well for game, movie or book posters as well as front covers.

Here is the Tel Aviv street art I captured via my iPad’s camera and which got me inspired in using it for future assets for graphic design work:

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And here are the sci-fi ideas I came up with thus far:

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Here is a PDF file with all work intact in a nice loseless format ready to print.

Keep in mind this is all raster work as I used my iPad exclusively to create everything you see above. I could add some of these assets to Illustrator and vectorize them via the trace command to get more print-friendly work. It could also open the work up to newer ideas using desktop apps, Illustrstor or Photoshop, which I also use interchangeably with the iPad apps (aprocreate and Artstudio Pro) as I swap files across iCloud. Look for more content in the future, particularly some vector work.

A Wave of Multimedia-Based Graphic Design

So while traveling to Tel Aviv, Israel and seeing so much awesome street art and graffiti (I also checked out Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, but that is a whole other story), I got inspired again to create something new. Here is a video I created I originally titled, The Wave, but really want to call it more of A Wave-Like Experince of Multimedia Graphic Design.

Below are some samples I created to put into the end of the clip. I decided to add that bit to make it a mix of some of my graphic design samples (a showcase of sorts of some of my recent samples not related to a theme) and a short film about the theme of waves and movement in still motion as well as an abstract form of metal.

I have been experiencing with various effects and that’s how the theme came to be around movement, waves, transcendence and metal. Here are the random samples at the end showcased that do not really relate to theshort clip’s theme, but I created froms sratch as well as the video.

Here are some mix and match samples as well as a random background I recently created as I was experimenting with abstract forms.

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This sample I created using the self-created abstract background and skewing some layers of Tel Aviv street art, which I captured as photos from my iPad’s camera.

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I have many more great samples from this recent trip to Israel and not just in terms of great street art or graffiti. I have lots of desert images, Jerusalem’s oldcastle or town walls, including one of me standing in front of Dammascus Gate, as well as old Roman structures near Masada. I may either showcase these as part of a collage or create my own custom art, graphic design and multimedia out of them or in combination with my own abstract forms.

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Techno Nightclub Art Ideas for Ads, Posters & More

I visited this techno night club in Warsaw a couple of days ago called Luzztro, or The Mirror (not exact spelling as lustro means mirror in Polish, but you get the idea). This club is very underground with a dark setting and kind of a crammed space inside — there are two dance floors and an upstairs to just chill out at on couches.

However, this place never seems to get overcrowded, despite this, and has some really awesome musicians/DJs playing really trance type of techno. The music just makes you forget about what you are doing or thinking about at the moment and zone out to the grooves of the techno beat. While this is happening, there is also a light show on the wall and straight across form the upstairs lounge where you can zone out and enjoy the display.

These lights seem to be based on a lazer and go in different patterns across the Luzztro face-like icon. Some of the go right around the icon’s eyes and it really is quite a show.

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Luzztro’s icon (also displayed inside club) — via Luzztro’s Facebook site

Here is Luzztro’s Facebook page and the page the club has many of their announcements made. Some of these are actually Facebok ads and the club seems really about promotion. In fact, Luzztro has its own energy drink and apparently some sort of a magazine or publication I saw mentioned on its website.

This all makes for attractive ads and a need for the company to create ads to attract new techno goes to its events. It got me thinking. I took some really cool shots and even a video clib of that display while enjoying music.

So I started thinking that I could combine my photography of that display with some abstract graphic design and see what I come up with. If it is any good, who knows maybe I could pitch it to Luzztro as either something for the magazine, a Facebook ad, a poster, or a variety of things Luzztro seems to be doing. Check out the club’s Facebook site to get a sense just how creative Luzztro is with some of its ads.

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Here was one of my photographs I took of the light show with Luzztro’s icon used for background

I took this image and this is what I started doing with it using first Procreate, then Artstudio Pro for some filter effects and later even using iCloud to keep working on the psd file in Photoshop. The Photoshop workflow can be seen here.

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This is just a low-res screencap from my Macbook Air

I actually opened up Photoshop because I wanted to try creating a longer and larger artboard than just the image space area. This is something that is harder to do in Procreate or Artstudio Pro because once the image is already selected in terms of the resolution you will be using and dimensions, it is hard to just resize it nicely like with Photoshop’s simple Artboard tool.

You can create a separate image or canvas space and paste it inside then if it is too large or small, you can scale it it down. However, sometimes the resolution quality drops as you keep fiddling with it and scaling in either heigth, width, or a combination of both. Thus, the image may become really annoying to scale on these apps, while Photoshop has that nice tool as does Illustrator in its Artboard options to do it. I do recommend having a workflow that combines both the desktop Adobe apps with iPad apps of Procreate and Artstudio Pro however. Saving can all be done across file formats or even in one (if not using Vector) and via upload to iCloud or other cloud services.

Here is what else I came up with combining these apps or programs (for this project I did not use vector or Illustrator at all):

 

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This one comes with a high-resolution PNG file I saved it as such. This means, it could be blown up decently and probably printed — although not to the levels of a vector/Illustrator image or even pdf files you can see below

Here are the images I created or graphic designs without messing with the artboard tool in Photoshop and using pure iPad apps, such as Procreate with some Instagram filters and Photoshop Express and Artstudio Pro filters:

 

 

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Some more variations, and again, keep in mind this image is what I inserted into the Photoshop flow above, thus these are not chronologically posted by any means. I used a filter in Artstudio Pro for the top one below to create its wave-like effect.

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I would really love to get into professional graphic design as I seem to be enjoying it more than freelance writing or blogging and it is letting my creative juices flow. I think clubs such as Luzztro and the techno music scene in general are a great option to try breaking into this industry as they seem to be always looking for additional ideas and experimental art to add to their repertoire of ads, posters, newsletters, e-mails, — or any other way to reach fans and newcomers.

 

As I continue to learn Illustrator, combine my skills in various iPad apps using stylus and Photoshop, and am able to mix media with photography or hand drawings, I will keep sharing my ideas. Hopefully, I can start landing some interesting graphic design or art gigs or at least keep expanding my skills as a multimedia journalist.

If you are nterested in any of my work or want me to do any similar type of work for your brand, please don’t hesitate to comtact me. I can also rework various images I have already displayed for you specifically.

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I fixed the right eyeball to make it more level to the left eyeball.

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Below are some pdf files I created and uploaded to iCloud then here to WordPress. Notice, the large file sizes and greater quality as PDF is lossless and doesn’t compress. Thus, these should be good enough for small prints, albeit not to the same scalable level as if I had created them in Illustrator and made them be vector-based.

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More Schmup Concept Artwork

I have been working on more ideas related to the graphic design assets I have and combined with my recent play time with Super Hydorah, my review (plays surprisingly well on iPad with its touch controls), I have decided to use the game’s concept into my own. This type of art is interesting because it lets my imagination run wild and at the same time experiment with multiple apps and brush strokes.

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I have also decided to start using my iCloud Drive and it is a real asset to save my work in multiple format. That way, I can print a PDF file in high quality. This can be useful, for instance, if someone wnats to ever work with me in creating a cover or box art design. Alternitavely, I can sell such artwork or create print out ads. By saving files in multiple formats, I can also export such work into Illustrator for vector work or even to turn a whole design into vector by sketch, or continue working on it in the future.

I have a PDF file of most of the images above as well as PSD for Photoshop and Procoreate/Artstudio work and PnG for exporting onto the Web.

Here is the PDF file, which should make a nice print out

By the way, this is a continuation of my previous post using similar assets in different ways:

Lastly, here is something else worth contemplating: