Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket in Radial Format

Taking up the challenge inspired by the soccer tournament bracket featured on this week, I put my Total Production Geek hat on, plopped myself in front of Adobe Illustrator for several hours and created this radial format version of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket (updated to show Kentucky as the 2012 champion).

Creative Credit: The original radial-bracket design concept was developed by Hyperakt for their World Cup poster.


Click on the image to view it larger on a new page, or just check out this close-up of the South region:


One of the most time-consuming aspects of the project was looking up the official colors of all 64 schools (my apologies to the 4 teams that lost the play-in games). Only two or three schools didn’t have style guides posted on their Web sites so getting the official hex or Pantone colors was just a matter of 64 Google searches. When in doubt, choose a dark blue from the Pantone 270s or 280s.

As for my approach in Illustrator:

  • I started with a 2,400 px radial grid with six concentric dividers and 64 radial dividers.
  • I trimmed that down to just one quarter of the outermost ring to work on the sixteen teams of one region at a time.
  • I converted the radial dividers into guides, locked the two arcs that formed the inside and outside edges, and then used the pen tool to create the dividing line between each game.
  • After unlocking the arcs I converted the group into a Live Paint object to fill in each space with the correct school colors.
  • Copy and paste that three times to complete the outer ring, and then create new arcs for each additional round.
  • Because there are few things that frustrate me more than the Type on a Path tool, the labels from the 2nd round on are not laid out on circles. Instead I made a 32-sided polygon and rotated the labels to line (everything is by eye because I’m a lazy bum).
  • Appreciate the fact that each round brings half as many games!

Would I make one of these again next year? Yeah, maybe. The hard work is done and because everything is set up a Live Paint it wouldn’t be too time-consuming of a project. This type of radial bracket really lends itself to smaller tournaments, though, and I think NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball playoffs would work better than the massive NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket.


Illustrator Project: Wizard of Oz T-Shirt

The fine folks at Rancho Bernardo Inn are donating their time and energy to walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and they needed a t-shirt designed to reflect this year’s theme of Team Up. The walk uses multi-colored shoes in its branding so I combined them with the team of misfit adventurers from The Wizard of Oz.

Cenci Ventures Business Card

The folks at Cenci Ventures wanted something special for their business cards: multiple colors, non-standard dimensions, a die-cut, and dots. Somehow all that got thrown into the pot and something cool came out!

Cenci Business Card Back

Cenci Business Card back

The copy is in Century Gothic to coordinate with the logo, but needed some fine-tuning in InDesign to set neatly. For example, the F next to the fax number is a slightly larger point size than the O and C, and the street address is negatively indented (outdented? undented?) to bring the 101 in alignment with the other lines. The word SHIP was letter-spaced to be closer in width to MAIL, but spreading it wider would have looked too weird.

Photography: Olivia Blake Slideshow

When I was choosing a theme for the Olivia Blake e-commerce site on Shopify, I chose one with a slideshow on the homepage to make it interesting to look at yet still easy to build and maintain. The only thing I had to do was create the slides.

Olivia Blake dresses are all about fairly simple silhouettes brought to life with great fabrics. Since I had collected a handful of swatches during my first meeting, I figured they could make for a cool slideshow.

I got out my Panasonic LX3, laid the fabric down on my white keyboard tray in some nicely diffused light from a window and went to work. Rather than just shoot straight down, I took advantage of the Panasonic’s fast, wide-angle lens to capture images with a very shallow depth of field and lots of interesting angles.

In Photoshop, I added the green rectangles and turned the slideshow into a (very brief) tour of what Olivia Blake has to offer. I sketched the dresses in Illustrator, mostly with my Wacom tablet, but finessed with the pen tool and finished by adding brush strokes.

You can see the slideshow in action at