Learning the Adobe Suite

Knowing the Adobe Suite is imperative for so many careers these days. When I was prepping for my internship interviews, a common skill that employers were searching for was knowledge of Adobe software. To prepare, I enrolled in the Intro to Design Tools class at Drexel University. The course allowed me to improve my skills with Illustrator, Photoshop, and In-Design, and become confident that I had the basic skills employers we looking for.


The First Assignment

I remember thinking back in the beginning of the fall quarter when I was learning Illustrator that I couldn’t believe that this was actually a class I could take. As a college senior, having a homework assignment to create a “cute dinosaur” was a very welcomed change of pace.

My roommate and I sat at our dining room table and began our homework assignments, our typical routine. The difference on this day in particular was that my assignment was making me laugh, and I was genuinely enjoying the project that I was given. My roommate, a grad student in Drexel’s Physician Assistant program, was certainly not as amused by her work as I was with mine.

Ultimately, the dino assignment confirmed it: I was going to love this class.

Fun with Photoshop

As the class collectively began to become masters at Illustrator, we moved on to Photoshop. Photoshop did not come as naturally to me as Illustrator did. I struggled with bringing Rosie to the 21st century (editing a well worn photo) and colorizing a black and white image. As you’ll see below, the results were honestly quite terrifying. However, the more I learned, the simpler the software became and I was able to create beautiful and visually stimulating images.

Creating Dramatic Black and White Images

dramaticbw_ashleyflear-copy-2 Liberty Place from the Comcast Center, floor 43

Everyone can think of a photo they’ve seen where the photo in its entirety is black and white with the exception of a colored focal point. By taking this Into to Design Tools course, I was able to learn how to create those precise images. The best part: it is incredibly simple! With the help of using layers and masks, anyone can create these glamorous photos and the creative possibilities are essentially limitless. The section that I choose to keep with color is not necessarily the same part a classmate or fellow designer would chose.

An Intro to InDesign

Of the three Adobe products that we learned over the course of the quarter, I became particularly fond of InDesign. InDesign allows for the creation of magazine spreads, flyers, and everything else that you could possibly want to be print-ready.


One of my favorite features about InDesign is the fact that you have full creative reign over the typography of the document that you create. The flyer to the left, for example, uses simple and basic design graphics with the two grey rectangular boxes, but the image is still interesting because of the various typography used. It was fun to experiment with the content that we were required to use and create a visually appealing yet informational flyer.

The Magazine Spread

Designing a magazine spread was one of my favorite assignments over the quarter, but the four page spread was certainly a daunting task at first. The assignment required a strategy, and it was not a project you could dive right into without any planning done beforehand.

Since I was creating my magazine spread for a blog, Thrive215 (now ashleyflear.com), I had to be sure to follow the same theme that I follow for the blog. Thrive215 is its own brand in a sense, so it was essential to maintain the same aesthetic. I wanted to create a simplistic yet intriguing spread. My personal favorite part was that I was able to create the Philadelphia skyline in Illustrator and place the vector image into InDesign. That outline alone captures the spirit of my blog and I was able to use it on both pages of my spread in unique ways.


The Fail Files

Despite my best efforts, some assignments in the class were admittedly beyond my skill level and resulted in some funny failures. I love Photoshop, but it is certainly a program that requires significant training and practice.

As I previously mentioned, taking an old, black and white photo and turning it into a colored image was apparently not something I was ever going to be successful at. A weeks worth of efforts resulted in this tragedy:


Even though I struggled through some parts of Photoshop it really only inspired me to keep practicing and strive to improve my skill level. The internship I landed allows me to use the Adobe Suite quite regularly, so I am thankful to have taken this course to prepare. These programs are fascinating, and if you’ve ever wanted to learn, this is your sign to go for it!


New City, New Eats: A Review of Max Brenner

Along with everything else that comes with moving to a new city, one of the most important tasks is finding new places to dine.

When I moved to the Philadelphia area, I was on a mission to find a casual go-to restaurant, and a quick Google search led me to Max Brenner. My sister had come down for a Saturday girls night out, so it seemed appropriate to pay Max a visit and see what he had to offer us.


Willy Wonka Takes on Philly With Help from the Bald Man

The verdict is in: Willy Wonka has been reincarnated as Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man. Situated in a prime center city location on 15th and Walnut, Max Brenner can attract a casual passerby easily as much as the devoted chocoholic. Even before a hungry patron enters this modern day chocolate factory, one can smell the sweet, inviting aromas of the food within from the sidewalk outside.

Upon arriving to the venue, we quickly learned that Max Brenner is half restaurant, half chocolate shop, and wholly wonderful. My sister and I were encouraged to browse the shop, but neglected to do so thanks to the quick table seating service we received. The hostess sat us at a small, quaint table for two along the window lined wall of the restaurant. A burning tea light candle created a comforting ambiance and a 10% off coupon for the gift shop was given to us — a post dining incentive.

As the hostess turned away, Rebecca and I instantly began teasing our appetites by devouring the menu. We noticed the average meal price was around $14.00, but we were adamant about letting the descriptions of the meals guide our choices, not their prices. Our waitress arrived at our table, greeted us, and served us fresh ice water. We quickly ordered their Classic Chocolate Martini after noticing that most of the diners in the restaurant were sipping from the chocolately beverage.

A few minutes later, our waitress returned with our martinis in hand. It seemed as though we fast-forwarded through our meal and went straight to dessert. The chocolate martini was practically a meal on its own. The glass was covered in a sweet chocolate swirl and 13694719_1644891995827920_70633367_nfilled to the brim with the vodka and creme de cacao mixture. The martini was topped with a chocolate covered strawberry. At this point, I thought if the drinks were this good, we were in for a treat.

The menu has a small selection of options from “The Brenner Burgers” to paninis, pizzas, and a variety of pasta dishes, including the “Really-Cheesy Really Crunchy Mac & Cheese.” We were pleasantly overwhelmed by the options we had to choose from for dinner. My sister and I both ordered from the “With a Knife and Fork” portion of the menu. She went with the Pan-Toasted penne Alfredo with oven-roasted tomatoes and garlic, and I settled on the Sunday Mood Pasta, a pasta dish with fresh tomatoes, spinach, ricotta cheese, and tomato pesto. Both dishes were priced around $16.

As we waited for our food, Rebecca and I took the time to soak in the setting around us. The restaurant was certainly bustling for a Saturday night and was filled with a variety of diners from families, couples, to fellow girls-night-outters. Anywhere we looked, we noticed that the theme of chocolate was eminent but it was done without being tacky.

Moments later, our food arrived with steam still coming off the dishes. We were immediately pleased to see that the plates were filled with pasta, the first justification of the price. We gushed over the dishes and Rebecca instantly began to “snap” our dishes but I had already began eating, ultimately ruining the photo op. She quickly joined me and we got to work on devouring our meals together. The pesto dish in front of me was immensely flavorful and unlike any pasta dish I’ve ever had from a restaurant before. We both sampled each others meals and learned that both plates were appropriately portioned, accompanied by garlic bread, and robust in flavor. Max Brenner is certainly a winner.


It may be known as Chocolate by the Bald Man, but don’t be fooled. Max Brenner has so much more to offer than dessert. Max Brenner left such a great taste in our mouths that it has become a tradition to be our go-to choice of restaurant each time my sister visits the city of Philadelphia.