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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Illustrator Trick #2: Tilde Fun

Illustrator Trick #2: Tilde Fun

Many beginners may not have heard of the “tilde” key trick. It’s the ~ key just beside the number 1 keypad. By holding the tilde key, you can drag to create new shapes following your mouse direction. You can only use it with other shape tools in your tool palette. Combine it with Alt/Option, Shift/Command and spacebar to create new effects. Have fun with the tilde key, below are some experiments I have done with it.
tilde experiment

Monday, April 22, 2013

Illustrator Tip #1: Dotted Lines in Illustrator

You can get interesting dotted lines with your Stroke Palette. Open up your Stroke Palette from Window>Stroke. Draw a line and select it. Enter the dash and gap value as shown. Experiment with different dash and gap values for different effects. To create a square dotted line, make sure the dash and weight is the same value.
illustrator stroke tip

So how about circle dotted lines? Here’s the trick. Select the Round Cap and make sure dash is set to 0 pt. For gap enter a value twice the stroke weight. This will give you a nice circle dotted lines.
illustrator dotted line
Bonus Tip: To expand the dotted lines, you realise Object>Expand doesn’t work. Choose Object>Flatten Transparency to expand it. You can now fill each dots with different colors.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What's New in Adobe After Effects

Find out what makes Adobe After Effects Next an essential upgrade for animators, compositors and designers. Jason Levine of Adobe and Mathias Omotola of Maxon show the new Live 3D Pipeline between Cinema 4D and After Effects. Other exciting features are the new Refine Edge that makes rotoscoping easier and the more flexible Warp Stabilizer VFX.

Friday, April 19, 2013

What is Adobe Illustrator?

In this movie, learn about Adobe Illustrator, the software used by artists and graphic designers to create scalable vector artwork for use in projects for both print and web.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Grand Canyon Night Photography with Smart Objects

Learn some creative techniques for replacing the night sky with advanced masking, and Smart Objects. Also discover the best eposure settings for capturing the detail in the Milky Way galaxy.

Features of the Illustrator Workspace

There have been many improvements to the user interface in Illustrator CS6. In this video you'll see what's changed and how to customize the interface to suit your own way of working.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What is your tablet's role in design work?

I recently tried out a small Android tablet to see if it'd be a valuable addition to my design toolbelt, but didn't find that to be the case. As a freelance graphic designer, do you have and use a tablet to do your work? Which tablet, and what tasks is it suited for?

Sean Parry • For me the only time I use a tablet is to test how the end product works on the said tablet.

IMHO, tablets are limited as a design tool.
4 days ago•  2
Click to see who  d this comment.

David James • I use iMockups for wireframing, and Sketchbook Pro along with a tablet stylus for sketching out ideas, on a iPad. It's great for researching too, better than sitting at a desk.
4 days ago•  2

Matthew Noll • I use my IPad for sketching ideas and adding notes to make searching easier. I can save all my ideas and even look through them for other projects.
4 days ago•  1

Josh Medeski • I use my iPad for illustration with an app called iDraw. I bought the Mac version as well so I can seamlessly make final touches to the illustration on my Mac. I also   to use the ipad to read design articles :)
2 days ago•  1

evan austin • Sounds   a lot of idea sketching going on! Do you take your tablet out of the office and do said sketching "in the field", or is it simply a more direct sketching tool (than a Wacom pad, for example) even if you stay in the office?
2 days ago•

Christopher Rubin de la Borbolla • also, whereabouts are you all sketching? in the club? at the office? by the pool? outside? in this regard, ive found the ipad to be limited insofar as apps + abilities...esp compared to the wacom which works hand-in-hand with adobe cs as well as supports a variety of line styles + pressures.

i mostly use the pads for downtimes + standard thin client work as of now. there are a couple of decent mockup apps + diagraming apps but nothing i'd write home to mom about at this point in time.
2 days ago•  1

David James • Out on the deck by the pool, in the car, that's the beauty of using the iPad, it's rather portable.

Considering that the OP bought an Android tablet, there appears to be rather a bias towards Apple in the actual responses, maybe it's time to sell the Android tablet and buy an iPad Evan?
2 days ago•  1

evan austin • Hi David, thanks for bringing that up!
I got a relatively small Android tabled for CHEAP, so I figured it a low-risk test of the tablet waters. I got some pretty cool and well-reviewed apps on the thing, but it took several tries to get it to load up completely every time, and it lost the WiFi signal more often than it had it, so I ultimately returned the thing and declared the experiment failed, or at least on hold. The economic barrier to entry for an Apple device is quite a bit higher of course. Didn't get to prove to myself that a tablet is the next MUST-HAVE design tool, to justify that expense.
2 days ago•

Christopher Rubin de la Borbolla • Personally I've had trouble using the iPad or even iPhone by the pool or on the beach or in any direct sunlight. That atop of overheating that tends to occur. @evan_a: b4 throwing in the towel + goin iPad, try a higher end droid alternative or better yet drop some dough on a Mac air with a portable Wacom to boot. To me, tablets are just a glorified thin client at this point unless you are considering an ereader such as the kindle. Much of that may depend upon what yer trying to do as well. For pure hackery, a droid tablet running a clean version of the OS can be a portable armory or fun! ;)
2 days ago•

Zachary Straub • Great post Evan. I just received my Nexus 7 tablet the other week, and am honestly still figuring out how it can best be used, without the device coming off as "a solution in search of a problem".

From my experience so far, I have been enjoying it as a light-weight, mobile tool that can do anything my phone and computer can do, but I primarily use it for on-the-go research and reading. My Droid Charge served this purpose for a while, but I found the display too small to read and write ideas on for a long period of time (and the battery life is too short), and my laptop is too bulky and obnoxious to carry around, so I've found the tablet to be a great medium for jotting or drawing down notes and accessing any kind of research that would help benefit my work, whether online or through my Google Books library.

I've found a few apps that tie the tablet into other devices pretty well. For example, I installed Splashtop 2 the other day and now can remotely access my computer through my phone or tablet as long as I have an internet connection, which then means I can control Pandora from the next room or play around in Photoshop from a cafe across town....there are a TON of resources out there in the Play store, just take a weekend and dig around to see what you come across ;)
1 day ago•

Zaklina Dolidis • hello,
I myself have been thinking about whether or not I should purchase a ipad/tablet. I've heard that most students / recently graduated graphic designers carry around their ipads to give them the advantage of showing their folio and design work to a potential client when on the go. I guess this gives them a bit of an advantage on scoring clients.
7 hours ago•

Charlie Mann • I've been using my IPad to show designs and concept drawing to clients using the Minimal Folio app. Also if I'm troling through fonts its pretty cool. I still keep all actual work to the desktop and laptops. Good luck .
2 hours ago•

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

5 Reasons to Use Layer Groups in Photoshop

Layer Groups - they’re not just for organizing your layers! In this episode of The Complete Picture, Julieanne demonstrates 5 ways to use Layer Groups to create special effects in Photoshop.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How to create photorealistic Rock and Stone Textures

Photorealistic Rock and Stone Textures

Simulating any material in Photoshop and getting it to look real is largely a matter of surface texture and lighting. This tutorial will show you a very easy method for making rock and stone that's incredibly photorealistic. No special artistic skills are required here. We'll just be using Photoshop's built-in filters and tools. Here's a look at what we'll be creating:

Features Used:
Render Clouds, Difference Clouds, Noise, Alpha Channels, Displacement Map, Lighting Effects, Layer Mask

Start with an empty canvas. I choose 500x500 pixels, but this technique works with any size. We will also pick two colors that will make up our rock at this point. Earth tones work best when trying to make realistic looking rock, however you can pick other colors if you're making more fanciful looking rocks. I chose a dark gray (color #4b4d4d) and a dull brown/orange (color #795b32). Set these as your foreground and background colors, then choose Filter->Render->Clouds to give us a nice randomized mix of color that one would find in true rock or stone. You'll get something that looks like this:


Now we'll randomized the surface a bit further by adding some noise. Use Filter->Noise->Add Noise. The settings shown to the right generally work quite well. This will yield the look below.


The next step will be to create a displacement map that will let us create a rough surface texture. This will give the look of an uneven surface and rough edges one expects to see in rock. In Photoshop, displacement maps are expressed as Alpha Channels. The white areas represent raised areas in the image and the black areas represent depressions in the surface. Since a rock surface has a random roughness to it, we'll render clouds again to simulate the random nature.
First, click on the Channels tab and create a new alpha channel by clicking the new channel icon . The new channel will automatically be filled with black. Double click the channel name and change it to "Displace Map" so we can keep track of it. Your channel palette should like the one to the right. Now pick Filter->Render->Difference Clouds. This will give you an image similar to this:

Next we'll randomize the displacement map a bit more by using Filter->Noise->Add Noise. Use the same settings as in Step 2. Now select Edit->Fade Add Noise and set the opacity to 50% to tone it down a little bit. Now select Filter->Render->Difference Clouds once again. Hit cmd-F (control-F on Windows) to reapply the filter two or three more times until you get a pattern where the light and dark areas seems balanced. If you want the surface to be smoother or rougher, you can apply a Levels adjustment at this point. If you increase the contrast between the light and dark areas, then the surface will be rougher. Reducing the contrast makes it smoother. Here's what mine looks like:


Go back to the layers palette now by clicking on the Layers tab. Duplicate the original layer by right-clicking on it and selecting Duplicate Layer. This will eventually serve as a highlights layer, so double click on the layer name for this new layer and rename it "Highlights". For the moment, turn off the visibility of this layer by clicking on the "eye" icon. Your layers palette should look like the one to the right at this point.


This is where things get fun. We're going to work on Layer 1 now, so click that layer to make it active. We will apply the displacement map to the image by using a lighting effect. Select Filter->Render->Lighting Effects. Below are the options I used. Try these to get started. Once you get the hang of how it works, feel free to vary the settings to get the lighting the way you want.

The important setting is to select the Displace Map alpha channel we created earlier for the Texture Channel. Without this, the image would remain flat. The combination of the displacement map and the lighting is what creates the realistic rock texture. As you can see, the result is amazingly realistic looking:

You can now see how the displacement map works. Looking at the alpha channel we created in Step 4, the dark areas cause depressions in the rock and light areas cause ridges. The lighting effect uses this map to figure out where the shadows will fall.

If you like what you have already, you can stop here. I'm going to go on a bit further and show how to add a highlight to the surface that gives something of a wet look. It just makes it a little more shiny looking.
To begin, click on the Highlights layer we created back in Step 5. Click on the eye icon to make the layer visible. Select Filter->Render->Lighting Effect again. Use the same settings as in Step 6 except increase the Gloss value to about -50. This yields a much more shiny version of the surface as shown below. We'll tone it down in the next step.


We'll use a layer mask to control how much of this new shiny layer shows through. Create an empty mask with Layer->Layer Mask->Reveal All. This adds a layer mask to the layer and fills the mask with white. White in a layer mask causes the corresponding pixels in the layer to show through. Your layers palette will look like the one to the right at this point.


The layer mask you just created should be highlighted (has a border around it as shown above). If it's not, just click in the white area of the mask icon to select it. Selecting it tells Photoshop we plan to draw in the mask as opposed to the image in the layer. Now choose Filter->Render->Difference Clouds to once again to give us a random pattern in the mask. Hit cmd-F (control-F on Windows) three times to reapply the filter further. This gives a nice random cloudy pattern in the mask. Where ever the mask is black, it causes the pixels in the Highlights layer to become transparent. Shades of gray going towards white cause the pixels to become less and less transparent. The end effect is that this allows just random portions of the highlight layer to show through. This nicely tones down the gloss since the layer mask only lets it show through here and there, and gives us something that looks very nice; not too dry looking and not too wet. It's uncanny how quickly we can create a photorealistic rock texture in Photoshop. Here's the final result:

How did you break into design as a career? What is your education background? How much formal training do you have? I'm interested in hearing from those who are self-taught, as I can't attend college.

April Sadowski • I went to school for graphic design but I am self-taught when it comes to web. I learned everything on my own without books. I have a mechanical mind - I understand when I see a completed product and then cut it away until I understand how it was built.
January 1, 2011• Like

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Ken V. • Great. Thank you. Did you use any tutorials that you'd recommend? Did you get a degree? Where did you study?
January 1, 2011• Like• Reply privately• Flag as inappropriate

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April Sadowski • I have a degree from the School of Advertising Art ( When it comes to web - like I said I learned by deconstructing websites (looking at the CSS and using browser developer tools to see how the CSS worked). I didn't view any tutorials.
January 1, 2011• Like

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David James • I too have a traditional art school basis, and a BA in graphic design, and built up my own small agencies using traditional techniques long before the internet was available. I started leaning HTML from the earliest days, using notepad and the original text based browsers. From then on it was just a case of continual learning, for the past 12+ years I have concentrated solely on web design & development, but you never stop learning. Currently looking into Objective C & development for the iPad/iPhone.
January 2, 2011• Like

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Traci Stoddard • Ken, I am self taught and mentored my some incredibly talented artists. My strong points are not the 'wow' factor that will make others post links, but I make a living and hope to improve upon my skills.

I did html when it was code strictly and design when we had to have plates burned. Deconstructed a few sites, but never did a full site design. Time for this woman to upgrade her education as far as digital goes to leave it to the pros. I am a print designer.
January 2, 2011• Like

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Blueline G. • Degree in accounting, but pursued traditional illustration/graphic design on my own. Excited by how technology totally super-charges traditional creative skills. Traditional art classwork at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). For graphic design and web design, self taught and use and Adobe tutorials as a primers for learning new stuff (ok but tutorials tend to lack depth and are pricey). Full time job is in IT support - don't consider myself a code jockey, so I prefer to work on a platform that I can tweak for my clients (mostly Mom and Pops). For me it is Joomla! CMS all the way. RC 1.6 just released on 12/14. Very reliable, CSS/MySQL based site building platform that quickly enables solidly built, scalable, customizable site. Tons of plug in modules. Most major hosts even offer turn key installation tools for it now on their C-Panels Very strong OS community behind too. My 2 cents. Oh and if you don't use one, get a Wacom... like trying to be a carpenter without a hammer... word.
January 2, 2011• Like

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Blueline G. • We have a Lynda account thru my day job so I don't pay for it... it's OK for a basic introduction to something you might not have used before, but the depth of the tutorials is not that great - I find myself continually send them e-mails stating this - ha. has some good tutorials (more in depth). I just downloaded Joomla! RC 1.6 but I have not set it up on my local XAMPP server yet to play with it. I found this on Joomla!'s Wiki for the new features in 1.6:'s_new_in_Joomla_1.6

As someone who is not a code jockey, Joomla! has worked really well for me. Here is one of my client web sites I built with it:
January 3, 2011• Like

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Ken V. • I enjoy using Adobe Total Training, and have for almost three years. It isn't very expensive, but is very helpful.
January 3, 2011• Like

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Graham Conway • Hi Ken,

Lynda is pretty good and I also learnt so much about CSS and coding, though I have to say at times I would much rather just design, but thats part of it in this day and age.

I have worked with some seriously great designers when I was freelancing all without any training and they got most of their skills on the job. As far as I am concerned and this is only my opinion, if you have a visual brain, know the basics of layout, type and pay attention to detail then you are half way there, I also learnt every mac skill in my first job 16 years ago, though I have to say I was petrified of going near a Mac but had an eye for creative and design...
January 3, 2011• Like1
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Kayode Olorunfemi • Got a degree in town planning (never worked a day with it) then I noticed all my friends hassling me to help with their logo design so I went for a diploma in graphic design and started out as a graphic designer. While working in a collective one of the web designers kept on telling me to learn HTML which used to scare the hell out of me, still does actually, but was forced to learn when web designers kept saying my ideas could not be pixel perfect (now developers say that to me). I am more stubborn than smart which makes me stick with something till I grasp it; this helped me transition into web design with all the XHTML, CSS I hard to learn. has been invaluable for getting the technical knowhow as I learn from being shown rather than being told, I know their courses are mostly basic but thats why I like it because I need enough to gain my interest and I can then learn the rest by banging my head around the place.
January 3, 2011• Like

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Khurrum Waheed • I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master's degree in Engineering Management. I learned Graphic designing through tutorials on utube and other web sources and read some books about basics of graphic designing. I am still learning and making myself better. I guess its the determination to learn that gets you through the most difficult initial learning stages. Once you start making something on your own, it feels really great.
January 3, 2011• Like

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Alex Wijnen • I switched careers in my mid-twenties and got a two-year degree from our local community college but really only did one year full-time (I was able to transfer some basic stuff like math and whatnot from my 4-year degree).

During that one year, I took only one software class (Freehand) and learned the other programs myself, especially InDesign (learned Quark first, then had to make the transition to InDesign).

Where I learned the most, though, was on the job! I was able to turn my internship into my first full-time design job and from there I slowly built my portfolio. Then 8 years ago (after working at agencies and studios for 8 years), I took the leap and went freelance.
January 3, 2011• Like

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Ken V. • This is great. Very interesting indeed. Please keep it up!
January 3, 2011• Like

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Emmanuel Turner • My undergrad study was in IT. I was working in IT when I started grad school part time. I completed my Master in Computer Graphic Design at the Wanganui School of Design in New Zealand.
Since I was seven I've taught myself how to do the technical side of computer programming. I got into the web in the mid-90's, and pretty much learnt whatever technology I needed to get the job done. Although I'd been doing computer games and multimedia stuff since I was a kid I did recognise that I needed help aesthetically. Going to design school gave me that. Luckily I was able to do that part-time via a scholarship.

If I was to get the aesthetics of design down without going to design school.... I think the best thing would be to find a mentor or two that can critique your work. You obviously can handle the technical side of things fine on your own.
January 3, 2011• Like

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Jeff Vieira • My degree is in Fine Arts but an internship working for friends got me in the door. I learned all the software on the job and on my own. The industry practices I picked up from colleagues. Color theory, concept and composition all came from my education. But having said that, if you're a good book learner that can be learned on your own as well. What you'll miss out on though is the people. Many of my professional colleagues I met in college and without them it would have been much harder to get work.
January 4, 2011• Like

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Stan Alachniewicz • Ken,

I studied Art with an option in multimedia at CSU Hayward. I graduated, but my real education came from jobs and studying on my own. I do recommend books, tutorials anything you can get your hands on. Everything helps. There is so much to learn in today's web design world that you are going to need all the help you can get. Simply learning HTML and CSS is not enough. There are so many more things like HTML5, CSS3, Flash, JavaScript, JQuery, I could go on.

You can't know everything, but the more you know, the more jobs you are qualified for. I don't think employers look at a degree. I think they look at your portfolio and the quality of your work, so don't worry about not having an art degree.
January 4, 2011• Like1

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Arthur Nickerson • I am fairly new to web designing. With an IT background, I embarked on a journey to learn everything I could about web design and development. I learned almost everything from library books and youtube videos. First, I identified technologies that I felt would be beneficial to me as a web designer and set out to learn them. These included HTML, CSS, PHP, Javascript, Photoshop, MySQL and just recently added Joomla. As I read and watched lots of books and videos, I solidified the knowledge I gained by building practice websites and applying new features and techniques as i acquire them.
January 5, 2011• Like

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Ken V. • I'm interested in innovative ways to parley design skills into a career, without a degree; where do I start and how do I apply my skills with graphics without a formal background? Has anyone switched careers without a college degree; and if so, how?
January 5, 2011• Like

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Larry Kaminsky • I come from a design background as well. I am currently back in school, studying Digital Media/Web Design. Last year Chicago started a program, called Chicago Career Tech. Chicago Career Tech is an innovative job retraining program that integrates classroom training, employer and service-based learning with a business and nonprofit organization to provide unemployed middle-income workers with the skills necessary for high-demand technology-based careers.

I was one of the fortunate ones to get into the program. They recieved 1600 applications and wound up picking 350 to participate. It is six month, six days a week program. In the end, I will be cetified in Adobe Dreamweaver and Flash. Although the program can be a bit of a grind, in the end, I am getting a free education that will set me on the right path for more opportunities in the years to come.
January 5, 2011• Like

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Stan Alachniewicz • Ken,

You're probably going to have to start low. You need a portfolio more than anything to get hired by companies, and if you don't have one, you need to build one. Start by doing pro bono work for local schools or maybe charities that need design work. It sucks having to work for free, but you need to do some stuff to show that you have the skills employers want. Sure you can make stuff up and do creative fantasy projects, ad campaigns for products that don't exist. You can probably even make some nice stuff, but working with real clients, even pro bono, will teach you valuable lessons you can't learn working by yourself, in a vacuum.

Also, and this important, look for design competitions. These are competitions where multiple applicants submit a design and the best design is chosen as a winner. Usually you get some kind of prize, sometimes a cash prize. This is important because you make money and you have valuable work to put in your portfolio. Plus, you can see how you measure up against the competition. Look on Elance for freelance work and sometimes design competitions.
January 5, 2011• Like

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David James • I find it hard to believe anyone would recommend wasting time on producing work for competitions on the offchance of winning a "prize" as a way of enhancing credibility as a professional. Most professionals I know are totally averse to doing free or "spec" work, it's demeaning.
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Stan Alachniewicz • David,

If one has no experience whatsoever it is a way of getting some. I'm not saying if you have experience you do free work, I never would. But it sounds like the OP has none and so I am suggesting ways of maybe building his portfolio, like student work. Otherwise good luck getting a job. The job market is very competitive right now so without a portfolio I don't see how he can get a job. Do you have any suggestions?

Monday, April 8, 2013

What are some of the BIGGEST LIES you have HEARD as a designer?

We have all heard things from potential clients, current clients, and even other designers. The question is, what are some of the incredible lies you've heard? I have a few I could share...

April Sadowski • "It will get you exposure"
"It will take you five minutes"
"It's simple"

6 days ago • Like

Jake Miller • Oh I like that! One of the things that I want to accomplish is to help shed light on what it is we do. As a graphic designer, 5 minutes is like taking a breathe. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that clients do not see. On the other hand, the "it will get you exposure" comment can go both ways. I know designers have said that about a specific project only to have it fail.

Rich Appenzeller • I have a couple of minor changes....

David Garcia • "I really can't afford this. Can you do it for free?" Then see in Facebook how they live a high maintenance life style and take vacations on a regular basis.

Coone * • Art-gallery owner who wanted me work for free: "No, I cannot pay you for this. However, I'm giving you an opportunity to get some field experience... you can use the results in your own portfolio of course. No problem."

Ungrateful designer: "If I wanted a piece of art from your gallery and tell you I have no money but you can regard me hereby as a free shopping window, would I be welcomed by you? Would you take me seriously as a customer?"

Art-gallery owner who wanted me work for free: ... (silently walks to elevator, leading to luxurious loft)

It's appalling how generous they can be...

Jake Miller • @Rich, Whenever I hear that one it makes me laugh. Not in the clients face but silently I am thinking, "sure..." @David, what kind of answers have you given to something like that? I typically say something like, "Sorry, I can't do it for free. But if you would like to talk about what you need we might be able to find a way to work within some sort of budget." @Conne, That one sounds rough and I many people would get a little steamed up about that. Ouch!

Jeff Judd • There are always the clients that will say, "...all you have to do is _____..." Why did they need me to do it for them then if "all I have to do is ______". Everybody thinks they know how to do it all and how to do it better. Why are any of us here in the first place then?

max singer • it will be good for your portfolio = $0.00

Jonathan Stevens • "Great opportunity"

Coone * • @Rich: "I have a couple of minor changes.... "
I heard that one before as well, though I must say I would file it under "ignorance" rather than "lies".

Most of the time clients simply do not realise the impact of their wishes. A lot of times the changes in question should have been discussed earlier on.

Step 1 would be: stay calm and patiently explain to them this cannot easily be done in this stage. Usually they will understand and accept. If not...
 Step 2 would be to let them know that you will have to estimate the time it takes and bill them for it. (they usually back off if they realise costs them dearly).
 The ultimate step (in case they persist) could be to supress a snarl, keep calm and polite while gently pulling the pin from the complimentary handgrenade that you subsequently donate to them just before pushing them out of your studio.

Maria J Miller • "this (pro bono or highly discounted project) will lead to a lot more work for you in the future"

run fast, run far, far away!

Peter Connolly • @Maria: "This (free) project will lead to a lot more work for you in the future"
 Designer: "Thanks, but I'm already turning work away because we're so busy. We HAVE to get paid so that we can fit you into our schedule. We do consider free work, but at the moment the only space we have for it is five months away"

@Max: "It will be good for your portfolio"
Designer: "To be honest with all our future clients and prospects, we only put work in our portfolio that we've been paid for. I'd love to put your work in my portfolio"

@April: "It will be good exposure"
Designer: "Last time I exposed myself I was lucky to get off with a small fine and a warning..."

A general answer is to ask them how much they paid for their last print run of stationary. If they say that they do it themselves on an inkjet printer, run away. If they still try to get you to work for free, ask them how they pay for the electricity in their office; the electricity supplier won't be doing it for 'exposure' or 'recommendations for future business'

Can you tell I'm a bit jaded today! :)

Bemmygail Abanilla • That it's easy and quick. And that it's low cost job.....

Milan Hinic • "Yeah, this is very good, perfect! I'like it!" few days later - "WE should make some small changes"

Katie Lowry • So we've already done most of the design in PowerPoint and just need you to make it look sexy. It shouldn't take you too long - 120 slides later and a lot of coffee I'd felt something had gone awry. What a waste of a degree!

Brian Dayhoff • "This will be great for your portfolio"

Tammy Williams • "I just have one minor change"

Natsumi Miyata • "trust me, I have many connections, You Will get many references as soon as the work you have done for us is launched." - and then.......... the wait.......then nothing....

I guess I fell for that one a lot, but look at it in a positive manner, my portfolio is still growing, the only thing I stood to lose was not making "instant money". As long as your designs are stretching out there, with patience and hard work they will be a success.

Piers Chapman • "You can have a slice of the revenue" one of my very first jobs a long long time ago.

Underwater Logo Text Unique Photoshop Effect.

Underwater Logo Text Unique Photoshop Effect.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

How to extract dark hair from darker background live graphic designer discussions.

Extracting dark hair from darker background - help!
Can anyone help me figure out the best way that is not so time consuming to extrat a model's dark hair from a dark grey background? There has to be a more effective and less time consuming techinque than masking/pen tool-ing it. I have a whole bunch to do in a time crunch! Thanks
3 days ago
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Christopher Rubin de la Borbolla • what tools are you using? preferred scenario?
3 days ago• Like

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Amanda Koss • I'm using photoshop4 but I can use 6 if I transfer the files to my personal computer. Tools - I'm up for anything.
3 days ago• Like

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Amanda Koss • I forgot to add, it's a model with brown hair on a dark grey background. I need to make sure I get all of the flyaway hairs because we will be placing her on alternate backgrounds.
3 days ago• Like

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Bob Parsons • Is there any way you can replace her hair with a layer you have created that has brown hair in the same color with say a bright green background? In other words, overlay the hair that is difficult to work with using hair that is easy to work with?
3 days ago• Like1
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ASHISH DHIMAN • open any image in Photoshop and make selection 2 time. First you have to select the whole image selection and in another layer you have to select only hair and apply multiply on layer effect.
3 days ago• Like1

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Benoit Dubois • A few ideas:

Maybe one of the image's alpha channels has better contrasts and you can make your selection on the alpha channel.

The Grow command found under the Select menu might help too. Do a basic selection then try Grow and see if it works.

Also (assuming you meant photoshop CS4 and not just plain 4) you can try the quick select tool (tutorial ) and the Refine edge command.

Hope this helps
3 days ago• Like3

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Christopher Rubin de la Borbolla • like @benoit_d says, use the Refine Edge Tool in higher versions of CS after having made your selection via any of the selection methods (i like the quick selection mask). the following tutorial may be of use in that regard; if not, just google "refine edge photoshop tutorial" + go from there. best of luck!
3 days ago• Like1

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Erik Roadfeldt • Maybe you could copy the image onto a new layer, adjust the levels on the new layer to increase the contrast and then make your selection using that layer?
3 days ago• Like2

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Amanda Koss • Thanks! Unfortunately I cannot replace her hair, they need it how styled it. I am definately going to try Benoit's and Christropher's techniques! Thanks!
2 days ago• Like

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Sam Colbear • I would use the pen tool to cut round the general shape of the person, select the path and use it to create a mask. I would then use the brush tool and edit its options to make it go thick and taper to thin. The brush the hair back in using the layer mask.

hope I have explained that right! :-)
2 days ago• Like

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David Wright • You could send it me:
I'll give an estimate if you want. I do this kind of stuff for design studios all the time.
2 days ago• Like

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Jonathan Stevens • 1. Duplicate the layer
2. Select 'black and white' from the adjustments menu
3. Play around with the options until you have as much contrast between the hair and background as possible
4. Set the brush tool to overlay, the fg & bg colours to black and white, brush opacity to about 20%
5. Go over the image to increase the contrast further
6. Go into channels and use the select button at the bottom of the channels pallette
7. Go to the original image and alt-click on the 'add layer mask' option at the bottom of the layers pallette
8. It should now mask out everything but the hair

Play around with this method til you get used to it. It can be a bit fiddly, or talk to David Wright if you have real problems (or even me, I suppose ;) )
2 days ago• Like• Reply privately• Flag as inappropriate 1

ASHISH DHIMAN • Thanks Amanda Koss
1 day ago• Like

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Chiali Tsai • there is plug in for masking, vertus fluid mask,
its good for small detail of masking, I only used once, its a bit long to load but does not too bad job if you have a lot of photos need to be edited.
22 hours ago• Like

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Richard White • photoshop techniques

1. background eraser tool is use full for this, if you havent used it before then experiment with the tolerance probably about 50% should do and use it on a brush sized so when you click the middle on the part you want to delete the round edge overlaps a bit on the part you want to keep. work slowly. its quick enough and you can get good results on hair in a couple of minutes.

2. another technique i use is draw around the outline with pen tool cut and paste onto a new layer leaving just your background.Do whatever you need to do to clear up so its full background layer, clone, patch whatever. then on your layer with the figure, change its blending mode to multiply. now duplicate this layer and change its blending mode back to normal then using your earser tool or mask and brush remove the areas from round the edge so on whispy bits of hair you take away the foreground leaving the multiply layer so the very fine bits of hair blend seemlessly in.

3. use both the above combined for best results :)

Ten best places to find job for graphic designer online.

Internet has become the best place to look out for anything. In fact, people looking out for job revert to internet for their assistance. If you are a graphic designer looking for a graphic design jobs, then here is the list of some best places to find the one. Most of these sites will also be extremely useful for other creative fields as well such as web designers, animators and illustrators.

Don’t Miss : Improve the Bounce Rate of your Blog or Website with Right Colour Selection

AIGA Design Jobs: The reputation AIGA has gained since years make it a great place to find some amazing job opportunities. Even many of the large companies look out for young talents and experienced designers here. You can even look out for freelance graphic design work here.

Coroflot: There are over 700 job listings offered by Coroflot. Jobs are organized into a variety of design related categories. You can even subscribe to their job listing RSS feed and can get personalized job alerts.

Behance: This new job board has grown fast in the market outside. The graphic design job board is continuously giving out gems to the industry.

Krop: It is one of the largest and well known websites to look out for graphic design jobs. New jobs are being listed every year by the top agencies and design studios.

Design:related: design:related showcases many great listings, including design management jobs, interactive jobs and many other design jobs requiring varying experience.

Freelance Switch: The job board at freelance switch is a growing job listings website that has a variety of design, development, illustration and flash jobs. Many job seeking people, who prefer to perform freelance work, choose this job board.

Smashing Magazine: Being one of the largest design related blog, Smashing Magazine offers job board with design and development jobs. The listings are prepared on the basis of full-time and freelance positions for easier navigation.

Simply Hired: This site shows design job listings from many different websites. Moreover, it also has filter options so you can easily remove out the listings that do not appeal to you. This makes your task of finding the job easier and comfortable.

Fresh Web Jobs: Though, Fresh Web Jobs offer job boards of all the fields, but it tends to lean more towards web design related jobs. There are many jobs for graphic designers on this site. So, make sure that you do not miss any listings.

Authentic Jobs: Authentic jobs lists shows new graphic design jobs every week, both full-time and part-time. In Authentic Jobs, you will not only find jobs that are certainly authentic, but you will also find new jobs every week as the site is always updated with the jobs for both full –time and part-time jobs.

These are some best places to find graphic design jobs. While looking for a job, make sure that it matches your skills and creativity so that you can perform well when you get hired. As what really a matter for you is your job performance.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Twelve essential steps when creating a professional logo design.

The logo is the face of any brand — the very first impression — so its design is extremely important.
When executed correctly, a logo is a powerful asset to your client’s brand.
However, creating an effective visual representation of a brand requires much more than just graphic design.
Like any line of work that involves a set of specific skills, logo design requires plenty of practice and experience for it to be successful; knowledge is definitely power for any graphic designer.
For this reason, we have outlined 12 essential rules to follow in order to design an effective logo.

1. Preliminary Work Is a Must

Preliminary sketches are an important first step in designing an effective logo.
These can be as simple as paper and pen drawings or drafts made using a vector program, such as Illustrator.
The bottom line is that you compromise the final result if you rush, or skip, this step.
Start with 20 to 30 sketches or ideas and then branch out to create variations of the original ideas.
If nothing seems to work, start over and begin sketching new ideas.
An effective graphic designer will spend more time on this preliminary work than any other step in the design process.

2. Create Balance
Balance is important in logo design because our minds naturally perceive a balanced design as being pleasing and appealing.
Keep your logo balanced by keeping the “weight” of the graphics, colors, and size equal on each side.
Though the rule of balance can occasionally be broken, remember that your logo will be viewed by the masses, not just those with an eye for great art, so a balanced design is the safest approach.

3. Size Matters
When it comes to logo design, size does matter. A logo has to look good and be legible at all sizes.
A logo is not effective if it loses too much definition when scaled down for letterheads, envelopes, and small promotional items. The logo also has to look good when used for larger formats, such as posters, billboards, and electronic formats such as TV and the Web.
The most reliable way to determine if a logo works at all sizes is to actually test it yourself.
Note that the smallest scale is usually the hardest to get right, so start by printing the logo on a letterhead or envelope and see if it is still legible.
You can also test for large-scale rendering by printing a poster-sized version at a print shop.

4. Clever Use of Color

Color theory is complex, but designers who understand the basics are able to use color to their advantage.
The basic rules to keep in mind are:
Use colors near to each other on the color wheel (e.g. for a “warm” palette, use red, orange, and yellow hues).
Don’t use colors that are so bright that they are hard on the eyes.
The logo must also look good in black and white, grayscale, and two colors.
Breaking the rules sometimes is okay; just make sure you have a good reason to!
Knowing how colors evoke feelings and moods is also important. For example, red can evoke feelings of aggression, love, passion, and strength.
Keep this in mind as you try out different color combinations, and try to match the color to the overall tone and feel of the brand.
Playing around with individual colors on their own is another good idea. Some brands are recognizable solely by their distinct color.
For example, when you think of John Deere, you think of the “John Deere green” color, and this sets this brand apart from its competitors and, more importantly, makes the brand all the more recognizable.

5. Design Style Should Suit the Company

You can use various design styles when creating a logo, and to pick the right one, you should have some background information about the client and the brand.
A recent trend in logo design is the Web 2.0 style of 3D-looking logos, with “bubbly” graphics, gradients, and drop shadows.
This style may work well for a Web 2.0 website or tech company, but may not be effective for other kinds of brands.
Research your client and its audience before you begin your preliminary work.
This will help you determine the best design style from the start and save you from having to return repeatedly to the drawing board.

6. Typography Matters… a Lot!
Choosing the right font type and size is much more difficult than many beginner designers realize.
If your logo design includes text, either as part of the logo or in the tagline, you will need to spend time sorting through various font types — often, dozens of them — and testing them in your design before making a final decision.
Try both serif fonts and sans-serif fonts as well as script, italics, bold, and custom fonts.
Consider three main points when choosing a font to accompany your logo design:
Avoid the most commonly used fonts, such as Comic Sans, or else your design may come off as amateurish.
Make sure the font is legible when scaled down, especially with script fonts.
One font is ideal, and avoid more than two.
Strongly consider a custom font for your design. The more original the font, the more it will distinguish the brand. Examples of successful logos that have a custom font are Yahoo!, Twitter, and Coca Cola.

7. The Goal IS Recognition

The whole point of creating a logo is to build brand recognition. So, how do you go about doing this?
Well, it varies from case to case, but the goal with the logo is for the average person to instantly call the brand to mind.
A few examples of this are the logos for Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonald’s, and Nike.
Just a glimpse of any of these logos is all you need to recognize the brands.
The key to making a popular and recognizable logo is to combine all of the elements discussed in this article: size, style, color, typography, and originality.
Overlooking any of these during the design process will impair the quality of your final design. Examine your own logo design and see whether it meets all of these criteria.
A quick test to determine if your logo is recognizable enough is to invert it using any graphic design software and see if you can still recognize the brand. Additionally, you should mirror the logo and see if it’s easily recognizable in this state.
Keep in mind that logos aren’t always seen head-on in real world situations, for example, on the side of a bus or a billboard that you drive by.
Therefore, you should make sure to view your logo design from all angles and ensure that it’s recognizable from any direction before submitting it to your client.

8. Dare to be Different
To stand out from the competition, you must distinguish yourself as a designer with a distinct style. Rather than copy another design or style, be innovative and stand out from the crowd.
So, how can you be different? Try breaking the rules of design and taking risks.
Try a variety of styles to find the one that works best for your client. Try different color combinations until you find one that makes your design truly original.
Have fun with the design program you use, and keep tweaking the design until you feel you’ve got it right.

9. K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid)

The simpler the logo, the more recognizable it will be.
For example, the Nike swoosh is an extremely simple logo and is also one of the most recognizable in the world.
Follow the K.I.S.S. rule right from the start of the design process, when you are brainstorming ideas and doodling sketches.
Often, you’ll find that you start with a relatively complicated design and end up with a simpler version of it in the end.
Work the design down to its essentials and leave out all unnecessary elements.

10. Go Easy on Effects
Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, Photoshop, and other graphic design programs are extremely powerful tools and have many filters and effects that you can apply to your logo, but don’t get carried away!
There’s a time and place for these powerful tools, but it is not necessarily to design a logo.
Of course, playing around and seeing whether they enhance a logo is fine, but just remember that simplicity is key.

11. Develop a Design “Assembly Line”
To produce consistently high-quality logos, you need to develop your own design process, or “assembly line.” This should include the following steps:
Brainstorm and generate ideas
Preliminary sketches
Develop vector designs
Send to client
Add or remove anything the client wants
Finalize the design and resubmit to client
Although you may want to tweak the order slightly, you should follow these basic steps with each logo design.
This will help you streamline your work, stay organized, maintain focus, and deliver better quality and more consistent results with each job.

12. Use Other Designs for Inspiration Only!
The last rule for designing an effective logo is quite simple: don’t copy other designers’ work! While there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by other designers, copying another person’s ideas or work is morally and legally wrong.
Gallery websites exist that let you use vector art images free of charge, with proper attribution under the
Creative Commons License
, but I strongly recommend not going this route.
These websites can be helpful for getting ideas during the brainstorming stage, but you’re better off starting your design from scratch and making it 100% original.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Soccer logo idea by Peter Dranitsin

Rose City Soccer Custom Logo Design using Adobe Illustrator by Peter Dranitsin 

Rose City Soccer Custom Logo Desing using Adobe Illustrator by Peter Dranitsin

Creative custom logo design for soccer sporting event

This and other videos are my live graphic design demonstrations utilizing Adobe Illustrator as well as Adobe Photoshop. Please visit my blog at: for more sample of my custom logo graphic design work. Thank you so much for watching this video and I hope that you will get somehting from it.


Custom Logo design for Basketball Event

Custom Logo design for Basketball Event

Custom Logo Design Video Tutorial Adobe Illustrator CS6

This is a live demonstration on one of my life projects. I used Adobe Illustrator CS6 to create this custom logo design for basketball event.

Best 10 techniques to organize all the layers and objects in Adobe Illustrator CS6

Best 10 techniques to organize all the layers and objects in Adobe Illustrator CS6

10 Things Beginners Want To Know How To Do When Starting with Adobe Illustrator CS6

10 Things Beginners Want To Know How To Do When Starting with Adobe Illustrator CS6

The best way to use Clipping Masks when Cropping Images in Adobe Illustrator CS6

The best way to use Clipping Masks when Cropping Images in Adobe Illustrator CS6


Logo downloads

Logo downloads
Download print ready vector logo designs here

Professional Gymnastic Vector Design for Tshirt

Professional Gymnastic Vector Design for Tshirt
2015 Christmas on the Chesapeake


Blog Archive

How to add custom header image to your google blogger

Step 1: First you will need to find an image and make it the right size. If you don't have access to Photoshop, you can use an online image editor such as The resolution for your header image should be no more than 72 pixels-per-inch. It should be 760 pixels wide (if it's wider, Blogger will resize it). It should be no more than 200 pixels high.

Step 2: If you are in your blog list, click the administrative drop-down menu to the right of your blog's name and select Layout. If you're in your blog, you can also click Design (in the top right corner of your blog) and then click Layout in the left-side menu.

Step 3: In the Layout display, the header has the text of your blog title in it. Click the "Edit" link in the bottom right corner of the header area. In the Configure Header pop-up, click the "Choose File" button and browser to the image on your computer.

Step 4: If you don't want the title of your blog to appear over your image, you can copy the title and put it in the Description area instead, and have it appear below the header photo. You must leave the title text in the title box, too, even though it won't display.

Step 5: Copy or type the title of the blog in the Blog Description box and then click the "Have description placed after the image" option.

Helping other professionals understand the value of graphic design

Helping other professionals understand the value of graphic design
Hello everyone,
I am seeking examples of project briefs to help in-house designers establish value for their work. As we know, most design requires a great amount of thoughtful planning. Suggestions? Thank you.
10 days ago
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Debra Lindland, Julie Robinson and 2 others like this
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Edwin LeNoir • Possibly I'm not fully interpreting the dilemma, but are the designers feeling under appreciated or do they feeling as if their creativity is being utilized to it's potential?
10 days ago• Like
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Nancy Krause • Hi Edwin,
The other folks in the organization do not understand the amount of time that is required for planning and executing designs. They often think ideas can be born quickly; when actually it is a process. We don't use project briefs here. That's why I thought breaking down the steps necessary for new designs in a way that non-designers can understand would be helpful. I was looking for a simple way to communicate this to others in the company.
10 days ago• Like4
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Kurt Griffith • As a self-employed freelancer, I face this all the time. There seems to be a mythology that with the remarkable power of our digital tools, there is a magic "Create" button in some Adobe tool that builds finished Print pieces, ads, edits copy, retouches and composites photos, does prepress, and builds web sites and runs an email campaign... INSTANTLY. I've honestly been given a pile of cocktail napkin notes at 4:30 on a Friday and been asked, "can we go on press with this by end of biz?"

"Um... oh HELL no."

I get into some of the issues on my blog a bit...

"When Do You Need a Graphics Pro?"
9 days ago• Like5
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Edwin LeNoir • I believe I understand now. It's the non designers that's undervaluing what you and the other designers have to do to produce your work. That's a bit of a pickle. I'm sure many of them have made comments like they can do the same thing in less time. Its difficult to justify one's skill to another if from inception that skill isn't valued to begin with. Hmmm let me swirl it around the old noddle a bit more.
9 days ago• Like
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Alan Brown • Nancy,

As someone who works on the print or output end of the business but also has a design background, I feel you are on to something..

Do you have any ideas yet how to best present this?
9 days ago• Like
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Laura Kalina • I like where you are going with this in terms of presenting a visual or written "process" of what we do so others can get a better understanding. I think we all have run into this problem from time to time and it can be stressful. I've been with my company for six years and some of my fellow employees have only recently begun to comprehend that good design takes time.
I try to be very proactive when I hear about an upcoming project. I am the one who goes to them first rather than waiting on them for information. I tell them to give me the first details on the project so I can start creating the most time consuming components, such as illustrations, then layout, etc. Sometimes, when it's possible, we just have to be the ones to take control and make them understand that, hey, these things take time so if you want the project done within the expected time frame then this is how we need to work together. I've also discussed with my team, an idea about creating a project management form with the listed components to the project. It would be made viewable to everyone on the team. Each person has an assigned task (each with a due date), and the team members must check off their task as it's completed.
9 days ago• Like1
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Nancy Krause • Thank you everyone for your comments and ideas. What I've started building on paper is a skeleton diagram time line. As we all know, it starts with an idea, (or several), is brainstormed, (if only by designer), and refined.
What I also think will be valuable is an "elevator speach" about what design involves (without the rant of being unappreciated). In essence, a refined statement that is powerful enough to show knowledge and leadership design. What I want to avoid at all costs is the "place your order, copy center" mentality. This cheapens what designers do, and are capable of achieving. I value everyone's input on this. It could become a designer's elevator speech.
Laura, I especially like the idea of being proactive. The elevator speech would be a great fit for this.
I look forward to more input and ideas as we formulate an approach. Thank you everyone!
8 days ago• Like2
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Kaley Henning • I'm a young designer and this is something that I've come across quite a few times in my career already, and even though I understand that it is not a quick process and should be valued, I have no idea how to present this situation to others that need help understanding. I'm looking forward to seeing this thread grow and reading this "elevator speech" about the situation.
7 days ago• Like
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Timothy Miller • I love when a non designer tells you how long this process should take. *punch the clock. Now be brilliant!
6 days ago• Like2
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Brian Rothschild • Here is a simple lesson in creating value.

You just met me and I hand you a stack of money equaling $10,000.00. And I tell you, " you can simply walk away and the cash is yours, no strings attached.....

At the same time I hand you a business card that states I'm a Mercedes Benz dealer and I tell you I have 5 SL 550's with a retail value of $70,000.00 each, which you could sell tommorow, and will gladly trade you any one of them for that 10 grand you are holding.

How many will keep the money and how many would take the keys and title to the car?

If you took the money you are closed minded and short sided and probably someone that simply can't see the value, or has been burned so many times that they have determined that creativity is common sense, either way I'm probably wasting time but I always give it the ol collage try. But, If I suspect that you even considered taking the car, I'm going to apply every tactic in my arsenal to attract your business from simple kindness and humility to "referal discounts" and I can think of many more but that's a real easy way to describe how to create value.

Feel free to apply it any way you can in any situation. I've actually explained it word for word to a client so I physically created the value. Thankfully it's not always that hard.
6 days ago• Like1
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Julie Gogola DeCook • This is a great question! Recently I described that being a graphic designer is like being a translator of sorts. We take the language of our client/boss/project manager and turn it into something the rest of the world can understand. A lot of times, I am give a pile of random, messy crap that us unclear. My role is toturn it into something that makes sense to the audience. As a designer, we have to see through the lines and simplify all the information to get the message across.

A designer working with a number of different departments is a key asset. The designer is given all the pieces of the puzzle - often different puzzles. The graphic designer is the person who makes all the pieces fit together.

That ability to make connections and organize information is pertinent to the success of the entire organization. That person helps the entire company communicate better and get their messages across. It is more than just a beautiful thing!
6 days ago• Like
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Julie Gogola DeCook • Regarding timing - You could have a classification system that lists different kinds of projects. Show the steps of the design process that cannot be skipped - brainstorming, prototype, (maybe)... and say how long each step generally should take. Small projects get a certain amount of time, larger projects get more time. Also include a list of ROADBLOCKS (how often do we hurry up and WAIT for pertinent bits of information?!!) Maybe have your designers present their process to the company, so people understand how they work - and why time is needed. Give the team a moment to shine!
6 days ago• Like
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Ian Henderson • This is a really good question. In running my business for the last 4 years, I have learned the power of analogies. In this case one could use the analogy of building a house. One could entrust the project to an uncle or nephew who is not qualified for the job, but promises a great looking house. You dump a load of lumber off at the sight and hope for the best. What kind of result can one expect from this?

Or one could hire a qualified architect who's past work you like. Will he build you a house overnight, will he skip all the planning and organizing stages? Highly unlikely. You will probably give him the proper time and money to do the job right.

The same goes for graphic design. Adobe CS and other software are only the tools of the trade. Just because your nephew has a table saw does not make him a qualified carpenter. Same with graphic design. Before you touch the tools you need the vision, talent, planning, and time to actually create a piece that communicates clearly and effectively to the target audience.
6 days ago• Like4
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Brian Fortney • "Just because you can drive a Car doesn't mean you can drive Nascar."

In response to Ian here I've used analogies many times to describe to amatuers/clients which could be the same thing concerning how many people think because they have Photoshop they believe they can design. Attempting to explaining a grid and how to use it would be beyond most people.
5 days ago• Like
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Ian Henderson • Brian, yes indeed! Never mind good composition, leading the eye, balance, contrast, typography, etc.
5 days ago• Like
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Kurt Griffith • All of this is true. I particularly like the analogies, like the Architect and the Race Car Driver. - Thank you Ian and Brian.

One of my favorite is explaining print versus on-screen, where CMYK is "ink on paper" and RGB is "like television - light beamed at your face." GOOD LUCK with "additive" versus "Subtractive" or "radiant source" versus "reflective surfaces."

What I do have a hard time figuring out, is why Graphic Design in particular has been de-valued so much more compared to other skilled professions, despite 30+ years in the profession. But since this thread launched, I read a very telling article on the subject.

Rick Schober - Why We Suck at Design

Raised MY eyebrow, it did.

As a veteran of the Design Wars, and “excused” from corporate servitude in 2001 post 9/11 to make my way as a freelancer, I have seen up close and personal the exact trends and phenomenon that he mentions in his post and we've touched on here. Since I have had to fold in Web Design into my practice, as I’d starve to death as a pure Print Designer, I find myself valued as much as a *technician* as an artist, if not more. I cringe whenever I am introduced professionally as a “computer whizz” rather than as a Designer.

I do have to accept that our profession now requires us to be extremely capable technologists, just to be competent. I am well aware that our market does not even START till a client or company wants to look better than what they can shove out of MS Word or PPT, online at Vistaprint, or over the counter at Kinkos, Office Depot or Staples.

And yes, I do miss the days when we Art Directors were freakin' JEDI KNIGHTS of the drafting table.
5 days ago• Like1
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Montse Perez • Hi Nancy, This article landed in my inbox yesterdat and although it does not give you the clear formula you are after, it describes in a very concise way clients' misperceptions when commissioning graphic designers.

I believe it would help you draft your process and anticipate the concerns/behaviours/reactions of clients - always a positive thing. Here is the article:
5 days ago• Like1
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Nick Casbar • Ian hits it on the head, good analogy.

While I think every job out there has a level of expertise and skill that is not completely understood by those who aren't in that position, I feel like graphic design may be one of the most misunderstood, especially the emotional aspect.

Good design does not only apply laws and principles but is an extension of one's soul artistically. Even a simple headline using the right font and negative space could be seen as a masterpiece in the world of design, but looked at as nothing special by the layman.

Sure, there's research time and button pushing that are tangible, measurable tasks - but it's difficult to convey to others how much soul goes into producing the work. That's something the layman will have a hard time quantifying and attaching value to, and maybe that's something the designer shouldn't expect to receive unfortunately.
5 days ago• Like1
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TARA BERRY • Seasoned in the field I come across this all the time. Since I tend to be an overachiever and problem solver I work hard sometimes all night to make things executable by a short deadline. I believe this is the exact reason our time is undervalued and what it takes for a quality project. I have found from working off of other designers files that rush jobs have grown. We tend to make our clients happy by killing ourselves thus creating a cycle of no return. A clear process may help but creating a project time frame like most of our printers we work with do. If the project information is not received by at least two weeks prior to print date then the project will not be on time. Yes I know we have made it happen in the past, but in order to guarantee quality we need two weeks production time. Wouldn't that be nice!
4 days ago• Like
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Brian Fortney • Tara that is an issue I hadn't thought of I suppose the professionals need to understand that Design isn't a 9-5 job I've had months where everyday I've worked 11 hours at minimum and I don't believe anyone other then a Designer would understand that. This doesn't clock out if you don't express an idea or grind through a slump as soon as possible you either forget or get buried.
4 days ago• Like1
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Julie Gogola DeCook • It is easy to lose your soul after a while, if you are not in a design thinking company. In-house designers ARE misunderstood by their co-workers. Accounting has no clue why your job exists - and that hurts. Sales thinks you should be at their beckon call and each individual thinks that their stuff is most important - and that's exhausting. People dump stuff on your desk constantly to "beautify" so they can look good (the designer's contribution is not acknowledged in the end). While everyone is begging for the brochures and posters and web pages that they needed yesterday - and you feel bad.

I think that Nancy is a doing something really great for her team. And I hope she shares the project with us. Putting the designer's process into terms that other people can understand is a good thing. People don't get that designers think about every detail of the page, all the way down to the way each word falls on the page. They don't know WHY the designer's stuff looks so much better - they call it magic. So give them something that shows that it ISN"T magic - tell them about your process. They will be FASCINATED! Show them your pride, knowledge, skill, elbow grease...and love for what you do.
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Kurt Griffith • One of the things that IS difficult, that we have little control over seems to be the amount of time we're given to work on a project. While the Printer's timelines are pretty consistent, i.e. makeready and spitting in on paper, it's about the same in most cases whether it's some tripe from MS Word, or a complex brochure. So many clients and employers seem to think the Designers work is similarly quantifiable, regardless of complexity.

What I have discovered is that often even when an appropriate time is given for a project, much of it will be chewed away at the front end with enedless focus meetings and iterations of roughs, and begging for final content... leaving virtually no time for finish prep final and prepress (or CODING), usually jammed into a short shift between sign-off and a press or launch deadline.
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Nancy Krause • Hi Everyone,
It's clear I have hit a nerve. From all the response, we as designers are taken for granted on a regular basis. As Brian and Ian have pointed out, it's about creating value. With their comments in mind, I have personalized my pitch to the non-designers that I work with currently. By that I mean, we as designers must understand the occupational reference point of those we work with. Currently I am working with engineers. These folks are brilliant.
But what prompted this whole discussion was the comment by a senior engineer, who is lead on a 150-175 page proposal. He wanted professional design work based upon this report. He asked me "would this take me 2 days, maybe 3?"
It was at this second I knew that, although brilliant, he and his team had no idea what designers actually do.
I decided to answer based upon engineering terms. I asked how long the team had been working on this proposal, and the answer was "months." Based upon that, when asked how long it would take me to put together a proposal book for them, I said, "Rome wasn't engineered in a day." It' will take at least 3 weeks, perhaps more.
In exasperation, I also said, "This is not McDonald's". (probably not the best approach, but honest)

Kurt, your post from Rick Schober really took a stab at my heart as a designer. Much of what Rick says is true. Although I wasn't involved with design until 2002, gone are the glory days of "Mad Men" stars.

If some of you didn't catch it, here is his link:

One other thing, I believe we must insist on removing the phrase: "In a fast paced environment" from job descriptions and any and all conversations and interviews. WE MUST VALUE OURSELVES FIRST. Now, when I see that in a job description, I do not read any further. This tells me that the only value I would have to them is based upon production, not design or value, according to the service or product.
Fast is not part of the equation, or shouldn't be. The thought process still takes time to mature an idea. People often think because we use computers, the process is instantaneous. This is the beginning of trouble. To that I will answer, we all use computers, and it hastens portions of the process, but not the entire process. Thought time, concept development time, idea refinement, sketching, and more idea refining will always be a precious commodity; one that cannot be hasten by computers.

BTW, we must also let others know that designers not only need to know how to design, but, we must be design software gurus, and able to trouble shoot in any creative software program.

Thank you everyone for your input.

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