Monthly Archives: May 2011

All dressed up with some place to go

Using different colored papers is a great way to spruce up your printed pieces without increasing costs a whole lot. Another way is judicious use of textures. But before examining what and how of adding texture, let’s get a good understanding of why and examples of where and how. It’s tempting to add a tactile quality to your piece that isn’t relevant to your design. Texture should boost or fortify an idea Texture should not take over and out shine the message. Texture should not be used just because it’s pretty. A texture can fill in a shape or a section. Texture need not be an all over design. Also beware of printing over a texture. The last thing you want is for the message to be obscured by the medium. That may mean using a bolder typeface that can be read. Texture can add much to a design but it should play a supporting role and not be the star. Ways to use texture: frames and borders, individual letters or words, elements in a photograph, short sheets in a booklet (pieces of paper of differing sizes). Next time, ways to create texture: Silkscreen, embossing, de-bossing, foil stamps, engraving and thermography.

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Add some excitement to your life

I once worked in a graphics department where a supervisor trying to boost morale suggested we pretend to be having fun. Really, it happened. That supervisor soon left and not a moment too soon. And while the plastic guns that shot foam disks and the silly string was soon banned no one could stop the rubber band wars from raging. I’m not suggesting you buy a case of silly string and have at it on a Friday afternoon; on second thought–do it. Summer is coming, have some fun. You can buy silly string at the dollar store. So there you are, see you next week.

What I am actually suggesting is adding some punch to your black and white or two color documents with colored and or textured paper. Having your proposal or new regulations on a paper with a tactile quality can give your ideas a weight and importance that smooth white paper cannot. Using a colored paper, not bright yellow–though maybe–can say, “Hey, I’m important. Pay attention to me.” Try it with documents you print yourself for meetings or presentations. The paper cost will not be much more that regular white paper. Buy a ream and give it a try and if that doesn’t work, go with the silly string.

Curses and pirates and shameless swashbucklers

And that’s as exciting as this particular post is likely to get. But since I have your attention, it’s a curse I’m thinking about, the curse of knowledge. It is a thing my husband tries to banish everyday. We are all guilty of it. We know our area of expertise so well we forget that others are completely in the dark. Businesses deal in acronyms all the time, IBM, 3M, IBD. Unless you know what the knowledge base of your audience is assume they know nothing. Acronym away at the materials and handling convention, but spell it out at career day. After all, getting your message out loud and clear is the ultimate goal is it not? Here are a few graphic design/computer acronyms for good measure.
HTMLHypertext Markup Language
WWWWorld Wide Web
URLUniform Resource Locator
UXUser Experience
W3CWorld Wide Web Consortium
PMSPantone Matching System (printer inks)
CMYKCyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (black)
RGBRed, Green, Blue (electronic screen colors)
DPIDots Per Inch (number of dots of ink covering an inch of surface)
And my favorite: WYSIWYGWhat You See Is What You Get

Duotones can save you money and make you look good

Let’s start with answering the question of what is a duotone? A duotone is a process of laying one transparent color over another. Most duotones are black and another color, as in my example here. My example is actually four duotones, black with burgundy, black with aqua, black with orange and black with green. The layering of the two colors as opposed to mixing creates a unique depth and richness to images and can suggest a more fully colored image. The advantage of using duotones is a printed piece can use two inks, black (doesn’t have to be black but generally is) and another color but appears to have more. So for less cost than full color printing a rich and colorful printed piece can be produced. Duotones lend themselves wonderfully to newsletters. Just be mindful of having your designer use green on portraits of people. Now you can use that second color throughout the piece as an accent color. Here I’ve used green for the headline with black as body copy. The green accent color can be used for borders, ruled lines, etc.

Sheet size, a case for staying inside the box

Sheets of paper used on printing presses come in several standard sheet sizes. The job is printed, trimmed and folded and there you go. If your finished printed piece is of standard size then the press fed sheet area is maximized. If you go off the grid and have a non-standard size, say 12 x 8.5 inches, then more paper is trimmed off as waste, more paper is used, perhaps only 3 prints per sheet and not 5 prints per sheet. I’m all about standing out in a crowd, but do it with design and content not odd sizes. And as my mantra if you have your heart set on something unique, talk to your printer.

And for the geek in you, samples of standard sheet sizes are 23 x 35 inches, 25 x 38 inches and 35 x 45 inches.