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February 27 2014

05:54

February 17 2014

03:20

February 12 2014

08:14

December 16 2013

16:21

Get The Designer Survival Kit (over 500 resources) For Only $39

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As the weather chills across the US we have been hard a work on some new products over at DesignM.ag headquarters. We have put together the first of a series of new products we plan to offer over the next year. The first kit is The Designer Survival Kit. We built this kit with the idea of having everything you need for your next web design project. For $39 we will help you cut time and increase the quality of your work. It’s an instant download and it comes complete with .jpg previews of all ui elemtents, .ai files for all icons and hovers, and .psds.

Cover

Here is a bullet list of what is included. There are several previews listed below.

  • Social Media UI Components
  • Menu UI Elements
  • Image Sliders
  • Navigation Bars
  • Location UI Components
  • e-Commerce UI Elements
  • Dropdowns
  • Photo Gallery UI Components
  • Sliders & Progress Bars
  • Stages
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Radio Button, Checkbox, Switchers
  • Pagination
  • Media Players
  • Textfields
  • Buttons
  • Tags
  • File Uploaders
  • Forms
  • Calendar
  • Tooltips
  • Scrollbar
  • Knobs
  • Arrows
  • Ratings
  • Weather
  • Square System Panel
  • Internet Browser Template
  • Retro Labels
  • 40 Ribbons
  • 30 Badges
  • 102 Icons with hover images

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November 24 2013

04:16

Introducing the FlatPix UI Kit

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The ‘flat‘ design style is one we hear about everywhere now, and I believe it’s here to stay. I don’t see flat design as something trendy or flavor-of-the-month – rather it’s what design should be; focussing on how things work rather than how things look, keeping things clean and minimalist.

So, we decided to create our very own UI kit, it’s called FlatPix and it is available to purchase exclusively through the DesignM.ag network.

FlatPix UI Kit

The FlatPix UI Kit contains a lot of commonly used user interface elements. Things that we, as designers, need for every single web project we work on. The download includes a normal-res version as well as a full retina version, all in PSD format of course. Most of the elements in this kit come in 4 color schemes (red, green, blue and grey) with various states (normal, hover, active, focus):

  • Large and small buttons
  • Various icons
  • Progress bars
  • Checkboxes and radio buttons
  • Star and heart ratings
  • Video player
  • Pagination
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Input fields
  • Search field & autocomplete
  • Upload file form
  • Toggle switches
  • Login / registration boxes
  • Navigation bar with dropdown
  • Pie chart with legend
  • Various tooltips

FlatPix UI Kit

You can purchase the FlatPix UI Kit right here for $6. This is a special introductory price and it’s valid only for 2 weeks. After the introductory period the price will go up to $9 – so act now before the price goes up! We hope you like this UI kit, of course feel free to let us know what you think in the comments below.


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November 18 2013

08:00

25 Tutorials for Business Card Design

For those who primarily focus on web design, designing for print can be a little bit intimidating at first. If you’ve been wanting to design your own business cards but have been hesitant to make the jump to designing for print, you may find it to be helpful to follow a tutorial. There are a lot of tutorials available that will lead you through the process of designing a print-ready business card. Following a few tutorials will teach you the basics, and then of course you can use that knowledge to create a more personalized design of your own.

Here you’ll find 25 different tutorials (for Photoshop, Illustration, and even InDesign) that teach the essentials of business card design.

Create a Retro-Inspired Business Card

Create a Retro-Inspired Business Card

How to Create a Sophisticated Business Card Design

How to Create a Sophisticated Business Card Design

How to Design a Print-Ready Die-Cut Business Card

How to Design a Print-Ready Die-Cut Business Card

Create a Print-Ready Business Card Design in Illustrator

Create a Print-Ready Business Card Design in Illustrator

Create a Fun Print-Ready Doodled Business Card Design

Create a Fun Print-Ready Doodled Business Card Design

Making a Print-Ready Business Card Using Only Photoshop

Making a Print-Ready Business Card Using Only Photoshop

How to Design an Abstract Business Card in Photoshop

How to Design an Abstract Business Card in Photoshop

How to Make a Space-Themed Business Card in Photoshop

How to Make a Space-Themed Business Card in Photoshop

Make a Swiss Design Inspired Business Card in 30 Minutes

Make a Swiss Design Inspired Business Card in 30 Minutes

Creating a Cartoony Print-Ready Business Card in Photoshop

Creating a Cartoony Print-Ready Business Card in Photoshop

Creative Business Cards Illustrator Tutorial

Creative Business Cards Illustrator Tutorial

How to Create a Business Card Using Different Blend Modes

How to Create a Business Card Using Different Blend Modes

How to Create a Creative Card with a Splash of Color and Light Effects in Illustrator

How to Create a Creative Card with a Splash of Color and Light Effects in Illustrator

Design a Cool Print-Ready Business Card in Illustrator and Photoshop

Design a Cool Print-Ready Business Card in Illustrator and Photoshop

How to Create a Colorful Business Card Template in Illustrator

How to Create a Colorful Business Card Template in Illustrator

How to Create Old Grunge Style Print-Ready Business Card

How to Create Old Grunge Style Print-Ready Business Card

Creating a Colorful Vibrant Business Card

Creating a Colorful Vibrant Business Card

Designing a Business Card with InDesign

Designing a Business Card with InDesign

Business Card Design Walkthrough

Business Card Design Walkthrough

How to Design a Stylish Business Card in Photoshop

How to Design a Stylish Business Card in Photoshop

How to Make a Business Card in Photoshop

How to Make a Business Card in Photoshop

How to Create a Stylish Business Card Template in Photoshop

How to Create a Stylish Business Card Template in Photoshop

Create a Stylish Business Card

Create a Stylish Business Card

Creating a Dark Business Card

Creating a Dark Business Card

Design a Print-Ready Business Card in Photoshop

Design a Print-Ready Business Card in Photoshop

To see some great business cards please see:

November 04 2013

15:31

10 Humorous Infographics Beautifully Designed

Like many web surfers, I could waste a lot of time browsing through infographics, especially if they are insightful or funny. In fact, infographics are becoming a popular way of providing information, creating awareness, or simply attracting attention with some humor. As such, infographics are a design speciality that should be added to any designer’s list of skills. The benefit? You will always find businesses needing an infographic for their blog. The drawback? Infographics can take a long time to create.

However, just as with any other design skill, becoming faster and better at creating infographics is as simple as researching and practicing. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a little fun along the way. So, here for both your entertainment and education are 10 humorous infographics that are quite beautifully designed. Some are thigh-smacking hilarious, a few clever, and others a little odd in a funny way. Take a look, enjoy, and be sure to let us know which of these are your favorite.

Thirteen Reasons Why Your Brain Craves Infographics

This incredible web-based infographic designed by NeoMam Studios presents reasons why infographics are so popular in a brilliant paralax scrolling effect. The team designed the entire infographic using HTML5 and CSS3, and while more informational than humorous, it still includes some funny illustrations that will produce at least a giggle in most viewers.

How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

The following hilarious infographic was designed by GoalZero. It gives “real” advice for how to prepare for a zombie end-of-the-world attack and does so with stunning graphics and an easy-to-follow layout.

how to survive a zombie apocalypse
Find more great infographics on NerdGraph Infographics

How to Kill Time

Created by ColumnFive, this infographic gives a fresh spin on advice for time-management by illustrating what not to do. The retro design fits perfectly with the tone of the infographic.

Killing-Time-How-To-Destroy-Your-Productivity-Infographic

The Hangover Helper

Most of us have gone through/ will go through/ are going through phases of drinking too much alcohol. Here’s a witty infographic to help anyone curb the effects of drinking the next day, and it also gives some very insightful facts that may provide enough incentive to get beyond an excessive drinking phase much more quickly.

What Women Want…Dating Secrets Revealed

A revealing yet funny infographic from NowSourcing, this one outlines what type of guy most women search for based on their online dating profiles. The illustrations are amazing, and the layout lends to a witty tone.

24 Things You Didn’t Know About Beer

The colors and illustrations in this humorous infographic sponsored by WearYourBeer.com contribute to the lighthearted tone. Lots of fun facts that most people probably never knew about beer make for an entertaining read.

24 Things You Didn

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Serif vs. Sans: The Final Battle

The age old battle between the uses for serif and sans serif fonts is fought and ended in this clever infographic from UrbanFonts.com. The design is layed out well and the fonts used are stunning.

Are You Happy?

Sometimes the simplest infographics are the best. The following design uses a grunge poster style to add appeal and draw the eye, and presents a revealing message in a humorous way.

Are You Happy?

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

50 Things a Geek Should Know

While the following infographic is more a description of several different types of geeks combined, it is still good for a few laughs. The retro design is a perfect reflection of old era geek facts.

Courtesy of: VirtualHosting.com

11 Untranslatable Words from Other Cultures

Last but definitely not least on the list is the following infographic from Maptia. Not only are the phrases interesting and a few hilariously detailed, but the illustrated fonts and graphics are brilliant. This could easily be the best eye candy of the roundup.

October 18 2013

08:00

45 Photo Editing Tutorials for Photoshop

This post was originally published a few years ago, and since that time many of the tutorials that were featured in the post are no longer online. So we’ve revamped the article with a fresh selection of tutorials, some old and some new, that should prove to be very helpful.

Photoshop allows designers and photographers to improve photos in countless ways. Some photos are edited in a subtle way that the viewer may not even notice unless it is side-by-side with the original photo, and others are edited in more drastic ways. The good news is that there is a tutorial for just about anything you would want to do in Photoshop. Here you’ll find a collection of 45 different tutorials that teach the art of photo editing.

Telling Stories with Shadows

Telling Stories with Shadows

Create Vignette Effects with the Radial Filter in Photoshop CC

Create Vignette Effects with the Radial Filter in Photoshop CC

Water Reflection Effect in Photoshop CS6

Water Reflection Effect in Photoshop CS6

How to Add Reflections to Sunglesses with Photoshop

How to Add Reflections to Sunglesses with Photoshop

Learn How to Remove a Person from a Photo

Learn How to Remove a Person from a Photo

Remove a Person and Recreate a Busy Background Using the Clone Tool

Remove a Person and Recreate a Busy Background Using the Clone Tool

Black & White Adjustment

Black & White Adjustment

How to Replace a Sky Using Photoshop

How to Replace a Sky Using Photoshop

Dark Grunge Photo Effect

Dark Grunge Photo Effect

Vintage Cross Processed Photo Effect in Photoshop

Vintage Cross Processed Photo Effect in Photoshop

Six Ways to Create a Vignette in Photoshop

Six Ways to Create a Vignette in Photoshop

Creating Fashion Contrast Photo Effect

Creating Fashion Contrast Photo Effect

Handy Techniques for Cutting Out Hair in Photoshop

Handy Techniques for Cutting Out Hair in Photoshop

How to Reduce Digital Noise in a Photograph

How to Reduce Digital Noise in a Photograph

Professional Sharpening Techniques in Photoshop

Professional Sharpening Techniques in Photoshop

Apply a Color Effect to a Photo

Apply a Color Effect to a Photo

Create a Stunning High Key Portrait Photo

Create a Stunning High Key Portrait Photo

Old Fashioned, Hand-Tinted Photo Effect with Photoshop

Old Fashioned, Hand-Tinted Photo Effect with Photoshop

Ghosting an Image with Photoshop

Ghosting an Image with Photoshop

Gritty HDR

Gritty HDR

Star Diffusion

Star Diffusion

Selective Sepia

Selective Sepia

How to Create a Split Tone Effect in Photoshop

How to Create a Split Tone Effect in Photoshop

Hot & Fiery Photo Effect

Hot & Fiery Photo Effect

Turn a Photo Into a Collage of Polaroids with Photoshop

Turn a Photo Into a Collage of Polaroids with Photoshop

Pop Art

Pop Art

Vector Art with Photoshop

Vector Art with Photoshop

High-Key B&W Portrait Effect

High-Key B&W Portrait Effect

Coloring Effects

Coloring Effects

Bourne Ultimatum Color and Motion Blur Effect with Photoshop

Bourne Ultimatum Color and Motion Blur Effect with Photoshop

Selecting and Extracting Hair

Selecting and Extracting Hair

Phoenix Hair Effect

Phoenix Hair Effect

Basic Photo Editing Tutorial

Basic Photo Editing Tutorial

Edgy Style Photo Treatment

Edgy Style Photo Treatment

Perform Laser Eye Surgery on a Photo with Photoshop

Perform Laser Eye Surgery on a Photo with Photoshop

Make Eyelashes Thicker

Make Eyelashes Thicker

5 Second Eye Enhancement

5 Second Eye Enhancement

Artistic Sepia/Colorizing Effect

Artistic Sepia/Colorizing Effect

Boosting Contrast and Color with the Luminosity Mask in Photoshop

Boosting Contrast and Color with the Luminosity Mask in Photoshop

Enhance Your Image with Selective Color Adjustments

Enhance Your Image with Selective Color Adjustments

Applying a Realistic Tattoo

Applying a Realistic Tattoo

Add Dynamic Lighting to a Flat Photograph

Add Dynamic Lighting to a Flat Photograph

Add Dramatic Rain to a Photo in Photoshop

Add Dramatic Rain to a Photo in Photoshop

Creating Selective Contrast in Photoshop

Creating Selective Contrast in Photoshop

Realistic Makeup Application in Photoshop

Realistic Makeup Application in Photoshop

For more Photoshop tutorials see:

October 17 2013

08:00

40 Photoshop Tutorials for Lighting and Abstract Effects

This post was originally published a few years ago, and since that time many of the tutorials that were featured in the post are no longer online. So we’ve revamped the article with a fresh selection of tutorials, some old and some new, that should prove to be very helpful.

Photoshop gives designers the ability to create some amazing effects that can accomplish just about anything you can image. Lighting effects and abstract effects can be some of the most engaging and powerful effects created in Photoshop, and they’re also a lot of fun for designers. Fortunately, there are plenty of Photoshop experts who are willing to write detailed tutorials to show off the potential. Here is a look at some of the best tutorials for using various lighting and abstract effects. Follow a few of these tutorials to learn different techniques, and then put your creativity to work and find some ways to use lighting effects on your own.

Add Light Streaks to a Photo with Photoshop

Add Light Streaks to a Photo with Photoshop

Flaming Car in Photoshop

Flaming Car in Photoshop

The Revolution Artwork

The Revolution Artwork

Create Dynamic Lighting Using Custom Brushes in Photoshop

Create Dynamic Lighting Using Custom Brushes in Photoshop

Compositing Tutorial – Colors and Light Effects

Compositing Tutorial - Colors and Light Effects

Beautiful Lady with Flowing Light Effects

Burning Wishes – Abstract Photoshop Tutorial

Beautiful Lady with Flowing Light Effects

Sparkling Hot Girl in Photoshop

Sparkling Hot Girl in Photoshop

Fiery Photoshop Space Explosion Tutorial

Fiery Photoshop Space Explosion Tutorial

Really Cool Eclipse Effect in Photoshop

Really Cool Eclipse Effect in Photoshop

Electrifying Glow Album Art

Electrifying Glow Album Art

Mastering Light Effects

Mastering Light Effects

Luminescent Lines

Luminescent Lines

Creating Light Motion Trails & Glowing Sparks

Creating Light Motion Trails & Glowing Sparks

Super Slick Dusky Lighting Effects in Photoshop

Super Slick Dusky Lighting Effects in Photoshop

Create a Space Explosion from Scratch in Photoshop

Create a Space Explosion from Scratch in Photoshop

Add a Sparkle Trail to a Photo with Photoshop

Add a Sparkle Trail to a Photo with Photoshop

Space Lighting Effects in 10 Steps

Space Lighting Effects in 10 Steps

Seriously Cool Photoshop Explosion Effect

Seriously Cool Photoshop Explosion Effect

Advance Glow Effects

Advance Glow Effects

MSNBC Style Effect

MSNBC Style Effect

Super Fast – Speed Lighting Effect

Super Fast - Speed Lighting Effect

Fire Lines Photoshop Tutorial

Fire Lines Photoshop Tutorial

Dazzling Photoshop Smoke Unicorn Tutorial

Dazzling Photoshop Smoke Unicorn Tutorial

Creating Smoke

Creating Smoke

End of the World Photo Manipulation

End of the World Photo Manipulation

Design a Coldplay/Apple Inspired Portrait in Photoshop

Design a Coldplay/Apple Inspired Portrait in Photoshop

Magic Lighting Effect in Photoshop

Magic Lighting Effect in Photoshop

Classic Light Effect in Photoshop

Classic Light Effect in Photoshop

Old Signage in Photoshop 3D

Old Signage in Photoshop 3D

80s Christmas Artwork in Photoshop

80s Christmas Artwork in Photoshop

RAWZ Light Effects in Photoshop

RAWZ Light Effects in Photoshop

Light Effect Text Button

Light Effect Text Button

Create a Rocking Silhouette in Photoshop

Create a Rocking Silhouette in Photoshop

Using Custom Photoshop Brushes to Create an Immersive Lighting Effect

Using Custom Photoshop Brushes to Create an Immersive Lighting Effect

Create a Trendy Galactic Poster Design in Photoshop

Create a Trendy Galactic Poster Design in Photoshop

Abstract Lighting Effects

Abstract Lighting Effects

Drawing an Abstract Lightbulb

Drawing an Abstract Lightbulb

Create a Simple Vibrant Light Effect in Photoshop

Create a Simple Vibrant Light Effect in Photoshop

Chroma Wallpapers

Chroma Wallpapers

 

For more Photoshop tutorials please see:

September 17 2013

06:30

September 09 2013

06:25

June 12 2013

10:00

Are Your Web Graphics Print-Ready?

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Is Your Web Graphics Print-Ready?

As a web designer, masters of the digital realm, you might have never faced the situation where your designs are going to be sent to a print shop.

Or perhaps you’re an Internet business owner in a place right now where you need printed materials for an event (a conference, a meet-up, billboard advertising, and so forth). You might be an online retailer, a SaaS company, a web development agency, etc.

What happens when you’ve only got web graphics at hand? Graphics designed to be displayed on electronic devices like computer monitors and smartphones.

When prepping graphics that you intend to have printed, there are several vital factors you must consider.

I’ll discuss the most important factors in this beginner-level guide to preparing your designs for printing.

Color Model: RGB vs. PMS vs. CMYK

Web and print don’t reproduce color in the same way. Let’s discuss the differences.

RGB Color Model

Web graphics operate using the RGB color model where each color is created using a combination of red, green and blue pixels.

The RGB color model is designed specifically for electronic devices such as your computer monitor or your tablet device or your TV.

Print, on the other hand, tends to involve either PMS or CMYK (four-color process).

PMS (Pantone Color Matching System)

PMS (Pantone Color Matching System) uses pre-mixed inks with established color values.

PMS is a proprietary color system by the New-Jersey-based corporation, Pantone Inc.

Image source: Parhamr

Using the Pantone system guarantees that you get the exact colors you want because of the standardized inks.

CMYK Color Model

CMYK (also known as four-color process) uses a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks to reproduce different colors.

Image source: Quark67

The Ideal Color Situation to Be In

The ideal situation would be that a graphics specialist such as a logo designer has professionally designed your graphics assets.

Your logo, for instance, should have been provided to you in two different versions: One specifically designed for Web use, and one specifically for print use. Two different logo designs for two distinctly different display environments.

However if you’re reading this guide, chances are that you don’t have the files you need.

So what do you need to do?

Convert RGB to CMYK or PMS

So what do you do when you only have web graphics for printing?

Web graphics are saved to the RGB color model and won’t work properly for your printer. What will happen is the colors might not turn out to be accurate when your printer uses the PMS or CMYK to print your web graphics.

So it’s important to convert and re-save your graphics to either the CMYK color model or PMS for printing. This is a simple process most of the time — you just need your graphics software. But the results aren’t guaranteed to be accurate.

The choice is up to you whether you choose CMYK or PMS, but there’s no print shop that will be able to print files using the RGB color model.

Testing

After converting your RGB artwork to a print-ready color system, it’s recommended that you test the output by printing just a small amount of your artwork before going into full production to ensure that the color system conversion was accurate (or accurate enough for your needs).

More Reading About Color Conversion

Here are some guides and resources that will be helpful in color conversion:

How to Convert RGB to CMYK in Photoshop

Converting CMYK/RGB to Pantone in Illustrator and Photoshop

The Ultimate Color Conversion Chart

Important Information About RGB and CMYK

Image Resolution and Scalability

A problem that’s likely to come up when dealing with web graphics is their resolution and ability to be resized without loss of quality. This poses an issue when you want your web graphics to be printed on bigger mediums like billboards or magazine covers.

Image resolution refers to the amount of details an image has.

Image resolution for digital images are measured using spatial resolution units, and the poplar unit of measurements are in pixels per inch (ppi) or dots per inch (dpi).

The more pixels or dots there are in a given square inch, the more detail the image has, i.e., the higher its resolution.

Is Your Web Graphics Print-Ready?

Images on the Web are typically compressed to a lower resolution — typically 72dpi — so that they download faster and because most screens don’t need/can’t take advantage of a higher resolution.

Lower-res graphics may look fine on your computer monitor, but that same image will look different when printed.

The Problem: Pixelation

The biggest issue you might encounter with image resolution is pixelation. Pixelation occurs when you scale an image up and it doesn’t have sufficient enough resolution that it makes the image too blurry.

Look at the difference between a web-resolution image being scaled up in dimension below.

Notice the pixelation occurring as a result of us trying to enlarge the image when it doesn’t have sufficient enough detail.

For this reason, it’s vital to use the highest resolution images possible — at least 300dpi — when creating print-ready graphics.

If you don’t have access to the original file that was used to create your web graphics — which should be in PSD or vector file format (EPS, AI, etc.) — it may be necessary to recreate it.

With a vector file format, you can scale the design up to whatever size you require without any loss of quality.

Monochrome-Friendliness

The Web offers very few restrictions when it comes to color representation.

Print, on the other hand, comes with certain limitations.

When using PMS printing, each new color means an additional cost, making multicolored web graphics less practical with this method.

And, although four-color process can be used to reproduce most multicolored web graphics, one- or two-color PMS printing is often a more cost-effective option.

For this reason (among others), many logo designers will first design a logo using only black and white. If the logo maintains the same visual impact in its simplest, monochromatic form, you’ll have a much easier time when you recreate it using one-color printing.

While the object below is certainly distinctive when it’s multicolored, it’s not terribly interesting to look at in black and white.

Problematic Colors

Just as PMS printing presents certain design limitations, four-color process also comes with complications to consider — specifically, it can be difficult to accurately reproduce some colors (including orange and navy blue) with the CMYK color model.

If you intend to print your logo using four-color process and it contains any orange or navy blue elements, you may want to replace them with another color — or, alternatively, have those areas spot printed with the proper PMS colors.

Check with your printer if you think your artwork may contain colors that present a problem for CMYK printing.

File Format

Popular image formats for web use include JPG and PNG — formats designed for computer monitors but don’t always work as well for printing.

In general, your high-res, print-ready artwork should be in the most "raw" format possible.

The most common formats for this purpose are:

  • PSD (Photoshop)
  • AI (Illustrator)
  • EPS (a standard vector file)
  • PDF (viewable using Acrobat)

Fonts

Just because your artwork opens fine on your computer doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for a commercial printer.

When high-quality image files such as PSDs incorporate fonts, you’ll need the proper font files to view them correctly — files that your printer might not have immediate access to, especially if you’re using uncommon fonts.

Be sure to include any necessary font files when sending your artwork to a printer.

On a Mac, these files can be found in System/Library/Fonts.

In Windows, check the Fonts folder inside your main Windows directory.

Most printers will let you include font files in a ZIP along with your artwork files.

Alternatively, you can convert fonts to outlines in Illustrator or InDesign so that you won’t need to include additional files.

Conclusion

The best way to ensure that your logo looks great in print as well as on the Web is to design it with both mediums in mind from the very beginning. However, if you’re stuck in a bind, there are ways to make the best out of the situation.

For more information related to ensuring your graphics is suitable for print, be sure to check out this print-ready checklist that I made.

Related Content

About the Author

Vladimir Gendelman is the founder and CEO of Company Folders, Inc. With years of web and print design experience, he leads a team of talented graphic artists and marketing specialists who help businesses put forth the best image possible. You can follow him on Google+ and Twitter.

May 30 2013

02:15

Tutorial: How to create a 3D vector using Cinema 4D and Illustrator

3D is a useful and important tool for graphic designers. Not only it is highly useful for prototypes, interior and construction design, it also comes in handy for graphics and logos. While you can have raster and vectors mashed up in a graphic design, a logo and a t shirt design has to be strictly vector. You can create 3D in Illustrator but the engine is not up to the mark and the dedicated 3D programs render in raster formats but still you can try vector exports; alas they will disappoint you again. So if you want a perfect 3D vector for the logo project or T-shirt design project you are working on you have come to the right place.

In this tutorial you will learn how to create a striking 3D vector logo. I used Cinema 4D as my 3D software but you can use any 3D program. This logo was created by me for a band called “Traced in Shadows”.

Step 1 – Render settings…

Having the correct render settings is very important. These are the render settings I used for my project:

Output : 1920*1080 at 72 ppi.

Save: Format- PNG with Alpha Channel on (this will render without a background).

Anti Aliasing : Best at min. and max. 16*16 each.

Apply Global Illumination

NO Ambient Occlusion please.

1ea495626eb6e05f3a81d9a6b7056d2f

Step 2 – Model the Logo …

The first step is to model the logo. And here is what mine looked like.

..

Step 3 – Apply the materials …

This is a crucial step because how you edit the materials will determine the quality of your vector. Don’t apply any specular or colors just apply a luminance which will give your logo perfect color and make it easier to vectorize. Here is how my “Material Editor” looked like…

Step 4 – Add a camera object…

This is relatively simple, just go to “Scene Objects” and add a “Camera” object

Step 5 – Lighting

Lighting is important too but we do not want realistic lighting because it will ruin the vector. So I found out the trick for perfect lighting:

a) Create a Sphere.

b) Enlarge it so that it engulfs the subject of your logo.

c) Apply a plain white material(only luminance) to it.

d) Apply a composting tag to it and disable the “Seen by Camera” option in the the “Tag” panel.

Step 6 – Rendering.

Render out your logo and now you are halfway through…

Step 7 – Open up the PNG file in Adobe Illustrator.

Open the render in the Illustrator.

Step 8 – Live Trace the image…

Yes you read it correct; Live Trace the image. It is the easiest and fastest way to vectorize anything and because your logo is without shadows and stuff, the trace will be perfect. Be careful about your tracing presets and choose them according to the number of colors you have in your logo. Also, go to Advanced Trace Settings and check the “Ignore White” box. This will give you a transparent background…

Play around with the settings until you get the perfect trace and then go to Object>Live Trace>Expand which will give you the paths.

This is my trace…

7320b06d9b92c7a71613c941282295b7

Step 9 – Saving

Save it as an AI file and EPS file. These are the formats most clients require and which you need for submitting designs on Design Crowd.

Conclusion

So now you know how to create a perfect 3D vector using Cinema 4D and Illustrator. This tutorial will come in handy for a lot of 3D logo projects, t-shirt projects and what not. So thanks for bearing with me. Hope this was helpful and enjoyable.

Sarao Arts is a freelance graphic designer from Winnipeg, Canada. See his DesignCrowd portfolio here

May 29 2013

02:04

44 Web & Graphic Design Freebies

Guest post by BrandCrowd graphic designer, Anghelaht

All web designers love to have cool stuff at their disposal, ready for instant use. Although 100% custom work is always the best approach, sometimes ready-made is the only choice when faced with the challenges of a deadline. On the internet, there are tons of high-quality designs available for purchase, but today we thought to provide you with a small collection of 44 awesome web and graphic design freebies, gathered from all around the web. The collection includes icons, textures, vectors, patterns and other various goodies for you to grab for your library and use in logo design or web projects. We hope all of the following will prove to be useful with your web design or any other professional or personal projects. Feel free to share your thoughts or other freebies with us, by leaving a message in the comment section. Have fun, everyone!

Free Icons

leather texture

PSD toggle switch UI

Switches

6 Greek / Roman Pixel Patterns

Hand Drawn Web icons

iMac free PSD mockup

business card template

12 Blurred Backgrounds

wood texture

Slider

Free PSD synthesizer

Free PSD simple emoticons

Social Media UI Buttons

41 Social Media Icons

Retro Portfolio – Full free PSD pack

Pretty Little Progress Bar

Slabstatic display free font

Moonshiner free font

Pixel UI Icon Set

Newap – Free PSD website template

Marketplace buttons

6 wood patterns / backgrounds PNG PAT

Free PSD USA map

10 High Resolution Rusty Metal Textures

Push-Button

Carbon Fibre Photoshop Patterns

Black Wall Texture

Pattern Kit One: “Ribbon Dancer”

Butterflies

Share Buttons PSD

Google Drive

Replacement iOS Icons

Mimi Glyphs Icons

Crisp Icon Set

Blanka website template

iphone ui

Calendar icon

gemicon

Cart widget

Dark Itunes

Clock

IPhone wood UI

Minimal Calendar

What awesome design freebies did we miss for logo design, graphic design and other design disciplines? Do you use free or purchased ready-made graphics in your design process? Tell us what you think.

February 21 2013

05:01

50 Mighty Logo Designs to Power Up 2013

As its still early in the year we thought we’d turbo-charge your creativity by featuring a collection of 50 mighty logo designs gathered from well known online logo galleries. All are designs that show a display of power and might and vary in tone from serious to humorous and masculine to feminine in execution. This roundup features a nice mix of design approaches that cleverly use shape, color, negative space and typographic marks to make a statement.Get challenged and inspired!

Curzon Decor

1-mighty-logos

strong coffee

2-mighty-logos

Strive Studio

3-mighty-logos

Strength&Conditioning

4-mighty-logos

Occupy

5-mighty-logos

Trojack

6-mighty-logos

Power to the Pencil

7-mighty-logos

Army Gear

8-mighty-logos

Epic Comments

9-mighty-logos

BULLMAN

10-mighty-logos

Protected Legacy

11-mighty-logos

House Hold

12-mighty-logos

Silver Gold Bull

13-mighty-logos

Green Power

14-mighty-logos

Warriors

15-mighty-logos

Ultra Fitness

16-mighty-logos

Zeus Fight Wear

17-mighty-logos

Now Make Me A Sandwich

18-mighty-logos

Praemittias

RAMM

19-mighty-logos

VAQUERO

20-mighty-logos

Picthor

21-mighty-logos

Gans Tatverk

22-mighty-logos

Iron Guerrilla

23-mighty-logos

CHOKLAD BUDET

24-mighty-logos

FLYING STAG

25-mighty-logos

Stronghex

26-mighty-logos

Athletic Performance Academy

28-mighty-logos

Mouthscle

29-mighty-logos

Pump ups

30-mighty-logos

Silverback

30-mighty-logos

Templars

32-mighty-logos

Stargym

33-mighty-logos

atlas

34-mighty-logos

God’s Gym

35-mighty-logos

PRYM8

36-mighty-logos

Wellfit

37-mighty-logos

BODYFORCE

38-mighty-logos

VIKINGOO

39-mighty-logos

Power Impression

40-mighty-logos

Truckers fitness gym

41-mighty-logos

Hanuman Shakti

42-mighty-logos

Globull

43-mighty-logos

Gladiator Fitness

44-mighty-logos

Rhinotes

45-mighty-logos

Prevalent Marketing

46-mighty-logos

Muscle Cloud

47-mighty-logos

Silverback

48-mighty-logos

Gryphonism

49-mighty-logos

Growcase

50-mighty-logos

What’s your favorite pick from this roundup of mighty logos? Maybe it didn’t make the list, share your feedback in the comments below.

December 19 2012

07:53

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Crowdsources Election T-Shirt Design

Yesterday Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia and Minister of Parliament announced the winner of a t-shirt design contest he launched in October.

The winner is Studio71, a graphic design studio started by Shane Marchewka who discovered the contest on crowdsourcing site DesignCrowd and submitted six designs to the website’s $1,000 t-shirt design contest.

“I registered with DesignCrowd earlier in the year as a way to boost my exposure as a freelance designer. I am stoked enough to say I have a former Prime Minister as a client however the $1,000 prize money is like a cherry on top of a very sweet cake!” he said.

Mr Rudd tweeted about the contest yesterday and said, “Shane is a great guy who is putting in the effort to start his own small business. He had a range of great ideas and really embraced the spirit of the competition. I wish Shane and Studio71 all the best for taking his business to the next step. I was overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of entries, so thanks a million to DesignCrowd and Australia’s talented graphic design community.”

It’s not everyday designers acquire former Prime Ministers as clients.

Here is the winning design:

Its-Our-Ruddy-Future

November 30 2012

01:20

50 Domestic Animal Logos

The need for unique visual identities has pushed both designers and ventures in capturing inspiration from unusual and common origins. Today, we showcase 50 logos with a slightly common source: logos inspired by animals that human beings have managed to domesticate during thousands of years.

Symbolism plays a significant part in logo design and extracting inspiration from friendly, trustworthy and sometimes funny looking domesticated animals is a natural place to seek creative inspiration. Although the featured animals in this post are familiar, the logos display a memorable and one-of-a-kind visual appearance. Without further ado, feel free to fuel your creativity with 50 logo designs inspired by these cute, sometimes fierce and often furry domestic animals.

Top dog training

Sheepington

oinky

Las Cabras de Mexicali

Gray Bull

Curly Cat

Great

Buffalo

Rum Donkey

Good Duck

Horses Kingdom

Pis’moved

Goosey Gander

Happy Lama

Yak Works

goldfish inc

Rabbit

Canary

Coy koi

Ratbit

Freebee

Road-Hog

Camel

Elephant Mouse

Selecore

Mack Wack the Duck

Alpine Goat Project

DogCat

White Rabbit

Midnight Donkey

truffle seeker

EMAG

Bullocked

Fatcat Coffee

Bee

Work Horse

Sheep

carrier pigeon

buffalo

Imperial Horses

Store logo in progress

Barcamp Litoral

Bravo Game

Mary Sheep

Nualz

Llama

fold dog

Burro Bar Variant

Laura Bee

Pet Nest

Bull

Which was your favorite design and why? Do you look at animals for design inspiration when you receive a logo brief? Let us know in the comments!

November 20 2012

00:09

Tribute to Yuri Galitsyn

The Kiev based Ukrainian illustrator and graphic designer Yuri Galitsyn passed away unexpectedly earlier this month.

According to Galitsyn’s LinkedIn profile, he studied book drawing in the early 1980s at the Higher Polygraphic Institute in Kiev (known as the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute) during the twilight years of Soviet ruled Ukraine.

Galitsyn’s body of work was extensive  with a distinct style that incorporated line drawing and animal motifs giving his work a contemporary ’neo-gothic’ feel with the effective use of line weight and shadow to create depth and feeling to his designs.

He was an active member of the online design community. Galitsyn’s Dribble profile displays  more than 2,000 followers and 20,000 ‘likes’ for his designs. His work can be viewed on Dribble.com and LogoMoose (see links at end of post).

As a well-liked and respected member of this community, designers from around the world have publicly shared their feelings about Galitsyn’s death.

“I heard about this tragedy. Really liked his unique style. Glad that you guys didn’t forget him. I think that his style should be called by his name, because I don’t know any other designer who designs logos like that, ” said Lithuanian designer Paulius Kairevičius.

We commissioned Felix Diaconu to curate a roundup of Galitsyn’s most recent designs which we’re publishing today. The Romanian designer says, “The following collection of 25 brilliant logo designs belongs to a great man and designer, Yuri Galitsyn.  Our sincere condolences to Yuri’s family and relatives. R.I.P. Gal! Your work will always be remembered in our hearts!”

Bull Restaurant

Lion Football

Shop Honey

Shaman Letterpess

Charterbook

Oldtimer gallery

Cat logo letterpress

Iron elephant

Raccoon

BTS

Happy Lama

Seahunter

Camel

Hockey

STARCOM

City-bike

Guitarshop

Union Express logo

Dachshund

Gorilla

Hopenia

LOMAPOKO

Scherkhan

Dodo Pizza

Logo of Theater Institute

You can view more examples of his work here:

http://www.logomoose.com/members/Gal/
http://logopond.com/members/profile/showcase/35527
https://www.free-lance.ru/users/urag/

Do you know more? If you knew Yuri personally or just admired this prodigiously talented designer from afar, share a link to your favorite designs of his in the comments below.

August 30 2012

22:17

How to Use Color Theory to Create Color Schemes

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As a designer with an extensive art background, I find it easier to pick color schemes using concepts of color theory that all artists learn and use every single day in their work. The use and practice of color theory for designers can drastically help their designs become more professional and color schemes feel more natural. In what ways can you use color theory to help you select and improve upon your color schemes? Let’s walk through color theory 101 and talk about how you can use it to develop great color schemes for your next design project.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors

colorwheel

These are basic classifications of the colors on the color wheel. As a quick rundown, the primary colors are yellow, red, and blue; the secondary colors are orange, green, and purple; tertiary colors are the others such as yellow-orange or blue-green. They are named this way based on how they can be mixed. Primary colors can’t be mixed to get another color, meaning you can’t mix two colors to get red, you can’t mix two colors to get blue. Secondary colors are the ones you can mix two primary colors together to get, such as yellow and blue make green and red and yellow make orange. Tertiary colors are trickier in that you mix one primary color with one secondary color to get, such as yellow and green makes yellow-green and red and purple make red-purple, and are named starting with the primary color first.

While not used as often, you can create a color scheme based on these classifications. It is less common combining two primary color combinations as it is more common using tertiary color combinations. This is because often pairing two primary colors together is very jarring on the eyes. Below are two examples of the use of primary color combinations in design.

VR80 by Jasho Salazar on Dribbble. Uses yellow and red.

Underwater Restaurant by Chow Hon Lam on Dribbble. Uses yellow, red, and blue primarily.

Here are a couple of examples of secondary colors used as color schemes:

Sally the Sea Lion – Origami by Sam Longley on Dribbble. Uses orange and purple.

Take care of your designer self by Megan Clark on Dribbble. Uses green and purple.

Finally, a couple of examples of tertiary colors used in design:

Fire by Daniel Fishel on Dribbble. Uses yellow-green and red-orange.

ERL Booking System by Eski Mirza on Dribbble. Uses red-purple and blue-green.

Monochromatic using Tints and Shades

monochromatic

If you only want to use one color in your design, then you have the option of developing it into a monochromatic color scheme. This basically means that you can use all the tints and shades of one hue to create the color variants you need. Tints of a hue means adding white to the color, where shades of a color mean adding black to it.

The idea of adding white and black to it is easy when you are talking about paint, however this can be a challenge in a design program. For tints you can quickly see it by using the opacity of the shape, or for shades you can get the color you want, then start adding black to it in the color panel.

Here a few examples of monochromatic color schemes.

Pond Icons by Christopher Pond on Dribbble. Uses tints and shades of blue-green.

Avengers Projects Final by Jose Garza on Dribbble. Uses tints and shades of yellow.

San 2280 by Alexsandra Ortiz on Dribbble. Uses tints and shades of blue.

Analogous Colors

analogus

Analogous colors are those that are located next to, or adjacent to each other. These often include one primary, one secondary, and most of the tertiary colors in between. An example of an analogous color scheme includes yellow, yellow-orange, and orange.

In addition, there isn’t really a defined number that constitute an analogous color scheme. You could have just two colors, three colors, four colors, or even five colors that are all next to each other in a row for a color scheme. Also, you can span two different hues as well, such as red-orange, red, red-purple, and purple as a color scheme.

Here are a few examples of analogous color schemes used in design.

Bordo Bello by Mackey Saturday on Dribbble. Uses the analogous colors of orange, red-orange, red, and red-purple.

Sign Up Form by Graham McDonnell on Dribbble. Uses the analogous colors of blue, blue-green, green, and yellow-green.

Monster Kart by David L. Wehmeyer on Dribbble. Uses the analogous colors of yellow-green, yellow, yellow-orange, and orange.

Complementary Colors

complementary

Complementary colors are basically colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel. Think some major sports teams. For instance, the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team uses purple and yellow in their branding. Yellow and purple are located opposite of each other on the color wheel. Christmas is another one with a popular complementary color scheme: red and green.

Complementary color schemes can get even more complicated when using opposites, such as yellow-orange and blue-purple (using directly opposite tertiary colors) or even using a couple that are opposite of one color: yellow, purple, and red-purple.

Below are a few examples of complementary color schemes.

Power covers (2 of 4) by Adam Johnson on Dribbble. Uses the complementary colors red and green.

Shielf Logo by Ronald Hagenstein on Dribbble. Uses the complementary colors blue and orange.

Tools to pick color schemes based on color theory

To make it all a little bit easier for you guys, there are a couple of tools online that can help you pick color schemes that use the basics of color theory explained above.

Color Scheme Designer

This one is my personal favorite. Color Scheme Designer lets you start working on your color scheme based on a lot of the color theory basics I went over above. They go into a few others I didn’t, but you can play around with color schemes or opt for random ones. For this designer with a heavy art background, this makes sense and helps me figure out what is missing in my color schemes.

Color Wizard

An in-page setup, Color Wizard lets you pick colors and start basing them off of the color theory basics above, a lot like Color Scheme Designer does above. You can start by picking a color, then choosing what color theory you want to use. It also easily provides the Hex code values for you as well.

In what ways do you develop your color schemes? Do you use color theory as well, or take inspiration from other things, such as pre-designed schemes or lifting colors from a photograph?

August 23 2012

09:23

How to Prepare a Business Card for Print in Illustrator

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Believe it or not, print isn’t dead! Although much of today’s advertising is going to more electronic means, there are still a vast amount of printing being done every single day. Many freelance graphic designers are still working on print projects for clients, communicating with printers, and sending their designs to print.

It is often much easier to publish something electronically than for print. With sending something to print, you have many things you must do in order to prepare your file for printing, depending on the printer you are working with.

In this article, I am going to walk you through the several steps you can do to prepare a business card for print. Although I focus on a business card here, these same tips can be applied to other printed pieces as well, such as post cards, letterhead, invitations, and the like.

First, make a copy of the document

First and foremost, after your document is finalized and before you start prepping it for print, it is vital that you save a copy of the document and work on the copy. I recommend labeling the document with “print ready” or “for print” in the title, so that you know that the print ready file is not the original, editable file.

Some of the things I discuss below are irreversible (without a ton of work) once you do them, which is why it is best to keep the original file so that in the future if you need to make changes, it is easy to do so.

Get printing specs from printer (if possible)

Since every printer is going to want files differently, it is important to contact the printer you plan to send your file(s) to and ask them if they have any specific requirements. They may often tell you that they need the font files or outline the text, account for a specific amount of bleed, save in a certain format, etc. Make note of these requirements and adjust the below mentioned steps as needed. If you don’t know who the printer is going to be, then the steps below should get your file(s) closer to print ready with only minimal changes required once a printer has been selected.

Outline Fonts

The very first thing I do is outline the type in my document. I do this for a couple of reasons: I don’t want to spend time finding the font file and sending with my document and most font licenses don’t allow you to give the files to other people. Some printers I have worked with try to get the font, but I simply just outline the text and explain that the fonts have been outlined.

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 12.38.46 PM

In Illustrator, this is done by selecting all of the text (that is editable), then go to Type > Create Outlines (Shift-Command-O on Mac or Shift-Ctrl-O on Windows). The type now becomes vector shapes. Once you do this and exit out of the document, you can no longer edit the text unless you simply redo it.

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 12.45.19 PM

Check and adjust your bleeds

A bleed (in graphic design and printing) is any area on a printed document where the ink must run off the edge of the paper. Thus, in your document, you should actually run any colors off of the edge and then some to accomodate for the printer cutting your piece to the appropriate size. As you can see in my business card above, I indeed have a bleed on all four sides of my business card (please note that my business card size above is 3.5 inches by 1.5 inches).

Sending my card to print right now, with the bleed only going to the edge of the 3.5 by 1.5 size, I could get my cards back having some white borders on some of the edges of the card. Why? Because it actually is not a true bleed. Printers reserve a fraction of an itch of wiggle room for their cutting machines. In essence, you need to prep your file to cover their non-exact cutting. You will need to push your bleed further than the actual size of your document.

If your document has a bleed, there are a couple of ways to indicate this in your file and accomodate it, and the way printers want you to do it often varies from printer to printer. Since mostly every printer is different, and every program they use is equally different, below is the way to prep your business card for any program and for most printers.

In Illustrator, draw a rectangle around your business card to the exact size and in the exact place you want the printer to cut your card (in the image below the rectangle has a red stroke so that you can see the shape I drew–you should make yours have no fill and no stroke color).

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 12.57.58 PM

Next, while the shape is still selected, go to Effect > Crop Marks. You should now have printer marks around your business card that indicate exactly where you want the printer to cut your cards. Your business card with the crop marks should look similar to mine below.

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 1.00.45 PM

With crop marks in place, we still need to make our document program-independent, meaning if our file is opened in a program other than Illustrator, or in an older version of Illustrator, the printer should still see your file. Since older versions of Illustrator and other vector-based programs do not render art boards properly, it can cause your artwork to potentially be cut off or not seen by the printer, so we need to change the size of our art board if we have it set to be the size of our business card.

Select the Artboard tool from the tool panel (one of the last four in the tools panel). Illustrator will then show you your art boards by graying everything out around the art boards. Now grab the art board and push the edges so that they are past your crop marks (see before and after shots below).

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 1.06.55 PM

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 1.07.41 PM

We aren’t done yet! We still need to set the bleeds. Since I am a very visual person, I like to see where my safe zone, cut area, and bleed areas are. For the sake of this tutorial, let’s say the safe area is 1/8th inch from the cut area (that means all important things that should not be cut off should be 1/8th inch from the edge) and the bleed is 1/8th inch on the outside of the cut area.

To mark off these areas, I like to use guides. I went ahead and set the safe area, cut area, and bleed area in my business card using guides, which you can see below.

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 1.30.22 PM

Finally, we push all of our bleeds out to our bleed guide we created, as seen below.

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 1.32.25 PM

Check for colors

The business card example I have been using above uses one color: blue. But what if you have several colors in your business card? If you have multiple colors in your business card, then you have two options for printing: digital printing or offset printing.

Digital Printing

Prepping your files for digital printing when it comes to your colors is easier than for offset printing. A word of caution however, just because it is easier to prep doesn’t mean that you are free from color shifts or undesirable colors. While the different types of settings on your program, what the printer requires, and how sensitive you are to accurate colors for a digital print could be an article in and of itself, keep in mind that you could have some color shifts and taking extra care in making sure the colors are what you want is important at this step.

With that caution behind us, for digital printing processes, your printer will either want the document and colors to be CMYK or RGB. For this tutorial let’s say the printer wants your document and colors to be in CMYK. First place to check this out is the document itself. Go to File > Document Color Mode. Make sure CMYK is selected if it is not already.

Next, select everything in your document and go to Edit > Edit Colors > Convert to CMYK. Now all of your objects should be using CMYK colors. You can check this by selecting anything in your document and going to the colors panel. If the color is made up of CMYK, then it is correct, however if the color is made up of RBG, then you need to repeat the steps above. Just remember this could cause color shifts (not always evident on screen).

Offset Printing

If your business card is being printed using offset printing, you can check to make sure everything is properly indicated for the right color. For simplicity, I am going to use the back of my business card above and use PMS (Pantone Matching System) colors. In my card below I have three PMS colors: PMS Black at 90% (Gray), PMS 298 (Blue), and PMS 381 (Green).

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 2.02.27 PM

To check to see if your objects are in PMS colors, click each one and look in the color panel. If it gives the correct name of the PMS color there, then you have designated that object as a PMS color. If you see numbers for either CMYK or RBG colors, then you must designate that object as a PMS color.

To pick a PMS color, go to Window > Swatch Libraries > Color Books > Pantone Solid Uncoated (or the option of your choice). A new window will appear with all of the PMS swatches. Select the object then select the appropriate swatch.

Now in the color panel you should see the name of the PMS color you selected. Repeat for all the other objects in your document. I went through and did all of the objects in the appropriate PMS color for my business card seen below (note color shifts from the one above – read my note above about color shifts).

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 2.27.15 PM

The best way to check now to make sure the printer will see the right colors is to print color separations digitally. You can do this on your computer and it requires no actual physical printing. Unfortunately, Illustrator doesn’t make this process easy so please bare with me.

Go to File > Print. In the print dialogue box, select “Adobe PostScript” in the printer drop down and select your local desktop printer in the PPD drop down. Next, select “Output” in the option box on the left hand side. Your print dialogue box should look like this one.

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 2.37.02 PM

Next, select “Separations (Host-Based)” where it says “Composite.” Click the printer icons to the left of every color that is not one of the PMS colors you want to print (so that the printer icon is no longer in that box). Finally, click “Save” at the bottom and in the dialogue box save it to your desktop for now.

Find the file on your desktop and open it in Adobe Acrobat. This will convert the .PS file into a .PDF file so you can view it. Each page of the resulting PDF will show in black what each color will print. You can see where the page count is in Adobe Acrobat the name of the PMS color for that page. Flip through and make sure everything appears right. If something is wrong, you can go back and check to make sure every object is designated the correct PMS color. Below is a screenshot of the PMS Black at 90% separation for the back of my business card.

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 2.47.19 PM

Die-cuts, Foils and Spot UV

If you have special effects going on with your business card, they require attention as well. Three common effects used in printing today include die-cuts, foils, and spot UV (or spot gloss). Foils and spot UV can be prepped the same way for printing, however die-cuts are prepped for differently. Depending on your printer’s requirements, they may either want these special effects in a different document or in a different layer in Illustrator. We are going to do them in a different layer.

Die-cuts

In short, die-cuts are special made dies (or cutters) that are designed to create a special shape (think cookie cutters). They are often used to cut circle business cards, business cards with rounded corners, or a custom shape. I am going to show you how to prep a card for rounded corners die-cutting, but the same applies to any shape.

Taking the back of my business card above, I would like to add rounded corners to it. The best way to do this is to do it on a separate layer. Create a new layer and name it “Die-Cut.” Next, using the Rounded Rectangle tool, I create the shape that I want my final business card to be. You can see the shape (with no fill or stroke color) in the image below (I have some bleed on my card that is why the shape is not all the way out to the edge of the gray). Finally, all you have to do is inform your printer the name of the die-cut layer!

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 3.02.04 PM

Foils and Spot UV

These can be done in a similar fashion as die-cuts, only making the shape a solid black color. Let’s walk through the process together for the spot UV on my business cards (keep in mind it is exactly the same as foil too). As you can see below, I want part of my logo in spot UV over the front of my business card, show in black below. All I have to do is make sure it is where I want it to be, then move it to a new layer (create a new layer, name new layer “spot UV,” select new layer, right-click object then select Arrange > Send to Current Layer).

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 at 3.16.23 PM

A little messy looking, I know, but this along with telling the printer you want spot UV (or foil) should be all the indication they need to properly print your cards.

File Delivery

Again, every printer is different, however once you do all the prep work above, the only file you should have to send to the printer is a PDF file of each side of your document (or however they want you to send it to them). If your printer can take .EPS or .AI files, then you can send them your print-ready files in that format as well, but also send them a PDF so that they can work from either type and see how you want your final product to be.

I always like to be on the super safe and clear side, so I often send along a JPG or PNG version of the card as well, one for each side and one for the color part and one for any special effects, just so it is crystal clear to the printer. Doing a little bit of leg work on your end can help get your card printed faster and accurate. It also never hurts to ask for a proof as well, and approve the proof, so that if something does come back incorrect, the printer will be responsible for it if you approved the proof.

A note about detailed business card designs

The one I used in this tutorial was a simple design with only a few colors, however if you have an extremely detailed business card, you may run into situations that require more prepress work, such as intricate lines with strokes, overlapping objects, trapping and knockouts, photographs, several special effects, etc. It is almost impossible to cover each one in this article but a quick Google search and/or a chat with your printer should help you in your prepress work.

Conclusion

Taking the extra steps to ensure your business card (or any printed document) is prepped for the printer will not only save you some headache with your printer, but also save you money, as some printers charge you prepress fees for this type of work. Why get charged a fee when it is easy to prep your own document? Just keep in mind that a lot of headache can be saved by talking to your printer to find out their requirements first.

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