Tag Archives: graphic design

Anatomy of print advertising

DSCN6003[DSCN6002[sqr-basic-lomo-dusk-tilt]]
Very excited about a mentoring opportunity with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee this afternoon. Last October I volunteered and really enjoyed sharing my knowledge and experience of graphic design with the students.

Here are my notes on the five basic elements of a print advertisement.

  1. Headline
  2. Subhead
  3. Body copy
  4. Visuals
  5. Layout

A print ad includes other components (like, color, shape, logo, etc.), but these five elements are foundational to print advertising.

A page from the history of graphic design

There was a time — somewhere around the Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods of graphic design — when all pre-press art files were saved to a 250 MB Zip disk, packed into a Fed-Ex overnight envelope and delivered to a Fed-Ex pick location.

Working for a weekly newsmagazine, I was the last person to see that package and its digital content before it travelled 384 miles to the press that printed the periodical.

On one occasion I had to deliver the package to the airport due to a late breaking election story. That was before Adobe Photoshop CS arrived. And sometime between versions of QuarkXPress 4 and QuarkXPress 5.

The magazine introduced a virtual private network (VPN) in 2003. This linked the headquarters with various national offices as well as the press that printed the publication.

Soon Zip disks became novel items that were relegated to the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet. Like the extinction of the Neanderthals, the Zip disk has completely disappeared from all graphic design and print production today.

Putting the finishing touches on a new book design

Constellarium_Cover_Final
Since the publisher posted the following on Facebook last night, I guess it is alright to unveil a new book I designed:

Jordan Rice’s debut poetry collection, CONSTELLARIUM, a finalist for the 2015 Orison Poetry Prize, is now available for pre-order at a discounted price! Order now and be among the first to receive the book when it’s released in April.

“Constellarium is a bold announcement of a new poetic voice to be reckoned with. These poems make us stare down shame and celebrate transition, celebrate the body inside. Jordan Rice does not flinch from what society would have us try to look away from, instead she carefully constructs a book in which we are forced to reckon, layer by layer, with her being. Let us be thankful that such a voice exists, that it is brilliant and shattering, and here to take us all on her journey.” –Fatimah Asghar

The process of cover design is exciting. Especially when the title of the project is constellarium.

There are so many stories behind the cover design that would be fun to share. Like, for example, how the kidlingers enjoyed the image of cetus — how cetus does not look like any image of a whale they have ever seen in a picture book. And how the eldest kidlinger is writing a report about rhinos.

And how a species of rhino has been reported extinct. And we wonder if these old drawings are accurate. And that maybe the cetus represented in the book cover art is correct. But maybe that species of ceti (is that the correct nominative plural of cetus, Latin students?) is now extinct.

Maybe these behind-the-scenes stories are more interesting to me than you.

See if you can find cetus in the cover art by pre-ordering Jordan Rice’s Constellarium!

Say something creative

Yes. Someone actually asked me that. The request: “Say something creative in 150 characters or less. Grab my attention.”

Here is my on-the-spot 30-second reply:

An artist may paint an image of a stop sign on canvas and it earns some interest. A designer creates a stop sign and people stop. Message delivered.

Dry transfer lettering

Dry transfer type

From the graphic design archive…

Anyone remember doing advertising or editorial mockups using dry transfer lettering? Or the fact that mockups were expected to take days not hours?

Does this make me look Luddite?

Image Luddite

When I looked at my office desk earlier this week, this question came to mind: Does this make me look Luddite? On the desk was a book on the subject of graphic design, a daily desk diary, a periodical, a mechanical pencil (not pictured), a tin of tea and cup of tea (also not pictured) and a smartphone (not pictured, because it was used to capture the image).

It does not escape my attention that I could use an internet search engine to locate similar content that I found the printed book. But I chose the book. And there are plenty of cloud based software applications that I could use to plan and track daily activity. But that was not my choice. A mechanical pencil is easily replaced with a keyboard and mouse. Again, that was not my choice. To my knowledge, tea cannot be digitized. At least not yet. And the smartphone. Well that is a device that continues to intrigue and perplex me. It is advertised to make life easier, smarter. But I have yet to get it to produce a good cup of Earl Grey tea on a misty morning when I’m tearing down the mountain to get to the publishing house to invest in another book project.

Four tools to create a color palette

Color palette based on book cover design

Color palette based on book cover design for the novel Blue Dollar

Wear the blue neck tie to suggest boldness and confidence. Wear the red tie for passion. Or so the conventional wisdom offers those business persons who are presenting themselves for a job interview. Color is important when designing books, posters, web sites, etc. Building an effective color palette takes years of experience in knowing the right color combinations that present contrast or harmony or various other arrangements.

Thanks to some online resources, creating a color palette takes only a few minutes. Here are four online tools to use in creating a customized color palette.

  1. CSSDrive.com: http://www.cssdrive.com/imagepalette/index.php
  2. DeGraeve.com: http://www.degraeve.com/color-palette/
  3. colorhunter.com: http://www.colorhunter.com/
  4. PaletteFX.com: http://www.palettefx.com/index.php

There is also a way to create a color matrix using Adobe Illustrator, but that’s a bit more involved and takes longer to explain. Here’s an example of what a color matrix looks like (see below).

Color matrix

Color matrix (for a corporate brand book)

What tools do you use to create effective color palettes?