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Know your design plan

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When you enter the design process with your designer, specificity is key.  Oftentimes, when business owners or creative professionals meet with their designer to outline the specifics of their project, the details are not quite clear. The reality is most clients discover what they really want through the proofing process. The challenge here is that they don’t realize the demands they are making on their designer when they ask for a change here, and a change there. In their mind, the change is minor and should not require much effort on the part of the designer, but they often do not understand the process involved in making some of their change requests. That is why clients find themselves overwhelmed at increased costs for proofing and revisions when they have requested changes to the finished product.

The best way to demonstrate how this process works from the designer’s point-of-view is to share an actual example or case study of this type of scenario.

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The image above is the original artwork for this project. We were asked to quote a list of line items for a children’s enrichment program that introduces preschool-age children to sports, dance, cheerleading and fitness with a focus on building confidence and team participation. After quoting the list, we received approval to begin work on their brochure.

To begin the project, the client provided a JPEG file of their last brochure. They wanted us to edit the image and build off the artwork they’d already created. Unfortunately, JPEG images are not editable.  To put things in perspective, it’s like trying to press backspace on a word that’s printed on a piece of paper; it just doesn’t work. This is something to always be mindful of as you provide files to your graphic designer.

The client’s first request was to remove the second sentence (the bold one) and replace it with “Try a Starz class and rest assured your child is in the best enrichment program on the market today! www.StarzProgram.com.”  They also wanted to change the color of “dance, sports, cheer, and fitness.” Again, these changes seem quite simple. But, what the client did not realize was that you need to individually erase each letter and match the spots to the existing background before you can place the new desired text.

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After making the initial changes, we went through several iterations of changing the “dance, cheer and fitness” content. In the first change, the color of the letters was changed a lighter color to make it stand out. The client wanted the words to ‘pop’ more which resulted in the changes you see in the above image. After reviewing this proof, the client’s reaction was we were getting close but not quite there. She wanted to see more ‘pop’ on those letters. In addition, they decided to completely remove the boy in the upper right hand corner and replace him with a cheerleader and a ballerina of different races to show diversity. This seems like a simple request, but it literally took over an hour to find images that matched their specific requests.

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To create the best experience for the client and designer, map out your project in as much detail as possible in the beginning to avoid tedious, trial and error changes during the proofing stage.

 

For more information about the Starz Program and how it SHINES contact Sophia Wastler, founder. www.StarzProgram.com

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What's under the hood of your graphics?

Mechanical inspection edit 

Graphic design services entail a lot more challenges than most realize.  After recently encountering numerous challenges for best communicating the true task for requested graphic design services, I have been compelled to write a series of educational articles for those who contract qualified graphic design professionals to perform creative outcomes.

This article will provide three examples of professional graphic designer challenges that most who work outside of this creative industry do not understand.  My goal is to share a series of educational subjects to hopefully instill heightened awareness of the graphic design industry and the value of their employ.

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There are many instances where the client will ask a designer to perform basic typesetting services.  Typesetting is typically construed as basically typing words, making the words look good with different font usage, proper spacing and in some instances- converting your product into a right-fit storytelling writing style.  You've communicated what you want to have typed, and may have asked your typesetter to “make it sound good” in addition to making it look good.  If your typesetting and/or graphic design service is starting from scratch and you agree to pay for that labor, your investment will be worthwhile because the work will be done correctly.  If you are providing a digital art file for editing, respect the educated evaluation of your selected designer when they review the good, the bad and the ugly with you.  It's not fair to assume you know all the intricacies of how to make your existing product different/improved.  Nor is it fair for your hired graphic professional to assume you are educated about their industry steps to achieve your request.  Bottom line is the mutual goal to accomplish the task.  Let the knowledgeable mechanic fix the problem, while you focus on the mechanics of where you are knowledgeable in your industry.

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There is an inherent value for collaboration between you and your designer before the work begins. Learn the value of what needs to be done.  Parallel this situation with your familiarity of a typical automobile oil change expense versus the expense of identifying and repairing that strange noise your car is making.  The mechanic will need to implement an investigative diagnosis stage (which someone must be paid for), then there’s the actual repair cost which may only involve labor time but might involve purchasing replacement parts.  In the case where there are a few problems you want to address, try to discuss them all at the beginning of the process.  Logically, while the mechanic is looking at solutions to fix one problem, if he's under the automobile digging around to find the issue he can save you money to look for the other issue simultaneously.  

If you change your mind repeatedly on which issue you want rectified, or you bring up a new separate issue after the first problem is solved, you may encounter extra labor costs for the mechanic to take everything apart again to find the additional problems you've addressed.

Most computers have wonderful user-friendly typesetting software programs.  You may be familiar with some of these programs such as Word, Publisher, Google Docs and there are those who even consider Excel spreadsheet program types to be typesetting programs.  The typical user of these programs can see their results not only on a computer screen, but in a hard-copy printed version.  It's so easy to create a professional looking outcome, right?  One can even insert a logo from their website (or other internet based resources), and quite frankly be made very proud of the creation.  Whether printing your work on your office printer, at a “quick copy store” or pasting it into an email, it looks wonderful!

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For the “Do It Yourselfer” who decides to employ a graphic designer to take your awesome creation and simply throw it into a newsletter, a menu, a post card or some other commercially printed product, your interpretation of their labor time is a no pain assumption, right?  Why would your hired designer or commercial printing resource need to charge a fee for simply placing your work into a digital template?  You have maybe even converted your word doc into a PDF or your spreadsheet seems easily transferable to any computer or printed document type.

WRONG!

Commercial printing of marketing pieces requires professional placement of your text with special attention given to an assortment of important “press quality” outcome criteria.  Let the mechanic do their job as efficiently as is possible and then respect their knowledgeable advice with a fair value placed on accomplishing your goal.

Here's a few examples of the challenges your professional typesetting and graphic design resource typically needs to overcome through diligent and knowledgeable labor time and effort.

The pretty Word document or PDF you made looks like this when placed into a graphic design software program such as Illustrator, InDesign or similar.  EEK!

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Those aren't words and sentences!  They are now individual letters all sitting in pretty rows.  If the rows don't fit into the press “safe zones” for press machine grip, fold or trimming margins, your designer then has to move your individual document letters one at a time or in carefully selected groups to the right place and still maintain the good sense of your creation!  Of course, you did a thorough “spell check” before sharing your creation with your typesetting professional, right?  Don't expect these dotted letters to make sense in any spell check tool.

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The image shown above is NOT press compatible. Can you clearly read the data? Kinda blurry huh? It's a resolution problem.  In layman's terms resolution is the number of (ink) dots per inch.  Newsprint is typically 150 dots per inch.  Hold a magnifying glass over a printed newspaper page to see the dots - there are 150 dots in a square inch.  For fast web image loading, most images you see on the Internet are only 72 dpi!  Crisp professional print typically requires no less than 300 dpi (dots per inch), so when your professional service asks you whether or not you may have a high-resolution art image, they are protecting your creation to insure a crisp image prints.  No one wants a blurry graph on your professionally printed marketing piece, right?

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If you don't have high resolution images, your hired professional will now have to redraw your image to ensure proper resolution at press.  There may be legal considerations regarding copyrighted logo art.  “Replacement” images may need to be purchased or recreated to accomplish your requested product completion.

Take the time to discuss with your graphic output resource what you want to achieve before you try to do the work yourself.  A professionally typeset and commercially printed piece can provide a valuable tool for marketing your business.  Be fair to yourself and allow a graphic specialist to create your printed product digital files.  The value of having this task accomplished correctly will prevent aggravating delays, additional labor expenses and professional misunderstanding of what this type of service actually requires.

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