Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Win this Fabulous Poster!

I wondered if I could stray from the usual and do something a little different this week so I am!!! Well, I am still working on my hand lettering and produced the fabulous poster you see here. I'm holding a contest on Twitter for a winner of the poster. This contest is only open to U.S. contestants and only until May 23, 2014 . You can hashtag #IwinWonder for a chance to win.

Background on the Phrase: I created this poster using those words because of my son and his impact on my life. The 9-month old little boy that makes me look at things differently. This is yet another post dedicated to the one and only Chocolindo.  It still needs to be cleaned up but will be perfect when you receive it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

5 Designer Tips for Photography with Purpose

Yeap this is my selfie. And if you came from my social media pages
 you would know this is me in disguise, I'll explain this choice later....keep reading.

I wonder if every graphic designer has the same process for choosing photographs so I decided to share my personal process.

With the birth of Instagram and the affordability of SLR cameras some people might think they know photography. And everyone has an opinion on what makes a good photograph. Although I've been properly schooled, I'm not an expert in photography. I am not a photographer. I am sharing my experience in choosing the right photographs for you.

Search online and you'd see that most blogs discuss the subject of photography focus on the technical aspect of a great photo. And although I think it's important, I don't think that should be sole focus when choosing a photo. In my opinion, choosing the right photo is both a combination of your needs as a designer in terms of layout, technical adequacy, and tatatatam....brand personality.

It's about choice making whatever your choice on purpose or with purpose. I don't agree that every photograph has to be technically correct to fit your needs, with that said here are my tips:

1. Determine the personality 

You have to dive deep into your company's/organization to study the mission/goals and find what makes you special. What is it that your organization is trying to project to an outside audience. Your company should already have this so ask a few people.

2. Guide Photographer

In order to get the right photograph you must be able to articulate your needs. Be very specific in what you're looking for. I created a document which I will share at a later time that can be use as a template for you.

Here are some questions that you may want to ask yourself based on what you find about the brand personality:
Do you want close ups?Groups?
Smiles? Dark setting ? Lighter photographs?.

Be brave. Ask for something atypical! Make sure that whatever you choose conveys the emotion you want to portray for your brand.

I know some of you may not have the budget for photography so go with stock photography. You can change this at a later time. Be sure to go to the smaller stock photo companies because there might be less likelihood of your photo showing up in someone else's brochure.

3. Sort and Organize

Once you have the photos from the photographer, you'll see that you have more than you need or that you need other photos. It's important to sort and organize what you have to determine whether your photographs tell the story you want to portray. Look at them together. Make sure you choose based on personality first then technical adequacy (meaning contrast, composition, etc) Do you have have everything you need? Vertical shots, horizontals, wider angles at a variety of locations, with different groups, if not, it's time to reshoot.

4. Test Your Theory 

Now that you have everything you need and it's well organized you can test your brand photographs. Yes, I said it. Use photographs for meetings, social media, and other forms where you won't lose capital. Test out the photos in combination with messaging. Do people respond to your brand? Do you think they tell the story you want to portray?

Currently, I'm working on my personal brand and for that reason I'm using the photograph at the beginning of this post. My brand is opinionated but easygoing, colorful, creative, has a conscience. Basically it's me, but does it really come true in my photograph....well you tell me.

5. Roll out 

Let the fear go and roll out your product using your photography. The job is not done. You have to keep shooting to make sure you capture changes in your brand.

Agree or disagree with this post. Write to me in the comment section below!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to Optimize Images for the Web Using Photoshop

I wondered if everyone literally wrecks their brain every time they have to create a Flash animation and it can only be 40k. Is it just me? 

The lucky in my eyes are those of us who have to create ads with flashy content/video served at third parties. I have spent hours finding the best way to get Flash files to look their best at the lowest resolution possible. I will show you how to optimize images but I must note that there are also best practices to follow in order to have the best possible ad at the lowest possible resolution and in this post I will advice on both. I know I know Flash is going out of style but these practices can be used for your website, blog, and it's just good information to know.

Here's the deal in step by step:    

#1 Planning 

Take a few minutes to sketch/thumbnail your idea for the ad. Keep in mind that the simplest message might be the easiest to deliver and may give you the greatest number of clicks. Also, make sure that you think about the placement of text over the image. Most online advertisements specs are for small-size ad, which means that you cannot have very complicated/colorful images if you're going to have text over them. Believe me I know from experience.

#2 Resize your images - 

Using thecrop tool resize the images you're using to your desired size.

#3 Go to File > Save for Web

#4 Last Step is to adjust file size using the Save for the Web option

Here's how to make it small: 

You will need to experiment with these to decide which one makes your picture look the best. In general photos look better as JPGs though they may not produce the smallest file size all of the time. I do use them for photos  and change the compression to smaller. Also you have the option of blurring the picture which makes it look better because of interpolation of the image.

GIF/PNG Generally these two options are better for text. The text look clearer than using a JPG for text heavy images. You're able to set the number of colors. The lower the number of color the lower the size of the image. Watch out for some images don't look better with less color. I prefer PNG to GIF because of their size but some e-mail systems do not support them. 

QUALITY: The best option ever invented from Photoshop it tells you exactly what to do. Bicubic smoother or bicubic sharper are the two options to pay attention to. Smoother for photos and sharper for pictures is what I generally use.

And that's it you have the photo you want. The best advice I could give anyone is to experiment with the options available. There's a lot I didn't show because these are my best practices. If you have a tip you'd like to share, please fill the comment section below. See ya next time!