05.06.09 (5:43 pm)   [edit]

I've recently discovered Jennifer Farley's posts on Sitepoint. She has some nice tips on design work for online, but a lot of it can also apply on designing for print. Check her posts out at Sitepoint.

If you'd like to submit a graphic design tips article for possible inclusion on this blog, please email me on dtolken@gmail.com with subject GDT Article Submission. Remember to add a short bio at the end!

06.30.08 (3:41 pm)   [edit]

Many people might think that it's easy to convert a print brochure to a website and vica versa, but it's not that easy at all. Things to take into consideration would be the following:

Resolution of artwork

Print resolution is generally higher than web (72dpi) and therefore images will appear much larger in 72dpi (screen) resolution. You have to ensure that you adhere to general browser restrictions.


Many nice design fonts won't work on your website except if you keep them as images. This has pros and cons. The pros are that you'll have nice looking fonts, but the cons are that search engines can't read the text and you'll be shooting yourself in the foot. It's also much harder to update images than simple HTML text.

With general HTML fonts you're limited to only a number of fonts. The reason for this is because you want to be using fonts that most users have on their computers (whether Mac or PC).


A simple brochure might not be designed to the same scale requirements to fit as a website. A lot of cropping might render the artwork useless for use on the web, so make sure you have a designer that's up to the job of taking the concept and applying it on a website design.

It's never as simple as it might seem

It's important to remember that it's never as simple as it seems to take a print concept to web, so always keep in mind that converting a print design to a website might require some advanced skills!

09.04.07 (7:57 pm)   [edit]

Finding Inspiration from:

  • the homeless beggar on the way to lunch
  • a chance rainbow on a half sunny day
  • reading other design blogs :-)
  • networking in business (everybody seems to want what we do, but where are they when you're looking for clients?)
  • a high after a successful meeting
  • random colours in everyday life
  • raw talent from people that you never believed had any!
  • give me some more!

10.12.06 (9:11 pm)   [edit]

Once again I have some popup banners to design. You know, these roll up banners that pack neatly away into a carry bag... Well your basic banner design principles once again count here.

Client brief was that they'd be using it at events and seminars. Now I don't know about you, but when I'm attending an event, I'm seldomly going to stop in my tracks to read a whole company mission or vision statement (that's what the client suggested). I suggested to apply the infamous KISS (keep it simple stupid!) principle and ditched the statements for something more catchy. A one phraser that tell prospective clients exactly what the client does and also carrying over their most important values. In the end, a much more effective banner, with larger text and visuals to do what banners do best, attract interest.

I can't begin to say how important a slick design is. You need good effective stock photography if you're going that route, or strong vector based simple design layout. After all, with stock, you're selling a lifestyle and your trying to create a mood. Often, once single striking image as backdrop for your banner could accomplish just that. Just make sure your text sits well on such a background or make sure you have sufficient non-effect to make it stand out. What's non-effect? Well, putting effects like stroke or drop shadow on objects without making it apparent that they're really there, so downtoning it a bit.

Also remember any print material done for a client must create brand awareness, so make sure you convey the message. Louder if you're working with a lesser known brand and toned down, but themed effectively so that brand recognition is not lost on better known brands. 

Print Resolution

As mentioned before, large format is usually printed at lower formats, BUT if at all possible, design your artwork at full resolution at full size. If not possible, work at no less than 25% of the original size, but still hi-res, say 300dpi, which will allow the quality to still remain effective on the large format prints.

08.06.06 (9:18 pm)   [edit]

When commissioning a designer to do graphic or web design for you, it's important to keep a few things in mind. Graphic and web designers need specific information in order for them to accurately do an estimation of costs on the specific design project.

Things like colour preferences, formats and target audiences are important when briefing your designer on a new job.

Read more about how to brief your designer here.

07.04.06 (8:57 pm)   [edit]
Had the unfortunate task of importing a vector PDF into Freehand today. Maybe there is a trick, but I found a nice solution. If you have Flash, you can import it into Flash and then export as Adobe Illustrator file, which imports nicely into Freehand. If you have any better ideas, I'm all ears...

06.03.06 (9:53 am)   [edit]

There are many freelance graphic designers that would make you custom graphics online. Choosing the right one for your custom graphic design is not such a difficult task.

Things to remember when acquiring the services of an online graphic designer:

  1. Request a portfolio.
  2. Ask about turnaround time.
  3. Be sure that they can deliver the design file formats that you require.
  4. Ask about pricing and hourly design rate.
  5. Ask about methods of payment.
  6. Know what you want and
  7. Provide a proper brief, with colour preferences or examples of designs that you like.

It might seem simple, but these are things to consider when you acquire a graphic designer.

Contact me if you require some graphic design! 

03.19.06 (7:15 pm)   [edit]

Another tip I've learned from the local printshop is to sometimes apply a light blur on images that become grainly when you increase the image size. Use with caution though and do crop print samples (you increase the image size and then just crop a say 10x10 inch block of it to print a sample) with different variations in the effects. Remember that high quality sharply focussed photographs are the easiest to make big posters and bill boards from for obvious reasons!

03.17.06 (1:46 am)   [edit]

When you have a graphic that just needs that tad of 'spark', an easy way to improve on the visual effectiveness thereof is to apply some simple Photoshop techniques.


  1. In Photoshop, open up your levels editor (I think it's image / adjustments / levels).
  2. You will see a histogram of your image data.
  3. From the right-hand side, there is sometimes some blank space before the graph starts.
  4. By moving the right-hand pointer to the edge of that graph data you immediately improve brightness quality without losing picture quality.
  5. Once you move the pointer to within the graph data you will start seeing a degration of quality (your whites becoming too bright).
  6. If you move the left-hand pointer to the right, your dark colours will be accentuated, but use that sparingly.
  7. The middle pointer changes overall brightness (like white balance), but you usually don't have to change that much except if the overall picture quality is quite dark.


  1. To improve the colours in your picture, open up the saturation editor (image / adjustments / hue/saturation).
  2. By moving the saturation slider to the right about 10-20 points increases the overall colour richness of your image.
  3. If your picture seems to have too much of a specific colour, you can select specific CMYK to change that.
  4. You can also get some interesting effects by changing the hue when having those selected, for instance you want to change the blues in your image to a richer blue etc.
The best idea is to play around with these settings and never to overdo it. Use different settings and do print proofs as onscreen colours often look different than print when working in CMYK.

02.23.06 (9:57 am)   [edit]
We're being featured on Poynter Online , a journalism website. Thanx guys. Look out for some more great graphic design tips soon!

01.25.06 (8:36 am)   [edit]

Creating your company letterhead with Word is very easy. First thing you to do some preparation of your logo to be used within Word. Here are some steps for you to follow to make it happen:

  1. Create a 150DPI version of your logo at fair print size (say around 50mm if it's square bound or 80mm if it's a horisontal rectangle etc).
  2. Make sure your logo is created in RGB format, since Word is an RGB application.
  3. When in word, click on view/header and footer.
  4. You'll see a box open up at the top of the document.
  5. What I've found best is to insert a table with no borders, with 2 cells, so that I can left align the logo in the lefthand cell and right align any contact details like address, phone numbers etc in the righthand cell.
  6. Click on close (on the toolbar that pops up when you view your header).
  7. Now if you want the letterhead only on the front page, go to file / page setup.
  8. Click on the layout tab and select the 'Different first page' checkbox.
  9. Click OK to confirm
You're done!!

11.03.05 (6:18 am)   [edit]

There are different ways to draw images on the computer, but vectorising a scanned image in Macromedia Flash, must be one of the easiest ways. The Manga Generation, as I call them, or anyone who needs to draw any little image with curved lines on the computer, will find out soon enough that vector is the way to go. Photoshop offers nice bitmap tools for colouring images too, but the fun thing about vectors, is that you can stretch them into infinity without losing quality PLUS you can animate them while keeping a relatively low file size.

So you’ve scanned the picture you drew on paper and now the daunting task of getting the outlines in vector format lies ahead. Of course a drawing tablet is the easiest way to go, but we are going to do this with the mouse. Open a new layer above the one that contains your image, and use a colour that will contrast with the lines of your original drawing. First we’ll use the line tool to draw straight simplified lines on the main lines our drawing. Use a single straight line per curve. Now use the black arrow tool to manipulate these straight lines. You’ll see that when you hover over the line, your curser indicates that it is now in line modifying mode. Just click and drag the line to form a curve. It is as easy as that! When you drag the ends of the line, you can modify the line’s position, length, etc.

When you have finished tracing the whole image like this, you can delete your original layer, and start filling in the colour with your paint bucket tool. You can also modify the colour of your lines by using the ink bottle tool. The only other thing you’ll need, is patience… Even though this is not a difficult task, complex images may take a while to trace.

10.21.05 (9:34 am)   [edit]

A friend of mine taught me this invaluable tool this week, and I believe it is worth sharing. For those of you who haven’t been introduced to the actions palette in Photoshop, here we go – a basic lesson in saving time…

If you have lots of images, and you want to, for example, resize them all to the same dimension, the actions palette can do all this for you in a few easy steps. You won’t have to do the same thing over and over again on 200 images.

Open one of the images you want to resize. And open the actions palette (Window > Actions, or Alt+F9). Now press the ‘create new action’ button in the bottom bar of the actions palette. You will have to name your new action, and press record. Any changes that you make to this image, will now be recorded. You will notice the red recording button on the actions palette is turned on. You can stop it at any moment with the square button, and turn it on again. Photoshop will save the history of your actions. Resize, change colour, even save for web! Do whatever you want, but remember that these actions are meant to have the same effect on all the coming images. When you’re satisfied, save and close your image and stop recording. Now open the next image, and simply press the play button on the actions palette. Everything you’ve just done, will be repeated on this image! It is amazing, and really does save a lot of time…

10.18.05 (7:58 pm)   [edit]

For those of you looking to hire a graphic designer, there are a few things to take into consideration.

Many printing companies offer graphic design services. Sometimes however their main focus is still the actual printing and not graphic design. They tend to be cheaper alternatives, but sometimes lack the skills of trained graphic design professionals.

Always ask for a graphic design portfolio, especially of the type of work you are looking to procure. This will immediately give you an idea of their design talent.

Further, when you have a shortlist of design companies, ask them what their project schedule is looking like. Be sure that they can handle your deadline, especially if you are under pressure to complete a print job.

Specialised design agencies does not have to be large companies. Smaller agencies tend to have faster turnaround time on design jobs and are more willing to make a good impression to secure ongoing work.

Your graphic designer does not have to be local! The Internet is a wonderful place to find talent. Also remember that if a designer's site comes up top in Google for your search it is not a clear indication of the fact that they may be good designers. Take your time, if you have the liberty. Artwork can be delivered via email or the internet to a local printer and you'll be able to save on agency fees with regards to printers.

Agency fees are not an outright evil though, because your design company has to spend time on administering the printing process. It comes with the territory.

Never go for the cheapest option, except if their portfolio satisfy your needs. You will eventually build confidence in fishing out who can suit your needs.

10.10.05 (11:00 am)   [edit]

As with anything else, design skills are easier to learn when a person is still young. The school-going generation of today is more computer literate than their moms and dads were at that age.  It may be true that many parents now work with computers eight hours a day, but the kids learned to speak the language of computers with their first steps.

They could play computer games before the first time they were even introduced to scrabble.  It is a language like any… the earlier you begin to speak it, the easier it will be.  Rather than letting them play games all day long, we should introduce them to Photoshop or any other image editing or drawing program. They can fool their way around, and maybe create something spectacular!

The formal training can come later. Just imagine what design would be ten years from now if this generation kids start their first formal design job with ten years design experience already on their sleeves…

10.07.05 (8:02 am)   [edit]

From a recent post in the Graphic Design Forum I came accross a few cool websites about everything design. Here's the list of design websites:

Step Inside Design

Deviant Art

Design Taxi

Creative Latitude

Designer Today

Let me know if you find more great design websites!

09.25.05 (2:46 pm)   [edit]

I've long thought about traditional graphic design vs the current wave of digital new media graphic designers. As with other fields of expertise it comes down to experience and application. I see graphic design like playing the piano. You find people who have never had the formal training, yet they are absolute wizards with all graphic design applications and 'being creative' in general. It's like playing by ear vs classical training. 

Then you would find the 'classically' trained group, who ads their own specific spice to the design mix, bringing the theory of past styles and design technique.

Personally I think that traditionally(classically) trained graphic designers would be stronger. Being from a web design (and not trained in graphic design) background and being fully computer literate, I find it easy to adapt from some programs to others. Yet as in any industry it will always be experience that counts the most. Different setups work to bring different results.

I'd like to hear opinions (use the comments) of past experience from the graphic design community...

09.22.05 (2:43 pm)   [edit]

Resizing images almost always causes pixelation (when you see coarse-looking jagged edges in your picture), whether you make the image smaller or enlarge it.  JPEG images are especially unfriendly towards the idea of resizing.  There are few things that graphic designers hate as much as pixelated images! So how do we make it bearable?

There are different ways to resize your image in Photoshop.

  • Dragging : You can select the free transform tool and simply drag the corners until the image is the right size. This isn’t the greatest idea, though.  Even if you make it smaller, you’ll probably still notice that the image seems more blurred and fuzzy. Dragging it much larger causes serious pixelation - dragging it into a new file with a higher resolution might help a little.

  • Changing Image Size :  You can alter the image size (Image > Image Size), just as long as you remember to constrain proportions (else your image may appear all weird and stretched out). A good tip is to use the Bicubic resampling style for enlarging, and the Bilinear style for reducing the image’s dimensions.  After you have resized the image, it might need a bit of sharpening. 
    Use the Filter > Sharpen or Unsharp Mask tool.

If you think about it, resizing images basically comes down to spreading pixel information over a greater (or lesser) number of pixels.  It doesn’t give more detail to the image!  So my best advice for resampling images would be to re-scan the picture at the desired resolution.

09.22.05 (9:01 am)   [edit]

Recently I had major battles with calibrating my screen to produce near print colour. New designers often neglect to calibrate their screens and many don't even know what it means.

Well, let's explain. To calibrate your screen means to tweak the colour, brightness and other settings of your screens and drivers to match print quality colour as close as possible.

Luckily some tech heads out there thought of some tools to make colour calibrating your monitor a breeze. You get hardware calibration tools that plugs into your PC/Mac and then matches colours on your screen with a little device that you put on your screen.

First though, try out these following links to try and calibrate your monitor online (just through proper colour/gamma & brightness/contrast matching).

EpaperPress.com Monitor Calibration

Easy RGB dot Com Colour Calibration

Let me know if it was helpful!! Sure helped me out!

09.14.05 (2:09 pm)   [edit]

Many graphic design artists find inspiration in different things. Being from a web design background, I tend to look at well designed websites to find new inspiration. Especially at flash websites. Have a look at www.ultrashock.com and head to the bomb shock awards section in the forum. There are some truely amazing works of art there and it's really inspiring. Flash (which is vector based animation software for those who don't know and much more actually) has the added benefit of sounds, so it makes an even bigger impact since using more senses.

If you're walking down the street and you see something which you think is well designed, whether a building, a statue or a dustbin for what it's worth, try and think why it made an impact on you. Try and seperate colour from layout design (ok obviously the potplant won't work) and analyse why it appeals to your visual senses.

Just a few tips on things that inspire me. Happy hunting!

08.29.05 (3:06 pm)   [edit]

Well the heading says it all. Your font selections are very important in any project. I'll leave this post open for comment of favorite fonts used in the industry and which fonts are suited to which applications.

I'm collaborating with graphicdesignforum.com users for the best tips on graphic design. Check it out by clicking the link.

08.19.05 (3:07 pm)   [edit]

Have you ever thought about how you could spice up those boring closet door designs? Apart from the actual wood or metal work, there are lots of things we can do as graphic designers to liven it up.

Closet Door Design | Cabinet Door Design

Well first off you could take a digital pic of your closet or cabinet. Then you can import to Photoshop and start playing lowres. Remember that you'll eventually want to do it high res for print. Vinyl printing should be fine, to be applicated afterwards.

Actually not many designers would probably waste the time to design new closet doors or cabinet doors, but for those that have absolutely nothing else to do, comment on this thread with your url's to JPGs of your designs - we could start a trend!

Tsk-tsk-tsk... The ever unidle mind of a designer...

08.15.05 (10:49 am)   [edit]

When designing graphics or logos for companies, it's important for you take into account what their corporate identity should portray.

  • Who's the target market for the company? (5-10, 10-15, 15-25 yrs etc?)

  • Is it corporate or does the brand have a more relaxed feel?

  • What are the client's colour preferences? etc

"www.graphicslogo.com" - examples of logos online

Graphics and Logo Design (web vs print)

Designing graphics for web requires the designer to export final artwork as 72dpi images. A nice tip is to keep in mind that some site graphics might be used in print at some stage, so make sure you design vector or high resolution initially with detailed diagrams and sketches, even though it will only be used for web at 72dpi.

This is even more applicable when designing logos. So many times we get crap logo designs in low resolution to use on a client's print material which just doesn't cut it, and in the end the client has to foot the bill for re-designing their logo in high resolution to ensure quality printing.

This is why vector design is so powerful. It's easy work with vector graphics due to the small filesize, but powerful in the sense that you can make a vector design any size and you will not lose quality. The problem is when you need to use bitmap and vector design together - more on that later. The high resolution tips apply to bitmap design, since vector designs aren't bound by resolution, except when you start exporting.

Need a graphic or logo designed? Whether you need graphic design in the UK, USA or any other part of the world, visit Web & Graphic Design (PERONii) for any of your design requirements!

08.03.05 (1:43 pm)   [edit]

When designing brochures and documents with allot of text, it's best to start with the right applications. Two that immediately comes to mind is Adobe's InDesign and Macromedia Freehand. The power of these two apps (with regards to document layout) in comparison with say Photoshop or Fireworks is that your text layout tools are much stronger, with columns and text flowing from column to column which makes fitting a certain amount of text into limited columns a breeze.

The power of InDesign is that you can edit all graphical elements within Photoshop and have it updated within the InDesign file automatically which saves precious time. Well actually Freehand also has that function, so I guess it's a matter of choice and price in the end.

Then lets not forget QuarkXpress. Also a very strong application for layout design which is used widely. We find that many users tends to stick with a suite of products, that makes interoperability and file compatibility much easier.

07.28.05 (4:32 pm)   [edit]

An important part of any good graphic designer's skillset is good deep edging techniques. Use Photoshop's polygonal lasso tool to cut out objects and backgrounds from pictures.

Zoom in quite close and make your selection close cut to the object that you want to cut out. You can also create a clipping patch with the same selection for use in other applications (like Freehand), which will leave the whole pic in tact, but create a display mask to only show your object.

Another technique called masking is maybe a better alternative in certain applications. A mask will display just your selection and you can use the quick mask button to quickly create your masks. A mask will display only what's within the selection and hide the rest of the image. This way you can always update your mask if you want to include other parts or tweak it until you're happy.