How to Organise your Graphic Design Work

A while a go a student on my logo design course emailed and asked me how I go about organising my work. I though I would share my response:

Create a Job Book

How I work – Get yourself an A4 (or legal size) lined pad or binder with lined paper – this can be used as a job book.

Then create some columns headed up – Date, job number, client, job description (I will jot down what the job is worth here too) and an invoice date column. Obviously tailor these columns to best suit you.

Then each time I start a new job I give it a job number I use my initials and then a number (don’t start at one if you are working for clients as it makes you sound new). So for example lets say I am just starting a job today – in the job book put the date 24th Feb 2013, then job number TR103, fill in the rest of the information job description client etc. This also helps you keep track of what you need to bill.

You can of course do this digitally if you want.

graphic design job book

Files on my Computer

Then on my computer I have a “Freelance Work: folder and in it client folders. When I get a new job for a client and have booked it in my job book I create a folder in the appropriate client folder and name it the job number plus a description e.g.. TR103 Range Brochure 2013. In it I split it up into folders called hires, rough, illustrator etc etc to hold all the different files. As I work on a job and there are file revisions I call the file names v1, v2 etc – as the classic client thing is they want to revert to something from an old version.

To Organise my Work Schedule

I use the Mac App “Things” for scheduling work (I used to do this manually on paper for the first few years – you can do this if you want). If you want something similar that’s free try Wunderlist. “Things” and Wunderlist are great as you can create Client folders and then a Todo list for each client with a date you are going to work on the job.

To backup my work

I use Carbon Copy Cloner to do a regular automated daily back up (you can also use Time Machine on a Mac) to an external hard drive.

I used to also do a weekly back up to another hard drive that I would keep off site (in my car). Now though I use CrashPlan an online back up service. The first online backup takes quite a while, but after that it’s good. If you want your data backed up to the cloud there is a monthly fee – I currently pay $5.99 a month but you can back up to someone else’s computer for free (for example you and a friend can back up to each others computers).

Archiving completed jobs

For archiving stuff I have completely finished I create back up DVD’s (2 copies). These I name by the month I am backing them up e.g.. February 2013 bk up 1 and put all the folders I no longer need in there. You can then use a little app called DiskTracker to catalogue these disks. This creates a searchable database so you know exactly which DVD to find old jobs on. Plus as you have used the job numbers in both your job book and on your computer you have a few different ways to search.

disk tracker design archiving

A New Style of Invitation that’s anything but Wooden

A guest post by Susie Francis writing on behalf of  RODD Industrial Design

Over the past year we’ve seen a new trend of invites to social events like weddings and birthday parties being made from beautifully engraved, smooth cut outs of wood. For this article, we look at the processes involved in the design and manufacture of the ‘woodcards’, taking in some examples, and giving tips on how you can design these fantastically imaginative items to suit your purpose or event.

The first time I had a woodcard delivered through my letter box, it was to invite me to a friend’s wedding, and the first thing I thought was, ‘crikey, they must have spent a fortune on just the invitations’.

Image 1 Wood Design

The quality of design and the craftsmanship is fantastic and gives the impression of an expensive product. Considering your typical wedding has over a hundred guests, I was thinking they’d must spent several hundred pounds. I was right, prices range from £3 to £7 per invitation depending on the design work required, so they’re most definitely a luxury.

How are they made?

The cards are made using a combination of laser-cutting and scoring the design onto a thin slice of wood or veneer using a laser printer. Laser printers have dropped in price massively over the past decade, which has allowed savvy entrepreneurs to produce the products themselves rather than outsourcing.

A great thing about this process is that it gives the impression of a handmade product, rather than a batch-produced item.

Cut-to-size pieces of the chosen wood are loaded onto a jig in the laser printer, and the printing itself is remarkably quick, anything between 1-5 minutes for a design of less than 1 foot squared.

The main wood used for cards and invitations is birch ply. Being a softwood, it’s lightweight and easy to machine. However, many other woods are used, including ash, oak, maple and poplar.

It hasn’t taken long for a wider range of products to become available from business cards to birthday cards. Recently producers have started treating the wood to ensure it lasts longer.

Who does the Designing?

A lot of the stock designs offered by retailers are great; they simply place your names and details in to their existing templates. There are a lot of options for having a bespoke design made, and often for a reasonable price. Many of the online retailers have an in-house designer for any of their design requirements.

The friend I mentioned earlier happened to be marrying a freelance graphic design expert, so he was well covered there, but I’d say that you really can’t go wrong sticking with a stock template.

Considering the price of production, and the importance of the occasions they’re used for, it’s fair to say it’s better to outsource the designing, unless you’re an accomplished graphic designer of course.

Some of the Best

Image 2 Wood Design

(Source: Serendipity Beyond Design)

Image 3 Wood Design

(Source: Invitationcrush.com)

Image 4 Wood Design

(Source: Freshbusinesscards.com)

Image 5 Wood Design

(Source: This is why I’m Broke)

Image 6 Wood Design

(Source: Carveon)

Wood invite design

If you’ve recently used a wooden style product, whether it was for a business car or a wedding invite, we’d love to hear how you chose a design and how they were received by people.

Susie Francis writes articles for RODD Industrial Design, a Design and Innovation Agency working with international clients delivering strategic design solutions. Based in Hampshire, UK, with clients including Motorola, Panasonic and Transport for London, RODD are focused on delivering the highest quality creative work and commercially effective design.

The Trend in Interactive Infographics and Microsites

A guest post by Luke Clum

Now that everyone from your favorite author to your dog sitter has some sort of website, most designers have learned that the old, static layouts and pages just don’t cut it anymore. In order to really get the attention of your viewer you have to stay ahead of the trends; a great way to do this is embrace interactivity. Static pages just don’t stand out to visitors anymore, as they are now used to animation, parallax scrolling, and other interactive elements.

But don’t fear, interactive pages don’t have to be complicate, as you can see in this example. Below we outline other great examples of interactive pages and discuss how emulate a similar style on your own.

Examples of interactive sites

SimpliSafe does a great job of showing their customers the length they will go to protect their property. Moving from inside to outside of an animated house as the viewer scrolls down the page, they teach their customers what they can do to ensure safety and peace of mind.

Simplisafe interactive infographic

YouTube pulled out all the stops when they created One Hour Per Second, a microsite that makes great use of animation, creative controls and provides links to some of the most popular clips from their website. When the user starts the presentation, easy to follow examples roll down the screen, providing the viewer with context to understand what it really means to have one hour of video uploaded to YouTube every second.

Youtube interactive infographic

Life of Pi was recognized as being a visual masterpiece at the box office and numerous award shows upon its release. With a mix of film and animation shown in 3-D, it’s no surprise that fans wanted to know exactly how the movie was made. This website uses lots of cool navigation and superimposed sketches of set designs with images from the film. Visitors can watch videos of some of the trickiest scenes filmed and provides before and after images that show exactly what the special effects provide. It’s a great way for fans of the film to get in on the movie magic.

Life of Pi interactive infographic

If there is one thing every James Bond fan enjoys it’s all of the extraordinary tools that he gets to use in the films. And the coolest of all the unattainable items might be the cars he gets to drive. A very clever used car dealer caught on to this and decided to break down all of the Bond cars and let customers choose their favorite. With color palettes that match every decade, swirling backgrounds zoom in and out to reveal the next movie’s car. They obviously know the value of an older car and do a great job of pointing that out to their customers as well.

Bond interactive infographic

The Dangers of Fracking makes great use of visual elements to educate viewers on how wasteful and harmful fracking can be for the environment. With easy to follow graphics that take you from start to finish and navigation that makes you feel as though you are flipping through a book, they put everything you need to know about fracking in one place. It’s a great way to inspire visitors to react to the information instead of just reading it.

Hydraulic Fracturing interactive infographic

Luke Clum Luke Clum is a graphic designer from Seattle who specializes in print and web development. He loves coffee, hiking and alpine climbing in the mountains. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum

10 Inspiring Printed Designs

A guest post by Paul Kilminster who has worked in the printing industry for several years and has seen how the industry has evolved to meet the challenges of digital marketing. He is currently the Technical Services Director for Print and Digital Associates.

From full-on works of art to professional business cards, print is an incredibly versatile medium. Since we know you can’t get enough of looking at beautiful designs, we’ve found ten fabulous examples of striking and innovative prints for you to enjoy. Check them out below!

1. Lumadessa – Night Owl

1. lumadessa - night owl

The simple geometric design of this stunning owl illustration really catches the eye. The use of colour to suggest shadow gives a three-dimensional effect, bringing the owl to life despite the highly stylised nature of the image.

2. A Single Man

2. a single man

This striking film poster may look simple, but it’s amazing how evocative a design with so few elements can be. The positioning of the glasses and tie make it look as though they are being worn by an invisible man, while the combination of colours suggests sadness and loneliness.

3. Paris Traveler Series

3. paris traveler series

We love the play on perspective in this poster. It adds an element of fun and really gives you the feeling of sitting outside a Paris cafe. The merging of the champagne bubbles with the stars in the sky is the finishing touch in bringing both elements of the design together.

4. Superhero Noir Posters – Dark Knight

4. superhero noir posters

A world away from the usual bright colours associated with comic-book inspired art, the use of silhouette in this poster makes for a sophisticated twist on the theme.

5. Seed Vibe (Business Card)

5 - SeedVibe

These business cards give a holistic, refined impression. An ingenious idea combining the simple white text against a resplendent, strong green background; these cards would be perfect for a savant or sophisticated business.

6. JS3 Design (Business Card)

6 - JS3 Design

Another creative business card idea, the vibrant colours are made substantially more noticeable as they contrast with the staunch black backdrop. The trio of colours on the front of the card offers simplicity but is still inspiring. These business card are ideal for an inventive company and would be sure to intrigue your clients.

7. Behance Poster

7 - Behance

Vivid, explosive colours and graceful designs make this poster a beautiful piece, the overlap across the white diamond gives the impression that it is a 3D poster; the thick white line of the diamond also centres your focus due to the variation in colour. The detail in this design is uplifting and makes for an eye catching bit of art.

8. Verbana (Business Card)

8 - Deskfolio

This cute business card idea is deceptively simple. We love the way the design is replicated on the reverse of the card, subtly inviting you to turn it over and see the contact details. The reversal of the pink and white colours finishes the design off nicely.

9. Cuben – Colour Shambles

9. cuben - colour shambles

Many of the designs we’ve chosen feature just two or three colours that enhance the striking simplicity of the design. This poster, on the other hand, is a glorious riot of colour, and it works just as effectively. Celebrating the cube, the colours draw in your eye and add elements of depth. The longer you look, the more cubes you see.

10. Literature Quote Illustrations – I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.

10 - literature quote (Edgar Allan Poe)

The simple but striking monochrome design of this poster beautifully illustrates the quote from poet Edgar Allan Poe. By waking up to this poster every morning you’re sure to have an interesting day ahead!

That’s the end of our list. We hope you enjoyed discovering these stunning examples of printed design as much as we did!

 

Inspirational Paper Engineering

A guest post by Susie Francis who writes for affordable leaflets

Paper engineering is something you might only think is relevant to children – for example, in the form of pop-up picture books or basic paper aeroplanes. In actual fact, paper engineering can be a spectacularly creative art form, with the power to create a real wow factor.

Paper art originated in Ancient Japan as origami, but is getting more and more popular in today’s world. It can be seen all around the globe, and is even on display in some of the most prestigious galleries and museums.

The things a talented paper engineer can do are extraordinary – ranging from minimalist artwork, to exquisitely detailed designs. Below are 5 unique, interesting and frankly amazing examples of modern paper engineering.

Benja Harney

Benja Harney is an artist located in Sydney, Australia, his work above is simply stunning. Based on a traditional English tea-party it is realistic and looks delicious, despite being wholly created with paper. His impressive work is funky, unique and literally appears good enough to eat… even the paper tea in the cup looks drinkable.

Benja Harney paper enginnering

Lydia Crook

Lydia Crook, based in Lewes, Sussex, creates pop-up books and paper carvings. Her work above is original, illustrative and looks as if it has just popped out of a story book. The subtle blue silhouette creates lovely shadow effects because of the cut-out technique used by the artist.

Lydia Crook paper engineering

Su Blackwell

Sue Blackwell is based in London and she clearly takes the term ‘pop-up’ book to a new level. As the image shows, she is able to turn the book itself into a work of paper art. This work, entitled “The Fairy Tale Princess: Seven Classic Stories from The Enchanted Forest” is altogether magical, mysterious, and intricately designed. You can almost imagine a tiny paper princess locked away in the turreted castle.

Su Blackwell paper artist

Jen Stark

This magnificent, brightly coloured piece by American artist Jen Stark is undeniably eye-catching. Made with paper, wood, glue and foam board, and entitled Cosmic Distortion, this is a more abstract paper-engineered creation. It is frankly amazing how Stark produces such exquisite yet vibrant sculptures with paper.

Jen Stark paper sculpture

Love Paper Flowers – Jennifer Bennett

Artist Jennifer Bennett from Blackpool, UK, creates more practical art which is equally stunning. She uses paper engineering to make bridal bouquets and gifts inspired by flowers. This delicate bouquet of purple, yellow and cream flowers is created entirely using paper-based products. Each one is realistic, imaginative and made with undeniable patience.

Jennifer Bennett Paper flowers

As you can see, paper engineering requires infinite amounts of skill, patience and most importantly imagination. Creations range from wall art and pop-up books to huge sculptures. No doubt the popularity of this impressive and exciting form of art will continue to grow, pushing boundaries by challenging the limitations of paper as a material.

This post was written by the content writers at affordable leaflets.

How to set up an InDesign file for print

A guest post by José Calvo, writing on behalf of South East Labels

Creating media ready for professional printing is something that many vaguely wonder about, but never actually do. While it’s all well and good having the skills to generate eye-catching posters or super-slick brochures, to make them pay you also need the ability to set up the files properly. Happily, for users of InDesign, this process is relatively easy.

Getting the colour right

Start by choosing CMYK colour mode when creating a document. This is necessary because many of the colours created in RGB mode aren’t achievable using the standard four-colour printing process. Using CMYK thus gives a more accurate representation of the final printed product.

In dealings with a printer, designers might hear the term ‘four over four’ or ‘4/4’. This simply refers to four colours on the front and four colours on the back – a typically request for a flyer. A poster on the other hand would typically need 4/0 as there are no colours on the back.

Those new to the printing game would be wise to avoid lavishly coloured designs for their first few jobs. It’s far cheaper to create 2/0 sheet labels or business cards, and there’s consequently less to lose if something goes wrong.

new indesign document

Press “Ctrl + n” or “Command + n”. Within the new document dialog box, choose the “Print” option

Variations on black

There are two types of black that can be used when printing black. The standard ‘Rich black’ is defined as 40 C 40 M 40 Y 100 K, and should be used for printing blocks of black. ‘Black’ is 0 C 0 M 0 Y 100 K, and creates a flatter tone more suited for body copy and barcodes.

black and rick black for print

Important: Some print shops specify a different mix for the Rich Black

Understanding layout

Printers like to be given a margin of error, which is known as ‘bleed’. It’s an extension of a design that is intended to be cut off. Artwork should extend into the bleed area to ensure that no unprinted edges occur when the document is finally trimmed to size. The minimum bleed needed for a printed piece is 0.125 in (1/8in), but check with the printer beforehand.

Within the bleed area is the ‘live area’. This is where the essential body of the artwork is placed. Anything beyond the edge of the live area may or may not be lost, so make sure to stay within the boundaries. The trim line is between the bleed area and the live area, and indicates where the final cuts will be made.

The best way to become familiar with the terms described here is to play with some of the various templates that can be downloaded for free.

bleed and slug in print

The “bleed and slug” option becomes available when you click on “More options”, within the “New document” window. All these settings can be adjusted later wshortcut CTRL + Alt + P).

Choosing images

While getting the aesthetic right is obviously important, don’t be tempted to opt for images with a low resolution just because they look good. Commercial printers typically require higher resolution images than those viewed only on a monitor. It’s best to err on the side of caution and only deal with images of at least 225 ppi. Use the ‘Info panel’ tool to check image resolution.

Making a package

To package files using InDesign, go to ‘Package’ in the ‘File’ menu (shortcut Alt + Shift + Ctrl + P). This will make a summary screen appear, where the designer can check the colours, image sizes, fonts etc. If all looks well, click on the ‘Package’ button. All that’s left to do then is zip up the folder and send it off to the printer.

package in Indesign

Final words

The printing process is initially often nerve-wracking, as mistakes can be costly. First-timers should contact their printer from the outset to clarify exactly what’s required. Companies such as South East Labels are happy to offer pre-press advice.