April 2015

Stacy Kleber Design Fuel DC

For those who missed it, I spent one night last week with Fuel DC teaching small business owners tips to create simple images for their websites and social media.  If you aren’t familiar with Fuel DC, they run a few events a year in order to help entrepreneurs learn skills that will assist them in running their business.

While having a designer create custom graphics for you every day would be an ideal scenario, as small business owners, we all know that this would be neither cost effective nor realistic for someone who is either starting out, or is a single person business.  That is why we need to find simple, fast and lucrative ways to promote on a budget.

I covered some of the websites that I shared in my blog post earlier in March as a teaser for the event. This week I’ll recap some of the tips that I gave on designing your images for maximum effectiveness.

Fonts

Keep your fonts simple, and stay away from cliches like Comic Sans. Script fonts are ok, but be wary of using them on images that will be used small, such as photos you are inserting into tweets. Script can get hard to read at small sizes.

Colors

A color wheel is a great cheat sheet for choosing colors.  Do not overlay colors on opposite side of the color wheel, or they will appear to “vibrate” to the eye (for example you wouldn’t overlay yellow text over purple, or bright red text over bright green). Stick with dark on light, and light on dark for maximum contrast.

Overlaying Text on Images

When you want to overlay text on an image, choose something that is either blurred out so that the text won’t compete, or an image with a large blank area such as a sky or a grassy field, where the text will be easily visible.

Message

Keep your message short and simple. People skim their social media, and if they don’t get the message within a few seconds, the opportunity to hook them in is lost.

Brand

Even with all the options out there for creating images, be true to your brand. People build a relationship and come to expect a certain image from you as a business.  If you start giving them conflicting messages, and images that don’t fit your brand, you will begin to build a level of distrust with the customer.

Thanks to Studio DBI for hosting, Fuel DC and Capitol Romance for organizing and of course, thank you to everyone that attended!  Let’s get designing!

WHEN IN ROME

I have worked with international companies for a number of years now, and very often we end up printing designs in locations other than the US, so I thought I’d give a quick recap on US versus international paper sizes.

In the US, you are probably familiar with our standard sizes – letter, legal and tabloid being the most common.

Letter – 8.5″x11″

Legal – 8.5″x14″

Tabloid – 11″x17″

Also common are 3″x5″ and 5″x7″.

Internationally, it is much more common to use A sizes.  The interesting thing about A sizes are that each size is a sheet folded in half.  So A2 is half A1, A3 is half A2 and so on.  As the number gets larger, the size of the page gets smaller.  Most of the time these sizes are listed in millimeters, but for the US audience, I have put them here in inches for easy comparison.

A1 – 23.4″x33.1″

A2 – 16.5″x23.4″

A3 – 11.7″x16.5″

A4 – 8.3″x11.7″

A5 – 5.8″x8.3″

A4 is the closest to US letter.  It is a little taller and thinner than letter. A2 would be closest to US tabloid.

There are additional A sizes, but I think this should give you a pretty clear picture of how it works.  There is also a B and C series, but I won’t get in to those here.

Have you ever printed internationally?  What is your biggest challenge?

Color!

288C?  150U? 

Almost every designer will provide you Pantone or PMS colors with your logo – but what are these?  And why and how should you use them?

What is it?

Pantone colors are a way of creating a standard color match. Designers and studios will buy Pantone books, which look like paint swatches – each color with a specific corresponding number. This number can be given to a printer, with a guarantee that when printed in spot color, you will get an exact match in your printing.

Each color has a specific formula that the printer will mix. With Pantone, there are colors such as neons or metallics that will only come out that way by using Pantone rather than CMYK. This is because of the inks used as the base.

Most commonly used books

The most commonly used set of swatches is Pantone Solid Coated – solid colors set for coated paper. These are denoted by a number, followed by C. You may also see U or uncoated.

When would you not use it?

There are times when you simply can’t use a PMS or spot color. This includes times when you need to print photographic images, as the images are made up of CMYK inks.  In this case, it is helpful to provide the printer with the PMS number for your brand and let them know that the logo or background should closely match that color.

When would you use it?

You might want to use your PMS color for letterhead or business cards – products that only have one or two colors. While this may sound limiting, Pantone also allows you to use percentages of these colors in 1 or 2 color printing. This means you can get a range of depth with very few colors. You would also want to use spot color for thermography, or raised, printing. Sometimes, using only 1 color can also be a money saver. It really depends on the job.

Other interesting facts

Pantone was originally for printing only, but has moved in to all sorts of different areas such as home and fashion, weddings and Pantone Universe accessories. We even look forward to their color of the year every January to give us an idea of what is trending in the year ahead.