3 Vital Resources for Beginner Graphic Designers

Graphic Design, like many other hobbies and professions, has become more accessible to learn due to the vast amount of help and knowledge on the internet. There are thousands of YouTube tutorials for Photoshop or Illustrator as well as online classes and articles that could get you started. Within days, you’ll be on your way to creating awesome designs and logos.

The problem you may run into is an overwhelming amount of resources trying to guide you in every which way. With so many options to choose from, and so many different styles to sort through, it may be difficult and time consuming. Here are some resources that can be vital for beginner (or any) graphic artists:

  1. Canva.com

    Canva is a great resource for designers who do not have access to programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. While it may not be as feature-rich as these programs, it is user-friendly and will get the job done for most basic design jobs. The program allows you to upload photos, browse through a large selection of stock photos and patterns, and use cool pre-loaded fonts.

    What may be the best part about Canva – besides the fact that it’s free – is it’s compatibility with print design. Most online design programs lack this feature, but Canva allows you to design custom page sizes so that there are no issues in enlarging for print. This way no quality is lost when printing full size.

    Another print-specific feature is the ability to export files with crops and bleeds. This is required by nearly all printers, and can be a pain to fix if it is not set up right. With Canva, you will end up with a High Quality PDF that is ready for print.canva | graphic design tool for those who don't have photoshop

  2. Coolors.co

    This super simple color palette generator quickly identifies colors that work well together. This is great for getting some inspirations for design based on a few complimentary colors. coolors | color scheme generator for graphic designers

    This tool gives you the option to select colors by Hex value, CMYK, RGB, PMS or Copic Value. You can then lock one or more colors and produce an array of colors based on that locked value. It even gives you the option to change the hue, saturation and brightness of your colors, making the tool super flexible.

  3. freeforcommercialuse.net

    Stock photos website for graphic designers

    Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense for you to go out and take photos for a design you are working on. With the vast amount of images that are on the web, it is usually easier to just put in a search of what you’re looking for, and find it that way. There are two minor problems with this, however. First, a lot of photos have licensing restrictions on them, so you cannot use them without giving proper attribution. Second, because there are so many photos to choose from, it may be hard to sort through all of them to find a high quality and relevant photo.

    Freeforcommercialuse.net is a directory linking to some of the best stock photos available. Almost all are free for commercial use without attribution. Some of the sites allow you to search for specific topics while others curate daily collections of beautiful photos. Whatever you are looking for, this is a good starting point for designers looking for high quality photos.

Designing for Print

There are many things to keep in mind when designing materials for print that differ from simple web-based graphic design. Using CMYK color schemes, designing with crops and bleeds, and exporting your files the right way are all vital steps needed to get your piece on the press in a timely matter. Visit our info center to learn more about designing for print, or leave a comment below with any questions you may have!

Lookbook Specs: Choosing the Right Options for Your Fashion Lookbook

Lookbook-Collection

With spring fashion season soon approaching, and the New York Fashion Week kicking off next week, time is crucial in getting all of your collateral together. There is so much that goes into presenting your new line of clothing or jewelry, and some things can go overlooked. Fashion lookbooks are a key part of any presentation, and can serve as major selling point for your merchandise.

When talking to your printer, there will be several questions they will need to ask to find out exactly how to print your booklet. Make sure you know the answers beforehand so that you can get a fair price estimate, and so that your final product comes out exactly the way you are expecting.

Here are some of the most common questions you will face when you go to print your lookbook:

How will my lookbook bind?

There are a few different options available for lookbook binding, and more detailed information and videos can be found at our bindery options page.

The three most common lookbook binding styles are Saddle Stitched, Wire-O, and Perfect Binding. Each has it’s own advantages, and there are different requirements for each style.

Saddle Stitched

This is the most cost efficient option and uses two staples to hold together the sheets of paper. Since this style is printed on large sheets that are folded in half, this type of booklet can only come in increments of 4 pages.

Wire-O Binding

Each sheet is cut to the finished size and bound using a wire with metal loops. This way, the book can be easily turned so that each page lays flat.

Wire-o-lookbook

Perfect Binding

This is the traditional book-binding method of gluing sheets into a thicker cover. Perfect binding produces the most professional finish, but requires a minimum of 28 pages to be bound this way.

perfect-bound-lookbook

What Paper Type Should I use for my Lookbook?

Choosing the right paper for your lookbook can be just as important as the actual layout of the book. Each designer will have different preferences for their lookbook, depending on the style of the material showcased inside.

If you want your images to really pop and you have a lot of bright colors and whites in your artwork, you would probably be best suited for Gloss paper. Need your booklet to be even more shiny? Add a layer of UV Coating to the cover!

Matte or Dull Coated paper is similar to gloss, but the accents are toned down a bit. This option is great for more neutral colors that don’t necessarily need to pop off the page, but will complete the aesthetic of the jewelry or clothing pictured.

The final option is Uncoated paper – this is similar to standard printer paper, but a higher quality, and slightly thicker. This type will give a natural feel and look, as glossy paper tends to be more silky.

What Size Should my Lookbook be?

This is one of the most common questions we face when dealing with lookbooks, and it’s actually pretty simple. The answer is – any size. Most printers use large sheets to print your lookbook, and then cut them down to the finished size, making it possible to make your booklet any reasonable size. However, there are both advantages and disadvantages to this.

landscape-lookbooks
Landscape Lookbooks
Portrait-Lookbooks
Portrait Lookbooks
Advantages:
  • Custom lookbooks will stand out, which can be a key factor in the fashion industry.
  • No need to redesign your artwork – Re-figuring your images to fit in a certain page dimension can be troublesome and they may not appear to their full potential.
Disadvantages:
  • Anything custom will almost always be more expensive. Just like every other industry, having something custom made to fit your needs will run up the bill. Choosing a common size such as 5.5″ x 8.5″ or 6″ x 9″ will keep the cost down.
  • Production time will most likely increase for a custom book, which may be a hindrance if they’re needed in a rush.

Other considerations – Lookbooks are most commonly printed portrait style, meaning they are bound on the long edge. If you need an oblong (landscape) book, it will most likely increase the cost and production time.

There are many things to consider when designing your lookbook. Going into a meeting with your printer with a general idea beforehand will help your printer steer you in the right direction. It will also save you time, money and frustration in the end.

If you need a quote for printing lookbooks, give the Marsid M&M group a call at 516.334.1603 or visit our lookbook printing page for a quick estimate. We offer next day turnaround and free PDF proofs for most jobs.

Lookbook Design Tips – Style And Fashion

Lookbooks seem to be the latest craze for fashion start-ups and clothing lines. I can attest to this statement because it’s been our hottest selling product for the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2013 and probably would have been for longer than that… had we paid more attention to this trend earlier in the year.

The difference between a lookbook and a catalog is in the content. Lookbooks showcase your fashion/clothing line’s look and style and doesn’t get into too much detail because it’s all about imagery, hence the name “Look” book.

A lookbook design sets the stage for your target market and with these tips you will be able to create an environment that they can relate to and see themselves in it.

 

Lookbook Design Showcase

 

Simple and Subtle Imagery

Lookbooks are made for looking. Simple as that. No need to create distraction with overwhelming amounts of text or disruptive graphics that take the focus away from your product.

You may opt for a solid color background usually gentle whites or light greys that contrast with the colors of your models and clothing. Even shadows can draw the eyes away from the target, make sure your lighting conditions are optimal.

 

Fashion Lookbook Designs

 

Use Your Environment

For the seasonal or niche fashion-eers, the background can be used to your advantage. Create a habitat where your fashion lives, where you target market finds themselves. Help them envision how your style fits their lifestyle.

 

Lookbook Design and Printing

 

 Gloss, Gloss… Gloss.

The paper you select for your lookbook printing can really influence the outcome.  In my opinion, nothing makes photographs POP like a glossy finish, the good news is most small runs of lookbooks are printed digitally…

Digital printing uses toner which has a glossy finish anyway so basically you can print on uncoated or matte paper and still have a glossy finish. I’ve seen this used to give the printed areas a 3D type effect or can be comparable to Spot UV coating.

 

Halloween Vector Graphics Collection For Commercial Use

With Halloween right up our alley, it’s crunch time to get the Halloween graphics printed up. To save you time we put together this collection of Halloween vector graphics that are available for commercial use. No need to spend hours looking for the right vector only to come to find out that you can’t use it in your commercial project.

We carefully checked the license on each one of these so that you can download them and get right to work!

Feel free to share your art with us on our Facebook Page or on Twitter (@mmprint).

Pumpkin Vectors

Free Vector Pumpkin Download
Halloween Pumpkin By Vector Open Stock
Free Vector Pumpkins Download
Free Vector Pumpkins Download from All Silhouettes
Mix and Match Pumpkin Faces
Mix and Match Pumpkin Faces from Designus

 

Halloween Banner Vectors

Vector Grunge Halloween Banners
Vector Grunge Halloween Banners by All4Designer

 

Halloween Vector Patterns

Vector Halloween Patterns
Vector Halloween Pumpkin and Skull Pattern VectorPatterns UK

 

Free Vector Halloween Bat Pattern
Free Vector Halloween Bat Pattern by VectorPatterns UK

[note]If your halloween project requires printing, please contact us at 516-334-1603 for amazing quality, super fast turnaround and free shipping![/note]

How To Set Up A Spot UV Business Card Design

The process of setting up a Spot UV business card is different from what you are used to. Since the Spot UV coating is not actually “printed”, the area that is printed and the area that is Spot UV will require separate files.

Areas with UV (Spot) and Areas with No UV

Let’s make it clear, the purpose of spot UV coating is to cover only certain graphic areas on the card, not the whole flat side of the card. Think of it as highlighting the important parts of your business card so that they stand out. Not only that, but you can get really creative with spot UV coating and make a business card that leaves a lasting impression on the viewer.

 

The Printed Area

The printed area of the card doesn’t need any special layers or effects to prepare it for spot UV coating. The only thing you will do special might be to leave out certain objects that you might want to be spot UV only, without any printing under it giving it that “Ghost” effect.

Spot UV Coating Business Card - Ghost Effect

 

In this example, the “m” was left out of the printing, only a solid orange was printed saturating the entire back side. The spot UV coating was applied to render the “Ghost” effect to the “m” and you can only see it in the light at certain angles… this is one of the owner’s business cards, we get WOW’s every time and most customers want it for their business cards.

 Spot UV and Printed Area Demonstration - M

The Spot UV Area

Believe it or not, it’s not that difficult to make a Spot UV file for the business card. Think of it this way, the UV coating is simply a clear color that you can put over any object in your design. Therefore, all you need to do is use black (100% K) representing the areas where the UV coating will be applied. Anything that is left white in the spot UV file will NOT have UV applied to it. Anything that is black (100% K), will. Simple as that.

[note color=”#d1d7c7″]I would not recommend doing this in Photoshop since the layer would be rasterized creating a jagged edge, use Illustrator which creates a vector layer instead for nice crisp clear edges.[/note]

 

Spot UV Coating Layer

The logo on the front of the card is important to us so we wanted it to stand out. How did we do it? Spot UV of course! It just jumps out at you when you’re looking at the card.

 Spot UV and Printed Area Demonstration Logo

[note color=”#FFCC00″] Once you have setup your Spot UV business cards. Give us a call at 1877-mmprint to speak printing professional about your project or visit our Business Card Printing Page for more information and to request a quote. [/note] [divider top=”1″]

3 Printing Mistakes That Are Costing You Money

Making educated decisions with your marketing is not only about the results but also how those results are obtained. By knowing how printing works and what combinations of specs work best, you can actually save money on printing costs and still have quality marketing materials.

I can imagine that you are probably thinking right now…I have enough on my plate as it is, now I have to learn how printing works too???

Well, not exactly. Really, an honest and knowledgeable printing company will steer you in the right direction, save you money and educate you on the way. We firmly believe that an educated customer will become the best customer because the communication is clear and the results will be exactly as discussed. No one losses, no reprints, no extra fees, it’s all win-win.

Save Money On Printing With These 3 Tips

Here are 3 mistakes that we come across pretty often when customers that are not familiar with printing. You can take these as rules for optimizing your next print run:

Overdesign And The Printed Space

Overdesign is not a real word according to my spell check which underlines it with a big red squiggly line, but it does exist in real life (and in the dictionary) and it can cause eye fatigue, confusion and a general loss of interest. Overdesign is found when you pick up some kind of printed material and can’t seem to stop moving your eyes or focus on a specific part of the design. It takes you away from the important parts like calls to action.

Some people carry on with the misconception that white space is wasted space. Nothing is further from the truth. One company that takes advantage of white space is Apple. If you look at their advertising, packaging and devices, white space prevails. Hey, just look at how they’ve dominated every corner of the market… they know that it works; white space is aesthetically pleasing and keeps the viewer focused on the main point of the advertisement.

So how is overdesign costing you money that you could be saving on printing?

A great example is when restaurants print menus. A menu’s main goal is to present a customer with the different plates and combinations of food available for purchase. But, the method of distributing the menu varies and that is where less can be more. There are menus that are handed out or included with take-out orders. Then, you have menus that are used for dine-in customers which are collected after the order has been taken.

A carry-out menu could be a simpler one or two color menu that will cost you less to print. Think of Chinese food menus, they are usually printed in red and black ink and have zero pictures in them. Yet, they are highly effective.

Your table menus, if designed efficiently, can be smaller or take less pages to include all of your items. Less pages or smaller size means less paper which saves money.

Choosing Paper Stocks

Paper is another area where customers over do it and spend extra money unnecessarily. Consider how the print piece will be used. Does your brochure contain information that is read once and discarded or is there a piece of information in it that you know your readers will go back and reference more than once? These are the kind of things that need to be considered. If your brochure is the kind that gets tossed after one use, you probably want to hold back on using a heavy Linen cardstock. It’s simply throwing money away.

If you and your service or product require the best and only the best, then make sure the content of your printed pieces are worth more than just a look, make them contain value, make them worth keeping.

Qualifying Quantity

Most of the cost of a print run is in the setup. So many things go into setting up for a printing job that adding paper one setup is complete, it’s not a big deal. This is why you may see that the cost difference from 2500 to 5000 pieces is very little in most cases.  Determine if you can use more in the future instead of just a few now and save money. Make sure your design doesn’t have any references to dates that might render your prints useless in the future.


By making minor changes to your design, paper and/or quantity, you can make a big difference in the cost of your printing.

Make sure to give us a call if you have any questions about your next printing project, one of our specialists can help you determine the best and most effective way of producing your project. 1877-667-7468.

Free Christmas Fonts For Commercial Use

 

Christmas is almost here and we know that designers have tight deadlines for Christmas projects. We put together a list of awesome FREE Christmas fonts for commercial use that you can use in your designs for personal or commercial projects like holiday greeting cards, envelopes, postcards and any other fun Holiday projects you are working on. If you use any of the fonts listed, feel free to share a link to the artwork you did in the comments below!

 

Santa’s Sleigh by HypoTypo

 

Santas Sleigh Font for Commercial Use

 

Kingthings Christmas by Kingthings

 

Kingsthings Christmas Free for Commercial Use Font

 

Mountains of Christmas by Tart Workshop Fonts

 

Mountains of Christmas Free Font for Commercial Use

 

ChopinScript font by Diogene

 

ChopinScript Free Font for Commercial Use

 

Snowpersons font —by Character

 

Snowpersons Free Font for Commercial Use

 

 

Custom Holiday Greeting Cards Build Relationships

 

Custom Holiday Greeting Cards
Custom Holiday Greeting Cards

Every year around this time we get swamped with orders for Customized Holiday Greeting Cards. Just goes to show that print is a big part of tradition and definitely not dying, its evolving.

More and more, we see modern print technologies being used to personalize the cards and give them a little extra zest:

  • Qr Codes directing people to website landing pages or videos
  • Variable Data Printing (VDP) being used to personalize every detail of the card including the cover image
  • Spot UV coating and custom die cutting and foil stamping for special effects

Relationships Build Success

The holidays present a perfect opportunity to grow your relationships with customers. Kind gestures make an impression that stays with people.

And we practice what we preach! Every December we print and mail our own custom Holiday Greeting Cards and custom mousepads. It’s simply a way to show our customers we appreciate their continued business and trust in our company.

We also really enjoy receiving Holiday cards sent to us by our customers and vendors… makes us feel special 🙂

This is one of the main reasons we are a successful printing company (40 years in business). We stood strong and endured the recent economic hardships because we value and build relationships with our customers.

Custom Holiday Greeting Cards Build Relationships
Custom Holiday Greeting Cards Build Relationships

 

What Greeting Cards Say About You

Yes, you may be judged so choose wisely! Of course sending out holiday greeting cards is a wonderful gesture, but the card you choose to send can and will be critiqued.

Some companies take the easy route and buy the pre-made boxed greeting card sets that everyone else buys and guess what… there’s a big possibility that someone else sent that same exact card to your customer and how does that make you look?

 

I’ve also witnessed the so-called holiday cards that were really nothing but advertisements. You know, the ones with the big logo taking up the whole front of the card and a very generic “Happy Holidays”, here’s a coupon to buy stuff from us cards. That’s not personal, that doesn’t build relationships, it simply becomes a sales pitch.

 

If you genuinely want to thank your customers or vendors and wish them happy holidays, it should come naturally to go the extra mile to do so.

I’m not saying you have to spend a fortune (which some companies do!) but customizing your holiday greeting cards with a nice message and possibly a real signature inside will make a big difference for your efforts.

 

We are currently offering Free Blank Envelopes with your order of Holiday Greeting Cards.
Contact us if you need any ideas for your design.

3 Powerful Marketing Tips To Gain New Local Customers

Small businesses thrive when their local community embraces what they have to offer. Customers feel that doing business locally is easy, it’s close by and it’s probably good for the local economy.

Even though these customers are consumers just like anyone else in the rest of the country, these consumers have one specific characteristic that is completely different from any other: they SHARE your location.

Whether your local efforts are made at the town level or the state level, these customers can become loyal fans just how sports fans become loyal fans of their local (town,state) teams.

 

3 Powerful Marketing Tips for Small Business
3 Powerful Marketing Tips for Small Business

 1. Gain Local Customers with Local Rewards

Sharing your location with your customers means that you and your employees eat, shop and interact with the same local businesses that they do.

These days you can run a Loyalty Rewards program easily in-house. It’s simply a matter of how complicated you make the offer.

A simple way is to print custom coupons with areas that get marked for each purchase or transaction. When the customer reaches the pre-determined number of transactions, you reward them with a free gift or a discount.

Partner up with some of the popular local businesses and run joint advertisements or run discount coupons off of each other. By doing this you are advertising to their customer base and at the same time helping their advertising efforts.

2. Create Awareness Inexpensively

Every Door Direct Mail : For 18.3 cents each (postage) you can mail an over-sized postcard or folded piece to every mailbox in your surrounding neighborhood including PO Boxes. No mailing list required.

E.D.D.M. is an amazing opportunity to let your local customers know your business contact information, address and the services and/or products you offer…while your at it, give them a coupon or offer they can’t refuse.

With the large canvas of the over-sized card that you can send, there’s enough room to include vital information, an attractive image and a killer call-to-action.

3. Become a Social Magnet

Social media is all about community. By embracing the power of social media, you can create a community of brand ambassadors that will spread the word for you.

Sign up for Twitter and create a Facebook business page at the least and start conversations with your customers. When they talk to you, their friends and connections will see the conversation and possibly join in. With that alone you might have just scored a new customer.

Follow us on twitter : @mmprint

Although each one of these tips is powerful on its own, using them in combination will increase your chances of acquiring new local traffic.

Use Every Door Direct Mail to inform your local community of your location, product or service and make sure to let them know where to find you on Twitter and Facebook (and any other social media networks you are on). Then, on your Facebook business page you can offer a discount in return for a Like. Don’t forget to use QR Codes to make it easy to connect with you or visit your website via mobile phones.

Have you had better success using Targeted Direct Mail over using Every Door Direct Mail?