Monday, March 26, 2012

Need some professional art for your design?

The last two posts focused on creating art yourself within your page layout application of choice. In addition to the sample projects I showed you, you can get other tips via online tutorials. One is an Illustrator project created by Deke McClelland for See it here. This week the link shows creation of railroad tracks with no drawing (amazing). If may be a different Illustrator or Photoshop project when you view this page. Mike Rankin has a few InDesign art effects videos you can view at free here. If you enjoy these examples and want to learn more, consider subscribing to this site. Mordy Golding, Brian Wood, and other instructors have videos there.

Sometimes you need a little help from artists who create illustrations for a living. You need a specific style of artwork. Or you need multiple images in a compressed time frame. You need quality art but your budget is challenged. A few posts back I mentioned the following sources: Shutterstock, Veer, and Dreamstime.  I assume you know where to obtain free art, and how to properly use it in your projects. One possible downside to using stock/free art is other designers have access to the same art. You would not want to use it for a logo, for example. Or your client wants an illustration especially created for them (a magazine article, a children's book, or an e-Pub cover). You need to enlist the services of a professional artist. Where do you go?

One way is through an agency.  A full service agency usually has a group of freelance illustrators who have been screened and are available.  An example is Artisan, here. The Society of Illustrators is a great resource, here. You can find freelance artists on sites like this one. A few agencies will give you advice on how to find an illustrator. Look for the artists in your area who can best serve your needs.

A great illustration can really bring an article or project to life. Following are examples from World Book products.

Terrain map for an article on Brazil. Teaching map created by World Book Inc. Cartographers.
From The World Book Encyclopedia. © World Book Inc. All rights reserved, used with permission.

Information graphic for a World Book Year Book Special Report about the steel industry.
Illustration for World Book by Jay Bensen. © World Book Inc. All rights reserved, used with permission.
From an article about Wyoming. World Book map, World Book illustrations by Richard Bonson, The Art Agency.
From The World Book Encyclopedia. © World Book Inc. All rights reserved, used with permission.
From a Science Year Special Report. Illustration by Tim Hayward, Bernard Thornton Artists.
© World Book Inc. All rights reserved, used with permission.
Perhaps you work with in-house designers who also create fantastic art.
How a tsunami is formed. World Book illustration by Matt Carrington.
From 'Earthquake', World Book Student. © World Book Inc. All rights reserved, used with permission.

Next post, a little about the Photoshop CS 6 beta now available for download.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Can you tweak it a bit?

Last time, one of my project examples was lacking something, at least to me. The post card example which looked OK in Quark lacked contrast when I saved it as a low-resolution PDF. I upped the contrast in Photoshop, but not enough for your viewing pleasure. That would not be acceptable if this were a paying job (yours), and your approval was needed on-screen. You'd probably ask for a tweak.  And being the designer I am, I'd go back to the drawing board (my computer).

First, I would export the project at a higher resolution than I supplied before. I would make a production quality PDF, or in this case, re-save my sample in a different manner and at a higher contrast.

But this might not be sufficient. I would notice it if I viewed it in a web browser or making a printout.

Next I would push the saturation and or contrast even more. Increasing the saturation didn't help, but upping the contrast produced a sunnier result.

Third: create some contrast via adding a different color. Here I used a darker brown in various places and added a black border.

One more: bring in a blue to contrast with the sunny color.

Which would you choose? Which ones would you present if you could only present two?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Make your own art

Having fun this evening, listening to Sam Cooke (who I'm told my parents knew before he became famous). Needed a break and started creating shapes just using what is available in QuarkXPress 9. You can use InDesign CS5.5, Pages, or Open Office to just play. Here are two projects.

The first is a party postcard. Take a circle and a rectangle. Create a color palette, use gradients and transparency to create the effect you want. Apply some simple color and type effects, and suddenly what was plain is given dimension.

The second started with star bursts of different shapes and sizes. I added a square with a simple border, type, and a photo inset (no her name isn't Peggy Sue) to round out the look. All in an hour or so (sounds like an ad).

How will I use this time of play? To be honest I don't know. I can only trust it will come in handy. Hope you got a few ideas.

Finishing off with Shania Twain, "Any Man of Mine. . .Whoo!" See you next time.