Category: Design + Tutorials

Starting a Design Business

Tips for Starting a Graphic Design Business
The UPS guy was just here. I now hold in my hands new business cards for Piksl Design. Now in business for over ten years, this is the third iteration of Piksl's cards. When the business celebrated its tenth anniversary, I developed a new Piksl Design logo. And while I integrated the logo into all my online and social media outlets, I held off on printing new letterhead and business cards because honestly, how often do I use letterhead? And in this digital age, do I really need business cards? But Read More

Logo Tutorial #10: Forget Design

Logo Tutorial #10: Forget about the design
When it comes to logo design, the design itself isn't vital. "What?" you ask! "After writing nine posts in this series on logo design, you're going to end it by saying the design isn't important!?" Growing up, there was this local carpet store that ran a series of television spots featuring a guy named Lou. I assume he was the owner. Every spot featured the phrase "Hey Lou, what's new?" He would then launch into something ridiculous. I remember a spoof on Billy Crystal and his "You look mahvelous" Read More

Logo Tutorial #9: Client Headaches

Logo Tutorial #9: How to avoid client headaches
As this logo design series winds down, we now make the jump from discussing the design process to discussing communication and collaboration with your client. I say collaboration because they will play a large part in the process. This is more than a one-time ad or flyer—this is their identity. You will notice them being more hands-on than normal. And understanding how to work with your client will be the key factor in making your experience positive (for both parties) and not a lingering headache. Read More

Logo Tutorial #8: One-Hit Blunder

Logo Tutorial #8: Don't go with your first idea
People think alike. That's the whole premise behind the Family Feud game show. They survey one-hundred people and typically fifty percent of those surveyed will respond with one of the top two answers. Those answers are easily guessed. The answers that fewer people give are much more difficult to figure out. My pastor has said that the key to creativity is not going with your first idea. And that concept stuck with me. In his case, he follows this rule when coming up with sermon illustrations. Read More

Logo Tutorial #7: Never Clever

Logo Tutorial #7: Don't get too clever with the concept
You get an idea stuck in your head. It's an interesting idea. It's a clever twist on a concept, but can you make it work visually? You play around with it and it starts to come together (or so you think). You really want it to come together and you tell yourself that it looks better than it really does—or that its visual shortcomings are compensated for by the cleverness of the concept. We get these brain children that we foster and come to love. We look past their faults and don't want Read More

Logo Tutorial #6: Single Concept

Logo Tutorial #6: Limit your logo to a single concept
We love to overthink our logos. They're very important, and they do deserve a lot of thought. But we like results. We feel like the amount of thought and time we put into something needs to be apparent when looking at the final product. It's a trap! Overthinking in itself is not bad. The problem is when it leads to trying too hard. Don't be deceived. Creative simplicity is difficult. It takes work to come up with something straightforward and clean that's unique, identifiable, and able to stand Read More

Logo Tutorial #5: Black & White

Logo Tutorial #5: Design logos in black and white first
Blueprints have been used by architects, engineers, and many areas of industry since the 19th century. They provide information detailing how a structure or object needs to be assembled. As we usually think of blueprints in terms of houses, let's use that as an analogy as I ask a question. As the architect begins a new home design, does he immediately start picking out carpet and curtain colors? Does he jump right to the shutter style? Does he research what types of ceiling fans are available? Of Read More

How to Type Accents and Special Characters on a Mac

Sample special characters popup screen for iOS
Let's start with the obvious. There are more characters than keys on a keyboard. We're all familiar with the shift key, which allows multiple characters to be accessible via one button. But again, that only scratches the surface. I spent four years working for a publisher as a typesetter and designer. This company specialized in the ancient Near East and biblical studies. This meant typesetting in a number of languages (even hieroglyphics). When typing in Hebrew or Greek, for example, we'd simply Read More

How to Make a Bad Photo Look Good

Photoshop tips for making a bad photo look good
Between my wife and me, we have a number of small businesses and ventures. And as a graphic designer and web developer, I'm able to promote these ventures effectively while spending little money. It's very convenient. But when it comes to photography, the results are always lacking. We've both had training in photography, but we simply don't have the equipment. What I do have is decades of Photoshop experience. Don't be fooled! There is no replacement for good photography. No amount of Photoshop Read More

Logo Tutorial #4: Be Fontastic!

Fonts are the most important design elements in a logo
Some of the liberties we're allowed in logo design stem from the fact that we're including the company name along with the imagery. The big boys like Nike and Apple can get away with just an icon. Your local heating and cooling business can't. Neither can most of the businesses you'll be working with. And this brings us right to the main point. The text portion of your logo is just as important as the image. Even more, the text is part of the image. The two are inseparable. If you spend days developing Read More