Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Design Freebies You Don’t Want to Miss

Fancy Patterns by ~Ruthenia-Alba
Freebies are the great thing about using the Internet. There are just so much free stuffs on the Internet that you can legally use for all your print and web design needs. You just need to know exactly where or how to get them.

Now, instead of letting you go about wasting time trying to get some of these free stuff, let me give you some of the best free things that you can get for your designs this year. Just read the list below, and you will find some of the best items for common design tasks.

Free PSD Templates

First up, we have templates. FREE templates I should emphasize. For all those who are just a little bit lazy with their designs, the link above gives a nice list of 13 free PSDs that you can use for 2013. It is a set of User Interface design elements, primarily for use on web designs. However, you may also adapt these easily to printed designs if you want.  All of these have a nice sleek futuristic feel, perfect for web 2.0 style designs, or printed graphics that need that modern digital feel.

Get Some Free Patterns

Next up, we have patterns. Patterns are of course great for backgrounds and subtle textures for specific design elements, In the link above you will find 40 fresh and FREE Photoshop patterns that you can use for a variety of designs. Take note that the link above only LISTS DOWN these free resources, and is not the direct download site. However, browsing through it should help you get some nice quality patterns perfect for most different kinds of designs.

Free Fonts for 2013

From Noupe.com comes, as they say a list of “inescapable” fonts for 2013. While I certainly think that you can of course choose NOT to use these, the fact that they are free, and that they are pretty sleek looking means you probably WILL want to use them. If you click on the link above, you will be taken to the main list of fonts. Take note that there are some fonts with only one format, or different formats. So, be sure to check if the font format is applicable to your system, be it Windows or Mac.

Free Photoshop Brushes 2013

Clicking on the site above will give you the latest FREE Photoshop brushes from “photoshop.cc”. This site will usually update their list with the latest free brushes that they can find. A large number of these sources come from deviantart and our most favorites here are the texture style brushes and design element brushes. Try out the broken glass brushes and the flourishes blushes just as a sample. These can easily add depth and texture to most of your print designs, and again they are all for free.

Free Color Palette Helpers 

If you are a real designer, you will probably have spent a lot of hours, even days trying to get a color scheme right. Real artists still do this by sight, but for the more production minded digital artists out there, you can save a lot of time by using color palette helpers or “schemers” etc. Basically these tools help you by choosing the right colors that go in harmony with a base color that you choose. This includes, choosing complimentary and contrasting colors need to make a good color scheme, and some suggestions even for font colors etc.

Free Vector Icons

Finally here, we have some free vector icons. Again here we have a link to a nice collection of free vector rendered images. You will need to visit the primary pages for the downloads though, but the link above has the previews and the download lists. These icons are pretty useful for modern web design, as well as print design since they are easily scalable. For print though, you will STILL want to print these in high quality paper to maintain the good look of that flyer or poster. Whatever the case, these vectors still need to be rendered in pixels once they are ready for publishing, but they should give you a high quality finish. Of course, you will need software like Illustrator to edit these if you ever want to do it.

Great! Now you should have enough free stuff for your 2013 print and web designs! It is pretty amazing how many free stuff you can get online, and the links above provide you with the freshest free items that should not be too “used” yet by many designers out there.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Print Lamination: Is It the Better Option?

When producing marketing materials the last thing on your mind is lamination. Aside from being expensive, the printing process will make your materials look bulky and heavy. They’ll be much harder to distribute and keep since they can’t be folded and stashed in a small purse or envelope. That is, however, all in the past. Today, lamination has improved a lot and doesn't cost much anymore. There are also a variety of choices in thickness that’ll make the materials easier to carry or hand out. Thanks to modern technology, laminated printing is now a work of art.

Lamination basically involves the process of enclosing a printed piece between two clear plastic films. The purpose is to protect the material from stain and water, prolong its life, and add sheen to its overall look. This printing technique is often done on restaurant menus, flyers, door hangers, and even showroom displays. When framing is not an option, lamination is the most ideal option. However, lamination is permanent so before going about the process make sure everything is in order. The design and printed words cannot be undone, hence, the need for thorough checking.

Other important things to consider in laminated printing includes:

1. Gloss or matte? If you want your materials to look shiny, go for a glossy finish, but if you want a softer look to your printed materials, matte is the better option.

2. Square or rounded corners? If the materials will be handed out and handled often, it’s best if they have rounded corners, but if you want an edgy look and the printed pieces are supple enough to make them safe to handle, a square corner will suffice.  

3. Thickness. There are a variety of thicknesses you can choose from. If you want to fold your materials (such as for menus) lamination should be 3 mil (.003”) or less, but if want a firm-looking printed piece use a thicker laminate film.  

Lamination can bring additional luster to materials. Done well, it will give your business a more professional appeal and help save money in the long run. Plus, you’ll get greater chance of bringing in more sales leads as your marketing materials look more impressive and reliable. This just proves that laminated printing shouldn't be at the bottom of your to-do list rather on top it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Big Bang of 3D Printing and Its Future

If you are a fan of TV shows, you probably came across the “The Big Bang Theory”.  In one of the latest episodes of the newest season, we see the 3D printer featured, where Howard and Raj buy a 3D printer and create “Action figures” of their own.  There have been many allusions to 3D printers before in other media, but never before did we see one that really is now a reality.

Whatever the case, it is very interesting to see this on popular media. This is right with the time of the increasing prevalence of consumer targeted commercial 3D printing machines. No longer are 3D printing machines limited to rich companies and government funded laboratories. Small businesses, Universities and small labs can now afford to buy them commercially. The question is, why would you want to have one? (besides printing your own action figures). Well let me discuss for you the uses and the future of 3D printing.

Showing Drafts

One of the first and most probably primary uses of a 3D printer is the production of a draft product or component item. While now, showing 3D models in the computer is already standard fare in most research and development departments, an actual three dimensional and tangible product is of course a lot easier and better to represent. People can of course reliable understand the scale of these item drafts, and make “real world” assessments on the strengths and weaknesses of such a design.

As an example look at the image from 3DPrinting.org below. As you can see, these are printed out cogwheels. These drafts can be any kind of product design you want, and people can easily judge if you are on the right track with your item or if it needs size or design adjustments.

Testing Prototypes

Of course, beyond just DRAFT items, you can also test out real world prototypes. Although the parts of your prototype will be printed in plastic (or whatever material the 3D printer will be using), you can assemble it in scale and then test out if the parts do jive and work together correctly. The great thing about this of course is you can then spot PHYSICAL errors or incompatibilities of your prototypes without spending extra on creating the first prototype that may not work. With the plastic prototype, you can at least discover and anticipate the potential problems long before the actual fully detailed prototype is done and paid for.

In the image below from Harvard, you see a nice little device that can be printed via a 3D printer. Along with some simple additions, you can setup and test out the physical interactions between the parts of the prototype. So you can save a lot of money as you do not have to pay for all those other prototypes in full since you can test out some of the bugs and kinks early before revisions are called for.

Determining Compatibility

Of course, another implication of 3D printing technology is that it can be used to determine the physical compatibility of products or components.  If a component for example needs to fit into another product or component, you can already test out its compatibility immediately by printing them on the 3D printer.

You can then more easily design the item because you see the problems that might be preventing it to working with those other components. Since it is happening in the “real world”  it is far easier to see if it will be compatible to the other real world components that it should be working with. In the image below, they printed “Lego Technic Compatible” beams. This of course meant that their custom printed beams can be applied to any Lego Technic product of their liking.
Team Collaborations Online

Finally, the future of 3D printing also will be determined by team collaborations. As we all know, globalization has increased the reach of our work teams, with some jobs be outsourced to other countries.

A 3D printer of course will allow manufacturers and their R&D teams to be able to collaborate even though they are miles away from each other. They can send each other the prototype files in 3D and print them on the other end for a team member. Instead of visualizing it, both can print, augment and send each other the finished draft for better testing. This is faster than let us say sending each other the prototype, decreasing project lengths considerably.

With that, you should now realize the true implications of commercially available 3D printers. It is something you should look forward to, especially if you are in an industry where 3D copies of something is routinely needed for business. If you cannot BUY a 3D printer, you might want to ask more local firms or online firms such as printplace.com if they can print your items in 3D. Since it is “getting” pretty widespread, you probably should already see those 3D printers in a shop near you.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

How To Make Your Print Flyers Work

As you create your new marketing strategies, are you still considering printed flyers for advertising? This year, it might not be at the top of your list more likely. All the buzz of course is on social media marketing, and the various other gimmicks and strategies in Web and Mobile advertising. However, you should not dismiss it outright. The truth of the matter is, even traditional forms of marketing like flyer marketing is still something to consider this year.
Talk Is Cheap Flyer 2 by ~SeBDeSiGN
Unconvinced? Well, let me make you a believer. Let me start why it will matter, and then we shall give you some tips and secrets on how you can actually make them work quite well along with your other marketing efforts hits year.

The Role of Flyer Marketing

Flyer printing, and print marketing in general through various mediums is actually in a changing position right now. As you no doubt have heard, the best places to invest in when it comes to marketing these days are social media portals. You probably already have that company Facebook page up, or have an official Company twitter account churning press release.

So what is the role really of print marketing in this age of instant marketing and socializing? Well, many have already been pondering this.  In this article from oneims, they discuss precisely that. Overall print marketing in general, and to a specific sense flyer marketing has that real world, offline and tangible potential. All those other trends online are instant by they do tend to require people to be online.

The role of flyer marketing  is to be there when all that flashy online marketing is inaccessible. People still recognize these tools, and often still take a look at them when they are in the street. Even in shops, having a small flyer that describes in detail your product features is very useful. That is why flyer printing and marketing is something you cannot still dismiss. Its offline role for marketing and information dissemination is still valid. It offers up that holistic marketing support to your larger media campaigns. For more reasons why you should print flyers, checkout this feature on Yahoo where they discuss flyer printing in a digital world.

Modern and Trendy Flyers

Lots of people say that flyers more or less are obsolete. Even more are saying that print is “dead”. Like “paper” is something from the distant past. Well the big news I have for you is that print is not dead. In fact in this post from Forbes.com we see that print as it is has important features that still make it practical for marketing.

The real question that you should be asking is how you can create more modern and trendy flyers? Well the answer to this question is all about innovation and a connection to the modern digital world. One of the easiest ways to integrate the Internet for example through your print flyers is by the use of QR codes.
For a brief explanation about QR codes, Loudclick has a nice primer HERE. To summarize though, QR codes are special graphic codes that mobile devices with cameras can scan. These are directly linked to a mobile landing page where a video or other interactive page element is located. This links the offline world to the digital world quickly, turning your flyers into modern portals to the web. Think about implementing it as you create your marketing flyers.

The Designs You Can Do

The one thing that is amazing with modern flyers these days is the creative designs that you can do. With new updates from Adobe Photoshop and Corel, graphics design has taken on a new, bolder and much more creative turn for the past couple of years.

Check out some great examples of flyer designs from 2012. A simple Google search and you should have tons of fine examples. Andysoawards.com though has this great collection of flyer examples for 2012 that is definitely good for inspiration.

Browse through their list and you will see a variety of styles. However, usually the best ones today are usually on the artistic side, using a variety of typographic styles along with special filters and effects. Some also have succeeded using a more minimalist style. Whatever the case, it is important to be extra creative with the designs so that people will deem your flyers worth reading and keeping.

The Cunning Distribution Methods

In this age, you can do a lot more with your flyers really than just “hand them out”. While of course you can do that, you have a lot of very interesting options for your flyer distribution. For you guys, here is our small list of cunning distribution methods that you can try out.

1. The contest flyer – Attract people to get the flyer by offering a contest or raffle entry if they pickup the flyer and submit a raffle code.
2. The coupon flyer – Use flyers as coupons where they get a discount or freebie when they pick it up and use the code for purchases
3. Give gifts – Small things like free candy, free bookmarks and even just free advice can often be enough to encourage people to pickup those flyers.
4. Art flyer – Sometimes having a flyer that is too good looking to pass up works a lot. People show it to others just to appreciate the design
5. Shaped flyers – If it looks unusual and free, people pick it up just to see what it is about. A great way to get people to read your flyers

NOW, for more direct distribution methods, try out Ehow’s take on some traditional flyer distribution strategies here: http://www.ehow.com/list_6723198_flyer-distribution-ideas.html.

The Professional Printing

Finally, the great thing about printing modern marketing flyers is that there are a ton of great and interesting options when it comes to printing those materials. You do not just “print” flyers on paper these days. You have a lot of options when it comes to the features of flyers. Note that you can choose the paper, the paper finishes, textures, cuts, weight, shape etc. Professional flyer printers like printplace.com also offer different types of glossy finishes and even special cutting customizations.

This means that you can really customize your flyers anyway you want, with different materials shapes and finishes. You just need to pick a good flyer printer, or have a good machine of your own for printing.

With that, I hope you could see how flyer marketing works this year. There are a lot of things you can do with flyer printing. It should still be one of your extra options for marketing even I this time of digital marketing. Definitely worth investing in, especially for local campaigns.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Digital Print Invasion

Print is originally the main source of information. People from all corners of the world depend on it for news, entertainment, data, and all other forms of information. However, print is recently under a lot of stress, primarily because of the onset of digital technology. Companies these days are choosing the new platform over print to save on production cost. Magazines, for instance, are creating digital editions for iPads and smartphones to give people better—and cheaper—access to their materials. Other companies are exploring mobile and social media as alternative business cards. In just a few minutes, anyone can have access to the information needed without spending a dime.

Digital invasion is also apparent in commercial printing. A lot of companies and print professionals are now crossing over to digital printing in the hope of saving more and printing better materials. Lithography is rapidly getting left behind as digital printing machines can produce more materials at quicker speed and lesser waste. Suffice to say that anywhere you are or whatever industry you belong, digital is rapidly overtaking print.

Take a look at this infographic from Xerox and see how digital printing is transforming the printing industry.