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1-Minute Workshop-Adding a Reflection

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Add a reflection to simple type and graphics in Adobe Illustrator.

Step 1

Create a document in Illustrator and using the Text Tool, type the words of your heading in all caps. Lowercase type with ascending characters doesn’t work for this tip. Change the type to outlines under the Type Menu>Create Outlines. If necessary, horizontally align the bottom edges or each letter. Give your shading a colorful fill or gradient.

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Step 2

Select your heading and using the Reflect tool, reflect a copy of it. Be sure to choose Copy and start the reflection from the bottom edge. Once you have reflected the letters, you may need to zoom in to make sure the bottom edges of the letters line up perfectly so there will be no gaps between the letters and letter shadows. You can see how they are aligned where they meet in #1 below.

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Step 3

With the reflected letters selected, go to the Filter Menu to Distort>Free Distort. Pull the sides up and out to create a foreshortened shape (#1). You can experiment with the amount of perspective that works best. #2 shows how this example looks in Outline mode after the filter was applied.

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Step 4

Now fill the shadow letters with a gradient that is darkest at the base of the letters and ends in white.

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Step 5

To complete the example shown here, simply add a circle shape for the sun and the additional type (#3). This effect also works well with simple graphics that have bottom edges aligned evenly on a horizontal plane.

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4 Tips to Boost Your Clientele This Holiday Season

The busiest time of year is almost upon us! Read these four digital media tips to ensure you make the most out of your holiday campaign.

1. Start early.

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For the big shopping seasons, people are starting to shop for the holidays earlier than ever. As shown in the 2013  July Google Consumer Survey, nearly half of surveyed shoppers already made plans for when to purchase their holiday gifts. Of those actively planning, 30% are expecting to start before Halloween and more than half will begin shopping before December even starts. Use social media to create a buzz around your brand well in advance of the holidays. Early October is a good time to start.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Run a social media competition with prizes.

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Host a 12 days of Christmas social media promotion with one gift or deal every day for 12 consecutive days. This could also be tied into a 12 day holiday photo competition. Themes could be “Best Christmas Tree,” “Best Snowman,” or “Best Christmas Destination.” Some of the best social media campaigns are those that involve your customers and encourage sharing.

3. Be helpful.

People could always use some extra help during the holidays. You can use social media to offer helpful advice, tips and facts for your followers. Examples are gift ideas, how to maximize a limited holiday budget, recipes or decoration ideas. Using a hashtag will maintain brand awareness and potentially increase followers. Everyone appreciates useful advice and your customers will thank you for creating content that makes their lives a little easier during the holidays.

4. Organize your holiday emails.

During the holidays, shoppers are bombarded with holiday sales emails. But people who have signed up for your mailing list are invested in your business and products, so make your content easy for them to read by putting all the important information up top. Your biggest holiday promotions and showcased items should be the first things people see. Have a visible link to the items if they’re available online.

It’s a good idea to give people who are on your email list a special discount. They will appreciate it and keep reading your future emails. Don’t forget to put the discount at the top of your email!

5 Photoshop Tools to Easily Cut Objects out of an Image

Almost all projects require an image removed from its background or vice versa. Sometimes this gets a little tricky with backgrounds that are detailed. Here are five different tools to cut an image or background out and when it’s appropriate to use them. All images are from Creative Outlet.

Eraser Tool

The eraser tool is usually the go-to tool when quickly removing objects from photos. You can change the opacity of the eraser as well as the shape and size. The softness of the brush can create smooth results, especially with the use of a graphic tablet and pen instead of a mouse. Using a pen instead of a mouse speeds up the process and provides greater control.

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When should you use it?

A great time to use this tool is if you are using see-through images such as a glass. Zooming in and utilizing this eraser tool leaves you with more control near those hard-to-see edges. Other photoshop tools might not be as useful to capture those difficult edges.

Magic Wand Tool

The Magic Wand is a great tool for cutting out simple images where there’s clear definition between edges.

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When should you use it?

This works well when selecting parts of an image with high contrast or solid colors because the lines are more defined for the wand to capture the edges of the object in your image.

Quick Selection Tool

The Quick Selection tool is a step up from the Magic Wand. Paint over the exact area you want selected. It’s much easier than the trial and error of the Magic Wand because you have more control.

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When should you use it?

The Quick Selection brush is the best choice if you need more control than the Magic Wand. However, it’s not the most precise tool and should only be used on objects that don’t have a lot of edges.

Pen Tool

The Pen Tool allows you to create curved outlines. The Pen tool also creates paths that can be edited and saved for future use, which are valuable features when working on prolonged projects.

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When should you use it?

There’s not many situations where the pen tool can’t be used but there might be other techniques that are faster, especially when trying to tackle images of hair, fur or other fine details. Practice makes perfect for this tool; it can be tricky!

Layer Masks

Layer Masks are applied to a single layer by selecting the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Areas of the mask that are black are the portions of that layer that are hidden. To use this technique with a mask, you would use the brush tool to paint the areas you want erased with a black brush. The key difference is if you make a mistake, you can correct it by painting back over the area in white.

A nice little rhyme to help you remember what areas are hidden is: WHITE REVEALS, BLACK CONCEALS.

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When should you use it?

Layer Masks are best used when combined with another selection technique to ensure your edits are non-destructive.

1 Minute Workshop-Stylized Pumpkin

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Create a Stylized Pumpkin in Adobe Illustrator

Step 1

Begin by selecting the Ellipse tool in the tool palette. While holding down the Shift key (to constrain proportions), create a circular shape and fill it with orange (100Y, 50M).

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Step 2

Select the circle and go to Edit > Copy. Then go to Edit > Paste in Front. You have just copied the circle and pasted it directly on top of your first circle. Now select that circle, hold down the Shift key (to constrain it) and drag it to the right. You should end up with an image like this. At this point, you can change the color of the second circle.

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Step 3

Double-click on the Blend tool in the tool palette. Under the dropdown menu for Spacing, select Specified Steps and enter a small amount, such as 5. This will create three additional circles between the two original circles. To create the blend, select a point on the first circle and a corresponding point on the second circle. Then click on both of these points with the Blend tool.

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Step 4

With the blend created, go to Object > Expand to create individual shapes. Now you need to split all the sections of the circle into individual pieces. To do this, select all and go to Window > Pathfinder. Under Pathfinders in that dialog box, click on the Divide button.

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Step 5

Now that you have individual shapes for the pumpkin, you can go in and select each shape individually to assign it a different color. You may want to delete some of the shapes to make it look more like a pumpkin. Add a basic green stem shape and you have a colorful stylized pumpkin.

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Why Inbound Marketing Strategies Succeed

Inbound Marketing

How is it different from traditional marketing?

BusinesswomanTypingOnLaptopComputer86544707_S_72_C_R_pngWe must first know what traditional marketing is to understand inbound marketing. Traditional marketing includes advertising a product or service in a TV commercial, email, direct mail or through telemarketers by cold-calling. While this fleeting tactic has worked in the past, it’s become less effective in recent times because people have learned to tune out the messaging. People mute commercials, throw away direct mail without opening it, delete emails and block telemarketers. Traditional marketing can also be costly, especially for start-ups.

Inbound marketing has become a necessity for businesses to hook prospects and keep them coming back. It’s a longer term solution that takes more effort than traditional marketing but can actually cost less if carefully managed. Inbound marketing is a data-driven approach. It’s not about sales messages that simply state how great your product or service is, but instead it offers information that gives value. It’s about content creation and includes blogging, SEO, public speaking and social media marketing. The idea is to get people to see your brand as a thought leader in the marketplace by providing them with content they are genuinely interested in. This way, your brand will be the first to pop in their head when they are ready to buy.

What are the benefits?

One of the great aspects of inbound marketing is that it’s cost efficient. Many avenues for inbound marketing are of  little to no cost. Even optimizing content for search engines isn’t always costly. There are factors that play into cost such as audience size, your goals and targets, the nature of your business and more. SquareSearch was able to grow their client, a nationwide funeral plan provider, from 907 visitors per month to 2,127 per month over 6 months, thanks to a 190% increase in organic traffic (traffic generated using SEO). Learn more about SEO here.

Another benefit to inbound marketing is that it’s more targeted to a specific audience. Inbound marketing strategies identify the target audience and then put the right tools in place to help members of that target audience find the products or services that are being advertised. For example, a Pew internet study shows that Twitter is largely used by non-white users, particularly Hispanic and African American users, between the ages of 18-29. The study also suggests that more males than females use the channel. Therefore, if a company has a product or service that appeals to young African Americans, they would benefit from using Twitter to target that audience.

Inbound marketing makes it easier to track ROI (return on investment). Software such as HubSpot lets businesses have access to metrics that span contacts databases, marketing content and website traffic to see how well the marketing channels are performing.

How can you use inbound marketing?

Prospects don’t want to be “sold” to with traditional marketing messages. The foundation of inbound marketing is providing free information to people. You have to become a trusted guide and partner that helps them make purchasing decisions. This can be accomplished by cultivating a relationship with the prospect. Provide useful and appropriate information at each stage of the buyer’s journey to attract, inform and eventually convert them into leads. The only “cost” that prospects have to pay is giving you their contact details so that you can follow up by phone, direct mail or email.