3 Crucial Things Every Graphic Designer Should Know

Graphic designers play a key role in marketing because visual content aids in marking and advertising executions. Basically, the visual content curated by a designer promotes better responses, comprehension, credibility, and overall ad performance. So, a well-rounded designer is a valuable asset to any creative team, and having additional skills and knowledge that compliment your profession can help you grow as an artist.


Understand color theory.

Sounds almost elementary, like learning how to draw. However, while you may already know basic knowledge of the color wheel, there’s still so much to learn. Color theory shows you how you can mix, blend and match colors to one another. This is such an invaluable skill because color evokes emotion and can also factor in with consumer’s split-decision making. Whether you pick up a book on color theory or even take a class on it, it gives you incredible information and improves your compositions as a graphic designer.

Basic HTML and coding.

Believe it or not, more and more companies are seeking graphic designers that possess this skill. The digital age is making a big impact on graphic designers, and it’s valuable for a designer to understand the basics of html. Learning this skill can help open many doors for a graphic designer’s career, opens a new realm of creative opportunities and enlightens you on how your web design is built into the entire website. While many designers don’t need to know how to code, there’s nothing wrong with having coding as a specialization and understanding the needs of the web developers you design for. It makes you a better designer if you can understand the full process of how web development works, and it’ll give you a realistic sense of how the design implements the site before it’s sent off to the web developer. If you want to become a more well-rounded designer, get a crash course in coding.

Here are a few websites to look at to help get you started:

Typography’s importance in graphic design and marketing.

Typography is an art form in itself and one of the most important elements of graphic design. Although for the non-designer, typography may not seem that relevant or even important, but typeface can represent a brand, a person, place or product. With design, typography evokes emotion, creates a style and better communicates (literally and figuratively) the design to the viewer. It serves for functionality, but also adds aesthetic. It is the difference between a well put-together design, and something that looks like it was slapped together on Microsoft Word. However small or insignificant a font may seem in the grand scheme of things, it’s not to be underestimated. For example, Apple recently released their newest software update iOS 9 and, like many of their updates, they revealed a big surprise. Apple had changed the software’s font from their famous “Helvetica” typeface, and Apple users everywhere were completely thrown off. Although Helvetica isn’t considered a very flashy or even highly recognizable font, its importance to the design and layout to Apple’s electronics shows that typography has a big impact on consumers.

Graphic designers can learn more about typography by taking courses and reading educational books on the importance of typography and how they can wield it. Understanding and appreciating its role in design and marketing can help a designer grow creatively and professionally. Effective graphic design is based on the skill of a designer and how well they can deliver to the target, and that their success is based on how well they know these three key elements. Although elements like coding aren’t required for some graphic design work, understanding it can build a more well-rounded artist. And a well-rounded artist means more thorough and successful design work.

Free Halloween Ghost Graphic

Halloween is almost a month away. That means it’s time to prepare for Halloween holiday sales, promos and ghosts! This holiday is a great opportunity for fun advertisements, so get started with this free graphic!

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FREE DOWNLOAD: (300dpi RGB jpg) (300dpi CMYK jpg)

Only available for free from September 28th, 2015 through October 5th, 2015.

Miss this free graphic? Search for it on Creative Outlet!

The Best Time to Start Your Holiday Promotions

It’s almost October, and you may have already started seeing ads for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It seems like every year the holidays begin just a little bit earlier. Like, for example, Starbucks releasing their famed holiday Pumpkin Spice Latte a few weeks early this past month. So, is there a limit to how early you should start prepping for the holidays? Big companies like Starbucks have sure gotten away with it, but it’s because their timing is on par with what their audience wants. Analyzing what factors play into your holiday selling time can be crucial to its overall effectiveness.

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Timing is everything – even if it’s early.

Just like when you’re considering the appropriate time to hang your holiday decorations, picking the appropriate time to begin holiday promotions is important- and necessary. Before you start planning for the next few months, remember that the appropriate timing depends on your business, your products/services and your target audiences. It’s all about knowing your company and your desired audiences. However, there are a few guidelines that can be considered when planning for the start of your holiday social media promotions:

Over 40% of shoppers do their holiday shopping before Halloween – Seems really early, but many consumers like to start their shopping early so that they can spread out their spending. If pre-Halloween promotions seem like the appropriate time to begin your holiday season, then you’ll be up with the rest of the early bird shoppers- and you know what they say about the early bird.

If your products are less of an impulse buy, consider starting early, too – A shopper’s purchase decisions mainly depend on affordabilityFor example, if you’re out to buy a candy bar, it doesn’t take too much time to decide on what kind you want because they don’t cost a lot of money and there isn’t much risk in buying one. Cars, on the other hand, are a more involved purchase decision because buying a car is a bigger investment. So, if you’re selling something that takes a bit more saving up for, like a car, you might want to start promoting early for the holidays so that consumers have time to save up.

Most people actually don’t mind 4 months of holiday ads – Although many will complain when September rolls around and they’re already hearing “Jingle Bells” being played over a clothing store commercial, many don’t really mind. Surprisingly, early Christmas ads aren’t a recent trend for advertisers, as there are existing Christmas newspaper ads from August 1914. So, there are plenty of people out there who don’t mind the early holiday cheer. Many of these positive responders include adults under 45, those with children and those with a lower income, who are more willing to spend over longer periods.

Remember to continue sales and promos after the holidays.

The pre-holiday season isn’t the only time of year to be concerned about. In fact, one of the top three biggest holiday selling days is the day after Christmas! Try targeting shoppers who hold out on the last of their big spending until the post-holiday season. Post-holidays are the perfect time to thank loyal customers for their business and give out rewards and freebies. The holidays are the biggest selling period of the year, so keep in mind that timing plays an important role in your advertising. As always, be sure to pay attention to responses and measure results so your holidays are even more of a success in years to come!

10 Essential Graphic Design Hotkeys That Improve Productivity

Creating and designing, especially when much of your productivity involves the click of a mouse, can become straining. Luckily the Adobe Suite, as you probably know, has created “hotkeys” that allow a simpler design process. These useful keys can help speed up the design process by giving you a shortcut for an often-used command. Improve your design workflow by keeping a note of these important and highly used Adobe hotkeys for Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign!

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 1. Add to selection

Instead of trying to click and drag over multiple objects to select what you want, there is a way to select objects more specifically.

Windows: Ctrl + Click

Mac OS: Command + Click

2. Select/Deselect all

Select and deselect all items on a working canvas without having to manually select everything.

Windows: Ctrl + A / F2 or Ctrl + Shift + A

Mac OS: Command + A / F2 or Command + Shift + A

3. Document Setup (InDesign)

Make alterations to the document by adjusting the page size/orientation and the page bleeds and slugs by opening this options window.

Windows: Ctrl + Alt + P

Mac OS: Command + Alt + P

4. Package file (InDesign)

A hassle-free way to get your files ready to print.

Windows: Ctrl + Alt + Shift + P

Mac OS: Alt + Shift + Command + P

5. Align text left/center/right

Forget about locating the text alignment buttons when the commands are already at your fingertips.

Windows: Ctrl + Shift + L/C/R

Mac OS: Command + Shift + L/C/R

6. Decrease/Increase type size

Adjust your text size with ease so that you can find the perfect fit.

Windows: Ctrl + Shift + < or >

Mac OS: Command + Shift + < or >

7. Merge layers (Photoshop)

Incredibly useful if you want to make all of your layers one. However, use with caution. Once merged, the layers do not separate easily.

Windows: Ctrl + Shift + E

Mac OS: Command + Shift + E

8. Select a color from an image (Photoshop)

This hotkey is great for when you want to test drive a color without actually altering the image. Click and hold to see selected color, then let go to return to the brush tool. A fantastic, non-permanent alternative to using the eyedropper tool.

Windows: Alt + Brush Tool

Mac OS: Option + Brush Tool

9. Import files

Insert new files onto a document at the click of a few keys!

Windows: Ctrl + D

Mac OS: Command + D

10. Preview mode (InDesign)

This hotkey lets you toggle between your working screen and the preview screen without any additional lines or boxes.

Windows: W

Mac OS: W

Even if you already know many of these shortcuts, there are hundreds more created by Adobe to make your designing experience easier. Explore the hotkeys for commands that you use the most frequently and cut down on time. Keeping a handy reference on a notepad or even jotting them down on a sticky note can improve your designing productivity and ease in no time!

1 Minute Workshop: Create a Tie Dye Pattern Using Adobe Photoshop

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Create a Tie Dye Pattern using Adobe® Photoshop®

Tie Dye Pattern step 1

Step 1

In this exercise, we’ll create a tie-dye design using a few simple key strokes. Begin with a blank canvas. Use a black background. On a new layer, create an abstract brushed horizontal shape. Try to keep the height very narrow and the width very wide. Use the paintbrush tool to create the shape. Vary the colors within the shape, adding bright spots or incorporate other colors. This will help with the final effect.

Tie Dye Pattern Step 2

Step 2

Duplicate the layer (the shape) and rotate the new layer clockwise a few degrees. At this point, you should have 3 layers: the black background, the original shape, and the new layer with the shape rotated on it. Keep the new layer selected.

Tie Dye Pattern Step 3

Step 3

The key to this effect is to continue replicating and rotating the shape in a consistent manner. We can do this with a few keystrokes. On a PC, press: Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+T to duplicate the top layer and repeat the transformation (rotation). Keep pressing these keys to continue creating/rotating the shape until you have a complete circle. On a Mac, the keystrokes are Cmd/Option+Shift.

Tie Dye Pattern Step 4

Step 4

Experiment with color, shape, rotation distance, and contrast with your original shape to achieve different colorful and interesting results.

The Best Image Practices for Better Ad Performance

One of the best eye-grabbers for online ads and articles are the images that correspond with them. Images are essential to user engagement and can help with the overall success or click-through-rates, but it’s challenging to stand out among the rest of the content. Images are likely the first thing that the eye wanders to, so it’s important that the images used are chosen very carefully to keep the viewer’s attention. Here are some excellent pointers for picking out an image that really pops.

Find the appropriate size.

When it comes to smaller advertisements, such as a Facebook ad, it’s imperative that the images used can still be interpreted when at a smaller scale. So, stay far away from images with a ton of detail, especially ones with text. If words absolutely must be used, stick to large, readable text and be careful that the text doesn’t take up more than a fourth of the image itself. If this is an outdoor advertisement, like a flyer, bigger is usually better so that the eye is more likely to be drawn to it.

Make sure that the image is relevant to the product or service advertised. 

Seems almost too easy, right? Of course you’re not going to use a photo of cats if you’re advertising dog food, but this is still a noteworthy tip. Keep in mind that an image choice that makes sense to you may not always make sense to the viewer who knows nothing about your product, brand or services. The best way to prevent confusion this is using a photo with people enjoying the product, the product itself or images that show the result of your product or service.

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Images of happy, smiling people grab attention.

Choose happy people, positive imagery.

In addition to picking images of people using your product, it’s helpful to include people enjoying your product. Images of happy, smiling women help increase ad performance because they translate well and are more trustworthy. Pictures of people, especially well-recognized ones are great for creating a positive first impression and create an emotional connection with the brand or product. Pictures of babies, pets and often silly images generate more interest in an ad. Consider the target demographic when picking out what image is going to be used for the best results.

Pick the right color scheme.

Depending on where the image or ad is to be placed, one great way for it to stand out is to pick colors that are complimentary or differ from the rest of the page’s content. For example, since Facebook’s layout is white and blue, pick colors like red or orange for contrast. Stay away from black and white images and try to attract the eye with bright, vibrant color. Certain colors even helps evoke emotion. For example, yellow represents happiness, creativity and cheeriness. Colors like blue evokes feelings of peace and calmness. Check out Creative Outlet’s previous blog on marketing with color here.

Choose multiple image options.

In cases like Facebook advertising, you are allowed to create multiple versions of your ad. So, if you can’t choose just one image, pick out a few that best accompany your ad message. If it’s available to you, create multiple versions of poster or flyer advertisements. Creating multiple ads allows variety and also allows you to measure the results and see which ad is doing the best, and which ones just aren’t working. This helps you for future advertising success!

Since images grab attention first, it’s important that they make a great first impression, especially if it means introducing a new product or brand. Consider these practices before an ad is printed, published or uploaded for better advertising results!

Are Celebrity Endorsements Worth the Risk?

Social media has become a major platform for celebrity endorsements, and it seems as if more and more brands are utilizing their power for publicity. Celebrities are used to promote a wide range of products; you may have seen some endorsing a skincare line, sportswear, even makeup. Along with the huge sums of money that comes with hiring a celebrity endorser, they also come with a major risk. Celebrity endorsements are living, breathing ads for a company, and are often under major scrutiny by the public and the press. This is why considering celebrity endorsement can be a lot like a gamble. However, successful celebrity endorsement can be huge for a business. So, before you start considering calling up the next big thing, consider the ups and downs.

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With glitz and glamor also comes risk when it comes to celebrity endorsements.

Celebrities are human.

One of the biggest cons of celebrity endorsements are that celebrities, like other humans, make mistakes. The difference is that a celebrity’s life is lived under a microscope, so any mistake they make is often overexposed. Scandals, rumors and other mishaps are a few of the damaging things that can happen to a celebrity’s image… and also to a company’s image. Luckily, endorsed celebrities can quickly be cut off by a company if their actions are damaging to their company name in any way.

Another risk is eclipsing, which occurs when an endorser has overshadowed the company. Sure, you want a celebrity’s image to be representative to a brand in some way, but it can be problematic if that celebrity is all that consumers know about a brand. This is especially so if a celebrity endorses multiple products at once. Association is important, but it needs to be clear that a brand is its own entity, not the celebrity’s. Keep note that celebrity endorsement is just a channel of a marketing strategy, don’t let that be the only quality to a campaign.

Their popularity leads to new opportunities.

Although matching a celebrity with a company is a challenge, it can come with a big reward. Endorsing a celebrity means tapping into their fan base, which is likely fairly large, and introducing new markets to a brand and its products. New markets mean new marketing opportunities Their huge influence on a buyer’s purchase decisions reassures potential customers of any future purchases they make with a company. Celebrities who speak in favor of certain products may alleviate any uncertainty a consumer could have, and therefore makes the product, or even the company, seem more trustworthy. Additionally, for brands with products that aren’t selling very well, having a celebrity endorse the benefits of these products can help create new consumer interest. In many cases, this results in an increase in sales, brand recognition, loyalty and engagement.

Endorsements mean long-term strategy.

Having a celebrity endorser is a commitment that should be developed over time to create an identity. Choosing the correct up and coming star that has their own connection with a brand or product is beneficial from the very start to a celebrity-brand relationship. Keep tabs on the endorser’s public image and behavior so that any negative publicity can be nipped in the bud. Social media is really important to this strategy because the celebrity acts as another platform for the brand through their own social media outlets.

Be prepared for any mishaps.

It’s important that any celebrity that is hired already has a positive image so that any drama can be prevented. However, if any problems occur, it’s important that there is damage control, and it’s up to the company to decide if whether or not the celebrity should be kept on contract.  Often, if anything particularly scandalous occurs, the celebrity is dropped, but that isn’t always the case. In the end, the company makes the decision on where to draw the line when it comes to endorsing a celebrity. In the case of Tiger Woods and Nike, despite the drama revolving around the pro golf player, Nike did not feel that it was necessary to disassociate him from the brand. Their decision was based on the fact that Woods’ actions didn’t relate to his athletic career, which is the important element to their endorsement.

Incredible results can follow inviting a celebrity under a company spotlight, but it’s important to remember the risks that come with it. Keeping in mind the long-term commitment and the possible ups-and-downs that can come with it can ensure success for any brand.

How a Design and Copywriting Duo Can Operate Fluidly

Design and copy are two different beasts, but together they help create engaging visual content. In advertising, it’s crucial that the designer and copywriter can work efficiently to get their projects completed on a tight, strict schedule. But when these two different creative elements come together, it can be hard to figure out where to start. Oftentimes, the designer begins with a wireframe sketch and leaves the copywriter to fill in the blanks with written content. This assembly line-like work strategy can put the copywriter at a disadvantage because he or she is limited in creative freedom, and that doesn’t sound much like collaboration, does it? Although it may seem like design is the best foot to lead on, it’s best to jump in with both.


A creative team should do plenty of their work together so that the design is cohesive.

Begin together, end together…

Beginning with design can put the whole project at a disadvantage because copy is the driving force that tells people what to do. So, before you jump into your wireframes and concept sketches, consider this. What’s the theme or story that this ad is going to revolve around? What goal are we trying to achieve with this advertisement? What’s the overall purpose of this web design? Establishing this right off the bat can ensure that the designer and copywriter are on the same page before the creative brainstorm begins. This step is the most important because the client’s end goal is the top priority. Additionally, this keeps both teams at the same pace and prevents any future roadblocks.

A creative partnership between the designer and copywriter is crucial for design success. Not working together for a decent portion of the project could lead to lack of cohesiveness. If the design and copy aren’t created together, could end up with two pieces that don’t match up. A steady amount of communication is the glue that holds together a great creative duo. So, keep the communication consistent, voice opinions and give constructive criticism where it’s needed.

Speaking of communication, since both parties share different specialties and therefore a different creative language, it’s important for the creatives to have a general understanding of the other creative’s work. For instance, the designer should keep a writing stylebook on hand, and the copywriter should be able to understand the principles of design. This mutual understanding of how design and copy work together and by themselves helps with better communication and a smoother creative process.

…but take some time to yourselves.

If you’re used to working primarily by yourself in a collaboration process, it can be challenging to consistently bounce ideas back and forth between another person. Sometimes, you need the quiet of solitude to be able to hear your thoughts clearly. Take the occasional to yourselves to come up with your own design or copy concepts, then come back and share what you’ve come up with.

No two teams are alike, so it may take an adjustment to get into the right creative flow together. So, keep these ideas in mind next time you need to put your heads together. Whatever direction you choose, don’t leave the copywriter to fill in the blanks, let them be a part of the designing process, because they are a very important part of this process! A better creative process that involves all parts equally leads to a more solid, well-thought out design.