Category Archives: Design Tips

Adult Color Pages Now On Creative Outlet!

Adult Color Pages Now On Creative Outlet!060716_ColoringPagePromo_3



Act right now & make sure that your publication is in on one of the trendiest items around – coloring pages/books for adults!  

According to CNN, researchers and art therapists a
like have touted the calming benefits for over a decade.  Just like meditation, coloring also allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviatefree-floating anxiety.

Our team at Creative Outlet has been following the trend and listening to your requests, so starting today, we have made these pages available for you to download and offer to YOUR clients.   All work was created by our talented internal team, so you are assured that there’s nothing like this in your marketplace today.

There’s a banner on Creative Outlet, but here’s the  to the search. If you’re not a subscriber, be sure to touch base with us and let us know you’d like more information!  We’re happy to help.



Headless? Auto Dealers will LOVE you!

Who’s your most creative advertiser?  For many of you, it’s your local auto dealers & they are always looking for the most attention-grabbing ideas.  We have just what you need, check out the keyword “Headless“.

#5 Headless

HeadlessManCannonC1510_M_150_C_RWe have close to 200 headless images on Creative Outlet, most in a theme so you can run them either as a series – or have sales reps featured.

Here are some of the attention-grabbing ideas that we like.  Let us know what works in your market!  Don’t forget, if you don’t see it on the site,  our subscribers can take advantage of our We’ll Create It request (more on that later!).

Let us know what you are looking for at


Our Content is Flexible for Signs and Online Posts

Most of you know the flexibility that comes with using vectored artwork.  We constantly let our customers know that the content on Creative Outlet can be used in many other formats outside of tradition print-based advertising.  Our President, Jill Addy Wright, used Creative Outlet’s lawn mower graphic to create a poster promoting an upcoming fundraiser.  Remember, you have the ability to use our graphics in many ways – don’t just think of us for traditional print!  If you want to see a ton of Creative Outlet images on social media, this fundraiser used our images exclusively for their logo and on their Facebook page too.



Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.08.59 PM

1-Minute Workshop: Creating a Grunge Effect with Photoshop



Step 4
Creating a Grunge Effect with Photoshop


Step 1

This is a quick and simple design technique that can produce dramatic results. You’re going to create a grunge effect using two photos. This will begin with a black and white scan of splattered paint. Open the file in Adobe Photoshop.e layer mode of the flag (in the Layer window)to SCREEN. This  will mask off all parts of the flag that do not overlay the black/dark areas in the paint splatter. This effect can create very interesting compositions and designs in a matter of minutes

Step 1

Step 2

Next, you need to make sure the image is predominantly black. You want a
high contrast image. In Photoshop, go to the top menu and select LEVELS. Adjust the sliders to create more contrast in the image with rich blacks and less gray tones.

Step 2

Step 3

You now need a photo that you can place “inside” of our pain splatter. In this example, it is a photo of an American flag. Open the flan in Photoshop, copy it, and then paste it as a new layer in the paint splatter
document. In the layer window, you’ll see that the flag is above the paint splatter layer.

Step 3

Step 4

To complete the effect, simply change the layer mode of the flag (in the Layer window)to SCREEN. This  will mask off all parts of the flag that do not overlay the black/dark areas in the paint splatter. This effect can create very interesting compositions and designs in a matter of minutes.Step 4

Why Using Media Images Can Land You in Hot Water

Teenage girl with camera
Teenage girl with camera

Images and content can be found by the millions with just a quick Google search. The internet is so abundant with photos and other media content that using one may not seem like that big of a deal. However, even if you don’t see a copywrite on the photo, that photo still isn’t yours to take. Uploading the image to a Facebook or Twitter post can be one thing, but borrowing an image to use in a client’s work can be a whole other nightmare. You can find yourself in some deep trouble – and in a big lawsuit – if you are using media content that you don’t have the permission to use. Here’s how you can be safe.

Internet content isn’t yours for the taking.

If you didn’t personally take the photo or create the artwork – it isn’t yours. Plain and simple. Using other people’s content requires special permission or you could find yourself in a ton of trouble, especially when it comes to designs or promotional work for clients. You and the client can end up with a lawsuit, which can be a devastating blow to your reputation. It’s easy to believe that copyrighted content consists of imagery that is watermarked with the creator’s name, or embellished with a “©.” Although that’s true, it also includes any media content created by somebody else. That means that even if it’s not formally protected, it’s still under copyright by its owner once it is produced. The best way to ensure that it’s safe to use is to do your own research.

Be responsible.

Never assume that because Google told you it was free to use that it’s actually free to use. It’s your personal responsibility to make sure that you have the rights to reuse content commercially or even non commercially, and it can sometimes come with a price. If you don’t know the copyright status, find the owner and ask them yourself. As long as you have it in writing, you may use the image once permission is given. One helpful tool to use is TinEye – you can upload the image or simply drop in its URL and this website can help find who owns it and may even give you the licensing status.

The best way to ensure that your media decisions aren’t going to come back to bite you in the you-know-where later on is to invest in a stock image subscription. A paid subscription gives you the permission to use thousands of

So, before you snag on image online to slap onto your next article, make sure that you have the rights to reuse it. If you’re given the permission to use it, make sure that you’re giving credit where credit is due. Be smart and safe when you reuse content and remember that even though something is on the internet, it isn’t free.

Talk to us if you have any questions.

10 Free, Fantastic Fonts to Use in 2016

Looking for some new fonts? We’ve hand-picked some of the best fonts available on the web today to help add style to any design that may be lacking. These fonts are easy to download and most are free for personal AND commercial use! Start off your 2016 right by including these eye-pleasing typefaces to your design tool kit.


1. Hamster Script
By: Artimasa

For those who are suckers for hand lettering – this font is great for adding some extra flair and personality to a design.
License: Free for personal and commercial use.

By: Aaron May

This stylish, hand-drawn serif adds a little edge to a design. Pair MAYHEM with designs that share a similar rough, sketched out look for cool, chaotic results.
License: Free for personal and commercial use.

3. Blogger Sans
By: Sergiy Tkachenko

This lightweight typeface is simple enough to use as a body font, and versatile enough to be a title font. Blogger Sans comes in multiple weights and outlines, which is ideal for pairing with other fonts.
License: Commercial use for print and web

By: Leonardo Gubbioni

Building is a sleek and sturdy typeface just like, well, a building. Make a statement with this font as a bold header.
License: Free for personal use, $13 for commercial use.

5. Modeka
By: Gatis Vilaks

Modeka puts the “M” in Modern with its geometric-style lettering shapes and elegant style.
License: Free (although donations are encouraged) for personal and commercial use.

By: Benito Ruiz

Western-inspired PONIENTE is an all-caps font that would make a great headline with its bold style.
License: Free for personal and commercial use.

7. Ailerons
By: Adilson Gonzales de Oliveira Junior

Ailerons typeface looks so intriguing, it’s almost other-worldly. Since this edgy font was inspired by aircrafts from the 1940s, calling it other-worldly seems pretty appropriate. Try using Ailerons in minimalistic designs so it really stands out.
License: Free for personal use. For commercial use, please contact the owner at

By: Alessandro Comotti

Is this font making you dizzy? LIQUIDO comes in both a regular and “fluid” style for whichever your design calls for.
License: Free for personal and commercial use.

9. Melma
By: Rafa Miguel

Melma font adds a retro feel to a design. This bold, hand-drawn typeface comes in three different styles – try Melma Cracked for a stamped look.
License: Free for personal and commercial use.

10. Gagalin
By: iordanis passas

This fun comic book style typeface is great for grabbing attention on posters and, of course, would look excellent on a web comic.
License: Free for any use!

Common Graphic Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Everyone makes mistakes, including designers. But when it comes to deadlines and big design projects, sometimes you can’t afford mistakes. Being able to watch out for these common design mistakes can help with design time and keep you from having to make revisions. Here are a few more commonly made graphic design mistakes you don’t want to keep making!


Using Rasters instead of Vectors. 

The mistake: Raster images are made of pixels, they’re more commonly recognized as .jpegs, .tiffs, .gifs, .bmps, and .png files. Since they’re made of pixels, they’re dependent on the resolution of the image itself. That means that the larger that the image is scaled, the more pixelated it’s bound to look. This isn’t ideal for images that need to be at a very large size. Vectors, on the other hand, are made of geometric shapes and curves, like fonts. Vector images make it easy to scale up or down as big or as small as you’d like without losing image quality.
The solution: Use vectored images for large scale designs. If you need to use raster images, make sure that you are printing it at the highest resolution possible so that you maintain image quality. View at print size (Command/Ctrl + 1 on Illustrator) to see how the image looks beforehand.  You can even turn low quality rastered images into vectored images with the Live Trace feature on Adobe Illustrator.

Misusing fonts.

The mistake: There are several mistakes you can make with fonts. The most common ones are using too many fonts in one design and poor typography choice. Too many fonts can make a design look unorganized, while not finding fonts that are original to your brand or using them without permission can land you in hot water.
The solution: In terms of the number of fonts to use, stick to 3 max. This also goes for the type of fonts, try not to go overboard with using a bunch of italics, bolds, and thin fonts in one design. Otherwise, the design might be too difficult to read. When you do find a font or fonts that you like, make sure that you have permission to use these fonts in promotions. Even if the font is free to download on the website doesn’t mean that it’s free for commercial usage. Double and triple check the fonts you’re downloading before you use them, or else you may end up having to replace your font.

Not following the creative brief.

The mistake: In terms of advertising and campaign designing, the brief is the wireframe to an entire campaign. The creative brief stems from a big idea, an idea that creates overall cohesiveness throughout the campaign. Without it, there wouldn’t be much structure between advertisements. Choosing to create your own spin on the design, or simply not understanding or following the creative brief will cause you to stray from the path and, in the end, have to go back for revisions so that it better fits the brief.
The solution: Not following or fully understanding the brief can be detrimental, so it’s best to start any design project with the brief. Before doing any designing or planning, spend a good time with the brief. Highlight, underline and jot down notes and ideas onto your copy of the brief for future reference. This way, you can refer back to it during the design process for references. Be sure to keep in content with the client if you have any questions.

Being a trend follower instead of a setter.

The mistake: Admiring a designer’s style is one thing, but don’t try and recreate trending or popularly used designs for the sake of aesthetics. This can be problematic in advertising if you want your design to stand out. If you use trendy, overused designs, it’s not going to be anything new for viewers.
The solution: The best part about being in the arts is that you get to create a style that’s all your own. While it’s great to follow popular designers, or keep up with design trends for inspiration, try not to get lost in trying to recreate a design that you like. Instead, put your own spin on things. Use elements of other people’s work, but never copy them. Like taking fonts that aren’t yours to use, you can get in trouble if you’re caught with an identical design as someone else.

Not saving or packaging the design file properly.

The mistake: Finishing a design file doesn’t end with saving and just saving the single design file. Many times graphics, links and fonts can be lost when sending the file back to the client. Meaning that these elements may not show up in the design and can lead to problems and frustration regardless of whether or not the design was flawless.
The solution: Most Adobe programs allow the option to package your file- meaning that all of the fonts, links, embedded images and crucial information to your design will be stored in a packaged file. This can generally be found under File > Package in Adobe programs. Make sure you specify that you want links and fonts copied and packaged.

Don’t let design mistakes slow you down! Prevent any future mishaps (and headaches) by keeping these common mistakes in mind and stopping the problem before it becomes one. You’ll end up with more design time, less revising time, and satisfied clients!

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.

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!

Woman's hand on laptop computer keyboard, close-up

 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!

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.