3 Vital Resources for Beginner Graphic Designers

Graphic Design, like many other hobbies and professions, has become more accessible to learn due to the vast amount of help and knowledge on the internet. There are thousands of YouTube tutorials for Photoshop or Illustrator as well as online classes and articles that could get you started. Within days, you’ll be on your way to creating awesome designs and logos.

The problem you may run into is an overwhelming amount of resources trying to guide you in every which way. With so many options to choose from, and so many different styles to sort through, it may be difficult and time consuming. Here are some resources that can be vital for beginner (or any) graphic artists:

  1. Canva.com

    Canva is a great resource for designers who do not have access to programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. While it may not be as feature-rich as these programs, it is user-friendly and will get the job done for most basic design jobs. The program allows you to upload photos, browse through a large selection of stock photos and patterns, and use cool pre-loaded fonts.

    What may be the best part about Canva – besides the fact that it’s free – is it’s compatibility with print design. Most online design programs lack this feature, but Canva allows you to design custom page sizes so that there are no issues in enlarging for print. This way no quality is lost when printing full size.

    Another print-specific feature is the ability to export files with crops and bleeds. This is required by nearly all printers, and can be a pain to fix if it is not set up right. With Canva, you will end up with a High Quality PDF that is ready for print.canva | graphic design tool for those who don't have photoshop

  2. Coolors.co

    This super simple color palette generator quickly identifies colors that work well together. This is great for getting some inspirations for design based on a few complimentary colors. coolors | color scheme generator for graphic designers

    This tool gives you the option to select colors by Hex value, CMYK, RGB, PMS or Copic Value. You can then lock one or more colors and produce an array of colors based on that locked value. It even gives you the option to change the hue, saturation and brightness of your colors, making the tool super flexible.

  3. freeforcommercialuse.net

    Stock photos website for graphic designers

    Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense for you to go out and take photos for a design you are working on. With the vast amount of images that are on the web, it is usually easier to just put in a search of what you’re looking for, and find it that way. There are two minor problems with this, however. First, a lot of photos have licensing restrictions on them, so you cannot use them without giving proper attribution. Second, because there are so many photos to choose from, it may be hard to sort through all of them to find a high quality and relevant photo.

    Freeforcommercialuse.net is a directory linking to some of the best stock photos available. Almost all are free for commercial use without attribution. Some of the sites allow you to search for specific topics while others curate daily collections of beautiful photos. Whatever you are looking for, this is a good starting point for designers looking for high quality photos.

Designing for Print

There are many things to keep in mind when designing materials for print that differ from simple web-based graphic design. Using CMYK color schemes, designing with crops and bleeds, and exporting your files the right way are all vital steps needed to get your piece on the press in a timely matter. Visit our info center to learn more about designing for print, or leave a comment below with any questions you may have!

Lookbook Specs: Choosing the Right Options for Your Fashion Lookbook

Lookbook-Collection

With spring fashion season soon approaching, and the New York Fashion Week kicking off next week, time is crucial in getting all of your collateral together. There is so much that goes into presenting your new line of clothing or jewelry, and some things can go overlooked. Fashion lookbooks are a key part of any presentation, and can serve as major selling point for your merchandise.

When talking to your printer, there will be several questions they will need to ask to find out exactly how to print your booklet. Make sure you know the answers beforehand so that you can get a fair price estimate, and so that your final product comes out exactly the way you are expecting.

Here are some of the most common questions you will face when you go to print your lookbook:

How will my lookbook bind?

There are a few different options available for lookbook binding, and more detailed information and videos can be found at our bindery options page.

The three most common lookbook binding styles are Saddle Stitched, Wire-O, and Perfect Binding. Each has it’s own advantages, and there are different requirements for each style.

Saddle Stitched

This is the most cost efficient option and uses two staples to hold together the sheets of paper. Since this style is printed on large sheets that are folded in half, this type of booklet can only come in increments of 4 pages.

Wire-O Binding

Each sheet is cut to the finished size and bound using a wire with metal loops. This way, the book can be easily turned so that each page lays flat.

Wire-o-lookbook

Perfect Binding

This is the traditional book-binding method of gluing sheets into a thicker cover. Perfect binding produces the most professional finish, but requires a minimum of 28 pages to be bound this way.

perfect-bound-lookbook

What Paper Type Should I use for my Lookbook?

Choosing the right paper for your lookbook can be just as important as the actual layout of the book. Each designer will have different preferences for their lookbook, depending on the style of the material showcased inside.

If you want your images to really pop and you have a lot of bright colors and whites in your artwork, you would probably be best suited for Gloss paper. Need your booklet to be even more shiny? Add a layer of UV Coating to the cover!

Matte or Dull Coated paper is similar to gloss, but the accents are toned down a bit. This option is great for more neutral colors that don’t necessarily need to pop off the page, but will complete the aesthetic of the jewelry or clothing pictured.

The final option is Uncoated paper – this is similar to standard printer paper, but a higher quality, and slightly thicker. This type will give a natural feel and look, as glossy paper tends to be more silky.

What Size Should my Lookbook be?

This is one of the most common questions we face when dealing with lookbooks, and it’s actually pretty simple. The answer is – any size. Most printers use large sheets to print your lookbook, and then cut them down to the finished size, making it possible to make your booklet any reasonable size. However, there are both advantages and disadvantages to this.

landscape-lookbooks
Landscape Lookbooks
Portrait-Lookbooks
Portrait Lookbooks
Advantages:
  • Custom lookbooks will stand out, which can be a key factor in the fashion industry.
  • No need to redesign your artwork – Re-figuring your images to fit in a certain page dimension can be troublesome and they may not appear to their full potential.
Disadvantages:
  • Anything custom will almost always be more expensive. Just like every other industry, having something custom made to fit your needs will run up the bill. Choosing a common size such as 5.5″ x 8.5″ or 6″ x 9″ will keep the cost down.
  • Production time will most likely increase for a custom book, which may be a hindrance if they’re needed in a rush.

Other considerations – Lookbooks are most commonly printed portrait style, meaning they are bound on the long edge. If you need an oblong (landscape) book, it will most likely increase the cost and production time.

There are many things to consider when designing your lookbook. Going into a meeting with your printer with a general idea beforehand will help your printer steer you in the right direction. It will also save you time, money and frustration in the end.

If you need a quote for printing lookbooks, give the Marsid M&M group a call at 516.334.1603 or visit our lookbook printing page for a quick estimate. We offer next day turnaround and free PDF proofs for most jobs.

3 Reasons Direct Mail Marketing Has An Edge On Email Marketing

We strongly believe in the power of Direct Mail even in this electronic age that we live in.

We see it every day, small to medium size businesses and large corporations use direct mail in their marketing mix and yes, they get results!

Even the likes of Google, who’s main business is internet based, uses direct mail to advertise and communicate with their advertisers and customers.

The best part is, it’s not just some generic flyer or brochure, they go all-in with variable data including graphs and charts reflecting the customer’s actual data.

Google Direct Mail

Direct Mail marketing has evolved with the digital age and still brings in a very competitive ROI while consumers directly prefer receiving postal mail from brands:

  • 59% of U.S. respondents and 65% of Canadian respondents agreed with the following statement, “I enjoy getting postal mail from brands about new products”
  • 73% of U.S. consumers and 67% of Canadian consumers said they prefer direct mail for brand communications because they can read the information at their convenience. Additionally, 62% of Americans and 63% of Canadians said they enjoy checking the mailbox for postal mail
  • U.S. advertisers spend $167 per person on direct mail to earn $2,095 worth of goods sold; a 1,300% return

source:  6 Direct Mail Stats That Can’t Be Ignored – Epsilon

We’re not just saying this to convince you to use our direct mail services, Entreprenuer.com is saying the same thing (although we don’t agree 100% with the title, we believe it should be a mix of both but it’s still a great informative read):

4 Reasons to Use Direct Mail Marketing Instead of Email Marketing


How are you using direct mail and email marketing to increase sales and/or brand awareness?

 

Just In Time For Valentines: Forever® Hearts|USPS Stamps

The USPS has released the Forever Hearts, Forever® stamps, two versions depicting a heart shaped with lacy lettering spelling out “Forever”. Available in a white background with a red design and a reversed design in white design with a red background.

The perfect stamp to adorn your custom printed invitations valentines cards, announcements, anniversary cards and much more.

These beautiful Valentine’s stamps were first issued January 22nd, 2015.

Forever Hearts, Forever® | USPS Stamps.

Direct Mail Services
Don’t fret! The Marsid M&M Group has you covered for all of your printing and mailing needs. we are fully equipped to handle your next mailing extremely fast and accurately. Contact us right away toll-free at 1-877-mmprint or visit our mailing services page to request an estimate.

Lookbook Design Tips – Style And Fashion

Lookbooks seem to be the latest craze for fashion start-ups and clothing lines. I can attest to this statement because it’s been our hottest selling product for the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2013 and probably would have been for longer than that… had we paid more attention to this trend earlier in the year.

The difference between a lookbook and a catalog is in the content. Lookbooks showcase your fashion/clothing line’s look and style and doesn’t get into too much detail because it’s all about imagery, hence the name “Look” book.

A lookbook design sets the stage for your target market and with these tips you will be able to create an environment that they can relate to and see themselves in it.

 

Lookbook Design Showcase

 

Simple and Subtle Imagery

Lookbooks are made for looking. Simple as that. No need to create distraction with overwhelming amounts of text or disruptive graphics that take the focus away from your product.

You may opt for a solid color background usually gentle whites or light greys that contrast with the colors of your models and clothing. Even shadows can draw the eyes away from the target, make sure your lighting conditions are optimal.

 

Fashion Lookbook Designs

 

Use Your Environment

For the seasonal or niche fashion-eers, the background can be used to your advantage. Create a habitat where your fashion lives, where you target market finds themselves. Help them envision how your style fits their lifestyle.

 

Lookbook Design and Printing

 

 Gloss, Gloss… Gloss.

The paper you select for your lookbook printing can really influence the outcome.  In my opinion, nothing makes photographs POP like a glossy finish, the good news is most small runs of lookbooks are printed digitally…

Digital printing uses toner which has a glossy finish anyway so basically you can print on uncoated or matte paper and still have a glossy finish. I’ve seen this used to give the printed areas a 3D type effect or can be comparable to Spot UV coating.

 

Halloween Vector Graphics Collection For Commercial Use

With Halloween right up our alley, it’s crunch time to get the Halloween graphics printed up. To save you time we put together this collection of Halloween vector graphics that are available for commercial use. No need to spend hours looking for the right vector only to come to find out that you can’t use it in your commercial project.

We carefully checked the license on each one of these so that you can download them and get right to work!

Feel free to share your art with us on our Facebook Page or on Twitter (@mmprint).

Pumpkin Vectors

Free Vector Pumpkin Download
Halloween Pumpkin By Vector Open Stock
Free Vector Pumpkins Download
Free Vector Pumpkins Download from All Silhouettes
Mix and Match Pumpkin Faces
Mix and Match Pumpkin Faces from Designus

 

Halloween Banner Vectors

Vector Grunge Halloween Banners
Vector Grunge Halloween Banners by All4Designer

 

Halloween Vector Patterns

Vector Halloween Patterns
Vector Halloween Pumpkin and Skull Pattern VectorPatterns UK

 

Free Vector Halloween Bat Pattern
Free Vector Halloween Bat Pattern by VectorPatterns UK

[note]If your halloween project requires printing, please contact us at 516-334-1603 for amazing quality, super fast turnaround and free shipping![/note]

How To Set Up A Spot UV Business Card Design

The process of setting up a Spot UV business card is different from what you are used to. Since the Spot UV coating is not actually “printed”, the area that is printed and the area that is Spot UV will require separate files.

Areas with UV (Spot) and Areas with No UV

Let’s make it clear, the purpose of spot UV coating is to cover only certain graphic areas on the card, not the whole flat side of the card. Think of it as highlighting the important parts of your business card so that they stand out. Not only that, but you can get really creative with spot UV coating and make a business card that leaves a lasting impression on the viewer.

 

The Printed Area

The printed area of the card doesn’t need any special layers or effects to prepare it for spot UV coating. The only thing you will do special might be to leave out certain objects that you might want to be spot UV only, without any printing under it giving it that “Ghost” effect.

Spot UV Coating Business Card - Ghost Effect

 

In this example, the “m” was left out of the printing, only a solid orange was printed saturating the entire back side. The spot UV coating was applied to render the “Ghost” effect to the “m” and you can only see it in the light at certain angles… this is one of the owner’s business cards, we get WOW’s every time and most customers want it for their business cards.

 Spot UV and Printed Area Demonstration - M

The Spot UV Area

Believe it or not, it’s not that difficult to make a Spot UV file for the business card. Think of it this way, the UV coating is simply a clear color that you can put over any object in your design. Therefore, all you need to do is use black (100% K) representing the areas where the UV coating will be applied. Anything that is left white in the spot UV file will NOT have UV applied to it. Anything that is black (100% K), will. Simple as that.

[note color=”#d1d7c7″]I would not recommend doing this in Photoshop since the layer would be rasterized creating a jagged edge, use Illustrator which creates a vector layer instead for nice crisp clear edges.[/note]

 

Spot UV Coating Layer

The logo on the front of the card is important to us so we wanted it to stand out. How did we do it? Spot UV of course! It just jumps out at you when you’re looking at the card.

 Spot UV and Printed Area Demonstration Logo

[note color=”#FFCC00″] Once you have setup your Spot UV business cards. Give us a call at 1877-mmprint to speak printing professional about your project or visit our Business Card Printing Page for more information and to request a quote. [/note] [divider top=”1″]

Getting There First: Standard Mail vs First Class

USPS First Class Mail Standard Mail Comparison

With all of the problems the USPS has been facing, it hasn’t changed the fact that direct mail is still one of the best ways to market a business or service according to a study by the Direct Mail Association and referenced in this article by Ad Age.

The political/internal/financial battle happening within the United States Postal Service has affected delivery times and in recent news, California Representative Darrell Issa suggested in a bill that the USPS will no longer deliver mail directly to your door. Only to curbside mailboxes and cluster boxes similar to those found in apartment complexes. You can pay a fee to keep the to-your-door service if you don’t mind paying for it and exceptions will be made for the elderly and those who can prove physical disability.

Although the USPS  is changing and will keep changing, what most matters is that your target audience gets their mail pieces in a timely fashion and convert into customers.

The Differences in Bulk Mail Classes and Mail Delivery Times

Bulk mail is processed by the mail house before it gets to the Post Office saving the USPS time and money. The mailer typically has a mailing permit that must be printed on to each piece identifying the postage class and the account of the mailer who performed the mailing.

Presort software is used to connect to the USPS to presort the addresses, qualify the quantity and mail piece cost from your mailing list, add barcodes, check for duplicates and verifies address accuracy against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database. Planning ahead with delivery times in mind will help your direct mail campaign to be more effective and you can save money as well.

Standard Mail

Standard Mail Permit IndiciaStandard mail is the least expensive and slower class of bulk mail for for printed matter, flyers, circulars, advertising, newsletters, bulletins, catalogs, and small packages. Deeply discounted, Standard mail costs less because your mailing company or mail house does most of the processing for the Post Office and those savings are passed on to you in the form of a postage discount. With Standard mail, any pieces that are undeliverable are not returned to the sender which is also saves the USPS time and money.

What do you need to qualify for Standard Mail discounted postage?

  • Standard Mail Mailing Permit (you can use our mailing permit free if we are mailing for you!)
  • Minimum of 200 pieces or 50lbs of mail
  • Maximum weight of 16 ounces
  • Domestic Mail only

First Class Mail

First Class Mail Permit IndiciaFirst Class Mail is the faster of the two and if the address printed on the mailpiece is undeliverable, the USPS will automatically forward it to the correct address (if it’s on file) or return it to the sender. This ensures that the recipient receives the mailpiece or at least you can remove them from your mailing list saving you money on postage costs on the next mailing.

Depending on your budget and time-frame, the extra cost for First Class Mail can be worth it and it’s still less than the cost of a regular single-piece stamp.

What are the requirements to qualify for First Class discounted postage?

  • First Class Mailing Permit (you can use our mailing permit free if we are mailing for you!)
  • Minimum of 500 pieces
  • Maximum weight of 13 ounces
  • Must be rectangular in shape

Note: A 4.25 x 6 Postcard is mailed First Class by default at a special Postcard Rate.

First Class and Standard Mail Postage Costs

First Class and Standard mail are considered Unzoned Mail. Meaning you pay the same price without regard to where the mailpiece goes (within the U.S.). Nevertheless, there are differences in the cost of each piece depending on mailpiece type (postcard, letter, flat or parcel – each mailpiece type has its own size restrictions), weight and traying sequence (5-digit, 3-digit, AADC and mixed AADC) which is determined by the mailing software used by your mail house.

  • The United States Postal Service offers a handy Business Price Calculator to give you a good idea of what your postage costs may be per piece.
  • Download our convenient Envelope Size Chart to learn about standard envelope sizes and differences.

 For other types of mail classes, the price is determined by the distance the mailpiece travels to arrive at it’s destination. The further it has to travel, the more postage paid for that piece. The distance is established by the use of zones.

[note color=”#FFCC00″] You may still have questions regarding your direct mail campaign.Give us a call at 1877-mmprint to speak with a mailing service professional about your project or visit our mailing services page for more information and to request a quote. [/note] [divider top=”1″]

 

Avoid Issues By Saving Your Artwork Properly In InDesign For Printing

There are a few simple rules to follow when saving a print-ready design made with InDesign and it all starts with setting up your InDesign document properly with bleeds.

 The following paragraphs will enlighten you to a few golden rules to follow when it comes to saving/exporting your design to make sure it’s ready to go to print. 

The Need To Bleed

Adding bleeds from the start, BEFORE YOU EVEN START, is crucial. Think about it, you’re working on a 200+ page catalog and then you find out you have to go back and extend the bleed of every single object in every single page!! I really think if that happened to me I’d be Keanu-level bummed…

Should Have Added Bleeds Keanu

Packaging vs. Exporting

There are two common options when sending your file to your favorite printing company. You can choose your preferred route, although one is easier and produces a smaller file size:

1. Export to PDF

You can easily export your file to PDF format and send one single PDF to your printing company.  Saving as PDF embeds all your fonts and linked images into one file; nowadays this is the preferred method.

2. Package…

Packaging all of your document fonts, linked images, instructions and native InDesign file is another option you can exercise when sending your files to print. This option does create a pretty large file size that might make it a little harder to transfer to your printer vs. a PDF that could be half the size.


Save It Right The First Time

To save your InDesign file as PDF:

  • Click  File > Export  .
  • Enter your filename
  • Click Save
  • Select the [Press Quality] Preset

InDesign Export To PDF - Press Quality

Compression

I recommend leaving the compression to default values. For printing you only need 300 DPI images. If any of the images in your document are above 450 DPI, InDesign will automatically downsample the image to 300 DPI to reduce file size.

Color Image Compression:

InDesign Monochrome Image Compression Settings

Grayscale Image Compression:

InDesign Grayscale Image Compression Settings

Monochrome Image Compression:

InDesign Monochrome Image Compression Settings

Marks and Bleeds

To be safe, you can always simply select “All Printer’s Marks” although the most important options to have selected here are Crop Marks and Bleed Marks. Crop and Bleed Marks usually go together when any of the art, anything being printed, reaches the edge of the paper. A crop mark denotes where the paper will be cut to the final size while a bleed ensures that a white border is not present at the edge of the paper when cut.

Learn more about Crop Marks, Bleed Marks and the Cutting Process in printing.

Marks

InDesign Marks and Bleeds Settings

Bleeds and Slugs

If you set up your document correctly before starting your design as I stated at the beginning of this post, then it’s safe to select “Use Document Bleed Settings”. The slug is primarily to be used by you during design so we’ll just leave that unchecked.

InDesign Bleed and Slug Settings

Output

The default settings found in the Output options are pretty general and apply pretty well in all situations within the U.S.
Check with your printer first since it is possible that they have a preferred profile that works best with them. Otherwise, leave it as is – CMYK – U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) V2.

InDesign Output Settings

 

This is box title
Time for you to contact a modern printing company who will be able to use your PDF when saved with these settings. Honestly, you need to look no further as you are already in the right place: The Marsid M&M Group offers both digital printing and offset printing, foil stamping and embossing, custom die cutting and mailing services all with fast turnaround, all done in-house.

 Give us a call at 1877-mmprint or visit our website www.mmprint.com 

Pre-Press Proof: Challenges And The Alternative

Providing a customer with a pre-press proof for an offset run has been an issue for printers and customers alike for a long time, specially when printing in Pantone (PMS) colors.

Some customers require a printed proof to be made before the entire job is run, usually for large orders. Because of the cost of setting up an offset press, only running 1 or 2 pieces can cost almost equal to the cost of the job itself.

Most of the cost of an offset print job is in the setup. Once the press is setup,  all we do is feed it paper and ink. This is also the reason it’s not double the cost to run say 1000 vs 500 because the setup is the same, you basically pay extra for paper and ink.

The Pre-press Proof Alternative

Digital Printing Toner Wells CMYK BizhubNow that you understand why getting an offset press proof is expensive, there is an alternative that the digital age has bestowed upon us: The Digital Press Proof.

Digital printing, which allows us to quickly print one or two pieces with very little waste and setup time, is the best alternative to obtaining an offset press proof. It generally has a very low cost for a digital press proof and provides pretty close representation of the finished product being printed on offset.

Some digital presses can only print up to 18 inches. In this case, a large size proof would not be available in actual size. Another thing to note is that digital presses use toner while offset presses use liquid ink so the finish is not going to be exact either. Toner tends to have a glossy finish and would not be an exact representation of what the final offset prints will come out like.

 Digital Press Proofs and Accuracy

The quality of digital presses is almost, if not in par, with offset. Sometimes we can’t even tell the difference without looking through a loop. Otherwise, the only thing that gives it away is the glossiness of the toner.

If you want your proof to be exactly what your finished product will be from an offset press, then a digital press proof is not for you. It will not be 100% exact. But, if you are OK with a 75-90% accuracy, a digital press proof might be for you.

It all depends on YOUR reason for requesting a pre-press proof

Are you worried that the type might be too small or an image will be pixelated because of the quality of the embedded image? A digital proof will be perfect to show you text size or image quality.

Do you need to make sure that a logo has exact matching colors and that the paper you selected doesn’t affect the color? Then a digital proof will not show you the end result that an offset pre-press proof will.

I hope this post helps you determine if you need a pre-press proof, the pros and cons of both and you can always contact us if you have any questions.

[box title=”Digital Printing Services” color=”#333333″]Get a quote on your digital printing project easily and quickly on our Digital Printing Page. [/box]