Such a (page) imposition!

Pagination and page imposition is a strange thing when you first try and grok it. As designers we always see the pages in our layouts as sequentially numbered page pairs. The most complicated things normally get is explaining to newbies why things always start with a right-hand page (it’s the cover, of course), and figuring…

Print effects without ink?

How can you print without using ink, without applying some kind of colour to a surface? There are two processes that come to mind: embossing and die-cutting. They’re not generally options we get to play with as a rule, but that’s no reason not to look into the possibilities. Embossing can be done with print…

QR codes: enter the matrix!

Quick Response (QR) barcodes are more interesting than you might think, so it’s worth considering them. Just make sure they work as expected before going live… You’ve probably seen a QR code, even if you don’t know what they are or do. QR codes are basically a two-dimensional form of barcode, with data encoded in…

Preflighting: boring but important

Know more about preflighting than your software or you’ll get caught out. Grammar purists, look away now; this is all about a word that’s made its way from composite adverb to standalone verb. Preflighting is the act of going through a series of important checks before committing yourself. It originated in the flight industry (hence…

Airline safety card designs

On a recent trip to Turkey I realised something: there’s one thing that you’ll find on every commercial airline flight you’ll ever take. No, not dodgy food (some flights don’t serve any, which can be a hidden blessing), I mean those airline safety instruction cards that are tucked into every seatback pocket. These show graphically…

Art Therapy for design block: The CD Cover game

What do you do if you find yourself staring at an empty page, unable to get your creative juices flowing? Design block is no fun, and it happens to all of us on occasion. Fortunately, one of the best ways to shake people out of a creative slump involves a no-pressure, pure-creative bit of fun….

With resolution, size does matter

When I teach I constantly have to remind myself that things that seem simple because I learned them years ago weren’t always easy to grasp the first time around. Image resolution is a bit case in point; understanding the relationship between a bitmap image’s resolution, pixel dimensions and printed size is simple once you know…

Dazzle and digital camouflage

Camouflage is the art and design of staying hidden. But there’s more to camouflage than blobs of muted green, yellow and brown – just look at the modern Marpat patterns and WW1 dazzle ship designs. Seeing patterns in things is one of the most basic instincts we have. It is a survival instinct, something that…

ASCII and emoticons

The peculiar art of making faces with type Lol, ;-) If you’ve never used either of the above in an email or text, you’ve either avoided the Internet altogether or you really are a bit of curmudgeon. A text-only medium blocks the non-verbal, unspoken emotional indicators that give a richer context to our communication. The…

Understanding profiles and color

Tackling color settings, profiles and calibration can leave even experienced designers quaking with fear, so here’s what you need to know. I find that RGB vs CMYK, colour profiles and picking the right settings is a constant source of confusion for designers. This isn’t surprising; it is a murky subject, and there’s a load of…