I still remember the first time I saw a graphic I created on a videoboard. It was such a cool feeling. ODU had just invested in a $2.2 million dollar videoboard in our basketball arena and something I made was up there. So. Cool. Until about five minutes later when someone came up to me and pointed out a typo in the graphic. I learned the lesson of proofreading that day.
I still make mistakes; heck, we produce so many graphics DAILY in minor league baseball. Mistakes are bound to happen. But I wanted to share a few tips that I’ve learned along the way to hopefully limit you from making some of the same mistakes I did.
Be organized. Whether you’re working in Photoshop, Illustrator, etc., organization is key. Utilize your artboards, folders and label your layers. When you work on a team, there’s nothing worse than someone else having to edit your graphic and being unable to find what they’re looking for. It might take you a few extra seconds to rename a layer or to file layers under folders but later on when you go back to the graphic for changes, you won’t have to search through layer 26-74 because everything is labeled and organized.
Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries have been a lifesaver for our team this season. We have about 15 different libraries. Here’s a few of them: Gwinnett Stripers Logos, Sponsor Logos, International League Logos, Headshots and Signatures. You can have this panel open as you’re creating graphics and effortlessly drag assets from the library onto your creation. If you named them when you added them to the library, you don’t even have to rename the layer. Also, if you have to make any changes to the asset, you can do so and it will reflect everywhere the asset is being used. One of the best parts is you can add color swatches, too!
Be aware of your spacing. For starters, guidelines are a great way to make sure things are centered or aligned the way you want them to be. I also use guidelines for things like social media cover photos or phone wallpapers to show me where things will be cut off or have text overlayed onto them. Smart guides are great but sometimes you don’t realize that they may be aligning the incorrect things together. I would recommend them in conjunction WITH guidelines. Use negative space and white space to your advantage.
Simplicity is key. You don’t need to spend two hours on every graphic you design. You can often get the same task accomplished more effectively with a simpler graphic. Be cognizant of the graphic’s purpose during your designing process. If it’s a graphic that will only be used every now and then, it doesn’t need to be intricate. If it’s a big announcement graphic, put more time and effort into it. Believe me, if I could have forever and a day to work on every graphic, I’m sure I would! But I have a pretty wide workload and have to prioritize my tasks and not every graphic has to be detailed and a big work of art.
Take your typeface into consideration. If you’ve got a graphic with lots of wording, make sure you’re using separate typefaces or fonts for your headers and subheaders to break up the words and make your graphic more legible.
Take a break and come back to it. If I’m making a graphic that I know is going to get a lot of impressions/engagements, I usually take a few days to work on it. If I get to a point where I feel satisfied with how it looks, I’ll leave it alone and come back to it the next day. After I sleep on it, I come back with a set of fresh eyes and will notice a few errors here and there and feel more confident about my project. If I have words on my graphics, I always read them out loud. I’ll often forget a word somewhere or find a typo; those are things that are harder for me to pick up on when I’m going over them in my head.
I bet you thought this blog post was going to have some tutorials, didn’t ya? I believe a lot of design is in the details. These tips may not seem like much but it will streamline your design process and give you a good foundation.