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Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Color Edition

rainbow-colorsLately we’ve been talking a lot about color! In keeping with that, number 5 in the Things Designers Hate series is a common question:

5) “Why don’t the colors print like they look on my computer screen?”

The question itself isn’t exactly the problem. Rather, the issue is that many clients don’t ask it until the job is nearly complete. A client may assume that an image she sees on her computer will look precisely the same printed out. When this turns out to not be the case, aggravation and frustration invariably ensue. The client is disappointed that she didn’t get what she was expecting, and we’re frustrated because we want the client to be happy—and we don’t want to have to go back to the drawing board at late stages in the design process.

This can be easily avoided! You simply need to know the difference between viewing images on a computer and viewing a printed image, so that you can factor that in when communicating with your designer.

It all comes down to two simple, but important, abbreviations: CMYK and RGB. 

RGB refers to the primary colors of light: Red, Green, and Blue. These are the colors used by your computer monitor (and any other light-operated system, like the lighting rig at concerts or theatre performances, for example) to create all the colors in the spectrum. When it comes to light, white is made up of all the colors, and black is no light at all.

CMYK is the term used to quickly refer to the process by which images are printed in color. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and blacK. With pigment, the process is the opposite of light: white space is achieved by using no color, and black is a combination of all the colors. Black is also added to a given pigment to darken it.

color mixing in light (left) vs. pigment (right) works differently. In this image you can see that the primary colors of light (Green, red, and blue) mix to create white, while the primary colors of pigment (Magenta, Yellow,  and Cyan) mix to create black. This is the fundamental difference between how we see color on our screens and how we see it printed! Image courtesy of

Color mixing in light (left) vs. pigment (right). In this image you can see that the primary colors of light (Green, red, and blue) mix to create white, while the primary colors of pigment (Magenta, Yellow, and Cyan) mix to create black. This is the fundamental difference between how we see color on our screens and how we see it printed! Image courtesy of

Since the images viewed on your screen are created with light, turning the screen brightness up or down, or altering the “contrast” setting, will change how those images appear. It is unlikely that your designer’s computer is set to the exact same settings as your computer, so a design sent to you online will not look exactly the same on your screen as it looked on your designer’s screen. When the image is printed, it will again be subject to color variation.

The Pantone color book. You can see that the colors on the left of the page are “RGB” and the colors on the right are “CMYK.”  The book depicts roughly the difference you can expect between computer images and printed images.

The Pantone color Guide. You can see that the colors on the left of the page are “RGB” and the colors on the right are “CMYK.” The book depicts roughly the difference you can expect between computer images and printed images.

You can avoid surprises when it comes to color by using a Pantone color guide. Pantone colors are standardized using numbers, so when your designer says they’re using Pantone blue #285PC, you can refer to the book to see how it will look when printed. Printers also use the Pantone guide, so their colors should be exactly the same as the colors shown in the book. By referring to the Pantone guide, you can get a good idea of what to expect from the colors in your printed ad, even if you’re looking at it on a computer screen. You can also always request a printed sample before finalizing the design, just to make sure it looks how you expect it to.

By keeping in mind that colors will differ from screen to page, and using the Pantone book as a resource, you can avoid unnecessary confusion and keep things running smoothly with your designer!


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Make Your June “Berrylicious”

The wall above is painted "Berrylicious." A few additional "jewel" tones, plus a pop of turquoise emphasize the  depth and richness of June's featured color. Image courtesy of CMG.

The wall above is painted “Berrylicious.” Additional “jewel” tones, plus a pop of turquoise emphasize the depth and richness of June’s featured color. Image courtesy of CMG.

Color is a huge part of marketing! This is something we touch on over and over again, because while color always remains one of the most important parts of an ad, which colors you use should change from season to season!

Berrylicious, paired with some complementary shades of lighter pink, in wool. Image courtesy of CMG.

Berrylicious, in wool, with complementary shades of pink. Image courtesy of CMG.

Color Marketing Group (CMG) is an organization for color design professions whose mission is to generate “color forecasts.” This means that what CMG does is predict what colors will be on trend, months, and sometimes years ahead of time. Taking a cue from CMG’s color forecasts can be a great way to keep your marketing materials seeming fresh and modern! These guys are the pros when it comes to color, and this month they’re ushering in summer with this deep berry color, called “Berrylicious.”

According to CMG, Berrylicious is:

“rich in color… playful and tempting in a way that makes you smile… it is a color that can stand alone, as well as offer a springboard from which other hues can contrast. It is [a] fresh way to enliven grey, becomes shocking with coral and can be calming when layered with other berry-inspired hues. Fresh from the produce aisle, “Berrylicious” brings luscious to glorious life.”

In addition to making you want pie with their description, CMG also suggests a few exciting ways to use this color for different effects. Incorporating a little Berrylicious into a June ad, program, or new web page might be just the thing to keep your look relevant, modern, and fun!


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This day in history Steve Jobs unveiled the new iPhone!


You may not realize the iPhone is only 7 years old, but yes, it is. Apple introduced the iPhone, combining three products–a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, searching and maps–into one small and lightweight handheld device. “iPhone is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.


We’re Celebrating National Angel Food Cake Day!

Angel food cake is a sponge cake and today is the day to bake, eat and enjoy! Angel food cake was originated in the United States and first became popular in the late 19th century. Angel food cakes requires egg whites whipped until they are stiff. Cream of tartar is added to the mixture to stabilize the egg whites. It is because of the light, airy nature that it is so called, “food of the angels”. Angel food cake is usually made with a tube pan – a pan with a tube up the center that leaves a hole in the middle of the cake, to make it even lighter. A simple glaze is most popular with Angel Food cake, too. Try a fruit sauce or powdered sugar glaze.  Happy NAFC Day!


Photo credit from Wikipedia.

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Anatomy of a Type Font

Want to learn about typefaces and fonts? Here is a vocabulary and infographic for the anatomy of a font.

Baseline: the line that the letter sits on.
Median: the middle line where lowercase letters end.
Cap Height: the line where capital letters end.
X Height: the distance between baseline and median, traditionally 60 % of the total height of the cap height.
Ascender: the part of a lower case letter that extends above the median.
Ascender Height: the line where ascenders end, only slightly above the cap height
Descender: the part of a lower case letter that goes below the baseline (as in g and p).
Serif: a typestyle that has a finishing stroke that crosses or projects from stems or strokes in a character. Serifs have many shapes including, bracketed, wedge, hairline and slab.
San Serif: a typestyle that is without or has a lack of serifs.

Visual Alignment: Designers do not depend on alignment being mathematically precise. Spacing between letters and lines of type is all in the eye of the beholder. Nudging here and there makes for better optical alignment and creates a mood, so to speak.


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You Can Never Be Too Thin, Too Rich or Over Advertise!

We have come up with 36 wonderful ways to advertise.  Ever feel like your traditional advertising is not standing out enough against your competitors? Want to try some unique and unusual way to market your business or product. Here is a list of ways to advertise beyond what you are already possibly doing. Some suggestions are tried and true and some are wild and wacky.

  1. Create a website and/or make sure your website is up-to date.
  2. Submit your website to Google, Bing and Yahoo.
  3. Create a Facebook business (Like) page and be active on it.
  4. Create a Twitter account and see what’s trending.
  5. Start an active blog.
  6. Hire a costumed mascot to stand in front of your business and pass out promotional materials this goes with photo?
  7. Use an Air Dancer-those trendy blowing banners that look like ghosts.
  8. Put a spotlight on your building to draw attention to your business at night.
  9. Fly a banner on the back of an airplane.
  10. Pass out your business card at professional networking meetings.
  11. Wrap your vehicle with photos of your business.
  12. Create a magnet for refrigerators and pass out to potential customers.
  13. Direct mail a postcard to a targeted audience.
  14. Sponsor a youth sports team.
  15. Mail a personal letter or flyer to customers telling them about your business.
  16. Run a contest.
  17. Purchase a Pay-Per Click advertisement on a search engine.
  18. Place an ad in the local neighborhood newsletter.
  19. Find an ad agency or design firm to create a special promotion or campaign.
  20. Create a coupon.
  21. Leave a door hanger advertising your business.
  22. Rent a billboard.
  23. Air a TV or radio commercial.
  24. Plaster your logo and phone number on t-shirts and give them away for free.
  25. Put your logo on promotional products such as baseball caps, mugs, pens, and more for brand awareness.
  26. Get a web banner on a website that has a lot of viewers.
  27. Write an article as the expert in your business arena.
  28. Participate in a tradeshow.
  29. Hire a flash mob.
  30. Put an ad on the back of a taxi.
  31. Sponsor an event.
  32. Host a demonstration of your product or business service.
  33. Advertise at a movie theater before the previews begin.
  34. Word of mouth.
  35. Use a Feather flag or banner in front of your store.
  36. Hire “The Cheeps” to help you with your next promotion!

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Celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day


Thursday, September 26, 2013 is Johnny Appleseed Day! Johnny Appleseed was a folk hero and famous apple farmer whose dream was to produce so many apples that no one would ever go hungry. His real name was John Chapman and he was more of an organized businessman than legend paints him. He began his adventures in 1792, when he was only eighteen years old, traveling west from Massachusetts following the steady stream of immigrants. Legend says he was always planting apple seeds in open places in the forest, along roadways and streams but the truth is he created several nurseries by carefully selecting the perfect spots, purchasing the land and regularly returning to tend to the nursery and sell the trees. He was a kind and generous man and deeply religious. He was soon known as the “apple seed man” and then later dubbed “Johnny Appleseed”. Johnny Appleseed Day commemorates his birth on this day in 1774.