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Monday, 09 July 2012 14:24

1st Week's Photoshop Tips

Straw-Mojito BlogEntry Flat

List of edits:

  1. Remove Background
  2. Trace Jam & Brighten Reds
  3. Edit Out Grean Reflection
  4. Lighten Shadow
  5. Darken Text
  6. Add Drop-Shadow
  7. Remove Glare from Bottom of Jar


Summer Intern Post #2 

While working on editing a group of images for Johnson Berry Farm I learned and re-learned a few great tips for editing images for a web page. The images were of jam and jelly jars as well as multi-jam packages and all of these needed to be edited so that they made the product look good on screen. I got the images from Mike and after bringing them into Photoshop I started the editing process. Now in my schooling I had been taught to use the magic wand and the lasso tool to select areas on an image and then to edit them on separate layers on top of the original image. Mike showed me a better way to edit based on using the pen/bezier tool and paths. This process was similar to using the polygonal lasso tool and saving selections but it allows for much fewer points and soft curves as well as hard corners. Also once you have made a path you can use it as a selection and alter it much easier than if you just have a saved selection. You just add to the path on the same path or on a new one. The process is much more streamlined compared to the process I used before.

The next few tips I learned were ones I had been taught in some form or another before. Reiteration and practice of techniques and processes are very important to any job really but to a graphic designer streamlining and simplifying a process is of the upmost importance. Designers must be efficient so I knew working on these images was a great opportunity for me to practice my skills.

I made two paths, one that consisted of the top and bottom areas on the jar that the jam could be seen and one that outlined the whole jar. I first selected the path that covered the whole jar and used a vector mask to temporarily erase the background so that all that cold be seen was the jar. I then selected the path that would just cover the jam areas and created a new layer gave it strawberry red color and used a blending mode to allow the original image to show through. I then lowered the opacity of the jam’s new color layer so the original image could be seen more. The whole point of this step was to add color to the original image so that it pops more on screen. Then I went in and edited the left side of the jar’s lid and label because in the original image there was a green reflection that came from some plants in the background. After that I needed to edit out a small glare at the bottom of the jars because they looked strange with a white background. I then added a small drop shadow so give the image extra depth. All of these changes were done on separate layers to ensure no irreversible changes were done to the original photo.

After these simple but important edits were made I needed to set the files up for web viewing. This was done by creating a template so that all the web versions came out the same size and resolution. Then I brought the edited images into the template and shrunk them down so that they fit into the guidelines Mike set so the focus of each image was in relatively the same spot. Then I saved each file to web & devices and as a much smaller JPEG. The smaller the image the faster the web page will load which makes your website less clunky for your users/customers. Once all these edits were applied to the jam, jelly, and package photos we uploaded them and placed them on the site which is now open to the public and customers. So stop by the Johnson Berry Farm Website and check it out.


Signature Final 

Published in marketing 101

BlogPhoto Comp

Summer Intern Post #1

My name is Daniel Nelson and this is the number one lesson I learned this week working as a summer intern with Mike at Inkspot Graphics. To be a successful free-lance graphic designer with your own business is a extremely active endeavor. You must be always thinking about the next project but be present at the same time to complete the project at hand. As a student in the PSU graphic design program in Portland, Oregon I had been introduced to the concept of producing projects for clients but I didn’t know the reality of how the industry works. 

Watching Mike for the few days has shown me that if I was ever to own my own graphic design business I would be consistently in motion. Working out deals with clients, going to meetings, and of coarse the doing the design work. In my college courses I am taught the mechanics of designing and how to do such things as matching colors, spacing and sizing solutions with text and imagery, popular and unpopular forms of imagery, how to work with type and much more.  All of these pieces of information go into designing every single piece of design work but in Mike’s world it goes much faster. For instance I am used to three plus weeks to work on usually two projects, one for each class I’m taking. That workload for me is difficult at times especially when it gets close to final rounds (the finished work). Mike as at times eight or nine projects moving at one time and needs to have them finished on dates he and his clients have agreed on. So that means he has to know his own work style and schedule well enough to be able to give a educated guess on when he can get something completed for them.

So much goes into that thought process, like starting the project, learning its details and background/story or figuring out one if one doesn’t exist, first rounds second rounds and final rounds, getting pricing for the prints/production of the project from vendors, setting the files up for the vendors, and meeting with clients throughout the whole process and there are other steps I know I am neglecting to mention. The point is he has to know the amount of time it is going to take for this process for eight to nine projects. Just in the first few days of working with Mike has made me respect this field of work immensely more. 

Signature Final

Published in marketing 101

When designing a piece that has alot of corporate sponsors (different logos) I find that it is best to colorize them all the same color so that no one gets more attention than any other company (black & white or grey scale is safe). The sample below illustrates my message. This is a vinyl banner that I created for my client. You see all the logos on the bottom of the poster? Which logo catches your eye first? Well, as long as you are not color blind the Salice logo is the first thing that I see. In fact, it doesn't help the readability of the sign. 

I should have made all these logos green to tie into the design but remember that there are some companies that don't allow you to edit the colors of their logo. Black & white logos would of been a safer choice. Always check first if you are going to edit someone's logo!



Here is a better sample for a local association from SE Portland, OR. They wanted to create a walking map that pointed out various businesses within the community. My suggestion was to color code the different services and then if the business supplied the logo I created them black & white (or grey scale). You will see these logos following their names below.



Published in marketing 101

I was approached to design a logo for a new committee…

Our executive director came to me and said, "We need to have a design made for this new program." I was honored that he was going to pay me for a service that I could have promoted in our local chamber. Part of my design process is to learn more about the direction and how it is to be used. I have been telling quite a large number of contacts, "I could design you a pretty logo but is it going to be functional and are you going to question the design in 6 months to a year down the road."

I sat down and discussed more about the project with two women that were on the committee. I went through my creative brief questionnaire with them and found alot of holes in the project direction. I submitted a proposal to the director and followed up with a phone call. He said, "Mike, I just need a logo!" It sounded like that he wanted something inexpensive and created immediately. I begrudgingly said, "Terry, I can make you a pretty logo for $XXX.XX!" I wasn't happy about my response but deep down inside I didn't feel like I was going to be proud of my task at hand. In the end could I really say, "This design was well thought out and very functional."

Needless to say, Terry never called me back. This is the design that they came up with:

bizexchange logo

and here is one of the places that they are using it:



Personally, this doesn't work for me way too much going on and too many colors. I thought that I would share this beautiful web site layout by Baker and Spice Bakery. Very clean and beautifully designed. I would be proud to show this in my portfolio.




Published in marketing 101
Friday, 06 July 2012 06:20

Problem with logo readability

Do you see a problem with this logo?


When this magazine converted this logo to black & white, the colors went to shades of grey. The words "Market & Spirits" are really hard to read. I have been working with an intern this summer and I have instructed him that if you are going to create a logo for a client you should provide options and rules. Not specifically for the client but for the advertisers (publications). Signage is also a concern like the article that I wrote on Town Storage's Window Signage. Along with print (high res vector) and web (pngs & jpgs) I give the clients horizontal format, vertical format and reversal options.

Here is a logo that we just recreated for a hair salon in SE Portland called Absolutely You Salon. Besides burning all there various logo types onto two cds to distribute we also compressed them in a WinZip file for ease to electronically send out to advertisers.


Published in marketing 101

Black vinyl on windows is unreadable!


This is one tip that I have to pass on that I heard from one of my vendors. He was talking about how windows are considered black and black vinyl is just unreadable on glass. I looked up to my building's sign and said, "Just like that one?" Yup. Can you imagine driving in a car by this front door and totally missing it?

I have included my version for Towne Storage. Not only is it white vinyl with a little stroke of black (that gives it more contrast) but I have the copy stacked so that it haves the impression of an actual building. WOW! Now that really makes sense.



© 2011 Michael Johnson - Inkspot Graphics. All rights reserved

Published in marketing 101
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 11:35

A business should NEVER have a busy signal!

follow up to last WOM marketing missed opportunity


I tried calling the Costco optician to schedule an eye glass appointment. The phone was busy…AMAZING! Now, most normal customers are going to call someone else, especially if it is an emergency.

The message should say, "Sorry, for the inconvenience but we would like to respond to your call immediately, please give us your name and phone number. Thank you again for calling Costco's optical department for Dr. Hammmhamma."

It just is a no brainer! Sometimes you get this opportunity only once.


© 2011 Michael Johnson - Inkspot Graphics. All rights reserved

Published in marketing 101
Tuesday, 04 October 2011 11:17

QR code tips

Better have a Smart Phone!

If you are designed any marketing piece with a QR code I recommend that you test it out before you send it out to the masses.


1. Reversing QR Code

I designed a piece where I vectorized the QR code and reversed it so that it was white on a solid color. I would also check when using on colors that have the same hue/value. Result: It doesn't work!



2. Let the user know where it takes them

Like I have in the sample above, "for more info go to our website". It is better to inform and not frustrate.

Please let me know if you have any other QR tips & tricks.


Published in marketing 101
Monday, 29 August 2011 07:22

Don't Give Up - Inspiring Thoughts (7)

From an article posted in the Costco Connection by Andrew Lock on "Don't Give UP".


Elton John

"A friend of mine in the music industry personally auditioned a singer by the name of Reg Dwight in the 1960s. He unceremoniously shoved the singer out of his office for wasting his time. That singer is now better known as Elton John."

Published in marketing 101
Monday, 29 August 2011 05:57

Don't Give Up - Inspiring Thoughts (5)

From an article posted in the Costco Connection by Andrew Lock on "Don't Give UP".


Fred Astaire

After his first screen test, the memo from the testing director of MGM, dated 1933, read, "Can't sing. Slightly balk. Can dance a little." Astaire kept that memo over the fireplace in his Beverly Hills home.

Published in marketing 101
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