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Fort Collins: Small Town Feel, Big Town Innovation

We can feel it. You can probably feel it too. The digital world of business is shifting and growing at an intense pace, urging changes in the online tech and design marketplace faster than we’d ever imagined. And when you think of hot spots for ingenuity and entrepreneurship, what cities come to mind? Maybe Silicon Valley? New York City? What if we told you that Fort Collins deserves a place on that list?

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The Basics of Working With Digital Color

We are now officially living in the digital era, with online and computerized media fast outpacing print applications. In the coming years, some speculate that age-old analog and print utilization will be on its way to extinction, and that tomorrow’s generation will consume all of their media by way of smartphones, tablets, and laptops. So what does that mean for today’s designers? Plenty of changes are afoot for sure, but one of the basics is making sure you understand digital color, how it’s different from print color, and naturally…how to use it to make your designs stand out.

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5 Benefits Of Shared Community Office Space

One of the up and coming trends in the creative business world is the concept of shared work environments, and these wonderful collaborative spaces are changing the way we view and do our work. For a small monthly membership fee, you can have access to a professional office, take part in social and networking events, and even get deep discounts on classes and other programs to enhance your knowledge and further your career. And the best part of investing in a local co-working group is that you know exactly where the money goes and you know that your neighborhood friends and contacts will benefit from such a powerful collaborative force in the community.

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The Concepts of Strong Visual Design

Strong designs go far beyond looking cool. When you load a website, watch an ad on television or peruse magazine ads, are you looking at them with random purpose, or did someone sprinkle a breadcrumb trail for you to follow? A well-designed document leads viewers from point A to B, highlighting and emphasizing key components without shouting in all caps “HEY! LOOK OVER HERE!” While there are many creative and intricate ways to draw viewers to the important content like moth to flame, there are basic (and highly effective) methods that are commonly used in just about all of today’s media. Eyeflow Eyeflow is one’s natural visual progression through a document. Creating visual flow is like drawing a map through your document using various design elements. To help draw this map and mark your important goodies with a big, fat, subconscious “X,” designers will use anything from color or shade gradients to roadways or even an arrow. Subtler techniques incorporate less obvious materials, and piecing together a design that not only looks compelling, but compels the eye to follow a specific path is a true art form. There are no rules written in stone for eyeflow. As in, you can get creative with where people should begin viewing your document and where eyeflow should lead. Really, eyeflow should be different for almost every project you have, as your materials and goals will differ. Just remember that whether it’s an arrow, an innocuous background object, text or the central component of your design, give everything in your design direction towards your project’s goal. “Reading” Designs This is perhaps one of the most basic and fundamental rules of eyeflow. Ever since we were children, we’ve been trained to read from left to right, top to bottom. This principle of eyeflow holds true for graphic and text-laden content. This isn’t the only way to create designs, but it’s used so often that it’s important to highlight this technique. This comic book cover of Spider-Man is a great example of how top-left to bottom-right rules apply for both images and text. You can see how the illustration uses a strong headline to initially grab the eye at the top. Then, Spider-Man’s pose not only draws the eye to the center of the design, it also leads the eye from the top-left to the bottom-right of the page. All literal messages (dialogue bubbles and text blocks) follow the same path as his pose, giving the content a natural flow. Also, as Spidey’s first appearance ever, there is literally an arrow pointing at his name, saying Hello world!” without stealing the focus from the central image. The Fold While you don’t want to bludgeon people with calls-to-action and information, you shouldn’t hide them either. When creating images for websites, it’s important to remember that monitors, smartphones and tablets typically aren’t large enough to display a website’s full content. The fold is the point where a page goes from visible to off-screen. It’s typically important to place all important information above the fold, as many people will move on without scrolling through the entirety of web pages. These principles can potentially help when designing for other media than the web as well, as it will help create a hierarchy of content. Speaking of which… Hierarchy vs. Anarchy Newspapers may be an endangered species, but they sure know how to prioritize content. Typically, newspapers follow the inverted pyramid rule, where articles lead with the most important information and get to the finer details and extras toward the end. When creating your designs, it’s important to think about...

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Adobe Creative Suite: Introduction to Using Layers

Creating designs in Adobe CS programs is a little like making a collage–various materials are put together to make one composition. The key difference, however, is that a composition in Photoshop has to be treated as if it were in 3D. As in, you don’t slap materials next to each other. Rather, materials are stacked on top of each other. Be it text, photos, or an original design, if there is more than one source material for your project, you need to know how to manage layers in Adobe Creative Suite (CS) programs. For an easily-digestible overview on layers, check out our October blog, Cooking Up Basic Photoshop Designs. Using Adobe CS programs without understanding how layers work is like building a house without a carpenter. You’ll be frustrated, lost, behind schedule, possibly in tears and probably buried under the rubble of your project. But, there’s a silver lining. The basics of the Layers panel offers a foundation strong enough for you to start making impressive designs in a jiffy. While we will be using Adobe Photoshop for our examples, the Layers panels in Illustrator and InDesign follow virtually the same rules. So, you’ll be learning three lessons in one, you brainiacs! Meet the Layers Panel Tools, buttons and wonders abound within the Layers panel. But, before using the deeper functionality of the Layers panel, let’s get comfortable with its basic functions. Every document starts with a single layer, named “Background.” This will always be the bottom-most layer of your composition, kind of like the canvas of a painting. You can use the “Brush” or “Paint Bucket” tools to edit the background, or even import an image to replace the white color effect. Tip: Not only is the Background layer locked at the bottom of your composition, it can’t be manipulated with the Move” tool, giving you less flexibility to play with the layer. Because of this, it is often better to create new layers for your materials, rather than using the background. You can also double-click the layer in the panel to rename it, which removes these restrictions. On the left side of the panel, you will see an eyeball icon. This changes a layer’s visibility. By clicking the icon you can make a layer visible or invisible. It’s highly useful when there are a lot of layers; nobody likes working in a crowded space. Adding & Deleting Layers The “New Layer” and “Delete Layer” icons located at the bottom of the Layers panel are two highly used functions of any Adobe CS program. These functions are self-explanatory and easy to use. While deleting a layer is as simple as dragging the layer to the trash icon in the panel, there are key things to understand about adding new layers. The most important thing to know at this point is that a new layer will either be transparent or have a fill. Transparent layers start out completely blank; only elements you add to it will be visible over underlying layers. A transparent layer is indicated in the panel by a checkered box icon. On the other hand, a new layer with a fill (which can be a solid color, pattern or other design), will completely cover underlying layers. To choose settings for a new layer, you can open a dialogue box in the taskbar menu by going to Layers>New Layer. Layers Jenga Unless you have perfect foresight, you will need to rearrange layers before your project is finished. Fortunately, you can easily move layers around in Photoshop and other Adobe CS programs. To move a layer above another, simply...

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