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3 Reasons to Get Certified in Graphic Design

Over the last decade, we’ve seen an explosion of amazing design content, partly fueled by the popularity of online marketing and small business startups. Everything from logos and flyers to website icons and Facebook banners- the world of graphic design is more in demand than ever before. While many students are choosing to major in the design fields in college, the majority of the talent market is coming from post-graduate people looking to expand their expertise, round out their skill set, and break into this fresh and exciting industry. Many community colleges and online institutions offer certifications in graphic design, and it may be difficult to choose the one that’s right for you. Luckily, at the Digital Workshop Center (DWC), you can be sure that your instructors are real people working in the fields that they’re teaching about- unlike some online schools. They also provide straightforward and practical education at a seriously affordable price, along with offering financing plans so you can stop worrying about the money and focus on your blossoming career! If you’ve been considering a certification in graphic design, here are three great reasons to sign up for classes at DWC today! It will boost your resume It’s a crowded job market out there, so any professional skill you can add to your resume brings you serious field advantage. As more job seekers are shifting to include freelance and contract work, the successes are coming to those with the most real-world certifications and hands-on experience. A four-year university degree is a nice thing to have, but focused skills in marketing, design, website building, and multimedia often have an even bigger pull with prospective employers. More businesses are coming to see the benefits of hiring someone with a variety of usable skills, not just an expensive diploma. The Advanced Graphic Design Certification will spruce up your resume and is a worthwhile investment for anyone between jobs or looking to make a career change. Hands on instruction in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign will make you stand out above the crowd.  It may provide extra revenue streams Since design work is something you can do from the comfort of home, many artists and creative professionals have taken to selling their work on the side. Some have even found full-time success this way. Websites like Creative Market and others like it provide a platform for talented individuals to sell their graphics and mockups directly to the public. There is a potential customer pool out there for anyone proficient in digital photography, logo design, icon design, website building, and online marketing. And the best part is you can create your designs once, package them for download, and continue to sell them over time- all you need is the initial investment in your education and an entrepreneurial spirit. Everyone from working professionals to students to stay at home parents can take advantage of the high demand for graphic design. And who said art could never pay the bills? It will make you self-sufficient Small business owners are often overwhelmed by all the aspects needed to launch and run their ventures- beyond the initial inventory acquisition, there are dozens of other jobs that must be accomplished and positions to be filled before true success can be achieved. Many of them end up contracting with professionals to help with those things, and graphic design is one of the biggest aspects where people look for assistance, often at a significant cost. But wouldn’t it be easier if you could create your own logos, marketing materials, and website? More and more businesses owners are coming...

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Set, Forget InDesign Styles for Consistency

In my opinion, one of the marks of a professional graphic designer is consistency. It is so important to make sure that fonts, colors, and design elements are consistent throughout a project, but also across an entire company brand. Design consistency gives a feeling of familiarity and provides the consumer something to recognize about your products or services. When Adobe InDesign was introduced in the Creative Suite in 2002, it came with a bundle of new features that helped designers ensure consistency across documents. One of the easiest ways to do this was to use Adobe styles. In most of the graphics programs in the Adobe Creative Suite — including Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator — there are multiple panels referring to style. An Adobe style is simply a package of style information that can easily be applied to your document objects. In Adobe InDesign, there are separate panels for character styles, paragraph styles, table styles, cell styles and more. Each of these is intended to help you create the style and then easily deploy it as needed. By connecting all of your relevant objects to the style, you can easily make one change to the style definition and it can be re-applied to all associated items. For example, a paragraph style may contain the font, spacing and alignment information for different types of paragraphs. This concept alone can save you hours of tedious cleanup work. It also reduces human error and guarantees that all similar elements have the same appearance. However, these concepts can be taken to a much higher level. Adobe InDesign also has a way to create a pattern of styles throughout your project. For example, many print documents follow a familiar flow to organize the content. You may have a header, followed by a sub-heading, a first paragraph with an interesting design for the first line of text, and then subsequent body paragraphs. A feature of a style called Next Style allows you to set up an order for styles to follow. All you would have to do is set the style of header and then tell InDesign to flow the Next Style to ensure the remaining styles follow from there. Each style will remain connected to the source to allow for quick changes and consistency. There are far too many other-style related features and time-saving tricks than I can mention in this short column. I hope you try to use styles in your Creative Suite projects and find new ways to become more efficient with your design work. [Originally posted in the Coloradoan on...

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Fun with Adobe Creative Suite Panels

The possibilities with Adobe Creative Suite are endless. For this reason and more, Adobe CS has become the industry standard for graphic design, video production and many other creative professions. Programs such as Adobe’s Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign have revolutionized several industries and are now more accessible to the average consumer than ever before. At the Digital Workshop Center, we consistently see students who have been forced into these complex programs by their employers in the hopes they’ll be able to bring design work in-house. However, Adobe CS is designed for personal computers and, therefore, has a ton of options centered around customizing the program to best work for you. Whenever I open any of my Adobe programs, I first open and arrange the panels to best suit my needs. Adobe panels are common in almost all CS programs — they’re the small, moveable pieces within the greater Adobe puzzle. Each panel is focused on one group of commands. For example, in Adobe InDesign you have the Pages panel, which gives you all the choices you need to create, arrange and manage your pages. While you could also use the text-based menus at the top of the program, the panels are typically easier to understand. Each panel also includes a menu is in its top-right corner. The panel menu provides additional commands or options to help you fine-tune exactly what you need. Another feature of the Adobe panel system is that you can easily group or dock panels. By default there’s a dock section on the right side of most Adobe programs. This section usually has a dark-gray background separated from the design area of the program. You can fit all of your desired panels into the dock or drag and drop panels in any order you want. In addition, you can re-size the dock or collapse it to save you space. The size and resolution of your monitor is a huge factor in how you will arrange your dock, but don’t be afraid to play around with different arrangements. The more you use an Adobe CS program, you’ll learn which panels you need for your work. When you have all the panels opened and arranged the way you like, I highly recommend saving that as a workspace, which takes a snapshot of your program’s environment so you can easily return to that arrangement as you see fit. There’s no limit to the number of panel workspaces you can create and it works well to create different layouts for different types of projects. For example, you can create one workspace for your graphic design projects, another for web projects and maybe one for advanced typography. Through the window menu in any Adobe CS program, you can easily manage future workspaces. When a new student opens Adobe for the first time, I think there’s always a brief feeling of anxiety, maybe due to the amount of commands on the screen. However, if you embrace the panel system and get used to the similarities across all Adobe Creative Suite programs, you will see the logic behind panels and start to enjoy it. Stu Crair is the owner and lead trainer at The Digital Workshop Center, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Reach him at (970) 980-8091 or stu@fcdigitalworkshop.com. [Originally posted in the Coloradoan on...

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Trading Places: Dropping Photoshop Files Into InDesign

If you’re trying to use multiple Adobe Creative Suite programs together, one of the first things you should become familiar with is the Place tool. Place functions similar to the Open tool. The biggest difference however, is that the Open tool lets you open a document as a new file, while Place lets you stick an image, text file or other materials into an existing document as a new layer. InDesign is a robust layout tool for fliers, ads, magazines, etc. Photoshop lets you edit images to add effects, combine multiple images together, perfect a photograph, etc. Illustrator offers many tools to create designs from scratch. If you need to learn more about these three Adobe CS programs, check out our blog post “The ABCs of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.” When you use all of these Adobe programs together, you’re really firing on all cylinders. Adobe CS programs are highly compatible with each other, so you can mix-and-match any number of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign files across the programs. As a basic exercise, we created a document in InDesign, and we will be using the Place tool to import an image from Photoshop. Frame Your Layout To get things started, we created some basic text to work with in our document. We did this by selecting the Text tool and creating a text box to write in. You can play with the text to stylize it and add effect if you wish. Now that we have some text, it’s time to get our image from Photoshop. Prepare to Place For our image, we picked something simple: an image of Spider-Man with a white background. Tip: When selecting an image to place in InDesign, keep in mind that the background color of your Photoshop image will carry over to the InDesign document. To save yourself grief, you should give any files you will place in InDesign a transparent background. If you have a specific idea for what you want the background of your final design to look like, you can create that background as a separate file (in Photoshop or another CS program) and use the Place tool for that as well.   When you’ve finished touching up your image in Photoshop, simply save the file (we recommend saving it to a location that can be found easily, such as your Desktop). If you need help getting started on enhancing your Photoshop image, read our “Cooking Up Basic Photoshop Designs” Trading Places Now that you have a basic layer with text in InDesign and a Photoshop image ready, it’s time to “drop” the Photoshop file into InDesign. (If you need help with layers, read our Introduction to Layers blog). Create a new layer in the Layers panel. Click on File from the main toolbar and find the Place tool. After opening Place, select your Photoshop file. Now, a miniature version of your Photoshop image will appear where your mouse was. This happens so you can customize the placement and size of your image. Put your mouse in a good starting point for where you want the image to rest and click-drag until your image is the appropriate size. The proportions of your image will stay intact, so don’t worry about stretching or shrinking your image. Now that your image is in a decent spot, you can tweak its placement. A translucent “eye” or circle will appear in the middle of your newly placed image. (If you don’t see the eye, select the move tool from the Tool Palette and click on the image.)   By clicking on the eye...

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Adobe Creative Suite Isn’t Just for Designers

The Digital Workshop Center has been around for seven years, and we’ve spoken with plenty of neighbors, friends and innumerable acquaintances about the beauty of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Funny thing is, after all this time, we’re still hearing the same objections to using Adobe Creative Suite (CS) as we did back in the day. If you’re on the fence about picking up Photoshop or another Adobe program, there’s a strong chance you fall into one of these categories: My brain melts just looking at all the buttons My wallet bursts into flames just looking at the price tag I just don’t have time to play around with it What the heck would I use it for? The crazy thing is, these bailouts just don’t hold as much merit as they used to. Graphic design is everywhere, and Adobe CS is becoming more and more of an everyday household name rather than software reserved for a small group of professionals. Better yet, because Adobe CS is growing in popularity, it’s much more available and affordable. No matter who you are, there’s at least one cool thing you can use Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign for. In fact, we can prove it. (If you need a bit of backstory on any Adobe CS program, read our blog, The ABCs of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.) Average Joe’s If you are just a regular guy or gal who doesn’t use that dusty laptop much, Photoshop can be a fun tool that will make those rare trips to the laptop that much better. For example, if you prefer the outdoors or nightlife over staring at computer screens, chances are you take photos with your phone or a shiny DSLR camera. Well, with Adobe Photoshop Elements, you can do quick photo touch-ups like removing red eye or crop photos to eliminate photobombing from your precious moments. Even if you’re a house mom or dad, you can spend time in-between laundry cycles cleaning up photos for your family album. Elements will run you around $100, and there’s plenty more features to justify that price. But, if you’re still not convinced, Adobe Photoshop Express is free for tablets, smartphones and Windows 8 computers. Express has a red eye tool, cropping and auto-filters for photos that give you instant effects like black and white for photos. Too Biz-zy If you’re too busy closing deals, rubbing elbows with clients, preparing proposals and cleaning out your overflowing inbox, time is at a premium for you. But, as a savvy businessman or businesswoman, the almighty dollar is probably just as important to you as morning coffee or lazy Sundays. If you own a small, local business, chances are you love to cut corners on expenses. Well, how much is outsourcing your graphic design costing you? Some designing should be left to the pros, but many parts of your business’s website, brochures, business cards, etc comes down to basic Adobe CS use. Logos and letterhead can be created in Illustrator; staff photos are perfect exercises for Photoshop; infographics for your big client meeting can benefit from major aesthetic uplifts using any of the big three Adobe CS programs. But, we didn’t even get to the best part: it’s all a business expense for you. Even classes to grow proficiency in Adobe CS can be a write-off. In the long run, buying Adobe CS can be an investment that could pay big dividends in the long run. After all, outsourcing good help isn’t cheap. Still Not Convinced? Taking on something new can be a scary, jarring thing. Every one of us...

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