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  2. Carrie Cousins

Carrie Cousins

Carrie Cousins

Carrie is the chief writer at Design Shack, with years of experience in web and graphic design. Sports fanatic. Information junkie. Designer. True-believer in karma.

Photo Effects and Manipulations: Do These Tricks Work?

Articles / 19 Mar 2012

Photo Effects and Manipulations: Do These Tricks Work?

Are you looking to add a little something extra to a photo on your website? Did you purchase new photo editing software and feel the need to use some of the bells a whistles? Don’t get too pulled in by all the photo manipulation gimmicks out there. Typically the best images are those that are composed and shot well, not a bad image with tricks added to it.

There are, though, some manipulations that can benefit your project when used in moderation. But there are many more so-called photo tricks to avoid if you want to produce professional-looking work.

Mastering Multiple Photo Layouts

Layouts / 2 Mar 2012

Mastering Multiple Photo Layouts

Working with multiple photos and images can be a tricky prospect. Done carefully, the use of multiple images can help create an effective and masterful design for both print and web design projects. Some of the best examples of design using multiple photos can be found in the websites of professional photographers.

Consider dominance, number of photos, color, grouping and image quality when working with a variety of photos. Look at details and consider the feel of a project to get the best results when using many images in your project.

Using Pinterest for Design Inspiration

Articles / 23 Feb 2012

Using Pinterest for Design Inspiration

Although Pinterest launched nearly two years ago, it has really hit the mainstream in the last couple months and is cracking top 10 website lists. The site, which allows users to “pin” or save their favorite images and videos on virtual boards by topic, had 40 times the number of visits in December than it did at mid-year, according to Mashable.

The site though can be a great place for designers to organize their thoughts and cobble together bits of inspiration. But you have to have a method to all the pinning so it does not become a time hog.

Developing a Color Scheme and Color Management Tips

Inspiration / 17 Feb 2012

Developing a Color Scheme and Color Management Tips

Building a website can come with a few unexpected hiccups, one of those being color. Understanding color choices, and how colors may render on different computers is the first step to ensuring that your site has the look you intended.

In addition to finding and selecting colors that work for you, it is wise to develop and manage a color scheme for your project. It is simple to create a set of swatches in common image software such as Adobe’s Photoshop or Illustrator and organize colors in such a way that they are easy to find and use.

Practical Tips for Utilizing Columns of Text in Your Layouts

Layouts / 10 Feb 2012

Practical Tips for Utilizing Columns of Text in Your Layouts

Designing around large blocks of type can be tough and more designers are taking the “fewer-is-better” approach when working with columns and large blocks of text. When using a mass of type, such as in a book, text-laden website or print project, much of the emphasis is more on the readability than the actual look of the type.

Typefaces are important but even more important can be the number of columns used in combination with the words. The number of columns you use in a project can vary depending on a number of factors such as typeface and style used, type of project, font size and gutter width and proportion of other elements.

How to Create a Facebook Timeline Cover Photo: Examples and Best Practices

Layouts / 2 Feb 2012

How to Create a Facebook Timeline Cover Photo: Examples and Best Practices

Facebook announced Jan. 24 that it will be moving all users to the timeline format in the next few weeks. Although the change will be mandatory soon, you can make it early as some users have been doing since it was launched in September. Timeline is the new Facebook “wall” and highlights your personal information based on when it happened.

The biggest visual change included in Facebook timeline is creation of a cover photo. When someone lands on your page they not only see a small square profile image but also a large photo that you have selected for the top of your page. The shape can a little intimidating and includes a hole where the profile image rests. But you can crop or create your own timeline cover photo in just a few minutes. Follow along as we take a look at some great examples and advice for creating the perfect cover photo.

Pick the Right Typefaces for Your Project

Typography / 26 Jan 2012

Pick the Right Typefaces for Your Project

Sometimes the most daunting part of a new project can be the brainstorming phase. Thinking of color schemes and font selections can be inspiring in your head, but really tough when you start mixing and matching elements on paper or for your website.

Understanding some of the history of fonts and typography can help make any project a little easier. Learn how to pair different typefaces to get desired effect every time and learn what things to avoid. Sharp typography and font selections can really make or break just about any project.

Keep That New Year’s Resolution and Make the Leap From Print to Web Design

HTML / 16 Jan 2012

Keep That New Year’s Resolution and Make the Leap From Print to Web Design

You’ve been designing for print since college and have an eye for what makes visuals work. But the landscape has changed (and for some, might even look a little scary). So when the ball dropped at the start of 2012, your resolution was to learn a little more about the digital side of it all and make yourself that much more marketable.

Now is the time to get started. There are tons of resources out there to help print designers get their feet wet in coding, HTML and digital design. Because of the skills you already possess as a print designer, the transition might even be easier than you think. You already know how to use text, color and images, but need the skills to make it happen in the online format. With a little time and dedication, almost anyone can learn the basics with a few great (and free) tutorials right at your computer.

Is It Time for Your Business Cards to Go Digital?

Business Card Templates / 10 Jan 2012

Is It Time for Your Business Cards to Go Digital?

Are traditional paper business cards becoming obsolete? Have you considered a digital option? The type of card you use and how it looks can say a lot about you and your work. The style of card – from simple embossed text on a white card to ornate colors and fonts – can be a client’s first impression of your work.

You want to use a card that represents your style and works with the kind of clients you work with. When looking for a business card, consider both digital and paper options and integrate your digital self into paper cards. A business card does more than provide your contact information, it is a gateway to your portfolio as well.

Utilizing Grids in Print Design

Layouts / 27 Dec 2011

Utilizing Grids in Print Design

The basic organization of a design project typically begins with a simple concept – the grid. Whether you decide to work within its constraints or intentionally move away from it, deciding how to use a grid tends to be one of the first steps in the design process.

Print designers have been working on grids since the first newspapers rolled off the presses hundreds of years ago. Most magazines also employ a grid; books are put together using the grid format. The grid can be part of a publication’s identity and helps create a sense of space and organization. Understanding the basics of grid design – from how it originated, to developing your own grid and using it in your workflow processes – will make working within vertical and horizontal constraints a snap.

10 Tips for Managing Creative People

Business / 16 Dec 2011

10 Tips for Managing Creative People

Today’s workplace is filled with different personality styles. Understanding those differences and how they affect your workforce can make you a more effective manager.

Working with “left-brained” (more analytical) versus “right-brained” (more creative) employees has its own set of rules. Most creative workers use the right-brain style of learning and working, which is a visual, random, emotional and somewhat impulsive style of learning, according to data compiled at Western Michigan University. Right brain people like to work with sound in the background (note all those ear buds around the office), like to move about while thinking about concepts and generally start with a big idea and narrow it to the details. Left-brained workers and more verbal and logical, like things in order and prefer a formal workplace.

Take a look at your staff. How many right-brain workers are in the room? My guess it the number is pretty high among designers. Here are a few tips for managing your creative people in a way they can relate to.

Hands on With the New Twitter Design

Reviews / 9 Dec 2011

Hands on With the New Twitter Design

Twitter launched a radically new layout to users Thursday. The first to see the new look were mobile users through the Twitter iPhone and Android apps. After updating those apps, the new look of Twitter became active on those users’ computers as well. All other users will begin to see the updated Twitter look over the course of several months.

The results are mixed. The new look and interface is great for mobile users and the sleek interface is cool. Features on the computer version mix the super-sleek interface with a few bonuses but also a few misses. Pages have more pop but still have the look and feel you would associate with Twitter. The site also rolled out branding pages for companies that have a nice look but could change the organic feel that has brought people to Twitter.

Visually, Twitter has reinvented itself consistently across various platforms. Aside from slight, device-specific tweaks the interface looks the same on the website, on a tablet and on a smartphone (no update for the Mac app as of yet). The biggest plus for designers and other visual professionals is an enhanced use of images to push you toward content. Twitter is starting to define itself as more than just a 140-character platform.