Print & Proofing: Typos Make Way for the Photoshop FAIL

If you work in the print or design business for any length of time, you will acquire a few stories to tell about typos, mistakes, and gaffes that escaped undetected by the proofing process. We proof carefully, and we encourage clients to be diligent in proofing before signing off on even the simplest of jobs. But even the sharpest proofreader lets a mistake slip by occasionally, and we are powerless once the ink hits the paper and the paper leaves the building. It says something about the power of print that once these mistakes are out in the public domain, they seem to carry so much weight. Today, with Photoshop and the ease of photo editing, the problems that use to exist with typos and misspelled words have now moved into the realm of images. Careless photo editing can result in some really humorous and costly mistakes.

The New Typo: the Photoshop Fail
Glad I saw these legs hiding among the pool furniture before showing the client a proof.

My most recent flub involved the photograph above. This time, I caught it before it made it’s way to the client or, even worse, the press. In removing a person from the background of a larger photograph at the customer’s request, I neglected to remove the bottom part of her legs. There they stand amongst the deck furniture, smirking… an innocent, though sloppy, oversight.

Many times, however, edits are not the result of mistakes, and are viewed by the public in a much more negative manner. The fashion industry receives harsh criticism for their over-zealous use of the Photoshop edit in their print marketing. Many have taken already thin models and edited them down to impossibly thin results. Magazine covers routinely edit away the size and curves of women. The effect of these industry practices on the body image of young girls and women is troublesome to many. Companies like Ralph Lauren and Ann Taylor have suffered negative effects from public backlash by going too far with these edits. (Check out this video, Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising’s Image of Women.)

In an odd twist on the topic of “Photoshopping,” the New York Department of Health recently fell under fire for using a stock photo of an overweight man from Getty Images and digitally “removing” his leg to make him look like an amputee. The photo was used as part of a controversially graphic ad campaign that sought to link soda consumption to Diabetes. In this case, the photo edits were done well, but the fact that the photo was assumed to be non-edited drew the complaints of many who thought the ad campaign either inaccurate or too graphic.

We seem to want to trust that photographs are telling a story of fact – that they are evidence of a slice of reality. Yet we know photographs can be altered in perfectly convincing ways to tell whatever story we want them to. The result is we take some satisfaction in spotting the mistakes of a sloppy Photoshop guru – almost as if we uncovered someone trying to dupe us by the manipulation of the photo.

Check out these sites for some really entertaining photo gaffes: the “11 Biggest Photoshop Fails of All Time” and “The Funniest Photoshop FAILs of All Time,” courtesy of the Huffington Post. There’s even a website (of course) that keeps you up to date with the latest Photoshop disasters.

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

10 Tips for Designing Vehicle Wraps with Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a great tool for designing vehicle wraps, and with the help of Adobe PhotoShop you can achieve beautiful, high impact results. Perhaps the most important tip for the designer is to begin with an accurate template and work closely with your print provider to follow their required quidelines. Installation and print considerations can sometimes trump an interesting design idea when it comes down to the practicality of applying images on vinyl to metal. Below are 10 tips to bear in mind while working with wrap designs.

Vinyl Vehicle Wrap of Snake on a City Bus
Credit – Advertising Agency: Bates Y&R, Copenhagen, Denmark. Creative Director: Ib Borup. Art Director: Peder Schack. Agency Producers: Josephine Winther-Poupinel, Steen Nøhr. Other credit: Erich Karsholt


  1. Your design starts with an accurate template of your vehicle — they are available from the manufacturer or online and are essential for creation of your design at the correct size. Most templates come drawn at a scale of 1:20. Change the scale from 1:20 to 1:10 by selecting all and increasing the size by 200%. Now the scale is 1:10, where 1 inch onscreen equals 10 inches in real life. When the files are output, they are scaled at 1000%. It keeps the math simple.
  2. Begin by setting up your template with the correct layers. One layer will need to include all the bumpers, windows and elements that allow you to view the design in a realistic way, but are really not needed for printing. This layer should be at the top of the Layers palette. You can keep it locked while you work. Create separate layers for each of the different views that will be printed out: passenger side, drivers side, front, back and top. On each layer you will need to place a copy of the vehicle outline of that view to clip the images/artwork placed there. Create a Clipping Layer (not just a clipping path). That way, all art placed on that layer will be clipped, regardless of its order in the palette. When it comes time for output the clipping mask can be turned off. Also, name each layer clearly. Keeping all of this organized is the key to creating usable files that your printer can use for output.
  3. Keep in perspective how your wrapped vehicle will be seen – usually while in motion, or from a driver’s level view while sitting in traffic. Bolder colors and one main point of focus might work best to make your design eye-catching. Extensive text will probably not be very useful. By the way, if your vehicle has a sliding door, be sure any text or images don’t create an unexpected result when the door is open… you don’t want to be surprised by what might inadvertently be created!
  4. Be careful of the corners! Bear in mind that your design has to be tiled into panels which are generally 52 inches wide, and your print provider or installer will need to discuss with you any concerns they have about how difficult the crossovers on these panels will be to line up during application. When you design a side view, it will have to connect with the front and back view. These “corners” will have to either match or have some allowance made for one image ending and the other beginning. If you can work in a solid color in these areas, or white space, it may prevent an awkward crossover in the finished product.
  5. If you work with Photoshop to bring in image or pixel-based artwork for your wrap, be sure you are using a high resolution image. The preferred resolution for an image placed at 100% in this 1:10 scale is 720dpi – much higher than what is preferred for standard offset printing. The reason is that these files will be output at 1000%. File sizes will be large. Green gar with vinyl car wrap
  6. Some parts of your vehicle cannot be wrapped: state laws effect which windows can be covered with 50/50 window graphic material, and some plastic components will not allow the vinyl material to properly adhere. Consult the installer to find out these limitations, and to determine whether handles, chrome, and other decorative pieces can be removed, covered, or cut around.
  7. Keep it simple. Overly complex designs will often defeat your purpose, both in being visually confusing and difficult to install. Car wraps have great proven recall rates, but too much information will work against a good impression.
  8. Allow for at least 3 inches of bleed area outside the outline of the vehicle – that translates to .3 inches at the 1:10 scale you are working with. When in doubt, leave even more.
  9. Avoid use of spot colors – go ahead and convert them to CMYK or RGB (whichever mode in which your provider suggests you work). The use of spot colors where any transparency is involved can result in some strange and unexpected results when printed.
  10. Save a copy of your file to keep. Then turn all your fonts to outlines, save it as an eps and turn that in, along with ALL linked or placed image files, to your print provider.

Expect your printer to make some adjustments, with your approval, to your files in order to achieve the best results. It is also a good idea to doublecheck measurements between your digital template and the actual vehicle to avoid any costly mistakes. Designing “flat” artwork to fit over an irregular three dimensional object can be tricky, so work closely with your printer and installer to achieve the best possible outcome.

Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Think Big, Print Big: Wide Format Banners, Posters & More

Think Big Wide Format Full Color Printing

Big ideas, big dreams, big plans? Then you need big printing. Large, glossy, full-color wide format is increasingly a smart marketing choice for making a bold, clear statement. Think about the visual impact you could make in your business with banners, adhesive wall clings, car wraps, event signage, posters, window graphics, floor graphics. High quality design and signage is now affordable for every budget and versatile for every structure or medium. It is also easy to change up to reflect new information and stayfresh in the public eye.

Take a moment to look around at any of your large blank walls, windows or spaces in any public area of your business and you begin to realize how that visual canvas is not being utilized to represent your brand, your message, your mission. It is being seen… it should be getting noticed and remembered! And not all wall coverings need to be advertising copy or photography. Perhaps you can simply use shape and color to “brand” your walls or windows for visual interest, keeping them in accordance with your brand’s palette.

Consider what might very well be your most valuable advertising real estate: storefront windows, waiting room and lobby walls, even shop floors. They are encountered by every customer or client, and even others just passing by – you should be using that marketing opportunity to relay your message and reinforce your brand. When you start looking around you will discover many creative ways to use large-format printing:

  • banners
  • removable vinyl wall graphics & murals
  • car wraps
  • event signage
  • posters
  • floor graphics
  • window clings
  • mounted trade show displays
  • sale announcements or information
  • directional signage
  • product exhibits
  • decorative designs and murals to compliment your brand

Thinking big will grow your business and sales in the new year, and wide format printing is a versatile, affordable and smart component of that winning marketing strategy. It allows you to see your your business with an artist’s or architect’s eye. Enjoy being creative with your marketing.

Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.



Print Green: a Glossary of Green Acronyms & Terminology

Good for the environment. Good for business. The printing industry has a renewed commitment to environmental sustainability, due in part to an undeserved assumption among many that printing and paper are destructive to the environment. Paper is a renewable resource, and the printing industry works diligently with conservationists, forest management and environmentalists to ensure healthy working forests. To be sure you are supporting that effort – and to show your customers and others your commitment – read up on these common acronyms and the green terminology used when discussing green print and environmental matters:

Acronyms and Terms used in Green Printing

FSCThe Forest Stewardship Council, an international non-profit organization that sets standards and provides certification, trademark and accreditation for companies working with responsible forestry around the world.

SFIThe Sustainable Forestry Initiative, non-profit organizaton that promotes sustainable forest management across North America and certifies fiber sourcing requirements to promote responsible forest management.

PEFCProgramme for the Endoresemnt of Forest Certification, promotes sustainably managed forests through independent third party certification.

COC – Chain of custody. This is the path paper travels, beginning in the forest and continuing through harvest, transport, manufacture, printing and finally purchase.

PCF & TCF – Processed Chlorine Free and Totally Chlorine Free. Refers to paper produced without the use of chlorine or chlorine compounds. PCF paper contains recyclable content, while TCF is 100% virgin paper.

ECF – Elemental Chlorine Free. Refers to paper that does not use elemental chlorine to bleach wood pulp white in the manufacturing process. It uses chlorine dioxide instead.

Enhanced ECF – Enchanced Elemental Chlorine Free, uses hydrogen peroxide or ozone, rather than chlorine or chlorine dioxide, to bleach wood pulp white.

Green-e – the nations’s leading certification program for renewable energy. Green-e is a consumer protection program, selling renewable energy and greenhouse gas reductions in the retail market, and certifying products produced with these green standards.

Rainforest Alliance Certification – comprehensive program to promote and guarantee sound environmental improvements in agriculture and forestry. The Rainforest Alliance certifies goods and services that protect the environment, wildlife, workers and local communities.

Post-consumer waste – paper that has already been used by consumers once and is recovered for recycling.

Pre-consumer waste – paper that has been produced but never been used by the consumer.

recycled fiber – Fiber that has been recycled and reprocessed into a new product. It includes both post- and pre-consumer waste.

endangered forest – any rare, threatened or biologically significant forest area that cannot be logged or harvested without risking irreparable destruction.

virgin wood – wood that has been harvested from the forest, whether sawn or whole, before it has been processed further into paper or other products.

Remember, paper is renewable, sustainable and biodegradable. Responsible use of paper is green. Next time you get an email with that little disclaimer about saving paper, if you really need a printed copy, go ahead. Print that email out if you need to – guilt-free.

Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.


Why Your Business Card Still Matters

Business cards are just like a handshake. They are a form of greeting that makes an actual physical connection, and can be the most important part of establishing a positive “first impression” with a client. While there are many new ways to connect digitally, the printed business card still stands as the most useful and powerful tool of your initial marketing contact.

Why Your Business Card is Like a Handshake

Yes, there are cool, new digital ways to pass information. You can “bump” your iPhones to share contact data. The site IdentyMe seeks to unite all your online profiles and serve as your digital business card. Even social media sites liked LinkedIn serve some of the same purposes as the standard business card. All useful – and yet they don’t ever replace the experience of giving your printed card in a face-to-face meeting. It is, in essence, a gift (read about how Japanese business card etiquette and the respect and ceremony with which they view this formality) – so be sure you gift does three important things:

  • BE INFORMATIVE – After all, that is the purpose of this little piece of paper – to place in someone’s hand information about how you want them to connect with you. Today that info includes not only your phone and address, but potentially your email, website, blog address, Facebook or LinkedIn account, YouTube channel…. many more paths of connection than ever existed before. And all the more reason to have that information handy and easily transferable!
  • BE BRANDED – your card needs to clearly and powerfully represent your brand. As a physical card, it probably gets more actual viewing time than any of your other marketing efforts, so it needs to clearly depict you, your brand, your mission.
  • BE CREATIVE – you can relay across your information in plain, clear text. But unless “plain” is the image you want to implant in someone’s mind, use this opportunity to get noticed and remembered. Try a folded card, a die cut shape, thermography, foil stamps, non-standard sizes. What about a card that is plastic? or wood? or corrugated? Think about what represents you, and be open to more creative ways to get that across in a memorable way. After all, your potential client or customer will be holding the piece in their hand. That moment is something a website cannot duplicate. Make the most of it. It will represent you in their mind.

Check out this link for a really cool gallery of creative business card ideas to get you thinking. Then call us at 828-684-4512 to talk about how we can help!

Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.


Easy Adobe PhotoShop Tips: Keyboard Shortcuts

The first steps in learning Adobe Creative Suite’s PhotoShop are always exploring the tool bar and scanning through the drop down menus. But if you use PhotoShop with any regularity, you soon discover common tasks you are performing over and over with each image, and the repetition of those ‘click patterns’ can quickly become tedious. By learning and using even a few keyboard shortcuts you will be amazed at the speed with which you can accomplish your edits.

Everyone develops their own signature style and knowledge base in using PhotoShop, and we all settle on our own set of keyboard shortcuts that become second nature. For anyone new to PhotoShop, experiment with some of the most common. Many simple tasks, such as switching tools, can be accessed just by hitting a letter. The shortcuts are often obvious, some a little less so. You can hover over the tool icon on the tool palette and PhotoShop will tell you both the name of the tool and its keyboard shortcut in parentheses:

  • M = Marquee Keyboard Shortcuts in Adobe Photoshop Save Time
  • C = Crop
  • L = Lasso
  • B = Brush
  • E = Eraser
  • P = Pen
  • W = Magic Wand
  • V = Move
  • A = Direct Selection
  • I = Eyedropper
  • U = Rounded Rectangle
  • R = Rotate View

Common Keyboard Shortcuts for Adobe Photoshop Save Time

Common actions for editing that become very useful to know as a shortcut include:

  • Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) duplicates the pixels you have selected to their own new layer.
  • Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) fill with foreground color
  • Command-Delete (PC: Ctrl-Backspace) fill with background color
  • Command-L brings up the Levels dialogue box
  • Command-M brings up the Curves dialogue box
  • Command-F5 brings up the Fill dialogue box

To move around quickly without changing tools on the toolbar, press and hold the Space Bar to temporarily activate the hand tool. To zoom in or out without the magnifying glass, try Command-+ or Command-– (PC: Crol-+ and Ctrl-–). To fit everything on screen, use Command-0.

Most shortcuts are listed under the drop down menus, or can be found in PhotoShop Help. To be honest, I stumble across most of them by accident – bumping the wrong key and wondering “Now how did that happen?” No harm done in fumbling around and finding out for yourself! Make friends with the shortcuts, and don’t feel pressure to learn them all (no one actually does that, do they?). Learn the ones that save you the most aggravation.

Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.


Your ROI from Social Media Marketing

At the end of the day, the bottom line with any form of marketing is ROI – what return do we expect for the time, money and resources spent on the investment. In the realm of social media, the ROI payoff comes through interactive conversation with potential clients and the creation of a postive impression in the public’s mind of your expertise and credibility. Just like buying commercial time on television or any other marketing, you use social media outlets to perpetuate a consistent impression in the public’s mind of what you do and how well you do it. Top Social Media Sites of 2011 and your ROI from Marketing

The landscape of social media is changing rapidly. Today’s Twitter and Facebook might be tomorrow’s MySpace or AmericaOnline. So be open to change and innovation when you plan your approach. You might decide to concentrate on one or two sites to begin building up a following or circle of ‘friends.’ Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the obvious most popular choices now. Each site has a different focus as well – and you can find many resources online to compare the top social media sites and their features.

But one step at a time is the best way to build any marketing campaign, and social media is no different. Use both graphics and content to put forth a consistent brand image across all the platforms, anchored in your company’s home website and blog. Your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts should all work in tandem to be recognizable and to drive traffic and interest to your website for both information, further contact and, of course, sales. Your blog should prove to be your most effective tool for establishing your credibility and resourcefulness. Again, use the social media platforms to draw interest to your blogposts, and in turn, to your e-commerce website. Provide links to both current and past blog content. Consider offering special deals or printable coupons by visiting your webpage. Keep in mind your goal of creating interest in and driving traffic to your site.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is an inexact and ever-changing terrain. Familiarizing yourself with some of the basics is helpful in both writing content for your blog or website and understanding the overall structure of the web. But it can also prove daunting. Don’t let the technicalities of SEO prevent you from getting your content up and out there. A consistent presence is important, and fine-tuning SEO considerations can come with time.

An overall philosophy to keep in mind for blogging and social media is the most obvious one: be social. Avoid bragging, heavyhanded salesmanship, confusing data or being too opinionated – in other words, any potentially obnoxious social behavior that would drive people away. And remember to provide value to those who visit your blog or site – free of charge. Establishing yourself as a good source of helpful, freely given information will go a long way in winning loyalty and interest from the public. Be there to help – it is the best way to get noticed and a great public service. Also, another important component of being social, is to participate. Interact with other blogs, post comments and updates on Facebook and LinkedIn, be sure and tell others when their information was useful or their commentary especially enlightened. Avoid undue criticism or argumentativeness. Being a good virtual friend is a reward in itself, but will also shine a nice light on your brand and all your marketing efforts.

The ROI of a good social media strategy is ultimately quantifiable in sales figures, but a more immediate return will be seen in strengthening your brand image, bolstering your credibility and market knowledge, and generating positive public opinion. Being social should be enjoyable… take a holistic approach and see what you can create through the interaction!

Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.