Tag Archives: color

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Design Tips: How to Evaluate and Improve Your Publication Layout

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”  So how do you judge if your design is “good,” “bad,” or just average?   If you’ve ever thought about evaluating whether or not your publication could use a facelift, here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind.

Overall Look and Aesthetic Appeal

Is your design attractive? Although completely subjective, one good way to measure your progress is to ask for opinions.  Try to get feedback from your readers, as well as others who have never seen your publication before.  Don’t be afraid to listen to suggestions, and consider any positive comments and constructive criticism you may receive.  LPi’s graphic designers are also more than happy to provide our input as well.  Just give us a call!

Photos

Photos are a great design element when used effectively.  They can capture a moment in time, elicit emotions, and also help to illustrate a point better than words alone.  On the flip side, if you use a cell phone to take your pictures, and/or if they are dark, out of focus, or blurry, they can ruin your reader’s perception of your design.  Picasa is a great free tool you can use to lighten dark photos, remove redeye, add contrast and even experiment with fun filters that turn your pictures into “pencil sketches” and more.

Relevance

Who is your publication meant for?  Consider your audience’s needs in order to keep them engaged and interested in reading.  Think about what your readers find most important, and be sure to place that content front and center.  For example, if the Easter mass times are buried in the middle of the bulletin, perhaps it would make more sense to put them on the cover or first page where they can easily be found.  Also, remember that your advertisers are most likely a source of revenue for your publication.  Be sure to find a way to acknowledge, recognize, and thank them, because chances are, they are reading!  Check the Art and Media Portal for ideas on how to provide an added value for the businesses that support your publication.

Colors

Your choice of colors can really affect the overall tone and feel of your publication. Are your colors readable?  Black text on a dark background is never a good idea.  Are your colors complementary, or do they clash?  Certain colors just do not work together, while other color schemes can be stunning.  If you need some ideas, visit kuler.adobe.com to see popular themes created by artists and designers, and you can use similar colors in your publication.

Do your colors fit your branding?  If you have a logo, the newsletter/bulletin colors should match or complement it, and it’s also a good idea to keep your design elements consistent between your website, newsletter, letterhead and other print materials to build recognition among your patrons.

Fonts

Is your type clear and legible?  Even the most beautiful decorative font is completely useless if it doesn’t serve its purpose, which is to be read!  Specialty fonts may look nice in theory, but before choosing them, stop and think about whether they are practical for your publication.  As with bolding and underlining, special fonts should be used sparingly to draw attention and provide emphasis, but if they are overused, your reader will not know what to focus on and may lose interest.  See our blog post on Using Typefaces Effectively for more info.

Layout/Use of Space

Is your information organized in a logical manner?  Sections with headings can really help readers to easily search for and find the content that pertains to them.  Also, white space is considered an important element in graphic design, as it brings a sense of order to your layout, and makes it appear uncluttered, which can help improve readability.  Therefore, try not to cram too much information into a small amount of space.  Hold some articles for future issues if necessary, in order to keep your publication clean and easy to read.

The above categories should be a good starting point to help you gauge how you are doing with your publication design.  If you decide that you want a new look, keep in mind that LPi provides free design services, so if you’d like, we can work with you to come up with a different layout.  Otherwise, feel free to try making some updates on your own.  Sometimes just a few little tweaks, like changing a color or a font, can make all the difference in helping turn your bulletin or newsletter into a masterpiece.

One of those Meta words

You’re staring at your own reflection in a mirror at a local department store shocked how the scarf you put on that morning no longer matches the rest of your outfit. As you look down comparing the color of the scarf, you notice that while it in fact doesn’t match the color of your coat, it does seem to look similar to the stripes in your shirt. But why?

Metamerism! There’s a word most people have not heard unless they are in an industry that is dependent on the perception of color. Metamerism as it relates to color, is a phenomenon in where two colors appear different to different viewers or under different lighting conditions.

While people can perceive color differently, most instances like the one above have more to do with the physical characteristics of the object and the lighting you encounter throughout the day.

We see color when an object either absorbs or reflects wavelengths of light. We’ve all seen a rainbow or the light through a prism. That spectrum of colors is what is comprised in visible light. When an object absorbs red and green light but reflects blue, we see that object as blue. If it were to absorb green and blue but reflect red, we see it as a red object.

So now you might be wondering, how does that explain why the color of your scarf doesn’t look the same as it did at home. Simply put, the light involved in the viewing of your scarf is not the same as it is at home.

Incandescent lighting is made up of a burning filament inside the light bulb. Much like a campfire with its various shades of reds, the light from this source lacks a lot of blues and greens. When you look at an object under an incandescent light bulb, with less blue and green color in the light, there will not be as much of it to be reflected back to your eye.

Fluorescent lighting, by contrast, works by colored phosphors that glow or fluoresce when stimulated by ultraviolet light. This form of lighting is very irregular due to the fact that generally only three very distinct colors of phosphors are inside the tube. This leads to many gaps in the color spectrum and as a result, colors missing in the light generated.

Just as with an incandescent bulb, without a complete and balanced light you can not get back what you don’t put in. The missing gaps in fluorescent light mean that there will be missing colors reflecting back to your eye. That can lead to colors looking very different when compared to the same object viewed under incandescent light.

That covers the lighting you say, but what about the scarf itself? Does that play a part in this equation too? It certainly does.

Not all objects absorb and reflect light the same. If the dyes or pigments used in your scarf do not reflect colorbv evenly and the light source does not supply an even full spectrum of light as in the case of fluorescent lighting, the color you perceive will not be the same as it was at home under a standard light bulb. This effect can even happen with prints from your inkjet printer as some pigments used in the inks exhibit inconsistent behavior with the way they absorb and reflect light.

So now what can you do with this knowledge in regard to that scarf? Honestly, not a whole lot. When you buy any product in any store, the lighting used will not always be the same as at work or even when you are outside on a bright sunny day. You might want to walk around the store and see if they have other lighting you can view your possible purchase under including any windows as sunlight has a different spectrum of color than the store lighting. Keep in mind where your purchase will be viewed. Is it a vase you might have a ideal spot for at home? Again, the pigments used to color it may not reflect the same at home as they do at the store. Knowledge is probably your best defense at this point. Remember that the color of light is not a constant and that should go some way in helping you balance out the colors of your life.