Monday, August 24, 2015

Digital Artwork - Raster vs. Vector

I've been asked many times to explain the difference between these two file types. Artwork integrity really does depend on the file quality, and determining the final application is the best starting point.
 Raster files are made up of pixels. Pixels are little cubes of colour linked together to create an image. The number of cubes determines what we refer to as resolution. Once the resolution is set in an image it remains the fixed detail and sharpness. When scaled, these files commonly suffer resolution issues such as staircasing (jagged edges, refer to this link for illustration - There are some programs available to reduce this however they also have limits. When pushed beyond those limits they will create unsightly artifacts. The colour mode of these images is usually confined to either RGB (Red - Green - Blue) or cmyk (cyan - magenta - yellow - black). Some raster images can have special colours added in Photoshop using a spot colour channel, however this is an expert use of this file format and not accessible to most unless you have a program capable of executing this process. Common file formats for raster images are jpeg (jpg) tiff (tif) Photoshop (psd) Encapsulated Postscript (eps) and Portable Document File (pdf)
 Vector files are actual digital line drawings. Because the edges of an image are determined by vectors it is completely scalable to larger sizes and will remain sharp throughout that process. It is also useful to other digital platforms that can read vector files. (embroidery, CAD, CNC) These platforms, unlike printing have no other file formats that will effectively work to reproduce an image.
 Vector files often include spot colours as well. Most companies have their logo available in vector file format. This ensures quality control and integrity. A vector file can be easily rasterized to pixels, however to convert a raster file to vector is not as simple. When someone tells you that your logo needs to be digitized, this is what they are talking about. Common file formats include Encapsulated Postscript (eps), Portable Document File (pdf), Adobe Illustrator (ai). All of these file formats can also be raster images as well - they are not guaranteed to be vector. Opening the file in a vector program will help determine usefulness.
 This illustration explains visually what a designer sees in preview mode (left, fixed resolution, raster is top image) and then artwork mode (right, scalable, vector is bottom image).
 If you do not have vector files of your logo and would like to have a package to use when required, RGS offers a service called Logo Recovery. Having this logo package will help you avoid paying the same expensive artwork charges over and over again, and will also ensure the integrity of your brand in all of your visual and marketing materials.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photoshopped - anything's possible!

photoshopped: when a photo has been digitally edited using photoshop.

That's how the Urban Dictionary describes image retouching. While Photoshop and digital photography are relatively new technologies, the opportunity to take a not so great picture and modify it into something usable has been around for almost as long as photography.
The tools of the trade have changed dramatically as have the job skills. We've gone from paint brushes and colour palettes to airbrushed photos to expensive front ends on commercial scanning equipment and now we have accessible digital manipulation on desktop systems. At a recent meeting, after I explained what was possible to my referral partners, one of them mentioned I should post the images online - a picture speaks 1000 words... so then, I'll stop typing and post a few before and after images for all to see and evaluate. Thanks to my friend Vlad for the suggestion!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Turning your world upside down!

 No excuses - I've been delinquent! I've absolutely ignored my blog, and recently had a conversation with one of those communication type people that convicted me. So here I am, back at it with a new sense of purpose and possibly some fresh ideas.
 We're moving - yes, we sold our house and found something better suited to our lifestyle and business goals. Hopefully we'll get a better return on our money as well. Most people say that you really can't go wrong with real estate investment, and I think we made a good one. Needless to say, it has turned our world upside down - well, temporarily anyway!
 But speaking of turning our world upside down, here's a tip. I know it works, tested and true... and dad used to do this too. When storing leftover paint, make sure the lid is hammered down (sealed) and store the can upside down. This will prevent that awful skin from forming on top and will also make it easier to mix. (paints tend to separate when stored for months/years and usually need a really good mix)
 In preparing to stage our house, things came off the walls, holes were patched and sanded an then came time to touch up. The last paint job was when we had the Home Renovation Tax Credit, I think 2009. The leftover paint was stored in a dark corner of the basement - upside down. I cleverly identified the bottom of each can with a marker, knowing this little exercise would save time and it did. Turned over the first can, popped the lid and Voila!, no skin to remove. Gave it a good stir, took out my brush, feathered a paint job and those touch up areas literally faded away into the wall, never to be seen again! For those wondering, feathering is best done with a good quality brush. It's brushing paint in every direction so the brushstrokes aren't as noticeable. (another trick dad taught me)
 There are other things you can turn upside down.
 We tend to buy a lot of berries around here, and we always store the clam shells upside down in the fridge - especially blueberries. It seems to make a difference when you have a lot of them. They're well traveled right side up, so the guys on the bottom get a breather from that crushing experience this way - I think they last longer too .
 Since the last post, Robert Graphic Services has become distributors of several lines of promotional products. Some of the areas we've been able to help our customers with are custom branded bags, pens, shirts, usb drives, portfolios, golf umbrellas and calendars. Here are a few links to some online catalogues that we currently are distributors of:
 If you see anything that interests you, call me and we'll get things started. If you're looking for something and don't see it there, chances are I can get it - there are many more opportunities!
 And of course, we design, print and deliver - just about anything.
"Make your best Impression, call Robert Graphic Services"

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Missing Link

 Charles Darwin never did find what he was looking for, and U2 wrote a song about it. But that's not really what this is about, it's about being linked in.
 Linked In is now a public company. If you somehow missed this bandwagon last year, it's not too late to jump on. In fact, you probably should - it's free! I like to think of it as my electronic business card file. It's with me wherever me and my "Blueberry" go.
 Do not make the mistake of seeing this as an alternative Facebook account. This is business. The object of the game is not to have the most connections but it is about having quality connections. You don't need to say yes to everyone who asks for a connection.
 For example, I belong to a networking group, and we meet once a week. Our relationships are built on mutual trust. I have the confidence that I can refer them to even my closest friends and they will not let me down, but also return compliments after services are performed. These are some of the people I have connection with on Linked In. Sure, some are friends and associates that I personally do little or no business with, but like business cards, someday the accessible connection may prove useful.

Some Linked In tips:
1 - Complete your profile. There are several benefits to this.
2 - Protect your information. Do you give prospects your business card file? Why would you then allow access to everyone? Select in the settings that only you can see your connections. Shared connections are visible.
3 - Join industry groups. This will help keep you up to date on what's going on around you.
4 - Participate in industry group discussions. Share your knowledge - this will set you apart as an expert.
5 - Search your industry for local events.

Here's a link to a Slideshare presentation some might find useful:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Size Matters...

 Most of us get caught up in the Christmas rush, or so many retailers would hope you do. One of the growing trends in the last couple of years is offering a custom size to consumers. We see this mainly in the food industry however it's starting to spill over into other areas of consumable goods, such as cleaning supplies, paper products and everyday staples.  In today's manufacturing environment, 1 gram times a million packages amounts to a million grams, and while the value of 1 gram is debatable, 1 million grams gets the attention of most CEOs and CFOs.
 Because it's Christmas time, and because we love these at our house, let's take a look at Turtles. There was a time, not so long ago, when a box of Turtles was a box of Turtles - everyone had the same size and packaging. These ads are all from local flyers from the first week of December.

 Note the different sizes and pricing. Pricing is an art, and sometimes certain strategies work, however liberal deception can come back to haunt you.
 Here's another example, a little easier to calculate. We buy a lot of blueberries - it's one of our favorites around here. The clamshell packaging looks the same, and it's the same surface area. The difference is in the weight and depth. (and price of course)

  And finally, this one is really interesting. Which one is it - 375 or 500 grams?
 I wasn't trying to turn this entry into a trip to the grocery store, but more a marketing awareness opportunity. To maintain a good reputation and build a loyal customer base it's important to be consistent with your current market. If you try to deceive or take advantage of customers, you may get away with it once or twice, but eventually people will recognize what you've done and we all know how difficult it is to regain the trust of a "lost" customer. This principle will apply just about anywhere, not just at the grocery store.