Design is many things, across many different mediums. You may hear the word ‘Design’ being used and ‘over’ used in many places. In business, I have on occasions felt that the word ‘Design’ can have negative connotations when talking to non-design based businesses. The word ‘design’… that expensive word, can bring MD’s out in a financial rash – Design = expense. Design shouldn’t be seen solely as an expense, it should be seen as investment in your business, whether you are
Design should be more than just taste or making something pretty, it’s many things depending on the niche and problem it is trying to solve. I am a visual designer with history in creating websites, banners, brands, animations and game content. My attitude to design, it should solve a problem, convey a feeling or a message or all of that was mentioned. Design should be applied in a way that can push your product, message or marketing material to the next step using visuals, imagery and media, I like to create pieces that invoke excitement, create buzz and perhaps sell a product depending on the challenge.
I have created some
illustrations to capture the nuances of the creative design Journey
as it works for me. This isn’t a step by step process, it’s more
discussion on how the journey often looks, at a slightly humorous
Design is a Journey
With design, it can
take time to arrive at the final result. It takes time to explore the
relevant paths before finalising the best route to take in order to
achieve the best outcome. People see this = The result
When the journey can
look like this
‘Why not just use the one path?’ or ‘It looks easy’ I am glad in one respect that it ‘looks’ easy – maybe I did something right. Perhaps it’s the path I took to slick or polished outcome, perhaps it’s practice.
Not always an easy road
Quality results which applies to design is rarely ‘easy’. Occasionally very quick – but not easy. If you went with your first unresearched approach it may look something like this.
But it was quick!
Going with your first design isn’t necessarily good design, effective or as it should be for the task. You may strike it lucky, but why leave business down to luck? Fast isn’t strictly good, it’s just ‘quick’ and ‘quick’ isn’t always best.
Design that looks straight forward in the end, may have taken different routes to success. When starting a substantial project I like to plan, like with most journeys. When creating a design it can be similar, how much is the budget, time, does it have brand look and feel, who is it for, market research, these are all factors that should be considered when creating a design, be it a website or a product.
With design, it can be
as if cutting a path through bracken
Plan your journey
Before going on a long
trip, do you plan what you are going to take? What if you are going
away for two weeks and failed to pack tooth past, under-wear, or a
passport? You plan it. A good design service should be the same for
anything of size – granted you don’t need to plan for your regular
trip to metaphorical trip to the shop, you already know that route.
I often have a
destination or a planned end. But my root make look something like
this. Exploring all of the best roots and discovering from time to
time better ways of doing things. Ideas can be tricky to ‘Process’
and itemise but the end results will show something.
A polished design
A good design can be
part of polishing something or pushing an existing concept to it’s
I hope you have enjoyed having an insight into my design journey. If you would like to share my approach or sign up to my newsletter that would be great. I can sherpa you to creating something that you could be proud of.
like me you need work layers in Photoshop any time saving measure is
a bonus. I have a compiled a short list of shortcuts for making the
best use of Photoshop’s layers for both the Mac and PC – Enjoy!
(Swap CMD for CTRL on Windows)
Change the layer order, move it up and down :
Cmd+[ Move Down
Cmd+] Move Up
Cmd+Shift+] = to move it to the bottom of the stack
Cmd+Shift+[ = Move it to the top of the stack
select a layer
move tool selected (V) hold Cmd
to highlight the
layers directly from the art board. This will also highlight groups.
Duplicate a layer
Ideal for copying a layer! Cmd + J to copy a selected layer! Or you can drag the selected onto the ‘New” icon! OR right click and duplicate – A personal fave.
addition to organizing you layers into folder and groups, why not
colour coordinate the layers so you glance at groups? Brown for dirt,
green for sea etc. Right click and select a colour.
New Layer Cmd+Shift + N brings up the new layer dialogue.
Cycle Through Blend Modes
to see what a multiply, saturation, or overlay will look like on the
+ (Minus or plus, top right of the keyboard)
Layer Opacity With the layer selected you can quickly change its opacity by pressing >
Shift + (Minus or plus, top right of the keyboard) Shift + 22, 30, 23 (a number from the top row) typing the number in quick succession will change the layers opacity percentage. Hold shift and then press “22” the layer will be 22% “30” = 30 %.
Very handy for digital painting or retouching.
your layers and press Cmd + G to
group them together. If you are not grouping your numerous layers…
you should start. For sanity’s sake.
The original text for this was created and added to blogger in 2016 (Jimm Odell Blog). This has since been tweaked and added to this blog – the professional blog.
How to make a simple, pain free Photoshop brush! Quickly
Want to know to make a simple Photoshop brush? It’s fairly straight forward, this short tutorial will have you making your custom brushes in no time!
Start with creating your brush, defining it and adding it to your palette! Lets draw a shape on black on a white background…
Open PS and make a new document – 300 x 300 px and 72 DPI for good
measure, make sure the background is set to white.
Create Your Brush
2 ) Working in black and white (Shortcut ‘D’ for black and white) draw your brush shape (in black) onto your new document. For the sake of this tutorial I have made mine a solid brush.
Select The Brush
3 ) Either by using the marquee tool or Apple + ‘a’ to select all (CTRL + A for windows). If you have selected the brush you want to define, you can go to the next step! Make sure you have selected you brush artwork, this will basic act as stamp.
4 ) Go Edit > scroll down to ‘Define Brush Preset’ and click on it! label your brush, I called this one ‘blob’ and then click ‘OK’
You have created a brush in Photoshop!
Well done, you should now have designed your very own custom brush and saved it to your library. If you press F5 to look at your brush palette, you will see the brush you have just made listed at the bottom of your library.
Why not open a new document and test out your newly created Photoshop Brush, I hope you enjoy making more awesome brushes.
If you felt this was useful feel free to share on social media! If you need a Professional Designer experience in Photoshop with come and say hello!
businesses and potential clients… this post is for you!
This post covers 3 simple ways for you to build a website for free, or almost free. This article is ideal for start-ups, hobbyist’s and individuals looking to start small and work their way up with their online presence. All you need is a computer and access to the internet.
This post will cover the pros and cons of each system based on tried and tested experience.
should be noted I am not affiliated with these companies
How to get your free website up and running | Start building your website!
1 ) Use Blogger
heard of Blogger? Blogger (blogspot) has been around for years and is
part of Google. With Blogger, you can create your website
or blog completely free
– today, right now! And yes, it’s pretty easy to use.
Blogger is fine if you are looking to create a simple blog as a hobbyist or put something together quickly for a friend or relative. I have used Blogger as part of my ‘hobby and general stuff’ website which I treated as a creative / personal dumping ground. You can see my personal blog here.
isn’t solely for amateurs. I have seen great examples of Blogger
being used by professional and semi-professionals, despite
it being a free platform.
Generally speaking, Blogger is used more by hobbyists than
Due to Blogger’s low point of entry, it is a magnet for homemade, freebie and hobbyist blog creators. Few websites buck this trend with this platform by offering tremendous value and great content.
Thiswebsite is great example of what can be achieved with some dedication and will power. The website – Print & Pattern – comes with a jobsboard, products and other pieces of information centred around graphic and surface pattern design.
I doff my cap… If I had one!
might also be worth mentioning that you can also monetise your
Blogger very easy using Adsense if you
are considering earning some money
on the side. You will need a lot of traffic to come to your website
before you see anything from Adsense.
Blogger Pros :
– FREE – Blogger is free. You can set up an account today and start writing about your hobby pretty much right away.
– It’s reasonably easy to use – Blogger is relatively straight forward to use. Buttons in the left hand navigation show what is what. All you need to do is Create a “new post” and type away – as easy as that although it is not without flaws.
– Can be polished – with a bit of thought and a lot of application you can make your Blogger look quite professional.
– No fuss – You can set up a Blogger website quickly, you don’t need a coding guru to help.
Blogger Cons :
Typically regarded as unprofessional –
if you are using a Blogger for a business website it can be regarded
as being amateurish. Blogger websites tend to have a dated appearance
and people can more often than not tell something looks a bit ‘Home
made’. In business, making a good impression is important and you
want avoid ‘Homemade’. Not all ‘Bloggers’ are created by amateurs but
many do use this platform as it is free. If you must use Blogger,
dress it well – very well – I would go as far as trying to
disguise it otherwise your blog may say : “business run from a
shed”. If you don’t expect to make money or use it for business
know how I said to try and ‘dress it’? Now imagine trying to dress an
excited squirrel! Well It certainly won’t put it’s arms into the
sleeves and neither will Blogger when it comes to making a pretty
post! The code and interface can be very awkward to use if you are
trying tweak the alignment, paragraph, bold lettering etc it can
reduce you to tears, and crash. It also adds a lot of junk HTML to
your article making it needlessly difficult to tailor in code view.
Many hours have been wasted trying to make it play fair.
You don’t really own it – Although it is free to use and as a free tool it is pretty good, it’s not your intellectual property. Should your Blogger be closed for some reason you will loose all of your content with it. For ‘free’ you will relinquish control and imagine loosing 5 years worth of posts. Back up your content if you decide use Blogger.
SEO – although it’s not bad, I’m not convinced about it’s friendliness towards being seen by the search engines.
Blogger Verdict :
good for hobbyists, it’s free
but there are other options which I would consider over Blogger.
Generally, if you want a professional presence I would use better
out of 5 : 1 = Poor 5 = Excellent
Cost = 5 Ease of use = 2 Creation Efficiency = 1 Set Up = 4 Quality Of Websites = 3 Value = 2
Total = 17
gets some unjust stick. Developers scoff at it because it is a
which can be used my non-coders – listen other Developers, WIX
isn’t too bad! And if you are strapped for money and just starting
out then maybe consider this as possible option in the beginning. WIX
allows you to visually drag and drop your website together to create
a design that you may not vomit over!
You can even add the odd bit of code here and there to extend to
well and good but why use it?
can allow you layout items on a webpage how you want them! Imagine
using something like Microsoft publisher, Photoshop or a graphics
program to create a website. If your online presence or website is in
it’s early stages, you may just need something very simple to chuck
or perhaps you want to get a website live for a friend or a relative.
WIX can suit both! And you don’t need to be Developer.
For cheap, (not free) WIX is possible option. Here are my shared experiences of the WIX website builder.
Wix Pros :
Neat – It all comes in one tight little package with many design options. Design with it – It’s great for non-techies or developers. *You can use the drag and drop interface to create a website the way you want it – a big although
Cheap – WIX comes with a range of pricing plans to suit many budgets, it also comes with it’s own hosting packages.
Cool features – It comes with some nice little integrated features such a mail-list manager and an easy to use image library, you can also create a basic shop with it.
Visual Designer – It’s great if you like to create websites visually, but please note – not for creating graphic design and banners. These elements will should to be created by a Designer or somebody with access to design tools.
*Although – Websites are not ‘as is’ static items anymore, you can’t treat them as you would a drawing or a piece print. It’s best to regard website as a piece or informational water when it comes to the layout. This information fluid or titles, boxes and elements which should move to fill the screen size. The launch of the smartphone essentially has pushed your static website design to near extinction.
The responsive design is sub-par – arguably worse than Blogger. As a non-dev you may be wowed initially by how easy it is to use, but what you see, isn’t what you get. Inside WIX there is a button in the navigation menu which allows you to set up a mobile version of the website… (Yes, you have to construct 2 versions of your website) the mobile version isn’t as standard so you have to create 2 static versions of your website. It isn’t very good at handling ‘fluid’ layouts when I last used it.
Build twice, takes twice as long – Further to the point, you have to build twice or suffer a website that will not work properly on a smartphone. Eg can’t read text without zooming with fingers etc. This bad user-experience will be passed onto your customers.
Clumsy fluid layout – As a designer this would be something I would pick up on. The default desktop website can have some somewhat awkward behaviour when it comes to viewing the website in different browsers. Fluid and responsive websites are not easy to build, and WIX certainly hasn’t mastered this yet.
Slow Down – If you have a large webpage with lots of elements and content this can overwhelm the WIX builder. You will find as you are dragging (pushing) elements around they start to lag and stick. This can become very frustrating if you are trying to work toward a tight deadline in a busy or demanding environment.
limited control with deeper development issues – With using a website builder such as WIX you surrender building more accessible a technically proficient website. It’s also trickier to get into the real nuts and bolts to solve somewhat basic issues.
Wix Verdict – Jack of all
and cheerful and great for non-techies. This user-friendly website
builder is good if your are starting out. I have seen WIX used for
straight up brochure and small scale websites with great results and
if you are on shoe string it could be something to consider. WIX is
nice to use, quite slick and an intuitive piece of online software!
Not the cheapest, but ok.
– just to the stress this from the previous point. Sometimes,
people think websites are static and they adopt their thinking to an
archaic approach to website design. Websites are no longer static and
it is best to avoid a website design in this way. If you would like
to know more about this feel free to send an
out of 5 : : 1 = Poor 5 = Excellent
= 3 Ease of use = 5 Creation Efficiency = 3 Set Up =
4 Quality Of Websites = 2 Value = 3
WordPress is Free
has been available for years! It has grown a very large and loyal
following that are building better product everyday. WordPress
is completely free to use,
its open source and has a large community of developers and agencies
available to help. If you have your own domain and hosting, using WP
is as simple as downloading and implementing it yourself. Certain
hosting companies come with one Click
which can make installing very straight forward but this isn’t the
case for all hosting companies.
you don’t have hosting or a domain you can also set up your WP
hosting complete free
– WordPress > don’t panic!
can create very powerful website using
comes with a very large library of resources to build different types
of websites; stores, blogs, brochure sites, downloads sites, ticket
software etc etc – it’s vast and WordPress has gone way beyond
being just a blogging tool!
is integrated with many 3rd
party companies which range from over automated email systems to
analytics. There is also themes which turn WP into a visual website
builder. All this plus the features mentioned before.
Hackers like it – being a victim of it’s own success and a large proportion of websites being made using WordPress, it’s a hackers paradise. If you have a very large scale website perhaps other options are better to consider.
Plugin’s can break – Although there are 1000’s of plugins on the WP market place some of them can fail over time if they are not maintained.
Needs to be maintained – WordPress needs TLC occasionally. Pay attention to your dashboard or email notifications if you need to update you current version of WP or its plugins.
Set up – WordPress can be a challenge from time to time when trying to install it on your own host. This can range from obscure incompatibilities or ‘access’ not being configured properly
Tricky to change – The default version of WP can be tricky to tailor without knowing your way around CSS or downloading a plugin. This is where using a developer could come in use if you decide to use WordPress.
Used a lot – due to a lot of websites using WordPress website can start to feel the same.
– WordPress is always pushing forward with it’s technology and it’s
developer community are always improving the platform.
– WordPress comes with large pool of knowledgeable developers
creating new functions and extending the function of the default
software through plugins and themes which can either be purchased or
downloaded for free.
for no or low budget (FREE) –
you can create a professional and functional website with default
you like with it, more or less
– create your website today on your
and hosting you and can do what you choose with it – isn’t that
Simple to use – It comes with a reasonably easy to use ‘dashboard’ – not too dissimilar to Blogger.
Plugins and Themes
– Just too much awesome to list. Also a lot of dross but there is
essentially a candy store of added functions to select from.
Rating out of 5 : : 1 = Poor 5 = Excellent Cost = 5 / (*1 ) Ease of use = 4 Creation Efficiency = 4 Set Up = 3 Quality Of Websites = 5 Value = 5
Total = 26 / (*22)
variable due to free VS paid. As this article is about free and low
budget website solutions the score jumps from free to expensive
depending on whether you need a dev to help you.
WordPress Verdict : Great Value, Great quality
is a good platform and worth considering if you want some flexibility
in what functions come with your website and whether you want to
change it at a later date. You may require developer to help you in
the beginning but after that, your WP site is yours to do with as you
That’s all! 3 Simple ways for getting a website online – in detail.
I hope this will offer some insight! If you are needing a Graphic Website Designer to help out with creating your business send me a message or if you have any queries about the listing above – also get in touch and will try my best to answer!
This article was written to give some guidance as how to go about creating a free website. This is based on my skills and experience. The opinions, based on my experience, are ‘my opinions’ and not that of others. Please bare in mind when making your business decisions on you website that you have considered what has been written and do your research thoroughly.
The scores were created for a bit of fun.
The platforms listed are tools. It’s down to you to offer great experience and value to the person reading it.
If you are looking to make a retail ready card game which you can sell to large retailers this article covers the stages and strategies we used (in my former role) to design and create a successful game!
How we made a successful retail ready card game … in steps
3 ) Use inspiration, don’t make cheap or low quality copy.
4 ) Get your game out there for businesses to see.
5 ) Create something worthwhile.
6 ) Keep the production cost down.
7 ) Test and polish the game.
8 ) My part(s) in creating the card game
Why did we create
After doing some
initial research and looking into product ideas, a colleague
mentioned to me that he had seen a game where the players have
to say silly tongue twisting phrases whilst wearing a dental mouth
restraint – I know, it sounds strange to me now as it did then.
My colleague mentioned how he had seen a game on a television program the night before. He proceeded to open a tab in his browser and play a clip of the television program. Without paying too much attention to the idea, I dismissed it at first. Thinking it was game only people like me and him would play but he persisted with the idea.
I was half right, but
little did I or the company realise how popular it would be.
After seeing James
Corden trying to speak with one of these dental mouth restraints in
his mouth we came to the conclusion it could be a funny if it was
boxed and ‘gamifyied!’
Further to this, we couldn’t find any of these mouth restraint games in the UK. It existed in one form in the USA but this is where we spotted a gap in the market and considered creating a game for the UK audience.
We created something that was following a trend but different enough to stand out from what would become a busier crowd.
We went forward to create a successful card game! And what a blast we had creating it!
We did some home work to see if there was an audience ready for the game. Make sure you have a target customer in mind and create your game for them! Who will play it? How much will they spend? Why would they play it? Do you need to educate the customer on how the product works? These are just some of the questions if you are considering taking your game to a high-street retailer.
Take these things into account when you start plan your game.
We created trend game… a different one
The game we created wasn’t revolutionary, but took some lessons from other successes.
It is wise to do your home work before committing to big decisions, and creating a game is a BIG decision. After looking at competitor websites, products online and reviews we started to collect our data and based our design and content decisions around the information we had collected. This often fell in line with a process the company called NPD – (New Product Development)
We wanted to know who would buy this product and how we could be different.
Retailers don’t want
to take stupid risks, especially
with the state of retail as it is. Proving that your product follows
a trend market can carry you in good stead but be prepared to fight
in a market that will saturate quickly.
Remember, why should a retailer select your product?
at existing games, see what they are doing right see what you can do
Do it differently – don’t make a bad copy
Assuming you have gone with an existing product that has an established community and marketing buzz, creating an out-and-out copy won’t get you very far. Setting aside legal issues, market saturation and being a grubby business practice you will want to create something good and call it your own.
You have used the
trend product as inspiration – a mannequin, a skeleton, which
you’ll need to dress, position and potentially change it’s structure
to create a game which is appealing and different.
We brainstormed various ideas how we could have different modes of play, extra dynamics of the game but keep it low cost.
You should create something that will please. The creativity is down to you.
Create a game that plays well, looks good and is affordable. Avoid ‘copying’ a success. Use it as a guide rail only! For this game, we created Forfeits, this added a new dynamic to the game using most of the same components just different rules and modes of play. Funnily enough, which other makers of similar games also started to use later on.
We must have been onto something…
Access To Gaming Retail Channels
If you want to create a game which is successful in the retail market, you will need to have access to companies that can sell your game on your behalf. You may already have access to shops and stores which can sell your game or you may aspire to sell the game yourself. But if you want to scale quickly, you will need to ‘wholesale’ your game.
Finding retail channels for new business can be a tricky… more so if you are trying to pitch an new and unproven game.
Take your game on the road and try to network with companies. Attend trade-shows, arrange meetings with your shiny retail ready prototype, talk to purchasers on linked in and be very proactive.
Customer Validation – Created By Demand
Our card game had
become popular. We needed to create more content and quickly! We
created additional expansion packs, card decks, different editions of
the game ( I also dallied with a concept of creating an app but this
never went beyond the visuals and testing prototype.)
These versions of
the game offered different modes of play and more content for fans.
The game started to
gain popularity and traction online from social media, to Amazon to
smaller outlets. We looked at the reviews to see what we were doing
well and what we weren’t.
Design by data.
End-users (customers on the street) were enjoying the game and sharing their joy and comments. This gave us a great sense of pride, we had created something that world enjoyed.
Our product was making people happy!
Step 5 )
Create something people will enjoy. You want them to take away a good user-experience and feel happy with their purchase. No one wants to pay money for a game that is clearly a rip off and landfill.
Invest in creating a good thing.
Keep it affordable.
When we created the card game we wanted to create something that was good value for money in comparison to similar editions. Keeping the production cost down, we needed to offer value by making the best version of itself within the budget.
The game was between £15 – 20 for the first edition of the game. Also worth noting, with keeping the cost of the game down we wanted it to RRP and be accessible to a larger audience.
Step 6 )
Keep it affordable, does it need spot UV printing? No. will it impact the game play? The more you add, the more price you will have either pass onto the customer or your business will have to absorb.
Use a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ – remembering not to insult the customer with your finished game by going too ‘Minimum Viable Product’
Test Your Game!
Once the initial prototype of the card game was created. We tested the product and it’s phrases to see what worked and what needed improvement. You would be surprised by what you would discover.
I have played a couple of board games which looked fancy but were a drag to play. You shouldn’t create a game that looks good but is terrible to play – people will feel duped!
Retailers like a professional looking game, they will want a game that they can sell to their customers. They want an appealing product to place on the shelf, but to create a game or any product, that is just ‘shiny packaging’, is short-sighted.
A good example of a popular game is Chess. It has come in many guises over time ranging from drinking editions to Harry Potter but it still has the solid foundations of being a good game (open to opinion) which can be played over and over again.
If you removed all the artwork for your game, use featureless items – would your game still be fun to play?
Try to create
something good from top to bottom.
Step 7 )
Test your game on your piers, colleagues and potentials for the target market. Testing the game ‘only on you’ – the creator is flawed as you know how you would like the game to be played and how it ‘should’ be played, not how strangers will play it in reality.
The Design Process –
This stage could also have been put at the first stage, especially as this is design blog but I wanted to acknowledge the ‘thought and planning‘ behind the game which I was heavily involved with before opening Photoshop or Illustrator.
This step covers some of the journey involved in creating the product. There was so much involved in the game! Creating cards, the logo, the box, the concept, the marketing material for the game… writing!
We wanted to
create a game that players would want to talk about, laugh with and
share with friends.
A rapid turn around for Logo and Title Design for the game. Created by me in Adobe Illustrator. The logo was created so that the it could stand out and be tailored here and there. E.G adding devil horns and fangs to it.
Box art for game
The first box (edition
1) was created using a pizza box type Dieline. The later editions
came as a top and bottom box with a lid.
This was one of my favourite aspects of the game. Creating the cards. Later editions of the cards were changed so that phrases were on both sides. Visually a little less appealing but offered better value to the customer and extended the length of game play.
Piddle Pants Monk – Game Illustration
All artwork for this game is Copyrighted – do not use!
Why not start building your successful retail ready card game!
Who said watching TV would be a waste of time?
If you would like help in designing your game be it designing, drawing or creating the marketing graphics I would be more than happy to offer my skills and experience.
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