how to make a STEM product to sell

How to make a STEM product to sell: I wanted to share this knowledge on how myself and my past colleagues went about designing and creating STEM products that were sold in retail stores across the UK and Europe and other countries across the world.

When considering how to make a STEM product to sell there are many factors to consider before you open up a CAD or design program.

You need to consider your audience, the budget, how to keep the cost down, and whether the product is actually good enough.

Those are the basic steps.

In order to make a STEM product to sell, you will also need to observe the competition, look at similar products, identify a demand, and the manufacture a product. You will also at this stage look at how to make a product as cost-effective as possible.

how to design a STEM product to sell

This post covers how to design cost-effective models, develop a product, and then prepare it for sale “make it retail-ready” if you are looking at ways to potentially monetise your idea for the future. Or “How to develop a product for under a £1

The items shared in this post are actual products that were designed by myself whilst working at gadget and gifting company that sold 10,000s of units across the globe.

Most of this post is written from a design perspective but the all-important money stages have not been skimmed over.

Many of the products listed on this page are geared towards, science, tech, and learning all of which will help you when you to want to design your product.

Divider

How to make a STEM product to sell | preparation

In short, we created products that would both satisfy demand and be affordable in a retail environment.

In order to keep things affordable, having production costs low was never far from our minds.

We took into account the materials needed to be cheap and time was very precious, and we also wanted to avoid too much trail an error where possible.

STEM-packaging

The example here is called the “3D hologram”. After many hours trawling the internet, watching gadget videos and looking for cool products for smartphones we arrived at this.

A packaged 3D Hologram for your smartphone.

So the first stage is to check and research to see what the competition is doing and whether there is a demand for the product.

After this step, what can you can do differently and how could we carve a product out in a busy retail environment.

How did we know if it would sell?

In a few of words … we didn’t.

But we tried to do as much early research as possible to increase the possibilities that this product would stand a good chance, but there was no guarantee.

As mentioned before. Do your homework to test the waters. Try to make it more than a hunch!

If your product falls flat, even the How to develop a product for under a £1 motto won’t count for anything if there isn’t a want or demand.

When I was brainstorming with the team and sharing ideas on how to make a STEM product, we arrived at the conclusion that creating the 3D hologram would be a great item to go with.

It was educational, it was tech and the network of ready retailers was there.

We put hours and hours into the research stage.

Don’t rush the research stage and do not cut corners or “trim the fat”

These are some of the factors we used to grill the idea and see if it was a viable STEM / or learning product we could sell:-

  • STEM and learning products was a growing market
  • Many customers were asking for “learning” and build your own type of products
  • Researching various websites gave us statistics and the assurance that the product was likely to sell.

We didn’t want to leave to much to chance. But, even with all the research and careful consideration…

There is no guarantee that the product ‘would’ sell.

But doing so on all products if you are wanting to make money from your idea should be thoroughly researched.

Do your homework!

( for the record, this product did sell! Phew..! )

Divider
how to make a STEM product to sell

Grill your product idea | next step

  • Get an idea, love it a little bit, season it with joy, and a healthy dose of optimism. Then start taking it into reality.
  • Research to see if it is an existing product on the market, or whether there is a demand for your idea. If there isn’t a demand, eg there is nothing similar to your idea that doesn’t have an audience – don’t make it. (sorry you are not Steve jobs) end of the first mean hurdle.
  • See if people may want it. Scour the internet, see if there are communities, websites, shops, and products to see if there is a modern audience on the lookout for your offering.
  • Listen to what the retailers are saying and try to meet their demands as they will have good insight into what is a popular product. If you ignore them, the failure of your product increases.
  • Does it fit in with the rest of the products that you are trying to sell? If you are an established brand there will be certain expectations of you.

I call this a ‘grilling stage’ for a product or an idea.

This logical and critical approach to your idea is important, don’t scrimp on it.

Research your product!

These scrutinising stages of your product are arguably one of the most important and shouldn’t be passed over. That lack of critical thinking for your product may backfire later in their form of the general public writing bad reviews or nobody buying your product.

In order to make your product a success, you will need to make sure it will stand up to the competition. Create a viable product that can be sold.

In other words.

Really think about what you are going to create and whether people will buy it.

It is better to come to this conclusion sooner rather than later. Coming to the realisation you can’t sell your product 9 months after creating it will be bad for your business and you will most likely have to pay to store products you can’t sell.

That is the end of the big critical thinking stage of how to make a STEM product to sell. Leave nothing to chance, research the market, and always check cost prices of manufacture.

Divider

How to create your product for under a £1

Now that you have stress-tested your ideas, you need to consider ways to manufacture your product for as cheap as is necessary without forgoing the quality of your product, and I can’t stress this enough…

How to develop a product for under a £

The quality of your product matters, be this high-end STEM or learning product or an entry-level gadget.

People care about what they are spending, even if it is only £5.

Make it the best it can be for however much you can afford, and if it falls short of being anywhere near the best it can be, wait. Or perhaps consider doing a Kickstarter.

In the past, and on current projects, I take practical steps in order to make a minimum viable product that I feel is worthy of being to be sold. I take pride in what I do, and so should you!

When creating a product, you should always be considerate of the consumer’s wallet, keep your product affordable if you want to move high volumes.

But in order to consider how much your customer can spend, you need to consider how you can keep the production costs lower.

More of this is mentioned below.

Divider

Product Development Opinion

This is a personal opinion but none the less one I would advise you should take heed of as a business of 2020+.

Don’t make rubbish! Don’t make a product that offers very little to consumers, makes the world a worse place, or is generally complete landfill!

Divider

A product that fails after a couple of uses is a product that is arguably a waste of resources, a bad experience for the customer, harmful to the brand, and terrible for the environment.

Be considerate of what you are making, both at the start, middle, and end of the product’s life.

No amount of clever packaging or marketing should disguise a bad product, even if it was developed for under £1!

I like to believe the products shown here were fun and beneficial and that the customers and their children may enjoy them – perhaps even learned something from them.

The next stage of this article offers the steps and details of creating your product to sell or “how to make a STEM product to sell”

Divider

Checklist on how to make a STEM product to sell

1) Identify whether your product has an active market. Check that you have channels or retail spaces where you can sell the product. Such as a high-street retailer or online store.

2) Develop your idea, rough-out drawings – try to come up with something that is different but also easy to understand to the lay person. This will make it easier to market and sell your product with packaging or online.

3) After you have established the core product and drafted up a few different concepts, look for ways in which ‘features’ can be reduced. In order to reduce the cost and make your product lower in production costs, you now need to trim the fat. (create a minimum viable product)

4 ) Reduce expensive materials and unnecessary parts. Consider what the product actually needs and what will be of benefit the user. Does it really need gold foiling and spot UV on the packaging? If not then you should consider removing it.

5) Consider your materials: you can reduce the cost of your product by considering what materials you are using. Can you use something cheaper to save costs but still offer a complete item? Different plastics, reduce the size. Look at the compounds that make your product. Or consider using a card?

6 ) Get a prototype built. I would highly recommend creating a mock-up of your product. DO not gamble £1000’s on a product just because you want to save a few £100. Going with the ‘just ship it’ to retailers can seriously backfire and I have seen it happen! Your brand, reputation, and business will be on the line if you do and you fail this gamble. I would advise strongly – to get a prototype.

7 ) Reduce costs on the packaging. There are a few ways to reduce costs for a product and one area is certainly packaging! In the vein of how to develop a product for under a £1 so you can get a bigger margin, you can still create ‘well designed’ but cost-effective packaging.

how to make a STEM product to sell

The list above gives you an answer and guide on how to develop a product for under a £1, and how to make a STEM product to sell for your product line.

Do your research and study the market. And look at ways or reducing material costs.

Divider

Reducing costs on product materials

In order to follow the guidelines and create a product for under a £1 or a dollar. You will need to look for ways to lower the production cost without harming the quality, one of the surest ways of doing this looking at the materials.

In other words, creating a product that is as awesome as it can be … and stripping it right back to what is needed.

And maintaining some of the ‘awesomeness’ of the product. ( Awesome is overused, but that is the level you should be aiming for!)

These are some real questions I have asked myself In the past when working on a product.

Questions to ask when reducing the cost of your product

  • Does it need foil and spot UV on the packaging? Maybe remove it.
  • Can I reduce the thickness of the cardboard on the box? A good idea if it doesn’t compromise the structure of the box or product.
  • Can you reduce the size?
  • If possible, can you take any surplus of fluff features of the product?

In the example shown of the VR cardboard, which was created as an introductory gadget into virtual reality and as a learning/exploring product was created with the mindset of keeping the production cost low.

Below is a breakdown of the contents list for the VR cardboard, outlining the core components.

STEM Product Example (reduce cost)

STEM product cutting list: items that were considered in order to lower the cost of the product.

  • 1 Silk coated card sleeve. This needed to be good enough to show the punchy colour and sell the product! Nothing else! I took the opportunity to use the area on the cover and turned it into a space theme.
  • 1 fluted VR Cardboard (the product). The body of the product is made from white-coated fluted cardboard. Cheap enough to make and structurally strong enough to support the product on its own.
  • Velcro adhesive – in order to close the front guard and to secure the smartphone in place ( and assemble the product) velcro was attached to various flaps and arms.

    * The plastic poly wrap – This may not be compulsory but some retailers may require this to sell in their store. The poly wrap can be good for securing the product and showing that the product is factory new and untampered with.
How to develop a product for under a £1 - diagram / illustration

The ‘real’ cost of developing a STEM product to sell – from scratch!

In order to create a product that you actually sell and make a profit from, you need to make sure that production and running costs are kept low.

But there is much more to creating a product just the cost of materials and production.

Other expenses need to be considered such are the time, creation, design, planning, human effort, storage, packaging the physical size of the product to name a few.

If you do not keep the production cost low in early stages, this may have a knock effect when it comes to selling your product in retail or online, if it sells at all if it is too expensive for it’s perceived value.

In order to help you keep track of the money, reference the illustration below.

What is often overlooked, is that actual creation cost for ‘entire process’ and the buying of a single unit.

In all of these products in this post, salaries were involved, logistics, where to store your product marketing for the sales team to promote the product.

The list below shows a more candid look at the entirety to creating a product, something you should consider when trying to create your product whether for £1, $1, or £5.

Divider

Process cost for entire product creation

How to develop a product for under a ‘£1’ the whole process to selling your STEM product.

Scenario 1 – Actual single unit cost and stages:

  • Research and analysis
  • Hours spent designing and developing the product
  • Paying for a prototype or developing a prototype in-house
  • Making mistakes, the design journey, getting a complete idea.
  • Revising and polishing the design
  • Testing the product
  • Getting the card artwork ready for print and manufacture
  • The packaging for the product
  • Writing any manuals and conformity if needed
  • Creating marketing collateral for the product to help it sell
  • Taking product photo’s to promote it
  • Designing a webpage/website
  • Creating an email marketing campaign ( you can read tips here on designing an e-mail campaign)

These are part of the reality of creating a product if this is your first attempt.

From a pure design perspective, (myself being a designer) many of the stages above would generally be missed out. But being in involved in the whole process from concept to completion, I feel this is something you should know now.

The number of hours it takes to create the product. The testing of the product, the development. Marketing – There is a lot of work with many hands involved.

It would vain of me to say that the sole monetary success of a product hinges around the design alone. Don’t get me wrong, and I bound to say this. But design is still important for many products.

How to develop a product for under a £1 - how to make a STEM product to sell

If this has helped you to take stock and evaluate whether you want to make a STEM product to sell, I hope it has so far given you some positive advice.

Before going onto the next section and showing you some of the STEM and learning gadgets I have created, I wanted to share some pointers to summerise.

  • Do your homework and see if the market would like your product offering.
  • Create a mock-up (even a low tech one)
  • Keep the cost of the materials down to prevent this inflating the RRP too much or reducing your profit.
  • Consider all processes
  • And consider who will be involved.
  • Prepare to invest

This is especially applicable if you are a small team and not just an individual making a product. An individual going about setting up their own product or doing this as a hobby won’t need to worry about staff on logistics etc.

At least not for the immediate future.

Whether you are a team or one day you would like to be part of, or have your own team. These points are an important thing to consider when you wanting to know how to design a STEM product to sell and how to develop a product for under £1.

In other words, how to create a low-cost minimum viable STEM product.

You may find some of the following articles also useful for developing a product.

Divider

STEM & Tech product examples

Below are STEM, Science, and general learning products that I have designed and co-designed using the steps, principles, and methods as mentioned throughout this post.

The mindset of “How to develop a product for under a £1” was used when creating these.

VR Cardboard “Virtual Goggles” – Smartphone Virtual Reality

This product tapped into a growing tech trend. A simple concept that turns your smartphone into a budget VR headset for under £5 for RRP.

With this pack, you had to assemble your VR cardboard from scratch! It was added as a learning and tech product.

VR Cardboard

And you may be pleased to know that cardboard engineering wasn’t as complicated as you might think.

The die cut was sourced from a factory and the artwork was illustrated by myself. The great thing about this product was you didn’t need to spend time to create the product from scratch!

So saved on time.

Learning + tech. So time was saved on the trial and error of creating prototypes as the dieline was supplied.

The product is made only from cardboard too! As the name would give away.

VR Cardboard Frontier

Following on in the same vein, this product was another low-cost tech product. Only that this one was pre-assembled and it retailed for £5 RRP.

This budget VR headset is another entry into smartphone VR. The blank diecut and sleeve were supplied from by a Chinese factory on request and I created the vector artwork and space theme in Adobe Illustrator.

I played with the idea of “frontier” with VR being the next stage of exploration.

VR Cardboard
VR Cardboard

For children, it was created to inspire a sense of awe and fun whilst learning when using the headset. And if they chose to, simply play a game.

It was created to appeal to children and be sold in places such as the science museum. You can read more about my vector drawing service on the design.

Freelance vector illustration & design.

3D Hologram – Mostly made from Cardboard and PET

At one stage, this product went on to sell in museums, learning centres and general retailers across the globe and I was pleased to find out that this was a success. (Thanks all!)

With this product, I was involved in the design and research spending many hours on how to make holograms and numerous Youtube video’s on how to construct them.

Hologram in action | STEM

Have you heard of Peppers Ghost? If you are curious to know about Pepper’s ghost I would advise have a read of it on Wikipedia.

STEM-packaging

As this topic is based around how to design a STEM product to sell and how to reduce the production costs of your product I wanted to mention a few key points about this product in particular.

Example of “How to develop a product for under a £1”

  • The actual product is made from clear PET which is folded flat inserted into the card sleeve packaging. The production cost for this was very low!
  • The packaging is simply a sleeve which contains 2 PET holograms and A4 information manual.
  • Retail packaging is small and flat so more units can be placed on a EURO hook
  • The main market for the product was STEM, learning, smartphone tech, and gadgets!

In terms of components, there were very few parts involved. The biggest challenge was developing the product to a standard that it could be sold in retail.

Build your own telescope

Now there are a few things you may notice with this product. It’s similar in nature to the hologram which is a STEM/learning product and that has a similar-sized box to the 3D hologram.

This project was a collaboration piece between myself, another designer and how could I miss… the far east team! (Thanks Ann) to bring the product to life.

STEM packaging 2

The nature of the product is that you can create your own product (build your own) by following the instructions. By the end of the process, you should have a Miniature Telescope

The product is used the same process as mentioned before, basically, try to keep the material and production cost low as possible.

To keep the STEM product cost as low as possible some of the following techniques and shortcuts were used.

  • An existing packaging dieline, (Hologram)
  • The flat pack get as many units on packaging
  • Card packaging
  • An instruction manual

Build your own boxing robot

For any budding engineers in the family, this product is a must – all the more if they like boxing.

My involvement in this STEM product was to create retail packaging.

Build your own Robot STEM

I strove to make the box as appealing as possible with the boxing ring added as an additional feature that would make this awesome product even more appealing.

The artwork was created in a mixture of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. The Photoshopping of the robot supplied by a colleague.

The factory-supplied the existing dielines so no extra time was required to figure out how to make the box work. If time is against you this can be a brilliant time and money-saving measure.

*Assuming that the box is actually any good.

Technically, this STEM product would have cost more than £1 to create.

but due to it being from the STEM selection and carrying many of the principles I wanted to convey in this post I wanted to include it.

These principles are listed below in helping you to lower the cost of making your product.

Divider

Cost saving measure example

  • The product was sourced, requiring significantly less time and money to develop a complete product. Fewer growing pains!
  • An existing dieline was used for the packaging, another way at looking at how to develop a product for under £1 and keep the cost low. as no time would have been needed on the cardboard engineering and working out the sizes etc. A blank box was supplied, the artwork was created by myself.
  • We had looked at the market to see if there was a potential demand. Due to the nature of similar products, of the build your own. We felt this STEM product may have done well also.
Divider

Although the actual single unit cost of this product would have exceeded the £1 or $1 dollar mark. The product was so quick and relevant to our market at the time we grabbed it with both hands and made it our own.

In terms of reducing cost, as so much was ready to use straight out of the pack so to speak, it would have saved weeks of time and money and reduced the burden on collective salaries.

This is the end of my samples for of STEM and learning products. These products are copyright Satzuma LTD.

If feel that this post has helped you on how to develop a product for under a £1 or if you are looking how to make a STEM product to sell ( or both) feel free to share on social media or on your blog!

Enjoy creating your STEM product!

If you would like help on creating your STEM product or creating the flat artwork to go onto the packaging, manual or box feel free to get in touch. Freelance product/packaging design.

how to create a product for under a £1 | quick summary answer

In order to create a product for under £1, you need to look at reducing the cost of production, materials and also just as every bit as important, time.

Time can very costly for a business and looking for cost-saving measures is always important such as looking for some existing solutions which can be tailored or ways you can reduce trial and error.

Looking at uses low-cost materials such as cardboard and paper instead of plastics that require tooling will also reduce of making a product and help to keep below the £1 line.

Other tips for creating a STEM or low-cost product

External links

About STEM

– Teaching products

Designs Bytes | how to make a STEM product to sell and How to develop a product for under a £1. All products are Copyright Satzuma LTD ( Cheers all back at Satzuma HQ!)

30 tips for creating a graphic design portfolio

Getting noticed can be difficult in the design field. Whether you are a freelancer, junior or somebody that is looking at changing their career. This post is a list of 30 portfolio ideas that will help you with your design journey. – tips graphic design portfolio

tips graphic design portfolio

This will (hopefully) offer some ideas to create an interview ready graphic design portfolio.

“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”

– Milton Glaser

How to create a design portfolio that will get you noticed

I will answer a very quick question that I was asked recently before going into the detailed list of how to create your stand out portfolio.

Take note, you, the designer will need to put your best foot forward if you want to win that job. You need to show that you can do what is asked of you and that you can offer value to the next role.

What you did yesterday is nice – what you are going to do tomorrow will be what gets you the job.

1 ) Do you need a design portfolio?

In short, yes. This is the first tip. Without a design portfolio, there is no way of ‘showing’ what you can do. Without any examples of work, you are relying on an employer, agency or client to just take your word for it. I cannot emphasise this enough.

Yes, you need to show that you are a designer and you at least have some idea of what you can do. Don’t tell them – show them.

2) include your best, finished pieces

This is not as common as you might think. Graduates, in particular, tend to put too much process stages into their portfolio. Although this offers a good insight into how you work, too much can be counter-productive.

Many employers are in a hurry and want to see ‘results’.

And, I may burst a bubble here and go as far as to say that you may be working as a creative junior artwork / designer if this is your first role – even if the position is sold differently on the jobsboard.

Hopefully, this won’t be forever. But be prepared to see a lot of this when applying for work – especially in the early stages.

Many artworking roles are dressed as creative design work when in fact a manager or client may be telling you what to do, and… you may be pushing pixels around to begin with as a junior designer.

3 ) Show your technical proficiency

If you have managed to find a job that is more ‘art and design’ or ‘illustrative’ then great! But if you are looking for more mainstream graphic design roles you will need to show that you can create the artwork in current programs such as, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Indesign.

I would no longer assume that all design graduates come out with these software skills as a standard – not after recruiting interns and junior graphic designers for creative positions.

4 ) Design notes & annotations in portfolio

Believe it or not, whether you are going to a meeting as freelancer, junior or senior designer. People will read your notes and they will want to understand more of what is going on in your project.

You may know what your project is about but others will not, it is often best to spell it out in short sentences. It doesn’t have to be an essay. Just a paragraph with some annotations saying what is going on in a few words.

5 ) Make it relevant and appealing

This is one of the most most important points in this list so make sure to pay attention. Make sure whatever is in your portfolio, it is as relevant to the job as possible if you want the position.

Employers will want to see what you have done and also what you will do for them should they hire you for the role.

For example, if you are going for a packaging role at gifting company, try to emulate that you can do packaging and that you have past experience in the relevant market.

6 ) Your portfolio says one thing, your CV says another

Saying that you have x y z is one thing. But if your portfolio tells a very different story to what comes out of your mouth or what is written on your CV it will be evident by the end of the meeting.

Don’t bluff too much as you will just waste your time and hiring managers’ time. And managers and directors really don’t have a lot of time to waste.

7 ) The portfolio is just woefully terrible

Subjective but…

I recall reading a CV and thinking to myself how epic a candidate was. I jumped over to their portfolio and they had just 2 pieces of lacking work in their portfolio. Part of it was scrappy little advert tucked up into a corner of the page promoting a grave-digging business, the other I cannot recall.

It was pretty evident that this individual was not a trained graphic designer and that some people in the industry may have been outraged by what was trying to be passed off as a portfolio. In a word – they were bluffing it and portfolio showed it.

Perhaps they wanted to change their career.

If you are looking at changing career then study design, or at the very least have a portfolio with work that shows you are capable.

Don’t tell hiring managers how good you are, show them!

Also, don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim to be the best designer in the universe but you know… come on. I was hiring! My reputation is on the line.

So, make your portfolio as awesome as you can! Do your best, look at other designers and ask yourself some critical questions

8 ) Varied but relevant

The closer you can keep your portfolio to the job match, the better. If you have any relevant or applicable pieces that you believe can help land you the desired position – include them.

You what to show projects that are transferable to the position and present you in a good light.

9 ) Not enough work

It can be frustrating even as a senior designer to hear, “have you worked for anyone else?” or when I was a graduate “is that all?” from a recruiter. As a graduate, then chances are you may only have a few good pieces of work and a final major project that takes up a large portion of your portfolio.

Don’t be disheartened.

Create more work that will draw attention. Sounds easy, but the fact is, your portfolio shouldn’t stop once you leave university or college. If you can try to keep your work up to date and keep adding new and exciting pieces, this will carry you in good stead in the future.

tips graphic design portfolio - encouragement

tips graphic design portfolio

10 ) Personal projects

As long as they are good, polished and relevant, include a couple of these projects in your portfolio. It shows that you are continuously trying to develop and some of these projects are on occasions more interesting than your commercial projects.

11 ) ‘Discuss’ projects

With your printed portfolio, be ready to discuss not just what you did in the project, but for what purpose. For example, if your aim was to sell a product, mention this in notes and be prepared to elaborate if you are asked questions.

Keep the notes small and too the point but, try to write it in a way that will invite questions and open discussion.

12 ) Real-life examples

If you have created any real-life examples of your work be it packaging, stationery, retail displays take photos of these and add them to your portfolio too.

Aside from breaking up your portfolio and keeping it interesting, having real-life examples adds an authenticity to the project that a render of a flat image cannot replace.

tips graphic design portfolio - packaging example
tips graphic design portfolio - real life examples
More packaging this way

13 ) If you don’t have real examples

If you don’t have photos or real-life examples them create your own renders and visual mocks ups to show your work in action! And if you don’t have the ability to create visualisations, you could always consider using a website such as Graphic Burger for freebie mockups.

Websites, such as Graphic Burger have a ton of free mockup kits.

tips graphic design portfolio way of displaying your website design work
UI design

14 ) Have real products and samples for your meeting

Another thing to accompany your graphic design portfolio is to have physical samples of what you have made. So, for example, if you have created a piece of packaging and you are in possession of the box – take it with you to the meeting.

People like to touch things – we are tactile creatures.

You can always show some of the work in progress in your portfolio too and then pull out a “here is one I made earlier”.

15 ) A ‘bit’ of the design process

Showing some of how you work can offer a little extra insight into you as a designer, as mentioned before. For me, I will often keep completed visuals alongside some of the bare UI and snippets of code to show my roles, methods, and stages of a project.

It holds true for both print and digital design.

I have a link here visualising my creative journey

Divider

Tips for a graphic design portfolio – a break

This is a small break in the list! 30 tips graphic design portfolio

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas on how to create an interview-ready portfolio. As a designer, your portfolio is important at any stage of your career, whether you are a graduate or a senior designer.

If you are a graphic design graduate, I have written a post that may help you out.

Divider

16 ) Type of physical portfolio

It should be noted right here and now, that a nice display book for your portfolio is never a replacement for good work and eye-catching design. It is just tidy a professional vessel to show your best pieces.

Since University, I have used a tidy A3 mapac portfolio to display my work.

Your portfolio needs to look professional. Not stickers, No A level ring binders with cloudy sleeves… slick and professional.

tips graphic design portfolio A3 portfolio book.
A3 Mapac

My personal favourite that is affordable is the A3 design book or if you have some cash for the sleeves too, archival cases.

Don’t use the cheaper looking A2 ring binder portfolio that you probably went to a college interview with. You are design professional now and you need to look the part, I would also like to remind you that you are in competition with other designers – with slick portfolios.

17 ) Art vs Design

I’m going to say something controversial to some – art & design, in most commercial settings, are not the same…

So, by all means, feel free to include some of your ‘artwork’ if it is relevant to the job.

But most agencies, unless you are an illustrator, are looking for a Graphic Designer – not an artist, and there is a difference.

If you look too much like an artist as opposed to a design professional when you are going for a design business role this can work against you in a couple of ways:

  • Secretly, you want to be an artist and your portfolio shows this. Therefore do you have intentions to make this dream a reality? (leave the role in 5 minutes)
  • They are not hiring an artist (unless they are) they are looking for a graphic design professional for the position.
  • You will be frustrated as you probably won’t get to paint. (Who doesn’t love to paint!)

Make sure your skills and portfolio are in line with the job requirements. What you have in your portfolio will reveal more than you you realise.

tips graphic design portfolio

18 ) ‘Artwork’ in your graphic design portfolio

As lovely as some artwork can be, these more often than not offer an irrelevant distraction sadly. They may look beautiful, but unless relevant to a job or project it is best left out.

Or added to an alternative dedicated artwork portfolio.

If you have provided artwork for ad campaigns, an app or something similar, include it if you feel it offers something to the job. But only if, it offers something to role. Make your portfolio about the job and what you can offer to the job that will be applicable.

19 ) How much work should I include in my design portfolio?

This question has been around for years and for as long as I have been designing – and in truth. I would struggle to say how much is too little for your printed design portfolio.

– For my printed portfolio, I try to hover around 14 pieces without it getting boring.

– I would say no more than 20 pieces in your portfolio.

Too much ‘okay’ work can dilute the great work. Be ruthless with what you include. it is a delicate balance of best foot forward and not selling yourself short.

20 ) Stand out with your portfolio

The tips and ideas listed in this post are elements of a much bigger goal – what can you do to make your portfolio stand out and get you a job?

Recruiters, HR, businesses are busy and the chances are if you applied for a position at a company in a big city they will have received literally hundreds of applications. This is especially more likely if you are applying for work in the summer holidays.

How do I know this? Because I have been in the position of hiring for junior design roles.

So, this brings it back round to this point. What can you do to stand out in a roaring sea of busy inboxes?

Create real-world examples of how the project came out, If it is a piece packaging then try to mock up the packaging. There are websites online that allow you to put together mock-ups if you can’t do this yourself.

If you have designed a kiosk, stand signage – take ‘in situ’ pictures that makes a recruiter say “you actually made this”.

If it is digital design also, use web links to live websites.

If the website has changed and you only have a UI, create mock-ups of the design inside a computer screen or a Smartphone.

Assume that people will only spend around 60 seconds glancing at your portfolio. What can you do to hold their attention for longer? Also ‘show’ what something is as much as possible.

21 ) Make your design portfolio snappy

Did I mention that business owners are busy (or impatient)? Or both. I’m (and have been) guilty of this. I would advise making it so that your portfolio can be read easily and skimmed.

There may only be a couple of projects that actually catch the employers’ attention so make it easy for them to spot what they are looking for.

22 ) Compartmentalise and structure

Keep your portfolio in some sort of sensible order. Whether this is by project or by a medium such as print and then digital is down to you. Don’t jump between projects.

It will help any recruiter stay on track with what they are reading and makes it look like you can apply some order to your projects. Being an organized designer is a huge plus too.

Divider

Do I need a ‘digital’ portfolio?

Yes, in a very short answer.

I have been asked “do I need a digital portfolio?” or specifically a PDF portfolio. 100% yes. You do need a digital portfolio saved as PDF. Get this sorted first as with the digital age, this will be your first port of call.

When I was recruiting for internships ( you can read tips here on getting a design internship) and hiring for a junior role, I would also need to see a PDF of work along with a CV. And shall offer a little inside sub-tip right here, right now.

After a time I stopped reading a design CV’s first?

Think that is an odd thing to add?

It would not be uncommon for me to read a great CV from top to bottom and say – “Wow this person sounds great! Let us hire them now.“

Then I would look a the portfolio… it ends there.

I can recall looking at some of these portfolios and asking myself whether they were even Graphic Designers, it made me feel genuine pity for Graphic designers trying to struggle through and find work in the industry when these ‘have a goes’ were trying their luck.

Secondly. I had wasted 5 minutes of my time reading a CV of somebody that clearly wasn’t a designer. From then on I took a portfolio first approach.

Make both your CV and portfolio as good as it can be. It will help you secure the opportunity you want.

And to answer again – yes you will need a graphic design portfolio / PDF version. It is very important. Which leads to the next point.

23 ) Create PDF version of your portfolio

Moving on from physical hard copy of your print portfolio. I will now offer some ideas and insights on creating digital versions of your portfolio with this being the first digital tip.

Create a digital PDF version of your portfolio so that it can fit inside a recruiter’s inbox.

Make it eye-catching and don’t make the recruiter or the person having to hire need to work for it.

Make it as easy for them as humanly possible.

If you are struggling to know which program to use to create a digital PDF portfolio you can use Indesign and Adobe Acrobat and save as or export from there

24 ) Keep the PDF small

Don’t send a MASSIVE portfolio to the recruiter’s inbox. This will either take too long to download or may even get caught in a firewall.

So with this I mind, and knowing that you should send a concise version of your PDF portfolio this will probably mean that you may have to trim the fat.

Cull the stuff that won’t help land you the job – next point!

25 ) Create A light version of your PDF portfolio

One of the obvious ways of shrinking your portfolio is by losing some of the pages which make it so bloated and heavy.

Lose projects and be brutal with what you want to include.

If needs be, strip it back to the bare essentials. And then decide what matters to you and what you should include. I can be worth doing this every year. We can call this maintenance.

26 ) Don’t bother sending links to download your WHOPPING great PDF

Please don’t.

Remember when I said ‘make it easy for them’ sending a link or a Wetransfer isn’t making it easier for the recruiter to see your work. Don’t make ‘them’ (people hiring) have to wait to download your 2 GB portfolio as this takes time and invites more problems for you.

I tend to strive to try and keep my PDF portfolio under 3 / 4 MB tops so that I can attach it and get it inside an inbox.

From a recruitment stand-point making me have to download a PDF from 100 plus applications makes it time-consuming and more difficult than it needs to be.

So, don’t make a hiring manager download anything. Don’t waste their time.

It will be met with an inner groan. You don’t want to make the person hiring burst a blood vessel!

tips graphic design portfolio - dont do this...
Don’t cause this | tips graphic design portfolio

27 ) Make it easy for the hiring manager

Make is simple. Don’t send dozens of links to various locations. Have all of the big content a single PDF or keep it all together as much as possible.

The more actions you ask the recruiter to make, the more likely they are to get bored or move on.

And you don’t want that. They are people behind the jobs, after all.

28 ) Links to online presence

In addition to your PDF portfolio, you should have some of your artwork online. And when I say online, I mean on platforms such as Behance, Creativepool, etc.

Putting additional work on websites such as Behance can be a great way of showing off additional work and sending follow-up links. The bits of the process you can’t fit into a portfolio, or the bit of a project that didn’t quite make the final cut.

As a freelancer, it is especially important for you to have your work visible online but that is another topic for another day.

29 ) Deciding on ‘not’ having an online graphic design presence

Mixed opinions on this.

If this was for a job for a classic print house then I could let it go – maybe. But in this day and age with so much information, projects and work being online I would have found it strange not to see any of your work online.

Even as a pure print designer. I would advise that you have your print work online also.

Here are a few reasons: It will most likely be the first thing people will look at when they want to see samples of your work – in particular as a freelancer.

Not having work online will age you – in a negative way (too much of a senior designer?). It may also be perceived that you may not have an interest in design trends etc.

I’m not mentioning that to be mean. Even a senior designer myself. I have found this to be an issue in the past.

30 ) Website Portfolio

You may not ‘need’ a dedicated online portfolio if you are just going to focus on print design. But, if you are gearing towards working in the digital fields then I would say yes – you should have some form of a website or at the very least an online presence as a bare minimum.

If you are thinking of creating a website I have written some tips here on how to start with some very affordable web creation options – keeping in mind, that the post mentioned is geared toward small business owners as opposed to how to create a killer graphic design portfolio.

A website allows you to sell yourself and sell yourself the way you want to.

Having online a Behance profile means that you are in a sea of designers and you have to structure portfolio according to their rules and format.

Don’t get me wrong, Behance is great. And I believe you should set up a profile today but not at the expense of a website – more true if you are a freelancer.

So… do you need a Website? Is it compulsory to have one?

No and no.

But having one may help you to stand out and possibly look more professional. You need to give yourself an edge.

Divider

Summary | 30 tips for creating a graphic design portfolio

I hope these suggestions will help you in creating a graphic design portfolio that turns heads. If you also have tips for a graphic design portfolio feel free to share.

I have over 10 years of commercial experience in design – both digital design and print. I have also recruited quite a few graduate designers that I see falling at similar hurdles and I wanted to help you – as a graduate graphic designer (and maybe another professional designer) get to the design job you want.

For me, my issues were very different. My problem was lack of ideal clients and not really knowing what to do with my portfolio to get the right people to look – it was a long a painful journey and I imagine the road will always change, but if I can show a few worthwhile short cuts you might arrive at your career destinations a bit sooner. This is the end of the list | tips graphic design portfolio

Here are a couple of inspiring quotes:

“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” – Milton Glaser

“No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artist.” – Salvador Dalí

Graduate tips | graphic design portfolio
Graduate design tips

If you are graduate looking for some design tips read this.

Additional Resources | tips for a graphic design portfolio

Getting a job in graphic design as a graduate – help me!

Ways to create a website for free … or very cheap

I want to make a party game

Photoshop – how to get the black you want in print!

The graphic design journey – my process

External Resources

Behance – create an online portfolio

Creative Pool – Look for jobs and create an online portfolio

Design Quotes

Thank you for reading, if you felt that this article was helpful please share. All the best with your portfolio. tips graphic design portfolio

Examples of what you can create in Adobe Animate

To answer the question of what can you create in Adobe Animate there is a large list of applications and uses for this program which I have included in this post.

With Adobe Animate you can create; cartoons, animations for web, games, apps, interactive media and so much more with a bit of thought and creativity.

I have used Adobe Animate to create Indie games, animations, introductions and small pieces of motion graphics that have been used on websites for numerous purposes.

what you can create with adobe animate

2 significant projects I have created using Adobe Animate are: an interactive Museum and an e-learning game, which I shall mention further on in a bit more detail.

Adobe Animate is a good program and shouldn’t be dismissed too quickly.

Adobe Animate is still a viable program in certain situations and can offer great results – it comes down to what you want to achieve and how you would like to get there.

A plus to using Adobe Animate is the way you can use keyframes and a timeline similar to traditional 2D animation skills.

It also comes as part of the Creative Suite (CC) if you are already a subscriber to the whole package.

I have attached my showreel demonstrating what you can do. Many of these projects were of a commercial nature, and if you still wish to read the rest of this post for more information then please do!

What I created in Adobe Animate.

Animation Showreel

Psst, are you looking at making a game?

If you are here because you are intending on making a game or interactive story, I would advise reading this post that covers some of the principles of creating a game in Adobe animate.

This may also prevent – “I wish I knew that earlier” syndrome when you come to create your game.

Best of luck.

How to make a game in Animate (in principle)

Divider

List of examples of what you can create in Adobe Animate

These are some of the projects I have been involved with creating for both personal and professional purposes.

These are all ‘real’ projects and actual examples of what you can make, and what has been made in Adobe Animate by myself or as part of a team.

Product Simulation – Browser and Desktop App

This app was part of a larger project that I was involved in from the beginning.

In order to demonstrate the product without the physical product needing to be sent directly to the buyer, the app demonstrates how the product works through the computer screen.

This was a virtual demonstration for a product called Idesign.

I was involved in coming up with the concept, planning, designing and development of the application and it was all put together in Adobe Animate, what was then known as Flash then.

Much of the trimming work and cutting out of the PNG’s was performed by a colleague – also the chief bug tester.

Idesign Browser App Animate
Created in Adobe Animate (Flash)

Using Adobe Animate to create an application

With the Idesign project, it wasn’t just a browser application that was created.

A desktop application was created too so that both buyers and “end users” could download the software and play it from their own computers.

These are the icons that were created to sit on the taskbar or desktop.

Idesign landing page
Website application icons
.icons

I used Adobe Animate to create an interactive museum

What else can you do with Adobe Animate? You can create an interactive museum, it’s great for e-learning projects.

This was a detailed project that involved using Adobe Animate to create an interactive museum for a local charity.

The interactive museum, after it was treated and prepared was developed in Adobe Animate.

More can be read on how I used Adobe Animate and the rest of the creative suite to bring this project to life. Creating an interactive museum.

But in essence, it was Adobe Animate that breathed life into the static imagery and made it all interactive and fun!

Aside from the topic itself.

Museum created with Adobe Animate

Create a point and click game (Graphic Adventure)

This is an example of a game that was designed and developed by me, in AA.

After drawing the level with a pencil and then proceeded to trim all the artwork in Photoshop and then bring it all to life in Adobe Animate I playtested this small graphic adventure with friends and family.

This was a ‘small’ self-initiated project in which I challenged myself to create a one-level game – or to be specific – a graphic adventure in under a month. That included the artwork and the programming on my own.

what you can create with adobe animate
Point and click game
Created in flash - pencils drawing of game assets
Pencil drawing / game assets

Developing an e-learning game

You can use Adobe Animate to make interactive experiences and this also includes e-learning experiences applications.

This E-learning game was created to make learning fun for young children! Whist traveling through a set of levels, the player would have to answer questions to complete the game.

E-learning game create with adobe animate

You can read more about how I created an e-learning game inanimate and learn from my mistakes.

You can make a viral game

This game was created in Adobe Animate – as is the theme with everything listed in this post.

This game combined a mixture of using animation, artwork, and coding in Action Script 2 to create a twitchy game where the player had to jump over spears.

The purpose of this flash game was to promote a comic and music score for a client.

(I had no part in the artwork or the concept of this game – only its construction and its build)

Viral Game
what you can create with adobe animate
Divider

Using Adobe Animate for ‘Animation’

You can use Adobe Animate for – you got it, creating animations! Adobe Animate is a good tool for creating not only games but frame by frame animations too. You can use tweens and keyframes to create motion graphics.

What you decide to do with these animations and how you plan to distribute them is down to you.

You can place these animations on Youtube or publish then to HTML5 – I would strongly advise against using Animate and publishing to.SWF.

The SWF format is already disappearing and will only continue to diminish in the future.

I have used Adobe Animate numerous times in the past to animate characters, typography, parts of games and many other interactive and moving elements that sit somewhere between all that is listed above.

animations created in Adobe Animate.

Animated 2D painting created in Adobe Animate

This painting, the one shown in the image below was sent to me as is.

Animated painting

The purpose of animating this interesting painting of the Yorkshire reservoir was to capture the attention and drive traffic!

A link to the website can be found at the bottom of this post.

Divider

Using Adobe Animate for interaction

You can use Adobe Animate to create interaction within games, banners or videos. In order to do so, you will need to use a language called ActionScript to make it all work.

Many of the games and applications I have used in the past have required me to use Action Script to make them work. Action Script 3, along with 2 has been around since Adobe Animate was called Flash.

You can create interactive ‘wound damage’ UI’s

This is an example interactive project showing what you can make with the time and bit of Action Script 3.

This is an experimental piece of work showing a wound gauge that can be applied to a hypothetical game UI.

About the interactive timeline

The code and ‘states’ are relatively simple to create in principle for this project.

  • I created create 4 keyframes on the root timeline.
  • Added 4 Action Script frames above the keyframes
  • wrote ‘Stop();’ in the ActionScript layer which then enabled application to jump to the next frame when triggered eg – takes damage.

Or, a simple button click.

In this project, I have also added a ‘Healed’ state at the very end so theoretically if you wanted the player to heal when trigged, it would be the case of jumping the animation to that frame on the timeline.

This would make a great addition to a game UI or interactive adventure.

What can be created in Adobe Animate

There is nothing stopping you from creating something similar in Unity using the state engine.

So what else can you create in Adobe Animate?

I have added my last couple of projects towards the bottom.

Divider

You can use Adobe Animate for making video’s

Yes, not only can you just create Animations and make little HTML5 videos or enclosed apps that can be downloaded as part of an Adobe Air Package – but you can also create stand-alone videos and intros.

I have used Adobe Animate to create animated headers on websites, animated videos and intros and also starter clips that have been uploaded to Youtube.

Minor detour alert …

Many years ago, whilst studying, I used Adobe Animate a lot – it was part of my major and it was around this time I was shown a brilliant animation on “Bitey castle” if you have time I would advise paying the website a visit.

I have attached a link at the end of this post so you can look.

Back from Flash nostalgia…

Here are some of the live animations created in Adobe Animate.

Animated Intro – The Gadget Factory

The purposes of this animated intro were to promote a brand theme – the Gadget Factory as part of a marketing push to promote a new line of cool, fun and exciting products.

This 20 / 30-second clip was created using a variety of motion tweens, keyframes, and experiments with visual effects to get the desired results.

The still keyframes below have been pictured to show the animation in action.

what you can create with adobe animate
Animation

Guess Poo

I was in two minds as to whether to add this project but I felt as it was so infantile, fun and had a lot of TLC with the design I felt that it deserved some love.

Guess Poo…

For this project, I created an animated indent for a video clip that was featured at the start of the Kickstarter on the Crowdfunding page.

It was crass.

Silly,

Fun.

And it was created in Adobe Animate.

For the Guess Poo clip, I animated a character falling from the heaven’s and plopping down into the dark waters below.

It was arguably (although fun) too much TLC that the game deserved but hopefully, the animated clip that was added to the start of the video turned a few heads.

You can read more on my crowdfunding design service or read more on creating a Kickstarter page. That article goes into all the details on how to format a Kickstarter page for your campaign.

This was created in Flash / Adobe Animate
Divider

What can you create in Adobe Animate | list of ideas

Here is a summary / quick list of what you can create in Adobe Animate.

  • Create a frame by frame animations
  • Games
  • Graphic Adventures
  • Motion graphics for websites
  • Stand-alone games for browser and desktop
  • Slideshows
  • Interactive videos
  • Video indents and short clips
  • Rich media, and interactive elements
  • Elearning experiences

It is not limited to that list. There are many other creative ways in which you can use Adobe Animate to create something entertaining or useful.

I feel that I should mention.

For myself, in the future, I intend to use more programs such as After Effects and Unity for my commercial projects. But I shall always keep the loyal tool of Animate in my belt!

What can you create in Adobe Animate | Summary

Thank you for reading my post and looking at work samples. If you felt that this post was useful, feel free to share on social media or on your blog.

I have written a list of useful posts that are related to games created using Adobe Animate

Principles of creating a game in Adobe Animate

Creating an interactive Museum in steps

Creating and Elearning game in Animate

Alternative Software

Why unity is awesome

Free game engines

How to create a cursor in Stencyl

– Digital drawing – create digital art

Design Services (external website)

Motion Design

Crowdfunding pages design and Guess poo

Credentials

If you would like to know more or need assistance with working with Animate get in touch.

All design and visuals are Copyright Jimmsdesign and their respective owners. Please do not use these images without explicit written permission.

Bitey Castle – Yorkshire Reservoir by Julia Odell

How to make an interactive story game in Flash (Adobe Animate)

Creating an interactive story, or game can be tricky! This post has been written to show how to make an interactive story game in Flash (Adobe Animate) – described using simple (less non-tectie) methods.

Make an interactive story or, in my case – an interactive museum!

How to make an interactive story game in Adobe Animate
How I created an interactive museum

If you are completely new to creating games or making interactive gaming experiences, then I would advise looking posts such as this: creating a STEM game that was also made in flash. This is from another project I worked on in the past.

Flash, if you are unaware is the old name for Adobe Animate. All methodologies and approaches in the post are still relevant today and I am sure will help you in your journey creating a cool story type game!

How to make an interactive story game divider image

The short answer: How to make an interactive story game in Flash (Adobe Animate)

Artwork | You will need a graphics creation program such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, I have written a detailed post on the graphics programs which you can read here – creating digital artwork.

Build it | In order to build, or develop your game, you will need to use an engine or a platform such as Unity or Adobe Animate (flash) which is what this post and project as all about!

Publish it | Is that all? Sort of, if you want to make a compelling story game you will need to put a lot of time into making some striking visuals and compelling narrative to carry the player through to the end.

If you are just embarking on making games or interactive experiences, I would also consider using a powerful game creation program such as Unity. Unity is powerful, you can create a range of games types with many off the shelf solutions.

Although, Unity does come with a steep learning curve, so be warned!

The interactive museum in this post was built for a client using Adobe Animate and Photoshop. The steps below outline some of the methods and approaches to creating an interactive project.

Divider

Using Adobe Animate to build a game (or museum)

My core training was based around using Adobe Animate to make 2D games, animations, and rich media experiences – it was my major!

Now, I don’t wish to go into the opinions of why or why not to use Animate in this day and age. I will assume for whichever purpose, you either need or want to use the application to build an awesome experience and that is okay! None should judge.

You should know this when you publish with Adobe Animate.

When you publish a game in Animate, it can be created in the following formats and platforms:

  • .SWF (flash player browser) ( I would avoid this format now due to lack of technical support and accessibility issues) .
  • HTML5 – can run straight from your browser.
  • Projector files for both Mac and PC – similar to making regular program or .exe file.
  • As an app for Android and Apple.
  • As an enclosed Adobe Air app that can be downloaded straight to the computer.
Publishing formats for Adobe Flash
FL5 – this is a legacy shot. There are more options today!

My interactive project as shown further down in this article was made by publishing as an Adobe Air application and as a browser-based *SWF format. Old yes, irrelevant? Not at all.

The .SWF format or flash player for browsers to be specific is an old format and I would now avoid using it.

If you are undecided which is best if you are intending on making a game solely for a browser – use HTML5, WEB GL, or if you download your game, use Adobe Air.

Publishing to Adobe Air applications isn’t the only way to create an enclosed stand-alone program or application. You can use .exe or a mac projector also.

Flash Publishing Plus

You can also download applications that extend the publishing capabilities of flash.

For example, ZINC will make a neat package for your application although it has now taken its servers offline you can still use the legacy format. MDM Zinc

Edit / note : many of the formats Animate can now output is very much capable enough of fulfilling the duties of these programs listed here. eg. Zinc.

You can also create a DMG on an iMac and pack your items inside it for professional distribution. You can also have a lot of creative license for logos and interface artwork.

On a personal note, I would be inclined to stick with ADOBE AIR. Adobe air comes with more than enough capabilities for packaging distribution for your game – even to implementing your or desktop icons.

Divider

Using Adobe Flash (animate) to publish your interactive story game to a browser

The image above is from a slightly older version of Adobe Flash (now Animate) but it shows that it is mostly a case of ticking the publishing formats you wish to use.

If you are skim reading this, I would advise paying close attention to the next paragraph, especially if you are want to put your game on the web.

Using The SWF format and flash player for your game?

The .SWF format is no longer as widely supported as it used to be, especially if you publish it to the web as a flash player. I would advise against using this format in 2020.

You may notice on certain websites a notification box appears on the body of a page asking for you to “run flash player”? That is what now happens if you publish to flash player / SWF. As shown below.

SWF Flash player object display example
Example of the flash player being blocked by default in Firefox

The image here illustrates the flash player being put on hold until it is enabled by the user.

By publishing to the flash player with your .SWF object – Instead of your movie, you will get a hollow grey box and notification.

Using the .SWF object makes for terrible user experience in 2020 and has done for some time now. Many people are more likely to hit the back button or just ignore the interactive content as it needs to be enabled or ‘allowed’ by the user.

And how heartbreaking is that feeling after spending all of your time creating a game or animation? Flash player is now stopped by default by many browsers.

With this in mind, I would say it is best to avoid a SWF / flash player for the browser. And, don’t forget how this will also behave on a Smartphone now.

Should you both with flash player in 2020 for browsers? I wont.
Should you both with flash player in 2020 for browsers? I won’t.

Use an alternative format if you want to display your content or show an animation – such as HTML5 if it is a game. This is all opinion based on what I have seen, learned and what is now professionally advised. You may ignore all this if you wish.

Divider

You will need to know ActionScript 3.0 to make your game work in Adobe Animate (sorry!)

Did I mention code? I’m afraid so. If you are not a coder you may hit some hurdles here or need to do some homework – or hire and Action Script Developer! ActionScript is the lifeblood for Flash games.

There are not many ways around not using ActionScript.

Adobe Flash, which was renamed to Adobe Animate a few years back, uses a coding language called Action Script 3 (AS3) to add interaction to games and applications.

Without being able to code or at least being able to bash some ActionScript together, you will not be able to create a somewhat sophisticated interactive project in Adobe Animate.

Making a game or an interactive experience will require getting into some script, even just to make a level change, a speech bubble appear or simple player interaction.

Interaction in Adobe will require you to program. It is not the hardest language but if coding really isn’t your thing… perhaps consider an alternative means or more visual-based engine?

Or why not just jump in with both feet and find out if you can code?

You can start to learn Action Script 3 here or by purchasing a cookbook and getting your teeth sunk into it.

Action Script 3.0 Book
If you want to write Action Script 3 this is a good start

You can find these types of books on eBay at a relatively low cost.

It should be noted that if you do decide to buy one of the ActionScript books from eBay I may get a small commission at no additional cost to you.

And yes, I do own one of these books personally. Purchase Essential Action Script 3 book on eBay.

Failing this, if you do not wish to read how to use Action Script you may find tutorials to watch instead or ask for help on forums.

Divider

How to make an interactive story game in Adobe Animate – The Nitty Gritty

Now you have an idea of what may be involved with creating your own game application or immersive experience in Adobe Animate. You may be ready to delve a little deeper … or run for the hills

To summarise what has been written so far you will need to do the following for your game :

– Rough / plan out your game or story – although be prepared to edit as you create the actual game

Write in Action Script for interaction so it reacts to the player, eg: button clicks, movement, transitions to levels for your story.

– Publish it, and get your game out there.

That is a simplified way of summing up what has been covered so far. In essence that is a rough guide of what you need to do in layperson.

– Plan

– Roughout artwork

– Build

– Test / Publish

Whether you are intending on making a 2D gaming application, a story or an interactive museum as shown in this post, come at your project prepared.

Morale boost: As a warning, those milestones can seem a long way from time to time. One foot in front of the other! You will get across those desert coding plains.

Coding or not coding your story game

If coding really isn’t your thing and you are more or a designer than a developer – you should consider using an application such as Stencyl to take some smaller steps into game development.

Stencyl works like lego building blocks in which you can click together the functions and behaviours of your game. The image below is an example.

Stencyl Code Block Example
Example of coding game in Stencyl

You can also read an example tutorial here on how to make a Cursor in Stencyl. Which was written by me when I used Stencyl a little bit more often.

Unity software is another option but it is a more advanced option if you are new to creating games and applications.

If you would like to know a bit more about Unity Software you can view why it could be an option for your game project or even have a browse of my micro portfolio that showcases other projects I have created using Unity Software.

Making an interactive game in Unity Example
Example | building game in Unity

Unity Portfolio Website

The next section of the post covers how I created an interactive museum for the client.

Divider

The Client Brief | Promote the museum (interactive experience)

After setting up a meeting and discussing the budget and the requirements, I set about what could be done to create an experience that would promote a local museum in Cornwall.

The website part of the project was built to inform and educate potential visitors. The interactive part of the website was built to ‘excite’ visitors and offer an e-learning experience.

The e-Learning part of the website is what I have focused on in the article – “How to make an interactive story game in flash”, or in this instance.

How to make an interactive story game in flash
Caption from the interactive Museum

How to make an interactive museum experience that can be played from a web browser.

How I created an Interactive Museum in Flash | The Steps

Being a fan of all things to do with history and using my new found technical knowledge as a graduate, I jumped feet first into this project. This project allowed me to use my imagination and critical thinking to offer an experience that would entertain, entice and educate!

I was thrilled!

It was a challenge, but a great one to embark on so early on in my professional career.

Designing the interactive museum | pre-development stages

Before opening up flash or writing a line of code, I sketched down my ideas of what I was intending to do and proposed it to the client.

After getting approval for the initial design, I started to conjure ways to make this project come to life both visually and technically.

The interactive museum, which would work similar to a point and click style game or a graphic adventure would be launched at the same time as the website, which I also created.

The interactive museum was 2 stages – levels – where you could stand at two opposite ends of a large courtroom. This was the main stage of the hall, both in real life and in an interactive experience.

In early concepts, I toyed with the idea of creating other rooms but with time constraints and budget limitations, the 2 levels were more than enough and difficult enough in all honesty at an early stage in my career.

Interactive Museum in Action!
Interactive Museum in Action!

It is worth noting here if you are also thinking of designing and developing an app or game, add some wiggle room on the timeline.

You don’t want to be crushed by the deadline, worse still if you get stuck!

Under a supervised out of season and out of hours visit to the museum, I collected together as much knowledge as I could about my topic and environment. I wanted to create an authentic piece of work that would immerse the players.

I took pictures of the environment which would later become the interactive parts of my flash project. With the interaction in mind, I took plenty of interesting close-ups of Cannonballs, skulls, puppets, etc which would later be cut out and used.

Taking Photos of the Environment

The purpose of these PNGs allows for a transparent background on the objects. When the player ‘hovered’ over the PNG’s with their cursor in the interactive museum, a green outline would appear around the objects to show that it was ‘live’.

This small visual representation is a good way of showing to the player that the item was selectable or interactive in some way. Player or user experience was paramount to the project as it should always be when creating an experience.

After all of the content was collected together, edited and prepared it was imported into the project library in Flash and coded to life!

Yes, almost like a mad scientist.

Interactive Museum | The building & development stages

Heads up, consider ‘white boxing’ your game

White boxing? What am I talking about!

By this point, I had taken my photos and created the bits and pieces as I needed to – based on my artistic and creative vision.

All the artwork was finished cut out etc.

As a more modern method, I would actually advise against making your app this way.

Don’t worry about all the nice polished artwork first. Focus on the function of the game.

Why?

It’s not an art project for starters even though that is how I treated it. It’s a learning experience for “others” to use. It’s for the client to promote the museum. Not for me to show my skills, that comes second to the brief.

Also, if you are new to a program, and you have no outside help, you can throw away a lot of time focussing on aesthetics that you may not be able to use due to technical issues and programming hurdles which you cannot overcome.

And guess what happened to those piece’s artwork or assets because of that technical issue?

Or things I couldn’t overcome – despite the fact I had created the final artwork?

They were canned.

I didn’t get to use it. All that time photographing, trimming, prepping, etc and I couldn’t use them because whilst I was overconfident I could code it into existence – I did meet with time and technical hurdles.

Save time!

I would advise using a method called “white boxing” and this carries across many gaming or interaction projects.

Okay, what is “White boxing!?”

White boxing is a stage in which you are testing and designing how your game or interactive museum may work.

It’s a case of designing the function before the form and seeing what constitutes as an actual viable gaming experience.

In other words it a bit like mocking your game up first, or loosely sketching out what goes where and seeing how it works and behaves.

If you are curious and just want to find out a bit more on where I learned the term “White Boxing” read the book ‘Unity in Action’ – good book in my opinion!

You can find out a bit more about it here on eBay. It should be noted that if you do decide to purchase the book through eBay, I may get a commission at no additional cost to you.

Divider

The code for the museum

In order to make this interactive museum work, I developed it in a language called ActionScript 2. Action script 2 is now a very defunct language and I would advise against learning that version of Actionscript now.

Unless you otherwise enjoy reading obsolete languages or need to edit the code in a very old project! And if you are editing the code in an old project it in AS2 – it needs to pulled out of the dark ages ( I can talk)

For which ever reason, stick with AS3 (Action Script 3) by default when working in Animate

And, for the sake of keeping my shared knowledge more relevant, I will share with you a piece of Action Script 3.0 instead which was the closest match to my AS2 script.

How to make a flash game code snippet.

Now, if you are completely new to using Adobe Animate, I would advise downloading a demo from Creative Cloud and getting stuck in from there. The Demo is free!

Note: Remember that is a general overview of how I created an interactive museum. To go into greater depth I would advise looking for step by step tutorials on using Action Script 3. You would need a lot more than this post to discuss how all aspects of the code makes the museum work.

After I imported my artwork to the library it was essentially broken down into core elements – the background and the interactive elements – the clickable bits!

In order to make my content interactive, I needed to make things happen when they were pressed. A Scene change, a speech bubble or all trigger by Action Script 3.0

For example, this snippet of code is what makes a button take a player to the next scene when it is clicked.

How to go to a next scene in action Script 3
How to go to a next scene in Action Script 3.0

After I imported my artwork to the library it was essentially broken down into core elements – the background and the interactive elements – the clickable bits!

when this button is clicked, go to the next scene, the next scene would represent the next level.

For your own knowledge, and for my personal reference – I will call this a simple click and go to the next scene.

And it just that, when the “arrowBTN” was pressed in the scene, it would take the player to the next stage or level – or Scene 2. There is nothing stopping you from adding multiple scenes to your game and having multiple click arrows!

Illustrations showing how to make a level change in principle

How to make an interactive story game in Flash (Adobe Animate)
How to make an interactive story game in Flash (Adobe Animate)

Click a button, go to Scene2.

How to make an interactive story game in Flash (Adobe Animate) illustration

Interactive story game / Museum | Hide and Unhide

The essence of this hide and unhide would be along these lines in Action Script

When I ‘hid’ or ‘unhid’ objects in a Scene, I used Action Script to do so – Object Orientated Programming.

This is the principle of what I used with Action Script 3.0

MovieClipname.visible = false;

That little snippet of code (ActionScript 3) was employed a lot when creating a project.

That single short line of code is telling Adobe Animate (flash) to hide the object when it comes to runtime ( when you publish your app).

When It’s visibility is ‘false’. It will not be seen by the player. At some stage, you will need to make it’s visibility true!

Now, in order to make the movie clip become visible – it would have been attached to a button like so. And this would have been written.

MovieClipname.visible = true;

Object Orientated Programming Inside Adobe Animate

ActionScript 3.0 really honed in on something called Object Orientated Programming or OOP – now being a bashful designer.

At heart, a part of me didn’t want to discuss what Object Oriented Programming is – the notion of having me describe it here brings me out in schoolboy sweat

Object Orientated Programming is something I make use of lot these days whether it is piece of script in C Sharp or something to be created in Animate. OOP works with elements and animations inside your game, level or scene. It is dedicated to working more fluidly with objects and classes.

Here is the Adobe definition for OOP.

“Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a way of organizing the code in a program by grouping it into objects. The term object in this sense means an individual element that includes information (data values) and functionality.”

– Source : Adobe

Divider

I hope my simplified approach helps with some principles of How to make an interactive story game in flash (Adobe Animate). Although this was used on the older museum project, the method still carries today.

That is a principle and condensed overview of steps I used to build this interactive museum.

There was more involved in my version such as point scoring but I won’t share that in this post, as this post talks about the project as a whole and why it was created and what it wanted to achieve – not the development stages.

Designing an interactive museum | The final Product

Up to this point, I have covered some of the technical steps I used to create the application along with discussing the core principles in both the artwork and the main behaviours in the code.

To the all-important stage, the final product.

Looking back | What was this for and did it stay on track?

This browser game was created to educate, entertain and draw attention to the real museum located in the town.

Did I feel that I stayed on track and met the brief as one of my early projects as a postgraduate and a freelancer? Mostly, but there are things I would do very differently now. In particular on the website and the UI to capture the core look at feel.

The is museum was created in conjunction with the new brochure website which set up to educate and talks to readers about the local trust of whom were my clients for this project.

If I was to be honest, the one thing I would say is that parts of the website was OTT for the client’s objectives and budgets.

This browser game was created to educate, entertain and draw attention to the real museum located in the town.

The interactive museum itself offers a great addition to the project as a whole… that is where the project was arguably unbalanced from a web entrepreneurs perspective. The interactive museum was an addition but that is where most of the money and time were invested instead of the website which should have been the ultimate focus in my opinion.

The museum dominated too much.

To come at this again, I would invest much more into getting some enquires and activity from the brochure website. That would at least balance it from a business perspective.

All experience in hindsight from 11 years past! A lot happens in a design career in that time.

And it also contributes to what I am writing today. How to make an interactive story game in Flash (Adobe Animate)

Divider

What I would also do differently on my museum | personal note

The project on a personal note gave me a tremendous amount of experience in interaction design and creating applications in Flash. This was a follow on from creating games in flash, for example like the STEM / E-learning game I created which you can read more about.

From memory, the museum project was a challenge – mostly coming from how long it took to animate all the little elements and bug test it.

In the end, I felt it gave a result that I was proud to be part of and that was making an E-learning experience which was educational and fun.

There are a few things I would do differently from an art director’s perspective. As it was a project of limited financial resources, there is only so far you can g, sadly.

Divider

If this post has inspired you to create a game in Adobe Animate and how to make an interactive story game (not strictly in flash) then please refer back to this post, or feel free to ask any questions.

Below are some other additional links which cover topics such as; how to create and E-learning game, tip for website design and even some insights into alternative game engines!

How to make an interactive story game in Flash (Adobe Animate) – other resources

Games & Applications

How I created a STEM game in Flash.

Why Unity is Awesome

How to make a Cursor in Stencyl (2D)

Physical Games Tutorials

How to make a successful retail-ready game

How to sell a game to retail

Website Design Projects & Applications

Idesign Application Application Design

Website UI’s

Design Bytes External Websites –

Unity Show Case – you can play games

Other Sources for information on Action script and Flash

Is Action Script 2.0 Dead? Link

Don’t use the .SWF (Flash Player) format for web | Link

Divider

* Flash is now Adobe Animate. Animate is still, in essence, the same program.

* ActionScript 2.0 is now defunct language. ActionScript 3 is now the more modern Object Orientated language used in Adobe Animate.

* .SWF format for web is an essentially old and almost redundant format to publish to. I would advise against publishing for the flash player for web – especially in 2020.

How to make an interactive story game in Flash (Adobe Animate) – Useful Resources

Action Script 3 book on eBay

Thank you for reading how to make an interactive story game in Flash (Adobe Animate)!

Project post | Freelance Vector Artist & UI Designer

It has been a very busy month! I felt that it was time to post what I have been working on, and here it is – me as the freelance vector artist & UI designer!

I have added a lot of new content and skills pages to by brochure website, mostly focusing on my digital design skills and anything web!

Visual Information and vector art
Info Graphic

But, I have added much more than just that. There are all the vector drawings, information about blog design and other projects, etc which have been added.

This is a speedy overview; Firstly I will cover the information about vector illustration.

Freelance Vector Artist

A freelance vector artist or designer is a good way for me to summarise that I can draw in Adobe illustrator.

freelance vector artist & UI designer
Vector Illustration : Test Tubes

Using Adobe Illustrator to create Vector art or illustration has been something I have been familiar with over the years, whether it has been to create a character, create an icon and draft visuals, or create pre-rendered artwork. Vector work is a staple part of my design diet.

Vector art can be scaled and used across a whole range of channels and mediums. It is versatile, clean and stylistically lends itself well to flat design.

Flat design is a an in-vogue trend we see in website design and generally throughout advertising. (good riddance web 2.0 has gone) . If you are yet to explore vector illustration, I would consider adding it to your list.

freelance vector artist & Ui designer | floppy disk
Floppy Disks

Here is a small list of ideas on what you can use vector illustration with:

– Create artwork for marketing campaigns

– Illustration for books, games, and general-purpose crisp art & design

– To produce characters that can be used in animations, videos, and games!

– And the last point; you can use Adobe Illustrator (Vector art) to create website content such as information graphics for blogs. As seen at the top of the blog post.

These are just some ideas of what you can do with Adobe Illustrator and vector graphics. The scope of this list offers a mere handful of ideas that barely scratches the surface.

In a few words, Adobe Illustrator is a very potent program.

My vector illustration services

If you would like to read a bit more about my services please visit my page here: freelance vector designer – It will discuss in more detail what I have used Adobe Illustrator for in the past, present and how I intend to use it in the future. The link takes you to my portfolio website.

Vector illustration for games

Vector illustration for games – that is correct. Combining both my budding knowledge of Unity and Adobe flash (sorry Animate) I can create project ready vector artwork for games – and that could be mean your game.

Previously, I have been involved in creating 2D games to promote products, educate and entertain. You can see one example which was an e-learning project or read more here on the merits of Unity.

Vector Character Illustration
Character Illustration | Sprite Sheet

UI Designer

The biggest theme of this post is of my skills as a freelance vector artist & UI designer. I have added subsidiaries of my digital / web work. Below is a glance at my UI skills.

I have recently been much more involved in using WordPress after a couple of years gap. I will always have love bespoke HTML and CSS but WordPress offers many possibilities straight off the shelf. If you have not heard of WordPress, and you are looking at getting a blog or website, I would consider WP as a good open-source platform, to begin with.

freelance vector artist & UI designer
UI skills
UI design | landing page
UI Design for a landing page

If you would like to read more about my UI and WordPress design you can do so here. I’m happy to work both contracts and on a freelance basis. The link takes you to my portfolio website.

Blog Designer

Having a blog that stands out is very important if you are intending on making money or using it for general marketing purposes.

The one big downside with blogging is this – it is crowded. The Internet offers a very deep well of information to those who prepared to type in a search term (so pretty much everyone) . And if they click on the page and it doesn’t captivate – they hit the back button.

So what can you do?

– Offer value and relevance

– Create better information

– Create striking visuals to get them to stick to your page

Blog Design - UI design
Blog Design – stand out from a crowd

To illustrate aspects of your content this is something, I can certainly help with.

You can read more on freelance blog design services on my new pages!

“Jimm has a great eye for design and understands perfectly the needs of today’s online audiences. He’s able to magic-up a wide range of impressive visuals that are all bang on brief and is a delight to work with. Highly recommended.”

Last but not least – Creative Direction & Strategy

In conjunction with my skills as a freelance vector artist & UI designer, I have been involved in creative direction – a part of my job that I love and will continue to be involved with for the foreseeable future.

But what does that really mean? Involved in what with “creative direction”? To summarise very quickly. Creating, visualising and drafting up ideas that are geared toward a goal, demographic or specific purpose.

This can cover website design, graphics, digital design, apps, games, and many others, just to name a few. And that is the short answer.

The long answer can be found here on this page of my brochure website.

Creative direction diagram & UI design
Creative Direction can be applied to UI design too!

Past experience in creative direction

I have been involved in telling brand stories, creating visuals for marketing purposes and adapting my skills to create compelling brand narratives. (integrated stories for business)

Design direction for web: It is simply not enough just to create a piece of design work that is aesthetically pleasing. You need to consider how the visuals tie-in with the form and function or your website – even down to the UI.

Summary | UI Design & Freelance Vector Illustrator

I hope that this post has offered some insight into what I have been up to for the past month. Times have been very busy and I have been beavering away working on client work and adding tons of new content – not to mention that I have also been working on other ventures too!

This post has focused on me as a freelance vector artist & UI designer but I have plenty of other skills not mentioned in this post. You can see what else I have been working on by visiting my home page or visiting my brochure website.

Summary freelance vector artist & UI designer handy links

This is a list of other helpful articles on this blog:

External Websites

Jimmsdesign :

WordPress and UI design

Vector Illustrator & Designer

Blog & Content Designer

Board & Card game design

Unity Dev Lab