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The Fun Extras - Set Ten

185. 35 Top Digital Scrapbooking Designer Tips

My Top 35 Digital Scrapbooking Designer Tips
(in no particular order) written 11/11/2010

1. Do not mass produce the same paper and the same element in every color in your color palette. Make each paper and element unique. Most digital scrapbookers know how to recolor and would rather duplicate items not take up hard drive space.

2. Label all files first with your designer name, then kit name, then type of element. Try not to use initials of your name, but rather something more recognizable that gets your “brand” into their brain. Keep file names short. Long names can cause some computers problems and, in addition, long names cannot always be easily seen.

3. Always include a preview file, Terms of Use file, and an internet shortcut file to your site in your download. Do not include too many extra files other than these two files because people get frustrated deleting them and most likely delete before they look. Find other means for giving out coupons. Do not include a “folder” file. The need for these went into the past with XP.

4. Always include your e-mail address and site url in the Terms of Use file.

5. Do not add drop shadows unless you are making a unique drop shadow. If you make a unique drop shadow, consider offering the element both with and without a drop shadow.

6. Use a red stroke and an embossed bevel style (separately) to check for stray pixels.

7. Use your own kit in your own layouts. If you cannot easily use it, then others will not either. Forcing yourself to use your own creations will teach you how to make a product that is useable for a variety of photo types and how to coordinate items within your own kit.

8. Read Terms of Use for commercial products very carefully. Often there are restrictions. A common restriction is to reference credit in your own Terms of Use for using their product. Develop a system for keeping track credits you need to give with each file. For instance, once a font is rasterized, you can no longer view what font was used.

9. View all papers and elements at 100%. Let them set a day after creation and then come back and inspect them at 100% carefully.

10. Test elements against a black background, a white background, and one color, as well as against the papers you offer in the kit.

11. Save often! Control S is your friend!

12. Save creations as templates for future kits so that you do not have to make them again.

13. Never put multiple items on one file (including alphabets). Put each element in a file of its own. Some programs do not allow for cutting. Not everyone uses Adobe products.

14. Calibrate your monitor often. Calibrate before you begin designing. It is frustrating to fix the color of files after the initial creation. Consider printing to verify color.

15. Purchase an external hard drive (EHD). If you are designing, you are going to need the storage space. A good practice to prevent loss of files is to always have every file in at least two locations.

16. Always save the layered .psd files used to create. For best quality, if you need to redo an element, open it from the original .psd file to edit and resave. Never edit the .jpg or .png files. Each time you save, the quality of the item reduces.

17. Do not overuse textures. Sometimes less is better. However, always use textures on your papers.

18. Use the dodge and burn tools to make your elements have realism and uniqueness.

19. Make your own brushes or be careful when downloading brushes. Remember that not all brushes are good for designing. Using brushes created for web use (on a 72 ppi document) will be blurry when enlarged.

20. Consider visual weight design principles. Solid color backgrounds are necessary to counteract busy patterns. Small patterns grab less visual weight from the photos than larger patterns. Provide a balance of each (solid color, small pattern, and large pattern) in each kit.

21. Go the extra mile for your customers and provide a contact sheet which includes all files in your kit, as well as a typed list of the contents.

22. Do not compare yourself to other designers. Be yourself. Be unique. Trying to live up to another designer only zaps your creativity.

23. Do not push yourself to create. It zaps your creativity. Step away from the computer and observe your surroundings for a while if your mojo is gone.

24. Save .jpg backgrounds with a quality/compression between 8 and 10. Otherwise the files size will be too large for downloads. Be careful using a lesser setting as sharpness and quality will be reduced. Try to keep backgrounds at approximately 6 MB, give or take.

25. Always trim the .png files to remove as much transparency as possible, but be careful not to cut off pixels. The elements preview better trimmed. If using Photoshop, utilize Image/Trim.

26. The paint bucket tool can causes jaggies. Develop a habit of using control/backspace and shift/backspace to fill with color.

27. Consider the market and supply and demand when choose a kit theme. For instance, girl kits are probably the most available.

28. Know copyright and respect it. Even fonts are copyrighted. If you did not create it, first check copyright before using the item. Take measures to protect your own copyright. Do not make copyright mistakes because of lack of knowledge.

29. Do not get discouraged by lack of sales. It is commonly stated that it takes at least a year before your sales will reach a turning point, if not two years. Keep making yourself visible to the internet public.

30. Keep a small journal book or cell phone handy to write down ideas as they hit you and before you forget them. Use the camera on your cell phone to take photos of things that inspire you around your world.

31. Create a to-do list. It frees up your mind to be creative.

32. Stop browsing the internet and get to work!

33. Create all elements on a 12 x 12, 300 ppi file (or test them on the same) to check the size for realism. Consistency in size realism within a kit will lend to the user’s success in creating a satisfactory layout. If a new digital scrapbooker can easily have success using your products, he or she is likely to come back to your store.

34. Remember that you can always downsize and not loose quality, but you can never upsize without losing quality. Make items larger initially, then copy them to another layer to reduce for size realism before savings. Keep the original larger size for edit purposes.

35. Create a unique preview that shows all elements and as much detail as possible. A preview can make or break a sale. Use more than one preview if needed. Never note “not all items shown.” Customers want to see what they are purchasing. Add drop shadows to the previews! Don’t you want the preview to look its best to sell the kit?

Copyright Cheryl Rutledge-Brennecke
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