Totally Graphic Class Series to start Sept. 24th

Totally graphic classes, taught by Nichole Nappi, will feature advertising design topics such as ad design, creating effective sales ads, designing brochures that promote and creating newsletters. These are all taught from the perspective of a graphic designer. All classes will have a 45 minute of instruction with Q&A at the end for those students who want to know more. For more information or to apply for classes, visit DIY Marketing STUDIO 21 on Facebook or visit for a calendar of events.


Check that dropshadow at the door…importance of checking your “special effects” before printing

Oh the tragedy! You’ve spent countless hours proofing, revising and talking/selling your ideas to your customer only to see the final product is missing graphics, type or the effect looks awful. Your heart sinks to your stomach and you grab for the antacid by the handful. And to think…by checking your print preview in Adobe Acrobat, proofed your final media or checked the specs with your printer…this could of been prevented. We, as graphic designers, use some well-placed bells and whistles, dropshadows…bevel…fade, to increase the look to your print document and add a dimensionality to the piece.
Here’s a couple of tips you can use to prevent this from blowing up your print job.

Consider the need for these effects. Does the overall layout need this effect? Will this add anything to the overall effectiveness of the print piece? Will the stock you’re using for your print piece carry the effect the way it is on the screen?

Check your stock. If your printing on a pourous paper, chances are your special effects will fizzle out if the proper steps aren’t taken. Newspaper stock absorbs ink like a sponge and you may need to consider darkness and dot density of your blacks. Also grayscale black and process color black have their issues so you may need to experiment with what works best by proofing and printing in the method your final print product is produced in. Proofing now is better than a bad surprise outcome later.

Also consider the print method you are using. Color choices may look different from what you have on now on your screen than what the finished product is turned out. Check with your printer about the method and special considerations you may need to think about before you send your finals. For a special black ratio needs to be used for process color jobs through their online submissions. Offset printers may need your job to breakout in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) plates for spot color work.

As mentioned before, check your print preview in Adobe Acrobat Pro’s Output Preview function. Open your final PDF (Portable Document File). Then under Advanced Menu, go to Print Production and the Output Preview. Click on this and click on the Object Preview option. If any of the objects disappear, your printed piece will not print properly. You have to play with the effect options, like in Adobe InDesign, or reset the option style as needed. (A topic I will be writing about in upcoming posts) You can also check your spot color and CMYK breakdown here as well.

By checking your final with all of these steps, you can prevent costly mistakes and angry customers.

If you’re able to, consider a tour of your printer’s facility, when time allows, and ask about the process and the machines used as a way to understand the steps you need to ensure better final pieces and return customers.

Don’t use a hammer to open the mail – Designing with the right tools

Having the right software makes the difference between creating an effective advertisement and a sloppily ineffective space that wastes your advertising dollars.

I recommend a page layout program that allows you to manipulate text size and shape, add photos and allows documents to be converted to either a .PDF, .eps or .jpeg format. Most publications should be able to handle a .PDF document but make sure your specifications are set correctly. (To be addressed in future posting.)

When you’re laying out text, you should be able to change text type, size (by point size), adjust line height (leading) and adjust type spacing (kerning). The ability to adjust type width from expanded to condensed is also good because this allows you to purchase/ use one font (the name of the type family – Arial, Swiss, Century, etc.) a variety of different ways. You should be able to “place” large block of type/copy if you’re designing an advertorial layout.

The ability to place photos in your layout is important. Usually layout programs will allow you to place photos and the file link is established for easy editing without the difficulty or inconvenience of replacing the graphic/photo physically – the link can be simply updated within the layout.
Of course, the program should be user-friendly and final document files should be able to be opened again without format issues.

Programs such as Microsoft Word, Pagemaker and PowerPoint are NOT advertising layout programs. The programs are for word processing programs usually to create memos, notes, outlines, etc. NOT layout and format text. Text formats usually are not saved and will default when opened in other systems if not saved in either a graphic .PDF or .jpeg formats.

The best software on the market now is Adobe InDesign. With it’s easy to use menus, photo linking system and export and file packaging options, this is the best program to do print design layouts. Available through Adobe, I believe this program is available for both PC and Mac.

If you would like information on these programs, like a free consultation or would like a tutorial of Adobe InDesign, please feel free to contact me at

New Pieces for 2011…so far

Just wanted to show-off some of the successful projects completed by N2 Design Services.

More show & tell coming soon.

Display fonts…The “Pretty” models of the typesetting world

Everyone enjoys a fancy car, be it a Trans-Am, a Corvette or a Porsche but, you can’t go off-roading in a Cadilac.

Just like  some display fonts… They add extra panache and ompf to ad and editorial layouts but, to read an entire paragraph set in Brush Script, for example,  could send your audience running to the local eye doctor. Because display fonts are plentiful and there are so many available, free or inexpensively packaged in publishing software, that typesetters are in a veritable candy shop when it comes to taking them for a test drive. It’s tempting to try them all but such ideas should be saved for personal or nonsensical print art media found in modern art museums not for print ads and editorial spreads where the content is an important element for both advertiser and consumer.

San-serif type is very versatile and compatible with certain display typefaces, Serif type is a little more difficult to “match” and especially when using the italicized versions of Times and Garamond.

Using bold/block typefaces should be used sparingly in body copy to help emphasize elements of the paragraph. Using a semi-bold font can be used if the paragraph is a reverse style element (white type on black or dark background) but not for an entire editorial piece.
Display fonts are often difficult to manipulate horizontally and vertically and often the display typeface looks too distorted or incorrect and unprofessional when outputted. To truncate or change the look of a display font, your best bet is to typeset your headline, or line of type, in Adobe Illustrator and convert the text to outline. Then you can manipulate spacing, line height and letter width of each letter. Unfortunately, when you do this type of editing, there is little you can do to correct spelling unless you want to go through the entire editing process again so make sure you check your spelling before you convert your text to outlines.

I guess the best word of advice I can give when it comes to display fonts is to use them sparingly. Just like putting on too much lipstick and mascara looks silly, your layouts could suffer the “Tammy Fae” fate…too much of anything is never good.

Need help typesetting, feel free to contact me here on my ad-vice blog or e-mail me at

Deadlines are not just a date to remember

Everyone loves and hates them…but why? Deadlines are just as necessary as toner for your printer. Without them, utter chaos reigns and nothing is achieved. Deadlines don’t have to be painful though, here are some suggestions on how to stick to project deadlines for your business’ advertising schedule.

Get Organized.
Invest in a calendar, Franklin Covey planner (I can’t live without mine) or you can use Google’s calendar for free on the web. You can use any of these options, just start now. Plan out your process from thumbnails, proof deadlines for your customer and your own time. You don’t have to schedule down to the minute but an approximate time for each task should be realistic.

Give yourself more time.
Okay, how long does it really take for you to perform your task? For example, if you think an hour is all it takes don’t let it be the hour before the project is due, lie to yourself and say it will take 2 hours, give yourself double the time it would take to complete the project.

Learn to prioritize.
When you prioritize your workload, what is the project that is coming up first and does the project need to completed early? Ask yourself questions. Does the project have priority over other projects and why? List all your projects and number or letter according to importance.

Don’t try to please everybody.
Just because someone asks you to do a project, doesn’t mean you have to do it. I have turned down projects because I can’t realistically complete them in the time they ask. I rather say no than say yes to a project than disappoint clients with missed or shoddy work.

You don’t have to do all the work. Can someone do some of the time-consuming simple work so you can focus on the important complicated aspects of the project.

Ask for more time before the deadline.
Still find yourself struggling to complete the project? Ask for more time before the deadline, not every deadline is set in stone. Can you do extra steps to help you have more time. Is the camera-ready deadline the drop dead deadline? Can you do without a proof if submit camera-ready? Sometimes project managers install cushions for such a situation and they may be more flexible if they know ahead of time that you may need more time.

Do you enjoy the project?
If you’re not “into” the project from the get go, more than likely you’re going to procrastinate. If it’s a project you have to do, find aspects of the projects you look forward to achieving and set a reward for yourself for when the project is ultimately completed.

Communicate your deadline to others.
When other people know you have to complete an important project or task, they may be more eager to assist you. They can do other jobs for you to give you more time to focus on the work at hand. They may be even helpful for reminding of your deadline or your goal as well.

Whatever the suggestion you chose to go with, deadlines are essential to any workplace. Deadlines are what keep us in check and on goal for whatever we want to achieve and you should strive to stick to them. Don’t beat yourself up for missing them. Learn from your mistakes and just keep moving towards the next one.

Need help with your next deadline? N2 Design Services strategy of plan first and succeed now is how I design. For a free consult for your business’ design needs, please e-mail me at

There’s always room for graphics

Yes, folks. There’s always a place to put your company logo, especially on facebook™. Even with the new layout and navigation changes, the facebook™ fan page is one of your company’s free and best “web billboards”…so get your logo, your company information and even your tag line all up in one image. FBML, facebook’s mark up language, uses some basic HTML with some special tags mixed in for good measure, allows users to customize tabs and add continuity to ad campaigns.

With the new changes in twitter™, however, space to customize has been reduced leaving some with chopped off or mostly covered up backgrounds, which a couple of months ago, were readable. Hopefully, Twitter has some more updates in the near future which will resolve this. To get the logo in the right place does require some trial and error but, it’s well worth it when visitors choose to “follow” your tweets. Just remember to save your graphics as RGB/JPEG files before you go to upload them. (For those who are confused by this terminology…web graphics are saved in the RGB color platform and JPEGs are a file type used for photos on the web – I’ll cover these terms more in depth in future postings.)

LinkedIn, is very restricted but there is an application that allows you to upload graphics as photos. This could be used to show current ad campaigns, web promotions or photos of your storefront. Of course, this site is very restrictive as to who you can connect with but the good thing about the photo gallery options is that your graphic is eye-catching and can be shared through other sources.

Also, other sites that are good to post to is Flickr, YouTube and StumbleUpon. All are very popular and great for storing and displaying graphics and advertising elements. Whatever the social media platform you choose to put your company’s name to, look for ways to make it your own. Being unique will put your business in the front of the line.

If you would like more information or would like a consult, please contact me, Nichole Nappi, at to discuss.

Thumbnails! No manicure needed.

Yes, a thumbnail or informal sketch is the birth of any type of design. Without this important step, you could be wandering the design Sahara for months without any real direction. Thumbnails can be as intricate as you want them to be; a sketch on a dinner napkin (preferably paper) or a colorized pen sketch on good vellum – your choice, just do one. For any print, web or any design element, a thumbnail is a tentative plan of attack on any design project.

My one important train of thought…failing to plan is planning to fail. Going without a thumbnail means wasted time and money, none of which is a good thing to waste these days.

To learn more about N2 Design Services, visit the N2 Design Services fan page on Facebook or subscribe to this blog for more useful design information.

What do you mean, I don’t kern enough?

When I first started working in the production department of the corrugated box shop, I knew what point size meant, I knew what CMYK meant and I might of known what  the plate process entailed. BUT, I was fresh out of college having just earned my degree in computer graphic design, what more could I need to know? Just click here, drop there and DONE! NOT!

When typesetting, there are terms you must keep in mind. These terms affect the flow and feel of your layout like a good outfit on an interview…first impressions.

Serif: The best way to explain this term is referring to the ornate stems and flourishes on lower case and upper case letters. Times Roman is a perfect example of serif type. This form of type is usually used in editorial print media and advertising. According to Wiki, this style was used since Roman times where carvings and brush strokes when print was composed on documents by hand.

Sans-serif: Is the opposite of serif type in the sense that type is very geometric in structure and “without” flourish. This a more modern form of type usually used in print media and preferred in website text for its ease of readability. Historically, according to Wiki, sans-serif type has been seen used in some Greek and Latin texts. It’s also a more modern “feeling” type and usually appeals to all markets because it’s easier to read and work with.

Typeface: According to Wiki (they better explain it) a typeface is a set of one or more fonts, in one or more sizes, designed with stylistic unity, each comprising a coordinated set of glyphs. A typeface usually comprises an alphabet of letters, numerals, and punctuation marks; it may also include ideograms and symbols, or consist entirely of them, for example, mathematical or map-making symbols. Times New Roman is an example of a typeface.

Kerning: Adjusting the space between characters to make text visually readable.

Leading: The spacing between lines of type (sentences). Usually rule of thumb is a point size or two wider than the overall type-size.

Greeking: The typesetter may need to proof layouts with Greek type or nonsense type which is either in latin or a mix of letters to show how the overall layout will look without the actual text. To repeat the same sentence over and over will not work in some cases because the word spacing will not accurately depict an actual paragraph of text.

Gutter: The column of space between columns of type. Too tight a gutter can cause confusion so usually I leave a 1/4 inch space between columns. Also need to leave, in most cases depending on the layout, a 1/4 inch on either side of a column of type.

My experiences working in the production department and at the newspaper (worked after leaving the production department) have give me the experience to understand and work with type. I have more terms to write about in future blogs but this should help you understand when discussing future jobs with your graphic designer.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to comment below.

What’s so special about you anyhow?

Something you may here in your early childhood, but it’s a valid question when it comes to your business.

The benefits of knowing your benefits differentiate you from your competitors. Imagine a whole plaza of dry cleaners all preforming the same services at the same time for the same people, who’s the best? Who’s the cleaner you would want? Imagine you’re one of those dry cleaners just opening you’re storefront in that plaza, how do you compete?

Taking an inventory of your services and highlighting what unique services you offer, your customer service and even your location could have influential elements when driving customers to your business. Make sure you highlight these benefits in your advertising.

Possible benefits that could be featured for my fictional dry cleaner:
• Being open when your customers usually need emergency cleaning
• Offering special services to the elderly
• Awesome customer service
• Amount of years in business – experience is key for those difficult issues other novices shy away from
• Local Delivery

I’m not say you have to offer these to be a successful business – just that if you don’t tell customers what sets you apart from another company that offers the same business as you do could mean the difference from making the rent payment to looking at a “going out of business” sign.

Any questions, comments? Feel free to contact me, Nichole Nappi, owner and lead designer of N2 Design Services.