How to give your poster graphics impact using stock photos

How to give your poster graphics impact using stock photos

It’s all well and good writing creative text to use in your graphic design, nothing beats the power of a picture (A picture is worth a thousand words). Stock photos are very affordable and with so many websites it’s hard not to find an inspirational image to use in your latest projects.

Use impact imagery
Creating an impact is important when designing to create attention, therefore using an image with impact is far better than using large chunks of paragraph text. Direct marketing & exhibitions are the best media to use this type of image, you don’t have much time in grabbing the users attention so getting the user to read text is particularly difficult.

Story tellers

Promotions for a particular location or a person will need an image to link to the story.
These images are story tellers and give the audience a picture to help them get the whole picture. You may be promoting a specific product, making the product the focal point will showcase the product and increase the selling value.

Sometimes a product shot isn’t easily available or with time constraints you need to get the design finished for a deadline. Using an abstract photo might suffice, for example you are producing a roller banner stand for a show which promotes a particular pair of sports running trainer, you could use a good photo of a runner and show a close up of the trainer in abstract so the detail would be the sole or front end. This would mean using your imagination so the trainer looks similar to the product. Otherwise a dynamic sports running shot with an athlete involved would create a good story teller image and have a huge impact.

Depth with backgrounds

Designers who have studied photography will certainly know the importance of foreground, middle and background for creating depth and focal points. Much is the same with Graphic Design, adding texture to backgrounds creates a feel of depth and the unusual drawing in the reader’s eye.

Conceptual images

Stock photo libraries have built up a good variety of conceptual photos, if your project requires an image that is that something different a concept image is the type you are looking for. If you have ever seen images for a law firm with a hand and trees within the hand these are conceptual as an example below.

How to market print – simple sales and marketing techniques

social mediaCurrent – Use today marketing resources to your advantage, social media is a very powerful tool used correctly. Businesses that don’t use social media will be at a huge disadvantage. Create Google + business page and twitter and connect with users within your service sector.

Communicate – Creating good content is key when communicating with your audience. Dynamic content helps customers engage with your business and improves the websites SEO (Search engine optimisation). If you fail to use the potential of SEO you could be losing a big slice of the cake.

Lead by example – Be seen as a leader within your field, hire a copy writer and blog about latest trends and changes in your field. This creates a confidence in your company and helps your build your brand as one of market leaders. Talk with your blog visitors and encourage sharing to spread the word about your content.

Mobile world – Going mobile is possibly the best way forward, it’s fast, open and puts your business at the forefront of technologies. Make your website mobile friendly, offer the users ease of use and the opportunity to buy your products/services mobile.

Consistent marketing – sending e-shots is pretty much staple diet with business nowadays, be consistent, don’t inform your customers of latest offers give them something extra. Maybe a discount if they order by a certain date or a discount with orders over a certain amount. Keep your brand at the customers reach, communicate regular but not over frequent to avoid being spammed.

Building your brand

pwfulmarkDo you want your business to appear highly successful and attract a good strong customer base? Building your brand to get it noticed not only makes your business professional but also brings a lucrative future.

With new era of digital graphics, the most cost effective and effective means of advertising is large banners. Placed in strategic locations such as airports and stations, a banner will easily attract the passing trade. These types of advertisement are a very powerful way  to promote any brand.

Other effective means are large posters placed in heavy traffic areas, the location must be chosen carefully so to attract the right audience and not through the budget down the drain.  For example offer a printing service for all types of banner stands that is required. By visiting their website you can view a huge array of banner print techniques that will help to promote your business and get the brand noticed.

If you don’t know how to produce design, search around for a graphic designer or simple visit an online website that specialises in banner designs. Some offer templates which your business can adapt for your business needs and requirements.

Add your own graphics to create a personal and unique banner to help give your business that needed boost.

Digital print or Litho?

The time old question that many lithographic printers don’t want to answer, Digital print is fast becoming the latest media for printing but do we all agree that Litho is actually a dead process and much to expensive in this digital world.

Coming from a Litho print background I do find Litho quality is still top on my list, but saying that most of my clients require a cheap low run print solution so it really is client’s dependant now whether I use Litho or digital.

To the naked eye or novice most clients would struggle to see the difference now between both processes.

There are times when Litho will overall digital, certainly in cost for larger runs. Digital printing is competitive up to certain quantities then Litho comes in to its own.

Some sizes won’t fit onto a digital press, anything larger than 12” x 18” or SRA3 will be too large, that’s when Litho wins this battle. Most printers are opting to keep litho for large runs and get in a digital press to cover the small cheap runs.

How to market your printing business

Marketing or sales?

Marketing cannot be confused with sales, both are completely different and it is important to remember the difference.

Marketing – Is the process of placing your product or services in front of the customer to encourage a sale or conversion. It is a way of stimulating the customer/s to buy your product or service. So for printing businesses marketing reaches the customer and draws them in to the printing service, you also want the customer to return and become a very satisfied regular customer.

A marketing campaign is only successful if the customer makes a conversion and sends a Purchase order.

Marketing includes:  Branding, advertising, PR, brand awareness and promotions. Every detail counts even the smallest most subtle, marketing is about building your brand and making any potential customers confident in your services or products on offer.

Use your brand to create awareness You don’t need a huge budget to build a strong brand image, to build a loyal following you need to create a personality for your business something that can easily be remembered. Satisfied followers will spread the word for you, and adopt themselves as your very own sales field without even realising.

Use all opportunities to spread the message – As a business you get chances everyday to connect to new customers, but you need to take full advantage of this. Clever marketing involves the use of all media, Van sides, promotions, truck sides, cars, use every opportunities to spread the brand.

Keep your customers happy – Winning a customer involves hard work, don’t be complacent and destroy the relationship with poor customer service. A bad customer experience can spread a bad word about your business alot quicker than a good word. Make your service personal if they have a complaint deal with it quickly and avoid bad feedback.

The Digital printing age

Since the fifteenth century printing has come quite a long way, Lithographic printing being the main process in that era. Now digital print has come into its own with short run printing digital printing has become the preferred process. The digital printing process has undergone some dramatic changes over the past few years.

Digital printing is becoming easier to implement for businesses, inks have become better and machines available on good finance deals. Many Litho printers have installed digital machines to cover the market for short runs.

Digital printing increases impact

With the cost of digital printing extremely low, businesses can take advantage of using full colour print rather than black and white. Business communications can therefore have more impact with full colour covers and inside covers collated with black and white inner pages.

In short research has shown that customers will read or have much more interest in a brochure or booklet with a full colour cover instead of black and white or monochrome.

How digital process has evolved

Digital printing has changed in its early years even though it has any been widely excepted for a few years it has changed quickly. The machines available today are very advanced closely matching the lithographic process for quality.

In my own opinion it has still a way to go to beat the quality of litho, especially on heavy boards for business cards but it has evolved quickly. Machines are cheaper but the process isn’t easier to produce the final finished items.

Finishing equipment is still required for cutting and folding, although some of the high end colour machines now offer fold, stitch and trim facilities. Colours are difficult to match, pantones are close but not as precise as litho, so the user needs to tweak the colour palettes to get it close.

Overall digital is good for cheap short runs, but still has a way to go if it with ever beat the Lithographic process.

Why Roller banners?

A revolution in events and exhibitions for companies, pop up stands can be easily transported from area to area. The offer a versatile solution and look great with branding.

Green friendly roller banners can made from renewable source bamboo, this can reused and put back in the recycling system. Bamboo is also a sustainable product meaning it grows quickly and is easily replaced. Using Eco friendly products is good for our planet’s atmosphere, using Eco products puts less of a strain on our planets assets.

Whether your business is attending one event or several at once, a roller banner stand will bring out the best of your brand.

It can express your company’s message across a variety of events or exhibitions with its simple portability.

Bamboo stands are a great way to communicate to like mined businesses that you follow the eco rules and only use sustainable products with your stands. This may win over some clients who are also trying to lower their businesses footprint on the planets assets. If your business is eco friendly do shout about it, it is something to advertise. Using a respectable supplier of trade stands a client will have the confidence their own exhibition will be an overwhelming success, creative and inventive stands will make passer bys stop and take notice of the business because of the stand and how it has brought the companies brand to life.

Weather resistant outdoor roller banners are a great possibility if you are exhibiting at an outdoor event. They are printed using h20 resistant inks and fade resistant making the stand weather proof. This again reinforces the use of a versatile and fully functional roller banner.

Preflight checks: The designers checklist before print

The following article is by Rob Steele – for the Roller banner stands team

Just as a surgeon prepares to operate, a number of checks have to be made to make sure there are no serious problems.

To preflight correctly it is a case of checking all of your projects components to make sure they pass the checklist to finally go to print. Normally the prepress printers personnel will check the files before they are sent to the rip, but it is good practice for graphic designers to preflight their own work so they don’t have the printers emailing or calling them up to rectify the problems.
Adobe indesign has a great built in preflight tool, I would advise this software for preflight checks on its own. You will still need to check the work with a checklist, Indesign has a links panel where files can be checked quickly for RGB imagery (the usual problem).

The common causes of errors is layout issues, hairline rules, elements not butting up to each other leaving horrid gaps.

Images – Another problem area, most newbie designers forget to convert their graphics to CMYK rather than RGB, are the photos low resolution (72dpi), any of these elements will flag up errors to be corrected before printing.


Color spaces – Are your colours converted to CMYK? Is RGB used on any elements? Does your file contain pantone specific colours that need to be converted to CMYK colour mode?

The Adobe Indesign preflight tools

With Adobe Indesign preflight tools there is no excuse for any designers not to preflight.

Overprint – Indesign has a overprint previewer, you can preview on-screen elements that are set to overprint to avoid overprint errors when it goes to press. Overprint  is used to create a colour trap area where colours are adjacent to avoid white gaps showing up on the press. This tool will show you any problems before it gets to the press, basically you will see what the press sees but on screen. (Click – view – overprint preview)

Flattener – useful tool for displaying which fonts will be created to outline when the file is flattened (Window>Output>Flattener Preview and Window>Flattener Preview) The drop down box have several options, simply click the drop down to preview any transparent objects on a page.


Live Preflight – Live Preflight (Window>Output>Preflight), does exactly what it says on the tin, it is to to alert designers of problem that may arise before the print process. Live preflight can be set to alert the designer as he/she works so errors or issues can be rectified instantly on the fly.

Print marketing tips

marketingtipsIf your printing business is struggling in the era of website promotion, look at my top tips below to achieve success.

Ordering online – sounds the simple option but it really does make a difference to your customers, majority of customers don’t have time to call or email and want a simple quick solution for their printing needs. Only today I was searching for business cards online and came across a few top sites only to find no online facility. Online ordering functionality can achieve huge orders if done correctly.

Online ordering will increase the number of hours your business is open and make it quicker for people to order when they want to and not dictated by office hours.

Don’t try to compete with the competition – As a small business I am only to aware that trying to compete with larger businesses is hard work and cuts into your profit margins.

Try to avoid competing and offer your customers a different sales technique, what can you offer your customers that the cheaper companies don’t.

Extra services – Print is an important part of your business, try to offer your customers a new service. If you offer Roller banner stands printing, add other related items to the services.

Business network – Avoid targeting online on its own and network in your local area, get out and talk to local businesses about your services and how you can help them. Networking will build brand awareness, is good for local PR and increases your business profile.

Date restricted e-mail marketing – Collect email addresses from your customer, ask permission and send out regular e-shots with date restrictions to encourage spending.

Designing a banner, roller banner or large format poster

hand_mouse.jpg&colour=ffffffGraphic design is a vast subject, it takes many years to master this art with so many different Medias and applications. To a new comer as I well know it can be very exhausting trying to find not only creative inspiration but also the knowledge of using the software tools.

This article will hopefully help budding new designers or even experienced designers in search of that extra knowledge. Below are some tips how to design for large format, roller banners and billboards.

Use large fonts for headlines in main titles, the title is the main heading and is usually the first point of contact with potential customers. There are two main things to consider with headlines;

  1. Make the headline provocative, it should entice the reader to read further and digest the rest of the content. Try to avoid confusing or over elaborate fonts, you don’t want readers to struggle with headlines.
  2. Ask questions of the readers to encourage interaction with you, for example have you seen a headline like; Graphic designers required, whereas a headline
    Do you want to be a graphic design?
    Is more of a leading question to entice the reader to get in contact.

Designs your graphics at high resolution make sure you export your files as 300dpi (dots per inch). When designing for large format roller banners or hoardings you can create your file at ¼ of the size to ease the use of Photoshop. A very large file in Photoshop can take huge timescales to save down or export. ¼ size files can also be up scaled in resolution to 400dpi to allow for increases to sizes.

Use colour mode CMYK, why use CMYK? Because this is the standard 4-colour process for printing mode. RGB is only used for screen purposes such as web design and graphics that are only viewed on a computer screen. Keep your memory free, using Photoshop layers can clog up the computer memory, it is good code of practice to delete any unused layers or graphics that you are not using. I have fallen in the trap of duplicating image layers only to find I have duplicated it a few times with a large image on each layer as 50mb each. This can cause issues with saving and sometimes crashes Photoshop so beware of unused or duplicated layers.