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Category: Art, illustration and picture research

Cover designer interview: Anna Woodbine of The Woodbine Workshop

Anna Woodbine is an independent book designer and illustrator, based in the hills near Bath. She works on all sorts of book covers from children’s to adult’s, classics to crime, memoirs to meditation. She takes her tea with a dash of milk (Earl Grey, always), loves the wind in her face, clompy boots and that lovely, damp smell after its rained. Find her at thewoodbineworkshop.co.uk.

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Rich Hardiman

Vector graphics: a no-nonsense guide

Rich Hardiman, founder of Comic Printing UK, tweets about everything from the best way to format a bleed to Taylor Swift’s latest album, providing useful information and much-needed laughs all in one place. This article is a distillation of a recent thread on vector graphics – we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

The time has come to talk of vector graphics. Of resolution and .ai formats. Of bitmap art and tricks.

So your standard bit of artwork made in Photoshop or the like will be a bitmap (not the file format, words can mean two things). Whether it’s a tiff, or a psd, or a jpeg, or a PwroNG, it’s rasterised, meaning there are a certain number of pixels and each pixel has data assigned to it

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Design case study: illustrating The Dragon in the Library

It takes a village – or at least a team – to produce a book, and in this article, author Louie Stowell, Nosy Crow designer Elisabetta Barbazza and freelance illustrator Davide Ortu share insights into how an illustrated book comes to life.

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Production Controller

Junior Designer [JOB POSTING]

Quintet Publishing, part of The Quarto Group, is looking for a Junior Designer to join our busy team based in Brighton.

The Quarto Group is the world’s leading independent publisher of illustrated books; our mission is to educate, entertain and enrich the lives of readers. Quintet creates non-fiction books across subject areas ranging from creative technology and activity, to travel and design. Our titles maintain the highest editorial, design and production standards, and we work with co-edition publishing partners worldwide.

We are looking to appoint a creative and proactive Junior Designer as part of our in-house team. The ideal candidate will be enthusiastic about illustrated publishing and possess excellent InDesign skills. Bursting with ideas, you’ll be keen to make your mark on our successful and diverse list.

Assisting the Art Director with the creation of 50 live books and 80 new presentations annually, a key part of the role is liaising with freelancers and working closely with the editorial team. This varied role could see you creating PDFs for a sales presentation in the morning, conceptualising a cover design by lunchtime and preparing print-ready files in the afternoon.

• Good organisation and time-management skills
• Strong interest in illustrated non-fiction publishing
• Meticulous attention to detail
• Excellent knowledge of InDesign, Acrobat and Photoshop is essential, Illustrator would be a benefit
• Creative and keen to learn

To apply for this position please send your CV and cover letter to: james.evans@quarto.com

(Deadline for applications: Friday 2nd February 2018)

The successful candidate must possess the right to work in the UK. Quarto Publishing plc. is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and treatment, ensuring an inclusive and diverse environment.

How to find your design voice (and keep it)

There are many sources offering practical advice to graphic designers but there is more to good design than knowledge and technical skills. Masterful grid and finest type hierarchy can’t bring a book to life on their own. So where does that element of “magic” in design come from? Here are some my observations that I have made when designing, reading, collecting and making books.

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Experienced designer

My top 5 tips on designing social media graphics

It’s a fact that posts which are illustrated have a much higher success and click-through rate than those that aren’t. If you want to create smart and legible social media graphics, just follow my 5 easy guidelines.

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A whiter shade of paper

How do you print white? In some complex cases a white ink is used on top of a foil or acetate but on the vast majority of our print jobs to get white you simply don’t print any ink.

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Taking stock

There is a lot of misunderstanding of what “stock photography” actually means and the phrase is often used to imply negative associations; in fact, whether we’re looking at digital or print design, we believe both custom images and stock photography have roles to play. 

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Why choose a specialist picture library?

Luci Gosling, Head of Sales and Research at historical image specialist Mary Evans Picture Library argues the case for the smaller, specialist agency in an industry that is becoming increasingly dominated by a handful of major players.

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Publishing Services Manager

Tips & Tricks: Improving legibility of text on images

One of the fundamental things you can do either as a designer, or someone creating your own materials, is to understand how to get the best out of combining texts and images. When you overlay text onto a photo different areas of light and dark can reduce legibility. So we asked Amy, one of our Design Managers, to share her top 5 tips for improving legibility of text on images.

1) Position the text in an empty or less busy part of the photo (known as copy space)

2) Think about changing the text colour to make it more visible (known as reverse-out, white-out, knock-out)

3) Use a drop shadow

4) Apply an area of blur

5) Apply a ’scrim’

Scrims are lightweight, semi-opaque layers, used to protect overlaid text. The term ‘scrim’ was used in Google’s recent materials design environment. It’s derived from the textile and theatre industries, where a scrim is a translucent fabric used in stage lighting. Scrims are particularly common in the digital environment, where space for photos and text can be at a premium (such as on hand held devices), and where content needs to be delivered in the blink of an eye.This post was originally published on the emc design blog.

Annette Peppis

How to select photos for projects

Getting photos for your project should be easy, there’s so much available on the internet, right? Well, yes and no. There are a few pitfalls you should be aware of, and easy ways of doing your picture research.

The pitfalls

1) Copyright

Many people think that it’s OK to copy pictures from the internet and use them in their work. Generally, it’s not. You will be infringing the copyright of the photographer or image library by using the pic without permission or payment. Will they find out? Probably not, but if they do and they decide to sue you, your reputation and bank account will be dealt a hefty blow.

2) Boring images

How many times have you seen a law firm represented by a pair of scales or a gavel? It doesn’t have to be this way! Instead of typing in search terms like ‘law’, approach this from a different angle; try to think of what the lawyer will do for you, or the peace of mind you will have after you’ve instructed them – this will source a completely different type of image which is still relevant.

3) The budget

Most clients have a small budget for photos. Generally, this is fine, as you can buy royalty-free stock images for under £10 from most low-cost picture libraries. You can also get photos for free (see below) if you follow the right guidelines and give correct attribution. There is a downside, though; you will not have exclusive use of the image. Although the risk is small, a competitor may use exactly the same picture on their book cover / website / app etc.

Ways to research pictures

1) Low-cost picture libraries

My favourites are Shutterstock (https://www.shutterstock.com/home) and iStockphoto (http://www.istockphoto.com/gb). Think carefully about the search terms you use.

When you see a picture you like in the thumbnail results on your screen, add it to a lightbox (Shutterstock) or board (iStockphoto). You can create one or several for each project. That way, you can compare your images easily, and also email your client a link to the lightbox. For copyright reasons, I’ve used a lightbox full of images I’ve legally purchased here.

If you or your client like a particular image but would like to see similar ones, there is a link below to click onto similar images. You might just find the perfect pic.

You can also search by colour on Shutterstock Spectrum (https://www.shutterstock.com/labs/spectrum/). Move the marker to select the colour you want to match, then type in your keywords to call up a selection of images.

2) Pinterest

Pinterest is a great place to find the type of the picture you’d like to use, but you cannot just copy images from Pinterest due to copyright infringement. What you can do though is to download the picture to your desktop (or take a screenshot) and then do a reverse search. One way of doing this is in Google Images. Click on the camera icon and a box will pop up where you can upload the Pinterest image. Google will tell you where that image appears on the web, and with luck you will be able to find out where to purchase it. By the way, this is how people are often rumbled if they illegally use a pic.

Image libraries also have this reverse search facility.

3) Free images from Flickr

Search for the image you’d like and a number of thumbnails will show in the browser. To ensure you are allowed to use the picture, click on the ‘Any License’ drop-down tab and select ‘All creative commons’. Further select ‘Commercial use allowed’ if that is appropriate. This will limit your selection but there should still be some good pictures available. Clicking on the chosen image will open it in a new window, and you’ll see a link saying ‘Some rights reserved’. Click this and it will tell you what you can and can’t do with the image and who to credit.

You have the option of refining your search by colour, depth of field, pattern etc, but if you are looking for free pictures there probably won’t be that many to choose from.

Finding a professional

A professional picture researcher will save you time, money and headaches, and know of picture libraries that specialise in a particular subject. For example, historical specialist Mary Evans Picture Library in Blackheath have a wide range of historical pictures in their archives. Employee Luci Gosling describes libraries such as Mary Evans as ‘specialist boutiques, rather than supermarkets like Shutterstock’. There are other smaller picture libraries specialising in nature, sport, music and much more. Their employees have a deep knowledge of their archives and their subject. 

I have a particular picture researcher I like to work with; she gets the brief straightaway and knows exactly what I like. They can also help you negotiate fees if you decide you’d like to buy exclusive rights to an image. If you do have the budget to employ a professional picture researcher, it’s well worth it.

Annette Peppis is an enthusiastic early member of BookMachine. Annette helps publishers attract more readers by creating a professional look that builds their business and reflects their values, and offers smart and stylish solutions. You can read Annette’s blog about about graphic design here.

Photoshop at work

Tips for using Photoshop at work: Beate Allerton interview

Ahead of the upcoming training course Photoshop for publishers, BookMachine are running a series of interviews with industry professionals to understand how they use the tool at work. This interview by Katie Dodson is with Beate Allerton, who runs a writing and creative business in Aberdeenshire.

1) How frequently do you use Photoshop and when did you start using it regularly?

I work in Photoshop on a daily basis and I love using it, because it offers so many opportunities for creative expression. I started using it in 2007, a short while after setting out as a freelance writer. I noticed that most editors preferred writers to supply their own photos with their articles. Pitching an idea with photos definitely helped getting commissions, especially as my articles featured travel, cookery and crafts. Using Photoshop helped with editing and making the image look its best.

2) What methods do you use to keep updated and improve on your skills?

I am mostly self-taught in Photoshop skills. When learning to edit photos for my articles, I initially used a book for the basics and also attended a short course in digital editing at a local college. On acquiring more knowledge, I expanded my skills into digital art and design and most of those techniques were learned through experimentation and from YouTube tutorials. Whenever I identify a learning need, I tend to go online for advice and I particularly like YouTube as it suits the way I learn; I can follow along in Photoshop and pause any time I need. I subscribe to the Photoshop channel as well as a variety of other digital photography and editing channels, and always receive alerts when a new video has been posted. I also follow various threads and pages on Twitter and Facebook.

3) Would you mind sharing a top trick with us?

You can make the subject of your photos stand out more, and therefore the photo more effective, by adding a touch of a background blur in Photoshop with the Gaussian blur filter. Usually this is done ‘in camera’ but not every photo turns out perfect, especially when dealing with food or travel photos.

This is more advice than a trick – always use the soft-proofing facility when submitting photos to magazines. When I started out I was horrified that my beautifully vibrant pictures turned out not so vibrant in print. At the time, I didn’t know about CMYK and other printer and paper settings. Although the original image on the monitor will never match the final print 100%, soft-proofing allows you to get the colours as close to the final output as possible. Also, make sure your photos are set to a resolution of 300dpi when submitting to magazines.

4) Could you please share a couple of links to your work?

My art/design/photography website is www.beateallerton.com
My writing/photography website is www.beateallerton.co.uk
Here is a direct link to one of my food portfolios for Country Kitchen

5) What advice would you give to anyone wanting to improve how they use Photoshop?

Identify what you need to know, find out where you can learn what you need to know and then practice as much as you can; I have found that the best way is learning by doing and experimenting.

6) What do you use Photoshop for mainly?

Photo editing work, web design, digital art and surface design work.

If you too would like to improve on how you use In Design/Photoshop at work, you can register on these courses by following the links below:

InDesign: http://bit.ly/2lD5yTw

Photoshop: http://bit.ly/2m4P8Ey

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