Category Archives: How To

TLU study abroad brochure design

Tell a story with your print piece

At Briley Design Group we are always looking for unique solutions to print projects. There are many ways to make designs stand out like foil stamping (the application of metallic or colored foil), blind embossing (subtly provides a three-dimensional or raised effect to paper) and die cutting (used to produce unique shapes, edges, and message windows). And then there is the creative fold, which is a great dimensional tool that delivers a message with great impact and interest.

According to Sappi paper company, “A fold can be a way to illustrate an idea. It can serve as a storytelling device that gives designers the ability to control the “reveal,” letting readers take in the first level of information before lifting the fold to move deeper into the story. The fold itself becomes an integral part of the narrative, reinforcing in a tactile way what is stated in words and images.” (The Standard—Scoring and Folding v.4)

Know When to Fold ’em
A perfect example of a storytelling fold is a piece we recently completed for Texas Lutheran University. The viewer unfolds the brochure four times revealing four study abroad opportunities offered for TLU students. When the reader gets to the center of the piece, more detailed information is described. Unique folding engages the reader, directs the reader’s attention to key points, and interjects an element of surprise.

How to work with a graphic design firm

How to Work with a Graphic Design Firm

Good design requires successful teamwork between the designer and the client. Working with a graphic design firm starts with providing solid input at the beginning of a new project. Preparation is key. The project you entrust to a design firm is going to represent your company, so it’s important to give them as much information as possible up front. Here are some things you can do to make the design process easier and more productive for both you and your design firm.

Purpose: Let your design firm know what you are trying to accomplish.

  • Who are you are you trying to reach? And what do you need to tell them?
  • Is there a call-to-action? Do you want your audience to do something specific after seeing the piece?
  • How will the design be used? Is the piece for web? Print? Or both? Is it something used in person? By mail, etc.?
  • Is there a specific or targeted deadline for completion?

Message: One of the most important elements of graphic design is getting the message right and delivering it in the right tone.

What are your company’s values, attitude, purpose and personality?

Look and feel: How do you want your company to be perceived?

    • Provide descriptions such as, “conservative”, “clean”, “elegant”, “innovative”, etc”. These offer clues about the tone you want from a look-and-feel perspective.
    • Provide examples. A picture is worth a thousand words. Find websites or materials that you think are similar to the look and feel you’d like to achieve with your project. And describe why you like them (“I like the dynamic look of this”; “I like these colors”; “I like how clean and professional this feels”).

Budget: If you have a set budget, let your designer know.

Costs will vary depending on what you want. Like building a custom home, the more complex the project, the higher the price. A total re-branding is going to cost more than a single logo or package design. Discuss the final deliverables and your budget constraints with your design firm so they can offer recommendations based on your budget and provide you with an accurate cost estimate.

Deadlines: Keep deadlines in mind.

Provide your targeted deadline for completion at the start of the project. A design project has many steps and requires some back-and-forth between the design firm and the client before completion. Once the project is underway, be sure you meet your own deadlines. Provide content and feedback promptly. If multiple people in your company need to review the work, provide collective feedback from your team. This will help keep your project on time and on budget.

Keeping each of these points in mind as you begin a project will help ensure a smooth process and an on-target solution from your design team.

Responsive design mode in Safari

With Safari 9.0, Apple introduced a new mode that allows Safari to mimic how a website might preview on various mobile devices.

 It is just a preference you have to turn on in your preferences.

Here’s how to turn on Responsive Design Mode in Safari:

  1. Go to Safari > Preferences
  2. In the Advanced tab, click on Show Develop menu in menu bar.
  3. You should now have a new option available in your Safari menu bar.
  4. Under the Develop menu in your Safari menu bar, select Enter Responsive Design Mode.

Safari responsive design mode
This will allow Safari to mimic what a site looks like on various devices (an example is shown below).

Safari responsive design mode view

Note: You have to be viewing a web page in order to select Enter Responsive Design Mode in the Develop menu. If you are viewing Safari’s default start page, Enter Responsive Design Mode will be greyed out.

On location photography art direction

How to get great photos on location

Almost all of the photographers we work with prefer to have an art director on the photoshoot. First of all, the old adage of “two heads are better than one” comes into play for problem solving, setting up the shot or even having another body to help move the equipment around, but there are many other key advantages.

What does an art director do on a photoshoot?

The art director’s responsibility goes beyond coordinating what needs to occur on the photoshoot. There is an overall message that needs to be communicated with words and pictures that work together cohesively to further the client’s story. A good art director has a broad understanding of the client’s business and keeps the big picture in mind at all times, which helps immeasurably in communicating with the photographer as a shoot is in progress. It becomes a team effort with art director and photographer in constant communication…”Let’s shoot this in both horizontal and vertical format so it works for the website or as a full page cover for a brochure.” Or, “Safety is a big issue for our client right now so let’s make sure everyone has on proper safety equipment.” Or, “I’d like to zoom in on this shot so we really see the client’s equipment up close and feature their technology.” When we art direct, we stay right by the camera so we can see what the photographer is seeing and also so we can communicate quickly and clearly during the shoot.

Here are a few more things we have found contribute to a successful photoshoot.

  1. Plan the shoot with the client.
    – Get client input. What is the main purpose of the shoot?
    – Logistics: Get contact information of key personnel you will be working with on site.
    – Create a detailed shot list and time schedule.
  2. Get there early and stay late. If you are shooting outside take advantage of early and evening light. A beautiful sunrise or amazing sunset can add tremendously to what you are shooting.  Even a landfill can be beautiful with the right lighting.
  3. Communicate with models.
    – When working with non-professional models (ie company employees) keep communication simple and straightforward.
    – Demonstrate what you want them to do if need be.
    – Their body language has to be natural and believable. Capture them doing their job, and help them feel as comfortable as possible.
  4. Be the photographer’s eyes and ears. Be open to opportunities that are not on the shot list. Many brochure cover images and website banner images were things we saw and shot spontaneously with narrow windows of opportunity.
  5. Pay attention to details. 
    – Ask questions as you shoot regarding safety, uniforms, company processes and procedures.
    – Keep the shot as clean as possible. Watch for things like clutter in the background or on desks.
    – Make sure hands and feet are not cut off in the frame of the shot.
    – Don’t crop with the camera.
    – Make sure models’ attire is neat and appropriate.
  6. Tell a story with each photo. The goal on every shot should be communication. What does this photo say visually.

Here are some examples of our team efforts when we work together as art director/photographer to capture images for our clients.

How to prepare graphics for banners and trade show displays

I-am-TLU-bannerWhen creating graphics for large format items like banners and trade show displays, be sure to give your print vendor exactly what they need.

Ask your print vendor for detailed artwork specifications, which will let you know exactly how to setup your artwork in terms of scale, resolution, whether or not they need bleed (or extra image beyond the trim edge), preferred file format, etc. Most print vendors will be able to provide you with their exact specs.

Specs can vary from one vendor to the next, so it is always good to ask. But if you cannot get exact artwork specs, there are some general rules of thumb you can lean on if you must. Assume that photos should be a target resolution of 100 to 150 dpi at final size. Assume that you will need .25” bleed on each side. More than likely the vendor will want the artwork in CMYK color mode and will need crop marks included.

If you are using a photo on your banner or trade show display, often even high quality, high resolution images are not high enough resolution to yield good print output at such a large size. The good news is that high quality images can often be re-interpolated to a larger size either by using specialized software (like onOne’s Perfect Resize or Alien Skin’s Blow Up), or by incrementally enlarging the photo in Photoshop.

If you have to re-interpolate your photo, be sure to pay close attention to noise and sharpness. View your image at 50% of actual size to check the noise and sharpness.

The image below would have been soft without additional sharpening.



Some images may need additional noise reduction, like the example below. This noise might be overlooked if you only view your image at a reduced size to fit your computer monitor. The image below is shown at 50% of its final size, which is large enough to see the noise that results from re-interpolation. You need to be aware of this so that you can reduce the noise if needed – before it ends up on your printed banner.


Keeping these things in mind when creating graphics for large format items will help you provide your print vendor with exactly what they need. In the end, your print vendor will appreciate receiving the artwork ready-to-print. It will allow them to do their job faster, without additional troubleshooting, and should provide you with the best possible output quality.