Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012 Holiday Gift Guide for Graphic Designers

In honor of the holidays, we came up with a holiday gift guide for graphic designers, which is what we did last year. Below is a list of some of our favorite gift ideas for graphic designers for the 2012 holidays. If you are shopping for a graphic designer and are stumped on what to buy, consider some of our suggestions:

1- A Lynda subscription: We know a ton of great graphic designers with tons of knowledge in the field, but no matter how much they know they always want to know more.  A subscription to Lynda.com is a perfect gift for that graphic designer in your life. Lynda is one of the best online resources available sharing tutorials and video lessons on popular techniques for graphic and web designers. Lynda has two packages available for their monthly subscription plans.

2- Digital Arts magazine subscription: Why not purchase a magazine of Digital Arts for the graphic designer in your life. Digital Arts is a great magazine for designers covering a wide range of topics from digital creative to feature tips and inspiration to reviews. Each magazine issue comes with a CD containing free stock photos, fonts, vectors and tutorials. This is the perfect gift that keeps giving year round for graphic designers.

3- Tablets: Okay, we'll admit it!  Our graphic designers here at Integraphix have an obsession with tablets. A tablet is a computer input device that has a pen and a drawing surface for digital illustration. The tablet is used in place of a mouse and is used to create complex designs efficiently and in a timely manner. As designers in Chicago, we strongly suggest all graphic designers to at least pick up a tablet and try it out for a day! We're sure you'll see how much potential it has to enhance your design capabilities!

4- iStock credit purchase: As web and graphic designers, we are constantly scrolling through different art and stock photos for our projects. If you are looking for a good gift idea for a graphic designer, consider purchasing credits to iStock.com. IStock has the largest library of stock photos and is a very popular resource for designers. 

5- CSSEdit 2: If you are looking for different types of software for the graphic designer your shopping for, check out CSSEdit 2. This program is specifically for Mac users and gives designers the ability to easily make changes to CSS coding. This software allows graphic designers to easily make minor edits to web designs. It’s a great resource for designers that may not have web developer capabilities.

6- App pillow: A silly and fun present that would make any graphic designer smile on Christmas day is the “app pillow.” App pillows are simply square, plush pillows that have different symbols that represent the products in the line of the Adobe Creative Suite. Each pillow is colorful and has abbreviations that represent an Adobe product. Not only is it a comfortable creative gift idea, but it can be purchased for under $20!

Looking for more holiday gift ideas?  Feel free to comment below or contact us.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

25 Creative, FREE Social Media Icon Sets For Graphic Designers

Have you ever noticed the creative icons that link to social media pages on web pages? Website icons and social media icons are designed to make your viewers intrigued to look more in depth in your webpage. As a marketing company, we always add social media icons to our websites and our client websites. Whether you own a 15 page website or only a blog, utilizing social media icons will definitely help drive traffic to your different web pages. You even have the option to add social media icons to your blog template websites such as blogger.

As a Chicago Web Design Company and a Chicago Graphic Design company, we like to be able to utilize all of our skills in single projects. As a creative agency we are always intrigued by projects that allow our designers in Chicago to let their creativity flow, and creating custom social media icons is definitely one of them. From simple black and white icons to detailed 3 dimentional social media icons, there are many options and styles for creating an appealing icon on your page. If you are creating your own social media icons, approach the project as if it were a logo. Create the icons in illustrator and use them as vector files. This file format will be beneficial to you in the long run if you are looking to use these images in the future. For more information on creating logos and custom icons, visit our logo design blog that features posts specifically on logos.

Some social media web pages you may want to consider when creating social media buttons are: Facebook of course, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube.

There are also many websites that provide free or commercial social media icons for free. Of course, these icons won’t be custom to your website, but still have a very big impact on the traffic of your webpage. If you are looking for social media icons for your own website design, below are a few sets of our designers in Chicago’s favorites.  Check them out, and let us know your favorite!

3D Vector Social Media Icons

Circular Stamp Social Media Icons

Classic Gray Social Media Icons 
Ice Icons

Social Media Bubbles

Bottle Cap Social Media Icons

Burnt Wood Social Media Set

Blueprint Social Icon Set

Social Media Balloons

Social Media Stars

Social Media Hearts
Dark Social Media Circles

Social Media Icons - Stained

Origami Social Media Icons

Retro Social Media Icon Set

Handycon Social Media Icons

Sleek Social Media Icons

Social Buzz Buttons

Paint Splattered Social Media Icons

Scribble Social Icon Set

Glossy Social Icons

Pagepeel Social Icon Set

Hand Drawn Social Media Icons
Social Media Stamps

Colorful Social Network Icon Set

Monday, November 12, 2012

Choosing a Font

As a Chicago design firm, we cannot stress the importance of choosing the right font enough.  When we are working with a client on creating logos and design pieces, one of the first things we take into account is the font choice. The font chosen for your advertisement or design piece has a huge impact on the way people will view your brand. As a marketing company we rely on techniques to make viewers more interested in your products and services through advertisements and creative pieces.  Believe it or not, but there are tens of thousands of existing fonts with new ones being created on a daily basis.  With so many choices out there, what prompts graphic design companies to choose one font over all the others and why are so many generic fonts overused?  It's a tough call.

Font choice is crucial when creating an advertisement or design piece.  Typography is a great way to set a mood or compliment branding in an advertisement or design piece.  It may not be the first thing you notice, but the font you choose for your pieces can either make or break your design. The content of the material presented in your design and the purpose of the design are main factors when deciding on a specific font.  A corporate look usually falls with more traditional, clean and straight fonts while something less formal can benefit from utilizing stylized fonts.

When choosing a font, there are many aspects of design that we, as graphic designers, think about.  With so many fonts in existence its crazy how overused certain fonts are.  It is very easy to fall into the trap of using default fonts.  The fonts that are standard with software setup are not always the best choice depending on what you’re trying to achieve with your advertisement or design piece.  It is very typical to see people using common, simple fonts such as Arial, Helvetica and Times New Roman.  When working on an advertisement or design piece, use a good portion of your time to look at font to find the perfect fit.  Our Chicago design firm uses multiple font books and agents, but there are also  many different online resources with free downloadable unique fonts. If you are interested in searching for creative, unique fonts check out these sites:



Now you’ve searched for the perfect font and have finally chosen one.  Awesome!  What’s next?  Consider the size of your font and color choice.  Size and color alone can make or break your choice.  Some fonts look totally different at a small size then they do at a large size, so make sure you check out how your font looks at various sizes. 

Font can truly become a huge focal point of any advertisement or design piece, especially when it is done creatively.  Creating headers of different colors and sizes can draw a large amount of attention to the font on your piece and help intrigue viewers to read your content and learn more.  Make sure with an ad or creative piece that you design that you balance out your images and text.  A successful ad or design will have text and images that compliment each other, not overpower one another.  

Want to know more about choosing font?  Leave us a comment below or contact us.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Creative Printing Techniques

A great way to bring variety to any marketing collateral or design piece is by switching up the printing technique.  Over the last few months, graphic designers everywhere have been preparing for the holiday season.  As Chicago graphic designers always looking to do something unique, we like to consider a variety of different print techniques. As the holidays approach us, we are getting more and more requests for fun and exciting greeting cards and print materials.  We strive to create new ideas and love to utilize new techniques.  There are many different printing techniques that can bring variety to your designs.  Below are a few of our Chicago Design Firm’s favorite printing techniques:

1- Foil Technique:
With the foiling technique you can create a brilliant, shiny finish to almost any print piece for a reasonable price. The process is simple and affordable and can turn a wide range of CMYK colors into multi-colored foils.  Everyday we are bombarded by marketing collateral and as a marketing company, we create prints that stand out from the crowd.  Foil colors bring shine and sparkle to a design and are very appealing to the eye. 

2- Embossing/Debossing:
Embossing and debossing are both similar techniques but produce the opposite effect.  Embossing produces a raised impression on your print materials, while debossing creates a depressed impression.  We recommend using a technique like embossing for special print materials.  Embossing looks great and stands out, but the process does manipulate the paper stock and printed items are often only one-sided if embossed or debossed.  When embossing or debossing it is very important to remember to keep an adequate amount of space between items on your piece, especially any text. Embossing is very easy and can even be done from home. Embossing can easily be preformed by stamping an image on to a piece of paper, sprinkling store bought embossing powder over the image and applying heat. 

3- Thermography:
Another interesting printing technique we’ve seen graphic designers and printers use is thermography printing. Thermography printing is obtained by heating a powder into the ink.  When the powder is heated it causes the ink to rise above the paper. The effect is often times compared to the appearance of engraving. Thermography printing has become one of our favorite techniques, as it stands out but is still very simple and subtle.

4- Silk Lamination:
Silk lamination is a water-resistant form of printing.  The look is very soft as it provides a silk-like-finish.  Similar to the foil technique, silk lamination is produced like any other CMYK document, but an additional step is needed to create the look and provide a unique texture. The silk lamination technique is great if you want to create a soft look with a durable quality.

Comments or questions on creative printing techniques?  Leave us a comment below or contact us