Why Use Photographs?

before-and-afterSometimes words alone seem inadequate to communicate your message. As many designers are learning, photographs can add power and impact to a layout. Just as computers have made using illustrations and drawings as easy as clicking a few buttons, advances in scanning, printing, stock photos and other imaging technologies have made photos accessible to graphics designers.

Photographs bring realism and authenticity to your marketing material. Photos offer a few things that other kinds of illustrations and artwork can’t match. The most obvious is that photos seem real they offer concrete visual proof to back up your text. This is why newspapers and magazines use photos for hard news stories, but use illustrations for more abstract articles. Numerous studies show that readers are more likely to believe a story, statistic, advertising claim, or other assertion if it features a photo. A good photograph captures our attention, conveys emotion, and tells a story.

autoPhotos can also evoke a greater sense of urgency and drama from readers than illustrations can. If you try to recall the most important events of the last 50 years, odds are you associate the events you remember with photos you’ve seen. Black-and-white photos are generally considered to be more authentic or “real” than color photos.

Half the battle of producing professional, attractive layouts with photos is making sure you choose the best shots available. You don’t have to be a shutterbug to know that not all photos are created equal. A good photograph stands apart from the rest because it both feels right and looks good. It captures our attention, conveys emotion, and tells a story. Photographers must expose and print the photograph properly, meeting basic standards of clarity and quality. A combination of the artistic and technical produces a winning photo.

Graphic Design for Two Color Printing

How do I design business cards, letterhead, and envelopes for 2 color printing.  For instance, can two colors be combined for a third color?  Can the white of the paper be allowed to shine through to create gradients (like light blue to dark blue)?

Does Illustrator allow you to select just two colors and design from those.  If so, how do you set up your color palette?

Sure, you can use Illustrator to design your pieces with only two colors.  You’ll be working with Spot Colors.

Working in a CMYK document color mode, you can create your CMYK color and add it to the Swatch Window (Window > Show Swatches). Then you can make it a spot color by double clicking on it in the Swatch Window.  Change the Color Type from Process to Spot. Notice the ‘spot’ in their little swatch in the Swatch Window. Or there are entire libraries available from Pantone, who supplies them to Adobe. Windows>Swatch Libraries>Pantone (Coated, uncoated, etc, depending on the gloss of your paper stock)

To vary the screen from 0 to 100 percent, use a percentage tint (Window > Show transparency). To blend two colors, you need to place objects on top of each other and learn about Overprinting. For example.  Create a 100% red spot color square and a 100% yellow spot color square and overlap parts of them so there’s a common area.

Now select View > Overprint Preview from the menu

Now select both squares and choose Window > Show Attributes. There, check the box marked Overprint Fill. The common area will become orange and that’s the way it will print! That’s how you create interesting blends with a limited spot color palette. If one of your colors is black, you can just use 100%K, you don’t need to “Spot Color” it.

Please be aware that there are certain issues with offset printing pieces that use transparency.  There’s a Guide available at Adobe about Flattening your Transparencies before commercial printing.

Design and Printing With Duotones

b/w before
b/w before

A duotone is an image taken from a black and white original and produced through two-color printing. The two colors may be used to achieve a wide variety of effects on letterhead, business cards, envelopes and other business stationery. What’s exciting about duotones is they offer virtually limitless variety, yet are reasonably easy to generate in pre-press and to run on press. As a result, duotones are a great value, providing wide creative freedom at economical costs.

There is no one duotone. In fact, there are three types of traditional duotones – created from two halftones of the same image – and two types of “fake” duotones – halftones printed over a solid or screened second color. When you consider that duotones may be created in any color or hue, the full range of possibilities seems limitless. Even within the confines of a specific duotone technique, the compression or extension of the density range, intensity of color, and a myriad of other details can have a dramatic effect on the end product. Achieving the duotone effect you want depends on clear and open communication with the print shop. Explain what you’re looking for in detail and, most important, be ready for some trial and error as you work through the process of finding the best technique and color combination.

basic duotone after
basic duotone after

One thing is certain, good duotones begin with good photography. If you start with photos which offer a broad range of tonal value and detail, you will have more flexibility to adjust screen densities and tonal range. Finally, the best duotones are printed on paper that can hold halftone dots in tight, crisp resolution.

Selecting Ink color Subject matter often suggests the choice of duotone color. For example, wood surfaces and finishes can often be replicated closely in duotones combining black and brown or orange and dark brown inks. Many designers have discovered that duotones, created with unusual colors, can add power and impact by transforming photography into images which are virtually illustration. Most important, duotone effects depend as much on how you use the two colors as what colors you specify.

The difference in effect is dramatic. The choice is up to you. Consider duotones for your next two color printing project.

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