15 November 2020
As a designer, you know the phrase, “make it pretty,” all too well. You’re often asked to work your magic on a variety of projects—and it’s not always limited to websites or brochures. In fact, sometimes things are a bit more … shall we say … environmental. Take vehicle wraps, for example. These moving billboards are a creative way to get your advertisement in front of eyes you otherwise wouldn’t get if it was static. But developing an eye-catching wrap takes some Photoshop skills—lucky for you, we’re breaking down the steps to create your own, compliments of Cincinnati’s very own beloved hippo, Fiona. And, while you may not need a Fiona vehicle wrap necessarily, we’ve outlined the steps so you can practice in Photoshop and swap the images for your own needs. Let’s get started—and enjoy some Photoshop tips along the way! Step 1 Make a 37.5″x 16.5″ comp at 300 dpi (you can get those measurements going off of vehicle blueprint size). We can’t build to scale since our source assets aren’t large enough, but you want the aspect ratio to be similar to the car. It doesn’t have to be perfect—just close. Since you’ll ultimately be printing the wrap, make sure it’s in the CMYK color space. Step 2 Next, add water. It needs to be longer than the photo is. Let’s duplicate it and Edit > Flip Horizontally. Then, line them up. This should make the seam seamless. Trim the transparent pixels via Layer > Trim. Save your water out as a .PSD. Step 3 Find a hippo picture and cut it out with the pen tool. Once you close the path, go to the pen toolbar at the top and Make > Selection. Then, click on the layer mask button to “cut out” the hippo. Trim the transparent pixels via Layer > Trim. Save your hippo as a .PSD. Photoshop Tip: Use Layer Masks Layer masks allow you to show or not show parts of a layer using white or black luma mattes. Simple way to remember: black = don’t show; white = show. The key capability of layer mattes is to be able to work non-destructively (i.e. you can revert any part of composing your scene). Using the eraser tool for example is “destructive”; it can’t be targeted or reverted easily. You can use layer masks on practically any layer—smart objects, linked smart objects, folders and even raster layers. The functionality of adjustment layers and smart filters include a layer mask for you to dictate where you want an adjustment or filter to happen. Step 4 Bring your hippo .PSD in as a linked object (File > Place Linked). Put it where you think you want it in relation to the car and save. Photoshop Tip: Linked Smart Object A linked smart object lets Photoshop reference an externally-hosted asset. It’s great if you need to use an asset in multiple projects or multiple times in a project without having to try and recreate it over and over again. Do your art up and save it out. Then, in your master composition, select File > Place Linked. You can also make an existing smart object into a linked object by right-clicking on the smart object and selecting “Convert to Linked.” Step 5 Next, go to the car template and File > Place Linked your underwater scene with Fiona—now you can see where the image is landing in relation to the car. Double-click on the linked underwater Fiona layer to open it as a .PSD tab. Now, adjust the hippo. Save and repeat until Fiona is where you want her. Step 6 This part is important: We need to make it look like Fiona is underwater. To make the hippo’s head look like it is above water, create a new layer mask and then select it in the layers palette. Use an 1800-pixel feathered brush at 40% opacity to fully paint the Hippo’s body underwater. Then, use a brush with a hardness of 40% at 100% opacity and paint her head back in. Now for finishing touches … use that same brush at 90% opacity and paint the water edge back in around the neck. Step 7 The picture we chose is somewhat flat compared to the water. Let’s create a curves adjustment layer to crush the shadows and bring out the highlights (commonly referred to as an “S” curve). Photoshop Tip: Adjustment Layers When making color edits to your art like curves and levels, you want to use layer masks to do it non-destructively. Layer masks let you turn on/off, change in real-time and mask out many different changes to a layer(s) utilizing a built-in layer mask. Step 8 Ready to add some fishies? Cut fish out, save and place them into your underwater Fiona comp. Fish need some blue to match the water—so drop the opacity. To soften it up, add some Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Now duplicate the fish and change size and rotation for variation. Step 9 Place your logos as embedded smart objects so that you can resize easily without changing the quality. Photoshop Tip: Embedded Smart Objects Use an embedded smart object to scale and resize vector or raster art without changing quality. You can also work smarter by editing your assets inside the embedded smart object and then saving it—then it will update in your main composition: right click > convert to smart object. Smart objects will also allow you to apply Filters to layer(s). Step 10 Yay! We’ve all been there—you get stuck in a creative rut and don’t know how to dig out. Sometimes it just takes getting out of your comfort zone, trying something new and putting your skills to the test. Whether it’s trying out a Photoshop tip from the post above or diving deep into the vehicle wrap step-by-step, practicing your craft will only make you that much better … and allow for more creativity in the future. If you find yourself needing a hand with any kind of design work or your own vehicle wrap, St. Gregory is here to help. Reach out to us today to schedule a free consult.
13 September 2019
If you’ve ever sat through a long meeting debating the relative merits of the headline in concept #2 versus the color choice in #7 (or maybe with the design of concept #16?), then you’ve seen firsthand how approaching a marketing challenge from too many angles is basically like not approaching it at all. Everybody likes choice, but too many options at decision time often have the effect of leaving your brand team confused and your creative team demoralized. So how do we ensure we’re considering the best ideas without trying to execute all of them at once? Even more important, how to can you learn to ask for and expect only the top-drawer concepts—the top three, the mind-blowing two—rather than the entire pool of a dozen or more your team started with? It hinges first on a solid brief. By outlining the specific challenge and strategy, the creative team can zero in on the best, brightest solution from the beginning. There may be refinements along the way, but the surest way to get where you’re going is always knowing where you ultimately want to be from the start. Your creative team shares this responsibility. When they know and understand the market situation and the strategy you’ve set, you can challenge them to bring you the strongest ideas and best executions—the solutions you actually need. Trust the team’s expertise. At the end of the day, your creative team’s skills and experience are your most valuable assets. To get the most from your investment in them, you must first value their experience as much as their work—it’s the surest way to free them (even challenge and motivate them) to do their best work. Expect a focused presentation. How many concepts do you want in the meeting? The correct answer is the fewer the better. When the brief is on target, the creative product likely will be, too. Asking for too many second-tier ideas from the reject pile takes the focus away from stronger concepts—and makes it tough to execute any of the strong candidates at the highest level. Shouldn’t they have a back-up plan? Of course. And trust us, they’ve got one (likely more than one). But a word of caution … you really only want to see these under certain circumstances: The idea supporting the initial presentation misses the mark in a way that wasn’t anticipated in the brief. The secondary idea takes a completely different approach than the one they’re leading with. At the end of the day, it’s all about the process—the challenges your team has already navigated and solved, the tough (sometimes ruthless) creative decisions that have already occurred along the way. A strong creative team will have curated and selected only the best and most effective work long before it’s unveiled to you on presentation day.
28 August 2019
The ever-growing craft beer market—it’s a strange and unique animal. On the one hand, brewers have the ability to easily craft small batches of their barley bev of choice for a specific palate, flavor, style or season. More to the point, the masses are buying it. In passionate, perpetual quantity. On the other hand, this ease and interest have created an incredibly saturated market—a monster all its own where the average, non-Untappd-using drinker often chooses the next sixer based on packaging design rather than more common variables like ABV or price point. Even flavor profiles get ignored if the label is too cool to resist. Recognizing that the need to stand out on the shelf is more than half the battle, craft brewers have (smartly) turned to the creative industry for help. My, my, beer, how the tables have turned. The boom in the craft beer market over the past decade has created a veritable renaissance in contemporary design. Like skateboard decks of the ’00s, craft beer packaging design is exceedingly creative tolerant, allowing artists (or an agency) more room to take risks and produce more subjective work. This does have a downside, though. Grabbing some brews anywhere that carries a decent selection feels a bit like a scene out of Blade Runner … walls of cans aggressively fighting for your attention like a neon-lit alley in a dystopian future LA. Taking a line from The Incredibles: “When everyone is special, no one is. The ones that do it right, though, understand that it’s more than making a pretty label. It’s about the artists/agency being more involved, more fully hands-on—with the team, with the brew, with the success of the brand. Ultimately, they’re transformed into the brewer’s best and most trusted partner, rather than just another vendor. This trust allows the creative team to really hit the mark in terms of great concepts—ideas that are anything but arbitrary. Cutting through the beery noise are brands like To Øl (toolbeer.dk), whose designer/art director, Kasper Ledet, has been around since their beginning. Inspired by art history, architecture, contemporary art, politics and science, he believes the design is more than just marketing—it’s part of the actual experience. Then there’s Burial Beer (burialbeer.com), who approached their artist, David Paul Seymour, on Instagram. At the time, he was creating album art for some heavy bands—based nearly on interest alone, Burial knew Seymour would be perfect for creating their look from the ground up. Even local faves like MadTree and national giants Avery and New Belgium have upped their game when it comes to design, altering their established (somewhat iconic) labels in a targeted attempt to stand out more among the crazy craft crowd. So while craft beer continues to command attention and serious consumer dollars (despite InBev’s efforts to keep it corporate), the art of label design remains an ever-evolving, uber-competitive, highly creative field in the graphic design universe. The competition is fierce—what are you drinking?
03 October 2018
Our creative team loves a good challenge. That’s why car dealership commercials are a special delight of ours. In exactly the same way that the strict line and syllable count of a sonnet have inspired countless poets since Shakespeare’s time, the limitations of a dealership commercial form the scaffolding of some of our most creative
29 July 2016