Add Some Sparkle to Your Next Design With the Illustrator Symbolism Tool

Symbols are art objects that can be used multiple times in Adobe Illustrator documents. Imagine creating effortless, eye-catching designs simply by using typography, shapes, colors, and a few simple effects. That’s the power the symbolism tool provides. Using predesigned symbols will save you time and open doors to some very interesting techniques you can apply to your current design projects.
To get started with the symbolism tool, click the Windows tab located in the top menu bar and select Symbols. A new menu box designated just for symbols will appear. This is where you’ll find all of the preprogrammed symbols available to use. Existing symbols in the program’s library include symbols that lend themselves to nature, shapes, business, sports, and much more.
Open the Symbols Library and select the symbols you’d like to work with, then prepare to have some fun with the symbol sprayer tool. Select Symbol Sprayer from the Tools menu on the left-hand side of your screen.
Determine where you want your symbols to go, and simply click on that area of the canvas to add the selected symbols to your document.
Sure, you can click once and only have a single instance of the selected symbols appear, but the symbol sprayer is so much more fun than that! The sprayer works on your digital canvas similar to a can of spray paint. Click and hold your mouse button, and multiple instances of the same objects will appear. Move the cursor around the canvas to place the objects in different locations as the tool sprays. In a matter of seconds, your canvas will be covered in objects.
Placing symbols on the canvas is only the beginning. There’s so much more digital design fun to have with Illustrator’s symbolism tool. Other functions available when working with the symbolism tool include:
Working with Illustrator’s symbolism tool is fun and easy. It’s a great way to add a lot of life to a design without much time or effort. Imagine creating an ocean full of fish or a field full of butterflies almost instantly.
Just be careful. It’s easy to get carried away. So no matter what your design project calls for, keep the Illustrator symbolism tool in mind. It’s a secret weapon every designer should have in their arsenal.

Designing for Color-Blind Viewers

What does your design look like when viewed through the eyes of someone that’s color blind? Not everyone can see all colors, but they do need to be able to recognize what different colors can mean on some signs, particularly safety signs and notification signs. While accommodating color blind viewers is not yet a universal requirement to assist those with this disability, many countries do require such an accommodation. This means there is a precedent for constructing design work in this way.
If you are asked to design something for color blind viewers, it can be done. Here are some ways you can approach it.
Consider the different types of color blindness when preparing printed materials for this segment of the population:

Protanopia

Red, orange, and yellow don’t appear as brightly to these people. These colors may appear as black or gray to them. People with protanopia also have difficulty telling the difference between violet, blue, lavender, and purple.

Deuteranopia

People with deuteranopia cannot distinguish between red, yellow, and green. These colors all look the same to them. Unlike people with protanopia, however, they do not experience the colors appearing dimmer than they really are. They experience the full brightness of the colors they see.

If you’re not color blind, how can you experience what color blind viewers will experience? Photoshop can simulate that experience with these two proofing commands:
View > Proof Setup > Color Blindness – Protanopia Type
View > Proof Setup > Color Blindness – Deuteranopia Type
These commands allow you to see the way designs will look to people with the two types of color blindness listed above. Once you know how a color blind person will actually see your design, you can use all of the other Photoshop tools at your disposal to adjust the design as needed. This will help you design documents and signs that are truly viewer friendly to color blind people.
The most important thing to remember is that for most people with colorblindness, it is not so much distinguishing one color from another that is the problem, as it is differentiating between shades and brightness levels of similar colors. You can do your colorblind viewers a tremendous favor by making colors bright and never mixing gradients of shades of a color on a document or sign.
Another helpful thing for colorblind viewers is having some kind of visual texture, especially on infographics. If you are creating a graphic chart, for example, and it uses different colors, try putting some light or dark bands across some of the bars or pie wedges on your graph. Even if your colorblind users can’t distinguish the color, they will know what is what on the chart by the visual textures.
Finally, try to avoid using any signage that requires identification of something by color alone. This is a popular design trend that many people think makes things simpler, but it is a nightmare for colorblind viewers. Always include some kind of accompanying text, so if a colorblind person can’t distinguish a color, they can always read the words.
Public signs are the most common types that need color distinction to convey messages, although some private signs may rely on this, as well. Keep the differences in mind on how color blind people view various colors, whether they can see those colors at all, and how those color perceptions will impact their ability to interpret the print. Use this knowledge to design the print appropriately, and your buyer will be satisfied.

Open Arms of a Gatefold Will Grab More Attention

The open arms of a gatefold will grab more attention, pulling a target audience into what you have to say. When we say “grab,” we mean the pages will literally unfold out of the magazine wide enough to reach out and grab the attention of many readers. Okay, maybe not literally, but the gatefold does open up wide enough to display large, panoramic images.A gatefold is a printed sheet that is made with four panels and is commonly placed within publications as a means of increasing overall printing space.
The left and right panels of the printed sheet fold inward with parallel folds, meeting at the center of the publication without overlapping. Six panels (three on the front and three on the back) are created with a standard gatefold as shown below:
Eight panels (four on the front and four on the back) result from using a “closed gatefold” format, which adds one more fold at the center of the document:
Of course if you flip through a magazine you will be greeted by a gatefold or two, however it does not mean that this format can only be used for these type of publications. This form of publishing is a great option for your next newsletter, party invitations, newspaper inserts, menus and brochures. The size of the gatefold makes it easy to hand out to potential customers at expos and events offering a lot of information in a single brochure. Plus, because of the condensed size, using this format will help save money when mailing brochures to customers and potential customers.Your company will benefit from using gatefolds for promotional materials mostly because you will be able to include a lot of information in a small, single brochure. It is also a unique and creative advertising tactic that will grab your audience’s attention encouraging them to open the folds and read more. That is if the gatefold does not jump out and grab them first.

Nourish Creativity with a Visual Diary

Long, drawn-out projects with endless stages and countless revisions can be emotionally and creatively draining. Recharge your creative stores by taking a bit of time every day for pure, no-external-obligation artistic and design endeavors. A visual diary keeps you creative by making a space where you design something new each day that’s just for you. Just as a written diary captures your thoughts in words, a visual diary is a place to record your thoughts in a graphical format. It provides a welcome break from your regular work routine and a place for inspiration.
Steps to Succeeding with a Visual Diary
It’s easier to begin if you set some parameters. Will you create something daily for a month? Do you prefer to have a theme or to free associate to create? Will you create a paper journal or put your work in a digital format?
Different mediums can inspire different results. For instance, some designers find that working in a graph paper composition book allows them to create well-proportioned designs.
Whether you wish to do a small project a day or to dedicate time to your visual journal on three pre-set days a week, sticking to your commitment is important. Regularity is the key. Even 15 minutes a day freely creating can energize you for more in-depth and restricting projects.
Build daily entries into a series. When a subject, medium, or process excites you, explore it further in future entries. You may find that you create an impressive work over time. For instance, you can experiment with different ways to create motion in a graphic or make a typographical piece of art each day.
Keep energized by sharing what you’re doing. Feedback feeds the creative soul. If you’re doing a paper journal, take it with you to gatherings to show friends what you’re working on. If your medium for the visual diary is digital, you can share it online through Facebook, Flickr,deviantART, or your own blog.
If you miss a day or two, don’t feel tempted to give up on the project altogether. Just pick up where you left off. Don’t feel you need to do extra entries to “catch up.” The idea is to make this a pleasant commitment.
When the month is over, look over what you’ve created and store the ideas for later. Your design journals can be a great source of inspiration. When it comes time to start a new design project for work, you may find a solution to design problems in your daily visual journal.
Making visual works for no purpose other than to create can help break up the tedium and stress of a professional creative life. Give yourself permission to create just for you for a short time each day. You’ll feel more engaged and better prepared in your professional work.