The Wait is over! This is Dirty: From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial is Here!

From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial

The wait is finally over.

The long awaited, highly anticipated video tutorial by Cleveland brand design services guru & Go Media President William Beachy, is finally here. Based on his wildly popular blog post, From Sketch to Vector Illustration, “This is Dirty: From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial,” is an intimate look into Bill’s design process.

{Whoops! Somehow missed the popular “From Sketch to Vector Illustration post? Check it out here.}

“This is Dirty,” is a compilation of all Bill has learned over twenty years as an illustrator, designer and entrepreneur.

I want it now.

You’ll spend an intimate 1 hour, 11 minutes with Bill, pouring over an illustration he has created specifically for this tutorial. Bill gives you a raw, rare look into his process from start to finish. Giving away all of his secrets, tips, tricks and talents, Bill shares the resources you’ll need to follow along and includes the following recommendations/information:

Supplies
The Staedler Mars mechanical pencil and sharpener
Eraser of choice
The pros and cons of hard vs. soft lead
Preferred paper type

Drawing (Pencil Sketch)
Getting into the right head-space
Getting your arm loose
Why starting with rough sketches is so important
Getting started
Having proper expectations of yourself
Being flexible while drawing
Drawing using basic geometrical shapes
Drawing the human face
Developing a series of cheats to draw
Shading – how much black vs. white
Using reference materials

Scanning
Equipment specifications
Scanning specifications

(Vector) Inking
Equipment and software specifications
Dell(PC) vs. Apple
Mouse vs. Wacom
Nodes and bezier lines
Setting up your layers
Setting up gradients and picking colors
Inking options
Creating shapes in Illustrator
Cross hatching

Coloring
Photoshop vs. Illustrator
Setting up your layers
Process strategy
Highlights and secondary light source
Adding Shadows
Adding a texture

What you receive with the download:

  • Extended Tutorial (MP4 Video)
  • Blue Concrete Square texture (jpeg)
  • This is Dirty Illustration (pencil art)
  • This is Dirty Illustration Version 1 (jpeg)
  • This is Dirty Illustration Version 2 (jpeg)
  • This is Dirty Illustration – Final (AI File)

Yes. Let’s do this!

We can’t wait to see what you create! Share your work with us over at our Flickr Pool Showcase.

Typography Shortcuts: ‘Custom’ Type Treatments for the Lazy Designer

‘Custom’ Type Treatments for the Lazy Designer

Custom hand-drawn type treatments are quite popular these days. Nothing says hipster-cool like hand lettering your client’s chalkboard coffee shop menu. But let’s face it – hand lettering requires a certain amount of artistic skill. And time. Lots and lots of time (and we all know not every client has a big budget).

So, what do you do? You want a custom type treatment for your client but you lack either the skills or time to do it right. You need a shortcut. You need a cheat. You need the gurus of Cleveland graphic design services Go Media’s (semi-) patented Custom Type Treatment for Lazy Designers technique!

Here’s how it’s done:

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Step 1. Select a font.

This is where all our time savings comes in. Your final product is going to be 85% font, 15% customization. While selecting the font will feel like the easiest step, it’s also the most important. Don’t rush through this step of the process! I will often times spend over two hours just trying to find the perfect font. Remember the font you select is 85% of the final product and picking a font will be SAVING you tons of time hand lettering – so go slow!

In this case, the project was for a close friend of mine who asked for a tattoo of the word “Unvanquished.” While I’m a great illustrator, I’m not great at hand drawing type, so I knew my best result would be to start with a font. I probably spent about three hours finding this one font (Anha Queen VMF Pro).

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Step 2. In Computer Modifications: Kerning

At this point I start by converting my type into ‘paths’ in Illustrator. I will be modifying my letters as vector shapes from here on out.

In my experience, no font’s kerning is perfect for every single word. So, once I’ve typed out the logotype I’m going to make, I fine-tune the letter spacing. When creating a word-mark I’ve found that you generally want the kerning tighter than what is comfortable for reading – this changes the word into a mark. You can see the adjustments I made with the kerning above.

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Step 3. In Computer Modifications: Eliminate Redundancies

Frequently fonts will include lots of repeating shapes. Sometimes these can be ugly and a dead giveaway that your type treatment is a font and not original. It’s ok if you keep one of these shapes, but remove any redundancy that stands out. I’ll also usually use this step in the process to clean out anything that I don’t like. This font has a lot of messy flourishes, so I’ll clean those up too.

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Step 4. In Computer Modifications: Play with Ascenders, Descenders and Letter Size

Fonts tend to have a certain-size perfection. All lowercase letters are pixel-perfect height, line thicknesses are exactly the same, etc. I like to play with all of this stuff to give the type treatment a bit more originality.

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Step 5. Hand Drawn Modifications

While hand-drawing this font from scratch was beyond my skill level, adding some hand-drawn modifications is a fun and easy way to further refine your type treatment. For this step, I simply print out my type onto an 11×17” sheet of paper, pull out a pencil and start playing! If you mess up, just throw it away (sorry, I mean recycle it) and start over. Once I’ve got something I’m happy with I will scan that back into the computer and ‘vectorize’ the elements that I drew.

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In this particular case, all my flourishes made the art a little too tall for my friend’s arm, so his tattoo artist modified my design a bit.

Step 6: Sit Back and Enjoy the View

After you’ve finished vectorizing the elements you’ve lazily hand-drawn, sit back and enjoy the view. Sarcasm aside, appreciate how, relatively quickly, you’ve been able to construct a pretty hip custom type treatment. Your client will be equally impressed and their pocket book will thank you, too.

The Number One Myth of Hiring (& How You Can Overcome It)

Hey Go Media Faithful! Here’s another excerpt from my book, Drawn to Business, about the number one myth I’ve found in the hiring process. For more of my insights and actual tools to help you start your own million dollar company, pick up the book as well as its supplemental materials, now available on the Arsenal.

Start my own million dollar design firm.

When to Hire Employees

Simply put, your staff IS your company. And your relative success or failure is frequently a result of the quality of your people. If you think you can hire mediocre people and train them to be great, well, think again. Particularly when you’re small and getting started, the impact of your staff is amplified. A very small business is really more about its people and less about its systems. You need to make sure you’re finding and hiring the very best employees.

Here’s What I Had To Overcome

The Myth: more employees equals more profits.

I had this idea stuck in my head for most of my life; the more employees I have, the more money I make. Even before I was seeing any real return on the hours I was working in my business, I was anxiously trying to hire on employees. The thought was that an employee was like a little engine, churning out profits. The more little engines you have running, the more profit is pouring out onto your company floor. Well, this is a fun idea, but what if your engines produce $1 per hour in profits and what if your engines require $2 worth of gas each hour to run? Now your little money engines aren’t churning out profits, they’re burning money at a rate of $1/hour.

It’s important to blow up the myth in your head that staff will somehow magically make you money. Having an employee is not inherently good or bad for your company’s profits. They may make you lots of money, or they may cost you lots of money. The only real guarantee is that you have to pay them either way. So, before you run out and start expanding your staff…

Get out your calculators

Do the Math: hire what you can afford. Don’t be tempted by that high-priced gun. When Go Media first got started, we wanted to hire the very best employees, so we did. We paid them what they asked for. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford the quality of employees that we hired. We never did the math. We assumed that because they were good designers, somehow their value added to what our firm would produce: the extra income necessary to pay their salary. We had a problem. We weren’t charging our customers enough hourly to cover the employee’s hourly wage. After six months, we were broke and forced to lay off our newfangled employee.

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So when DO you hire?

When do you hire? A good rule of thumb for hiring is when you have enough money coming in that you can afford to pay that new employee EVEN IF THAT NEW EMPLOYEE DOES NOT CONTRIBUTE ONE PENNY TO YOUR INCOME. If you have any doubt whatsoever about your ability to afford a new employee, you probably shouldn’t be hiring them.

Before you start to scale up your business you need to ask:

  1. “Is this system humming? Am I dialed in? Are we churning out rock-solid profits every month?” Or, are you hoping to fix your system by bringing in more people? Are you bringing on people hoping THEY will be the ones who start bringing in the money? If this is your perspective, then you shouldn’t be hiring.
  2. Another question you can ask yourself when considering whether or not to hire someone is: “Is there historical precedence for their job?” In other words, are you getting regular requests for the job they’re going to do? If there isn’t a proven track record of demand, then I would look to an alternate option to hiring a new employee. Build the demand first, line up the work, and THEN hire a new employee.

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All in all what I’ve found is that more employees do not necessarily mean more profits. Employees are a liability. Whether you’re busy or not, you need to pay them. Wait to hire more employees until the evidence and need is overwhelming.

How about you? What have you found to be the biggest myth in your hiring process? What hurdles have you faced? Join the conversation in the comments below!

For more hiring tips, including Supplemental Materials like “How to Hire the Rockstar Staff of Your Dreams,” head over to the Arsenal, where you can pick up all of our bonus content!

Drawn to Business   How to Build a Thriving Design Firm

Drawn to Business: Customer Retention Insights

Hi Go Media faithful!  Bill here! I’m back to deliver another teaser article from my book, Drawn to Business.  Today we’ll cover a topic vital to operating a thriving design firm: Customer Retention.

1

Take good care of your customers. Nothing will replace good service. No amount of holiday cards, phone calls, discounts or anything else will make up for poor service. When a client brings you a project, you need to treat them like royalty. Be nice and supportive. Hit your deadlines. Do amazing design work. Stay on budget. Follow through. Say thank you when they pay. Give them legendary service with a smile on your face. If you do this, you’ve at least ensured that they’ll trust you for future projects.

2

Make a good first impression. Take particularly good care of your customers at the beginning of the relationship. Getting off on the wrong foot can ruin a good relationship.  How you perform on the very first project is absolutely critical. More specifically, your first set of proofs will establish in the mind of your customer whether they can relax and trust you to do great work, or if they’re going to have to look at everything you do with a critical eye. If you’re working with a new client, the first project is the most critical time in that relationship.

3

Resist the urge to over-promise. Establish reasonable expectations with your customer then out-perform those.  Under-promise. Over-deliver. If you think delivering what you promise makes a good impression, just wait till you see how your customers respond when you give them a little bit more.

4

Be an advisor to your customers, not just an order taker. An order taker is dispensable, but an advisor is invaluable.  Of course, it takes more work to be an advisor than an order taker. You certainly can’t just upsell your client on a bunch of services they don’t need. You have to get to know them, understand their business and know which services you can provide that make sense for them.

5

Stay in touch with your customers. Nothing else will give you as big a return on your time than doing something simple like dropping your client an e-mail or giving them a phone call.  This is one of the simplest and yet most powerful ways to generate ongoing business. Just stay in touch. It’s so simple. Don’t pester, don’t annoy, just make sure you stay on your customer’s mind. Make sure they know that you’re ready and eager to help them with their design needs.

6

Offer cheaper rates to your best customers.  For almost the entire existence of Go Media there was only one pricing model. Our prices were broken down hourly, based on service type. We charged all our customers the same amount.

To qualify, the customer has to have completed enough projects with us that we feel comfortable with the way they work. They can’t be a customer that meanders off-scope, pushes our hours over budget and then complain about additional costs. They have to be easy to work with and they have to pay their bills on time. This strategy is one I learned from a peer who works at a much larger corporation. They have great success with it.

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Want to learn more about becoming the greatest design firm you can be?  Buy Drawn to Business, a nuts and bolts strategy guide to building a thriving design firm!

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Drawn to Business: Writing Winning Design Proposals

Drawn to Business: Writing Winning Design Proposals

Hey Go Media faithful! Over the next few months I’ll be posting five excerpts from my forthcoming book Draw to Business as a series of teaser articles here on the GoMediaZine. So, without further ado, here are seven tips on writing winning design proposals.

Regurgitate back exactly what your clients tell you. Writing a good proposal starts with listening. Ask lots of questions and listen carefully; your potential client is going to tell you exactly what they want to read in your proposal. Your first job is to listen and write down everything they say. Then you’re going to write that back to them in your proposal. If a client says: “We want a highly interactive website.” Your proposal should say: “Our solution for you is a highly interactive website.”

Create templates and refine your message. When you sit down to write your first proposal, think of building a template. You’re not going to want to write every proposal from scratch. Try to keep most of the sections generic enough so that you can reuse them with other clients.

Design your proposal. You can file this under the “duh” category. Your business documents are a representation of you! They should embody all the skills you have as a designer. This includes your proposals. So take the time to make sure that the design of your proposal will sell your potential client as strongly as the content within it. Your proposal is your portfolio! Make sure it looks amazing!

Customize the design for your client. For larger proposals, we will swap out the colors and images in our proposals to match the client’s brand. In some cases we invest quite a bit of time and effort to make our proposal look like THEIR proposal. It’s amazing how impactful delivering a custom designed proposal can be. The client feels like: “They just ‘get’ us.”

Give them a few exciting ideas. It’s a well-known fact that people buy on impulse. There is a lot of emotion involved in why people buy. One way to sell a client is to get them excited. This can be easily accomplished by sharing a few of your ideas with a client. This should be done in just a sentence or two. Describe something exciting you want to do with your client’s design. A clever idea can make the difference between you and your competitor.

Ask for a budget upfront. Knowing a client’s budget up-front is critical to writing a winning proposal. Ask your potential client for a budget during your very first interaction with them. If they act coy and won’t give you one, there are ways of extracting it. (These tactics and many more in the forthcoming book).

Don’t underbid the project. Another critical reason for asking for a budget is making sure that you’re not underbidding the project. Believe it or not, underbidding a project is as bad as overbidding it. When you severely underbid a project you’re communicating that you’re either an amateur or that you don’t understand the scope of the project. Both of these will scare off a customer.

Want to learn more about becoming the greatest design firm you can be?  Buy Drawn to Business, a nuts and bolts strategy guide to building a thriving design firm!

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