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Showcase Your Branding in Photography: Use a Gradient Map for a Duotone Effect

We get a lot of requests for colorization work on customers’ images, so we like to keep tabs on photography techniques both old and new. Way back in 2015 we blogged about converting images to black and white, and how to use a gradient map to achieve a rich effect. For the purposes of that conversation we were using it to maximize just two colors, but you can use more than two.

We like the idea of using branding to customize a great—or even not-so-great—piece of photography. If your business has only two branding colors, that’s fine, you can add white and/or black to get some depth in your image. Having said that, there are a lot of really cool duotones out there. So if your two corporate colors are of high contrast, rock and roll! It’ll be that much easier to get a stunning image with minimal effort.

Just as a technical consideration, the artwork you’ll end up should be suitable for either web or print. However, it’s good practice to check with the folks who will be producing your piece before going through the trouble of colorizing an image. They may have some advice on how to set up your color space. And of course, it’s a good idea to work on a copy of your photo in case it doesn’t come out the way you want and you wish to start over.

The Humble Beginnings…

Logo with three colors, four if you count white.
As is, this image lacks that “Wow!” factor.

The logo for this home-brew supplier doesn’t complement this unremarkable photo of Yellowstone Park at all. The challenge is how to integrate them into a unique piece of art. With a little effort and some experimentation, we should end up with handsome corporate note cards, or a design for a Christmas card they can send to their friends, customers, and business associates.

You’ll want to find out what colors you’re dealing with, so consult your corporate branding guidelines and look for the Pantone Matching Systems (PMS) numbers or CMYK formulas. In this case, we have a brick red, a charcoal grey, and a gold. They don’t really have PMS designations, but that’s okay. We could make them spot colors and name them GJ Red, GJ Grey, etc. if we needed to, depending on how it’ll be produced.

The Magic

The artist created a gradient map layer (on the right, highlighted in blue in the layers panel), and plugged in the three colors plus white. She moved the sliders around in the gradient editor (box on the left with all the colors in it), to experiment with the positioning and relationships between the individual hues. You can slide those little “stops” right past each other and see the colors in the image shifting in real time. The magic is in how the shades blend into each other. In one case she tried just the grey and the gold with white, and while the result is pretty, it didn’t fit the bill. Incidentally, you can save each iteration as a “new document” in the history pane, then move on to the next.

This looks a little too apocalyptic for our purposes.
That much “gold” snow is just off-putting, though the sky is pretty.
This has a nice drama to it.
Attractive, but feels more Southwestern than Northwestern.

The Prestige

It bears noting that the result is actually a tri-tone, but is usually referred to as duotone. Whether you have your in-house graphic team work on it, or send us your photo and logo, the possibilities are exciting—such a compact and elegant form of business communication.

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7 Commonplace Life Hacks That Put Sustainability Within Reach

“Thoughtful, Committed Citizens,” Indeed

In the recent past, suburbanites thought nothing of littering in public spaces. People would throw empties out their car windows without a care, or leave their paper picnic plates and napkins, and other trash in public parks for someone else to clean up. After a while, we got tired of it, and anti-littering campaigns popped up here and there, particularly in the mid-seventies. These mostly disconnected efforts turned into one big cultural shift, and now littering is widely considered to be a no-no.

The same can be argued of the sustainability movement. Home recycling has become almost a given for many families, thanks to things like deposits on beverage bottles, the upcycling movement, grocery discounts for shoppers who bring reusable bags, and even good old-fashioned peer pressure from your tree-hugging grandkids.

Japan has embraced recycling like a boss. Here in the U.S. we’re catching up. Municipal recycling made its debut in New Jersey in 1980 thanks to a Girl Scout, and grew in the 90s, with California predictably leading the charge. This article provides a nice little timeline for your fact-checking pleasure. And that was all just the start. Since Y2K, home recycling has become a part of an ever-growing whole.

Social Media Strikes Again, But In a Good Way This Time

In March, an Algerian activist and conservationist posted a snap of himself in a littered wooded area, and an accompanying selfie of the litter having been collected up into nine bulging trash bags. The pair of pics sparked a viral campaign, a TrashTag call to action encouraging bored teens to follow suit and post their own clean-up efforts. The ensuing activity across platforms was certainly an improvement over people eating laundry detergent or whatever other silliness social media users are getting up to these days.

Of course, this, like any viral event will run its course, but there are things we can all do at home and in our professional lives to make a difference.

For Your Consideration

  • Fair Trade Products: If you need an excuse to feel good about your environmental accomplishments while enjoying a rich cup of coffee with a chocolate covered banana, the Fairtrade (apparently it’s one word!) movement has you covered.
  • Recycled Content Paper: By now, many paper products are labeled with their post-consumer (recycled) percentage, making it pretty easy for the eco-conscious consumer. As for your business activities, we’ve got that all hammered out. Marketing so rarely requires pristine stock that you can pretty much go as green as you like with our cards, and be certain you're making a quality impression. Click To Tweet
  • Reusable Bamboo Straws:  These little packs of personal straws you can get on Amazon are the bee’s knees!
  • CFL & LED Lights: These are really getting popular, so they’re not as expensive as they once were. The beauty is that they’re energy efficient without sacrificing illumination.
  • Reusable Shopping Bags: Many markets will take a nickel off your groceries for every reusable bag you bring, and if you keep these things stashed in your car, you’re likely to find they’re handy for all sorts of uses.
  • Community and City Single-Use Plastic Bans: Vanautu, a tiny South Pacific nation surrounded by a very large ocean has completely banned single-use plastics for good reason, and to great effect. These bans are cropping up in towns and cities across the U.S. Talk to your local lawmakers and find out if such a movement is right for your community, or just institute a ban of your own in your household.
  • Wind Power: This one’s a little trickier, you can’t always choose where you get your power from. Having said that, you can find products and use services powered with wind and other renewable energies. You’ve found us, so you’re halfway there!



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A sweet little treat for Christmas, 3832

Christmas cookies are always a welcome treat. So we’ve served up these personalized sweets just for you. Card 3832 is a collection of gingerbread cookies personalized just for you or your office.

Sometimes just the right amount of sweetness is perfect for anyone’s diet. This holiday card will fit right in.

We can add your company name in the font of your choice and it will create the perfect composition in combination with the rustic barn wood. On the inside you can select your verse of choice, fonts and colors.

In addition, if we have your logo on file, we can add it for free in the same color as your verse.

We look forward to working with you this holiday season to make the perfect treat for your office!

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Meaningful Marketing in 2019

Let’s Make Personal Business Connections Again

Making that sincere connection is always important. We nurture it in our private lives enough to include it in our business activities, though it’s not always clear how it should manifest in the latter. Getting it right is the challenge, particularly as technology makes us feel more in touch. We’ve gotten good at mastering the ever-evolving opportunities in the social media-sphere. But how is that really coming along?

Many words have been tapped out examining whether or not technology is doing the opposite of its intent. Is the digital connection replacing crucial human contact? We don’t know the answer, but we like ruminating on it because it gives us a chance to toss around some ideas.

Does Your Average Customer Interaction Have That One-on-One Feel?

If you run a business you understand the value of collaboration. Your enterprise has a lot of moving parts, and you rely on many other personalities—consultants, experts, maybe even a guru—to keep things humming along, and so you can focus on what you’re good at. Thanks to mass communication, business now utilizes customer feedback more widely than before things like beta testing and online user reviews. You don’t simply pour some tonic in a bottle, slap a label on it, then tell your customers why they need it. To give your business a fighting chance, you find out what flavor of tonic they’re looking for, or even what shape bottle they’d prefer. In short, you listen to your customers.

Obviously, every business is a little different, so these tips come in broad terms. But reaching out with personalized communications and assuring your customers you value their feedback fosters trust. This article that caught our eye delves into tapping the customer’s emotions, which heads in the right direction, but it can get a little manipulative if not handled with care. We’re suggesting building that relationship of trust with business practices that say, “Hey, we heard you, and this is what we’re doing to better serve you.” We’re  thinking in a more targeted way than those sweeping advertisements—which, face it, are all about the business. We’re talking about capturing attention based on a core shared principle, or a personal promise or guarantee—which becomes about the customer and her needs.

Some Tools To Consider

That Forbes article mentions technology, which of course is always an important aspect of any successful enterprise, but it’s worth noting that ‘technology’ comes in many forms. Papyrus, cave walls, iron oxide, and charcoal are all technologies of a sort. Having said that, as we roll into 2019, here are a few of the many facets of our business’ personas we might be able to maximize or just freshen up:

  • “About Us” Page: When was the last time you updated it? Has your company changed management structure? Is it too long? Does it really speak to your current and potential customers? This can be a great repository for little seeds of information about your organization when the content there is true to form and well-crafted.
  • Facebook Cover Image: “Above the fold” is valuable real estate. Many designers will argue that a great image is the number one best way to present your products or services, that text is unnecessary. Others favor a text/image combination to deliver a compelling message. Ultimately, you’ll decide if a tagline or contact info, or other text makes sense for your cover image. You can also load it with a slideshow or video. This blog post is from 2017, but the 7 tips are well-thought out and still hold true today in our humble opinion.
  • Handwritten Correspondence: If you’ve been relying on email and other digital media for a while, maybe it’s time to upgrade to the ultimate personal communication—Thank You notes and seasonal printed greetings—the original technology. Use these to remind your customers of your contact information, or just to acknowledge their contribution to your business.

It’s all about technologies putting us in touch with our friends in the business community, and keeping us connected. Of course, none of this replaces a job well done, but it’s nice to know these personal touches are running in the background while we’re busy doing what we’re good at.


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Cartesian Winter 2446

Architects, Engineers and Contractors know one thing for sure~and that’s math. Especially when it comes to resolving complex forms and designs.

Armed with this knowledge, it’s easy to see why Cardphile’s Cartesian Winter has become a customer favorite. The card is a photograph of the artful tillage in a field with precise parallel lines yielding only to the monolith in their way. The result, a series of concentric rings which buffer the monolith until they concede to the cartesian plain. A light dusting of snow further enhances the quiet presence of the geometric patterns and results in a simple but elegant composition.

Throughout history, man has encountered unyielding natural features, often incorporating them into design and art. Without really knowing, our suspicion is, that in this particular example of environmental design, the farmer has, over years, seasonally perfected his art, resulting in a perfect canvas year after year.

This is just one example of how we have incorporated nature into our lives. This could be the farmer’s personal Petra.

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The Power of Paper Holiday Cards and Print Marketing

Your Business will Make an Impression with Real Paper Holiday Cards

I’m a designer by trade, but I’ve recently spent some time in the book publishing industry as well. When I found myself among these noble, literary traditionalists in 2011, the ‘digital revolution’ was well under way, and publishing houses were abuzz with speculation and even a bit of hand-wringing about the future of the printed tome. At the time, I’d been working in printing for close to ten years, and even I wondered if print was indeed rasping. Publishers were busy adapting their products and workflows to accommodate the e-reader, the hand-held device, and eventually, the tablet. The transition wasn’t too painful, but it was a necessary toil, and by 2014, as we collectively waited for the other shoe as they say, e-book sales began to level off and print editions ticked back up again. This after some years of decline following the 2007 launch of the Kindle garnered sighs of relief all around, and mine was not just for the paperbacks. I was thrilled to have been vindicated in my belief that print marketing—the ever artful greeting card included—and its impact could not be replaced by ones and zeroes.

Some Praise for the Digital Revolution

Reducing paper waste in any office environment is a good thing, I’m sure we can all agree. It’s simple enough for a company to establish guidelines for what needs a paper trail and what doesn’t. Supply and storage costs can be spared when we shift our notions about what actually requires a hard copy. While we’ve been doing this—while we’ve been altering our perspective on what should be printed, it seems we’ve rediscovered the artistry of printing technology, thus demanding the best from both media.

The Deeper Impression of Print

Research has shown that printed marketing (direct mail, for instance) is easier on the brain than digital advertising—requires less cognitive effort. This extremely brief article points to a deeper emotional impression with something that you actually hold in your hand. Therein lies the key. I’ve sent a sum total of three e-greetings in my entire life. Back in ’06, I thought they were adorable. But they don’t feel the same, to send as well as to receive. Something you can touch is more personal. It’s yours, you can put it in your pocket and count it among your possessions. Web ads have their usefulness, but in the end are mere flickers of light.

The Impression of Paper Holiday Cards

Greeting ‘scrolls’ and handmade paper cards were being exchanged as early as the 14th century at least, as this fantastic four minute video will attest.

Fast-forward about 600 years and it seemed it was all over for Santa and Cupid, and for the artists who would render them. I started receiving e-cards in the early 2000s from family members who lived out of state. Those communications were quickly forgotten, but every year during the holidays, I get a fresh giggle when I remember a Christmas card my uncle once sent me that featured “Tater tots with their eyes all aglow.” I’m not kidding, and I know it’s hokey as heck, but the little photo of crispy spud treats with googly eyes and endearing grins hand-drawn onto them made an impression that has lasted almost 30 years.

The Planet Also Likes Your Card

It didn’t take long for the results of the digital revolution’s impact, for good or ill, on the environment to come back as data points. Those who pay attention to such things found that digital communication comes with its own set of complications, environmentally speaking, in the form of electricity consumption and CO2 emissions. Early cries of ‘Go digital, go green’ were well-intentioned but just plain false, and now constitute ‘green-washing.’ It turns out, a more targeted  demand for paper products, (packaging, fine printing, etc.) in conjunction with measured application of digital media for communication creates incentives for effective forest management. Again, it’s all about utilizing both technologies to their utmost potential. Bottom line: printed marketing makes a strong emotional connection, so put it to work for your valued business communications. And enjoy browsing our extensive collection of holiday cards for business!




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Small Business Marketing – The Essential UTM Creator

If your responsibilities as a marketer include managing your company’s email or newsletter, then you know how important it is to also track the results from those campaigns using UTMs* – and a handy UTM creator will make your life easier. You may have links to several articles in your newsletter, or you may be using a call-to-action (CTA) to connect readers to your Facebook page or Instagram feed. Either way, you’ll want to track each CTA with unique UTM parameters, so that you know which items are of most interest in engaging your audience. (For you data-driven marketers out there, a UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) is simply a tag appended to the end of a link, which allows you to track specific campaigns and traffic sources in your Google Analytics account.) Many of you may already be creating UTMs, but struggle with building and keeping track of them in an organized way – at Cardphile, we sure did until now. We’ve just recently discovered this genius little UTM Creator and wanted to share it with you! You can even hook it up to your account and it automatically generates and saves your new shortlinks to a spreadsheet.

Step 1: Visit, click on “Get it” and follow the steps in the great instructional videos for a free trial (no affiliate marketing for us – we just like the tool). If you like it, it’s only $5/month or $50 for a whole year of unlimited use. That’s a bargain in our book.UTM creator tool for marketers

Step 2: Watch the videos, sign up and connect a gmail account (see our tips below), then grab the Effin Amazing UTM Builder extension from the Chrome Web Store and add to your Chrome toolbar. utm creator setup videos and support

Step 3: Connect it to your account, set your presets and you’re off to the races!the essential UTM creator tool for marketers

A couple tips that have worked for us:

  1. Create a shared gmail account if you want multiple team members to have access to the same tool and saved google docs sheet.
  2. Consider re-using your shiny new UTMs for recurring items – like your logo header in a monthly newsletter for example.

*If you’re new to using UTMs – you’ll find a very thorough explanation about what they are, and how to use them to accurately track your referral traffic, by downloading this free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to UTMs, written by the folks at (yeah, funny name but super helpful people).

We hope you’ll enjoy this great little time-saving tool. Let us know what you think!

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Does Your Millennial Understand the Art of Mailing a Thank You Card?

Once again, we’re going to wax nostalgic about the (almost) lost art of letter-writing; or in this case, thank you card writing. It’s an art suitable for all occasions, both personal and professional.

Professional Thank You Card Green Flourish
This would be especially nice if you’ve just interviewed with an interior design firm.

By all appearances, there’s a group of folks entering the workforce today who may not know how to address an envelope (see below), or business correspondence. My own 27-year-old nephew recently had what is usually described as a ‘senior moment’ when he momentarily blanked on how to fill out a check. With options like email and Venmo, these skills simply aren’t needed as often as they once were. With all that said, I’ve also noticed that Millennials (they HATE that label, by the way… probably as much as they hate being broad-brushed) will, on occasion, embrace the analog life experience—sometimes when they think no one is looking, and other times when they want to appear quirky and hip. (I’ll bet they also don’t like to be analyzed) However it happens, the result will be a generation who will get the most out of multiple communication technologies, choosing the best of both.

Assuming I haven’t ‘clicked off’ any and all readers under the age of 30, I’d like to share the finer points of thank you note writing for those young job seekers, because it’s useful not only in personal communication, but in the business world as well.

Most recruiters and job coaching consultants will tell you that sending a note after an interview can put a candidate at the top of the heap Click To Tweet and assuming it’s done right, you have nothing to lose by expressing gratitude for the interviewer’s time. This is a good list of tips for making the right impression with your thank-you card. A few of the points are specific to emailed notes, but for the same reason we encourage printed cards in these matters, the advice that’s laid out for sending a physical card is spot-on. And according to this article in the Harvard Business Review, “these simple acts of investment, remembrance, gratitude, and appreciation can show the people who matter to your life and business that they are important to you”.

Points to remember, especially when sending a thank you card or note after a job interview:

  • Quality (ink) pen – blue or black. No, not pink.
  • Perfect spelling, grammar, & punctuation.
  • Penmanship – practice your note on a piece of paper and edit it until you know it will fit on the thank you card.
  • Hand address the envelope – see our handy little diagram if you haven’t done this before!
  • Mention something specific to remind your interviewer about your meeting. (She may be interviewing many candidates, and your hand written thank you note will certainly help you stand out from the crowd.)
  • Don’t dawdle, your thank you card should be mailed the day of or the day after your interview.
  • By all means, send a thank you email too, shortly after the interview.

Obviously, you’ll use a good quality ink pen and excellent spelling, grammar, and punctuation when you fill out the card, and you’ll tailor your message to your recipient. Keep it short, but mention something specific that you discussed with your interviewer (as noted in this post on Forbes).

Use it as an opportunity to show off a bit of your writing skill, they’ve already seen your résumé and know you’re good with technical communication, now give them a sample of your more creative, less formal writing style. Put the same care and attention into the envelope; use an appropriate stamp, address it neatly, put your return address and maybe a seal on it, and off it goes to represent you in the best possible way!

I love this BusinessNewsDaily blog post about thank-you cards because it addresses (pun intended) the excuses we use for not writing notes first thing, and POOF! they’re gone! Then it goes into the wonderfulness of the thank-you card, not the least of which is the magic power of a few kind words to cancel out a whole lotta rudeness.

how to address a thank you card
It’s always nice to find something that’s hand-addressed among the bills and junk mail

As life goes on, there will be a great many reasons to skillfully deploy a thank you note; weddings, graduations, fundraising thank yous, attendance of charity events, pulling you out of a burning car—basically any time someone does something nice for you or goes out of their way on your behalf. But for now, mastering the art for job-seeking or even advanced academic pursuits is a great start.

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There’s Nothing Worse Than Bad Business Cards.

Need Professional Business Cards, Click Here
Professional looking business cards are a marketing must.

There are many things you can learn about a company by their business cards; identity, clarity and corporate image to name a few.

Nothing says you mean business more than an awesome business card. Cards that really work are the ones which need no introduction. The recipient knows what the company does before they are introduced and a lasting impression has been successfully set.

As a member of the design profession, I have a personal interest in how firms and individuals handle this. I’m not obsessed, but close. I have two groups of cards that I have been collecting—the great, well designed & printed business cards and the… not so great. Within a small circle, my collection has become known as my reference library, my house of cards! When the opportunity arises, I also like to track the progress a company is making over time. Although business cards are just a small piece of paper, they also seem to function as a corporate weather vane.

High quality business cards represent your firm when you’re no longer in the room – don’t let them say the wrong things about you!

Generally speaking, when times are tough, a lot of companies seem to cut back in the wrong areas. Nothing screams that your business is in trouble like cutting back on the quality of your business cards. That’s the equivalent of telling your staff that every day is casual Friday.

Recently, I had a meeting with representatives of a large corporation. The interesting thing about the meeting was that not only had they scaled back on their business card printing quality but on the paper quality as well since the last time we met. This struck me as odd, because “quality” was part of  their core mission statement. One could assume that this was probably a good example of someone within the organization looking for places to cut costs and thinking that targeting the business cards was a good option. Shortly after the meeting, the company publicly announced that they were in the middle of a reorganization and cut-backs. Because of their size, the cost “savings” realized by choosing flimsier business card stock and cheaper printing probably amounted to a somewhat substantial savings on one level. However, on another level, it telegraphed trouble and probably wasn’t the impression their front line sales people wanted to leave with their clients.

For fun, I’ve compiled a list of the Bottom 10, painfully obvious, business card infractions.

 Each one on the list has been well represented in my pile of memorable business cards – but for the wrong reasons.

1. Dog eared.
2. Thin paper.
3. Dirty.
4. Raised thermal printing—usually in black ink.
5. Your name written on someone else’s card.
6. More fonts used than on a ransom note.
7. Cliché clip art.
8. More text and contact information than a phone book—if you’re old enough to remember them.
9. Not using the second side for clear branding.
10. Random graphics that don’t support your brand or type of business.

So don’t do any of that. Send your business card files to Cardphile and we’ll make sure you end up with high quality, printed business cards that look great at a price that won’t hurt. (Online business card ordering available here in April.)

What are your business card pet peeves? Let us know what you like – we listen!

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Design Tip: Converting to Black and White in Photoshop

I love discovering new design tools and techniques. And sometimes, when I do, I like to share them. For a while, I thought there were only two or three ways to convert to black and white, and that one of those ways was pretty much, everyone agreed, totally lame. Turns out, there’s at least eight. Here are four.

For the purpose of these tips, I’m assuming you’re an intuitive beginner at Photoshop and have already sorted out the layers panel. I’m also guessing you have a fairly recent version—CS3 or better.

Black and White adjustment layer i n Photoshop
I got the side-by-side effect by deleting a selection from the adjustment layer.

My favorite method is the Black and White adjustment. Add a B&W adjustment layer (either from the layer menu up top, or the row of icons at the bottom of the layers panel [the half moon]) above your color image, and start setting those six sliders where you want them. You have tons of control here, you can get some nice effects. But beware, you can also get some weird, blown-out details, and graininess. The red and blue on this plane’s wing were of particular focus for me as I made my adjustments.

This photo was taken at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon
This photo was taken at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

I’ve also used the Channel Mixer, though you don’t have quite as much control over the tones—there’s only three sliders. Again, it’s a new adjustment layer, and when the box comes up, you’ll tick the ‘monochrome’ check box, and make sure your three values are always adding up to 100% as you fiddle with the sliders. This will do in a pinch, especially if you just don’t have time to make fine adjustments.

Gradient Map in Photoshop
Gradient maps are useful for more than just black and white.

The Gradient Map is fun to work with, and can be used with any two colors, not just black and white. In the image of the bi-plane, it’s slightly sepia-toned. And, of course, you’ll find it in the usual place, as an adjustment layer. When the box pops open, you can find additional gradients by clicking on the small down arrow at the right end of the sample of the current gradient, then clicking on the gear icon and choosing from the alphabetical list at the bottom.

Black and white adjustments in Photoshop
Trying out different tonalities with dual Hue/Sat adjustments.

Another common technique is the Hue/Saturation adjustment, but here’s the cool part—instead of one adjustment layer, you’ll use two, since a single layer wouldn’t be much more exciting than simply converting the file’s color mode to greyscale. Get the two layers in there in the usual way, name them if you want to. Your topmost Hue/Sat layer is simply adjusted so the saturation is -100 (all the way to the left). The layer under that, the one that’s right above the image, has one special element to it—the layer’s blending mode is set to ‘color.’ The blending mode selector, in case you haven’t worked with that yet, is above your list of layers right next to the opacity selector. Its default is ‘normal.’ Once you’ve set that, you can move the Hue slider on that middle layer around and experiment with the tonality. You can adjust the saturation and lightness, too, but the magic is in the hue adjustment.

The good thing about all four of these methods is that the adjustments are all completely tweak-able until you flatten or save for web. Of course you’ll always exercise due diligence and talk to the folks who will be printing the piece to find out what kind of files they need. Any design is only as good as how well it prints. The good news is, they’re just as committed to the quality of the printed piece as you are, and will mostly be quite helpful.

Try some of these techniques on your next design project – perhaps a gorgeous custom corporate holiday card design that we can turn into a beautiful printed piece for you here at Cardphile (complete with envelopes so all you have to worry about is the design!)

Have questions about this or any of our other designs tips? Post them here and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.

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Design Tip: Avoiding Glare on Eyeglasses in Group Photos

We often print staff photos in our customized business holiday cards, and it’s not uncommon to end up with glare on the lenses of subjects’ eyewear. It may not seem like a big deal, but at the very least, it can make a great picture not so great, and at worst can make the person appear… otherworldly, for lack of a better term. In a large portrait of just one or two people, it’s easier to control the lighting, and to edit any anomalies. With a smaller group photo, one person with blanked-out eyes can ruin the picture—and editing efforts can make it worse. Imagine your eight-person office staff in matching Santa hats in a fun snapshot, but with Regional Manager Ed’s eyes hidden behind an eerie pale glow. His clients will never trust him again! Okay, maybe it’s not that dire, but it is distracting, and perfectly preventable.

Lighting is the first and most obvious preventative measure. Assuming you don’t want to hire a professional photographer, (and honestly, you probably don’t have to) you can capture your image in an area with non-harsh lighting coming from multiple angles. Ideally you can use a blend of natural and indoor light sources. You may also be able to employ some semi-opaque plastic sheeting to diffuse light; and have a ‘spotter’ directing your very patient subjects. This is obviously the non-spontaneous way to capture your image, and can yield fantastic results, depending on circumstances.

If you don’t need your subjects to look posed, you can try out the rapid fire setting on your camera, like those fancy fashion photogs in the movies. Take twenty or so shots in succession as they’re belting out a holiday song or adjusting their Santa hats and giggling at each other—something like that. Tell them a knock-knock joke, or give them alcohol if you have to. Or both.

Back to seriousness, an oft-used technique for ensuring glare-free lenses, one that is appreciated by design departments far and wide, is two back-to-back shots—one of the bespectacled folks with glasses on, and one with them off. If you have a composition, props, and lighting conditions that you really like, this is a good way to ensure your custom photo holiday cards will look their best. Send both images in with your order, and we’ll have the extra shot as a back-up for any editing needs. Of course, you could get lucky and get a perfect pic the first time. But if you’re like the rest of us, and/or if you have trouble getting a dozen near-sighted engineers to sit still, it’s probably a good idea to take that extra step.

In case none of the above work out for you, our design department has some pretty cool tricks. More likely than not, we can make it work. It’s what we do.

Designer Tips for fixing reflections from eyeglasses in photoshop
Don’t let one bad reflection spoil your image!


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Thank-You Cards and the Magical Power of Stamps

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”
—Mark Twain

That’s what thank-you cards do, they brighten someone’s day. The little bit of effort that goes into choosing an image and sentiment, and signing your name, then dropping it in a box for delivery by a real, live person—that act of putting a paper card in someone’s hand is always appreciated. And postage stamps get them there. A simple sticker—a little work of art—sends your card or letter along its journey to your recipient. Think about it. For just a few cents, your personally written holiday greeting card or thank you card can travel up to thousands of miles until it settles nicely into the hand of your recipient. And all that without any extra baggage fees. There’s a reason this method of communication has been around for centuries.

Here and now in the digital age, we’ve noticed that the elements of a mailed greeting card can be made that much more special with just a small amount of effort:

Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night...
It’s not a white owl, but it works just as well.
  • Stamps come in many designs and genres—from historical, to whimsical, to literary—even inspiring.
  • Hand addressing your envelope with a quality ink pen gives it an elegant touch.
  • You can have fun with the return address, using those pre-printed labels we all get from our insurance companies, or a rubber stamp—and you can return address it on the back or the front, depending on your personal preference.
  • Envelope seals are also a nice addition, and they work equally well with pointy-flapped envelopes as well as square flap announcement style envelopes.
  • Of course, this is all before you even get to the card itself!

Gold Scroll Foil Envelope Seals 2299

Whose day will you make today? At Cardphile, we think it’s time to make business personal again. So we’re now shipping all 2016 corporate holiday card orders with a beautiful thank you card printed on our elegant “ART” cardstock. It comes with a stamped envelope, ready to go—to make someone, somewhere feel appreciated. Join the movement – make someone’s day better, and be sure to tell us how you used it!

Read our earlier post for 3 tips on writing business thank you notes. Don’t worry, we’ll keep you looking professional. Oh, and don’t forget the seal!

Coming soon: teaching your millennial the art of mailing a letter. (we know it sounds like satire, but it’s not)