Make Good Art

“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.”

Neil Gaiman

Be Kind to Your Production Artist

For those of you that have separate Designers and Production Artists, this is especially for you. For Designers that act as Production Artists (or vice versa) you can take some of this and apply it to your workflow as well. But I’m focusing on those who have different responsibilities.

Speaking as a Production Artist, a large factor of the position is timing. Some of the clients I’ve worked with are notorious for giving final approval, shall we say, at the last minute. I’m not sure why that seems to be a characteristic of nearly every client on the planet, but it’s definitely one of the top similarities. But there are a few things that a small change in workflow can be done to help cut down on the midnight oil.

Designer’s should be designing, not prepping files. Ideally, when you get an image file, you should have the largest version of it that you can without scaling up. Most printers want files at 300 dpi at print size. But if a Designer is using this image and giving four different comps for clients to choose from, it makes sense to use that file at 72 dpi so that the Designer’s computer isn’t having to chew on all those extra pixels for something a client is going to look at on screen or at best a reduced-size print. And if you are using Illustrator it takes extra time to create the preview before you can start working on it or any time you make changes to the image in Illustrator.

Smart Objects are everyone’s friend. When using it on an image, you can use many filters non-destructively. For example, if you wanted to add Noise to an image, and you didn’t convert it to a Smart Object first, you make a change to that image that is permanent (unless you Undo the filter). But if the image were a Smart Filter, you could change the amount of Noise that image has much later (or even delete the Noise all together). Granted, not every filter is available with the image being a Smart Object, but if you can use it, you should. A Production Artist will have a hard time trying to judge, in the above instance, how much noise to use. You’ll save time going back and forth trying to determine what the proper setting for the filter is. When it’s time to prep the file for printing, the low-resolution image can just be switched out and the filter can be applied with just a few clicks.

Another way Smart Objects can be useful is importing type from Illustrator. When you paste type from Illustrator, you have a few options: Paste As Smart Object, Pixels, Path or Shape Layer. If you Paste As any of the last three, you won’t be able to edit the text. As a Smart Object, you’d be able to open it again in Illustrator, edit as need be and update it in the Photoshop document. Also, you don’t have to guess as to kerning/leading values, again leading to time saved by not having to go back and forth or having more rounds of changes.

Hopefully, this wouldn’t take a lot of time or effort to get used to. It’s mainly just making sure that you choose the right option when pasting. But these methods should save time all around, resulting in better bottom lines for your agency.



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