Right on the path

Printing, Sketches

I was asked to come up with a drama filled inspiring drawing, fit to be screen printed, the concept is the pawn that promotes, who is on it’s way to there; who looks like just a pawn but his royal spirit is reflected in his shadow.
Here is a sketch for it, I am trying to explore shadows and highlights in one color, no shading, or gray scaling


While waiting for something, I had a little time to explore the perks of having a tablet, with the sketchbook app and a little stylus, nothing fancy about it. Different mediums take time to dominate, so it feels like I’m starting all over again, playing with some shadows over the same concept sketch, this is the result:


Not quite fit for screen printing, but really good practice
I see these amazing finger paintings on you tube, and I kind of feel like the little pawn on his way up hill, determined to conquer the road in front of him.

Have you had any experience drawing with the new technology?
Any practice doodles you recommend?
Lets hear them in the comments!

Photo-books are totally worth the work it takes to design them.

Graphic Design, Photography, Printing

A great way to have the pictures in a printed way, photo books. If you have a digital camera and have printed any of your pictures online, you are bound to find a company that can do them, It is a bit tedious to upload the pictures and then arrange everything in a way that tells the story, but it is totally worth it. If you print one, you might not see the value immediately, for the pictures are fresh, but wait a few months and you will enjoy them again, wait a few years and the memories are invaluable. I’ve done a few of these in my time; and love to look through them every now and then, not only have my family and friends changed, but also my photography and design skills have improved through the years.

Here is the latest, printed through Shutterfly, they are my BFFs right now,


DSC_0166 DSC_0165

DSC_0168 DSC_0167



I know there are some companies that will use your InDesgin Files, but I am still to find one that makes my budget happy with a good print; i’m on the look out though, i’ll probably mention it here when I find it.

Do you know of any place that will do them? Give me a hand and comment, please 🙂

Girls on the Run Event Program

Graphic Design

First of all if you don’t know the “Girls on the run program” please visit their page : http://www.girlsontherun.org/ and read about what they do, it is a great program for girls and more than likely they have a branch or how they call it “council” in your city.

The council in my city was selected to be the beneficiary of a fund raiser ball that happens every year the very elegant “black and white ball” and I was charged with designing the event program.

We had a week to design and a week to print it, and the content, items to be auction, was changing every second, which added to the challenge. They said the accents at the ball would be red, so I decided to incorporate that black-white-red color scheme into the program.

For the first mock-ups I showed them three different concepts; two of them looked more like invitations for a wedding or a very black tie, formal event, the third one had a bit of funk that goes in line with their website. They loved the third one, a few back and forth e-mails with the ever changing content and we were finally done.

This was the end result:



They loved it maybe more than I did, and he event… a success 🙂 i’m so glad to be given the opportunity to be part of this.

The game of war

Graphic Design

Question to Rubinstein: “Who is your opponent tonight?” Answer: “Tonight I am playing against the black pieces.”  –  Akiba Rubinstein

This is work I’ve done on the side, learning new techniques is always fun.

It is a Game between the famous world champion Jose Raul Capablanca and Moshe Czerniak, as a chess spectator, specially when you don’t know much of what is going on, you focus on the two men sitting in front of a board acting as if they are at war. When you do know what is going on there is a bloody battlefield between two sides, a lot of tension, every move is critical and might determine the outcome of the battle; a battle also versus time, dreaded time, every second that passes is a second you wasted and haven’t made a decision yet, and the battle is not over until is over.

My chess player friends will appreciate this as much as I do.Capablanca Vs. Czerniak

Don’t be a stranger! leave a comment, let me know what you think…


Convert text to curves or to outlines in Illustrator

Graphic Design, Printing

     Convert all the text to outlines

text after converted to curves or outlines and given some treatment.

Basically after you convert to outlines your text will no longer be editable as text but it will become a shape; it will have beizer curves on every corner and you will be able to change the shape. However if you misspelled something you wont be able to change an “e” for an “a” as easy as you would be if it still was text (with the text editor).

Converting the text not only will keep the letters even if you send the file to someone who doesn’t have the font file in their computer, but say you want to make one of the letters fatter or have a little more flare to it, or connect with the one next to it a different way you are now able to change that for you have intricate shapes as a canvas to bring your vision into reality. Here is how you convert the text:

  •  Once you have your text, run the spell check (CRTL+I or go to the edit menu and check spelling).
  • Select all the text, notice how there is a line under all and each one of the letters, how there is a beizer curve in each corner of the square that selects the text and non that make the letters.
  • Now go to the Type menu and scroll down to the create outlines option (or the shortcut: CRTL + Shift+ O). You will be able to see the difference now there are Beizer curves on every corner of each letter and check the layers, now there is a group that contains each shape.

So, now you can save the file as a copy and send it to another computer, another person, or even the printer, and you will not have problems with the other computer not having the font file, there will be no font substitution. But there is another reason I like to convert the text to outlines, an that is to change the letters, make it thinner, fatter, elongate the steam, or unite 2 of them, etc… Oh! and don’t let me forget that you can  fill  each letter with gradients now that they are shapes, which is something you can’t do if they are still text. Play with it, experimenting is the most fun way to lear 😀

text to outlines

Variations on a theme

I would love to see, hear or read about how you are applying this tutorial, or if you have questions that still need answering about it, please comment 🙂

Screen Printing Check list


Many of us designers learn the hard way that files that work for digital printing don’t really translate to other methods of printing, say offset printing, which has a few different requirements, or large format printing, where it is more acceptable to work with lower DPI, or even screen printing, which is actually based in only vector graphics, it all depends on the end product and the process you chose to get it.

Let me talk about Screen printing.

There are several differences in the process, and in turn, the files need to be prepared for that. Most screen printers need vector files were the colors are separated, with very specific instructions when it comes to location, colors, pantone numbers, quantities to be printed, etc.; most of them now a days will list the art requirements in their website; if they are old school however, don’t hesitate to call them, they are the best! they will explain everything step by step, answer all your questions, and next time you will have a “camera ready” file (ever hear that one?). A lot of printers will charge you an extra fee if they have to modify your file, and if you want to avoid that you will want to check your file before sending it to print.

T-shirt Printing

Here is a list of the things I always check when I get files from clients, or of course, when I’m building one. Like a wise man told me once:

“Practice good habits when you don’t need them, so that they will be there when you don’t have the time to think, which is when you will need them.”

So, make sure you always go through the list, it will save you  A LOT of time when you are under pressure. With time, it will be automatic and you will be able to modify it to your best convenience, but for now, bare with mine:

1)  Vector files. You know, the ones built with beizer curves. If you don’t know what that is, check the all knowing Wikipedia here. These files are usually built in Corel, freehand, or Illustrator.

2) All the text is converted to outlines (also known as curves). This converts the text into shapes, and you can’t edit the text anymore. Doing this will save you the hassle that comes when your printer doesn’t have the fonts in their system and there is font substitution, you will need to send them the font file, or you take the risk that the printer doesn’t notice the font substitution and the wrong thing will get printed. Can you imagine this happening on a tight deadline with no minutes to spare? nerve wracking and defeat come to mind; and trust me this will happen more than you think.

Make sure the text is converted to outlines or curves

3) No unnecessary elements. This might sound obvious, but in time pressure, with several jobs on the docket, little things like this just slip through. Start by checking if there are no extra layers with invisible things that make the file larger and heavier. Then select all the elements, observe the curves, the points, this will show you all the elements and then you can delete the ones not needed on your art.

check your layer for unnecessary elements

check your layers for unnecessary elements

4)Stay away from gradients. Screen printing is done by hand, color mixing is by hand also, and is not an exact science, so a gradient will add increased chances for mistakes, and more importantly inconsistencies between the finished products. If you must have gradients talk to your printer, constant communication with them will increase the chances of getting the client the product they need.

Avoid gradients like the plague

5) Strokes vs. shapes. This is a hard one to explain; when you add a stroke to your shape, specially in Illustrator, it doesn’t translate well when you go to separate the colors and print a screen. The best way to understand it is to see it for your self. Go ahead, open illustrator, build a simple shape and add a stroke to it, make it a really thick one like 22pt or something like that. Now go to your menu, under view, there is an option to see the files as outlines or outline mode, click on it. All you will see now are lines that form the shape, like a coloring book. If you look closely, there is no outline for your stroke. That won’t print when the colors are separated. You want to make EVERY element  shapes, and that includes the strokes that surround your shapes.

Compare outline view mode and preview mode to see if you have a stroke or a shape

6) Embedded files. I am not talking about raster files (jpgs,tiff, png, etc) those are already “out of the picture”  at least for the sake of this check list. But sometimes for whatever reason, we combine several files by just dragging them into one, without copying and pasting the graphics themselves, this is OK, as long as you remember to embed the files before sending them to the printer; and is an easy task, just click on the file, you will see just one big square surrounding your image; make sure you have the control menu on and see how on the mentioned menu the file name appears, on regular workspaces, at the top left corner of your screen, after the words linked file. Also in the same menu you will see a button appears when you select the file that says embed. just click on that button and voila. The file is now embedded and you don’t have to send several files to the printer.

Embed all your files

Embed all your files

7) Colors punched out and no overlapping shapes. For this the pathfinder tool is great. If you have a circle inside another bigger circle, the outer circle should be more like a doughnut; this way the colors don’t mix when they are painted onto the material.

Again check the outline view mode. Clean all the overlapping shapes.

8) All the instructions are clear for the printer. You know what you want, and it might seem obvious what needs to go where, but the screen printer, has other things in their mind besides your job when they are starting to work on it, and to them a different thing might be obvious. As I’ve mentioned earlier: write down the quantity, the color of the shirts(or other product you want printed) what color ink is to be used with that color product (specially if you have several colors), etc. Be specific, if there are Pantone colors, give them the number, if there is a deadline, write it down for them. I often use a t-shirt template, I make it the color of the shirt we are using, and within this template, I specify the location of the print, write down the size of the print (if there is any) and show the print in the colors that I need, also include any notes or questions I have in this page, also include my contact information. They get the vector art on a different file. That way the screen printer can just print the page and see what I am expecting to get, compare it to the vector file and print, or call me if they have concerns.

Just think, if you are a screen printer and you get a camera ready file from your client, plus a sheet with all the instructions and they match, you wont have to lose time fixing the art, or calling your client to fix it, or to ask them for color, or sizing, etc. You can just go ahead and print. It will save a few days in production easily, and the job will more likely be delivered ahead of time.

There might be other things someone should look for, if you know of any, please comment 😀

I’m baaaack!

Graphic Design

It’s been crazy around here, but finally things are starting to settle down a bit.

The other day I had a potential client ask me if I was any good. He said I was too calm to be any good *__* What?!

I’ve never encounter this, usually potential clients just ask to see my previous work, or just show me what they want and trust that I can do it; I mean since i’m in the field, I should know everything about design , according to them. But never had I encounter a person implying that I need to be less calm in order to be good at this. I mean, does running around like a headless chicken ever helped anyone make a deadline?
Do you trust a person that is exited about everything they do more than one who remains calm and to the point?
Is there a character, temperament, or certain personality traits that a potential client looks for when hiring a graphic designer?
Have you, reader (or future reader) been in a situation like this either as the client or the designer?

My Story in a Movie Poster

Graphic Design

Ever imagine how your story would look like in a movie?

What would the tittle be?  The plot would emphasize a love story, a struggle, an adventure, a quest?

For someone who loves movies, specially old ones, making a movie poster with their story would be a great gift. You see, my friend Paula is getting married, she met the guy and 5 months later they were engaged, 11 months later and she will be Mrs. Rush (not really her name). So, teasing the rush that her relationship has been, I designed this poster. It has since been changed, including the tittle, but I still love how this one looks and feels.
Movie Poster- teaser

What do you think? a love story maybe?

The picture was taken by Clorrisa Watters, be sure too check out her blog, good photos there.