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Font Psychology: How Typefaces Hack Our Brains

When we listed our choices for the worst fonts ever, we were surprised to find out that many of you disagreed with some of our selections. We received several comments from readers who saw value in the fonts that we ridiculed or thought we had unfairly judged some of the fonts we selected. But it's something we should have expected—after all, that's the power that fonts have on people. Just the act of looking at a certain font face can involuntarily stir up powerful emotions or instill a … [Read more...]

79 Artistic Brushes for Photoshop That Simulate Real Art Tools

Contrary to popular belief, Photoshop isn't just for editing photos. It's also a tool for designers who like to create art from scratch. Using the virtual art tools provided by the program, a skilled artist can craft amazing images and designs with or without the use of a pen tablet. But for many designers, the tools that Photoshop provides are not enough. Fortunately, these artistic brushes for Photoshop are the next best thing to using an actual paintbrush, pencil, or other art tool. Every … [Read more...]

93 Outstanding Rack Card Design Examples

If a business card and a brochure had a baby, that baby would look exactly like a rack card. Rack cards are the best of both worlds, displaying an array of information through a medium that's portable and fits neatly into the racks found in hotels, travel centers, rest stops, convenience stores, waiting rooms, reception desks–basically any place that gets a lot of foot traffic. This poses a unique design challenge you won't find in any other print media. Rack cards are usually found amongst … [Read more...]

Is That Printed Color Background a Bad Idea? Pros and Cons

If you've ever done theater or public speaking before, you know that the background behind a subject - even something as simple as a red velvet curtain, as opposed to a plain white wall - can make a big difference. To that end, design clients sometimes pick a colored stock for their marketing materials because they want to accent their design with a more interesting background. But the same results (and in many cases, better results) can be achieved by printing a background color in ink … [Read more...]

Interview: Rade Stjepanovic, Our 2014 Folder Design Contest Winner

We're very pleased to announce this year's winner of our folder design contest is Rade Stjepanovic, a talented graphic designer from Jacksonville, Florida. Rade is a graduate of the University of North Florida as well as Florida State College at Jacksonville. His designs have won awards from the American Advertising Federation of Jacksonville as well as several scholarships and grants. Currently, he works for CFI Marketing and is a member of the prestigious American Institute of Graphic … [Read more...]

5 Ink-Saving Fonts Every Eco-Friendly Designer Must Know

A 14-year old boy recently made headlines when he claimed the government could save millions of dollars every year if they switched to using the font Garamond in all of their printed materials. While his claim was not exactly accurate, it did bring attention to an often neglected issue—the fact that some fonts require more ink than other fonts, which is bad news for the environment. If you're concerned about creating unnecessary waste and utilizing green business practices, then you should … [Read more...]

114 Hypnotically Cute Photoshop Brush Sets

In Western culture, we sometimes look at "cuteness" as a childish or juvenile quality—but in Japan, it’s a whole different story. The prevailing “kawaii” culture in Japan puts so much value on being cute that even police agencies use adorable mascots to reach their audience. And even here in America, the power of cuteness can't be overlooked. Cute animals dominate the most popular images and videos on social media, enthralling audiences with their inescapable charm. Tap into the hypnotic … [Read more...]

Clientele from Hell: When to Fire Your Graphic Design Clients

One of the best things about being a freelance graphic designer is the freedom to pick your clients—but it can also be one of the worst things. It means having to protect your own interests and knowing when to let a client go for the sake of your career, your finances, or your general sanity. "Firing" a client isn't always about getting away from a job you don't like or a person that stressed you out. Sometimes, you might find yourself in a position where you have to say goodbye to your … [Read more...]

Why Every Entrepreneur Must Learn Photoshop

Successful entrepreneurs often wear many hats: salesperson, spokesperson, marketer, innovator, leader, social media guru and motivational speaker. If you want to dress for success, then it's time to think about adding a "designer" hat to your wardrobe. Your company's visual identity defines the way your audience perceives your brand—don't you think you should have a bigger say in that? One of the best ways to dip your toe into the design pool is to learn Adobe Photoshop, which is pretty much … [Read more...]

10 Commandments of Working for Free as a Graphic Designer

If you ever want to get a bunch of graphic designers riled up, gather them together in a room and ask them this question: "Should graphic designers ever work for free?" It's been a hot-button issue in creative fields for as long as anybody can remember, and there's no definite answer that everybody can agree upon. Some graphic artists say it's okay to work for free every now and then to build up your portfolio and experience, while others say the very act of doing design work for free is … [Read more...]

101 Fabulously Retro Vintage Photoshop Brush Sets

Good design never goes out of style; it just becomes "vintage" over time. Nostalgia is a powerful tool for designers because it creates an instant emotional bond with the audience. The right design aesthetic can conjure up memories of our childhood and help us to connect with the generations that came before us. This extensive collection of free vintage Photoshop brushes is the perfect toolkit for creating print designs that stir up feelings of nostalgia in your audience. Vintage brushes … [Read more...]

26 Graphic Design Resume Tips for Landing Your Dream Job

When it comes to creating resumes, graphic designers are lucky. Not many fields allow for potential employees to directly demonstrate their work-related skills with the resume itself. Pastry chefs don't get to bake their resumes into a cake, teachers can't assign their resumes as homework, and lawyers aren't given the chance to defend their resumes to a jury. But graphic designers can – and should – treat their resume as they would a sample in their portfolio. The design of your resume can … [Read more...]

83 Awesomely Abstract Photoshop Brushes

Every now and then, you just need a little extra something to make your project pop. Not necessarily a major design component—just an extra ornament to bring visual interest to your design. Abstract Photoshop brushes are the perfect tool for giving your artwork an added "oomph" without drawing attention away from the main subject. We've assembled 83 abstract brushes ranging from cosmic fractals to arcs of electric energy. Nearly all of these brushes are entirely free downloads, but a few in … [Read more...]

Which Print Graphic Design Career is Right for You?

So you've got a talent for print graphic design and an interest in the print industry—you may be asking yourself, "where do I go from here?" It can be intimidating breaking into a new field or looking for a new job opportunity, especially if you're not aware of the types of career options you might have. Before you settle for making print design something you do "on the side," take a look at some of this exciting graphic design career info within the print industry. Each one of them can help … [Read more...]

How to Use Our Free Folder Mockup Templates

Our 100% free folder mockup templates allow you to create a beautiful, realistic image of how your folder design will look after it's been printed and constructed. They compliment many of our presentation folders and two pocket folders. You can use mockup templates to: Test and preview your folder design before sending it to a printer Send a design to a current or potential client for review Display your design in a web portfolio or on a personal website Create a folder design from … [Read more...]

Why JPEG Images Suck for Printing

Back when the Internet was still fairly new, the JPEG reigned as king of all image formats. Thanks to its ability to compress complex images into a low file size, JPEGS were the perfect format to use with dial-up modems and floppy disks. But nobody has used those ancient relics in years-so why does the JPEG still have such a stranglehold over us? It's not that JPEGs are necessarily bad or obsolete; it's just that they're not always the best format for the job. And these days, they're rarely … [Read more...]

500+ Free Photoshop Actions to Download

If you found a way to cut your design time in half, wouldn't you use it? Photoshop actions allow designers to save time and stay efficient by "recording" common tasks so that they can be automatically performed on different projects. But that's not the best feature of actions for Photoshop; they're also easy to share and download. This community aspect has turned Photoshop actions into the ultimate designer "cheat code." Downloading another designer's actions lets you quickly apply new … [Read more...]

Folder Case Study: Fracassi & Associates

Imagine buying a new car, only to discover that the fender was completely crooked. Chances are that you wouldn't simply shrug it off and drive it home; you'd want the car that you paid for. Naturally, the same is true of your marketing materials. Company Folders is dedicated to upholding the highest standards of quality in all that we do. So when an unexpected mishap made some of Fracassi & Associates' folders unusable, we were determined to make things right. The Problem Fracassi & … [Read more...]

The 174 Coolest Brochure Designs for Creative Inspiration

We bet you five bucks that if you took a minute to look around your office or your home, you'd find a brochure of some type. Whether it's a memento from an event or trip or even just the recipe booklet that came with your new blender, brochure designs are hiding everywhere. There's a reason why the brochure continues to endure in the age of digital marketing--because of creative designers who push the limits with great ideas and imaginative designs that make a lasting impression. We've … [Read more...]

PMS Color Printing: Tips for Finding & Working with Pantone Colors

If four-color process printing is like mixing together flour, sugar and baking powder from scratch, PMS color printing is a little like using pre-made cake mix. You don't have quite as much flexibility with your recipe, but it's a great choice if you're looking for a consistent taste because you always know exactly what you're getting. This guide will walk you through the definition of PMS color and its pros and cons, as well as tips and tools for finding, matching, identifying and converting … [Read more...]

44 Color Scheme Tools for Picking the Perfect Print Palette

Your life is controlled by color schemes. That might sound dramatic, but think about it for just a second-would you go to an important job interview wearing a mismatched suit? Or a violently clashing hair or makeup color? Chances are that your living room, your wedding theme and even your high school colors have consisted of tones based on some sort of conventional color scheme. Human beings prefer living in a world where colors go together, which is why our brains turn to mush whenever we … [Read more...]

250+ Outstanding Mockup Background Images & Textures

Were you the type of kid who just had to have the radical laser backdrop instead of the plain blue backdrop when it came time for picture day at school? Even if you weren't, we've got good news for you. Our folder design mockups feature a completely customizable background; allowing you to have any kind of image or texture you want—and many of them look even better than that laser background. We've gathered up some of our favorite background images and textures to use with our folder … [Read more...]

72+ Free Vector Art Sites For Downloading The Best Graphics

No one likes to hear the dreaded phrase "clip art" when talking about professional design, but sometimes a piece of free vector art is exactly what you need. Maybe you're looking for a basic shape to edit into something totally unique with Adobe Illustrator, or maybe you just need a placeholder graphic in the meantime. Creating something from scratch takes valuable time, and when you've got none to spare, free vector sites can be a lifesaver. To boost your chances of finding the best vector … [Read more...]

The 108 Best Photoshop Plugins and Extensions for Print Designers

In case you haven't noticed, we're pretty keen on Adobe Photoshop; we've even shared a ton of our favorite Photoshop tutorials. But even a great program like Photoshop can be improved upon. If you don't believe us, here are 108 reasons why you're wrong. This enormous collection of the best Photoshop plugins for print designers takes something good and makes it even better by giving you more control, more power and more options than what's available in your standard Photoshop toolkit. Plugin … [Read more...]

83 Graphic Design Portfolio Websites Guaranteed to Draw Attention

For centuries, philosophers have been asking themselves "If a tree falls in the woods, but nobody is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?" Think of your graphic designs in a similar way: if nobody is around to observe your portfolio, does it still make an impact? Finding the answer to that first question may take a while, but thankfully, we already know the answer to the second. The designs you've created won't help you grow as a designer all by themselves. You need eyes on the … [Read more...]

38 Typography Tools for Print Designers (Better Than Adobe Suite)

A Swiss Army knife allows you to do a lot of different things at once (like remove a screw or open a wine bottle), but sometimes what you really need is a strong pair of scissors—a tool that only does one thing, but does it much more simply and elegantly. It's the same way when working with typography in print design. The Adobe suite is powerful and multifaceted, but when you need to create a new font from scratch or identify the name of a particular typeface, it pays to have a few more specific … [Read more...]

The Top 60 Free Adobe Illustrator Tutorials for 2018

When you create printed marketing materials, your designs are little like Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Alice is constantly shrinking or growing as she explores different parts of Wonderland. Likewise, you'll often need your design elements to shrink or grow, depending on what the situation calls for. That's why learning how to create scalable vector illustrations in Adobe Illustrator is absolutely essential. Adobe Illustrator can be a tricky program to learn, but if you've used some of the … [Read more...]

55 Ridiculously Cool Photoshop Text Effect Tutorials

Remember how scary it was when you were a little kid and you had to start reading books in school that didn't have any pictures in them? Truth be told, that little kid still exists inside all of us; it's one of the reasons why print media designs often rely on photos and illustrations rather than walls of bland text. But text doesn't have to be boring-after all, text is just another form of visual imagery, one that can become a beautiful work of art with the use of unique fonts or interesting … [Read more...]

How to Use Our Folder Design Templates

Company Folders' pocket folder design templates are free to download and customize however you like. To help out, we've assembled a handy tutorial to downloading, modifying, and making them your own. Finding & Downloading Templates All of our folder design templates can be found on the Company Folders website by clicking "Design Templates" in the footer area. Here are a few examples: Colorful Church Welcome Packet Folder Template The Golf Swinger Presentation Folder … [Read more...]

Create a Shaped Clipping Mask in Photoshop/Illustrator (Tutorial)

Today, we're sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of one of our favorite folder design templates. This Cruise Ship Adventure Presentation Folder Template uses a simple clipping mask to make the image of the ship appear to be split into several rounded square tile shapes. The end result looks like something that would take a long time to make from scratch, but you can create it using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop in just a few simple steps with this handy tutorial. Creating the … [Read more...]

51 Free Photoshop Tutorials for Amazingly Cool Photo Editing

Imagine a world where Adobe Photoshop and photo editing don't exist—where the photos in your print marketing collateral have the same visual impact as your driver’s license photo. A world where you can’t tell the difference between a professional direct mail campaign and your Aunt Judy’s tacky holiday greeting card. Pretty scary, huh? Fortunately, Photoshop exists (along with many free Photoshop alternatives), allowing print media designers to transform photographs into really cool works … [Read more...]

How to Use Our Die Cut Templates

When you order a Company Folders product, our die-cut templates act as your canvas when you construct your artwork. If you've download your desired template but need help editing it or applying your design, let this handy tutorial be your guide. Step 1: Open or place the die-cut template in the program of your choice. If you are using Adobe Illustrator, you can simply open the template file directly. However, when saving your project, make sure you do not overwrite the original … [Read more...]

Celebrating 10 Years With a Blast From the Past

Company Folders is proud to announce our 10th anniversary! Don't worry, you don't have to get us a present. In fact, to celebrate our tenth year in business, our gift to you is a 10% site-wide discount plus free shipping on all orders placed before 6 PM EST on December 6, 2013. For those of you who have worked with us over the years, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and chart the evolution of Company Folders from our humble beginnings to exciting recent … [Read more...]

10 Tips for a First-Class Printed Design Portfolio (with Examples)

You've already posted all of your graphic design work online, so who really needs a print portfolio, anyway? As a matter of fact, investing the time to create an outstanding printed portfolio can pay off in a big way—even if your work is strictly digital. Unlike online portfolios, physical portfolios cannot be clicked away. Since they're physical objects that take up space, clients can rediscover them even after putting them in storage (long after they've deleted your web portfolio from their … [Read more...]

Are These 6 Social Media Mistakes Ruining Your Print Ads?

Why do so many graphic artists still fumble horribly when it comes to promoting social media with print ads? It's not like they haven't had plenty of time to get on the ball. Social media's been around for over a decade now, and you'll be hard pressed to find a company that doesn't have some sort of presence on Facebook, Google Plus, or Twitter. There's really no giant, hidden secret to learning how to advertise social media, nothing that makes it more difficult to work with than a website … [Read more...]

13 Popular Print Design Trends (That Make Us Cringe)

Nobody wants to be the one person to miss out on the latest trends, but keeping up with fads isn't always an indication of quality. If it were, people would still be dancing the Macarena and playing pogs. Likewise, many of the popular print design trends of the past just end up making artwork look dated and unprofessional by modern standards. But not every printing trend is a relic from the Clinton era. Some are relatively new fads that are so widespread and standard that nobody really stops … [Read more...]

Interview: Lester Hutt of BevShots, Our Folder Design Contest Winner

We've received many fantastic submissions to the Folder Design Gallery, and we're proud to announce the very first winner of our yearly folder design contest: BevShots, a company that turns microscopic photographs of alcoholic beverages into gorgeous works of art. Their award winning folder design exemplifies a truly unique take on surreal artwork, inspired by tiny details in the natural world around us. We spoke with BevShots president Lester Hutt about the remarkable creative process behind … [Read more...]

The 16 Best Free Adobe Photoshop Alternatives for Mac & Windows

We recently took a look at the Adobe Creative Suite, breaking down when to use Photoshop vs. Illustrator vs. InDesgin, but there's one glaring fact we didn't mention: not every designer has access to these programs. For designers who are just starting out, still in school or operating on a tight budget, Adobe Photoshop might be a luxury that you just can't afford. But if you find yourself in one of these categories, breathe easy; there are several free photo editing programs out there that … [Read more...]

Only a Few Days Left to Enter Our Folder Design Contest!

Your mother might have told you that nobody likes a show-off, but when you're a designer, it's your job to show the world just what you can do. We opened up the Folder Design Gallery so that designers would have a place to promote their artwork, but we thought we could do even more to salute the hard-working designers out there who are changing the game with their remarkable custom folders. So we decided to sweeten the deal. Each year, we pick our favorite folder design; the winner … [Read more...]

Adobe Illustrator vs. Photoshop vs. InDesign – Print Design Guide

Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign represent the “big three” of the Adobe Creative Suite—but never assume that one is interchangeable with another. Use the wrong design program to create a certain element of your artwork, and you might end up with blurry text, sloppy layouts, or a logo that you can never resize without turning it into a pixelated nightmare. Using all three programs together, however, turns them into the ultimate dream team. You can maximize the strengths of each Adobe … [Read more...]

The 5 Different Logo Design Styles: Which Type Fits Your Brand?

Where would McDonald's be without their golden arches, UPS without their brown shield emblem, or Coca-Cola without their iconic cursive script? Each of these logos perfectly encapsulates the associated brand, and yet, each is an entirely different type of logo design. The same way that food falls into basic food groups, logos fall into 5 basic styles, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Here's a definition of each logo type, along with some tips on how to choose one that … [Read more...]

Folder Case Study: Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum

When you're dealing with one of the most significant symbols of peace in the Northern Pacific region, it deserves the proper package. Several years ago, the Japan-America Society of New Hampshire needed presentation folders in which to insert copies of the Governor's Proclamation of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty, which formally ended the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. These illustrious documents would be presented by hand to visitors from Nichinan, Japan (both political officials and … [Read more...]

The Top 8 Free Font Sites for Print Designers

Some would say that finding the best fonts for your print media project is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but it's actually more like trying to find a needle in a stack of other needles. Just when you think you've conquered this herculean task and discovered the one font that seems to perfectly encapsulate your vision, you'll find that the font is outside your budget range, unsuitable for print, or not safe for commercial use. To help out, we've written reviews of the best free … [Read more...]

The 17 Best Stock Photo Sites Every Designer Should Bookmark

Nothing makes a print design pop more than exciting visuals that engage the audience, but you may not always have the time or budget to create original photographs or illustrations. Stock art is a quick and easy way to add a visual component to your designs; just remember that not all stock image websites will have the print-ready images you need. Any artwork you plan to incorporate into a printed image should be: High resolution (300 dpi or greater) Properly licensed for your use … [Read more...]

Worst Fonts Ever! 11 Examples of Bad Typography in Print

Fonts are like celebrities—some are famous, while others can be downright infamous. When an audience sees a font in your print media design that they just can't stand (be it overused, ugly or unreadable), you can lose their attention in a heartbeat. We've already discussed how to properly use typography in your print media project, but there's one more rule that print designers should take to heart: avoid using notoriously bad fonts in your designs. To that end, we've provided you with a … [Read more...]