Why Image Masking Is Necessary

In Post-processing, it is nearly impossible for a designer to avoid using the image masking features and methods. Image masking opens up a new window of endless editing effects and a dedicated designer is bent on taking every single opportunity.

Sound knowledge about these options and functions will ensure a satisfying end result. Now to address the question at hand:

Non-Destructive: As opposed to erasing a background using the Eraser Tool, masking technique does not obliterate the image details. They are cleverly hidden below various layers so that they can help us out in case we need to make changes. On the contrary, the Eraser tool permanently deletes these pixels and it is close to impossible to bring those back in case a tweaking is required.

Transitions: The basic or simplest function of image masking technique is to have a “hide and seek” effect in some areas of the photo. This transitioning effect can be created using brushes and gradients for soft masking. This requires delicate strokes and soft brushes. This transparency of pictures can be controlled. The opacity level can be adjusted to suit the photo and its background. This is not the only technique for achieving this effect, but it is the simplest.

Editing Specific Areas: Many times we are faced with projects where we need to edit a small portion of the photo; such as, changing the color of someone’s clothes in a photo and fixing shadow/light issues. You can use masking techniques to highlight the portion and edit it as you wish e.g. color correction, brightness, contrast, exposure, shadows etc.

Removing / Replacing Background of Translucent Objects: Masking is an easy option when it comes to removing backgrounds of translucent objects. Any object with any level of transparency can be isolated from its background by careful masking. Even in cases of semi-transparent clothes’ photos, this technique can be applied.

Single Advantage of Clipping Mask: Clipping mask, when compared to Layer Mask, has the advantage of making different areas visible by simply moving the clipped image. It can be determined by the user which part of the background they want to be visible and which part they don’t by using clipping mask. Other than this one advantage, regular layer masking is more than good enough for most masking work.

Creating Collage Photos: Collage images are fun and it is even more interesting when you play with the masking tools while making a collage. Interesting and cool effects can be made by using a number of pictures and masking them. Soft brushes in varying gradients and hues of gray will definitely make these blending smooth.

Harvest Is Over – Better Get the Ladder

When business is good and customers are eager to buy, it sure is a great time. Business seems bountiful and everlasting. You’re hot. The phone is ringing, orders come through a cornucopia of the internet, customers stand in line… easy pickings… like harvest time in an orchard and all you have to do is just walk over to a tree and pluck another apple… one customer after another… you feel that you are a business genius. Here’s some advice from someone who has been there: better enjoy it while it lasts.

Because, after a while, the orchard is picked over. Sometimes there is a drought. Insects or disease or a frost attacks the crop. Customers now are standing in line somewhere else for the next shiny thing. The market swings in other directions away from you. The easy pickings are long gone. Customers have dwindled. You are no longer a genius, what oh what to do? Wringing your hands doesn’t help.

In the orchard, some starve because they can’t get to the harder-to-reach fruit, even standing on your tippy-toes, sigh, and give up; survivors build ladders to climb higher. In business, some give up and close shop. Those who have the resources and the gumption to survive evolve by changing product, marketing harder and smarter, perhaps even changing their business model. They change their offerings and bring out new, improved colors or sizes or capacities or groupings. They take groups of products or services into and put them into different combinations or bundles with new pricing.

Survivors have a way of going after an increasingly more elusive harvest. They have larger crops in good times when the picking is easy and can sustain themselves when there is a drought or other calamities. Whether the tool of survival is a ladder, a marketing plan, a customer retention plan, customer service training, sowing, fertilizing, weeding, pruning, and harvesting… it all needs to get done year after year.

Increase your reach now, plan your evolution when business is good, before the drought, before customers defect for the latest fashion, before the next shiny thing comes and replaces you in the marketplace, before something else gains favor. Always be aware of events that arise and affect your market and circumstances beyond your control. Keep your eyes and ears tuned to the changes happening around you and your business. Do that and you will survive and prosper in good times and bad.

5 Tips for Typography Best Practices

This was my first year at Typographics 2018. Typographics 2018 is a conference for typography enthusiasts around the world, that’s held at Cooper Union. There were panelists from San Francisco, Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Japan; it really felt like a truly international experience.

I had the chance to sit in on both the conference and TypeLab parts of Typographics. Here are a few highlights from the panels/breakout sessions that I really enjoyed:

1. Emojis = Pictures + Character (Jennifer Daniel, Google Emoji)
Emojis are images that may translate into different meanings across different devices. Jennifer gave an example about how the “dumpling” emoji looks different across different chat platforms -every culture has a dumpling!
I found an interesting tension in this statement -emojis should have a consistent user experience (across platforms), yet still be personalized to their users.

2. Ubiquitous type is can cause user confusion (Mr. Keedy)
Mr. Keedy created Keedy Sans, a popular font in the 90’s. The font was considered “uncool” 10 years later and used everywhere. Keedy sans is used on teenage girl makeup packaging, as well as winebars. This could create a bad user experience for people because of lack of branding. Last year, Mr. Keedy refreshed his font -to create greater customization and allow Keedy fans to layer the font for interesting visual effects.

3. Braille is a form of typography (Ellen Lupton, Cooper Hewitt)
Ellen talked about how blind individuals read Braille in a unique way -holding it across their body. She also demonstrated a blind person’s experience watching music videos by showing the accessibility voiceover.

4. Brand holds content together with design (Gale Bichler, NYTimes)
Gale foused on how the New York Times(NYT) has branded itself as a publication that experiments with many types of fonts. NYT can play around with different types and massive fonts as illustration. If someone picks up a page from the floor, they can usually tell that it’s from the New York Times because of branding.

5. Picking fonts is like eating ice cream. (Veronika Burian and Jose Scaglione, Type Together)
When combining fonts, look at mechanic and organic feels. Veronika and Jose talked about how people like humanist fonts, with a hint of a calligrapher’s hand. Ideally, you should find a balance typefaces share a common language.

The overarching theme is that typography is wide-ranging and crosses various mediums. Visual languages include symbols, braille, and audio caption. The challenge now lies in how to design the best experiences for these new forms of language.

The Future of Data Science

If you have a question in mind regarding the future of data science then you are definitely concerned with whether the techniques and tools such as Python, Hadoop or SAS will become outdated or whether investing in a data science course will be beneficial for your career in the long-run. But there is no need for worry. Businesses have only recently begun to realize the worth of their data and have just begun to make significant investment in these areas. So data science careers will be around for quite some time.

HISTORY OF DATA SCIENCE

The history of data as well as statistics is proof of the fact that the transformation of data into useful insights is something which has been happening for a long, long time.

The high-tech data-driven world has forced companies to develop cheaper and more reliable sources of data storage so as to store lots and lots of business data. The extraction of useful insights from this mass of data requires the skills and knowledge base of statistician and programmers. This combination of statistic skills and programming skills can be seen only in the DATA SCIENTIST. The job of data scientists is not only extracting useful insights but extends to designing new tools and techniques for processing and storage of data.

A SECURE AND LUCRATIVE CAREER AS A DATA SCIENTIST

The individuals with right mix of skills necessary for jobs as data scientists will have a challenging career. The job and salary prospects of DATA SCIENTISTS make it an even more worthwhile educational investment for new entrants and professionals in the near term. Data scientists will have a wonderful career in the future as well. The field of data science (machine learning in particular) is not going to disappear but rather outshine other fields. So the future of data science looks promising.

The market for data is regarded as highly competitive. Standing out from the crowd and having an edge over the competition are the two important traits to keep in mind when pursuing your career in the field of data science.

HOW CAN THIS BE ACHIEVED?

A lot has been discussed about the use and benefits of data. But now the question arises regarding how to accomplish training in this field. Professionals can advance their skills and knowledge base by taking classes in data as it is always said that upgrading one’s skillset (by way of training, education or any other mode) is the key to a successful career and a bright future. It is always beneficial to be in sync with the latest technology and trends.

THE FUTURE OF DATA SCIENCE IS DEFINITELY GOING TO BE BRIGHTER THAN EVER

But remember, getting into this field is not easy. You will need to have an in-depth and thorough knowledge of all the techniques and methodologies utilized in the field of data science.

How to Make a Good Flyer

Before we get to how to make a good flyer, we have to understand the strategy behind a high-quality one. Here’s a basic rundown of a door hanger. As you can see we don’t have much space to work with. This means we have to choose our words carefully. The first line you see is the largest and is meant to grab the attention of the viewer as well as qualify them.

Right away the person knows what we’re trying to sell here. Private Construction Management services. Right below it, you’ll see a picture of a house that would look like our target customer. Under that, there’s a brief description that reinforces credibility by mentioning the years of experience with all kinds of projects.

Anyone looking into renovating their homes will identify with this flyer right away. We ask them the question “Have a project in Mind?”, always qualifying them. The next line tells them what we want them to do, which is to call for a consultation.

Door hangers work really well compared to regular flyers. For one, you won’t have to worry about your message getting lost in the mail. The direct mail route is often pricey and your ad will compete with priority mail like bills. On the other hand, everyone has one front door and your ad will command their full attention.

Flyer Headline Examples
The headline is arguably the most important part of the flyer. Some people spend the most of their time trying to choose the right image that’s going to catch the attention of the customer and dazzle them with their creativity. It sounds nice. It just isn’t the case.

The reality is that we have 1 second to catch the attention of the person we’re trying to reach. We have to talk about what THEY want as opposed to what we’re offering. In the example above, Private Construction Management might not be an ideal headline. Instead, we could’ve said something along the lines of “Got a Construction Project in Mind?”.

It might or might not get a good reception. The key is to grab attention and eliminate anyone who wouldn’t buy from us while selecting those that would. We could write a whole book on choosing the right headline but adhering to some guidelines should put you on the right track. The following are some good headline examples for flyers or for any ads in general.

How-to Headline: People like to learn and the how-to headline is found everywhere. How to hire a good construction management company. How to make a million bucks in 20 min. You’ve seen it before. It works.

Question Headline: Just like the one suggested above. Asking a question engages the reader and causes them to answer it subliminally or consciously. Either way, we’ve got them communicating with us just through the headline.

Testimonial: Testimonials are great anywhere. They reinforce your brand and its authority. No one wants to buy from the new guy on the block. They want someone tried and tested.

Crazy Offer: A crazy offer can go a long way. A really long way. You should always have a crazy offer on your flyer regardless. If its good enough, it should be the biggest and first thing they see.

Choosing the Best Image for Flyers
As we said previously, finding the perfect image for your flyer isn’t as important as some people might think. A funny or creative image will get a positive response, but it won’t necessarily get us the exact response that’ll bring us sales.

Our picture should flow well without our headline and service. If we’re advertising for a taekwondo school, you might use a picture of children wearing their G.I uniforms.

A picture like that will help people identify quickly what your service is and if its for them. The image should be able to work independently from your headline, and vice versa.

The Elevator Pitch
Flyers have limited amounts of space for words and pictures. We want to get in as much as we NEED to, not as much as we CAN. This is where a lot of people go wrong. They design their flyer to include every single detailed explanation of what they do.

You should remember that the flyer shouldn’t serve as an alternative to your website. Your website is where your customers will go if they want a more in-depth understanding of your company and services/products.

The next section you should include in your flyer is a short description of what you do and why they should choose you. In short, it’s a small elevator pitch about your company.

“We manage construction projects for homeowners and have been doing it for over 20 years”. Simple, yet effective. At this point, we have a headline, a photo, and a small elevator pitch that’s going to help us land the knockout punch.

How to make a good flyer or offer
How to make a good flyer is based on the offer you give. An amazing offer has a time limit and simply cannot be passed by. These flyers receive upwards of 8-10% success rate. You really must be able to give tremendous value, or you won’t get too many replies.

A simple flyer with no offer can expect a 1% conversion rate. This means that we’ll turn 1% of the people that see our flyers into paying customers. You send out 10,000 and you get back 100 customers. Pretty simple stuff.

If you put a great offer, you can see 800-1000 customers out of 10,000 flyers. Suddenly, it makes a lot of sense to give away a great offer. Restaurants, for example, would benefit greatly by offering a free appetizer. They might lose out on some short-term profit but they’ll win in the long term.

Strategizing a Flyer Campaign
A good design is useless without a good strategy for distribution. We know flyer advertising is a numbers game and so we have to choose our target customers carefully. A restaurant might benefit better from delivering to homes instead of street promotion. That isn’t to say that a restaurant shouldn’t use street promotion as part of their campaign. However, if you don’t have enough foot traffic near your restaurant to justify it, you’re better off just targeting the homes in the neighborhood.

These customers are going to be your loyal regulars. The cost of acquiring one of them is inconsequential to the value that they’ll bring as a lifetime customer. For homes, door hangers work best. The reason is that other flyers have to be stuffed in other places near the home. They might be stuck on the mailbox or squeezed between the door frame. On the other hand, a door hanger is going on the doorknob. Basically, to get into their home they’re going to take it off the door and they’ll look at it for about a second.

They should be able to see exactly what you’re offering, how much, and what they have to do to redeem the offer. For example, you’re advertising a pizza restaurant. A really good flyer for this type of strategy would be “Get a free pizza slice with an order of a pizza and a soda”. The customer picks up the flyer and sees that they’re getting a free pizza slice and all they have to do is to go buy 1 and a soda.