What is Image Resolution?

Image resolution is something that trips up a lot of my clients when they embark on printing or design projects on their own. Why does this image look blurry when I make it larger? Why can’t I print this graphic in poster size? The answers all come down to image resolution.Raster files (also called rasterized images or pixel-based images) are made up of a series of dots. Common raster file types you may be familiar with are JPG, JPEG, JPEG2000, TIF, RAW, GIF, BMP, PNG.An up-close and personal view of a raster file may look something like this:
Pixels up close and personal

When you zoom out, the same image looks like this:
Pixel/rasterized image zoomed out

Pixels have limitations. The number of dots within a confined space cannot be increased. When these dots are made larger, the quality isn’t increased, and cannot be increased- only the size is increased. So, the larger you make the pixels (dots), the blurrier your image will become.

Is that clear as mud yet?

You can only save a pixel file down in size. It cannot be made larger.

How can you be safe? Always keep the largest image size possible on hand. You can always save down in size. You cannot save up. When editing a file, always create a duplicate rather than saving over your original.

Vector-based files are another solution for avoiding pixel problems.

When printing, an image should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) or 300 ppi (pixels per inch) but many professional presses may request higher (350+).

When preparing files for the web, you may want around 150 dpi to increase file loading time. The larger the image (the more pixels present), the longer it takes for images to load on the web. However, with retina displays, devices can display over 300 ppi.

Are you having pixel problems? Don’t hesitate to post your Q below.

Complexly Simple

A few weeks ago, a client stated that among the most important factors for her new branding, she wanted a design that was complexly simple.Whenever I need to ponder a thought, I typically get up from my desk and walk around a bit, refresh my coffee, walk outside; this is exactly what I did after reading this.

Complexly simple? Is she requesting the impossible? How can I achieve two antonyms in one design?

The more I thought about this, the more I realize how gravely important the “complexly simple principle” is for any design concept: branding, studio art, interior design, motion design.

A design too simple can pose the problem of being forgettable. A design too complex can become messy and revolting. (Studies show the brain associates difficult words, images with danger and risk.)

So, how can one achieve both- simple and complex?

I’ve reduced the complexly simple design principle to 4 actionables:

Allow the eye to move freely. Create white space, spacing between elements, patterns for the eye to follow. Most viewers review a space beginning at the top left and ending at the bottom right. Consider this viewing pattern.
Viewing Pattern

Develop balance or symmetry. Symmetry is most often considered beautiful. “In the natural world, anything symmetrical is usually alive. Animals, for instance, have symmetrical shapes.” -V.S. Ramachandran, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego

Depict details that become memorable. Create elements that stand out and “stick.” “Is it so memorable, in fact, that it can create change, that it can spur someone to action?” -Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

Create an experience. Have a core idea that is consistent for users to develop emotional attachments. “The only way to do this is to develop a real understanding of the target audience.”-Forbes “Rethink experiences from ground up to create magical moments.” -Tony Fadell, former SVP of iPod Division at Apple

Less is more, but too little is not enough.

“But simplicity is really about comprehension and clarity of purpose…can we design such that people instantly understand what’s going on and make a confident decision about what to do next?” –52 Weeks of UX

Staging a Home

Staging a HomeOver the past few months, I staged my Fiancé’s downtown bungalow home as well as my own house to put on the market; we are combining 2 households and buying a new home! His was under contract in 24 hours, mine in 4 days.Top 4 Interior Design Principles in Room Perfection:

Clear out everything you don’t love. This may mean getting rid of 60% or more of the things you own. Ask yourself, have I used this item in the last 6-12 months? Do I absolutely love this item? If the answer is no, to the Good Will donation pile it goes! Removing clutter is the #1 way to improve the aesthetic of a room.

Add a plant. So easy! Bringing a bit of greenery to a room brings life. Plants are an instant way to make a room feel fresh and clean.

Add something white and fluffy. If this sounds funny, just try it! Try a pillow or sheepskin throw; such a design element makes a room feel cozy and comfortable- a place you want to relax. The goal here is really to add some texture to the space that feels inviting.

Add books. A couple of coffee table-style books add a polished feel to a room. Potential buyers can more easily envision themselves relaxing and enjoying the space as their own.

Image sources: A. Design Sponge B. Design Sponge C. Time of the Aquarius D. Pinterest find

The Key to a Successful Logo Design

Simple is best. Yes, I said it! And mean it. Do I cringe while writing this because I make a living by creating logos? Not a chance. I want to share what I’ve learned after developing thousands of logos for companies around the world. A business needs a recognizable mark- which may mean a chosen typography style and/or color palette and iconic image.

But what solidifies your brand is how you style everything else and what design elements you choose to style with your logo. The act of creating a visual cohesiveness that you use throughout solidifies your brand.

Think of your top 3 favorite brands- maybe a boutique retailer, hotel or magazine. What do their logos look like? In most cases, I’d bet they are clean logotypes (a logo built from typography only).

W magazine's logo, a typeset serif W

*above: W magazine’s logo, a typeset serif W

Building your brand requires a lot of work and consistency beyond creating a logo, so consider staying away from too much color, lots of detail, and things that are difficult to reprint. Versatility is key.

However, if you want a detailed and colorful logo, consider having a secondary, more simple version of the logo that works well at various sizes and can be printed easily.

Consider building visual unity through:

▸ a brand color palette
▸ mood board
▸ signature images and photographs
▸ custom artwork
▸ business collateral


Simplicity and consistency help achieve professionalism and trust- a way to visually say “I’m good at what I do.”.

The Best iPhone Photography Apps

The Best iPhone Photography Apps for Photo Editing

Social media integration is imperative for most businesses. This means posting on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter regularly. Often posts are image-based and quickly taken from an iPhone; most of the time natural lighting isn’t quite enough.Here are the best apps for editing photos on the go:

1. Afterlight: More than 30 filters available. Finite adjustments like brightness, contrast, saturation. Simple borders available, polaroid borders, circular cropping, light leaks. Perfect for making minor adjustments for close to a #nofilter aesthetic.

2. PicTapGo: Ability to easily layer filters, apply various levels of filter adjustments. Can save “recipes” for editing to apply the same effect to other images instantly. Perfect for quick editing.

3. Picfx: Dramatic photo filter layering such as vintage film settings, scratches, light leaks, textures, and grunge. Can adjust levels of filter application. Great for adding light variations to an image.

4. Filtergram: Clean and clear editing style filters. Lots of options. Light leaks, lens flares, blurs. Image adjusts: brightness, contrast, saturation, temperature, etc. Great for creating a crisp, professional style image.

5. Camera+: Fast photo filters and adjustments. Detailed editing tools such as soft focus (hides wrinkles!), film grain, exposure, highlights and shadows.

6. Mextures: Filters for layering: radiance, grit and grain, light leaks, emulsion (vintage photography techniques), grunge, landscape color gradients, and vintage gradients. Great for dramatic editing with an art-like quality.

7. Luminance: Quick and simple filters and adjustments: tone curve, brightness/contrast, exposure, white balance and more. Great for editing quickly.

8. PicStitch: App for creating photo grids. Almost 70 free grid templates.

9. Waterlogue: With a couple of quick clicks, turn an image into a watercolor painting. Several watercolor settings including natural, bold, luminous, travelogue, and more. Fun way to turn a photo into art.