Monday, September 2, 2013

Designing a handout that's economical on paper and reproduction costs but still looks great

This year, I was again given the choice privilege of creating the design for a handout to announce one of the thousands of worldwide gatherings of incredible women to watch the satellite broadcast of the General Relief Society Meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is such an honor to be a part of this organization of stellar women and then to be able to assist in some way is an honor I don't take for granted at all.

The design process for this particular flyer is always a fun challenge for me. In order to save resources and money there are some key limitations:
  1. The design is for a half-sheet of standard letter-sized paper so that two flyers can be made from one sheet of paper.
  2. The design needs to look great reproduced using a simple black and white photocopier. Color copies are pricey and printing hundreds of these on a color inkjet printer isn't economical.

I can't use color or photos as a crutch because neither would reproduce well when copied on a photocopier. Everything has to be black and white line art the way it used to be back when I was a graphic design student in college. Luckily, I now have the computer as my main design tool so the work goes much faster than back then.

I custom-built the lettering for the word "Feast" using vector tools. I incorporated a Victorian-style font for the words "Upon the Word". I created a black and white vector of the Relief Society logo. Then I added antique and vintage clip art from my Dover books to pull the eye through the design to all the key pieces of information the reader needs to see and know. I like how many of the design elements look like grapevines winding their way through the layout.

If you have to design a flyer with the same limitations here are some helpful tips:
  • Choose only black and white line art with clean definition. Stay away from photos or color graphics that will look like a smudgy mess when you photocopy the master.  
  • Don't use a lot of different fonts for the key information text like the date, time, location, and other important information. 
  • Be creative and playful with your font choices in the title instead of the body text. Treat the title like another piece of clip art and play with font size, choice, unusual placement, etc.
  • Find a key element in the theme and then play off that for your graphics choices. I keyed off the word "feast" and embellished with a bunch of wheat and grapes. You don't need to be super literal when you're choosing your clip art. Sometimes it's better not to be. 
  • You probably will rarely find everything you need in one piece of clip art. Don't get discouraged. Instead, mix and match laying one on top of another the way you would cut out pieces of paper on a scrapbook page. 
  • If you want really crisp lines that reproduce well, look for clip art that's in a "vector" format or .EPS format. That means it will resize to any size and still retain smooth edges that don't become jagged (pixelated).
  • When you're ready to hand off your final printing file to someone, save it as a .PDF file. That way all your hard work is safe from an accidental edit on the other end (e.g., someone hitting the delete button while something in the design is selected). It also ensures that the resolution will be beautiful when they print the master to be photocopied.
  • To add a little punch to the final handout, try photocopying it onto colored paper. Choosing a pale to medium shade colored paper will add an extra "pop" to the black and white design without making it hard to read (stay away from darker colors like red).
Fun facts
Did you know that the Relief Society is the oldest and largest women's organization in the world? Established in 1842 for women 18 years of age and older, the Relief Society is a philanthropic and educational women's organization that now has approximately 6 million member in over 170 countries and territories around the world. 

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