A Few Shades of Grey: Adding Graphical Portraits to a Publication

boomer-living-1 Creating an effective corporate communication involves lots of creative experimentation to make your publication fresh and inviting. The graphics play an important part in making the publication visually intriguing. Adding special visual effects can make the publication more exciting to read and to follow.

We developed a special effect that involves converting portraiture to just a few shades of grey or gradations of one or two colors. It get away from the standard photo treatment and takes your publication one step further into the creative realm.  But it needs to be the right audience for a slightly more creative approach.

We used close-up portraits, especially of people with lots of character lines or distinctive features. This effect works great for newsletters about people, healthcare, living styles, baby boomers, seniors, authors, artists, and performers, to name a few.  It also works great for biographies.

Pictured above and below are some samples of newsletters using this effect.


To find out more about how we can help create an effective newsletter, e-publication, or invitation for your firm or organization, contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.net.

Have You Seen Your Shadow Lately?

Shadows make beautiful patterns and graphics.  Shadows have truly interesting shapes and make great silhouettes for wrapping text around and can really spice up the graphic design of a newsletter, collateral or event promotion. Just head outside on a sunny day and snap away.

Here’s three examples of shadows that we used to create interesting patterns for newsletters, either online or for print. In all cases, we colorized the images and did some quick manipulations using our image-editing software.

Jumpstart-your-summer1) Flower treatment—these are the shadows of the  Lily of the Nile, summer flowering perennials. This is a great effect for newsletters or publications dealing with gardening, planting, spring and summer and outdoor living.

Out-in-the-Wild2) The Scary animal—this is actually the shadow of my Alaskan Husky on his daily walk.  Pretty scary huh? I can see why a groundhog may be scared of his shadow but this one takes the cake.  This is a great effect for newsletters or publications dealing with Halloween, scary movies, wolves or wild dogs or life in the wild.


3) Palm Trees blowing in the wind—These are shadows created from the leaves of the palm tree. This is a great effect for newsletters or publications dealing with recreation, the outdoors, summer fun, travel or leisure.

OriginalsAbove you will see the original photos that we used in our designs.

Come out from the shadows and see how beautiful life can be!  Add some shadows to your newsletter, e-publication or invitation.

To find out more about how we can help create an effective newsletter, e-publication, or invitation for your firm or organization, contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.net.

Try Pinning It

You may think that “pinning” is only for Pinterest. Well, think again.

“Pins” make great promotional items or give-aways to honor anniversaries, celebrations, or facility openings. Pins can also be created to commemorate the start of a new program, to celebrate the opening rail or bus line or to recognize employees for years of service.  Pins are also great morale boosters.

People love pins. Pins come in all sizes and can be made from cloisonné hard enamel, die struck gold enamel, die struck soft enamel or etched metal pins. The most interesting pins have an unusual shape and graphical treatment. Indeed, some pins are very elegant and can be worn as jewelry.


Pins can help kick-off a successful promotional campaign.  Over the years, our clients have hired us to create some unusual pins which have are often distributed when invitees arrive at an event. These clients include Metrolink, Kaiser Permanente, Norwalk Transit and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), to name a few.

Pins can have custom cut-out shapes.  For example, several of the pins that we produced for the Norwalk Transit Bus Roadeo have shapes which follow the curvature of a whimsical illustration. In this post you will find samples of these pins.

A pin emblem can also be used as a graphic marque for a newsletter.  The art can be placed in a masthead or in a footer as a special commemorative emblem such as the 10th anniversary of the actual newsletter, or the 25th anniversary of a medical center.


To find out more about how we can help create an interesting pin,promotional item or custom give-away item for your company’s anniversary or special event, contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.net.

So next time you next a great promotion, try pinning it with a custom pin design.  Pins make great event promotions—just don’t pop any balloons on the way.

Jumping Off the Edge

At HWDS, we often like to break out of the box. Recently, we have been adding unique edge treatments to photos.  These border effects can spice up any publication. Our goal is always to remain fresh, especially when creating monthly newsletters.

Too often we see photos with the standard rectangular or square shape.  As a result, we started jumping beyond the edge and adding an unusual graphical element as a border.

Here’s some examples of special effects that we created for the edges of photos.

1) The Curve Effect.  Here a curved band of color defines the bottom edge of the photo.  This is a great technique for newsletters on tropical vacations, beaches or summer fun.


2) The Bubble Effect. These bubble shapes define the edge of photos.  This is a great technique for newsletters or publications on water issues.


3) The Star Effect.  These star shapes create an interesting edge for any photo.  Stars are wonderful elements to use for newsletters or articles that require a celebratory theme.


4) The Type Effect. Here, the type is filled with the image and is actually an extension of the scene.  This is a great technique for newsletters on travel, tourism or special events.


For the newsletter below, we used the bubble effect. This effect works well when the newsletter has lots of white space.  A fun type treatment that works well with the waves in the water was also used for this design.

We believe that it is best not to mix to many special effects in the same publication. Consistency and simplicity of design is critical to creating a successful corporate communication. In fact, we adhere to this approach with all the designs we create for our clients.

Newsletter sample using the bubble effect

Newsletter sample using the bubble effect

To find out more about how we can help create an interesting edge effect for your company’s newsletter, collateral or e-publication, contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.net.

Go ahead take a risk and straddle the edge!  You’ll be glad that you did.

Grab Your Suitcase: It’s Time for a Trip


Since the summer vacation season will soon be upon us, I thought this would be a great opportunity to explore the use of travel photos as graphical treatments and topics for one’s newsletter.

As you travel to your destination, remember to bring a high-end camera to obtain the best  quality photos. Simple snapshots from your smart phone will not have the clarity and definition for a professional newsletter or magazine. Continue reading

Creating Effective Newsletters: Tip #8—Take a Hike

Trees can add lots of dimension and curve to a newsletter layout.
Here's a sample design that we created using a photo from a nature hike.

Here’s a sample design that we created using a photo from a nature hike.


Here’s how we did it…

Next time you are on a hike, just tilt your camera, point and shoot.  It’s that simple. It’s always best to take lots of photos to get the best shot.

First, we sifted through our camera roll to find the best image. Next, we cropped, color-corrected and angled the photo. We utilized some color enhancement techniques in Photoshop. In this case, we adjusted the contrast and sponged in sections of the leaves with the saturation tool to increase the brilliance of the image. We then cropped the image to give dramatic angles and to provide for an interesting compositional layout.

We then added the image to the masthead on the newsletter page. Then we added colors that compliment the photo. We used the eyedropper tool to pull the same green from the image and used this color in the middle of the page.

Next, we added a natural-looking typestyle. Then we screened an enlarged version of the type in the background to create an interesting pattern effect.

Finally, we repeated a section of the tree bark for the “Inside” (table of contents) bars on the right.

This effect is great for newsletters about hiking, nature, recycling, conservation, Earth Day, travel, outdoors, gardening, the environment and arborists.

Happy trails…