Kirkland’s and IMC

This week in Digital Imagery in Web Design, we learned all about Integrated Marketing Communication, or IMC. I had never heard of the term before this week (I have a science background, so I’ll be honest and admit most class content is completely foreign), but I learned that in summary, it is when a company has consistent messaging and advertising along all communication channels. I learned that I’ve been unknowingly enjoying IMC for quite some time through my personal social media channels, mailings, and TV advertisements. I actually enjoy when a company hypes a new product line this way, because I see it so constantly in different media, it strikes my interest.

Be honest: could you resist this face?

One company that always keeps me coming back for more is perhaps my favorite home store, Kirkland’s! I recently purchased my first house this past summer, and it was where I bought knick-knacks to turn my house into a home. If you’ve never stepped foot in a Kirkland’s, don’t. I’m serious, you will never want to go anywhere else for inexpensive decor. I’m not proud to admit that Kirkland’s all but forced me buy an NFL-themed turkey this year… in July, in 95-degree weather, the week it came out..

But I digress. Kirkland’s integrates their marketing year-round; I’m at the point where I look forward to their cover photo changing so I can see the new set of products. I follow Kirkland’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, in addition to receiving an e-mail (and coupons) almost every day. When I received this assignment to create an additional image to match with their IMC campaign, I immediately thought of Kirkland’s and dove into their different social platforms. Here’s what I found:

An autumn-inspired advertisement from
Pumpkins featured in their Facebook cover photo.
“Deal of the Day” screenshot from Kirkland’s website.
Screenshot of their fall-inspired bg photo on Twitter.

I really love their “Deal of the Day” section and wanted to focus on that in my assignment a) because it changes everyday and b) they post about it on every channel. So, I started by opening the screenshot of the DotD in PS, and copied the stamp-looking image and pasted it into my document. At first I used the lasso tool to try and erase the box in the background, but I thought it looked too harsh, so instead I used the eraser tool with the hardness set at 40% to eliminate the crisp edge. I also did not like how the top part of the circle in DotD looked as though it had been cut off, so I selected another part of the circle, copy and pasted it onto a new layer, and turned it until I was satisfied with the way it fit. Then I softly erased some of the edges again to make it less harsh and blend easier. Next, I wanted to recreate the background rectangular box. Using the eyedropper tool, I selected the color from the screenshot and created a rectangle similar to the one seen in the original. I added a stroke (within layer styles) on the box.

Progress on my design.
Progress on my design.

The original also has a light, basket weave-like pattern. To mimic this, I selected the pattern stamp tool and looked through some of the styles offered. I chose the style group called “Artists Brushes Canvas” and selected the second one from the right. After creating a new layer, I then selected the inside of the rectangle (not including the stroke), and stamped everything inside this selection. Since the pattern was in black and white, I changed the layer mode to “Soft Light” which laid the pattern nicely over the color of the rectangle beneath. I’m actually surprised by how similar it looks to the original.

I chose which graphic I wanted to make my Deal of the Day: a cute Polka Dot Boo Wooden Sign. The photo had a background, so I added a mask to the pasted image and  painted the background black (this took forever, but it was a requirement to use a mask). From there I added a layer style, a drop shadow, to make the wooden image stand out more. The deals of the day always have a cute pun, followed by the details of the product. I chose “Fall into Halloween!” and then added the details of the sign and the price. The original photo has the text the same color as the circle in Deal of the Day, so I used the eyedropper tool to pick that up. Then I pasted in the Kirkland’s logo on the bottom so consumers would know where to buy the Deal of the Day.

showcase5Above you will see my final version! I’m very pleased with the way it came out and personally feel that it looks like something Kirkland’s could easily integrate on their website.

Thanks for stopping by, and please feel free to leave a comment or suggestion!

Disclaimer: I am no way affiliated with Kirkland’s, this was an educational exercise and I’m simply a fan of their merchandise.

Bow-Wow’s Beans

This week I was tasked with creating a chalkboard-styled web image for a new coffee company: Bow-Wow’s Beans. This pooch-themed cafe wanted their chalkboard styled with everything dog-related: paw prints, bones, the works! So, let’s get right into the nitty-gritty of what I did.

Final product of my image for Bow-Wow’s Beans.

After finding a suitable background chalkboard image, I set out to find a  font that was naturally somewhat transparent and evoked the image of hand-writing. I downloaded four fonts from Typekit: Almaq Rough, HWT Catchwords, Lust Script Regular, and Sail Type. I also downloaded two fonts called Puppybellies and Austie Bost Kitten Klub from

From here I began to actually designed the chalkboard. We were given many ornaments to use for our chalkboard image. I pasted the border ornament and stretched it past the image so that only the dotted dashes appeared on the board. I knew that I wanted the arced ribbon ornament, so I pasted that in as well and moved it to the top. I typed “Welcome to…” and arced the text using the warp text tool and fit it within the arced ribbon.

From there I added the different coffee specials, syrups, and other texts. I had a lot of fun changing the fonts and adding the different chalk text styles and changing colors. I added a final ornament on the bottom to draw attention to the new “Pumpkin Spice” flavor. I purposely kept a bit of white space between my “headers” to draw the eye down to the specific points in my chalkboard.

Puppybellies had a few of glyphs in their text that I utilized throughout my design. For example, the + sign was a solid dog bone, the { symbol was an outline of a dogbone, and the * was a paw print. I had a lot of fun figuring out how I wanted to place them all along the chalkboard and am pleased with the way it came out.

Note: Please be aware that this was an assignment for class and not an actual project I was paid or tasked to do. This was entirely for educational purposes. Thank you!

Editing a Bench Image

For this design showcase, we were given three images to choose from and needed to edit them accordingly. I chose the image with a bench because I could definitely see myself stopping there on a walk and reading a book, or just enjoying the sunshine!

Original bench image.
Original bench image.

Since the image was much larger than necessary, I resized the image to the required eight inches across and changed the DPI to 300 for optimal print quality.

Right off the bat, I decided that the photo looked bare and a little too green overall for such a nice bench. I duplicated the background (to protect the original) and, using the clone tool, cloned the red and orange flowers and their stems, the yellow flowers to the left of the bench, and the yellow, blurry flowers in the far background.

A look into before and after cloning. Notice the fullness of the red flowers, the yellow flowers behind the bench, and the blurry yellow flowers in the background.

Next I added an adjustment layer and altered the image’s levels. I personally thought the image was a bit too dark for my taste and wanted to lighten it. I did this by sliding the white lever to 230 and the middle, grey lever slightly to the left to 1.06. While this did brighten the image, I thought the grey of the bench seemed washed out by the adjustment, and decided to mask it by painting the bench black in the adjustment layer (using the brush tool).

Even though the flowers are beautiful, the bench is the star of my image. Thinking realistically, when you focus on an object with your eyes, the neighboring objects blur around it. I wanted to achieve this effect, so I duplicated the cloned layer and blurred the green bush on the left of the foreground and the large stones on the right of the foreground.

Looking at the image again, I still felt there was something not quite right with the bench “popping,” and decided to burn the mulch/dirt in the flowerbed to make the bench stand out even more.

A comparison of the effect of the burn tool on the flower bed.
A comparison of the effect of the burn tool on the flower bed.

Finally, I decided to add another adjustment layer, black and white, and set the opacity to 73%. This allowed a very faint color to shine through, especially the colors of the flowers and bushes. Overall I am very pleased with the effect of the final versions of this editing exercise.

Final of my colored bench image.
Final of my bench image in black and white.

Albert’s Grille Project

This week in class we dove into working with Photoshop by learning many of the basic tools and features of the program. Layers are one of the most fundamental features in both Adobe Photoshop and digital design, so I was eager to understand and begin.

For this design showcase, I was hired by a local company, Albert’s Grille, to create a BLT sandwich graphic for the company website.

Albert’s Classic BLT: Crispy bacon served on a bed of lettuce and tomato, sandwiched between toasted slices of white bread, mayonnaise and mustard. Mm-mm good. –Albert’s Grille menu

Final image of my project for Albert’s Grille.

While the sandwich was meant to be the star of the image, I approached this project by first considering the look of the graphic as a whole. Albert’s Grille is a deli-styled restaurant whose staff prides themselves in serving timeless, traditional sandwiches for families of all ages to enjoy. Because of this, I knew I wanted to use a well-accostumed background, and went straight to the gingham tablecloth to contrast Albert’s classic white and blue plate. I used the Magic Wand tool to highlight the original white background in the plate document and delete it so the table cloth could be seen when I moved the plate over.

Next, after similarly deleting the background, I moved a transparent image of a slice of plain, white bread atop of the plate. Because Albert’s Grille describes their Classic BLT sandwich with toasted bread, I decided to “toast” my slice by using the Burn tool. Toasters usually toast bread unevenly, and there are normally a few lighter lines that run through the the toast from the mechanism within the toaster. I tried to achieve this look by first setting my exposure level to 50%. Then I used a larger-sized brush with 0% hardness to lightly “toast” the whole piece, followed by a smaller-sized brush with a 25% hardness to toast around where lines should be. When I was satisfied, I duplicated the layer (since there would be two slices) and hid the top slice by clicking on the eye to the right of the layer.

A before and after image of my “toasting” process using the burn tool.

Using a combination of the magnetic lasso tool and the magic wand, I deleted the backgrounds from tomato, lettuce, and bacon images, then moved them to my new  graphic, between the bread slices. Next, I chose a subtle yellow/brown color that looks like classic French’s mustard and, using the Brush tool, I drew it in a swirl design, like I would add mustard as a kid. I also chose to double-click on the mustard layer and add a size 1 stroke in a slightly darker hue to eliminate a harsh edge. I repeated the process to add mayonnaise but instead of a stroke, added a bevel and emboss effect, and softened to 100%.

Close-up of the effects on my mayonnaise and mustard layers.

Finally finished with the sandwich, I began to perfect the logo for the image. I used the eyedropper tool to pick up the color of the plate, but felt it was too dark and went with a slightly lighter version of blue. I chose to stretch the text as an arc to wrap around the bottom of the plate, then double-clicked and added a bevel and emboss effect as well as a drop shadow. Overall I am very satisfied with the look of this BLT image and hope Albert’s Grille will be, too!