Dunkin’ Donuts Holiday Banner Ads

Happy Sunday, everyone! This past week in Digital Imagery, we discussed banner ads as a form of advertisement. Banner ads are pretty interesting way to market to consumers without them being able to just toss it aside (like the ads you find in your mailbox… does anyone look at those?). They are those sneaky little boxes you find as you browse random websites (CNN, Facebook, etc); they can be stagnate or animated, but most offer some kind of reward for clicking the ad and going to the advertiser’s page. They normally are pretty straightforward, too, containing the company logo, a simple promotion, and a button to link you to their page. They don’t always even need a picture! Most come in a standard size, such as “leaderboard,” “skyscraper,” or “button,” but there are others, as well.

This week I was assigned to make a banner ad series for a company in its fourth quarter (October, November, December). This is definitely my favorite quarter of the year, so it was hard for me to decide exactly which company to pick! 🙂 As an avid coffee drinker, I decided to go with a company that celebrates the seasons as much as me: Dunkin’ Donuts. We needed to make banner ads in the following sizes:

  1. Leaderboard: 728 x 90
  2. Rectangle: 300 x 250
  3. Skyscraper: 160 x 600
  4. Button: 320 x 75

So, the first thing I did was look for some photos I could easily edit. I found a nice large image with three differently flavored coffee bags and a nice large Dunkin’ Donuts logo. Using the magic wand tool, I deleted the white backgrounds around the coffee bags. Since Dunkin’ Donuts uses bright orange and pink as their colors, I decided to make the background of all of my banner ads a gradient of a bright orange to a slightly lighter orange. I started in the rectangle (it seemed like it would be easiest because of its nearly-square shape) and placed the Gingerbread coffee bag and the logo inside. I managed to find a similar-looking “Dunkin” font on dafont.com, so next I added the type “Introducing… All new HOLIDDAY flavors!” in white with the double “d” in “holiday.” As an avid consumer, I know that Dunkin’ Donuts likes to add the second letter, since it’s their alternate logo. I then created a pink button using the rounded rectangle tool, and added a 3pt stroke. Beneath the button I added a “Limited time only” caption because holiday flavors only last through the end of January (if I remember correctly). Finally, I added a drop shadow to all of the main promotional type and the coffee bag to give the image some depth, and a 1pt black stroke around the entire image.

For the other three banner ads, I did a variation of this advertisement. The size was quite constrictive of how many coffee bags I could use in each advertisement, how detailed I could get with the promotion, and of course placement for the logos, images, and type.

Here is my final ad series:

rectangle
Rectangle ad.
leaderboard
Leaderboard ad.
skyscraper
Skyscraper ad.
button
Button ad.

Last but not least, I was challenged to turn one of my banner ads into an animation. I chose to do the skyscraper because I thought it was the most interesting. I opened the timeline panel from Window tab, and set up five frames at 2 seconds with .2 second tweening between each. Finally, I set up a 3x loop. You can see my final product below.

ddanimation2
Skyscraper ad animation.

Thanks for stopping by, see you next week!

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Dunkin Donuts, I’m simply a consumer who enjoys their products and this was an educational exercise. 🙂

Wireframing for Vagabond Kitchen & Tap House

Hello everyone! This week I chose to redesign a local eatery’s website, Vagabond Kitchen & Tap House in Atlantic City, NJ.

Image found on company’s Twitter page.

I have been eating at Vagabond (or as almost everyone calls it: “Vagabond’s”) since the location was rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy hit the shore back in 2012. Besides their extensive craft beer list (although a huge selling point), Vagabond’s retake on classic bar food is what makes me come back for more. They have something for everyone: classic food like a burger or nachos, but also foods with a little sophistication, such as seared ahi tuna. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve had at least ten different meals there and they’re all delicious and inexpensive. My personal favorite, the Turkey Apple Brie sandwich served on walnut-raisin bread and pepper jam. Mmm.

They present most of their meals on a butcher block, and their menus are not the classic laminated 8.5×11 paper, they again smaller, more sophisticated menus in a cork binding (see first picture, above). They pay attention to detail, which sets them apart from you’re typical restaurant or bar. If you go on a Friday or Saturday night, there’s usually a band playing and the atmosphere is just very relaxed and fun.

When this guy rolls up, you know you’re eating good.

Overall, it’s one of my favorite places to eat and hang out with friends in the summer, especially when I don’t feel like paying big bucks in the casinos of Atlantic City. 🙂 And get this, this past Monday (10/12/2015) Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives announced that Guy Fieri was coming to Atlantic City to do a show that included  Vagabond’s, airing February 2016!

Now that you are more familiar with Vagabond’s Kitchen & Tap House, I can tell you more about my assignment. You might be wondering, “How do you even begin designing a website?” Never fear, I was wondering the same thing until this past week. I learned that most designers use a process called wireframing, which acts as a blueprint for websites. The wireframe lacks all the bells and whistles of fonts, images, and color; it focuses instead on functionality and user experience. Wireframing also helps you build a hierarchy of information so that what is most important to a user is easy to find. Let’s face it, a website can look like a work of art, but if you can’t navigate the site quickly and find what you’re looking for in seconds, it’s pretty much worthless.

Like any other project, I started cruising around the Internet to give myself inspiration. What I found interesting, if a little strange, is that most restaurants follow the same exact style of website. I looked up major chains such as Panera Bread, Red Robin, Chili’s, Starbucks, and Carrabba’s–every single one looked like they had the same designer who simply swapped colors/logos/images around.

Getting back on topic, I needed to have various criteria included on the homepage of the website. This included:

  • Logo
  • Navigation bar
  • Social media icons
  • Rotating slideshow images
  • Upcoming Events/Specials
  • Three feature areas (pictures or copy)
  • Contact Us area
  • Another feature of my choice
  • Color swatches

Our image had a required size of 1280 x 972 pixels, or about 18 x 13.5 inches. The first thing I did was set up guidelines two inches in on both sides and create a big container rectangle on my image. Vagabond’s current website does a similar practice, and they have a background image outside that container box. I also set up guidelines at 9 inches (width) and ~6.75 inches (height), the halfway points of my document.

Something that I learned in lecture was that researchers find that most users
a) scan the page quickly for information they want, and
b) look at websites in an “F”-shaped pattern.

So, it makes the most sense for your most important information in the uppermost left corner of the website.  I began to add my navigation and logo image on the top left corner, because it would be instantly recognizable when logging onto the web page, and then proceeded to the “rotating images” box. From there I added the various other criteria. I wish I could describe exactly what I did in a more interesting way, but I simply created many rectangles and free transformed them until I had some semblance of a layout I was pleased with. Oh, and I added about twenty guidelines to help me align the boxes/text/images/random-things-you-have-probably-never-even-thought-about! Phew!! After the boxes were all aligned, I brainstormed on the specific information I wanted to include in the layout, and ordered the headlines from most to least important. This last step helped me decide what should be on the left side, because as I mentioned, it should house the most important information. I decided to add the “rotating images” right below the logo because Vagabond’s should be advertising their food first and foremost. Next I added an events section, a beers on tap section (they are a tap house, after all), and a section about delivery all the way to the right. I found the social media icons for free at iconfinder.com, which I highly recommend and will bookmark for future use. layersscreenshot I put a small “social media feed” containing their activity on different social platforms directly below the icons because they flow well together.

Something of invaluable importance was my use of the layers panel and folders. For a project like this where it felt like I had insurmountable layers, being organized and keeping everything flowing helped keep my sanity. To the right you can see what my layers panel looked like after some time. If it seems overwhelming here, you should have seen it before I began to organize it! 🙂

vagabond-inside
Image courtesy of Google.

Finally, all that was left was possible color swatches. Vagabond’s logo is white text on a black background, so the possibilities are endless. Recalling the blocks of wood they serve their food on, I thought that wood colors could work, as well as the green of the paint inside the tap house itself. I went with hexcodes #330000 (not quite black), #ffffff (white), #7d3300 (brown), and #b9bf8e (green). My idea was that the nav bar and footer would be the brown wood color, with the container box containing the green. I would have the individual content boxes containing white with the off-black text. I would also consider changing the opacity on the white container boxes just slightly, but that’s something I would need to see first-hand.

Below is a final image of my wireframe for Vagabond Kitchen & Tap House.

wireframe

I would like to think it’s an improvement of their current website. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

NOTE: This is strictly for educational purposes, I am in no way affiliated with Vagabond. Just a local patron who has been enjoying their food/beer for years.

Moodboards and Imagery

This week in Digital Imagery we discussed ways to get inspired for imagery projects. Specifically we talked about moodboards and how you can use them to visually illustrate a certain style. They help flesh out ideas that may be bouncing around in your head so that other people don’t need to be psychics to know exactly what you’re thinking! 🙂

Our showcase assignment was to create a moodboard for a brand. I chose to do my own personal brand, because although in infancy, it’s growing every day. In another class I’m currently taking, Web Design Principles (a class which teaches the foundation of HTML and CSS), my semester-long project is to create my own portfolio website. I hope that this moodboard helps get, well, the mood of my website across and keeps me on track for the theme of my website.

It would be hard for me to dive into my moodboard without explaining my website idea first. It is a portfolio-based website, but because I like websites with a theme, I decided to make my website based around the idea of walking down a trail. I want the user to feel immersed in outdoor imagery: lots of trees, animals, dirt, etc. I want you to be “walking” and then end up at a “fork in the trail,” where you click the trail you want to follow to get to the various pages of my website.

With my theme for my project in mind, I went on various stock imagery websites such as pixabay.com and pexels.com and downloaded (way too many) images. I also wanted fonts that were very light and airy and reminded me of the woods. At first I went on dafont.com, but when I read the agreement that came with a font I had chosen, I realized it was not permitted for use on personal branding websites. For this project that would have been fine, but because I eventually want to use certain fonts for my branding website, I decided to switch to fonts offered on TypeKit to be on the safe side. I downloaded about five fonts to choose from.

After I collected my images and fonts, I opened Photoshop and began to construct my moodboard on a 10×8 inch document. We were not allowed to use templates, so I began by adding many different colored rectangles, and threw in a few ellipses just to spice things up a bit. moodboardlayoutTo the right you can see what it looked like when I was finished constructing the layout. I know it looks a little wild right now, but the colors help differentiate the shapes in my layers panel. From here I began to embed the stock images into the document by importance. I started with my favorite image, which I put in the very center, navy blue box. I situated the image’s layer behind the navy blue box, and changed the opacity of the box to ~60% so I could see the image behind it as I adjusted it’s size. The image was much larger than my square, so I had to free transform it (Command + T) to resize it to properly fit. Once I was happy with it, I moved the image’s layer above the box, changed the box’s opacity back to 100%, right clicked my image’s layer and clicked on “Create Clipping Mask.” This feature allows you to clip the top image to fit the bottom image, which I think is just too cool! The best part is, if it doesn’t fit perfectly after you click it, you can still adjust that mask and nudge it around until you get something you like. My description might seem complicated, but it was actually very easy.

pantones
Pantone’s Mimosa, Emerald, and Marsala.

After this first image, I repeated the process over and over until my moodboard came to life. I left a few boxes purposely free of images to leave room for some text and font use, and because we were assigned to use three of Patone’s “Color of the Year” colors, and I hadn’t quite figured out how I wanted to incorporate them. So, at this point I went over to Pantone’s website and found the “Plus” hexcode for 2015’s color: Marsala. At first when I saw the color I thought it was kind of ugly, but when I saved the swatch in my library I realized it actually worked well with my trail theme; it was actually a very pretty, earthy tone. I’m sorry I ever doubted you, Pantone! I also decided to use their 2013 color, Emerald, and their 2009 color, Mimosa. I thought the three would pair well together.

Marsala (R: 173 G: 101 B: 95 | C: 10 M: 67 Y: 49 K:23)
Emerald (R: 0 G: 155 B: 119 | C: 99 M: 0 Y: 69 K: 0 )
Mimosa (R: 239 G: 192 B: 80 | C: 0 M: 15 Y: 75 K: 5 )

So, the first thing I did was set an empty ellipse’s background as Marsala, and put white text over it. (Side note: fonts used were Metallophile Sp8 in one and Myriad Std Tilt in another; I did have to change the leading in one to make it fill the box more.) That left me to place Emerald and Mimosa. Because Mimosa is so vivid and powerful, I knew I wanted to leave that for something very minimal. I decided to create a custom shape, an arrow, and filled it with Mimosa. Emerald felt more subtle, so I decided to use the paint bucket tool to paint my background in this color and I loved it, however this made my images blend in since they’re quite close to emerald as it is. I decided to put a 10px white stroke effect on my images, and put a drop shadow on both ellipses to make them pop.

Finally, our last requirement for the moodboard was to use a Photoshop action anywhere on the board. In our discussion post I had linked to this site, which displays 45 free Photoshop actions. I went back on that article and scrolled around and thought it would be pretty cool if I made one of my pictures “Bold Black and White,” so I downloaded that action. After I applied the action I realized I didn’t really want black and white, because I thought it took away from the overall feel. So I deleted the actual black and white adjustment and just kept the other parts of the action and applied it to the entire moodboard. After adjusting specific parts, I felt that it made the picture brighter and more vibrant.

Here is the final image:

design7

Because I’m a little indecisive, I also have another option of my moodboard (below) without my Emerald background. Even though this means that it would not technically meet all of the requirements of my showcase, I still like it enough to add here. You can never have too many options, right?

design7white

Thank you for stopping by!

Green Initiative Logo Design: Water Warriors

Above: Hershey Kiss logo.

Happy Sunday, everyone! In this week’s classes we discussed logos. I’m currently enrolled in another class that is very design and logo-heavy, so it was nice to refresh the basics in this class. We reviewed many company logos and learned why some are better than others, and that many companies utilize their negative space to hide imagery.  You probably have heard about the forward arrow hidden in the FedEx logo, but did you know that Hershey’s Kisses’ has a hidden “kiss” between the K and the I? Neither did I, until this class! (Can we say mind-blowing?) Logos are a lot more than just a symbol; through research, time, and effort, what appears to be as simple image actually takes on the responsibility of defining the entire company. It’s a big job, and it’s harder than you realize to try and convey a message in one image.

For this design showcase, we were given two company scenarios to choose between and needed to design a logo for our chosen company. I picked the one described as “dealing with green initiatives in Los Angeles; non-profit; target audience: acquiring local business partners and overall awareness of green initiatives.”

There were 50 designs for us to manipulate to our heart’s desire. At first I was checking them out, trying to narrow the image down right away, but I quickly realized that I felt a little out-of-touch with my company. I was born and raised in New Jersey, so you can probably understand why. 😉 I took to Google and searched for Los Angeles, Los Angeles stereotypes, and things to do in Los Angeles to give myself a better idea of the overall mood in L.A. After reading a few articles (some written in jest, others not so much) I began to jot down some common themes people have with Los Angeles, like a sense of community, New-Age hippies, a love for sun and sea, sustainability, being healthy, etc. I realize that these are stereotypes, but you have to admit that it sounds like the perfect place for a start-up green company.

A short GIF of California’s drought progression in 2014. Source: MotherJones.com

As I sat there, reading and brainstorming, it hit me: what’s something that we are constantly hearing on the news about California? That’s right: they are currently experiencing their worst drought in over a century. Bingo, I thought, perhaps if the drought was a state-wide problem, it would be an easy way to attract local attention of my company!

plainlogo
The logo I chose from about 50.

So, I went back to the list of 50 logos and scrutinized them. I finally settled on a logo that, to me, looked like a sun’s rays, changing color. I brought it over to my new document, which I had created quite large for flexibility, and saved it at 300 ppi since it will most definitely be printed. I really enjoyed this picture, because it reminded me of sunbeams fanning out on water. Since I had decided that water would be a major theme in my company, I wanted to incorporate water into my logo. To accomplish this I created a new, blue circle using the ellipse tool, nestled it into the negative circular space already in this image, and added about eight anchor points to the bottom of the ellipse. I then pulled all of them a little less than halfway up the circle to create a new shape, and pulled three anchor points using the direct selection tool even higher than halfway to mimic waves. I then played with the anchor points and their bezier curves until I had a shape whose negative space somewhat resembled waves of the ocean. I really loved the original image’s colors and felt that the blues and greens were a good marriage of earth and water, and didn’t feel the need to change it. I made my wave shape a brighter shade of blue, just to make it a little more distinguished and to separate it from the overall shape.

I settled on the name of “Water Warriors” with a tagline of “Dawn On A Greener L.A.” I chose a sans-serif font called Kannada MN Regular with no weight. I wanted to stick with a sans-serif font because to me they appear simple and raw–just like Earth. Since the name of the company was “Water Warriors,” I wanted each letter to stand strong, capable of standing on its own without leaning too closely to neighboring letters. After opening the characters panel, I set the name in small caps, and set the tracking to 25pts. I made the tagline’s colors a slightly lighter shade of grey so that the name stood out more clearly, and set the tracking a tad larger at 75.

Overall, I’m pleased with the final design of this logo for Water Warriors. Keeping the seven principles of logo design in mind, I wanted to make sure the logo was versatile yet simple enough to be used in a variety of mediums. Should Water Warriors take off and become a force for good in Los Angeles, I wanted their logo to be flexible enough to be used a variety of media for volunteers and promotions: pens, pins, T-shirts, embroidered on hats, stamped on mugs, and so on. I definitely believe this design could be easily manipulated for future rebranding, if necessary, as the type can easily be changed and altered as necessary.

logo-final
Final image of my logo for the fictitious Water Warriors.

Below you’ll see a few options I created for Water Warriors, their design in Grayscale and inverted in black and white.

logo-grayscale
Grayscale version of the logo.
logo-reverse
Inverted version of the logo.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next weekend.