Custom wall stickers

We are happy to announce that 9 Gears Media now creates custom wall stickers for your own home.  These are completely removable and are only limited to your imagination.

First we speak with you and discuss what exactly it is that you are looking for.  Are you wanting a certain scene from a book?  Just a character?  Once again, we are only limited ot your imagination.   Once we figure out what it is that you desire, we draw out your future wall sticker onto the computer. This may take a couple days but once the artwork is finished we have it printed out on special paper that allows you to easily place the sticker on your wall.

lorax, nursery, wall sticker, decor, children,Choose one of your child’s favorite stories and create a new world that only exists in your home!  Decorative wall stickers are a great way to brighten up any home. Not only are the results amazing, but your children will love you for it.

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The Process of Launching a New Website

How to Launch Your New Web Site

Creating your first website can be a very overwhelming scenario.  There are so many things that need to happen to make it work properly and most of these you might not have even have thought of.   Don’t worry, you’re surely not alone.  Together, we will go through the checklist of launching your new site.

1. Your Plan
The first step is figure out what you want your website to do for you.  Will it be a simpler, informational site and a point of contact or will it be a gallery or a forum?  Do your services require an online store to sell your products?  It is essential to understand what purpose you want to get out of your site.

2.  Hosting
You will need a valid hosting service.  There are many hosting companies out there to choose from and finding one should require some research.  The hosting company  you choose places your website onto it’s servers and there are different options to choose from.

  • Shared Hosting – You share a server with multiple websites.  This is the cheapest option.
  • Dedicated Hosting – A server’s resources are completely dedicated to your website. This is the most expensive option.
  • Semi-Dedicated – Reserves a server for a very small amount of clients

Most likely for your website shared hosting is more than adequate.  If you anticipate very high volume then you may want to choose dedicated or semi-dedicated hosting.  The more traffic your website has the slower it will perform.

Customer service is another important issue.  If your email and server goes down will there be someone on the other line to help put everything back online?

3.  Domain Name
Now that you have a home for your website you need an easily recognizable address.  The domain name (DNS) is the name that appears in the address bar in your web browser, excluding:  ‘http://www’.  Our domain name is ’9gearsmedia.com’.  You will not own your domain name for life (you pay annually in most cases).  You can choose to pay for your domain name from your register by the year or most companies will allow you to pay for 5 to 10 years at a time.  It is important to remember to re-register your domain name when it runs out because there are many people out there that will snatch up your domain name if they get the chance.

Finding a name can be difficult because if you are using general terms chances are your wanted name might already be purchased by someone else.  In addition, there are ‘squatters’ that buy massive amounts of domain names in the hopes that others who want that certain name will pay them many times what it is actually worth.

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4. Target
It is important to know who it is you want to communicate with online.  Who is your target audience?  What do they want from the site?  Do they want information, to be educated or to be entertained?  A sharp focus on your target audience is essential for your overall website strategy.

5. Budget
Your budget is the single most important marketing investment you will make, and you need to figure out a realistic number you are willing to spend on the creation of your website.  Expect to spend into the 4 figures for a properly planned and well executed website.  Rates vary wildly throughout the industry and it is very unregulated.  Be sure to do your research on possible candidates and look at portfolios or possible referrals from other companies.  Many design companies are simply middle men outsourcing contracts to unqualified overseas labor farms.

6. Content
Content play a very key role in the proper development of any website.  Effective design relies on high quality content to provide relevance, context and purpose.  Content is not only the text on your pages but it’s the images, logos, call to actions that will live within your pages.  It is crucial to have a good idea of what your content will be before you start the design process.

7. Website Design
This is the fun part, though it doesn’t quite start out that way.

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Following your initial consultation and scope development, your designer will generally develop a wire frame for your approval. The wire frame is the bare bones or skeleton for your site, establishing general real estate/layout and structural presentation of site elements. It’s boring, but it is important.  There are no colors used.  Spending a little time here now will save a lot of time and money later on.

The wire frame will be followed by a visual concept presentation for your homepage. If all of the preliminary steps have been covered thoroughly and thoughtfully (by both the designer and yourself) and communication has been clear, this will generally serve as the starting point for your site. You will begin to see your site being fleshed out.  Colors, true graphics and imagery will be used to visually represent what your site will look like when it is online.  Remember, it will not be interactive at this point but gives you a great reference on what to expect.  Of course, you may want to tweak some colors or images to make the design perfect in your eyes. Remember though, your eyes are not the important ones… it is the eyes of your customers you really need to consider. And it is your designer’s job to communicate your message with your target audience squarely in mind.

The design phase finishes with your visual layouts contained within PSD files in most cases. If your designer is also your developer, the transition to the next step will be seamless.

8.  Website Development
Once again, if your website designer and developer are the same person, they will already have been provided with the required functionality and content for your site. If you are going with a separate developer, you will need to provide them with PSD files for the site (provided by your designer). They will then turn your visual design into a fully functional, working piece of communicative art (in code).

Web standards are important to ensure that your website looks and works as it should for the maximum possible number of visitors, though even that is no guarantee. Your developer will also need to test the site for cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility, different browsers are not all standard and display certain code in various ways (Yes, it can be aggravating). The way your site is coded is incredibly important for usability, accessibility, and will have a strong impact on how your site ranks in search engines.

9.  Launch
Once the pages have been coded your developer will migrate the files he created onto the server which your domain is pointed to.  Once there he will most likely make the final tweaks to make sure your site is functioning correctly in it’s new home.  Once this is finished your site is complete and it is ready for you to show to the world!

Putting a brand new site online can be quite the task, however if you follow these main guidelines it will go a lot smoother than you might imagine.

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The process of a quick digital illustration.

illustration, illustrator, sketch, drawing, austin, texas,I wanted to do a quick illustration of my soon-to-be wife who I love dearly.  She runs a fairly large corporation and wears many hats.  I always am calling her a princess so I thought it would cool to capture her as I would imagine her as a child being bossy.  In this article I wanted to show the process of creating a quick illustration from concept to finish.

First off, I am using the Cintiq 22HD Graphics Display to illustrate on my MAC.  I highly recommend this great tool which you can learn more about at wacom.com.

I started with a quick gesture drawing using a light blue color.  This layer does not need to be perfect but is essential to find and understand the spacial relations of the drawing.  As you can see by the lines it took a bit to get the desired pose.

The next step was to ink the drawing.  Creating a new layer above the sketch layer I took a wider brush and using black traced over the lines I thought were important.  This is obviously rough and some lines aren’t perfect.  Once completed I could move on to the coloring.

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Creating yet a new layer, I started coloring the flesh tones and pinks I wanted to add to this illustration. Once again, this was completed fairly quickly and adding one more layer I created both highlights and shadows.  In most cases I might even make these two different layers.  Lastly, I added a cartoon speech bubble to finish off the drawing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had fun with this quick sketch and hopefully this helps anyone out there who is curious about illustrating on a computer.

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Convince Your Clients to be on Facebook.

Do the Research.

Research is very important when trying to convince your clients to be on Facebook.  When doing your research, focus on 3 areas: Case studies of similar businesses having success on Facebook, market research and Facebook’s future projections.

  • Case studies:  Find examples of other businesses having success on Facebook.  These stories of success can be major motivators in convincing a client to switch over.  Success stories can provide much needed proof that businesses can earn a profit from Facebook.
  • Market Research: If you know the demographic of your client’s target market, do the math and figure out what percentage of them are on Facebook.  Use the website www.checkfacebook.com to figure out Facebook user statistics.
  • Facebook future projections: Your client wants to feel secure in their investments.  With one billion active users, Facebook is by far the leading tool in Social Media and is going nowhere.

Show the Numbers

Think like your client.  Create an Excel spreadsheet or Word document to show your client the time and money needed to maintain a company Facebook page.

  • How many hours a week will it take to maintain the page?
  • How much does it cost to create a professional looking Facebook page? Do you plan to run Facebook ads?
  • What are their goals and how much do they want to spend?

Discuss the Risks

Creating a company Facebook page is very low on the risk meter because it costs nothing.  However, your client may be worried about other risk factors.

For businesses, the main risk is transparency.  Customers can now leave positive or negative feedback on your client’s company Facebook page.  To address this risk, have a crisis management plan in effect to make your client feel comfortable on how you will address such issues.

Propose a Testing Period

If your client still isn’t confident, plan a testing period.  Set up a company Facebook page for them for free (no less than 60 days is suggested).  If your testing period is a success, more than likely your client will feel much more confident in joining Facebook.

Facebook is a worthwhile investment for any company.  To convince your clients to add a company page it may take a lot of research and time.  Show them the data that with some time is easily found, have a conversation with them and comfort their fears and if that fails offer a testing period.

Do You Own a Company Needing a Facebook Page?

If you own a small or a large business you may be in need of a company Facebook page.  9 Gears Media in Austin can help you make your company more visible on the web.  Don’t hesitate to contact us for your social media needs.

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What is a Graphic Designer

A graphic designer, also known as a graphic artist, wears many hats while using many different kinds of media to convey a desired message through design. A graphic designer is sought out to promote these messages for many products, activities or ideas.

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Graphic design is used every day across the globe in the world of advertising, including web, books, magazines, mobile applications, food and beverage, computers and even clothing apparel. Package design is a huge part of this and requires the designer to not only understand the marketing aspects of business but to understand the client’s vision and target goals.

Working alongside the client, a graphic designer begins to expand upon an initial concept. The graphic designer will discuss costs, initial concepts, end goals and due dates. Designers almost always juggle more than one activity at a time, allocating a certain amount of time per activity.  Some duties of a graphic designer may include:

  • Staying up to date with many different kinds of media software including: Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Indesign, Flash and many more
  • Meeting with and talking to the client many times during the course of a project to make sure the ideas of the client are being portrayed correctly
  • Showing an expert level to attention to detail
  • Managing his or her time expertly in order to stay on course and staying within the projects budget
  • Demonstrating excellent people skills and effective communication skills
  • Dedication to his or her art

An experienced graphic designer has the uncanny ability to take general ideas and turn them into visually stunning finished products that grab the attention of the desired audience.

Graphic designers may be employed by a company or work on a freelance basis for themselves. If working freelance, a graphic designer must work diligintly to market themselves and their skills in order to continue to grow their portfolio and client base and to make constant learning a part of their everyday life.
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Methods & Mechanics: Creating a DVD package design with Todd Sucherman

I couple years ago I created this DVD package design for Todd Sucherman, the drummer for Styx.  If you were alive in the 80′s you definitely have heard of them.  Such greats as Renegade or Blue Collar Man. I was lucky enough to not only create this design but I also was a camera man on the shoot and took the pictures for the DVD and a drumming lesson book. This project was a 6 panel, tri-fold DVD package that won Best Instructional DVD in ‘Modern Drummer Magazine’ in 2009 and 2010.  Not to mention 2009 Best in Show at the NAMM show and 2009 Modern Drummer Reader’s Poll – 1st place.

Designing this package design was an absolute blast. For 3 days we stayed in a large ranch house that was miles from civilization. We worked until we were zombies and ate like kings.  One morning, before dawn broke, we hauled Todd’s drum set to the edge of a cliff looking over a river.  It was an amazing sunrise jam session that we filmed in high definition.  After the shoot we all drove home (most of us live in Austin, including Todd) and I slept for days.  Soon after I started on the print work.  I was very honored to work on this project.

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Todd Sucherman brings the knowledge of thousands of gigs, shows and recording sessions along with over three decades as a professional drummer to this useful and unique DVD package. Astonishing technique, power and musicality explode from the various musical and solo performances throughout this presentation. Working with artists over a myriad of genres diverse as Styx, Brian Wilson, Spinal Tap, Eric Marienthal, Peter Cetera, John Wetton, Steve Cole, The Falling Wallendas and countless more, there’s a wealth of knowledge imparted that goes way beyond just the technical aspects of drumming. Pick up a copy online here.buy meridia without prescription

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The 3 Deadly Sins of Print Design

The Problem

It is important to know that printers have eyes. Well… Sort of. Printers interpret data that is sent to them from an application or a device. That application or device outputs using a certain language, called a color space. The printer interprets the output, and then prints. So let’s say your Macbook Pro and CS4 are speaking Spanish, but your printer is speaking English. What basically happens: the printer listens, hears the Spanish, and tries its best to interpret it. Now, despite the fact that your printer may have taken AP Spanish in high school, it still doesn’t know every word in the dictionario.

The Fix

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to fix this problem. On the first opening screen in Photoshop and Illustrator, you have the choice of working in RGB or CMYK. Pick CMYK if your design will ever make it to the print world.

Photoshop settings for print design

A word about color spaces…

Without going much into detail, RGB refers to two different color gamuts (sRGB and Adobe RGB), both based on modeling light to produce colors. Red, green, and blue light can theoretically be added together to create any color of light, the “100%” mixture resulting in white. The natural “blank canvas” of RGB is black, or an absence of light.

On the other hand, CMYK is based on mixing four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and “key,” an old printing press term for black) to theoretically reproduce any color. The natural blank canvas for CMYK is paper.

Unfortunately, there are colors that cannot be reproduced in the gamut of CMYK that exist in the gamut of RGB, particularly brighter colors, especially in the cyan area. This is where we run into our problem. Simply put, RGB speaks better spanish than CMYK. There’s tons of literature on color management available online or in print. (Note: CMS, in the print world, stands for color management system.)

2. Forgetting to use Rich Black

The Problem

If there is an unforgivable sin, this would be it. Again, a simple understanding of CMYK is needed.
A printer takes the CMYK info it is sent and puts out ink according to that info. CMYK value refers to a set of 4 numbers between one and 100 representing the amount of each color mixed in to achieve the desired color. So you would immediately guess that k=100 would mean black, right?
Larry said so.

K=100 produces a dark grey that is definitively not black.

The Fix

Once again, easy fix; use values for rich black. Rich black mixes in some cyan, magenta, and/or yellow to darken the 100% Key. There are many different opinions on what is best, but there are basically two kinds; warm and cool. Generally accepted values (in order of CMY) are 70, 50, 30 (known as “designer black”), 60, 40, 40 (cool black) and 40, 60, 40, (warm black). All of these are mixed with k=100.

Some people say that a “C” value of 40 and a k value of 100 does the trick just fine; the point is to add some kind of extra into your blacks to make them… well, black.

Do NOT use rich black for smaller text; registration problems (where one cmyk ink prints slightly in the wrong place) will make your text unreadable. And no one wants that. Usually using k=100 for black text is readable enough.

Another neat trick: if your text is large enough that you want to use rich black, but is just small enough that registration may pose a threat, outline your text with .5 or 1 pt of k=100. This will take care of the registration problems. Note: the outline should be on the inside and should replace the original area it lays over, so that your text is not improperly displayed.

3. Using the wrong resolution

A low resolution will show pixelation both on screen and in print

The Problem

Using the wrong resolution in your works can be detrimental to your final outcome. It is important to know the final destination of your work so that you can design at the correct resolution. Most printers print at about 300dpi (dots per inch), some even at 600dpi or above. The resolution of a monitor is 72ppi (pixels per inch), and is a default setting in Photoshop and Illustrator for RGB design.

A few things to note…

So let’s talk about some basic differences between dpi and ppi, and then decide what is best to use for different projects.

Simply put, pixels are square, dots are… well, dots. They consist of one color. Obviously, the more dots or pixels per inch, the more detailed and accurate your picture will be. It is important to design at 300ppi so that when you print on a 300 dpi printer, each pixel is translated as a dot. It is okay to design at a higher ppi than your printer’s dpi, but be careful designing below 300ppi.

The Fix

Unless you are designing something huge, the magic number for print design is… you guessed it, 300dpi. Generally, anything that you can hold in your hands should be designed at or above 300dpi. It is especially important to note that though you can go down in dpi, you cannot go up without quality loss (when working with rasterized elements). Therefore, as long as your processor can handle it, it is best practice to work at 300 dpi or the maximum for your specific printer.

Depending on the size of a particular piece, buy imovane without prescription you may have to design for perspective resolution. In other words, a billboard, from the road, appears to be a couple of inches wide, so therefore the dpi can be much lower (often around 18-20 dpi).

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