Join Craig Smallish for an in-depth discussion in this video Refining the ad layouts, part of Designing a Print Ad.
Along with the reference material I've found on the internet, and photos I've shot myself, I can continue refining the ad layouts using Photoshop, or by sketching and tracing. How you go about it, is a matter of personal preference. If you're comfortable drawing, simply looking at the reference and free handing your sketches, works great. You can modify content and alter your idea as you go. It's also wise to produce different variations of the composition, to make comparisons. Working in pen or pencil, on layout paper is fine.
At this stage, we're still exploring and sculpting our composition, so we don't need to worry about making a masterpiece just yet. You're allowed to erase, resketch, cut and paste. You can print material out and glue pieces together. Whatever method you want to use to refine your composition, go right ahead. Now, if for any reason you don't want to rely on your drawing skills, never fear, we can always trace the images to refine our sketch layouts. Yes, tracing is perfectly fine. Even though I'm comfortable drawing, there's plenty of times where I use tracing to work on refining my layouts.
I actually find it's time-saving. If I'm working on a photo or image reference that I found or maybe shot myself, I'll generally scale the image, print it out, and then use tracing paper or go over to the light box to help refine my layout. In a case where I'm using reference shots for my composition, I'll typically bring the images into Photoshop and cobble together a rough image that I can use for my comp. Or I can even print it out later and trace over it. The reflection concept for the Landon Hotel is a good example, where I had to take several images and create a rough composite in Photoshop.
Working with an existing shot of the decorative hotel windows, I was concerned this straight on shot was going to be pretty boring. So to help add some drama, and improve the composition. I just distorted this layer, adding what I thought was a far more interesting perspective. Now, generally warping the perspective until I'm satisfied with the look takes a little tweaking, but it really helps the overall composition. In fact, the lynda.com course on working with perspective in Photoshop by Kevin Stohlmeyer, is a great place to gain some valuable insight.
And especially if you're working with existing images like this, and you maybe need to build some perspective into your comp. Now, once I was satisfied with this new angle of view on the building. I added a layer with the image of my daughter that I had taken previously. I distorted that layer and trimmed the image to fit within the hotel windows. Almost starts to make it look believable. Here, I've duplicated the curtains. I've added some panels in addition so the windows will be fully fleshed out. I'll be trimming these pieces into position. Working a bit further with perspective and fitting the images in to the windows, I was able to come up with this version.
Finally, I dropped a layer on top with the image of a cityscape and I played with the transparencies until I was happy that it gave it the appearance of a reflection of that San Francisco cityscape in the windows. Now, it's important to note that I'm using Photoshop strictly as a tool to rough out the image. Not to create a perfect digital photo. The composite you build in Photoshop to use for tracing and layout refinement doesn't need to be great quality. The general composition is all we're interested in. With that in mind, re-positioning headline tags, experimenting with fonts in the Photoshop raw file, is a very good practice.
Ultimately, we'll use these refined sketches as blueprints or prototypes for the final comp. So it's fine if they're a little bit messy. The goal is, to find the best solution through the process of fine tuning the composition.
- Establishing the campaign message
- Developing your first ad concepts
- Creating thumbnail sketches
- Choosing the best media to convey your message
- Managing contrast in a composition
- Refining ad layouts
- Preparing a print ad presentation for clients