Affordable, Eco-friendly Banners and Yard Signs

Banner Design Tips

  • HOW TO SET UP A CUSTOM VINYL BANNER IN FIVE EASY STEPS!

    Are you an incredibly resourceful individual? Do you think up creative solutions in order to solve complex tasks on a regular basis? Have you ever combined a paper clip with a piece of bubble gum to disarm a bomb?

    If you've answered yes to one or more of those questions, then this blog post will have nothing to offer your powerful mind.

    If you answered no to all 3, then you're like me.

    I prefer eat a bag of potato chips in front of the TV instead of cooking dinner, I cover up the front of my VCR with a piece of electrical tape because I don't know how to get it to stop from blinking "12:00 AM", and I nod "Yes" at the Drive-Thru speaker instead of saying so when the person on the other end asks me if I'd "like fries with that".

    What does all this embarrassing information have to do with printing banners? Well, after years of unfulfillment working various soul-sucking jobs, I now have an incredibly rewarding career setting-up/inspecting artwork for Banner4sale clients! Very easily and without incident I might add... and I'm a mook!

    Creating Your Custom Vinyl Banner - The Lesson Continues

    90% of the time the reason an order will get delayed is because of issues with the original artwork/layout. Whether the resolution is too small or the layout isn't proportionate to the desired banner size, it always involves going back and forth with the client trying to hammer out all the bumps before we put ink on vinyl. Also the cost of a banner can increase if no artwork is present since it has to be created from scratch, or if it has to be modified heavily.

    That's why I'm here to show you how to set up your own custom vinyl banner! "But I don't have any idea how to set up a banner!" you might say. Well neither did I when I started working at Banner4sale but after countless hours of hard work and determination, I've learned how to streamline the process into five easy to follow steps.

    This means I can pass down the following information for you to learn how to set up banners like a pro, excluding all the screw-ups I incurred along the way.

    STEP 1: TEMPLATES

    When visiting Banner4sale.com, click on "Banner Printing" located at the top left side of the webpage, this will navigate you to our banner selection.

    Select any one of our fixed sizes which best fit your printing needs. If you are planning to set-up artwork for a custom sized banner, you can continue to follow along since the information I will cover still applies.

    We offer Illustrator, Photoshop, and PDF file formats of each template to best suit your software compatibility.

    All of the templates are saved in a CMYK color format. This is the preferred color format for printing, and will better help represent the appearance of color once your banner is printed. The Photoshop templates are saved to our minimum printing dpi, 75.

    Once you have downloaded the banner template of your choosing, we're now ready to begin setting up our art. For this exercise I will be using our most common size, 10 x 5, while setting up our artwork in Illustrator.

    (SIDE NOTE: When discussing banner sizing, it's always WIDTH x HEIGHT)

    STEP 2: TEMPLATE REVIEW.

    Once we open our template, regardless of whether you opened it in Illustrator or Photoshop, it should look like this.

    All of the templates are sized to the exact dimensions of the respective banner.

    The file should contain the following 4 layers:

    LAYER 1- INFO LAYER:

    This layer contains some B4S graphics as well as a few easy to follow reminders/directions when setting up your art file.

    LAYER 2- BANNER EDGE:

    This layer contains a single blue line that indicates the very edge of the banner. Whether your banner is going to have a trimmed edge or a hemmed edge, your artwork will ALWAYS end at the blue line. This means if you have a specific background color (other than white) or an image/design you would like to fill up the entire background of your banner, make sure it fills up all the empty space INSIDE this blue line.

    NO BLEED IS NECESSARY. We print on white vinyl, when your banner is printed we leave an extra inch of material for us to fold behind the banner to create the hem. Since the back of your banner is white, when the hem folds over it will make sure the back of your banner is all the same color. The same rule applies if you've selected your banner to have a trimmed edge, since we cut right to the end of the artwork, no bleed is required. Pole pockets are left white, so once again, you will not need to account for bleed, just make sure your background image is big enough for the size of your banner.

    CUSTOM BANNER TIP 1: As I mentioned earlier on, if you are creating artwork for a custom sized banner, your "Banner Edge" will be the actual size of your banner.

    LAYER 3 - LIVE PRINT AREA:

    This layer contains a red dotted line that is 1" shorter on all 4 sides than the banner edge. Text, Logos, or any other element that is NOT the background of the banner should be contained inside of this red dotted line. This helps make sure none of your design elements look like they're pushed up right to the edge of the banner, or get cut off in anyway. If your design looks good with a piece of art/lettering going past this line and stopping at the banner's edge, go for it! Just keep in mind anything that goes outside of the live print area will risk getting covered with a grommet or might not be as legible as it would be INSIDE the red dotted line.

    CUSTOM BANNER TIP 2: To determine the live print area of your custom banner, just subtract 2 inches from the Width and Height of your banner, since the live print area is one inch smaller all the way around than our bannner edge

    LAYER 4 - GROMMET MARKS:

    This layer contains green circles spaced out 24" apart from each other on all 4 sides of the banner. This indicates where grommets will be punched into your banner, helping you avoid place any text over one of these areas.

    CUSTOM BANNER TIP 3: If you contain everything except the background inside the live print area, you're safe from having a grommet going through any key information.

    STEP 3 - SETTING UP YOUR ARTWORK PART 1: BANNER EDGE

    These next 3 steps are going to be a little subjective since no 2 banner's are the same. (Unless you get one reprinted :P)

    I decided that the content for my banner will highlight the top 6 reason's why people should print with Banner4sale.com. Let's start with viewing the artwork I'll be using....

    As you can see, I have a repeating Banner4Sale pattern to use for my background, a Banner4Sale logo, artwork/text for my Top Six title graphic, 6 icons highlighting my 6 reasons, a word document containing the information I'd like to highlight in my banner, and some contact/web info graphics.

    Start with deleting the INFO LAYER since we're now familiar with this information. Create a new layer and drop in your background image. For an example, I'm going to drop in my repeating pattern in, as you can see my banner is a rectangle, but my pattern is a square. :(

    Now I'm going to enlarge my square pattern so that it's large enough to fill all the space inside the blue line/banner edge. I could just stretch it out to fit but given the difference in shape between my background and the blue line, my artwork would get skewed. Instead I'm going to enlarge the pattern all together so that it scales evenly, even though there's going to be extra on the top and bottom of the template.

    As you can see, the pattern fills the entirety of the blue box. You can either scale your background image or stretch it to fit based on your preference. I chose to scale the art proportionately since it contains text so it wouldn't be difficult to read if desired. If you're using a solid color for the background this shouldn't be an issue, you can size it to the actual banner size since there's no threat of skewing any image/text.

    Next, using whatever method you find most simple, trim the excess of the background image (if any) so that the artwork fills the banner edge (blue box) without going outside of those dimensions.

    I used a clipping mask to remove the excess pattern that spilled outside of the banner edge (blue box). I also decided to lighten the background pattern knowing I was going to place images/text on top of my background image, this helps create depth in your banner. If you're going to adjust the opacity of your background image, make sure it's light enough to see/read while being soft enough so that it wont interfere with whatever you plan to place on top of it.

    Now that we have the background artwork adjusted correctly, we can delete our banner edge layer (or just the blue line if you placed your background on the same layer).

    STEP 4 - SETTING UP YOUR ARTWORK PART 2: LIVE PRINT AREA

    Time to move onto the information/artwork we want to put on our banner since the background has been squared away. Create a new layer and drop in whatever artwork or text you want to be in your banner.

    I'm going to start by dropping in the Banner4Sale logo/contact information.

    Just the elements by themselves look a little "Meh" so I decided to play with the art a little until I came up with this...

    As you can see some of my art is inside the Live Print Area (Red Dotted Line) and some is not.

    I kept the major text areas of my design elements inside of the red dotted line when laying out these pieces of art. I felt that if I kept my colors bars inside the Live Print Area, the design would look a little goofy with 1" of empty space on both sides, so i extended it out to the banner edge knowing the part of my art that would extend past the Live Print Area would still look cool even if it had a grommet/seam going through it.

    A good example of this is if you look at the bottom corners of my example, the email address and the web url on the left and right corners are right on the edge of Live Print Area (Red Dotted Line), while the color bars they sit on extend to the banner edge. This means that even if we put a hem or grommets on this banner, that text will be legible, wont have any seams or grommets going over it, or wont be too close to the edge of the banner to get cut off.

    Now it's time to drop in my "Top Six" graphic as well as my six icons.

    As you can see just dumping art into a banner is no way to go about designing it. As I arrange my icons/graphic I know I'm going to have to include the text I want to use from my word document, so I design my bannner accordingly so I have space for my text. When completed, this is the end result.

    Got my info graphic, my icons, and I copied+pasted my text into the banner art and stylized it a bit. As you can see, the text and my "Top Six" graphic are both to the edge of the live print area to ensure it will be read clearly. Now that all of our text/logos/art fit neatly into the live print area. It's time to check our grommet marks.

    STEP 5 - SETTING UP YOUR ARTWORK PART 3: GROMMET MARKS

    When we finally reach this point, this part is more of a review/way to double check your art. Turning on our grommet mark layer lets us know if anything in the banner will get covered up when the Banner4Sale production team punches the grommets into the banner.

    We can see that even though the top and bottom color bars extend past the live print area, the will not be effected by the grommets in anyway.

    Once we know every design element in our banner lands where it's supposed to be, we can go ahead and delete the layer containing the red dotted line indicating the Live Print Area, as well as the layer containing the green circles indicating grommet placement. (Or just delete the red dotted line/green circles if your artwork is on the same layer.)

    Now that these steps are completed, lets go ahead and have a look at the completed banner.

    Wow a beaut! I want to pay myself for doing such a good job designing this banner! :P

    To recap:

    -We adjusted our background image to fit correctly on the banner, making sure it filled up the interior of our Banner Edge, represented by the blue box, without distorting it as we increased it's size. -We took our design elements, and arranged them in a way so that the key artwork/pieces of information were located safely inside the Live Print Area represented by the red dotted line. -We double checked our design to make sure the placement of grommets would not effect the layout of our banner.

    If you've followed these 5 steps, Your banner is complete and ready to print!!

    If you're working in photoshop, view your artwork at 100%. This will give you a general idea of how the graphics on your banner will look once printed.

    Time to give yourself a pat on the back pal! Now you can now design your OWN banner with confidence, instead of getting your creepy uncle who agreed to design your banner if you let him come over on the weekend to watch his VHS copy of Hook together while you rub his feet.

    Rest assured that every file we receive from our clients don't get printed blindly just because you used one of our templates. We inspect artwork for each order very carefully to make sure it ill print without issue. That means if your artwork needs a minor adjustment or if there's an issue with printing, we'll let you know asap. These templates and tutorial are for you, the client. We want to make sure your dealings with Banner4Sale.com run smoothly when you come to us with artwork for your banner.

  • Top 5 Free Fonts for Your Next Custom Banners!

    Fonts are said to be the essence of web design, and that’s partially true. The first thing your eye will notice (besides big pictures) on a web page, is the font type of the text. It’s also really important to choose a font that best complements the purpose of your page: industrial-size font for antiques, etc., playful font for children’s games, and so on. And what do people love more than awesome fonts to look at? FREE FONTS.

    Here’s a list of my Top 5 Free Fonts favorites, which were featured on Smashing Magazine.  If you like what you see, check out the full article for links to the font downloads HERE.

    1) PLSTK

    Inspired by the plastic material, this font would be stellar for any site wanting to show a more “playful” side.

     

    2) METROPOLIS

    This is a throwback to the 1920's, the gilded age and the height of industry in America. It's got a distinct art deco feel to it, and would be perfect for conveying a sense of elegance, whether it's for your business or a party invitation.

     

    3) VENEER

    I love vintage-looking fonts, but this one is a little different. Instead of vintage it purposely looks faded, which is new to me. Perfect way to get that "old" feeling, with an air of authority.

     

    4) RANGER

    Just like the wild, wild West, this font is ready to grace your adventurous page. Use it for exciting new announcements, travelogues, or wherever your journeys take you.

     

    5) VALENTINA

    Last, but not least, is the beautiful and elegant font that reminds me of old-fashioned literature texts. I love the little tails on the ends of some letters. My favorite parts are the ligatures, or the ones where letters are connected, such as between c & k, g & j, and ff.

  • Christmas Banners: Stand Apart!

    Well, it's happened. The Christmas ads have returned with a vengeance. It was literally the morning after Halloween, when lo and behold, a Target layaway ad graced my television screen. But what can you do? There's no running from it, and the holiday season is a month away. One month away! *sigh* It seems like it was only yesterday that school started...

    Well, the question remains: if you're a business gearing up for the holidays, as a store, a corporation, or as small as a Christmas tree lot, what can you do to set yourself apart from the competition?

    Let's take a look at some classic Christmas symbols and ads, and what you can do to put your own spin on it:

    Santa Claus

    What a jovial man! He's iconic, marketable, and looks great on a white background! But we've all heard that before, or know it already. What you can do is spin him and twist him to suit your businesses needs, and that's kind of what's great about a holiday icon like him.  Let's say you work at a dentist office: create an ad or a custom banner that features the Claus offering toothbrushes to the children instead of candy. In a way, it's funny, and if you can make the customer laugh, then they'll come back for more.

    Snowmen

    Do you remember that Campbell's soup commercial? Where snowman comes into a house, eats some soup, and is revealed to be a little boy, all toasty and warm? Years later, they still run that commercial! Why?

    Because it's clever and adorable, and drives home the point that Campbell's soup will make you all toasty and warm after a play-day of childhood. Snowmen in general hold a special place in our nostalgic hearts. After all, when you see snow, what's the first thing you think of? Odds are, it's a SNOWMAN.

    The TREE

    Oh, shining beacon of childhood wonderment! Keeper of gifts and fragile ornaments that the cat likes to knock down!

    Alright, enough praise. The tree is just as iconic, even when it's not present in every household. If you've got a Christmas Tree Lot going, then listen up! Not all banners have to be boring lookin'. Of course, a simply red text on white background can work wonders on the freeway overpasses and highways, but let's spruce it up, shall we?

    Add some elves, or the iconic Santa Claus. Make an image showing the reindeer hauling the trees into your lot (as though straight from the magical big man himself)!

  • Outdoor Banners for the Seasons

    Halloween has passed, so take a deep breath, but don't sit down just yet! Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, so it's time to start thinking of what you can do for your business or event this holiday season.

    What are Outdoor Banners?

    Got a sale coming up? An outdoor event? My family loves to have Thanksgiving outdoors, on those classic picnic benches, but sometimes it's hilariously difficult to find each other. Our family gatherings are similar to amassing an army to feed.

    Outdoor banners are designed to withstand the elements, so hanging a banner to help your customers, family, or commuters find you would be a big help this holiday season.

    If your event is annual, simply roll it out for the next year as well. They're sturdy, and can be customized for the expected weather conditions.

    Outdoor Banners for Farms and Festivals

    Christmas Tree Farms/Lots, pumpkin patches, and turkey sales are on the rise this fall and winter! Create an eye-catching banner or sign that will grab the people's attention as they search for those necessary holiday needs!

    For Christmas Tree Lots around your neighborhood, get festive with your design. Using a white or light blue background with red or forest green type is noticeable on the road, completely opposite of the colors of road signs and freeway signs.

     

    As for the festival side, there's lots to do this holiday season! Thanksgiving prep-time is probably the most stressful time of the holiday, so ease your customers by using banners to point them to the nearest place to buy good food, such as a Farmer's Market.

  • Power to the Public Awareness Ad

    There are many kinds of methods of advertising, but it takes a particularly special kind of imagination to create a public awareness ad, especially when the subject content is so often sensitive to many people.

    Subjects such as texting while driving, the obesity epidemic, oil spills, etc. can easily be construed into offending someone without the proper combination of images and text. But in most cases, when you get an emotional rise out of people, it means that you've done your job.

    I once saw an ad that showed a naked, bloodied woman, wrapped in the same styrofoam container as meat from the grocery store. It was surprising and striking, and I was fixated on it. Turns out it was an ad about becoming aware of what meat manufacturers put into their meat, or how farmers raised their cows.

    So if a public awareness ad is in your future, take the time to really think about what images and text (if any at all) that you want in your ad. It's generally recommended that a PSA be an image that can speak on its own, with perhaps a caption at the bottom. You have a responsibility as a marketer to change someone's life and mind, so choose carefully.

  • Timelines and Banners

    First of all, Happy Halloween! May your day be filled with candy and good scares!

    Now to the topic of the day:

    Timelines & Banners: Telling a Story With History

    People love stories. It's been said that if your vision has a story with it, folks will pay attention, and that's the same with general marketing. History is also a story! Some parts may be boring, some exciting, but in the end there is always a victor and a loser: an ending to some great event. Today, I have one suggestion for a popular story: your own history!

    Sony Music recently created a "Timeline" at their Derry Street headquarters. To see the whole progress, check out the pictures HERE. It spans many walls and shows every major artist that's ever been on their label since the late 1800's. Not only is it impressive and pretty to look at, but it's fascinating to stop and read as well. Tucked within the many artist names are little details about certain moments in their history.

    Now, I'm not telling you to go pick a wall in your store or lobby and cover it. Most businesses already have a historical summary on their websites. What I'm saying is to take a page from Sony Music and embrace your history as something worth telling in public display. Tell your customers your story! If it's on a banner or vinyl wall graphic in your lobby, it gives them something to read and learn about while they're waiting for service, etc. Build a bond by opening up about yourself.

    Here are some questions to consider for your Timeline:

    1) How were you founded? Was it happenstance or a grueling bidding war with a rival?

    2) What is your most famous product? How did you come up with it?

    3) Any famous alumni among your ranks? What did they start with and how did they grow?

    4) What great event has your business been apart of?

    5) What are your future plans?

    Story begets drama, and that's what keeps us in our seats begging for more from the movie screen or the pages of a book. You can do the same with your customers. Take a look at Apple, Google, or Amazon, businesses that rose from almost nothing and have iconic characters and people and products that are inspiring. You might have them too, and you may have never known.

  • "Thinking Greener" Banner Images

    In this day and age, it's just cool to be "green". And that's great! Even here at banner4sale, we are always striving towards greener printing methods and materials. But, here's an idea: have you thought of adding some more green to your images?

    Now, I don't mean adding text about recycling or something, but actually adding some trees to your backdrop image. Some bushes. Shrubs. Flowers!

    Pictures of nature can make all the difference in the world, especially in recent ad trends that picture streamlined vehicles, towering glass structures, and sleek new devices. Every once in awhile, it's a breath of fresh air (literally) to see a bit of nature in your advertising.  If you Google search "advertisements" or something equivalent, chances are you won't find many ads with pieces of nature in them, maybe not even on the first page. We've gone "urban" with our advertising, but it doesn't hurt to try something new. Since nature is inherently part of our lives, we do have an emotional connection with it, even if we don't want to admit it.

    "I

    Check out the one above: looks like an eye, right? It's a tree with a sawed-off branch, but the similarity is striking.

    Now, here's ad that's sort of related: it has to deal with water shortage and conservation for the summer months. But in the background is a nice green grass field, instead of a drab grey sidewalk. Kind of gives you a different feel.

    Mmmmm, yummy Watermelon. Not a tree, but same difference. It's not a picture of the farmer's market itself, but of one of the products they care about: the everlasting watermelon! It's green, it's pink, and on a blue background. It definitely leaves the feel of freshness and new beginnings.

  • Advantages of a Smart-Phone Camera

    Smart phones: curse or blessing? Some critics think the latest technology is a nuisance: people walking around and taking pictures of themselves with their iPhones or iPads, the touch phone sharing feature with the Samsung Galaxy S3, spamming Instagram... But the beauty of these devices is not as annoying as it seems. In fact, with the high resolution camera on the newest generations of the iPhone, people are being turned into amateur photographers overnight. Photographers already in the business are capturing stunning images on the smallest devices. Smart Phones are truly the all-in-one device, with the camera being one of the best features. What does this have to do with banners? Well, it has more to do with accessibility of advertising. Inspiration can be found anywhere, and that goes without saying. But now, it's much easier to capture that inspiration with a device that you always have with you already.  One can easily snap a picture, do some small editing on a handheld tablet or the phone itself, and have a digital advertisement for the web in no time. And it can be done all from a park bench (if you have 3G or so). For small time businesses looking for a great sales image, or a big business trying a new phase, this technique is great for marketers and designers. Let's take a look at some startling images taken with just a smart phone:

    Taken

    Taken

    Samsung

    Samsung

    Sony

  • Fantastic Science Fiction Fonts

    There's a plethora of awesome fonts out there in the nether-net. Some are free, some are not. But it's fun to explore different typography for your next banner ad! I love this new age in design, especially in the science fiction realm. We always see those vintage and retro fonts, but rarely do you see something that trends along the lines of science fiction. And what's cool is that people will recognize it as science fiction right away. With vintage, retro, or Western fonts, they can be used for all sorts of events. But with a science fiction font, there's almost no need for unnecessary text. There will be no mistaking your science-related event. Below are some samples of fonts that you've seen in film, television, and literature. It's the few that captured my attention, and are available for download: You can download these fonts and more, HERE. Also, Eaton Conference anyone? Now there's a science fiction convention if I've ever seen one! And what's more, Stan Lee is going to be there! If you've got a hankering for some good science fiction visuals, check it out in April.

  • Sepia Tinted Photography for Banners

    Have you ever had to take one of those embarrassing pictures with Old West sets? Had to dress up in costume with Calamity Jane mom and Wild Bill dad and pose in front of a fake saloon?

    I have. It’s not pretty. Can be fun, but not really.

    WELL. As much as we hate these tourist-y photo ops, we can appreciate the art that it was inspired by: old style sepia tone photography.

    Nowadays, sepia is still long and strong in the making, and is used to create gorgeous faux old-fashioned photography. Remember those fake vintage ads I wrote about a while ago? Same difference! At least, in terms of an advertising technique.

    A while ago, my local bank did a campaign about bank accounts running in the family, passing from parent to child. They would have two images side by side: a father and son in sepia tone going out to surf, and a modern color photo of that previous son, now grown up and taking his own son out to surf. So, you see, many things can be implied with the use of sepia tone, especially if your goal is to leave the viewer with a  sense of nostalgia.

    Or you can do the awesome thing, and create an ad with those old style saloon family photos. That’ll get a good laugh out of your customers.

    Here’s some examples of sepia tinted custom banners as well. Inspiration for your next project, perhaps?

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