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Are You a Self-Employed Designer? What You Need to Know About Insurance

Medical costs have skyrocketed and I cannot be without major medical insurance coverage. There are many health insurance policies offering options for me, covering my health care needs while I am self-employed. I can pick a low insurance premium as an option.

It must be decided if I want critical care protection and/or dental coverage in my health insurance policy. Another optional coverage is long and short-term health insurance in the event I can no longer work due to illness or injury.

Insurance for the freelancer is available through most brand insurance companies, and the best thing is, that health insurance policies are constructed to fit my specific needs and lifestyle, while being budget friendly.

In this current day and age more people are leaving the traditional workforce behind and constructing businesses at home. However, we need to check into health insurance. In this present economy, Obamacare recently changed the face of our economy in regards to health insurance for America. Fines for not having medical insurance, can add up to headaches for me if I neglect to sign up for a health insurance plan on the basis of being self-employed.

Many people searching for health insurance access the government’s health insurance market exchange to find the right insurance plan. When I did this search I found the rates to be exorbitant. Nevertheless there are ways I can save on the cost of monthly premiums. Never pick out an insurance for self-employment adding up to a cost outside of budget guidelines.

A risky lifestyle adds up to higher monthly premiums. Rule of thumb is, if I am over an ideal body mass index range of 30 I am considered obese, I may pay a higher monthly premium. As I age my monthly insurance rate increases. I do not smoke, however if I did smoke I would pay a higher premimum rate. Those with high cholesterol will pay a higher premium, because maintaining a high cholesterol level means an eventual risk for heart problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. If I maintain a healthy lifestyle I will see a lower monthly premium.

freelancer-insurancec-comicSince I am a freelancer I researched a freelancer, professional organization who offers health insurance to members because group rates are always lower. There are some benefits to joining a professional organization such as, tax breaks, grants, and help from government programs. Research options for government health insurance.

The recommendations I found are to research insurance companies and shop around for the price and options equaling a good match. I need to get several different quotes from various insurance companies before deciding on the first company I find. It costs nothing to research insurance company options, except a bit of time and quotes are always free.

While searching through insurance options I must keep in mind that it is no longer lawful for a helath insurance company to turn me down for a medical coverage because I have a pre-existing condition.

While I search for the ideal insurance for me, I must find out what the co-pays or deductibles are in the policy. I asked the insurance agents I spoke with, “If the health insurance pays on a claim if I am traveling and I am injured in an accident or should become ill while away from home.” I asked the agent what the limits of the policy included, and how much money is paid by the insured, this is called an out of pocket amount. I needed to find out if there is a limit on the policy for medicines, Dr. Visits, and benefits?

Differences Between Wireframes and Mock-Up’s

Differences Between Wireframes and Mock-Up'sA wireframe and mock-up may be similar to the other, but there are differences between the both of them. Most web designers do both before building out a new website.

Donnellyandsproul.com is a good example of a well laid out website with great design features and navigation functionality.  According to whois, the website was recently re-designed.

Let’s break those differences down here:

Breaking Down Wireframes:

  • Compare concentrate more similar to flow diagram where a standard description is there
  • Puts in above normal level design requirements
  • Are “the design”
  • Has low fidelity representation of design, should clearly show: main groups of content, structure of information, a description and basic visualization of the user-interface interaction, considered the backbone of the design, and should contain a representation of all the important pieces of the final product
  • Rudimentary shapes or lines used to designate position and/or size only. The goal of any wireframe is to fit the elements into a layout, not indicate how elements may actually appear in a final design, only where they will be located
  • About functionality, can be a really simple sketch that demonstrates what sort of things you can do in your design.
  • Good for developers to understand what to implement
  • Lines to show layout
  • Take into consideration the usability principles and color coding from the user point of view
  • Further consumed by developers to code
  • Came from a 3D designer’s earlier period, at the beginning, computers were too slow for rendering
  • Explains what will be there
  • Used to design mock-ups

Breaking Down Mock-Ups:

  • Mostly done by designer/developer
  • Might add functionality
  • Are the “rendered demos”
  • Are built on top of wireframes and go further to show overall appearance aspects of a design including type choices, color choices, etc. The goal of a mock up is to show, as close as possible, how all final appearances will be rendered
  • Is a preview of what the website will look like, a realistic representation of what the product will look like
  • Have a more exact copy of the to be user interface that is good for the end user to get a good understanding of how the user interface looks and feels
  • Has an initial design with graphics and colors to show look and feel
  • Is developed once the requirements are approved from clients
  • Has an older term for a model or replica of a machine for experimental purposes
  • Illustrates how it will look like
  • Used to design prototypes

All in all, you could say a wireframe is just one possible form of a mock-up. It matters what your subject means when they use whatever word they say. Primarily, in a nut shell, wireframes are about functionality and layout, functional specs, notes about the intended functionality, navigational systems, how the interface elements work together, has a lack of topographic, style, color or graphics. A mock-up is a scale or full sized model of a design or device, used for teaching demonstration, and other purposes. This leaves room for the design to be created based on the wireframe. This leads to a pattern of a sketch to a wireframe to a mock-up to a protocol, or what you call “connecting the dots”. Keep in mind many websites and people say that mock-up is what you call a wireframe and vice-versa, hopefully this helped separate the difference.

Turning a Garage into a Graphic Artists Dream Design

Turning a Garage into a Graphic Artists Dream DesignGarages are wide open areas that can be converted easily into almost any type of room or office. With a little creativity and hard work, the area can be renovated and features added that make it a vital and productive area of the home. Graphic artists need room to think and create. The open concept of a garage can provide that if modest changes are made to accommodate their needs.

Spic and Span

Once the layout for the office has been created, the next step is to prepare the garage for the renovation. Giving the garage a deep, thorough cleaning is necessary to remove any odors that have been left behind from car exhaust, oil, grease and cleaners that have been used (or spilt) on the floor and counters. A thoroughly cleaning will eliminate any residue from being left behind to contaminate or absorb into any materials used in the construction of the new room. For example, any grease or oil spots on the garage floor should be cleaned thoroughly. If carpet or other materials are placed on top of them, they can stain or seep through creating an unsightly mark on the new floor.

Organize

dezeen_Studio-R-1-by-architecten-en-en_7-garage-conversion-FreshomeWhen the garage is being designed, there should be a place for everything that will be needed in the span of the artists’ work day. Pencils, rulers, markers, graph paper and office supplies should be easy to find and close at hand. The artists’ desk should have plenty of draws and offer a flat surface that is large enough to accommodate various sizes of plans and graphics that will be used during the course of a work day. Office supply stores have a variety of tools available to help a graphic artist organize their supplies. They include:

  • Pen and pencil holders
  • Filing cabinets
  • Shelving units
  • Compartment shelves that are capable of holding the paperwork for several different projects at a time

Organization is important if an artist wants to be able to work in a stress free environment.

Storage

When designing a graphic art studio, storage is necessary for several reasons. There must be enough storage available to hold an abundance of supplies so that there is no chance of running out in the middle of a project. Having the right type of storage also opens up space without making the area look cluttered and unorganized. Storage areas can be kept neat by using closet organizers. This provides maximum storage in a minimum amount of area. This will keep the majority of the area open for models, drawings and a light table that can be used to design and create new projects.

Functionality

22garage_CA6-articleLargeWhen making any type of renovations, the end result must be functional in comparison to what the room is to be used for. A graphic artist needs to have ample lighting, a large surface (that can be adjusted from flat to an angle), a light board and an area set aside for a computer and other office tools that will be used in the course of the business. Having ample room to move offers the artist a sense of freedom they will never have in small, cramped office.

Creating the Perfect Landscape Using Graphic Design

landscape designHomeowners who want to create the perfect landscape to match their home do not want to rely on trial and error to accomplish their goals. Many would hire a landscaping firm to accomplish the task before they invested hundreds or even thousands of dollars into a project they may not like when it is completed. For those who choose to want to do everything themselves, digital software is now available that allows a person to create and design their own landscaped areas.  There are also many websites where you can research the types of plants, tress and grass that you will want to use in your design.  A great landscape design will also add value to your home if you decide to sell it.

By using the digital landscaping software they can take each area by section and create a layout that allows them to see what the end product will look like before the first speck of dirt is moved. Landscape architecture can be taken to new heights by a novice gardener with the right tools at their disposal. There are several different kinds of software available that will accommodate almost any level of experience.

All the homeowner needs to sufficiently map out the area is the approximate dimensions of the area within which they will be working. Once they have the overall size and shape of the area entered into the program, they can begin to add the various types of plants they want to include in their garden or landscaped area. Digital software that is designed specifically for landscaping will be able to estimate specific sizes for each individual type of plant introduce into the diagram.

There are plenty of videos on YouTube to help with your landscape project such as this one:

One of the most important benefits of the using landscaping software is that it allows the homeowner to get a visual idea as to what the garden and lawn will look like immediately after it is finished as well as several months or a year in the future. They will be given an adequate view of what the garden will look like as the plants grow and change in shape and size.

During this initial design phase, the homeowner can remove plants that do not produce the desired effect and exchange them for different plants that are better suited for the overall look of the project. Changes can be made throughout the entire process until the final layout is decided upon. The finished design can then be printed out and used for a reference as the real landscape is laid out and prepared.

online-landscape-design-softwareUsing an architectural landscaping design program allows the user to see the finished are in three dimensions. It shows what will work and what needs to be removed or changed. This type of program allows for mistakes to be corrected before any money is spent on the materials to create the landscaped area. This prevents the necessary waste of materials and reduces the risk of financial loss. Plants that are moved after they are already established, can increase their risk of failing or being stunted or damaged.

A three dimensional landscaping design program is well worth its cost if it saves you from having to build the landscaped area over again if a mistake occurs or if plants begin to become damaged due to poor placement.

Home and Landscape Graphic Design Programs

Homeowners are taking an active role in planning how they want their home to look, on both an interior and exterior level. Those who are preparing to have a home built are often dissatisfied with many of the floor plans that are already drawn up. Instead of choosing an existing plan, they often opt to design their own floor plan. 3D software is currently available that gives future homeowners the tools they need to design, not only their home but the landscape surrounding it.  A local insurance agency (that also helps its clients finance home renovations) uses some of the following software suites.

HGTV Home & Landscape Platinum Suite

3D_Box_w250_tcm23-145561HGTV Home & Landscape Platinum Suite provides homeowners with accurate specifications for both landscaping and remodeling projects. For several years, HGTV has been at the forefront of the industry when providing the consumer with new ways to improve their homes, lawns and gardens. This software gives the user the opportunity to alter original design of a home and allow for changes to be made. The advanced computer technology used to create this particular software, puts all of the necessary tools a person needs to design and create both rooms and landscaped areas.

Home & Landscape Design

3558This 3D software provides functionable tools that allow homeowners to change and rearrange specific features. Landscaped areas can be designed from the ground up or existing areas can be rearranged in several ways before a final design is agreed upon. By creating designs on the computer,a person can put a room or lawn area together to see if they like the end result. Once an area is created, an estimation can be made as to the amount of money that will be needed to complete the design, as well as how long it might take to complete

3D Home Architect Home & Landscape Deluxe Suite

51pyC-JsxkL._SY300_The 3D Architect Home & Landscape Deluxe Suite is more expensive than other software programs of this type. In exchange for the extra cost, the program offers a higher degree of realism and accuracy. Beginners find the program extremely easy to use and self explanatory. Using the tools and features of the program can help the user understand what will be needed during a renovation in terms of materials and equipment.

People who have no experience when designing a room or landscaped area, may find it difficult to visualize what they would like to do. 3D software programs enable the user to place features where they want them to be. The three dimensional aspect of the program provides an accurate view of how the room or area will look once the design has been turned into a reality.

Using a software program to design a room or make renovations, takes the risk out of the design. Before the software programs were released for public use, consumers had only a picture or idea to work from when planning their renovations. Their was an extremely high risk of the end result not being as appealing as they had originally thought. Using a digital 3D program takes the risk out of the equation.

pantone skin tone guide

Use the Pantone Skin Tone Guide to Match Skin Tone

The Pantone Skin Tone Guide has been designed using the most up to date, scientific measurements and information to produce the most lifelike skin tone guides available to date. Pantone products have been used by graphic designers for years in almost every type of color guide imaginable. Guides have been created color specification products that have been used in the fashion and makeup artist industry as well as interior design and other fields where exact colors are needed.

Over 1.000 skin tones have been measured and collected from almost every ethnicity and age group. High end spectrophotometers are used to create a universal sample that is precise and extremely accurate. Handheld spectro-colorimeters were used to accurately measure and record each skin color sample. A library containing over 110 reproducible colors were created by taking the collected measurements and refining them to create usable samples. This unique project created an extensive palette of colors that is much larger and more precise than most other color guides that are available.

Human skin is semi-translucent which makes it difficult to accurately measure and categorize its color. Categorizing and reproducing the diverse color schemes associated with skin tones can be extremely difficult. Putting exact tones into print and through manufacturing processes can be a challenge. Actual skin tones were used and re-defined to create a foundation that could would result in the most lifelike and accurate skin tone guides available. By reproducing colors that universally accurate, the Pantone Skin Tone Guide can match more skin tones than ever before with precision and exceptional attention to detail.

peopleThe professionals at Pantone envision their version of the color palette to extend far past what will be used in graphic design. In fact, it is their goal to use the vast array of lifelike skin tones and their variations in photography, product design, manufacturing, print, medical procedures, fashion and beauty industries. The Pantone Skin Tone Guide contains 110 pages, each one dedicated to a specific skin tone/shade. The guide is designed to graduate from one color to another going from the lightest to the darkest. A system using both letters and numbers was developed to accurately categorize and identify each shade according to color and shade.

Each page has a small circle cut out of the center so the page can be held up to the skin and an accurate comparison can be made. Color values can be compared and refined using the Color Manager Software included within the package. By using the software, the colored palette pages and a keen eye, graphic designers can now reproduce a wide variety of skin tones accurately and efficiently and make them available for use in several different industries across the board.

The Pantone Skin Tone Guide can be purchased, along with a complete set of color chips and a palette wheel. The software is part of the package and has been designed to be easy to use and as accurate as possible. Professionals from every industry will be able to use the Skin Tone Guide to reproduce almost any color they need and in almost every medium imaginable.

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Infographic: Investing In Real Estate

Realtors can turn to a surprising source in order to sell more homes: graphic artists that can create infographics. The infographic imparts data and information in a visually appealing format, normally through the use of images that accompany the text. These images appeal to the audience. Through an infographic, the reader can normally deduce a type of trend that has occurred over time.

If you believe that an infographic sounds like the right solution for your real estate firm (along with the proper sales training), then there’s a few tips and tricks that you can follow to ensure success. First, as mentioned above, you will want to get a professional to design your infographic. You can of course work alongside this graphic designer or artist the entire step of the way, making sure that all relevant information about your real estate firm’s included and that the images and structure of the infographic are to your liking. Take the time to find a reputable artist that can really make an infographic or even a series of these to catapult your business to the next level.

Next, you shouldn’t go into creating an infographic with a search engine optimization or SEO viewpoint in mind. SEO is great for drawing appeal on the Internet, but it may not help you win as many new customers as you expected. What’s more, sometimes Google doesn’t count certain links, which would render your SEO efforts futile.

Once you and your graphic artist begin to design the infographic, make sure that it’s clean and easy to read. The information should be readily apparent and not at all squished in somewhere or hidden. People will take a few moments to skim the infographic and then read it in its entirety if they find something that appeals to them. Make this process easier for the potential customer by having an infographic that’s clear and concise.

Eventually, you and your graphic designer will craft an infographic that’s to the liking of yourself and your real estate firm. Once the infographic is finalized, spread it around to guarantee that it’s seen by the most set of eyes. First and foremost, you should post the infographic to your real estate’s website. However, find a place for it. Don’t just slap it on the front page. Perhaps you can add the infographic to a page about your firm’s staff or the work that you do. Another great place for it is your website’s blog.

20-social-media-iconsNext, you will want to share the infographic on social media. Pinterest is great for sharing images; you can also make a board of all of the homes that you’ve sold or have for sale. You can also use popular platforms like Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

Infographics are a fantastic long-term investment strategy. They allow your customers to feel good about purchasing their home from you since you have a long-standing reputation of fantastic customer care and sales. They also draw in potential customers looking for a home. A future homeowner that sees your real estate firm with an infographic will probably feel more likely to lean towards your firm rather than one that didn’t bother with an infographic.

These also draw in a decidedly younger set. Older consumers may understand infographics but they may not appeal to this age group as much. The younger generation grew up seeing more and more infographics. If you want to appeal to this group but haven’t had much luck yet, an infographic could change that for the better.

Common Problems Encountered with Clients

Common Problems Encountered with Clients

Designing can be tricky in the sense that you will be trying to capture the vision that a particular client has in mind. Plus, there are also some clients who can’t actually decide on how they want their business to be branded. Because of this, we are all bound to encounter a few problems in the process. But don’t worry. So long as you know how to deal with these situations properly, you won’t end up failing and your clients will surely be impressed. Anyway, there are a few possible things that can go wrong, here’s how can avoid further conflicts with your client.

When everything goes smoothly and then the client suddenly begins nit-picking…

There are times wherein your client just seems so great to work with right off the bat – they have a clear vision of what they want and have been very receptive of the work you’ve done during your meetings. But then they start complaining all of a sudden, throwing you a bunch of unjustified criticisms, that they’re basically forcing you to do work that is already outside the scope of the project. When things totally go out of hand and if it seems that they’re flexing their muscles, know when to tell them that enough is enough.

When the client initially wants black and white, then later wants color…

So you were hired to create a site wherein black and white fit perfectly with the concept and is what you and your client initially agreed upon. But then 4 weeks in your client says they wanted it colorful instead. The best thing to do is go with the flow, even if you think that color would be a dreadful choice. It will be difficult to convince your client by simply giving your opinion, so you will have to do the site in color and show your client that it’s just not a god fit.

When doing business with a friend and they take advantage of that friendship…

A lot of people say that working with friends or family is bad business, but you’ll never seem to fully understand why unless you experience it firsthand. Because they know that you’re well acquainted with each other, there’s a tendency that friends would abuse your kindness and make you do things that is beyond what you had agreed upon. Make sure that you were able to draw up a contract, no matter who your client is, and make sure they understand the limits you’ve set.

When the client makes you do all that work and then refuse to pay accordingly…

Let’s say you agreed to do a project for a modest fee as a favor. But then your client becomes extremely demanding, and when it was time for them to pay you, they would only give you a bunch of excuses. This pains you even more when you know you put the same amount of effort as you would a high-paying job. But just because you agreed to do something at a discounted price doesn’t mean they have permission to take advantage of you. So again make sure you draw up a contract so that they understand that you still mean business.

Making Your Very Own Font

Making Your Very Own Font

Gone were the days where the most favored fonts to use were Arial, Comic Sans MS, Helvetica Jokerman, Varsity Regular, etc. Think about it – American Airlines uses Helvetica, Jeep uses Helvetica, Evian uses Helvetica, Mattel uses Helvetica, and even Skype uses the font. As graphic artists, we wouldn’t want to use the same font over and over again. We want our work to be as original as possible. And if we choose to apply those overused fonts, it makes our work less appealing. So, as an artist, it’s high time you learn how to make your own font. All you need to do is follow the steps provided below.

  • Prior to drawing each character, you would also have to create a grid. This serves as a foundation for accurate drawings. Know that when you want to make the perfect font, it will take time, and some artists even spend almost one whole day just to finish one single character. But if you’re pressed for time, you might want to create your designs on paper first until you’re satisfied with your whole design. This way, you’ll already know what to digitize. And this make your work on the computer a lot faster to finish.
  • It would be best to use vector based programs such as Illustrator, Skencil, Xara Xtreme, Inkscape or CorelDRAW – whatever you like. Just make sure that you draw accurately. You want each of the characters in your font to be 100% the same when it comes to size or else you end up with something that looks like a 7th grader’s handwriting. If the software you use has a math function, you will want to use. Another reason why you need to be particular with every detail on your font is to prevent problems when you use FontLab.
  • However, if at the moment you are quite unsure about creating your own font (but believe that that the design you have come up with has the potential to sell), you might want to consider asking other more seasoned graphic designers to help you out with development. This, way you also get to learn from them by seeing them in action. But also see to it that you make it much less of a hassle for these professionals by make sure that you are a hundred per cent accurate with the drawings you provide them.

So there – all it takes to create your own font is a good software and time and effort to produce accurate drawings. Also remember that when you’re creating a font for a certain client, make sure you know what they want and that you understand what the font is intended for. Or if you wish to put your font in the market in hopes that some other designer or business would be interested in using it in their own projects, you may need to create a few alternative scripts as this would make your design much more appealing.

Designing a Functional and Attractive Icon

Designing a Functional and Attractive Icon

When designing an icon for a computer, you have to keep in mind that it has to have these three characteristics: attractive, meaningful and functional. Attractive because your icon will need to be recognizable to the user, meaningful because the user must instantly be able to understand what purpose the icon serves, and functional because the icon has to actually work. So how will you be able to achieve all that, you might ask? With these simple tips:

  • As I’ve said, you need it to be recognizable. Meaning that if you’ve already chosen what kind of object to create, you need to capture all its characteristics so that the user knows exactly what it is.  An envelope, for instance, which is widely known to represent “mail,” comes in different styles. It, however, is more recognizable in baronial form than in catalog form, so it’s best you recreate the baronial design.
  • To make your icon even more meaningful, create an icon that embodies a good metaphor. One example is the copy icon on Microsoft Word. You can easily identify its purpose because the icon is of one document on top of the other.
  • When creating an icon that’s easily recognizable, it is important for you to be able to know your client or your market. Always remember cultural differences. So if you want to make a St. Patrick’s Day theme for an Irish client, make sure you create a shamrock (which is a symbol of Ireland) instead of the four-leaf clover (which superstition says is a symbol of good fortune).
  • While you do need to make an icon recognizable, it is also important to keep it simple to make it more versatile. This way, you can use it in a wide range of projects instead of just one. And this makes the icon more bankable. Another way of making it more versatile is by creating icons in vector forms. That way it can be scaled and can be used for different purposes.
  • Regarding the scaleability of your icon, make sure you program it in a way that it can be scaled up or down. Icons are usually used in small scales, but there are instances where you would need them in larger formats, especially now that large LED Internet TVs are growing trend.
  • Even though it should be kept simple in design, you need to find a way to make it stand out because not all the time will the icon be displayed with a single-colored background behind them. So what you do is experiment with irregular shapes and color, as well as incorporate gloss and shading, to allow the icon to pop out from the background.
  • One trick that a lot of artists usually incorporate in their design is light source. Why? Because it’s something that can easily show consistency between a variety of icons they make for one particular project. The current version of Google Chrome, for example, utilizes icons with shadows that can be seen on the right.