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Low Budget Design Tricks

Author : Judy Litt


How to make one or two colors look like many colors

Spot color design can be every bit as exciting as process design. But sometimes it takes a little something extra to really make your designs stand out in the crowd.

The following are ten low budget design ideas -- how to make two colors look like more and a few other ideas thrown in.

Money saving color ideas

  1. Allow colors to overprint to create a third color
    When one color prints over another, a third color is often created. A good knowledge of how color works ? and a good relationship with your printer ? will help you get the results you want.
  2. Consider the paper color to be a third color
    There are all sorts of very interesting papers to choose from. Some have flecks of flowers or other paper in them. Be careful with paper that is speckled that way ? you have no control over where the specks may show up. But even solid paper that's a different color than the traditional white or cream can really make a difference.
  3. Use a variety of tints of your two colors ? it will look like many colors
    10% of blue looks quite a bit different than 80% of blue, doesn't it? You have roughly ten tints of any one color available to you ? more if you use increments of 5% ? and if you're using two colors, that's 20 colors. Just remember that small text that's screened can be very difficult to read.
  4. Experiment with duotones
    A duotone is a photograph that is printed in two colors. You can get subtle effects from sepia tones to really out-there posterized looking photos.
  5. Reverse text out of solid or tinted boxes
    White can be your third color. Reverses are hard to read, so use sparingly.
  6. Consider rubber stamping
    Scrapbooking is big, and there's a multitude of rubber stamps out there. You can get really creative with rubber stamping, but just keep in mind that it will be time consuming, too.
  7. Use laser foil
    Several manufacturers sell sheets of foil that you can use in your laser printer. You may even be able to make up a master copy on your inkjet, copy it, and use the foil with a copier. Once again, though, applying the foil and running it through your printer can be very time consuming.
  8. Use stickers and/or colored or foil labels
    It could be something as simple as a gold thank you sticker. Or you can print directly to colored or foil labels and then stick them in your printed pieces.
  9. Use scissors with unusual edges
    Die cuts are expensive. The poor man's die cut can be made using scissors with unusual edges; look in the scrapbooking section again. While this can be time consuming, you probably don't have to be too precise.
  10. Use punches with unusual edges
    Small paper punches are made that can punch out a circle, a square, etc. You can get some very interesting effects with punches, but it can be another time consuming operation.

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