XCT Blog

Design, Graphics & Print Posts

8 Practical Ways to Get Your Best Ideas

As much as we wish it could be, creativity is not a switch that can just be turned on. Just like any other muscle in the body, your brain has to be trained on a regular basis to help it warm up and get the inspiration flowing. But as any creative professional will know, time… Read the full article.

Video Tutorial: How to use Puppet Warp in Photoshop CC for Photo Manipulation

This video tutorial explains how to use the Puppet Warp feature in Adobe Photoshop CC. The Puppet Warp tool in Photoshop allows you to manipulate pixels – pushing, pulling and stretching. It is the go-to tool for re-positioning body parts, adjusting hair or making something thicker or thinner. In this video we show you how… Read the full article.

Tutorial: Making Best use of Smart Objects in Photoshop

From time to time I take a fresh look at my workflows to see if new and improved options are available. In the case of Photoshop I embraced the idea of Smart Filters from their introduction over ten years ago, but I know from my teaching that many users have a limited understanding of the… Read the full article.

The Careers That Benefit from Digital or Creative Training

The creative industry as a whole contributes nearly £90 billion net to GDP and accounts for one in 11 jobs in the UK – rising faster than any other area of the economy. Yet despite this large contribution, there are an estimated 17 defined skill shortages in the creative sector with areas such as visual… Read the full article.

Tips for Avoiding a Creative Block

Call it what you want mind, mental or creative block, it’s something that many of us have experienced. And when faced with such a dilemma, instead of feeling inspired to overcome such a problem, many of us retreat and spiral into a panic filled with worry about how we’ll miss a deadline, never come up… Read the full article.

What does 2017 hold for the Creative Industries?

We may be part of the way into 2017, but there’s still time to share our predictions for the future of the creative industries this year. But first, let’s recap what happened over the past 12 months. 2016 saw data-driven marketing and advertising boom, and the way we consume content changed completely. With video becoming… Read the full article.

Typography Best Practices You Should Follow

Typography is the art, and technique of arranging a typeface or font to communicate a message. Aside from being used as a communicative tool, the typography you use in a design has an equal measure of influence as the words themselves. The verbal language may say one thing, but the visual language also conveys it’s… Read the full article.

How To Start Your Career in Web Design

Web design is a varied profession that blends creativity with technology. It involves designing the ‘front end’ of a website including the content, graphics, typography and colour palette. Businesses employ web designers to create attractive, interactive web portals that will maximise return on investment through conversions. A professional website will attract new customers, show up… Read the full article.

Adobe Illustrator the Master of Text Control

Adobe Illustrator, surpasses InDesign as a text manipulation tool. It’s the application I use for web, interface, logo, and info-graphic design. I rarely use it for illustration; the application has lots of powerful tools for drawing and creating painterly artwork. Here are a few examples of the illustrative work I’ve done using Illustrator. Figure 1:… Read the full article.

Underpinning Professional Photography

This article is for those interested in professional photography. I’ve taken a semi-academic approach here to illustrate topics that are not usually covered in training. Everyone’s a photographer, it’s just that some photographers are better equipped than others. That might seem rather throwaway or even bawdy, but let’s consider what that statement might mean. Figure… Read the full article.

Illustration: It’s All About Using Bézier Curves

Bézier curves are created using the pen tool in Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop and Corel Draw as well as in many other illustration programs. Instead of dragging the mouse along the curve you want to create you click where you want the curve to start and drag out a straight line that extends in a tangent… Read the full article.

The Best Creative Courses For Your Career

In a world where the job market is becoming increasingly competitive and the creative industry is ever evolving, taking on a training course can help to give you the edge over the rest of the competition. Standing out from the crowd is no easy feat, but by investing in your career you’re not only helping… Read the full article.

The Importance of Colour Management in Creative Design

In the creative industries we output designs, illustrations, and photographs in a variety of media; often onscreen or in print. Where tone and colour are concerned, there can be a disparity between what we see on screen, in the design-edit stage of our workflow, and the proofing or final output of our work. Colour Management… Read the full article.

Web Design Trends To Look Out For

The design industry has always been an ever changing landscape of thoughts, opinions which often leading to trends that are rarely evergreen. The digital explosion brought with it a new era of tools and workflow processes that are constantly being expanded to ensure optimum efficiency for design professionals of all capabilities. It’s always difficult to… Read the full article.

Adobe Lightroom is all about the Library

Lightroom is lauded by some as the panacea to photographers’ frustration with Adobe Photoshop. The promise is that Lightroom will let you spend more time shooting and less time processing photographs. At this point attention could become fixed on a comparison between the editing functions in the venerable Photoshop and Lightroom; it’s an interesting area… Read the full article.

Key Skills needed to work in Graphic Design

If you’re reading this it’s likely you already know the power of visual content, but did you know that posts which incorporate images reportedly increase engagement by an average of 650%? Visuals help to sell content, gain better traction and more shares online. They ultimately allow readers to gain a quick understanding of what the… Read the full article.

Effective Page Layout Design with Grids

Page Layout: Why use ten columns when three will do? What is a grid? The grid defines the structure on a page by laying out the spacing for margins and columns. The grid can also define the ‘baseline grid’, which defines where the baselines of type sit within the page. This article focuses on how… Read the full article.

Advantages of Keynote for Creating Presentations

How to Develop Keynote Presentations for playback on, Mac, iPad, and PowerPoint. Keynote is a productivity application that fills the same role as Microsoft PowerPoint. In this article I’ll explain the advantages of using Keynote, and how to develop presentations for deployment on Macs, iOS devices (iPads and iPhones) and as PowerPoint for Windows PC…. Read the full article.

Career Advice from Creative Professionals

Creative Professionals Share their Career Advice It’s official, the UK’s creative industries are increasing at more than twice the rate of the wider UK economy, which means if you’re looking to gain a career in this growing sector, there’s never been a better time. Design is a vital ingredient for any business wanting to make… Read the full article.

Design Jobs of the Future

Design and technology is a realm where it’s hard to predict what will happen next, and we’re already in a place no one could have predicted we’d arrive at. Creatively we are all evolving, as are the tech platforms and methods we use, so it’s natural that the job roles required to aid the future… Read the full article.

Typeface Style Options for Design

Understanding something about the different styles of typeface should help when designing printed materials. Choosing the right typeface makes a big difference to the mood and feel of a piece of design and hopefully this guide will help you to appreciate something of the chronological development of type styles and the different type designs you… Read the full article.

What is Kerning ?

Kerning is applied to letters in a headline to create an evenly spaced, aesthetically pleasing effect. In the example below the first line has been kerned using the font manufacturer’s kerning settings. For the second line the kerning has been adjusted by eye using InDesign’s kerning feature. Although there are pairs of letters that are… Read the full article.

Creating Custom Size Documents in Adobe Photoshop

This video tutorial explains how to use Adobe Photoshop to create documents of specific sizes from scratch. It also explains how to place images and resize them using best practise techniques. Once you’ve placed the image and positioned it, learn how to add Layer Effects like Drop Shadow to the image to make it stand… Read the full article.