I wanted to offer a suggestion relating to the use of Photoshop filters & effects in your designs. My comments come from many years of experience in the ad business, and reflect only MY opinion and the opinion of a handful of “old-timers” I know that are also in the biz. Please take this for what it’s worth, and not as gospel. The number one thing about a design that screams “Rookie” or “Amateur” more than anything else is the (over)use of filters & effects. I remember many years ago (sometime around Photoshop 4 I guess) a filter set was released called Kai’s Power Tools. It was an absolutely incredible set of filters that did things in Photoshop that most users could only dream about with a single click of the mouse button. The “Kai syndrome,” as it came to be known, got out of control fast.
Don’t be an idiot!
Today, we have Xenofex, EyeCandy, Splat, several plug-ins from Flaming Pear and many more. These filters produce fantastic results, I have no problem with them. But just like guns, the USER is the problem, not the actual item itself. Some designers say that if the filter becomes the focal point of the design, you’re showing everyone that you have no creativity and rely on “tricks” to get attention. I’ll just say this. Use filters sparingly. Use them when appropriate, and where it really makes a difference in your design. But don’t use them simply because they’re available. A drop shadow under a photo can really enhance a design, but a drop shadow under every stinking headline, logo and phone number in an ad makes you look like an idiot. A small bevel on a web page button can look great, but giant 15 pixel bevels on every clickable link button on your site makes you look like and idiot. Don’t be an idiot – you give us all a bad name.