Designer Mentors

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HI Ania! You're welcome.

Yes, moving makes things difficult. When I took Traci's class last year, we were just gearing up for ginning season. I could take the classes on my own, but I missed the live ones and then end chat with Traci because of our hours at the cotton gin. I feel like I missed out on a lot, so I'm looking forward to taking them again. If you keep an eye out, when she does it again, she usually has a big discount available about few weeks in advance of the class and that helps a lot with the price.

I thought that was you when I saw the notice on Pinterest. Thank you!
My first kit was for a design challenge here. It's nice to be able to design like that without any pressure to be perfect. I highly recommend doing it when you can while you build your confidence.

I´m a bit away till next week, because I need to finish preparing my first store to lauch on Monday (OMG! Only 6 days!!!!) and I have a big convention to sell stuff this Saturday, but just to add something: Your style will change, when your designer skills get better. I wouldn´t worry to have a style since the beginning. Also, stablished designers change style too. For example, with art journal becoming trend, I´ve seen some designers from more traditional kits completely change to art-journal oriented style in the last few months. Just do what you feel like it and what you have skill on doing at that moment...

hi guys. I don't always share things like this...but omg....I'm so glad I found this. This has got to be the best investment in time management I've ever made. It's an alpha cutter/saver but it has other useful applications too beyond alphas!

I have been dreading every time I have to make an alpha. I tried Marisa's alpha script but sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn't and I still have to rename every letter and number file. If I make them on sheets, I have to cut each one out and rename each file once again. And I like making them on sheets because I can add texture and styles to everything on the sheet at the same time. I've tried several different actions and ways to do this to make my life easier and they've all had some drawback to them that still created time consuming participation on my part and I don't know enough to figure out how to make one that would do everything I wanted it to do.

WIth this action, you do have to name each element or alpha for identification but you do this in the action too. You use your marquee or preferred tool to select what you want, hit f2 and a dialog box opens up asking you what you want to name it (like blueflower or lca for lower case a). hit enter and it will cut it out to it's own layer and go to the next item. When they are all done, hit f1 and tell it which folder you want to save them to (and you can make it at that time) and sit back while it trims, renames and saves it all. If you already have f1 f2 shortcuts, she tells you how to select another shortcut.

I'd kiss her if she were here!

It works on elements too, even if already made and in their own files.

If you already have your files made and cut and id'ed and you just want to add your kit name in front of each file, open a new psd, place all your elements or alphas or both on the page, leave them on their own layers and hit f1. in about 60 seconds, they've all had the kit name added on to them, each one trimmed and saved to the folder.

It also makes QC faster, I can put several elements on one sheet, run my qc action on the sheet, and then use the alpha cutter and saver to put them all in their own files for me, trimmed, correctly named and saved. You just have to remember that it will add the name of any folder you save them to in front of the layer name so remember to name the folder what you need it to be and id the item without the kit id when you name each layer. Let the action do it for you.

Anyway, here it is if you are interested:

Hope this is helpful to someone.

Wow ladies...what an amazing thread this is! Thank you everyone for your contributions! I have been in the communications business (editing, writing, photography) for most of my career, but when I think of offering kits for sale in a store or on my own website (which has sat in a stagnate state for the better part of two years), it seems so overwhelming! Where to start? What is that first baby step to getting to that point?

I started just a few months ago (in December 2013) using the PS Blog Train to help me develop my skills as a digital scrapbook designer to see if there was enough there to warrant developing my passion into a new career--if anyone would like my kits. While I'm making progress, I feel like there's something missing in my kits and in my individual layouts, and learning how to go from beginner to seller would be awesome!

I am anxiously awaiting Marisa's opportunity for some kind of digiscrap boot camp. What makes a good kit? How many papers? How many elements? What kind of layer styles are best? While practice and participation are helping tremendously, I'm kind of shooting in the dark with my blog train offerings and would relish an opportunity to learn though some formal class.

@Marisa, I think a great place to start is what are the steps (or levels) one should be striving to achieve to get from beginner to store vendor? Kind of like the prerequisites needed in college for certain classes--what are the prerequisites for being a CT member, for example? For all I know it takes 10 years of designing and your own blog for several years to get to that point. That's probably not the case, but how do you know? How many kits do you have in the creative bin before opening a store or joining one? How many kits do you offer each week, or how many can you realistically crank out? One a day? One a week? How many freebies vs paid kits do you offer? How many and what kind of elements do you offer in a kit? I could go on, but hopefully you can see that these are the things that make my head spin when I think about getting involved in an online store. For some active members here, it seems that they made the decision, started a blog and just jumped in (Catherine Olsen comes to mind). I seem to worry about every little detail and get frozen in the "what ifs" of creating and selling my designs, then I don't go anywhere. Besides that fact that I need a lot more work before I feel like I've got something to offer that people want to buy. So thank you Pam for bringing this subject to the forum. Now I know I'm not alone. smiley

On a related note, I also have had this alphabet cutter action from Karen Diamond Designs via Scraps N Pieces on my wish list. Wondering if anyone has used that one? It's substantially cheaper than the one at, but it may not do the same thing.

Welcome Julie. Yes, all these are the questions we all have and many of them are subjective as far as I can tell. Have you taken any classes?

As far as what skills? I think most people look for quality of product, product appeal. Beyond that, have no idea. smiley

I'm still a newbie too. I applied to my first store just this past month with all 5 of my kits and was accepted. That doesn't count my blog train and mini kits. Total, I've made less than a dozen kits so far and I have a lot to learn as well. I've found signing up for classes helps a lot and sharing with others to get some feedback helps a lot as well. I do have 20 years experience as a designer in other craft fields and did very well with no degree. Mostly by having the patience to never stop learning new things and not enough sense to give up when something didn't turn out well.

I looked at the alphabet cutter action that you mentioned. It doesn't say anything about trimming, saving and naming the files or if it names the files, how does it name them. One action named them numerically. Oh, it added the kit name in front, but no element description other than 0001, 0002. Even though I had already named every layer, I then had to go in and do it all over again. Others cut out the files and trimmed them, but didn't rename them. Some renamed the layers, but didn't save them to separate files. Some saved to separate files, but didn't trim them. Ugh....I tried combining actions but one action would undo everything the other actions did.
The action I mentioned is the only one that did everything I needed it to do. That it did it in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of participation on my part was just a bonus. I was hoping to cut my time in half. I cut it by 90%. And it does elements, big and little ones, size doesn't matter. I don't even have to use the cutter if I just need to trim, add my product ID in front of the layer name and save them. I do tend to name my layers as I work so I can remember what layer is what but I don't always know what the kit's name is going to be until I've already finished half of it so not having to go back and rename those layers one at a time is a plus. I don't think I even have to name the layers as I work, as I can name them when I can cut them, but I'm not sure I could work well without naming them as I go.

You just have to decide what suits your own particular needs, in time and cost. For me, it was neccessary to save my sanity. smiley

It's like housework, I don't mind filling the dishwasher, I hate emptying it. yes, I'm one of those weirdos who actually prefers to fill it than empty it.Thankfully, hubby doesn't mind emptying it for me. Trimming, renaming and saving alphas falls into the same category as emptying out the dishwasher for me. I resent the amount of time it requires. I'll end up avoiding alphas altogether without something to make it less time consuming. It's just my own personal quirk.

None of us like trimming, renaming and saving files--it's a time-eater for sure. I will definitely check out the action you reference. Sounds like a winner.
To answer your question: No classes for me; self-taught. And like you, I've worked in a related "art" field for many years; for me, it's been in publications on the editing/writing side of things, and I've learned about design through osmosis and by asking graphic designers working on my publications how to do things. I have used PS for my photography for many years. I've done some design work for a few posters, fliers, newsletters and brochures, but digital scrapbooking, while using many of the same technical skills, is its own ilk--a whole different look and feel, really. (There is a lot that I have learned in the last few months through tuts on PixelScrapper and other places that I could have used in many of those previous projects!) Probably because of my journalism background, I tend not to do an inordinate amount of layering with my page layouts. The ones you see in my gallery with lots of layers are ones I used templates to create. I know the layering part is what makes most designs work well, but mega layering is my "emptying of the dishwasher." To me, scrapbooking is more about the photos and the story (journaling) than the design, though I obviously love the design part of it too, or I wouldn't be involved in this forum or this website. I would love to take some classes but don't know where to start. While I don't mind paying to take classes, I don't want to pay to take something that I already know how to do. My dilemma: I am far from a beginner, though because I'm self-taught, I may be (and likely am) missing the simplest skills and techniques--but I'm not a professional designer, either (obviously). I've spent inordinate amounts of time searching for and watching tutorials online. Ideally a pre-test of some sort (or a checklist) would help me determine my technical skill level, but I'm not sure if that exists for online classes. Then, in addition to the technical skill level (which is more software-specific) there is the artistic flair that an individual brings to the table in the design arena. Some of that is innate, some of it can be taught, and some of it is learned though practice, trial and error (the latter of which is how I've learned most stuff!). I think the biggest thing for me is learning how to determine if the elements I create will work together in a kit --without having to spend a week putting together an actual scrapbook to find that out. Are there certain things digiscrap designers strive for or is there a checklist they use to put together a kit (e.g., x number of papers, x number of journal cards, x number of embellishments, x number of frames, etc., and how many of them are flat elements (if any?), and how many are embossed, beveled, etc.? Likely that is something you learn in a class, but then again, I'm back to, where do I fit in? (sigh). It's kind of one of those, "You don't know what you don't know" things. smiley But this thread will help me determine that (I hope).

Julie: I´m so sorry I don´t have time to answer all your questions. PLEASE, remember me to go back to them in the beginning of next week.

Did you know the Wendyzine guide to Quality Control published by Daily Digi? I can´t find the link for the post at the daily digi now, but if you go to their main page, and click on the main bar, a blinkie to the download will appear at your right hand size column. Do you have a quality control action? The one I use the most is one by Inspired by Dominic, but I also have the one from Andrea Gold (the owner of GDS) - I guess that a QC action and the manual can give you the checklist you want.

In some months SNP will have their Designer Mentoring Classes - sign up to their newsletter, so you will know how it is - and then, sign in as soon as you can - you need to have time during the class period - it´s hard homework - but I´m sure you´ll learn a lot. I took that last time and it was one of the best things I did on 2013. And I´ll take it again this year, since I realised later lots of subtle things I didn´t get at first time.

About level requirements for being a CT/a designer/etc: It varies a lot. I am really wiling to include at least three newcomers at my CT, (and some more seasoned people as well, lol) because I believe that, on the one hand, being on a CT helps a lot to develop skills and I want to giveback all the good things I learned with seasoned designers, second because I realised that one of the best ways to check if your kits work or not is to see what newcomers can do with them. And I know that other designers agree with me on this: I´ve been on 4 CTs last year, 3 of them had beginners. The same thing happens with colaborative stores: Although some of them only get seasoned designers, that have 20+ kits and have had experiences in other stores before, others are happy to be newbie designer´s first homes. You need to have just some kits that you´re really sure are in excellent quality (ask some other designer to check for you! There is a topic for QC requests here at designer challenge forum) and a blog running (they will look for more previews on you blog). I´m opening my first store with only one full kit, because when I saw that that store was opening I deceided to apply to grow together with the store - I was very sincere about that on the applicaton, and they got me (it´s the same store as Pamela). If I hadn´t seen the call for that store, I´d finish three kits that are "open" on my designer folder in a month or so, and start sending applications...

The # of ellies on a kit need to be at least twice the # of papers. There is no proportion that I know between flat and realistic stuff, but I realised through time that if you don´t have both flat and realistic elements on a kit it will be hard to cluster with it - and clustering is a important part of digiscrap world, so it´s better to keep a balance.

I have the alpha cutter by KDD. It´s really different from the thing Pamela Described. I haven´t done any alpha on the last 6 months (o.O) so I don´t remember for sure all the nuts and bolts from the action, like how it saves the files... What I remember is that if you place stuff within the grids correctly, you don´t need to worry about selecting each of them. But there is a limited # of stuff you place in each sheet. And there are pre-made sheets for Uppercase/lowercase/numbers that you just need to change font, size and then rasterize and add texture...

Thanks Lorien,
Some good info! Thanks so much to both you and Pamela for taking the time to answer my Qs. I will check out SNP's designer mentoring class for sure. I love that site. I don't have a blog. (Only a website that is 80 percent finished. And waiting...) I know I need one, but it's been a time issue for me, plus the fact that there are something like 450 million blogs out there already...
And thank you. I have the Daily Digi's QC guide. Some of it I was already doing, but some of it not. A great resource!
Maybe I'll have someone QC my Earth Day blog kit. Any takers?
I'm off to work. Thanks again ladies!

Hi Julie. Ready for the next "book"? LOL!

I've gleaned most of my skills from free tutorials as well. But...Chelle's Designer class has helped me take those skills to a more polished and professional level. Traci's class helped me organize my thoughts and a lot about color, how to create patterns, and many time saving techniques in designing. Bre and Lorien did QC for me and having them point out things to me that needed some quality improvement helped me see what I was doing right and what I needed improvement on. Each QC is coming back with fewer things I need to fix (last one only had 3!) so I know I'm getting better thanks to their help. And I know my products are good when I put them out there for sale. Wendy's ebook on quality helped me a lot, but I still wasn't seeing things that she talked about until the QC's came back and said "look right here on this element" and then I saw it and now I look for it. Most of the time I see it now on my own, but not always. Thank goodness for QC checks by other people.

Being a CT has helped a lot with learning how designers work, what their schedules for production tend to be, what they demand from a CT, etc. Plus I enjoy working with their products.

i'm glad I have design background, it has taught me a bit about what "looks" right, how to keep what I need handy, and how to adjust the design as I go if I need to. I don't have the schooling because I was a young mother who was barely scraping by so I learned what I know on my own and out of necessity. And with the help of some great mentors! Love them to death and I still keep in touch with them.

The following are things I've learned as a designer in the past that I've adapted to help me out here. They may or may not help you but if they do, I'll be happy that I helped. These are not skill related as much as design development related. I have practice and background there so I don't feel presumptuous offering it up.

Different people design in different ways and each person has to adopt how they do things to their work style. Not their design style, but what helps them keep focused, allows them any flexibility to adapt what is happening to the design (if their work style allows that) and helps them hold the overall design together. For many, that might be a "to-do" list that they can mark things off as they complete them. For some, it's a completed concept in their mind, that they then create nearly exactly to their vision of what they are creating. Many designers have a set of "templates" that they use to tell them what they need to do and how much to take much of the guess work out of things. It does speed things up, but it's not a work style I am comfortable with. Okay. I'm not CAPABLE of doing. I like to experiment too much. I'm more of a "fly by the seat of my pants, go with the flow, follow my inspiration" type. smiley

I tend to be a very visual person when it comes to designing. No matter how much I plan something, until I actually see how it is turning out, I'm shooting in the dark. When I designed dolls, it was easier. I gathered up fabrics, trims, buttons, etc and sat down and played with them for awhile, laying them out, positioning them, imagining how they will look together in a finished product, etc until something clicked for me. I knew it was right because I had visual confirmation that it was right. I'm also rather fluid in changing a design as it goes along to fit what I'm "feeling" from the design as I work. I wish I was the type of person who could draw it out and do it, but it doesn't work like that for me.

Here is something I do Julie that I find helps me a lot with the visual help I need. It might work for you for other reasons, but it helps me "see" the kit as it develops and keep organized.

I keep a psd file going that I call Kitcheck.psd. Everything I create for a kit goes on the psd file almost like I was building a preview of the kit. (it's equivalent to seeing things come together on the dolls for me. You don't really know it all works together until you put it together and helps guide what you need to do next) The file does get pretty hefty as I add to it though. smiley Papers in the background, elements in the foreground. When I add anything to it, I can tell immediately if it doesn't flow with the rest of what I've done. Color might be off or it just doesn't look right like it fits the rest of it to me. If the color is off, I can fix that. Maybe I need to tweak the element itself a bit for it to "fit" the kit. Maybe change it's style a bit. Sometimes it just isn't going to work for me. Like me, you've been working in an area where you will have gleaned enough sense of what goes together through osmosis that you will be able to tell when you see it if it works or not. I may not always know why, but I can "see" it. I pull it and set it aside as it might end up looking right when I've got everything done. The file also helps me see at a glance that something is "missing". Maybe I have too many elements in one color or not enough in another color to balance it all out or too many of one type of element and not enough of another. Maybe one element looks too big or too small and I need to resize it.
It helps give me structure, reference and a general sense and feel for the kit as I design it.

I also keep a folder for each kit that I put photos I've gathered from the web. They might be of colors, inspiration, ideas, snippets of things I can go look at again whenever I get stuck. Traci Reed taught us that in her class. She called it the inspiration or ideas folder. I should have thought of it myself as that is how I work as a designer in the past, just didn't occur to me to do it here until Traci recommended it. Guess I got out of practice after the accident. I find it not only helpful but a time saver as I also will add templates and textures to the folder that I think I might use so I don't have to go looking for them again later. I may or may not use them, but they are there if I decide to use them. She also taught us to keep a notebook to keep track of kit ideas. A few pages for each kit. Any time I think of something that would be great for the kit, I write it down so I can remember it later. Sometimes, when I get stuck, I sit down with a cup of coffee and go over the page and simply start brain storming and writing things down. I make notes of fonts I use, colors (in case my swatch disappears and I can't find it again) which textures or settings I used for styles, gradients, levels, etc. I also keep notes on things I need to do that I might not have had time to do when I was working on an element, and might forget to do. It helps a lot to keep organized. Sometimes, I put the element I'm working with onto the kitcheck.psd and also on it's own file. I check any adjustments I make to the element on the kitcheck file to make sure it works, make note of the settings and then make the changes to the element on both files before I save them.

These things may not work for you, but if they do, Great! I just do them because I need the visual confirmation of what I'm doing. I don't have the design schooling so I have to depend on what I see rather than knowledge I lack.

Go to the thread for requesting QC and post your need. You should be able to find someone to help you. It is a big help in getting your kits ready and also helps you hone your skills as you discover areas you need to work on as the qc's come back. And it helps you get used to showing others your work and build confidence in yourself.

Lorien, I have that action you spoke of. It does a good job of cutting out the alphas and since it comes with the alphas on sheets, you can easily and quickly change the fonts and styles, etc. It does cut them out too but I don't remember if or how it names them for you. You can create sheets of elements for it to cut out, but they have to fit within the grid so it's not as flexible as the elements have to be small. I don't remember if it trims or not.
Would be great for flairs, and small elements like that though.

The reason I went looking for another action was after using it, I thought "wish I could use this on larger elements to trim, add my kit id and save them. Would save me even more time that i could use designing on the part I love: designing." I also remember something about the renaming aspect that I wasn't particularly fond of in that action but I don't remember what it was off hand. Something I would have to change. Well I probably wouldn't HAVE to change but I'm a tad OCD about a few things and that seems to be one of them.

Out of curiosity, I ran the new action on my kitcheck.psd file and it worked on every file, renaming them correctly, etc. It did save all the papers as png files though so I'll have to resave them as jpg's and delete the pngs. But they'd be named correctly otherwise and I wouldn't mess up that part of it.

I can live with that. I just had to go and reupload an entire zip file to both my store and scrappy bee because I missed renaming ONE THING in the folder when I did it before the action. Egads.

Love the kitcheck idea! Thanks! I too, am very visual, and I tend to go with the flow when I'm designing as well. I have downloaded templates, but I have only used a few for that reason b/c I almost end up changing more of the template than using it, so I might as well start from scratch. I also have a couple folders of ideas--one is called "scraplift" ideas with designs and color inspiration. The other is called "good stories and quotes" to use for prompts on journaling and headlines. Thanks for sharing. I'll see if someone wants to QC this kit.
Really appreciate the books. smiley

you're welcome any time, Julie. I don't feel like I have anything to offer in the way of technique since I'm still learning that myself, but when I do have something I think will help in other ways, I'm happy to share and hope it's of use to someone.

Ladies, these is so much great info and advice. I love the idea folder shared by @Pamela. I will start doing this. I'm currently working on the march designer challenge kit and I'm almost done. i want to use it as a freebie on my blog if someone signs up for a newsletter or on my facebook for like. I'm not decided on this yet. I will definitely share a free sampler on my blog for everyone. Thanks of this tread I decided when I'm done with it to ask for QC since it would be my second kit in my life and no one ever checked my first one. I would love to learn what I'm doing wrong or right. Thank you ladies for pushing me in that direction.

Hey ladies! I just found a quality control check list here.

Thank you Lorien!

The kitcheck is a good idea.. what I do is just put everything onto my kit preview, as I make it. It helps a lot with knowing what to add into the kit... or trash if it doesn't "go" with the rest of the kit.
I have a program.. it's free & useful in setting up kits. (One of the girls at The Digi Show recommended it). It's called Post Haste. Once you set it up, you just input your new kit name and it creates all of the folders/files for you. So when I start a new kit I have a folder for ads, previews, alpha, ideas, working files etc.. (You can set up whatever files you want. Then in those folders I have my master files (papermaker, preview, tou, alpha sheet.. etc..). It saves a lot of time!

I know I'm new to the group but I would love to be part of a designer mentorship. I was part of a CT and was starting to design my own kits the first time around, but lost it in the computer crash of 2009.

I have a feeling I will need to start from scratch again, as I'm a bit rusty and need to relearn masking and blending techniques again. I can't wait intil the next designer challenge so I can jump in and get my feet wet.

Hi Bre. I'm going to check out that post hate program. Thank you! I think that will be especially helpful in setting up files for 2 different stores.

more often than not, my kitcheck ends up as the kit preview because I'm always moving things around in it as I add things to it to see how they look. But sometimes I want a fresh look at everything in the file so I'll start a new file for the kit preview. It also helps me check that I haven't removed anything from the kit that I forgot to move from the kitcheck file.

Welcome Erin!!! Love the red hair. I'm partial to red hair. Hubby and my two youngest are redheads! I'm told I am too, but I call it rusty brown.

It is daunting to come back after time and have to brush off your skills again. I've had to do that once or twice in other areas. You'll be rusty but it doesn't take too long to get up to speed again if you just dive in and start using those skills again. Loss of files though. ugh...That's harder to recover from.

Welcome and looking forward to see what you do!

WOW! I agree this is a great thread and Pamela this is a great link! They have all kinds of Scripts even Quality Control Script for Photoshop Elements. I have got to check all of this out later but Thanks to all for so much info.

HI Brenda. I came here needing some guidance and feedback and discovered I wasn't the only one. These ladies are pretty awesome and have helped so much. Hopefully Marisa will get her designer group thing together soon for us but until then, we're hanging out here and sharing what we can. Glad you could join us!

Just wanted to give everyone the heads up that mommyish has everything in her store at 75% off today only! This would be a good time to pick up some of her actions and styles as they are very good.

ohhhh this thread is like a jackpot! a pot of gold where the rainbow ends! this has become my fav thread! smiley
I have similar issues of QC and how much is enough, and wether the elements in the kit are enough or not
some ideas going around of cross checking each others stuff are great
Thanks for hijacking this thread Marisa smiley
I also started my store in teh start of this year and as far as marketing goes I guess facbook is the best place smiley

Lizanne I use PSP 8, I started with it and have been using it for 8 years, I dont what it is about that program I dont wanna upgrade and I have gotten the hang of it(I wouldnt say mastered it! theres still so much to learn) thru following the tuts availble online and experimenting and making mistakes, some of teh coolest tricks I learned when I made mistakes, so feel free to ask smiley

I love this thread as well, so many great tips. I bookmarked everything. I'm a wannabe scrap designer coming from designing T-shirts and stuff. Quite a different world. I have a lot to learn but enjoy a challenge. Thanks for sharing so many gems. I hope in the next few months to get involved with learning under some sort of mentor program. smiley

Wonderful information!!!! I'll have to go back and re-read some more!1