At some point, talent is only as good as your efficiency. Being able to have the technical ability to accomplish something is only a good thing if you are able to complete the task within a reasonable time.
Let’s take a simple example from another area of church technology – sound mixing: an operator may have the understanding and ability to be able to remove high-pitched feedback. But if it takes him or her 5 minutes to do it, it doesn’t really matter. Everyone’s ears are already bleeding.
So from a graphic design perspective, you might have the understanding of Photoshop or other tools to be able to create something. However if you cannot keep pace and keep up with deadlines and the weekly Sunday cycle – it will not matter how good it looks because no one will see it.
So to help – here are some ways that I have found helpful in streamlining this process in order to keep up:
Sitting down and just thinking about something can appear and feel like a complete waste of time. At least that can often be the case for me as I love to be on the go and doing something to keep my hands busy.
However, slowing down and getting to a place you can concentrate and think through what it is you want to create can save a lot of time in the creation process. Like working on a car, it is always faster (and would seem easier) when you have done a particular task or repair before – you know where you are going and what to generally expect.
Know your shortcuts
Any efficient designer uses both hands at all times – One on the mouse and the other on the keyboard with a memory bank of shortcuts and combinations.
Here is a great list of some more advanced Photoshop shortcuts, but depending on the program and how you design will determine what is important enough and used enough to commit to memory. I will say that even after almost 10 years of designing within the Adobe Suite I am still learning new shortcuts that greatly speed up my workflow.
For textures, shapes or even your church logo – custom brush sets can do wonders for saving time and improve your design to boot! When I discovered how simple creating a custom brush in photoshop actually was I went nuts. With that I will caution you to be careful of clutter – just don’t get carried away!
Here is an easy tutorial on how to set up your own custom brushes in Photoshop. The possibilities are endless and there are certainly many other good tutorials on how to do this.
Keep an organized library
Do yourself a favor and learn how to create, name and organize your files and folders as you work. Being able to quickly find a resource you are looking for can literally save you hours sometimes.
Just like a good paper file system – it is as boring as watching paint dry but will be worth it as you develop good habits.
I like to use Adobe Bridge as it allows me to add a favorites panel that can contain files or folders as well as creating and adding my own custom tags to files. For example: I have a collection of stock photos (gasp, I know) and I have categories like water, people, texture, etc that I can filter on the fly when I am looking for something of that nature.
The downside here in my experience is that Bridge, as a program, tends to run a little heavy in my opinion. If you have a super duper whiz bang pop machine – probably not a big deal.
This is one I am pretty new at and I am slowly discovering it’s true time saving potential.
The image above shows a template file I recently created. Whenever we have a new sermon series or message posted on our site there are 4 main images that need to be formatted and saved.
This template allows me to easily drop in my graphic and tweak each area to best fit the pre-determined sizes. Then by using the slice tool I can just save for web and each defined area is saved as a separate file with a predetermined file name.
For more on using slices check out this tutorial that will walk you through all that this tool has to offer
Certainly there are so many other ways to pick up the pace when designing. The key is to find what works and make sure those methods do not compromise quality.
What ways have you found to help you keep your work punctual?