The Winners of Train Simple Annual Memberships

The Winners

Congratulations to all of our winners! The winners should have already gotten an email from a Train Simple representative containing information about their prize.

mySQL query results showing the 5 winners selected randomly. Email addresses of the winners were removed in the image for their privacy.

About Train Simple

About Train Simple

Train Simple offers courses on Adobe software and related Web technologies like HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and WordPress. The courses include exercise files and certificates of completion.

Train Simple has worked with Disney, Yahoo, Verizon, MIT, GE, Boeing, Harvard, and many others.

As a Train Simple member, you’ll have complete, 24/7 access to all of their current courses, as well as all new courses released throughout your membership.

How to Create Hand Lettering Artwork on Paper

Tutorial Preview

Tutorial Resources

For this tutorial, you’ll need at least a pen, a pencil, and paper.

But it’s easiest if you have all of the following:

  • Pencil
  • Large eraser
  • 0.35 mm tip ink pen or line marker — I suggest using Sakura Sigma Micron pens
  • 0.2 mm tip ink pen or line marker
  • Ruler or T-square
  • Large piece of paper (I’m using 9" x 12")

You’ll notice that I’m not picky about the brand of supplies you’ll be using (the ink pen is just a suggestion and you should feel free to use whatever you have at hand).

I want this tutorial to be approachable for you and allow for some creativity. Feel free to add your own style throughout this tutorial. Heck, if you’re a coffee shop owner, you might want to try this on your chalk board using chalk instead of ink. Go ahead!

Like I said, at the very least, you can do what we’re about to do with just a pen, pencil, and paper.

Step 1: Create Some Guiding Lines

Use your ruler to map out the size of each letter and the space between each letter. Draw very light guides using pencil. I highly recommend having the space between each letter remain consistent — a ruler or T-square will help you to that. The width of each letter can vary, but you’ll notice that I’m keeping the same dimensions for every letter.

The dimensions I’m using are as follows:

  • Letter height: 1 1/4 inches
  • Letter width: 1 inch
  • Space between letters: 1/8 inch

Step 2: Sketch Out the Letters

You can see here that I’m sketching out very geometric letters. Feel free to copy this style. However, I’d also love to see some of you try more rounded letters or even slab serif letters (and post a link to your results in the comments below).

Look at some typography on the Internet. Make sure the letters fill your guides and be creative! This is your chance to make this yours if you want to.

Note: Fat letters work best for the text effect we’re going to be doing later below.

Step 3: Outline the Letters in Ink

This is pretty self explanatory. Use a ruler if you’d like, but I usually do this free hand because I prefer a natural look-and-feel.

If you were good with your pencil guides, this should be an easy step! I use the larger tip pen for this.

Step 4: Create an Interesting Border for Each Letter

This is a technique I’ve seen in some of my favorite hand lettered artwork. To do this technique, simply draw a line with ink within the outline you just created to produce a nice border around your letters.

Try to keep the border width consistent throughout. I use a smaller tip pen for this. I also do it by hand, but you can use your ruler or take measurements if that’s easier for you.

Step 5: Draw Horizontal Lines Inside Each Letter

This is when our hand-lettered artwork really starts to look interesting. Simply draw small horizontal lines (using a thin tip pen) within each letter. Make sure the lines have consistent distance apart to keep things even. Also, don’t draw the lines into the borders you created.

If the lines aren’t perfectly straight or even, that’s okay! In my mind, the beauty of hand-lettered artwork is that it’s supposed to look natural and hand-made.

You may be tempted to stop now. It’s looking pretty cool. Let’s keep going just a bit more. We’re almost done.

Step 6: Erase Your Guiding Lines

Make sure you give the ink at least several minutes to dry and then erase the pencil guides you made earlier. If you erase too soon, the ink might smudge.

Step 7: Add Some Shading

Adding shading takes the whole design up a notch.

In this example, I lightly shaded the entire center of each letter (leaving the border section clean). I also added a bit of a inner shadow within each letter. If you’d like to add the inner shadow to your hand lettered artwork, lightly shade under the top and right edges of the border you created. See what I mean below:

And you’re done!

Tutorial Summary

In this tutorial, I discussed my process for creating hand lettered artwork.

If you’re looking to get better at hand lettering, I would look up examples of typefaces and other hand lettering compositions. Try to replicate these even if you have to trace them at first. Practice until you can replicate your favorites without any rulers, tracing paper, or anything.

After that, create your hand-lettering style. Make your own unique shapes, patterns, and more.

Here’s a short looping video that I created using Vine while I was writing this tutorial for you:

10 Free Calligraphy Fonts to Download

1. Kingthings Calligraphica

Kingthings Calligraphica

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2. Orotund

Orotund

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3. Francisco Lucas

Francisco Lucas

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4. Chantelli Antiqua

Chantelli Antiqua

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5. Gothikka

Gothikka

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6. Tangerine

Tangerine

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7. Gabrielle

Gabrielle

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8. Michaelmas

Michaelmas

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9. Cylburn

Cylburn

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10. XalTerion

XalTerion

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Related Font Collections

Marketing Yourself as a Designer is All About Making Stuff

But, this stuff — marketing ourselves and getting our name out there — is really important for business.

And while self-marketing efforts may sometimes seem like a waste of time — because we want to spend our days actually designing and making things — it’s the difference between an unending flow, or a trickle, of design projects.

Throughout this article, we’ll discuss a few approaches to creating things that can help build your swag in the design sphere, and maybe even get you a few clients along the way.

Build a Microsite

It’s not common that a site promoting a for-profit product or service will be widely shared on social media networks. (Unless, of course, you’re willing to offer a Groupon-esque discount to the masses, and put yourself out of business in the process.)

The kinds of sites that really go viral are most often those with compelling and creative content, especially if it strikes an emotional chord that in no way feels related to advertising or marketing.

That’s difficult to achieve on a website that’s trying to sell its visitors something, but quite simple with a quirky microsite.

Just take a look at this website: How Many People are in Space Right Now.

The concept of the website is pretty simple: You’ll see the number of astronauts currently in space, and stats about how long they’ve been up there. There’s even a downloadable widget so that space enthusiasts can stay up to date on any of their devices.

Another microsite, Dangers of Fracking, this one done by designer Linda Dong, seeks to educate the general public about something nasty currently happening all over the world.

Not only does the microsite contain useful information that will be new to a lot of people visiting the site, (and thus upping its chances of being shared on Twitter and Facebook), but it’s also beautifully well-designed and shows off the talent of the designer.

Why This is Effective Marketing

A niche site with an interesting, non-profit-driven topic is sure to be widely shared. It’s simple, fun and easily enjoyed. That’s good news for the designers listed at the bottom of the page, who are sure to get clicks from interested parties.

Your Turn

If you’ve got a subject which you’re very passionate about, make a microsite about it to show the world not only your design capabilities, but your sense of creativity as well. You can use a front-end UI framework like Bootstrap to make it easier and quicker for you to produce. Also, read this excellent article on Webdesigner Depot called Designing Microsites: Factors To Consider to learn more about how to make good microsites.

Create a Free Online Tool

There are few methods quite as effective for getting your name out there as creating tools and web apps that your fellow designers can use.

Helpful tools don’t have to be complicated or feature-packed. Just take a look at Colour Code, a joint project by web developer Tamino Martinius and web designer/developer Andreas Storm, which helps users find colors for design projects.

Another example is Gridwax, a bookmarklet that helps you with your web design layout’s vertical spacing and offset, created by designer Kevin Altman.

And lest you think tools and web apps need be serious, try playing with the game-like Ideator, which is ostensibly about branding, but mostly just a lot of fun.

Examples of these free online tools, typically created as personal projects by web designers and developers, are plenty.

Why This is Effective Marketing

Take a look at the footer of free online tools you use. Typically, the names of the creators and their social media accounts will be found there. The more useful the tool, the more people will visit the site, and the more times people will click on those links.

Free online tools are social-media-friendly as well — they have the capability of reaching a lot of people through Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and so forth.

Your Turn

The next time you wish there was "an app for that," try making it yourself. Then tweet it to the masses. The worst that can happen is that you spend time practicing your craft and staying creatively fresh.

Create a Niche Blog

Blogging doesn’t have to be all about news, journaling your activities, and sharing informative content (though these are great self-marketing strategies related to blogging).

To mix things up, why not take inspiration from Jessica Colaluca, the owner of Design Seeds, and devote yourself to a special niche blog?

Every day, Jessica chooses a color from the palette and features striking photographs that highlight the use of that color. She also suggests similar colors and provides a palette search tool, so the blog is both fun to visit and includes a useful tool.

Why This is Effective Marketing

Beauty and usefulness are two key features of an inherently shareable site. What’s more, you can tell from the look of Design Seeds that its content is just waiting to be pinned on Pinterest boards.

Your Turn

As you go about your daily design work, observe which designs/topics/work hold a deeper interest to you. Narrow your ideas down into something simple. Then launch your highly targeted niche blog.

Create Freebies

No matter how many free resources exist on the Web, we all have those moments where we stop what we’re doing, scratch our heads and say, "I wish I could just download this," or "I wish there was an eBook for this."

The next time this happens to you, create your own, just like DesignModo did with this UI kit.

With this freebie, the design blog puts its money where its mouth is by providing all that a designer could need to create a flat UI style design.

Why This is Effective Marketing

Again, it’s that high degree of usefulness that will get your freebie shared on social media sites. And you can bet the folks of DesignModo didn’t just pull this idea out of thin air: The tool likely comes from their own wishes as designers and from feedback from their site readers.

Your Turn

Create a useful downloadable resource, and then give it away for free. Mention your site and your name in the readme.txt file that typically accompanies freebies so that people using your freebie will know where it came from.

You could consider submitting it to bigger sites like Smashing Magazine (or here on Design Instruct) to see if they’ll publish your freebie. In exchange, you typically get an author bio at the end of the post where you can mention your website and social network accounts.

Conclusion

Hey, I’m not saying that self-promotion has to become your favorite pastime. But, with a little creativity, it can be a project as rewarding as anything a client hands you. So go for it!

The Online Race: SEO vs. PPC

SEO or PPC?

Whether you are new to the world of Internet Marketing or an abiding veteran, the choice between SEO and PPC is one that will be different for every site, company, and situation. Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click advertising are the two most widely used forms of Search Engine Marketing and most popular techniques to drive traffic to your website. The goal of both of these is to drive traffic to your website via search engines. But which one is best for you? Sometimes, the answer is actually both.

As a starting point, it is important to fully understand the concepts and purposes of SEO and PPC. Search Engine Optimization is the process of getting traffic from the “free” or “natural” listings on search engines, such as Google or Bing. SEO is like a marathon, where it takes a lot of time to see the results of your hard work. Your website is modified or improved to help it appear higher in the organic listings. These listings or ranking positions are determined by factors such as the popularity of your links and the relevancy of your content, but changes definitely won’t happen overnight. Pay-Per-Click advertising allows you to display ads in the sponsored results section of each search engine’s results page, and when that ad is clicked, you are charged a fee. If you want immediate clicks to your website, PPC is a much shorter race—like a short sprint—because you can immediately start appearing on the first page of results. Your rankings with PPC are determined by how much you bid on keywords, the quality score of your ads, and the landing pages that the ads point to.

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The main factor in deciding between the two is the kind of budget you have to work with. To go in depth on which online marketing technique is appropriate for you, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:

PPC Pros—

Immediate results—

If you are first launching a website or even a brand new company, you want to get your new site/name out there as soon as possible. This is also beneficial if you have special promotions or events that need exposure and cannot be planned months in advance.

You are in Control—

With PPC ads, you have control over which page the “clicker” is sent to. By having control over the landing page, you are able to make sure that the visitor is seeing the most relevant information to what your ad was displaying. The ads that are displayed are written by you and you are able to test them to see which ad performs the best, which landing page is better for visitors, etc.

Flexible—

You have the ability to choose which keywords you want to bid higher on, how much you want to spend in a day, and even the ability to pause your campaign if you are running low on your budget. You are also able to set the placement of your ads and the location where you want your ad to be shown.

PPC Cons—

Limited Long Term Benefits—

Once the money stops, the ads stop. While you may gain some branded traffic down the road, that unbranded search traffic will completely disappear when the ads stop running.

Bad Reputation—

PPC listings look like ads and are purposely placed where they are. Many people dislike ads, refuse to click on them or frankly just have no idea what they are and do not trust them.

Costs Add Up—

Even though you have the ability to control your PPC campaign budget, costs do begin to pile up and you may end up spending more money than you originally planned. Traffic to your site with PPC is completely dependent on the money you pour into it. If the keywords you are targeting are highly competitive, they may be expensive and can drain your budget quickly.

SEO Pros—

Trustworthy—

86% of search engine users reportthat they trust organic search results over paid search results. In fact, it’s been said that searchers simply get annoyed with the advertisements that come up during searches and do not even think about clicking on them.

Long Term Benefits—

Once all the SEO best practices are implemented – like creating quality, keyword-rich content and a strong linking profile – the results will outlast your efforts. The return on investment for SEO will continue to climb long after PPC has peaked.

Relevant, Targeted Traffic—

SEO allows for the use of long-tail keywords, which are three to five word phrases that refine a search term to be more targeted. For example, someone who is searching for “shoes” probably is just doing some casual window shopping, but someone who is searching for “red sneakers size 9” is someone who is further along in the buying process. With long-tail keywords comes more relevant traffic.

Forces Website Improvements—

A main difference between PPC and SEO is that with PPC, you pay for the visitors, but with SEO, you earn visitors by improving your site and following best practices. It may take a lot of work, but it’s a good thing in the long run because of the improvements to your site’s usability.

googlesearchheatmap

SEO Cons—

Ever-changing Google Algorithms—

A top complaint about SEO is that all of the work you put into your site to get your website on the first page results could be affected completely if Google releases new algorithm changes (which they do, at a rate of about 1.2 changes per day).

Required On-Going Maintenance—

Keyword research, content updates, link building and more are all factors of SEO that need to be regularly monitored and updated in order for your site to maintain rankings or to increase them.

Time lag—

Compared to the instantaneous results of PPC, the time lag with SEO can be a downfall. It can take anywhere from one to three months to see any increase in rankings or traffic. This also depends on how much optimization is needed for your site to even be ready to launch.

 

So should you start running that marathon or lace up the sneakers and begin the sprint? That question is up to you to decide. Both types of search engine marketing need to be considered, then from there you can determine whether SEO, PPC, or even both options are best fit for your needs, goals and budget.

What are your thoughts? Which did you choose, or do use both methods for your website? Feel free to post your preference, success stories, and more!