Put Google To Work For Your Nonprofit With Google Ad Grants

Put Google To Work For Your Nonprofit With Google Ad Grants

Are the rumors really true? Google gives $10k a month in free advertising to eligible nonprofits just for asking?

Yes, it’s true. But are there limitations? Yes. How can you get your hands on this money and make the most of it? Read on.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s first back up and explain a few key elements about Google’s generosity.

Ads: Click 'em or Skip 'em - Benefits of PPC

Ads: Click ’em or Skip ’em – Benefits of PPC

“Are pay-per-click ads beneficial?” This may be a question you have asked yourself many times when thinking about starting a PPC campaign.

Pay Per Click (PPC) ads are beneficial for businesses of all sizes. Paid search allows you to pay a fee to have your website be displayed on search result pages when someone types in a specific keyword or phrase to the search engine. You only pay when someone clicks.

You may not even recognize a pay-per-click ad when you see them in the search results. If you are a native to the web, you have certainly seen them. PPC ads can be found across the top of a search result page, as well as along the side.

Benefits of PPC

Here are some top reasons why PPC may be beneficial to your business.

Using Automated Rules in Adwords: Better Prioritize Your Time Within Holiday Campaigns

Hanukkah came to a close on Sunday evening and Christmas and Kwanzaa are right around the corner. The malls are packed, shoppers are scrounging around for last minute deals and steals, and marketers are ready to give their holiday messages that final conclusive push.

In the world of online marketing, timing is king as companies follow suit of the most popular online shopping days in Q4 – a period where carefully crafted messages can either make or break the chance at a last minute sale before year’s end. Because the online medium provides companies and advertisers the ability to capture consumers at the heart of the buying process, oftentimes before they’re ready make a final decision, tailoring the message to their needs must be done with clear intention and extreme caution.

If your holiday marketing campaign includes tailoring messages through a PPC management in Google Adwords, allocating enough time to devote to maintaining and optimizing your account throughout the final week before the holiday rush can feel overwhelming and, oftentimes, impossible. Alas, in the spirit of holiday giving, the following tips provide a framework on utilizing an overlooked tool within the Adwords interface that can help you step away from the campaign and devote more time to enjoying the holidays with those you love.

So, What’s Automation?

Automated rules is a feature within the Adwords interface that gives you the ability to make changes to your account automatically, based on settings and campaign performance conditions that you choose. Automated rules can be set within the campaign, ad group, keywords, and ad text levels of your entire campaign, and provide versatility in delegating action upon tasks that are usually done manually by the advertiser. So before you sit back and wonder how in the world you’re going to get up at midnight to set a special promotion ad group to go live, worry no more – automation has got you covered!

bird say what

How to Set Up Automated Rules

Setting up automated rules within the Adwords interface is relatively straightforward and requires no more than 2 minutes of your time. The time you spend now to set up a couple automated rules within your campaign will inevitably save you 1-2 hours a week that you would have spent optimizing your PPC campaigns during the holidays, so it’s worth the investment!

To find the Automation settings in Adwords, click the Automate drop-down menu on the Campaigns, Ad groups, Ads, or Keywords tab.

ppc automation tab

Depending on the campaign level that you’re planning on implementing rules under, the options available for selection in the drop-down will be different:

  • Within the Campaign level, advertisers can make adjustments to the daily budget, campaign status, and receive email updates when an automated rule takes effect.
  • Within the Ad group level, advertisers can make adjustments to the max CPC, ad group status, and receive email updates when a rule takes effect.
  • Within the Ad text level, advertisers can make adjustments to the ad status and receive email updates when a rule takes effect.
  • Within the Keywords level, advertisers can make adjustments to the max CPC bids, raise bids to top of page CPC, raise bids to first page CPC, keyword status, and receive email updates when a rule takes effect.

When thinking about all of the changes you implement to your PPC campaign manually, it doesn’t seem so difficult to put together a comprehensive list of the work that automated rules can do for you.

The Meat and Potatoes of Automation

In order to help you better visualize how automation works, the examples below are good starting blocks to reducing the amount of manual tasks associated with your holiday PPC campaigns.
Schedule Ads for Holiday Specials/Events
Let’s say you plan to schedule ads for special promotions or events on Christmas Eve, arguably one of the largest shopping days of the holiday season, and have them end the day after Christmas. Instead of camping out next to your computer until the clock strikes midnight, how about you set up an automated rule for it and rest easy?

First, create the ads and keep them set to pause. Then set up two automated rules: one for the day the ads are set to go live on Christmas Eve and the other to pause the ads at midnight on December 27th.

To create these rules, go to All online campaigns within your Adwords dashboard, then click the Ads tab. Within the Automate drop-down, select Enable Ads When… and customize your campaign options closely mirroring the screenshot below.

ppc automation for promo

Next, create your second rule, this time following the options under the Pause Ads When… selection, and change the frequency to December 27th at midnight. And then you’re done! Your ads will run between midnight on Christmas Eve through midnight on December 27th.
Pause Campaigns that Spend Certain Budget Partway Through Month
Create a custom automated rule for campaigns to better track your spend throughout the busy periods of the month. For example, if you want to check the status on a campaign that is likely to exhaust its budget relatively quick into the month of December, run an automated rule to check the spend daily at 6 am and pause if it has spent over half the monthly budget, say $200.

To create this rule, go to All online campaigns and select the Campaigns tab. Within the Automate drop-down, select Pause Campaigns When… and tailor your options mirroring the example image below:

ppc automation for budgeting

Because this rule deals primarily with optimizing the campaign budget, it would be a good idea to set up an email alert to inform you if this rule has been triggered. That way, if and when you do receive notification, you can go into your campaign, better allocate your budget spend and re-enable the campaign for the rest of the month.
Pause Low-Performing Ads Based on Metrics
Because you’re advertising for the holiday season, shoppers want to see carefully crafted and attention grabbing ads that will make them want to convert. In turn, shoppers are happy because they can find what they’re looking for, and you’re happy because you made a sale. But not everyone is a literary genius when it comes to writing PPC ads that drive conversion; so if such is the case for you, no worries, there’s a rule for that, too!

If, for example, you’re looking to test out and pause any ads that don’t perform as desired within the holiday season, you can use a daily rule to look for ads with less than a 0.1% CTR and over 2,000 impressions in the last day.

To create this rule, go to All online campaigns in your Adwords account. Click the Ads tab, then select the Automate drop-down menu. Choose the Pause Ads When… option and customize your options to mirror the example below:

ppc automation for optimization

This rule helps better track your keyword/ad group/ad performance by honing in on the ads that aren’t driving significant traffic to your website. When you begin weeding out the low performers, you’re able to understand what phrases, products and calls to action don’t stack up to the needs of your target audience. Plus, it also greatly influences the overall CTR of the campaigns that are performing well.

Next, Try Advanced Automation Techniques

While the examples mentioned above cover very basic, yet important campaign optimization techniques, try researching online for tips setting up more advanced automation rules. Examples:

  • Raise bids for keywords below first page bid to ensure holiday ads are secured in the top positions;
  • Raise bids during high performance hours or days of the week; lower bids during low performance hours or days of the week; i.e., Raise bids by 25% on Christmas Eve to move ads to higher ad positions;
  • Change the max CPC keyword bids to control your average ad position of holiday ads.

The options are virtually endless when it comes to creating rules, so drive right into Automation and explore the many ways in which you can increase the level of control you have over your campaign.

Wrapping it Up

If automation is no longer applicable to your holiday PPC campaigns (either because they’ve run out or you haven’t set any up this year), consider the major takeaways from these tips and begin positioning yourself ahead of the competition for next December. Or better yet, start testing today. Automation certainly is not limited to any specific time of the year, so if you’ve got a major event coming up and want to devote more time to that, use automated rules to take care of the manual labor and spend more time enjoying the event, knowing that your campaigns will be taken care of.

Do you have any other actionable tips for optimizing your PPC campaign this holiday season? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy Holidays!

The Online Race: SEO vs. 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.


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.


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—


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.


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!

Design a 3D Digital Clock Icon with Illustrator



Step 1: Let’s Get Started

Open up a new document in Illustrator and set the color mode to RGB. Then select the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle with width of 346 pt and height of 237 pt.

Example Image

With the rectangle still selected, apply some rounded corners (20 pt) by going to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners.

Example Image

Step 2: An Easy Way to Apply Rounded Corners

Now we have some rounded corners. We want them to be expanded, so go to Object > Expand Appearance. This will remove the Style.

Select the rounded corner shape and apply an Offset Path to it. To do so, go to Object > Path > Offset Path and enter a negative number (-25pt). This will proportionally shrink the rectangle.

Once that is done, ungroup the two shapes (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + G), select the smaller inner rectangle and apply another round corner effect with the Radius of 5 pt.

Afterwards, expand the appearance again ( Object > Expand Appearance).

Step 3: Creating the Framework

Now that we have created two rounded rectangles (one smaller than the other) we can fill them both with black. This is the framework (or base shape) for the digital clock: the outer/bigger shape is the frame and the inner/smaller shape is the clock face.

Step 4: Adding Highlights

Now, I will show you how a few simple shapes created with the Pen Tool (P) can add a 3D look. Select the Pen Tool (P) and draw a similar shape for the highlight on the left side of the frame. Leave a small gap between the edge of the rectangle and don’t overlap into the smaller inner (clock face) rectangle.

Fill the shape with a black/gray linear gradient with the Gradient Tool (G), oriented vertically. By placing the gradient highlight towards the top and blending into the black color of the frame towards the bottom, the shape will look like it bevels outwards.

Create a similar shape for the top part of the framework and also give it a linear gradient.

And then create another highlight at the bottom. As you can see, our clock is already coming to life.

For the corners, create small, semi-rounded shapes and fill them with a gradient.

Here is the bottom-right corner.

Here’s the highlight for the top-right corner.

Here is our digital clock icon thus far with all the gradients.

Step 5: Adding Details

Make a copy of the inner rectangle on top by copying it (Cmd/Ctrl + C) and then using the Paste in Front command (Cmd/Ctrl + F).

Cut away a big part of the top—you can do so by either using the Eraser Tool (Shift + E) or the Scissors Tool (C). Then, fill it with a dark teak to light teak color.

Step 6: Create the Clock Face’s Background

Next, select the inner rectangle (the clock face base shape), add a light gray stroke, and then set the fill to the same gradient as in the previous step.

Step 7: Adding Dimension

Now we will add an effect to bring the clock instantly to life. Select the inner rectangle and add an Inner Glow (Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow). This effect will give the clock face the needed inset look.

Step 8: Small Details Can Make a Big Difference

Now we are just adding some stylistic elements. These thing are always optional and you can add whatever shapes, buttons, numbers or text of your liking. I added two small rectangles at the left side of the frame that will serve as controls for the digital clock (maybe they are the snooze and alarm controls – let’s just use our imagination), one in red and one in gray.

Step 9: Adding the Digital Numbers

A digital clock is nothing without the digital numbers that represent the time! Add the numbers either with a free font (such as DS-Digital font) or draw them yourself with the Pen Tool (P). Usually digital numbers have cut-off endings in a 45o degree angle.

Step 10: Add More Elements to the Clock Face

Here is the clock with numbers, text and some more design elements.

Step 11: Adding Stylized Elements

I thought I’d spice up the digital clock icon with some colored elements. To do so, start by making a copy of the inner rectangle and removing the gradient of the copied shape.

Then cut away the left part and slice it into three parts. You can do so by drawing two lines across the shape, selecting the shape and the lines, and then dividing them with the Divide command in the Pathfinder Panel.

Color each part differently by selecting them with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and choosing your colors. Then set the layer mode to Overlay in the Transparency Panel so that the buttons embody the contours of the clock face.

Step 12: Adding Handles

Let’s add some handles to the clock. Create a rounded rectangle and fill it with a white/black linear gradient.

Then make a copy of it below by copying the shape (Cmd/Ctrl + C) and using the Paste in Back command (Cmd/Ctrl + B). Fill the new shape with black. Move it towards the right and bottom so it sticks out a little.

Select both objects, group them together (Cmd/Ctrl + G), duplicate the group by copying it (Cmd/Ctrl + C), paste (Cmd/Ctrl + P) it, and then reflect the duplicated group horizontally by going to Transform > Reflect, choosing Horizontal for the Axis option in the dialog window that appears. This will be the handle for the other side of the clock, so move it across to the other side.

Step 13: Creating a Back Shape for an Outer Glow

Now select all the shapes you have created so far, make a copy and group them. We want to make one solid shape that is the outline of the entire digital clock. Select the grouped shape and click the Unite button in the Pathfinder Panel. Afterwards, fill the shape with black.

Step 14: Add an Outer Glow to the Back Shape

Add an Outer Glow (Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow) to the back.

Then place the shape with the outer glow behind your digital clock so that it looks like it’s casting a shadow (you might have to reorder your layers so that the back shape with the outer glow is below all of the digital clock’s parts).

Not bad so far, our digital clock is coming along, it’s just a little flat at this point.

Step 15: Make the Shiny Stuff

Let’s add some shine to our digital clock to make it more interesting. Make another copy of your back outer glow shape and fill it with a light blue/black radial gradient.

Edit the gradient so the gradient fill is an ellipse rather than a circle by choosing the Radial for the Type option and then modifying the shape of the gradient to a vertically-oriented ellipse.

You can easily change the color of the radial gradient and give the clock a different color shine if you prefer another color over a blue-dominant color.

Then place the shape on top of all other shapes by selecting it and going to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front (Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + ]).

Allow the contours and shapes of the clock face to shine through the shape by setting the layer mode to Overlay in the Transparency Panel.

Step 16: Don’t Forget a Light Reflection

A nice shiny object is not complete without a little reflection. Create a shape similar to the one in the image below. To make the shape, take a copy of the inner rounded rectangle and subtract a large ellipse from it by creating an elliptical shape with the Ellipse Tool (L) and then using the Minus Front command in the Pathfinder Panel. Otherwise, if you have steady hands and a good free hand ability, using the Pen Tool (P) to draw the shape is another (more laborious and probably less accurate) option.

Fill the shape with a lighter teak color and set the layer mode to Multiply. Place it on top of the clock shape, but below the Overlay shape from Step 15.

Step 17: Giving the Clock a Shadow

Whenever there is light, there is a shadow of an object. Let’s create one. Select the Ellipse Tool (L) and fill it with a white/black radial gradient. Place it below the clock shape.

Then make a copy of it and place it to the right.

Then set the layer mode to Multiply.

Step 18: Reflection, Reflection, Reflection

Let’s add some more reflective elements to our digital clock. We’ll make it to look as if the clock is standing on a glossy surface. Group all shapes except the shadow parts, make a copy and reflect them vertically by going to Object > Transform > Reflect and choosing Vertical for the Axis option.

Place the grouped, reflected shapes below the clock. Afterwards, set the Opacity to 40%

Once that is done, select the reflected group and apply an Opacity Mask so that the bottom part of it fades away.

Step 19: Adding a Backdrop

This final step is really optional: We are just going to add a simple background to help frame our subject.

Start by adding a big rectangle behind the clock and filling it with a vertical linear color gradient.

Duplicate the background by copying it (Cmd/Ctrl + C) and then pasting it in front (Cmd/Ctrl + F). Fill it now with a transparent white gradient.

Set the layer mode to Overlay.

Tutorial Summary

This is it. A glossy digital clock designed solely in Illustrator.Though some might think that Photoshop is an easier way for creating icons with lots of reflective elements and color gradients, I hope this tutorial showed you that Illustrator is not only capable of such design styles, but that it actually does a great and efficient job at it.

Using Illustrator also makes you more flexible as you can increase and decrease the icon’s size without loss of quality. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

Download Tutorial Source Files

Creating Retro Folded Typography Using Photoshop


Click on the preview image below to see the final product in full scale.


Tutorial Resources

Step 1: Working away from the computer

To create our folded text, we first want to see in real-life how folded strips of paper would look. This technique lets us reduce the amount of guessing we have to make and gives us a reference point.

So first, take a piece of regular 8.5” x 11” paper and cut it into strips using scissors or a box cutter.

Working away from the computer

Start folding the strips to the letters that we want. I’m folding all the letters at roughly 90o angles except for the letter "N" (which we need the angle on).

Now we can see exactly how the folds will look for the letters we’re using.

Working away from the computer

Step 2: Setting up the document

Now that we have a general idea of how the fold on our paper strips should look, we’re going to go into Photoshop and create a new 1200 x 600px document.

Write out "DESIGN" and a smaller "INSTRUCT" below it using the Horizontal Type Tool (T), something like I have done below. I’m using Futura Bold for my font because it has a retro look to it. If you don’t have Futura, try using any wide, bold font that gives us room to work with.

We’re going to use this as our type’s base for sizing and width guides while making our folds.

Working away from the computer

Step 3: Adding color

Next, we’re going to change the color of our text. First, the "DESIGN" text is going to be a different color for each letter. Your colors don’t have to be the exact colors that I’m suggesting below, but I’m trying to go for a wide variety of colors that I think will translate into some nice retro colors.

The letters and their corresponding hexadecimal color values are as follows:

  • D: #00AEB7 (blue)
  • E: #FF9900 (orange)
  • S: #BA0000 (red)
  • I: #01AD4E (green)
  • G: #FEDE58 (light yellow)
  • N: #FF99AB (pink)

Also, we’re going to change the "INSTRUCT" text to a brown color (#3B2601).

Adding color

Step 4: Guiding the "D"

Lets start off by working on the "D". Let’s make a new Photoshop group (Layer > New > Group). We’ll name this group, "D".

Next, create a new layer (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N) within the "D" group.

We’re going to lay out some Photoshop guides to help us with the shaping our "D" letter. We want a guide on the top, bottom, left-right and the inside-left side of the "D".

Guiding the "D"

Step 5: Creating the template

Since all the strips of paper are the same width, we need to make sure the lines of the "D" (and the rest of our letters) are the same width. We’re going to do this by first clicking on the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) in the Tools Panel to activate the tool.

While holding down Shift to make a perfect square, click and drag a square selection starting from the top left of the "D" towards the inside guide.

Create a new layer (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N) and fill it (Edit > Fill) with black (#000000) so that we can easily see it (the color doesn’t matter because this square is just for helping us shape our text).

This will be our template to make sure everything is the same size. We’ll be moving this square template throughout the creation process with the Move Tool (V).

Creating the template

Step 6: Adding more guides to the "D"

Now that we have the template, we can drag down a guide so that it’s on the bottom of the box we just made.

Click and drag the box down to the bottom guide and place a guide on the top of the box.

Also, using the Move Tool (V), move the box to the right and put a guide on the left side of that box. What we’re making with the guides is a hole in the middle, while making sure all the lines are the same width.

Adding more guides to the "D"

Step 7: Subtracting from the "D"

Now that we have our first letter all mapped out, we can start editing it. In the Layers Panel, click on the "D" layer we made in Step 4 to make it our active layer. Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), make a box around the outer guides so it covers the letter. Afterwards, fill it with the same blue as our "D" (#00AEB7).

Before we subtract the middle part, we want to right-click on the "DESIGN" text and choose Layer > Rasterize > Type. This will make it so we can delete areas from the original text—we can’t do this if it’s still a text layer.

Create a selection using the inner guides, click on the "D" layer in the Layers Panel, and then press the Delete key to remove the area beneath the selection.

We can also completely delete the "D" from the original base text layer because we don’t need it anymore.

Now you should have a box with a white hole in the middle.

Subtracting from the "D"

Step 8: Shaping the "D"

Now we’re going to chop off the corners on the right side to start to give us a "D" shape, similar to how our real-life reference looks.

Shaping the "D"

Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), click on the intersection of the top and inner right guide. Then click on the intersection of the inner top and outer right guide. Finally, close the path by the clicking around so you get that top right corner selected and then hit Delete to take away the section under our selection.

Shaping the "D"

Now we’re going to do the same thing with the bottom right corner.

Shaping the "D"

Shaping the "D"

Step 9: Adding imperfections

Since these letters have a folded look, we’re going to give them some slight imperfections by making the ends of the folded strip of paper overlap past the letter.

Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), make a square within the top two guides and out past the left side of the "D". Fill the selection (Edit > Fill) with the blue color (#00AEB7).

Adding imperfections

Move the marquee selection down to the bottom two guides and fill that area with the blue color (#00AEB7) as well.

Adding imperfections

Step 10: Adding guides to the "E"

We’re going to work on the shadows and finishing elements later on, so lets move on to the other letters next. Create a new group (Layer > New > Group), call it "E" and create a new layer (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N) within that group.

Now we’re going to use the square template that we created for the "D" to make sure our letter has a consistent width.

Since we created the guides for the "D", we notice already that the top and bottom arms of the "E" aren’t quite tall enough. We can also assume that the middle part of it also has the same problem. We should fix those issues.

Bring in our square template and put it in the center of the middle arm. Put a guide on the top and bottom of the template.

Also make guides on the left and right sides of the "E", as well as where the middle arm ends.

Adding guides to the "E"

Step 11: Filling out the "E"

Click on that layer we created in the "E" group. Use the same orange color (#FF9900) as the "E" to fill in the areas so the arms are the same as the stem of the "E".

Adding guides to the "E"

Step 12: Shaping the "E"

Bring our template to the top left of the "E" letter and make a guide on the right side of it so that it follows the inside of the stem. Just like in Step 8, we’re going to chop off the corners of the "E" from the original text layer.

We’re also going to make the middle stem extend out the same way we did in Step 9.

Shaping the "E"

Step 13: Creating the "S"

Create a new layer group called "S" and a new layer inside that group.

We’re going to base off the letter "S" with our existing letter "E". First, select the area from the top guide to the edge of the left side of the "S" to the very bottom guide, at the right edge of the "S", and then fill it with the red color (#BA0000).

We want all the letters to be the same height so that’s why we’re cutting off the top and bottom edges of the "S".

Creating the "S"

Step 14: Roughing out the "S"

Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), select the two areas between the guides that goes in between the arms of the "E", and then press the Delete key to remove the area beneath your selection. This should give us three horizontal bars with the same width as the "E".

Roughing out the "S"

Step 15: Shaping the "S"

Put the template on the top left corner of the "S" shape and then place a guide on its right side. Move the black square template to the bottom right and put a guide on its left.

Now using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the area, fill the empty area on the top left and the bottom right with red (#BA0000).

Shaping the "S"

Step 16: Rounding out the "S"

Toggle off the visibility of the original text layer from our view to make this next process easier.

We want to get rid of some of these corners, just like with our "D" and "E". The two ends don’t get their corners chopped off because they don’t fold.

Rounding out the "S"

The "S" looks kind of funny right now, but it’ll look fine later on once we start applying shadows on it.

Delete the "S" from the original base text layer if you want, because we no longer need it.

Step 17: No change to the "I"

The "I" will stay as-is since there aren’t any folds to it.

No change to the "I"

Step 18: Creating the basic shape of the "G"

Make a new group for "G", and—you know the drill by now—a new layer (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N) inside it. Just like with the "S", we’re going to select the area from the top to bottom guides and the left to right edges of the "G".

Once selected, fill it with our yellow color (#FEDE58).

Now, let’s put a guide on the left and right sides of the box.

Creating the basic shape of the "G"

Step 19: Shaping the "G"

This will start out similar to the "D". First, put the square template on the top left and put a guide on the right side of it.

Next, put the template on the bottom right and put a guide on its left side. Select the area that the guides make inside the box, and then delete it from the box and the original text.

Shaping the "G"

Step 20: Finishing off the "G" shape

To make our letter into a "G", we’re going to move our square template so the top of it is resting on the top of the inner circle. Create a guide on the bottom of the template to help us.

Now, using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), select the area that starts at the top of the inner circle to the guide we just made so we can get rid of the top right side of the box.

Finishing off the "G" shape

Step 21: Rounding off the "G"

Now we want to get rid of all the right-angle corners of our letter (as shown below). Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to make the selection, and just press the Delete key to clear the area below the selected area.

Rounding off the "G"

Step 22: Reduce the width of "G"

Our "G" is a little too wide for our design. To fix that, get the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and select the right half of our letter.

Reduce the width of "G"

With the appropriate area selected, click on the Move Tool (V) on the Tools Panel, hold down Shift, and move the selected area to the left.

Reduce the width of "G"

Step 23: Creating the basic shape for the "N"

For our letter "N", let’s create a new group and also a new layer inside the group. Create a box around the original "N" and fill it with our pink color (#FF99AB).

Move our square template with the Move Tool (V), placing it at the top left corner of the letter. Also place a guide on the left and right to make our selections easier and more accurate.

Move the square template to the right corner, and also place guides on the left and right sides.

Now select the middle part with the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and delete it.

Creating the basic shape for the "N"

Step 24: Adding the crossbar

Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) again, we’re going to create a box around the right stem of the "N" and duplicate the selection into a new layer by pressing Ctrl/Cmd + J.

Take the stem we duplicated and then use the Free Transform command (Ctrl/Cmd + T) to angle it so that it turns into the crossbar of our "N".

With a little experimentation, the top left corner should line up with the left corner of the left stem and the bottom left corner should line up with the bottom left corner of the right stem.

Adding the crossbar

Select the part of the crossbar that goes above the top guide with the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and delete it.

Adding the crossbar

Step 25: Finishing off the "N"

If you look at the actual fold of the letter "N" in our reference photo, you’ll notice that the folds at the top and bottom aren’t completely horizontal. We’re going to create these angles by moving the square template to the top left.

Use the Free Transform command (Ctrl/Cmd + T) and move a guide on the horizontal middle transform control. What we’re doing is making a guide at the halfway mark of the template. Do this for the bottom right corner.

With the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), delete the corners using the guides we just made as the side points.

Finishing off the "N"

Step 26: Cleaning up the text

Right now, you should probably have something that looks pretty messy. Let’s clean up the type by deleting the extra elements we don’t need in the original text.

We also want to get the letter "E" on one layer. Click on the original text layer in the Layers Panel while holding down Ctrl/Cmd. Then with the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M),  hold down Alt/Option to create a square selection around the "I" to subtract it from the current selection.

Now hold down Shift + Ctrl/Cmd and click on the rest of the "E" in the "E" group. Click on the "E" layer in the "E" group and fill the selected area with our orange color (#FF9900).

Cleaning up the text

Step 27: Creating the folds on the "D"

Now we can start creating the folds for the letter "D". To create the folds, we’re going to use our guides as well our real-life model for reference.

Creating the folds on the "D"

The horizontal pieces are the ones on top for the "D", so the two vertical pieces are going to have shadows on them.

To create the shadows, select the area in the middle with the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and make a gradient with the Black to Transparent gradient preset using the Gradient Tool (G).

Play around with this until you get something that looks good. If you don’t like the gradient you made, just press Ctrl/Cmd + Z to undo it, and then try again. Try not to start the gradient right at the edge, but try not to make it too subtle and understated either.

To get rid of the excess gradient, Ctrl/Cmd + click on the "D" layer, go to Select > Inverse (Shift + Ctrl/Cmd + I) to invert your selection, and hit the Delete key to get rid of the selected area.

Creating the folds on the "D"

Step 28: Creating the folds on the "E"

With our "E" letter, the vertical stem is going to be the top piece with the three arms getting the shadows (exactly like our real-life reference).

Creating the folds on the "E"

Step 29: Creating the folds on the "S"

For the "S", the curved parts are going to be the ones on the top, with the rest shaded.

Creating the folds on the "S"

Step 30: No folds on the "I"

Our letter "I" is pretty boring — there aren’t any shading that needs to be done for the "I".

No folds on the "I"

Step 31: Creating the folds on the "G"

For the "G", the two vertical lines are going to be on top, so the horizontal ones are going to have the shadows.

Creating the folds on the "G"

Step 32: Creating the folds on the "N"

For the "N", the left stem is going to be under the crossbar and the crossbar is going to be under the right stem.

Creating the folds on the "N"

Step 33: Overlaying the shadows

Now we’re going to change the blending mode of all the shadow layers to Overlay except for the right fold on the "N", which will be changed to Soft Light.

Overlaying the shadows

Step 34: Desaturating the backside of the "D"

The folds look pretty good now, but we want to define the front and back a little bit more by dulling down the color that would be the back of the paper to give the letters some depth.

Select the pieces that would have been folded under with the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and open up the Hue/Saturation image adjustment command (Ctrl/Cmd + U).

Note: To make multiple disjointed selections like the image below, hold down the Shift key (this should put a small "+" on your mouse cursor, indicating that it’s the correct mode).

Desaturating the backside of the "D"

Change the Saturation to -40 and the Lightness to +20. We’re using the Lightness option in the Hue/Saturation because it washes out the colors, which is what we want.

Desaturating the backside of the "D"

Step 35: Desaturate the rest of the letters

Apply the Hue/Saturation from Step 34 to the rest of the letters.

Desaturate the rest of the letters

Step 36: Add a Satin layer style

Click on the "D" layer and go to Layer > Layer Style > Satin. This will give the text a little bit of a shine and highlight the middle areas of the text.

Apply this to the rest of the letters as well. A shortcut would be to right-click on the "D" layer, choose Copy Layer Style, select the other layers, right-click on them, and then pick Paste Layer Style from the contextual menu that appears.

Add a Satin layer style

Step 37: Adding a Gradient Map

We’re going to add some effects to our text and image. First off, we’re going to go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map.

Adding a Gradient Map

Click on the yellow to red gradient preset and also choose the Reverse option.

Drop the opacity of the Gradient Map adjustment layer down to about 15%. This should be your topmost layer. This will give our entire piece a yellowish, aged look.

Adding a Gradient Map

Step 38: Adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer

We’re also going to drop the brightness of our work. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation.

Adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer

Adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer

Step 39: Give the text an uneven look

Now we’re going to give our text a little bit of an uneven, natural look. First, make sure the foreground and background colors are black and white (press D to reset your colors).

Create a new layer by pressing Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N, and then go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Make sure the layer is just below the Gradient Map and the Hue Saturation layers.

Give the text an uneven look

Change the blend mode of this new layer to Overlay and the drop the Opacity down to 50%.

Give the text an uneven look

Step 40: Adding a background texture

Let’s open up the paper texture included in the Resources listing in Photoshop.

Alternatively, use a paper texture of your own, or look around the Freebies section of Design Instruct for textures that you might want to use instead.

Go to Image > Image Rotation > 90o CCW so that the binding of the texture is at the bottom of the canvas.

Go to Image > Image Size and change the width to 1200px to make the texture the same width as our main canvas.

With the texture prepped, copy and paste it into our retro folded paper Photoshop canvas.

Change the blend mode of the texture’s layer to Overlay and then open up the Levels image adjustment dialog window (Ctrl/Cmd + L). Change the option values so that they are similar to what I have below—these settings will make the texture stand out more.

Adding a background texture

Step 41: Adjusting the texture

Open up the Hue/Saturation dialog window and drop the Saturation to -40. Also, drop the opacity of this layer to about 50%. This will make the color of the texture more subtle.

Adjusting the texture

Step 42: Adding a second texture

Duplicate the paper texture with Ctrl/Cmd + J and move it down the layer stack below all the letters.

Change the blend mode to Multiply and drop the opacity to 20%.

Adding a second texture

Step 43: Adding a vignette

For artistic effect and to draw the eyes of the viewer towards the center of our piece, we’re going to darken the edges of the canvas, creating a faux vignette. Click on the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) on the Tools Panel, and in the options bar, change the Feather to 50px. Click and drag a box around the entire canvas (or press Ctrl/Cmd + A).

Go to Select > Inverse and fill the inverted selection with black (#000000). This should fill just the edges.

Change the blending mode of the vignette layer to Overlay.

Adding a vignette

Step 44: Alternate texture

You can also play around with additional textures. I’m going to keep the background with the same paper texture. I’m going to hide the paper texture that was above the text.

Next, I’m going to bring in this other texture (also included in the Resources listing above) to give the image a dirtier, grungier look. Play around with different textures to create something that’s all your own.

Alternate texture

Step 45: Final adjustment

I moved the letters around a little bit to get the kerning to be a little more even. You can do this more accurately with Photoshop’s Ruler Tool (I), but eyeballing it is fine—perfect spacing isn’t important because we want the text to have an imperfect, hand-made feel to it.

Final adjustment

Tutorial Summary

In this Photoshop tutorial, I showed you how to create an interesting folded paper typography. First, we created a real-life model of our text, which I hope shows you the value of having a reference before firing up your favorite graphics editor and creating artwork digitally.

We used simple Photoshop techniques such as selecting areas manually using the Photoshop’s Lasso and Marquee tools. To make our selections more accurate and our letters more uniform, we created a square template and used a copious amount of Photoshop guides. To finish up the piece, we applied some basic adjustment layers to give our product a retro, faded look.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I look forward to seeing your own versions in the Design Instruct Flickr group pool.


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