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This chapter is from the book

Planning the Projects

Is Illustrator CS2 the right tool for the job? Photoshop CS2 includes perspective painting and cloning tools as well as the Liquefy command (the last since version CS). If your goal is to simply distort artwork, and keeping it at a fixed resolution is not an obstacle for your project, Photoshop might be the better tool for the task. If, however, you need nondestructive distortion with a high degree of control—or the ability to adjust the distortion later—Illustrator is your best bet. Illustrator is also the right tool for the job of decaling logos or other artwork to photographs (or drawings) of non-flat objects like a coffee mug.

Prepare the Artwork

Do you have the logo or other artwork ready for application onto an object? If it’s an Illustrator drawing you want to apply to a non-flat object, complete the drawing first and save it as its own file. If you have a photograph to map, is it prepared in Photoshop? If the image is not rectangular, make sure it has either a transparent background or a clipping path. This can be accomplished in Illustrator CS2, but it’s easier to set transparency or clipping on raster images in Photoshop ahead of time.

Prepare your logo or artwork (we’ll call it the decal from here on out) flat—don’t distort it or create any dimensionality in the original image. We’ll do all that in this chapter’s projects, with much more flexibility and forgiveness of mistakes than you could get from distorting an original image.

The next obvious question is: Do you have the photograph or drawing of the non-flat object itself—the target surface—ready? Do you have the image? Have you done all the correction and touch-up needed? Is the image in the color space and resolution required for its ultimate use?

If you are working with the Chapter 3 resource files, you’re all set.

Promotional Items

When you’re planning promotional items (swag or tchotchkes in the parlance of those who live for freebies) like t-shirts, jars of goodies, mugs and cups, stress balls, or lanyards, do your market research. The primary purpose of emblazoning logos, slogans, or other information onto promo items is to keep the brand in front of the recipient as long and as often as possible. The secondary purpose is the important goal of causing the recipient to act as a walking billboard, spreading brand awareness wherever she might take a tchotchke. The only way to meet either goal—and, of course, ideally both—is to provide branded items the recipient will actually use.

Look closely at the product’s or brand’s target market. What are the needs of this market that could be filled inexpensively with promotional items? What types of items does the market typically buy or use that don’t necessarily answer a need? Make a list of the market’s needs and a separate list of its wants (toys and edibles are often excellent choices). Then list ways to answer those needs and supply those wants.

First, remove from the list any items that may reflect negatively on the brand; unless the brand is directly related to alcohol, tobacco, or medicine/pharmaceuticals, avoid these categories of tchotchkes like the plague. Although private label wines or decaled lighters are useful to many people, vocal minority segments of any broad market will infer negative associations between the brand and the promo item—an ardent nonsmoker, for instance, will typically see the lighter as endorsing cigarette smoking rather than considering how useful it would be for lighting candles or campfires.

Whittle the "safe list" down based on the feasibility and costs of production. Present the top 3–10 items (depending on the budget and campaign size) to the client as mockups, like those we will create in this chapter.

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