How to ensure MailChimp emails actually reach your users

How to ensure MailChimp emails actually reach your users 0

http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2016/03/how-to-ensure-mailchimp-emails-actually-reach-your-users/                   This tutorial will help you with the most important thing you probably aren’t doing for your MailChimp newsletter: ensuring its delivery. If your newsletter isn’t being delivered, then no training, or tips, or marketing tactics will matter. Ensuring delivery basically means that you’ve got to prove that you are who you say you are, where your email address is concerned; because spammers and spoofers like to use other people’s email addresses to push their evil agendas. To avoid this, you’ve got to use MailChimp’s authentication methods, which is like a license plate for your email. It provides a trackable identifier that shows your subscribers that you’re legit. Email hosts like Gmail, Hotmail, and even AOL all look to see if your email domain has a DKIM record (see: Authenticating your domain further down in this post to learn how to use it). According to OpenDKIM, email authentication has jumped from 53% in 2015 to 67% so far in 2016. So, if you haven’t both verified and authenticated your email domain for your newsletter, you’re in the minority. ISPs are even talking about blocking unsigned email blasts, due to the massive amounts of email phishing that currently exist. Thankfully, all it takes is a bit of proof. Or rather, proving that your email address and domain belong to you. You only have to do this once (unless you change your domain name).

Why it’s important to verify and authenticate

  • Authenticating your domain and email proves to your subscribers that you are who you say you are.
  • It also proves to MailChimp that they can trust you enough to show your email address without a bunch of “via mail13.wdc01.rsgsv.net” that typically shows up beside your name in Gmail, like the image below.
  • Speaking of Gmail, if you authenticate your domain, then Gmail will trust your emails enough to automatically load images (instead of asking your subscribers if they want to every time). They even wrote about it here.
Holy benefits, right?

What do you need?

  • Domain registrar access.
  • Enough knowledge about DNS records to add a TXT and CNAME record to your domain.
  • Patience, since even though you only have to do this once, it can take up to 24 hours for the changes to take effect.
  • Note first that domain authentication is only available if you send emails from a custom domain (e.g. john@johnsmith.com, not john@gmail.com).

Authenticating your email

Log into your MailChimp account and click on your name in the top right navigation. From this dropdown, click on the Account panel. Then click Settings and pick Verified Domains. Click the Verify an Email Domain button. Next, type in the email address you use to send emails to your list and then click Send Verification Email. You’ll get an email with a code in it, so go to your inbox. Copy and paste that code into the Enter Verification Code field back in MailChimp. Boom, you’re done. You’ll now see “Verified” under your domain on that screen.

Authenticating your domain

Now that your domain is verified, you need to authenticate it. On that same Verified Domains screen, click Authenticate beside your domain. You’ll see a TXT record to add to your domain. It’ll be a code similar to (but not this exact code): “v=spf1 include:servers.mcsv.net ?all” Copy and paste that into a TXT record as a value in your domain’s DNS settings. Next, scroll down to #2 on that screen and copy the CNAME and value to your domain. It’ll be similar to “k1._domainkey” as the hostname and “dkim.mcsv.net” as the value. Click Authenticate Domain, and you’re done! (Note that it may not be instant since your domain registrar can take a few hours to update.) This is what it looks like when everything’s gone according to plan:

Now your emails are much more deliverable.

Once you’re finished, images will load by default in Gmail, your email address won’t include a bunch of gibberish, and your emails will be much less likely to go to Spam or Promotions. Happy emailing!
9 essential rules for responsive image galleries

9 essential rules for responsive image galleries 0

http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2016/03/9-essential-rules-for-responsive-image-galleries/                   Responsive design is an essential and necessary part of web development. One of the biggest issues with responsive web design as of late has been images. Many debate the best way to display images on a responsive site. And then, what about image galleries? Image galleries feature far more complexity than single images; there are even more variables and things to think about when implementing entire responsive image galleries on your website. Let’s take a look at some helpful tips for implementing responsive image galleries the right way.

1) Slideshows: hide nav whenever possible

You might not have navigation elements on a tablet or mobile device, but on a desktop, it is a good idea to hide those elements until they are needed. Items like forward and back arrows and navigational dots should be set to only display when someone mouses over the sliding image gallery. This avoids distractions, and you avoid conflicts between content and nav elements. The entire experience feels less jumbled.

2) Avoid too many portrait images

If you are implementing a gallery that is a grid of images, you’ll want to choose images that are landscape oriented, or square if possible. This makes it easier to view them on a small screen. Portrait images would be fine on a smart phone in portrait mode, but the wide viewing area of a landscape oriented phone makes it tough to view portrait images. Landscape is best, but you can settle for square if landscape isn’t an option. All images can be set to fit within a viewing area, but portrait images on a landscape screen will appear very small. Your images won’t be viewed as intently as square or landscape images, which will fill more area of the screen and appear larger. When selecting images, be sure to keep the person viewing them in mind.

3) Use gestures on tablets & mobile

People love to use gestures on their touch screens. They feel more empowered when it feels like they are sliding an image, because the experience is more immersive. Trying to tap tiny arrows or navigational dots on a mobile device is too tedious. It is much more natural to be able to take your finger and swipe an image up, down, left, or right.

4) Avoid lightboxes: disable them on mobile

If you have images of products, like machinery or items that should be viewed in more detail (fabric, jewels, etc.), then a lightbox with larger images makes sense. Even then, they should only be used on the desktop. When you break down to tablet and mobile screen sizes, lightboxes should be disabled. They can cause a number of user experience problems. If something happens and the lightbox doesn’t size correctly, then they may not be able to access the exit button, or images may not display properly.

5) When using nav elements, make them unobtrusive

If you have a sliding image gallery with a significant number of slides, then navigation makes sense. You don’t want to make users wait to cycle through everything. They can easily click through at their own speed, get in, get what they need, and get out. When using these elements, make sure to tuck them in places that are out of the way. Don’t have navigational dots going over text or other links. Also, avoid overly complex controls. These take up a lot of space, distract users from the content, and create a cluttered look. Having dots that users can click to cycle through or skip to certain images, and having forward and back arrows is plenty. Don’t overdo it!

6) Don’t mix images & videos

Mixing different media is usually okay, but mixing videos in where they aren’t expected can cause problems. You don’t want a user to accidentally initiate a video, which plays sound for all to hear. Separate videos and images, so they know what to expect. No one likes those types of surprises.

7) Make sure images don’t scale beyond their maximum width

This is important, because you can avoid pixelated scaling of images that are too small for a space. Images should be large enough to fill 100% of a mobile device (for most cases), but desktop sized sites should set only the maximum width to 100%. I’ve seen some cases where someone has one of those large 27” displays, and when they drag out the browser width, the image scales with it, past its intended size.

8) Image scaling

If you have images scale, make sure they scale down, not up. It’s best to set exact dimensions for your images. Many times, a percentage is used for one dimension, while the other dimension is set to auto. For example, if you want an image to span 50% of the width of the browser, you’d set the image’s width to 50% and the height to auto.

9) Avoid using image captions

Image captions or any other accompanying text can cause all sorts of problems for you and your users. The first problem is that it is tough to fit the text on a mobile device. With smartphones, you have limited space as it is, but trying to add text can make the entire experience feel cluttered and crammed together. Another issue is that you are limited in the amount of text you can use. Adding a caption, or any extra text, adds the variable of responsive text into the mix. You have to consider word breaks, and how multiple lines of text will end up looking along with your image. If the text is used as an overlay, you also have to concern yourself with where it falls over the image. Light text over light area of the image will make the text unreadable. Contrast is key, and every image is different.

Conclusion

The bottom line when it comes down to any aspect of web design is that it has to work well, and have the user in mind. If no one can use your website, they won’t come back. Following these simple dos and don’ts of responsive image galleries will make it so that users won’t run into common problems when viewing your images.

Five Web Design Business Owners Share Which WP Theme Makes Their Enterprise More Lucrative and Why! 0

http://webdesignledger.com/five-web-design-business-owners-share-wp-theme-makes-enterprise-lucrative/ featured Whether you’re starting your own web design agency, digital marketing company, business consulting firm, or a mixture of the three, your website building technology of choice is going to play a key role in running a lucrative business!  So, what do you really need from your business WordPress theme of choice? We brought together five seasoned professionals with over 20 years of experience in SEO optimization, digital marketing, web design, and scaling businesses to share with you exactly what to look for when theme shopping! kristen&trent

Trent and Kristen Blizzard co-founders of BlizzardPress Colorado, USA

Trent and Kristen Blizzard are co-founders of BlizzardPress, an agency dedicated to helping small enterprises based in Western Colorado scale their businesses with targeted social media marketing, impeccable website design, organic search engine optimization, and over 15 years of professional experience in the marketing sector. curtis

Curtis Hays Founder at Curtis Hays Consulting Michigan, USA

Curtis Hays who brings over 15 years of experience in the web design and marketing industry is founder of Curtis Hays Consulting, an agency based in Michigan, USA which focuses delivering search marketing, conversion rate optimization and other digital services.

micah

Micah Blumenthal Founder at CIX Designs New York, USA

Micah Blumenthal from New York, USA is founder of CIX Designs which specializes in Graphic Design, Web Design, Photography, and Branding for a wide range of local organizations and community projects looking to expand their outreach. jose

José Rosado Freelancer Dominican Republic

José Rosado is a graphic and web designer from the Dominican Republic. José has spearheaded web design projects across a broad range of sectors for clients from all professional backgrounds and countries while also running a nonprofit organization, The Music Corner, in the DR which promotes music education for children.  

Find the business WordPress theme that fits every sector

Most likely your clients aren’t from just one sector or background. Even if they are, they may be at varied stages of growth and will probably have completely different visions for what they want their site to look like. This makes it absolutely necessary to find a WordPress theme that you can use for a variety of different sectors repeatedly without having any one site identical to the other. What that also means for you is that instead of keeping track of numerous themes you’re using, which can be much more work-intensive, you’ll have just one WordPress theme at the core of all of your products. Here, our guests share with us the scope of businesses they work with and how versatility ended up being the most important feature of their theme.   templates   Kristen & Trent: We use Jupiter across the board – professional services, public services, local retailers, nonprofits and companies that are either just emerging or are well-established and want to revamp their website. Out of the box, Jupiter’s functionality set is very comprehensive. Without adding too many plugins, businesses can display beautiful visuals and organize data in a way that makes sense and is easy to manage. Jose: I work with people and companies from all over the place. Lawyers, nonprofit organization, pastry shops, artists, private firms—actually I made my own site for the music organization The Music Corner which my wife and I founded. I was able to make completely different sites that perfectly reflected each of my client’s vision using Artbees Themes. The Jupiter’s just really flexible and makes my work a lot easier. Curtis: I’m usually working with both emerging companies and companies that already have a foundation and are just looking to revamp their site. In both cases, each company wants to increase their return on investment and online marketing presence. The Jupiter allows me to work toward that goal while catering to all of them with ease Micah: I am pretty community-driven and prefer to do web and graphic design for local businesses, nonprofits, NGOs, artists, educational programs and projects so I needed a theme that would allow me to capture the spirit of each of those ventures. The Jupiter has the broad capability coupled with the aesthetic that helps put these types of institutions which usually have less sophisticated sites on par with the latest trends and updates.    

Make sure your WP theme is easy to use for your clients

A great selling point for your business is the capability you can give your clients to join the website design process. Find a WordPress theme that will allow your customers to have a bigger role in the construction and design of their website and that empowers them to edit and modify content themselves in the future. Yes, even for your most technically challenged customers, there are business WordPress themes out there that are easy to learn. Here, our guests describe first hand how this dual ownership can be a win win for both you and your client:   3   Kristen & Trent: The Jupiter interface is very simple which makes our customers feel comfortable managing or updating any part of their site on their own. We’re aware that they don’t want to have to call their web developer every time they have a small change so I think that using something like Jupiter allows for that kind of client versatility as well versus the custom theme route where they have to call somebody every time they want to change something. Micah: When you decide to use a WordPress theme, you’re saying that this whole framework is in somebody else’s hands so if that theme developer abandons that theme and starts working on another theme, then you’re stuck beholden to somebody else’s work with no way out. My customers are relieved and delighted when they learn that they can easily learn how to edit and play around with the website I’ve created for them without having to solely rely on me. Jose: Well actually one great example of how easy the Jupiter is to use for people of all different skill levels is from a few months ago when I was working with a non profit organization that works with people in their 60s and 70s and not familiar with web design at all! I had to train them and surprisingly they had no problem learning the interface! This showed me that the Jupiter is able to remain accessible to everyone while creating sophisticated, high-speed products!  

Pick a theme that increases conversion rate, user engagement and overall ROI

Your goal is pretty straight forward. Help your customers share their story, expand their outreach and increase their conversion rates! This means you’ll want a business WordPress theme that has fast loading times and easy to edit features that let you tailor-make a site that fits your client’s target market and increases their ROI. Our guests explain how this can greatly impact profits for you and your customers: jupiter-business-wordpress-theme-mockupzone-comparisonCurtis: Speed has been a huge factor in obtaining high conversion rates and I’ve seen across the board that most sites have dropped their load times literally in half with the Jupiter. That’s going to help improve rankings because it’s going to keep the user on the site, lower bounce rates and get them converted! Especially in our business, we aim to get visitors on the site, get them to what they’re look for quickly and then convert them. Kristen & Trent: For us, Jupiter makes life more profitable thanks to the efficiency of using the same theme environment with versatile tools. We’re able to deliver modern sites with varied designs and high functionality for a reasonable cost to the client. The price of the Jupiter theme coupled with the time we save using it allows us to offer more competitive pricing that always surprises our customers!  

Make sure your WordPress theme has a reputation for its extensive Support

Sure, having a business WordPress theme that rarely forces you to call Support is ideal, though when you do need help, you want one to one around the clock Support for you and your customers. Equally important, you want a Support team that is responsive to your feedback and that is constantly updating your theme with the latest trends and technology. Our experts point out just how important it is to have a solid Support team:     support   Curtis: Artbees Support has always been great. The documentation is really well done and the great thing about Artbees Support is that they’re always responsive and I pretty much see an update to Jupiter come into Envato about every two weeks. When other developers ask me what themes to use for their clients I always point to Jupiter first because it’s always being updated, I know Artbees hasn’t abandoned that theme and it’s a theme developers can stick with for a long time. Jose: Actually so far with Artbees Themes I haven’t even had to contact their Support so that’s already a testament to their product by itself. What I would emphasize for other web designers is that finding a theme that has a legacy of constant support and a long-term commitment to continuously improving and updating the theme is a rarity and will save you a lot of time and money in the long-run!  

Find one business WordPress theme that has it all!

Work with a business WordPress theme that already includes some of the most popular plugins and widgets in the market and also allows you to easily add extra plugins you may want without compromising the site’s loading speed. As you’ll learn from our web design business veterans, working with a business WordPress theme that comes fully equipped will save you the hassle of adding features yourself and save your final product from being over bloated and slow.   jupiter-v5   K & T: In Jupiter, functionality is already built in as it comes ready to enable if you need to use plugins like Yost or GravityForms. This along with many included plugins or widgets – SEO, Forms, Anti-Spam, Analytics – tend to be enough to cover most business needs. Oftentimes with Jupiter we don’t even have to use a lot of additional plugins because they’re so many core features already built into it while staying really light, not bloated and running quickly! Micah: Well, the template demos themselves are a really big help to give me different creative ideas of what I can do with the Jupiter and what I’ve found is that I can create over 50 websites and have them all look completely different from one another. The variety of templates combined with the different combinations of shortcodes and post-types you can use guarantee an unlimited space for creativity and, honestly, for you as a developer, it gives you more playspace to have fun. From a cost-effective standpoint, having this all in one business WordPress theme saves me time because it reduces my own learning curve not having to be an expert in 10 different themes and allows me to build beautiful sites quickly!  

The next step toward a more efficient, productive and profitable business

As a business owner the question you’re probably always asking yourself is how you can improve your services and products for your customers in a more efficient, cost-effective manner. We’ve shared with you the seasoned experience of five individuals whose expertise range across many branches of the web design sector in the hopes of providing for you some insights and first-hand knowledge on how you can use one business WordPress theme to dramatically increase your business’ overall capacity. Using a tool that is as versatile, easy-to-use and results-oriented as the Jupiter WordPress theme can transform your workflow and enable you to create top-notch websites in a timely manner. Take advantage of what can be a great mutual benefit to you and your customers and find out what you’re capable of when you have the right theme behind you.   Read More at Five Web Design Business Owners Share Which WP Theme Makes Their Enterprise More Lucrative and Why!
How to Create a Mascot

How to Create a Mascot 0

http://design.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-create-a-mascot–cms-25937
Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating
When you mention M&Ms or Pringles, everyone remembers the colorful button-shaped chocolate characters and the mustachioed man, which naturally drive us to remember the brands they are associated with. Mascots are a great way of keeping businesses in the minds of customers. Mascots are fun, useful brand/service and event ambassadors. Therefore they should be appealing in order to grab the attention of their target audience, and must reflect the spirit and nature of the “product”. Envato Market has a wide range of mascot designs and mascot kits you can purchase or browse for inspiration. In most cases, mascots are used for educational purposes, entertainment, or both. In this tutorial, you will learn more about how to take a client brief from illustration to final mascot design. Let’s start creating!

1. Research, Concepts & Sketch

Step 1

I receive plenty of character design requests for several types of businesses, but I can tell you there are no correct steps to follow when designing a character, but there are a few tips you can follow to achieve the right look. One client brief I handled was focused on creating “a fictional, health conscious character which is supposed to bring fun and excitement to kids’ meal choices while also serving as an ambassador to balanced and wholesome eating”. So typically, you would start with some quick research of current character trends, similar brand avatars, and an analysis of what could possibly work and reflect the brand’s personality, keeping in mind that it targets kids on an educational level. Here are a few tips on designing characters for kids:
  1. Keep the character design simplified.
  2. Draw simplified shapes and expressions kids can relate to.
  3. Take time to explore possibilities, sketch concepts out, and make sure it’s different from what’s in the market.
  4. Eyes communicate emotions, and they are the first thing we view when connecting with a character. Slightly large eyes bring out warmth and appeal to kids.
  5. The character should have an assertive stance.
  6. Slightly wide smiles always win the heart.
Keep an open mind. Clients tend to have their own vision and will tend to direct you in the way they need the character developed to suit their business. What you start with may vary by the end of the process. Sketch out at least three rough concepts for the client to review. A sportive apple, a toast-headed boy, and a lunch bag were among the sketches. The client’s feedback was to create a “sandwich boy”, with arms and legs, but no body. So I sketched a cleaned out version, and it was immediately approved.

Step 2

I illustrated a sandwich with big bubble eyes, a wide smile, sports cap, trainers, and a thumbs-up pose. When approved, save your image as JPG, to place it into Adobe Illustrator.
Step 2

Step 3

Open Adobe Illustrator and create a New Document, Name: Sandwich Mascot, Profile: Print measuring A4 size, and Orientation: Landscape, and Save. The size of the artboard doesn’t matter, because with vector, all artwork is infinitely scalable.
sandwich mascot adobe illustrator A4 size landscape character orientation print document
File > Place (Command-Shift-P), and a preview icon of your sketch file will appear. Click on the artboard to place the image onto the artboard. Open the Layers panel, Window > Layers. Double click the first layer in the Layers panel, and name it “Sketch”. Check Lock, Dim Images to: 20% and click OK.
adobe illustrator tutorial beginners sketch layer option panel lock dim images
Create New Layer, on top of the Sketch layer, and name it “Outline”. File > Save (Command-S) and OK.

2. Outline, Brushes & Line Weights

Step 1

Let’s start outlining the artwork. There are many ways to do this. Select your Pen Tool (P). Open the Stroke panel. Select a black Stroke of 0.75 pt, Fill to None, Rounded Caps/Corners and begin tracing over the main parts of the artwork.
adobe illustrator outline sketch weight stroke cap corner uniform profile
As a start, trace the basic line work and leave out the organic shapes, curved lines and ellipses.
adobe illustrator trace pen tool mascot stroke weight basic lines
Next, select the Ellipse Tool (L) with Fill to None and black Stroke, and trace over the ellipses in the illustration. At some points, you may need to select the Scissor Tool (C) to split paths at anchor points or along segments, and then delete the excess paths.
adobe Illustrator ellipse tool weight stroke scissor cut
Step 2
As you can see, the illustration looks rigid and lifeless, with plain 0.75 pt strokes. We need to bring it alive by creating some thickness to the lines. However, having similar thickness doesn’t help ease the eyes any more than the thin stroke. Instead, we need to add variation to the widths of those lines. We can do that by playing with the line weight.
adobe illustrator same line width stroke same lifeless character
Line weight is a form of style and expression. It can distill images in our brains, taking mass visual data and transforming it into a simplified interpretation of that form. Just by varying the thickness of lines and outlines of the illustration, we can give flat artwork movement, character and added strength to create a type of third dimension! This is definitely a style technique that I think everyone should experiment with, in order to get a better understanding of why line weight is important. When it comes to line weight, there is no rule on whether to use or not to use line work at all. Not using any line work can give the mascot a light visual feel, but at the same time it can limit its usage. Using varied line work can give the image more presence and definition.

Step 3

To  accomplish the thickness effect, grab the Width Tool from the tool palette (Shift-W), and simply click and drag anywhere on the stroke to change the width of that point.
adobe illustrator width tool shift w width stroke
Click and drag to control the width at each desired point. Drag inwards to reduce the line weight, and drag out to increase it. The fun thing is that the transitions are instant and smooth, so you don’t have to spend time tweaking. Gradually you will begin to see the character develop beautifully.
adobe illustrator character width tool variation tool line weight mascot sandwich

Step 4

For curves, I like to create custom brushes. Rather than eyeballing line weights, you can set up Variable Width Profiles that automatically apply to a line. Select the Line Segment Tool () and draw three to five lines, holding down the Shift key to keep the line fixed horizontally. Then select the Width Tool (Shift-W) and create different width profiles for the strokes. This will enable you to adjust the settings that you want the profile to duplicate.
setup variable width profiles apply to line save profile line segment tool
Next, hit the Add to Profiles button at the bottom of the Profile panel, in the Stroke panel. This will pop open the Variable Width Profile window, to enable you to name the stroke. Click OK. Delete the custom line paths created after their profiles have been saved.
variable width stroke save profile edit save adobe illustrator

Step 5

Now take the Pencil Tool (N), and trace in the remaining curves, with the Stroke Profile and Stroke Width of your choice. It’s important to understand that when you apply Variable Width Strokes, the nature of the path stays the same. It edits the stroke independently of the path.
sandwich mascot design variable width profile stroke edit segment path

Step 6

To finalize the outlines, take the Pen Tool (P) and fill out the black zones of the illustration to give it depth, wherever suitable. Then tweak paths as you see visually appropriate. Once you are happy with the outcome, File > Save.
adobe illustrator outline pen tool path tweak black zone mascot save

3. Color Variations

We need to expand our artboard in order to create different versions of our character. Typically four versions of the mascot character are delivered to clients:
  1. Outline
  2. Greyscale
  3. Flat color
  4. Color with effects

Step 1

File > Document Setup > Edit Artboards Expand the artboard to dimensions that fit two characters on top of the board and two underneath.
file document artboard setup expand mascot versions display
Object > Select All (Command-A) to select all the elements. Then Object > Expand Appearance to transform the strokes into filled shapes. This will allow you to resize the illustration to any size without losing quality.
adobe illustrator object expand appearance stroke shape fill resize form
Command-G to Group the elements together. Then Duplicate the group, in order to create three other copies of the mascot on the artboard. Select the group, hold down the Option and Shift keys, and drag to copy and constrain your selection.
adobe illustrator mascot duplicate four versions artboard

Step 2

Lock the “Outline” Layer. From the Layers panel, Create New Layer under “Outline” and name it “Versions”. Here we will create the other four versions of our mascot. Start with the black and white. Select the Pen tool (P), with White Fill and Stroke to None. Trace around the outline borders of the mascot. This will create the white base in our black and white character version.
border trace pent tool white black white outline version mascot character
Duplicate the white background we created, to the mascot on the right, by holding down the Option and Shift keys and dragging it across, so we can create the greyscale version.
adobe illustrator duplicate white background grey scale mascot

Step 3

Let’s create our “Greyscale” version mascot. Open the Swatches panel. You will find a folder in the library that is “Grey” with a range of grey swatches. Select the Pen Tool (P), and experiment with the grey tones from the Swatches panel, to fill in white spaces between the black outlines, with Stroke to None. Your character will begin to appear alive.
swatches panel pen tool grey tones mascot grey scale mascot adobe illustrator
Lets take it to another level. Unlock the “Outline” layer from the Layers panel. Select the Direct Selection Tool (A), and experiment with switching some black paths or shapes to white or grey tones. Changing the outline colors and black shapes will diminish the aggressiveness of the black outline.
adobe illustrator stroke path color alteration grey
Lock the “Outline” layer from the Layers panel. With the Selection Tool (V), grab all the grey layers we created. Duplicate the grey shapes we created to the mascot below, by holding down the Alt key and dragging, so we can create the color version without having to trace under the outline again.

Step 4

Here we will give our mascot color. Select the Pen Tool (P), and experiment with the color tones to fill in the white spaces between the black outlines. Make sure Stroke is set to None.
adobe illustrator color pen tool duplicate shapes mascot coloring
Unlock the “Outline” layer again from the Layers panel. Ungroup (Command-Shift-G) the grouped outline, so we can give each stroke a color. Select the Selection Tool (V), and alter the color of the outline paths and shapes. This will tone down the black outline effect.
adobe illustrator color version mascot by miss chatz toast sandwich character design
Awesome! Looks great.

Step 5

To create the “Effects” version, Delete the fourth mascot outline, by selecting all its parts from both the “Outline” and “Versions” layers. Next, with the Selection Tool (V), select all the color components of our “Color Version” mascot, hold down the OptionShift keys, and drag to copy and constrain the selection. The tricky part about effects is that you have to make lighting decisions, on where there might be shadows and were we can add light effects. Let’s start with the shadows. Lock both layers from the Layers panel, and Create New Layer between “Outline” and “Versions”, called “Shadow”. Select the Pen Tool (P) with a mid-grey swatch, and draw in areas where there might be shadows.
adobe illustrator pent tool add shadow mascot new layer

Step 6

Open the Transparency panel. Select All (Command-A), and change the Blending Mode to Multiply. It will look dark, and not matching, but it will help you determine if the shadow falls in the right place.
Next you need to change the grey tones to a lighter version of the color underneath it. So if it’s brown, go for a pale brown alteration. Tweak as you find fitting.
adbe illustrator mascot color 3d effect multiply transparency

Step 7

Now Lock the “Shadow” Layer from the Layers panel, and Create New Layer on top of “Outline” and name it “Light”. Select the Pen Tool (P) and add in white light, but don’t overdo it. Just small touches.

Step 8

Finally, take the Selection Tool (V). Drag over each mascot version, and Group (Command-G) it to its relative components, so each color version is grouped to itself, and nothing is misplaced when the client accesses the file. Then Select All (Command A), and move them to the “Light” Layer, and rename it “Mascot”, so they are all on one unified layer.

Awesome Work!

We are done!  By using basic Adobe Illustrator tools and shortcuts, we learnt to create a simple mascot design, for kids, in four different color versions. Let’s see what you can create too!
Final result