One of my first jobs after earning my Electronic Media Technology degree was as a graphic designer for a jewelry company. At the time, tracing and isolating images in Photoshop were relatively new concepts and we were having fun applying it to marketing materials. One of the strategies this company used was to photograph a whole page of product and then typeset the prices/descriptions on top of the flat image. This yielded great product photography, but didn’t allow for flexibility. If we needed a piece moved, the whole page had to be re-shot.
We were also hiring people, at the same time, to trace and isolate product images in bulk. So, the Charms flyer, for example (below), was a relatively new undertaking for the company. Instead of having to send the jewelry off to the photographer for professional layout, we placed it on the page where we wanted. It was really fun developing themes and adding the charms to the bracelets in Photoshop.
Our catalogues were developed the same way: lay out the jewelry in rough draft page form, take a low-res photo of the page, send the jewelry and rough layout to the photographer and wait for the high-res images to come in for the background to the typesetting. This time, though, we decided to make the Jackie Kennedy mini-catalogue (excerpt below) in a new way. Low-res images were taken of each piece of jewelry and I created a rough digital mockup of each page in the page layout program. We sent the jewelry off to the photographer, I traced each final image, added drop shadows and added them individually to the catalogue. We could move and alter the page as needed throughout the design process.
Likewise, technology wasn’t advanced enough to show different color options to the consumer on a website. To solve this problem, I developed a Photoshop action that could be run on a gem image after it was traced (examples below). This way, you could take a catalogue page of traced rings, for example, that were all one color and have a set of images that showed all colors without having to photograph all of them again. This enabled the company to show all available product on their website and increase potential sales.
“Photoshopping” is widely known now, but ten tears ago it was a relatively new tool in the smaller industry. These examples show how a simple digital solution can cut costs or save time when applied creatively. I’m proud to be able to say I was able to participate in this revolution so early in the game.