Last Minute Designing

by | Jan 7, 2014 | Tips & Tricks | 9 comments

I had the opportunity to do quite a bit of designing over Christmas. Let me share a few things that I found were helpful in designing things last minute.

Here are some business card ideas I put together for my brother Michael. I figured the gift of a few business card design comps would be appreciated by someone starting up a new business. Which one is your favorite? Business Cards The biggest challenge putting these together was coming up with something unique for each business card comp. When I’m designing things quickly, it’s easy to get locked into doing little variations of the same thing without giving more than one general idea throughout all of them. It’s good to take a quick break before starting on another variation or pick it up the next day, if you have that much time. Even when you are in a hurry, never skip a step in the basic design process! I still reviewed the purposes of Honey Glen, drew multiple sketches on paper, put together quick renditions on the computer, and took the time to edit them one by one. You only way to cut down on time is by shortening the amount of time you spend on each step, never by cutting out a step altogether! Once I had put together a few different designs, I made sure to go over each one with a fine tooth comb again and again. It’s amazing how many mistakes I fixed and adjustments I made after the initial design. There were also a lot of adjustments I needed to make after sending it to the printer the first time. Slow and steady wins the race! Don’t get bogged down with details; there will be consequences for rushed deadlines, but do your best to avoid them.

On Christmas Eve, my brother Daniel asked if I could help him with a last minute bookmark present for Mom. A bookmark!Bookmark I was able to make this design very quickly because I already had some nice background images stored on my computer. When I have the opportunity to download free or super cheap images, I do so and save them to an "Inspiration" folder on my external hard drive to pull out for emergencies like this. Applying a few basic principles of design (like font contrast, heirarchy, and spacing) helped to make the title and conclusion "pop" and text to flow smoothly. There are probably some other principles I could have applied to make it look even better, but I didn’t have any time for research or seeking inspiration. Just use what you know from experience looks good! You can read more about the making of this bookmark for Mom on

Last of all, David asked if I could quickly put together two CD covers for another gift. He had downloaded MP3 files purchased online and burned them to a CD. Now all he needed were covers on a physical CD case. CD covers Let color be the “wow factor” if your design can’t be sophisticated! A colorful background, a photograph instead of a texture this time, is what I started with before compiling a very simple design around it. Also, to finish this project quickly, I pulled up a template. Templates are super handy. When you’re starting a project, think back to the last time you created the same thing or something similar. I am finding more and more how much this saves time.

So, there are some quick tips for if you ever need to design something on a last minute deadline!

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  1. Ezra Morley

    Good job James!

    I really think that the first business card the best! I like the simplicity on the front, and all the pertinent information on the back. That picture of the bee on it ties it to the front too. Did you design the logo on the business card also? How do you make it look like honey? It looks almost good enough to eat!

    • James Staddon

      Thanks for your comments, Ezra! And yes, Mike and I put together his HG logo a few months back. I love it too! It took a lot of trial-and-error in Photoshop to create the effect because this was the first time I really needed to make it look perfect. To tell you the truth, I forget exactly what I did, but I do know that it was basically all within the Text Effects.

  2. Charity

    Great tips!
    And I have to say, the Proverbs 31 variation is super cool. Very creative! 🙂

  3. Daniel Staddon

    James, thank you so much for your work on that bookmark! I had no idea all that went on behind the scenes in order to come out with such a professional, spectacular design in unheard-of timing. You amaze me!

    • James Staddon

      There’s a “behind the scenes” for everything you do too, Daniel. Keep pursuing the things God has called you to accomplish!

  4. Sarah

    Great thoughts! Now I’m going to create an “inspiration” folder in my computer now. 😀

    Wow, Christmas Eve, that’s pretty last minute. 🙂 Which card did you your brother end up choosing?

    • James Staddon

      Yeah, you can get free images on (you don’t have to copy them to your computer but it’s a place to go if you need free pics quick), you can get 7 days of free downloads on, and offers free images of the week. Happy collecting! Just remember to “keep they heart with all diligence”.

  5. Sarah

    Me and mom agree that our favorite is the first one! It really catches the eye and makes you want….. HONEY!! Well done Michael and James!

    • James Staddon

      I think a lot of folks like that one too!


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