Author Archives: Mike Jackson

Mike and Darla Jackson operate Golden Era Studios in Jackson, Wyoming, and do a variety of sign-related projects. Mike’s website is His email address is You can see more of Mike’s photos at and

Today’s tools for learning

When you’re learning to hand letter, there’s not much of a replacement for watching a skilled craftsperson lay down perfect strokes with a… Read More

Adding a large format printer? Ramp up your Photoshop skills

Considering purchasing a large format printer? There are a lot of manufacturers and models to choose from. You’ll surely make an informed decision…. Read More

Using swatches, patterns and tiles in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator

Do you ever wish to add a texture or pattern to letters or graphics? Maybe you’ve never really needed them, but with a… Read More

Tips for working with type in Illustrator and Photoshop

Over the years, with each upgrade, Adobe “sneaks in” some pretty cool features into their premier pair of design programs: Illustrator and Photoshop…. Read More

The magic of three-tier pricing

Mike’s approach has helped sign people boost profits for over three decades Thirty-two years ago, Mike Jackson wrote an article, “Price your work… Read More

Plain talk about getting deposits

Really, it’s simple. If someone asks you to do work for them, you should expect to be paid for your time. Call a… Read More

Practice pays off

The sign trade can span a wide range of skills from hand lettering, wood carving, calligraphy, vinyl application, design, glass work, screen printing,… Read More

Abracadabra: Find the magic in Photoshop’s Content-Aware tools

Adobe added Content-Aware into Photoshop in CS5 in 2010. Wow! It was and is a game changer. Over the years since its initial… Read More

Organizing and backing up your clipart and photos

More than likely, you have a large inventory of clipart you’ve purchased over the years. But, there’s a catch. The more you buy,… Read More

Branding for local businesses vs. corporate ID

TJ Maxx just had their grand opening here in Jackson Hole. The parking lot was overflowing and the store was packed. The signs… Read More

Adobe Illustrator basics

Have you ever loaded Adobe Illustrator on your computer, then tried to figure out how to do some of the most basic functions,… Read More

Photoshop technique: Blend If

I’ve read comments suggesting the “Blend If” tool in Photoshop is one of the Top Ten techniques all designers should master. You might… Read More

Getting the most from Photoshop’s Clipping Masks

Photoshop has about a gazillion tools and features, but a few powerful ones jump off the page that could help many sign designers…. Read More

Put Photoshop’s Threshold Tool to work

If you own Photoshop, any version, you already have the tool that is a hidden gem for many sign designers! The Threshold Tool… Read More

Don’t let the message get buried by technology

Most signs and banners “back in the day” were either hand painted or created with computer-cut vinyl—or a combination of both. Time and… Read More

Diggin’ up the past: The dawn of sandblasted signs

Sandblasted wooden signs have been seen on the pages of SignCraft for decades. You’ll likely see a fair amount of them in this… Read More

Easy bevel and texture effects in Photoshop

A lot of beautiful effects can be created in Photoshop using the built-in tools. Some of them require the user to have a… Read More

Placing text on a Path

When designing signs, you’ll likely run into times when you need to make text follow along a path of some sort. The path… Read More

If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward

“A paradigm shift is a dramatic change in methodology or practice. It often refers to a major change in thinking and planning, which… Read More

Learning how to learn Photoshop and Illustrator

Most readers probably remember the movie The Matrix, right? In that movie, a programmer was able to upload a martial arts program or… Read More