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

Working with glyphs and special characters in Photoshop

In this first video feature on, Mike Jackson takes you step-by-step through the process of using Photoshop functions that let you use… Read More

Put Photoshop’s scrubby sliders to work

There is seldom a day I use Photoshop that I don’t take advantage of the many “Scrubby sliders” scattered throughout the program. They… Read More

Get the letter spacing right

Computer fonts are typically designed with a generous number of “kerning pairs”. Kerning refers to the spacing between any two letters in a… Read More

Essential tools: Pounce wheels and perforated patterns

For decades, sign makers used a simple tool called a pounce wheel to make perforated patterns. Those patterns were used to help with… Read More

Using Layer Effects and Layer Styles in Photoshop

Layer Effects are always at your fingertips. They are some of Photoshop’s most powerful, fun and creative tools. Layer Effects are easy to… Read More

Windows 7 to Windows 10: Upgrade or buy a new computer?

Last fall, Windows sent an email and added alerts letting users know they would cease support for Windows 7 in mid-January. Ouch! If… Read More

Step up your photo game!

After all of the effort it takes to design, sell, fabricate and install a “sign masterpiece”, you would think most sign shops would… Read More

Metal prints are a great way to show what you can do

Want to add some high-tech sparkle to your showroom? Show off your best work with state-of-the-art metal prints! Glossy metal prints are extremely… Read More

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