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Fish Story: How To Use Sales And Social Media Tools To Create A Feeding Frenzy

November 20, 2012

I recently did an illustration for The Partner Channel Magazine, for an article on the importance of using sales and social media tools to attract customers. Here’s the final:illustration for Partner Channel about sales and marketing and using sales and online media tools to attract customers, guy fishing in boat using sales tools as bait to attract and catch fish

Nothing like using the right bait. Here’s a detail image of our successful angler:detail image of illustration for Partner Channel about sales and marketing and using sales and online media tools to attract customers, guy fishing in boat using sales tools as bait to attract and catch fish

And another detail image for all you cartoon fish fans:detail image of illustration for Partner Channel about sales and marketing and using sales and online media tools to attract customers, guy fishing in boat using sales tools as bait to attract and catch fish

I finish my illustrations in Photoshop, and I use non-destructive techniques to get certain lighting effects. By non-destructive, I mean I seldom erase or permanently alter anything– I can always get back to where I was.

Here’s what the illustration looked like early on. It’s a bit shocking to see how flat all the colors are.

partially completed illustration for Partner Channel about sales and marketing and using sales and online media tools to attract customers, showing flat colors before lighting effects added in Photoshop using Brush tool in Multiply and Screen modes

Here’s the adjusted illustration, along with three sections of the Photoshop Layers Window which suggest how the lighting effects were achieved.

The “main color” layer would have included the flat colors for the fisherman’s clothes, the boat, and all the fish. The “fine-tune lighting” layer was originally completely empty, with layer mode = Normal. I selected this layer, then selected each object in turn (fisherman’s vest, his pants, the boat, etc), and used a soft brush with mode set to Screen or Multiply to lighten or darken colors, respectively.

Same basic idea for the water. The Layers Window does show one additional effect: a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change and lighten the color of the water. You can see how heavily masked the water layers are (the blackish areas in the second rectangles); that was to reduce water color to a minimum so the fish could be clearly seen.

Masks were used exclusively to lighten the sky and eliminate its hard edges. And that’s an interesting point: sometimes a simple mask is all you need to lighten a color and give an area a softer edge.

intermediate step image for illustration for Partner Channel about sales and marketing and using sales and online media tools to attract customers, with Photoshop Layers Windows indicating how certain lighting effects were created using layer masks and Multiply and Screen brush modes

What do you think? I do all my fishing at the supermarket. How about you– do you enjoy the “reel thing”? Ever had a time when you couldn’t reel them in fast enough? I’m sure there are other sales and marketing tools– got any you’d care to share? Hope you’ll leave a comment.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Eyes In The Night: A Street Corner You Don’t Want To Hang Out On

About Face: Some Thoughts On Redesigning My About Page

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  1. November 20, 2012 5:49 PM

    What if you don’t like fish? Those drawings are very frightening for fishophobes… πŸ˜‰


    • December 2, 2012 8:52 PM

      My apologies, sir, you’re absolutely right: fish trauma is no laughing matter– why, it’s enough to turn a guy green around the, er, gills… : P

      Many thanks for stopping by, I really appreciate your good-humored comment! : )


      • December 2, 2012 10:06 PM

        I didn’t think you were fishing for compliments, but I just wanted to say I enjoyed your post. Drop me a line any time… πŸ˜€


        • December 3, 2012 12:47 PM

          Ha! And I enjoyed your visit, sir. I’ll definitely be rowing over to your blog in the near future! : )


  2. November 20, 2012 8:01 PM

    It just dawned on me that I am friends with a famous illustrator. L’il ole me has had the good fortune to run into the famous Mark Armstrong. Your work is just wonderful, Mark. I come from a family of fishermen, and I love your fish; they all look so cheerful. eBooks for bait? Yes!! Although I don’t dabble in drawing, you are very kind to share how you achieve your awesome results.


    • December 2, 2012 9:02 PM

      What a coincidence– I’m friends with a famous mystery writer named Maddie Cochere, and if that’s not good fortune, then I don’t know what is… : )

      I did think about using one of your eBooks for bait, but that would have attracted an entire school of fish– maybe even a college or a university!! It would have completely overwhelmed the illustration, so I had to back off… : )

      Do you really come from a family of fishermen? Well then, you’re clearly the Catch Of The Clan– thanks a heap for your support!!


  3. November 20, 2012 11:08 PM

    There’s certainly nothing fishy about your pitch, Mark. The savvy business person could reel them in by paying attention to your eye-catching illustration.


    • December 2, 2012 9:11 PM

      Ah! There’s only one person I know who combines such kindness with excruciating– I mean, delightful, puns! Thanks, Judy! The day I landed you as a reader, was a real fly in my cap… : )


      • December 2, 2012 10:31 PM

        Your excellent illustrations lured me to your site. No other bait was needed. I think I’m about punned out – for now. πŸ˜†


        • December 3, 2012 12:50 PM

          I predict you’ll soon recover and be back in action… : )

          I guess it’s easy for me to lure people to my blog, because I’m such an alluring guy… : P


  4. November 21, 2012 12:38 PM

    You are inspirational, Mark…. Who else could dream up such wonderful images that ‘catch the point’ as creatively as yours..!?!
    I haven’t much to say, Mark; except that popping over to your blog is always such a joyful pursuit… Thank You for being you, and having such a delightful blog…!


    • December 2, 2012 9:18 PM

      Not much to say?? You’ve only managed to serve up such colossal compliments that I’ve been knocked out and lying insensible for a week!! I just came to and read them again, and this time I only fell outta my chair. I’m accumulating some bumps and bruises here, but man, it’s worth it!! : P

      Take you, my dear Carolyn, for your extraordinary kindness and support– truly. : )


  5. Lily in the Nova permalink
    November 21, 2012 12:52 PM

    This is clever! I really like the metaphor of fish and bait representing customers and marketing tools, very creative! πŸ™‚


    • December 2, 2012 9:38 PM

      Thank you so much, Lily! Your kind comment caused a wave of happiness to wash over me, and I nearly fell out of the boat!! : )


  6. November 21, 2012 2:28 PM

    Eating fish is new to me so I’d love to learn better fishing techniques, I rarely catch anything.

    Good suggestions! The small businesses I’m interested in really take off when a popular site blogs about them – Grist and TheKitchn being examples. As long as the idea appeals to their readership.


    • December 2, 2012 9:55 PM

      Fishing techniques… well, most of them seem to involve hooks and worms, so let’s talk about something else… : P

      You’re right: getting one’s name dropped by the right name-dropper is the best way to get one’s name in lights. Sounds counter-intuitive, but there ’tis… : )

      Always good to see you, Amelie– thanks!!


  7. November 21, 2012 3:03 PM

    Thanks for all of the awesome information! I don’t know how to use most of the tools in photoshop. πŸ˜› I too stick to the supermarket for all of my fishing. My one and only fishing experience would have to be when I was about 5 or 6. We went out on some rocks and I didn’t know what I was doing so I just held my line out there…..and about half an hour later when I got bored I reeled it in to find that the fish had STOLEN my bait! How rude….


    • December 2, 2012 10:03 PM

      Good to meet another supermarket fisherman. I go to a place where they attach the fish to a little pole and line. You give a tug and the fish flops into your cart. For $5, they’ll even take a picture of you and your fish. I haven’t gone that far, though. Yet.

      The fish stole your bait and didn’t even leave a note pleading poverty or hungry kids or an aged mother?? That is rude. I think they should leave a note, even if they have to lie. I mean, you were just a kid… : P

      Thanks a boatload, Mei, for your good-humored support! : )


  8. robpixaday permalink
    November 22, 2012 4:35 PM

    WOW!!!!! You make magic with Photoshop!!!

    Heeee…the fish in the water remind me of the last family reunion I attended, when the food came out. CHOMP!!!!!!
    I love the expressions, the colors, and the incredible ACTIVITY you bring to this!!!
    And even the fish in the boat look happy (or maybe just groggily amiable).

    Eeeek!! I’ve never been fishing.


    • November 25, 2012 7:50 PM

      Family reunions and feeding frenzies… they’re practically synonymous!! I was just home for Thanksgiving, and witnessed that very phenomenon!! : P

      You’ve never been fishing?? OK, here’s what you do: go to a school or church fair and look around for a booth with a curtain and a sign that says “Fish Pond”– it’ll have some sticks hanging down with strings attached. Pay your money (used to be a dime, probably $10 now), grab a stick and pull. If the person behind the curtain was on the ball, you’ll find a prize attached to your line. This is, IMHO, fishing at its best: you always catch something, and you don’t hafta mess with worms or, well, fish!!

      Many thanks for casting such a nice compliment my way!! : )


  9. November 24, 2012 11:41 PM

    What a smart fisherman. It’s a great cartoon, Mark. And would “lighten” up a lawyers’ magazine.


    • November 25, 2012 7:14 PM

      Thanks very much, Jean. I really appreciate your dropping me a line, as the old fisherman used to say. Sorry I couldn’t work a bicycle into the drawing– maybe next time! : )


  10. November 26, 2012 2:14 PM

    This cartoon is fantabulous! I adore it. The post is another Photoshop tutorial that’s tempting me to try Photoshop again. When first tried to use Photoshop my eyes glazed over as I entered stupid mode and I felt a headache coming on. I haven’t been tempted to try it again but who knows what the future may hold?


    • December 3, 2012 1:32 PM

      Thanks, TT. Why can’t life be more like cartoons? as Professor Henry Higgins never said… : )

      No lie: when I first started working with Photoshop, my reaction was exactly the same: glazed eyes, stupid mode, headache. There’s no pretending it’s an easy program, especially if one persists in learning it on one’s own using old PS manuals and online tutorials (as I have done, foolishly I suppose, but that’s my nature). Taking an adult ed class at a high school or community college is probably the most sensible approach. There’s just no substitute for being able to ask a knowledgeable, physically present human being for a hint or two!

      Things may very well come together in future. A lot of things don’t happen in this world until the timing is right. : )


  11. November 26, 2012 11:34 PM

    Nice illustration, Mark! This illustration gives lots of inspiration to me. πŸ˜€

    By the way I do all my fishing at the supermarket too, LOL.


    • December 3, 2012 1:44 PM

      Thanks, Inge! Glad you enjoyed it. There must be something about cartoon fish– they seem to have charmed many of my readers… : )

      Yes, I always have good luck at the supermarket, tho it does seem a little unsporting with the fish just lying there dead on a mound of ice. Still, I always scoop ’em up with a net– you can’t be too careful, you know… : P

      Always good to see you here at the Armstrong Fish Market!!


  12. November 28, 2012 12:42 PM

    The fish remind me of my pet fish who is just as greedy as they seem to be! I have only done fishing once, never managed to catch anything though. Easier to pop to the shops : p

    But the fisherman will certainly have a grand feast with all those huge fishies caught ^^

    Love the process, colour, everything about it : )


    • December 2, 2012 5:57 PM

      Many thanks, my dear Sabine! I, too, am a much more successful fisherman at the ol’ fish mart than the ol’ fishin’ hole, wherever that is… : P

      Always great to see you, thanks for taking the time to get out your fishing pole and drop me a line!! : )


  13. December 1, 2012 7:09 AM

    Haha, that’s basically how it is trying to attract new readers. πŸ˜€ Very good!


    • December 3, 2012 10:30 PM

      Ha! I suppose that’s true. OK, let’s all sing: Troll, troll, troll your blog, gently up the stream– merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, subscribers are but a dream!! : (

      Just kidding, of course– our blogs are so good, we attract ’em like, well, flies!! : )


  14. December 10, 2012 11:54 PM

    Haha! Something’s a little fishy here Mark, if you don’t mind my saying so. I’ve never caught a fish that looked that happy! And I went fishing a lot in my youth! I even knew how to clean them and actually enjoyed eating them. Our family went camping on the Touchet River in Southeastern Washington state, and it was well-stocked with rainbow trout. I say well-stocked because I remember catching fish when I was 6 years old. So you know it must have been teaming with them! HA! Oh what fun we had! We also would go fishing in lakes up around Spokane. (And I can see by your wonderful poster that you are familiar with Spokane! I think we mostly caught perch from those lakes and maybe sun fish. I haven’t thought about fishing in years! I really loved your cartoon, Mark! I loved the way they are piled up in the boat! What a fisherman!! πŸ˜€


    • December 17, 2012 10:21 AM

      Whoa! I knew you were a great “angler” when it came to humor writing, but I had no idea it was also true for fish! Sounds like you could live off the land, as long as the land included some water, and the water included some fish, and possibly a few jars of tartar sauce… : P

      Wonderful to learn a bit more of your, uh, rather fishy background, and thanks dropping me a line without a worm on it. I’m going to ask Santa to leave a lot of smiley fish in your stocking!! : )


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