9 step Create illustrated type to advertising

reference by Kyle Wilkinson

Speed up your workflow in Photoshop and pick up some essential tricks along the way. Kyle Wilkinson shows you how.

When a client needs an image-led solution to a problem as soon as possible, you often have to rely on your Photoshop workflow and in-depth knowledge of tricks and techniques. These factors usually dictate whether you can get through the project by the end of the day, rather than by the start of the next morning.

In this guide, we’re going to use a fictional brief in which a sports company is looking to feature a slogan in an illustrated style. It’s a common type of commission and one that you should be able to whizz through in very little time – as long as you have the correct workflow in place. In fact, we think you’ll be surprised by the impressive results that can be achieved.

In this walkthrough, we’ll take you through the creation of this image, but its main purpose is to bring you tricks and techniques to speed up your own Photoshop workflow. Note that when working on an illustrative type piece like this, you can use existing letters and fonts as a base to work from. Choose something that is suitable to the end image and brief.

Now read on and discover some new vital tricks to speed up your image-creation work.

  1. Compose and plan

Here we’ll transform Gotham into something more exciting. Lay out your type into a rough composition. Put the letters on separate layers and create grid lines. With the Selection tool, drag and arrange them around your image. This is useful if you’re working towards a golden ratio, like the rule of thirds.

  1. Get creative with masks

Layer masks let you transform images into any shape in a non-destructive way. We’ll use our letters as a template to mask out this photograph of wooden flooring. Add more shapes to the letters with the Marquee selection tools; this gives each letter more character. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

  1. Determine a light sourceDecide

where the light will come from before turning it on; planning avoids corrections later. Type in a number when the Brush tool is selected to quickly alter its opacity. To create shadows, Cmd/Ctrl+click on the layer and fill this selection with black onto a new layer. Use Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur to soften.

  1. Nudge with arrows for accuracy

Move the shadow layer below and nudge it a few pixels down and right. Reduce the layer opacity by 20%. Repeat this process, alternating the opacity to build shadow depth and length. Refine the shadow layers once in place. Mask out the areas that shouldn’t have shadow with varying brush settings.

  1. Duplicate layer masks

If you have a layer mask to apply to multiple layers, duplicate it to save time. Drag the mask onto another layer, holding the Alt/Option key to make a copy. To add length to the shadows, make another copy of the shadow layer and use Filter>Blur>Motion blur at 250 pixels. Check for areas that shouldn’t have shadow. Continue reading

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5 tips for design an app that stands out

reference by Stefan Vladimirov

Using Swipes as a case study, Stefan Vladimirov offers 5 expert tips on app design.

With the App Store growing by thousands of apps every day, today more than ever, standing out is a must.

People have always been inclined to look for the new and different. But how do you design an app that cuts through the noise?

In the following article, I draw out the most important lessons from designing Swipes, the app that brings the power of Evernote into your daily planning.

  1. Relevance. Start with a real problem

Start by solving a real problem. Ask yourself: “Is the thing that I am creating adding something to someone’s life? Is it useful, entertaining or beautiful?”. Because the last thing you would want is your app to end up in the Sad Screen (that’s what I call my last screen of apps on my iPhone; Apple Maps sits right in the corner).

These days, “Simple and Beautiful” are words that appear in the description text of apps so often that they’ve lost their value. Your app has to be more than that. It has to offer a solution to an unsolved problem, or a completely new approach to an existing one.

As Steve Jobs highlighted many times, design follows functionality. So make sure that your functionality is making somebody’s life better.

View of the main screen. We designed Swipes both in Light and Dark.

Your app could be solving something really niche, and most often you will start with an assumption based on your personal/team need or people you know. And that’s great, because it’s very likely there are likeminded people across the globe that will find it useful as well.

My team and I were originally working on a different project. But we needed a task list that puts your todos on a timeline and enables you to organize your day fast. We looked around and we couldn’t find what we were looking for. So we made our own. We created the first version of Swipes in less than two months and today, one year since launch, we have 80,000 users worldwide.

So look around you. There are plenty of things to be improved in our chaotic vibrant world.

  1. Steal. Craft. Iterate

Steal. And I don’t mean copy. Steal like an artist. Picasso said: “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. Look for great ideas within the same industry or elsewhere. If there’s anything worth stealing, grab it gently and carry on.

It’s always a good start to think of the five apps that have really taken you and ask yourself: “What is exactly the thing that gets me so excited about it?”. It could be the interactions, the design line a notification sound. You will feel it!

We were absolutely taken by Mailbox when it first came out. An absolutely jaw dropping and cool approach to handling email. So when we initially started work on Swipes we wanted to create the experience Mailbox did, but for daily task management. We succeeded and because Mailbox was still hyped by the time we launched, that the media picked the story: “Swipes, the Mailbox for todos”.

Time Picker substitutes the standard iOS time selection

Craft. Building on other people’s ideas doesn’t mean you copy. Remember you need to stand out from the crowd. You gotta bring authenticity into your design. And that means interaction and aesthetics.

When designing Swipes, our focus was to create lightning fast UX for daily task planning. To give people a beautiful experience that makes task management a delight. Almost every navigation is gesture based and there are minimum tapping.

One of the things our users love the most is our Time Picker. The integrated iOS time selection was really slow and frustrating, that’s why we replaced it with a wheel. The really cool thing about it is that depending on the time the background gets darker or lighter. And of course the moon is been replaced by a sun!

The Swipes icons are all outline vector made. This gives priority to the most important – the content

Another thing are icons. It’s a great opportunity to really give personality to your design. Particularly with flat design gorgeous custom icons are more important than ever to give this extra layer of craftsmanship to your user experience.

Iterate. Almost certainly all time your first draft will suck, embrace that, don’t get intimidated instead carry on. The beauty will reveal itself when you least expect it.

It took us several iterations before the design got to the quality of today. Here’s a peak of what Swipes went through from its birth until now.

  1. Go for Illustrator

Go for vectors! I can’t highlight enough how important is designing in vectors. Illustrator is the best way to design. It’s freedom, it’s fast and you can mess up things for the better. You’ll be amazed how many great ideas will come from simple mistakes.

I can feel the Photoshop aficionados raising eyebrows and forks. Bear in mind that your designs will be used merely as a guidance from the developer to build the app. Simply because he will make all elements render and not slice your design. Pixel perfection is something of irrelevance in todays world of responsiveness.

the main Illustrator work file for the Swipes UI

It would also make it substantially easier making promo videos like this one in After Effects (Illustrator talks very well with AE).

Even icons are better used as vectors, especially for flat design. Currently our icon set is made as an icon font with IcoMoon. So if we are to change the colour and size of them we can do it with one line of code, instead of exporting 30+ icons again. And trust me they look SHARP on that retina!

To get a better feel of dimensions while designing your app you can use something like LiveView. It’s a nifty free app that pairs your screen with your iPhone or iPad display. It makes a huge difference what you see on your display and how it turns on your device. One thing to remember is to have the same colour profile on both your display and your iPhone. I use the Display Profile on my Thunderbolt and the colours are pretty accurate. Continue reading

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The 5 best Photoshop plugins Free

reference by Sam Hampton-Smith

Create amazing images and designs with this selection of the most creative, useful, time-saving and powerful Photoshop plugins available.

In this article we’ve lined up some of the best Photoshop plugins available for Adobe‘s photo editing giant today. Photoshop is an amazing tool – capable of producing sublime images, high-quality video and even create very passable 3Drenders.

All this power offers a world of possibilities – but occasionally it’s worth adding a few optional extras to get the most out of your investment.

  1. Web Font Plugin

Web Font Plugin lets you use Google Web Fonts inside Photoshop


  • Publisher:Extensis
  • Price:Free
  • Good for:Web designers

It’s frustrating working on mockups where you plan to use web fonts in the final rendered web page, as up until recently it’s been impossible to legitimately get those web fonts onto your system. This Photoshop plugin is one of a few solutions that are arriving, allowing you to instantly install and use Google Web Fonts inside Photoshop. Continue reading

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Color Fundamentals: Advanced Coloring

reference by Monika Zagrobelna

What are materials and textures? How can we see transparent things? What makes a scene something more than a set of objects? How do you mix reflected colors? Learn tricks that will bring life to your realistic paintings!

This is the the last part of our mini series on color and light. In the first tutorial welearned how to see light and shadow, and in the second one, the principles of color. Today we’re going to learn some advanced tricks that will give your artwork a real spark. The key word here is variety, in color and form. If sometimes the things you draw look like plastic figurines, this tutorial should help you a lot!


Most of the problems with painting colors lies in the depiction of surfaces. The surface structure influences our perception of color and brightness, and there are a lot of issues you need to take control of. When ignored, it can make for a dull, “plastic” scene. Plastic is the default material of every beginner’s drawings—let’s move past that.

Specular and Diffuse Reflection

In the previous tutorial I mentioned glossiness, but I didn’t emphasize how important it is. In general, there are two kinds of color-making reflections: diffuse, and specular. Usually they’re mixed together, and the proportion between them creates the overall reflection we perceive. So we can see matte, gloss, matte shine and all the stages in between.

As we noticed before, specular reflection is made by a ray reflected perfectly by the surface straight to our eyes. The more specular the surface, the clearer image of the light source appears on it. The less specular it is, the fuzzier the image, until it eventually becomes just a blurry spot of a diffuse reflection shifted to the light source’s color. The shiny layer may be a property of the material, or just an effect added by water.

It’s safe to treat every material as partially specular. Even a rubber ball or a plush has a little bit of shine. Using various specularity levels for the materials on your scene is very important for diversity. Shine is so powerful that it’s tempting to use it everywhere, but flooding all the scene with oil isn’t really the way to an attractive artwork.

A clear specular reflection doesn’t always have the color of the light source. It works like this only if the “specular layer” (that’s a simplification, but there’s no need to go into technical details) reflects all the colors. If it doesn’t, we get a red ball with clear green opalescence. It’s a nice effect for gemstones, expensive fabrics, feathers (for example, ravens are black with blue tint) and the carapaces of beetles (blue tint on a green body).

The level of specularity should also be used to show how rough or polished the material is. A rough material after careful polishing will reflect a lot of light, so you should use a different specularity for an old wooden table and a polished wooden bowl—although they are made of the same material, their tooling made the difference.

Texture isn’t only about shape of a surface and the way it should be drawn, but also about the reflective properties of the material. Every surface is made of tiny objects, and they all react to the light source too—they cast their tiny shadows and have their little highlights. That’s why simply pasting a half-transparent textured photo over the top of a drawn material doesn’t always make it look “right”. The finer the texture, the less this effect occurs, but you need to be careful with bigger ones, like scales or bark. Also, every rough texture drastically decreases overall specularity of the surface!

Fresnel Effect

The perceived specularity of a surface depends on the angle of view. The sharper the angle, the clearer the reflection. This effect is very helpful in finding a perfect place to define glossiness of our material, and it also tells us when to treat water or glass as a transparent material, and when it should work like perfect mirror. You can observe this phenomenon on wet floor—the lower you keep your head, the clearer the reflection.

Transparency is troublesome, because its intuitive definition is almost impossible to be conveyed into drawing. A simple change in the opacity of an object makes it look like a ghost, not like a glass. That’s because our casual definition of “transparency” simplifies the issue.

Let’s see how it works. Colored glass is easy to explain: for example, red glass absorbs all the colors, and only red passes through. Putting it simply, it works like a color filter.

Intuitively, a fully transparent material lets all the rays through, without any absorption or reflection. But if the rays didn’t interact with the material in any way, how would we be able to see the material?

If you read the previous paragraphs carefully, you should guess the answer—only a 100% matte material reflects nothing. So even our pure glass reflects a bit of specular reflection, showing us the surface.

An interesting fact: specular reflection is what turns a lake of transparent water into a mirror!

But how do transparent objects like water drops or glass cast shadow? This is based on refraction, the bending of the rays when they pass between two media. Including this phenomenon in your painting gives a transparent object a sense of volume—this is the difference between a solid glass ball and a bubble.

You should remember this scheme from physics classes. The only thing we need to remember here is that the thicker the material, the more likely the rays will be disturbed.

The situation gets even more interesting when the surface is bent, creating a lens. Lenses have an amazing ability to focus or scatter rays. And when rays are focused (bent from their initial direction to one single point), areas of shadow appear. That’s how a transparent lens creates a shadow!

Every transparent object with bent surface makes a lens. Every convex lens is able to focus light to some extent. Therefore, a wine glass, a bottle of water or a drop will all cast a shadow and very bright spot (or smudge, depending on how good the lens is) of focused light. If, additionally, the lens is colored, the bright spot will be colored too.

But what does such a convex lens do? Of course, it magnifies! That’s the most important thing you need to paint realistic transparent, solid materials. Continue reading

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5 Flyer Templates

Get yourself noticed! Create brilliant marketing material fast with these top flyer templates for designers.

Flyers are essential advertising tools – use any of these templates to promote your product or event effectively. The key to making a flyer serve its purpose is to design it in such a way that makes it stand out. But sometimes time is tight, and you just don’t have hours to spare to work up a wholly original design.

To help you out, we’ve gathered together a selection of cool flyer templates that can help you create a great looking flyer in half the time. You never know when you’ll need them, so bookmark this page now! And check out our article if you need flyer design inspiration.

  1. Roots Reggae Night Template.


Mash it up with this hard design

Get back to your roots with this reggae-styled club night flyer. Made by AreacodezeroCreatives, this print-ready 300dpi CMYK flyer comes as a layered PSD and includes a help file so that you can get it out quickly and easily.

  1. Geometric concert template


not keen on the colours, this design features multiple palette options

This minimal geometric flyer features multiple colour options to help you set exactly the tone you want for your event. Included in the package is a layered PSD, a help file and a reference image. The flyer uses the Champagne & Limousines font which is free for personal use; if you wish to use it commercially you should make a donation to the author. Continue reading

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Creative Inspiration: 5 Principles of Design

reference by John Shaver

Graphic design is much more than learning how to use the tools within Photoshop. It requires an intimate understanding of the relationship between different objects.


  1. Balance

“Balance as a design principle, places the parts of a visual in an aesthetically pleasing arrangement.”


  1. Hierarchy

“Visual hierarchy is the order in which the human eye perceives what it sees. This order is created by the visual contrast between forms in a field of perception.”


  1. Pattern

“Pattern uses the art elements in planned or random repetition to enhance surfaces or paintings.”


  1. Rhythm

“Rhythm is the repetition of visual movement of the elements-colors, shapes, values, forms, spaces, texture.”


  1. Space

“Space is an empty place or surface in or around a work of art. Space can be two-dimensional, three-dimensional, negative and/or positive.”


thank you for see that…

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