Instant Image Effect for Photoshop

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Instant Image Effect for Photoshop


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Draw a complex looking city skyline using basic vector shapes

Create a Vector Cityscape Scene in Adobe Illustrator

This detailed tutorial will walk you through the process of creating a vector cityscape in Illustrator step by step, using only basic shapes such as rectangles, circles and lines.

Section 1: Background

Step 1.1

Create a new 1200 x 600 pixel document in Illustrator with RGB color mode.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 1.2

As this is a rather complex illustration, it is wise to plan ahead and split the illustration into distinct sections. Create 5 new layers in addition to the default ‘Layer 1’ and give them appropriate names as shown in the screenshot below:
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 1.3

On the ‘Background’ layer draw a new rectangle that fits the entire artboard with a light blue fill.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 1.4

Draw another rectangle at the bottom of the artboard, with a biege fill.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Section 2: Clouds

Step 2.1

Lock the ‘Background’ layer and move to the ‘Clouds’ layer.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 2.2

Draw a new rectangle with a white fill.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 2.3

Duplicate the existing rectangle or draw 2 more as shown.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 2.4

Select all 3 white rectangles and combine them with the ‘Union’ Shape Mode.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 2.5

Switch to the Direct Selection tool and increase the corner radius to the maximum (10px)
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 2.6

Repeat the process to create another cloud.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 2.7

Repeat the process to create another cloud.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 2.8

Repeat the process to create another cloud.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Section 3: Sun

Step 3.1

Lock the ‘Clouds’ layer and move to the ‘Sun’ layer.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 3.2

Draw a circle shape with a yellow fill using the Ellipse tool whilst holding down the Shift key to constrain proportions.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 3.3

Duplicate the circle, switch the fill color to white with 60% transparency and increase the size. Then Send Backward (CMD+[ or CTRL+[).
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 3.4

Duplicate the circle, change the transparency to 60% and increase the size. Then Send Backward (CMD+[ or CTRL+[).
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Section 4: Buildings (Distant)

Step 4.1

Lock the ‘Sun’ layer and move to the ‘Buildings (Distant)’ layer.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.2

Draw 3 new rectangles with a light blue (just slightly darker than the sky). Dimensions and positions are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.3

Grab the top right anchor point of the last rectangle and use the arrow keys to nudge it up 10 pixels.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.4

Draw 6 new rectangles with the same color. Dimensions and positions are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.5

Use the Pen tool to delete the top right anchor point on the last rectangle.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.6

Draw 2 new rectangles with the same color. Dimensions and positions are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.7

Grab the top left anchor point of the last rectangle and use the arrow keys to nudge it right 20 pixels.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.8

Draw 2 rectangles with the same color. Dimensions and positions are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.9

Grab the top right anchor point of the last rectangle and use the arrow keys to nudge it down 10 pixels.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.10

Draw 6 new rectangles with the same color. Dimensions and positions are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.11

Use the Pen tool to delete the top right anchor point and drag the remaining top point to the center whilst down the Shift key.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.12

Draw 2 new rectangles with the same color. Dimensions and positions are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.13

Grab the top left anchor point with the Direct Selection tool and use the arrow keys to nudge it down 30 pixels.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.14

Draw 10 new rectangles with the same color. Dimensions and positions are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 4.15

Grab the top right anchor point with the Direct Selection tool and use the arrow keys to nudge it down 10 pixels.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Section 5: Buildings (Near)

Step 5.1

Lock the ‘Buildings (Distant)’ layer and move to the ‘Buildings (Near)’ layer.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.2

Draw 3 new dark gray rectangles. Dimensions, positions and other attributes are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.3

Draw a black rectangle with 10% transparency and duplicate it 5 times with 4 pixels horizontal spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.4

Draw 3 new rectangles. Dimensions, positions and other attributes are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.5

Draw a black rectangle with 10% transparency and duplicate it 5 times with 2 pixels horizontal spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.6

Select the row of rectangles and duplicate it 6 times with 4 pixels vertical spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.7

Select the middle 2 rectangles on the bottom row and delete them.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.8

Draw 5 new rectangles. Dimensions, positions and other attributes are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.9

Draw a black rectangle with 10% transparency and duplicate it 4 times with 6 pixels horizontal spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.10

Select the row of rectangles and duplicate it 5 times with 6 pixels vertical spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.11

Draw 3 new rectangles. Dimensions, positions and other attributes are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.12

Draw a black rectangle with 10% transparency, and rounded top corners. Then duplicate it 3 times with 8 pixels horizontal spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.13

Select the row of rectangles and duplicate it 3 times with 10 pixels vertical spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.14

Draw 6 new rectangles. Dimensions, positions and other attributes are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.15

Draw a black rectangle with 10% transparency and duplicate it 3 times with 8 pixels horizontal spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.16

Select the row of rectangles and duplicate it 6 times with 6 pixels vertical spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.17

Select the middle 2 rectangles on the bottom row and delete them.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.18

Draw 13 new rectangles. Dimensions, positions and other attributes are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.19

Draw a black rectangle with 10% transparency and duplicate it 4 times with 4 pixels horizontal spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.20

Draw a black rectangle with 10% transparency and duplicate it 5 times with 4 pixels horizontal spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.21

Draw 3 new rectangles. Dimensions, positions and other attributes are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.22

Draw a black rectangle with 10% transparency, and rounded top corners. Then duplicate it 2 times with 8 pixels horizontal spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.23

Select the row of rectangles and duplicate it 3 times with 10 pixels vertical spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.24

Draw a new rectangle. Dimensions, positions and other attributes are shown in the screenshots below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.25

Draw a black rectangle with 10% transparency and duplicate it 2 times with 6 pixels horizontal spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 5.26

Select the row of rectangles and duplicate it 4 times with 6 pixels vertical spacing in between each copy.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Section 6: Lamps/Trees

Step 6.1

Lock the ‘Buildings (Near)’ layer and move to the ‘Lamps/Trees’ layer.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.2

Draw a circle shape with a green fill using the Ellipse tool whilst holding down the Shift key to constrain proportions.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.3

Duplicate the circle in place and change the fill to black. Draw a rough rectangle shape that intersects the center of the circle, and use the Subtract Shape Mode to delete the left half of the circle.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.4

Change the transparency to 10% for a shadow effect.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.5

Draw a new Line segment with a dark brown 2 pixel stroke as shown below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.6

Draw a new diagonal Line segment that meets the first line.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.7

Draw a new Ellipse shape with a black fill and 10% transparency, then Send to Back (CMD+SHIFT+[ or CTRL+SHIFT+[) to place it behind the tree.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.8

Group the tree shapes, duplicate the group 5 times and spread them along the cityscape. Also to add some variety use Flip Horizontal and resize a couple of the trees.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.9

Draw a new medium gray rectangle with rounded top corners as show in the screenshot below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.10

Draw a new Line segment with a 2 pixel medium gray stroke as show in the screenshot below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.11

Draw another line segment which meets the first line.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.12

Draw a new rectangle shape with rounded bottom corners and a yellow color fill as shown in the screenshot below.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.13

Draw a new Ellipse shape with a black fill and 10% transparency, then Send to Back (CMD+SHIFT+[ or CTRL+SHIFT+[) to place it behind the lamp post.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Step 6.14

Group the lamp post shapes, duplicate the group 3 times and spread them along the cityscape. Also to add some variety use Flip Horizontal on a couple of the lamp posts.
create a vector cityscape in illustrator

Result & Conclusion

Phew! If you made it this far, congratulations! I hope you’ve enjoyed following along with this tutorial and creating your own vector cityscape. It’s definitely one my most detailed tutorials to date and I had a lot of fun putting this together. Thanks for reading, and lastly here is the final result:
create a vector cityscape in illustrator
(click to view full size)


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Create a more interesting piece

How to Place Lettering in and Around Objects in a Photo

A common way of display a lettering piece is to place it over a photo. To make the composition more interesting it’s also common to hide portions of the lettering behind objects in the photo. In this easy tutorial I’ll show you a method for achieving that effect.

Your Lettering Piece and a Good Photo

First up, your lettering doesn’t have to be script, but it makes things a little easier as there are elements to mask between letters leaving the word more readable. Your photo should contain some items that would naturally overlap the word. Things like trees or mountains are common.

For this example, I wrote the word “Explore” and I chose this forest photo from Unsplash.

Creating a Mask

Now I’ll add the lettering on a new layer above the photo in Photoshop.

At this point, it’s time to decide what portions I want to mask in and around the type. Make sure to scale the word so that it overlaps all of the items that you plan to use. I’ll use these four trees in my photo.

To create the selection I need, I scaled the opacity of the lettering layer back to around 30% and switched to Quick Mask Mode (Q). From there I used a hard paint brush and painted the areas that I need in the selection.

Switching back out of Quick Mask Mode will create the selection I need. I also adjusted the lettering opacity back to 100%.

With the lettering layer selected, I created a layer mask by pressing the layer mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel. Now portions of the word are hidden behind the trees.

Right now the entire word appears behind the trees. I want some elements of the word to appear in front and some to appear behind. In order to do this, I’ll take a white brush and draw on the lettering’s layer mask on portions of the word I want to reveal.

The key here is to pay attention to what might be in front of the trees and what might fall behind them. Use a white brush to reveal portions and a black brush to hide.

Adding Shadows to the Lettering

To make things look a bit more 3D I’ll add some shadows. To do that I’ll create a drop shadow layer effect on the lettering layer.

I created another selection from the lettering layer’s layer mask by holding the Cmd key and clicking the layer mask. Then I added a new layer for my shadows above the lettering layer.

Use this new layer to paint some shadows on the type with a soft black brush set to 30% opacity. Keep in mind where the light source is and where the shadows might realistically fall. The selection will prevent you from painting over the trees.

After I painted the shadows, I deleted any brush strokes that fell outside the lettering by deselecting (Cmd+D) the current selection from the mask, and creating a new one from the lettering layer. Simply Cmd+Click the lettering layer’s thumbnail. Now invert that selection (Cmd+Shift+I), select the shadow layer as the active layer and press the delete key.

Conclusion

That’s it! I hope this tutorial inspires you to do something new and creative when displaying your next lettering project. I’d love to see your results. Feel free to share them in the comments below.


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Vector Landscapes Vol 1


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Create a vector hand from scratch using basic shapes and the Pathfinder

How to Draw a Multi-Touch Tap Gesture Vector Icon

Gesture icons can be very useful in the user on-boarding process for touch based mobile applications, and in this tutorial I will show you how to draw a vector hand from scratch in Illustrator using basic shapes and the Pathfinder tool.

Step 1

Begin by launching Adobe Illustrator (version CS6 or newer) and creating a new document. For this tutorial I have chosen to use a width of 900px and height of 600px.
draw a multi touch gesture icon in illustrator

Step 2

Draw a small rectangle to use as the palm of the hand.
draw a multi touch gesture icon in illustrator

  • Width: 64px
  • Height: 40px
  • X Position: 462px*
  • Y Position: 305px*
  • Fill: None
  • Stroke: #4D4D4D
  • Stroke Width: 8px
  • Stroke Options: round corners, round end caps, and aligned to the center

*All X and Y positions use a center reference point

Step 3

draw a multi touch gesture icon in illustrator

Step 3.1

Draw another rectangle to use as the base of the wrist.

  • Width: 46px
  • Height: 40px
  • X Position: 459px*
  • Y Position: 345px*

Step 3.2

Draw another rectangle to use as the index finger.

  • Width: 16px
  • Height: 70px
  • X Position: 438px*
  • Y Position: 276px*

Step 3.3

Duplicate the last rectangle to use as the middle finger.

  • Width: 16px
  • Height: 76px
  • X Position: 454px*
  • Y Position: 273px*

Step 3.4

Duplicate the last rectangle to use as the ring finger.

  • Width: 16px
  • Height: 70px
  • X Position: 470px*
  • Y Position: 276px*

Step 3.5

Duplicate the last rectangle to use as the pinky finger.

  • Width: 16px
  • Height: 56px
  • X Position: 486px*
  • Y Position: 283px*

Step 4

The thumb is a little bit trickier, duplicate the middle finger, then rotate it 30 degrees and place it near the base of the wrist.

  • Width: 16px
  • Height: 76px
  • Rotate: 30°
  • X Position: 429px*
  • Y Position: 328px*

draw a multi touch gesture icon in illustrator

Step 5

Select all of the shapes and Unite them with the Pathfinder.
draw a multi touch gesture icon in illustrator

Step 6

draw a multi touch gesture icon in illustrator

Step 6.1

Select the anchor point highlighted and remove it using the Delete Anchor Point (-) tool.

Step 6.2

Use the Direct Selection tool to select the bottom segment of the shape and hit the delete key to remove it.

Step 6.3

Use the Convert Anchor Point tool, hold down the Shift key and drag downwards to add handles to the highlighted anchor point. This will curve the line slightly.

Step 6.4

Use the Direct Selection tool to select the highlighted anchor point and increase the corner radius to the maximum possible (87.69px).

Step 6.5

After increasing the corner radius, the shape should look like number 5 in the image above.

Step 7

The next step is to draw some lines to separate the fingers.
draw a multi touch gesture icon in illustrator

Step 7.1

Line separating index and middle finger.

  • Width: 0px
  • Height: 42px
  • X Position: 446px*
  • Y Position: 270px*

Step 7.2

Line separating middle and ring finger.

  • Width: 0px
  • Height: 42px
  • X Position: 462px*
  • Y Position: 270px*

Step 7.3

Line separating ring and pinky finger.

  • Width: 0px
  • Height: 34px
  • X Position: 478px*
  • Y Position: 280px*

Step 8

In this step we will had a little contour to the thumb to make it more realistic
draw a multi touch gesture icon in illustrator

Step 8.1

Create a new anchor point on the thumb, roughly where it is highlighted in the image above.

Step 8.2

Nudge the new anchor point left 4 pixels using the left arrow key.

Step 8.3

Select the anchor point shown in the image above and increase the corner radius to the maximum (~30px).

Step 8.4

Select the anchor point shown in the image above and increase the corner radius to the maximum (~100px).

Step 9

I recommend making a copy of the hand shape at this stage, as the next step is to ‘close’ some of the fingers.
draw a multi touch gesture icon in illustrator

Step 9.1

Select the top 3 anchor points of the pinky finger and the top point of the line that separates it from the ring finger. Nudge these points down 28 pixels using the down arrow key.

Step 9.2

Select the top 3 anchor points of the ring finger and the top point of the line that separates it from the middle finger. Nudge these points down 30 pixels using the down arrow key.

Step 9.3

Select the top 3 anchor points of the middle finger and nudge these points down 32 pixels using the down arrow key. The line does not need to be changed this time.

Step 10

A circle can be used to indicate a single ‘tap’ gesture. Grab the Oval tool and hold down the Shift key to draw a circle over the tip of the index finger.
draw a multi touch gesture icon in illustrator

  • Width: 58px
  • Height: 58px
  • X Position: 438px*
  • Y Position: 249px*

Step 11

A circle can be used to indicate a single ‘tap’ gesture. Grab the Oval tool and hold down the Shift key to draw a circle over the tip of the index finger.
draw a multi touch gesture icon in illustrator

Step 11.1

Add two new anchor points to the circle as shown in the image above.

Step 11.2

Select the bottom anchor point on the circle with the Direct Selection tool and hit the delete key to remove it.

Result

Here is the finished single finger tap gesture icon:
draw a multi touch gesture icon in illustrator

Almost any icon can be created by using basic shapes (such as rectangles and ovals) and the Pathfinder tool. Hopefully you have enjoyed following along with this tutorial, and now feel confident to take these techniques and apply them to creating other gestures such as double-taps, swipes, holds and more.

But of course, we also have a free set of pre-made multi touch gesture icons that you can download:

Free Download

download free multi-touch gesture icons

*All X and Y positions use a center reference point


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Best of 2015: Medialoot’s Most Downloaded Freebies

We think that free resources help inspire and encourage designers. Medialoot wants to remember how great 2015 was by looking back at the most-downloaded free resources of the year.

Most-downloaded freebies of the year

Grunge Stained Paper Textures

Our most downloaded resources of 2015. This texture pack contains 10 unique vintage stained paper textures. Each texture is beautifully detailed and grungy, they have an abstract feel to them and make perfect backgrounds for typography or other design work.


Open Brochure Mockup

Our list includes 3 mockups, and this brochure is the most popular of them all. This download is an open A4 brochure mockup including front cover design and 2 inside pages. The mockup features strict perspective and is ideal for showcasing brochure or magazine designs.


iPad App Perspective Mockup

This presentation mockup is perfect for showcasing your iOS iPad app design concepts. The template accommodates landscape or portrait orientation screenshots, and showcases them with perspective and depth. Simply paste your screenshots into the Smart Objects and save to update the mockup, you can also freely change the background color.


Landing Page Header Cards

This pack includes 4 landing page header cards, these templates are perfect for combining with other elements to build your own custom landing page designs. They feature headlines, text, buttons sign up forms, screenshot placeholders and hero header style desk items.


T-Shirt Design Mockup

Our 5th and final most-downloaded resource. Mockup your t-shirt designs in style with this free unisex, color tee mockup. Simply place your artwork into the included Smart Object and save to update the template, you can also change the color of the clothing via a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.


Thanks to the Medialoot community for an awesome 2015. We hope you found all of our resources helpful, and we look forward to an even better 2016. As always, we encourage you to submit your requests to us; we love being able to provide resources and tutorials. Comment below with your favorite things from 2015 or with resource suggestions.

Happy New Year!


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Speed up your icon and vector graphics workflow

How to Design for Screen more Efficiently with Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a great tool for designing icons and other vector graphics for both print and screen. But as a designer who creates artwork primarily for screen, I have found that some unconventional methods in Illustrator can make it even more efficient. Here are some of my top tips for designers wanting to speed up their workflow.

Always use Round Pixels Values

This is crux of an efficient workflow in Illustrator. We previously had an article on How to Get Pixel-Perfect designs in Adobe Illustrator which covered various techniques for obtaining sharp, pixel perfect designs. But even if pixel perfection is not your aim, it is still far more efficient to always use whole pixel values in any design intended for screen. Round value numbers are simply easier for our brains to understand, and therefor easier to work with.

Give Preference to Even Pixel Values

In addition to using round pixel values, it is also wise to use even numbers whenever possible. For the purpose of scaling graphics in particular, odd numbers can always be doubled and result in round even numbers, but they cannot be halved without resulting in fractions. Even numbers of course can be.

X and Y Values are Important too

Just as important as having round width and height values for objects, the X and Y position values will also determine how pixel-precise a shape looks. For example a 40 x 40 pixel rectangle positioned at X 150.75 and Y 350.25 will not be aligned to the pixel grid and may appear blurry on some screens.
illustrator design tips

Use the Transform Panel to make Large Adjustments

Use the Free Transform tools to roughly find the correct size for a large size adjustment and then highlight any X, Y, H or W fields which are not whole values in the Transform panel, and hit the Up or Down key once to round up or down to the nearest whole value.

Use the Arrow keys to make Small Adjustments

To make small changes to a shape, either Isolate the object and use the Direct Selection tool to highlight one side of the shape and Nudge the vector points left/right or up/down with the arrow keys or use the transform panel and up/down arrow keys to tweak X, Y, H or W values. Both of these methods will retain whole pixel values (if Keyboard Increment is 1 px in the General Preferences).
illustrator design tips

Be Consistent with Strokes

Most artwork created in Illustrator will use outline strokes at some point. Being consistent with stroke values in Illustrator will create a more refined appearance, and speed up your overall workflow. There are a handful of options available for strokes which are:

illustrator design tips

  • Stroke Width
  • End Cap
  • Corner Joint
  • Stroke Alignment
  • Dashed Line
  • Arrowheads
  • Line Profile

When we talk about being consistent with stroke values, we are really only focusing on Stroke Width, End Caps, Corner Joints and Stroke Alignment.

Stroke Width

Depending on the complexity of your artwork, I strongly recommend deciding on 1-5 preset stroke widths to use throughout your artwork in the early stages. For example you may choose 1px for light lines, 3 px for regular lines and 5 px for heavy lines. By sticking to this template, your finished artwork will appear more polished, and consistent. It also reduces time spent deciding on what width to use for which lines if you limit yourself to only 3 options.

End Caps and Corner Joints

End caps and corner joints are styling options for strokes which determine how end and corner points are displayed. These are ultimately personal preference options, depending on which option is most suitable to your style of work. However once chosen, it is best to be consistent with your decision. Especially if you regularly use the Eye Dropper tool, which will duplicate styles including your end cap and corner options from one object to another.

Stroke Alignment

Stroke alignment may seem unimportant, and most will probably select the alignment that looks best on a per-object basis. But like with the end caps and corner joints, if you decide to use the Eye Dropper tool to copy styles from one object to another, you may end up with a misaligned stroke. A better option for when you need to move a stroke in or out, is to make the actual object either slightly smaller or larger instead.

Which alignment should you use? It makes the most sense to always align strokes to the center rather than the inside or outside. The obvious reason being that it is the default value. But it is also the only type of stoke alignment that is currently supported in SVG.

Don’t Scale Strokes & Corners

One of my top tips is to uncheck both ‘Scale Strokes & Effects’ and ‘Scale Corners’ in the preferences when working on artwork to avoid accidental changes.

illustrator design tips
The ability to scale strokes is very useful, but it isn’t always what you want to do. In fact, personally I find that more often than not, it is preferable for strokes not to automatically scale. The same goes for corners.

For example if you have a rectangle that is 100 x 100 pixels with a 1 pixel stroke, then resize the rectangle to 115 x 115 pixels, your stroke width will now be 1.15 pixels, which is not a round value and may appear blurry on some screens. Also being a relatively small change, may go unnoticed until it’s too late. If and when you do need to make precise scale adjustments, simply turn scale corners and strokes back on temporarily.

Use Align Tools

Seriously, these save so much time. There is often no need to drag in countless amounts of guides or have a calculator handy when you want to precisely place an object.

If you aren’t familiar with align tools, they can be used to move any individual object or group of objects to the top, bottom, left, right, vertical center or horizontal center of an Artboard or another object.

But it doesn’t just end there. For example, what if you want to place an object exactly in between two other objects? Simply select the two guide objects and group them them together, and then also select the object you want to move, mark the group as they key object and then align horizontally and vertically center.
illustrator design tips

And if you want to align an object to ‘that sort of empty space area over there’? Simply draw a temporary rectangle and use that for alignment, then delete the rectangle. It’s still quicker than drawing rulers!
illustrator design tips

Non-Destructive Pathfinder Operations (Compound Shapes)

Combining shapes is an essential part of creating icons, and illustration in general. Complex shapes are built by adding, subtracting, and intersecting simpler shapes. In Illustrator this is done with Pathfinder operations, as I’m sure you already knew. But what you may not know is that these Pathfinder operations don’t always have to be permanent.

Think about it, have you ever been in the situation where you combined two shapes together, then realised later that they weren’t quite right? You basically have two options in this situation, either hold down CMD+Z and cry a little as you watch the last of hour of work rewind before your eyes. OR the more popular but still annoying method, redraw the shapes and start again.

Although the default Pathfinder behaviour in Illustrator is to make permanent changes to shapes, it can also be done non-destructively. All you have to do is hold down the Alt key as you click one of the shape modes. The operation is performed but is not made permanent until you click the Expand button. In Illustrator this is called a Compound Shape.
illustrator design tips

Conclusion

Over time, little changes to your workflow which save a few seconds here and there add up to make a more substantial difference. Hopefully by sharing some of my favourite tips and tricks, you can be a little more efficient at designing for screen with Illustrator.


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Can a mobile app meet your design needs?

Adobe Post Creates Quick Content, But Is Light on Features

Adobe has added a new entry into its line of design software for mobile -- Adobe Post. Currently only available for iOS, Adobe Post is designed to help anyone, even non-designers, produce visual content for social media.

The Adobe blog contains a short description and video demonstration of Post, but anyone interested can also download the free app and try it out for themselves. Adobe writes that Post is part of their goal to create tools that enable ”creativity for everyone- not just creative professionals”.
However, professional designers should still take notice—Adobe is blurring the lines that distinguish designers from other content creators, but at the same time pushing for a more content-rich, beautiful web. Adobe has created a very interesting piece of software that is focused on creating content with a frictionless, but simplified, UX.

Speed From Simplicity

Post’s on-boarding is pretty simple, in line with the mission to make Post lightweight and quick. You do need to create an Adobe account, but once that is set up you are basically ready to start making content. In their very simple introduction, Adobe emphasizes that Post is all about speed and the ability to iterate. The app is intended to produce simple graphics to be used on Twitter or Facebook, so Adobe expects that users will not necessarily want to begin each time with a blank canvas. To facilitate that goal, a few dozen pre-made “Posts” are included to be “remixed” - or changed and modified by the user. Similarly, Post collects and saves your earlier designs for quick reference, so that they can be “remixed” as needed as well.

“Remixing” Designs

Remixing a Post is very simple and straightforward. The background image, text and graphic design can each be changed, replaced or removed. If you wanted to make a small change, like adding different text, simply double-tap and adjust the font, color, alignment, spacing, etc. While you are limited to a fixed font library and no real color picker, each Post dynamically suggests colors and color pairings based on the colors in the background image. This feature makes Post especially helpful for a user with very little designer experience, but limits its usefulness even for a non-dedicated designer. For example, you wouldn’t be able to use a unique font or precise color that might be part of a company brand kit.

Changing the background image of your Post is also straightforward and assisted by Adobe. You can upload a photo from your phone’s storage or camera, or import a file from the Creative Cloud or Lightroom. This option enables Post to be part of the design workflow, meaning that more specific or complicated designs can still take advantage of Post’s speedy UX. However, one does not need to import external files to create new content. Ingeniously, Adobe allows users to search for license-free photographs by subject. For example, in the example I used, Adobe suggests other images of soup. This is very useful if you are looking to keep a Post around as a template, but want to add some variety.

A Focus on Social

Limiting features for the sake of speed and usability makes sense if Post is intended to be used by non-designers to quickly generate visual content for social media. However, Post also has fairly limited export options to actually get your Post out onto the social media platform of your choice. From my experience, Post supports Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Snapchat, and I imagine Pinterest as well. Posting to Twitter or Facebook is relatively seamless and straightforward, but you need to copy and paste into Instagram, requiring you to go through the Instagram UI to finally post. Moreover, Post does not give you any options as to the size and shape of your image. My Twitter image was 600 by 600 pixels, which is perfect for Facebook, and would also work just fine on Instagram. This “Goldilocks” approach — not too big, not too small — means that a social media manager would not be able to take advantage of the unique elements of a given social network. For example, Twitter’s image preview is always shown in a 2:1 ratio, so a square image with a centered design might not look very attractive.

Conclusion

In summary, because of its extremely limited capabilities and options, Post should not be looked at as a replacement for full-blown desktop design software. However, Post does do a good job enabling non-designers to create visual content that might not require a high level of precision or control. Most importantly, Post generates good looking, visually pleasing content that follows basic but important design principles. Let us know if you’ve used Post yourself and what you think about it in the comments!

 


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Create a natural effect easily

Create an Easy Vintage Woodcut Style Illustration in Photoshop

A lot of times I need a simple vintage background image to display on posters or logo mockups. I need these images to be high resolution and I need them to complement the piece as a whole. That may sound easy, but it’s actually a pretty tall order. Old photos are easy enough to find but they are typically low resolution or too blurry to use. Below I’ll share my process for converting these types of images into a high resolution illustrated “Woodcut” style image that fits the bill perfectly.

Find a Good Photograph

Good photos are out there, you just have to know where to look. One site that I like and visit frequently is New Old Stock . I found the image that I’ll be using in this tutorial here .

Open the image in Photoshop and convert it to Grayscale by clicking Image | Mode | Grayscale. It’s okay to choose “Flatten Image”.

Now change the images resolution by clicking Image | Image Size and entering 1200 for resolution. This will take a minute or so to complete based on your computer speed. If you have an older computer consider using 600 or 300 for the resolution, but your outcome will be slightly different.

Creating an Illustrated Outline Appearance

Now duplicate the photo layer by clicking Cmd+J (or Ctrl+J on a PC). Select this duplicated layer and change it’s blend mode to “Color Dodge”. You won’t see much change other than the image getting a little brighter.

Now invert the layer by pressing Cmd+I (or Ctrl+I on a PC). The image will turn almost completely white. Now choose Filter | Blur | Gaussian Blur and enter a setting that gives the image a slightly illustrated look. Basically you just wan the edges to become visible.

Now create a Levels adjustment layer and bump the blacks up to sharpen the image.

Creating a Halftone Pattern

Now select all layers and flatten the image by pressing Cmd+E (or Ctrl+E on a PC). Select the entire canvas Cmd+A (or Ctrl+A on a PC) and copy it to the clipboard Cmd+C (or Ctrl+C on a PC).

To convert the image to a bitmap halftone, click Image | Mode | Bitmap and select “Halftone Screen” for Method. Then enter settings for the Halftone similar to what I’ve used below.

You’re halftone screen should now look similar to mine. Convert it back to Grayscale, by clicking Image | Mode | Grayscale.

Add the Illustrated Outline Back in

Double click the background layer to rename it and unlock it.

Now paste Cmd+V (or Ctrl+V on a PC) the image we copied earlier back in. Drag the new layer containing the image below the halftone screen layer. Now set the halftone screen layer’s blend mode to “Multiply”.

You should have a nice, rough looking woodcut illustration!

Finalizing with Color and Graphics

Now you can flatten the layers one more time, and add a new Color Fill adjustment layer. Make sure the color is the bottom most layer, and change the illustration layer’s blend mode to “Multiply” once again to let the color show through. I chose a dark blue for my background color (#394c5e).

The only thing left to do is add the logo graphic to complete the piece!

I hope you learned some new techniques and this process proves useful to you in future projects. Experiment with it and have fun working with old vintage photos!

 


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Convert Your Existing Vectors into Realistic Hand Drawn Graphics

Create a Convincing Hand Drawn Effect in Illustrator

This tutorial will show you how to create a realistic hand drawn effect in Illustrator. Ideal for those without scanners, or for when you already have the graphic you want in Illustrator but need to give it a convincing hand drawn effect (without attempting to recreate it with pen and paper).

Step 1

Create a new document in Illustrator and begin to draw the pencil graphic that we will use. The pencil is a very simple shape that is made up of a series of rectangles and triangles. Use a transparent fill and a 4px #EAE2D3 stroke aligned to the center.
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 2

When you reach the middle section of the pencil, duplicate the main rectangle and reduce the width by about 50%. Copy the top (smaller) rectangle to the clipboard and then use the Subtract Pathfinder operation with both rectangles selected to divide the lower rectangle into two. Finally Paste in Place (CMD+SHIFT+V or CTRL+SHIFT+V) to restore the top rectangle.
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 3

Similar to the last step, draw two triangles for the tip of the pencil. Copy the smaller triangle to the clipboard and use it to subtract from the larger triangle. Then Paste in Place to restore the smaller triangle.
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 4

Group the pencil shape and copy to the clipboard to use later (or move off canvas).
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 5

Remove the strokes from all of the shapes and apply a solid color fill for each section:

  • Eraser: #E5A8BE
  • Metal: #F1F2F2
  • Body (light): #F2B974
  • Body (dark): #E4A564
  • Wood: #EAE2D3
  • Tip: #3A3442

create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 6

Paste the outlined version of the pencil in place, or move back to it’s original position if it is off canvas.
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 7

Use the Direct Selection tool to highlight the top two points of both the color and outlined layers, and set the corner radius to 10px.
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 8

Now double click the outlined version’s group to enter Isolation Mode. In Isolation mode, select all and apply the Roughen filter from the Effect > Distort and Transform menu to distort the lines slightly and give them a more hand drawn appearance.

  • Size: 0.25%
  • Option: Relative
  • Detail: 6/in
  • Points: Smooth

Feel free to tweak these settings, to find a realistic effect, hand drawn line effect.
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 9 (Optional)

You may notice that the corners look a little strange when using the Roughen filter. To remedy this, select all of the affected corner point and give then a 1px radius.
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 10

The pencil should now look something like this:
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

The line widths are rough, but a little too consistent to be convincingly hand drawn. Grab the Stroke Width tool (SHIFT+W) and make 2-4 random adjustments per section. They can be either slightly wider or thinner, depending on what looks right to the eye.
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

As you can see, the changes in stroke width are very subtle but do make a difference:
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 11

Double click the color version’s group this time to enter Isolation Mode again. Select all of the shapes and apply a Scribble filter from the Effect > Stylize menu. Tweak the settings to find a suitable effect, I like to use a thick stroke with minimal spacing, so that the effect is almost solid with a just few gaps in the color.

  • Path Overlap: 0 / Variation: 0
  • Stroke Width: 3px
  • Curviness: 6% / Variation 20%
  • Spacing: 2px / Variation: 4px

create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 12

Select all of the shapes with a Scribble effect and Expand Appearance from the Object menu.
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 13

With the Scribble effect expanded, we can roughen up the effect by applying another Roughen filter.

  • Size: 0.25%
  • Option: Relative
  • Detail: 10/in
  • Points: Corner

create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 14

The pencil should now look something like this:
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Rotate the pencil 15° and add a background by drawing a rectangle that fills the artboard on a new layer below the pencil, with the fill color #EFECE8.
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Step 15

And finally, add a shadow by drawing a black oval shape near the tip of the pencil and applying another Roughen filter for some jagged edges. Then set the Transparency of the layer to 10%.
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator

Result

And there we have it, a hand drawn looking pencil created entirely within Illustrator. This technique is great for when you already have a vector shape in Illustrator and simply want to make it look hand drawn, instead of trying to recreate it with pen and paper. Although I provided some exact settings to use in this tutorial, I strongly recommend experimenting with the Roughen and Scribble effects in particular, to achieve the exact effect you require.
create a hand drawn effect in illustrator


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Bring your static mobile app designs to life

Why All UI Designers Should Give Principle App a Try and How to Get Started

Why prototyping interaction is a valuable aspect of mobile app design, and why all UI designers should give Principle for Mac a try. Plus a quick tutorial on how to get started animating your static mockups.

Introduction

As a User Interface Designer, my focus when designing has always been primarily on layout, color, typography and static graphics. But as we all know, design isn’t just about how something looks, it is also about how the user interacts with the product and how it feels to use. These are things that are difficult to mock-up in Photoshop though (or any other graphics editor for that matter), and for a lot of projects, interactivity is often left to the developers to figure out.

Of course there are lots of tools available that can prototype animation, most notably Adobe After Effects or Framer.js. But for some reason I could never really get on with any of them. They felt like more work than was necessary to make an object move from point A to point B smoothly. Then recently I noticed a lot of beautiful interactivity prototypes popping up on Dribbble (mostly mobile UX concepts) which all had one thing in common, they were made with something called Principle App.

So, out of curiosity, I decided to give Principle a try. Honestly, I was expecting to spend an hour or so trying to make a box move from one side of the screen to the other or change color, and then give up out of frustration and never touch the app again! Obviously, that’s not what happened though otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post. I was of course pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to use.

Why Prototyping Interactivity is a Good Idea

Other than being fun, and making you look awesome. Clients often have difficulty visualising how an app will work in real life, when viewing static design mockups. This has been an issue in the design world for a long time (I’ve often had to explain to clients that you can’t click buttons on JPG files). And now that mobile app design is becoming more and more popular, it has never been more important to visually demonstrate what happens when a user taps, scrolls or drags. That is exactly what apps such as Principle will allow you to do.

The difference between Principle and other animation apps which have been around for a long time (such as Flash), is that with Principle it is now easy and intuitive to make these prototypes. The excuse that it is easier to just explain to clients that you can’t click mockups, than it is to actually prototype them is now irrelevant.

In addition to presenting to clients, visual demonstrations are of huge value to the developers that will be bringing your app designs to life. Not only making their lives easier and removing guess work, but also ensuring that the results match what you as the designer had envisioned.

How Principle Works

Principle should be familiar to anybody who has used Illustrator, Sketch or Flash previously. It is based around using Artboards and a timeline. Artboards are like the ‘Key Frames’ or the start and end points of a particular animation or interaction. And the timeline is used to define the animation speed, delay, smoothing etc. between those artboards.

Any object can be animated, provided it exists on both start and end artboards and is not identical on both. Principle automatically creates a smooth default animation when you add a trigger event such as tap, scroll, drag or touch for any attribute that has changed, ie postion, color, size. The animation usually looks pretty good as it is, but can of course then be tweaked in the Timeline. It really is as simple as that!

There aren’t a whole lot of drawing tools available (just rectangles and text actually) but that’s what apps such as Photoshop or Sketch are for. Assets such as logos, buttons and custom shapes can simply be dragged onto the canvas to import and use.

A Quick Getting Started Guide

To help get you started with using Principle, here is how to create a simple interaction:

Step 1: Draw or Import Your Assets

Assets can be created in Photoshop, Sketch or other graphics application and then dragged onto the Principle canvas to import. Simple elements such as text and rectangles can be drawn directly in Principle. Notice in the screenshot below I have added two ‘slides’, one is in center of the artboard and the other is off to the side.
principle for mac tutorial

Step 2: Duplicate the Artboard

When you have your first artboard set up, duplicate it and make the changes that you want to happen. In this situation, we want to move the second slide into the center of the artboard instead.
principle for mac tutorial

Step 3: Choose an Event

Highlight the element on Artboard 1 which you want to initiate the interaction (Right Arrow Button) and click on the lightning bolt icon to bring up a menu of actions. Select your desired action from the menu and drag it to Artboard 2. principle for mac tutorial
Repeat for the opposite on Artboard 2 to go back to the beginning.
principle for mac tutorial

Step 4: Tweak the Animation

Open up the Animate panel to see the timeline, and highlight the transition you want to tweak (which is the X position in this example). Drag the handles in the timeline to increase the length of the animation, or choose a different transition type.
principle for mac tutorial

The Result

In just a few seconds we have created a beautiful, smooth animation. Although this is a very simple animation, the same principles can be used to create more complex animations and even full app prototypes quickly and easily.

principle for mac tutorial

Conclusion

If you’re wondering at this point whether I’m affiliated with Principle in some way, I can assure you that I’m not. And I’m also not suggesting you go out and buy the software immediately either. But if you would like to expand your design process to include interactivity, in a familiar environment that doesn’t require learning complicated software or code. Or even if you just want to create some pretty GIFs for Dribbble, I think you should at least give it a try!


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Easily change the tone and mood of a photo

Quick Tip: Use Color Lookup to Create Dramatic Photo Effects with a Single Click

Color enhancements such as cross processing and various blending techniques can make a photo what it is by setting a tone and mood. While most color changes are quick and easy, they still take several clicks to accomplish. These days we’re all about speed and efficiency, so what if I were to tell you that you can create dramatic color tones with a single click? Since Photoshop CS6, quietly waiting within the adjustment layers menu, Color Lookup has been waiting for you to discover it. Let’s take a closer look.

I grabbed this excellent photo of a skateboard park at sunset from Unsplash. You can download the same photo here.

From the Layers panel, Click the Adjustment Layer icon and choose “Color Lookup”.

You’ll see the Color Look up panel appear under the Properties tab. There is a lot to choose from, so you’ll want to spend some time playing around an familiarize yourself with some of the amazing color tones that can be created with a single click. I chose TensionGreen for this photo, which gives it a nice cool tone and makes the sunset stand out nicely.

But you don’t have to stop there. Simply click the Adjustment Layer icon again and choose “Color Lookup” once more. You guessed it, these color tones blend! For this second Color Lookup I chose Turquoise-Sepia under Abstract. I adjusted the opacity of this layer to 80%. This gave the image a nice washed out effect.

I love the power and ease of this adjustment layer and will definitely incorporate it into my workflow. I hope you find this tip useful and have fun experimenting with it! Feel free to share some of your results using the comment fields below.


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What effects do web frameworks have on creative web design?

Bootstrap, Frameworks and the “Average Website”

Earlier this week, there was a provocative Medium post entitled “The Average Website”, an opinion piece intended to critique the “sameness” evident in many modern web pages. The targets will be familiar to most web developers and designers: drip widgets, welcome mats, and the like. A quick scan of popular design blogs will reveal a number of lists of “Worst UX/UI Trends”, which offer even more examples.

The Challenge of Chasing Trends

An example of web design’s history. Courtesy of Hubspot.

As with any part of culture, web design is subject to trends. Steady improvements in computing power and increasingly sophisticated users mean make changes in web design even more rapid. If one looks back at popular websites over the past few decades, these shifting trends often rise and fall along with the web technologies that made them possible. For example, while Flash reigned supreme, animated splash screens could be found even on the website of your local pizza place. After Apple effectively killed Flash, animated web pages fell out of favor until Javascript encouraged a second-wave of interactive web design.

Bootstrap Rising

The massive rise of Bootstrap. Chart from BuiltWith.

In 2015, Bootstrap is unquestionably a dominant force shaping the future of web design. In the last 3 months alone, the number of pages in the top 1 million websites using the web design framework has doubled to over 130,000 sites, or about 14%.  Additionally, a full 10% of the top 10,000 webpages use Bootstrap as well, so this suggests that many smaller web sites are looking to the top for design inspiration.

The popularity of Bootstrap is certainly a good thing for the web. By incorporating and collating web technologies like JQuery plugins, support for CSS pre-processors like Less and Sass, and a “mobile-first” responsive philosophy, Bootstrap is pushing for a more compatible, beautiful Internet. For small startups that might not have a dedicated web developer, Bootstrap allows entrepreneurs to focus their energies on building their products without sacrificing having a great website.

Why Being Average Is Not Bad

While we do risk some level of “sameness” or “averageness” among websites because of the popularity of frameworks like Bootstrap, for certain aspects of web design, particularly UI, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Designers must constantly navigate between familiarity and novelty – design must delight with its uniqueness but not alienate or estrange. As web design has matured, both front-end users and front-end developers have established a set of norms and expectations about how web pages should look and work. This is a good thing for both parties: designers are not expected to “reinvent the wheel” for every site, and the average user will have some level of comfort navigating new pages.

An excellent example of a site using Bootstrap, GoranFactory.

These design best practices should not necessarily be abandoned in order to avoid being “average”, but rather expanded and built upon. “Sameness” as a concept is not reason enough to avoid using a framework, because while using Bootstrap for a simple site can create bloat if not implemented properly, a good framework allows for easy customization and progressive enhancement.

The role of a web designer, in my opinion, is enhanced, rather than inhibited by frameworks like Bootstrap. When simple UI/UX questions are already answered, this free up precious development time. Moreover, the “sameness” of the web creates a background where truly good web design can really stand out from the crowd. When everyone is starting from scratch, beautiful, functional design elements can get lost in the static.

Conclusion

Are we in a golden age of web design, or a dark? As Bootstrap continue to grow in prominence, what will its eventual challengers look like? Share you thoughts about the state of design, your opinions on frameworks, good or bad.

 


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Quickly add a handmade quality to your typography

How to Create a Custom Lettering Piece from an Existing Font in Minutes

Custom hand lettering has increased in popularity in recent years and is in great demand from clients. Creating the look by hand is a fantastic skill that one has to develop and refine for years. But a similar style can be created with a little bit of creativity and a good script font. In this tutorial I’ll show you have to create a custom lettered look from an existing font in Adobe Illustrator.

For this example I chose a font called Wisdom Script (http://www.losttype.com/font/?name=wisdom_script). This is a fantastic script font that has a bit of vintage feel. At this point it looks good, but it doesn’t have the custom touches that we’re after.

First up, I decreased the space between the “M” and the “e”. You can do this by selecting the Type Tool (T) and placing the cursor between the letters. Then hold the Option key on the keyboard and use the arrow keys to move the letters left or right. I also tilted the entire word a bit using the Rotate Tool (R). Then I expanded the type by clicking Object | Expand. This will allow us to edit the type as shapes instead of text.

I don’t care for the swoosh on the capital “M”, so I removed it to create our own custom swoosh. You can remove it using the Eraser Tool (Shift+E) or the Remove Anchor Point Tool (-). From there I drew my own swoosh with the Pencil Tool (N). I chose a stroke of 7.5 to match the width of the text. This will vary based on the point size you set for your type. Now I’ll place it on the stem of the “M”.

I also want to remove the the smaller curl on the last leg of the “M” to make room for our own custom swoosh/underline. I erased it with the Eraser Tool (Shift+E). I then drew the underline using the stroke width of 7.5 again with the Pencil Tool (N). I adjusted the curve a bit to line up perfectly.

I want to make the crossing of the “t” longer over the double “oo”. To do that I used the Remove Anchor Point Tool (-) and deleted the small cross. Then I used the Pen Tool (P) to draw a much longer line. I used a smaller stroke of 5 for this path. You’ll want to make sure these lines are parallel and balanced with one another.

Now select all of the shapes and press Object | Expand to convert all of the paths to shapes. Then press the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel. This will combine all of the shapes into one.

This is looking good, but it doesn’t feel quite as balanced as it should. To fix that, we’ll use the Shear Tool, which is located in the pull out menu under the Scale Tool.

Click the word and use a corner handle to skew the image slightly to the right.

As a finishing touch, we’ll need to align the ends of our new angles to match the angles of the type.

To do this, simply grab the Direct Selection Tool, and nudge the points at the end of the added shapes to align them. To help, I created some blue guides to show me the correct angle.

Here’s a look at the final piece. I hope this tutorial has inspired you to create some faux lettering of your own!


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Subtle Noise Effects – Brushes, Bitmaps and More


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Retro and grungy letter press inspired effect using textures

Create a Vintage Press Text Effect in Photoshop

This tutorial will show you how to use Smart Objects, Filters, textures and Clipping Masks in Photoshop to a create a retro letter press style text effect.

Step 1

Launch Photoshop and create a new document, width 900 pixels and height 600 pixels.
letter press retro grunge text effect

Step 2

Go to the Layer menu and select New Fill Layer > Solid Color.. click OK and then enter #262627 in the Color Picker
letter press retro grunge text effect
letter press retro grunge text effect

Step 3

Type your text onto the canvas using Bebas Neue Regular.

  • Size: 180 px
  • Vertical Spacing: 136 px
  • Alignment: Left
  • Color: #ffffff

letter press retro grunge text effect

Step 4

In order to round the edges of the text slightly, apply a Stroke layer style aligned to the outside:

  • Size: 2 px
  • Position: Outside
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Color: #ffffff

letter press retro grunge text effect
letter press retro grunge text effect

Step 5

To make the text look rougher around the edges, first convert the layer to a Smart Object and then go to the Filter menu and select Distort > Ripple…

  • Amount: 35%
  • Size: Medium

letter press retro grunge text effect
letter press retro grunge text effect

Step 6

Drop in this free texture sample from the Gentle Press Effects set and resize it to fill the canvas, whilst holding down the Shift key to constrain proportions.
letter press retro grunge text effect

Step 7

Place the texture layer above the text Smart Object in the Layers panel and create a Clipping Mask.
letter press retro grunge text effect

Step 8

Apply a black Color Overlay to the texture layer:

  • Color: #000000
  • Opacity: 100%

letter press retro grunge text effect

Step 9

Set the Opacity of the texture layer to 50%
letter press retro grunge text effect

Step 10

Duplicate the texture layer, change the Opacity to 15%, and move it down in the Layers panel so that it sits below the text Smart Object layer and above the Color Fill layer.
letter press retro grunge text effect

Step 11

Change the Color Overlay from black to white (#ffffff) on the duplicated texture layer.
letter press retro grunge text effect
letter press retro grunge text effect

Step 12

Now we can draw or drop in our custom shape. I am using the Gas Mask icon from the Signia - Vector Icon Pack. Set the fill color to #b4c95f.
letter press retro grunge text effect

Step 13

Move the shape layer between the top texture layer and text Smart Object layer, which will automatically add it to the Clipping Mask already set up.
letter press retro grunge text effect

Result & Variations

Feel free to experiment with the last step and try out different shapes and color fills:
letter press retro grunge text effect
letter press retro grunge text effect
letter press retro grunge text effect


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Why you should already be using SVG

A Quick Primer On SVG

While you may only have recently started to hear people talk about SVG, or “scalable vector graphics”, the technology has been around since 1999. For a variety of reasons SVG adoption has been slow, but as web browsers have added native support and trends in web design have come to favor responsiveness and flexibility, SVG is gaining traction quickly. SVG is incredibly robust and powerful, but all you need is a little bit of knowledge to start incorporating SVG into your designs.

There are tools available, like Grunticon and the Glyphs Company platform, to help make this powerful technology easier to use.

A Quick History Lesson

Officially released as an open standard by the W3C in 2001, SVG’s adoption was initially hindered by a lack of native support in major web browsers. Luckily for designers and developers, this is no longer the case, and more and more people are looking to SVG to improve their website’s graphics. Google’s decision in 2010 to start indexing SVG content in both its web and image search results represents the technology’s growing acceptance. With mobile web browsing recently having surpassed traditional desktop use and the increasing necessity of “responsive design” as a design and development philosophy, SVG has become an popular tool because of its ability to look good on any sized screen.

What Is An SVG?

Vector graphics use mathematical expressions to create lines, curves and other geometric shapes. The vector, or “path”, draws a line by connecting a series of points, which are defined with fixed positions on an x-y coordinate plane. Each individual vector can be assigned a stroke color, shape, thickness, and fill.

Below is an example of SVG code:

<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" viewBox="0 0 60.018 40.01"> 
   <defs> 
      <path id="a" d="M57 40H3c-1.657 0-3-1.343-3-3V3c0-1.657 1.343-3 3-3h54c1.657 0 3 1.343 3 3v34c0 1.657-1.343 3-3 3z"/> 
   </defs> 
   <clipPath id="b"> 
      <use xlink:href="#a" overflow="visible"/> 
   </clipPath> 
   <g clip-path="url(#b)"> 
      <g fill="#F04F4D"> 
         <path d="M45 0h15v40H45zM0 0h15v40H0z"/> 
      </g> 
      <path fill="#FFF" d="M15 0h30v40H15z"/> 
      <path d="M30 7.813l-2.047 3.818c-.232.416-.648.377-1.064.146l-1.483-.767 
         1.104 5.863c.233 
         1.07-.512 1.07-.88.608l-2.586-2.894-.42 1.47c-.048.193-.26.396-.58.348l-3.27-.688.858 
         3.123c.184.694.327.982-.186 1.165l-1.165.548 5.63 4.573c.223.173.335.484.256.766l-.493 
         1.617c1.938-.224 3.675-.56 5.614-.767.17-.018.458.264.457.463l-.257 
         5.923h.942l-.15-5.912c0-.198.26-.494.43-.475 1.94.207 3.677.543 
         5.615.766l-.493-1.618c-.08-.282.033-.593.256-.766l5.63-4.573-1.
         167-.548c-.512-.183-.37-.47-.185-1.
         166l.86-3.124-3.27.688c-.32.048-.533-.155-.582-.348l-.42-1.47-2.586 
         2.895c-.368.464-1.113.464-.88-.607l1.103-5.864-1.482.766c-.416.232-.832.27-1.064-.145" fill="#F04F4D"/> 
   </g> 
   <g opacity=".1"> 
      <path d="M57.018 1.01c1.103 0 2 .897 2 2v34c0 1.103-.897 2-2 2h-54c-1.103 0-2-.897-2-2v-34c0-1.103.897-2 2-2h54m0-1h-54c-1.657 
         0-3 1.343-3 3v34c0 1.657 1.343 3 3 3h54c1.657 0 3-1.343 3-3v-34c0-1.657-1.343-3-3-3z"/> 
   </g> 
</svg>

An SVG is created using XML, and as a result can be easily be modified using a global stylesheet. The fact that an SVG is made with code, allows the vector to be adjusted to any size without a loss in sharpness—the “scalable” in SVG. Additionally, increasing the size of an SVG does not significantly increase the file size of the image, which allows developers to employ the scalability of an SVG without giving their pages burdensome load times.

SVG & Responsive Design

Even if you don’t intend to have massive graphics on your page, thoughtful web developers and designers can still benefit from using SVGs. Raster images, unlike SVGs, are made up of fixed pixel sets. High pixel density screens like Apple’s Retina Display require the pixel sets of raster images increase in size as well. Images with lower resolutions can look fuzzy and unattractive on retina-style displays, but since SVGs are composed of shapes they can scale up appropriately. In this sense, SVG graphics are “resolution agnostic”—in other words, they remain beautiful and useful no matter the resolution of the screen.

The image below is the output of the SVG code above. The Canadian flag will remain sharp no matter the screen.

Responsive design is an approach to web design that looks ensure the same experience for users on any size screen. Often, this takes the form of a “mobile first” design strategy, where the site is optimized initially for a smaller screen, and then scaled up. Mobile sites are a special challenge for developers, because users have become accustomed to using gestures like pinch and zoom to navigate sites on smaller screens. Using an SVG file for your icon, button, or similar UI graphic, ensures that everything will remain sharp no matter how an end-user chooses to interact with your site.

“Browser Agnostic”

As mentioned earlier, a major hurdle in the adoption of SVG has been native browser support. Though lesser-known browsers included native SVG support early on, it was not until recently that Firefox, Chrome, and most importantly Internet Explorer did the same. While Firefox began support in 2005 and Google and Safari in 2006, it was not until 2011 that Internet Explorer, with the release of IE9, followed suit. Though IE currently represents a much smaller percentage of browser usage than in previous years, recent studies show that IE accounts for anywhere between 25-50% of all desktop browsing. Developers who are concerned with ensuring compatibility for users with older web browsers like IE8 fortunately have resources in the form of numerous plugins.

Why Not Icon Fonts?

As a recent blog post on our site outlined, there are a few different ways to create SVG code through popular photo and graphics editing software - namely Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch. The most simple method is to create the vector graphic and just save the file with an .svg extension. For web developers looking for a higher level of granularity and control, the SVG code can be opened in a text editor and further manipulated. SVG can be inserted to an HTML document “in-line”, or directly into the page’s code. Though this is not the only way to use SVG, it offers many advantages to developers. Because it is XML, it can be controlled with CSS, even your page’s global stylesheet, as well as Javascript.

Using SVG

An example of creating an SVG graphic in Adobe Photoshop.
The examples below are not intended to be a comprehensive list of all the methods of using SVG graphics. There are a ton of variations even within a single technique. However, we have highlighted a few of the most useful and/or popular ways designers implement SVG into their work. The goal of Glyphs Company is to take the guesswork and headache out of using SVG, so you can keep focusing on making something awesome.

Inline SVG

As mentioned above, SVG code might look intimidating, but it behaves the same as HTML. Once you have an SVG, you can drop the code “in-line” into your HTML document. Because the page does not need to make a second HTTP request just for the graphic, this allows for a faster experience for the end-user. More importantly, implementing SVG in-line allows you to take advantage of the fact that an SVG graphic is built from code—meaning that you can control the inner workings of a graphic with CSS, and create animations and other features with Javascript. In-line SVG allows the unique benefits of the technology to really shine through. Moreover, you do not sacrifice functionality for compatibility - in-line has native support for the same browsers as any other method.

That being said, having to dump code, especially if you have multiple graphics, can lead to a bloated, hard to read HTML document. Moreover, because an in-line graphic is not separately cached, which could be a problem if you are using the same graphic across multiple web pages.

External Image File / CSS Background Image

Two other common methods, similar to one another in functionality, are to import the SVG as an external image file or as a CSS background image. Both methods have the same level of compatibility as in-line SVG, but most critically do not allow you to control the code in the SVG itself.

“Fragment Identifiers”

For design items like icon sets, you may have half a dozen icons in one SVG file but may only wish to use one or two on a given page. SVG allows the user to specify a certain size “view box”, and then easily make reference to that specific “fragment” of SVG. The code can be placed either inline or as an external image file, and the fragment can be called with a simple #whatever identifier in the desired location. While this technique is largely supported in browsers, there are compatibility problems with Safari.

Resources

Here is a list of some what we think are some of the best SVG resources around the web. Share your thoughts and any other great resources you find in the comments.

 


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Subtle, simple shadows

3 Easy Ways to Create Vector Silhouettes

Creating vector silhouettes is an easy way to add simple illustrations to your design work. Silhouettes can be achieved in several ways. In this simple tutorial, I’ll show 3 different ways to creating silhouette shapes using Photoshop and Illustrator.

Method 1 - The Vector Outline

First up, find a good photo containing the image you would like to silhouette. For these examples, I’ll be using this image below. You can download it here, or simply use your own.

Place your image on a layer in Adobe Illustrator. Make sure that layer is set to template with images dimmed to around 50%. To do this just double click the layer in the Layers panel. If you don’t see the Layers panel, click Window | Layers.

Now lock the layer, and create a new one. On this new layer use the Pen Tool (P), and begin clicking points around the horse and riders outer most edges. Make sure your fill is set to none, and your border color is set to something you can easily see. In this case, I chose a light blue.

Continue to go all the way around until you are able to click and join with the first point. Now using the Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C), go back and click and drag the points to create the curves of the silhouette.

You should now have a completed outline. Using the Pen Tool again, go back and draw the inner shapes where you will cut the background out of the final silhouette. In my image, it would be around the horses reins and the riders arms.

Change all of your strokes to fills, and make sure the main or largest horse and rider shape is pushed to the back by selecting it and clicking Object | Arrange | Send to Back (Cmd+Shift+]). Now select all the shapes and click the Subtract button on the Pathfinder panel. If you don’t see the Pathfinder panel, click Window | Pathfinder.

You should now have your completed silhouette. You can delete the background image layer and change your shapes fill color to black.

Since the hair in the horses tail and mane were hard to trace, I decided to enhance those areas a bit with the Pant Brush Tool (B)

Method 2 - The Photoshop Way

In this method will be using Photoshop to create the silhouette. Open the image in Photoshop, and convert it to black and white by clicking Image | Adjust | Desaturate. Now with over to Quick Mask Mode by pressing the letter (Q) on your keyboard. Use a large brush to draw over the horse and rider. This will create the overall shape of our silhouette.

Now exit quick mask mode by pressing (Q) on the keyboard again. You’ll then need to invert the selection by pressing (Cmd+Shift+I).

Create a new layer by pressing (Cmd+Shift+N), and fill the selection on this new layer by clicking Edit | Fill. Choose Black for the Contents.

Now you can delete or turn off the original photo layer. Select the contents of the fill layer by (cmd+clicking) on the layers thumbnail. Copy (Cmd+C) then head over to Illustrator. Once in Illustrator press (Cmd+V) to paste the image.

Now choose the Sketched Art preset on the Image Trace panel. If you don’t see it, click Window | Image Trace.

Then click Object | Expand to turn it into an editable vector shape.

Method 3 - Hand Drawing Your Silhouettes

For this final method, we’ll print out our image and use a black pen to trace the image on tracing paper. You don’t need to print out a super high quality image. Choose a fast draft black and white setting to save on ink. You can also erase a major portion of the background since we won’t need it.

Using a fine liner pen like a Micron or Sharpie, trace around the edges of the horse and rider.

When the trace is complete lay the sheet on the scanner and go back to digital. Open the scan in Adobe Illustrator. Once there, use the Sketched Art preset on the Image Trace panel again. Also click Object | Expand to turn the outline into a vector shape.

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A) choose any point on the inside stroke of the shape.

Now press the delete key on your keyboard twice to delete the inside stroke path. This will create a sold black shape.

Conclusion

I hope you found these methods useful for creating silhouettes. Feel free to share some of the silhouettes that you’ve created using the comment fields below.

 


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Macbook Mockups - Silver, Gold & Space Gray


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Which tool is better for designing svg icons

Should You Use Photoshop, Illustrator or Sketch to Draw Vector Icons?

Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch are all tools capable of drawing vector icons and exporting them to SVG. But which tool should you be using to draw vector icons?

Introduction

Comparing the two Adobe applications first, Photoshop has always been more of a bitmap-focused image editor which also has some vector capabilities, and Illustrator is the opposite; a vector editor with some limited bitmap functionality. The latter of these is definitely still true, however Photoshop has actually come a long way in the last few years and now handles vectors very well in addition to bitmaps.

Although Photoshop and Illustrator are the major players in the graphics and design industry, I have also included Sketch in this comparison due to the fact that it has been gaining popularity an extremely fast pace, and is considered by many to be an alternative to Adobe’s apps.

The purpose of this comparison is to discover which tool is most suitable for drawing vector icons. I am using the term ‘vector icons’ in this case to refer to any icon that has been created exclusively using vector shapes and paths, with no rasterized graphics, bitmap photos or filters.

Photoshop and SVG

photoshop illustrator or sketch for svg icons
Since October 2014, Photoshop can now export graphics to SVG. This not only means that you can create scalable graphics to use in your projects and on the web, but you can also create graphics in an open format that other editors such as Illustrator, and Sketch can also read. This is fantastic news!

However, Photoshop still can not yet read .svg files. So if you want to edit icons that you have designed at a later date, then you will need to save your files as .psd documents in addition to .svg. This could potentially be a major draw back.

A possible workaround is to open simple vector icons in Illustrator and then copy and paste the graphics into Photoshop as a Vector Shape Layer. This does work, but you will need access to both software packages. Complicated icons with multiple layers will need to be copied one layer at a time and arranged in Photoshop manually.

Drawing Shapes

photoshop illustrator or sketch for svg icons
Most icons begin with basic geometric shapes, it is actually quite incredible what can be achieved simply by combining rectangles and ovals of different shapes and sizes. Of course, all drawing apps have basic shape tools, but how useful they are is determined their ease of use and flexibility.

Photoshop
Photoshop is at a slight disadvantage here because it is not a native vector drawing application, and drawing shapes in Photoshop still feels very ‘layer-based’ and a little clunky. Selecting shapes and moving them around on the canvas does not feel quite as intuitive as Illustrator and Sketch. Polygons and Stars also can’t be dynamically edited after drawing in Photoshop, and only perfect rectangles or squares can have rounded corners.

Illustrator
Illustrator feels more natural when drawing basic shapes including Ovals, (Rounded) Rectangles, Lines and Polygons. The Live Corners feature is also extremely useful because it allows you to smooth out almost any corner. However, Illustrator does suffer the same drawback as Photoshop when it comes to options for polygons and stars, which once drawn are final.

Sketch
Sketch also feels natural when drawing basic shapes and allows you to edit shape options after they have been drawn, including polygons and stars. Sketch can also round almost any corner, on any shape (similar to Live Corners in Illustrator).

Pathfinder Operations

photoshop illustrator or sketch for svg icons
‘Pathfinder’ or ‘Boolean’ operations are how vector objects are combined together to create more complex shapes and icons. The 4 primary modes are Add, Subtract, Intersect and Exclude.

Photoshop
Photoshop has non-destructive Pathfinder/Boolean operations, which can be flattened if required. The only drawback is that they can only be performed on vectors that are on the same layer, so you may need to merge layers together before doing any pathfinding.

Illustrator
Illustrator has a wider range of Pathfinder operations than Photoshop and Illustrator. Although you will mostly use the main four, it is nice to have the extra modes available. The drawback to Pathfinder operations in Illustrator is that they are destructive and make permanent changes to your shapes.

Sketch
Sketch has non-destructive Pathfinder/Boolean operations which can even be seen and modified in the Layers panel (very handy!). Combined shapes can also be flattened if desired for permanent changes. I struggled to find any negative points about Pathfinder operations in Sketch.

Exporting to SVG

photoshop illustrator or sketch for svg icons
SVG is an XML-based, open standard vector image format by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). SVG is the best way to use or share scalable vector graphics, as it is widely supported by web browsers, image viewers and vector drawing applications.

Photoshop
Photoshop can export multiple SVG assets simultaneously either by placing them on individual artboards, or by naming groups and layers appropriately with a ‘.svg’ suffix. The ability to export groups and layers (natively) is what sets Photoshop apart, because there is no need to create a unique artboard for every single icon. This comes in very handy when designing large sets of 100 or more icons because there is no limit on layers in Photoshop and the icons can also overlap on the same artboard if you prefer to work that way.

Illustrator
Illustrator is currently the only application out of the 3 that has detailed SVG export options, allowing you to define preferences for fonts, image embedding, css properties and more. You can also export multiple SVG assets simultaneously by using Artboards, however there is a limit of 100 artboards per Illustrator document.

Sketch
Sketch also allows you to export multiple SVG assets via Slices, and you can even use different file type extensions and size multipliers for each slice. However, compared to Photoshop and Illustrator, the results of SVG export are sometimes buggy. For example, a rounded rectangle with different corner radiuses will not export correctly. This is something that I’m sure the developers are working on and should improve as the software matures, but as things currently stand, is a major drawback to using Sketch for designing SVG icons.

Exported SVG File Size

photoshop illustrator or sketch for svg icons
I performed a quick test exporting the same vector silhouette of Marilyn Monroe to SVG with Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch to determine which app produces the most efficient code. Here are the results:

Photoshop

  • Default Options
  • Result: 39KB

Illustrator (Winner)

  • SVG Profile SVG 1.1
  • CSS Option: Style Elements
  • Result: 21KB

Sketch

  • Default Options
  • Result: 56KB

Other Factors

Photoshop
Photoshop is industry standard software, and most designers are very familiar with it’s workflow, which may make it a preferred option. However it should noted that ideally, you need access to Illustrator as well if you want to be able to open SVG files in Photoshop.

Illustrator
Everybody’s favourite Illustrator feature is Live Trace and neither Photoshop or Sketch offer an alternative to this. Illustrator is also a more established software package than Sketch which makes it more reliable.

Sketch
Sketch is lightweight software created specifically for designers and many find it to be a more efficient tool, that is less ‘bloated’ than Adobe’s offerings. Sketch is also considerably more affordable than Photoshop and Illustrator. Windows users will be out of luck though because it is only available for Mac.

Conclusion

If you’re wondering who the winner is, then ultimately your personal preference is going to be the deciding factor here. Hopefully this comparison may help you make up your mind, but essentially if you WANT to use Sketch, go for it! If you’re familiar with and comfortable using Photoshop it’s a perfectly viable option for drawing vector icons.

And If Illustrator is your tool of choice, then I suspect you may have backed the winner. But of course, that’s just my opinion!

Lately at Medialoot we’ve been working a lot with SVG icons for our members and for the upcoming launch of Glyphs Company, a new platform dedicated exclusively to high-quality SVG resources. We have learned a lot about SVG and we are excited to share it with the world. Check out the Glyphs Company website to sign up for our upcoming Beta release, and play around with some of our icons to see the power of SVG.


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A new tool for new design needs

Project Comet - Adobe’s New Tool for Interface Design

On Monday, Adobe announced Project Comet, a new software tool for UX/UI design. Combining wireframing and prototyping into one comprehensive, vector-based design tool, Project Comet is clearly Adobe’s answer to Sketch. In a blog post on their website, Adobe declares that design has changed and “the tools for design have to change too.” The popularity of Sketch is evidence of this fact, and Adobe throwing their hat into the ring will be a welcome addition to the UX/UI design toolkit.

Introducing Project Comet

While Project Comet will not be available until “early 2016”, Adobe has released a short video, available on YouTube and embedded below, demonstrating the program’s interface, its philosophy and some of its functionality. As its name suggests, Adobe intends for Project Comet to be fast, and allow users to “reduce the friction that comes from working with multiple tools to design and prototype.“  The photo above is a screenshot taken from this same announcement video, showing Comet’s ability to preview designs across multiple screen sizes in real time. A designer will be able to create wireframes and tweak animations within the same screen and program, allowing for a faster, more seamless workflow and hopefully the ability to iterate more easily.

 

One of the features highlighted is the “Repeat Grid” tool, intended as a faster way to layout lists and grids in your prototypes.


By clicking and dragging, a user can repeat a group of objects endlessly, with dynamic control of layout and padding. This feature is indicative of Adobe’s larger goals for Comet - smooth the speed bumps between designing and prototype that get in the way of being able to iterate a product rapidly.

Playing Nice With Creative Cloud

Unlike the veteran tools of Adobe’s Creative Cloud like Illustrator and Photoshop, Project Comet is described by Adobe Principal Designer Khoi Vinh as being “natively built for OS X” (read more at his personal website).  This departure may be intended to get attention from fans and users of the OS X exclusive Sketch, but it certainly suggests a change in Adobe’s approach to software development. Also of note is the fact that Project Comet will be made available as both a desktop and as a mobile application, further highlighting the importance that Adobe is placing on Comet’s ability to work across devices.

Though pricing details have not been revealed, there is an assumption that Project Comet will be made available as a subscription, similar to Adobe’s current offerings. This is a significant difference from Sketch, which is extremely affordable at a one-time cost of $99.

Finally, it remains to be seen how Project Comet will fit in as part of the larger established Creative Cloud ecosystem but Adobe would be wise to capitalize on the ability to integrate projects with Photoshop and Illustrator. However, it is possible that this relationship could actually hinder Project Comet’s capabilities. While Sketch has powerful vector tools, and Adobe has positioned Project Comet as being a vector-first design tool, Adobe could conceivably handicap Comet’s vector tools so as to not cannibalize Illustrator users.

Find Out More

For more information, check out Adobe’s blog and sign up to receive more information about Comet in the coming months here.

Are you excited by Project Comet? Think it can’t compete with Sketch? Share you thoughts in the comments.

 


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