Quick Tip: Using a Displacement Map to Create a Photo Realistic Mockup

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Create Your Own Mockups

Quick Tip: Using a Displacement Map to Create a Photo Realistic Mockup

Creating your own mockups to display your work is essential for any designer these days. It's an easy process if you're utilizing displacement maps in Photoshop. Let's take a quick look at a simple method for creating a mockup file that can be reused over an over.

Step 1 - A Good Textured Photo

To start off, we’ll need open an image with a good texture in Photoshop. A brick wall, some rusty steel, peeling paint, etc… For this example I chose some wrinkled newsprint paper.

How to use a displacement map in Photoshop to create a photo realistic mockup - Tutorial from Medialoot.com

Step 2 - Create the Displacement Map

To create the displacement map switch over to the Channels panel, and duplicate the channel with the most contrast. I chose the blue channel. Then add more contrast to the channel by adjusting the level (Image | Adjust | Levels).

How to use a displacement map in Photoshop to create a photo realistic mockup - Tutorial from Medialoot.com

With this new blue copy layer selected, press Cmd+A on your keyboard to select everything on the layer, then press Cmd+N to create a new document, and finally press Cmd+V to past the selection onto the new document.

Now save this new file as “displacement-map.psd”

Step 3 - Create a Smart Object

Head back over to the layers panel and add your artwork to a new layer. My artwork is vector based, so I copied it over from Illustrator as a vector shape.

How to use a displacement map in Photoshop to create a photo realistic mockup - Tutorial from Medialoot.com

Step 4 - Apply the Displacement Map

Now Ctrl+Click or right click on the artwork layer and select “Convert to Smart Object”. In the case of this project, converting to a Smart Object allows you to edit the artwork even after filters have been applied.

Now click Filter | Distort | Displace. You’ll be prompted with a settings box, for this example I chose 5 for both vertical and horizontal scale. You’ll have to play with this number based on the resolution of your texture. But something around a 5 will probably do.

How to use a displacement map in Photoshop to create a photo realistic mockup - Tutorial from Medialoot.com

After applying the displacement map your artwork will bend and distort around the edges of the texture.

How to use a displacement map in Photoshop to create a photo realistic mockup - Tutorial from Medialoot.com

Step 5 - Finishing Up

As a final step, let’s apply a mask to the artwork layer. With that layer selected click the “Add layer mask” icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

How to use a displacement map in Photoshop to create a photo realistic mockup - Tutorial from Medialoot.com

Remember that copy of the blue channel that we made? Let’s load that up for our mask. Click Select | Load Selection, and choose “blue copy” as the channel, then click okay.

How to use a displacement map in Photoshop to create a photo realistic mockup - Tutorial from Medialoot.com

You’ll now see a selection based on the blue copy channel. Now choose a medium gray for a foreground color (I chose #404040). With the mask selected on the layers panel, click Edit | Fill. For contents choose “Foreground Color” and click okay.

How to use a displacement map in Photoshop to create a photo realistic mockup - Tutorial from Medialoot.com

You should now see a bit more of the texture showing through your artwork layer. And that’s it!

Conclusion

This is the method that I use to create various logo and artwork mockups. It works great on a variety of textures, and remains completely editable due to the Smart Object layer. I hope you find this tip useful, and use it to start making your own mockup files!


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Tips to speed up your Sketch workflow

Custom Templates and Reusable Symbol Libraries in Sketch

If you often use the same interface elements, canvas size or grid settings for multiple projects, this tutorial will teach you how to create custom templates and libraries of reusable symbols in Sketch 3.

Reusable blank artboards and grid templates

If you often use the same size artboards within a project or for different projects, creating a custom template with the artboard already set up can save you a little bit of time. If you have a favorite grid setting that you reguarly use, you can include that too. Here’s how to create custom templates for Sketch:

Step 1

Launch Sketch and create a regular new document. Use the Artboard tool to draw a new artboard onto the canvas and define it’s dimensions in the properties panel.
custom templates for sketch

Step 2

Name your artboard in the layers panel:
custom templates for sketch

Step 3

If you have a preferred grid that you like to use, go to the layout settings dialog and set up your grid
custom templates for sketch

Step 4

When you are happy with your document setup that you’d like to make reusable, go to File > Save as Template to name your template and make it available for all future projects when you create a new document from template:
custom templates for sketch
custom templates for sketch

How to create a library of reusable UI elements

Symbols are a feature in Sketch that allow you to reuse graphics multiple times within a document. When changes are made to one instance of the symbol, other instances of the symbol are also automatically updated. The templates and symbols features can be combined to create a reusable library of symbols available for all future projects.

Step 1

Let’s create a couple of button symbols first. Draw a 200 x 50 pixels rectangle on the canvas with a solid fill and no borders:
custom templates for sketch

Step 2

To give the button some subtle styling, add a small 10% black inner shadow style with a -2 Y value and 0 blur.
custom templates for sketch

Step 3

Place a new text layer in the center of the button and type in ‘Solid Button’
custom templates for sketch

Step 4

Duplicate the rectangle and text layers, then select the duplicated rectangle, remove its fill and add a 2px border. The text layer will appear invisible because it is still white so first change its fill color and then updated the text to ‘Outlined Button’:
custom templates for sketch
custom templates for sketch
custom templates for sketch

Step 5

You now have two different buttons, select each one and go to Layer > Create Symbol:
custom templates for sketch

Step 6

With one of the newly created symbols selected, click its name in the properties panel and select Organize Symbols from the contextual menu. In the dialog that appears you can name your two button symbols:
custom templates for sketch
custom templates for sketch

Step 7

Insert a new instance of your solid button symbol onto the canvas next to the original. Double click one of the symbols to edit it, highlight the text layer and check the box that says ‘Exclude Text Value from Symbol’. You can now update the text without affecting other instances of the button:
custom templates for sketch
custom templates for sketch

Step 8

If you make any changes to the button other than the text, you will notice that they also appear automatically in other instances of the symbol.
custom templates for sketch

Step 9

You can now repeat this process for any other additional elements that you want to include in your UI library.
custom templates for sketch
custom templates for sketch

Step 10

Select all of the objects that you have on the canvas and delete them. Then finally, save your template for future use!
custom templates for sketch

Final Tips

This same process can be used for any sort of desktop, mobile, web or print template that you’d like to create and have handy for future use. If you have the patience you could even create a library of your favorite icons. Nested symbols are feature that Bohemian Coding are working on, there is a workaround way to do it now, but it is currently a little unstable which is why I didn’t mention it in the article.


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Adobe Illustrator Scribble Brushes Give You The Right Brush Look Without The Mess

Quick Tip: Instant Digital Brush Hand Lettering in Illustrator

Hand lettering, especially when added to images, is a beautiful trend that I'm partial to. There are tons of ways to get your hand lettering onto the computer in order to turn it into a logo, whether it's dipping a paint brush into ink and trying countless times to get your lettering perfect, then scanning and subtracting the background, or whether it's a more straight-to-digital approach. In this quick tip, I'm going to show you how to use scribble brushes in Adobe Illustrator to create beautiful hand lettered graphics for your site and brand.

Quick Tip: Instant Digital Hand Lettering in Illustrator

To start, open a new document in Illustrator. Don’t worry too much about the size of the document since we’re going to drop this artwork into Photosohp later on. Also make sure you have great Scribble brushes for Illustrator on hand.

Other tools I’m using: the Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch tablet. While you can definitely recreate this with a mouse (you’ll see soon that the strokes are very simple for this project), a tablet makes things that much easier.

Install Your Brushes

After you’ve downloaded some brushes, open the AI file. In the brush panel, click the Brush Libraries Menu icon and then click Save Brushes… so you’ll be able to access them in other documents.

How to save brushes in Adobe Illustrator - Quick Tip: Instant Digital Hand Lettering in Illustrator on Medialoot.com

The saved brush set should save into the Illustrator brush preset folder by default. Then go ahead and close the AI file.

Get To Know Your Illustrator Brushes

Because brushes behave differently, it’s important to play around with the brushes to see what types of stroke width you need to use as well as how the brushes work around tight corners and curves.

A lot of these thicker stroke brushes don’t do too well around a corner, especially with thicker strokes, because the overlap causes the strokes to cancel each other out:

Thicker brushes in Illustrator will have overlap issues - Quick Tip: Instant Digital Hand Lettering in Illustrator on Medialoot.com

With the B above, the letter was drawn in one stroke and is having a lot of issues. But, by playing around and getting more comfortable with the brushes, you can see that the multiple-stroke letters turn out much better, like the D.

So with more playing, you can create a cool word or phrase with multiple strokes that looks like you took a brush to a canvas.

It can take multiple strokes to achieve good looking hand lettering in Illustrator with Scribble brushes - Quick Tip: Instant Digital Hand Lettering in Illustrator on Medialoot.com

Perfect Your Technique

The best way of course to perfect your technique for lettering in Illustrator is to draw a letter over and over again until you really start to get the feel of it. (I made one of my hot keys on my Wacom tablet the Undo key, and I use it a ton.)

However, because these are simple stroke letters, you can also adjust the letters by using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Smooth Tool.

Have Fun With It

Once you perfect the look, there are lots of fun things you can do with the vector words. In this example, I’m just going to place it over an image in Photoshop, change the color using the Color Overlay filter, and reduce the opacity:

Have fun with your digital hand lettering and place it over a photo - Quick Tip: Instant Digital Hand Lettering in Illustrator on Medialoot.com

Since processing instant digital hand lettering is a lot faster than waiting for ink to dry and scanning in artwork, you an have a lot of fun with it. Here are a few other things:

Quick Tip: Instant Digital Hand Lettering in Illustrator on Medialoot.com

Quick Tip: Instant Digital Hand Lettering in Illustrator on Medialoot.com

Quick Tip: Instant Digital Hand Lettering in Illustrator on Medialoot.com

Give it a shot and have fun!

 


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Sweet Pineapple - Hand-drawn Serif Webfont


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Painted and Digitized

How to Design and Paint Your Own Vintage Badge

Creating something by hand can be incredibly rewarding. For a designer or illustrator, the feeling you get when seeing a creation come to life on paper is like no other. Sure, you can create vintage style badges and logos using Illustrator and Photoshop. But sketching and painting your design on paper before, bringing it into the computer, adds a special layer that can't be achieved in Photoshop.

Let’s take a look at one process for sketching a vintage badge and then painting it with watercolor.

Step 1 - Find good inspiration

If you don’t know it by now, Pinterest is a wonderful thing. Creating a board for a particular style is simple to do. I’ve created a board just for vintage badges that I can pull up for reference and inspiration. You can also do a search to pull up an infinite amount of inspiration.

Step 2 - Thumbnail sketching

Now set the inspiration aside, and begin sketching small thumbnails to get some badge ideas on paper. Sketch quick and rough to see what works and what doesn’t. I knew going into my thumbnails that I wanted something round and with a vintage worker theme. Below are my thumbnail sketches.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

Step 3 - Choose a Design and Refine

From my thumbnails I chose a design that I think will work well. I refined it into a sketch that is approximately 4-5 inches wide. It needs to be wide enough so that even the smallest details will come through in our final painting. Below is my refined sketch.

I used several tools in this step:

  • A lead holder (with hard lead) for the initial sketch
  • An HB pencil for darkening the final sketch
  • A nice sot eraser for my many mistakes
  • A compass for drawing perfect circles

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

Step 4 - Transferring the Sketch

Now that I have my final sketch, I want to transfer the sketch onto a paper that can hold my watercolor paint without wrinkling or soaking through. I chose a watercolor paper by Canson.

To transfer the design, I flipped the sketch page over and used a graphite stick to shade the reverse side of the sketch. You want a good solid coat of graphite behind the sketch so that it will transfer.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

Now I flipped the page back over and taped the page in place onto the watercolor paper. Now with my HB pencil I’ll go back and trace my sketch over again. The pressure of the pencil will transfer the graphite from the back of the page onto the watercolor paper.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

Now that the sketch is fully traced with the pencil, I removed the sketch page and set it aside. The resulting transfer looks good but is a little heavy and dirty from the graphite.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

I went back with my eraser and cleaned up the transfer and lightened it a bit.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

Step 5 - Painting the Badge Design

Now that my design is on the watercolor paper, I just need to fill in the shapes with paint. I’m using a liquid watercolor and some cheap brushes from the hobby store. The brushes don’t need to be special, just a fine tip is all that is needed.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

Take your time at this stage. I find it easier to fill the brush with more water than paint on the shapes and more paint than water when doing the letters. Also, when making strokes pull the brush towards you. It’s easier to make clean lines when pulling strokes towards you versus away from you. Angle the paper if you need to!

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

When the painting is completed set it aside to dry.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

Step 6 - Scanning and Cleaning Up

When the paint dried on my badge, I scanned it and began to clean some of the letters in Photoshop. Below is the original scan.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

In order to clean the letters, I simply erased some rough edges or used a black brush and smoothed some edges. Nothing complicated. Just look your design over and adjust anything that looks off to you.

I need to remove the painted badge from the white background. In order to do that I switched over the Channels panel and copied the blue channel.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

Now back over on the layers panel, I created a new layer and clicked Select | Load Selection and chose “Blue copy” for the Channel. Invert the selection by pressing Cmd+Shift+I. Fill the resulting selection with white.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

I turned off the original artwork layer and will work with this new white layer moving forward. I added a dark grunge background that you can grab here.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

To finalize the badge, I added a color overlay using #f2eed4 as the color.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

And finally, I added a gradient map with the following colors.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com

Oh wait! One more final touch. I didn’t like the angled bars on the outer circle. They seemed unfinished, so I added some text to those. And there you have it… My final watercolor vintage badge.

Tutorial on how to create your very own painted vintage badge on Medialoot.com


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How to Develop and Implement a New Client Questionnaire

A couple of weeks ago we explored 5 ways to tell if a new client is the right client by asking yourself several questions to help you determine if you should take on this new client. This week will look at a series of questions to ask the potential client to determine if working together will be mutually beneficial.

What is a Client Questionnaire?

A New Client Questionnaire (NCQ) is an important tool that you can develop, customize and use to determine if a new potential design client is the right fit for your skills and services. This can be a lengthy formal document that is presented to all new clients before initial discussions begin, or it can be as simple as a set of general questions that you keep on your desk to ask a potential client when talking over the phone or email.  These questions can be tailored to fit you and the type of business and/or services you offer.

Why it’s Important to Use a Client Questionnaire

An NCQ is important for you to develop for many reasons. First up, it helps to simplify a potentially repetitive process. It helps you to be more professional and knowledgeable about your work from the very beginning of a new client relationship. It establishes that you have a process that you follow for your services.

NCQs can also help you filter clients that may not be ready to hire you. If a potential client has trouble answering your questions it may be a sign that they’re not ready to hire a professional at this stage. Being able to determine that from the beginning saves you a ton of time and frustration down the road.

How to Develop and Implement a New Client Questionnaire: Ask The Right Questions - Medialoot.com

Determining the Right Questions to Ask

There may be a ton of questions to ask, or there may be only a handful depending on your business and the work being requested. Only you can decide and gather the right questions to pinpoint what you’re looking for from a client in the very beginning. But let’s take a look at a few sample questions to get your mind thinking in the right direction.

  1. What is your company name / contact name?
  2. What is the purpose of this project?
  3. Who is the target audience for this project?
  4. Does this project have any special considerations?
  5. Do you have any preconceived ideas for this project?
  6. What is the turnaround time for project completion?
  7. What is the budget for completing this project?
  8. Will you be available to answer questions or provide feedback during the course of the project?
  9. Does your company have any direct competitors in regards to this project?
  10. Do you plan to own the intellectual rights to this project?

How to Develop and Implement a New Client Questionnaire: What is the Purpose of This Project? - Medialoot.com

How to Implement Your New Client Questionnaire

You could post this NCQ to your website, or send it to them once they’ve reached out to you via email. But I see this as adding a potential hurdle, or roadblock, between you and the client, which isn’t a good idea. You don’t want this questionnaire to seem like a burden to the client. After all, working with you should be easy, right?

I would suggest presenting it more casually once the client has established contact with you. If you’re questionnaire is short, you can bring up the questions in conversation over the phone, or keep it handy to copy and paste into an email. If you’re questionnaire is long (more than 10 questions) you may have to break it up into multiple steps or pages. Maybe it’s a PDF or a web form that you can send the client to. It can even be designed and laid out in a creative way to give the client a sense of what working with you is like.

How to Develop and Implement a New Client Questionnaire: Please Answer These Simple Questions - Medialoot.com

Conclusion

I hope this article is helped you to realize the importance of establishing your own NCQ. It can be a vital tool in your process making yours and the client’s lives easier by starting a new relationship on the same page.

What are some important questions that you would include in your New Client Questionnaire?

 


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Dispelling the myths about pixels per inch and resolution

Quick Tip: How to Change the Pixels Per Inch of An Image in Photoshop

A common misconception that most people have is that the pixels per inch (PPI) or dots per inch (DPI) of an image has some bearing on the quality of an image. The truth of the matter is that pixels per inch is more like a meta data tag that tells printers how big you'd like an image to be printed.

Resolution and pixels per inch are often confused with each other. In terms of image quality ppi does not equal resolution or quality at all. The resolution of an image is the total amount of pixels it is made up of. For example 3,000 horizontal pixels multiplied by 2,400 horizontal pixels equals 7,200,000 pixels, or 7 megapixels. Where as the pixels per inch value is simply telling a printer or photo viewer how many of those pixels should be displayed per inch of paper of screen space.

So why do people confuse pixels per inch with resolution? The term pixels per inch is also (more suitably) used when describing the resolution of screens. For example a 27 inch iMac with Retina Display has 218 pixels per inch, and an iPhone 6 is even higher at 326 pixels per inch. But this shouldn’t be confused with the pixels per inch of an image.

With that cleared up, here is how to change the PPI of any image should you need to:

Step 1

Open your image in Photoshop and go to Image > Image Size..
change ppi resolution in photoshop

Step 2

Deselect the Resample option if it is checked. Enter a new value in the Resolution* field and click OK.
change ppi resolution in photoshop

It really is that simple! You now have an image of the exact same quality and resolution, but the pixels per inch is now 300 instead of 72.

*Thanks Photoshop for adding to the confusion between pixels per inch and resolution.


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Tips for Creating Icons with Multiple Style Variations

Icon sets with multiple styles included are becoming more popular. They are a great way of utilising multiple icon styles within a project, whilst still maintaining a consistent overall visual style. This tutorial will show how the process of creating solid, outlined and color versions of the same icons can be made simple and easy.

The Basic Icon Shape

Step 1

The first step is to know what your icon is going to be, you may want to sketch it out on paper to help visualise it, or just have something in your mind ready.
design icons in illustrator

Step 2

In your vector graphics application of choice (I’m using Illustrator) draw the basic building blocks of your icon. Avoid using any strokes at this stage and try to stick to whole pixel measurements. These shapes will be the base of all 3 icon styles so it is important to get them just right.
design icons in illustrator

The Outlined Style

Step 3

The outlined style will rely quite heavily on strokes, in order avoid altering the overall dimensions of the icon, align all strokes to the inside.
design icons in illustrator

Step 4

Elements that don’t need to have strokes applied can just be filled with black.
design icons in illustrator

Step 5

Some shapes will need to be combined with the pathfinder/boolean operations.
design icons in illustrator
design icons in illustrator

Step 5

If you need to retain the original shapes and also combine them, copy the original shapes first, and then paste them back into place afterwards.
design icons in illustrator
design icons in illustrator

The Solid Style

Step 6

Starting again with just the base shapes, fill areas that are going to be solid with black.
design icons in illustrator
design icons in illustrator

Step 7

Areas that are going to be subtracted from the final shape can be filled white, or cut out with the pathfinder/boolean operations.
design icons in illustrator

Step 8

To visually separate two overlapping objects, apply a white stroke aligned to the outside of the top shape.
design icons in illustrator
design icons in illustrator

Step 9

The same technique of using a white stroke can be used to divide shapes into sections.
design icons in illustrator
design icons in illustrator

The Color Style

Step 10

The color version is the most fun to create, start again with the basic shapes from step 2 and begin to apply color fills to each section:
design icons in illustrator
design icons in illustrator
design icons in illustrator
design icons in illustrator
design icons in illustrator
design icons in illustrator

The Result

Here are the resulting outlined, solid and color variations of the same basic icon. With the right technique it is very simple to create different icon styles for a project whilst retaining an overall visual consistency.
design icons in illustrator


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Lumino: Free Bootstrap Admin Template


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10 Awesome Hand Letterers that You Need to Follow

In recent years it seems that hand crafted design work that is actually crafted BY HAND is becoming more and more of a trend. After such a long period of designers relying on computers as the go to tool for designing, it's a breath of fresh air to see more of a human touch in illustration and especially lettering. Hand lettering and calligraphy is a craft that takes skill and practice to master. The following artists do some incredible work. If you're interested in lettering or just have a love for great typography, I recommend giving these folks a follow.

Christopher Craig

Christopher is a lettering artist residing in Akron, Ohio. His background is in engineering, which helps gives to give his artwork a clean & functional style. Check out his work here, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

hand lettering artists to follow
hand lettering artists to follow

Neil Tasker

Neil is a letterer, calligrapher and illustrator living outside of Detroit, Michigan. He has worked with clients such as St. Martins press, Men’s Journal, Zendesk, General motors, Milwaukee magazine, dbusiness magazine, hour detroit and more. Check out Neil’s work here and follow him on Instagram and Dribbble.

hand lettering artists to follow
hand lettering artists to follow

Joshua Phillips

Is an incredible letterer who incorporates photos and great textures into his artwork. His lettering pieces contain depth and a personality all their own. You can see more of his work here, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

hand lettering artists to follow
hand lettering artists to follow

Neil Secretario

Neil is a designer living and working in Orange County, California. He’s extremely passionate about design and all things typography. This passion shows through in his work. You can see more of Neil’s lettering here, and you can follow him on Dribbble and Instagram.

hand lettering artists to follow
hand lettering artists to follow

Drew Metlon

Drew is the founder of YourJustLucky.com and is an incredible lettering artist. Drew has put in the work, continues to put in the work and is constantly humbled by the process. You can follow him on Instagram and Dribbble.

hand lettering artists to follow
hand lettering artists to follow

Mateusz Witczak

Mateusz is a 23-year-old self taught graphic artist living in Warsaw, Poland. His work is simply stunning. The amount of detail in his lettering pieces is incredible. You can see more of his work here, or follow him on Behance.

hand lettering artists to follow
hand lettering artists to follow

Noel Shiveley

Noel is a designer from Pasadena, CA. His lettering pieces are warm and captivating. He incorporates images and textures to draw you in and hold your attention. You can follow him on Behance and Instagram.

hand lettering artists to follow
hand lettering artists to follow

Melvin Leidelmeijer

Melvin is a graphic designer & hand letterer from the Netherlands. His work is amazingly expressive. His style is loose but clean, and a ton of fun to view. Check out his work here, and follow him on Instagram.

hand lettering artists to follow
hand lettering artists to follow

Nathan Yoder

Nathan is an illustrator and designer from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Currently located in Portland, Oregon, he specializes in pen and ink illustration, as well as, hand lettering and branding. Take a peek at what he does here, and follow him on Instagram.

hand lettering artists to follow
hand lettering artists to follow

Joan Quirós

Joan is a calligrapher and letterist from London. His work is amazingly expressive an d vibrant. There’s a ton of great calligraphy sample in his portfolio, as well as, some awesome videos. Follow Joan on Behance, Instagram and Dribbble.

hand lettering artists to follow
hand lettering artists to follow

What hand lettering artists do you follow? Comment below!


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Add grunge specs to your vector artwork

Quick Tip: Creating Grunge Brushes in Adobe Illustrator

Adding grunge specs and scratches in Adobe Illustrator is essential in creating a hand made or roughened look to your vector artwork. Doing so is easier than you think when you incorporate custom scatter brushes into your work flow. Below I'll explain my process for creating these brushes.

Step 1 - Find a good subtle grunge texture

First up, find a good subtle grunge texture. You can download the one I’m using here. Open the texture in Photoshop. Desaturate the image by pressing Cmd+Shift+U. Now select Image | Adjust | Threshold and using a setting around 200. This converts the texture to just black and white removing all gray tones from the image.

create a grunge brush in adobe illustrator for your vector artwork

Now select a square section anywhere on the image, and press Cmd+C to copy it to the clipboard. Open Adobe Illustrator and press Cmd+V to paste the selection onto a new document.

create a grunge brush in adobe illustrator for your vector artwork

Step 2 - Auto trace in Illustrator

Now that you’re in Illustrator, select the newly pasted texture portion and click Object | Live Trace | Tracing Options. In the Tracing Options panel be sure to click “Ignore White” then click Trace.

create a grunge brush in adobe illustrator for your vector artwork

Not that the image is traced, click Object | Expand so that the grunge is selectable as a vector object.

create a grunge brush in adobe illustrator for your vector artwork

Step 3 - Create a custom scatter brush

Now open the brushes panel by clicking Windows | Brushes. Then click and drag the vector grunge over to the brushes panel. In the window that opens choose “Scatter Brush”.

create a grunge brush in adobe illustrator for your vector artwork

For the scatter brush options choose something similar to what I have below.

create a grunge brush in adobe illustrator for your vector artwork

Now with your newly created scatter brush selected on the brush panel, draw some random paths and watch the magic happen.

create a grunge brush in adobe illustrator for your vector artwork

Once you the amount of grunge you’re looking for, select the paths and click Object | Expand again to get vector shapes from the scatter brush strokes you created. Simple as that!

 


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A Simple Process

How to Create a Hand Drawn Label Design

Pencil and paper… Every designer loves the idea of creating something by hand. And in recent years, it seems, the process of hand drawn design has seen a resurge in popularity and appreciation. This might leave some designers, who developed their digital skills over the past decade, in the dark. For example, you may be able to create a beautiful design in Photoshop or Illustrator, but given a pen and paper, you are completely lost. This doesn't have to be the case when you are comfortable mixing the two mediums in your design process. Let's take a look at how I created this bottle label using both the pen and the computer as tools to create the end result.

Preview

Here’s a look at what we’ll be building.

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

Finding inspiration on the computer

With most all of my designs I start with a “mood board”. This is basically a collection of design pieces, usually from a certain era or genre, that I find appealing and plan to take inspiration from. Careful now, I said “inspiration” not “copy from”. To avoid inadvertently copying, I typically build the mood board, study it, then put it away, and walk away for a while. That way, when I come back, I’m building from my memory of styles I’ve seen, and not directly taking from something that already exists.

Here’s my mood board for this label design, which I’m basing on a fictional beverage titled “Lucky Dog”.

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

Thumbnail sketching on paper

I start my design by roughing out some ideas on paper. These thumbnails allow me to run through ideas quickly to see what might work and what doesn’t work. Drawing thumbnails is a crucial step in any design process. It saves a ton of time to go into the next step with a general idea of you’re creating.

Here are some thumbnails that I quickly drew for this label design.

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

Next up, I chose a thumbnail and drew it at a larger size paying more attention to details, and how this label might come together. This is still on paper, and drawn at about half the final size of the label. It’s basically a more refined thumbnail to give me an idea of what the final illustration might look like.

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

Quick layout using fonts on the computer

I like the direction the design is heading in. Next, I’ll open up Adobe Illustrator on the computer and do a rough layout using fonts in place of my hand drawn type from the refined thumbnail. I created the document at 2x the size of the printed label. This will give me room to print it out and add details by hand.

Here’s a look at my rough layout in Illustrator. Next up, I’ll print this layout and begin drawing the label over this rough.

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

Building the composition with tracing paper

Now that I’ve printed the rough from Illustrator it’s time to go back to paper. I use tracing paper over the printed rough to begin my layout using pencils and Micron pens. Now wait a minute… Some of you might look at this step and say “He’s tracing!!” or “Why trace the fonts? Why not just stay in Illustrator?”

I’m using these fonts as rough guidelines. I like to use fonts in, some designs like this one, to get a feel for stroke width, alignment and spacing. I also like to embellish the fonts versus just tracing them to add my own style. Plus, I want the end result to have that imperfect hand drawn look and feel.

I begin by tracing the fonts with Micron pens and adding extra design elements with pencil. I’ll come back later and trace my pencils with pen as well.

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

For the dog, I found several reference photos with a simple google search. I rough him in with pencils and then come back and add shading and details with pen.

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

Scanning and refining the illustration on the computer

Once the illustration is completely inked and I’ve added all of the extra details that I feel are needed, I then scan the label at 600 dpi and bring it into Photoshop for further refinement.  At this point you could take it back to illustrator and refine to your heart’s content, but for this purpose, I’m pretty happy with where it’s at. I touched up a few letters and shadows, but that’s about it.

Here’s a view of the original scan versus the final label.

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

To finalize the label, I created a new document at print size (5x8 inches). I copied and pasted the artwork to a layer within this new file. I added a background from the Recycled Papers Collection here at Medialoot. And then set the artwork layer’s Blend Mode to “Multiply” to hide all white areas.

Next, I added a Gradient Map adjustment layer with a Blend Mode set to “Overlay”.

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

For the finishing touch, I colored in some shapes and added a boarder. I also added a bit of grunge with a brush from the Subtle Grunge Brush Collection. To apply the brush I grouped all of my artwork layers together and applied the brush to a layer mask on the whole group.

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

Here’s another look at the final label.

how to create a hand lettered hand drawn label design

Conclusion

I hope this tutorial has given you some insight and inspiration when it comes to incorporating both pen and paper and the computer into your workflow. Both are incredible and indispensable tools to a designer. Being comfortable with both, makes your designs more versatile and makes you a better designer!

 


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Doodled Vector Animal Faces


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Learn to Ask the Right Questions

5 Ways to Tell if a New Client is the Right Client

Have you ever noticed that some clients fit you like an old pair of jeans, and then some clients are a struggle right out of the gate? What if I told you there was a simple method for determining if a new client is the right client. It's simply a matter of asking yourself the right questions.

No matter where you are in your design career, the excitement of a new client can sometimes cloud your judgement. Especially if the project is big, or the client is high profile. And it’s all too easy to accept a new client and then later realize the fit just isn’t right. Let’s take a closer look at some questions to keep in mind when considering a new client offer.

1. Will you be invested in this clients projects, goals and overall success?

I find that I do my best work when I have an emotional investment in the outcome. When the project is something that I feel strongly about, whether it’s a message, a brand or an incredible product, if I feel strongly about what the client is doing, I’m more likely to produce something that I’m proud of. This is a question that I ask myself when approached by a new client: Do I believe in what this client is doing? Do I care about their overall success? Will I become invested in their product or message?

I know it sounds harsh, but if you can admit to yourself that you won’t have the interest to immerse yourself in this client’s project, then it’s not worth it, for you or the client.

how to tell if your new client is a good client

2. Is this client willing to accept your terms?

Most all designers have some sort of terms. Whether it’s a partial payment up front, a 3 concept max, or usage rights, if the client is unwilling to accept your terms then it should serve as a red flag. This may not be the right client for you. Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns here. Your terms are your terms. If you break or bend them for a client, then it says to that client that you’re willing to do anything, and that’s not a good message to send.

A good client will understand that you are a business, and you have certain terms and certain standards that you work by. Accepting these terms is simply part of working with you.

3. Does the client’s project fall within your expertise or interest?

In the beginning of your design career, you may think to yourself that you’re willing to take on any design work as long as it’s a paycheck. I can’t stress how bad of an idea this is. If you’re a t-shirt designer, and that’s what you love and want to do, then why accept a job building your uncle’s real estate business website?

The clients that you want are out there, so it’s okay to say no to the ones that don’t fit within the realm of your expertise. It’s far more important to spend time on the type of work that you do, than to waste time on a client that is the wrong fit for you. Some might say “a job is a job”. Maybe so, but you wouldn’t expect an electrician to come out and fix your clogged drain, would you?

You might say “But I’m a jack-of-all-trades”. I’m willing to bet that you’re not. There is something in your “all-trades arsenal” that you’re better at, or that you love doing more than anything else. That’s probably your true expertise, and what you should be focusing on.

how to tell if your new client is a good client

4. Are the clients expectations realistic?

How many times have you heard something like this: “We have a tight deadline on this one, and we need XYZ by tomorrow afternoon”. And you know that XYZ would normally take a week to accomplish. This is most likely the wrong client. Their expectations of you and the work that it takes to accomplish what you do are unrealistic.

Requests like these will cause you unneeded stress and anxiety, and will most likely set you up for failure. You can’t do your best work, and you won’t feel good about results you produce when the client doesn’t have a clear understanding of what it takes.

5. Does this client understand your process?

Most designers have a process that they go through to accomplish a design. And this process should be clearly defined for a client in the beginning. But if a client can’t agree to or follow you through your process, then you can’t produce your best work, and you won’t be happy during the process or with the end result.

For example… In step D of our process we’ve invested a considerable amount of time and decided on a design, now we’ll decide on a color scheme, a final format, and go ahead and contact vendors for printing. “Oh wait… our CEO wants to go back and add a picture of his dog” which essentially throws everything off balance, destroys the progress made thus far, and takes you back to your first step. Consider this a sign that this may be the wrong client for you.

how to tell if your new client is a good client

It’s okay to say no

One of the hardest things to do as a designer, especially those that are just starting out, is saying no. You’re turning down work, turning down a paycheck, and turning down the opportunity to get your name out. That’s all true, but it’s far more important to know who you are as a designer, and know how important it is and how much happier you will be by finding the right clients. Doing work that you are passionate about for clients that you consider partners is essential in becoming the designer you want to be.

Have you had to turn down a client because of a red flag? Share your experiences below.

 


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iPad Air 2 & iPad Mini 3 Mockups


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Webbies 32px Icons - Part 4


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Delicious ice cream or spooky monster blood?

How to Create Vector Ooze With Illustrator

This tutorial will teach you how to make dripping, vector ooze using Adobe Illustrator. This effect is ideal for statement backgrounds and can be created very quickly from scratch.

Method 1

The first method uses ‘drips’ of equal widths for a more uniformed and geometric appearance. It is also slightly simpler and serves as good practice for the second method.

Step 1

Create a new document in Illustrator with the dimensions 1200 x 800 pixels. Set the color mode to RGB and tick Align New Objects to Pixel Grid.
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 2

Draw a new rectangle shape aligned to the top left corner of the document, the width can be as wide or narrow as you like, but ideally should be somewhere between 40 and 120.
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 3

Copy and paste the rectangle to the side and repeat this step until all of the rectangles collectively fill the width of the canvas.
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 4

Begin randomly adjusting the height of the rectangles whilst keeping them aligned at the top. The only constraint is that the space between two adjacent rectangles needs to exceed the width of a single rectangle (which in this example is 80 pixels).
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 5

Select all rectangles and use the Pathfinder window to Unite the shapes.
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 6

Create a new layer and place it below the other layer. Draw a new rectangle that fills the canvas and has a fill color: #FFEAB8. This is the background layer, you can lock it to avoid selecting it by accident.
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 7

Set the fill of the foreground shape to #B3B3B3.
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 8

Duplicate the foreground shape and set the fill to #FF457A. Move the duplicated shape upwards and reduce the overall height, then use the Transform window to Flip Horizontal.
vector dripping ooze tutorial
vector dripping ooze tutorial
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 9

Use the Direct Selection tool to highlight all of the vector points on both shapes, except for the top line. Use the Live Corners feature to increase the radius to the maximum (40px).

(if using Illustrator CS6 or earlier you can use the Effect > Stylize > Round Corners feature instead of Live Corners.)
vector dripping ooze tutorial
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Result

Here is the final result using Method 1:
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Method 2

The second method uses ‘drips’ of varying widths for a more random, complex appearance. If you have completed method one this should be very straightforward

Step 1

Create a new document in Illustrator with the dimensions 1200 x 800 pixels. Set the color mode to RGB and tick Align New Objects to Pixel Grid.
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 2

Draw rectangles of varying widths and heights, until they collectively fill the width of the canvas.
vector dripping ooze tutorial
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 3

Select all rectangles and use the Pathfinder window to Unite the shapes.
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 6

Create a new layer and place it below the other layer. Draw a new rectangle that fills the canvas and has a fill color: #C1E5E5. This is the background layer, you can lock it to avoid selecting it by accident.
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 7

Set the fill of the foreground shape to #1D4C54.
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Step 8

Select the first two vector points only and use the Live Corners feature to increase the corner radius to the maximum. Then select the next two vector points and repeat this step until all of the points are rounded.
vector dripping ooze tutorial
vector dripping ooze tutorial
vector dripping ooze tutorial
vector dripping ooze tutorial

Result

Here is the final result using Method 2:
vector dripping ooze tutorial


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Vector Wireframe Kit


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Doodled Cocktail & Drink Vectors


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Quick Tip: How to Use the Blend Tool in Illustrator

There’s some phenomenal artwork out there right now that utilizes Adobe Illustrator’s blend tool in ways you might never have thought possible, especially when you’re just barely getting to know which tool does what in Illustrator’s Tools Palette.

Today, I’m going to give you a quick walk through of some of the basic functions of the blend tool, plus some really useful shortcuts I really wish I’d known as a first-year design student.

First, let’s create a new document. One art board is fine for now, although I’ll be navigating through several, and you may want a few more ready to go. Next, select your size (10x10’ is my personal preference, but you can choose any size you like). Click “OK.”

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

Let’s start by locating the blend tool and its settings, which can be found in a couple of different ways. The longer way is to navigate to it by navigating to Object > Blend > Blend Settings

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

Another way is to find it on the tools palette, near the bottom. It looks like a circle with a square tucked behind it. The keyboard shortcut for the Blend Tool is W (we’ll go into the tool itself more in a bit).

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

Now that you know how to find the blend tool, let’s start working with it. We’re going to start with some simple shapes. Navigate to your tool palette and select your ellipse tool.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

Draw a circle (I’ve made mine 2” by 2”, but any size will do) near the left side of the artboard. Fill it with 2% gray. Next, switch to your selection tool (keyboard shortcut: V). We’re going to duplicate your circle. Hold down ALT, click and drag your circle to the right side of the artboard, and release. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a cloned circle. Fill it with black.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

Let’s explore some basic blending options. Navigate to the Blend Tool’s settings in Object > Blend > Blend Options. In the small drop down menu, you’ll find three different types of blends. “Smooth color”  gives you a smooth blend that resembles a gradient. “Specified steps” gives you the option of choosing a number of set color values between your starting and ending color (in this case, your 2% gray and black). “Specified distance” is similar to “specified steps,” but offers you the option of adding or removing space between each instance. As you add space, the number of value steps decreases. Decrease the space, and the value steps will increase. For this tutorial, select “specified steps,” and enter “2” into the box to the right. Click “OK.” 

Wait. Nothing happened.

That’s because you still need to “make” the blend. Select both of your circles, then head to Object > Blend > Make.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

The settings you just created are now applied, and you’ll see two value “steps” between your circles.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

That’s one way to do it, but it’s definitely not the easiest. To cut time, use the tool palette (keyboard shortcut: W). Hold down ALT and click the center of the gray circle. This opens up the Blend Tool’s settings in a much more time-efficient way.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

From the drop down menu, select “Smooth Color.” Click “OK.” With your Blend Tool still active, click the center of the gray circle, then click the center of the black circle. Because you changed your settings to “smooth,” the blend now resembles a gradient (wait until you see what you can do with this setting later).

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

If you decide somewhere along the way that you’re not happy with a particular blend but it’s too late to use CMD+Z, there are couple of quick solutions you can employ. First, you can update the blend’s color palette. Simply double-clicking the item you want to change (this will enter isolation mode), select the item, then update the color by choosing an option from the swatches palette. This solution will work for any blend setting.

If you find that you need to completely remove a blend, but don’t want to lose the layout or shapes, you can use a nifty little menu option called “Release.”  Select your item(s), then navigate to Object > Blend > Release.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

Color and value aren’t the only tricks the Blend Tool has. It can also blend shapes-using the same techniques we covered above.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

A quick warning for you when blending blacks. While you may not be able to see the difference between black and rich black (unless you’ve adjusted your settings to do so), you’ll find that they react very differently when used in a blend.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

In this example, the bottom option uses rich black and you can see the difference! While standard black (top) offers a wonderful transition from a pale rose, the rich black offers a much more saturated gradient.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

You can also blend multiple objects fairly quickly.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

Ready to stretch those new skills? Let’s create a unique blend that uses six different shapes. First, create a layout of circles like this one. Next, select your Blend Tool and click in the center of the top left circle. Click in the circle next to it, then click in the left circle in the middle row.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

Continue on until you’ve completed each circle and have a zig-zag blend that looks like this one. Heads up-your Blend Tool will remain active unless you choose another tool, so anything else you click will be included in the blend! If this happens, keep calm and use CMD+Z (or the “Release” option we covered earlier).

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

Another great use for this wonderful tool is transitioning between multiple shapes. Using the same technique, try transitioning between three shapes, or from a simple shape, such as a circle, to a more complex shape, like a star.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

Finally, try using the blend tool to transition between several colors, or to create an illusion of depth, as in the example below.

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

how to use adobe illustrator's blend tool

As you spend more time exploring this tool’s capabilities, you’ll learn that it really adds some serious power to your workflow. Need to generate evenly-spaced values for an infographic? Need to create a smooth, metallic surface? Need to quickly create 3D items in a variety of colors? The Blend tool can do all of this…and a lot more.


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How to Create a Pet Cemetery Illustration for Halloween

It's October and we all know what that means, Halloween is just around the corner. But while you're getting ready to go out trick-or-treating spare a thought for your beloved long lost pets. What do they get up to on All Hallows' Eve? In honour of all those ghost dogs and cats out there, I'm going to show you how to create a Halloween pet cemetery scene in Illustrator.

Halloween pet cemetery tutorial

Halloween pet cemetery ghost dog

We’ll start by creating the ghost dog first. Open a new document in Illustrator and draw a 100px circle. Using the Direct Selection Tool pull the circle’s top anchor point up by 5px and bottom anchor point up by 45px. With the shape selected go to the Object menu and choose Path then Offset Path, set the Offset to 15px, Joins to Round and click OK. This is going to form our ghost dog’s head.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost dog teeth

Next we’ll create his teeth, after all how’s he going to gnaw on all those bones with no teeth? Draw a 10px circle and pull its lower anchor point down by 5px, then from the Effect menu choose Warp and then Arc, set the Vertical Bend to 25% and click OK. Expand the tooth’s appearance using the Expand Appearance option under the Object menu. Copy and paste the tooth in place (CTRL+C, CTRL+F, or CMD+C, CMD+F if you’re using a Mac) and reflect the copy vertically by right-clicking and selecting Transform and then Reflect from the pop-up menu. Move the copy 30px to the left. Next draw four 5px circles side-by-side and pull their lower anchor points down by 3px each. Position the four new teeth between the two larger canines.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost dog eyes

Group the teeth together and align them horizontally to the centre and vertically to the top of the ghost dog’s inner skull. Pull the teeth down and when you’re happy with their position combine them with the skull using the Pathfinder’s Unite button. To create the eye sockets draw two 30px circles side-by-side with about 10px space between them. Position the eye sockets in the centre of the skull, when you’re satisfied select both them and the skull and then choose the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder palette.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost dog nose

To make the nose socket draw a 5px circle and pull its top anchor point up by 3px. Rotate the shape by -30° then copy and paste it in place. Reflect the copy vertically and then pull it to the right by roughly 4px before combining the two shapes with the Unite button. Position the nose socket in the centre of the skull between the eyes and the teeth and then subtract it using the Minus Front button.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost dog tongue

Let’s give our ghost dog a lolling tongue and some floppy ears next. Draw a 15px by 30px oval and from the Effect menu choose Warp and then Bulge, leave the Bend at 0% and set the Vertical Distortion option to 40% and click OK. Expand the tongue’s appearance using the Object menu and then pull its top anchor point down by 10px. Position the tongue so that it sits just below the ghost dog’s middle teeth.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost dog ears

For the ears start by drawing a 30px circle and pulling its right anchor point out to the right by 20px. Next, go to the Effect menu and choose Warp then Arch, set the Horizontal Bend to 30% and click OK. Expand the ear’s appearance. Copy and paste the ear then reflect it vertically. Move the copy 120px to the right (using the SHIFT key and arrows on your keyboard will speed things up a little here) and then group them both (CTRL+G). Using the Align palette align the ears horizontally to the top and vertically to the centre of the head outline, but do not combine the shapes at this stage.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost dog body

Our ghost dog’s head is finished, we can move onto the outline of his body now. Draw a 130px circle and using the Direct Selection Tool pull its upper and lower anchor points up by 30px. Next draw a smaller 50px circle and pull its upper and lower anchor points up by 10px. Copy and paste the smaller of the shapes in place then pull the copy to the right by 60px, these are the paws. Group the paws and align them centrally to the bottom of the body before pulling them down slightly (10px or so should be fine). Send the body and paws to the back of the document (SHIFT+CTRL+[) and then position them so that they sit behind the head (my ghost dog’s body is roughly 50px below the top of his head).

Halloween pet cemetery ghost dog tail

To finish off our ghost dog’s outline all that’s left to do is give him a tail. Start the tail by drawing a 20px circle and pulling its right anchor point out to the right by 40px. Select Warp and then Arc from the Effect menu, set the Horizontal bend to -30% and click OK before expanding the tail’s appearance. Position the tail to the bottom right of the ghost dog’s body and then send it to the back of the document.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost dog spine

OK, now we’re ready to give our dog some bones! We’ll start with the spine. Draw a 20px by 10px oval and from the Effect menu choose Warp and then Bulge. Set the Vertical Bend to -100% and click OK, as in the other steps expand the shape’s appearance using the Object menu. Copy and paste the vertebrae until there are five positioned one above the other with a gap of roughly 3px between each one. Group the vertebrae and then position the spine so that it’s aligned centrally with the ghost dog’s body.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost dog foot

We’ll make the leg bones next. Draw three 7px circles side-by-side with a gap of 4px between each for the toe bones and pull the middle bone down by a couple of pixels. Next, draw a 30px by 15px oval for the foot and pull its upper and lower anchor points up by 5px before aligning it centrally with the toe bones so that it sits just above them. Continue the leg by creating a 30px by 20px oval and then selecting Warp and then Bulge from the Effect menu. Set the Vertical Bend to -100% and click OK before expanding the shape. Rotate the leg by 15° and align it to the left of the foot with a small gap separating the two (3px should be enough).

Halloween pet cemetery ghost dog legs

Make a copy of the leg bone and rotate it by -30° before pulling it upwards. Let’s fill in that big gap between the two bones by drawing a 5px circle and pulling its right anchor point to the right by 3px. Position the new smaller bone so it sits below and to the left of the larger top bone. Group all of the leg bones, including the foot and toes, and copy and paste them in place. Reflect the copy vertically and move it to the right by about 65px. Position the leg bones so they sit centrally within the ghost dog’s body just below the outline of his head.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost dog colour

Our ghost dog is almost complete! Take a copy of him and paste it elsewhere on the artboard, we’ll be using the majority of the shapes to create the ghost cat in a little while. Select the outlines of the ghost dog’s ears, head, body and paws and combine them using the Pathfinder’s Unite button and then send the outline to the back of the document. Our ghost dog needs a bit of colour, I have used a charcoal black for the outline, white for the bones and a pinky red for the tongue. To finish him off select the outline and from the Object menu select Path then Offset Path, set the Offset to 3px the joins to Round and click OK, finally give the offset a white fill and group everything together.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost cat body

To create the ghost cat, take the copy of the ghost dog you placed on your artboard earlier and delete out the outlines of its ears, tail and the tongue. Now that the tongue is gone we need to add a few more vertebrae to our ghost cat’s spine, an extra two to the top should be fine.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost cat ears

To create our ghost cat’s ears draw a 40px circle and pull its upper and lower anchor points up by 10px before rotating it by 45°. Copy and paste the ear in place and then reflect the copy vertically before moving it to the right by 100px. Group the ears and then align them centrally with the top of the ghost cat’s head.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost cat tail

Let’s make our ghost cat’s tail next. Start by drawing a 20px circle and pulling its right anchor point out to the right by 80px. From the Effect menu choose Warp and then Arch, set the Horizontal Bend to 70% and click OK before expanding the tail’s appearance. Rotate the tail by -45° and position it to the bottom-right of the ghost cat’s body until you think it looks right.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost cat colour

The last thing to do with our ghost cat is combine the outlines and give her some colour. Select the outlines for the ears, head, body, paws and tail and combine them using the Pathfinder’s Unite button. Send the combined outline to the back of your document and add your chosen colours. As with the ghost dog, offset the outline by 3px and give it a white fill then group all of the ghost cat’s elements. If you want to scale the ghost cat down slightly you can by right-clicking and selecting Transform and Scale from the pop-up menu and adjusting the Uniform percentage.

Halloween pet cemetery background

With our ghost cat and dog complete we’re ready to move onto the background. Start by creating an 800px by 600px rectangle and giving it a midnight blue fill. Now, using the Pen Tool create some sweeping curves in a lighter shade of blue to form the hills. Don’t worry if your hills overlap the edges of the rectangle, we’ll tidy them up later. Repeat this step in an even lighter shade to create the hills in the foreground. Once you’re happy with the hills group them and then make a copy of the background rectangle and bring it to the front of the document. Select the rectangle copy and the hills and then from the Pathfinder palette choose the Crop button. There, nice and neat.

Halloween pet cemetery grass

Let’s add a little grass to the hill in the foreground, it’s a bit too smooth at the moment. Draw a 10px circle with the same fill as the hill and pull its top anchor point up by 20px. We’re going to use this shape to create a new art brush. Open the Brushes palette (F5) and select the New Brush button, choose Art Brush from the options and click OK. In the next dialogue box set the Direction option to the up arrow (Stroke From Bottom To Top) and click OK. Cover the top of the hill with blades of grass using the Paintbrush Tool (P) until you’re happy with the results.

Halloween pet cemetery grass

When you’re satisfied that the hill is as grassy as can be, select all of the blades and expand their appearance using the Object menu then combine them with the hill using the Unite button (you’ll need to ungroup the hills and the background first).

Halloween pet cemetery tombstones

A pet cemetery wouldn’t be complete without a few tombstones, so let’s make those next. To create the cross simply create two rectangles (15px by 80px and 60px by 15px) and align them centrally. Position the horizontal rectangle so that it sits about 20px below the top of the vertical one and combine the shapes with the Unite button. To create the more traditional tombstone create a 100px circle and delete its lower anchor point. Next create a 100px square and align the two shapes so that the semicircle sits flush against the top of the square before combining them.

Halloween pet cemetery tombstones

Give your crosses and tombstones the same fill colour as the foreground then copy, scale and rotate them as desired before scattering them across the top of the hill.

Halloween pet cemetery moon

Our pet cemetery is really coming along. I think some clouds and a big full moon would really set it off. To create the moon draw a 165px circle and give it a light grey fill. Our moon is going to have a subtle shadow, which we’ll make now. Copy and paste the moon in place then pull the copy roughly 30px to the left before subtracting it from the original using the Minus Front button. Paste the original back in behind the shadow (CTRL+B) then select the shadow and from the Transparency palette set the Blending Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 15%. To create the moon’s craters draw a smaller circle in a slightly darker shade of grey and then repeat the process you used to create the shadow, but this time nudge the copy diagonally to the right (3px or so should do) before using the Minus Front button. Copy, paste and scale the craters until you’re happy with the results.

Halloween pet cemetery clouds

Okay, we’re ready to move onto the clouds. Draw an oval (mine is 140px by 50px) and cover its top with circles of varying radius. Once you’re happy with how your cloud looks combine all of the shapes using the Unite button. Give the cloud a white fill and place it in the sky of your cemetery. Copy and scale the cloud as many times as you want, adjusting the opacity of each so that you get a sense of perspective.

Halloween pet cemetery ghost shadows

If you haven’t already done so place your ghost cat and dog within the cemetery. Let’s give them both a spooky shadow. Copy and paste the ghost cat’s outline and then reflect it horizontally before pulling it downwards so that it’s roughly level with the top of the toes. The shadow’s tail looks a little odd, remove all of its anchor points using the Direct Selection Tool. The line where the tail was is too straight now, we want it to have the same soft curve as the other side of the shadow. Copy and paste the shadow and reflect it vertically this time before combining it with the original using the Pathfinder’s Unite button. Send the shadow behind the ghost cat then give it the same fill as the foreground before changing the Blending Mode to Mulitply and the Opacity to 20% with the Transparency palette. Repeat this process for the ghost dog, but without removing his tail.

Halloween pet cemetery grass tufts

If you want to add a little more embellishment to the foreground why not include some tufts of grass with the art brush you created earlier? Draw a few blades and when you’re satisfied expand their appearance and then combine them. Give the tufts a stroke that’s a slightly darker shade than the grass itself and then use the Direct Selection Tool to delete out the lower anchor points. Place the tufts wherever you see fit.

Halloween pet cemetery final

Okay, all that’s left for us to do is add a Halloween message in a suitably scary font and our pet cemetery is finished, and in plenty of time for All Hallows’ Eve! I have used a free font called Green Fux, but feel free to use whatever you feel suits. Happy Halloween everybody!

 


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How to Create a Flat Diamond Icon with Sketch App

With this tutorial you will be guided through the process of creating a flat style diamond icon, using vector tools and layer styles in Sketch 3 by Bohemian Coding.

Step 1

Launch Sketch and create a new document, then draw a rectangle with the dimensions 180 x 160 pixels.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 2

Give the rectangle a gradient fill from #FFCF35 at the top to #FF9F21 at the bottom.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 3

Show rulers (ctrl+r), then create 4 new vertical guides at 60 pixel intervals. And create 3 horizontal guides at 0, 50 and 160 pixels.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 4

Double click the rectangle to enter the edit mode, select the top left point and nudge it 30 pixels right. Then select the top right point and nudge it 30 pixels left.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 5

Create two new vector points and align them with the guides as shown below. They will have a bezier curve by default, you can remove this by selecting the Straight option in the sidebar.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 6

Delete one of the bottom points and nudge the other point 90 pixels left or right towards the center. This should form a basic diamond shape.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 7

Enter the path edit mode again and select all of the points. Then enter 5 for the Corners value.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 8

Draw a small rectangle shape using the guides for alignment, delete one of the top points and move the remaining top point 30 pixels to the center to form a triangle.
design flat icons with sketch app
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 9

Duplicate the triangle and flip horizontally, then repeat until the top section of the diamond is covered by black triangles
design flat icons with sketch app
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 10

Draw a tall rectangle shape using the guides for alignment, delete one of the bottom points and move the remaining bottom point 30 pixels to intersect with the bottom point of the diamond.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 11

Duplicate the shape and flip hozintally.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 12

Draw another tall rectangle shape using the guides for alignment, delete one of the bottom points and move the remaining bottom point 30 pixels to intersect with the bottom point of the diamond.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 13

Select the diamond shape (which should be below all of the black triangles), and in the layers panel right click the layer and select Use as Mask.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 14

Select all of the triangle layers and set the blending mode to Soft Light.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 15

One by one select each triangle and enter either 0, 20, 40, 60, or 80 percent into the fill opacity field as shown in the image below:
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 16

Select all of the triangles again and apply a new Inner Shadow and Shadow layer style:
design flat icons with sketch app
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 17

Select the diamond shape and apply a new Inner Shadow and Shadow layer style:
design flat icons with sketch app
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 18

Draw a new rounded rectangle on a layer below all of the others. The corner radius should be 40 and fill color #DFE8E6.
design flat icons with sketch app

Step 19

Use the Star shape tool to create two new white shapes with 4 points and 30% radius. Place them as shown below:
design flat icons with sketch app
design flat icons with sketch app

Final Result

design flat icons with sketch app


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Quick Tip: How to Give Your Text a Hand Sketched Look in Illustrator

Giving your perfectly clean vector lines a more imperfect and hand made feel has been a trend lately. While some of us are gifted when it comes to a pencil and paper, some of us are more comfortable with mouse in hand. If that's the case for you, then fear not, creating a hand sketched look in Illustrator is really quite easy.

Step 1 - Choose Some Text

In Adobe Illustrator, create a new document. For this example I chose a font called Pacifico (http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/pacifico). I rotated it at a slight angle.

how to give your text a hand sketched look in illustrator

Also, note that I outlined the font ( Type | Create Outlines ) and combined it to one shape using “Unite” in the Pathfinder panel. But you don’t have to do this if you want your text to remain editable. I chose to turn this font into one shape since it had overlapping characters.


how to give your text a hand sketched look in illustrator

Let’s also remove any fills or strokes by clicking the “None” icon on the tools panel. After doing so, you won’t be able to see the text unless it’s selected.

how to give your text a hand sketched look in illustrator

Step 2 - Scribble the Outline

Now with text selected, open the Appearance panel. Add a new stroke to the type by click the “Add New Stroke” icon at the bottom of the panel.


how to give your text a hand sketched look in illustrator

Next, apply a roughen filter to the stroke. Click ( Effect | Distort & Transform | Roughen ) and apply the settings below, or whatever settings you feel look best for your type.

how to give your text a hand sketched look in illustrator

I set my stroke width to 2 and stroke color to 85% gray. Here’s where we’re at currently.


how to give your text a hand sketched look in illustrator

Step 3 - Loosely Shade the Inside

To apply some shading to the inside, head back over to the Appearance panel and add a new fill by clicking the “Add New Fill” icon at the bottom of the panel.


how to give your text a hand sketched look in illustrator

Now apply a scribbling effect by clicking ( Effect | Stylize | Scribble ). Use my settings below, or the settings that you fill look best for your type.


how to give your text a hand sketched look in illustrator

Here’s a peak at the current look.


how to give your text a hand sketched look in illustrator

Here’s where things get creative and fun. Duplicate the Fill layer in the Appearance panel a few times by clicking it and dragging it to the “Duplicate Item” icon at the bottom of the panel. I copied mine 3 more times for a total of 4 fill layers. For each fill layer, change the opacity and slightly adjust the scribble effect angle and spacing to create a random scribbled look. To edit the effect, simply click on the “Scribble” link to open the effect settings window back up for each fill layer.


how to give your text a hand sketched look in illustrator

Here’s a look at my final sketched type.


how to give your text a hand sketched look in illustrator

The Appearance panel, in Illustrator, allows you to do some really awesome sketch effects. Try adding colors to your scribble fills to achieve a colored pencil look. Play with these settings, experiment, and have fun!

 


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How to Make a Realistic Watercolor Painting in Photoshop

Watercolor paint has always been a fascination of mine. But I don't use it as most painters do. I create splatters and textures for use in my digital artwork. That doesn't mean that I can't create stunning works of art with watercolor though. Below I'll describe the process I use to create a watercolor portrait of a Jaguar.

The resources we'll need

I like to keep things simple, so I've chosen just a few resources for this project. You can use your own textures and brushes over these, if you like. This is simply a technique, and the process is not dependent on these specific resources.

Step 1 - Document Setup

First up, create a new document in Photoshop. It should be 8x10 inches at 300 dpi. Add a texture from the Antique Paper Textures set, and invert it by pressing (Cmd+i)

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Step 2 - Preparing the Jaguar Photo

Now, add the photo of the jaguar. Use whatever method you prefer to remove the background (green areas). You don't have to too precise since we'll be adding tons of watercolor texture that will hide most of the edges.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Now desaturate the image by pressing (Cmd+Shift+U) on the keyboard or click Image | Adjust | Desaturate.

Then duplicate the jaguar layer, and turn the visibility of the duplicate layer off. Select the original copy again and apply a Watercolor filter effect by clicking on Filter | Artistic | Watercolor. You can use settings similar to mine, or you can make your own adjustments base on your preference.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Set the layers blend mode to "Overlay" and the opacity to around 20%.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Turn the duplicate layer's visibility back on and set it's blend mode to "Vivid Light", then set it's opacity to around 45%.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Step 3 - Exploring Our Brushes

Before we start adding watercolor effects, let's take a look at our selection of brushes. This set contains a great variety of watercolor effects, but I only needed a few brushes, from this collection, for this project.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

The brushes highlighted in blue (blob brushes) are used for layering color. The edges aren't too hard, and they blend very well with each other.

The brushes highlighted in red (drip brushes) contain a good variety of drips at the same angle. These are great for adding a running, dripping look. As if the paint was applied too heavy and ran before drying.

One other item to note… If the default angle of these brushes is not quite right when you're applying paint, you can always change the angle from the brush panel. To open the brush panel click Window | Brush.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Step 4 - Applying Initial Watercolor

On a layer below the jaguar layers, using various blob brushes, begin painting the jaguars black spots. You will most likely change sizes and brush angles several times while doing so. Here's a look at mine.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Now, using the Eyedropper Tool (I) select some colors from the jaguars eyes and fur and begin painting some more details on layers below the initial jaguar layers.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Step 5 - Applying More Base Watercolor

In this step will begin applying some heavy water color on layers below the jaguar photo layers. There is no hard rules or methodology here. It's a matter of placing blobs of paint where it feels right to you. Choose colors from the jaguars fur in the original photo, and/or colors that match the mood of the painting. Remember to create new layers as you go so that you can turn on and off layers as you experiment.

Below I've posted photos of my progress.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Step 6 - Adding Depth and Contrast

At this point you probably will begin to get the idea that this is a process of "build up"… You're basically applying small adjustments in large amounts until you've "built up" the painting.

Next, let's add some contrast with darker paint. Add some new layers above the jaguar photo layers and set their blend modes to "Overlay". Now, using dark colors apply some more paint with blog brushes around the jaguar's head.

Experiment with colors here… The Overlay blend mode will create some interesting effects.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Step 7 - Adding Drips and Runs

Using the drip brushes, begin applying drips around large blobs of color. You want to find areas of the painting that looks like it has heavy color that might drip or run down the canvas. Some of these runs may need to be applied above or below the photo layers depending on the look you're after.

Note: It's easy to get too crazy with the drips. Keep them subtle, and not too distracting.

Below is a series of photos showing by build up of drips.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Step 8 - Final Adjustments

I'm really happy with how this is turning out. But, before calling it complete, I want to add a few tweaks with adjustment layers.

First up, let's duplicate that bottom paper texture layer, and drag it to the top of our layer stack. Change this duplicate texture layer's blend mode to "Soft Light".

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer using the following gradient. Purple (#290a59) to Orange (#ff7c00)

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Tweak the Levels a little bit with a Levels adjustment layer.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Finally, take the saturation down a bit with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

Conclusion

I hope this tutorial has inspired you to try your own digital watercolor paintings. It's easy, fun and provides room for lots of experimentation. Here's a look at my final pairing.

realistic watercolor painting tutorial in photoshop

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How to Overcome a Designer’s 3 Worst Fears

Whether you are a seasoned designer or are just starting out on this career path you've, most likely, experienced some fears and anxieties about your work. It's a completely normal thing. You're not alone. In this article I'm going to explore, what I believe to be, three of the worst fears a designer can have. It's important to not let these fears cripple you. Having doubts about your work is all in your head, and having an understanding of these fears and how to overcome them is easier than you think. Let's take a look.

My Designs will Ultimately be Rejected

graphic designers worst fears and how to overcome them editorial

This is a common fear of all designers. Especially new designers that are just getting their feet wet in the industry. The thought process goes something like this:

“I’m going to spend all of this time on a design, and what if the client rejects it. They won’t want to pay me for the work, and word will get around that the client wasn’t happy with my design skills.”

First up, this is the wrong mind set to have going into a project. Let’s break this fear down a little bit.

“I’m going to spend all this time.”
No you’re not… not if you have a process that includes sharing early concepts, sketches and ideas with the client. If you keep an open line of communication during these early stages of a project you won’t even start finalization of a design without a solid grasp of what works and what the client is happy with.

“What if the client rejects it?”
If you have a solid grasp of the problem that your design is trying to solve, then the client is not going to fully reject any of your early concepts. They may make suggestions or refinements. They may even provide input on how to make it better, but they won’t fully reject the solutions your bringing to the table. Make sure you understand the need of the client before you start any concepts. A mechanic wouldn’t start working on a car before understanding the problem he/she is trying to fix, right?

“They won’t pay me for the work.”
If you’re following a process of understanding the client’s need, and staying in good communication throughout the project, then this fear should be eliminated. But you could go a step further to avoid this fear by take a down payment on a project before beginning. Especially with new clients, I find that taking a down payment puts you both on the same page, as far as trust is concerned. If a client is unwilling to put a percentage of the payment down to begin work, it might be a red flag as to whether or not you’ll get paid in the end.

“Word will get around”
No it won’t. It’s about the clients experience with your design process as much as it is the end result. If the client is happy with your process, then they will be happy with the project’s outcome. If that’s the case, the only word being spread will be “Awesome”.

What if I get Designer’s Block?

graphic designers worst fears and how to overcome them editorial

Oh the dreaded designer’s block. It’s more common that you might think. We’ve all been there. The thought process goes something like this:

“I can’t come up with anything good. Everything I try isn’t working. I don’t have any new ideas. I don’t feel creative”

It may comes as a surprise, but this is an easy one to solve. Get up, and walk away. That’s really it. Step outside, go somewhere… do something else.

In my opinion, designer’s block comes from the repetitive or routine lives we, as designers, sometimes live. Get up, get coffee, go to computer, start work. When you stay in a bubble like that your outlets for creative inspiration are limited. One of the great things about being designers is that you can find inspiration from anywhere. I’ve found inspiration for projects while at the supermarket, on a downtown sidewalk, even outside in nature. Get away from your bubble for a little while. If you can’t find inspiration, just wait a little bit… It’ll find you.

Another good cure for designer’s block is other designers. Again, we often times work in a bubble. That bubble needs to be broken. Using social media you should be able to create a circle of designer friends and colleagues that you can bounce ideas and concepts off of. You can even use this circle of friends to challenge you and be inspired by. Most designers live similar lives and have the same experiences… It can be incredibly healthy for your career and your overall mindset to have other people to share ideas, successes and failures with.

I Have Nothing New to Offer that Hasn’t Already Been Done

graphic designers worst fears and how to overcome them editorial

I’ve heard this one before. I’m too afraid to take the leap because there is already so many people doing what I want to do. The thought process looks something like this:

“I was interested in XYZ design, but there are so many people out there doing that. The competition will be too high. Besides, what would I have new to offer that hasn’t already been done?”

The truth is that there are a lot of people in the world. Comparing that to the ratio of XYZ designers, I bet the actual competition is relatively low. Let’s break this one down a little bit.

“There are so many people out there doing that”
Nope, not true. This is simply an excuse that you might tell yourself to keep from doing what you’re simply afraid to do. The truth is… There isn’t too much competition. Consider this… If you are searching for “XYZ design” then you’re going to find people who do it. Just because there are people who do it, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you.

One of the greatest things about being a designer is that everyone can have a unique approach, a unique style or way of doing things. It’s simply how our brains work. Everyone is different. If you gave a project to a room full of 100 designers, you would get 100 unique concepts in return. No two would be exactly alike.

What would I have new to offer?
The answer here is “everything”. Your own voice, skills and unique approach to “XYZ design”. If there are people providing XYZ then consider it a challenge to provide your own solutions. If you’re not stepping out and making yourself known as a designer of XYZ then you’re likely to be missing huge opportunities.

Conclusion

Being a designer often comes with a set of fears and anxieties, but keeping the right mindset about these fears can be the difference in overcoming them or letting them cripple you.

Let’s take a quick review:

  • Avoid the fear of rejection by building a solid design process that allows you to understand the clients need and keeps you in good communication through the life of a project.
  • Stay away from designer’s block by getting out of your bubble and seeking inspiration from the outside world and/or through your circle of designer friends and colleagues.
  • You have something to offer to the world through your own unique voice, skills, and approach to design solutions.

I would love to know what fears you’ve had as a designer and how you were able to overcome them. Please share your experiences using the comment fields below!

 


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Hand Drawn Text Effect Using Photoshop & Illustrator

How to Create A Dynamic Scribbled Text Effect

This simple, fun tutorial will show you how to create a dynamic scribbled text effect using Photoshop and a little bit of Illustrator. With any luck, following these steps will have you using filters and effects that you either don't get to play with often enough, or may have never used before!

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop 1600 x 900 px with a white background.
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 2

Use the Text tool to create a new type layer, and enter your text. I have used Helvetica Neue Regular and typed the word ‘Scribble’.
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 3

Right click the text layer and Convert to Smart Object.
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 4

Go the Filter > Distort menu and select Zig Zag. Enter -5 for the amount, 10 for Ridges and Out From Center for the Style.
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 5

Set the fill opacity for the Smart Object layer to 0, and add an Inner Shadow style with the settings below. Also create a similar Drop Shadow style with only 1px for the Size.

These 2 shadows together form a stroke/outlined effect with rough edges.
scribble text effect in photoshop
scribble text effect in photoshop
scribble text effect in photoshop
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 6

Duplicate the Smart Object layer and with the new topmost layer selected, go the Filter > Distort menu and select Twirl. Enter 4 degrees for the Angle.
scribble text effect in photoshop
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 7

Duplicate the top layer again and this time double click the Twirl effect in the Layers panel underneath Smart Filters. Change the angle of the Twirl effect to -3 degrees.
scribble text effect in photoshop
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 8

Adjust the layer styles for the same layer, change the Opacity to 50% in Blending Options, and disable the Inner Shadow effect.
scribble text effect in photoshop
scribble text effect in photoshop
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 9

We will now need the assistance of Illustrator to create some diagonal scribbled lines. Open Illustrator and create a new blank document at 2000 x 2000 px.
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 10

Draw a large rectangle with a black fill that fits the exact dimensions of the canvas.
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 11

Go to the Effect > Stylize menu and select Scribble. Use the settings in the screenshot below to create a suitable scribble effect.
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 12

Copy the rectangle with the scribble effect from Illustrator and go back over to Photoshop. Create a new document in Photoshop with a transparent background, and paste the scribble effect in as a Smart Object.
scribble text effect in photoshop
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 13

Go to the Edit menu and select Define Pattern.
scribble text effect in photoshop

Step 14

Go back to the original document in Photoshop and select the first text layer again. Add a Pattern Overlay with the pattern you just created. Deselect Link with Layer and then click Snap to Origin.
scribble text effect in photoshop
scribble text effect in photoshop

Result

Here is the final result:
scribble text effect in photoshop

I hope you enjoyed following this simple, fun tutorial! You can adjust the results by experimenting with different values for the ZigZag and Twirl filters. You also have tonnes of options available in Illustrator to tweak the scribbled lines effect. And don’t forget that if you want to change the text you can edit the Smart Object without needing to redo any steps.

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Chalk Text Effects (Psd)

This free photoshop mockup allows you to instantly create impressive, hand drawn chalk text effects. Included are 4 different styles, solid, outlined, scribbled and 3D. Download it for free.

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Webbies 32px Icons - Part 1


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Low Velocity Splatters


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Quick Tip: How to Create a Signia Icon Web Font with IcoMoon

Signia is without a doubt our most popular premium icon pack on Medialoot, and it's easy to see why; not only is it packed full of icons (over 700 at the last count), it is also supplied in multiple vector and bitmap formats for a wide variety of practical uses. And if you want to use it on the web, that's easy too as I will demonstrate in this quick tip on using Signia as an icon web font with IcoMoon.

Download Signia

If you haven’t already, head on over the download page to get the latest version of Signia.
create icon web font with icomoon

Create a New IcoMoon Project

IcoMoon is by no means the only service available for creating custom web fonts, but it is simple, well designed and free to use so it is a good choice for creating custom web fonts. Open a web browser and navigate to icomoon.io/app then click the New Project buttom.
create icon web font with icomoon

Import the Icons

Click on the Import Icons button and navigate to the Signia folder on your hard drive. Locate the folder called Individual SVG in the main Signia directory. Now select all (CMD/CTRL + A) of the files and click Choose or OK and they will be imported into your IcoMoon project.
create icon web font with icomoon

Add Metadata

You can now add Metadata for the collection of icons you just imported.
create icon web font with icomoon

Select the Icons

This is where you can customize the icon set by selecting the icons that you want to use, for example if you only need icons for communication and users, or only need arrows etc. Of course, if you want to include all of the icons just go ahead and select them all. Click on Font when you are done.
create icon web font with icomoon

Download Your Web Font

On the next page you have option to name the icons and customize their unicode values. This can make it easier to remember which icon is which. When you are done click on Download.
create icon web font with icomoon

Using The Font

The package that you download from IcoMoon will include a sample html file that demonstrates how to use the icons. If it is a little overwhelming at first, you essentially just need to include the stylesheet between your <head> tags like so:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css">

And then you can use a span element to print the icon of your choice:

<span class="icon-signia-01">

It’s as simple as that!


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iPhone 6 - Free PSD Mockup


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Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Creating a WordPress Meta Box

WordPress is arguably the leading content management system (CMS) in the world today. It powers over 60 million websites globally. WordPress is one of many content management systems that allow you to update your site through a simple Web interface instead of editing and uploading HTML files to a server.

One of the core feature provided by WordPress in extending its functionality is the Meta Box. These meta boxes enable one to easily add additional data to post and page content.

Examples of Meta boxes in WordPress includes:

  • The Category meta Box for categorizing posts.
wordpress meta box tutorial
  • The Tag meta box for setting tags for post.
wordpress meta box tutorial
  • The feature image meta box for setting feature image for a post.
wordpress meta box tutorial

Aside the above default meta boxes, WordPress provides a Meta box API that allows plugin and theme developers to add a custom piece of data to a post or page in WordPress - what's better is that it can fit directly into most of the default pages inside WP, so you can easily place it inside the Post-Editor for easy use by non-technical users.

In this tutorial, we will learn how meta boxes are developed as we build one that provides other non-technical users of a WordPress powered site the ability to add a custom message / notification before a post or page content.

Such a feature could come in handy when for example - after publishing an article, you wish to notify readers that the information in a given post is now obsolete.

WordPress Meta Box Development

Below is a screen-shot of the Meta Box to be developed at the end of this tutorial.

wordpress meta box tutorial

Without further fussing, let's get started developing the Meta box.

Since we are making the meta box out of a WordPress plugin, the plugin header (information about the plugin for use by WordPress internal) would be the first thing to go into the plugin file.

<?php

/*
Plugin Name: Medialoot Custom Post Notification
Plugin URI: http://medialoot.com
Description: Add custom message to each WordPress post
Version: 1.0
Author: Agbonghama Collins
Author URI: http://w3guy.com
*/
?>

We need to decide where the meta box should appear.

In our plugin, the meta box will be added in the post and page screen.

To achieve this, a PHP function is created containing a variable that stores an array of where to show the meta box and a foreach loop that loop through the array and add the meta box to the given screen using the add_meta_box function.

/**
 * Adds a box to the main column on the Post and Page edit screens.
 */
function medialoot_add_meta_box() {

	$screens = array( 'post', 'page' );

	foreach ( $screens as $screen ) {

		add_meta_box(
			'medialoot_metabox_id',
			__( 'Medialoot Custom post / page notification', 'medialoot_plugin' ),
			'medialoot_metabox_callback',
			$screen
		);
	}
}

The add_meta_box() function add meta boxes to the administrative interface.

Below are the function argument passed to it and what they do.

  • medialoot_metabox_id: the HTML ID attribute of the box.
  • Medialoot Custom post / page notification: title displayed at the top of the meta box.
  • medialoot_metabox_callback: function that actually renders the meta box
  • $screen: the array variable containing where the meta box will be displayed

We need to hook the medialoot_add_meta_box() function to the add_meta_boxes Action to register the meta box otherwise, it won't be recognizable by WordPress.

add_action( 'add_meta_boxes', 'medialoot_add_meta_box' );

The medialoot_metabox_callback function below renders Meta Box content.

function medialoot_metabox_callback( $post ) {

	// Add an nonce field so we can check for it later.
	wp_nonce_field( 'medialoot_meta_box', 'medialoot_meta_box_nonce' );

	/*
	 * Use get_post_meta() to retrieve an existing value
	 * from the database and use the value for the form.
	 */
	$custom_notification = get_post_meta( $post->ID, '_medialoot_custom_notification', true );

	echo '<label for="myplugin_new_field">';
	echo '</label> ';
	// Display the form, using the current value.
        echo '<div style="margin: 10px 100px; text-align: center">';
        echo '<label for="custom_message">';
        echo '<strong><p>Add custom notification to post</p></strong>';
        echo '</label>';
        echo '<textarea rows="3" cols="50" name="medialoot_custom_notification">';
        echo esc_attr($custom_notification);
        echo '</textarea>';
        echo '</div>';
    }

Let me explain what the code in function medialoot_metabox_callback above does.

A security nonce field is added so we can check for it later during verification before the data inserted into the form fields are save to the database.

Retrieve and store the meta-data values in a variable only if it exists. This is done in order to populate the fields with its values when it present in the database.

The HTML form consisting of a text-area for capturing the title and description tag data respectively is echoed / printed.

Saving the Meta Box Data

A meta box isn't fully functional until it can save its data to the database.

The name of the function to handle the saving of data will be medialoot_save_meta_box_data.

Its code is as follows.

function medialoot_save_meta_box_data( $post_id ) {

	/*
	 * We need to verify this came from our screen and with proper authorization,
	 * because the save_post action can be triggered at other times.
	 */

	// Check if our nonce is set.
	if ( ! isset( $_POST['medialoot_meta_box_nonce'] ) ) {
		return;
	}

	// Verify that the nonce is valid.
	if ( ! wp_verify_nonce( $_POST['medialoot_meta_box_nonce'], 'medialoot_meta_box' ) ) {
		return;
	}

	// If this is an autosave, our form has not been submitted, so we don't want to do anything.
	if ( defined( 'DOING_AUTOSAVE' ) && DOING_AUTOSAVE ) {
		return;
	}

	// Check the user's permissions.
	if ( isset( $_POST['post_type'] ) && 'page' == $_POST['post_type'] ) {

		if ( ! current_user_can( 'edit_page', $post_id ) ) {
			return;
		}

	} else {

		if ( ! current_user_can( 'edit_post', $post_id ) ) {
			return;
		}
	}

	/* OK, it's safe for us to save the data now. */
	
	// Make sure that it is set.
	if ( ! isset( $_POST['medialoot_custom_notification'] ) ) {
		return;
	}

	// Sanitize user input.
	$custom_notification_data = sanitize_text_field( $_POST['medialoot_custom_notification'] );

	// Update the meta field in the database.
	update_post_meta( $post_id, '_medialoot_custom_notification', $custom_notification_data );
}

The code above first verify that this came from our screen and with proper authorization, because save_post can be triggered at other times.

Verification that the nonce previously set in medialoot_metabox_callback is valid is also done.

The submitted meta-box data gets sanitized using WordPress sanitize_text_field function which convert HTML to its entity, strip all tags, remove line breaks, tabs and extra white space, strip octets.

The meta-box data is updated to the database using the update_post_meta function.

We still need to hook the save_post action to the save_post action to save the meta-box data to WordPress database when the post or page is updated.

add_action( 'save_post', 'medialoot_save_meta_box_data' );

At this juncture, we are done coding the meta-box and also added the ability for the meta-box data to be saved to the database.

Using the Meta Box Saved Data

Remember the aim of this meta-box is for adding a custom notification at the top or before a post/page content.

To achieve our goal, we need to programmatically retrieve and add the meta-box data at the top of the post or page.

The custom_notification function below does this by:

function custom_notification($content) {
        global $post;
        //retrieve the metadata values if they exist
        $custom_notification_data = get_post_meta(
                        $post -> ID, 
                        '_medialoot_custom_notification', 
                        true
        );
        if (!empty($custom_notification_data)) {
            $custom_notification = "
                        <div style='background-color: #FFEBE8;
                        border-color: #C00;
                        padding: 2px;
                        margin:2px;
                        font-weight:bold;
                        text-align:center'>
            ";
            $custom_notification .= $custom_notification_data;
            $custom_notification .= "</div>";
            $content = $custom_notification . $content;
        }
 
        return $content;
    }
  1. Detect the post ID gotten from the $post global object.
  2. The meta data is then retrieved from the database and saved to the $custom_notification_data variable.
  3. Next is the Notification data wrap by an HTML div tag.

To display the custom notification before the actual post or page content, our custom_notification function need to be hooked to the the_content WordPress filter which filter the content of the post after it has been retrieved from the database and before it is printed to the screen.

add_action('the_content', 'custom_notification');

Viola! we have successfully completed our custom post notification meta-box plugin.

Using the Meta Box

Install and activate the plugin to your WordPress powered website. you can grab the plugin file here.

Go to the post or page edit screen, you should see the Meta Box displayed.

wordpress meta box tutorial

Add a custom notification text to the meta box, and save / update the post or page.

Preview the post or page and you should see the notification text displayed at the top of the content as depicted in the image below.

wordpress meta box tutorial

Summary

That's it! You should have a fully working meta box.

By now, I am quite certain you know what WordPress Meta boxes are, how they work and how you can create one for your WordPress powered site.

Have any questions or suggestion for improvement, I will be glad to hear them in the comments.


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Infinite Wood Floor Presentation Backgrounds


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4 Alternatives to Illustrator to Convert Handmade Drawings into Vectors

We recently talked about alternatives to the Adobe CC suite, but now I'd like to dive one step further and talk about software that's specifically similar to Adobe Illustrator in terms of converting handmade drawings into vectors.

Within Illustrator, you can easily drag in a scanned piece of artwork, then use Image Trace to convert your black and white lines into vector shapes, then recolor and touch them up.

But what if you don’t want to drop money on Creative Cloud?

Here are a collection of 4 software alternatives to Adobe Illustrator that can help you convert your drawings into vectors, plus one bonus application.

Inkscape

inkscape example artwork One Day in Farm by RebirthArt illustration

I recently saw Inkscape in action. Its bitmap tracing options are quite robust, allowing for tweaks to the brightness and edge detection thresholds. Not a bad option, especially since it’s free! (Mac and PC, free. Artwork by RebirthArt) More info →

Corel Draw

corel draw example artwork One Day in Farm by RebirthArt illustration

While Corel Draw is a little more on the expensive side, you can download a free trial to see if you like it for its tracing functions. There are a lot of great video tutorials and demos for how to use CorelDRAW’s PowerTRACE function, which allows for adjustments with detail, smoothing, corner smoothness, and removing the background amongst other features. (Artwork by Alexandra Malysheva)

Serif Drawplus

serif drawplus example artwork by Charlotte Cooper

Within the AutoTrace studio, you can easily convert for black and white artwork, color artwork, or photos. (Windows only, Beta for Mac right now; $99.) More info →

Vector Magic

vector magic online vectorizing tool hand lettering by jennifer coyle jnnfrcyl

I uploaded a photo from my sketchbook to the site (you get two free downloads). While it takes a while for it to process, the results are pretty good. You can download the result as a JPG and only have to spend one “token” once you decide to download your results. (Windows, Mac, Online. Free Trial, or $295.) More info →

Almost there: Affinity Designer

affinity designer example artwork adobe illustrator alternative for illustrators and artists

Affinity Designer is a powerful tool that is compatible with the Adobe suite. Its list of features is quite impressive. Just earlier this week, a new beta for Mac was launched which can be tried for free. Recently, CreativeBloq listed 10 reasons to try this software. This is an impressive product that will be available for purchase for around $50 come October. Unfortunately, there’s no live trace option yet, but it’s been at the top of the feature request list for a while, so I wanted to include this software so you can download the free beta and keep your eyes out for more feature releases.

What alternative software do you use for Illustrator-like Image Trace functionality?


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Spaceman - Hand Drawn Web Font


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Ornate Vintage Decoration For Typography

How to Create Vintage Vector Light Rays in Illustrator

With this tutorial you will be guided step by step through the process of creating unique vector light rays in Illustrator. This vintage style effect is perfect for embellishing and adding visual impact to typography. We will creating the light rays first, and then integrate the text, and finally add some finishing touches.

Step 1

Begin by opening Illustrator and creating a new document. 800 x 600 px will be large enough for the artboard, and the Color Mode should be RGB.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 2

Create 2 new guides by dragging from the rulers (CMD/CTRL+R to display rulers) and place them so that they overlap in the center of the document, this will be 400 px horizontal and 300 px vertical.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 3

Draw a new line segment above the horizontal guide and along the vertical guide, it should be approximately 200 px high. The stroke color should be black and the weight of the stroke 3 pt, also select the rounded cap option.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 4

Duplicate the line and make each line a different height with a small space between them, the combined height should be close to 200 px but it isn’t too important. Duplicate the lines again and move them over to the side a little, then create another variation. Repeat this until you have 4 lines which are broken into 2-3 segments each. Don’t worry if the results look messy, the lines are supposed to look random.

Use the screenshot below to better understand this step.
light rays tutorial illustrator
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 5

Move 3 of the lines over to the edge of the canvas out of the way, and just leave the first line. The first line should still be aligned with the vertical guide.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 6

Highlight the line and select the Rotate tool (R), then hold down the Alt key and click the center of the canvas where the guides intersect. In the dialog box that appears you can enter the angle to rotate the line. If you don’t know the exact angle you need, Illustrator can do some simple maths for you. A full circle is 360 degrees, so we start with 360 and divide it by the amount of steps it would take for this shape to arrive back at its original position. In this example the amount of steps is 9, so enter the formula 360/9 and click Copy.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 7

Press CMD/CTRL + D to repeat the last step until you have 9 lines. (if the lines are just moving and not duplicating, make sure you clicked Copy in the last step.
light rays tutorial illustrator
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 8

Grab the next line from the edge of the canvas and move it over to the vertical guide. We want to repeat the last 2 steps with this line, but if we do that right now the line will end up in the exact same position as the first line. So first we need to offset it slightly. Select the Rotate tool and Alt click in the center of the canvas enter 10 degrees and click OK.

The Maths
A full circle has 360 degrees and we want to divide that by 9, this gives us 40 degrees. We have 4 lines that each need to be within those 40 degrees. 40 divided by 4 is 10, so each line needs to be offset 10 degrees from the previous. The first line isn’t offset, the second is offset by 10, the third will be offset 10 plus another 10, which is 20. And finally the fourth will be offset another 10 on top of that which is 30.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 9

Repeat steps 6 and 7.
light rays tutorial illustrator
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 10

Grab the next line from the edge of the canvas and move it over to the vertical guide. Select the Rotate tool and Alt click in the center of the canvas enter 20 degrees and click OK.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 11

Repeat steps 6 and 7.
light rays tutorial illustrator
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 12

Grab the next line from the edge of the canvas and move it over to the vertical guide. Select the Rotate tool and Alt click in the center of the canvas enter 30 degrees and click OK.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 13

Repeat steps 6 and 7.
light rays tutorial illustrator
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 14

Select all of the line segments and group them (CMD/CTRL + G). To create a more hand drawn appearance apply the Roughen effect (Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen) with 0.5% size, 10/in detail, and smooth points.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 15

To make the radial shape look a little less uniform, rotate it by about 5 degrees, so that it is no longer aligned to the guides. You can also hide the guides now as they won’t be needed again.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 16

Type your text and lay it out on top of the radial shape how you want it, I am using the font Frente H1 for this tutorial.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 17

Draw two white rectangles above the radial shape but below the text to partially hide the line segments behind the text.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 18

Use the Pathfinder window to Unite the two white rectangles.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 19

Select the radial shape and the combined rectangles, then use the Pathfinder window to Trim the radial shape.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 20

Delete the remnants of the combined rectangles and any small parts of the radial shape.
light rays tutorial illustrator
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 21

Select any line segments which now have flat edges and with the Direct Selection Tool active, increase the Live Corners value to 1.5 or as high as it will allow. If your version of Illustrator doesn’t have the Live Corners feature you can use Effect > Stylize > Round Corners.. instead.
light rays tutorial illustrator
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 22

Draw a large rectangle that fills the whole canvas and place it below all other layers. Fill it with a dark background color (#2B2630).
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 23

Select all layers except for the background layer and set the fill to white.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 24

To finish up we can also add some noise, grab one of the transparent .png files from this free resource: Dust & Dirt Overlay Textures and place it onto your canvas.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 25

Use the Image Trace feature in Illustrator to vectorize the texture, the Silhouettes preset is perfect for this. Click Expand to confirm the trace.
light rays tutorial illustrator

Step 26

Adjust the size and position of the dust texture to fill the canvas. Set the fill to white and lower the transparency to 25%.
light rays tutorial illustrator
light rays tutorial illustrator

Result

And here is the final result. You can make your vintage sun rays really unique by playing around with the amount of lines used or creating variations in height and stroke weight. This tutorial has covered various techniques including the Rotate tool, applying subtle Effects, Pathfinder operations and even some basic maths!

light rays tutorial illustrator

Related Resources

Vintage Light Ray Vectors

This pack contains 16 vintage vector light rays with a hand drawn, sketched effect. These completely scalable sun burst graphics are ideal for decorating and adding retro ornaments to your designs.

Download

Dust & Dirt Overlay Textures

A collection of 8 authentic dust and dirt textures. They were created by sprinkling specs of dust, dirt and loose fibres on a flatbed scanner and scanning them. They are included as high resolution inverted white on black jpg images, and transparent .png textures.

Download

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Signia - Vector Icon Pack


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Quick Tip: How to Create Halftone Grunge Textures in Photoshop

Halftone textures can add an interesting vintage effect to your designs. Halftones use a series of solid colored dots or lines to create a tone or gradient. The use of solid colors in halftones make them great for screen printing, or to simulate the look of screen printing in your designs. They're super easy to create in Photoshop…. Let's take a look.

Step 1: You need a good texture.

First up, we need a good texture. One that, when converted to black and white, has plenty of nice gray gradients. You can find lots of great textures here. Once you’ve found a texture to work with, open it in Photoshop.

We want to convert it to Grayscale next. Click (Image | Mode | Grayscale). You may also need to adjust the levels to get a nice contrast (Image | Adjust | Levels). Here’s a look at my texture.

how to create a halftone texture in photoshop graphic design tutorial

Step 2: Convert to Bitmap and back again

Next up, we need to convert the image to a Bitmap. Click (Image | Mode | Bitmap). You’ll then be see a couple of windows with options. The first is to flatten the layers, go ahead and select Okay. The next window asks about “Resolution” and “Method”. The resolution should match the document… in my case it’s 72dpi. For the “Method” choose “Halftone Screen”, and click Okay.

how to create a halftone texture in photoshop graphic design tutorial

The next window has options for Frequency, Angle and Shape. You may have to play with the frequency amount a bit to get the right amount of halftone for your texture. For my image I’m going to choose a setting of 12. The shape I’m using will be lines set at a 45 degree angle.

how to create a halftone texture in photoshop graphic design tutorial

Here’s a look at what these settings will produce.

how to create a halftone texture in photoshop graphic design tutorial

Another good option for halftones is circles. So for “Shape” I chose “Round” for the sample below.

how to create a halftone texture in photoshop graphic design tutorial

As a final step you can convert the image back to RGB. First you’ll need to convert it back to Grayscale by clicking (Image | Mode | Grayscale), then back to RGB using the same method.

Step 3: Make it Transparent

There are many ways to make this texture transparent. In fact, I covered a few of them in a recent tutorial.

One good method would be to select the Magic Wand Tool (W) with a tolerance around 10, and select the black (or white) area of the halftone. Then click (Select | Similar) to choose the rest of the black areas in the image. From there it’s a simple copy and paste to a new document. Then use the halftone texture to create your own vintage design.

how to create a halftone texture in photoshop graphic design tutorial

Give it a shot and share your work in the comments!

 


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Vector Swooshes For Type - Vol 2


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