Quick Tip: How to Rotate Objects Better in Photoshop

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Quick Tip: How to Rotate Objects Better in Photoshop

If you've ever needed to rotate a vector shape around a specific point in Photoshop, but found that it kept resetting to the center of the shape, then this quick tip will show you how to trick Photoshop into doing what you want.

The Easy Way

The simplest way to control the rotation point of an object in Photoshop is to move the anchor point. When you enter transform mode, you should see the anchor point in the center of the bounding box, to move it simply click and drag with the mouse to a new position. Tip: you can improve the accuracy of it’s placement by drawing 2 guides beforehand that intersect at the point that you want to rotate around.

how to set rotation anchor point in photoshop
how to set rotation anchor point in photoshop

The problem with this method? As soon as you do anything else, Photoshop will forget the anchor point’s position and reset to default. As there is currently no way to permanently set a new anchor point we have to get a little creative and trick Photoshop.

How to Fool Photoshop

Photoshop will always use the center point of the object as the default rotation anchor point, so all we need to do is manipulate our shape to make the center of the object the point we want it to rotate around.

To do this, draw a circle starting from the desired rotation point to the outer edge of the object, whilst holding down the ALT and SHIFT keys to constrain proportions. Then combine this circle with the shape layer that you want to rotate.
how to set rotation anchor point in photoshop

Now duplicate the circle and set the path to Subtract Front Shape, this will make our circle invisible.
how to set rotation anchor point in photoshop

But we still want the original shape to be visible, so select it and choose Bring Shape To Front in the path arrangement dropdown to make it visible again.
how to set rotation anchor point in photoshop

And we are left with what looks exactly like the original object, except with an invisible circle behind it manipulating the overall dimensions of the layer and consequently also the rotation anchor point. Which in this example, is now in the center of the clock face where we want it to be. And Photoshop won’t forget it this time!
how to set rotation anchor point in photoshop

Conclusion

This quick tip goes to show that just because Photoshop may not always work exactly the way you want it to, it can often be ‘tricked’ into doing just about anything you need it to.


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Grungy vector goodness for your type

How to Create an Ink Stamp Text Effect with Illustrator CS6

This tutorial for Illustrator CS6 will teach you how to achieve an ink stamp style text effect by layering multiple fills and effects. And this effect can also be applied to vector shapes if you prefer.

Step 1

Open Illustrator CS6 (or newer) and create a new blank RGB document, W: 800 px H: 500 px.

Step 2

For this effect we will need to create two custom pattern swatches in Illustrator. I recommend downloading our pre-made vector speckle textures to get you started. Alternatively you can skip this step and download the result for free here

When you have your vector grunge texture ready in Illustrator, use the Direct Selection tool to grab the section of the texture you want to use (aim to make your selection roughly a square).

Copy and paste your selection into the blank document we created in step 1, and set the dimensions to W: 150px H: 150px and use the Unite function in the Pathfinder window to merge it.

Step 3

We now want an inverted version of this texture, so draw a black square W: 150px H: 150px, then duplicate the texture and place it directly on top of the square with the fill set to white.

Step 4

Select the texture with the black background and go the Object > Pattern menu and click Make to create our first pattern swatch. Set the Tile Type to Brick by Column to mix up the pattern a little.

Step 5

Select the black texture with no background and go the Object > Pattern menu and click Make to create our second pattern swatch. Again, set the Tile Type to Brick by Column.

Step 6

Now use the Type Tool to place your word in the center of the document. Use the font nevis Bold and font size 188 pt. If needed, correct any tracking/kerning issues.

Step 7

In the Appearance panel set the Fill to the first grunge pattern swatch.

Step 8

Add a Roughen filter from the Effect > Distort and Transform menu with size 1px Absolute and detail 15/in.

Step 9

Increase the Stroke width from 0 to 4pt to add a black border.

Because the stroke is applied to text, the option to align to the inside isn’t available. A workaround for this is to select the Stroke layer in the Appearance panel and add the Offset Path filter from the Effect > Path menu directly to it. The offset value should be half of whatever the stroke width is to align to the inside.

Step 10

Also add a Roughen filter to the stroke, with size 1px Absolute and detail 15/in.

Step 11

One of the best things about Illustrator is that you can have multiple fills and strokes. Let’s take advantage of this to add some extra grunge detail around the text. Click the Add New Fill button in the Appearance panel and set the fill to the second grunge pattern.

Step 12

We can’t currently see the second fill because it is behind the other fill and stroke. However we can use the Offset Path filter again to increase the size of only the second fill by 4 pixels.

Step 13

To make the outer grunge look a bit more natural, we can also Roughen the path with size 15px Absolute and detail 15/in.

Step 14

In this step we will be vectorizing the type layer, which means it will no longer be editable. You will probably want to create a copy of the text layer at this point, just in case you want to go back and change the text later.

When you are happy to proceed, right click the type layer and click Create Outlines.

Step 15

Use the Direct Selection tool and hold down the Shift key while you highlight all of the external corners on your text. Increase the Corner Radius to 6 px.

Step 16

Now highlight all of the internal corners and increase the Corner Radius to 3 px.

Step 17

To merge all of these different fills, strokes, patterns and effects we will need to Rasterize our text (don’t worry it makes sense in the next step).

Step 18

Using the Image Trace function to re-vectorize our text will flatten it, convert white fills to transaprent, and also roughen the text slightly. Use the options show in the image below to retain the most detail.

Result

Here is the result of the ink stamp effect, I have added a subtle paper texture from this set behind the text and set the fill color to #282725 for some final touches.

Conclusion

Hopefully you have enjoyed following along with this tutorial, and learned some new techniques. Adding multiple strokes and fills with the Appearance panel, and applying effects to them can open up a whole new world of possibilities in Illustrator.


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Business Card Mockup Vol 8


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Double Exposure Photoshop Action


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The classic effect made easy

Create an Easy Double Exposure Portrait in Minutes

Double exposure is a cool effect that has been around for a long time. In the film camera days, it was accomplished by exposing the negative twice on two different scenes. Now this effect can be easily created and embellished using a few simple tricks in Photoshop. Below, I'll show you how in this easy tutorial.

Step 1 - Gather Photos

First up, we need some good photos to create our double exposure with. For the portrait I chose this image by TwiggXStock on deviantArt.

For the landscape image I chose this excellent aurora borealis image from UnSplash.

Step 2 - Cut The Portrait from it’s Background

Create a new image in Photoshop. Mine is 1970 x 2680. Copy and paste both images onto new layers within the document. Hide the landscape shot for now. Using whatever selection method you prefer, remove the background from the portrait. I used Quick Mask Mode (Q) to paint the selection. I also converted the portrait to black and white by pressing Cmd+Shift+U.

Step 3 - Create the Double Exposure Effect

Click over to the Channels panel, and Shift+Click the RGB channel. This will create a selection of the portrait.

Head back to the layers panel and turn the portrait layer off. Now select the landscape layer and turn it’s visibility back on. With the selection still made, press the Mask button at the bottom of the layers panel.

Finally, with the new mask selected press (Ctrl+I) to invert it.

Step 4 - Embellish the Effect

This is my favorite part. For this step, I used a free brush set from WeGraphics called Mixed Media. You can download it here.

Select a brush from the Mixed Media set. Make sure your foreground color is set to white. On the layer mask, begin clicking, to remove portions of the portrait. Switch your foreground color to black to add portions back.

Choose different brushes and resize and rotate them to build up an effect similar to mine.

Step 5 - Add texture and Lighting

To wrap it up I added a gradient map above all layers and set it’s blend mode to “Overlay”. I used #290a59 for the purple and #e1be9d for the light orange.

And finally I added a texture from the Recycled Paper Textures here at MediaLoot. I placed this texture on the bottom most layer.

That’s it! This effect looks very complex, but is really quite easy. It can be applied in any number of ways for different looks. I’d love to see what you create. Please feel free to share your results in the comment fields below.

 


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Floating A4 Paper Mockup Vol 3


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It's the bomb!

How to Create a Cartoon Bomb Icon with Sketch App

This tutorial will teach you the essential techniques required for creating custom icons with Sketch. And in the process you will create a cool, cartoon-style bomb icon.

Step 1

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Launch Sketch and begin by drawing a green rectangle to use as a background layer. Then right click on the layer in the sidebar and select Lock Layer to avoid accidentally selecting it again.

Rectangle:

  • Fill: #95A782
  • Border: None
  • Position: X:0 Y:0
  • Size: W:900 H:600

Step 2

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Next draw a purple circle near the center of the background layer, using the Oval tool and holding down the shift key to constrain proportions.

Circle:

  • Fill: #816F85
  • Border: None
  • Position: X:168 Y:168
  • Size: W:900 H:600

Step 3

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Place a small rounded rectangle near the top of the circle, aligned to the center of the circle horizontally.

Rectangle:

  • Fill: #816F85
  • Border: None
  • Radius: 6
  • Position: X:421 Y:204
  • Size: W:38 H:30

Step 4

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Select the Rotate tool and move the anchor point for the small rectangle to the center of the circle, then rotate the rectangle 45° clockwise.

Rectangle:

  • Transform: 315°

Step 5

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Select the circle and rectangle layers and combine them with the Union boolean function

Step 6

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Now add some styles to the merged bomb shape:

Bomb:

  • Fill: #816F85
  • Border: #434343, Outside, 6
  • Inner Shadows: Black, Alpha:20, X:-12 Y:-12, Blur:0, Spread:0

Step 7

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Use the Pen tool to draw a short wavy line from the center of rotated rectangle, to approximately half down the circle. Use 3 points in total including the start and end points then remove the fill and add a border:

Fuse:

  • Fill: None
  • Border: #EBCFA8, Center, 8

Step 8

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Go to the Layer > Paths menu and select Vectorize Stroke to convert the border to a fill so that we can add additional styles to the fuse:

Fuse:

  • Fill: #EBCFA8
  • Border: #434343, Outside, 6
  • Inner Shadows: Black, Alpha:20, X:-4 Y:-4, Blur:0, Spread:0

Step 9

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Add a new pattern fill layer above the solid color fill and select the diagonal lines default pattern (or use your own if you have a better one).

Fuse:

  • Fill 1: Diagonal lines pattern
  • Fill 2: #EBCFA8

Step 10

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Use the Star tool to draw a new shape slightly overlapping the fuse and bomb shapes.

Star:

  • Fill: #FFFFFF
  • Radius: 68%
  • Points: 8

Step 11

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Add 3 borders to the star layer to create a spark effect. Reorganize if necessary to get them in the following order from top to bottom:

Star:

  • Border 1: #434343, Outside, 6
  • Border 2: #F2780D, Inside, 6
  • Border 3: #F5A623, Inside, 12

Step 12

icon design tutorial for sketch app
The bomb is currently looking a little bit flat, so let’s add some extra lighting. Draw a new circle layer with no fill and a white border, in the center of the round part of the bomb.

Circle:

  • Fill: None
  • Border: #FFFFFF Center 6
  • Position: X:372 Y:241
  • Size: W:134 H:134

Step 13

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Double click the circle layer to enter the path edit mode, and then click the Open Path button to open up the circle.

Step 14

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Delete two of the vector points so that only the top left quarter of the circle remains.

Step 15

icon design tutorial for sketch app

Circle:
Select the Border options and add a dashed stroke, and lower the opacity of the layer to 20%

  • Fill: None
  • Border: #FFFFFF Center 6
  • Dashed Options: Ends: Round, Dash 80 Gap 15
  • Opacity: 20%

Step 16

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Draw a small white star near the top of the bomb shape.

Star:

  • Fill: #FFFFFF
  • Border: None
  • Points: 5
  • Radius: 50%
  • Position: X:450 Y:205
  • Size: W:32 H:32

Step 17

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Double click the star shape to enter the path edit mode, select all of the points on the star and set the corner radius to ‘3’ to soften the shape.

Star:

  • Corners: 3

Step 18

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Rotate the star 30° clockwise around the default anchor point.

Star:

  • Rotate: 330°

Step 19

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Duplicate the star, then move it to left, reduce the size slightly and rotate -45° anti-clockwise.

Star:

  • Rotate: -15°
  • Position: X:489.7 Y:218.6
  • Size: W:18.1 H:17.3

Step 20

icon design tutorial for sketch app
To create a shadow, draw a new Oval shape layer below all other layers except for the background:

Shadow:

  • Fill: Black, Opacity 20%
  • Border: None
  • Position: X:388 Y:385
  • Size: W:104 H:21

Step 21

icon design tutorial for sketch app
The bomb actually looks pretty cool at this stage. But to finish it off, let’s draw a friendly skull and crossbones sign onto the bomb to signify danger. Start with a simple circle for the skull head:

Circle:

  • Fill: #ECD6C3
  • Border: None
  • Position: X:421 Y:278
  • Size: W:40 H:40

Step 22

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Use a small rounded rectangle for the jaw section of the skull:

Rectangle:

  • Fill: #ECD6C3
  • Border: None
  • Radius: 6
  • Position: X:429 Y:308
  • Size: W:24 H:14

Step 23

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Next up, lets give our skull some eyes. Draw two circles (or just one and duplicate it for the second). The only difference will be the X position values.

Eye 1:

  • Fill: #816F85
  • Border: None
  • Radius: 6
  • Position: X:429 Y:298
  • Size: W:10 H:10

Eye 2:

  • Fill: #816F85
  • Border: None
  • Radius: 6
  • Position: X:443 Y:298
  • Size: W:10 H:10

Step 24

icon design tutorial for sketch app
For the nose, use the triangle shape tool to draw the basic shape. Then double click the triangle to enter the path edit mode, select all 3 vector points and set the Corners value to 2.

Nose:

  • Fill: #816F85
  • Border: None
  • Corners: 2
  • Position: X:438 Y:307
  • Size: W:6 H:8

Step 25

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Next up are the crossbones. Start by drawing a basic rectangle:

Rectangle:

  • Fill: #ECD6C3
  • Border: None
  • Position: X:412 Y:329
  • Size: W:60 H:6

Step 26

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Draw a small circle intersecting with the top left point of the rectangle:

Circle:

  • Fill: #ECD6C3
  • Border: None
  • Position: X:407 Y:324
  • Size: W:8 H:8

Step 27

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Duplicate the circle layer 3 times, one for each of the rectangles other corners. Then select all 4 circles and the rectangle and combine them with the Union function.

Circle 1:

  • Position: X:407 Y:324

Circle 2:

  • Position: X:407 Y:331

Circle 3:

  • Position: X:467 Y:324

Circle 4:

  • Position: X:407 Y:331

Step 28

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Take the combined bone shape and rotate it 15° clockwise.

Bone:

  • Rotate: 345°

Step 29

icon design tutorial for sketch app
Duplicate the bone shape and flip it horizontally.

Step 30

This is how the bomb should now look:
icon design tutorial for sketch app
We could happily call this finished now, but I do have one last optional final touch..

Optional: Add speckle textures

This optional extra step involves downloading our premium Vector Speckle Textures resource. Once you have done this, place 2 of your favourite textures from the pack on layers above all of the other artwork:

icon design tutorial for sketch app
icon design tutorial for sketch app


Texture 1:

  • Fill: White
  • Opacity: 20%

Texture 2:

  • Fill: Black
  • Opacity: 10%

Result & Conclusion

Here is the final result, I think you will agree that it looks the bomb! (sorry)
icon design tutorial for sketch app

This tutorial has covered a lot of techniques essential for designing custom icons, such as combining simple shapes to create more complex layers and also using layer styles to create visual effects. These techniques are also universally applicable, not just within Sketch.


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Simple, Quick, and Gorgeous

Quick Tip: Create a Watercolor Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

This very popular and trendy text effect is surprisingly easy to create in Adobe Illustrator. Let's take a look at how it's done.

Create a new document in Illustrator. Add some text using the font of your preference. I chose Seaweed Script.

With your text in place, change the color to transparent.

Now click the Draw Inside button on the tools panel. You’ll notice a dotted outline at each corner of the text box.

Now click File | Place and choose a watercolor texture. I’m using a texture from the Watercolor Wash set at WeGraphics.net. Many great watercolor textures can be around the web if you don’t already have one.

Once your texture is placed, click and position it until you are satisfied with the look.

Now click the Draw Normal button on the Tools panel. You can click and edit the text at this point if you need to change it, or you can double click and move the texture around some more if you need to.

Add more watercolor texture to embellish the text even further!


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Create stunning shadows and reflections

How to Create an Artwork Mockup with Studio Lighting in Photoshop CS6+

This tutorial for Photoshop CS6 shows you how to use Smart Objects and the new Blur Gallery effects to create an impressive, studio lighting style shadow and reflection perfect for displaying business card designs, app screenshots, album artwork and more.

Please check your version of Photoshop before starting this tutorial, you must have either CS6, CC or newer to use the Tilt-Shift blur filter

Step 1

Open a new document in Photoshop, width 900px and height 680px. Then create a new color fill layer or fill the existing background layer with a light pink-ish gray color (#e1dcdf).
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 2

The next step is to create the Smart Object that will be used for the artwork, the shadow and also the reflection. Draw a rectangle 320 x 320 pixels and in the Layers panel right click the layer and select Convert to Smart Object.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 3

Double click on the Smart Object thumbnail to open in it, and design or paste in your artwork. In this example I am using the cover art for the album Another Eternity by the artist Purity Ring.

The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the label, 4AD, or the graphic artist(s), Tallulah Fontaine.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 4

Save and close the Smart Object to return to the main document, then duplicate the Smart Object layer and move it below the original layer in Layers panel. Press CMD+T or CTRL+T to enter Transform mode, and drag the top edge of the bounding box down until it is only 60 pixels tall.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 5

Still in Transform mode, hold down the CMD key and drag the top left and right points out to the sides as shown in the screenshot below. Try to keep them roughly an equal distance apart on each side, but don’t worry too much if it isn’t perfect.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 6

Set the Foreground Color to black and open the Blending Options window for the duplicated Smart Object, then set the Fill Opacity to 0%
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 7

Apply a Gradient Overlay from Foreground Color (black) to transparent.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 8

The duplicated Smart Object layer should now be starting to resemble a shadow.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 9

The shadow is currently much too sharp, so let’s start by applying a subtle all over Gaussian Blur filter.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 10

Now we can use the Tilt-Shift effect from the Filter > Blur Gallery menu to add a dynamic blur. Lower the position of the effect so that the top solid line lines up with the bottom of the artwork, then bring the dashed line closer, roughly 30 pixels above the solid line. Set the Blur value 25px, or optionally tweak it until you find a value that works for you.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 11

After applying the blur effect, click OK and return to the main document. Then duplicate the main Smart Object once more and move it down one place in the Layers panel. Press CMD+T or CTRL+T to enter Transform mode and drag the top edge of the bounding box down around 190 pixels below the bottom edge which will also flip the artwork vertically.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 12

Set the Foreground Color to #e1dcdf.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 13

Open the Blending Options window and set the Fill Opacity to 25%
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 14

Apply a Gradient Overlay from Foreground Color (#e1dcdf) to transparent.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 15

This layer should now look like a reflection on the surface below the artwork.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 16

Apply a subtle 1 pixel Gaussian Blur to the reflection layer to make it look a little more realistic.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 17

Select the original Smart Object layer and use the up arrow key to Nudge the artwork up 2 pixels
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 18

We now have a shadow and reflection, but no discernible light source. So lets add one with a new Gradient Fill layer above all other layers.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 19

Use the default Black to White preset gradient, and change the angle to a value of 105° (or something else close to but not quite 90°).
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Step 20

Finally, set the Blending Mode of the Gradient Fill layer to Soft Light.
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Result

Here is the result:
shadow and reflection effect in photoshop

Conclusion

The techniques covered in this tutorial are the basic building blocks for creating business card, app screen and album artwork mockups in Photoshop. Hopefully by following along you will now have a better understanding of how to manipulate Smart Objects in Photoshop and even use the new Tilt-Shift blur filter for a creative effect that it wasn’t actually intended for.


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Designs with Flare

Create an Easy Flaming Wing Butterfly Effect in Photoshop

In this tutorial we're going to create a butterfly with flaming wings. Using the warp transform tool in Photoshop you'll see how easy it is to shape and manipulate fire into wings. We'll also create a custom brush and see how applying a simple texture can add depth to your digital art. Let's get started!

Step 1 - Gathering Resources and Getting Started

We’ll need a couple of images for this tutorial. You can use any butterfly image that you like, or you can download the one I’m using here. For the fire, you’ll need to download this excellent resource provided by sidestreet-stock on DeviantArt.

Open Photoshop and create a new document. Mine is 2000x1500 at 72dpi. Fill the background with a dark gray (#1b1a19). Copy and paste the butterfly image onto our new document.

Step 2 - Applying Fire to the Butterfly’s Wings

Set the butterfly layer’s opacity down to 30%. Now open the fire images and choose a few that look like they can be easily manipulated into the wing shapes. Copy and paste a fire image onto a layer above the butterfly. Set the fire layer’s blend mode to “screen”, then click Edit | Transform | Distort to position the fire over the butterflies wing.

Now click Edit | Transform | Warp to shape the fire within the butterfly’s wing.

Repeat this process until the entire wing is filled with fire. You may not have to warp each flame, but you will have to scale and rotate it into place.

Once you have a nice shape for the wings, combine all of the fire layers into one.

Now set this new combined layer’s blend mode to back to “screen”. Duplicate the layer and click Edit | Transform | Flip Horizontal. Position this new wing copy on the opposite side of the butterfly. Select the two wing layers and press Cmd+E to combine them. You’ll need to set the new combined layer’s blend back to “screen” again.

Let’s add a couple more adjustments to the wings, just to give them more of a painted look. Duplicate the wings layer, and with the duplicate layer selected, click Filter | Other | High Pass. Use a setting similar to mine below, and set the layer’s blend mode to “overlay”.

Combine the two layers by selecting them and press Cmd+E. Set the combined layers blend mode back to “screen”. Now choose Filter | Sharpen | Unsharp Mask. Use a setting similar to the one I have below.

Note: If you have little white lines around the wings shapes, like I do above, after this step, simply erase them with a soft eraser brush.

Finally, let’s set the original butterfly image’s opacity back to 100%. Create a layer mask and use a soft brush with Opacity and Flow set to around 50%, and begin hiding most of the wings. You can let a little show through some of the flames if you prefer.

Step 3 - Adding Texture

No digital art is complete without texture. I chose a file from this Bleached Paper Textures collection(http://wegraphics.net/downloads/textures/bleached-paper-textures/) at WeGraphics. I added it to a layer just above the background layer. I set its opacity to 50% and its blend mode to “Overlay”.

Then I duplicated the texture layer and desaturated it by press Cmd+Shift+U. I set its opacity to 100% and its blend mode to “Overlay”.

Step 4 - Adding Light Effects

To adjust the lighting I added several items. The first is a Gradient Map adjustment layer. It’s positioned above all other layers and is set to the colors below.

Next, use a large soft brush and click once on a layer above the butterfly but below the wings. Use a color similar to #f6bb0d. Set this layer’s blend mode to “overlay”.

On a new layer above the wings use a small soft brush to outline the edges of the wings. Use a color similar to #fc7504. Set this layer’s opacity to 50% and its blend mode to “overlay”.

Step 5 - Create a Custom Brush to add Sparks

To finish it up we’ll add some sparks using a soft round brush. Open the brushes panel and adjust the settings as I have below.

Choose a color similar to #f36f09, and begin painting sparks around the edge of the butterfly.

Conclusion

I hope you found this tutorial easy and informative. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to use the techniques in your own digital art. If so, I’d love to see the results. Please use the comment fields below to share your work!


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The Must-Have List

Essential Resources for The Ultimate Designer’s Toolbox

It's essential for a designer to create a toolbox, or an arsenal, of tools that he/she uses to create various effects and techniques in a project. The amount of time it saves allows a designer to concentrate on the job at hand versus having to spend time creating the resources at the core of any given technique. A few years ago it was up to a designer to create his or her own design resources for each project that came along. Now'a days you can go online and purchase any kind of design resources you can imagine, and some that you would have never imagined. These resources are often times small and affordable and have little impact on the project budget. Let's take a look at some of the types of resources that are essential to building an ultimate designer's toolbox.

Fonts

In my opinion fonts are at the core of every design. Fore the most part, we’re only as good as our font collections. There are a ton of free fonts available on the web, and some are very good. Premium fonts tend to offer a bit more options and usability. I typically put fonts into two categories: body fonts and title fonts. Body fonts would be fonts that I would use in the body of an editorial piece or a webpage. These are typically very readable classic style serifs and san serifs. Title fonts are the attention getters and are usually a bit more fun to use. They’re sometimes ornate, hand drawn or very graphical.

Here are some great fonts to put into your toolbox:

Vectors

Vector graphics are the most versatile format to have your toolbox. Vectors are completely scalable and editable. Familiarizing yourself with a vector graphics program like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape is a skill that every designer should possess. When it comes to vector graphics for your toolbox, it might depend on what type of projects you typically take on. But some basics may include things like ornate patterns, badges and logos, hand drawn items and maybe a few vintage elements.

Here are some good recommendations for your vector collection:

Brushes and Textures

Brushes and Textures are important for adding a custom look to Photoshop creations. These types of resources enable you to give a design a real-world look. Basically transforming perfect pixels into something that is worn, painted, distressed or made by hand. Given the right touch, textures and brushes can give a design a warmer more inviting feel. If overused they will serve as not much more than a distraction to the viewer, so having the right items in your toolbox is essential.

Here are some great packs that I would recommend:

Mockup Files

Mock up files are important to have in your toolbox as they help you to display your finished work in a real world setting. Having your designs on actual t-shirts, posters, books and screens in your portfolio helps make your work appear more finished and in use. Displaying your work as a mockup also helps a client visualize how the finished piece will look. Mockup files can be very basic and utilitarian, or they can be very creative and specific to a certain style. Either way, having a good selection of mockups in your arsenal is a must.

Here are a few examples of mockup files:

Icons and Web Files

Saving time as a web designer is huge. It’s all about maximizing your development efforts and staying on budget. Utilizing preexisting resources is an easy way to make that happen. Everything from icons, UI elements, CSS code and plugins can cut time. These items are out there and available for making your life easier.

Here’s a look at a few sets that are perfect for your toolbox:


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Data presentation with Material design influences

How to Create a Smooth Segmented Chart using Sketch 3 App

This tutorial will teach you how to create a simple line chart, inspired by Google Material design principles using primarily the vector tool, gradients and masks in Sketch 3 app.

Step 1

Open Sketch App and start by drawing a very large rectangle on the canvas to use as a background layer, this is an optional step but it does provide contrast between the background of the chart and the canvas color which will both be white.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 2

Next draw a smaller rectangle which will be the containing box around the chart. The dimensions should be 860 x 540 with a white background fill, no border and a subtle shadow:
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 3

In the layers panel right click on both layers and select Lock Layer.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 4

With the Line (L) tool draw the first vertical grid line. To help you figure out where to place it, the bottom point of the line should be 70 pixels from the bottom and left of the containing box. The line itself should be 340 pixels in length.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 5

Duplicate the line 9 times, moving it 80 pixels to the right each time:
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 6

Use the Text (T) tool to add some labels in between each grid line.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 7

Also create a text heading for the chart.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 8

We are now ready to draw the data for the chart, the desired effect will be a smooth wave. Begin by selecting the Vector (V) tool and click to place a point on the first grid line. Then click and hold the second point slightly higher on the next grid line, and with the mouse button still held down, drag the handles out until they are roughly in the middle of two grid lines as shown below:
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 9

Repeat this process creating a vector point on each grid line, to create a smooth wave shape:
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 10

After drawing the next vector point, change the handle type to Disconnected and remove the right handle by dragging it back in towards the vector point. This will give you a straight corner when you draw the following point.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 11

Hold down the Shift key while creating the next two points to constrict them to perfectly straight lines. Go to the bottom of the last grid line and then all the way over to the bottom of the first grid line.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 12

To finish the path and complete the shape, click Close Path.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 13

Now let’s give our wave some color. Remove the border if it has one and apply a Gradient fill instead. The arrow buttons can be used to quickly rotate the gradient and make it horizontal. Set the color stops to #61FSD2 and #1C9BF7. I strongly recommend saving this as a new preset to save time later.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 14

Change the Opacity of the ‘Path’ layer to 50%.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 15

Duplicate the ‘Path’ layer and then on the new ‘Path 2’ layer edit the vector shape. First click Open Path and then delete the bottom two points so that all you have remaining is a wavy line from the left to the right (this will look kind of wonky at first, but don’t worry!)
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 16

With the ‘Path 2’ layer still selected, remove the gradient fill and instead apply a 3 pixel Border, using the same gradient (you did save it as a preset right?).
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 17

Select both the fill and border path layers (‘Path 1’ and ‘Path 2’) and hit CMD+G to group them. Rename the group to ‘Wave’.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 18

Create a new rectangle on a layer above the ‘Wave’ group, this is for the highlighted segment and should be around 40 pixels taller and 40 pixels wider than the actual grid segment in order to give the illusion of depth.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 19

Select both the ‘Wave’ and ‘Rectangle 3’ layers and duplicate them. 
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 20

Select the duplicated ‘Wave 2’ and ‘Rectangle 4’ layers and go to Layer > Mask with Selected Shape or click the Mask icon in the toolbar.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 21

Expand the ‘Wave 2’ group in the layers panel and select the sub-group also called ‘Wave 2’. Use the bounding box/transform controls to increase the size of the wave around 5-10% and give it a “zoomed-in” effect.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 22

Now expand the ‘Wave 2’ subgroup that you just resized, and select the ‘Path 2’ layer within. This is the layer with the border, increase the Thickness of the border to 5.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 23

It is still a little difficult to distinguish between the zoomed in section and the original wave, so let’s go back to the original ‘Wave’ group and reduce the Opacity value of the whole group to 75%.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 24

And to cement the illusion of depth, select the ‘Rectangle 3’ layer and apply a Shadow. There is now a clear distinction between the base chart and the highlighted segment.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Step 25

Finally, let’s just add back in the text label for ‘30’ that is now hidden, but make it much darker and larger this time.
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Result

Here is the final result, an undoubtably very simple chart but a very pretty one!
graph ui design tutorial for sketch app

Conclusion

Hopefully by following along with this tutorial you now have a better understanding of using the vector tool for drawing smooth wave-like shapes, gradient fills and also how to use shapes to mask groups and layers. It may also provide an introduction to Material design principles that can be implemented into your designs.


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Turn Inspiration into Tools

Quick Tip: Creating Custom Color Swatches From Any Photo

In this quick tip we'll be looking at a technique that I use a lot when working with photos. If I like the colors in a photo and want to use those in a design, or in future designs, I'll create and save a custom swatches file. Let's take a look at how it's done in Photoshop.

The Right Photo

Open up Photoshop and start with a photo that contains colors that you like. Here’s mine.

Now click Image | Mode | Indexed Color from the top menu. It will ask you to flatten layers if there are any. On the next panel choose the amount of colors you want to appear in the swatches. I chose 256.

Creating and Saving the Swatches

Now click Image | Mode | Color Table. The table will open with all of the newly created swatches.

Click Save, and name the .ACT file whatever you like. Save it to whatever location you want. Now open the Swatches panel by clicking Window | Swatches. Once the panel is open choose “Load Swatches” or “Replace Swatches” by clicking the arrow in the top right of the panel. Navigate to your new .ACT file to load the new swatches. You can also change your image back to RGB color at this point.

Now you can create new elements and choose consistent colors from within the photo, or you can open and use the colors in another project.


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Taking Your Words to the Street

Create an Easy Neon Light Text Effect in Photoshop

Neon lights have a cool vintage look. Recreating that look in Photoshop is surprisingly easy. In this tutorial I'm using pink as my light color, but feel free to use blue or green or whatever color you prefer. Let's dive right in and get started.

Step 1 - Create the Type

To start, create a new document in Photoshop. My document is 1400x525, but obviously the size doesn’t matter, so create your document to fit your text. I filled the background with a dark gray/blue color (#2b3036). I typed my text using Myriad Pro, but Ariel or Helvetica will work as well. I then stretched and sized the text to fit within the document.

Add two guides to the top and bottom of the text, and make sure View | Snap To | Guides is checked in your menu.

Draw all of the vertical lines on a new layer, titled “Vertical”, using the brush tool with a size of 10px. Hold down the shift key to maintain a perfectly straight line.

Now on a new layer use the same technique to draw the horizontal lines. Name this new layer “Horizontal”. Make sure to leave a little space where the lines are supposed to connect.

To draw any curved shapes in your text, use the Pen Tool and stroke the path using the same 10px brush settings.

You can delete the text guide layer and remove the vertical guides. Here’s what you should have now.

Step 2 - Add Horizontal Light Effect

Set the Horizontal layer’s Fill to 0 on the layers panel. Now duplicate the Horizontal layer, and apply the following layer effects to the original Horizontal layer.





You should now have something that looks similar to mine below.

For the duplicate Horizontal layer use the following layer styles.





Now you should have something like the following.

Step 3 - Add Vertical Light Effect

For the Vertical layer set the Fill to 0, and copy the layer the same way you did the Horizontal layer. Now apply the following layer effects to the original Vertical layer.




Now your file should look similar to mine.

For the duplicate Vertical layer’s effects, simply copy and paste the duplicate Horizontal layer’s effects then edit the Bevel to these settings.

Step 4 - Add More Lighting

Hopefully you made it through all those layer effects and your still with me. The next few steps are easy and fun to apply. To add some more light around the letters choose a pink color and a large soft brush and create a new layer. Set the new layer’s blend mode to Overlay and make sure it is behind the text layers. Use your brush to click one behind each letter to give it a glowing effect.

To intensify the letter’s glowing effect choose a smaller white brush, and on a new layer above all of the text click a few areas you would like to highlight. Make sure to also set this layer’s blend mode to Overlay. Below are the areas I chose to highlight.


Step 5 - Connect the Lights

To connect the lights, I simply chose a black brush set to 7px and drew straight lines on a layer behind the letters. This is a subtle effect that helps make the neon look a bit more realistic.

Step 6 - Add Texture

To finalize this effect I added a simple grunge background. It’s on a layer below all others with opacity set to 30% so that the original blue background color shows through.

As a final touch, I added a gradient map with opacity set to 40% and the blend mode set to “Overlay”. Here are the colors I used for the map.

Here’s a look at the finished effect!

If you’ve followed along, please share your results in the comments.


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Let the background show with this stylish 'cut-out' effect

Working With Transparent Text Layers in Photoshop

Have you ever wanted to make text layers in Photoshop transparent and allow the background layer to show through? Layer masks and clipping masks cannot be directly applied to text layers in Photoshop, so we have to take a different approach if we want to avoid converting our text layers into either Smart Objects, vectors or *gulp* bitmaps.

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop and place an image to use as the background.
Lots of great photos are available for free at Unsplash.
transparent text in photoshop

Step 2

Draw a white rectangle on the canvas, and set the ‘Opacity’ to around 90%.
transparent text in photoshop
transparent text in photoshop

Step 3

Now add the text layer that we will be making transparent. Be sure to make the text color 100% black (#000000), and then group the text and rectangle together.
transparent text in photoshop
transparent text in photoshop

Step 4

Double click on the group layer to edit the Blending Options. At the bottom of the Blending Options window, set the ‘Blend If’ option to ‘Gray’ and drag the left handle for ‘This Layer’ to a value of at least ‘1’. You may need to tweak the value slightly to get smoother edges, but don’t worry too much about it being perfect, as this is only temporary.
transparent text in photoshop
transparent text in photoshop

Step 5

You now have a completely editable transparent text layer. You can switch out the background layer for a different image, change the font style and/or edit the rectangle layer freely.
transparent text in photoshop
transparent text in photoshop
transparent text in photoshop

Step 6

When you are finished editing, I recommend converting the text layer to a shape and subtracting it from the rectangle layer to achieve a smoother, higher quality result.

Right click on the text layer in the Layers panel and select ‘Convert to Shape’. Use Path Selection tool to highlight the text and cut (CMD+X) and paste (CMD+V) it onto the rectangle layer. With the text shapes still selected, choose ‘Subtract Front Shape’ from the ‘Path Operations’ drop down.
transparent text in photoshop
transparent text in photoshop

Result

Here is the final result, there are many different ways to achieve a transparent text effect, but I believe this is the easiest and most flexible way to work with transparent text layers. The ability to edit the text layer freely, without any unnecessary additional steps is essential for designers.
transparent text in photoshop


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A must-have skill for all hipsters

How to Create a Vintage Badge Logo with Illustrator and Photoshop

Ever wondered how to create those awesome retro badges that are so popular at the moment? It is surprisingly easy to create your own unique brand identity with Illustrator, and add authentic finishing touches in Photoshop.

Step 1

Launch Illustrator and create a new blank document.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 2

Use the Rectangle tool to fill the canvas with a black background.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 3

Lock the background layer to avoid selecting it by accident and create a new blank layer to work on. Then using the text tool, type out the name of your brand. The font used is Nevis Bold.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 4

Use the Ellipse tool to draw an oval shape in the center of the document.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 5

Use the Type on a Path tool and click the outside of the oval shape. Type out your statement text and use the start and end markers to align your text to the top center of the path.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 6

The statement text is visually a little too high here, so nudge it down around 40 pixels, or as much as necessary.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 7

Draw a small 7 x 7 pixel circle to the left of your statement text. Fill it with #c49c71 which is a default swatch in Illustrator and will be our highlight color.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 8

Duplicate the small circle on the right side of the text to balance it out.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 9

Draw a thin 3 pixel line with the highlight color below your brand name using the line or rectangle tool.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 10

Create another text layer approximately the same distance below the line, as the line is from the brand name. Type out your slogan text, the script font used is Lavandria.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 11

Create two text layers either side of the brand name and type out the year your brand was established, for example ‘19’ on the left and ‘88’ on the right, for 1988.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 12

It would be a nice touch to add an icon of something related to the brand, as this is a butchers logo we could draw a meat cleaver. Start with a basic rectangle and round the top left corner by 6 pixels. Apply a 2 pixel stroke using the highlight color, and set the alignment to inside.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 13

Draw another rectangle shape for the meat cleaver handle. Round the top right and bottom right corners as show in the screenshot:
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 14

Use the line tool to drawn a thin 1 pixel line on the meat cleaver blade.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 15

Use the ellipse tool to drawn a circle with a 1 pixel stroke center aligned.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 16

The logo design should now look something like this:
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 17

Let’s take this over to Photoshop now for some finishing touches. Select all in Illustrator and copy to the clipboard. Then create a new blank document in Photoshop with the same dimensions as your Illustrator document and a black background.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 18

Drop in a wood texture and lower the opacity to around 25% so that is barely visible. There are lots of really great wood textures available on Medialoot, here is a link to download the texture used from the Antique Wood Textures pack.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 19

Next paste in the logo design and select the Smart Object option. If needed, go back to Illustrator, select all and copy to clipboard first.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 20

Finally, to give the logo a distressed effect, we will apply a grunge texture mask. Select a grunge texture and place it onto the canvas. Again, there are lots of really great textures available on Medialoot, here is a link to download the texture used from the Gritty Grunge Textures pack.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 21

Reduce the Saturation completely, and adjust the levels to remove some of the grey midtones. Then select all and copy the black and white grunge texture.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Step 22

Select the logo ‘Vector Smart Object’ layer and go to the Layer > Layer Mask menu, and click Reveal All. In the layers panel highlight the newly created blank mask thumbnail. Open the Channels panel and click on the eye icon to make the smart object mask visible, and paste the grunge texture. Then click on the eye icon again to hide the smart object mask channel.
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial

Result

With the grunge layer mask applied your logo should now look something like this. Pretty nice huh?
vintage logo emblem illustrator tutorial


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To Spur Some Inspiration

10 Incredible Illustrators that You Should be Following

Putting pen to paper, or pen to screen, is an incredible talent that I hold in high regard. There is no Photoshop filter or Illustrator action that can match the true craftsmanship of an artist. Below is a list of 10 illustrators that are more than worthy of your time and attention. Their work is both unique and inspiring. Sit back and get ready to drool over a great collection of talent.

by Juan Esteban Rodríguez
by Juan Esteban Rodríguez

Juan Esteban Rodríguez

Juan’s illustration work is draws you in. The rich texture and color choices are so appealing that you can’t help but stop and take notice. Check out his Behance portfolio and online shop.


by Mike @ Creative Mints
by Mike @ Creative Mints

Mike @ Creative Mints

Mike produces pure eye candy. His precision and attention to detail is uncanny. If you’re not following him on Dribbble then you are missing out. Be sure to check out his site, as well, for more of his incredible work.


by Ian Jepson
by Ian Jepson

Ian Jepson

Ian is from Cape Town, South Africa. His colorful poster designs are second to none. They’re incredibly fun to look at, and insanely detailed. Follow him on Behance for more.


by Brian Miller
by Brian Miller

Brian Miller

An incredibly talented illustrator from Colorado. Brian has a rich family history of artists and craftsman, and it shows. Follow Brian on Dribbble and view his site here.


by Denis Spichkin
by Denis Spichkin

Denis Spichkin

Denis has a great animated style that is very light and fun. His use of color, as well as, light and shadows makes his work stand out among the rest. Follow him on Facebook and view his portfolio on Behance.


by Ashley Odell
by Ashley Odell

Ashley Odell

Ashley is a freelance illustrator from Sarasota, Fl. Her beautiful character designs and richly textured paint style are wonderfully inspiring. View more at her personal site and follow her on Instagram!


by Shane Clester
by Shane Clester

Shane Clester

Shane is an illustrator from Jacksonville, Fl. His incredible style is versatile enough for robots, ninjas, He-Man figures, lyrics from Lionel Richie songs and everything else under the sun. Check out Shane’s site for more, and be sure to follow him on Instagram.


by Jeff Trish
by Jeff Trish

Jeff Trish

Jeff is an artist that I have admired for quite a while. His obvious love of the outdoors shows through in his rustic style illustrations. Be sure to check out his Behance portfolio and give him a follow on Dribbble.


by Kaan Demircelik
by Kaan Demircelik

Kaan Demircelik

Kaan does some incredible t-shirt designs and illustrations. Details upon details will leaving your chin on the floor. Be sure to check jim out on his website and follow him on Behance for more.


by Miguel Membreño
by Miguel Membreño

Miguel Membreño

Miguel is a 25 year old designer/illustrator from El Salvador. His work is hands down amazing. Colors and composition are spot on and tremendous. Check out his portfolio on Behance and follow him on Dribbble.


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Vector World Flag Icons (SVG)


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Reduce File Size Bloat

Quick Tip: Using Bitmap Textures in Adobe Illustrator

Textures in Illustrator are a wonderful thing, but converting complex textures into vectors can be taxing and can unnecessarily bloat your file size. In comes bitmap textures to save the day. Bitmap in Illustrator? Trust me, it's better than it sounds. Let's take a look.

Step 1 - Converting a Texture to Bitmap in Photoshop

The first step is to grab a good texture, and open it in Photoshop. There are plenty of great textures offered here at MediaLoot and around the web. For my texture below, I begin by changing the color mode to Grayscale. Image | Mode | Grayscale

Then I make a Levels adjustment to remove a lot of the grays and mid tones. Image | Adjust | Levels

Next, I convert the texture to a bitmap. Image | Mode | Bitmap. Under Method, select Diffusion Dither for Use. Note: Be sure to play with these settings. You can also get nice halftones and other effects out of your textures when converting to a bitmap.

Now save the texture as a Tiff file using the same settings below. If you’d like… You can download my texture file here.

Step 2 - Adding The Texture to Your Vector Art

In Adobe Illustrator, open some vector artwork. Here’s a look at my artwork (pre-textured).

Now place the texture into your Illustrator document using File | Place. You’ll immediately notice that the texture is transparent. All of the white has been removed. Pretty cool, huh? You can select the texture and scale it and rotate it to fit your artwork.

Step 3 - Editing the Texture in Illustrator

Here’s where the magic happens. Select the texture and use the color picker to choose a color other than black. Wah… huh? That’s right, you can change the color of the texture just like you would any other vector element.

You might be asking about the quality. It looks jagged in Illustrator. But if you export a JPEG or print the file, you’ll see that the quality of the original texture is still there. Pretty incredible, right?

Bitmap textures are essential for t-shirt designers. They are incredibly powerful and versatile. And the file size is small and clean. I hope this new found knowledge will open up some creative doors for you in your work flow!

Did you follow along? Share your results in the comments.


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A guide to using premium design resources

How to Use the Active Store UI Kit to Create a Layout

If you've ever seen our UI kits and aren't sure how to start using them, then this is a must-read. This guide will show you how easy it is to create stunning ecommerce web layouts in a matter of minutes using the Active Store UI Kit.

How to Create a Homepage Layout

Please note that Active Store UI Kit is a premium resource that can be downloaded by members or via a single purchase.

Step 1

Launch Photoshop and create a new document (Width: 1400 Pixels, Height 2680 Pixels).
web store layout tutorial

Step 2

The Active Store UI Kit uses a 12 column grid, 1200 pixels in total with 80 pixel columns and 20 pixel gutters. If your version of Photoshop has it, you can use the View > New Guide Layout.. function to create a matching grid. Alternatively, you can duplicate one of the Active Store UI Kit documents, open it in Photoshop and delete all of the contents which will leave you with just the grid and a blank document.
web store layout tutorial

Step 3

Create a new Fill Layer (Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color) and set the fill color to #f6f6f6 for a very subtle light grey background.
web store layout tutorial

Step 4

Open 1 - Navigation & Promo Blocks.psd from the Active Store UI Kit and copy the ‘Navigation’ group into your blank document. Here’s how to do that: How to Duplicate Groups and Layers Between Documents in Photoshop.
web store layout tutorial

Step 5

The ‘Navigation’ group includes a hover dropdown state which we can hide for now. To do this set the fill color for the ‘Women’ text layer and associated ‘Arrow’ shape layer to #444444. Then turn off visibility for the ‘Dropdown’ group layer and ‘Active State’ shape layers.
web store layout tutorial

Step 6

Let’s also make the navigation menu full width. Move the whole ‘Navigation’ group to the top of the canvas, and then use the Direct Selection Tool to select the top and bottom vector points on either side of the ‘Background’ shape layer and drag them to the edges of the document. The image below will help explain this.
web store layout tutorial

Step 7

Open the 1 - Navigation & Promo Blocks.psd file again and this time copy over the ‘Banner’ group. Place it below the ‘Navigation’ group in the Layers panel.
web store layout tutorial

Step 8

Let’s also make the banner full width, use the Direct Selection Tool to select the top and bottom vector points on either side of the ‘Background’ shape layer and drag them to the edges of the document.
web store layout tutorial

Step 9

We now have a bit more space for the arrows on the banner, so we can Nudge them 70 pixels out towards the edges of the document.
web store layout tutorial

Step 10

Open 2 - Catalog.psd from the Active Store UI Kit and copy the first ‘Featured Products’ group into your document. Place it in the center of the document, just below the banner.
web store layout tutorial

Step 11

Duplicate the ‘Featured Products’ group and place the duplicated copy directly below the first instance.
web store layout tutorial

Step 12

Update the title to say ‘New Additions’ instead and hide the shape layer ‘Rectangle 1’ to remove the white background and create a distinction between this section and the Featured Products section.
web store layout tutorial

Step 13

Open the 1 - Navigation & Promo Blocks.psd file again and this time copy over the ‘Newsletter’ and ‘Footer’ groups. Place them below the other group layers and align the bottom of the footer with the bottom of the document canvas.
web store layout tutorial

Step 14

Use the Direct Selection Tool to select the top and bottom vector points on either side of the ‘Background’ shape layer (in the ‘Footer’ group) and drag them to the edges of the document.
web store layout tutorial

Homepage Layout Result

You should now have a layout that looks something like this.
web store layout tutorial

How to Create a Catalog Page Layout

Step 15

Save the homepage layout as a PSD and then Save As.. and choose a new name for the catalog layout. Hide or delete the ‘Banner’, ‘Featured Products’ and ‘New Additions’ group layers.
web store layout tutorial

Step 16

Open 2 - Catalog.psd from the Active Store UI Kit and copy the first ‘New Additions’ group into your document. Place it in the center of the document, just below the navigation menu. You can update the text to say ‘Browse Products’ or something similar.
web store layout tutorial

Step 17

Move the fourth ‘Product’ group layer and place it below the others to start a new row of products.
web store layout tutorial

Step 18

Duplicate the first and second ‘Product’ group layers and also move them to the new row.
web store layout tutorial

Step 19

Repeat this process until you have 4 rows of products with 3 columns each.
web store layout tutorial

Step 20

We now have space to add in a sidebar with filters. However, I think it is more intuitive to have the sidebar on the left, so lets move the products over to the right instead. Select the whole ‘Products’ group and drag or nudge it over to the other side.
web store layout tutorial

Step 21

Open 2 - Catalog.psd and copy over the modules that you want to have in the sidebar. You can create a new group layer called ‘Sidebar’ to keep them organised. I recommend having the ‘Filters’ module first.
web store layout tutorial

Step 22

Next I copied over the second ‘Categories’ module:
web store layout tutorial

Step 23

I also copied ‘Price Range’, ‘Sizes’ and ‘Recommended Products’ module into the sidebar. You can choose whichever modules you would like to use. Keep 20 pixels of vertical spacing between each module
web store layout tutorial

Step 24

The catalog layout is now complete, but we can also add a product card which would appear when clicking a product image or name. Create a new Fill Layer (Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color) called ‘Overlay’.
web store layout tutorial

Step 25

Set the fill color of the ‘Overlay’ layer to black and change the Opacity to 80%. This gives the effect of fading the background to black.
web store layout tutorial

Step 26

Open 3 - Product Detail.psd and select one of the Product Detail layers to use. Copy your chosen layout over and align it to the center of the document canvas.
web store layout tutorial
web store layout tutorial

Conclusion

These are just a few of the many possibilities you have at your fingertips with the Active Store UI Kit. Every single UI element included is completely editable too so it couldn’t be easier to completely change the look of your design. I hope you enjoyed following this tutorial, and have fun creating online store design concepts with the Active Store UI Kit!


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Bitmap Texture Pack for Illustrator


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Badges, Banners, and Bears, Oh My!

A Step-by-Step Guide for Creating an Outdoor Themed Vector Badge

Without a doubt, drawing graphics by hand is my preferred method of attack. I'm a fan of the slightly imperfect line made by the human hand versus the perfect line made by a vector drawing program. But, you can combine the two to create a powerful work flow. Let's take a look at my process for creating an outdoor themed vector badge.

Step 1 - Thumbnail and Concept

I already have a general idea in my head of what I want this badge to look like. I want it to be a half circle, include a bear and some trees, a banner and the text “The Great Outdoors”. I sketch a quick thumbnail to see how these items might fit together.

Note: This is quick and rough to see how the elements might fit together. Also… I don’t plan on the bear looking this sweet and cuddly in the end. :-)

Step 2 - Drawing Initial Elements

For the bear, I found some quick reference photos from a Google image search.

With pencil and paper, I begin to lightly sketch the bear. This is pretty fast using light strokes to get the overall shape right.

Next, I take a pen and begin inking all of the details. I like to use Micron Pens to ink my illustrations. They make a nice smooth black line, and come in a variety of sizes.

Here’s a look at the final inked bear with a pen in the shot for size reference.

I drew the other elements (including trees, a banner and various lines/ornaments) using the same method.

Step 3 - Scanning and Combining Elements in Photoshop and Illustrator

I scan each element into Photoshop and desaturate the scan using Image | Adjust | Desaturate. Then I’ll adjust the Levels to bring out the blacks a bit more using Image | Adjust | Levels.

Then I’ll copy and paste the bear into a new document in Illustrator. Select it, and choose Object | Live Trace | Tracing Options and use settings similar to mine. Once traced, choose Object | Expand. This turns our illustration into a vector shape. I repeat this process for all of my illustrated objects.

Step 4 - Assembling the Badge and Finishing Up

Now that I have all of my hand drawn objects converted to vectors, I can begin assembling the badge design.

Below is the overall shape from our thumbnail image. I copied and flipped the outer border using Object | Transform | Reflect

I chose a free font from WeGraphics.net titled Wild Spaces for the title. I applied a slight arc using Effect | Warp | Arc. Then I converted the letters to shapes using Object | Expand. Once ungrouped, I made the outer most letters slightly larger and tightened the space among all letters to fit within our border shape.

At this point I want to do a little clean up. First up, I used the eraser tool to remove some of the border lines that overlap the letters. Then I used a white Blob Brush (Shift+B) to create a background shape for the bears head. I then select the shape and the bear drawing and bring them to the front using Object | Arrange | Bring to Front. This essentially knocks out part of the banner and the letters.

Next I placed the trees and the birds… I like the way it’s coming together so far!

For the secondary font I chose another one from WeGraphics titled Fitzsimmons. The “Since 1935” is tilted a little bit, and is outlined with some lines I hand drew and scanned.

The banner font is one more from WeGraphics called Despiser I rotated and warped the text slightly to align it with the banner.

Step 5 - Adding a Background Image

As a final step, I copied and pasted the badge back into Photoshop. I grabbed an amazing image from among all of the amazing images at Unsplash and applied it to the background. I desaturated the image, and overlaid a subtle grunge texture. On a layer below the badge, I used a large soft white brush to hide a little bit of the background photo so that it wouldn’t be to distracting showing through the badge.

Share your results!

If you’ve followed along with this tutorial or even used it as a starting point, share your own results in the comments below. Just link to your creation in your comment message.


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Health & Fitness Outlined Vectors


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Is there such a thing as the perfect icon?

5 Indispensable Tips to Design More Effective Icons

Icons are one of the most overlooked elements of user interface design. There is often a lot of history behind each icon that you see in your favourite apps and on the web. As a designer, it is your responsibility to attempt to create the 'perfect' icon for a given purpose. Here are 5 top tips to help you design better icons.

Consider Where The Icon Will Be Used

This one may seem obvious, but the environment that your icon will be used in is very important. It is worth regularly testing your icons at the size that they will be displayed. If you are designing an iPhone app icon the required resolution may be 1024 x 1024 pixels, but the icon will primarily be displayed at the equivalent of 120 x 120 pixels (on a small handheld device).

The background is also an important factor to consider, some icons look much better on light or dark backgrounds. If you know that the icon will be used is a specific way, this can be used to your advantage. A quick tip is to screenshot where the icon will be used and actually design the icon on top of the screenshot.

Understand The Purpose Of The Icon

Some icons are purely functional tools within an interface, whereas some others are designed for more aesthetic reasons. There is also quite a bit of crossover between these two purposes. Most icons fall somewhere on the spectrum between being being functional and looking nice. It is a good idea to understand what is most important for your icon.

App icons for example are usually very pretty, however their main purpose is to help the user find an app quickly, and give some indication of what the app does. Therefor I would place more importance on making the icon instantly recognisable by using a simple unique shape, and a minimal colour palette as some of these popular apps do:

ios app icons

Minimize Complexity

An icon should always strive to be a simple as possible, regardless of whether it is functional or aesthetic. How simple an icon should be is relative to its purpose. For example if I was to design a functional icon for the action ‘delete document’ I would first and foremost want to make it absolutely clear what the icon does when it is clicked.

ios app icons

In the example above, icon A is easy to understand but is also clearly overkill in terms of detail. Icon B is more subtle but it loses some of its meaning and could easily be misunderstood as ‘bad file’ or ‘file not found’. Icon C is minimal and if used in proper context it should be clear what the icon means. Icon D is possibly too minimal as the X could imply danger/warning.

An icon designed for aesthetic purposes also needs maintain some balance between the message it is portraying and the amount of detail being used. If it doesn’t maintain this balance, and is simply striving to be as realistic as possible, or adding in superfluous elements then I think you may want to ask the question “is this actually an icon or is it an illustration?”.

ios app icons

Utilize Design Limitations

Design limitations can work in your favour when it comes to icon design, sometimes you will have design limitations predefined for you, such as an existing colour scheme that you need to use, or the required size of the icons. But you can take things one step further and create your own design limitations. Some design limitations that I strongly recommend are consistent corner radiuses, specific stroke widths for outlined icons, global light source for reflections/shadows.

Keep Icons Consistent

Icons used together, that have nothing in common, usually look messy and unprofessional. Doing so will create the impression that you have not given the user experience much thought. For example the icons used below have very little in common and look confusing:

ios app icons

If icons are overly similar to each other they may be difficult to tell apart. However an appropriate amount of consistency can actually help users recognise icons quicker, as they become familiar with the design patterns used. As you can see in the example below, these icons are more consistent and much easier to understand:

ios app icons

Conclusion

In order to make better icons, you first need to understand the purpose of the icon and attempt to find the ‘perfect’ solution based on where the icon will be used and the design limitations in place. Try to avoid unnecessary complexity as much as possible. Do you have any tips for designing better icons?


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iPad App Perspective Mockup


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Dig Into the Live Paint Tool

Creating Simple Arrow Graphs with Illustrator’s Live Paint Tool

The live paint tool is a powerful tool in Adobe Illustrator. But it's also one that is sometimes overlooked when creating simple shapes. Let's take a look and see how the Live Paint Tool can be used to create some easy arrow graphs.

Step 1 - Create a Circle

In Adobe Illustrator, create a new document and select the Ellipse Tool (L). Hold down the Shift and Options keys on your keyboard and click and drag a new circle shape. Set the stroke of the shape to 30 pixels. The color doesn’t matter right now.

Click Object | Expand to create a shape from the stroke.

Now select the Polygon Tool. If you don’t see it, click and hold the Ellipse Tool button on the tools panel and the Polygon Tool will be in the menu that appears. Click and drag a new shape, and without letting go of the mouse, use the down arrow key on your keyboard to reduce the amount of sides to 3 (triangle). Before letting go of the mouse, hold the shift key to perfectly align the triangle.

Scale the triangle down a bit, rotate it and align it with the edge of the circle.

Using the Line Segment Tool (\), draw a line cutting through the edge of the circle.

Step 2 - Apply the Live Paint Tool

Select all of the shapes, and choose the Live Paint Bucket (K) from the tools panel. Begin clicking the various shapes to fill them with a new color.

You can use the Group Selection Tool to select the cut line, and then use the Rotate Tool to move the arrows end to include more or less of the circle shape.

Step 3 - Expand and Finalize

Now select all of the shapes and click Object | Expand. Then click Object | Ungroup. Once ungrouped you can click each shape individually. Delete the line divider.

Select all of the green arrow shapes and click the “Unite” button on the pathfinder panel to combine them into one shape.

To finalize, try adding a gradient to give the arrow graph a bit more contrast.

 


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For Your Refreshment

Create a Vintage Style Vector Bottle Cap

I love vintage style, and there's something incredibly nostalgic about a retro bottle cap design. Creating one in Adobe Illustrator is easy and only takes a few steps. The result makes a great logo or badge for a vintage style website. Let's take a look at the process below.

Inspiration

Before beginning a design like this, I like to find a little inspiration. After a quick Google search, I ran across these perfectly vintage caps.

Step 1 - Creating the Bottle Cap Edges

Create a new document in Adobe Illustrator. Using the Ellipse Tool (L) create a circle. Hold the Shift key on your keyboard while dragging the shape to constrain it to a perfect circle. I’m using a CMYK color mode. My circle is K: 27%.

Now click Effects | Distort & Transform | Zig Zag and enter the settings that I’m using below. Then click Object | Expand.

Create another circle using the same method as above. This circle should be K: 7%. Using the Zig Zag Effect again with the settings below. Then click Object | Expand.

Select the original star shape and copy (Cmd+C) and paste it (Cmd+V) to make a copy. Scale the new star shape so that it is larger than the copy. It doesn’t have to be exact. Center align them using the Align panel.

Using the “Minus Front” button on the Pathfinder panel trim the star shape out of the copied shape. Now, change the color to K: 7%,  scale it down a bit and center align the shapes again.

We need to make two more stars to complete the bottle cap edge. For the next star, create another circle (K: 60%) and apply a Zig Zag effect using the previous settings. Then click Object | Expand. We’ll need to copy the original background shape again and center align it with the new star. Now use the “Intersect” button on the Pathfinder panel to trim off the star’s outer points.

For the final star, create one more circle (K: 60%) and apply another Zig Zag effect using the settings below. Then click Object | Expand. Scale the shape so that it fits within the background with the points going all the way to the edge. Center align the shapes again.

Step 2 - Adding the Printed Label

For the label, copy and paste the background shape. Scale it down a bit and choose a bright color (I used C:0 M:82 Y:100 K:0). Center align all the shapes again.

Create another circle (C:0 M:68 Y:93 K:0), and scale it slightly smaller than the label edge. Center align all shapes.

For the label shadow, create two circles, and scale the topmost circle down from the top and bottom. Then use the “Minus Front” button on the Pathfinder panel to punch out the center of the circle. For the color I used (C:0 M:68 Y:93 K:25)

Now center align the shadow shape and the rest of the bottle cap.

For the highlight, do the exact same process as the shadow. Scale it slightly smaller, color it white, and set the opacity to 20%. Center align all shapes.

I added a bar across the center to complete the label background. This is just a rectangle, center aligned, placed below the shadow and highlight, and colored the same as the label background.

Step 3 - Adding Vintage Style Text

For the text, I chose a font called Thirsty Script for it’s vintage appeal. The secondary fonts are Blanch and Myriad Pro. Refer back to our inspiration caps for ideas on title and secondary type placements. Vintage design depends a lot on font style and arrangements. Pay attention to things like kerning and line heights. Simple things like that can make or break a design.

Here’s a look at some other caps I created just by swapping out the label designs.

 


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Skewed - Landing Page Template


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For Your Inspiration & Font Folder

10 Must Have Casual Script Fonts with a Vintage Flare

Nothing lands closer to a designer's heart than nostalgia. Especially for the 1950s when things were done by hand. Illustration and lettering were essential skills in the designer's arsenal. Just browsing through a magazine from that time period you can find a vast array of casual script fonts that define that time period. In this round up, we'll take a look at 10 must have fonts that take a few vintage cues.

League Script Number One
By The League of Moveable Type

This ain’t no Lucinda. League Script #1 is a modern, coquettish script font that sits somewhere between your high school girlfriend’s love notes and handwritten letters from the ‘20s.

Download League Script Number One

Thander
By Artimasa

Thander is a combination of brush lettering and speed writing. It is thick, tight, and has irregular shapes to make it feel much more personal.

Download Thander by Artimasa

Mission Script
By James T. Edmondson

Mission Script is a signage-lover’s dream. Condensed, casual, sweet, and sincere. A celebration of the brush.

Download Mission Script by James T Edmondson

Gilded Hand
By Nathan Brown

Gilded Hand is a free hand drawn script font. Its elegant yet imperfect lines are great for adding a hand written feel to your artwork.

Download Gilded Hand by Nathan Brown

Ventography
By Måns Grebäck

Ventography is an awesome brush style script. The letters have a fast, yet clean style, that forces you to take notice.

Download Venography by Måns Grebäck

Wisdom Script
By James T. Edmondson

Wisdom Script was originally designed for Woods of Wisdom, a 50 part poster series on bad advice.

Download Wisdom Script by James T Edmondson

Reklame Script
By Hannes von Döhren

Reklame Script is a brush typefamily consisting of four weights. This family is influenced by the handlettering of printed advertisements of the 1940s and 1950s.

Download Reklame Script by Hannes von Döhren

Thirsty Script
By Yellow Design Studio

Thirsty Script from Yellow Design Studio is a contemporary script conceived as a marriage of elements from vintage signage scripts, Wisdom Script, Deftone Stylus, and Lobster. The result is a typeface with a ‘new meets vintage’ vibe.

Download Thirsty Script by Yellow Design Studio

Lighthouse
By Måns Grebäck

Wonderfully thick vintage inspired typeface.

Download Lighthouse by Måns Grebäck

Shepia
By Seniors

Shepia is a Monoline Cursive Handwriting. classic and fun vintage script. With almost 390 glyphs and 188 alternative characters, contain with opentype features. Stylistic alternates, Ornament, swash and more.

Download Shepia by Seniors


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How to Duplicate Groups and Layers Between Documents in Photoshop.

For designers who often work with multiple documents open in Photoshop, copying an element from one document to another can be a little messy and awkward. In this quick tip I will share the most commonly used method for moving layers between documents, and another (better) method that you may not know about.

Method 1 - Drag & Drop

This is the most common method that I see used. Let’s say that we have two documents open, and we want to duplicate a button from the first document to the second. Start by splitting your workspace vertically by going to the Window > Arrange menu and selecting 2-up Vertical.
duplicate a layer within photoshop
duplicate a layer within photoshop

From here we can drag the Button layer group from the first document, and drop it onto the second document’s canvas.
duplicate a layer within photoshop

And it’s as simple as that! The issue with this method though is that the duplicated layer(s) will be placed wherever your cursor happens to be when you release it, rather than in the same position as the original document. And on top of that, having to split your workspace every time you want to duplicate a layer can get very tedious.
duplicate a layer within photoshop

Method 2 - The Better Method

This method is much cleaner and more precise. Start by right clicking on the layer/group and selecting Duplicate Layer… or Duplicate Group….
duplicate a layer within photoshop

If want to copy to an existing document (like we did in the previous method), then you select it from the destination dropdown menu and hit OK.
duplicate a layer within photoshop

As you can see with this method, the duplicated layer/group is placed in the same position as the original document. This could save an awful lot of fiddling around time.
duplicate a layer within photoshop

If you haven’t got the destination document set up yet, you can select the New option when duplicating the layer/group. Simply enter a file name and Photoshop will create a new document for you with only the duplicated layer/group in it.
duplicate a layer within photoshop
duplicate a layer within photoshop

Conclusion

I hope this quick tip has been useful, and helps you to optimize your Photoshop workflow. As I’m sure all designers will agree, the less fiddly something like this can be made, the better!


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iPhone App Wireframing Kit


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Open Strokes Brush Set