Vector Hand Drawn Ampersands

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Vector Hand Drawn Ampersands


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Draw a decorative bauble tree ornament with a snowflake design from scratch

How to Create a Vector Festive Bauble Ornament with Sketch

This tutorial will use vector shapes, the pen tool, boolean operations and other features in Sketch to draw a festive decorative bauble with a snowflake design from scratch.

Step 1

Create a new document in Sketch and draw an Oval shape 220 pixels wide and 140 pixels tall. Set the fill color to #E84B5A.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 2

Show the Rulers if they are not already visible and draw a horizontal guide 118 pixels from the top of the oval shape.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 3

Double click the oval shape to enter the editing mode, and click to create two new vector points where the shape intersects with the horizontal guide.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 4

Choose the bottom point of the shape and move it down 40 pixels.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 5

With the bottom point still selected, choose either the ‘Disconnected’ or ‘Asymmetric’ options and drag the handles individually so that they are in the positions shown in the screenshot below.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 6

Draw a new rectangle shape 42 x 42 pixels aligned horizontally with the center of the original shape and vertically so that half of the rectangle overlaps the original shape.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 7

Select both shapes and use the ‘Union’ function to combine the shapes. Then go to Layer > Paths > Flatten to permanently merge the two shapes
create a bauble in sketch

Step 8

Draw a new horizontal guide 43 pixels below the the top of the combined shape.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 9

Double click the shape to enter the editing mode, and click to create two new vector points where the shape intersects the new horizontal guide.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 10

Select and delete the two vector points which connect the rectangle and oval shapes.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 11

Select the top left vector point and choose either the ‘Disconnected’ or ‘Asymmetric’ options and drag the handles individually so that they are in the positions shown in the screenshot below. Then repeat for the right side.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 12

Draw a 40 pixel line segment from the top guide to the center of the bauble shape. Give the line a solid 2 pixel #ffffff border.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 13

Draw a diagonal line segment roughly 8.5 pixels long as shown in the screenshot below with the same border settings. (Optional) You can now hide the rulers.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 14

Duplicate the diagonal line segment and move it down 6 pixels.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 15

Extend the second diagonal line so that it is roughly 14.85 pixels long.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 16

Group the two diagonal line segments and duplicate them, then Flip them horizontally and move to the right side of the line.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 17

Group all of the line segments and choose the ‘Rotate’ tool. Move the anchor point to the bottom center, then copy to the clipboard.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 18

Paste a copy of the snowflake segment and rotate it -60° the anchor point show remain fixed to the bottom, but if it doesn’t you may need to move it again.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 19

Paste another copy of the snowflake segment and rotate it -120°.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 20

Paste another copy of the snowflake segment and rotate it -180°.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 21

Paste another copy of the snowflake segment and rotate it -240°.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 22

Paste another copy of the snowflake segment and rotate it -300°.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 23

Select all of the snowflake segments and group them together.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 24

Duplicate the snowflake and move it to the left so that there is a 16 pixel margin between the shapes.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 25

Duplicate the snowflake and move it to the right so that there is a 16 pixel margin between the shapes. Then group all 3 snowflakes.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 26

Copy and paste the red bauble shape above the snowflakes group and select both.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 27

Click the Mask function to clip the snowflakes to the bauble shape.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 28

Double click the snowflakes group to enter the clipping mask. and draw a horizontal line segment with a 4 pixel solid #ffffff border from edge to edge and a few pixels above the snowflakes.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 29

Duplicate the horizontal line whilst still inside the clipping mask and move it a few pixels below the snowflakes.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 30

Draw a new 50 x 30 pixel rectangle with a light grey #E6E6E6 fill. Align it horizontally with the center of the bauble and overlapping vertically by 3 pixels.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 31

Draw a 22 pixel line segment with a 2 pixel #D5D5D5 border. Align it to the bottom of the rectangle and 4 pixels from the left.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 32

Duplicate the line segment and move it 5 pixels to the right.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 33

Repeat step 32 until you have 9 lines in total.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 34

Draw a new #D5D5D5 line segment from the top of the light grey rectangle to roughly 150 pixels above. Align it horizontally to the center of the bauble.
create a bauble in sketch

Step 36

Finally, group all of the elements in your bauble :).
create a bauble in sketch

Result & Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed following this tutorial and creating your own festive bauble with Sketch. Feel free to try out some different color schemes or different designs!
create a bauble in sketch


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Make your winter shots even more wintery

How to Create Realistic Snow Overlays with Photoshop

This technique for Photoshop combines snowflakes, bokeh and rain to create a realistic snow overlay which can be used on photographs.

If you want to skip the tutorial and download our pack of 6 Snow Overlays for Photographs, you can download them here.

Step 1

Open your image in Photoshop. I am using this image from Unsplash which I have resized to 3000 x 2000 pixels to make it easier to work with.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 2

Start by creating two new layers and fill them both with solid black. Layer 1 is simply a background layer used to hide the photo, Layer 2 is where we will start working.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 3

On Layer 2 we are going to create some fine rain, go to Filter > Mezzotint and select the Grainy Dots option then click OK.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 4

Next go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and use 95° for the Angle and 25 for the distance.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 5

To filter out some of the rain and make it look more realistic, open the Image > Adjustments > Levels panel and 25, 1.00 and 255 for the Input Levels.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 6

Set the Opacity of the rain layer to 80% and optionally name the layer ‘Rain 1’.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 7

Create another new layer called ‘Rain 2’ and fill it with solid black.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 8

We are going to make some heavier rain now, go to Filter > Mezzotint again and this time use Coarse Dots.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 9

Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur again and use 85° for the Angle this time. Having two rain layers going in slightly different directions will give the impression of there being a strong wind in the photo.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 10

Open the Image > Adjustments > Levels panel again and this time use 30, 0.9 and 150 for the Input Levels.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 11

Set the Blending Mode of the ‘Rain 2’ layer to Screen.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 12

To make the rain look more spread out and less uniform, grab the Eraser tool and with a soft round brush at 50% Opacity and delete some sections of rain.
how to create snow in photoshop
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 13

Create another new layer called ‘Bokeh’ and fill it with solid black. On this layer we are going to create some blurry out of focus snow flakes that appear to be too close to the camera lens. Snow is very rarely captured in focus so this will add to the realism.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 14

For the bokeh effect, we need to create a simple scatter brush to use. Select the default soft round brush at 50 pixels and then set the following options in the Brushes panel:
how to create snow in photoshop
how to create snow in photoshop
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 15

Set the foreground color to white, and use the scatter brush to fill the Bokeh layer with random dots. To achieve this effect you will need to click once with the brush then move the cursor slightly and click once again. It can be quite time consuming this way, but the result is much better than holding down the mouse button.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 16

Go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur and use the settings shown below to complete the Bokeh effect.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 17

Set the Blending Mode of the Bokeh layer to Screen and Opacity to 50%.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 18

Once again, create a new layer and fill it with solid black. Name this layer ‘Flakes’. This final layer will be similar to the Bokeh layer, except in focus.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 19

Use the same scatter brush from step 14 and create some more random white dots.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 20

Go to Filter > Filter Gallery.. and choose Ocean Ripple. Set the Ripple Size to 1 and Magnitude to 5.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 21

Go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur again and this time use these settings shown below for a more subtle blur effect:
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 22

Set the Blending Mode of the Flakes layer to Screen.
how to create snow in photoshop

Step 23

Finally, group all of the layers (excluding the original image) and set the Blending Mode of the group to Screen.
how to create snow in photoshop

Result

And here is the final result. The combination of flakes, bokeh and rain in different directions create the illusion of depth which produces a more realistic effect than most snow overlay techniques found on the web.
how to create snow in photoshop

Download Snow Overlays for Photographs

snow overlays
This pack features 6 high quality overlays for adding snow to your photographs. They vary from intense snow storms to light flurries and can be toned down by using opacity or cranked up even more by layering multiple overlays on the same image. Supplied as both JPG and transparent PNG files.

Download


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Why Illustrator CC 2017 is an important update for designers

Pixel Perfect Designs in Illustrator Just Got a Lot Easier

Adobe have updated Illustrator CC with a new feature which will make the lives of web, mobile and UX designers much easier. If you are a designer who creates graphics for screen, then this new feature may completely change how you work.

Way back in 2011, I posted an article called How to Get Pixel-Perfect Designs in Adobe Illustrator. Something which sounds simple but has always been much trickier than it should be. Fireworks was the first app I used that truly understood how vectors and pixels should work together and new apps on the scene such as Sketch also handled pixel perfect designs just as you would expect. But for a long time Illustrator has been more about ‘vectors for print’ than ‘vectors for screen’.

Until last week when amongst a list of new features for Illustrator CC 2017 such as Stock templates, improvements to Creative Cloud Libraries, and a new ‘New Document’ window, I noticed ‘Create pixel-perfect artwork’ and instantly downloaded the update.

How is the new pixel-perfect feature better?

It just works

Illustrator used to require that you choose to ‘Align New Objects to Pixel Grid’ when creating a new document, otherwise there was no way to turn it on and all objects would need to be aligned to the grid manually or by using an option in the Transform panel. This was very unintuitive and part of the reason why I wrote a tutorial on how to do it.

I considered writing a new tutorial on how to create pixel perfect designs in Illustrator CC 2017, but it honestly isn’t necessary. The feature is available on all new and existing documents, and can be toggled on and off with a button in the top right corner of the interface. All of the options are also there and can be turned on or off as you see fit. No step by step guide required.

illustrator cc 2017 pixel perfect options

You can move and scale objects freely

Previously in a document with ‘Align New Objects to Pixel Grid’ on, new objects were indeed aligned to the grid. But unless you also checked the ‘Align to Pixel Grid’ option in Transform panel after drawing a shape, resizing the object or dragging it around would move the object off-grid.

This is no longer the case, unless you specifically turn it off, all objects are aligned to the grid, no matter what you do to them.

illustrator cc 2017 pixel perfect options

It doesn’t break your artwork

Checking the ‘Align to Pixel Grid’ option from the Transform panel on an off-grid shape used to snap every single vector point in that shape to the grid. This could often break a shape with a rounded corners, or any shape really that was more complicated than a rectangle.

The new version of Illustrator handles things much more intelligently. Rounded corners remain intact, and if the shape is very complex and cannot be made pixel perfect for obvious reasons, Illustrator will not attempt to do so (because it would break your artwork). Instead you simply get a message reading ‘Selection contains artwork that cannot be made pixel perfect’.

illustrator cc 2017 pixel perfect options

It’s easy to toggle on and off

Previously, combining shapes with the Pathfinder tool would align the result to the pixel grid, even if you didn’t want it to. This would sometimes breaks the shape (as described above), and there was no way to turn the option off. In fact the only way to get around it was to create a new document that doesn’t align new objects to pixel grid. And copy and paste your artwork into it.

In the updated version, if multiple off-grid shapes are combined they will not automatically be aligned to the grid unless you choose align them by using the button in the top right corner of the interface.

illustrator cc 2017 pixel perfect options

Why is this feature so important?

When Adobe updates apps, the basics are rarely ever touched. Probably because most Illustrator users know how their software works and how to use it. It seems very risky to change basic functionality, when a safer option would be to add new features on top of what is already there. So when something as basic as drawing vector shapes gets an update like this, it’s a pretty big deal.

I for one am very happy with this update. I’m not sure when or even if I will be switching from Photoshop for Web and UI design to another tool. But if I ever do, Illustrator is now a perfectly viable alternative. One thing I know for sure is that creating SVG icons with Illustrator (a big part of my job) just got a whole lot easier!

Bonus: Zoom to selection


If the new pixel-perfect artwork feature wasn’t enough, Adobe have also changed the way zooming works. Illustrator will now zoom in on active objects, points, segments, or paths. Making it much easier to zoom in and tweak artwork. Lets be honest, why else do you zoom in to a document if not to make more precise edits to what you’re working on? This is a very welcome update too!

 


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Take custom vectors from Illustrator into a font creation app

How to Make a Full-Featured Font using Custom Letterforms from Illustrator

This tutorial is a follow up to one of my older posts on how to create custom letterforms in Illustrator, this time showing you how to take vector letterforms from Illustrator and convert them into a full font that you can use in your designs.

Be sure to check out the original tutorial here: How to Create Custom Letterforms in Illustrator

Step 1 - Prepare the document

Open your Illustrator document with your custom letter forms, and make sure the artboard is pretty huge. I would say around 16000 pt wide and 4000 pt tall.

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

Step 2 - Scale your letterforms

Hopefully you will have used guides when drawing your letterforms to ensure consistency, however we still need to decide their relative size in comparison to other fonts. The easiest way to do this is to grab the Type tool in Illustrator and type out a sample sentence using a standard, well-known font at 1000pt. Some good examples are Helvetica, Arial and Futura for sans-serif fonts or Times, Georgia and Baskerville for serif.

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

Then scale your letterforms appropriately, you should try to approximately match the size of these standard fonts. You can go slightly larger or smaller depending on factors such as the width of your letterforms but nobody likes a font that’s twice the size of every other font on their system so try to keep it roughly the same size as these standard fonts.

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

Step 3 - Measure your scaled letterforms

Show rulers in Illustrator and ensure the unit of measurement is points. Draw a guide at the baseline of your font, then drag from the top left corner of the rulers to reset the 0 mark to the baseline guide.

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

Draw guides at the Descender, x-Height, Cap Height and Ascender of your font. Making note of their position in relation to the baseline.

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

For example here my guides are:

  • Ascender: -800
  • Cap Height: -700
  • x-Height: -500
  • Descender: 200

Step 4 - Open your font creation app

I am using Glyphs app for Mac as it is my preferred tool, however the workflow should be applicable with other font creation software such as FontLab (Premium), FontForge (Open Source), Birdfont (Donations) and many others.

With Glyphs, create a new document and open the Font Info panel. In the first tab you can name your font, enter copyright info, set the version number and input other parameters.

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

In the ‘Masters’ tab we can define metrics for our font. Multiple Masters can be used in Glyphs to manage the process of creating different weights for the same font, however that is more advanced and specific to Glyphs. We are just going to set up one Master for our font. There should already be one Master there, so simply edit it. If your font is light, bold, condensed or extended then update the Proportions section appropriately. Otherwise leave them as Regular and move on to the Metrics Section.

In the Metrics we need to enter the information that we gather in Step 2. Convert negative values to positive and vise versa then enter them into the fields provided. For example, if your Ascender guide was drawn at -800 it is 800 points higher than the baseline, so enter 800 into the font info panel.

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

Step 5 - Copy into a font creation app

Now we need to copy and paste our letterforms from Illustrator into our font creation app. This is as simple as it sounds, copy each letter from Illustrator and paste it into the corresponding glyph. When you do this you may be shown an ‘Unusual Bounds’ dialog click ‘Correct Bounds’ and continue.

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

Note: I assume that most apps allow pasting of vectors, however you may need to use an alternative method such as importing svgs.

Step 6 - Add numbers and symbols

Uppercase and lowercase glyphs are added by default when you create a new document in Glyphs. Some other apps may also have glyphs for numbers and symbols, but if they do not then we need to generate them manually. Expand the ‘Number’ dropdown in the sidebar and right click ‘Decimal Digital’ then select all of the numbers and click Generate.

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

Repeat this for all of the symbols you have designed. The most common symbols are grouped under ‘Punctuation’ and ‘Symbols’ dropdowns. It may take a while to find the ones you need, so I recommend adding the whole list then deleting the symbols that you don’t want.

Step 7 - Reset all spacing

When you are happy that you have all of your letters, numbers, symbols and accents pasted into the appropriate glyphs, select all glyphs (excluding the space) and at the bottom of the left sidebar enter ‘50’ for the left and right horizontal spacing (LSB and RSB).

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

Double click any glyph then choose the ‘Text’ tool from the top toolbar to enter a kind of preview mode in which you can now type with your font and test it out. If the spacing between letters is too narrow or too wide, repeat Step 7 and use a different value (I ended up using 35 for Shoreditch) for the spacing or tweak on a glyph by glyph basis (but keep it general do not worry about specific pairs of letters yet).

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

Step 8 - Define kerning pairs

Kerning is the space between pairs of glyphs, you will probably notice that even after setting the spacing of all the glyphs that some pairs do not look right together. A prime example of this is the V and the A.

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

Luckily kerning pairs allow us to fix the spacing between specific combinations of glyphs. For the most common kerning pairs check out this list. This part of the process will vary massively depending on which app you are using. Some apps such as Fontographer include an Auto-Kerning feature which is very useful.

In Glyphs, kerning pairs are created by typing two letters next to each other with the Text tool, placing the cursor in between them. Then giving both letters a Group value (normally just the letter, for example V or A) and a kerning value on the left side of the second glyph (A in this case) which corrects the spacing. For example ‘-60’.

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

Now whenever these two letters are used the A will have -60 spacing. Each time you create a pair you will only need to define a new Group value if you haven’t defined any kerning pairs with that letter yet.

For a more in depth explanation of Kerning in Glyphs check out this tutorial.

Step 9 - Export your font

Finally we can export out font and test it out for real. In Glyphs go to File > Export, choose your desired format and export destination then click Next.

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

All done! Now locate your font file, install it and try it out :)

how to turn vector letterforms into a font

Download Shoreditch

shoreditch

Download the font used in this tutorial. Shoreditch is a slightly condensed sans-serif typeface, with rough edges and round corners for a retro print effect. Perfect for titles and headlines, included are uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and stylistic alternates for extra flair.


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Use our free hand drawn vector arrows pack to draw attention to buttons or adverts

How to Add Hand Drawn Vector Arrows to Your Website

This tutorial will show you how to add our recently released free hand drawn vector arrows to an existing website. This is a great technique for drawing the attention of your visitors to a specific element on your page, such as a call to action button or a special offer etc.

Step 1: Locate your HTML file

Either locate your own existing HTML source file or create a new file for just for the purposes of this tutorial, using the sample code below:

<!doctype html>
<html lang="en">
	<head>
		<meta charset="utf-8">
		<title>Hand Drawn Arrows</title>
		<style>
			.box {
				background: #f6f6f6;
				font: bold 2em/2.5em "Helvetica Neue", Arial, Helvetica, Geneva, sans-serif;
				line-height: 9em;
				border-radius: 30px;
				text-align: center;
				vertical-align: middle;
				width: 400px;
				height: 300px;
				margin: 50px auto;
			}
		</style>
	</head>
	<body>
		<div class="box target">
			Look at me
		</div>
	</body>
</html>

Step 2: Download the arrows

hand drawn vector arrows

Download and unzip our hand drawn vector arrows package, then locate the SVG folder and move the whole folder to the same location as your HTML source file. If you are working remotely, this means uploading the folder to your web server.

Step 3: Choose your target

This can be almost any element on an existing page, ideally a block or inline-block element, whether it is a <div>, <section>, <header> or something else. Open your source HTML file and locate the element you want the arrow to point at and add the ‘target’ class to it. If you are using the sample HTML this is already done.

Step 5: Add the arrow element

Add a new <div> element for the arrow, within your target element. This can be right before the closing tag of the target element.

For example with the sample HTML it would look like:

<div class="box target">
	Look at me
	<div class="arrow"></div>
</div>

Step 4: Prepare the target element

The .target element should be a block or inline-block element and needs to have ideally position: relative, or if the element already has or requires position: absolute then you can leave it as it is and it will still work.

Add the following CSS code in between the <style> and </style> tags or to your CSS file.

.target {
	display: block;
	position: relative;
}

Step 5: Add the arrow styles

In your CSS, add the .arrow class and define the following styles:

.arrow {
	position: absolute;
	background: url(SVG/arrow-13.svg) no-repeat;
	width: 135px;
	height: 86px;
	top: 100px;
	right: -160px;
}

I have chosen arrow-13.svg for this example and entered the width and height as 135 and 86 pixels respectively. You can find the width and height values of any arrow by opening the .svg file in a code editor and looking at the viewbox values (in order the values are X, Y, W, H):

where to find svg viewbox values

We can of course round these values to the nearest pixel. And we can also scale the svg if desired by proportionally increasing or decreasing both the width and height values in the CSS.

The top and right values decide where the arrow will be positioned in relation to the target element. You will almost definitely need to tweak these unless you are using the demo code. You can also use right and/or bottom values instead.

For example to place the arrow on the left instead, replace right: -160px with left: -160px

Step 6: Rotating the arrow

If you are using the demo code provided as-is, you will notice that the arrow is currently pointing the wrong way. But we can fix this by using CSS to rotate the arrow. Add these styles to the .arrow class in your CSS.

-webkit-transform: rotate(180deg);
-moz-transform: rotate(180deg);
-ms-transform: rotate(180deg);
-o-transform: rotate(180deg);
transform: rotate(180deg);

Result & Demo

That’s all there is to it, you now have a scalable vector arrow pointing at your target element. See the demo and get the source code below:

See the Pen yajzaQ by Tony Thomas (@medialoot) on CodePen.

<!doctype html>
<html lang="en">
	<head>
		<meta charset="utf-8">
		<title>Hand Drawn Arrows</title>
		<style>
			.box {
				background: #f6f6f6;
				font: bold 2em/2.5em "Helvetica Neue", Arial, Helvetica, Geneva, sans-serif;
				line-height: 9em;
				border-radius: 30px;
				text-align: center;
				vertical-align: middle;
				width: 400px;
				height: 300px;
				margin: 50px auto;
			}
			
			.target {
				display: block;
				position: relative;
			}
			
			.arrow {
				position: absolute;
				background: url(SVG/arrow-13.svg) no-repeat;
				width: 135px;
				height: 86px;
				top: 100px;
				right: -160px;
				-webkit-transform: rotate(180deg);
				-moz-transform: rotate(180deg);
				-ms-transform: rotate(180deg);
				-o-transform: rotate(180deg);
				transform: rotate(180deg);
			}
		</style>
	</head>
	<body>
		<div class="box target">
			Look at me
			<div class="arrow"></div>
		</div>
	</body>
</html>

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Subtle lighting techniques and a long shadow

Create Legible White on White Text with Photoshop

This tutorial will teach you how to create a long shadow and use subtle lighting techniques in Photoshop to make white on white text that is not only visible but also legible (at a decent enough size of course).

Step 1

Begin by creating a new document in Photoshop that is 1600 x 900 pixels, 72 PPI and RGB Color with White background contents.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 2

Use the Type tool to create a new text layer with the word White and align it to the center of the artboard. I am using the free font Montserrat at 340 px. If you don’t have this available and don’t want to download it, it is okay to use a close alternative.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 3

Right click the text layer and choose Convert to Smart Object.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 4

Double click the Smart Object layer to bring up the Layer Styles and apply a white (#FFFFFF) Color Overlay.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 5

As you can see this makes the text invisible.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop
Obviously this is no good, so we need to do some lighting. Start by making the background just slightly darker by adding a new Color Fill Layer with #F7F7F7.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 6

Duplicate the Smart Object layer and place it inside a new group called ‘Long Shadow’ below the original Smart Object.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 7

On the Smart Object inside the Long Shadow group, add a black #000000 Color Overlay layer style.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 8

On the same layer, apply a Motion blur effect which can be found in the Filter > Blur menu. Set the Angle to 45 and the Distance to 20 Pixels.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 9

Set the Opacity of the blurred Smart Object to 2% so that it is barely visible.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 10

To create the long shadow effect, we need to duplicate and move the blurred layer multiple times. This can be done quickly by using keyboard shortcuts. First zoom to 50%* then hold down the ALT key and press the Down Arrow once to duplicate the layer and nudge it down. Then press the Left Arrow key to nudge it left.

*the arrow keys usually nudge by 1 pixel, however if you zoom the document to 50% then it will move 2 pixels which is more suited to our needs and will result in needing half as many duplicates.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 11

Repeat the process by holding down the ALT key and pressing the Down Arrow, then the Left Arrow another 14 times.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 12

We can add some more subtle lighting techniques to make the shadow effect look better. Create a new Gradient Fill layer below the Long Shadow group.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 13

Use the default Black to White gradient, and set the Angle to 45°.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 14

Set the Opacity of the Gradient Fill layer to 3%. This will give the subtle appearance of a light source emanating from the top right corner of the artboard.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 15

Finally, we can add a very subtle highlight to the original text layer, double click the top layer.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Step 16

And apply a white #FFFFFF Drop Shadow, Normal Blend Mode, 80% Opacity, -135° Angle, Distance 3 px, Spread 0, and Size 6px.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

It is very subtle but if you look closely, you can see that this gives the effect of light reflecting off the edges of the text.
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop

Result

And here is the final result:
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop
By creating a long shadow and using some subtle lighting techniques we can make white on white text a perfectly viable color combination for headlines and other graphics. We can also edit the contents of the Smart Object at any point to change the text, add shapes or even drop in your company logo:
create white on white text with a long shadow in photoshop


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Save time by using Scatter brushes

Create Confetti Shapes Quickly and Easily in Illustrator

In this tutorial we will create a scattered confetti effect. This effect could potentially be very time consuming to draw, resize, rotate and rearrange each shape manually, so we will use Scatter Brushes to simplify the whole process and make it much more fun!

Step 1

Get started by creating a new document in Illustrator, 800 x 600 pixels.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 2

The first thing to do is draw some simple shapes to scatter. Hold down the shift key and use the Ellipse tool to draw a circle.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 3

Next draw a triangle, the easiest way to do this is with the Polygon tool, click on the canvas and enter ‘3’ sides.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 4

Now, a simple horizontal line. Make it roughly 20 pixels long and give it a 5 pt stroke with round end caps.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 5

Draw another line or duplicate the last one and make it a little longer, around 34 pixels.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 6

Apply the Zig Zag filter from the Effect > Distort & Transform menu. Enter 2 px for the size, choose Absolute, 2 Ridges and Smooth points.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 7

Finally, lets draw a simple spiral shape. Use the spiral tool and click on the canvas, enter 18 px for the Radius, 80% for Decay and 6 Segments. Use the second style option. Give the spiral the same stroke options as the line and wavy line.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 8

Highlight the 3 shapes with strokes and go to the Object > Path menus and choose Outline Stroke.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 9

With our shapes ready to use, now we just need to turn them into Scatter Brushes. Select the circle first and create a new Scatter Brush.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 10

Enter the options shown in the screenshot below. We want the size to vary slightly but not too much, the spacing to be quite wide, the scatter to also be quite wide and the rotation to be full. Make sure you also select the Hue Shift colorization method which will allow us to use different colors for the shapes.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 11

Enter the same options for the triangle shape:
create confetti in illustrations

Step 12

Enter the same options for the line shape:
create confetti in illustrations

Step 13

Enter the same options for the wavy line shape:
create confetti in illustrations

Step 14

Enter the same options for the spiral shape:
create confetti in illustrations

Step 15

All the prep work is done now, time to have some fun with the brushes. Choose the Brush tool, set the foreground color to #AF7EED and paint in a random zig zag line with the circle scatter brush.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 16

Switch the brush preset to the triangle, and foreground color to #F49EB8 and paint another random zig zag line.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 17

Switch the brush preset to the line, and foreground color to #F2ED9E and paint another random zig zag line.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 18

Switch the brush preset to the wavy line, and foreground color to #65E6A3 and paint another random zig zag line.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 19

Switch the brush preset to the spiral, and foreground color to #62E3ED and paint another random zig zag line.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 20

Go to the Object menu and select Expand Appearance. This will convert the scatter brushes into individual shapes.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 21

Select all shapes and ungroup them, then manually click and drag each shape around to rearrange them. Aim for even spacing between each shape.
create confetti in illustrations

Step 22

If you want, we can also add some text to the arrangement. Simply move the confetti shapes around to make some space in the middle.
create confetti in illustrations

Result & Conclusion

Here is the final result:
create confetti in illustrations
This effect is great for celebrations such birthday party invitations and sale adverts etc. For a more sophisticated effect, limit the confetti to only one or two different shapes. Hopefully you have enjoyed following along with this tutorial and if you were new to Scatter Brushes now feel much more comfortable with them.


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Enhance your portraits with natural looking results

Use Photoshop to Smooth Skin and Make Eyes Pop

This tutorial will teach you a simple technique for subtly enhancing portrait photos with Photoshop. We will gently smooth the skin to improve the overall tone and help reduce unwanted blemishes, then draw focus to the eyes by increasing their contrast and saturation.

Step 1

Begin by opening your image in Photoshop. I am using this excellent free stock photo from Pixabay.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 2

Double click on the Background layer to unlock it, you will be prompted to give the layer a new name.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 3

Right click on the image layer and choose ‘Convert to Smart Object’. This will allow us to apply non-destructive Smart Filters.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 4

Duplicate the Smart Object layer twice so that you have 3 copies in total. Place the top two layers in a group called ‘Skin’. Hide the visibility of the top one for now by clicking the eye icon and select the other visible layer.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 5

With the visible layer selected, go to the Filter > Blur menu and choose Surface Blur. Enter 55 for the Radius and 30 for the Threshold, this will apply a smoothing effect to the entire image.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 6

Select the previously hidden layer, and make it visible. Set the Blending Mode to Linear Light and Opacity to 65%.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 7

Go to the Filter > Other menu and choose High Pass. Use 1.8 for the Radius. This will add back some of the details lost by applying the Surface Blur effect.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 8

Select the Group layer then go to the Layer > Layer Mask menu and choose Hide All. This will mask the smoothing effect and allow us to draw it back on with the Brush tool.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 9

Select the Brush tool and choose a medium sized soft brush. If the foreground color is not currently white, reset it to default by pressing D and then X once to flip foreground and background colors over.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 10

With the Mask still selected in the Layers panel, you can start carefully painting over the skin with the Brush tool. This can be done by eye, but if you want to ensure good coverage, I recommend going to the Channels window and clicking show visibility on the Skin Mask layer to enable a red overlay.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 11

As you carefully paint over the skin area, be sure to avoid the eyes, nostrils, lips and hair. If you make a mistake, switch the foreground color to black and paint over it, then try again.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 12

When you are finished, click the eye icon next to the Skin Mask channel to hide the red overlay and check the results.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 13

If you want to reduce the intensity of the effect, change the Opacity of the Skin group layer to your desired amount.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 14

Create a new empty Group layer and name it Eyes, then go to the Layer > Layer Mask menu and choose Hide All.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 15

Select the Brush tool and choose a small hard brush.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 16

Go into the Channels window and click the icon next to the Eyes Mask to show the red overlay again. Similar to last time, set the foreground color to white and carefully paint over the pupils. I recommend zooming in and getting as close to the edge of the pupils as possible.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 17

When you’re done, go the Layer > New Adjustment Layer menu and choose Brightness/Contrast then click OK.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 18

In the Properties window set the Brightness to 45 and Contrast to 95.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 19

Go to the Layer > New Adjustment Layer menu again and this time choose Hue/Saturation.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 20

Increase the Saturation to 20.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Step 21

If you want to reduce the intensity of the effect, change the Opacity of the Eyes group layer to your desired amount.
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial

Result & conclusion

Here is the before and after comparison:
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial
skin smoothing photoshop tutorial
As you can see the skin is much smoother on the right, and the eyes are definitely more vivid than before. However the effect doesn’t look overly airbrushed or unnatural. This is a great way to subtly enhance a portrait, and because we have used Smart Filters and Adjustment Layers it is completely editable, you can tweak the intensity of any of the effects or even revert to the original image if you want.

Download Portrait Enhancing Actions

drawing tools vector art brushes
This action for Photoshop makes the process of enhancing your portraits simple and easy. Smoothing out skin, drawing focus to the eyes or lips and removing red tints from skin can traditionally be a very complex to achieve. With this action the only work you’ll have to do is tell Photoshop where to apply the enhancements.

Download


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Bend and manipulate graphics around paths

How to Create Text Made out of Pencils in Illustrator

This fun effect is great for 'back to school' type graphics and also a good learning experience for using Art Brushes in Illustrator to manipulate and bend vector graphics around shapes such as text.

If you’d rather skip drawing the pencil you can download our premade Drawing Tools Vector Art Brushes.

Step 1

Start by launching Illustrator CS6 or newer and creating a new document. This tutorial uses the corner radius feature which was introduced in version CS6, if you have an older version you may need to round the corners manually.
create text made out of pencils

Step 2

The first thing to do is draw a pencil, this can be done by using a series of simple rectangle shapes. Start with a tall yellow rectangle 220 x 18 pixels, and then duplicate or draw another rectangle above it, delete one point and move the other to the center to create a triangle. Then finally duplicate the triangle and cut out a section for the tip.
create text made out of pencils

Step 3

Add some more details to the pencil by using 6px wide rectangles for depth, and round the the bottom left and right corners 2 pixels. I have intentionally kept this part of the tutorial brief as the pencil is completely up to you providing it is roughly 16 pixels wide. Important: make sure the triangle layers are at the top of the layers list.
create text made out of pencils

IMPORTANT UPDATE - Please read carefully

The rest of the tutorial instructs you to create 3 different size pencils. I have since discovered that this is not necessary. Please ignore these instructions and simply use the medium sized pencil and the Stretch Between Guides feature when creating the brush instead as shown below.
create text made out of pencils
Apologies for any confusion this causes, but I felt it was important to update this tutorial with the more efficient method which also produces better results.

Step 4

Some of the paths we are going to use this pencil on will be longer than others so we need a few different sizes to use. The original pencil should be roughly 240 pixels tall, but also create a small version 140 pixels tall and a large version 340 pixels tall.
create text made out of pencils

Step 5

Select the small pencil and create a new Art Brush.
create text made out of pencils

Step 6

Name the brush ‘Pencil (Small)’ and use the default settings.
create text made out of pencils

Step 7

Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the other two pencils, name them ‘Pencil (Medium’) and ‘Pencil (Large)’.
create text made out of pencils

Step 8

Draw two new horizontal guides at Y: 200 px and 320 px.
create text made out of pencils

Step 9

Now it’s time to start drawing out letters. Start with the ‘P’ for ‘Pencils’ by drawing a rectangle shape with the ‘Pencil (Large)’ Art Brush and no fill. Visually align it to the top guide.

Tip: the direction of the brush will probably change as you edit the shape, to flip it again click on the end point of the path with the Pen tool.
create text made out of pencils

Step 10

Full round the top right and bottom right corners of the rectangle.
create text made out of pencils

Step 11

Create a new vector point on the bottom path and delete a section to break the shape apart as shown below.
create text made out of pencils

Step 12

Move the bottom left point down to meet the bottom guide.
create text made out of pencils

Step 13

Move the point that we created in step 11 left to overlap the vertical line slightly.
create text made out of pencils

Step 14

Highlight the top left point and increase the radius to 12 px.
create text made out of pencils

Step 15

Draw another rectangle for the base of the ‘E’. Use the ‘Pencil (Medium)’ brush, and align it to the bottom guide.
create text made out of pencils

Step 16

Delete the right line segment to break the shape apart.
create text made out of pencils

Step 17

Duplicate the path and align it with the top guide.
create text made out of pencils

Step 18

Delete the bottom right point on the duplicated shape, and switch the brush to ‘Pencil (Small)’. Also move the bottom left point down slightly to overlap the other shape more.
create text made out of pencils

Step 19

On the lower path, move the top right point left slightly.
create text made out of pencils

Step 20

Select the top and bottom corner points shown below, and increase the radius to 12 px.
create text made out of pencils

Step 21

Use the Pen tool to draw an ‘N’ shape, use the ‘Pencil (Large)’ brush and align the start and end points to the guides, but overshoot slightly on the diagonal line corners as they will get smaller when we round them in the next step.
create text made out of pencils

Step 22

Increase the radius to of the diagonal line corners to 6 px. You may need to undo and tweak the position of the points so that they align to the guides when rounded.
create text made out of pencils

Step 23

Draw another rectangle for the ‘C’. Use the ‘Pencil (Medium)’ brush and align it to the guides.
create text made out of pencils

Step 24

Fully round the corners on the rectangle.
create text made out of pencils

Step 25

Delete the line segment shown below to break the shape apart.
create text made out of pencils
create text made out of pencils

Step 26

This one is nice and easy, draw a line segment for the ‘I’ and use the ‘Pencil (Small)’ brush.
create text made out of pencils

Step 27

Use the Pen tool to draw an ‘L’ shape. Use the ‘Pencil (Medium)’ brush and align it to the guides.
create text made out of pencils

Step 28

Select the corner of the ‘L’ shape and increase the radius to 12 px.
create text made out of pencils

Step 29

The ‘S’ is the trickiest letter to draw so far, it cannot be easily done with basic shapes so instead I recommend using a standard sans serif font to type an ‘S’ then use the Pen tool to trace it (along the center). Use the ‘Pencil (Large)’ brush and align it to the guides.
create text made out of pencils

Step 30

The text should now look like this
create text made out of pencils
Select all paths (ungrouped) and apply a Drop Shadow effect Opacity: 15%, X Offset: 2px, Y Offset: 4px, Blur: 0.
create text made out of pencils

Result & Conclusion

For a finishing touch, add a dark grey background (#343638). And here is the result:
create text made out of pencils
This a fun effect to create and can be useful for projects such as ‘back to school’ promotional graphics, but is also a great way to learn about using Art Brushes in Illustrator. Hopefully you have enjoyed following along with this tutorial. If you’re looking to take it even further, this effect should also work well with other objects such as pens, paint brushes and crayons etc.

Download Drawing Tools Vector Art Brushes

drawing tools vector art brushes
This pack features 8 vector drawing tools from pens and pencils to paint brushes. They are supplied as regular vectors and Illustrator Art Brushes which allows you to wrap them around paths for creative effects.

Download


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