The design world has a lot of dos and don’ts—do keep graphics balanced and aligned, don’t use Comic Sans, do design with strong contrast—and most importantly, do keep a clear message. But the beauty of art and design is the freedom to break the rules—at least when it’s done in a purposeful and effective way. Inspired by Nick Slater’s poster designs, we chose to focus on one key element in our design: irony. When done with finesse, this technique can convey a sense of humor and self-awareness that creates an approachable personality—all through design!
As we’re all painfully aware, irony is a term that is often misunderstood—just listen to Alanis Morissette’s song Ironic, for example. But for our purposes it’s quite simple: have the design of your poster contrast with the message. In Mr. Slater’s design, he mixed the message of “Quiet Work Area” with loud colors and playful design elements. The result is fun and approachable. When your message and design contradict, your humor shines through.
Feeling inspired ourselves, we decided to create our own ironic poster using stock graphics.
As this fun poster shows, we don’t always have to take ourselves so seriously. Using irony in your designs and creative work can help set you apart from other companies and solidify your brand identity. We were so inspired, we even gave ironic messaging a shot in a recent video for our sister site, VideoBlocks.
Think you can pull off an ironic design statement?
As a designer, you’re really good at what you do. When a client comes to you with a clear vision for their business but zero idea of how their website should look or function, you know how to deliver amazing results that double or even triple their ROI. Yet sometimes your clients need a little more convincing—a little extra push—to really seal the deal. Or maybe you’ve got quite the collection of website or app designs for your portfolio, but want a flashier, more engaging way to present these designs to your future employers and clients.
Enter product mockups. By providing important visual context for your designs, mockups are key to helping your client fully grasp your collaborative vision when a simple screenshot or Photoshop file just isn’t quite cutting it.
Mockups provide context for your designs and help clients envision your final product in a real world setting. They can also help model your responsive design solutions—allowing you to showcase your ability to design for mobile screens, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Using mockups to showcase your designs is an effective way to highlight your talents. Luckily it’s easy, too—which is why we made this beginner’s guide to show you how it’s done.
The internet boasts a plethora of design resources all at your fingertips—and often for free. Our suggestion? Simply google “free photoshop mockups.” You can also use well-known resources like Mockup World, which is what we used for the designs in our guide to designing swag and our Pantone spring color guide.
Once you’ve chosen your desired mockup, simply download the file, unzip it, and open it in Photoshop. Most photoshop files for mockups have highly organized groups and layers, and should be easy to decipher. Take a moment to understand the layers of your chosen mockup kit—a good kit will name its layers clearly.
Step Two: Insert Design
Most kits will name the layers you want to edit something obvious like “Put Your Screen Here” or “Edit This Layer.” The editable layer will be a linked smart object, so double click it and it will open another Photoshop file.
After you create your design and export it as a jpeg or png, simply drag and drop it into this photoshop file, resize it as needed, save it, and then it will automatically populate the the original composition.
Step Three: Save and Export
Now you simply save the composition to whatever file type and size you desire. It really is that easy to elevate your designs so that your clients or future employers will be that much more impressed.
Designers can be inspired by just about anything—and what’s more inspiring than traveling to a new destination? This week we caught onto a trend that really captures the wanderlust hibernating within each of us: destination illustrations influenced by the look and feel of retro postcards. Designer Ludmila Shevchenko grabbed our attention with her colorful, geometric design of Lofoten—a wanderlust-worthy destination far away—so we decided to recreate the look using stock vectors from our library.
Check out this rendition inspired by the snow-topped latitudes of Denver, Colorado.
To create this simple geometric design, we selected elements from the original vector to refine the image to what we had envisioned, and then added additional elements within Adobe Illustrator. You could also choose vector elements from our stock image library and combine them with your own shapes and designs.
With stock vectors you can design an actual postcard—yes, on real life paper. You can also create an illustration for your website or brand collateral, and you can also add these illustrations within your app or web design. The options are limitless!
Ready to design your own retro destination postcard? Check out our collection of travel-ready vectors.
T-shirts, hats, mugs, bags, pens, or socks—if you can think of it, you can put your logo on it. Swag is a crucial part of your marketing strategy. If it’s wearable or useful, you can guarantee great swag will get your brand in front of new eyes and help create lasting awareness. To spark your inspiration, we’ve outlined three ways companies can use swag to show off the strengths of their business and values—whether you’re a small business owner or Mark Zuckerberg himself, these top swag tricks will help you elevate your brand to the next level.
Keep in mind, you can’t just slap your logo on a coffee mug and call it a day, not if you want to make a significant impact—you don’t want to devalue your brand with common promotional products. Push the design of your swag to the next level and incorporate stock graphics, vectors and photos to help the inner spirit of your brand shine.
Your company’s brand is more than just the logo and colors—it’s a personality and a vision. Highlight your brand’s internal values that don’t always get to shine so brightly to the world outside your office. Swag is an excellent marketing tool, but it’s also an important way to create a strong working community among coworkers and teammates.
#1 Swag for Facebook
Consider Facebook, for instance. They have five core values that drive their inner company workings and their hiring process. While they aren’t always advertised to the external world, it’s a huge part of their company culture and brand. As an example, we created a quick swag design encapsulating one of their values—in the words of Mark Zuckerberg, “Move fast and break things.”
Google is another company with strong internal values. They are innovative, creative, and they push boundaries. One of their ten core values is, “You can be serious without a suit.” They believe work should be challenging—but also fun. To reflect that playful attitude and boundary pushing mentality, we imagined a fun baseball cap that proudly boasts the value.
Slack is another company with strong internal values that don’t always see the light of day. They focus on three keywords: diligence, curiosity, and empathy. Slack’s brand always portrays a fun and playful attitude—similar to Google—but with a little more youth and edginess due to their bright, saturated, and hip brand colors. We imagine that their swag should be playful and maybe even downright silly—like this bag.
There are so many possibilities when it comes to designing swag—especially when you have unlimited downloads from our library of royalty-free stock images. Try not to limit your designs to a simple logo. Think edgier, more fun, more creative. Whether the swag you’re designing is for your customers or your employees, the more unique the design, the more effective your swag will be in spreading your brand’s message and increasing awareness.
Sometimes it’s hip to be “stock-y.” Music videos used to cost thousands of dollars and required high-tech hardware and editing programs. But now in the age of low-budget DIY creativity, YouTubers like Joe Penna—known as MysteryGuitarMan on his channel—can make engaging videos with just a few stock images and a talented hand in Adobe Photoshop, all without ever having to leave their homemade studio. Joe’s specialty is bringing the absurd to life with animation, special effects, and music.
Take a look at “Stock Photo-shop” and see for yourself:
Joe’s music video for “Believer” by the band Paper Lions features stock photos from GraphicStock, with Joe lip-syncing the lyrics. He even made sure the lighting on his face matched the lighting in the photo. The well-paced video over the infectious tune was uploaded on December 15th and has garnered over 300,000 views so far. The video was well-received by subscribers, who have been anticipating a new video from Joe since his previous upload two months prior.
We love seeing projects that our creative community makes—from fun music videos by YouTubers like Penna to exciting designs like last year’s Creative Rewards winner. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to provide high-quality stock content that fits any creator’s budget. The possibility are endless!
With all love for flat designs, renegade artists are starting to think outside the second dimension to rise above the noise. There are times when 3D really works–like whenever you want a futuristic, animated effect—and we have plenty of stock vectors and images that make it easy to replicate this trend. Dropshadow may be on the outs, but dimension is back in style. Take a look at a few examples from our library:
Dimensional graphics allow you to create an illusion of depth where there is none, bending space and shapes at your will. The result is trippy—in a good way—especially if you used bright, courageous colors. Pixar relies on physics within their animation technology to build life-like characters out of inanimate objects and imaginary whims—this trend allows you to take a similar approach in design. Go wild! The laws of physics should never limit your creativity.
If you make something amazing using dimension, let us know about it. We’d love to hear from you on Twitter or Instagram!
Calling all designers and creatives! This is our first post in a new weekly series in which we highlight design trends and industry tips that catch our eye and inspire us to do what we do best: create cool projects with stock graphics. Our first choice to kickstart this series? A fun linear illustration reminiscent of stained glass windows—brought into the modern world. We came across designer Justin Pervorse’s label design, and instantly envisioned a twist of our own (featured below).
We won’t say linear icons are an overused trend because, frankly, we’re quite the fans. However, it’s greatly appreciated when we find new creative utilization of these bad boys, like Pervorse’s design. This stained-glass inspired trend involves a bright, bold color palette; minimal, linear icons; and mis-mashing them together in a mosaic, blocked-off fashion. Keep the icons you use on brand and on message—whether that’s funky and whimsical, or a little more polished and streamlined. We used our stock vectors to get the look.
Here’s our take on stained glass meets mid-century iconography:
The creative community is abundant with talent, and designers are cranking out awe-inspiring works of art left and right, week after week. As fellow creators, it’s our job to stay abreast of the hottest trends coming down the pipe, so we are constantly keeping an eye out for some amazing designs that push the envelope. So keep an eye out for our new weekly series—bringing you inspiration from the design community and the resources to make it happen.
Want to give the stained glass trend a whirl? Try downloading and experimenting with the minimal icons we used in our design.
Whether you’ve worked with Adobe Illustrator for a few weeks or a few years, tutorials are the best way to expand your knowledge and discover new techniques for your projects—but sometimes finding the most useful tutorials can feel like a wild goose chase. That’s why we’ve done the legwork for you and rounded up 50 of the best Illustrator tutorials from around the Internet. Each one features easy-to-follow teachers and narrators who will show you unique tips and tricks for getting the most out of this essential design program.
You can use Illustrator to create any type of vector art or image, from simple shapes to detailed diagrams. Each of Illustrator’s tools performs a specific function, giving you the most control over the finished product.
Since its launch in 1988, Illustrator has gone through 13 versions, culminating with today’s Adobe Illustrator Creative Cloud (CC). All of the tutorials here feature the most recent version of the program, CC—although some of the tools may be different, many of the tips and techniques highlighted here can also be applied to earlier versions of the program
Here’s a quick rundown of the tutorial categories we’ve gathered.
Check out these 50 Adobe Illustrator tutorials that cover everything from beginner’s guides and overviews to step-by-step instructions for creating logos and portraits.
Illustrator for Beginners
When you’re just starting to use Illustrator, video tutorials can help you master the basic tools and understand the program interface. These tutorials give broad overviews of several beginner tactics and answer some of the most common questions.
1. How to Get Started with Adobe Illustrator CC – 10 Things Beginners Want to Know How to Do
This video answers 10 of the most common Illustrator-related questions for beginners.
2. Illustrator CC – Tutorial for Beginners
This tutorial takes an in-depth look at fill and stroke settings, as well as manipulating vector points.
3. Adobe Illustrator CC Tutorial for Beginners
If you want to work with multiple documents in an art board, this video will help you master this all-important skill.
4. Beginner Adobe Illustrator Tutorial Using Shapes
Artists will love this video, which details how to use shapes in the program by designing a monkey’s face in detail.
5. Adobe Illustrator CS6 (and CC) for Beginners
If you’re not quite sure how vectors work in Illustrator, this tutorial will help you better understand them.
6. Adobe Illustrator Tutorial 1: Basics You Need to Know
This tutorial covers shapes, fills, strokes, and other basic actions in Illustrator.
7. How to Draw a Leaf in CS5 Illustrator – Beginner Tutorial – Using the Pen Tool and Gradients
In this more specific tutorial, you’ll follow along as you design a leaf with a water drop.
8. Interface Introduction to Adobe Illustrator
Get familiar with the Illustrator interface in this easy-to-follow tutorial and learn how to customize your own workspace.
9. An Introduction to Adobe Illustrator
This encouraging tutorial covers some of the most popular Illustrator tools, as well as covering shapes, patterns, and swatches.
10. Illustrator Gradient Mesh Beginner’s Tutorial
Follow this tutorial’s instructions to turn a photograph of an apple into a vector graphic.
Using Tools in Illustrator
Each Illustrator tool serves a specific purpose. These beginner to intermediate Illustrator tutorials show you in detail how some of the most common tools work and how you should apply them. Learn where they’re located, how to access them, and what they can do.
Another guide to the pen tool, this tutorial takes you into more detail and shows you how to use the related tools.
13. Illustrator Tutorial: Blend Tool Line Logo
Learn to master the blend tool in this tutorial, which helps you understand the tool while creating a logo.
14. Drawing with the Pen Tool, Pencil Tool & Brush
This tutorial covers the pen, brush, and pencil tools in detail and shows you the subtle differences between each tool.
15. Adobe Illustrator Blend Tool
Work with spirals and other distinctive shapes in this tutorial covering specific techniques for using the blend tool.
16. Adobe Illustrator CC 2015 – The Type Tool
Conquer the type tool in this basic tutorial, which helps you understand how text interacts with Illustrator.
17. How to Use the Lasso and Magic Wand Tool in Adobe Illustrator
Build your selection skills in this tutorial that focuses on the wand and lasso tools.
18. Introduction to Adobe Illustrator Shape Tools
This tutorial guide you through a basic line art graphic while covering the shape tools and guides you through a basic line art graphic.
Designing Line Art
Line art is an illustration that consists entirely of straight and curved lines. It’s one of the most essential and straightforward skills an Illustrator user can master—you can create almost everything from icons to portraits.
19. Adobe Illustrator CC – Line Art Tutorial – Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts
Once you’ve mastered line art tools, use them to turn a photograph into a work of art.
20. Line Art Photo with Adobe Illustrator
Here’s another line art tutorial that goes into more detail as to how to give your line art depth while keeping its simplicity.
21. Adobe Illustrator Tutorial: How to Draw a Vector Pirate Skull
Have a little fun and walk the plank during this tutorial for pirate-themed line art.
22. Ink Lineart by Converting Strokes into Fills
This tutorial covers a specific technique in digital line art: inking your projects by converting strokes to fills.
23. How to Make a Custom Brush for Line Art in Illustrator
Line art requires brushes of different flow rates, sizes, and other qualities—you’ll learn how to create your own in this tutorial.
24. Illustrator CC Tutorial: Tracing Line Art
Follow along with one of the most essential online teaching resources, Lynda.com, as you learn how to trace line art in Illustrator.
25. Illustrator CS4 ”Line Art” Tutorial
Learn how to accurately manipulate vector lines and duplicate them to simplify your workflow.
26. How to Draw Cool Lines (Line Weight Variation)
Create cartoon line art with this in-depth tutorial.
Creating Logos and Icons
Whether you’re designing for yourself or for a client, logos and icons are some of the most popular and requested types of illustrations. Use these video tutorials to master the tools and tricks that will help you effectively design logos and icons.
27. Adobe Illustrator CC CS6 Tutorial – Logo Design
This advanced tutorial takes you through the logo-creation process.
28. Tutorial: Create a Text Logo in Illustrator
Learn how to create a text logo or icon using simple shapes.
29. Flat Icon Design Tutorial in Illustrator CC
Embrace the popular flat icon trend with this tutorial.
30. Tutorial: How to Make a Professional Logo in Illustrator
Learn new ways to create custom logos.
31. Adobe Illustrator Tutorial – How to Create a Professional Eagle Logo
Add some shine to your logo using this guide.
32. Learn How to Draw 8 Vector Music Icons in Adobe Illustrator
Design music-related vector icons in Illustrator.
33. Adobe Illustrator | Shutter Icon Tutorial
Go through the process of conceptualizing and creating a custom icon.
34. Adobe Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make a Simple Type Logo
Focus on typography instead of imagery with this logo tutorial.
Creating Portraits and Characters
Whether it’s a simple avatar or a detailed portrait, knowing how to draw people and characters can help you advance as a designer. Mastering the Illustrator tools and techniques for this can prove challenging, but these video tutorials will help you get ahead of the curve.
35. Tutorial Vector Portraits – It’s Cool Man
Learn how to create a detailed cartoon portrait.
36. Adobe Illustrator Portraits Part One: The Setup
Achieve more lifelike results with this Illustrator tutorial.
37. Illustrator Tutorial: Low Poly Portrait
Learn how to create a geometric-inspired portrait.
38. Illustrator Tutorial: Flat Design Portraits
Apply flat design to a portrait drawing in Illustrator.
39. Tutorial: Vector Portraits Using Adobe Illustrator
Follow along with this tutorial for creating a cartoon-style portrait.
40. Illustrator Tutorial – Flat Design Portrait
Learn more strategies for flat design portraits with this video.
41. Adobe Illustrator Vector Portrait
With this tutorial, convert a photograph into a portrait in Illustrator.
42. Draw Vector Hair Photoshop Tutorial
Focus on hair with this detailed Illustrator tutorial.
Plain typography can work in certain designs, but sometimes you want to add more style to your canvas. These tutorials show you how you can manipulate typography for various results. Add embellishments to the typography itself or words into art.
43. How To Create Typography Illustrations
Use typography to customize an illustration.
44. How To Create Custom Type Designs in Adobe Illustrator
Customize your typography with flare.
45. Tutorial Create Lettering/ Typography with Adobe Illustrator
Use typography to create wall or screen art.
46. Illustrator Tutorial | 3D Text | Abstract Typography
Take a stab at abstract photography with advance learning tutorial.
47. Typography | Text Effect | Adobe Illustrator
Add whimsical effects to your type with this tutorial.
48. Vintage Logo Tutorial for Adobe Illustrator
Use text to create a custom logo.
49. Illustrator CC CS6 : Proper Vintage Typography
Fit text into shapes and illustrations in this trendy typography tutorial.
50. Learn How to Create a Neon Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator
Add a subtle glow to your text with this neon typography tutorial.
With all of this information under your belt, create your own unique Adobe Illustrator designs—or combine your work with royalty-free stock vector images to create professional graphics.
Hope isn’t just a feeling this season—according to the color experts at Pantone, it’s also a palette. Based on the prominent colors used in this year’s New York Fashion Week, Pantone’s most popular colors for Spring 2017 involve a playful yet thoughtful mix of vitality and relaxation. According to Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute Leatrice Eiseman, “designers applied color in playful, yet thoughtful and precise combinations to fully capture the promises, hope, and transformation that we yearn for each Spring.”
To help encapsulate the aspirational essence these colors represent in your next designs, we’ve compiled a guide to understanding the meaning behind each color choice—and we’ve created a few designs using resources from our library of stock images to get you started.
This vibrant yellow is bold and unabashedly cheery—especially as it skews more towards orange-yellow than green. Reminiscent of warm, sunny days, this color can be especially impactful when you want your designs to draw instant attention.
If the brand you’re designing for is a playful one, then this color is just right—but use it with care. When paired with white text, it can be difficult to read and therefore quite inaccessible for those with limited eyesight. It’s best used sparingly as an accent color—but then again, rules are made to be broken.
This beautifully subtle pink is soft and relaxing. It is innocent and pure, like a softly lit spring morning, which probably explains the name. This color is so unobtrusive, it could easily be used as a neutral in your designs. Let it lead from a place of support: the background.
For a brand that is calm and feminine, this color is ideal. It makes an excellent supporting color for bold and loud colors. For a minimalist feel, pair it with grayscale photos and rich black text to let your content carry the weight of your message.
As the most neutral color of the bunch, Hazelnut truly represents the earthiness of Pantone’s collection. It’s grounding, calming, and provides roots for punchier colors to contrast with. Described as “unpretentious and with an inherent warmth,” this color eases you into the transition of the seasons, with warm days spent outdoors just on the horizon.
As a neutral, this color is another excellent supporter for pairing with others. If you’re going for an approachable, earthy look in your design, Hazelnut can be more warm and friendly than the popular light gray as a neutral.
A strikingly vibrant and appealing color, Island Paradise mimics the pristine aqua waters of islands far off. It exudes an air of paradise and inspires tropical escapes far away from the colorless cold winter.
Blue colors generally evoke a sense of calm, peace, and responsibility for brands, but this brighter and more energized aqua radiates excitement. It has a freshness that is playful and fun. For a happy and bright brand, let Island Paradise take center stage. Try a monochromatic look with varying shades of blue—like Lapis Blue and Niagara—to really dive into Bahamian waters. Or try a look that pops by pairing it with Pink Yarrow and Flame.
As the 2017 Pantone Color of the Year, this shade of green is all about breathing new life into the spring season and reinvigorating our passions. It’s about experimentation, exploration, and adventure. This green is fearless and borrows some of its boldness from the hints of yellow found within.
Use this color in your designs if you want to create a feeling of freshness and vibrancy. Green in branding can create a sense of balance and harmony—yet this hue is also energizing and invigorating. Pair it with a minimal and clean design that emphasizes the use of negative or white space to really nail a refreshing look and feel.
Arguably the hottest color of the bunch, this color is also the loudest and most intense. More approachable than reds in general, orange has a friendly and energetic appeal—a common theme throughout Pantone’s collection. This shade is “gregarious and fun loving” and adds heat to the spring collection to balance out some of the more peaceful and relaxing colors.
Don’t be fearful of the bold and bright Flame color. In fact, if you’re going to give this color a shot, go all the way and flood your designs with it. With a color like this, it’s asking to make a statement. If your brand is strong and determined, this could be the color for you. Try using it in marketing pieces that have an informal voice and approach or for an intense call to action.
This pink is lively, whimsical, and quite the showstopper. It isn’t shy and it doesn’t mind taking center stage—which is exactly how you can utilize it. This bold, bright, and saturated hue is captivating and will immediately draw attention to wherever it is used in a design.
Highlight an important call to action with Pink Yarrow—or emphasize an area where the message is particularly important. But keep in mind that this color is not the most traditional or conservative. If you use it in your designs or for branding, understand that you’ll be giving the impression of youth and a casual approach to business—think T-Mobile, which emphasizes targeting youthful and open-minded consumers.
Niagara was coined as speaking “to our desire for ease and relaxation.” It was awarded as the most prominent color of Spring 2017. While it’s one of the more muted colors of the collection, its strength lies in its comfort and dependability.
Used alone, the mood it elicits is one of relaxation, comfort, and dependability, which makes it an excellent partner for pairing with bright Primrose Yellow. Or if you want to keep your designs calm, it could work very well with Pale Dogwood.
Though the actual vegetable probably reached peak trendiness back in 2014, Kale as a color is making its way into fashion and design strongly this spring. Another green in the collection to emulate the beauty of nature and the desire to get outdoors, Kale is more muted and reserved than its Greenery counterpart. It makes an excellent backdrop and could almost get away with serving as a neutral.
For a complimentary collision in hue and saturation, try pairing Kale with Pink Yarrow—it will look modern and bold, but also quite fun. For a monochromatic look, work with Greenery and Kale. Or for a sweet and inviting combination, try Kale with Pale Dogwood.
Lapis blue is one of the more modest and traditional colors in Pantone’s collection. It radiates inner confidence and a calm, stable energy, yet it holds its own against some of the brighter colors like Primrose Yellow, Flame, or Pink Yarrow.
Paired with a heavy use of white space, Lapis Blue works well along side any of these brighter colors—especially when used in the style of Material Design for websites, web applications, or mobile apps. The heavy saturation of the color makes for an excellent contrast with white space and therefore makes a hierarchy of information easier to accomplish—a must-have for successful visual design.
New software, new gear, new accessories—the creative tools at your disposal are always expanding. Whether it’s the ability to add hyper-realistic effects to an illustration or a camera that can capture crystal-clear pictures of the cosmos, we like to test the boundaries of what’s possible with our content. We rounded up 10 stock images from our library that each offer a unique and innovative perspective, driven by creative tech like drones and advanced editing programs, so that you can explore the possibilities of this futurist realm.
If you like testing limits or want to promote a sense of exploration and adventure, this content category really captures that vibe. Technology may be a part of our everyday lives, but it can also be used for extra-sensory storytelling—or enhancing how your audience experiences the world. Not everyone has access or ability to create media that involves high-tech gear or software, but the images below make it possible for anyone to break boundaries with their personal and professional projects.
Get a taste of the future of creativity with our top 10 images: