Caroline Mercurio

Trending This Week: Dimensional Designs

by Caroline Mercurio on February 9, 2017 No comments

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!

 

Download Dimensional Graphics

 

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Caroline MercurioTrending This Week: Dimensional Designs

Trending This Week: Stained Glass Meets Mid-Century Iconography

by Caroline Mercurio on February 1, 2017 No comments

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:
 
Design Trends
 
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.

 

 

Get Trendy Graphics

 

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Caroline MercurioTrending This Week: Stained Glass Meets Mid-Century Iconography

Top 50 Adobe Illustrator Tutorials for Designers

by Caroline Mercurio on January 30, 2017 No comments

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.

Illustrator for Beginners
Using Tools in Illustrator
Designing Line Art
Creating Logos and Icons
Creating Portraits and Characters
Styling Typography

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.

 

11. Adobe Illustrator CC Tutorial – Pen Tool


Learn how the Adobe Illustrator pen tool works and how to use it properly.

 

12. Adobe Illustrator | Pen Tool Tutorial


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.

 

Styling Typography

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.

 

Start Creating

 

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Caroline MercurioTop 50 Adobe Illustrator Tutorials for Designers

A Visual Guide to Pantone’s Spring Colors: 10 Ways to Apply the Palette

by Caroline Mercurio on January 30, 2017 No comments

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.

Pantone's SpringImage courtesy of Pantone

 

1. Primrose Yellow

 
Pantone's Spring
 
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.

Pantone's Spring

Download the GraphicStock images used in this design.

 

2. Pale Dogwood

 
Pantone's Spring
 
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.

Pantone's Spring

Download the GraphicStock images used in this design.

 

3. Hazelnut

 
Pantone's Spring
 
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.

Pantone's Spring

Download the GraphicStock images used in this design.

 

4. Island Paradise

 
Pantone's Spring
 
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.

Pantone's Spring

Download the GraphicStock images used in this design.

 

5. Greenery

 
Pantone's Spring
 
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.

Pantone's Spring

Download the GraphicStock images used in this design.

 

6. Flame

 
Pantone's Spring
 
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.

Pantone's Spring

Download the GraphicStock images used in this design.

 

7. Pink Yarrow

 
Pantone's Spring
 
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.

Pantone's Spring

Download the GraphicStock images used in this design.

 

8. Niagara

 
Pantone's Spring
 
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.

Pantone's Spring

Download the GraphicStock images used in this design.

 

9. Kale

 
Pantone's Spring
 
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.

Pantone's Spring

Download the GraphicStock images used in this design.

 

10. Lapis Blue

 
Pantone's Spring
 
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.

Pantone's Spring

Download the GraphicStock images used in this design.

 
Want a little more in-depth analysis to color theory before you begin your designs? Check out our Color Theory 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Complementary Colors, RGB, and More.

And did you know that with Graphicstock you can search by any color for completely customized results—just by using the hex codes we provided!

 

Get Colorful

 

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Caroline MercurioA Visual Guide to Pantone’s Spring Colors: 10 Ways to Apply the Palette

The Future of Creativity: Top 10 Images Captured with Creative Tech

by Caroline Mercurio on January 27, 2017 1 comment

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:

 
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Developing a vision for a future project? Keep pushing your creative limits by surfacing more creative tech content—we add new stock images to our library all the time.

 

Discover More Innovative Imagery

 

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Caroline MercurioThe Future of Creativity: Top 10 Images Captured with Creative Tech

Top 10 Magical Realism Images: The Stock Dreams Are Made Of

by Caroline Mercurio on January 27, 2017 No comments

A great design always tells a story. Sometimes, that story takes place in a fantasy world and speaks in metaphors. These stock images are the stuff of dreams and fables—they combine real world photos and magical effects to hint at supernatural possibilities. We gathered our 10 favorites from this surreal category so that you can put your imagination to the test, and see how a touch of magic might take your projects into a whole new creative level.

Magical realism has a way of captivating audiences, be it for art or marketing. Depending on the tone of your brand or personal style, these images could help convey an inspiring, eerie, or thought-provoking message. For writers, such designs make perfect accompaniments to fictional tall tales and even children’s books.

There are no limitations when you dip into surrealism—see how far you can take your imagination with the 10 stock images below.

 
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Stock Images Magical RealismDownload this image

 
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Stock Images Magical RealismDownload this image

 
Ready to create your own fantasy world with stock? You can try your hand at this dreamscape tutorial, or dive directly into more magical realism images.

 

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Caroline MercurioTop 10 Magical Realism Images: The Stock Dreams Are Made Of

A Beginner’s Guide to Essential Adobe Illustrator Tools

by Caroline Mercurio on January 17, 2017 No comments

More than 100 tools exist in Adobe Illustrator—which can seem like an overwhelming number to master if you’re just starting out with the program. Even seasoned designers familiar with the ins and outs of Illustrator can forget what each tool does. But don’t worry, that’s why we’ve put together this quick reference for the six most essential tools—And if you’re just getting acquainted with the software, learning how these basic tools work will save you a lot of time and frustration.

So whether you’re editing customizable vector graphics or designing a project from scratch, this guide will help you find the right tool for the task. To start, you’ll find the Illustrator tools on the left side panel after you open the program. If you click on one of the icons, a submenu opens to show more tools related to the main tool.

 

Selection Tool

Shortcut Key: V

The selection tool in Illustrator lets you isolate certain pieces of a design for small, minute adjustments. You can also use the tool to order objects on top of or behind one another, group or ungroup pieces of a design, and apply effects to only one selection.
 

 

  • Learn how to create and remove anchor points.
  • Find out how to create curves and straight lines.
  • Discover the different ways to manipulate anchor points.

 

Shapes Tool

Shortcut Key: M (for rectangles); L (for ellipses)

The shapes tool in Illustrator helps you create—you guessed it—shapes quickly. You can choose a rectangle, ellipse, star, flare, or another option from the menu.
 

 

  • Learn about the different shapes for the tool options and how they work.
  • Discover different ways to manipulate the sizes and proportions of shapes.
  • Find out how to use keyboard keys to change how you manipulate shapes.

 

Type Tool

Shortcut Key: T

Use the type tool to create and manipulate text in an Illustrator document. Choose fonts, font weights, glyphs, and other details to create the style you want.
 

 

  • Learn how to use the type tool and its menu alternatives.
  • Use text to fill shapes.
  • Discover ways to create stylized text for a project.

 

Eraser Tool

Shortcut Key: Shift + E

If you make a mistake in Illustrator, or if you want to remove portions of a fill or stroke, the eraser tool becomes invaluable. The eraser works just like the eraser of a pencil.
 

 

  • Find out how the eraser tool works when you select specific objects.
  • Learn how to separate one object into two objects by splitting them.
  • Watch how anchor points change after applying the eraser tool.

 

Blob Brush Tool

Shortcut Key: Shift + B

You can use the blob brush tool to create vector shapes. This tool works similarly to the pen tool—but the resulting image serves as a full vector shape.
 

 

  • Learn how to create drawings using the blob brush.
  • Discover the differences between pen and blob brush.
  • Find out how the blob brush interacts with color swatches.

 

Artboard Tool

Shortcut Key: None

Artboards allow you to work on multiple panels or canvases at the same time. You might export them to After Effects as slides in a stop-motion video or design a corporate mockup with multiple elements.
 

 

  • Learn how to create and manipulate artboards.
  • Duplicate objects among different pieces of an artboard.
  • Synchronize actions across all pieces of an artboard.

 
That’s it! With just these six tools you’re already well on your way to Illustrator mastery. Ready to test out your prowess? Download our royalty-free stock images and vectors—including awesome infographic templates and abstract designs—and start creating.

 

Unlock Your Creativity

 

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Caroline MercurioA Beginner’s Guide to Essential Adobe Illustrator Tools

Color Theory 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Complementary Colors, RGB, and More

by Caroline Mercurio on January 13, 2017 5 comments

We don’t live in a black and white world. From Pantone to Pinterest, color theory impacts the way we see and feel the world around us. It can influence our purchasing decisions and affect our mood. It attracts the eye and it even tells us what to look at and what to ignore—which is why it’s important that anyone working with visual media and stock images learns to speak the language of color. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can even search by color in our GraphicStock library to find the perfect photos, vectors, and illustrations to complete your projects.

To get you started, we’ve drawn up a crash course in the basics of color theory. These essentials are important building blocks for any artistic endeavor, from graphic design to painting and photography.
 

The Basics of Color

Let’s start at the very beginning, shall we? Long, long ago, Newton began studying color theory. His color wheel laid the groundwork for later generations of scholars, most of whom lived and worked in the 19th century. These scholars provided us with modern color theory, one tenet of which is the principal that there are primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors

Color Theory

Primary Colors are, in their most basic definition, the colors from which any other color can be created by mixing. Not everyone agrees on what colors are true primary—but we’ll discuss that later. In traditional painting, the primary colors are red, yellow, and blue (as seen in the color wheel above).

Secondary Colors are colors that result from mixing two primary colors, such as green (yellow + blue), purple (blue + red), and orange (red + yellow)

Tertiary Colors are colors that are obtained by mixing two secondary colors or a secondary color with a primary color. For example, if yellow is a primary color, and orange (the mixture of yellow and red) is a secondary color, yellow-orange would be a tertiary color. Tertiary colors are shown on the color wheel above in parentheses.
 

The Other 10 Million Colors

Obviously, we all know that there are more than 12 colors available to you for any given project. In fact, the human eye can see approximately 7-10 million colors. So how do we make up this massive difference? With hues, shades, tints, and tones.

Hue is almost the same as color, and the words can sometimes be used interchangeably. However, there is a slight difference in that hue generally refers only to those 12 basic colors from the color wheel. They are the twelve purest and brightest colors on the spectrum.

A shade is the mixture of a color with black.

A tint is the mixture of a color with white, also known as a pastel.

Tones (also called saturation) is achieved by mixing a color with both black and white (gray) to adjust the intensity of the color.
 

Additive and Subtractive Color

Now that you understand how colors are created, it’s time to fill you in on why people disagree on what colors are primary. It all comes down to how you are creating your colors, for what purpose, and with what medium. Are you working on a digital screen? With oil paints? For print? All of these things make a difference because how we see color is determined by one very elusive property: light.
 
CMYK
CMYK is a subtractive color model whose primaries are cyan, magenta, and yellow (the CMY in CMYK). In simple terms, that means that when all three primary colors are combined, the result is black (K). Removing one of the colors will result in red, green, or blue. Removal of all of the colors results in white. This is the most common color model used for printing—just think of your color printer ink cartridges.

Color Theory
 
RGB
The RGB color model is an additive color model whose primaries are red, green, and blue. An additive color model means that if you combine all three primary colors you get white instead of black. This works the same way light waves do, which is perfect for systems that emit light, such as electronics like monitors. Because of this, RGB is used for computers, phones, and other digital displays including web graphics.

Color Theory

The computer code for black on an RGB model would be B=0. Each primary is 255 (R=255 ; G=255 ; B=255) and all the colors in-between will have a corresponding code somewhere between those values. If you are looking to create a color on a web-based platform, many will only give you the option to use RGB values or a HEX code, so this system is hugely important for web designers in particular. It’s worth noting, however, that most computer and non-web-based systems will allow you to use either RGB or CMYK numbers to find the color you are looking for.

Note: color HEXcode is a letter and number value beginning with a # sign, which is used in HTML, CSS, SVG, and other computing applications to represent colors.
 
RYB
“But wait,” you say. “I thought the primary colors were red, yellow, and blue—not red, green, and blue or cyan, magenta, and yellow.”

RYB is still the oldest (some date it as early as the 16th century) and simplest color model and is the one taught in most fine arts institutions today. It is primarily used for painting but does not take light into account as much as the other models do.
 

Colors in Action

Creating Color Schemes

Now that you know the basics of color theory, we can get down to the nitty-gritty of actually applying everything you’ve learned. What makes some color combinations “clash” while other combinations work well together?

One—sometimes aggravating—exercise many art students are forced to undertake in color theory classes is to place the same color next to two other colors in order to make the original color appear different in each instance. In the example below, the blue tile in the middle of each larger square is the same exact color. It only looks different in comparison because the colors surrounding it have changed.

Color Theory

The way we perceive color is directly related to the way it reacts to its environment. The color doesn’t change, but our perception of it does. Some of this is intuitive, particularly when it comes to contrast—you wouldn’t put a dark green text on a black background because you wouldn’t be able to see anything! You intuitively know that contrast makes foreground items more visible. Whether or not you should use orange and green on the same web page is a trickier problem. Luckily, there are several different models for approaching color schemes to help you out.

 
Monochromatic Color Schemes are color schemes which use only one hue, such as blue, and individual shades, tones, and tints are used for contrast.

Color TheoryDownload this peaceful winter landscape.

 
Analogous Color Schemes use colors that are next to one another on the color wheel, such as blue, blue-green, and green.

Color Theory

Download this flatlay of asparagus and salt.

 
Triadic Color Schemes use colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel, such as green, purple, and orange.

Color TheoryDownload this whimsical orange lantern.

 
Complementary Color Schemes are color schemes which use colors on opposite sides of the color wheel, such as red and green.

Color TheoryDownload this photo of a Chinese red rose blossom.

 
Split Complementary Color Schemes are a variation of the complementary color scheme. It uses one base color and the two colors next to that color’s complement (the color directly opposite it on the color wheel). For example, since yellow’s complement is violet, it’s split complementaries would be blue-violet and red-violet.

Color TheoryDownload this vintage-style photo of a yellow rose bush

 
These are not the only color schemes, but they are the most basic and popular. Play with colors within each scheme (and outside of them) to learn for yourself how colors interact!
 

Color and Emotion

There’s a reason spa’s are usually decorated in shades of pale blue, sage, lavender, and white. And there is a reason that the Russian Constructivists creating state posters and propaganda chose red and black for their media and posters. Color is emotional. You can create a basic ad, but the colors you choose will impact the message your audience receives as much as the text and design do.

This can seem intimidating, but it’s actually great! It’s a powerful weapon in your arsenal—which is exactly why you need to understand some basics about color psychology. Color and emotion is a very complex subject, but in general:

Cool colors like blue, lavender, and teal are associated with feelings of tranquility and loyalty. They make viewers feel secure, trusting, and peaceful. They are (usually) not flashy colors, and so they convey a sense of sophistication and elegance. Tints of blue are also often associated with young boys. Negatively, these shades can also be used to convey coldness and fear.

Color TheoryDownload this photo of a blue sailboat on a clear day.

 
Red is usually the most saturated and dominant color on the spectrum. Because it always stands out, it’s associated with very strong feelings and always relays a sense of confidence. Red is the color of love and passion, but also of power, desire, and fire. Red is also associated with speed—there is a reason red cars are rumored to get pulled over more frequently than cars of other colors.

Conversely, red can convey danger, warning, and anger. It’s softer cousin, pink, is symbolic of love and femininity. Pink is a sensitive, romantic color that can also come across as saccharine and childish. It almost goes without saying that pink is generally associated with women and young girls.

Color TheoryDownload this photo of pink and red tulips.

 
Orange, like red, is associated with motivation, strength, and courage, but also has a reputation as friendly, cheerful color. Be wary, however, as it can come off as cheap. If you work in the restaurant biz, it’s good to know that orange is thought to stimulate the appetite (as does placing it’s primary colors—red and yellow—side by side. You’ll see this at play in the color schemes for many fast food chains).

Color TheoryDownload this abstract landscape photo of a tree growing before a mountain.

 
Yellow is the color of joy, sunshine, and optimism. It is the easiest color to see, and always stands out—but its brightness can make it difficult to see clearly against many background colors, and like orange, it can seem cheap. Yellow can also make viewers feel anxious because of its overwhelming brightness.

Color TheoryDownload this vintage yellow concrete wall background.

 
Jewel Tones such as deep blue, purple, green, and garnet have a feeling of luxury and wealth. This may be ingrained in our psychology because of these color’s histories. Deep red and blue were among the most expensive pigments artists could purchase, and so were reserved for the most luxurious and ornate paintings, often alongside gold leaf. Purple, another outrageously expensive pigment in earlier times, was a color only the richest could afford to wear and was even reserved for royalty under Elizabeth I.

Color TheoryDownload this lavender flowers background.

 
Green and Brown are shades closely identified with nature and the outdoors. They remind us of the environment, longevity, fertility, new life, peace, and of the warmer seasons. Green can also be associated with money and wealth, along with all of money’s negative connotations—envy, jealousy, and greed.

Color TheoryDownload this red-eye frog in nature.

 
Finally, shades of Gray range from the luxurious, high-tech platinum to the solid reliability (or conservative gloominess) of charcoal. Black, the eternal classic, can exude classic elegance and formality, or can be the dark harbinger of mystery and death. Pure white imparts a feeling of cleanliness and purity, but can also come off sterile and cold.

Color TheoryDownload this serene photo of an iceberg reflected under a grey sky.

 
Finally, when you are thinking about your color schemes, consider where your creation will be displayed—for example, Facebook is predominantly blue. If you want to get noticed, you need to ask yourself which colors will pop against your intended backdrop.

 
The meanings of colors can vary widely based on the perception of each individual viewer. You aren’t a mind reader, but you can manipulate these colors according to your needs by thinking carefully about how you will combine colors to create a color palette that will appeal to your ideal audience. If you wanted to attract a high-end clientele for a jewelry business, you would probably consider palettes consisting of precious metals, jewel tones, or soft blues and whites (a la Tiffany & Co). If you were designing a movie poster for a film about vigilante justice and war—think V for Vendetta or Gladiator—the same color scheme would be completely out of place.
 

A Few Notes in Closing

Now that you’re fully briefed on the basics of color theory and color psychology, experiment to find the color palettes that work best for you! A few more takeaways to remember:

  • Trust your instincts—you intuitively know more of this than you may realize.
  • Keep consistency of color throughout your design, be it a poster, home color scheme or a multi-page site. If each room or page is in a totally different color palette, it can create an inharmonious experience and confuse people as to your personal brand.
  • Explore free web-based color tools, such as Adobe Color and Illustrator Color Guide. These programs have preset color palettes and can be a good place to start.
  • Always test colors on your audience, and on the platforms you use most. See what works well and what doesn’t.
  • Once you’ve established your color palette, save time and money by finding royalty-free graphics, photos, and vectors that fit your scheme. With Graphicstock, you can search by any color for completely customized results.

 

Discover a World of Color

 

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Caroline MercurioColor Theory 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Complementary Colors, RGB, and More

The Ultimate Guide to Adobe Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts

by Caroline Mercurio on January 4, 2017 No comments

These days, Photoshop is everywhere—in your newsfeed, on your Pinterest board, and maybe even amongst your New Year’s Resolutions. The ability to transform and customize stock photos and create graphics is one of today’s most sought-after skills.

Whether you’re a Photoshop novice or expert, efficiency is key—and that’s where this printable guide comes in. Sure, there’s going to be some memorization involved, and maybe even a bit of a learning curve—but once you master these handy shortcuts, you’ll be flying through your projects faster than a cheetah on a coffee break. You can download a PDF version here and tape it to your desk for easy reference.

 
Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts
 

Keep it for yourself, or spread the wealth—Photoshop mastery is at your fingertips. You can share the guide on your own blog or website using the embed code below:

<a href='http://blog.graphicstock.com/graphic-design-tutorials/the-ultimate-guide-to-adobe-photoshop-keyboard-shortcuts/'><img src='http://d2436y6oj07al2.cloudfront.net/assets/gsblog/2017/01/GS_Photoshop-ShortCuts.png' alt='Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts by GraphicStock' width='800px' border='0' /></a>
 
 
Best of all, these are the standard keyboard shortcuts in PS, so there is no setup involved.
With all this knowledge literally at your fingertips, go ahead and jump right into any Photoshop project.

Need a little inspiration? Check out these tips, tricks, and tutorials, or explore our library of royalty-free stock photos for the perfect start to your next Photoshop adventure.

 

 

read moreCaroline MercurioThe Ultimate Guide to Adobe Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts

20 Most Inspiring Stock Photos for 2017: Make Something Beautiful in the New Year

by Caroline Mercurio on December 20, 2016 No comments

The new year is traditionally a time for resolutions—a time when we reflect and look towards the future for inspiration. In the spirit of the season, we’ve gathered our 20 most beautiful and inspiring stock photos from around the world to lift your hopes and revive your mind as we journey into 2017. So whether you need a break from the daily grind or you’re seeking an uplifting image for your screensaver, check out these beautiful photos from our library.

 
20.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Bridge Between Mountains Stock Photo

 
19.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Poppy Field at Sunset Stock Photo

 
18.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Traveler Leading Camels Stock Photo

 
17.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Autumn Field in the Morning Stock Photo

 
16.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Wooden Boats on a Canal Stock Photo

 
15.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of the Baltic Sea at Sunset

 
14.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of a Bridge in the Botanical Garden in Tbilisi

 
13.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of Children Running Through a Meadow at Sunset

 
12.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of a Buddha with Cherry Blossoms

 
11.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Alps Mountain Peak Stock Photo

 
10.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of Snow Monkey’s Bathing in a Hot Spring

 
9.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of a Rural Landscape

 
8.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of a Lake Shore at Sunset

 
7.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of the Itsukushima Shrine

 
6.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of a Tree Silhouetted in Fog

 
5.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of Swans Swimming in a Lake

 
4.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of an Iceberg Reflected in Calm Waters

 
3.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi

 
2.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of Fog in the Forest

 
1.
Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of a Hot Air Balloon Over Myanmar

 
Download all 20 and more from our library. With a GraphicStock membership, you get access to thousands of royalty-free stock photos, vectors, and illustrations–all with unlimited downloads. What will you create?

 

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Get Inspired for 2017

 

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Caroline Mercurio20 Most Inspiring Stock Photos for 2017: Make Something Beautiful in the New Year