Caroline Mercurio

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

 
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Stock Images Magical RealismDownload this image

 
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Stock Images Magical Realism

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Stock Images Magical Realism

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Stock Images Magical RealismDownload this image

 
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Stock Images Magical RealismDownload this image

 
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Stock Images Magical RealismDownload this image

 
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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.

 

Make Design Magic

 

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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.

 
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Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Bridge Between Mountains Stock Photo

 
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Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Poppy Field at Sunset Stock Photo

 
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Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Traveler Leading Camels Stock Photo

 
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Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Autumn Field in the Morning Stock Photo

 
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Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Wooden Boats on a Canal Stock Photo

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

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

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

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

 
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Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Alps Mountain Peak Stock Photo

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

 
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Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of a Rural Landscape

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

 
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Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of the Itsukushima Shrine

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

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

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

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

 
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Inspiring Stock PhotosDownload this Stock Photo of Fog in the Forest

 
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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?

 

Start Your Design Project
Get Inspired for 2017

 

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

7 Big Graphic Design Trends to Watch for in 2017

by Caroline Mercurio on December 13, 2016 3 comments

As the wild year of 2016 wraps up—crazy, we know—it’s a good idea to start looking forward in the world of design to see what graphic design trends are coming our way. We’ve been dreaming and imagining how we can incorporate stock photos and vectors. into new and exciting design themes. While we’ve seen some great trends over the past year, 2017 is promising to take design to a fresher, bolder level.

Learn how you can incorporate these trends into your designs using stock media from our royalty-free vector and photo library.

 

Material Design

Material design may just be the biggest and boldest of design trends to really try to grasp and understand. This style guide was created by Google to try and simplify the way designers design and users interact with the Internet. The core concepts of this trend are “material as a metaphor; bold, graphic, intentional; and motion provides meaning.”

 
Graphic Design Trends

Download this Infographic Chart Template.

 

What does all that mean? The visual aesthetic communicates clearly with your user. Draw inspiration from real-world materials—particularly paper and ink—to keep your designs grounded in reality, yet lightweight and minimalistic. Paper is tactile, casts shadows, but is also incredibly flexible. Design with those principles in mind and think about how you’re weaving together the fabric of the Internet.

 
Graphic Design Trends

Download these Web Infographic-Ready Button Vectors.

 

Be bold with your colors, contrast, and typography. Don’t shy away from imposing a strong hierarchy. Your design should guide the user’s behavior. Utilize motion in your designs—literal and implied—to communicate with your users. Always be thinking: How can I influence my audience to act the way I desire? Google’s Material Design aesthetic is very similar to Flat Design 2.0, but it takes intentionality to another level.

 

Bold Photography and Sleek Text

 

Download these images of A Fit Woman Running and the Determined Female Athlete in the Bleachers.

 

This may be the year of brave designers. Bold photography in coordination with sleek text is gaining momentum as a trend. This combination is often found in advertisements for brands that embrace adventure. Some examples include activewear brands like Nike and also fashion brands like Everlane, amongst many others. (Have you seen our tutorial on how to create striking text portraits?)

This combination exudes class, yet also excitement. It communicates a clear message, but doesn’t bore the audience. “Bold and sleek” works well for an audience with a short attention span as it gets straight to the point. This combination works great for display ads, social media promotions, and graphics where a small amount of information needs to be conveyed instantly. Incorporate bold borders to better emphasize your information and draw greater attention.

 

Modernized Retro

In our recent post about the hottest trends of 2016, we coined the term “Retro Nouveau” in order to distinguish what was commonly known as retro (20s-70s) from what newer retro designs are emulating (80s-00s). However, modernized retro is a whole other ball game. Consider it as a way of simplifying and modernizing any particular graphical element that stood out from any time period of the past.

 
Graphic Design Trends

Download this Nautical Vector Illustration.

 

For example, you could focus on modernizing old product labels that utilized badges and flowy script. Or possibly choose to recreate incredibly detailed artwork and icons and choose to scrape them down to their bare essential geometry. Maybe a color palette of the past inspires you—creams, reds, and baby blues, anyone?—and revitalize those little details in your new design. Breathe fresh life into old graphic classics and make something into your own.

 

Saturated Colors

 
Graphic Design Trends

Download this saturated image of a vivid sky at sunset.

 

Pantone often leads the way with seasonal color trends. In 2017, expect vibrant and bold colors that are incredibly true to their dominant hue. This trend started to sneak its way into a variety of design elements earlier in 2016, but should really pick up speed with the new year. Look for colors found in nature and intensify them. With photography, be bold and up the saturation of your images.

 
Graphic Design Trends

Download this image of a beautiful lake landscape with long time exposure.

 

In terms of designing with color, choose loud and deep colors—not necessarily bright. Look for colors that are heavy on the hue rather than brighter in lightness. In your graphic designs, utilize contrasting colors similar to what is suggested in material design. Allow each color to fearlessly draw attention to specific areas of your design.

 

Function First

Above all of the previously mentioned trends, function is the key player for 2017. As new technologies emerge like augmented reality, it’s important for designs to be clear about the action that is desired from a user. In fact, utilizing all of the above trends can help achieve this goal.

Utilize the presence of shadows and motion to indicate clear “clickable” portions of your web designs. Bold photography combined with minimal text can help relay an important message that needs to be quickly discerned. Modernized retro can help encapsulate a distinct feeling or sense of nostalgia you wish to associate with your product. Saturated and contrasting colors will draw attention to the most prevalent portions of a design. Think function and clarity in addition to aesthetically pleasing design.

 
http://blog.graphicstock.com/graphic-design-trends/50-perfect-stock-photos-for-social-media-images/

Download this Abstract Geometric Background.

 

As technology adapts further and further, user experience is a necessity to keep in mind. As a result, many designs will have to be approached with practicality at the forefront of their concepts. Similar to how skeuomorphism helped ease the transition into smartphones and touch screens, designs for new technologies will need to be approached in a way that makes the most sense for new users—which is really all of us.

 

Magical Realism

 

 

Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. 2017 is not the year to be afraid; it’s the year to push boundaries. If you’re looking for some photos that can really set your designs apart, look no further than these magical realism photos–sure to cause a double-take.

They make an excellent backdrop for graphic posters, social media, and event promotions–really any project that you’d like to feel magical and inspiring. Want to add another touch of mysticism to these works of art? Try adding a grunge texture overlay to roughen them up a bit.

 

Social Media Madness

 
Graphic Design Trends

Download this image of Dramatic Sunbeams in the Sea.

 

Instagram and Snapchat took over in 2016 and new social media apps are keeping the momentum going into the new year. However, one thing is for sure: social media is more powerful than ever for business. And it’s really not as simple as it seems.

It can be hard to nail down what sort of content will perform successfully. Your social media posts are worthless without captivating graphics. Stock media can provide the perfect backdrop for any variety of social media content. One of our favorite combos? A stunning landscape with a motivational quote to accompany high-performing hashtags such as #motivationmonday, #thursdaythoughts, and #fridayfeeling. Need some help finding your perfect image? Explore our 50 favorite picks for social.

 
Are you ready for 2017? Try your hand at designing with these trends using stock vectors and photos. What better way to start the year than with a new creative project?

 

Download Trending Graphics

 

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Caroline Mercurio7 Big Graphic Design Trends to Watch for in 2017

20 Stock Photos That Will Actually “Un-Stock” Your Advertising

by Caroline Mercurio on December 7, 2016 No comments

In advertising, you need to lead first with visuals to grab your audience’s attention. Yet not every creative team has a photographer on call with an unlimited travel budget to supply a steady stream of fresh and innovative images. Instead, the majority of marketers and designers turn to stock photographs for high quality content.

Unfortunately, some of these photos can seem “stocky”—too posed, too cliched, and too unreal—for consumers to truly connect with the message. That’s why we’ve picked 20 of our favorite photos to “un-stock” your advertising, as well as explaining the four best types of photos to look for when picking fresh visual content for your advertising.

 

Authentic Portraits

Day in and day out, customers are bombarded with photographs of retouched models in highly-posed situations. Advertising that uses images of everyday people in realistic contexts can connect with audiences at a human level, resonating with consumers’ desire for authenticity.

Portraiture with subjects who develop strong and honest rapports with the camera evoke a sense of believability and earnesty. Direct and emotive gazes without false smiles are crucial for these types of advertising portraits.

 
1.
Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of an elderly man at work.

 
2.
Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of a happy boy laughing.

 
3.
Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of a woman and her husband.

 
4.
Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of a young woman working out.

 
5.
Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of a pedestrian in the city.

 

Street Photography

The city is in the zeitgeist. Because we live in a constantly connected, digital world, metropolitan imagery has begun to resonate more and more with audiences, regardless of where ever they actually are.

Aesthetically, street photography appeals to viewers because of the wide array of textures and diversity of subjects it offers, as well as the frequent contrasts between structured, urban environments and their human inhabitants.

 
6.
Stock Photos

Download this street photograph of people in a crowd.

 
7.
Stock Photos

Download this photograph of graffiti on the metro.

 
8.
Stock Photos

Download this photograph of a young skateboarder in the city.

 
9.
Stock Photos

Download this photography of a tourist photographing a Vatican street.

 
10.
Stock Photos

Download this photograph of people on a busy street.

 

Flat Lay

Although seemingly more posed and polished than many of the visual trends we’ve highlighted, flat lay photography is having a moment. The style has it’s own kind of authenticity—the illusion of two dimensional space and the style’s fusion of geometric layouts with organic shapes appeals to an innate desire for simplicity and order.

Flat lay is especially popular for food advertising, but the aesthetic lends itself to any number of objects, from tools to plastic packaging. Using flat lay photos like these will keep your advertising fresh and on trend.

 
11.
Stock Photos

Download this flat lay laptop photograph.

 
12.
Stock Photos

Download this flat lay fresh fruits in a cone photograph.

 
13.
Stock Photos

Download this pills on a plate flat lay medical photograph.

 
14.
Stock Photos

Download this ice cream packaging bags flat lay photograph.

 
15.
Stock Photos

Download this flat lay tools photograph.

 

Quirky Subjects

A sense of humor, especially one that’s just slightly off-beat and not overly cliched, can really help cut through the noise in today’s oversaturated advertising landscape. Fun, quirky subjects with visually striking compositions do this by connecting with audiences through one of the most basic languages there is—humor.

To capture this trend, focus on images that feature off-center composition, bright or contrasting colors, and subjects that are just slightly weird or odd without being completely unrelatable. Think of a Wes Anderson film, but for advertising.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this quirky photograph of a business person exercising.

 
17.
Stock Photos

Download this quirky photograph of a grumpy middle aged woman with hair rollers.

 
18.
Stock Photos

Download this quirky photograph of a senior cook.

 
19.
Stock Photos

Download this quirky photograph of a thinking student in a cap.

 
20.
Stock Photos

Download this quirky photograph of a man with a red nose.

 
Ready to start creating? Download all 20 photos and more—or, if you’re looking for even more inspiration, take a look at our guide to the Hottest Design Trends of 2016.

 

Un-stock Your Ads

 

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Caroline Mercurio20 Stock Photos That Will Actually “Un-Stock” Your Advertising

50 Perfect Stock Photos For All Your Social Media Images

by Caroline Mercurio on December 2, 2016 No comments

Imagery is your most powerful tool on social media. Whether you are new to social branding or a seasoned Instagrammer, stock photos can help establish your online identity. On Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or any other channel, engaging graphics appeal to your audience and increase engagement—which means more clicks, shares, favorites, and—ultimately—sales. In short, better social images mean better business.

But how do you create compelling images efficiently? To make sure you won’t get slapped with a copyright violation or end up with a low-quality graphic, the answer is simple: use stock graphics. It’s something professional graphic designers have been doing for ages.

To make it easy for you, we’ve curated 50 fan-favorite photos for social media designs. Take a look at our top 10 and then click the button at the bottom of the post to download the entire collection!

 
1. Backgrounds
Sometimes you want an image to speak for itself—but other times you need an eye-catching background for your message. That’s where photos like this come into play.

Stock PhotosDownload this Mosaic Background stock photo

 
2. Landscapes
Can you even look at this without feeling a sense of calm? From gorgeous seascapes to snowy mountaintops and everything in between, landscapes are perfect for any number of social media projects.

Stock PhotosDownload this Vintage Apple Orchard stock photo

 
3. Travel
Anyone up for a little #TravelTuesday? Help your readers escape their desk for a few minutes and travel the world with stunning photos of monuments around the world.

Stock PhotosDownload this Statue of Liberty stock photo

 
4. Business
We all have to make a living somehow, so it makes sense that stock photos depicting common business themes are popular on social media. Besides, who wouldn’t want their desk space to look this zen?

Stock PhotosDownload this Laptop stock photo

 
5. Fitness
Fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry—it’s no wonder that photos inspiring us to hit the weights make up a huge number of the images we see online every day (#fitspo). Stand out from the pack with visually interesting shots that look beyond the abs.

Stock PhotosDownload this Kettle Ball Workout stock photo

 
6. R&R
In this day and age, we all need to stop and catch our breath sometimes. Steal a few minutes of zen with calm-inducing photos like this one.

Stock PhotosDownload this Hot Stone Treatment stock photo

 
7. Flower Power
What is it about close-ups of flowers? The compositions are eye-catching and incredibly beautiful. So go ahead—stop and smell the roses.

Stock PhotosDownload this Monarch Butterfly and Flower stock photo

 
8. Holidays & Celebrations
Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, or any of the hundreds of other holidays people around the world celebrate each year, these popular photographs take full advantage of the season.

Stock PhotosDownload this Holiday Beverage stock photo

 
9. Cute & Cuddly
It’s just a fact—cat’s rule the Internet. But don’t forget about dogs, and owls, and alpacas. Yes, we said alpacas. They’re really cute, okay? Give your audiences something they’ll love with these heartwarming images.

stock photosDownload this Cat in Sunglasses stock photo

 
10. Food
There’s a reason that Instagram food blogging is a thing. We’re obsessed with food. It can be anything—even brussels sprouts. If it’s well plated and lit perfectly, we want to eat it, and show it to our friends so that they can fantasize about eating it too.

Stock PhotosDownload this Cherries on a Wooden Background stock photo

There is no end to what you can create and share with our top 50 stock images for social. If you are looking for a little more guidance on formatting your social images, check out our post on Facebook Image Sizing.

Feeling inspired? You can download the entire curated collection as part of your GraphicStock subscription.

 

Explore our Top 50 Social Images

 

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Caroline Mercurio50 Perfect Stock Photos For All Your Social Media Images

The Top 20 Nature Vectors for Winter-Inspired Designs

by Caroline Mercurio on December 2, 2016 No comments

With winter nature vectors, you can decorate almost any object and create your own digital projects. These snowy and festive images can help bring together your designs with winter-inspired scenery and graphics. So whether you’re hoping to create a winter snowscape scene to frame on your wall or design your very own holiday sweater, you can easily find winter nature vectors to personalize.

To help you along, we’ve curated our top 20 landscape and animal-themed winter vectors—use them to customize your winter gifts, create holiday cards, add a dramatic winter landscape to your computer desktop, develop your own social media banner, or print your own wrapping paper.

 

Landscape Nature Vectors

A landscape vector sets a scene and creates a mood for your design. Use one as a backdrop for other vector graphics or select a landscape to stand on its own. You can scale the vector to any dimension without distorting the imagery, so these vectors work well for projects as large as a billboard or as small as a mouse pad.

Beginning artists often use assets by other artists to inspire them or to add dimension to their work. Instead of creating an entire winter landscape scene from scratch, choose a pre-made landscape and add other elements as you see fit. For example, you might add galloping reindeer to a snowy hillside or add text to a simpler landscape.

You can also use landscape nature vectors as artwork for your walls. Adjust the vector as you see fit, then export the vector from Adobe Illustrator as a JPG. From there, you can scale the image to suit the dimensions you want for your artwork.

Use these landscape nature vectors to spark your imagination.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this seamless winter vector

 
2.
Nature Vector

Download this abstract winter birch trees vector image.

 
3.
Nature Vector

Download this bright night with moon vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this festive pine tree landscape vector image.

 
5.
Nature Vector

Download this wintry Rocky Mountain landscape vector.

 
6.
Nature Vector

Download this winter landscape vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this snowman in the sun vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this multicolored winter background vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this snowy landscape vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this winter landscape vector.

 

Animals in Nature Vectors

Cute animals never fail to draw smiles when they’re used in artwork and other projects. Animals that often make appearances in winter nature vectors include squirrels, deer, birds, and polar bears, but you can find almost any animal in a winter-related scene.

Some animal nature vectors feature a single animal with a transparent background—you can insert these animals into any design to add visual interest. Other animal vectors feature multiple animals, often in detailed scenes—use these vectors by themselves or add other elements to make the image your own.

Animal nature vectors also work great for holiday cards, storybooks, party fliers, and other projects that you might undertake during the winter. Kids often respond well to animals, so products or gifts for children tend to feature them.

Explore some of our most popular animal nature vectors with winter themes.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this winter frame with birds vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this wildlife winter vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this winter branch with red bird vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this snow geese in winter landscape vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this winter background with swan vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this wintry lovebirds vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this reindeer with winter background vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this cat with snowy home vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this fox with snow mountains vector image.

 
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Nature Vector

Download this snowy owl vector image.

 

How to Work With Winter Nature Vector Art

When you’ve chosen your winter nature vectors, download them and open them in Adobe Illustrator or other vector editing program. You can change the vectors or combine them for whatever project you’ve chosen. Use the software’s tools to change colors, move objects to different positions, and make other adjustments. Once you’re happy with your design, save the changes so that you can always access your vector file later. You can also save the original to ensure nondestructive editing.

At this point, you can open the image in Adobe Photoshop or other image editing program to make any final edits. Some designers prefer to work exclusively in Illustrator, while others shift back and forth between Illustrator and Photoshop to take full advantage of each program’s tools.

Winter nature vectors can add more variety to your digital assets and allow you to speed up the design process. Can’t decide which of these 20 winter vectors you like the most? Download them all from our royalty-free stock image library—all with unlimited downloads when you have a GraphicStock membership.

 

Discover a Winter Wonderland

 

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Caroline MercurioThe Top 20 Nature Vectors for Winter-Inspired Designs

What Thanksgiving With Family Is Actually Like, Told In Stock Photos

by Caroline Mercurio on November 15, 2016 No comments

Ah, Thanksgiving…It’s that time of year when family near and far draw together to enjoy a day of love, laughter, and feasting. But the idyllic gatherings shown in most stock photos don’t always capture the reality of “quality time” with relatives. Old sibling rivalries rise to the surface, and the in-laws ask awkward questions at the dinner table. But what’s Thanksgiving without a little family drama?

Inspired by our own fond memories of Thanksgivings past, we gathered the stock photos that more accurately represent the family feasting. For comparison, here’s how we like to imagine the holiday in pictures, followed by the more realistic version.

How We Like to Imagine Thanksgiving

 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos
We think of all those we hold dear. We share memories and photos of all the things we are thankful for. Maybe we raise a glass to the years gone by or to the new year about to unfold. It’s a holiday in every sense of the word.

Or not.

What It’s Really Like

For many of us, Thanksgiving is the day when we’re are obligated to spend 12-48 hours with people who share our DNA—and not much else. Add to the fact that it’s an election year and…well, pass the punch, please.

If this sounds all too familiar, take a deep breath—you are not alone. To help you get through the day, we have put together a collection of images that are basically all of us on Thanksgiving. So come November 24, find a quiet corner (lock yourself in the closet if you must) and pull up this post for a quick Thanksgiving giggle.

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

Come on, Aunt Nancy. We all know what’s really in that mug.

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

Somehow it doesn’t matter if he’s watching the game or the parade—Pops will still spend the next 5 hours yelling at the TV.

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

What do you mean you’re changing your major from Engineering to Interpretive Dance?!?

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

Don’t mess with big bro, little guy!

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

NEVER tell Christine that her corn muffins are dry.

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

I can’t talk right now—Jason found chocolate and now he’s naked and destroying mom’s white couch.

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

Fluffy is secretly plotting vengeance.

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

Too…much…pie…

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

So when am I getting grandchildren?

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

You’re my only hope, Pinot Noir. Never leave me.

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

And Aunt Helen is trying to use the rolling pin on her hair. Things just took a turn.

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

Please just eat your fruit. Literally anything that’s not chocolate. I’m begging you.

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

Yep, gave up and went to the bar with Uncle Larry.

 
 
Thanksgiving Family Stock Photos

Sweet mother of turkey. Let’s eat!

 
 
Sometimes a little laugh and some commiseration is all we need to get through the holidays. Even though they make us crazy, today is about family, and we know we sure will be sad when we say goodby on Friday. So give everyone a hug and dig into that beautiful bird. Cheers!

 

Make Your Stock Thanksgiving Story

 

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Caroline MercurioWhat Thanksgiving With Family Is Actually Like, Told In Stock Photos