Graphic Design Trends

How to Use Classic Backgrounds and Textures

by Maddie Stearn on August 14, 2017 No comments

Whether you’re designing a website, a package label, or a social media banner, backgrounds and textures will be your best friend—but they can also be daunting to work with. It’s hard to know when a pattern goes from “awesome” to “too much,” so it can be easy to shy away from intricate designs.

Luckily, we have a few tricks up our sleeves. We’ve created the Classic Backgrounds and Textures Collection to highlight our favorite stock vector patterns, and we’ll show you how to pick killer designs for your next branding project. Just follow our lead and you’ll be making awesome design mockups in no time.


What Makes a Design “Classic?”

Both minimalist and bold backgrounds are all the rage right now, but is there a middle ground? Absolutely! Intricate lines, soft watercolors, and subtle 3D designs all fall into that middle category—and that’s where “classic” emerges. These backgrounds are often monochrome or feature softer colors, giving them a more minimalist look but maintaining elaborate features.

Take the design below: the background is almost completely covered in lines and dots, but the lines are so thin and the dots are so small that the pattern still has a “classic” feel. The single-color design also helps the background avoid becoming too busy.

stock vector patterns

Download the seamless abstract background we used

But once you add text, even classic backgrounds and textures can overwhelm a mockup. So how do you make these design elements coexist?


Highlighting Text

It’s rare that backgrounds get to exist all on their own—more often than not there is some text involved. The problem is that even backgrounds and textures with muted colors can overpower  text. In those cases, you need to make space for the words to shine.

In the paper bag example above, we put our text in a semi-transparent white box that sits in the middle of the design. The transparency of the box allows the background to show through, creating consistency throughout the entire design. We want to make the text easy to read, but we don’t want to make it stand out too much from the background.

We used a similar technique in the example below. Again, the box around the text is semi-transparent, making the text easier to read while maintaining the continuity of the design.

stock vector patterns

Download the geometric background we used


Cropping Backgrounds and Textures

When working with classic backgrounds and textures, one of our favorite “hacks” is to simply use the crop tool! Some patterns are so intricate that you only need a small portion of the design to make a huge impact on your product.

Take the wine bottle example below. We only used part of this ombre grunge texture because we didn’t want to overwhelm the bottle with a giant label. The cropped texture makes the design interesting without being too large for the bottle.

You can also see that we highlighted the text again. This time we varied the shape of the frame and didn’t use any borders to show how you can make this technique all your own.

stock vector patterns

Download this grunge texture we used

Simple, straight-forward, but still visually striking—what’s not to love?

Classic backgrounds and textures are your allies—not your enemy. Armed with these tips and tricks you’ll be ready to embark on your next branding adventure—so put your knowledge to use and check out the entire collection.


Get the Classics


read more
Maddie StearnHow to Use Classic Backgrounds and Textures

Trending Graphics: Fall Leaves That Inspire Creative Designs

by Alex Reffie on August 8, 2017 No comments

Do you know what season it is? With cool, rainy weather and falling leaves already making appearances throughout much of the U.S., it looks like autumn is getting an early start. Not that we’re complaining. Who doesn’t love fall with its vibrant colors, warm sweaters, crisp air—and yes, even its spiced lattes.

It’s a sensory wonderland out there, which is also why it’s a powerful season for advertisers, marketers, and creatives who know how to tap into it. Looking to channel a little of this magic yourself? Here are a few tips for using fall leaves vectors to transform your creative and grab attention.

Why Designers and Advertisers Love Fall

Visual cues that evoke warmth or nostalgia—such as sweaters, warm drinks, and changing leaves—can create powerful and authentic emotional connections between audiences and your brand or product. At the same time, autumn hues like red, yellow, and orange are commanding and inspiring. Don’t believe us? Our Beginner’s Guide to Color Theory explains how color choice impacts viewer perception. Or simply think about how the colors and tones of this fall vector pattern from our library evokes positive emotions like happiness and warmth.
fall leaves vectors

Download this seamless leaf pattern from our library

These essential cues are just what you need to if you’re looking to tap into the creative advertising magic of the season. Not certain quite how to do that? We’ve put together a few simple but impactful examples of how fall graphics can elevate your brand and marketing creative.


Flaunt Your Fall Colors

Sometimes subtle just won’t do, and fall is one of those times—after all, Mother Nature doesn’t hide her colors, so why should your designs? Let your visuals speak for themselves and don’t be afraid to go big. Add them to business cards, branded swag, websites, or print advertising like this patterned leaf vector.
fall leaves vectors

Download the seamless leaf vector pattern we used


Inspire with Bright Nostalgic Labels

Even the most practical marketers understand that fall is an emotional and nostalgic time of year—perhaps it’s the way back-to-school season brings up childhood memories, or perhaps it’s the nearness of traditional family holidays. Whatever the reason, autumn is the perfect season for nostalgic creative like this brightly labeled craft paper.
fall leaves vectors

Download the watercolor leaf vectors we used


Warm Up Your Brand with Golden Hues

Whether you’re marketing yourself or your newest product, fall designs and colors add personality and friendliness to your branding while inspiring feel-good vibes. We’ve used one of our favorite golden vector frames to add subtle, warm accents to this bottle label.
fall leaves vectors

Download the autumn floral frame vector we used


Use Comforting Textures and Patterns

Fall is all about texture and the tactile senses—just think of soft sweaters, warm drinks, crunchy leaves, and the many, many other organic patterns of the season. Great marketing capitalizes on this, drawing on comforting natural textures like this seamless leaf pattern to evoke a mellowed, comforting tone that resonates with audiences and customers.
fall leaves vectors

Download the seamless leaf vector we used

So how about it, are you ready for fall? Better yet, are you ready to capture your own fall design magic? Grab yourself your favorite spiced latte and download each of these vector files from our new Fall Graphics collection—or discover more autumn inspired images in our library.


Explore the Collection


read more
Alex ReffieTrending Graphics: Fall Leaves That Inspire Creative Designs

Why Split Screen Visuals Are So Effective

by Maddie Stearn on August 4, 2017 No comments

Have you ever clicked on a celebrity “Now vs. Then” article? Come on, be honest (we’re all very curious about what childhood celebrities are up to today). Most of us are guilty of reading at least one of these clickbait articles, but there’s a reason why we see so many of these posts online—they work, and not just because of their attention-grabbing headlines. Strong, split screen visuals are often what sells these post before we even have the chance to read what they’re about.

Now, we’re not saying that all clickbait is successful, but the split screen visual taps into readers’ desire to see dramatic visuals, as well as creating a curiosity gap. The images don’t even have to be that different to grab an audience’s attention. This is where context comes into play—an audience might be shocked to see photos of how a landscape has changed over the past 50 years, but they’d probably be just as astonished to see that John Stamos hasn’t aged in the past 30 years.

Split screen visuals aren’t just for casual observations—they can serve as learning tools, tug on our heartstrings, or even be humorous. We’ll show you how these visuals interact with all of these categories and how stock photos fit into the mix.


The “Wow” Factor

Advertisers often use split screen images to create dynamic ads that will catch customers’ attention. In the example below, this stock photo of pasta and stock photo of an empty bowl show that the meal must have been delicious (or somebody was hungry) since the bowl has been scraped clean. The two images are visually very similar, but the disappearance of the pasta is dramatic and eye-catching.

stock photos



Nothing sells like nostalgia. Often you’ll see split screen advertisements that portray the same subjects years apart or in different situations, but the added nostalgic element allows audiences to identify with the images. The result is still dramatic, but the visual is meant to evoke stronger emotions than an empty bowl of pasta.

These two stock images play on feelings of nostalgia by comparing images of similarly happy young and old couples. Even though the pictures aren’t of the same couple, they are similar enough to show that love is timeless.

stock photos


Split screen images aren’t just in advertisements and articles—they’ve become incredibly popular in viral humor and online memes, too. As with most internet fads, advertisers are now trying to use these memes in their own ad campaigns. The “Expectation vs. Reality” visual is hugely popular in advertisements and viral media alike, and it’s common for both to feature stock photos. We’ve provided our own example of this technique below.

stock photos


Online tutorials often use split screen images to show how the difference the learned tools or techniques can make. The primary goal of these images is to get people’s attention; your tutorial won’t help anyone if you can’t get people to click.

Graphic design nerds like us love tutorials that lead with split-screen images. It saves time when you’re scouring the internet for specific tips, and it’s exciting to see how far your artwork can go.

From a business perspective, we know that our customers also like our split screen visuals. It makes sense—we all want to know what to expect from a tutorial. These images can also drum up enthusiasm for the skill that the image promotes.

Here are some of the most popular split screen images for our tutorials—and you can also check out the tutorial section of our blog.

How to Add Textures in Photoshop

stock photos


How to Create a Visually Striking Text Portrait in Photoshop

stock photos


How to Add a Vintage Grunge Effect in 5 Easy Steps with Photoshop

stock photos
Ready to create your own split screen visuals? Find your inspiration browsing our library of royalty-free stock images.


Be Inspired


read more
Maddie StearnWhy Split Screen Visuals Are So Effective

Trending This Week: What’s a Bokeh?

by Alex Reffie on July 11, 2017 No comments

From warm, softly lit portraits to surreal landscape photography—there’s one photo effect that’s taking this summer by storm. Pronounced BOH-Kay, Bokeh is the aesthetic achieved when a camera lens renders out of focus points of light in a photo. It also produces a soft background effect with whimsical specks of light around the subject—giving it that almost ethereal look. Luckily, you don’t have to learn a new fancy camera trick to get this effect. You can create it in Photoshop using any photo you’d like—and what better way to try this out then by using royalty-free stock images right from our library.

To try this whole Bokeh fad out, we chose a landscape photo full of natural light—and just a hint of summer.

royalty-free stock images Download this portrait of a woman with flowers.

Once we got into Photoshop it was pretty fun to experiment with the Bokeh Brush we made. Just a few strokes here and there and we were able to get that elegant look we were going for.

This effect works great for images used in advertising, branding, or just adding some fun touch ups to your summer vacation photos.

Here are a few other royalty-free stock images we thought would be great to try this effect out on.
royalty-free stock image Download this summery stock image.
WDT-4 Download this creative landscape image.
WDT-3 Download this fun-lovin’ image.
WDT-2 Purchase this whimsical landscape stock image.
WDT-1 Download this blooming stock image.

Wanna try it out for yourself? Our library has tons of fresh royalty-free stock images great for perfecting your Bokeh skills.

Get Inspired
read more
Alex ReffieTrending This Week: What’s a Bokeh?

Trending This Week: Advertising Your Brand with Duotone Text Effect

by Alex Reffie on July 7, 2017 No comments

This summer is all about making a splash—especially with your branding. We’re talking bright, energizing colors, bold designs, and fresh graphics that take you to your perfect paradise—wherever that may be. Being able to combine hot summer designs with your personal style is the perfect way to stay on-trend—and with stock photos, you can stay on-budget as well. To give you a little seasonal inspiration, we created this eye-catching design that can easily be adapted to advertise any business, promotion, or event. Ready to get started? Our royalty-free library has stock photos that appeal to any audience and vibe.

With Adobe Photoshop, it was easy breezy to get this duotone style text design pieced together. Pairing our stock photo with a texture and style gradient gives the design an edgy look that’s sure to turn heads this summer. Take a look!

Stock Photos

Ready to make a splash this summer? You don’t have to travel across the globe for a spectacular summer view—we’ve got stock photos for every destination. Take your advertising up a notch and come discover the inspiration in our library.


Dive on in


read more
Alex ReffieTrending This Week: Advertising Your Brand with Duotone Text Effect

Trending This Week: Splash into Summer

by Alex Reffie on June 30, 2017 No comments

Hello summertime heat—did we actually miss you? The temperature may be climbing, but don’t use that as an excuse to not keep up with what’s trending and start on your next summer project. Last week we took a dive into Adobe PhotoShop and showed you how to unstock your advertising by turning them into watercolor masterpieces. Now it’s time to cool off by pairing this charming trend with a fun summer treat using stock vectors right from our library.

Using Adobe Illustrator, we whipped up these cute little popsicles that are a total staple to stay cool in the heat. Just a few simple steps using the rounded rectangle and ellipse shaper, our pen tool, some bright colors here and there, and—is that the ice cream truck we hear? Then we duplicated our original pops and simply placed our watercolor design over top to give them a contemporary summer feel.

Stock Vector

Our royalty-free library is packed with fresh graphics and stock vectors for the summer, and our watercolor stock vectors can add a colorful splash to any project. Here are a few of our favorites.

Stock Vector

Download this summery watercolor stock vector.


Stock Vector

Purchase this fun watercolor background.


Stock Vector

Download this abstract watercolor stock vector.


Stock Vector

Download this bright watercolor stock vector.


Think you’ve got some cool inspiration for your next project? Go for it. We’ve got everything you need in our library, so you can just chill out and start creating.


Discover More Inspiration.


read more
Alex ReffieTrending This Week: Splash into Summer

Weekly Design Trend: Vintage Travel Nostalgia

by Alex Reffie on June 20, 2017 No comments

It’s summer and, because we live in an era of travel envy and wanderlust, we thought it only appropriate to combine the two for this week’s trend. It’s a great time to have an adventure, whether you’re jetting off to Bali or road tripping across the country. Extraordinary journeys with friends, new and old, to places not yet traveled are all encompassing traits of the perfect summer adventure.

It’s pretty easy to tie travel and design together since our stock photo library is jam packed with travel inspired stock images, vectors, and vintage designs to provide that authentic feel. With the content in our stock photo library we were able to whip up this jet-setting design in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop perfect for wishing someone–or yourself, “safe travels!”

stock photo library

So–where are you headed? Take flight and discover all the excursion-inspiring design elements in our stock photo library to create your own summer adventure graphic!


Explore More Summer Graphics


read more
Alex ReffieWeekly Design Trend: Vintage Travel Nostalgia

Trending This Week: Father’s Day Images

by Alex Reffie on June 16, 2017 No comments

Ahh, dads. You can’t live with them—and you certainly can’t live without them. Whether they’re teaching you how to ride a bike, cheering you on from every sideline, or embarrassing you on your first date, dads are always there for us. Father’s Day is nearly here, so it’s time to think about how you can make your Dad feel super special.

All (dad) jokes aside—we want to make sure you have the perfect way to say “Happy Father’s Day” this weekend. We’re all about embracing the quirky and lovable side of dads, so here are some great Father’s Day stock images and vectors that do just that.
Father's Day Images

Purchase this Retro Father’s Day Image here.

Father's Day Images

Download this Rockin’ Father’s Day Image here.

Father's Day Images

Download this Colorful Tie Print here.

Father's Day Images

Purchase this Vintage Father’s Day Image here.

Father's Day Images

Download this Sweet Father’s Day Image here.

Father's Day Images

Download this Father’s Day Image here.

Father's Day Images

Download this image to celebrate Dad here.

What about your Dad inspires you? Whatever it may be, use it to create something memorable for him this Father’s Day. Anything from a lively card to a collage of his favorite things—the possibilities are endless! Our entire library is filled with royalty-free stock images that would make any project worthy of a place on the front of the fridge.

Happy Father’s Day everyone!


Find Dad Inspired Images


read more
Alex ReffieTrending This Week: Father’s Day Images

Trending This Week: Boost Brand Identity with Graphic Backgrounds

by Caitlyn Hampton on June 9, 2017 No comments

A logo doesn’t have to be the hero of your brand identity. In fact, you know by now a brand is made up of many more elements—but were you aware that patterns can be another amazing visual identity tool? Patterns and graphic backgrounds can help create cohesion and consistency across your various touch points. They aren’t entirely new to the brand identity world, yet they have gained popularity in recent times as another effective method for conveying your brand’s personality—and can even become more recognizable than your logo itself. Not to mention they are unique and engaging.

This trend is a flexible one. It can be applied to a variety of mediums—try it on banner ads, stationary, packaging, website backgrounds, and even store-fronts. Stock vectors and illustrations make it easy to find a ready-made background that can be easily customized. With vector files, you can apply your brand’s color palette in a simple way that helps with cohesion and brand recognition. Check out the variety of designs we created using one stock graphic background below.

graphic backgrounds

Download the graphic background used in this design.

For a look that varies, play with the scale of your patterns. Consider cropping it up and close and personal, or even minimizing the size of the elements so that they almost create an optical illusion.

Patterns can communicate a part of your personality that a simple logotype or mark could not. They can represent seasons or special campaigns your company runs. The opportunities are nearly endless—how can you imagine incorporating graphic backgrounds into your own brand’s design?


Discover Graphic Backgrounds


read more
Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Boost Brand Identity with Graphic Backgrounds

Trending This Week: Textured Paper Text Effects

by Caitlyn Hampton on June 2, 2017 No comments

When we told you that paper textures are trending in the design world, we weren’t joking. This week we not only found another nifty paper-inspired effect, but also a tutorial to show you how to apply the technique to your own designs. Maybe it’s Google’s Material Design guidelines or maybe it’s a desire for nostalgia—but we can’t seem to get away from this real-world material making its way into the digital realm. And we’re more than okay with it.

Stock Images

Download the seamless floral background used in this design.

This week we noticed the paper trend getting away from the grungy, textured look—instead, this tried-and-true texture took on a light and airy feel reminiscent of spring and warm weather. Using the tutorial below, we created our own rendition of the design by using a floral background in place of a solid one. Check out our design using vectors from our royalty-free stock images.


Ready to create your own floral, paper-inspired designs? Make old-school new again and find your inspiration with our vast collection of floral backgrounds and patterns, paper textures, and so much more.


Explore Floral Patterns


read more
Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Textured Paper Text Effects