Graphic Design Trends

Trending This Week: Creating Paper Textures in Photoshop

by Caroline Mercurio on May 26, 2017 1 comment

Do you ever find a design that really catches your eye and think to yourself, “How can I make that?” Yup—we do it too. So which trend won our hearts this week? Striking paper textures that could be used in just about any form of graphic design, from posters to social media graphics. Though the Strathmore paper mockups of the Mad Men ad-age have given way to sharp digital prints, the traditional pulpy texture of parchment is here to stay.

Check our our dimensional design below. If you’re not incredibly familiar with blend modes and texture layering, the design may seem a little intimidating at first. That’s why we broke it down piece by piece using royalty-free stock photos, so you can see just how simple it is to build a similar design.

 
royalty-free stock photos

Download the royalty-free stock images used in this design.

 
We started with a strong, capital letter “I” with this paper texture masked onto it. Then we isolated the woman in this royalty-free image before adding a bold yellow circle.

We created our dripping paint effect with a few different brushes, and masked a striped paper texture on-top with the Color Burn blend mode. Finally, we added our black and white skyline, and for added depth we used a few different paper textures that added warmth and the bold creased paper effect. For the top layers, we find it works best to use the Multiply blend mode and adjust the opacities so they don’t detract too much from the design.

Ready to go? Just dig into our library and select a few key elements that make for a visually striking look—then start playing! It’s a lot like painting—adjust the composition and the various combination of textures until you feel like you’ve reached a stopping point. You add a layer and stand back. Add another layer and re-evaluate. And remember, the beauty about Photoshop is that you can always hit undo!

So now we pass the baton on to you. What designs will you create with our plethora of stock paper textures?

 

Explore Paper Textures

 

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Caroline MercurioTrending This Week: Creating Paper Textures in Photoshop

Bye Bye, Clipart: 3 Tips and Tools for Avoiding the Biggest Mistakes in Slide Design

by Caroline Mercurio on May 21, 2017 No comments

Have you upgraded your slide decks recently? Though that question might earn a few eye rolls from Google Slides and Powerpoint veterans, in today’s high-def, high-res world of slick, minimalist designs and supersaturated color blocking, it’s important to take a step back and truly ask: What decade are your slide decks living in?

If the answer is anything other than right now, it might be time to step away from the clipart and rethink your approach. To help, we’ve put together this quick and simple guide using stock vectors to avoid the three biggest mistakes in slide design.

And if you like the graphics and motifs in these slide designs, don’t forget to explore more graphical elements from our royalty-free library.

 
slide decks
 

Tip #1 – Stay Fresh and Cohesive—But Avoid Canned Themes!

 
slide decks
 
If there’s one cardinal rule in slide design, it’s that you must have a unifying theme. Without visual cohesion in a deck, ideas and thoughts appear disconnected and give audiences the impression that the presenter doesn’t care whether the slides are professional and polished—definitely not something anyone wants! So it’s understandable that the vast majority of the working world relies on preset themes for their decks: it’s just easier.

Unfortunately, this is also a huge mistake. Most of the themes included in slide design programs feature fonts, styles, and motifs that are years—if not decades—out of style. And even if a theme is au courant, it’s not unique—thousands of other companies and presenters could be using the exact same theme, making it far from the best way to distinguish a business or brand.

Instead, forge your own path and create your own template that’s both unique and contemporary! (Which leads us to our second tip.)
 

Tip #2 – Keep It Simple and Be Yourself

 slide decks
 
Whether you’re a veteran slide designer or this is your first time putting together a deck, remember that simplicity is your best friend. The purpose of a slide theme is to create cohesion as well as build or evoke brand identity—not overwhelm the viewer or upstage the information being presented.

So don’t overcomplicate it and keep to this simple rule of three: palette, font, motif.
 
Palette – Start with the dominant colors or palette you want for your slides, and decide if you want those colors to pop as part of the background or through the motifs. These colors might be determined by your own brand guidelines, or you can pick them for yourself. If doing the latter, make sure they resonate with what you’re representing, whether that’s your own personal brand or your company’s new product.

(And if you’re not certain which colors to pick—there are almost 10 million in the visible spectrum, after all—you can learn more about color palettes in our Guide to Color Theory.)

For our example, we’ve picked a muted palette of neutrals (white and slate gray) with a single pop of Millennial Pink for highlights and motifs.

 
slide decks

 
Font – Next up, pick your font(s)—as with palette choices, these should reflect both your brand and your personal style. For cohesive purposes, limit yourself to just one or two fonts. Any more than two fonts is too many cooks in the kitchen.

The advantage of picking two fonts is that they will allow you to introduce additional visual hierarchy on your slides, with one font working as the headliner (or H1) while the other font does the heavy lifting in the body copy or supporting descriptions. This can be helpful for slides with a lot of information, making it easier for viewers to read. On the other hand, if you choose a single font, you further cement the visual cohesion of the deck.

For our slide example, we choose two commonly used fonts available through Google or Adobe Typekit: Great Vibes and Proxima Nova.
 
Motif – This is the final yet perhaps most important element when creating your own slide deck theme. A motif is a visual image or style that you pick to repeat on each slide to create further cohesion. For some decks, this means using the same color blocks or highlights on each slide, while for others it means reusing the same design element through.

For our example, we chose close-cropped color blocking for our color highlight, which we can pull through from the title slide to all supporting detail slides.

 
slide decks
 
A word to the wise: If you’re working on a branded deck, avoid putting your logo on every slide—it’s so 2000s. While it’s important to stamp your brand identity on each slide, this can often be done more subtly than simply copying and pasting your logo. Instead, consider pulling the palette, fonts, or design elements of your brand into your deck’s theme for a softer, more subtle approach.

 

#3 – Don’t Say It, Show It

 
Now that you’ve got the foundations of your deck established, make sure your content shines! Nothing gets an audience to tune out faster than a slide that looks like word soup.

 
slide decks

 
Overwhelming viewers with too much information too quickly—usually by using too many words or data points and not enough visualizations—is a common but completely avoidable mistake. Think about the most effective presentations you’ve seen, whether on Shark Tank or in your favorite TED talks. What’s the one thing they all have in common? Less is more.

 
slide decks
 
Slide decks should anchor an audience’s attention, punctuating key takeaways or questions—and what better way to do that than with visuals? We recommend using vector infographics and flat icons to help you visualize your points while engaging your audience.

 
slide decks

 

Download the contemporary flat icons in this slide.

 
slide decks

 

Download the contemporary flat icons in this slide.


 

So how about it? Are you ready to design your own slide deck? With these tips—plus a well-stocked arsenal of royalty-free design elements and graphics—it’s time to bid a fond farewell to clipart that’s straight out of the 90s!

 

Get Better Visuals

 

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Caroline MercurioBye Bye, Clipart: 3 Tips and Tools for Avoiding the Biggest Mistakes in Slide Design

Trending This Week: Edgy Summer Event Posters

by Caitlyn Hampton on May 19, 2017 No comments

Killer graphic design isn’t just reserved for your day job. As the weather continues to warm up, people are getting in the party mood—and what better way to get your friends—and even strangers—to your epic events than with edgy, eye-catching posters and fliers?

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite stock images perfect for this party-ready aesthetic. From bold, geometric shapes to artistic and striking design elements, these posters are sure to draw the crowds. Use them for your next event, for an upcoming live show, or even for a pending design meetup.

 

 

These posters are completely customizable—so go wild and make them entirely your own! Ready to throw your big, summer bash?

 

Explore Trendy Posters

 

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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Edgy Summer Event Posters

Review: Cyberlink PhotoDirector 8 Ultra

by Christopher Petow on May 15, 2017 No comments

 
Believe it or not, Photoshop isn’t the only advanced photo editing software in the game. PhotoDirector 8 Ultra from Cyberlink offers a number of robust features and effects for correcting and manipulating images. It’s a budget-friendly option that includes all the basics—like exposure adjustment, contrast, and white balance—but also unique fixes like body-slimming and face-beautification tools. Whether you’re working with stock photos or your original images, it provides plenty of horsepower to achieve professional results.

 

Features

The workflow feels familiar, with layer support and correction tools, but this new version includes handy features like video-to-photo. This tool allows users to convert video clips into high-quality stills, or even panoramas. Unfortunately, it cannot reduce blur from movement, so subjects need to be holding still for the results to look crisp. If creating a panorama, the program does have content-aware capabilities to fill any empty spots left by meshing different angles, which is a cool benefit.

Also new to PhotoDirector, the multiple exposure effect makes it easy to combine up to 10 action shots into one image. This would requires lots of masks and layers to achieve in Photoshop. As long as a still camera was used to capture the original photos, the program can auto-generate a cool multiple exposure image. You can easily add a fade-in and -out effect to the series—making it look like your subject is in motion.

Another fun tool is color splash. This one is an oldie but a goodie—allowing you to pick a single color in an image to highlight while turning everything else to black-and-white. In PhotoDirector, you can isolate the color to one part of the photo rather than having every instance appear by using a brush to erase unwanted pops of color. The tolerance slider offers a way to quickly find the shade you wish to highlight.

If you’re more worried about physique than color theory, the beautification tools are for you. Body, skin, and face all have their own unique toolsets. Teeth instantly become whiter and wrinkles disappear with a few clicks.

If you want to protect your work, PhotoDirector also makes it super easy to add a watermark and adjust the opacity. It’s faster and more intuitive than in Photoshop because all the tools for creating and editing the watermark automatically appear in the left side panel.

 
stock photosDownload the stock photo from this watermark tool demo.

 
Here are the main pros and cons of PhotoDirector after trying it out.

Pros:

It’s more intuitive than many other programs, grouping features in a logical way and keeping tool names and icons consistent (for the most part) with Photoshop and Lightroom. This makes it easy to add the program to your editing repertoire without major onboarding time.

Also, PhotoDirector offers unique tools, like those for beautification and multiple exposures—allowing users to create professional effects at any skill level. You can easily export your final images to Facebook and Flickr, and all the normal photo adjustments are readily available. For all this, the price is totally reasonable.

Cons:

Cyberlink offers their own cloud service, so if you use a different storage provider, you can’t automatically sync files to your cloud account. Although PhotoDirector overall offers powerful tools in an easy-to-use interface, it lacks a couple of components, such as geotag maps and tethered shooting.

In sum, PhotoDirector fits the needs of most photographers at a range of expertise levels. It even includes some special tools that not all programs contain. However, if you are married to Adobe Creative Cloud, there are a few key pieces of the workflow puzzle that you may miss.

Need stock photos for your next creative project? Explore our library of 350,000+ royalty-free images.

 

Stock Up on Images
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Christopher PetowReview: Cyberlink PhotoDirector 8 Ultra

5 Summer Design Trends That Are Blowing Up Social Media

by Caroline Mercurio on May 15, 2017 1 comment

Whether you’re a Millennial or not, everyone is trying to market to them—and if you’re not, maybe you should be. From traditional mainstays like Suave shampoo to newer kids on the block like TOMS, brands the world over are tailoring their marketing creative to match the passions and tastes that define the Millennial market. More than just a buzzword, this social media savvy generation is a consumer force to be reckoned with—according to the U.S. Census Bureau, this young, vibrant demographic now outnumbers the Baby Boomers and makes up more than a quarter of America’s population.

So how do you catch the eye of that relevant, hip consumer this summer? We’ve combed social media for five of the hottest up-and-coming design trends that Millennials just can’t seem to get enough of—and we’re certain we’ll be seeing a lot of them this season. To help inspire you, we’ve outlined each of the influences behind these trends and added some examples of how to use them with our very own stock images.

 

#1 – Embrace Millennial Pink

 
stock images

Download the seamless floral vector used in this design.

 
NYMag caught onto this trend of a color that couldn’t quite be pinned down—and it’s called Millennial Pink. Millennial Pink isn’t just a single color per se. It’s range of colors that are indeed in the pink family, but the point is not what it is, but rather what it’s not. It’s not Barbie pink. Nor is it acid washed neon pink. And it certainly isn’t riddled with domesticity and gender exclusion—Millennial pink is for men, too.

More precisely, it includes a range of pinks that lack the blue tint of our beloved Barbie doll’s iconic look. It can range from a beige with only a hint of pink (think Pantone’s Pale Dogwood) all the way to a bold and decisive salmon with a strong presence of orange. It’s everywhere and let’s just say—Millennial Pink sells. This movement took a color that became a pillar of femininity—for better or worse—and stripped away its power. What can we say? Millennials have strong voices and opinions. So now pink is for everyone. And it’s here to stay.

Use it in your web design, packaging, apparel, advertisements, and more. The possibilities are nearly limitless because that’s the point of this color—stripping away limits.

 

#2 – Nature Found Patterns

 
stock images

Download the stock images used in this design.

 
As summer rolls around, it’s as if the design world remembers that greenery and nature become alive again, because every year we see a resurgence of patterns found outdoors. From palm fronds to marble slabs, the motifs of re-emerging nature comes back into play. However, let’s get a little more macro—as if you were to zoom in with a microscope.

We all know by now that nature is a strong advocate and supporter of geometry. The golden ratio is clear in many forms from the human form to the seashells we collect from the sandy beaches. These are the patterns that make for a summery, yet artistic feel. They can be implemented in apparel design, in contrast with more drastic and man-made linear patterns, or as an excellent backdrop to web designs.

Millennials may be hooked on social media and community connectedness, but it doesn’t mean they don’t still feel a strong connection with their surroundings.

 

#3 – Their Kind of Retro

 
stock images

Download the abstract wave element stock vector used in this design.

 
We have some scary news for you. The 70s and 80s are considered retro. (And maybe even the 90s.) Before you run away screaming in horror, keep in mind Millennials were born between the years of 1977 and 2000. So while some of them may remember the 80s, they certainly weren’t in the know of the popular graphic design styles.

What does that mean for design? Think Tron. Bold neon colors on top of dark grey and black backgrounds. The look is a powerful and punchy one. It’s nostalgia and futurism all-together in one.

 

#4 – Hygge Like A Hug

 
stock images

Download the abstract stock images used in this design.

 
Pronounced “hoo-guh,” hygge is a Danish word that cannot be directly translated to English without a full sentence, but generally describes a place or design that’s warm, cozy, and inviting—three strong emotional motivators when buying a product. Quite literally, it’s defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” So, how does a mouthful like that that translate into graphic design? And how can we replicate comfort in our pixels and JPGs?

Think gentle. Think soothing. Times are stressful lately, so how can we distill the chaos and anxiety that surrounds us into visually pleasing interpretations? Natural materials such as unbleached paper, soothing flesh-tones, and designs that recall a simpler time. Imagine browsing a selection of packaged goods down the aisles of your grocery store and feeling like you can breathe and pause once you come across a product that allows a visual sanctuary in your loud surroundings.

Allow for plenty of negative space, clear visual hierarchy, contrast for the sake of legibility, but not too much that it jolts the senses. It’s minimalism and warmth all in one that creates a sense of ultimate balance and comfort.

 

#5 – Modern Serifs

 
stock images

Download the photo of a misty countryside at sunset used in this design.

 
How long has the design world been touting future-forward and modern, sans-serif fonts—like say, Helvetica and Futura? Apparently too long. Serif fonts and typefaces have been experiencing a renaissance of sorts, but that doesn’t mean you can whip out your trusty, old Times New Roman just yet. With access to a plethora of fonts with resources like Google Fonts and Adobe Typekit, Millennial designers are putting their trust into the old-faithful fonts—but with a modern refresh.

We’re particularly fans of classics like Bookmania and Georgia, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t partial to newer renditions like a sturdy slab-serif or two. Here’s the deal though. You can’t go just go crazy into the style of lithographs and copy-heavy advertisements. Serifs are a statement. They should be used with modern and simplistic designs. They must take the center-stage and are not meant to be used in competition with other design elements. Make them bold, the H1. And allow a more subtle sans-serif to play the supporting role this time around.

The best thing about these trends is that they may already feel a little familiar to you—they’ve slowly been gaining traction on social media and in mainstream marketing over the past several months, but they’re guaranteed to be out en force this summer. And now we pass the baton on to you. With a library full of royalty-free stock graphics, the opportunities to create are limitless. How will you pass on your message?

 

Discover Modern Stock Graphics

 

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Caroline Mercurio5 Summer Design Trends That Are Blowing Up Social Media

Trending This Week: Playful Illustrations in Label Design

by Caitlyn Hampton on May 12, 2017 No comments

According to Ernest Hemingway, the best way to overcome a creative block is to start with one true sentence. It’s an exercise in finding the essence of the creation so stubbornly locked away in your head. For designers, that same brain freeze can feel like a death sentence, especially when you’re 5 hours from a deadline. But don’t despair—Hemingway’s advice may be more applicable to design than it first appears. When you aren’t sure where to start, just stay true to the nature of whatever product you’re designing for. Which takes us to the trend we fell in love with this week: playful illustrations in label design.

When designing for beverage labels or food packaging, the goal is to convey which emotion you want associated with the product. We need to ask ourselves, what do these products truly mean to our customers? Do those crunchy, salty chips fill them with joy? Does looking forward to that after-dinner ice cream get them through the long workday? You get our point.

So what did we want to convey with our beer label design below? A playful throwback that takes you back to your nerdy, youthful days—but with an adult twist. To capture that carefree vibe, we took these spacey vectors from our library of royalty-free stock graphics and had a little fun ourselves.
 

Stock Vectors

Download the colorful flat science and technology vector icons used in this design.

 
If you’re not a pro illustrator quite yet and need a little help getting your designs together, don’t panic. This is one reason why stock vectors are so useful. We simply took the collection from the icons below and transformed them into the design on the right to make our label.

 
Stock Vectors

Download the colorful flat science and technology vector icons used in this design.

 
Feeling inspired by our playful design? Packaging design is a great way to flex your creative muscles and adopt an aesthetic you don’t usually aim for. Now it’s your turn—what’s the truth behind your next project?

 

Get Spacey with Stock Vectors

 

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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Playful Illustrations in Label Design

Trending This Week: Paradise Patterns in Graphic Design

by Caitlyn Hampton on May 5, 2017 No comments

As the weather heats up, so do design trends—and there’s nothing hotter than playful patterns that take you to the tropics. Everywhere we look, we’re seeing palms and sunny Summer motifs—vectors that reflect the shedding of winter layers and evoke the tranquility of warm weather adventures. Stay on-trend—and on time—with vacation-worthy stock images. To get you started, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites.
 

 

This torrid trend is completely versatile—use it for apparel design, packaging design, web design… the list goes on. Whether you’re looking to refresh your company’s swag or add fresh new designs to your lineup, these stock images can be customized to fit any form.

How will you turn up the heat? We applied the quirky fad to our own fun idea—a t-shirt mock-up made with stock images. Who’s up for a trip to the Bahamas?

 
Stock Images

Download this seamless stock image background of palm leaves.

 
So what do you say—are you ready to let some sunshine into your designs? If so, make sure to check out more of our top picks for Summer stock images. See you in paradise!

 

Explore Warm Weather Patterns

 

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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Paradise Patterns in Graphic Design

Trending This Week: Colorful Patterns and Negative Space

by Caitlyn Hampton on April 28, 2017 No comments

Color and minimalism aren’t two words you generally think to pair—but in the case of this week’s trend, vibrancy and balance work together to create a fun new design aesthetic perfect for the warmer months. From magazine layouts to user interface designs, this contrasting combination has been popping up everywhere—and lucky for you, this is one trend that isn’t difficult to incorporate into your own designs.

By combining stock photos and plenty of negative space with a nice dash of a designer-friendly typeface, we can apply this technique to a variety of mediums. Check out our take on the trend below.

 
Royalty Free Stock Photos

Download the royalty free stock photo used in this design.

 
Bold color can work beautifully if it’s done tastefully, but remember—white space is your friend and smart layout design is critical for keeping everything organized. With a few simple refinements, loud colors can even work on smaller screens without being too overwhelming.

 
Royalty Free Stock Photos

Download the royalty free stock photo used in this design.

 

What’s your take on this bold design trend? Try it for yourself! We’ve got thousands of patterns and backgrounds to inspire and get you started. What will you create?

 

Explore Bold Backgrounds

 

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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Colorful Patterns and Negative Space

20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching Presentations

by Caroline Mercurio on April 27, 2017 No comments

Whether for a business meeting, a product pitch, or a class, presenting vital information can sometimes be difficult to keep exciting—audiences are trained to have short attention spans thanks to digital media, so presentations need to be truly captivating and appealing. If you present your material in an interesting fashion, you are bound to win over your boss, colleagues, or potential customers.

The perfect way then to elevate your slideshows are with enticing and detail-oriented chart vector graphics. We’ve collected 20 awesome vector chart templates from our library to place you in the right direction for success. Perfect for marketers, business folk, and students alike, these aesthetically pleasing graphics are a guaranteed win for your next pitch or project.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
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20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching PresentationsDownload this template here.

 
Afraid your coworkers are still going to snooze in your next presentation? Discover more colorful and pictorial vector chart templates in our library. Be prepared to wow everyone at work!

 

Let’s Get Infographic

 

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Caroline Mercurio20 Awesome Vector Chart Templates for Eye-Catching Presentations

Trending This Week: Color Block Designs with Stock Graphics

by Caitlyn Hampton on April 21, 2017 No comments

Designers have many tricks up their sleeves and one of the simplest is color blocking—a technique in which large blocks of bold color are photoshopped into the background.

Following brand guidelines can be tough. Style guides are strict and limit everything from the typefaces you’re allowed to use to the colors you can apply. In short, professional design projects can leave your creativity feeling a little stifled—but don’t despair! Color blocking is a great way to spice up your designs while staying on-brand and on-trend. Using the right stock graphics combined with a bold color blocking technique, you can breathe life back into your designs.

From display ads to website heroes, color blocking allows for some freedom by providing plenty of white space in your design.

 
graphic images

Download the graphic image used in this design.

 
In our display ad examples, we chose a yellow background to provide contrast with the model’s red hat, resulting in vibrant, playful ads that encourages potential customers to take notice.

 
Graphic Images

Download the graphic image used in this design.

 
We used the golden ratio in order to determine the size of the yellow block, positioned the model to cover a portion of the split between the two sides, and maintained her shadow in the cutouts to create some depth between the model and the background.

 
Graphic Images

Download the graphic image used in this design.

 
By using color blocking, we were able to choose a loud, bold color, and play with the layout design of the ad. All our brand guidelines were met, and creativity was still able to spread its wings.

Now it’s your turn—we’ve gathered some of our favorite stock graphics for use with this technique. What will you create?

 

Get the Graphics

 

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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Color Block Designs with Stock Graphics