Graphic Design Tutorials

Tutorial: How to Create Trendy, Inspirational Images for Instagram

by Maddie Stearn on August 18, 2017 No comments

Social media platforms like Instagram can be a tricky platform to navigate, especially when you’re developing your personal brand. How can your small business stay ahead when it feels like bigger brands are dominating everyone’s feed? It’s pretty simple, actually—keep your content fresh with dynamic visuals. While that might sound obvious, maybe it isn’t obvious that you should be using stock photos.

Professionally-shot photos are what set brands apart, but there’s no need to panic if your photography skills aren’t up to par—stock photos are current, professional, and they’ll save you a pretty penny.

But sometimes even a fresh photo doesn’t quite cut it—you need to go above and beyond. Instagram is often a source of inspirational content, so you can provide your followers with the motivation that they need for any situation. Inspirational posts allow your followers to form a personal connection to your brand, so don’t shy away from experimenting with messages that might resonate.

Follow this tutorial to see how you can use stock photos to easily create trendy, inspiring Instagram content.


Step 1. Open the File in Photoshop and Resize.

First, determine if your image can be cropped or if it needs to be extended. We recommend picking photos that you can easily crop into a square, but the photo we picked is a little different. Because the top portion of the photo is just grass, we can easily extend the top using the Content Aware cropping feature.

In this case, we first need to open the file in Photoshop. We used this stock photo of a woman lying in the grass.

Tip: If you are simply going to crop your photo into a square, we recommend creating a new Photoshop document with dimensions of 1080 x 1080 pixels and a resolution of 300 pixels/inch.

stock photos

Once your file is open in Photoshop, go to Image > Image Size.

stock photos

Since we are going to be extending the top of the image, we will leave the height alone and just set the width to 1080 pixels.

stock photos


Step 2. Crop.

Now we need to make the photo square. Select the Crop Tool then click and drag the top of the image until the counter near your cursor says “H: 1080 px.”

Make sure that the Content Aware box is checked, then hit Enter on your keyboard.

stock photos

stock photos

It may take a second, but Photoshop will fill in that white space according to nearby pixels in the photo. The Content Aware tool is incredibly helpful tool for extending textures like the grass in this image.

stock photos


Step 3. Add Text.

First, make sure that you have enough blank space for the message or quote that you’ve chosen. We recommend keeping the text on the shorter side—this will increase the likelihood that your followers will read the message. Often, people just keep scrolling if they see a huge chunk of text on an image.

Once you’ve picked your message, decide how you want to break it up. Your image will be more visually striking if the text is broken into pieces, rather than crammed onto one or two lines.

If you’re not sure how to break up the text, first think about the words that you want to emphasize. It’s best to pick one or two words that you want to be your main focus (if you pick too many then the image could look crowded and overwhelming). After picking your focus word(s), try reading the text aloud and see where you pause naturally. These pauses are great places to break up the message.

For this tutorial, we chose a quote from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. The White Queen, speaking to Alice, says, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

We decided to emphasize the words “impossible things.” In the images below you can see how we broke up the rest of the quote.

Select the Text Tool and begin typing the first portion of your text. It’s a good idea to put each portion in its own layer so that you can easily move the pieces of text around the canvas.

stock photos


Step 4. Experiment with Fonts.

Now that you have your text on the canvas, it’s time to spice things up a bit. Even though you’ve broken up the text, the image still might look a little boring.

Select the layer that contains the focus words that you picked earlier. With the Text Tool selected, highlight the focus words and start playing around with fonts. It’s a good idea to stick to a plain font for the rest of the text, but you can go crazy with the font for your focus words.

For the example below, we used Proxima Nova (regular) for the body text and Oxtail OT (black italic) for the focus words.

We also used Oxtail OT (bold italic) for the author’s name but decreased the size of the text to create a more subtle effect.

stock photos


Step 5. Add Some Style.

Our image is looking pretty good at this point, but we want to make it look a little trendier. To do this, we’ll use shapes to highlight the focus words even more.

Select the Rectangle Tool and draw a rectangle around the focus words. Make sure that the rectangle layer is below the text layer that contains your focus words. Adjust the background color and hit Enter.

stock photos

Now, adjust the opacity of the rectangle to allow some of the background to show through. Just make sure that the text is still easy to read. You can also adjust the color of the focus words to make the text easier to read. To do this, select the focus words layer, click on the Type Tool and adjust the font color as necessary.

stock photos


Step 6. #FakeFilter

Our image is looking pretty good, but there’s one more thing that we can do to make it #InstaWorthy. Fake a filter!

You don’t have to add a filter to your image (and the photo that we used actually looks like it already has a filter), but we adjusted the color of the image to make the text stand out a little more.

Select the Rectangle Tool and draw a box around the entire image. The color doesn’t really matter at this point.

stock photos

Move the rectangle layer below all of the layers except the background layer. Adjust the opacity until the image has a subtle filtered look.

stock photos

Double click on the colored icon on the rectangle layer. The Color Picker will open and you can experiment with the color of your “filter.” For our photo, we picked a warm, red color because it highlighted the text well and fit with the optimistic tone of the quote.

stock photos

Once you’re happy with your #fakefilter, your image is complete!


Bonus: Save for Web.

To achieve the best results when you upload your photo to Instagram, we recommend exporting your photo to Save for Web. Simply go to File > Export > Save for Web.

stock photos

Save the image as a JPEG and set the Quality to 100 (this number matters more for websites than it does for Instagram, so you might as well set it to the highest level). Click “Save…” and you’re all set!

stock photos

Now your image is ready for Instagram!

stock photos

Running social media for your brand doesn’t have to be difficult. Just stay true to your voice, know your followers, and keep costs down by using stock photos.

Start prepping for your next #gram by checking out our entire collection of professional stock photos.


Discover More #Inspirational Photos


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Maddie StearnTutorial: How to Create Trendy, Inspirational Images for Instagram

A Quick Guide to Resizing Images in Adobe Lightroom

by Caroline Mercurio on August 14, 2017 No comments

Looking for a way to resize your images with a minimum of hassle but a maximum amount of control over export quality or in large batches? Then Adobe Lightroom may be just the photo editing you’re looking for.

There’s a lot that goes into photo editing, and no two images are ever quite alike. But whether you’ve just finished a great photoshoot or you’re putting together a batch of stock photos for a social media campaign, one thing’s for certain: you’re going to have to resize your images if you want them to look their best in your finished product.

Most websites won’t accept large images, and if your photo is too high-res, it might even look weird on some browser screens. Now, we all know the tried-and-true Photoshop method—and that’s great if you want to resize your images one by one—but really, who has that kind of time? Enter Adobe Lightroom.

See, the clever folks over at Adobe knew that photographers—and everyone else who works with images—needed a way to batch upload, resize, organize, and export their images all at once. We’re talking seconds here, people. Yet many people still see Lightroom as “baby Photoshop” or, alternatively, as too confusing or advanced for the casual user. Not so! This program pairs beautifully with Photoshop to streamline your editing process and improve efficiency, and it’s great all on its own if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to do some basic editing and organize your photos.

To get you started, we put together this simple tutorial to teach you how to resize your images in Adobe Lightroom. We promise—after a time or two this process will take you mere moments.


Step One: Import Images into Lightroom

Go ahead and open up Adobe Lightroom. It should open up to the Library module along the top navigation bar. Once the screen pops up, click the button on the bottom left that reads “Import.”
Adobe Lightroom

A new screen will open, and often the easiest way to batch import your images is simply to drag and drop them into the center. Once they load, all your images will be visible as thumbnails, as you can see below. For this project, we decided to use images from this romantic stock wedding photoshoot.
Adobe Lightroom


Step Two: Export the image

Still working in the Library Module, select the images you want to export. To select all of them at once, simply click the first image, hold down SHIFT, and then click the last image. All of your photos should now be selected.
Adobe Lightroom

As you can see, the images will highlight and new thumbnails representing each selected image will appear along the bottom of the screen.

Now it’s time to get busy. Click the Export button (or Ctrl+Shift+E) at the bottom left of the Library module. A new window will pop up, and this is where the magic happens.
Adobe Lightroom


Step Three: Define Your Parameters

Export Location: At the top of the pop up window is a box saying “Export Location.” within this box you will see “Export to” with a drop down beside it. This is where your edited photos will end up, so go ahead and specify the folder your want to use. For our purposes, we’re using the Desktop.

The next drop-down under “Export Locations” is “Existing Files.” This option determines what happens to existing files already in your destination folder with the same name to avoid confusing duplications. In our experience, ”Ask what to do” is the safest bet.
Adobe Lightroom

File Naming: The next box is the “File Naming” box. “Rename To” gives you the option to have your files renamed something different than the existing file name you uploaded. For this project, we put a custom name in the custom text box with the date and the name of the project, and selected “Custom Name – Sequence” as my our naming convention. This means that the first image will be named “08_10_17_Jones Wedding” and the subsequent images will have a number added, for example “08_10_17_Jones Wedding-1”
Adobe Lightroom

If you select filename, your edited images will have the same filename as the original images. You can also create your own file naming template by selecting Edit from the dropdown list.

File Settings: Now let’s scroll down to the “File Settings” box. Here’s where we can manage the quality of our final images. First off, we’re going to want to select “JPEG” as the file format, because this is the most commonly used format for web images. We also want to set the Color Space to sRGB, because it’s the color mode most monitors see best.

Now it’s time to think about image quality. Sliding the quality bar all the way to the right might seem like a good idea because it will give you the highest quality, but it will also leave you with giant image sizes, which can slow down your page load speed or even crash your site. For digital images, it’s a safe bet to set your slider to 65-80.

Don’t check “Limit file size to,” because we don’t want Lightroom to override your selections later on.
Adobe Lightroom

Image Sizing: The first thing we’re going to do is check “Resize to Fit.” The dropdown will now give you several options to choose from. What you are essentially doing is selecting which edge you are sizing by—whether it’s the long or short edge, or both—from the dropdown next to the checkbox.
Adobe Lightroom

Each option has it’s own specifications and nuances, so we’ve broken them down below:

  • If you select “Dimensions,” Lightroom will size the images as closely to the selected pixel dimensions as possible within their current aspect ratio (their width to height), and one measurement will match the specified length. For example, if we specify 1200 x 800 pixels as the dimensions, some images may be 1200 x 600 or 800 x 800. The images will not be larger than 1200 x 800
  • If you select “Width & Height” you can set the longest dimensions in both directions, therefore depending on the aspect ratio of the image, it is possible that both dimensions will differ from your specifications. The image will be sized so that the width and height are no larger than the value you set.
  • “Long Edge” and “Short Edge” are both pretty self-explanatory. The images will be sized so that the edge you specify will match the dimensions you choose, and the other dimension will vary according to the image’s aspect ratio. It’s worth noting that Lightroom will apply these changes to images regardless of their orientation. For example, if you limit only the width of the image, your portrait-oriented images will likely come out much larger than your landscape images.
  • Megapixels are the measurement system used by camera companies and combines both width and height into one number. Basically, if you’re primarily concerned about actual file size, this setting may be for you. It’s particularly useful in stock photography because these images are often priced according to image size. Downsizing an image can also help salvage an image that isn’t the best quality or one with noise issues.
  • Percentage is the newest option for resizing in Adobe Ligtroom, and it allows you to—you guessed it—resize by a certain percentage.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you select “Do Not Enlarge,” your images may end up smaller than intended if the original photo is smaller than your specified sizing.

We’ve decided to limit only the long edge of these images to make sure they fit properly on a specific blog page, which is 800 pixels wide with a sidebar. Your pixel size may differ according to your needs. For example, Facebook and most other social media platforms have specific sizes that work best for them.

Now select your resolution. Resolution is mostly for printing purposes and doesn’t really matter for web, provided that you are measuring your image size above in pixels instead of inches. That being said, 72 ppi is pretty standard for screen display. However, if you are looking to print your images, standard ppi ranges from 240 to 300ppi+.

If you are measuring your image size in inches, suddenly ppi matters quite a lot, but this is generally only done when working with print materials.
Adobe Lightroom

Sharpening, Metadata and More: Everything else is pretty optional and doesn’t have anything to do with image resizing, but it’s amazing how much post processing you can do in this simple “Export” box. Output sharpening allows you to sharpen your images, and there are a ton of great resources on the web that go into the various settings you can use here. For now, we’re happy with the sharpness of our images so we’re going to go ahead and move on.

You’ll also see that you have the option to add metadata, and it’s a good idea to remove your personal and location info from the image embeds. Removing unnecessary data also reduces image size.

Watermarking: If you want to watermark your images, go ahead and click the “Watermark” box, and select your watermark from the drop down. To add or edit your watermarks, select “Edit Watermark” from the drop down. If this is the first time you’re adding a unique watermark to Lightroom such as a logo, select “Graphic” where it says “Watermark Style” and upload it using the “Choose” button under “Image Options.”
Adobe Lightroom
Adobe Lightroom

Finally, you want to make sure “Do Nothing” is selected from the drop down under “Post-Processing”—unless you want the images to immediately open up in Photoshop, Finder, or another application after they export.

Step Four: Save Your Settings
We know it seemed like a lot, but the good news is that this process takes only seconds once you’re used to it—especially if you save your settings! If you want to use these settings again, save them by clicking the “Add” button at the bottom left of the Export Window, under the Preset list. Give your new preset a name and select a folder (or just leave it set to “User Presets”). Click Create.
Adobe Lightroom

Now, the next time you want to use the preset, just open to the Export dialogue box and choose your setting.

Step Five: It’s Time to Export!
Just click that beautiful blue Export button in the Export dialogue box and that’s it! Your images will appear in your specified folder—in this case, the desktop—resized and ready for all your web projects.
Adobe Lightroom

There you have it, folks! What used to take an hour can be done in five seconds, leaving you more time to focus on what really matters—like binge watching Game of Thrones on your DVR. Or, you know, working.

Save even more time—and money—with royalty-free stock graphics. We can’t be everywhere at once, and honestly, some shots are just better left to—well, other people.


See the World in Stock


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Caroline MercurioA Quick Guide to Resizing Images in Adobe Lightroom

How to Create an InDesign Poster Template with Vector Backgrounds

by Alex Reffie on August 7, 2017 1 comment

So—we know you’re a go-getter and may not have the time to mock-up some killer design work every time you need creative marketing content. Lucky for all of us, easily customizable vectors, Adobe InDesign, and Illustrator exist.

Having a go-to InDesign poster template makes it a breeze to have coordinated and consistent marketing or promotional materials for all your needs. Maybe you want to promote an event for your business, recruit new talent to your company, showcase accomplishments, or you just want to educate and inspire the masses with your creative genius. Whatever it is, a poster template will help you get the word out.

After customizing the vector poster background to your liking in, Illustrator, open it up in Indesign to add specific text and tailor it uniquely for your needs.

Not quite sure how to get started? No worries! Pick one of our vector backgrounds from our library and follow along.


How To Create Your Poster Template Using Vectors

1. Start Adobe Illustrator and Open your vector template.

2. Essentially, we are creating the base for a poster that can be used over and over again for different things—so we just want to clean up what is currently on the vector so that we have a clean slate to customize in InDesign.

3. In Layers, open up the drop-down Groups to see what Path each element is. It helps to stay organized if you rename the Groups to what design elements they are. For example, the Group that contains all the individual Text Elements—rename Text.

4. Once you have determined what elements you’d like to clear off the vector, simply click the Eye icon next to that element to hide it from view, or click the small circle to the right of the element to group them and hit Delete.

5. Now go to File > Save As Template…so you always have the option to come back and revise your template in Illustrator.

6. Finally, go to File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy)… and choose the dimensions you’d like to export as. Remember to take into account if you’re designing for web or for print.

That’s it. Now you have a blank poster template to mock-up in InDesign.


Using Your Poster Template in InDesign

1. Create a new document in InDesign. Go to File > Place and grab your exported poster template.

2. Resize your poster to the document you created using the Click and Drag method. It’s time to start creating.

3. We used the Text Tool to make our heading—a bold, attention-grabbing statement, along with any other text we wanted to add. We also played around with the Ellipse Tool to make some fun text formatting in the middle of the poster.

4. After we got all our text situated, we used the EyeDropper Tool to create a Color Swatch of our poster. We picked two bright colors to use as accents in our heading and subheading.

5. Lastly, once we were happy with the way everything looked, we went up to File > Export > Export As…and gave it a name that was relevant to its purpose and saved it. Simple!

This is a very crisp and clean poster design—and we know that you have even more unlimited creative potential to make an even edgier, out-of-the-box poster design. Go grab some more vectors and whip up enough InDesign poster templates for every marketing opportunity.


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Alex ReffieHow to Create an InDesign Poster Template with Vector Backgrounds

One Photo, Many Frames: Adobe InDesign

by Alex Reffie on August 3, 2017 No comments

Summer is the perfect time to brush up on your design skills, learn some new tips and tricks, and give you that notorious designer’s edge. We’ve shown you how to create seamless patterns, animate adorable GIFs, and most recently how to conjure up eerie nostalgia with a VHS glitch effect. It’s time to add another feather to your design cap with this trendy tutorial that will teach you how to create multiple frames for one image in Adobe InDesign.

The multiple framing effect is simplistic, bright, and timeless—making it a great design option for unique marketing or branded materials. Not to mention, you can transform any image with this design in a number of different ways. So go grab one of royalty-free stock images for inspiration and let’s get to it.


Getting Started

1. Open up InDesign and create a New Document. Your Page Size should be set as A3, Portrait Orientation and Facing Pages deselected.

2. Expand your Layers Panel by going to Window > Layers. Double click on Layers 1 and rename it Guides.

3. Click the Make a New Layer icon at the bottom of your workspace. Drag the new layer so that it sits above Guides. Name this new layer Images and Lock the layer.


Pick Your Image

For this design, it’s best to go with a portrait or a close-up shot—plus, having an interesting background makes for an even more crisp design. There’s plenty of high-resolution stock photos to choose from in our library, so it was easy to pick out this unique and playful portrait.

Body-Image-InDesign Download this Creative Portrait here.


Creating Your Frames

We’re going to create a windowpane framing effect. Once you’ve mastered the basic steps, you’ll be able to knock things up a notch with more complex patterns and shapes.

4. Using the Rectangle Tool, create a shape that matches the orientation of your photo. Ours is more landscape, so we matched that as closely as possible.

Center the shape on the document. Rename this layer

5. Lock your Guides layer, while keeping Images unlocked.

6. Use your creative intuition to use the Rectangle Tool again to make your first frame in the left-hand corner.

7. Go to File > Place to grab your photo.

8. Double-click inside the image and hold down Shift to size it appropriately and to capture the area of your image that you want in that corner.

9. File > Copy, File > Paste to create your next frame. Adjust the image position again to sit correctly in the guidelines.

10. Continue to do this until you see your full image take shape and–framed beautifully.

There you have it! Not only is this an easy way to freshen up your design work this summer, but this effect will give your branded materials the attention they deserve. Ready to test out your framing creativity? There’s thousands of images in our library ready for your next project.


Start Creating


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Alex ReffieOne Photo, Many Frames: Adobe InDesign

Tutorial: How to Create a VHS Glitch Effect in Illustrator

by Maddie Stearn on July 26, 2017 No comments

VHS has come and gone, but it has left its mark in a surprising way—the Token Creepy Video, or that analog distorted screen effect synonymous with old VHS tapes. Maybe there’s a better name for this, but we’re talking about the glitchy screen on old home movies that show up in movies and TV shows, usually because someone in the home video has gone missing.

Whether it’s for nostalgia or an investigation, this effect often foreshadows something sinister. You’ll see lines across the screen and some glitches in the video—unwanted interruptions that set a dramatic tone. All in all, the Token Creepy Video is meant to cause goosebumps and prepare audiences for more trouble ahead.

But the influence of this effect extends well beyond movies and TV. Nostalgia for the 80s and 90s is at an all-time peak, which means this simulated old school visual effect is potential marketing gold. So if you want to create a mysterious, foreboding still image—or channel some throwback nostalgia—simply imitate the VHS glitch in your Adobe Illustrator design. This tactic extends into the realms of advertising, art, and even logos, making it perfect for pairing with stock images. Plus, this distorted effect instantly adds a vintage feel to whatever artwork you’re creating without overpowering the image.

To prep you for this tutorial, we created a gallery of 20 stock images that have some serious mystery potential.


Step 1. Open the Background Image in Illustrator

Select your background photo and open it in Illustrator. We used this stock photo of a forest.

stock images


Step 2. Add Text

Select the text icon and type anywhere on the artboard. Go to the Type menu to edit the font and size.

stock images


Step 3. Group the Background and Text

Select both the text layer and the background layer (Command/Ctrl + click) then go to Object > Group (or hit Command/Ctrl + G on your keyboard).

stock images


Step 4. Create a Gradient Mesh

Draw a rectangle the size of the background image.

stock images

With only the rectangle selected, go to Object > Create Gradient Mesh. A menu will pop up prompting you to enter the number of columns and rows that you want.

For this tutorial, we chose 20 rows and 1 column to allow us to make distortions with smaller portions of the image. We only used 1 column since we needed the distortions to go across the width of the entire image.

stock images

stock images


Step 5. Envelope Distort

Select the rectangle layer and the group you made from the background and text. Go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Top Object.

stock images


Step 6. Experiment!

Click and drag the boxes of the mesh to distort the image. To gain more control, click on an anchor on one side of the image then Shift + click on the corresponding anchor on the other side. Use the left and right arrow keys to distort. You can also click and drag the handles to the left and right to create a different type of distortion.

stock images

stock images

stock images


Step 7. Draw a Rectangle and Make a Clipping Mask

Once you are happy with the adjustments that you’ve made, you can make an additional type of distortion using a clipping mask.

Draw a rectangle over part of the image (the color of the rectangle does not matter). The rectangle should be as wide as the background and as short as you like—the bottom of the rectangle is where the distortion will appear.

stock images

Select all of the layers then go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make.

stock images

stock images


Step 8. Duplicate and Move

Copy the top portion (the non-white part) of the image and paste onto the artboard.

stock images

Move the copied portion to the left or right to create a broken glitch effect. While you do this, you can hide the layer that contains the white box so that you can see what your final image will look like.

To hide a layer, click on the eye icon to the left of the layer name.

stock images

stock images


Step 9. Draw Lines

Use the pen tool to draw a straight line across the top of the image. Make sure that the fill color is white or gray and that the outline color is set to transparent. Copy that line and paste it at the bottom of the image.

stock images

stock images


Step 10. Blend

Select both lines (Shift + click on each line) and go to Object > Blend > Blend Options.

stock images

A menu will pop up. Select “Specified Steps” from the drop-down menu then type 200 in the box and click OK.

With the two lines still selected, go to Object > Blend > Make. Finally, go to Object > Blend > Expand. Lower the opacity of the lines if they are too prominent.

stock images

stock images

stock images


Step 11. “Crop” the Image

The distortion process is done, so pat yourself on the back!

Now we just want to crop the image a bit to get rid of the white parts on the sides. Unfortunately, Illustrator does not have a crop tool but a clipping mask will do the trick.

Draw a rectangle over the area of the image that you want to keep.

stock images

Select all of the layers and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make.

stock images

Now your image is “cropped.” You can also adjust the size of the artboard to get rid of the white borders.

stock images

stock images

There you have it! You are now the master of the Token Creepy Video effect (we’re not sure if this name will catch on). This glitchy VHS look will serve you well in all of your mysterious, vintage designs. Now go forth and raise some goosebumps!


Discover More Nostalgic Images


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Maddie StearnTutorial: How to Create a VHS Glitch Effect in Illustrator

How to Vectorize an Image

by Alex Reffie on July 10, 2017 No comments

When it comes to design, there’s a lot of jargon thrown around that can be a bit overwhelming to a new designer. There’s the terms you may or may not be familiar with such as composition, alignment, contrast, and design elements. But go one step further and you’re seeing file formats for the design elements you need that might as well be another language—PNGs, JPGs, GIFs, Vectors, and the list can go on! To create that awesome design you’ve been sketching out for weeks on napkins and scrap paper, you need to know your file types, how to manipulate them, and which one is best suited for your design work needs.

What Is a Vector?

Vectors are images that are designed using a mathematical formula, rather than pixels. A mathematical formula—crazy, right?

This mathematical formula makes vector images infinitely scalable and resizable without losing quality. That’s why vectors are the perfect file type to use when creating a graphic or image that will require frequent resizing.

You’re a busy person so you shouldn’t have to worry about re-designing your graphic each time you need more branded material. Think vectors when it comes to a logo that needs to be on a flyer, a banner, a business card, or that cool company coffee mug you’re giving away as an incentive gift. All of these promotional materials use the same graphic but each a different size. That’s the magic of vectors.

How to Vectorize an Image

We want to take an image in a pixel-based format (JPG, PNG, etc.) and switch it on over to that easily manipulated vector format. Let’s try it out.


Step 1. Open your pixel-based file in Illustrator.

Here is the original image we used.

Download this creative workspace with a laptop image.


Step 2. Switch to the Tracing Workspace.

Click on Window > Workspace > Tracing.


Step 3. Select the image on your artboard.

The Tracing panel options will become active when the image is selected.


Step 4. Check Preview.

This allows you to see the different options on your image before you apply them. If your image is extremely large make sure to size down the image so the tracing process doesn’t take too much time.


Step 5. Check out the Presets and in the Tracing Panel.

Each preset has a specific style it aims to create so make sure to take a look at all of them to see which vibe will fit your vector design best.


Step 6. Switch up the Color Slider to change the Color Complexity.



Step 7. Open the Advanced panel to adjust Paths, Corners and Noise.

Adjusting your Paths dictates how closely the pixels in the image follow the paths. Putting the slider to the left for your Corners will cause them to be more rounded than they would be with the slider to the right. Use the Noise slider to control any bleeds or stray pixels your image may have.


Step 8. Trace.

When you’re happy with your image, click Trace, to start creating your vector. You may need to uncheck Preview to enable Trace.


Step 9. Expand the image.

Once you click Expand in your workspace, Illustrator will convert the object we just traced into a vector image. The swirly blue lines you see appear on your image are not part of a design effect. Instead, these are simply the outlines Photoshop has assigned to aspects of your image for scaling purposes. This gives you the ability to rescale individual elements within the image without altering the entire graphic.



Step 10. Export.

Save a master copy of your new vector image that you can make future edits to by going to File > Save As… “name of file”.ai and then File > Save As Type and choose a vector format file such as PDF for print or SVG for web.

Congratulations! You have now mastered the art of turning images into vectors. You now have the unlimited creative potential to manipulate images for your own branding and design work. If you want to learn more about working with vectors, check our Beginner’s Guide to Using Vectors in Illustrator and our tutorial on How to Edit Vectors in Illustrator.
Want to save even more time? Our library has an endless supply of stock vectors ready and designed to help easily market your brand. We’ve also got plenty of images for you to work your vectorizing powers on. Show us what you’ve got.


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Alex ReffieHow to Vectorize an Image

Tutorial: How to Create Pop Art in Photoshop

by Maddie Stearn on July 6, 2017 No comments

If you want to give your photos some extra “POW”—or channel your inner Andy Warhol—then pop art is the way to go. Pop art’s characteristic bold colors will make any photo stand out, which makes this technique especially great for stock images.

After mastering this tutorial, your next creative project is guaranteed to attract attention. Earn a reputation for dynamic, modern artwork, all while easily staying within budget. Sound as realistic as a unicorn? We promise that this tutorial will make a believer out of you.


Step 1. Open the File in Photoshop

To get you started, we created a gallery of stock images that pair well with this tutorial. Select an image and open it in Photoshop.


Step 2. Select and Mask.

Click on the Quick Selection Tool, then click the Select and Mask button.

stock images

A new window will open. Set the transparency to 50% so that you can still see the image underneath. Make sure that the View Mode is set to Onion Skin.

Now we are going to create a selection around the woman in the image. Click and drag over the woman to create a selection.

When selecting the woman’s hair, you’ll probably end up selecting small parts of the background, too. Don’t worry if you do—this isn’t a big deal for this tutorial.

Once you’ve finished selecting the woman, make sure that the Output is set to Layer Mask. Click OK.

stock images


Step 3. Add a New Layer and Set the Background Color.

Add a new layer below the original and set your foreground and background colors to black and white. With the new layer selected, hit Command/Ctrl + delete on your keyboard. This will set the background color to white.

stock images


Step 4. Add a Black & White Adjustment Layer.

Select the original layer (Layer 0) and add a Black and White Adjustment Layer.

stock images


Step 5. Convert to a Smart Object.

Select all of the layers, right click, and select Convert to Smart Object. You will now have a single layer.

stock images


Step 6. (Optional) Rasterize the Layer.

Note: Steps 6 – 10 are optional. For this photo, we want to create more contrast around the woman’s shirt. Pop art turns out best with high contrast images.

Right click on the layer and select Rasterize Layer.

stock images


Step 7. Select the Shirt.

Click on the Selection Tool, then click and drag within the shirt area until the entire shirt is selected.

stock images


Step 8. Make a New Layer Via Copy.

With the shirt still selected, right click and select “Layer Via Copy.”

stock images


Step 9. Use the Burn Tool.

With the new Layer selected (Layer 1), click on the Burn Tool. This tool darkens the image wherever you drag your cursor. Use the right and left bracket keys “[ ]” to adjust the size of the Burn Tool. Click and drag across the shirt to darken the shadows and creases.

Pro tip: Hiding the bottom layer will make it easier to focus on the area of the image that you want to burn. To hide a layer, click on the eye symbol next to the layer icon.

stock images


Step 10. Convert to Smart Object.

Once you are satisfied with the contrast of the shirt, select both layers, right click, and select Convert to Smart Object.

stock images


Step 11. Apply the Filter.

Open the Filter Gallery by going to Filter > Filter Gallery.

stock images

Select the Halftone Pattern filter. Set the size to 2 and make sure that the Pattern Type is set to Dot. The contrast should remain at 0. Click OK.

stock images


Step 12. Sharpen.

Go to Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen.

stock images

Experiment with the sliders until you decide that the image has enough contrast. You want a lot of contrast to make the image pop.

Once you are satisfied with the overall contrast, click OK.

stock images


Step 13. Set the Blending Mode.

Set the blending mode to Linear Burn. This will allow us to paint underneath the black dots.

stock images


Step 14. Get Coloring!

Now for the fun part! Create a new layer underneath the current one, then select the foreground color and pick a new color.

stock images

Click on the bottom layer (the one that you just created), select the Paint Bucket Tool, and click on the canvas. The entire image will turn pink, but the black outline of the woman will still be over the pink.

stock images

Click on the foreground color again and select your next color. Select the Paintbrush Tool and start painting over specific areas.

stock images

Now go crazy with color!

stock images

And WHAM, there you have it! You’re now a pop art master. Looking for more inspiration? Check out our collection of portraits and get ready to make them POP!


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Maddie StearnTutorial: How to Create Pop Art in Photoshop

How to Convert Photos to Black and White or Monochrome

by Caroline Mercurio on June 22, 2017 No comments

To capture a client’s attention, get them hooked right off the bat by setting the right mood in your advertisement. Using a black and white stock photo in advertising—or converting one to a bright yet monochromatic color scheme—can have a hypnotic effect that your audience won’t be able to turn away from. The contrasting lack of color compared to our highly saturated daily lives can make a lasting impact, add gravity or weight to your message, and simplify the visual noise audiences deal with in a cluttered consumer world.


How to Convert Color Photos to Black and White

While there are several ways to take your photographs and make them black and white, one of the easiest and least complicated ways is to desaturate them.

  1. Open your photo in a photo editing program.
  2. Navigate to the “Saturation” menu. (In Photoshop this is Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation).
  3. Take the saturation slider or percentage to -100%—this will completely desaturate your image and make it greyscale.


How to Convert Photos to Monochrome

Using the steps above to change your photo to black and white, you can add extra oomph to your project by introducing a monochromatic color scheme.
1) Take your black and white image and open the Photo Filter menu. (In Photoshop this is Image > Photo Filter.)
2. Choose the color you want for you monochrome scheme. Most photo editing programs will allow you to preview what the image will look like.
Note for Photoshop Pros: The photo filter menu is not usually intended for monochromatic conversions–filters are traditionally used for adjusting photos taken in varied light settings, such as underwater or under fluorescent lights—but the menu is a quick way to add on overall monochromatic color scheme to your image in just two steps.
Et voila! You have a gorgeous black and white or monochromatic image!
There are a million ways to use color, or lack of color, to compliment your ad. To help you find your muse, we’ve rounded up some of our best stock photos that are waiting to be converted to beautiful monochromatic creative for your advertising campaigns. Check out our favorites below.


Serious Photos

By lowering the lighting and focusing on the important parts of your ad, clients will want to know more about your story. Here are a few perfect muted photos you’ll be dying to use in your advertising.

Side View of Meditating Woman Sitting in Pose of Lotus Against Blue Sky Outdoors Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Lotus Pose image


Festival Candles Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Candles image


Pensive Businessman of African Ethnicity Thinking of Something Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Thinking image


Luxury Photos

A black and white filter on your photos helps your audience appreciate the finer things in life. Make use of simple colors to feature the beautiful sandy beaches of your resort, complete with relaxing waves and zero distractions.


Portrait of Young Female Enjoying the Procedure of Facial Massage Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Massage image


Hands Holding the Glasses of Champagne and Wine Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Champagne and Wine image


Maldives Beach and Island Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Maldives Beach image


Happy Photos

Bright colors aren’t always needed to convey happiness. By removing color from jubilant photos, clients can get a glimpse of the simple joys that your product can bring to their lives.


Crowd of People with Raised Arms Dancing in Night Club Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Dancing image


Ecstatic Friends with Raised Arms Looking at Camera Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Ecstatic Friends image


Happy Adventurous Woman Hiking

black and white stock photoDownload this Happy Hiker

Nostalgic Photos

Bring back the past when you add a sepia tone to the following photos.


Rustic Silverware Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Rustic Silverware image


Close up of a Cup of Tea with Roses and Chocolate Candies on Wooden Table Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Cup of Tea image


Christmas Cookies Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Christmas Cookies image


Productive Photos

Showcase the best of what you do with gripping black and white photos. Put your business’ productivity and sincerity on display with these attractive shots.


Businessperson Studying Electronic Data in Digital Tablet Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Electronic Data image


Image of Business Partners Handshaking Over Business Objects On Workplace Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Handshaking image


Laptop Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Laptop image


Atmospheric Photos

If you need to scare up some excitement for your Zombie Appreciation Festival, wildlife rescue campaign, or Halloween Emporium, try using the black and white versions of the stock photos below to give your audience a desolate and terrifying taste of what’s to come.


Field in the Morning During Fall Season Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Field image


A North Forest in Fog

black and white stock photoDownload this North Forest image


Spider Web in Close Up. Stock Image

black and white stock photoDownload this Spider Web image

Looking for more inspiration for your advertising campaign? Start by browsing thousands of our stock photos—we’re sure to have just the right one.


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Caroline MercurioHow to Convert Photos to Black and White or Monochrome

Tutorial: How to Turn Photos into Watercolor Paintings

by Maddie Stearn on June 19, 2017 No comments

We all know that watercolor paintings can be stunning, but they can also be incredibly useful. One of the easiest ways to unstock your advertising is to alter stock photos, and this watercolor alteration is a great way to get more bang for your buck. The technique is quick, simple, and cost-effective—simply pick any image from our stock photo library to get started.

This watercolor technique is also a great way for beginners to get their feet wet with Photoshop. In this tutorial, we’ll show you that you don’t need to be a seasoned designer to make dramatic alterations to photos.

To make things even easier, we created a gallery of stock photos that can transform beautifully into watercolor paintings. You can also check out the stock photo of boats that we used for this tutorial.


Step 1. Open Your File in Photoshop and Unlock the Background Layer.

stock photo library

Step 2. Convert the Photo into a Smart Object.

Right click on Layer 0 and select Convert to Smart Object.

stock photo library


Step 3. Open the Filter Gallery.

Go to the top menu and select Filter > Filter Gallery.

stock photo library


Step 4. Play with the Adjustments.

Select the Dry Brush filter, then play around with the adjustments (Brush Size, Brush Detail, and Texture).

stock photo library

It’s as simple as that!

stock photo library

Ready for your next Photoshop challenge? Check out some of our favorite Photoshop tutorials for beginners.


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Maddie StearnTutorial: How to Turn Photos into Watercolor Paintings

Tutorial: Create Bold Photo Collages in Photoshop

by Maddie Stearn on June 2, 2017 No comments

Say goodbye to the cut-and-paste collages of the past and hello to the bold, trendy Photoshop masterpieces of the future. That might be a bit of an exaggeration (we’re still big fans of crafting over here), but the Photoshop collage trend is exploding and we can’t get enough of it. We’re not the only ones—advertisers are eating it up like it’s cereal. No, that’s not a saying, but we’re about to show you how to make a pseudo-cereal collage in Photoshop that will have your clients’ mouths watering.

Photoshop collages and stock images go together like milk and cereal, and armed with these tools you’ll be creating your own delicious designs in no time. Like a certain popular breakfast food, stock photos won’t break the bank either.

We’re done with the food analogies, so go ahead and check out this gallery of stock images to get started on your own Photoshop collages. You’ll also find the materials used in this tutorial, including the following images:


Step 1. Open Your Stock Images in Photoshop

Open all four images in Photoshop and and unlock the background layers.

photoshop collages

Step 2. Erase the Backgrounds

Using the Eraser Tool or the Magic Wand Tool, erase the backgrounds of the mountain, the milk, and the pitcher. Do NOT erase anything from the photo of cereal with the bright pink background.

photoshop collages

In this granola photo, we just want the stream of milk, so we’re going to erase every element that does not have milk on it. For this image, we used the Magic Wand Tool to erase the background since it was able to make large selections and accurately avoid the milk. (To use the Magic Wand Tool, just click on a piece of the background and the tool will make a selection out of similarly-colored areas in the image).

photoshop collages

Once the background is mostly erased, you might find that the checkered grey-and-white background makes it difficult to see the milk. To make sure that you’re erasing accurately, you can add a new layer in a different color to the background. Create a New Layer and move it below the layer with the milk. Set the foreground color to black, select the Paint Bucket Tool, and click anywhere in the background of the new layer (Layer 1). Now, zoom in on the milk and use the Eraser Tool to erase the non-milk parts of the image.

Note: You want to keep the areas where the milk is on the granola (pictured below). Erase any granola that does not have milk on it.

photoshop collages

For the image below, erase everything but the pitcher and the stream of milk.

photoshop collages

Step 3. Place the Mountain

Once the entire background is erased from the mountain image, use the Selection Tool or hit Command/Ctrl + A on your keyboard to select the mountain. Copy the mountain and paste it onto the cereal image (the one with the pink background).

Place the mountain over the cereal.

photoshop collages

Step 4. Resize

With the mountain still selected, go to Edit > Transform > Warp. Use the warp tools to change the size and position of the mountain so that it covers the majority of the cereal and slopes naturally into the bowl. The mountain will still extend below the rim of the bowl, but we will fix that later.

photoshop collages

This is what the mountain should look like after you’re done warping:

photoshop collages

Step 5. Add a Layer Mask

With the mountain layer still selected, create a new Layer Mask. Invert the layer mask by hitting Command/Ctrl + i on your keyboard. Set the foreground color to white, select the Paintbrush Tool, and paint the areas where you want the mountain to appear. This will cause the mountain to appear only where you want it to. The key is to not paint below the rim of the bowl.

photoshop collages

Step 6. Fix It Up with the Paintbrush

Use the paintbrush to cover the last few rogue cornflakes. Select the cereal layer, click on the Eyedropper Tool, and select part of the pink background that is close to the cornflake. Select the Paintbrush Tool and paint over the top of the cornflake. Use the Eyedropper Tool again to select part of the bowl that is close to the cornflake, then use the Paintbrush Tool to paint over the rest of the cornflake.

photoshop collages

Step 7. Add Milk and Smudge

In the milk file, select the milk (Command/Ctrl + A) and paste it onto the cereal file. Move the milk so that it is on top of the mountain peak.

Now, select the cereal layer (Layer 0) and click on the Smudge Tool. Click on an area just to the left of the milk stream in Layer 0 (NOT the milk in Layer 2), and drag your mouse to the right. This will smudge the milk out of the way. You want to smudge it so that the milk stream from Layer 0 is hidden under the milk in Layer 2. This trick is a little lazy, but it gets the job done.

(Note: The pink background color has a subtle gradient, so that’s one reason why using the smudge tool is so helpful. As we smudge the poured milk in Layer 0, we’re also making sure that the pink gradient isn’t interrupted. If we were to simply select the milk from Layer 0, delete it, then fill in the empty space with pink, the result would be noticeably different from the rest of the background.)

photoshop collages

See, all hidden!

photoshop collages


Step 8. Add Drops for Effect

You can already see some flecks of milk in the original pink cereal image, but you can easily add more if you’d like. Set the foreground color to white and select the Paintbrush Tool. Open the Brush Presets folder and select a brush tip that you think would work well and adjust the brush size so that it’s close to the size of the other flecks. Then, just experiment with the size and placement of your brushstrokes.

photoshop collages
photoshop collages

Step 9. Add More Milk

In the pitcher file, select the pitcher of milk (Command/Ctrl + A), copy it, and paste it onto the cereal file. Place the pitcher layer below Layer 1 and Layer 2. Move the pitcher around as needed.

To blend the two streams of milk, click on the Smudge Tool and select Layer 2. Smudge in the direction of the milk until the two streams are blended.

photoshop collages

There you have it! With a little fancy footwork, you’ve turned a mountain into cereal. Click below to check out more stock images for your next Photoshop collage.

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Maddie StearnTutorial: Create Bold Photo Collages in Photoshop