Graphic Design Tutorials

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

How to Animate Vectors Using Illustrator and Photoshop

by Alex Reffie on May 31, 2017 No comments

You don’t need a masters degree in motion graphics or computer animation to make simple animated GIFs. If you know your way around Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop—and have access to high-quality stock vectors—then you’re that much closer to creating animations that are worth bragging about. In this tutorial we will show you how to take vector graphics and transform them into delightful, animated GIFs that are guaranteed to impress.

We will begin by using a royalty free vector from our membership library. Look for vectors that are begging for animation and movement. Maybe there is an apple that could look adorable with a little wiggle movement. Or a spaceship that is dying to take flight. Remember, since we can easily isolate each individual element, you can also look at icons packs and vector compositions. Once you find your perfect fit, download the .eps to begin editing your vectors

We chose to get started with this collection of colorful flat SEO and development icons and to add subtle and simple animations like lightly bouncing elements and a simple opening of the envelope. If you want to follow along with the tutorial, just download the vector—it’s already included in your subscription. Check out our final product below.



Step 1: Isolate the Vector

Open the .eps into Illustrator and click on the icon you wish to animate. Copy (CMD + C) and paste (CMD + V ) into a new illustrator file. Our new file is sized at 200px x 200px.
Delete any extra elements that you don’t want included. We ousted the words “Digital Campaign.”


Step 2: Duplicate the Vector

Enter your Artboard Tool (Shift + O) –making sure that your “Move/Copy Artwork with Artboard” option located to the right of your artboard name is activated—and duplicate the artboard by holding Alt and Shift while clicking and dragging the duplication to the right.

Think of these duplications as the frames in your animation. Each frame will be slightly different from the other, eventually indicating movement.


Step 3: Make Subtle Changes Frame to Frame

To make the process faster, ungroup your elements until they are only grouped within each object. The chat box is grouped only with the chat box, the envelope is grouped only with the envelope, etc. This particular icon only took two un-groupings.
Then starting making subtle changes to each element. We nudged the chat box up pixels, the video play button to the right by 2 pixels, and used the Direct Selection Tool (A) to ease the point of the envelope up by 2 pixels, as well.


Step 4: Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Simply duplicate the new artboard, and make the same changes as before. Repeat this step a few times until you’ve reached the full range of motion you desire. As you can see, we ended up with a large amount of artboards.

Now we’re ready to animate the artboards over in Photoshop!


Step 5: Copy the Vectors to Photoshop

Create a new Photoshop document. We made the file size 200px x 200px (same as our Illustrator artboards), with RGB color, and 72 dpi since this will be used for web. Now copy and paste each icon from each artboard onto a separate layer as a Smart Object to maintain its quality.

Repeat until all of the artboard elements are on their own separate layer making sure they copied over sequentially and that each element which doesn’t move is perfectly aligned with one another.


Step 6: Duplicate the Layers Into a Timeline

Open the Timeline panel from the Window drop down menu.

From the options drop down menu in the Timeline panel, choose “Make Frames From Layers.”Now each Smart Object Layer you dropped into Photoshop will populate your timeframe as individual frames.

If you press play, you will see that it plays once, and only moves as far as the range you dictated. If you want it to loop back and forth forever, there are a few more steps.


Step 7: Copy and Reverse the Frames

To have the motions move back and forth is simple, however a little tedious. Select all of the frames in your timeline and click the paper button with the folded corner to duplicate them. This gives you twice as many frames.

To have the animation not jump to the beginning, begin dragging and dropping the second half of the frames into the correct order. Drag frame 28 to go after 14, then after 15, then after 16, and so forth.

Then choose to have the animation loop “Forever.”


Step 8: Export as a GIF

Now that your animation is complete, you’ll want to export it as a GIF. Go to File > Export > Save For Web and choose the Preset “GIF 32 Dithered” and uncheck Transparency.
Click Save and then voila! You have an animated GIF.

Now you have a rad animated GIF that you can embed into your blog posts or display on your website or banner ads—and it wasn’t all that difficult. The beauty is that you can replicate this technique over and over again with as many vectors as you desire.

Think you’ve got what it takes to wow the internet with your magical GIF powers?


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Alex ReffieHow to Animate Vectors Using Illustrator and Photoshop

Photoshop Tutorial: How to Creatively Crop for Images That Pop

by Maddie Stearn on May 26, 2017 No comments

It can sometimes be hard to unstock your advertising, but there’s one unexpected technique that can really come in handy: the crop tool. This simple feature is often overlooked as just a way to fix image dimensions, but in reality the crop tool is so much more. You can easily create dynamic portraits by experimenting with different ways of framing stock images.

We’re going to take cropping to the next level by showing you how to combine creative cropping with warped text. You’ll be able to create minimalistic, fresh photos that are sure to unstock even the stockiest of images—or take already visually striking images and give them even more of an edge.

As always, we’ve come prepared with a full gallery of stock images that are certified fresh and perfect for testing out this cropping and warped text technique. You can also find the stock photo of a woman with sunglasses that we use in this tutorial.


Step 1. Open the file in Photoshop

fresh photos


Step 2. Straighten the layer

This step isn’t necessary for all images, but we wanted to straighten the sunglasses here to make the photo easier to crop.

Unlock the background layer by clicking on the lock icon next to the layer name (“Layer 0”). Click and hold the Eyedropper Tool and wait for the other tool options to appear. Select the Ruler Tool.
fresh photos
Find a line in the image that you want to make level (i.e. the line is angled right now, but you want it to be level). For this image, we drew a small line across the bridge of the sunglasses, since we want the sunglasses to be level instead of angled. Once you have drawn the line, click the Straighten Layer button.
fresh photos


Step 3. Crop the image

Now you’ll need to crop the image to get rid of the empty space that Photoshop created when straightening the layer. We also decided to crop the image to only show the woman’s head and neck so that we could highlight the sunglasses.

We’re not quite ready to finish cropping the image, so don’t cut the sunglasses in half yet. If we did that, we would also be cropping the woman’s fingers. This isn’t necessarily bad, but the image will look more polished if we keep the fingers fully intact. In the next few steps we’ll show you how to fix this problem.
fresh photos


Step 4. Duplicate layer

Right click on Layer 0 and select Duplicate Layer.
fresh photos


Step 5. Select and delete

Select the bottom layer (Layer 0), then click on the Selection Tool. Select the area of the image that we will eventually be cropping (from the middle of the sunglasses to the top of the canvas). Once selected, delete the area inside the selection. Note: Nothing will look different because we still have the duplicate layer on top.
fresh photos


Step 6. Erase

Now select the top layer (Layer 0 copy) and click on the Eraser Tool. Start erasing the top of the image, but avoid erasing the woman’s index finger.
fresh photos

Once the rest of the top is erased, zoom in and erase the area surrounding the woman’s index finger.
fresh photos


Step 7. Fill background

Select the bottom layer (Layer 0) and click on the Paint Can. Set the foreground color to white and click on the canvas. This will fill in the top part of the image with white, but the index finger will remain visible.
fresh photos


Step 8. Add text

Select the Text Tool and write your message. We put the words “creative” and “cropping” in two separate layers because they need to be warped separately.

You will want to adjust the length of the words to align with the length of the lens frames. To do this, select the text layer (in this case we selected the “creative” layer) and hit Command/Ctrl + T on your keyboard.

Finally, right click on the text layer and select Rasterize Type.
fresh photos


Step 9. Shape the text

With the now-rasterized “creative” layer still selected, click Edit > Transform > Warp.
fresh photos

Experiment with warping the text until it matches the shape of the sunglass lens. You could also draw a temporary circle to help guide you. To do this, create a new layer underneath the text (but on top of the two background layers), click on the Shape Tool, and draw a circle that is the size of the sunglass lenses. Once you are done warping the text, you can delete the circle layer.
fresh photos
Repeat steps 8 and 9 with the “cropping” text layer.
fresh photos

There you have it! This simple cropping and warping technique is sure to come in handy when you need to make stock photos your own. Just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean that your images can’t look custom-made—plus this fresh technique is perfect for vibrant, creative summer projects!


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Maddie StearnPhotoshop Tutorial: How to Creatively Crop for Images That Pop

Tutorial: The Simple Way to Create Low Poly Portraits in Photoshop

by Maddie Stearn on April 27, 2017 No comments

Low poly portraits have become hugely popular for their minimalistic, edgy, and three-dimensional look. And while you may not recognize the term “low poly,” you’ve probably noticed these geometric portraits popping up everywhere—whether it be in advertising campaigns, illustrations, or even decorative art. Considering the popularity of low poly images, this technique is a great design hack to have under your belt, and it’s surprisingly easy to replicate.

Stock images pair perfectly with this design technique because of their versatility and color variation. Your end product will also look completely different from the original, so you save money but won’t risk running into the same image anywhere else. Our stock image library is also easy to search, so you can quickly find images that are perfectly suited to the low poly technique.

To make the process even easier, we’ve curated a gallery of stock images that work especially well as low poly portraits.


Step 1. Open Stock Image in Photoshop & Unlock the Background

We used a stock photo of a flamingo for this tutorial, but you can also check out the gallery mentioned above for even more stock images.

Open the image in Photoshop and unlock the background.

step 1 unlock


Step 2. Select the Entire Figure

Select the Polygonal Lasso Tool and start outlining the subject of your portrait. It’s totally fine if your outline is a little boxy or sharp—this will just add to the geometric effect of the final product.

step 2 outline

Be careful to include as little of the background as possible. Cutting off the edges of your subject a little bit won’t hurt and might make it easier to avoid including any background colors. You can see in the image below that I outlined the flamingo from the inside to avoid including any of the blue water from the background.


Step 3. Open in a New Photoshop Document

When you finish creating the outline, you will notice a moving dotted line surrounding your subject. This is the selection area. Cut this selection (Command/Ctrl + X) and paste into a new document.*

*If you want to keep the original background, create a new layer and paste your selection onto this new layer. This will prevent any background colors from merging with the subject when you start creating the low poly effect.

low poly


Step 4. Make a Triangular Selection

Select your subject’s layer (in this case, the flamingo layer). Make sure that the Polygonal Lasso Tool is still selected, and pick an area to draw a triangle. For each of your triangles, you want to select areas that have similar coloring.

Now, draw your triangular selection.

low poly


Step 5. Filter the Selection

With the triangular area selected (you should see the moving dotted line), select Filter > Blur > Average. This creates an average of all of the colors within your selection area.

Once the selection area is “averaged,” you can draw your next triangle. Make sure that one side of your triangle lines up with one side from the original. This will prevent any gaps between triangles.

Now that you’ve already used the Average command once, you can simply hit Command + control + F (Ctrl + Alt + F on PCs) on your keyboard. This keyboard shortcut repeats whichever filter was last used.

low poly


Step 6. Repeat Forever (Not Really)

This is the time-consuming part of the tutorial. The low poly technique itself isn’t hard at all, but making all of those triangles does take a chunk of time. Settle in with a good podcast or TV show in the background and the time will quickly fly by.

low poly


Tip 1: Filling in the Gaps

You might notice gaps between some of your triangles. These are easy to fix—just draw another triangle that covers the gap. (The gaps also might not even be visible once you zoom out to look at the final product.)

low poly


Tip 2: Getting the Details

Make smaller triangles to capture the more detailed areas of the image. Luckily, you don’t have to use small triangles for the entire portrait. The low poly effect looks best with a wide range of triangle sizes.

low poly

Keep on making those triangles until you’ve covered the entire image.

low poly


Now give yourself a huge pat on the back (and maybe take a break from the computer screen). You’ve successfully created a low poly portrait! This is an incredibly useful technique to have in your design arsenal, so congratulate yourself on a job well done.


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Maddie StearnTutorial: The Simple Way to Create Low Poly Portraits in Photoshop

Tutorial: Create Simple, Stunning Floral Typography with Photoshop

by Maddie Stearn on April 6, 2017 No comments

Do you need seasonal, standout creative that leaves a lasting impression? Ad agency bigwigs and book publishers often rely on floral typography when they need bold, organic imagery—but with our straightforward tutorial, you too can add this advertising “secret weapon” to your arsenal.

Floral typography describes the design technique of layering text and floral images to create a multidimensional effect. Yet, the name can be a little misleading since we’re not talking about text made from flowers; the text just lives amongst the flora and fauna. The trend has even expanded beyond florals to include other foliage as well as abstract designs.

Businesses have latched onto the trend, and many spring design campaigns make use of floral typography. The technique varies widely from design to design, so businesses can easily diversify their materials. Small businesses need not cringe in fear; floral typography is pretty simple to replicate, and stock images make the entire process even smoother.

Anyone can master the floral typography trend with a little practice. Armed with this tutorial and stock images, small businesses can easily keep up with the big guns without breaking the bank.

To get started, check out our hand-curated gallery of stock floral images from the GraphicStock library.


Step 1. Create New Photoshop Canvas

Create a new canvas in Photoshop and paste your floral image onto the canvas (we used this stock bouquet photo). Resize as needed by clicking Command/Ctrl + T.

(For clarity, we named the layer with the flower image “Floral Layer.”)

floral typography


Step 2. Duplicate Layer


Right click on the Floral Layer and select Duplicate Layer. In this example, we named the new layer “Floral Layer copy.”

floral typography


Step 3. Add Layer Mask


Select the new layer and click the Add Vector Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.

floral typography


Step 4. Invert Layer Mask


Select the layer mask (not just the layer) and click Command/Ctrl + i to invert the layer mask. The layer mask icon will turn from white to black.

floral typography


Step 5. Draw a Rectangle


This step is optional, but framing your text can add a nice touch to the design.

Select the Rectangle Tool and draw a new rectangle. Use the Properties panel to adjust the fill and line colors, as well as the line thickness.

floral typography


Step 6. Move Layer and Adjust Opacity


Select your rectangle layer in the Layers panel on the right and move the rectangle between the “Floral Layer” and “Floral Layer copy”.

With the rectangle layer still selected, lower the opacity so that you can see both the rectangle and the flowers underneath it.

floral typography


Step 7. Paint


Make sure that your foreground color is set to white and your background color is set to black. To adjust these colors, simply click on their respective boxes and select the desired color.

Select the layer mask and then click the paintbrush tool. Begin painting over the areas of the rectangle that you want to erase. If you erase too much, simply hit the X on your keyboard and paint over the area you want to correct. Hit the X again to switch back.*

The hardest part is deciding which flowers should cover the rectangle. Try to pick flowers that are in the foreground (as opposed to the fuzzier flowers in the back). This will help add dimension to your design.

(*The X command switches the foreground and background colors. You paint with white to erase and black to correct.)

floral typography


Step 8. Add Text


It’s actually more efficient to add the text when you create the rectangle, but the order doesn’t really matter. Just make sure that, when you do create the text layer(s), you place them between the “Floral Layer” and “Floral Layer copy” just like we did with the rectangle layer.

Again, adjust the opacity on the text layers so that you can see both the text and the flowers beneath.

floral typography


Repeat Step 7


Use the paintbrush to erase/repaint pieces of text to make it look like the text and flowers are overlapping. This is a little trickier than the rectangle because you don’t want entirely cover any of the letters. Try to find where the letters overlap with stems and the edges of petals.

floral typography


Once you are done painting, your image is complete!

floral typography

There you have it! You’ll be a floral typography pro in no time. It just goes to show that with a little practice, and some stock photos, your small business can have a big impact—and while you’re at it, incorporate some Spring sunshine with these stunning floral stock photos.


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Maddie StearnTutorial: Create Simple, Stunning Floral Typography with Photoshop

Tutorial: Create Photoshop Brushes with Stock Images

by Maddie Stearn on March 5, 2017 1 comment

“If I can’t paint with real brushes, why should I paint with Photoshop brushes?”

The idea of painting in Photoshop can be daunting, especially if you gave up on watercolors in elementary school. But here’s a secret that your 5th grade art teacher never told you: Photoshop will help you fake it ‘til you make it. While this is probably not a great lesson to teach 5th graders, as adults sometimes we need to figure out how to work within our limitations.

Watercolors are popular graphic design trend, but in real life they’re messy and difficult to master. Budding graphic designers shouldn’t be discouraged; with stock images, you can create custom Photoshop brushes that will make it look like you know how to paint.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to quickly make several watercolor brushes in Photoshop using stock images and vectors. You can even use these same steps to make any custom brush.


Step 1. Pick Your Watercolors

You should have your watercolors ready before you begin the tutorial, so here are some stock watercolor images from the GraphicStock library to get you started.


Step 2. Convert Your Images to Black & White

Open your images in Photoshop, then add a black and white adjustment layer. You can also add a brightness/contrast adjustment layer to vary the depth of color. You should also make sure that the background is as white as possible.

We recommend adjusting the image size so that your bush doesn’t start out too large (but you can always play around with the brush size later). To adjust the image size, go to Image > Image Size.



Step 3. Create the Brush

With the brush tool selected, go to Edit > Define Brush Preset. Name your brush, then click OK. Repeat this step for all of your watercolor images.



Step 4. Test Your New Brushes!

Open a new Photoshop document and select the paint tool. Open the Brush Presets browser (go to Window > Brush Presets) and select any of your watercolor brushes. Adjust the brush size using the slider or using the bracket keys on your keyboard.

Finally, click once on the canvas. You do not want to click and drag because that will just create a large blob.

Now start experimenting! Switch among your new watercolor brushes while adjusting the color and size. In the next step, we’ll show you how to adjust the angle of the brushes to prevent the image from looking too patterned.



Step 5. Adjust the Brush Angle

To simply flip your watercolor horizontally or vertically, go to the Brush Presets tab and check the Flip X and Flip Y boxes, respectively. You can also adjust the brush angle in this tab.


If you want to add some more variation to the size and position of your brush, click on the Shape Dynamics tab on the left. Experiment with the sliders and start clicking on your canvas. If you adjust the Size Jitter, for example, the size of your brush will change every time you click on the canvas.


When you’re done, you’ll have a custom watercolor painting! Pat yourself on the back and relish not having to clean up any paint.

Using these same steps, you can easily create any custom Photoshop brush. Or check out our hand-picked gallery of stock watercolor images to find more inspiration for your next Photoshop brush.


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Maddie StearnTutorial: Create Photoshop Brushes with Stock Images

How to Design Unique Resumes with Stock Vectors and Icons

by Caroline Mercurio on March 1, 2017 No comments

Does your resume help you stand out as a creative or blend in with the crowd? Showcasing your experience and skills in a new and updated way puts your creativity at the forefront—without compromising on professionalism. Using stock vectors and icons—plus a few other design tips—you can create a more dynamic and appealing resume.

Show your future employer you’re more than just another cog in the machine with these easy to apply tips—and get the creative job of your dreams!


Tip #1 – Hierarchy and Simplicity Are Your Best Friends

There are some components of a resume that need greater recognition than others—your name, for example. Using the concepts of hierarchy in your resume will help the reader focus on key elements and helps draw their eye to important information. Let your name be the spotlight with bold and large text. Each section should be headed by bold keywords, with the body text taking a supporting role.

If you’re going to use color in your design, do so sparingly. While this is a resume for a creative position, function should rule over form—which is the guiding principle behind all design, anyways. Our strong recommendation is to choose one color and then play with rich black and a variety of grey shades. At most, use two typefaces—usually a serif and a sans serif. Even more simplistic is to use one font family and vary the weights to create your desired hierarchy.

Check out our focus on simplicity and color in the design below.

Stock Vectors

Download the icons used in this resume design.


Tip #2 – Keep the Layout Organized

Although it might be the least sexy part of designing a resume, maintaining a well-planned and organized layout is a very important component of your design. Recruiters and hiring managers scan dozens—and even hundreds—of resumes for each hiring round, so the information should be structured in easily digestible chunks for quick absorption.

Use a grid layout with rows and columns to make the most of the space on the page. Visual dividers combined with generous white space break up the details and provide greater clarity from one section to another. This also makes it easier for readers to quickly refer to sections of information in conversation with a colleague or during the interview.

Make sure each section of your resume aligns with another section or design element. You can see in our design below how much attention we gave to alignment. Nothing is out of place or randomly staggered into the white space. See how we streamlined our alignments in our resume example.

Stock Vectors

Download the icons used in this resume design.


Tip #3 – Catch the Eye with Stock Vectors and Icons

This is where you can have a little more fun—adding in vectors and icons to draw attention to key areas and highlight your skills. Once you have a good base of strong hierarchy, clean design, and an organized layout, adding in some design details can take away the monotony of a resume and bring a little personality to it.

You can use icons to highlight your contact information, skills, and personal interests. Meanwhile, you can use stock vectors to bring some color to the page or to show side by comparisons of how developed each of your skills are. See our use of icons below.

Stock Vectors

Download the icons used in this resume design.

Remember, a resume is how you present not only your skills and experience, but also your personal brand to a potential employer. Are you more formal and business-like? Or are you playful and fun? The right combination of fonts, colors, layout decisions and graphics can communicate your personality before someone even reads a word on the page.

What are you waiting for? Put your best foot forward and create a resume that stands out.


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Caroline MercurioHow to Design Unique Resumes with Stock Vectors and Icons

A Beginner’s Guide to Designing Website and Mobile App Mockups

by Caroline Mercurio on February 21, 2017 3 comments

As a designer, you’re really good at what you do. When a client comes to you with a clear vision for their business but zero idea of how their website should look or function, you know how to deliver amazing results that double or even triple their ROI. Yet sometimes your clients need a little more convincing—a little extra push—to really seal the deal. Or maybe you’ve got quite the collection of website or app designs for your portfolio, but want a flashier, more engaging way to present these designs to your future employers and clients.

Enter product mockups. By providing important visual context for your designs, mockups are key to helping your client fully grasp your collaborative vision when a simple screenshot or Photoshop file just isn’t quite cutting it.

Mockups provide context for your designs and help clients envision your final product in a real world setting. They can also help model your responsive design solutions—allowing you to showcase your ability to design for mobile screens, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Using mockups to showcase your designs is an effective way to highlight your talents. Luckily it’s easy, too—which is why we made this beginner’s guide to show you how it’s done.

For this example, we used this mockup kit along with resources from our library of stock graphics.

MockupsDownload the stock graphics used in these designs.


Step One: Download a Mockup Kit


The internet boasts a plethora of design resources all at your fingertips—and often for free. Our suggestion? Simply google “free photoshop mockups.” You can also use well-known resources like Mockup World, which is what we used for the designs in our guide to designing swag and our Pantone spring color guide.

Once you’ve chosen your desired mockup, simply download the file, unzip it, and open it in Photoshop. Most photoshop files for mockups have highly organized groups and layers, and should be easy to decipher. Take a moment to understand the layers of your chosen mockup kit—a good kit will name its layers clearly.


Step Two: Insert Design


Most kits will name the layers you want to edit something obvious like “Put Your Screen Here” or “Edit This Layer.” The editable layer will be a linked smart object, so double click it and it will open another Photoshop file.


After you create your design and export it as a jpeg or png, simply drag and drop it into this photoshop file, resize it as needed, save it, and then it will automatically populate the the original composition.


Step Three: Save and Export

Now you simply save the composition to whatever file type and size you desire. It really is that easy to elevate your designs so that your clients or future employers will be that much more impressed.

MockupsDownload the stock graphics used in these designs.

Need new stock graphics to inspire and amp up your next designs? Check out our top 20 graphics for web design.


Start Designing with Stock Graphics


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Caroline MercurioA Beginner’s Guide to Designing Website and Mobile App Mockups

11 Must-Have Vector Graphic Tutorials for Creative Marketing

by Jordan McElwain on February 9, 2017 1 comment

How eye-catching is your marketing creative? Does it stand up and demand your audience’s attention—or does it simply blend into the background? Keeping things fresh can be a challenge in today’s overly-saturated advertising world, which is why it’s important to keep learning new design skills and techniques. Vector graphics are the essential building blocks for design professionals—who often rely on time-saving and easily customized royalty-free stock vectors—and Adobe Illustrator is the editing program of choice. So, whether you’re just getting started in the design world or you consider yourself an expert, these tutorials will guide you in your journey to more creative marketing.


Save Time by Mastering Techniques

Every designer has to start somewhere, and mastering certain techniques can expand your skills. Below you will find a mix of basic and intermediate techniques that will speed up your workflow and allow you to focus on creating.


Editing Vector Files

When it comes to designing with Adobe Illustrator, it’s important to know that you can save yourself both time and energy by using customizable vector graphics rather than creating everything from scratch. Learn how to edit vector files, then check out our graphics library to start practicing this crucial skill.


Using the Color Picker and Color Palette

Use the Adobe Illustrator color palette panel to find the best colors to compliment your brand’s colors. Learn how to use the color picker and palette panel in just over 3 minutes.


Joining Paths Three Ways

Joining paths is a useful technique for creating complex shapes and objects. These objects can be used to make logos or icons for infographics. Astute Graphics demonstrates three ways to join paths in only 90 seconds.


Distorting Text

Quickly learn how to distort text to make it fit within a shape. This technique will help you create typographic effects for your designs.


Using Clipping Masks

Clipping masks allow you to confine a pattern or image within the boundaries of a shape or letter. Learn how to use clipping masks to place your photos and patterns seamlessly into your designs.


From Illustrator to After Effects

YouTube is now the second largest search engine, and video marketing has become the key to engagement. One of the amazing features of the Adobe programs is their compatibility with each other. Learn how to pull your work from Adobe Illustrator into Adobe After Effects in order to be the ultimate marketing designer.


Tracing with the Pen Tool

It can be difficult to design exactly what your boss or client has in mind, but if they can draw it or photograph it, then you can create it! Mastering the pen tool will allow you to trace even the most detailed images. See the possibilities with this tutorial.


Practice by Creating Marketing Materials

Basic marketing materials can be made with limited knowledge of Adobe Illustrator—this makes them perfect for practicing. As you progress in your development, you will be able to produce more creative marketing materials.


Creating a Typographic Logo

Every business needs a logo, and typographic logos are becoming more and more popular. Typography is a difficult skill to master, but text is fairly easy to create and manipulate in Illustrator. Watch this video to learn the basics of typographic logos.


Creating Your Business Card

Creating a business card is a simple task, and a great place to start practicing making shapes and organizing your work. Use this tutorial to help you get started.


Designing Flyers

Anyone can make a flyer, but Illustrator allows designers to create clean and creative flyers that will catch their audience’s eye.


Designing an Infographic from Scratch

This tutorial goes through the entire process of designing an infographic and is jam-packed with everything you need to know—including designing flat icons. While it’s nice to understand how each element is made, keep in mind that you can save yourself time by using pre-designed vector graphics.

Explore our unlimited library to find the perfect vectors and photos to assist you in your creative design process. What will you create?


Get Creative with Vectors


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Jordan McElwain11 Must-Have Vector Graphic Tutorials for Creative Marketing