All posts tagged Advertising

Why Split Screen Visuals Are So Effective

by Maddie Stearn on August 4, 2017 No comments

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

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

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


The “Wow” Factor

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

stock photos



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

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

stock photos


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

stock photos


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

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

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

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

How to Add Textures in Photoshop

stock photos


How to Create a Visually Striking Text Portrait in Photoshop

stock photos


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

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


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Maddie StearnWhy Split Screen Visuals Are So Effective

Trending This Week: Advertising Your Brand with Duotone Text Effect

by Alex Reffie on July 7, 2017 No comments

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

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

Stock Photos

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


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

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.


Discover More Black and White Photos


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Caroline MercurioHow to Convert Photos to Black and White or Monochrome

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

Trending This Week: Color Block Designs with Stock Graphics

by Caitlyn Hampton on April 21, 2017 No comments

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

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

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

graphic images

Download the graphic image used in this design.

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

Graphic Images

Download the graphic image used in this design.

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

Graphic Images

Download the graphic image used in this design.

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

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


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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Color Block Designs with Stock Graphics

30 Vectors for Labeling Everything—Market Your Product Like a Pro

by Maddie Stearn on February 11, 2017 1 comment

Everything has a label—and small business owners understand this particularly well. From the product itself to social media campaigns, labels are everywhere. Labels also help combat brand fatigue by spicing up marketing materials. When your business has a sale for every major event in the year, labels are a godsend.

The takeaway? Your labels need to be certified fresh.

Stock vector labels are enormously useful for creating a wide variety of product labels. Not to rip off Portlandia, but name an object and we’ll say, “Put a (stock) label on it!” The possibilities are endless.

The GraphicStock library has thousands of labels that are also vectors, so they’re completely customizable. In our image above, we put our own spin on a label from a customizable template pack. You can find that label and more in our hand-picked gallery of 30 popular stock vector labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.



stock vector labels
Download this stock label.


Feeling inspired? Make sure to visit our royalty-free vectors library to see all 30 vector labels.


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Maddie Stearn30 Vectors for Labeling Everything—Market Your Product Like a Pro

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

by Caroline Mercurio on December 7, 2016 No comments

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

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


Authentic Portraits

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

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

Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of an elderly man at work.

Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of a happy boy laughing.

Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of a woman and her husband.

Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of a young woman working out.

Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of a pedestrian in the city.


Street Photography

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

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

Stock Photos

Download this street photograph of people in a crowd.

Stock Photos

Download this photograph of graffiti on the metro.

Stock Photos

Download this photograph of a young skateboarder in the city.

Stock Photos

Download this photography of a tourist photographing a Vatican street.

Stock Photos

Download this photograph of people on a busy street.


Flat Lay

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

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

Stock Photos

Download this flat lay laptop photograph.

Stock Photos

Download this flat lay fresh fruits in a cone photograph.

Stock Photos

Download this pills on a plate flat lay medical photograph.

Stock Photos

Download this ice cream packaging bags flat lay photograph.

Stock Photos

Download this flat lay tools photograph.


Quirky Subjects

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

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

Stock Photos

Download this quirky photograph of a business person exercising.

Stock Photos

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

Stock Photos

Download this quirky photograph of a senior cook.

Stock Photos

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

Stock Photos

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

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


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

Tutorial: How to Create a Visually Striking Text Portrait in Photoshop

by Caroline Mercurio on September 15, 2016 5 comments

As many Adobe users know, sometimes the fastest way to learn the ins and outs of Photoshop is to teach yourself. That’s why we’ve put together this tutorial to show you an easy way to create a visually striking portrait using our royalty-free library of stock photos.

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but when you combine a picture with text, the impact can be exponential. This technique is fun and useful—whether you’re a budding graphic designer looking for inspiration for your blog or business, or are just trying to master as many tools as possible in Photoshop.

Customizing stock photos is a great way to enhance your online presence. Follow along this tutorial to see how we create this high-impact graphic using an image from our library.


Step 1. Choose A Portrait That Inspires Greatness

Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
You can either complete this tutorial with the fitness photo we’ve chosen or browse through our stock photo library until you find a portrait that fits your needs. The subject of this photo is well-lit and her body easily contrasts with the background. Try to look for these features in your chosen photo and open it in Photoshop.


Step 2. Edit the Composition of the Image

Although the image is already visually well-balanced, we need a closer crop to achieve our desired effect.

Choose the Rectangular Marquee tool (M).

Change the style to Fixed Ratio and adjust the width ratio to 1 and height to 2. This is a good ratio for Pinterest graphics since that platform favors height, but you can choose the ratio that works best for your purposes.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Drag and drop the marquee around the area you wish to keep.

Go to the Image dropdown in the Menu Bar and choose Crop.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop

Step 3. Select the Background of Your Image

Next we will use selection to chose the background of the image. We recommend starting with the Quick Selection tool to begin selecting.

Adjust the size of your Quick Selection brush and click and drag on the background of your image.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
To add to your selection, hold down shift while selecting.

If you added too much, hold down alt while selecting in order to deselect.

If the Quick Selection tool isn’t precise enough, try making the size of the brush smaller.

Pro Tip: To quickly zoom in, out, and around your image, it’s easier to learn keyboard shortcuts. You will need to zoom in close at times to be sure your selection is precise.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Remember to use the ctrl key instead of the command key when using a PC. Here are some to get you started:

Zoom In: Command + =

Zoom Out: Command + –

Fit To Window: Command + 0

Hand Tool (to grab and drag): Spacebar, click and drag


Step 4. Isolate the Subject of Your Image

Now that you have the background selected, we actually want our selection to wrap around the subject and really refine the edges.

Invert the selection by typing shift + command + i or by right clicking the selection (with the Marquee tool activated) and choosing Select Inverse.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Choose the Select and Mask option.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Change the view to Overlay. The parts that aren’t selected are now shaded in red. This helps clarify the area that is selected.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Now you should be able to play around with each of the sliders. The best way to understand what each one alters is to experiment with them until you get the settings you desire.

An easy fix is to check the Smart Radius option and edit from there. We also chose to feather the radius a couple pixels.

Be sure to specify the Output Settings to New Layer with Layer Mask before clicking OK. Need more help? We cover it in greater detail in our selection tool tutorial.


Step 5. Create a Black Background

So now you have your original layer with the image, and a new mask layer that isolates your subject.

Create a new layer and drag it below the masked layer.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
We renamed the new layer to “Black Background.”

Fill it with black by first hitting the D key (this makes your primary color black and the secondary color white).
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Then hit the G key to select the Paint Bucket tool. If the Gradient tool shows up instead, then click and hold the Gradient Tool and drag the mouse over the Paint Bucket Tool.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
With the Paint Bucket tool selected, be sure you have the Black Background layer activated and click on the canvas to fill it.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop

Step 6. Convert To Black and White

Select Your layer with the layer mask, and type Shift + Command + U to desaturate the image or you can go to the Image dropdown in the Menu Bar, click Adjustments, and then Black and White.

You can play with those sliders and presets to configure your desired look and click OK. There is no need to be too precise because we will play with this a little later.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop

Step 7. Add a Black Layer On Top

Similar to how you added a black background, we also want to add a topmost layer filled with black, but we also want to hide it for now.

Create your new layer, make sure it is dragged to the top, and fill it with black. Hide the layer by clicking the eyeball to the left of that layer.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
We renamed the layer “Black Cover.” We will come back to that layer later.


Step 8. Create Dramatic Shadows With Levels

The final look we are trying to achieve is dramatic, blending our subject into the black background. Right now, she sticks out like a sore thumb, so we are going to edit the levels of this photo to achieve the striking-yet-blended look we want.

Make sure your layer with the mask is selected (but not the mask itself) and type Command + L.

The settings you choose will be a matter of personal preference, however in the screenshot below are the numbers we chose. From the left to right we entered 100, .85, and 245. Click OK.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Now the image as a more dramatic look to it and blends nicely into the background.


Step 9. Position and Add Text

Previously we added a black cover layer and hid it. Now we will unhide the layer so we can start adding text.

Drop the opacity of the layer down to 50% so you can see what is underneath.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
The text we will be adding is “I’m going to make you so proud -Note to self” and we chose the typeface called League Gothic, which can be downloaded with your Creative Cloud Account through Adobe Typekit.

Hit the X key to switch your primary color to white.

Then hit the T key to open the Type tool.

Type in your message and align it with the subject’s body.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Notice how we typed in each line of text on different individual type layers.

The goal is to align the majority of the text with the shape of the subjects body and/or face. In this instance, we left the face mostly free of text for readability.

When you type in one line of text such as “You So” you can then use the shortcut Command + T—which is the shortcut for the Transform tool—to drag and drop the corners of the text box to be the size you wish.

This is where it is fun to have creative freedom!

Be sure to hold shift while dragging the corners of the text box so your proportions remain true. Press enter after you resize it.


Step 10. Subtract from the Black Cover Layer

As you can see, we avoided covering the subject’s face with the text. Let’s adjust the Black Cover layer so it doesn’t cover the entire canvas.

Activate that layer, type Command + T, and drag the left edge of the rectangle so that it almost aligns with the text.

We chose to have the left side of the text “hang over” the edge of the box, if you will—meaning it is not perfectly aligned.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Now comes the exciting part!

With your Black Cover layer activated, hold down the Command key and the Shift key simultaneously, while clicking on the “T” on each text layer in the layer window. This will select the area of each text layer.

Keep those keys held down until each text layer has been selected. You will notice the dotted lines around your letters.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Be sure that the Black Cover layer is activated and all your text area has been selected and hit Delete on your keyboard.

Hide all of the type layers by clicking each eyeball.

Bring the opacity of the Black Cover layer back up to 100% and type Command + D to deselect the area of the text.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
It will resemble something very similar to the image above. See how close we are getting?


Step 11. Emphasize the Text

So, we’ve basically deleted the text we arranged from the Black Cover layer to reveal our chosen image underneath, however, we run into the issue that not all of the text is legible.

That’s OK! You’ve made it this far and your Photoshop skills have just increased exponentially. Isn’t it neat how tutorials can open up your mind to the possibilities of Adobe Photoshop? You just have to know its capabilities.

Let’s edit parts of the image underneath the Black Cover layer with the Dodge and Burn tools.

Activate the layer with the mask and select the Dodge tool (O).
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Adjust the Size of the tool to about 400px to start and adjust as needed. Change the Hardness to 0%, the Range to Shadows, the Exposure to 100% and make sure Protect Tones is checked.

You can easily adjust the size of your tool by typing either the [ key to make it smaller or ] to make it bigger.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Now with your image layer activated, start brushing over the areas you want to lighten. If you go too far, you can easily undo with Command + Z and redo with Shift + Command + Z.

Next, change the range to Midtones and repeat until you achieve your desired lightness.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
While much better, it is not quite perfect. So now I’m going to create another layer above the image itself and below the Black Cover and start playing with the Brush tool (B) with a lowered opacity white.

After some tweaking, I should get the look I am going for:
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
And there you have it!

You can create a whole series of graphics for pinterest or posters with this dynamic and engaging style. There are endless possibilities to customize the royalty-free stock photos from our library and to make them your own.

Are you ready to give it a shot? Get the image we used here or check out other inspiring portraits for inspiration.

Start Creating


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Caroline MercurioTutorial: How to Create a Visually Striking Text Portrait in Photoshop

What Exactly is Adobe Spark and Should You Be Using It?

by Caroline Mercurio on August 18, 2016 8 comments

It’s no secret that social media has taken over the world. Love it or hate it, daily communication occurs more often in pins, likes, tweets, and comments than print media or face-to-face interactions, so creators have a constant need for easy-to-use platforms that produce pro-quality images, websites, and videos. Adobe has sought to fill this need with their (free!) new mobile app and web platform, Adobe Spark.

The concept is simple: with Spark, you can create “visual stories” on any device, for any device, even without previous design/video/web development experience. It’s a one-stop shop for Adobe professionals and beginners alike.

We tested out the programs features using royalty-free photos from GraphicStock to see if Spark delivers on its promises. Here’s what we learned, and the final products of our creative experimenting.

First off, the Adobe Spark suite actually consists of three programs: Spark Post, Spark Page, and Spark Video. All of these programs were previously available in some form or another as Adobe Post, Slate, and Voice, but Adobe has given them a makeover, added some cool new features, and housed them under one roof on the web with no download required. Alternatively, you can download the free app on your mobile device.

You don’t need a paid Creative Cloud subscription, although Spark does tie in with other Adobe products such as Lightroom. If you have an existing Adobe ID, it will work to sign in to the Spark homepage.


Spark Post

Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark
Spark Post is the simplest to use. When you go to “Projects” and select “Add Post,” the interface will ask you what you want to say; that is, what you want your text to read. It will then take you to a series of designer pins featuring backgrounds covered by your text.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

You can use these preset backgrounds or tab over to “Photo” to add your own image (we used this almost-too-good-to-eat macaron photo). You can upload photos from your computer or use images stored in Lighroom, Dropbox, Google Photos, or Creative Cloud.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

The automatic preset shape is an Instagram-perfect square, but under the “resize” tab, you can select from a wide variety of dimensions, several of which fit the major social media platforms, as well as some standard shapes and webpage-optimized dimensions.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

Adobe also selects some suggested themes, which will create the template for how and where your text is laid out. You can select your preference under the “theme” tab, and edit the individual elements further under the “text” tab. We decided to go with a more minimalist theme than the original example Spark Post gave us.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

The “palette” and “text” tabs allow you more control to customize your design by adjusting the colors, opacity, shapes, fonts, and alignment of your post, as well as several other features. Everything is laid out in a beginner-friendly format to encourage experimentation.

There are a few hidden features, including a tool in the “text” tab. This is a circular dial which, if turned, pops up more suggested text box formats.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

Once you are all set, go to “share” at the top center of the page. From there, you can create a link to your pin, title and share it for future use, and download it. This example above only took about 3 minutes in Adobe Post!


Spark Page

Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

See the full completed page completed page here.

If you want to quickly build a web page without needing technical knowledge like HTML, you might find Spark Page useful. Like with Post, the first page will ask you for a title and subtitle. At this point, you can also use the “themes” drop down in the top right to select from a range of designer themes.

The (+) button on the bottom center of the page allows you to select a background image for your cover page. For the example above, we used this image.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

Next, you have the choice to add either a photo, text, a button, a video, a photo grid, or a “glideshow.” We chose to open with text, followed by a static photo grid.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

The photo grid can seem a little tricky, but is quite easy once you get the hang of things. Basically, when you open your first photo it looks as if that photo is filling up the entire grid space. What you need to do is click upload and pull in the rest of your images, which will then auto-populate into a grid.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

When you hover over an image, you will see icons appear. These icons allow you to edit the size and position of each individual image within your grid.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

The “glideshow” option—probably the most visually interesting element that the Spark Page offers—is also one of its easiest tools. You simply select images you want to upload, use the icons that pop up to arrange the order, and click save. Once saved, Spark gives you options to add text, quotes, or images.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

When we reached the end of the glideshow, we finished the post with a (non-operational) “Book Now” button—designed with small businesses in mind. Currently, there are few edits you can apply to the button, but hopefully a future version of Spark Page will allow for more customization.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

When you finish up, click the “Share” button and Spark Page will generate a link.

Don’t forget, you can download the images used in this sample webpage here.


Spark Video

Make sure you turn your sound on to get the full effect!
Last but certainly not least is Spark Video, a program which allows you to create a video slideshow—complete with sound and narration. In short, this program takes the technical aspects out visual storytelling.

Of course, Spark Video cannot help with composition or narrative, so you’ll want to make sure you have high-quality photos and a storyline in mind. Furthermore, while Video is possibly the most advanced product in the Spark lineup, it is also the most limited for user customization.

If you have your ideas and plenty of awesome images , then Spark Video will bring your story to life.

Like with Page, Video initially asks you for your title, and then presents you with a series of templates, each with a designated “outcome.” For instance, do you want to inspire your audience? Do you want to share a memory?

Once you select the template, you are brought to the main interface, where you can choose a different theme from the right-hand scroll bar (we chose “satin”), add media, and arrange your panels.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

Each frame allows you to add photo or text, much like in Page. If you choose the “Layout” tab on the top right, you can select new formats for each slide, such as one photo, photo with caption, full-screen photo, etc.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

There is also a music tab to allow you to add sound to your video. In addition to several pre-set selection divided up into categories such as “Uplifting” and “Happy,” you also have the option to add your own audio tracks. We used this looping track. It’s literally as easy as downloading your mp3 file and clicking the “Add my music” button.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

As you add your images, click on the photo to open up more options, such as text, icons, and zoom. Word to the wise: make sure your photos are formatted and oriented the way you want before uploading them into the program, as there are few options for later adjustments.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

You can adjust the length of time one slide stays on the screen by clicking the small round button at the bottom right of each image in the play bar.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

The final major tool to mention is the record button, which is located at the bottom center of each frame. This button allows you to easily record your own narration, which plays over your selected audio tracks.
Everything You Need To Know About Adobe Spark

The only major downside of the current platform is that you cannot embed videos. We were able to take advantage of stunning wedding video clips by using stills taken from footage in our library as well as photographs.


So What Did We Think?

Pros: Adobe Spark allows literally anyone—regardless of budget or experience—to create beautiful visual media that looks like it came from the hand of a designer. Its tools are simple, easy to learn, and most of all lighting-quick.

Cons: Some creatives will find Adobe Spark too confining. You are limited by the program’s built in presets and templates, which is part of why Spark works so efficiently. Another con is Spark Video’s inability to support video files within it’s animated sequences.

Want to give Spark a try? GraphicStock has over 300,000 royalty-free graphics that you can download and create with forever.


Tell Your Story With Stock


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Caroline MercurioWhat Exactly is Adobe Spark and Should You Be Using It?

GraphicStock Member Profile: Inside Woulds Design

by Caroline Mercurio on October 4, 2015 1 comment

Creative Director Aaron Woods shares his thoughts on establishing a client base, paying your design dues, and getting the most out of stock images.


It’s October;  which means the air is crisp, the leaves are about to change, and during Octoberfest a love of craft beer’s is at an all time high.  Prospective clients perusing Minnesota-based Woulds Design are apt to discover several distinct takeaways: an animated logo that, alongside our other most-prized introductions, warrants watching every time it appears; a pixel-perfect pairing of typography and graphics; and Creative Director Aaron Woods’s embodiment of design “from the feet up.”

Aaron, it’s clear, is one of those right-brained folks whose success in graphic design was heavily foreshadowed by a lifelong attraction to art and design.

“As a child I was always interested in drawing and art,” says Aaron, who recalls creating graphics in MS Paint on his first computer before becoming hooked on Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop in high school.

Afterward, he attended art school (graduating with the honor of Best Advertising Portfolio), and took a job “paying his dues” in prepress production—which is where, he says, his education truly began.

Education (And Endurance)

Despite developing an award-winning portfolio in college, Aaron insists it took years of additional learning before he “could really be considered good at digital art.”

“The best thing a teacher ever told me was ‘I’m not here to teach you what to learn. I’m here to teach you how to learn,’” he says. “When I graduated art school, most kids did not get a job in the field at all. I got lucky and had a roommate who had a line on a job at a promotional products company, mostly putting customers’ logos on mugs . . .”

Far from adventure and excitement, he confesses, but precisely the right prescription for a budding graphic designer:

“It was exactly the kind of work I needed but didn’t know it at the time. In the graphic design world, unless you have naturally exceptional talent, you need to pay your dues. You need to learn that technical stuff that is horribly unsexy so you know why things are the way they are and what the limitations are of what you’re trying to do. I knew kids who got their first jobs at high-profile design studios and were in so over their heads that they just couldn’t make it and never got another design job after.”

His advice for aspiring designers, accordingly, is not to feel rushed. It’s tempting to go after dream jobs straight away, but the result can be creative burnout and a lot of turmoil from constant judgment.

Instead, patience is a real virtue—as the years he spent working for others on design teams helped him hone not only his design sense, but the business sense that prepared him to eventually go solo.

153-1013-A0155 vintage_labels_10_ai8-1113vv-v
48-premium-quality-300-min 48-premium-quality-300-min

Freedom In Freelance (And Stock Vectors)

After years of part-time freelance, Aaron built up the clientele to go full-time with his design business. Taking the leap was “a mixed bag of terror and joy,” he says, but ultimately the sense of ownership over his designs and work hours proved irreplaceable.

Both his designs and work hours, meanwhile, have been strongly aided by his engagement with GraphicStock’s vector library:

“Most stock graphics I’ve used in my life have been images. For years it was very difficult to find vector graphics, and as one who specializes in vector, this led to issues while trying to find the exact things I wanted […] often I’d find an image but only want part of it, so I’d either have to redraw that part myself or ‘live trace’ the image and separate it, which isn’t easy.”

Since purchasing his annual membership, however, Aaron says he’s saved a great deal of time by eliminating the need to trace or start from scratch:

“My [GraphicStock] usage is almost exclusively vector based. I rarely have a need for images now. I tend to only want to use elements of designs I download, so I’ll download a few different things and pull them apart in Illustrator and recombine what I need. The people who supply the vector graphics must be very good because the files I download are usually very well made.”

(Thanks, Aaron. We’ll pass that along!)

Finding Clients (And Retro Demand)

Word of mouth and social media remain his key sources of design clients; however, Aaron will occasionally employ entrepreneurial spirit when he sees a well-matched opportunity.

A self-described “beer snob,” Aaron recalls reading about a mobile bottling business in a Minnesota trade magazineand, subsequently, noticing it didn’t have much in the way of branding:

“I contacted [the owner] and asked if he wanted some help with his graphics. He said he didn’t really want help for that mission but was thinking of starting a beer label focused on local breweries paired with local music.”

A few conversations and several GraphicStock vectors later, Aaron helped the launch of Tuned Beer with some epic retro labels:



“Everyone wants that poppy 1960s to 1980s retro look,” says Aaron on his most frequent proposal requests. “It used to be grunge a few years ago, but you can see that style dying out.”

Specifically when it comes to craft beer, he adds, nobody wants to look too modern:

“Beer has such an old lineage, and craft brewers really want to highlight that they are the standard bearers for ‘real’ beer. It’s an ideal way to convey a certain reverence for the past while still being relevant.”

Inspiration (And Dual Purpose)

GraphicStock, explains Aaron, has become his “go-to source,” and not just for art—but for inspiration:

“There is such a breadth to the library that you can easily get inspired by just poking around. Their library has all but eliminated my need to ‘live trace’ images using Illustrator.”

This is why, of course, he never deletes any of his downloads. Storage is so cheap, he says, why get rid of them?

“I often find myself going back to files I’ve already downloaded,” he says, “so I keep all of my files on Google Drive for easy access anywhere.”

Visit Aaron’s Facebook page to see more of his awesome retro beer labels and other designs.

Download Some Design Labels Now►
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Caroline MercurioGraphicStock Member Profile: Inside Woulds Design