The design world has a lot of dos and don’ts—do keep graphics balanced and aligned, don’t use Comic Sans, do design with strong contrast—and most importantly, do keep a clear message. But the beauty of art and design is the freedom to break the rules—at least when it’s done in a purposeful and effective way. Inspired by Nick Slater’s poster designs, we chose to focus on one key element in our design: irony. When done with finesse, this technique can convey a sense of humor and self-awareness that creates an approachable personality—all through design!
As we’re all painfully aware, irony is a term that is often misunderstood—just listen to Alanis Morissette’s song Ironic, for example. But for our purposes it’s quite simple: have the design of your poster contrast with the message. In Mr. Slater’s design, he mixed the message of “Quiet Work Area” with loud colors and playful design elements. The result is fun and approachable. When your message and design contradict, your humor shines through.
Feeling inspired ourselves, we decided to create our own ironic poster using stock graphics.
As this fun poster shows, we don’t always have to take ourselves so seriously. Using irony in your designs and creative work can help set you apart from other companies and solidify your brand identity. We were so inspired, we even gave ironic messaging a shot in a recent video for our sister site, VideoBlocks.
Think you can pull off an ironic design statement?
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.
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.
Calling all designers and creatives! This is our first post in a new weekly series in which we highlight design trends and industry tips that catch our eye and inspire us to do what we do best: create cool projects with stock graphics. Our first choice to kickstart this series? A fun linear illustration reminiscent of stained glass windows—brought into the modern world. We came across designer Justin Pervorse’s label design, and instantly envisioned a twist of our own (featured below).
We won’t say linear icons are an overused trend because, frankly, we’re quite the fans. However, it’s greatly appreciated when we find new creative utilization of these bad boys, like Pervorse’s design. This stained-glass inspired trend involves a bright, bold color palette; minimal, linear icons; and mis-mashing them together in a mosaic, blocked-off fashion. Keep the icons you use on brand and on message—whether that’s funky and whimsical, or a little more polished and streamlined. We used our stock vectors to get the look.
Here’s our take on stained glass meets mid-century iconography:
The creative community is abundant with talent, and designers are cranking out awe-inspiring works of art left and right, week after week. As fellow creators, it’s our job to stay abreast of the hottest trends coming down the pipe, so we are constantly keeping an eye out for some amazing designs that push the envelope. So keep an eye out for our new weekly series—bringing you inspiration from the design community and the resources to make it happen.
Want to give the stained glass trend a whirl? Try downloading and experimenting with the minimal icons we used in our design.
Creating a logo is a major undertaking—if you ask the brand agencies that charge thousands and thousands of dollars to make them. We all know how essential logos are to build a strong brand identity, but it doesn’t have to be rocket science—stock vectors can be easily adapted to create a unique and powerful logo for your company or organization. The beauty of using GraphicStock is that our license allows you to adapt existing graphic elements into logos without any copyright worries.
Take a look at these formulas, which show the simplicity behind the logos of major, international corporations. Hopefully, these will get your design neurons firing.
A common combination is an icon plus your company’s name:
Although this is an older version of Starbucks’ logo, the badge is a well-known composition in logo design, especially for traditional or nostalgic industries:
And yet another classic example of icon plus business is from our very own sister site, AudioBlocks:
The key to successfully incorporating stock vectors into your logo design is to look for parts of each vector you want to download and blend it into your overall aesthetic. That means avoiding a copy and paste technique, and instead picking and choosing which elements inspire you the most and can help streamline your process. Here are our 30 favorite vectors for logo design.
“We are moving beyond the visual, to see it as part of a total experience. We don’t just look at color now, we experience and feel color.” – Pantone Spring/Summer 2016 Color Guide
The ever-chic style and design trendsetters at Pantone have spoken, and this summer’s colors are vibrant, earthy, and full of organic texture and light. Rather than picking just one or two shades to focus on, they’re celebrating a whole spectrum of bright hues inspired by the natural world. To help you create your own Pantone-worthy design projects, we’ve outlined the four most important themes from this season’s color guide.
1. Natural Colors
Pantone emphasizes colors that are both sensory and tactile, rather than flat tones on a screen. They reflect this aesthetic in the theme of the Pantone summer guide—“Eat.” With names like “ocean depths,” “melon,” “orchid haze,” and “apricot buff,” the palettes are as felt and tasted as they are seen.
To capture the look, avoid designs that are neon or artificial, focusing instead on the the wide array of color seen in food, plant life, and the natural world.
Branching out beyond two-dimensional palettes, Pantone also points out important visual aesthetics—like these strong textures—as part of their color design. From rough fabrics to gritty stonework, textures make colors pop, prompting viewers to not just see but to feel them, which is why they are fundamental to this season’s trends.
Over-polished and over-produced aesthetics have been and continue to be less fashionable than the minimalist, no-frills appeal of handmade designs. There is something honest and imaginative to creative projects that are asymmetrical and a bit rough around the edges—it speaks to the human element in both the artists and their audiences. Pantone highlights the importance of messy, analog designs, which closely echo the natural themes underlying its color guide.
The interplay between light and color is also a key theme for Pantone. “Metallic surfaces, pearlescent finishes, and sheen all affect how we interpret color and respond,” notes the guide. This applies as much to photographs that use light to illuminate textures and palettes as it does to design elements that create a more sensory experience through tone, shading, and sheens. Ultimately, the interplay between light and shadow makes colors more vibrant and real, bringing them to life.
Feeling inspired by Pantone’s summer trends? You can use the advanced search function on GraphicStock to find images that perfectly match Pantone’s palettes. Watch the video below to get the search tips, or start browsing our library of delicious photos, vectors, and illustrations.
In Part I of our fantasy book cover tutorial, we pulled fantasy themes out of a hat (planet, wolf, and dreams) and combined three stock images from our library to get us off to a great start:
In this tutorial, we’ll pick up on our quest by adding some stock wolf elements.
We quickly fell in love with this medieval shield art from our library and were very tempted to create our own custom sigils . . .
However, part of the purpose of these tutorials is to highlight the ease of using stock images unmodified, so we downloaded a shield with wolf art included and placed it atop our dreamcatcher.
We then used the same strategy on our back cover, adding a quick and easy set of stock claw marks that needed no modification beyond simple cutting and pasting.
The claw marks really pop against the all-blue background and textures, but we knew adding too many full-opacity elements might start to look a bit messy. To avoid this, we scaled back from using the entire vintage map background we’d downloaded and instead pulled only selective parts of it (its antique handwriting and grunge layers) to finish out our background.
We then blended these layers using the same techniques outlined in Part I: “Color Blend” mode, reduced opacity, and a light blue mid-tone sampled from the planet.