All posts tagged designers

Trending This Week: Retro Destination Postcards from Stock Vectors

by Caroline Mercurio on February 15, 2017 No comments

Designers can be inspired by just about anything—and what’s more inspiring than traveling to a new destination? This week we caught onto a trend that really captures the wanderlust hibernating within each of us: destination illustrations influenced by the look and feel of retro postcards. Designer Ludmila Shevchenko grabbed our attention with her colorful, geometric design of Lofoten—a wanderlust-worthy destination far away—so we decided to recreate the look using stock vectors from our library.

Check out this rendition inspired by the snow-topped latitudes of Denver, Colorado.

stock vectors

Download the stock vector illustration we used in this postcard design.


To create this simple geometric design, we selected elements from the original vector to refine the image to what we had envisioned, and then added additional elements within Adobe Illustrator. You could also choose vector elements from our stock image library and combine them with your own shapes and designs.

With stock vectors you can design an actual postcard—yes, on real life paper. You can also create an illustration for your website or brand collateral, and you can also add these illustrations within your app or web design. The options are limitless!

Ready to design your own retro destination postcard? Check out our collection of travel-ready vectors.


Download Wanderlust-Inspiring Stock Vectors


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Caroline MercurioTrending This Week: Retro Destination Postcards from Stock Vectors

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial: How to Add Light Beams to Images

by Caroline Mercurio on May 11, 2016 3 comments

From light sabers to sunrays, there are tons of creative ways to add light beams to an image. In this Adobe Photoshop tutorial, we give new life to a stock image of a lighthouse from our library. You can make your vacation photos shine or emulate extraterrestrial activity in any JPEG or PNG—just play around with this cool effect.

Here’s how we turned on the lights in this lighthouse using Photoshop.

Step One: Open Your Image in Photoshop

Once you’ve picked an image, you’ll first need to open it in Adobe Photoshop on your computer. For this tutorial, we used a royalty-free picture of a lighthouse.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Two: Lasso a Light Beam

Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, outline your desired shape of a light beam. Be sure to make this first light beam a bit narrower than you would like the final product to appear. We’ll be enlarging it with a second beam later.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Three: Fill the Light Beam with a Gradient

Under the Layer tab, scroll over New Fill Layer and select Gradient.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Four: Set the Gradient Opacity

In the box that pops up, set the desired opacity for your gradient. We used around 60 percent. Make sure the color is None and the mode is Normal. Then hit Okay.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Five: Adjust the Gradient Angle

Depending on which direction you would like the beam to face, you’ll need to adjust the gradient angle. In the box that appears, you can type in the desired angle degree. For this image, we set it to zero to make the light appear to shoot out of the lighthouse.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Six: Convert Gradient to Smart Object

You may see this alert appear after hitting Okay. If so, simply click Convert to Smart Object.
Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Seven: Blur the Gradient

Next, go to the Filter tab in the menu and scroll down to Blur. Select Gaussian Blur and set the desired radius. For this gradient, we set the radius to 10.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Eight: Outline a Second Light Beam

Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, outline your desired shape of a light beam. This time, make it a bit wider than the gradient beam, though it should be about the same size at its narrowest point. In this case, the narrowest point is where it meets the lighthouse.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Nine: Add a Curves Layer

Click the circular icon in the menu at the bottom right of the program and select Curves. A box will open up with a diagonal line.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Ten: Adjust the Curves Layer

Drag the midpoint of the line up until you see the beam fill with the desired amount of light. It should look about as bright as the image shown.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Eleven: Blur the Curves Layer

Once again, select the Gaussian Blur option from the Filter menu (under Blur). Set the desired radius for the blur and hit Okay.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Twelve: Add a Curves Layer to the Whole Image

To adjust the overall lighting of the photo, which helps create a more realistic effect, you’ll need to create another Curves layer. This time, drag the dot in the lower left corner of the Curves box up just a little.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Thirteen: Add Clouds to the Image

Clouds make a light beam look more realistic since moisture is what allows air to hold light. To add a layer of clouds, go to Filter, Render, and select Clouds. A translucent cloud effect will appear.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Fourteen: Increase the Size of the Clouds

To make the clouds larger, which creates a mistier look, press Command+T. Then grab the corner of the clouds layer and drag outwards to increase the cloud size.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Fifteen: Brush Away Some of the Clouds

Use the Brush tool to blend away clouds from unwanted areas, leaving the light beam and a few other spots covered in clouds. Spots of clouds and clouded light will look more realistic than a consistent cover of clouds across the whole image.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Sixteen: Create Another Clouds Layer

Repeat Step #13 to increase the texture and visibility of the clouds.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Seventeen: Add a Curves Layer to the Clouds

Press the Adjustment Layer icon in the lower right corner and select Curves. Use the second dropdown menu in the later panel to select Blue. Drag the line down just a little to increase the warmer, yellow tones and make the second clouds layer more pronounced.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Eighteen: Adjust the Color of the Curves Layer

Using the same dropdown, select the color Red and move the line slightly upward.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Nineteen: Brush Away Unwanted Clouds

Using the Brush tool, rub away some of the clouds to soften the effect. Use a circular motion over the areas you would like to brush away. Leave some clouds around the light beam and intended light source, and leave a few patches over reflective areas like water.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Twenty: Group the Layers

Select all the layers in the lower right panel and left click or use CTRL+click. Then select “Group from Layers” and a box will pop up. Hit Okay.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Twenty-One: Duplicate the Group

Left click or CTRL+click the group and select Duplicate Group. The light beam will become much brighter. Then add a Layer Mask using the icon in the lower right corner. Use the Brush tool on the light beam.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Twenty-Two: Adjust the Opacity of the Light Beam

Open up Group 1 by clicking the arrow next to the folder icon and adjust the Opacity of the light beam layers until they reach your desired brightness. Opacity is at the top of the Layers panel. Just click it and drag the arrow to the percent Opacity that looks the best.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Step Twenty-Three: Add a Gradient Overlay

To create a realistic glowing effect closer to the source of the light beam in your image, you’ll need to create another gradient. Select the duplicate Group and, using the Gradient tool, go to the upper left-hand corner and select the Foreground to Transparent option (make sure White is set as your foreground color). Then click and drag the Gradient tool from outside the picture behind the light source to about halfway across the image. The angle and length of your gradient line will vary depending on the picture and the desired effect.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Save Your Image

And you’re done! Just save your newly glowing image as whatever file type you need. We chose to save our lighthouse as a PNG. Go to File, then Save As, and select the file type from there.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Here’s the final product:


And this is what it looked like before:

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial How to Add Light Beams to Images

Now that you have the skills to bring a little more light into the world, try them out on some of our royalty-free images.

Add Beams to Unlimited Graphics



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Caroline MercurioAdobe Photoshop Tutorial: How to Add Light Beams to Images

Why Artists Love Ampersands

by Caroline Mercurio on February 19, 2016 1 comment

Combining style with an efficiency of space, the ampersand has survived the rise and fall of empires, the passing trends of typeface design, and even the transition to digital print. As a recent article from Fast Company points out, these are just a few of the reasons that designers love the “&”—a whimsical, adventurous glyph that has always looked as though it wasn’t quite certain if it was a letter or a design flourish.

It began with the Romans

The ampersand began with the Latin word for “and,” “et”—a connection hinted at in the symbol’s swooshing construction. The ampersand’s loops and intersections blend the two letters, “E” and “t,” into a single character. First used by a cursive graffiti artist in 1st century Pompeii, the ampersand traveled with the Roman empire across the globe and has since withstood the test of time.


It was originally called “and per se and”

Although the ampersand symbol dates back centuries, Fast Company notes that the name didn’t come about until very recently. In the 1800s, English schools considered “&” to be the 27th letter of the alphabet, but it was a particular type of letter known as a “per se” character. They called it this because the glyph could be interpreted as both a letter and a word. As such, when English school children learned their ABCs, they recited the final letters as “X, Y, Z, and per se and.” This phrase eventually elided into what we now know as the “ampersand.”


Designers love it because it’s adventurous

Jonathan Hoefler—a preeminent typographer in the recent era of digital design—states that the continuing appeal of the ampersand springs from the character’s inherent whimsy. Even in the most minimal and rigid of typefaces, the ampersand introduces a certain visual softness through its intertwining curves, which Hoefler describes as both “adventurous” and imaginative.

Interest piqued? Fall in love with the ampersand yourself while exploring our curated gallery of ampersand glyphs or our library of artistic fonts—and in the words of Jonathan Hoefler, “May the ampersand never go extinct, and never be fully tamed.”


Explore the untamed ampersand ►

(via Fast Company)

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Caroline MercurioWhy Artists Love Ampersands

See the 10 Winning Designs of the Ultimate 80s Movie Poster Contest

by Caroline Mercurio on December 22, 2015 No comments

There’s plenty that we wish we could forget about the 80s. From Flock of Seagulls to the hideous overstuffed couch in your parents’ basement, certain atrocities should never again see the light of day. But movie posters are not among these many embarrassments. Some of our favorite films and fonts were born in the 1980s, just like us.

We indulged our nostalgia for neon colors and laser graphics with a $5000 contest for the ultimate 80s movie poster design, in partnership with Sitepoint and 99designs. The response was, to say the least, TOTALLY RIGHTEOUS. TUBULAR. RADICAL. We could go on.

Over 6,000 poster designs were submitted, but only one could take home the grand prize. A prize of $1000 for second place was also up for grabs and nine free annual subscriptions to GraphicStock for runners-up.

That left us with the near impossible task of selecting winners from the onslaught of really impressive entries. Believe us when we say we agonized and debated over the top 10 (a couple of judges still aren’t speaking to each other). We shed a tear every time an excellent design had to be disqualified for failing to follow the rules, such as using copyrighted material. We rejoiced at the versatility and skillfulness of all the four and five star entries.

After channeling the spirits of Bill and Ted, we somehow survived the greatest judging adventure of our lives and selected the winners. A huge thanks to everyone who entered—you made this decision crazy hard and we couldn’t be happier about it.

The winning design was a recreation of The Martian submitted by “ultrastjarna.” At first glance, you may not realize how complex this poster really was to create. The designer used five images from GraphicStock and masterfully combined and customized them into an authentically 80s movie poster.

The other winners also successfully embodied elements of the 80s—each taking a unique approach and transforming stock images in unexpected and artful ways.

Take a look at the final products by our winners. Can you identify the pieces that came from stock?

80s poster winners 1-min
80s poster winners 2-min
80s poster runner up 1-min
80s poster runner up 2-min
80s poster runner up 3-min
80s poster runner up 4-min
80s poster runner up 5-min
80s poster runner up 6-min
80s poster runner up 7-min
80s poster runner up 8-min
80s poster runner up 9-min

Start your poster design with more than 300,000 royalty-free graphics, vectors, photos, and design elements to choose from.

Get the Graphics from the Winning Poster►
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Caroline MercurioSee the 10 Winning Designs of the Ultimate 80s Movie Poster Contest

Free Vector Backgrounds

by Maddie Stearn on November 3, 2015 No comments

If you’re working on a design project, chances are that you’re going to need a background. Although minimalistic designs are becoming increasingly popular, even those designs often have backgrounds—they’re just not as noticeable.

While certain industries are leaning more towards sleek ads with clean lines, others are still employing bold colors and intricate patterns—so maybe it’s better to just throw up our hands and say, “Anything goes?” With these widely varying design trends, a large selection of vector backgrounds is always welcome. You don’t even have to use a background as a background—just take what you want from a vector image and leave the rest.


To get started on your next project, check out all of the vector backgrounds that went into making the graphic featured here.

See More Stock Vector Backgrounds
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Maddie StearnFree Vector Backgrounds

The Best Apps for Graphic Designers

by Caroline Mercurio on October 8, 2014 No comments

The Best Apps for Graphic Designers

In the world of digital graphic artistry, portability and online collaboration during the creative process are indispensable towards becoming a successful designer. There are a plethora of mobile and tablet apps that serve as the perfect tools to help you become a full-service graphic designer. Check out some of our favorite graphic design apps.

1. PicLab HD

The key to being a designer who is always thinking ahead is to stay inspired. Design inspiration while on the go is easy with the PicLab HD app. For $1.99, you can take photos from either your personal library or ones found on the Internet, and create inspirational and encouraging images with a host of different fonts, icons and logos to choose from.

2. Adobe Kuler

Released back in October 2011, Adobe’s free “Kuler” app is a color schemer’s dream. Simply snap any photo, or take one from your library, and the app creates five-color schemes based on the palette of the photo. You can then send these schemes to Illustrator or Photoshop when it is time to work.

3. MyPrice

If you wish to break the tethers of an in-house job and go into the freelance world, MyPrice is right up your alley. It is a free app that takes a lot of the guesswork out of how much you should charge clients, based on criteria such as location, client size, your education levels and graphic design experience.


Instead of having to carry around the quintessential bible of web-safe colors, the myPANTONE app allows you to keep over 13,000 colors and pairings at your fingertips. Although the $9.99 price tag may seem a little intimidating ($7.99 for Android users), it definitely beats carrying around nearly 20 pounds in color swatches any day.

5. Evernote

An absolute lifesaver for anyone who has productivity issues when it comes to keeping up with daily tasks and deadlines, Evernote keeps important notes and creative doodles in one handy space. And because you can sync your ideas across multiple platforms, you’ll never have to worry about finding your inspiration, even if you can’t find your phone.

Did we miss an app that you just can’t live without in your arsenal? Be sure to leave a comment below to get in on the conversation. If you’re looking for more graphic design ideas, browse through the collection of royalty-free stock images at
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Caroline MercurioThe Best Apps for Graphic Designers

Designing an Epic Fantasy Book Cover Part II

by Caroline Mercurio on September 14, 2014 No comments

Designing an Epic Fantasy Book Cover Part II

Part II: Unleashing the Wolf

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:
Designing an Epic Fantasy Book Cover, Part I
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.

Designing an Epic Fantasy Book Cover Part II

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.

Designing an Epic Fantasy Book Cover Part II

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.

Designing an Epic Fantasy Book Cover Part II

Up next: Part III: Fantasy Fonts . . .

Headshot-DiGuiseppi Andy DiGuiseppi is the owner of DiGuiseppi Studios, where he specializes in branding, graphics, and all things design.

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Caroline MercurioDesigning an Epic Fantasy Book Cover Part II

Creating the “Mad Men” Look Part II

by Caroline Mercurio on June 21, 2014 No comments

Creating the “Mad Men” Look Part II: A Fixed Record

With the outside cover of our Mad Men invitation completed in Part I, we’re ready to move to the inside.

This martini stock graphic from our library will serve as a good base, but not without some modifications. Drop the busy background and put the image in grayscale (minus the olive and toothpick), and we’re back on theme:

Madmen_Inside1  Madmen_Inside2

Next, let’s add a record vector to balance out the top and pull in our reds—keeping in mind we don’t have to search for the “perfect” image; the stock image of a record we went with was originally very busy, but you’d never know that from the single element we pulled.

Add text, once again in Trade Gothic Bold—and match the red to the record, and we’re getting closer to the finish line.

Madmen_Inside3 Madmen_Inside4

Check back for Part III: Smoke and Mirrors

Creating the “Mad Men” Look Part II

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Caroline MercurioCreating the “Mad Men” Look Part II

80’s Trends in Graphic Design

by Caroline Mercurio on June 16, 2014 2 comments

80’s Trends in Graphic Design

Everything old is new again, and in this case, not that old. Don’t look now, or should I say do look, because the trends and aesthetic of 1980’s and 1990’s graphic design have come back! You can’t keep a good design down, and what follows are insights as to why graphic trends of that era are special and appealing, and a musing on why and how they have returned circa 2014.

Styles like “Neon Noir” and “80’s Deco,” made the ’80’s distinctive. The 90’s weren’t as distinctive as the 80’s, but were arguably as singular and significant, and surely more experimental with the influence of flannel, long hair, grunge music and the “Seattle” style.

Neon Noir

neon noir

Neon Noir visually fused crime-filled streets with designer-filled wardrobes. Bright colors, dark backgrounds and scripted fonts of typography are all staples of this form. Favorite subject matter and source material included palm trees, sports cars, beautiful women and sunsets.

The films “To Live and Die in L.A.,” and “Thief,” and the hit television show “Miami Vice” sported elements of the Neon Noir design style. The movie posters for “Risky Business” and “License to Drive” were quintessential examples of the form.

80’s Deco


A full-blown art deco revival transformed graphic design in the 80’s. This modern design style is called 80’s Deco, and it made its mark not only on graphic trends but also on architecture and interior design. Earmarks of this style are overt angles and curves, and clean, sans-serif fonts.

The opening credits of “Miami Vice,” and renowned designer Razzia’s poster art of a 1936 Bugatti Atlantic automobile were prime proponents of this 80’s style art deco.

Seattle, Grunge, and Other “Subtle” Experiments of the 1990’s


The 90’s were distinguished by design movements with arguably less flash, but equal doses of singularity and distinctiveness. Grunge music burst on the scene in 1991, fueled by the band Nirvana, and the flannel, “Seattle” styles spawned by this cultural wave influenced everything from fashion to design.

The movie poster for the film “Singles,” and the film itself, visually and aesthetically covered this territory. So did Nirvana’s album designs, rave flyers and the Starbuck’s Coffee logo.

Back to the Future

So why is the current graphic design scene dotted with these visual ornaments of the recent past? Call it nostalgia, retro-thinking or just the fact that most everything is cyclical in the broad scheme of time. And if the designs stand the test of time, why not?

You can find royalty-free graphics of the 80’s and 90’s at


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Caroline Mercurio80’s Trends in Graphic Design