Graphic Design Trends

All posts tagged Graphic Design Trends

Trending This Week: Edgy Summer Event Posters

by Caitlyn Hampton on May 19, 2017 No comments

Killer graphic design isn’t just reserved for your day job. As the weather continues to warm up, people are getting in the party mood—and what better way to get your friends—and even strangers—to your epic events than with edgy, eye-catching posters and fliers?

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite stock images perfect for this party-ready aesthetic. From bold, geometric shapes to artistic and striking design elements, these posters are sure to draw the crowds. Use them for your next event, for an upcoming live show, or even for a pending design meetup.



These posters are completely customizable—so go wild and make them entirely your own! Ready to throw your big, summer bash?


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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Edgy Summer Event Posters

Trending This Week: Paradise Patterns in Graphic Design

by Caitlyn Hampton on May 5, 2017 No comments

As the weather heats up, so do design trends—and there’s nothing hotter than playful patterns that take you to the tropics. Everywhere we look, we’re seeing palms and sunny Summer motifs—vectors that reflect the shedding of winter layers and evoke the tranquility of warm weather adventures. Stay on-trend—and on time—with vacation-worthy stock images. To get you started, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites.


This torrid trend is completely versatile—use it for apparel design, packaging design, web design… the list goes on. Whether you’re looking to refresh your company’s swag or add fresh new designs to your lineup, these stock images can be customized to fit any form.

How will you turn up the heat? We applied the quirky fad to our own fun idea—a t-shirt mock-up made with stock images. Who’s up for a trip to the Bahamas?

Stock Images

Download this seamless stock image background of palm leaves.

So what do you say—are you ready to let some sunshine into your designs? If so, make sure to check out more of our top picks for Summer stock images. See you in paradise!


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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Paradise Patterns in Graphic Design

Trending This Week: Impressionist Paintings in UI Design

by Caitlyn Hampton on April 7, 2017 No comments

Degas, Renoir, Monet—these are some of the greatest impressionist painters of all time, and their emotive paintings still inspire artists and designers to this day. But you probably wouldn’t expect impressionism to show up in stock images, would you? Well prepare to be surprised! In our new Future of Creativity Collection, imagination meets tech—and we’re adopting classic styles to make them something new: digital.

Impressionism is a style of immediacy and movement—of expression as much as representation. Its colors are vibrant, its brush strokes apparent. Modern artists take it to another level using heavily saturated color palettes and modern scenes.

Curious how you can use this trend in your designs? Check out how we allowed this night time cityscape to inspire our design with this music app concept.

Stock Images

Download the stock image used in this design.

Bring your designs into the modern age with sleek text treatment, heavy blurs, and less than opaque containers. Think contrast and contradiction—mix classic painting techniques with tech and let your imagination run amok. The color explosion can be contrasted with sleek design elements.

Now it’s your turn. Are you ready to let Monet and Manet back into your artist’s heart?

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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Impressionist Paintings in UI Design

Trending This Week: Monochromatic Illustrations With Stock Vectors

by Caitlyn Hampton on March 31, 2017 No comments

The tug-of-war between design and color is a tale as old as time, but at the end of the day, good design deserves a thoughtful color scheme—and vice-versa. To get the most out of this dynamic relationship, learning the fundamentals of color theory is one of the first things you should tackle as a designer. Sometimes an idea can spring from a color palette and breathe life into your designs. Other times, it’s the glue that keeps all of your ideas together.

This season, one color scheme in particular is ruling the design scene, and it’s refreshingly easy to achieve. A monochromatic color palette is a great choice for creating visual consistency while keeping your projects on-trend. Just take a look at our monochromatic book cover design below. With just a few simple stock vectors, some carefully placed text, and a Hue blend mode layered on top, we’ve created a beautiful cover design of one of our favorite books—Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace.

Stock Vectors

Download the geometric seamless plaid stock vector and flat illustration stock vector used in this design.

Beautiful design doesn’t have to be difficult to achieve—in fact, simplicity often makes for a more effective design. Monochromatic color palettes can take retro elements like plaid and a typeface like Bookmania and make them feel modern and fresh.

So, what do you say—are you bold enough to start designing your own monochromatic illustrations with stock vectors?


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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Monochromatic Illustrations With Stock Vectors

Trending This Week: Linear Vector Icons in Web Design

by Caitlyn Hampton on March 24, 2017 No comments

In web design, vector icons not only make your page look on-trend, they’re also great to convey a large amount of information in a way that’s both efficient and visually appealing—a rare combination in the world of design. Since users tend to rapidly skim pages, well-designed icons make your message easier to pinpoint by breaking up the content of a page so that viewers can quickly identify your services or products.

Take a look at our example below. This attention-grabbing homepage is noticeable for all the right reasons—with one quick glance, you get all the important details without any visual or verbal clutter.

Stock Vectors

Download the icons used in this website design.


So now you see why icons are a win-win for content and design, but the tricky thing about icons is that they can be really tough to design well. They require time and an attention to detail that can take hours or even days to get just right—even if you’re a professional designer.

The good news? We recently acquired a new collection of stock vectors for our library, including dozens of high-quality icon designs. They will take your web pages to the next level and save you hours upon hours of work. Check out some of our favorites here and if you want to see how to use icons in a resume, check out this post.

Stock Vectors
So what do you say—are you ready to take your website designs to the next level?

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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Linear Vector Icons in Web Design

Trending This Week: Geometric Illustrations and Grunge Textures

by Caitlyn Hampton on March 17, 2017 1 comment

With flat design being all the rage recently, it’s hard to find a digital design with texture and depth. But trends are always evolving and revolving, so it came as no surprise when we noticed a deviation from this new norm. This textured landscape illustration by Berin Catic caught our attention. It still uses similar concepts to flat design—simple geometric forms, distilled down from their complex shapes in reality—however, with one distinct difference: the use of grunge textures. We couldn’t help but notice that this style can be easily recreated using stock images.

Stock Images Using Grunge Textures

Download the grunge texture and landscape vector used in this design.

Stock Images Using Grunge Textures

Download the grunge texture and landscape vector used in this design.

To recreate Catic’s look, we used simple geometric shapes, added a grunge texture with the blend mode set to Soft Light, and finally added a color overlay with the blend mode set to Hue. You can color each shape differently; however, we chose to use a color overlay for a monochromatic look.

So what do you say—would you add texture to your illustrations or are you a flat design for lifer? Let us know in the comments and get started with your next work of art!


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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Geometric Illustrations and Grunge Textures

7 Big Graphic Design Trends to Watch for in 2017

by Caroline Mercurio on December 13, 2016 6 comments

As the wild year of 2016 wraps up—crazy, we know—it’s a good idea to start looking forward in the world of design to see what graphic design trends are coming our way. We’ve been dreaming and imagining how we can incorporate stock photos and vectors. into new and exciting design themes. While we’ve seen some great trends over the past year, 2017 is promising to take design to a fresher, bolder level.

Learn how you can incorporate these trends into your designs using stock media from our royalty-free vector and photo library.


Material Design

Material design may just be the biggest and boldest of design trends to really try to grasp and understand. This style guide was created by Google to try and simplify the way designers design and users interact with the Internet. The core concepts of this trend are “material as a metaphor; bold, graphic, intentional; and motion provides meaning.”

Graphic Design Trends

Download this Infographic Chart Template.


What does all that mean? The visual aesthetic communicates clearly with your user. Draw inspiration from real-world materials—particularly paper and ink—to keep your designs grounded in reality, yet lightweight and minimalistic. Paper is tactile, casts shadows, but is also incredibly flexible. Design with those principles in mind and think about how you’re weaving together the fabric of the Internet.

Graphic Design Trends

Download these Web Infographic-Ready Button Vectors.


Be bold with your colors, contrast, and typography. Don’t shy away from imposing a strong hierarchy. Your design should guide the user’s behavior. Utilize motion in your designs—literal and implied—to communicate with your users. Always be thinking: How can I influence my audience to act the way I desire? Google’s Material Design aesthetic is very similar to Flat Design 2.0, but it takes intentionality to another level.


Bold Photography and Sleek Text


Download these images of A Fit Woman Running and the Determined Female Athlete in the Bleachers.


This may be the year of brave designers. Bold photography in coordination with sleek text is gaining momentum as a trend. This combination is often found in advertisements for brands that embrace adventure. Some examples include activewear brands like Nike and also fashion brands like Everlane, amongst many others. (Have you seen our tutorial on how to create striking text portraits?)

This combination exudes class, yet also excitement. It communicates a clear message, but doesn’t bore the audience. “Bold and sleek” works well for an audience with a short attention span as it gets straight to the point. This combination works great for display ads, social media promotions, and graphics where a small amount of information needs to be conveyed instantly. Incorporate bold borders to better emphasize your information and draw greater attention.


Modernized Retro

In our recent post about the hottest trends of 2016, we coined the term “Retro Nouveau” in order to distinguish what was commonly known as retro (20s-70s) from what newer retro designs are emulating (80s-00s). However, modernized retro is a whole other ball game. Consider it as a way of simplifying and modernizing any particular graphical element that stood out from any time period of the past.

Graphic Design Trends

Download this Nautical Vector Illustration.


For example, you could focus on modernizing old product labels that utilized badges and flowy script. Or possibly choose to recreate incredibly detailed artwork and icons and choose to scrape them down to their bare essential geometry. Maybe a color palette of the past inspires you—creams, reds, and baby blues, anyone?—and revitalize those little details in your new design. Breathe fresh life into old graphic classics and make something into your own.


Saturated Colors

Graphic Design Trends

Download this saturated image of a vivid sky at sunset.


Pantone often leads the way with seasonal color trends. In 2017, expect vibrant and bold colors that are incredibly true to their dominant hue. This trend started to sneak its way into a variety of design elements earlier in 2016, but should really pick up speed with the new year. Look for colors found in nature and intensify them. With photography, be bold and up the saturation of your images.

Graphic Design Trends

Download this image of a beautiful lake landscape with long time exposure.


In terms of designing with color, choose loud and deep colors—not necessarily bright. Look for colors that are heavy on the hue rather than brighter in lightness. In your graphic designs, utilize contrasting colors similar to what is suggested in material design. Allow each color to fearlessly draw attention to specific areas of your design.


Function First

Above all of the previously mentioned trends, function is the key player for 2017. As new technologies emerge like augmented reality, it’s important for designs to be clear about the action that is desired from a user. In fact, utilizing all of the above trends can help achieve this goal.

Utilize the presence of shadows and motion to indicate clear “clickable” portions of your web designs. Bold photography combined with minimal text can help relay an important message that needs to be quickly discerned. Modernized retro can help encapsulate a distinct feeling or sense of nostalgia you wish to associate with your product. Saturated and contrasting colors will draw attention to the most prevalent portions of a design. Think function and clarity in addition to aesthetically pleasing design.

Download this Abstract Geometric Background.


As technology adapts further and further, user experience is a necessity to keep in mind. As a result, many designs will have to be approached with practicality at the forefront of their concepts. Similar to how skeuomorphism helped ease the transition into smartphones and touch screens, designs for new technologies will need to be approached in a way that makes the most sense for new users—which is really all of us.


Magical Realism



Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. 2017 is not the year to be afraid; it’s the year to push boundaries. If you’re looking for some photos that can really set your designs apart, look no further than these magical realism photos–sure to cause a double-take.

They make an excellent backdrop for graphic posters, social media, and event promotions–really any project that you’d like to feel magical and inspiring. Want to add another touch of mysticism to these works of art? Try adding a grunge texture overlay to roughen them up a bit.


Social Media Madness

Graphic Design Trends

Download this image of Dramatic Sunbeams in the Sea.


Instagram and Snapchat took over in 2016 and new social media apps are keeping the momentum going into the new year. However, one thing is for sure: social media is more powerful than ever for business. And it’s really not as simple as it seems.

It can be hard to nail down what sort of content will perform successfully. Your social media posts are worthless without captivating graphics. Stock media can provide the perfect backdrop for any variety of social media content. One of our favorite combos? A stunning landscape with a motivational quote to accompany high-performing hashtags such as #motivationmonday, #thursdaythoughts, and #fridayfeeling. Need some help finding your perfect image? Explore our 50 favorite picks for social.

Are you ready for 2017? Try your hand at designing with these trends using stock vectors and photos. What better way to start the year than with a new creative project?


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Caroline Mercurio7 Big Graphic Design Trends to Watch for in 2017

5 Hottest Graphic Design Trends of 2016

by Caroline Mercurio on September 23, 2016 1 comment

Some trends last for ages while others are cyclical, but whether classic or fleeting, design trends are both inspiring and incredibly useful when it comes to your graphics work. So what’s been hot in 2016? The five styles that have dominated the year so far are outlined here to help you develop eye-catching and relevant concepts, while still staying true your unique creative vision.

We rounded up visual examples of each design trend using royalty-free stock graphics, which you can easily incorporate into your own projects. Here’s the breakdown:


1. Flat 2.0



Flat lay took the design world by storm back in 2013 with the release of Apple’s iOS 7. It was introduced as a way to draw focus to content, functionality, and clarity, and came about as a minimalist reaction to the previous trend of “skeuomorphism”—a more complicated and ornamental design concept of making items represented resemble their real-world counterparts such as wooden textures on a bookshelf and heavy use of gradients for an exaggerated 3D realistic look.

Early flat design consisted of bright and bold colors, intentional negative space, and simple typography combined with a complete lack of depth—hence the term, flat. Despite the intentions of its creators, one of the biggest complaints and drawbacks of Flat Design was the lack of clarity. Flat 2.0 is an updated, even clearer version. Though still simple in nature and bright and bold, the 2.0 design style hints at depth with subtle gradients and flat drop shadows to make interfaces more user friendly.

To utilize this trend in your designs, choose bright colors, minimal typefaces, simple shapes, and heavy uses of negative space—but don’t shy away from using subtle gradients to portray depth and light within your design. Incorporating motion into your designs can also help provide meaning and clarity for users.


2. Geometric Shapes



There is something about geometry that’s appealing to the human eye. Perhaps it’s because strong geometric lines indicate that the design is manmade. Or it could be because geometry occurs in nature everywhere. All we know is that strong geometric shapes and patterns are having a moment and it’s likely to last. Geometric patterns create bold and often dynamic designs that draw a user in. They portray heft and weight, yet still somehow indicate motion.

We’ve seen geometry in package design, branding, backgrounds, graphic elements, and more recently in web and user experience design. Geometric patterns are some of our most popular pieces in our stock graphics library and we’re expecting these to dominate the world of digital design shortly. To utilize this trend in your designs you can incorporate low-poly patterns, like this retro mosaic vector, as the background or hero image of a web page. Or consider balancing their heft with generous use of white space.

Geometric shapes also do well in logos, social media graphics, or brand collateral. Depending on the color palette you choose, you can convey playfulness or even a more serious tone with muted colors and strong use of black. Don’t be afraid of being bold—but balance is key!


3. Retro Nouveau



While a new or modern take on retro may seem like a paradox, just imagine art deco designs from the 20s or Bauhaus-inspired posters from the 60s. Nowadays, retro looks are drawing their inspiration from the late 70s through the 90s, which is why it’s important to note that this is a new kind of retro. Think nerdy nostalgia, pixelation, and colors on colors on colors.

This trend is playful, open-ended, and evokes fond memories. To imitate this trend, dig deep into your memory bank. Take something from your childhood and imagine how you can bring new life to it. Were video games your thing? Try your hand at a pixelated graphics. Was Fresh Prince of Bel-Air one of your all-time favorite shows? Incorporate funky and bold patterns into your branding. You can even do your best to encapsulate a specific feeling you associate with from one of those eras. Freedom. Rebellion. Free-spiritedness. You can revitalize your memories in modern ways to make old art feel fresh again.

Much like clothing from the 80s, many popular patterns with this Retro Nouveau twist are heavily saturated, shamelessly geometric, and warm. After all, trends tend to recycle, so it was only a matter of time before the 70s, 80s, and 90s made a comeback.


4. Motion



Motion in graphic design can be very useful for communicating a desired action from a user, but motion also has other uses and isn’t always indicated by dashed lines or swooshes—it can also be straightforward with actual movement. With recent boosts in technology, we experience greater capability in websites that support larger file sizes required by the movement

Digital designs can now host any number of different motion elements, including animated vectors (HTML5 is super powerful), visually striking cinemagraphs, and GIFs. With just a flicker of motion, users become more engaged without losing focus on content.

If you want to draw attention to a specific portion of your website, try adding animated vectors or SVG’s. Cinemagraphs as a hero image on your site can be a great way to capture the attention of visitors and influence them to continue scrolling or even draw greater attention an important piece of content. Small and subtle animations peak a user’s interest, without overwhelming the content.


5. Abstract Swiss



Many of the trends we’ve covered can be blended together—geometric shapes play well with retro nouveau, while Flat 2.0 and motion often go hand-in-hand in user interface design—but Abstract Swiss stands apart from these trends. Especially popular in web design and product collateral, Abstract Swiss involves the heavy use of white space, deconstructed layouts that break the rules, and a minimal color palette. It looks less structured and more abstract.

When designing in this style, harness your inner-rebel. Avoid aligning all of your design elements in a typical grid-fashion. Create intentional breaks and embrace an almost uncomfortable amount of white space. Refine your color palette to a minimal, monochromatic look and add moments of bold and black graphical elements.

Feeling inspired? Stealing like an artist is part of the process and copying design trends can help build your artistic muscles. Not entirely comfortable working with vectors? Check out our guide, try making these into your own, and exercise your creative voice.

If you’re looking for more trend-inspired creative assets, explore the royalty-free vectors and design elements in our stock graphics library.


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Caroline Mercurio5 Hottest Graphic Design Trends of 2016

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

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.

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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.

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Caroline MercurioGraphicStock Member Profile: Inside Woulds Design