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5 Summer Design Trends That Are Blowing Up Social Media

by Caroline Mercurio on May 15, 2017 1 comment

Whether you’re a Millennial or not, everyone is trying to market to them—and if you’re not, maybe you should be. From traditional mainstays like Suave shampoo to newer kids on the block like TOMS, brands the world over are tailoring their marketing creative to match the passions and tastes that define the Millennial market. More than just a buzzword, this social media savvy generation is a consumer force to be reckoned with—according to the U.S. Census Bureau, this young, vibrant demographic now outnumbers the Baby Boomers and makes up more than a quarter of America’s population.

So how do you catch the eye of that relevant, hip consumer this summer? We’ve combed social media for five of the hottest up-and-coming design trends that Millennials just can’t seem to get enough of—and we’re certain we’ll be seeing a lot of them this season. To help inspire you, we’ve outlined each of the influences behind these trends and added some examples of how to use them with our very own stock images.

 

#1 – Embrace Millennial Pink

 
stock images

Download the seamless floral vector used in this design.

 
NYMag caught onto this trend of a color that couldn’t quite be pinned down—and it’s called Millennial Pink. Millennial Pink isn’t just a single color per se. It’s range of colors that are indeed in the pink family, but the point is not what it is, but rather what it’s not. It’s not Barbie pink. Nor is it acid washed neon pink. And it certainly isn’t riddled with domesticity and gender exclusion—Millennial pink is for men, too.

More precisely, it includes a range of pinks that lack the blue tint of our beloved Barbie doll’s iconic look. It can range from a beige with only a hint of pink (think Pantone’s Pale Dogwood) all the way to a bold and decisive salmon with a strong presence of orange. It’s everywhere and let’s just say—Millennial Pink sells. This movement took a color that became a pillar of femininity—for better or worse—and stripped away its power. What can we say? Millennials have strong voices and opinions. So now pink is for everyone. And it’s here to stay.

Use it in your web design, packaging, apparel, advertisements, and more. The possibilities are nearly limitless because that’s the point of this color—stripping away limits.

 

#2 – Nature Found Patterns

 
stock images

Download the stock images used in this design.

 
As summer rolls around, it’s as if the design world remembers that greenery and nature become alive again, because every year we see a resurgence of patterns found outdoors. From palm fronds to marble slabs, the motifs of re-emerging nature comes back into play. However, let’s get a little more macro—as if you were to zoom in with a microscope.

We all know by now that nature is a strong advocate and supporter of geometry. The golden ratio is clear in many forms from the human form to the seashells we collect from the sandy beaches. These are the patterns that make for a summery, yet artistic feel. They can be implemented in apparel design, in contrast with more drastic and man-made linear patterns, or as an excellent backdrop to web designs.

Millennials may be hooked on social media and community connectedness, but it doesn’t mean they don’t still feel a strong connection with their surroundings.

 

#3 – Their Kind of Retro

 
stock images

Download the abstract wave element stock vector used in this design.

 
We have some scary news for you. The 70s and 80s are considered retro. (And maybe even the 90s.) Before you run away screaming in horror, keep in mind Millennials were born between the years of 1977 and 2000. So while some of them may remember the 80s, they certainly weren’t in the know of the popular graphic design styles.

What does that mean for design? Think Tron. Bold neon colors on top of dark grey and black backgrounds. The look is a powerful and punchy one. It’s nostalgia and futurism all-together in one.

 

#4 – Hygge Like A Hug

 
stock images

Download the abstract stock images used in this design.

 
Pronounced “hoo-guh,” hygge is a Danish word that cannot be directly translated to English without a full sentence, but generally describes a place or design that’s warm, cozy, and inviting—three strong emotional motivators when buying a product. Quite literally, it’s defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” So, how does a mouthful like that that translate into graphic design? And how can we replicate comfort in our pixels and JPGs?

Think gentle. Think soothing. Times are stressful lately, so how can we distill the chaos and anxiety that surrounds us into visually pleasing interpretations? Natural materials such as unbleached paper, soothing flesh-tones, and designs that recall a simpler time. Imagine browsing a selection of packaged goods down the aisles of your grocery store and feeling like you can breathe and pause once you come across a product that allows a visual sanctuary in your loud surroundings.

Allow for plenty of negative space, clear visual hierarchy, contrast for the sake of legibility, but not too much that it jolts the senses. It’s minimalism and warmth all in one that creates a sense of ultimate balance and comfort.

 

#5 – Modern Serifs

 
stock images

Download the photo of a misty countryside at sunset used in this design.

 
How long has the design world been touting future-forward and modern, sans-serif fonts—like say, Helvetica and Futura? Apparently too long. Serif fonts and typefaces have been experiencing a renaissance of sorts, but that doesn’t mean you can whip out your trusty, old Times New Roman just yet. With access to a plethora of fonts with resources like Google Fonts and Adobe Typekit, Millennial designers are putting their trust into the old-faithful fonts—but with a modern refresh.

We’re particularly fans of classics like Bookmania and Georgia, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t partial to newer renditions like a sturdy slab-serif or two. Here’s the deal though. You can’t go just go crazy into the style of lithographs and copy-heavy advertisements. Serifs are a statement. They should be used with modern and simplistic designs. They must take the center-stage and are not meant to be used in competition with other design elements. Make them bold, the H1. And allow a more subtle sans-serif to play the supporting role this time around.

The best thing about these trends is that they may already feel a little familiar to you—they’ve slowly been gaining traction on social media and in mainstream marketing over the past several months, but they’re guaranteed to be out en force this summer. And now we pass the baton on to you. With a library full of royalty-free stock graphics, the opportunities to create are limitless. How will you pass on your message?

 

Discover Modern Stock Graphics

 

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Caroline Mercurio5 Summer Design Trends That Are Blowing Up Social Media

Step Up Your Content Marketing with These 15 Authentic Stock Photos

by Jordan McElwain on April 29, 2017 No comments

If words are the notes of content marketing, then photography is the melody. Blending together content that cuts to the core with engaging imagery that connects emotionally isn’t easy—and keeping an editorial photographer on standby to capture these moments for every project isn’t exactly budget-friendly. That’s why everyone from bigtime agency execs to creative teams of one rely on stock photos to supplement, highlight, and bolster their projects.

Of course, not all stock photography is the same. In the yesteryears of the advertising industry, stock photos called up all sorts of canned, cliche, and overly-posed imagery—yet, today’s audiences are looking for something more real and authentic. In our bright digital future, consumer audiences are global and diverse, encompassing many walks of life and personal experiences–and they’re looking for content that reflects this.

So throw out that canned photo of an impossibly skinny woman laughing while she eats salad, or that overly posed shot of smiling businessmen looking at unlabeled pie charts—it’s time to connect with your audiences using imagery that’s real.

To help you better understand what we mean, here are 15 authentic stock photos your audience is bound to connect with.

 
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authentic stock photos

Not everyone in the world goes to work in a business suit—or even to a stereotypical office.
Download this photo.

 
2. authentic stock photos
What parent hasn’t seen this face at dinner time before? Businesses and brands can use this photo to advertise a family travel package or to portray disdain for a specific topic or service.
Download this photo.

 
3. authentic stock photos
Not every photo about parenthood should show the highlights. Connect with your audience by sharing in a potentially frustrating experience.
Download this photo.

 
4. authentic stock photos
If you’re an educator or offer tutoring, school supplies, or simply want to convey the message of what it is like to lose interest in something, this photo does the trick. Pair it with a good headline like “10 Ways to Break the Habit of Boredom,” and you have yourself the perfect imagery for marketing purposes.
Download this photo.

 
5. authentic stock photos
The majority of the working world starts their day with a cup of coffee or tea. Share in that relaxing moment with them.
Download this photo.

 
6. authentic stock photos
Instead of sharing images of already fit and toned people, why not share the ‘in progress’ action shots of what it’s really like to get into shape? This image exemplifies both the struggles and the conquests of living a healthy lifestyle.
Download this photo.

 
7. authentic stock photos
As authentic as it is charming, this granny and grandkid scene captures a special moment in time when two generations meet together.
Download this photo.

 
8. authentic stock photos
Binge watching TV is a cultural touchstone for most of today’s consumer audiences. This photo shows the trance-link state we all enter when hour three rolls around on our Netflix binge.
Download this photo.

 
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Families are unique and full of character—not bland like 1960s television families—capture their essence and connect with your audiences using photos like this.
Download this photo.

 
10. authentic stock photos
This hockey player makes a competitive, and brutal, sport look more like dancing rather than something only tough people can do. You can use it to capture emotions like hope, determination, and perseverance.
Download this photo.

 
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Family time is never perfect, but it always produces lifelong memories. An authentic action shot like this one with a family at the beach playing in the water together, can create that sense of connection and bond that we all crave.
Download this photo.

 
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With so many different occupations in the world, advertising often misses the mark by limiting its imagery to only men in business suits. Capture the world as it really is with photos of many different jobs and work settings.
Download this photo.

 
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Love comes in all shapes and sizes—something that modern advertising is just beginning to understand as it becomes more inclusive, using photos like this to connect with previously ignored consumer audiences.
Download this photo.

 
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Like it or not, technology has become fully integrated into our daily lives. Use tech-lifestyle images to promote online experiences.
Download this photo.

 
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Move aside Millennials, here comes Gen Z. Today’s youth is tomorrow’s future—use this photo to connect with the world’s newest consumer demographic.
Download this photo.

 
Building an authentic connection with your audience is the key to good, strategic, marketing. Use these authentic stock photos to connect your audiences to your brand and enjoy better results for it.

 

Get Real with Stock Photos

 

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Jordan McElwainStep Up Your Content Marketing with These 15 Authentic Stock Photos

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?

 

Get the Graphics

 

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Caitlyn HamptonTrending This Week: Color Block Designs with Stock Graphics

Get Your Swag On: Designing Swag with Stock Graphics

by Caroline Mercurio on February 14, 2017 No comments

T-shirts, hats, mugs, bags, pens, or socks—if you can think of it, you can put your logo on it. Swag is a crucial part of your marketing strategy. If it’s wearable or useful, you can guarantee great swag will get your brand in front of new eyes and help create lasting awareness. To spark your inspiration, we’ve outlined three ways companies can use swag to show off the strengths of their business and values—whether you’re a small business owner or Mark Zuckerberg himself, these top swag tricks will help you elevate your brand to the next level.

Keep in mind, you can’t just slap your logo on a coffee mug and call it a day, not if you want to make a significant impact—you don’t want to devalue your brand with common promotional products. Push the design of your swag to the next level and incorporate stock graphics, vectors and photos to help the inner spirit of your brand shine.

Your company’s brand is more than just the logo and colors—it’s a personality and a vision. Highlight your brand’s internal values that don’t always get to shine so brightly to the world outside your office. Swag is an excellent marketing tool, but it’s also an important way to create a strong working community among coworkers and teammates.

 

#1 Swag for Facebook

Consider Facebook, for instance. They have five core values that drive their inner company workings and their hiring process. While they aren’t always advertised to the external world, it’s a huge part of their company culture and brand. As an example, we created a quick swag design encapsulating one of their values—in the words of Mark Zuckerberg, “Move fast and break things.”

 
Stock Graphics

Download the stock image of a blur speed effect used in this design.

 

#2 Swag for Google

Google is another company with strong internal values. They are innovative, creative, and they push boundaries. One of their ten core values is, “You can be serious without a suit.” They believe work should be challenging—but also fun. To reflect that playful attitude and boundary pushing mentality, we imagined a fun baseball cap that proudly boasts the value.

 
Stock Graphics

Download the stock illustration of an astronaut used in this design.

 

#3 Swag for Slack

Slack is another company with strong internal values that don’t always see the light of day. They focus on three keywords: diligence, curiosity, and empathy. Slack’s brand always portrays a fun and playful attitude—similar to Google—but with a little more youth and edginess due to their bright, saturated, and hip brand colors. We imagine that their swag should be playful and maybe even downright silly—like this bag.

 
Stock Graphics

Download the cat vector illustration used in this design.

 
There are so many possibilities when it comes to designing swag—especially when you have unlimited downloads from our library of royalty-free stock images. Try not to limit your designs to a simple logo. Think edgier, more fun, more creative. Whether the swag you’re designing is for your customers or your employees, the more unique the design, the more effective your swag will be in spreading your brand’s message and increasing awareness.

Ready to take your company’s swag to the next level? Explore our library of stock images, or check our Top 30 Favorite Label Vectors for Branding for more swag inspiration.

 

Start Designing

 

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Caroline MercurioGet Your Swag On: Designing Swag 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.

 

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stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.

 

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Download these stock labels.

 

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stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.

 

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stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.

 

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Download these stock labels.

 

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Download these stock labels.

 

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Download these stock labels.

 

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stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.

 

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stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.

 

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stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.

 

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stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.

 

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stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.

 

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stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.

 

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stock vector labels
Download these stock labels.

 

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stock vector labels
Download this stock label.

 

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

 

Download All 30 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.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of an elderly man at work.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of a happy boy laughing.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of a woman and her husband.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this lifestyle portrait of a young woman working out.

 
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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.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this street photograph of people in a crowd.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this photograph of graffiti on the metro.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this photograph of a young skateboarder in the city.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this photography of a tourist photographing a Vatican street.

 
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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.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this flat lay laptop photograph.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this flat lay fresh fruits in a cone photograph.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this pills on a plate flat lay medical photograph.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this ice cream packaging bags flat lay photograph.

 
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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.

 
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Stock Photos

Download this quirky photograph of a business person exercising.

 
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Stock Photos

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

 
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Stock Photos

Download this quirky photograph of a senior cook.

 
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Stock Photos

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

 
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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.

 

Un-stock Your Ads

 

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

Have No Fear—These Halloween Stock Vector Projects Are Scary Easy

by Caroline Mercurio on October 7, 2016 1 comment

We love Halloween. As soon as the calendar hits October 1st, we start thinking of ways to utilize our royalty-free stock vectors for all sorts of inventive Halloween designs. Last year we created awesome printable Halloween masks, but this year we’re taking it to another level with festive posters, invitations, and pumpkin carving templates.

Our library is full of unique Halloween vectors, and the beauty of working with them is how easy they are to customize or incorporate into your larger design—even in Photoshop. Here are three fun and spooky ways you can bring your Halloween creations back from the dead this year.

 

1. An Eye-Catching Event Poster

 
Halloween Stock Vector Projects
 
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, starts the day after Halloween and brings colorful inspiration beyond orange and black. With one of the intricate sugar skull vectors in our library, we created a vibrant event poster highlighting this traditional illustration.

To recreate this poster:

1. Open a new Photoshop file with poster dimensions of 24 x 36 inches and color the background black.

2. Drop in this sugar skull vector, then select and delete the white background—you may need to rasterize the layer first.

3. Enter your desired text with your chosen typeface.

4. Warp the top text by clicking menu item Type>Warp Text>Style: Arc. Be sure Horizontal is checked and adjust to your desired bend.

To add a little more depth to the poster, we also added a few texture layers. Place this grunge texture image as the top layer. Resize it to the full width of the poster, change the blend mode to Multiply, and lower the opacity to 25%. Add another geometric texture above the background layer and adjust the opacity to 25%. These textures add visual interest and keep the poster from appearing too flat.

 

2. Spirited Party Invitations

 
Halloween Stock Vector Projects
 
Sometimes you’ve got to get punny, and there’s no better time than Halloween. Our library has plenty of festive and easily customized illustrations and vectors, like this owl artwork.

To recreate this invitation:

1. Open a new Photoshop file sized at 4 x 6 inches.

2. Place the owl image into the file as a smart object, resize it to 4 inches wide, and center it horizontally and vertically.

3. Rasterize the layer and fill in the remaining background by selecting the surrounding area and clicking menu item Edit>Fill>Contents: Content Aware.

4. Create new text and add in “Owl See You Oct. 31” or your own customized text. For this poster, we continued to use the Google Font, Creepster.

5. Add any additional party information below the owl.

Not much of a planner and afraid of using snail mail? Don’t worry, these graphics are also great for social media use. You can make the dimension of your artwork either square or horizontal and still achieve the same effect by posting to a Facebook event or even by sharing through email.

 

3. Spooky Pumpkin Carving Templates

 
Halloween Stock Vector Projects
 
Halloween is incomplete without an old fashioned carved pumpkin or two. While carving pumpkins maybe be a timeless tradition, you can apply some tech-savvy techniques to your artistry. We’ve gathered a few simple and spooky graphics that would make excellent templates for your pumpkins.

To create your own carving template:

1. Open the vector file in Photoshop and convert the images to a highly contrasted black and white graphic. (Image>Mode>Grayscale; Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast—and increase contrast to desired level.)

2. Print them out and stencil in the black areas after cutting them from the paper.

3. Carve the appropriate portions of each design into your pumpkin. We used these freaky teeth and added some basic eyes before printing. Or check out more vectors and illustrations we’ve used for pumpkin carving.

Halloween is about having fun and letting loose. Don’t feel like you have to play by the rules when creating your designs. You can take them to a scary, horror-inspired level or get silly and playful like we did. But start prepping soon—Halloween is just around the corner.

 

Get Spooky Designs

 
 

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Caroline MercurioHave No Fear—These Halloween Stock Vector Projects Are Scary Easy

Top 20 Vector Posters: Time-Saving Templates for Every Imaginable Purpose

by Caroline Mercurio on September 30, 2016 2 comments

No matter your industry, reaching and engaging an audience is a must. But how do you rise above the noise when people are bombarded with thousands of images and ads every single day? Never fear, because stock vector posters are here. Whether promoting an event or a product launch, these 20 top-ranked templates let you make stunning designs in minutes—allowing your work to stand out in a good way.

Vector posters are among the most versatile media you can master. They’re ideal for social channels as well as print, with minimal to no adjustments needed. Send your campaign out via email and Facebook, then print posters, brochures, and banners to really hammer the message home. Our members love these vector templates because they save hours and hours of design time, and they’re royalty-free so it’s okay to create ads with them.

From sales and inspirational office decor to theater performances and school events, there’s a vector poster to make your life easier. Try out our top 20 picks and see how much punch you can add to your next campaign.

 

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Top 20 Vector Posters

 
Having trouble picking your favorite? You don’t have to! With unlimited downloads of our royalty-free stock vectors, you can have them all. Download the whole batch here and make them your own with some clever, concise text. Because the files are EPS (Adobe Illustrator) format, customization is a breeze.

If you need more direction on getting started with Illustrator, check out our post on editing vectors in Adobe Illustrator.

Let us know what you end up creating in the comments section below!

 

Get the Top 20 Now

 

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Caroline MercurioTop 20 Vector Posters: Time-Saving Templates for Every Imaginable Purpose

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