5 Things You Need to Master for Stunning Designs


When it comes to getting started with creating stunning designs, two things are necessary: skills and resources. However, for starters, graphic design can all seem a little too overwhelming at first. From long hours of practice to an unending need for creativity; not to mention some graphic design resources cost a pretty penny, it can sometimes become an uphill task for novices. But that shouldn’t deter you from creating stunning designs. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of amazing freebies and affordable tools that can help you get the head start you need to become a veteran designer. Plus, with the right skills, you can be a master in the game without even trying.

In this blog post, we’ll highlight 5 things that you need to master in order to get an edge in creating stunning designs. Sound good? Let's dive right in.

UI Design

Here’s the blatant truth: No matter how amazing your designs are, it's pretty much pointless if they don't make a good first impression. That is to say, if people don’t like what they see at first glance, then you’re probably not going to wheel in as many people as you would want. So it makes perfect sense that we would mention the UI design here.

The truth is, UI design is pretty much a necessity when it comes to the graphic design front. So, it’s good you have all your bases covered in as far as skills go but every other graphic designer does too. So you need to ensure that you have an ace up your sleeve. If you make a good first impression, then whatever you call to action has a higher chance of being acted on.

Photoshop Overlays

Don’t take chances! You need to be able to create stunning designs every single time. But you and I both know that it’s much easier said than done. Not to mention your audience is a bit more particular and will often times shun blatant designs almost as soon as they see them. Therefore, you need to create compelling images. Images that will create a connection between you and your audience. Images that will ultimately convert your audience into customers. But how do you do that?

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of tools to help you create stunning designs. And one of the best in this front is Photoshop overlays. Photoshop overlays are one of the most versatile ways to transform the look and feel of your designs. With photoshop overlays, you can add texture and elements to an image and transform an otherwise uninspiring image to a stunning piece of art. So whether it's a stunning fog effect that you are looking for or a whimsical autumn, fairy garden or falling leaves effect, there are literally dozens of themes to help you create the perfect design. If you’re looking to create stunning designs, then you definitely need to master photoshop overlays.

Lightroom Presets

It goes without saying Lightroom presets are yet another resource you need to master in graphic design. From nitty-gritty aspects such as image exposure and white balance to more complex aspects such as curves, tones, and shadows. Along with ensuring that you create stunning designs from the onset, Lightroom presets have a lot to offer. Also comes in handy later on when you want to ensure that the final piece is nothing short of a stunning masterpiece. And the best thing about Lightroom presets is that they’re pretty easy to master.

Typography

Next up is typography. Typography is basically the art and technique of arranging the visual component of written words to make written language more legible. If you want to master typography, there are lots of typography tutorials to help. However, good typography often comes down to creative intuition. Once you grasp the basics, all you need to do is look for typography resources that will help you further sharpen your skills.

Here are some typographic considerations that you’ll need to take into account when mastering typography.

Size

Typefaces are not created equally. Some are wide some fat, some are narrow and yet others thin. So word sets in different typefaces take up a different amount of space depending on the size.

Tracking and Kerning

Tracking here relates to the spacing of characters applied evenly whereas kerning is basically adjusting spaces between characters to create a harmonious pairing.

Logo Designing

Here is another thing that you need to master to create stunning designs every time. In many forms and instances, the logo is what distinguishes a particular company from the other. Think about Guinness, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and KFC. They are all visually represented by their logos. It doesn’t matter where they are in the world customers will still flock towards the direction that these logos are.

The truth is, the importance of a logo cannot be underestimated. They not only help identify a company but they are also a succinct and efficient way of communicating more about the company. Which means that the designs have to be both intuitive and stunning to wheel people in.  And since it’s something you’ll probably be doing a lot of, it's definitely one of the many things that you want to master to perfection.

Conclusion

Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the number of graphic design skills you need to master to create stunning designs. Sure there are plenty more things that need to be mastered but these five are the most important. The bottom line is to ensure that you have mastered every aspect of photoshop overlays, typography, Lightroom presets, logo designing and UI design to come up with stunning and striking designs every time.

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Wes Anderson Prints

Wes Anderson Prints


Wes Anderson is known for his quirky characters and his colorful aesthetic. His films are often the subject of talented artists and designers and it's refreshing to see how the different interpretations can bring these characters to life.

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One of the more fun projects I've seen recently are these prints of original acrylic paintings by Laura Weiszer -- an illustrator, designer, and student from Philadelphia, PA. The prints are from her Etsy shop, The Wes Anderson Project.

I love these portraits because they bring a whole different kind of quirk and personality to these faces we know so well. The colors not only capture the feel of Anderson's films, but they also just look so vibrant and awesome.

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Valentine Card Trends: Shape & Function

Valentine Card Trends: Shape & Function


Unique Valentines Day cards are booming everywhere! Give something fun to a secret crush, your grade schoolers classmates or your life-long love. There is something for everyone from easy DIYs, quick printables and a few fabulous Etsy card inspirations.


Finish off your Valentine's Day Cards with a matching sticker printing order to seal up the envelopes. Find great deals at Next Day Flyers.

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source: Fortune Teller

Activity cards can be fun for all ages. Present your valentine with a fun fortune telling card. This DIY card could get really creative! The fortunes on the inside could go as far as presenting fun things to do with your day/evening when you give it over... if you have made mystery plans for your crush or loved one, you could let them choose their fortune of events such as dinner, dancing, drinks, foot rub, shots, wine, make-out... you get the picture. ;)

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The Color of Love Through the Artistic Eye

The Color of Love Through the Artistic Eye


Love is most often associated with the color red. Be that by conditioning of incessant advertising or that we are drawn to it by nature. Secondary to red is of course pink, in almost any level of saturation.

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Red is one of those colors that possesses the strongest Ying and Yang of its theoretical definitions. Between love and hate, rebirth and death, the human relationship in any combination, could literally be summed up in the meaning of the color Red. Pink has what I would describe as a temperamental scale, more based on softness versus loudness than the extreme left or right end of the spectrum.

"Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love." - paper-leaf.com // COLOR THEORY poster freebie

As we know, colors can generate a wide variety of emotions. Red might be the most diverse and along with pink, a tag-along little sister, many other colors in tow can lend a visual message of love a great big pop!

Falling in Love by Etsy artist,  DJEMBE & CANVAS

"Cranes represent longevity and grace. The flocks ascend our champagne symphony, where love is blessed upon those who simply believe." - posted by artist at the listing

The artist gave us a wonderfully light feeling with this palette and the birds adding further motion. I also like how the painting balances the realities of "love" with a little bit of darkness in the bottom right corner. What do you think of this palette and representation of falling in love?

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Home Decor Trends That Will Lead 2012 By Storm: Part 1

Home Decor Trends That Will Lead 2012 By Storm: Part 1


Home decor has become quite a happening thing that can encompass your whim and personality more and more. It is more widely accepted to make your space a unique one instead of trying to keep up with the Jones'. Let's take a look at what trends became red hot in 2011 and are sure to become more so as 2012 launches off.

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Owls & Birds

The owl is a decor trend that has been there all along in some shape or form since the 1900's. Through taxidermy, design inlay on a leather piece or stitched in to a hanky, these mysterious night creatures have been a part of our culture as a piece of interest for a very long time. I remember my grandmother had a macramé owl in her indoor greenhouse when I was a child and other various owl decor in a very 1970's fashion.

green ceramic | white ceramic | tan ceramic | stonewarewooden | pillow with print | dish set  | pillow screen print  | coastersceramic wall hook | calendar

The recent trend of owls from about 2009 through the present has definitely picked up on a new level of design playing off of vintage styles with a modern day twist that makes them not so tasteless, but fascinating and simply adorable from everything home decor, holiday ornaments, fashion and party decor. People can't seem to get enough owl.

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The COLOURlovers Gift Guide, Plus Exclusive Mugo Discount & Case-Mate Giveaway

The COLOURlovers Gift Guide, Plus Exclusive Mugo Discount & Case-Mate Giveaway


Some people are tough to shop for, but not to worry because the COLOURlovers gift guide has a little something for everyone. This guide is full of colorful ideas from our favorite stores as well as some wonderful DIY projects that are so darn easy to do for that person that deserves something special. Check out the gifts below, and if you want even more ideas, make sure to check out our curated Gift Guide on Pinterest. We have lots of goodies over there too. So here we go!

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For The Cooks: For that aspring chef in your life here are a few things that will brighten up their kitchen and spirits as they spend their days making magic in the kitchen. The bowls are perfect for serving and a hand-held blender is great for the friend that makes mashed potatoes or protein shakes and doesn't want the hassle of all the clean up. If you want to go the extra mile, consider getting a recipe book and filling it with your favorite family recipes and collect favorite recipes from family and friends. These gifts are sure to be a hit for that lovely cook.

1. Bowls, 2. Recipe Book, 3. Blender, 4. Cutting Board, 5. Knives

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Halloween Colors: Where Did They Come From?

Halloween Colors: Where Did They Come From?


Pumpkin orange and midnight black—the predominant colors of Halloween combine the Autumn season with darkness and scary entities.

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(source)

But how did these colors really come to dominate this most unusual holiday? The truth is, when it comes to the question of the origin of the Halloween colors, it can be hard to separate the opinions from the facts.

Unbleached beeswax candles (source | source)

The most common opinion about where the colors originated is steeped in the rich history of the Celtics and the Druids, with the burning of unbleached beeswax candles (orange) and ceremonial caskets draped in a black cloth.

Feng Shui candles are said to help create peace in the center of your house (source)

Now, let’s step into the world of Feng Shui, where a balance of energy reigns supreme. Believers of Feng Shui feel that the colors of orange and black were chosen because they are on opposite sides of the energy spectrum: orange is warm, happy, lively, and brings to mind the bounty of the fall harvest, while black represents mystery, void, power and protection (source).

(leaves source)

The most obvious answer to this question is that the classic color of Autumn is orange, while black can be equated with the approaching darkness of winter.

spider glasses | felted toysnapkinsBunting 

And, if you want to get really extreme, some people claim that black and orange were the only colors left after Christmas took red and green, and Easter took all of the pastels.

Of course, Halloween colors are not just limited to orange and black, you will also see a lot of blood red, eerie green, ghostly white and deep purples. So, where do these colors come into play? Here is a plausible explanation.

Celtic wheel of the year (source)

Going back to the Celtic festival of Samhain in 700 B.C., it signified the end of the harvest and the approaching of winter, or the end of one year and the start of another. The Celts believed that ancestral spirits joined them on this day when the past and the present are about to cross paths, which is why it was also considered a “day of the dead.”(source)

goblin | bat necklace | brooch | Boo

All of the Halloween colors seem to implicate some kind of connection to death and dying. Red is a classic implication of blood, fire and demons, while green represents goblins, monsters, and zombies. Purple draws in a bit of the supernatural and mysticism, while white reflects ghosts, mummies and a full moon.

Stepping away from color for a moment, Halloween is also dominated by an abundance of Jack-o-lanterns and children out trick-or-treating. These traditions also have an interesting origin.

Stingy Jack (source)

Jack-o-lanterns trace back to the Irish myth of Stingy Jack who died and, finding himself rejected by both heaven and hell, was forced to roam the darkness seeking a resting place for his soul. Legend has it that he hollowed out a turnip and used it to carry a coal to light his way. This said, the first Jack-o-lanterns were carved in turnips, and only changed to pumpkins when the tradition was brought to America.

jack-o-lanterns (source)

Trick-or-treating came about during the Great Irish Potato Famine. On Halloween, peasants would beg for food from the wealthy. They played practical jokes on those that refused to give them something. So, to avoid being tricked, the wealthy gave out cookies, candies, and fruit. It is easy to see how this turned into modern-day trick-or-treating. (source)

bracelet | plastic mustaches / lips | zombie clips | toy

No matter what history tells us, the Halloween color palette we see today is warm, bright, fun, and sometimes a little spooky. Each color has a place in the holiday and can find a place in your life as well, whether you are wearing it, eating it, decorating with it, or simply reading about it. So, have a happy, safe and colorful Halloween!


header credit: purple bats
Happy_Halloween!


Halloween Colors

Trick_or_TreatOctobers_EndTrick_o_TreatPumpkin_Moon_IF23toxic_psychedelicHappy_Halloween!halloween_treatPumpkin_Moon_IF23Nuclear_HalloweenHALLOWEEN_SOCKShappy_halloween!Retail_Halloweenho_ho_ho-lloween!!This_is_HalloweenHalloweenspooky_stuff

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The Sentiment of Paper Dolls Past and Present

The Sentiment of Paper Dolls Past and Present


Paper dolls and their costumes provide a look at cultures from around the world. They give us a glimpse at what was worn by men and women through the centuries. Celebrities were turned into paper dolls, as were storybook characters. Its easy to find your favorite subject in paper doll form; from Little Fanny to the Bobbsey Twins and The Flintstones to political cartoons. The history of the paper doll is likely unknown by many, so today, we're going to take a trip back in time to unearth the history of what every child was once familiar with!

This article presented by the offset flyer printing company, Next Day Flyers. Printing flyers and so much more.

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Our story begins in 1810 when S. & J. Fuller produced a small book. The moral story was accompanied by a series of hand colored little boys in various costumes that correspond with the story. They were somewhat unusual in that there was not a full body paper doll. Instead, there was a single head for the set of dolls that neatly fit in a v shaped horizontal slit on the back of each costume. Presumably one head was used to require the child to move the head from costume to costume as the story progressed. The book was titled The History & Adventures of Little Henry. It was the first in a series of similar books that became quite popular. The second book, also published in 1810 was History of Little Fanny. (source)

(source)

(source)

The paper doll was even used in a Political cartoon from August 15th, 1925. The ad, originally in black and white, was restored and colored by Judy M. Johnson of Paper Goodies.

1925 source

This ad encourages its readers to "see just how she uses three of the Cutex "smoky" shades by cutting out the figures above" and goes on to talk about the 12 "smart shades" that are available for only 35¢. Yes, you read that right, just 35¢ in 1936!

1936 source

When paper dolls surged in popularity as toys, manufacturers of all kinds of household goods took advantage of their popularity by using them to promote their wares. Paper dolls appeared in advertising, some die-cut, some as cards to cut out. A few of the products advertised with paper dolls were Lyon's coffee, Pillsbury flour, Baker's chocolate, Singer sewing machines, Clark's threads, McLaughlin coffee and Hood's Sarsaparilla. These dolls were plentiful and are still fairly easy to find today, often pasted into colorful scrapbooks. Later, from the 1930s to the 1950s, companies put paper dolls into their magazine advertisements to sell such goods as nail polish, underwear, Springmaid fabrics, Quadriga Cloth, Ford Cars, Fels Naphtha and Swan soaps, Carter's clothing for children, and more. (source)

1950 source

The 1930s through the 1950s can perhaps claim the title "Golden Age of Paper Dolls," as their popularity during those years has never been equaled. Barbie may be credited or condemned for the decline in popularity of paper dolls in the 1960s. Paper-doll versions of Barbie and her sister, Skipper, were strong sellers in the 1970s. Boyfriend Ken and girlfriend Midge were also made as paper dolls. Paper Barbies appeared in books and in boxed sets from 1962 through the 1990s, and have dwindled to nearly nothing in the first years of the 21st Century.

Paper Dolls Today

VaVa farmed paper dolls from her childhood.

(source/source)

Zevi likes to recreate paper dolls using fabric. This one in particular is Dolly Dingle.

(source)

Vintage_Paper_Dolls

(source)

A playful portrait of yourself, your pets or your family. You provide the photos and choose the clothes, and they illustrate a quirky stylized moveable likeness of your favorite animal/person.

(source)

 This gorgeous oversized postcard has all you need to dress Miss Clara up in her favourite winter outfits.

(source)

Imogen is approximately 7 inches tall (18cm) and is printed on heavy weight matte card stock. She comes with quite a wardrobe as well! Summer outfits, winter attire, beachwear and sleepwear. 8 outfits in all, plus coordinating accessories.

(source)

These lovely paper dolls are printed on heavy-duty water-resistant magnetic paper. These magnets preserve the detail of the original watercolors. They will stick to any metal surface: fridge, file cabinet, or anything else in your nest that needs feathering.

(source)

I love these Betsy McCall Halloween paper dolls from 1953.

(source)

It is possible to unearth paper dolls from the past. Looking in books and through loose pieces of paper is a great way to start. There are paper doll conventions held throughout the year if you're hoping to find antique paper dolls from their early debut. Creating your own paper dolls can be really fun, especially for kids! It allows you to personalize your dolls clothes, hair, facial features etc. The possibilities are endless!

Header credit.

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Breast Cancer Awareness: Using the Color of Cause in Business

Breast Cancer Awareness: Using the Color of Cause in Business


Millions of pink Breast Cancer products get ready to take October by storm. The colors of awareness are popping up everywhere by any number of businesses large and small…

“Buy this pink product and all proceeds will be donated to breast cancer.”

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photos by me | The Human Bean donates all proceeds to the local hospitals on a certain day in October.

This might be one of the most successful marketing ploys of the twentieth-century. Why? Because people don’t mind contributing when they feel like they are getting something out of showing their support.

Take a look at the average consumer, who generally does not have or want to spend the extra cash to simply donate. Now they can donate and get something in return. Wouldn’t you much rather spend $8.00 on a pink water bottle than donate $8.00 directly to a charity? I am going to buy a water bottle anyway.

Embrace Activism Products specifically designed around Breast Cancer

The sheer number of charities asking for donations can be daunting. How do you pick one if you don’t necessarily have a sentimental reason to go with one or the other?

Being an average person and general consumer of every day products, I have no personal reasons to choose to financially support a cause. So unless someone asks me to donate I most likely wouldn’t think to donate if it wasn’t right in my face when I go to the store. But, since I’m there, I might as well buy the loaf of bread with the pink ribbon graphic promising to donate for me. I feel good about supporting a cause and I get my loaf of bread, everyone wins.

Simple Methods, Big Impact

A couple basic cause-based advertising models…

Spare Change: Asking customers if they would like to round up their purchases to donate the extra change to a certain cause or charity. Normally something at a grocery store, but you could use this on a smaller scale in almost any type of situation.

Color it Pink or add a Pink Ribbon: This is the biggest marketing scheme we see on a daily basis. Companies small and large use this method to generate awareness for their brand, products and the cause (of course). Pair up with a foundation or simply donate to local programs (organized charities, hospitals, groups) to draw in community members.

Small & Large Scale Business for Charity:

With October just a hop over the fence, there is ample opportunity to get in on it some way or another! From using the color pink and boobies in unexpected product design or creatively funny ads, it's a great way to step out of your regular routine and make a splash at it!

Products & Proceeds

Jordan "Think Pink"Nike "Think Pink"

 

Pink tortillas, El Rey tortilla factory (2009) 

Putting on events or being involved in events can get your brand out there in any number of ways...

Ladies Golf Breast Cancer Day at Jamberoo Golf Club. 

2011 Camaro SS Pink Breast Cancer NASCAR Pace Car

Penny Lancaster Pink Ribbon Walk 2011

Etsy...

I'm actually surprised at how little Etsy crafters have made for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I'm even more surprised that more than half the crafters displaying content for sale, are not even trying to pull off donating proceeds or a percentage to some foundation or another...which would probably help their purchases. Maybe we'll see more pop up as we get in to October more.


 

So is it wrong or right to run creative promotions and sell product based on Breast Cancer Awareness?

With October being the official month for Breast Cancer Awareness, there are plenty of opportunities to run a caused-based promotion with your small business be that an Etsy shop or physical business.

So morally, is this a bad thing to run a creative promotion or sell your products based around Breast Cancer Awareness? When it comes down to the dollar and the sense of it all -- what this has really done is create HUGE avenues to more regularly and more actively generate money and massive awareness for these causes. Think of how much more funds have been raised due to proceeds and percentages donated by businesses than before when people were simply asked to provide a dollar donation.

However funds are raised, the cause is important and breast cancer takes too many of our wonderful women. And as always directly donating to an organization is a great way to make a difference. Foundations such as the SUSAN G KOMEN - for the CURE provides tons of resources to understand Breast Cancer for both the diagnosed or if you just want to know more about it along with donating and finding things like races and events to be a part of.

What's the coolest breast cancer product or ad you've seen? 

If you are a Breast Cancer Survivor or know someone who has been diagnosed, what are your thoughts about businesses donating proceeds and percentages?


Choose_to_Standout--Miracles_do_happen..Check_the_boobs!Survivor

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Lover Feature: Designer, Shawna Crouch aka "sec9586"

Lover Feature: Designer, Shawna Crouch aka "sec9586"


Some of you may already know our own sec9586, some of you may have just heard of her as the designer of the Betabrand plaid pattern, "Betabrand2" in our contest, "Color a Plaid Shirt Contest by Betabrand + COLOURlovers". Either way, we're featuring her today so you can get to know her even better!

Shawna Crouch, aka "sec9586", is the owner / operator of CrouchDesign. She attended Murray State University, where she graduated with a BS in Studio Art/Graphic Design in 2009, and specializes primarily in print design. Along with her designing day job, she runs a small shop on Zazzle as CrouchDesign, where she offers freelance design services. She also has an Etsy shop,  AquaNetNightmare, set to reopen September 1st, 2011 which will offer jewelry, cards, invitations, stationary and drawings.


Monster11Monster3TeenyBop
Shawna continually uses COLOURlovers in every which way for both work and fun. Let's take a peek at how she does it...

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