Category Archives: Graphics

Graphic related topics. Photoshop. Vector Graphics.

WordPress Design Trends for June 2013

WordPress evolves at a steady and predictable pace.  This is a nice feature of the core WordPress.org project.  Since version 1.5, the theme system has allowed designers and WordPress admins to create cutting edge designs that are portable across almost any WordPress site.  With a virtually instantly available design, administrators can change the overall look in a heartbeat.  As WordPress evolved, the theme engine allowed people to install a framework and customize it quickly and easily without affecting the core code.

Even though modifications became easy to do, the theme system created enormous competition for designs.  With the ability to download a theme that is ready to go out of the box, designers were forced to get creative.  Now it seems as though there is a WordPress theme shop next to every Starbucks (that is to say, on every corner, ubiquitous).

With a vibrant theme community, designers have to adapt quickly to changing trends.  And boy do they change quickly.  Here are some of my favorite design trends that have emerged in this first half of 2013.  If the first have is any indication, the second half of 2013 will be incredible.

Responsive Designs (vs. mobile)

responsive

When mobile devices were first starting to be built with enough oomph to handle modern web applications, designers had to think quickly and incorporate mobile designs in good WordPress themes.  Initially, each standard theme came packaged with a corresponding mobile theme.  This mobile theme was compatible with the ipad and blackberry devices.  Then the iPad came out and changed everything.  Designs were faced with a decision to add a third layout to their themes (some chose this path) or develop a new way to handle different screen resolutions elegantly.  In 2013, responsive designs really came into their own.

Responsive designs (in case you’ve been living under a rock, trying to get Joomla to work for the last year) is concept that allows a design to scale in all sizes.  Although scaling and moving elements may change how the site looks, it won’t distort, squeez, squish or otherwise befuddle your design.

Specialized mobile navigation

mobile nav

In concert with the advent of responsive designs, WordPress custom menus allow designers to create a menu that is only to be used for mobile browsers.  This doesn’t matter if you only have 3 menu items.  But scrolling through 10 menu items and their 50 sub-items can be frustrating on a mobile device.  So frustrating you can easily lose visitors.  Developing a mobile menu can resolve this frustration.  A restaurant I recently worked with has a full menu for standard browsing, but the mobile menu only offers information on their story, location and menu.  The three critical pieces of information for the mobile user.

Media-centric designs

media-centric design

With more households having high speed internet, and mobile device load time improving for that matter, design limitations have decreased.  I remember using AOL as my browser, with a 14.4kpbs modem to browse the web.  When I came across a website with lots of images, I had to either go run an errand, or look elsewhere.  Not anymore.  2013 designs are riddled with high-resolution images.  Not just as content, but as design elements.  New media-centric designs focus on the media, not the structure.  Examples include sites with entire backgrounds taken up by high-res images.  Without the featured images, there wouldn’t be much to the design, in fact.

Single-page designs

single page design

Single-page designs have really taken off this year.  A couple of things make this possible.  First, the web design community as a whole is moving back toward simplicity.  Simple sites mean more focus on content.  Second, the evolution of infinite scrolling technology has made single-page designs more realistic since all of your content can eventually be displayed without navigating.  This is most effective with two types of websites: 1) those with minimal content (business or splash type pages) and 2) those with socially generated content or a steady flow of content (read: Facebook, Pinterest, traditional blogs).  A cool design element that I’m keeping my eye on is called Parallax Scrolling, see an example.  Parallax connects the scrolling action to other design elements.  Scroll in the example and watch the navigation menu.  Check out OnePageLove.com, a gallery dedicated to single page designs.

Custom fonts

custom fonts

Custom fonts are not new in 2013, but they are quickly becoming the standard.  It used to be there was one choice for font, then a few, then limited to your browser’s capabilities.  Now, due to evolving browsers and the beauty of CSS3, virtually any font can be packaged with a WordPress theme.  This has opened the floodgates for designers that were previously limited to Times New Roman and -GASP- Comic Sans.  I personally never realized how much of an impact a font could have on the overall design feel.  Then Google Fonts muscled into web design and my eyes opened in a totally different way.  Thanks to Theme.fm for the above image.

What is your favorite WordPress design trend for 2013?

 

 

Mini-tutorial: Creating awesome screenshots

The golden rule of blogging is offer valuable content.  This tip trumps a good design, flashy graphics, twitter integration, powerful links, even advertisements.

However, quality content can be improved with an applicable and eye-catching screenshot.  Here are some tips and tools for creating awesome screenshots for your WordPress posts.

Choosing the format

  1. All screenshots should be the same format and size.  Pick a size that goes well with your theme and stick with it.
  2. If your screenshot will not be of the entire page, pick a section of the site that is applicable to the topic of your post.

Choosing the screenshot

  1. Pick a section of the site to screenshot that is descriptive of the topic and has something to look at.  For example, don’t choose blank space or a generic graphic to focus on.  Rather, choose a piece of the site that is unique and shows something about what the website is about.

Here’s and example of a good and bad screenshot of Mashable.com – one of our favorite blogs.  For this example, we chose a 200px square image in JPEG format.

A bad screenshot
A good screenshot

Notice the differences?  The bad screenshot doesn’t indicate the website or anything about it.  What is that blog about?

The good screenshot indicates the name of the blog, several categories, even the overall color scheme.  It doesn’t matter that the entire logo isn’t shown, people will get the idea.

Formatting your screenshot

  1. There are a few things you can do to improve the quality of your screenshot after you’ve chosen how and what to snapshot.  You can add effects like an angle, dropshadow or even the famous “shiny table effect”.  Here are some examples:
The original screenshot without effects
A screenshot with a -25 degree arbitrary rotation.
With an added dropshadow

These effects were all done in the GIMP, a free graphics editor.  If you want to add the shiny table effect, check out this tutorial.

Choose the right tools

There are lots of options out there for taking and manipulating screenshots.  Here are some of our favorites:

Firefox addons

The other option

  • If you don’t want another addon, just use the Print Screen button on your Windows machine which will add a screenshot to your clipboard.  Simply paste it into your selected graphics editor into a file of your preferred size.  Drag it until you’ve got a nice focus and you’re all set!

Graphics editors

  • Photoshop – the cadillac of image editing with virtually limitless options.
  • The GIMP – a free option that comes with many of Photoshop’s features.
  • Grabit – a handy screenshot tool but limited advanced options.  Built purely for screenshots.

A few more tips when taking screenshots

  • Choose color – bright, vibrant colors add energy to your blog post.
  • Keep them small – screenshots are just a taste of a site and shouldn’t encompass the whole thing.
  • Keep them natural – don’t resize if you can avoid it.
  • Keep them applicable – if you’re creating a showcase post, or list of multiple sites, choose the first list item as your screenshot.
  • Have your own tips for a screenshot?  Leave a comment below.

25 Brilliant Vector Tutorials

I like to play around with vector art from time to time. I have made a few sets of icons and I have a site where I share vectors that I and other people have created. Check it out: Free Vector Art. Here are some great tutorials that will help you on your way if you are interested in vector design, and Adobe Illustrator.

Thug Bunny Vector Tutorial

thugbunny

Ninjas Vector Tutorial

ninja-chars-sm

Cow Vector Tutorial

cow

Killer Bunny with chainsaw Vector Tutorial

final

Sports Car Vector Tutorial

car

Fish Cartoon Vector Tutorial

fishy-coral

Fox Drawing Vector Tutorial

fox

Graffiti Text Vector Tutorial

Graffiti

Groovy Vector Tutorial

guns

Master Painting Vector Tutorial

Heaven-in-a-Bottle-Tutoria

Torn Wallpaper Vector Tutorial

mag

Mini Vector Tutorial

MINI

Product Ad Vector Tutorial

phone

Wood Grain Vector Tutorial

pirate

Vintage Shirt Vector Tutorial

PIRATE-SHIRT

Bitmap to Vector Tutorial

princess-mononoke

Simple Banners Vector Tutorial

quick_banners34

Character Shading Vector Tutorial

shading

Snowboarding Vector Tutorial

snowboarder_art

Bar of Soap Vector Tutorial

soap

Stamp Vector Tutorial

stamp_tutorial

Swirls Vector Tutorial

swirls

Creating Characters Vector Tutorial

toons

Tree Vector Tutorial

TREES

Retro Emblem Vector Tutorial

vintage

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15 Stunning Photoshop Tutorials

Deviant Art is an amazing resource for digital artists and designers. There is a wealth of free tutorials and resources available, here is just a few of them.


hair drawing tutorial by Abuze


Digital Painting Tutorial by Dianae


Photoshop Inking Tutorial by Spirallin

Mini Painting Tutorial by jdillon82


Blending Tutorial by acidlullaby


Bubbles Tutorial by B1nd1


Wonder Woman Painting Tutorial by UdonCrew


+ How to do the LineArt + by Arehandora


Tutorial: Painting Sky in PS by Foxbane


Magic Swirl tutorial by danzr4ever


Blumen walkthrough by janaschi


Tutorial: Painting Embroidery by kay-ness


tree tutorial part 2 by calisto-lynn


Apple tutorial by michan


Masking Tutorial by One-Vox

For more Photoshop stuff check out my new Photoshop Brushes site.

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25 Amazing Free Photoshop Graphics

I have put together a list of Photoshop resources for you guys. All of the resources link to PSD files that are free to download. Please check the authors’ sites for licences. Some are free for personal use others are free for whatever. Have fun.

  1. Vista Flare Orb Vista_Flare_Orb
  2. Party Crowdparty-crowd-psd6089
  3. Film Framefilm
  4. Grunge City 

    grunge-city-psd6093

  5. Dj DesignDJ-Design
  6. iPhone GUI PSDiPhone
  7. Plastic DVD Coverdvd
  8. Old School Retro Cassette Tapecassette
  9. Glossy Icon Packglossyicons1
  10. Shiny little iconscompact_icons
  11. Web 2.0 peeling stickerstick
  12. Buttons PSD 

    buttons

     

  13. Aero Avatar and Sig vista
  14. Star Stickerstarbadge
  15. Cool Junk for Web Designers 

    random_elements

     

  16. Green Leaf Icon Packgreenleaf
  17. Precious Heartprecious-heart-psd-download
  18. Icey Stylessnowandice
  19. Batman Batman
  20. Lots of Badges

    LOTS-OF-BADGES
  21. Ipod TouchiPod-Touch-psd16146

     

  22. Playstation 3 ps3
  23. Slurpee Slurpee
  24. Orb
    N_orB

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20 + Sets of Free Royalty Free Icons

I have gathered a list of 20 + Free Sets of Royalty Free Icons for you to use on your projects. Check for different licences on the sites. But all of the icons are either GPL or CC. I hope you find them useful.

Xi4Dox

panoramix

 

Bagg and Box’s

glob

Iron Man

ironman

Back to the Future

btf

Care Bears

carebears

Easter Icons

easter

Gaming Icons

games

PS3 Icons

ps3

TMNT Icons

tmnt

Star Wars Icons

starwars

Dino Icons

dino

The City Icons

city

TV Icons

tv

Flat Panel Monitor

flat-panel

Apple Imac

imac

HP Set

hp

Lil Shuffles

Shuffle

Ipod Nano

Nano

The Water Closet

Empty

Vespa

Vespa

 

Myths

myth

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20 Cool Vector Wallpaper Designs

There are some pretty cool designs out there which are both great for design inspiration, and sweet to use on your desktop. I have put together a list of 20 Vector Wallpaper designs for you to download. The files are raster graphics rather than the original scalable vector files. Visit the authors’ sites for more Vector Wallpaper designs and illustrations.

  1. Biker Vectorizedbiker_vectorized_Vector_Wallpaper
  2. The Alliance Attackthe_alliance_attack_Vector_Wallpaper

    Continue reading 20 Cool Vector Wallpaper Designs

15 Amazing Logos From Blogspot Blogs

Looking for design inspiration? Following on from my post: 12 Well Designed BlogSpot Blogs I have made a list of cool logo designs from different Blogspot blogs. Check them out, and have a read while your there if you have time.

Ijdesign

ijsDesign

Blogpappers

blogpappers

Poppy Talk

poppytalk

Estefany Franco

Est

Jennski Studio

studioblog

Inner City Snail

innercitysnail

Adopt a Microbe

microbe

Why Me?

whyme

Ultra Awesome

ultraawesome

Super Graphic Blog

supergraphic

Eclectic Cow

eleccow

Girl Meets Glamour

girlglamour

Penguin and Fish

penguinandfish

Everybody Likes Sandwiches

sandwiches

Design Muse

designmuse

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