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Breaking Out Of The Box: Design Inspiration (May 2016)

Today we’ll be looking at eye candy that will undoubtedly help you start the new week with your creativity freshly nurtured. Grab your cup of coffee or tea, and let these designs shine on you with their smart details, fantastic textures, and well-chosen color palettes.

I’ve sifted through the web to dig up little nuggets of inspiration to indulge in — just for you. This time I’ve collected a potpourri of styles ranging from delicate and subtle to bold and playful. Nothing but design goodness. So please lean back and soak it all in.

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

Sergey Brin Link

Sergey Brin with his Google Glass. The beard is a nice touch with the dots. Love the vertical geometrical lines, and how these few straight and circular lines give this expression on his face.

Image credit: Gustavo Quintana4

Refinery 29 Link

Drawing people is one of the things I most struggle with. The texture on the body is quite inspiring. The lips, eyebrows, and eyes are so good. Smart details also with the tiny line under the eye and on the chin.

Image credit: Riikka Sormunen5

Totuava Bay, Laguna, CA Link

The colors of the sky with those subtle gradients in combination with the gold reflection of the sun on the water is what made me choose this one.

Image credit: William McIntosh6

Just Another Day In Paradise Link

More wanderlust! Beautiful photo of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean at Laguna Beach. I especially loved the silhouette of the palm trees standing tall against the colorful sky.

Image credit: Joel Duggan7

The Martian Link

Order in randomness. Illustration inspired by the movie the Martian. Excellent use of shapes in a seemly unorganized way; but if you look closer it’s so cleverly done. Love the textures.

Image credit: Giacomo Bagnara8

German Landscapes Link

I really like the composition, especially how the different buildings and aerial elements are stacked after each other. Not your ordinary color palette as well.

Image credit: Karolin Schnoor9

Trouble Getting Back Into The Groove Of Riding Link

In Belgium there is an expression in the cycling world that says ‘tussen je kader hangen’ which means you are total loss, kaput. This illustration expresses this literally. The shoelaces are just perfect. Beautiful stripes and great textures on the jersey too.

Image credit: Keith Negley10

Furniture Chess Link

Illustrations go beyond reality. It’s one of its true strengths. This piece is so strong. I love the curvy lines of the 2 persons in combination with the straight lines of the table. The color palette is perfect and the textures give it its final touch.

Image credit: Marina Muun11

Cape Town Sunset Link

Just when you think you’ve seen all possible color combinations that nature has at its disposal, you come across another one. Fire in the sky!

Image credit: Andy Compton12

Shelter Cove Link

Perfect for sampling different shades of orange. Beautiful sunset taken at Shelter Cove in Pacifica, California.

Image credit: Heather Willis13

Throat Infections Link

One of my favorite things to do is analyzing illustrations that are created for editorial purposes. It’s such a great way to discover how much fantasy & thought went into it. This one is about diagnosing throat infections.

Image credit: Joe Todd-Stanton14

Seed Space Hub 1 Link

I’m a lifelong sci-fi fan and this illustration for a travel poster for a new ecological space habitat is wonderful. The inverted curved perspective is what makes this poster so special.

Image credit: Kali Ciesemier15

Picking Berries At Pihtipudas Link

Fantastic color usage with those different shades of green. There’s also much to discover with these fun and playful characters and this illustration is also bursting with energy.

Image credit: Sami Viljanto16

Sunset by Greg Link

I’m a sucker for sunrise or sunset pictures. They serve a huge purpose not only as visual inspiration, but they usually contain a welt of color information ideal for subtracting a color palette from.

Image credit: Greg Storey17

Everybody Knows That Elvis Died of Burgers Link

Custom lettering is a labor of love. This one is based on lyrics from a song by Damn Seagulls. The subtle textures and the transparency on the letters are so well done. I really like that you can look inside. The colors are perfectly chosen to create this wonderful 3D transparency effect.

Image credit: Sami Viljanto18

Burning Question Link

Illustration for Wired Magazine’s ‘Burning Question’ section: “How do I make my GPS better?” So simple but yet so effective. Love the shades of green and the simplicity in this one.

Image credit: Invisible Creature19

Baku Magazine Link

Finding the right art for your home can be a tough journey. Perfectly illustrated here. Subtle details make this one my pick such as the texture of his shirt, the dotted lines on the jeans, and the wood finish on the furniture.

Image credit: Mitch Blunt20

Transport for London Link

opt poster campaign with Transport for London for the upcoming prudential bike race. Love how the red carpet meanders over the suburbs in such wavy line, and how the red contrast against the green background.

Image credit: Daniel Frost21

Code School is Hiring – Product Designer Link

Nice collage to accompany a job announcement. Excellent use of colors with just some limited usage of a few drop shadows, and a perfect composition.

Image credit: Justin Mezzell22

Brisbane Airport Link

You feel the sun shining into this spacey building. Light and shadow are so perfectly done through perfect choice and application of colors. The style of the faces is an original approach with the black noses. Some wonderful details too such as the brush stroke like texture on the sofa.

Image credit: Owen Gatley23

Get Lost Link

The grass and flowers put the explorer car perfectly in the frame. Some sweet details on the car as well. The spokes of the wheels and green frames together with the wood. Details matter.

Image credit: Matt Carlson24

Wandering in Nature With Alex Strohl Link

French photographer Alex Strohl lives in Montana, in the U.S, and has gone back to Europe with his wife to take pictures for his book ‘Alternative Living’. Sometimes you just have to be in the right spot at the right time. Here it’s the golden light moment coming from behind the house and giving the grass its glow.

Image credit: Fubiz25

Explorers Club: Orion Link

I’m a big fan of DKNG’s work. Their explorers series are wonderful color screen prints. The line patterns are a nice touch. There’s an 8min video26 that reveals its process.

Image credit: DKNG2927

Toucan Link

Beautiful geometric interpretation of a toucan. The shapes are cleverly arranged. All in all a lovely idea and execution.

Image credit: Lizzie Morgan28

Explorers Club: Europa Link

Last one out of the explorer series of DKNG. All of these are beautiful screen print posters that would fit any wall. The layers of color and patterns always get me. Love the nice 45° diagonal feel in these illustrations. Inspirational!

Image credit: DKNG2927

Skyfall by Ole Salomonsen Link

The Northern Light is still one of the most amazing phenomena that nature has in its bag of tricks. Those greenish blue color variations never tire me; they always keep inspiring me.

Image credit: Serial Thriller30

Boneshaker Link

Now you know how a bike gets assembled when you order one online. These miniature mechanics give this illustration a certain cuteness I like. These red accents draw your attention, which is a nice bonus.

Image credit: Sam Brewster31

An Ode to a Hero Link

Love this geometric fist done by Australian design studio Garbett. It’s an ode to Nelson Mandela. Bold color usage in combination with clever placement of shapes.

Image credit: Garbett32

Silicon Tare Link

Besides Tycho there’s also another band that has album art that has been consistently great. That band is Com Truise. The latest cover plays wonderfully with depth of field.

Image credit: Com Truise33

Circular Intersections Link

A study in abstract & circular compositions which explore intersections within an isometric environment. The interaction between colors and shapes is what grabs my attention.

Image credit: Jean-Michel Verbeeck34

Mystery Project 79.1 Link

A prime example of a fantastic use of ornaments. With all details going, they’ve used some clever thinking to arrange it so that it works as a whole.

Image credit: DKNG35

Coffee Break Link

So many wonderful details to discover here. The way she applied the darker green on the dress, the subtle details on her shoes and legs. Interesting way of how the shadow and highlights are applied. So inspiring to look at!

Image credit: Nuts Avaliani36

Standing Out Link

An editorial illustration for an Accounting Technician Magazine which is all about standing out in your profession. The idea was to colorfully illustrate individuals who have stood out from the crowd in their respected professions. The few colors are so well applied.

Image credit: Neil Stevens37

Tierra del Fuego Link

Love the composition of this illustration, and the flat 2D style. Depth is added so perfectly by applying the right colors for shadow and highlight. The X’s in the houses are a cool detail.

Image credit: Aldo Crusher38

Brosmind Comic Link

Brosmind aka the Spanish Mingarro brothers have their own full-color comic book. This one is full of details as always. I like the letters on the bottom of the shoe sole. Both of their first name, Juan and Alejandro. The eyes are magical too. It all looks moldable.

Image credit: Brosmind39

Breaking trail in Santa Fe, New Mexico Link

Let’s play! The lure of a fat bike and snow. A setting for some beautiful photos. The yellow jacket works so wonderfully in this scene.

Image credit: while out riding40

New Yorker / Scandinavia Link

Illustration for the book review section—highlighting the beauty (and obsession) of Danish design in the home. I recognize a few items in here. Subtle use of textures, and wonderful color palette and usage of colors. So perfect.

Image credit: Script & Seal41

Nature Preservation Series I Link

The curvy lines in the background, which I assume represent the sky, are very well done. The concentric circles and the straight lines of the mountains create this nice contrast. This extra color accent finishes it off perfectly.

Image credit: Steve Wolf42

Engelbert Summer 2016 Link

Once more ‘wondrous’ work from Mads. How he combines shadows and textures is so inspiring. The colors are so very well chosen and blend perfectly together. His illustrations are always so very elegant.

Image credit: Mads Berg43

Outside Lands Patch: Ranger Dave Link

Now that’s a super mustache! These simple little details add so much character to Ranger Dave. There’s more to absorb such as great colors and inspiring textures.

Image credit: DKNG44

Myths – Gosia Herba Link

One detail that immediately pops out here are the odd proportions and textural elements. A perfect example that you don’t have to follow any rules but let your imagination guide you. Love the pastel en peachy tones too.

Image credit: It’s Nice That45

Botanical Garden, Københaven K, Denmark Link

Plants always have inspired me with the way everything is layered and stacked. Love the green gradients and how there is a little triangle inside each leave.

Image credit: Erol Ahmed46

Hand Lettering III Link

Incredible hand lettering work that must take ages to create. The different hardness of the lines, the textures used inside, and those little ornaments throughout. So incredibly well done. It’s just jaw dropping.

Image credit: Matteusz Witczak47

Play Beach Boys Link

Another example of an illustration that proves that things don’t need to be mirrored to reality. Here the perspective is a little bit off and that works wonderfully well. I love the color combo too.

Image credit: Steve Scott48

Circular Intersections II Link

Second photo from a study in abstract & circular compositions which explores intersections within an isometric environment. The interaction between colors and shapes is what grabs my attention.

Image credit: Jean-Michel Verbeeck49

La Hune Link

Wonderful watercolor work by Catherine Cordasco. It has a certain flair to it with subtle color touches. The overall softness in her illustration style is really beautiful.

Image credit: Catherine Cordasco50

Windswept Link

What I love about this picture is that the tree totally looks like the branches are grown towards the wind direction and that the lines are almost apparel with the steepness of the street. It also helps that it is the only touch of color in the scene.

Image credit: Wo & Wé51

Dinner by Moonlight Link

Always a bonus when you can add a little *humor* to your work.

Image credit: Ryder Doty52

Shark Selfie Link

Just like the previous illustration. Humor almost never disappoints. Great color usage.

Image credit: Robin Davey53

Austin Don’t Rush Link

Modern with a mid-century vibe to it. That’s how I would describe this. The typography and tone of colors work very well. Love the star in the letter A. That’s just perfect.

Image credit: Steve Wolf54

What About You? Link

What projects inspire you the most? What helps you stay creative? Let us know in the comments below!

Footnotes Link

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Veerle is one of the fascinating minds behind Duoh!, whose love for design in all its various forms shines through. She is a graphic/Web designer hailing from a small but beautiful European country called Belgium. You can follow her on Twitter and read her blog at

  1. 1

    Love this series! I look forward to it each week.

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    Justin Avery

    May 10, 2016 7:30 am

    I bought the explorers club set of posters from DKNG and they did not disappoint! Wonderful!!!!

  4. 4


    May 10, 2016 8:13 am

    Awesome post. Inspiring indeed.

    After work hours, my personal project (check the100daysproject #onehundredfriendsofumd at

  5. 5

    I especially liked the features of Alex Strohl, the handwriting by Matteusz Witczak and the soft notions by Catherine Cordasco in this eye candy post. Thanks for the heads up!

  6. 6

    Thank you for that article Veerle.

    You may want to fix a typo error: “Com Truise” instead of “Come Truise” ;)

  7. 8

    I’m reminded of the first real artistic vector illustrations that caught my eye while riding NYC subways c. 2003 (?). The posters by Marcos Chin for the now defunct Lava Life dating service had incredible amounts of detail, fantastic use of transparency, and some amazingly expressive faces. Commuting day after day, I’d always find something new in these. If only all advertising were so…


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