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Breaking Out Of The Box 50 Examples Of Stellar Use Of Light, Shadow And Texture To Kick Start Your Inspiration

Many people find it difficult to get their minds back into work after a holiday season filled with love, food, and friends. May 2017 bring you a healthy and inspiring adventure. As for that kick-start inspiration, I hope this article will help get you back in the creative mindset.

Let’s begin!

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

Anglepoise Link

This is just genius! So smart to work with the light and shadow. Just look at that pose, and the usage of beautiful contrasting colors.

4
Image credit: Spencer Wilson5

Snowy Cabin Link

That smoke! A cozy winter getaway with great textures. The reflection on the water is so perfectly done, too.

6
Image credit: MUTI7

Authentic Assets Link

Inspiring editorial illustration about millennial housing. Jealous about the gorgeous texture layer.

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Image credit: Kotryna Zukauskaite9

Figure Study Link

Great style and colors. Admiring the wood surface and subtle textures.

10
Image credit: Matt Carlson11

Faces – James Gilleard Link

I’m admiring this piece of personal work from James Gilleard. Analyzing the complexity of how these faces are created is super inspiring to learn from.

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Image credit: James Gilleard4413

Honeymoon Petra Villas Link

A view from an upscale hotel carved into the cliffs overlooking the Santorini Caldera. You sure would want to escape winter after seeing this.

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Image credit: Anastasia Adamaki15

Google Play | Script & Seal Link

Drilled down to just the basics with lovely textures.

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Image credit: Script & Seal17

Todd Terje – Preben Link

A great example that there are no boundaries to how a face should look if you are an illustrator.

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Image credit: Bendik Kaltenborn19

Vanity Fair France Link

Cover illustration for the Collection supplement of Vanity Fair France. The flow in Malika’s work is just so inspiring.

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Image credit: Malika Favre21

Illustration by David Holt Link

This is Beautiful! Great colors, very vivid and wonderful repetition of shapes.

22
Image credit: David Holt23

Saint-Martin-Vesubie Link

Another breathtaking shot from my friends Jered and Ashley Gruber. It’s somewhere in the French Pyrenees’ and shot for Craft Sportswear.

24
Image credit: Jered Gruber25

Kitchen Link

Nice idea and beautiful usage of shapes to create a roaster. Thumbs up!

26
Image credit: Gardner Design27

Maker & Match Candle Co. Link

Love the way those matches connect and create the flame in the middle. I’m also a big fan of knights. Never had the opportunity to use them. Well, not yet!

28
Image credit: Adam Anderson29

IBM Latin America Link

A piece from the iconic work Paul Rand has done for IBM.

30
Image credit: Good Design31

Desert Nights Link

Some super beautiful gradients and wonderful line work. Available as a wallpaper32, too.

33
Image credit: Maria Shanina34

Pool Without Water Link

I’m loving the continuation of these series by Maria Svarbova. This time the central theme is a pool without water.

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Image credit: Maria Svarbova36

Classic:specs Link

I’ve always been a fan of custom lettering, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Just beautiful!

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Image credit: Erik Marinovich38

Esteban Fallone Link

Esteban Fallone is an award winning Architect based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The idea behind this visualization was to take a variety of his house projects and translate them into a different language.

39
Image credit: Gianluca Fallone40

Karamel Link

Pretty sweet what can be accomplished with just a few colors. I like the simplicity and the monochromatic colorway.

41
Image credit: Mads Berg42

Toyota Magazine – Future Tech Article Link

The complexity of this illustration makes it a perfect fit for an article about future technology.

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Image credit: James Gilleard4413

The Guardian Review Books Link

Cover for The Guardian Review books. Love the concept of a huge book pile in front of a giant moon. Nice contrast of the figure in front of the moon.

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Image credit: Robert Frank Hunter46

Sheffield Hallam University’s Events Calendar Link

Since January still qualifies as being festive it seems only appropriate to add something that fits that spirit.

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Image credit: Naomi Wilkinson48

Laurel Canyon Link

In awe when I see how all the shadowing is done in this illustration of a house in Laurel Canyon.

49
Image credit: Chris Turnham50

Treehouse Link

A thing of beauty. I dig the green color palette, too.

51
Image credit: Eight Hour Day52

Skiing Magazine – Salomon Skis Link

Enjoying the mood in this illustration. The sweater on the deer is such a nice detail that drives it all home.

53
Image credit: Matt Carlson54

We All Love Stories Link

So true! We all love stories, especially when it’s about something we are passionate about. Beautifully illustrated. Love the curvy lines and soft tones.

55
Image credit: Xoana Herrera56

Georges Link

Part of a bigger illustration piece that you can see here57. Strong texture work and I love how the figures are drawn.

58
Image credit: Cruschiform59

28 Days of Peace Link

Beautiful new work from the queen of lettering. It’s for an ambitious project, illustrating a countdown for Advent in which each number is unique and related to a daily reflection or action leading up to Christmas Day.

60
Image credit: Jessica Hische61

Maligne Lake Link

There are worst places to do a nap. Beautiful Canada, the Rockies.

62
Image credit: lebackpacker63

Nomad Hill Brand Board Link

This is looking really great. Loving the patterns.

64
Image credit: Andrew Litmann65

The New Yorker – Double Solitude Link

Detailed and an atmospheric mood that sometimes allude to something darker, that’s how I would describe the work of French illustrator Antoine Maillard.

66
Image credit: Antoine Maillard67

Official Rogue One Magazine Cover Link

The intricate details of the illustration are just amazing! Those are some mad skills. One can only dream.

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Image credit: DKNG69

Jamie Oliver Magazine Link

Admiring how certain elements are set to another perspective. Makes for an interesting collage.

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Image credit: Ale Giorgini71

Patagonia Dreaming I Link

Such beautiful light effect! Only one image out of a beautiful collection of Patagonia, Chile. The rest can be seen here72.

73
Image credit: Andy Lee74

Styletest Link

A style that I truly love. Such wonderful colors, too.

75
Image credit: Jones & Co76

Amsterdam Skyline Link

Awesome illustration, so many fine details if you look closer. Interesting combination of colors.

77
Image credit: Dmitrij78

Th world Link

“Architecture’s great problem is the gap between the visionary and the grubby compromise of reality.” A very interesting combination of objects. Such perfect tones on the shapes to create the depth and shadow and light effect.

79
Image credit: Ray Oranges80

Russian Post Link

Love how the lady looks casual chic. The floor pattern is also a eye catcher. Everything is just perfect in this one.

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Image credit: Maria Menshikova82

A Guide To Being Human Link

Rich colors and well executed linework. That fingerprint mark at the end finishes it off.

83
Image credit: Mike Smith84

Techo Key Visual Link

I like the flow that is going within this illustration.

85
Image credit: Rocío Galarza86

Queen Link

This is quite lovely. Digging all the elements and admiring the style of her face.

87
Image credit: Matt Carlson88

Drown In Her Madly Link

Apparently I’m not the only person who mostly uses a mouse to draw. This one is completely created with mouse in Illustrator and Photoshop. Be sure to view the entire piece here89. Beautiful job.

90
Image credit: Andrea Moresco91

Gerhard Richter Link

Part of a series of illustrations of houses based on famous artist. Be sure to go look92 at the others.

93
Image credit: Federico Babina94

Sleeping Beauty Link

Wonderful book cover for Sleeping Beauty, a mid-century fairy tale. Original pattern on the background, and who doesn’t love robots.

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Image credit: Pixturebook Makers96

Artipelag Link

Those colors and super pastel gradients are so beautiful! Taken in Artipelag, Värmdö, Sweden.

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Image credit: Anders Jildén98

Vintage Colnago Link

Makes me want to illustrate a vintage bicycle, too. A real Italian vintage Colnago.

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Image credit: Pavlov Visuals100

Chen Design Associates Link

Lovely letter-pressed poster in a special color palette.

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Image credit: Ryan Bosse102

Dario Flaccovio Editore Link

The illustration looks so “simple”, but the longer you look at it, the deeper you get into the design.

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Image credit: Marco Goran Romano104

The World’s Best Street Food Link

Illustrated cover for a Lonely Planet guide. The grunginess is inspiring and the colors work well with the hand lettering feel.

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Image credit: Muti106

SOS Fire In The Sky Link

No words needed.

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Image credit: Arto Marttinen108

(il)

Footnotes Link

  1. 1 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2017/03/inspiring-illustrations-bright-colors-cool-patterns/
  2. 2 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2017/02/colorful-inspiration-gray-days-illustration-photography/
  3. 3 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2013/09/create-water-lily-illustrator/
  4. 4 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Anglepoise-700w-opt.jpg
  5. 5 http://www.spencerwilson.co.uk/Anglepoise-and-French-Press
  6. 6 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Snowy-Cabin-700w-opt.jpg
  7. 7 https://dribbble.com/shots/3130205-Snowy-Cabin
  8. 8 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Authentic-Assets-700w-opt.jpg
  9. 9 http://kata-illustration.com/mfe/
  10. 10 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Figure-Study-700w-opt.jpg
  11. 11 https://dribbble.com/shots/3108439-Figure-Study
  12. 12 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Faces-James-Gilleard-700w-opt.jpg
  13. 13 https://www.behance.net/gallery/37322801/Various-Illustration-2016
  14. 14 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Honeymoon-Petra-Villas-700w-opt.jpg
  15. 15 http://anastasiaadamakiphotography.blogspot.be/2016/07/honeymoon-petra-villas-santorini.html
  16. 16 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Google-Play-Script-Seal-700w-opt.jpg
  17. 17 https://www.behance.net/gallery/31118089/Google-Play-Script-Seal
  18. 18 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Todd-Terje-Preben-700w-opt.jpg
  19. 19 http://www.benkalt.no/posters/single-gallery/20333160
  20. 20 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Vanity-Fair-France-700w-opt.jpg
  21. 21 http://malikafavre.com/collection16
  22. 22 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Illustration-by-David-Holt-700w-opt.jpg
  23. 23 https://dribbble.com/shots/3100932-Illustration-by-David-Holt
  24. 24 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Saint-Martin-Vesubie-700w-opt.jpg
  25. 25 https://www.instagram.com/p/BM61y7UAFSL/
  26. 26 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Kitchen-700w-opt.jpg
  27. 27 https://dribbble.com/shots/3006190-Kitchen
  28. 28 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Maker-Match-Candle-Co-700w-opt.jpg
  29. 29 https://dribbble.com/shots/3030379-Maker-Match-Candle-Co
  30. 30 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/IBM-latin-america-700w-opt.jpg
  31. 31 http://gooddesignisgoodbusiness.tumblr.com/post/117248470579/paul-rand-ibm-latin-america
  32. 32 https://dribbble.com/shots/2596598-Free-phone-wallpapers
  33. 33 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Desert-Nights-700w-opt.jpg
  34. 34 https://dribbble.com/shots/2596598-Free-phone-wallpapers
  35. 35 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Pool-Without-Water-700w-opt.jpg
  36. 36 https://www.behance.net/gallery/45897091/POOL-without-WATER
  37. 37 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Classic-specs-700w-opt.png
  38. 38 http://www.erikmarinovich.com/work/classic-specs
  39. 39 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Esteban-Fallone-700w-opt.jpg
  40. 40 http://gianlucafallone.com/work/ef/
  41. 41 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Karamel-700w-opt.jpg
  42. 42 https://www.behance.net/gallery/42497337/Karamel
  43. 43 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/toyota-magazine-700w-opt.jpg
  44. 44 https://www.behance.net/gallery/37322801/Various-Illustration-2016
  45. 45 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/The-Guardian-Review-Books-700w-opt.jpg
  46. 46 http://robertfrankhunter.com/Guardian-Book-Review
  47. 47 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Festive-month-700w-opt.jpg
  48. 48 http://naomiwilkinson.tumblr.com/post/153901172788/happy-december-heres-an-illustration-i-did-for
  49. 49 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Laurel-Canyon-700w-opt.jpg
  50. 50 http://christurnham.tumblr.com/post/107226815325/sometimes-i-get-commissioned-to-illustrate-house
  51. 51 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Treehouse-700w-opt.jpg
  52. 52 https://dribbble.com/shots/3125944-TreeHouse
  53. 53 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Skiing-Magazine-Salomon-Skis-700w-opt.jpg
  54. 54 https://dribbble.com/shots/3136027-Skiing-Magazine-Salomon-Skis-30-Days-of-Play-Ad
  55. 55 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/We-All-Love-Stories-700w-opt.jpg
  56. 56 https://www.behance.net/gallery/40681095/We-all-love-stories
  57. 57 http://www.cruschiform.com/GEORGES
  58. 58 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Georges-700w-opt.jpg
  59. 59 http://www.cruschiform.com/GEORGES
  60. 60 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/28-Days-of-Peace-700w-opt.jpg
  61. 61 http://jessicahische.is/countingdownthedays
  62. 62 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Maligne-Lake-700w-opt.jpg
  63. 63 https://www.instagram.com/p/BI8P5_qjxEZ/
  64. 64 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Nomad-Hill-Brand-Board-700w-opt.jpg
  65. 65 https://dribbble.com/shots/3137721-Nomad-Hill-Brand-Board
  66. 66 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Double-solitude-700w-opt.jpg
  67. 67 http://antoine-maillard.blogspot.be/2016/10/the-new-yorker-double-solitude.html
  68. 68 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Rogue-One-by-DKNG-700w-opt.jpg
  69. 69 http://www.dkngstudios.com/blog/2016/12/15/official-rogue-one-magazine-cover
  70. 70 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Jamie-Oliver-Magazine-700w-opt.jpg
  71. 71 http://www.alegiorgini.com/jamie-magazine
  72. 72 https://www.behance.net/gallery/32062841/Patagonia-Dreaming-I
  73. 73 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Patagonia-Dreaming-I-700w-opt.jpg
  74. 74 https://www.behance.net/gallery/32062841/Patagonia-Dreaming-I
  75. 75 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/styletest-700w-opt.jpg
  76. 76 https://www.behance.net/gallery/43399575/Dribbble-shots-collection
  77. 77 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Amsterdam-Skyline-700w-opt.jpg
  78. 78 https://dribbble.com/shots/3159620-Amsterdam
  79. 79 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Th-world-700w-opt.jpg
  80. 80 http://ray-oranges.com/
  81. 81 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Russian-Post-700w-opt.jpg
  82. 82 http://mariamenshikova.com/#/russian-post-1/
  83. 83 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/A-guide-to-being-Human-700w-opt.jpg
  84. 84 https://dribbble.com/shots/3172800-A-guide-to-being-Human
  85. 85 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Techo-Key-Visual-700w-opt.jpg
  86. 86 https://dribbble.com/shots/3172871-Techo-Key-Visual
  87. 87 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Queen-matt-700w-opt.jpg
  88. 88 https://dribbble.com/shots/3164232-Queen
  89. 89 https://www.behance.net/gallery/43987551/Drown-in-Her-Madly
  90. 90 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Drown-in-Her-Madly-700w-opt.jpg
  91. 91 https://www.behance.net/gallery/43987551/Drown-in-Her-Madly
  92. 92 http://federicobabina.com/ARCHIST
  93. 93 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Gerhard-Richter-700w-opt.jpg
  94. 94 http://federicobabina.com/ARCHIST
  95. 95 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/sleeping-beauty-700w-opt.jpg
  96. 96 http://blog.picturebookmakers.com/post/149024115721/david-roberts-lynn-roberts-maloney
  97. 97 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Artipelag-700w-opt.jpg
  98. 98 https://unsplash.com/?photo=5sxQH0ugTaA
  99. 99 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/vintage-colnago-700w-opt.jpg
  100. 100 https://dribbble.com/shots/3055827-Vintage-Colnago
  101. 101 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Chen-Design-Associates-700w-opt.jpg
  102. 102 http://www.ryanbosse.com/#/15-year-anniversary/
  103. 103 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Dario-Flaccovio-Editore-700w-opt.jpg
  104. 104 https://www.behance.net/gallery/30076953/Dario-Flaccovio-Editore-Cover-Illustrations-Vol2
  105. 105 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/The-Worlds-Best-Street-Food-700w-opt.jpg
  106. 106 http://www.studiomuti.co.za/lonely-planet
  107. 107 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/SOS-Fire-in-the-Sky-700w-opt.jpg
  108. 108 https://unsplash.com/?photo=fHXP17AxOEk

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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 http://veerle.duoh.com/.

  1. 1

    Tarun Mangukiya

    January 9, 2017 4:48 pm

    As always, incredible piece of inspiration!

    5
  2. 2

    Hi Veerle!

    > Design Inspiration (January 2017)
    Kindly tell us, what does this set of illustrations have to do with design?

    0
    • 3

      Veerle Pieters

      January 11, 2017 4:39 pm

      Well everything because some of these are the starting point of a design I create. They are the spark that sets the process of creation in motion. That can be from any part of an element in there such as color, textures, style, etc.

      3

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