Shiny and glossy design elements are now officially outdated. Just like retro is becoming trendy again, grungy look appears to rapidly gain on popularity. And there is a damn good reason behind it. In our everyday environment we're unlikely to find ideal geometric forms or pretty shadow effects as they are manifested by glorious Web 2.0-designs. The reality is different, and Web is definitely not an exception here.
Therefore designers often tend to explore the less ideal and more realistic design solutions which reflect the world we're living in more accurately and precisely. Result: such elements give the design a more realistic, genuine look, a look one would actually expect in real life.
In such grunge designs dirty stains, torn images, "broken" icons and creased pieces of paper are as popular as hand-drawn elements and dirty textures. The main purpose of hand-drawn elements lies in their ability to convey a personality and an individual note. And dirty textures are often used as background images for navigation menus, photos and overall layouts. Usually these elements are regular objects from our daily life, replicated in their real form without any glossy effects. Read more...
One month ago we've asked our readers to help us create a gallery of blog header graphics which every designer could use for free and without any restrictions whatsoever. We've announced a Header Graphics Contest and now, one month later, it's time to present the most interesting, creative and beautiful works we've received.
38 graphic designers and artists participated; as a result we've received over 100 truly outstanding entries. The best ones are displayed below. Some of the participants will be randomly awarded with Poser 7, Anime Studio, and Manga Studio provided by Smith Micro Graphics. Participants, please stay tuned — we'll contact the winners within the next 24 hours.
This post presents the results of the contest — 45 beautiful blog header designs you can use for free. Below the designers have described their themes, intentions and shown us some examples of how header graphics can be used.
Please notice that
- often also the source image (.ai or .psd) can be downloaded,
- all images are clickable and lead to the full-size image of the header,
- full-size images have the resolution of 850×200 px,
- and you can also download graphics together with source files using corresponding links in the description.
We, designers, are creative folks. And being creative, we permanently strive for inspiration — innovative approaches, crazy ideas, smashing concepts and, in general, unique designs which can help us to observe a given problem from a fresh perspective. This is why we always have some fancy design books laying around on our desk, and this is why we enjoy observing other people's work — basically just because we can learn a hell of a lot from them.
There are things one can do a number of times without worrying about becoming boring. For instance, collecting and showcasing excellent blog designs. In this post we do it already the third time. Why? Web design lives in blogs; new developments appear there, that's where the music plays. And that's where you need to look for in order to keep up with current trends and developments.
This post presents 45 excellent blog designs with a perfect layout and unique personal note. We haven't analyzed the content of the blogs; instead we focused on ideas, approaches, graphics and layouts.
If you miss some stunning blog designs in this showcase please let us know in the comments. However, it's also possible that these designs have already been covered in one of our previous showcases:
Over years Adobe Illustrator has become the standard application when it comes to illustration design. Artists, illustrators and graphic designers use Illustrator to create vector-based graphics which — contrary to raster-based editors such as Adobe Photoshop — can be easily rescaled without the loss of quality. E.g., Illustrator is often used to quickly transform hand-drawn sketches on a sheet of paper into lively and colorful digital images.
However, to master Adobe Illustrator isn't easy; and the creating process of professional illustrations requires both time and patience. Therefore tutorials can turn out to be real life- and time-savers as they show exactly what needs to be done in order to create professional illustrations and how masters of illustration actually manage to do their magic. One year ago we’ve presented a hand-picked collection of Illustrator tutorials. Now it’s time for a fresh portion of healthy and creative Illustrator material.
In this post we present a collection of excellent Adobe Illustrator tutorials for beginners and advanced designers. The new selection isn't enormous, but big enough to provide you with some good starting points.
Please notice that
- we've selected only those tutorials which haven't been featured last year or were released after the article was published.
- you might also be interested in Adobe Photoshop Tutorials - Best Of we've presented few weeks ago.
In many blogs header graphics often takes a prominent position as bloggers try to impress visitors with distinctive and appealing visual elements. In fact, designed properly, header graphics can create an appropriate atmosphere and convey the style the designer has chosen. Well-designed themes can be as useful as templates, particularly if you can download them and experiment with them as you wish. However, you won't find that many sources on the Web. That's time to change it.
We'd like to create a small smashing gallery of blog header graphics which every designer could use for free and without any restrictions whatsoever. To achieve this we need the help of our creative visitors. To achieve this we need your help. Which is why we announce a Header Graphics Contest.
Update (02.02.2008): please notice that this contest is not about designing a header for the Smashing Magazine web-site. Your header graphics don't have to be related to Smashing Magazine at all. This is about sharing your skills with fellows designers and creating a free repository of downloadble header graphics. Read more...
Most design trends come unexpectedly, evolve over time, become pointless and finally disappear from the design landscape. This holds particularly for web design, which is — just as every other creative field — prone for over-hyping and over-usage of trends. Being used excessively (sometimes properly, but mostly without any reasonable purpose), trends lose their ability to communicate information, express something unique or innovative and consequently lose their visual appeal.
Web 2.0 style is an excellent example for this evolution in design. In the last months of 2007 we've observed a clear example of design abuse, as glossy buttons, colorful reflections, 3D-effects, rounded corners and xx-large font sizes could be found almost everywhere (and we've presented some examples a year ago). However, currently we've been observing a new step in this evolution. Web 2.0 elements start to disappear; they become more subtle, more user-centric, more content-oriented and less loud. Is it a sign for coming changes?
Below we've collected everything you would ever need for a perfect design in a grunge style — design examples, free fonts, icons, textures, brushes and even few tutorials. Read more...
The more emotional a site design is, the more likely it is to evoke positive feelings within its visitors. To achieve a lasting impression, designers tend to use visual cues and offer some eye candy for hurried and hectic users. E.g. vibrant color schemes, photos and illustrations can be used to draw user's attention to some specific site section.
But are there any further options? Yes, there are. Actually, mascots are traditional for sports competitions such as Football World Championship or Olympic Games. Mascot is a more or less nicely designed creature which is symbolic for something and is supposed to evoke sympathy and strengthen the sense of belonging to one single team.
Should Smashing Magazine have a mascot? We’d like to know your opinion. If yes, how should it look like? Please let us know in the poll below and in the comments! Read more...
When it comes to graphic design, Adobe Photoshop is usually the first option to consider. However, the software itself is a quite tough nut to crack — and definitely extremely hard to master. For instance, the concepts are not always intuitive and it's not always clear when to use what tool and how to use it effectively. In fact, in Photoshop it usually takes pretty much time to achieve something you have never done before.
However, you don't need to muddle through numerous Photoshop features and extensions for every design problem. You can use professional suggestions instead, e.g. professional step-by-step tutorials which provide excellent results and thus can save you a lot of time.
One year ago we've presented a hand-picked collection of Photoshop tutorials. Now it's time for a fresh portion of healthy Photoshop learning material. This article provides professional Adobe Photoshop tutorials which can enrich your design skills and improve the quality of your works. Although the authors of the tutorials rarely provide the information about the used version, we tried to pick only those tutorials that can be used with both CS 3 and older versions of Adobe Photoshop. Read more...
The most valuable and innovative ideas had all been handwritten first. That's no big news, since designers tend to produce first sketches as paper prototypes anyway; still it's important, because web design is different from "usual" design. Of course, it also has a personal note and it is hand-made, however users can't see that. As CSS is "boxy but good", designs tend to have a rather limited appearance — they are too boxy and too right-angled.
If designers want to achieve a different design, they have to draw their sites by themselves — or at least some parts of it. And in fact, this is done quite often: whether a blog, a shop, an ad, a private page, or some collaborative project — doesn't matter whether with Flash or (X)HTML. The main purpose of hand-drawn elements lies in their ability to convey a personality and an individual note in times when colorful, sharp and rounded Web 2.0 elements can be found almost everywhere.
How impressive can the results be? And when can the hand-drawing style be used? Let's take a look at some excellent examples of hand-drawing style in modern web design. All screenshots can be clicked and lead to the sites from which they've been taken. Read more...
Although Smashing Magazine is quite young, a number of things happened in 2007. Aside from dozens of articles, we've organized few contests, re-designed our weblog and we also have released two WordPress-themes and a Smashing free font.
In this post we revise what happened on Smashing Magazine over the last year. Smashing highlights, setbacks and small sensations of 2007 — in a brief overview, month by month. Read more...