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Articles and tutorials on designing in Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and Fireworks. Free icons, textures, PSDs and other similar resources are featured here, as well as showcases of photography and video. This is also the place that hosts our regular Desktop Wallpaper Calendar series.
Editor's Note: Last Friday, we published an article on the Do's And Don’ts Of Infographic Design written by Amy Balliett which raised quite a discussion within the design community. Some readers agreed, some readers found examples contradictory, and some readers felt that there were some problems with the article which should be addressed in a further article. Nathan Yau was kind enough to write a counter piece arguing about the practices and examples presented within the original article. This article is his response to Amy's article published a week ago. Please notice that the main point of this article is to show a different perspective at the points mentioned in the original article; it isn't supposed to be a “corrected" guide to infographic design.
Smashing Magazine offered advice on the “Dos And Don’ts Of Infographic Design“, but they forgot to include the former. It’s as if I wrote a fake post and someone mistook it for a serious guide. Written by Amy Balliett, it seems to me that the post is basically about a couple of tips on how to create linkbait that doesn’t work. Or at least I hope it doesn’t. Many of the dos are actually dont’s, and judging by some of the comments that the article had received, it’s worth pointing out what’s what.
Texture is becoming integral to design. It’s gone beyond being a trend — it’s now a simple and effective way to add depth to a website. Wielding the power of texture is a great responsibility. It increases the effectiveness of websites and is a quality tool in the arsenal of designers. It can guide the user’s eye and emphasize the importance of key elements. [Content Care Nov/30/2016]
However, texture has long been synonymous with “dirty” or “grungy” design. Its overuse can be seen throughout the world of music group websites and has left a bad taste in the mouths of designers. Due to its frequent misuse, its benefits have long been overlooked. Texture can bring a website together, but should not be the main focus.
For drawing and painting digital illustrations, Adobe Illustrator is a favorite among designers for many reasons. One of the reasons is some of the amazing time-saving features that come with it. The Symbols feature in Illustrator does just this: it saves valuable time by creating a “symbol,” or copy, of an object. This means that all of the time you have spent creating a minutely detailed flower does not have to be repeated. Instead, simply save the flower as a symbol for future use. Plus, symbols greatly reduce the size of image files.
Illustrator makes it easy to use symbols multiple times within a document as well. With the Symbols tools, you can add and alter several symbols at once. And in CS5, you can now change the settings for a symbol while editing. Another benefit of symbols in Illustrator CS5 is that you can change a symbol to a movie clip, making it easy to export to Adobe Flash. You can also make sure that the symbol scales correctly for your interface design by choosing 9-Slice Scaling while still in Illustrator.
Endless layers in Photoshop. Overstuffed image folders. That jQuery plug-in that has 12 files associated with it. Hundreds or thousands of individual pieces go into making a website. No wonder we go off the deep end when we can’t find a closing div — er, section tag.
We work with a ridiculously large number of things, and how we organize them (or choose not to) is often left to personal preference. But our messy habits result in confusion for the designer or developer who inherits your work. Does it really need to be this way?
Layer Styles are nothing new. They've been used and abused again and again. Despite their ubiquity, or perhaps because of it, many designers do not yet realize the full potential of this handy menu. Its beauty lies in our ability to create an effect and then copy, modify, export, hide or trash it, without degrading the content of the layer.
Below we present, step by step, several practical techniques to help you refine your designs, increase productivity and reduce layer clutter. You will find more useful Photoshop techniques and tutorials in our hand-picked selection, Best of Photoshop on Smashing Magazine.
Adobe Illustrator is one very useful program for creating vector artwork. The tools and features available in Illustrator make it easy to create digital illustrations, whether from scratch or by tracing a photograph. But this is not all Illustrator can do. Businesses can create impressive graphs using Illustrator’s Graph tools. Marketers can use the impressive Type tool and other type features to design single-page ads.
Designers create logos and other marketing graphics that need to be scalable in Illustrator. In short, Illustrator is a comprehensive vector program that is difficult to master. The aim of this article is to provide one more resource for those of you yearning to learn more about Illustrator. We’ll look at one of the less-mentioned features: the Warp tools, also known as the Liquify tools.
Over the past several years, there has been a big divide between designers: those who work in print distribution and those in digital distribution. The irony is that, despite the disputes, name-calling and flat-out arguments between the two camps, their techniques and methods are far more common than many believe. Both sides of this communications field are heavily influenced by each other.
Grid systems and typography now play a strong role in Web-based design, and usability and user experience play a big part in developing print material. Adobe InDesign is the primary application of print designers for laying out multiple pages and assembling print documents. This article gives you, the Web-based developer, a look at some of the tools in InDesign that translate directly into what you currently use. We’ll look at how the terminology in the two fields compare and how to apply your expertise to this other industry.
Productivity is a crucial asset of professional designers. Photoshop is an extremely powerful application for photo processing and image manipulation, and we can make it even more powerful by using handy tools, actions, plugins and templates to save time for solving mundane regular tasks. The better our professional tool set is, the more time we can spend to focus on the actual design process rather than the tool we are using to implement it on screen.
Here at Smashing Magazine, we're continuously searching for recent time-saving, useful Photoshop resources for our readers, to make the search of these ever-growing techniques easier. We hope that these techniques will help you improve your design skills as well as your professional workflow when using Adobe Photoshop. A sincere thanks to all designers and developers whose articles are featured in this roundup. We respect and appreciate your contributions to the design community.
When creating Web and app interfaces, most designers slave over every single pixel, making sure it’s got exactly the right color, texture and position. If you’re not careful, though, some common functions like moving, rotating and pasting can undo your hard work, resulting in a blurry mess. But with some small changes to your workflow, you should be able to maintain the highest-quality artwork from the start to the end of the project.
If you’re not careful, rotating layers in Photoshop can damage them in a very noticeable, pixel-mashing way. When rotating layers with Free Transform (and some other tools) to exactly 90 or 270°, the quality of the outcome is determined by the layer’s size. If the layer is of an even width and even height, then you’ll be fine. If it’s of an odd width and odd height, you’ll also be okay. But if they’re of an odd width by even height or even width by odd height, then you’ll see something like the result below.