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Category: Graphics

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.

graphics

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10 Useful Typography Tips For Adobe Illustrator

Typography is not only an all-important aspect of design, it is also an art form in and of itself. Choosing the right font, the perfect spacing and even the correct shape of text can be an important factor as to whether a project fails or succeeds. Although Illustrator is not really used for multiple-paged projects, many would agree that it is one of the most powerful applications for creating vector graphics, such as logos, and it is also often used for one-page documents, such as business cards, posters, or postcards.

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Since we can easily transfer graphics from Illustrator to Photoshop and InDesign, designers often use Illustrator to create vector type that they can then incorporate into projects in another program. For instance, you can create a nice type design within Illustrator, then add some extra effects in Photoshop. Or you may need to design a text illustration within Illustrator to place within your brochure project in InDesign.

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Mastering Photoshop: Noise, Textures, Gradients and Rounded Rectangles

Often, it's the little details that turn a good layout into a great design; details such as subtle textures, shading and smooth shapes. Photoshop contains a vast array of tools for embellishing a design, but choosing the right one isn't always easy. Being the obsessive-compulsives that we are, we've conducted a huge range of experiments to determine the benefits and disadvantages of each technique. Here, then, is an obsessive-compulsive's guide to some frequently used tools and techniques for Web and UI design in Photoshop. [Content Care Nov/30/2016]

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Subtle noise or texture on UI elements can look great, but what’s the best way to add it? Our goal is to find the best method that maintains quality when scaled but that is also easy to implement and edit. To find out which is best, we’ll judge each method using the following criteria.

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Compositing in Adobe Photoshop: Time-Saving Tips

Compositing is a skill and process that spans the entire spectrum of creative industries. At the high end, compositing boasts its own specialized profession in film and television post production and visual effects. Dedicated software such as NUKE and Shake have taken the craft to powerful levels of its own, leaving behind the relatively basic compositing toolset of Adobe Photoshop. However, for many graphics practitioners compositing is a vital everyday process — and as with all pixel-pushing endeavors, Photoshop remains the entry point and hub to learning and ultimately mastering the fundamentals of this important skill.

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In this article, I'll share some of my own time-saving tips for compositing in Photoshop. Tips such as these should never replace a solid understanding of your craft; however, being able to adapt a technique to make it work for you is part of being a creative professional. I encourage you to share your own creative compositing tips in the comments to this article, and think about how you have adapted existing techniques to work for you.

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Preparing Artwork for Screen Printing in Adobe Illustrator

Getting t-shirts printed is an ideal way to promote your business, organization or event. They are a promotional item that people can actually use, and they have the added bonus of being an advertisement for you. In this post, Adobe Illustrator will be used to create a three-color screen print using a fictional company logo, and have it set up to allow a screen printer to easily print the color separations that create the separate screens for each color print. [Links checked February/11/2017]

Creating a new Spot Color Swatch

Although some printers prefer to create their own separations, it’s always good to understand the process. Be sure to communicate with your printer as they will specify their requirements, and will often give you tips for avoiding potential issues in the process.

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Post-Production Trends in 3D Visualizations

Post-production might well be the most underappreciated part of creating 3D visualizations. It gives you the power to easily make some changes; put in the sky you like, add some dirt, make the colors more vibrant and even correct some little mistakes in your 3D mesh.

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Most of the traditional 3D artists tried to do as much as possible wihtin their 3D package since these packages were not focusing on post, but rather on the 3D products themselves. Rendering masks for the different color corrections one would like to do was a painstaking job of fixing the lighting and materializing — making artists choose to do most of the work in 3D (such as adding dirt and textures) and so leaving only color correction for post-work. The techniques and styles of correcting images in post-production have changed a lot over the last couple of years.

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Desktop Wallpaper Calendar: December 2010

Desktop wallpapers can serve as an excellent source of inspiration. However, if you use a specific wallpaper for a longer period of time, it becomes harder to draw inspiration out of it. That’s why we have decided to supply you with smashing wallpapers for over 12 months. To make them a little more distinctive than the usual crowd, we’ve decided to embed calendars for the upcoming month. So if you happen to be searching for a specific day of the month, isn’t it better to show off a nice wallpaper with a nice calendar instead of launching some default time application?

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This post features 40 free desktop wallpapers, created by designers across the globe for December 2010. Both versions with a calendar and without a calendar can be downloaded for free.

Please notice:

  • all images can be clicked on and lead to the preview of the wallpaper;
  • you can feature your work in our magazine by taking part in our desktop wallpaper calendar series. We are regularly looking for creative designers and artists to be featured on Smashing Magazine. Are you one of them?

So what wallpapers have we received for December 2010?

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Art Inspirations with Individual Artist Portfolios

In a creative field like design, we face an undeniable truth: our wells of inspiration are bound to run dry from time to time. In those periods of imaginative downtime, we seek out sources that can help us return the creative flow to our working process, and get us "back in the game." But when we need a quick recharge, where do we turn? Many of us have our favorite "go-to" places when we are victim to creative drought, though perhaps with a little help, our routinely chosen paths could change. [Content Care Dec/25/2016]

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Although they are so different in their purpose, art and design have such a close relationship; extensive discussions, over the years, have tried to figure out what separates these two imaginative fields. Today we set that discussion aside and focus on the creative outcomes that have dazzled and inspired, by leading you toward some spectacular sources to get your dose (or two) of inspiration. Hopefully we can point you in the direction of some of inspiring artwork sure to produce enough spark to light anyone’s creative fire. Sit back, and let us act as your tour guide through this artistic recharge.

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Illustrator’s Live Trace: Sketch To Vector

In this post we will take a drawn design, scan it and clean it up in Photoshop, then trace it using the Live Trace feature in Adobe Illustrator. Live Trace was introduced in Adobe Illustrator CS2 but is still a powerful tool available in Illustrator CS5. This process really gives an artist the freedom to digitally experiment with drawings of any kind.

Illustrator's Live Trace: Sketch To Vector

The vector art it produces can be used in numerous ways and is easily customized. My motivation for trying this was originally to make a "growing vine"-type animation in Adobe After Effects. I will show a link to the resulting animation at the end of this tutorial, but for now, let's get started.

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50 New Free High Quality Icons Sets

Feel free to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee right now because you'll be investing an hour or so in today's post. We've published our last icons round-up six months ago and since then we've collected over 50 new free high quality icon sets that you can use for your projects. While most freebies may be used for commercial projects as well, some of them may not. However, you could use all of them in your private projects. If the set is available for private use only, it's clearly indicated in the caption.

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Please always read the disclaimers carefully before using the icons — they do change from time to time. We truly respect and appreciate the efforts and the hard work of designers of the icons featured below. Thank you for your contributions to the community, guys! Also, if you are planning to release a high quality freebie, please let us know via Twitter or by contacting us using our contact form — we would love to feature you on Smashing Magazine!

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