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Did you know that we publish useful books and run
friendly conferences — crafted for pros like
yourself? E.g. our upcoming SmashingConf Barcelona,
dedicated to smart front-end techniques and design patterns.
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.
Yes, it's time to announce the winners! A couple of weeks ago we had announced the "Redesign The Web" Poster Design Contest that encouraged you to design a thought-provoking poster. We wanted to encourage everyone to actively get involved in making the Web a more accessible and usable place today.
Among the entries, many have picked up the idea of the globe. We received clean and minimalistic designs, complex artworks, illustrations, inspirational quotes and call-ups, as well as a comic strip. One participant even produced a poster using only HTML5 and CSS3 (including the bleed and trim marks inside the print style sheet).
We'd like to sincerely thank all the contributors who had taken on this challenge and had sent us their work! Overall, we've received over 150 entries, and in a thorough review process, selected 35 of the best entries (which are now presented in the article below). And trust us—it was no piece of cake to choose the best from many excellent poster submissions. Of course, the owner of each poster owns all the copyrights for their artwork.
Back in 2009, Smashing Magazine presented 100 (Really) Beautiful iPhone Wallpapers. In the meantime Apple has shaken the industry with iPhones 4, 4S and 5, as well as iPad 1, 2, 3, and not to forget to mention the brand new iPad mini and iPad 4 — devices that steal the show with the best ever displays and gigantic resolutions. Having your hands on these masterpieces, how about enriching your device with a high-resolution Retina wallpaper that makes your thingamajig look even better than it already does.
We proudly present you a great collection of iPhone and iPad wallpaper sources, including lots of different designs and styles, from artistic and abstract to photographic and illustrated images. The introduced sites offer a huge variety of categories, so there's something for everyone. The resolutions range from 640×960px to 2048×1536px, optimized for the different appliances. All of the images are clickable and linked to their source. You can explore further artistic treasures and more wallpapers by using the links.
The creative process is not a linear one. As artists and designers, we often set off in one direction only to decide that the proper solution lies somewhere else completely. Unfortunately, many of the creative software packages we use (Photoshop in particular) can be pretty unforgiving when in comes to making changes late in the game.
Sure, we’ve got “Undo” for a quick change of heart, but often we don’t realize we need to make an adjustment until several steps (or days) later. Luckily, Photoshop has some great features built in that allow us to work in ways that protect our precious pixels—truly freeing us to do our best work.
This article is the fourth in our new series that introduces the latest, useful and freely available tools and techniques, developed and released by active members of the Web design community. The first article covered PrefixFree; the second introduced Foundation, a responsive framework; the third presented Sisyphus.js, a library for Gmail-like client-side drafts. Today we are happy to present Cameron McEfee's Photoshop extension GuideGuide which provides a tool to create pixel accurate columns, rows, midpoints and baselines.
Take a moment and think about creating a multi-column grid in a Photoshop comp. Have your palms started to sweat? Yes, creating grids in Photoshop is a pain indeed. Some designers just estimate and drag guides arbitrarily onto the stage. Others draw vector shapes, duplicate them to represent columns, then stretch them to fit their design. The hardy few who don’t say things like, “I’m a designer, not a mathematician,” generally use a little math and logic to calculate their grid.
People often ask how I arrived at a finished illustration. Honestly, it’s different every time, but it always starts with a hand-drawn sketch. Sometimes, I paint it completely by hand; sometimes I’ll scan in a pencil drawing. Many of my pieces are 100% analog that I’ll show only at shops or galleries. Use anything you can; if the illustration would work as a wood carving, go that route. There are concrete steps one can take, but they certainly don’t have to be the same every time. My goal is to take a sketch or idea as far as it can go — and also, to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself with every new job. For this article, I’ll use handcrafted brushes and Photoshop as my tools.
Concepting for me always starts with pencil and paper. If there is one consistent element through all of my pieces, it’s sketching. I love to draw. If I could establish and execute everything with a single pencil drawing, I would. The best thing to do is keep some type of sketchbook or journal with you as much as possible. Milton Glaser said it best: “Drawing is visual thinking.” Drawing creates many possibilities for any idea you might have. It’s then when the character’s personality starts to emerge. Then, I’ll add some volume to the sketch to show where the textures should really come through.
Congratulations. You’ve just completed a pixel-perfect mock-up of an app, and you’ve gotten the nod from everyone on the team. All that’s left to do is save the tens, hundreds or maybe even thousands of production assets required to bring it to life.
It’s probably the least interesting part of designing software, usually entailing hours of grinding. Saving images to multiple scales — as required by iOS and other platforms — adds complication to the process. But there are ways to streamline or automate the exporting process.
Creating a grid is typically one of the very first things you do when starting a design comp. After all, it provides the basic structure on which the rest of your design will lie. In this article, we’ll provide two different methods for efficiently establishing a grid. These methods enable you to quickly and smartly form a grid so that you can spend more time designing.
We hope this article will increase your efficiency and precision in establishing a grid. In the end, the way you set up the grid will depend on your workflow. Evaluate your needs, then choose the method best suited to them. Either method requires minimal set-up but can save much time and frustration.
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.