How to use reference photos in your artwork

Whether you're just learning how to draw, working through a set of Illustrator tutorials, or you're an illustration pro, reference images are important. But if you're not careful they can cause problems of their own. Your first order of business should be to decide what you need and then photograph accordingly. Before I take the time to get friends together for reference, I usually make a couple of small sketches that roughly define the pose and, if possible, the lighting scheme. It can be tempting to just go outside and shoot photos until you've got something you like (and believe ... Read More

4 top typography tools for web designers

Getting the typography right in your web designs is a vital skill, but one that's difficult to master. These top typography tools for web designers will help you on your way. Here we've included tools to help you find the perfect font pairing and great places to download fonts, but also some handy tools to help you make your font choices work well in situ.  01. Gridlover This tools is great for gauging font sizes Gridlover is awesome at gauging font sizes and spacing on a web page when you’re considering how big your H1 and H2 titles need to ... Read More

Wacom Cintiq Pro 32: hands on review

If you've have the chance to use one of Wacom’s large-format pen displays, you'll know why these drawing tablets are used in studios around the world.  Wacom’s previous flagship model, the Cintiq 27QHD, provided artists with an impressive 27 inches of screen space at a resolution of 2,560 x 1,400 pixels. As the push for Ultra High Definition content increases, however, artists are beginning to need more resolution and screen space than ever before. Step up the Wacom Cintiq Pro 32. It isn't yet on sale – but we got our hands on the latest model in Wacom’s Cintiq family ... Read More

10 essential oil painting tips and techniques

When learning how to paint, virtually every student starts out afraid and overwhelmed by the unforgiving nature of painting in oils. But the transition to oils can be made much smoother by utilising some simple and practical painting techniques.  In the video below, I demonstrate 10 great tips that will help get you started on the right path. (Spoiler alert: it all begins with the fundamentals!) Now let's go through these 10 oil painting tips in more detail. 01. Hold the paintbrush in the right place! Hold your brush at the end for maximum control There are many different grips ... Read More

3D fonts: 9 top type tips

3D fonts are an eye-catching element inside your typographic toolbox. They can be used consistently across both web and print, and, implemented cleverly, will energise your designs, creating stunning work that's fit for your design portfolio.  On-trend for 200 years The first 3D fonts – or ‘shaded’ typefaces – date from around 1815 in London, and were borne from intense competition between British type foundries. The first is believed to be Thorne Shaded, a tough looking fat face with sharp serifs, by Robert Thorne of the Fann Street Foundry. Since then, 3D type has evolved substantially, withstanding 200 years of ... Read More

How to choose which paint brush to use

Choosing the best pencils or paint brushes for your next project isn't always an easy decision. After all, different effects require different tools so it can be difficult to know which to use. To simplify the process of choosing my paint brushes, I make two major distinctions: the type of hair the paint brush is made of and the shape. If you're struggling with which paint brush to use, the best thing to do is to try the various shapes. For example, you could start with only bristle rounds. Then, try and paint with only flats, and then finally filberts ... Read More

How to draw muscle groups in 5 steps

When figuring out how to draw animals, an important step is to conduct muscle studies. Vertebrate anatomy is consistent and, as you study, you'll notice that muscle groups between different animals are very similar, if not the same. Just like with the skeletons, it's only the shapes and sizes that differ between different animals. Despite a few differences, vertebrate bodies all share the same basic muscle systems.  In this article, I'll show you how to simplify these basic muscle groups to start building up an animal's form. For this example, I'll be drawing a canid (a dog) walking. 01. Start ... Read More

What’s the difference between cloud hosting and shared hosting?

Whether you're building large-scale ecommerce websites for clients or simply need a home for your design portfolio, choosing the right hosting is essential. These days the most likely choice you'll have to make is between cloud and shared hosting, but what's the difference? We're used to seeing the word 'cloud' stuck in front of virtually every technological term out there. And while tech-savvy individuals have a decent grasp of what 'the cloud' is, the same can't be said for all its potential applications. Cloud hosting, for example, is not simply shared hosting with a cloud badge stuck on the front ... Read More

Give your website a makeover with these WordPress themes

People of all skill levels love WordPress because the web platform is malleable and easy to customise. All you just need to have the right tools to make your site look and feel good. Give your site the professional style it needs with a lifetime subscription to Theme Junkie. You can get unlimited access on sale for just $24.99 (approx £18). When you're building your website, you won't find a better option than WordPress. No matter what you want to do with your site, you can make it happen with the help of the expertly-designs themes from Theme Junkie. Grab ... Read More

5 design student stereotypes to avoid

So you’re at design school with your essential kit. And you’re doing pretty well. So well, in fact, it might be going to your head. If you don’t want your design career to be dead in the water before you even graduate, take heed of the failings of those who have gone before you.  While there are plenty of proactive positive actions you can take to set yourself on the path to success, there are also some pitfalls to avoid. Here are five archetypal design student attitudes that are sure to make you crash and burn, and give your fledgling ... Read More

Eye on Design: review

Eschewing the current trend for oversized, format-busting grandeur, the debut issue of Eye on Design magazine arrives in a beautifully compact, sub-A4 format. From the (literally) eye-popping beauty of the inspired, die-cut cover, across the 160 pages of crystal clear layouts, to the brilliantly executed themes, this debut exudes quiet confidence and an air of self-assuredness. Eye On Design is published by AIGA, the American Institute of Graphic Arts. The institute is the largest of its kind in America, and its website has become home to some of the very best industry insight and analysis since it launched in 2014.  ... Read More

#ArtVsArtist puts artists in the spotlight

There's an age-old question when it comes to analysing a piece of art: where does the artist end and their art begin? Separating the creator from their work is usually a matter for scholars, but on social media artists and their masterpieces have been brought together with the hashtag #artvsartist. Having erupted on Twitter and Instagram over the last week, #artvsartist sees creators posting images of their work along with a photograph of themselves. Typically these posts follow a template that sees a group of eight images framing a selfie of the artist in the centre. Despite taking off recently, ... Read More

6 hot new websites to be inspired by

Designing for the web is a constantly evolving art, which means that superb developments are always around the corner. And with innovations catered towards accessibility, sensational designs can be more than just visually pleasing. To give you a taste of some of the latest web design inspiration to come our way, we take a look at six stunning sites that have pushed the boundaries. Read on to discover why they work. 01. Smashing Magazine Smashing Magazine's new redesign relies on the colour of authority After 18 months of redesigning, Smashing Magazine launched its website in a big way. By not ... Read More

DaVinci Resolve 15 software released as a free beta

Blackmagic Design has launched DaVinci Resolve 15, the latest incarnation of its industry-standard grading and editing software. Aimed at editors, colorists, VFX artists and sound designers, the update has been released as a free public beta. The biggest news is the inclusion of motion graphics and compositing software Fusion. Fusion is a node-based software with tools for working with footage, generating particles and effects, and a suite of painting tools, as well as a set of keyframe tools alongside a curve editor.  The move to bring it into Resolve is a huge deal, enabling artists to stay in a simple ... Read More

How to turn clients into friends

You might be an amazing designer, but if you want the money to roll in, unless you're extremely fortunate, talent alone isn't going to cut it. Face it, you're going to have to deal with clients, which can be a daunting prospect for many creatives who'd rather keep their heads down and get on with the work. For Natasha Field, account manager at Fiasco, getting on with clients is her daily business. In this short video, she explains why a small, friendly studio suits her more than a large agency – and how Fiasco's 'family' vibe translates to its client ... Read More

Jump start your app career with this bundle

Knowing how to build for mobile is an invaluable skill with nearly endless opportunities. You can get your start in the mobile development field with the eduCBA Mobile App Development Lifetime Subscription Bundle. It's on sale now for 96 per cent off the retail price. You'll learn the basics of the languages that make up the fundamentals of mobile. Whether you want to build for iOS or Android, you'll find a course in this bundle to get you on track. There are over 100 courses and 250 hours of content that will teach you how to design the user experience ... Read More

5 tips for super-fast CSS

Have you thought about the size of your site's CSS? If your style sheet is ballooning, it could be delaying page rendering.  Though CSS isn't the largest asset type you'll serve, it's one of the first that the browser discovers. Because the browser is blocked from rendering the page until CSS is downloaded and parsed, it must be as lean as possible.  Here are five tips to help you get there. 01. Use shallow selectors Your parents told you that shallowness isn't a virtue, but when it comes to CSS, they're wrong. Used consistently, shallow selectors can trim kilobytes off big ... Read More

7 organisations design students need to know

If you're planning a career working from home as a freelance designer, being well prepared and organised is essential. While you're studying, as well as building up a cracking creative resume, it's important to start integrating yourself into the design industry.  There are a number of respected organisations that bring together the leading designers in various fields, as well as offering resources, competitions and networking opportunities to fledgling creatives. Here, we run down seven of the best.  01. AIGA Discounts, resources and plenty of opportunities arise at AIGA As the world's largest professional design association, AIGA has membership options aimed ... Read More