Creative Market: Designer's Gold

The design process can involve a lot of outsourcing. One's vision may depend on the procurement of something, whether it be a brush, a texture, an object, or a shortcut for the things we creative minds just can't figure out, no matter how hard we try. It's not simple. Much sifting ensues. Deadlines approach. There's something missing in the composition. Well, Creative Market is teeming with solutions, I call it "designer's gold." It's not a one-stop shop for buying your design. It's a one-stop shop for completing your design. For instance, I designed everything but the backdrop for my Seafarer's Pillow Set mockup. It still sells my own patterned pillow, but it markets the product better with the help of a sleek and professional backdrop, one that I did not have the time to put together on my own. 
And since lists of design must-haves that other graphic artists put together are a great resource, here's a list of my own. Happy outsourcing!

Adobe Illustrator Tip: Creating Geometric Shapes with Pathfinder

Creating geometric patterns in Adobe Illustrator is very simple when you select the right tools. Today, I will walk you through how I created this geometric pattern using this colorful triangular pattern.  I worked with the Pathfinder Menu whose options you could probably spend a day experimenting with. This tool is invaluable and great fun to utilize.

Easy Geometric Patterns
Create Square

Start by creating a square.

Rotate Dialog Box
Rotate Square

Next, rotate the square 45 degrees using the Rotate dialog box. 

Draw Vertical Line

To create the smaller triangles begin by drawing a vertical line by selecting the Line Tool. Hold the Shift Key and draw a line near the center of the image.

Align Center

To center the line over the diamond shape click the Align Vertical Center and Align Horizontal Center which is in the control bar above your workspace or in the Align Menu.

Rotate and Copy Lines
Rotate and Copy

Click the vertical line and use the Rotate Menu clicking Copy and rotate 45 degrees. Then use the shortcut Command + D to repeat this action two more times. Now your image should look like the diamond above.

Divide Image
Pathfinder Divide

Select the image and all lines and make sure they are aligned vertically and horizontally by using the Align commands. Next, click the Divide option in the Pathfinder menu. This will give you eight separate diamonds you can now work with.

Recolor Diamonds

Here I have used four colors and created a geometric diamond pattern.

Create Symbol
Symbol Menu

Typically when I create a new image I immediately make it into a symbol adding it to or creating a new symbol library.  This enables me to easily edit the image or duplicate it.

Diamond Graphic
Geometric Pattern

Once I have my symbol completed I can edit it or create a pattern repeat. The possibilities are endless!

10 Essential Resources for Designers

10 Essential Resources for Designers

Are you looking to learn a new digital design technique? Need to find an answer about the software you are using?  Here is a great list of online resources for designers of all kinds. I have used them all at one point or another and find their offerings exceptional. With each one you will find expert advice, tips, techniques, tutorials and design offerings. 

1. Layers Magazine

Layers Magazine online site is full of everything to do with "Adobe" and chock full of useful information and tutorials related to the main Adobe Suite products.


2. is the premiere resource for online tutorials for learning technology, creative and business skills covering all skill levels. This site played a major role in my transition from traditional illustration to digital almost eight years ago.  Since then they have expanded so much and it seems there is not much they don't cover. 


3. Creative Bloq

Creative Bloq offers a huge variety of information related to design. Their categories include: graphic design, web design, 3D, audiovisual, typography, branding and illustration.


4. Subtle Patterns

Here at Subtle Patterns you will find free patterns for your next web project. They also offer a great Photoshop Plugin.


5. Font Squirrel

One of my favorite go-to resources for free fonts is Font Squirrel. They have a great selection of quality fonts in a variety of styles.  


6. Creative Market

Creative Market is a popular resource for what I call creative design tools. They offer fonts, graphics, themes and a whole lot more.  A tremendous resource!


7. InDesign Secrets

InDesign Secrets is billed as the world's #1 resource for all things InDesign.  They have amassed a huge collection of valuable information for this software.  The InDesign software itself is packed full of features and sometimes it is mind boggling to find a simple answer.  This is the place where you can find the answer!


8. Company Folders

A fabulous blog from Company Folders offering tips and techniques for graphic designers and print professionals.


9. Digital Tutors

Another resource for creative and technical training is Digital Tutors.  They have a huge library of training videos and many that are perfect for game designers and videographers.


10. Tuts+

Tuts+ is another top notch site for tutorials to learn skills including code, photography, illustration, web design and more.


Adobe Illustrator Tip: Convert CMYK Color to Pantone Colors

Here is a great tutorial for converting colors in your work to Pantone Colors. I often find a set of colors and create a palette for a project.  This is a perfect set of actions to add to your workflow for professional results.  It makes a very simple when a client or printer asks for those numbers when it goes into production.


Flower Design to Recolor

So I begin with my completed design which for this example is a simple floral design.  I always create my elements as symbols which in the long run makes it a snap to adjust colors.

Flower Symbols

Here is my set of symbols that is used in the design.

Selected Artwork

Here I have selected all of the elements without expanding the symbols.

New Group Selected

With all of them selected I choose "New Color Group" at the bottom of the color palette menu.

New Color Group

Save the color group with a unique name and check the "Selected Artwork" and I also check the "Convert Process to Global" and "Include Swatches for Tints."

Swatches Panel

This is what your swatches palette looks like with your new color group. When you select the color group you are now given the option to "Edit Color Group" which is at the bottom of the swatches menu. Click it and you will be taken the the "Recolor Artwork" menu.

Recolor Dialogue Box

When this menu opens I make sure the "Recolor Art" is selected and now I am ready to choose the appropriate color book. This particular menu is very powerful and is a great way to try out different color combinations with your completed artwork.  That is another tip for another day!

Choose Color Book

Here is where you make your choice of Pantone Color Books.  I chose the PANTONE + CMYK Uncoated for this example and saved my changes.

Pantone Results

Now, when I hover over my swatches in my palette you can see that they have all been converted to PMS colors! Wasn't that easy?

Do you regularly work in Photoshop? It is just as easy. If you create a spot color in Illustrator or  InDesign just create a small square of that color and copy and paste it into Photoshop. Use the eyedropper tool to click on the color so it now becomes the foreground color.  Then click on the foreground color and when you select color libraries it will automatically highlight the closest Pantone color. Nice, huh?

My Creative Process: Digital Illustration

Over seven years ago I made the leap from traditional illustration to digital design.  Many times I am asked what methods I utilize in the creation of my illustrated pieces.  Today, I will walk you through what has become one of my favorite methods for illustrating digitally.  It encompasses three software programs, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. 


This is the final illustration which in its creative entirety utilized a traditional pencil and the three above mentioned software programs.

Pencil Sketch

This is my initial pencil sketch which is hand done and scanned into a digital file.

Line Art

Here is the next step in the process which entails taking the scanned sketch and placing it into a new Adobe Illustrator file.  Next, I create a line drawing with color in mind.  Every area that I know will be a different color is place on a different layer.

Color Image

Now I take each layer and fill it with a base color that I will work with in Corel Painter.  It is key to keep the pieces on separate layers with unique names.  This is really helpful especially in highly detailed work with many layers. The next step is important for the transition of importing it into Corel Painter.  Export the file as an Adobe Photoshop .psd with layers.  

Now it is time to open the layered .psd file in Corel Painter. 

Corel Painter Process

And then the fun begins.  It is a tedious process which entails creating custom brushes to suite the subject matter and style. Then it is all about "painting" each layer to achieve the desired texture and detail. Once the piece is completed it can be exported in any number of formats.

One trick I have learned is how to create a Corel Painter file where the end result is a transparent background.  If I just wanted to use the image of the giraffe from the final version of this illustration I would export the Painter file as a layered .psd.  I open it in Photoshop and eliminate all of the layers I don't want to use and leave a transparent background.  Once again I re-save it as a new .psd file and then I am able to place it into an AI file that utilizes a totally different background.  

I have never looked back when it comes to making the leap into digital design.  In the beginning I spent many hours on viewing learning videos.  It was well worth the time and effort. I would have to say that my steepest learning curve in the process was Corel Painter.  In the end the combination of using these three programs has served a great purpose. After all, this particular workflow has provided a great foundation for the creation of our dogs from the Barkley & Wagz collection of wall art