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Using Texture to Get the Most Out of Design

There are a number of design elements that are important to design, texture being just one of them. However, texture can be a powerful force when presented in any type of design, adding visual interest and more detail. Texture is often times associated with the sense of feel, so adding it to a purely visual reference can make a 2D piece appear 3D or more real to life. What's the benefit of this? Things that seem more real to life often result in a more emotional response from the viewer, and are in return, are more memorable. Let's look at how texture can impact various forms of art and design, and some examples within each category. Typographic Design Typographic design has been quite a trend in recent years, and its place in the design world is growing increasingly. Below are some excellent examples of typographic design that use texture incredibly well, in an area where texture was once hardly present. Graphic Design Graphic design is always supposed to send out a message, and texture adds an emotional and 'real-life' response that can almost always yield better results. From posters to business cards, check out these examples of texture used in graphic design below. Web Design Texture is always more difficult to implement in web design because designers must consider varying screen sizes, resolutions, and a number of other factors. However, texture, just like in graphic design, can set the correct mood and give a better feedback than a web design that uses no texture. Below are some favorite web designs that focus on texture, and towards the end, web designs that don't necessarily focus on it, but definitely include it for an enhanced look. Art Traditional art for the most part is separate from design, but of course, texture is just as much a part of it. Check out these amazing art pieces in a number of different mediums that put their main focus on texture. Best Methods for Using Texture in Design From the examples above, it's easy to see how texture in any medium can enhance design. However, what are the best methods for incorporating it? Texture can add a lot of interest to a design which means it can also go too far as well. There are situations where texture can be distracting or used incorrectly so that it is ineffective. Of course, depending on what artistic venue you're working in, texture should be used differently. For example, logo design should keep texture to a minimum, while web or graphic design can use a lot more. Despite the differences for each type of design, let's look into some general rules, or guidelines. 1. Don't Distract from the Essential Elements There are different levels of texture and different types that can be used in better situations that others. If texture is distracting from the needed content or other imagery, then it is being used incorrectly. Try to think about this consciously and get other people's opinions before using too much texture. Also, try not to use heavy textures on backgrounds, unless it is meant to be part of the focus of the design. 2. Follow a Texture Theme Use similar texture styles to create repetition, in a seemingly random design. This can also be used to cause unity in the design. In certain types of design that use texture, the design can seem disorganized and messy, while design should always seem put together to an extent. A designer should use texture for visual interest, either to break a pattern or add variety to a repeating pattern, but texture should not be used to create such chaos that the design looks disorganized. Similar textures will help combat this. 3. Add Texture to Repeating Patterns Most of the examples above are seemingly random textures used for visual interest. However, there are many designers that add texture in a much more organized way, via patterns. An example of this practice would be straight wooden planks used as a background, or dust/noise added to a pattern. 4. Gradients and/or Fading Texture Sometimes an extreme texture can be made more subtle by simply not covering the entire design with it. Try fading a texture into a solid color, or to a darker and less noticeable version of the texture. Be sure to put the lightest part of the gradient (where the texture will be most noticeable) in an area of the design where it's needed — highlighting a main feature, or adding visual interest to a place that needs it. 5. Try Putting Texture as the Main Focus While most designs succeed with adding texture but making it as subtle as possible, other designs excel by making texture the primary focus. An example of this practice is a large background website. A well-textured large background along with interesting shapes and themes can be the main focus of the design, and therefore not be too distracting. This technique is also used often in graphic design with varying textures are clashed to create a design in itself. Wrapping Up Texture is an important part of any style of design, and many forms of design or art aren't visually appealing enough without it. While there are many examples of texture-less design still used today, many viewers see textured designs as more appealing and are more emotionally responsive. Even when knowing this, many designers are afraid of using texture in the wrong way to an extent that they avoid using it, or avoid using too much of it. Our advice to any designer or artist: always feel free to experiment with texture! Trying out new things is the only way to explore and discover new ways of using this one design element to its fullest potential. About the Author Crystal Ramsay is a web designer from the U.S., with a love of Wordpress, simplicity, and user-centric design. She is co-owner of a small and local design firm, and editor-in-chief of The Free Creatives (, a blog made for freelance web designers. You can find her on Twitter at @freecreatives

Tips on How to Become a Better Designer

I've been working and, you could say, living as a designer for over 12 years now. Throughout these years a lot has happened, all of which caused me to grow as a designer and learn new things. In the beginning I had a vague idea of what was necessary to get better and succeed in the design industry, but it took me quite a few years to discover some basic concepts that really made me become a better designer. I will share some with you today. Promote your work "Put yourself out there, being awesome is long tail" - Allan Branch In the beginning I was naive. I thought if you were good enough people would find you. I was never promoting my work until my office got robbed. Then I decided to create Abduzeedo and put my work out there. I made a Flickr account, DeviantArt, Behance... you name it. These services are much more important in promoting yourself than an own site can be. If you use the right tags and produce good work, these sites will make you more visible to the community. Tips Start posting your work on sites like Flickr, DeviantArt, Behance, Carbonmade. Participate in groups on sites such as Flickr. It's an easy and simple way to get your work out there. Eventually create a separate portfolio site as well. It will give you more credibility. Illustration tag on Behance Smashing Network is selecting good blogs to be part of their network, when it comes to Smashing Magazine, we cannot expect anything less than let's say smashing ;) Experiment Your best work is your expression of yourself. Now you may not be the greatest at it, but when you do it, you’re the only expert - Frank Gehry I think one of the main things that I really learned, is that personal projects are the best way to evolve when it comes to techniques and aesthetics. Being our own client and consumer, gives us the freedom and time to do what we want. Every time I see a nice effect in movies, posters, magazines, books, etc., I make a mental note to myself and then go home and try and recreate that effect. Doing that has really increased my arsenal of skills. It gives me more confidence when I have to start a new work for a client. Another great thing about experimenting is that it makes your portfolio bigger, better, and more versatile. Tips Try to recreate effects you see and like just to learn the technique. Experiment with new trends that way you will be able to absorb those details that characterize the trend and apply them to future projects if necessary. "Chocolatopia" - Personal illustration, that I worked on during 2008 in my lazy spare time. with some longer breaks... Basically it's a photo montage, with some strong retouch / paint work and some 3d additions. - Pawel Nolbert Personal project inspired by a scene from the Ironman movie This is a Personal Project to launch my nw website to middle of November. A little preview of the new image and brand of PLAYFUL. A lot of fluorescent colors, shapes, geometries, typography and tones of LOVE. - Pablo Alfieri Encourage Feedback Feedback is really important for designers. Sometimes you might get a lot of criticism, but that's okay, it's part of the game. The secret is to use the criticism as a motivator to evolve and not as a reason to get angry. You might even get some useful tips and advices. Sometimes we get so used to what we're doing that we become oblivious to some details in our work that is pretty clear to everybody else, it's important that we let other designers or really just anybody to take a look at our work. The small details are what will make your work better and unique. Tips Ask questions when posting your work. Respond to the comments and post versions of the images with the suggested adjustments. Never argue or get extremely upset with the criticism, it not only won't help you but it might also ward off others from commenting. Signalnoise Live Broadcast is a great example from James White on how to interact and get feedback from the community Give Feedback “It looks good” is the worst feedback you can get - Whitney Hess When it comes to design, giving feedback is as important as receiving it. Participate in the community expressing your opinion when people ask. Try not to be rude or cocky. The idea is to help, get help, and evolve. The clash of ideas and point of views will really broaden your design skills. Comment on posts and sites where images are shared. Help others by giving valuable tips and ideas. Share The easiest way to promote yourself as a designer is by sharing your skills. Before Abduzeedo, I used to experiment in Photoshop, Illustrator, etc but I used to keep them to myself. Then my office was robbed and I lost everything. So I started Abduzeedo and with it, the tutorials. At first the tutorials were just a way for me to backup my files and have a quick overview of my techniques, but some became really popular which made me realize how important it is to share what we know. I get a lot of emails with people asking me what the point is in making these tutorials and giving the source files away. Well, my answer is simple. I can show someone how to create a light effect or how to use Photoshop filters, but I can't show them how to come up with the idea themselves. The tutorials are about how I use the apps to make the ideas come true. Tips Write quick tutorials showing some techniques you think might be useful to others. Write guest posts for other sites sharing your experiences and thoughts. Reader tutorial by Chanito You can even make money by sharing your skills. Sites like PSDTUTS pay you to write for them Pursue Simplicity “Design is so simple, that’s why it’s so complicated” -Paul Rand Less is more. That was one of the Bauhaus mottos almost 100 years ago and it's still new and true, even more now in the internet age where we live with an overflow of information. It's important to be simple and efficient. Everything that is good is simple, but not everything that is simple is good. Making something simple and good isn't easy. It requires a deep understanding of what we have to do and whom we're doing it for, so we can simplify things. I believe simplicity is all about being confident in the thought that less is more and making decisions to remove unnecessary features and elements. "Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent". — Joe Sparano Like I said, it took me more than 10 years to fully understand these things. I can call it experience because most of them I learned through my own mistakes. Now it's up to you to see if it'll be worthwhile for you. These aren't exactly rules, just thoughts and suggestions. I would love to hear your take on becoming better designers. Magazine cover for Super Interessante based on a tutorial that the client saw and liked.

3 Ways to Flunk Design School

When you go to Design school, you realize that there are so many other designers out there that you might get a little worried about the market and stuff like that. Well, if you use your time at school to overcome yourself, and use all the knowledge avaiable, you'll find no problems to find clients. One thing many young designers fight are critiques from fellow designers and teachers. It can tough to go from having all your family and friends tell you all your work is awesome to your teachers and peers telling you to fix things on a daily basis. You need to be willing to grow, trust your teachers and listen to your peers. While you don't have to listen to EVERYTHING they say you should take it all into consideration. Your teachers will have much more experience than you while you are in school, so you need to take their advice and apply it to your work and see how it comes out. Students who fight their teachers too much on everything will not grow quickly. Stay Inside the Box Many designers get comfortable with a style or using certain typefaces or design elements. You must keep pushing the limits and never stop trying new stuff. Design school is the time to go crazy and lets your creative energy burst outward. The more you try, the more you will learn and eventually you can develop your own rich design style, but even if you develop a style you should always keep experimenting well into your design career. Image by Shutterstock Images Show no Love If you have no passion for design why are you even in school or considering going to school? I remember seeing people in class spending more time texting or on Facebook than using the Adobe programs. Even if you are not in class you should be creating artwork, going to museums, reading books, attending lectures and anything else you can do. You must surround your self with design, breath design, eat design and dream about design. If you don't feel the passion than design simply may not be for you and you should keep searching for what career will truly make you happy for many years to come. Author By Gino Orlandi from and the Online Printing Company