How to Create an Awesome Retro VW Beetle Vector in Illustrator

In this tutorial we'll be using Adobe Illustrator (CS4 in this case, although can be completed using most versions of Illustrator) to create a vector image of an original Volkswagen (VW) Beetle. We will be making use of one of Illustrators most-used tools; the Pen Tool, as well as adding some finishing touches using a graphics tablet (an affordable Wacom Bamboo tablet in my case) to give the vector a nice hand-drawn style. If you like this tutorial, keep your eyes peeled for the follow-up tutorial, in which we'll be using our vectored VW Beetle to create a lovely retro and textured poster in Adobe Photoshop.

5 Ways To Streamline Your Web-Design Workflow

Productivity and efficiency are all the rage these days – and for good reasons. As a freelance designer, my income greatly depends on my ability to produce quality work, and if I can do that even slightly faster than the other guy, I will not only have happy clients, but returning customers. In this post I'd like to share some of the things I've learned throughout the years that I use or do on a daily basis to help me with my workflow. Of course the more experience you gain the more time you'll save, but let's try to point you in the right direction. Those tips might be quite useful especially if you're getting started as a freelance designer :)

3 Reasons Doing Other Art Makes You a Better Designer

Want to be a better designer? Silly question - of course you would. Who wouldn't, right? There are plenty of obvious ways to improve: practice and design relentlessly, try different styles, get outside of your comfort zone and thus force yourself to learn new techniques, and so forth. But did you know that by doing other art forms – music, film and video, painting, writing, developing – you can actually improve your designs?

Applying a Clean & Imageless Design to an Article – Part I

For Christmas this year, my beautiful wife gave me a copy of The Web Designer's Idea Book, Volume 2. Obviously, I have been perusing the book, and I am finding that there are tons of awesome web designs to take in. I'm super happy with the gift and I expect that it will prove to be a highly valuable resource throughout 2011, and beyond. Yet, even just a quick perusal of the book reveals the prevailing influence of Photoshop (or other graphics programs) on the industry at large. Today, the web is full of beautiful, rich and colourful graphics that continuously amaze and impress us in all manner of very legitimate ways. But just because we can include all of this incredible imagery, it doesn't necessarily follow that we have to. Sometimes, the simple use of colour, shape and typography can create an attractive and elegant design all on its own.

Brilliante Blog Layout – Coding The PSD File Into CSS and HTML

In this tutorial, we'll be revisiting the Brillante blog design, covering the PSD slicing, HTML/CSS coding, custom fonts embedding and some handy cool tips to improve your website performance. This is Part 2 of 3 of the Photoshop blog design called Brilliante, published some time ago on SpyreStudios and designed by Mahmoud Khaled Deiab. In this second part, I'm gonna walk you through the PSD to HTML/CSS coding process. Third part will be about creating a WordPress theme. Let's begin!

Collection of 450+ Abstract and Fractal Photoshop Brushes

Creating your own Photoshop brushes is fun, and those brushes can be used in a variety of designs, from web to print. It can be quite time-consuming to create your own brushes though. Fortunately for us there's a lot of free Photoshop brushes sets out there! Today we've collected over 450 abstract and fractal brushes. I hope you enjoy the collection. Feel free to share your thoughts and leave a comment at the end of the post.

Unlock the Designs You’re Truly Meant to Create

Are you not your true self? Most designers aren't. After all, it's not that easy! We create designs we're not 100% into or best at. Instead, we withhold our unique design contribution to the world. What we do is simply good enough designs. Good---maybe even great---but not uniquely and insanely amazing. Do you want to be one of the countless me-too designers, or do you want to add your unique and remarkable contribution to the design world? If you answered yes to the first one, you can stop reading the rest of this article. It's not for you. That's okay - some people enjoy the activity of designing and don't mind stopping at simply paying the bills with it. That's perfectly fine.

Being Versatile vs. Sticking to One Style – Pros and Cons

As a designer, should you be versatile or stick to a particular style? That's the age-old debate (well, it's not that old, but a long-lasting one nonetheless). Being extremely versatile vs. sticking to one style: each has its pros and cons. On the one hand, by being versatile, you can adapt to and attract more clients - but you're not developing your unique style and design "voice" as much. On the other hand, by sticking to one style, you dig beyond the surface and become a unique expert in that niche - but you're alienating otherwise-good clients who don't want that specific style done for their work.

30+ Last Minute (Digital) Christmas Gift Ideas For Creatives

Let me guess... you've left your Christmas shopping to the last minute? Well, if that someone you haven't bought for happens to be in the creative industry (such as a designer, illustrator, developer, video producer or photographer) you're in luck! This article is full of gift ideas for the creative person in your life, most of which are digital, meaning you don't have to wait for delivery times, and your gift will be ready to hand over just in time for Christmas! The article is spread over three parts depending on your budget. We have a "Budget Gifts" section, a "Mid-Priced Gifts" section and a "Breaking The Bank Gifts" section.

Be a Better Designer by Doing More Non-Design Things

Want to be a better designer? To come up with more creative and innovative designs? And make sure that you don't deviate from the design career path that you're most passionate and excited about? Well, you can be a better designer by doing more non-design things. Huh? Be a better designer by actually doing more non-design activities? That may sound counterintuitive to some. After all, when someone wants to get better at something, they should surround themselves with more of that activity, not less, right? Well, not exactly.

Design Cocktail III Giveaway from Designious – Enter to Win!

Not so long ago Designious released the second edition of their popular Design Cocktail, and now they're back with Design Cocktail 3, with over $900 worth of design resources still for the extremely low price of $29. We've partnered with them again to give away a Design Cocktail 3 bundle to 3 lucky readers of SpyreStudios. The resources included in this bundle are offered by, and of course

Bands and Artists Websites – Showcase and Best Practices

I think web-design is an art just as much as music is. Being a musician myself there are some things I personally like and want to see on a band website and there are some things that really bug me. Things like landing pages, splash pages, music that starts automatically, all-Flash sites and cluttered interfaces often make me wonder who's in charge and why record labels and artists still do those things when they clearly get in the way of a great user experience.

5 Critical Design Lessons From Pixar

A surefire way to move your design career ahead is to learn from masters in their fields. And there's no doubt that Pixar is one of the top animation studios in the world. By looking at how and why the studio is so successful, you can actually learn 5 design lessons. It's appropriate that design inspiration can be pulled from Pixar. After all, they're visual and technological geniuses. Toy Story, Finding Nemo, WALL-E - all were breakthroughs in animation. Yet it's how Pixar actually operates and creates that yields the most useful lessons. Ones that can take your design career to infinity and beyond!

Inspirational Showcase of Three-Dimensional (3D) Movie Posters

Over the past decade there has been a tremendous increase in the amount of three-dimensional available to view both at the cinema and from the comfort of your own homes, ranging from anaglyphic films (they're the ones where you had to wear a pair of groovy red and blue glasses) to the latest RealD 3D technology which is what is currently being used in most cinemas. In this post we will be taking a look at a number of movie posters of films that were released in 3D (please note that most of these were also available in 2D); we will be pointing out trends used throughout all of the posters, and how different posters advertise the 3D films in different ways.

7 Steps To A More Effective And Productive Webdesign Process

Designing for the web is fun and we as web-designers are constantly learning new techniques and improving our skills. But to be honest, kicking-ass at Photoshop doesn't mean your new website will be a success. It sure will be pretty, but there are many things you should do before you actually sit at the computer and start designing. The tips and tricks in this post are my personal experience. It has worked for me and I've learned many of them from working with other designers, too. They're like little insights into my own design process. I hope you find this post useful.

The Daft Punk Guide to Bold and Memorable Designs

Want to create bold and memorable designs? Find unlikely inspiration from one of the most iconic electronic artists of our time: Daft Punk. This article is a 3-step Daft Punk guide to bold and memorable designs. Daft Punk is a very popular and influential music duo, especially when you consider they come from the relatively underground genre of electronic music. But this humans-turned-robots duo who create irresistible and inventive dance music didn't become that way by accident. They had key ingredients to their success as bold and memorable music artists.

Creating a Cartoony Print-Ready Business Card in Photoshop

Business cards are your little marketing companions. They're small enough to carry anywhere, yet big enough to contain all essential details a prospective client has to know about you. In this tutorial, we are going to learn how to create a print-ready business card in Photoshop. Designs made for printing have to be prepared in a special manner. Before sending to the printer, it's best to make sure that your file is ready so you can avoid all the hassle of redesigning, or better yet, the anguish brought by a printing disaster.

Showcase Of 30 Amazing Business Card Designs

You rarely have a second chance at making a good first impression. This is true with web-design and it's just as true when it comes to business card design. Giving away your business card is often the only option you have when you meet someone at a conference or even at the coffee shop, thus the need to grab the person's attention right away and make sure they remember you when they look at your card later on.

Simple Ways To Make More Creative Designs

Almost every designer wants to be more creative. To make more creative designs. But as you're well aware of, creativity is a finicky thing - you can't just be creative at will. Yet some designers just seem to be more creative, more consistently, than others. How de they do it? Well, one way to easily make more creative designs is to set creative limits on yourself. Doing so can really help you be creative more consistently.

40 Great Examples Of Transparency In Website Design

Transparency is one of those things that can really add depth and make a website design pop - when it's done right of course! We've collected 40 websites that make great use of transparency. Some of them are using transparent PNGs and others are using the CSS opacity property. I hope you enjoy the inspiration!