Dec 062016

What makes for a successful piece of branding? An original idea? An innovative use of materials? How about a sense of fun? In the case of the logo design and branding for the Golden Pin Awards 2016, all of these factors came together to create a truly inspiring piece of graphic design worthy of the event itself.

In case you weren't aware, the Golden Pin Awards are a premiere annual event that celebrate the philosophies and principles of design in the Chinese-speaking, also known as huaren, market. Hosted in Taipei's Design Centre, this year's ceremony was represented by playful and experimental motion graphics and visuals courtesy of production studio, Bito.

The design was based on calligraphy from 2014

Drawing inspiration from a key visual created by renowned calligraphy artist Tong Yang-Tze for the 2014 awards ceremony, the Bito team decided to give this classic look a modern reinterpretation. They did this by rendering the brush strokes found in Tong's design with common huaren materials, such as concrete, gold leaf, rattan, acrylic, and marble, as well as simplifying the overall shapes of the letters.

At the centre of these visuals are four golden pinballs which represent the four categories of the Golden Pin Awards, namely: Product Design, Packaging Design, Visual Communication Design, and Spatial Design. All of these elements come together in fun graphics that look like the mechanisms of a pinball machine. Bito founder, Keng-Ming Liu, explains that this pinball imagery represents huaren designers seeking stimulation and inspiration.

Bito found a creative way to incorporate the logo into the award invitations

To give visitors first hand experience of what it is like for huaren creatives pursuing their ambitions, Bito also produced entertaining invitations in the form of mini rattling pinball machines. Liu explains how these handheld pinball machines echoed the design process. "Your hands must be very steady, and you must be in a calm state of mind," he says. "Just before you find inspiration is actually the hardest moment."

The tactile nature of these invitations was also important for Liu. "I think most young people have never played a game like this, they tend to play this sort of thing on their cell phones" he explains. "But playing it like this should remind guests that design can also be a lot of fun."

Playing by hand also allows for error and idiosyncrasies, another key part of Bito's design work. "I like imperfections as the give a piece of work a more human touch, it's something different," Liu adds.

As well as producing the invitations and visual graphics, Bito also created video work for Golden Pin Awards call for entry (see above), plus motion graphics for the ceremony itself. The latter took the form of huge curved video screens which played subtle animated sequences, each slightly different depending on which category was being awarded.

The centrepiece of the award ceremony was a cutting-edge piece of dance that incorporated Bito's visual graphics. Choreographed in collaboration with Ray Dance Company, a dance troupe founded by two siblings, the dance was a culmination of everything Bito and the Golden Pin Awards were aiming to communicate.

"We chose Ray Dance Company because we wanted to promote the new generation of Taiwanese creatives and to try a new style of expression through dance,” says Liu.

The full piece of design work from Bito

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Dec 062016

Five outstanding artists demonstrate the tricks of their trade, explaining how to create urban, sci-fi, natural, stylised and fantasy textures.

Urban texture

Generally, when I want to create a substance, I start with a list of the materials involved and make a quick base for each of them. I find that the materials themselves aren’t actually as important as the transitions and masks used to put them together, so I spend most of my time working on that.

I then break down the way they blend into a few categories. When blending almost any materials together, they will fall into one or more of the following: weathering, height or environment. Each of these requires some information in order to blend the materials properly. This information could be something like a Curvature map, Ambient Occlusion map or a Height map. An example of each would be: weathering – paint on metal that is peeling or flaking off (requires curvature, ambient occlusion or world space normals); height – puddles in a dirt path (requires height); environment – snow, sun bleaching, scattered leaves from the wind or anything you don’t see in the model itself (requires world space normal or position).

It’s important to know this because you want to develop each of these maps along with your main material. If a Height map that wasn’t created along the way is needed, there are two options to create the map. One option is to go back to the beginning of the project and create the Height map and add edits step-by-step as you changed the material. The other option is to convert the current maps, which will usually result in a loss of accuracy. That loss is accumulative each time the map is converted, so if you used a Normal map to Height map, then to Ambient Occlusion for masking dirt, you will most likely get odd masking.

01. Floral designs

Solid base shapes

It’s amazing what you can do with a few solid base shapes. When I was creating the floral designs for the wallpaper, I regularly found myself going back to using the same base shape and just using warps, tiling, symmetry and circular splatters to make other shapes.

02. Substance does the work 


The plaster substance I made takes in a mask and makes the edge area more damaged and broken than the rest. This makes adjustments easier as I only have to worry about blending two materials instead of three. 

03. Make a tools library

Build your own

Just because there isn’t a default for something doesn’t mean you can’t do it. I wanted to blend two materials based on height, so I used a pixel processor to make one.

04. Optimise early

Faster processing

A full resolution node will make your processing much faster and can be used to get some minor blur into your noise for free. For my first draft of the wall, I took about 13-15 seconds each time I made a change. After doing resolution optimisations, it dropped to 3-4 seconds.

05. Water stains

Realistic water damage

Technique by Kyle Peeters

Sci-fi texture

Sci-fi material

Before any work begins, I start with my points of inspiration. This helps clarify my goal and build a framework for the creative process that comes next. My inspiration for the sci-fi Material Challenge was massive spaceships, like those in Star Wars or Warhammer 40k. Next, I had to plan the whole material skeleton; this design process is similar to the one many 3D artists use to develop complex models from scratch.

Here I can plan what kind of features my substance will contain and how to group them into nodes. Knowing my goal helped me to picture what the material should look like in the end. I decided on big external slabs and plates of solid metal, small luminescent windows that would reside between the plates and fragile structures for the inner hull. Constant experimentation was very important and useful in helping me to achieve this. When I discover something interesting by accident I’ll often make a note of it, as these results might become helpful in future projects. You can’t just rely on a few schemes you already know. Thankfully, Substance Designer‘s node workflow gives you infinite combination possibilities, so allow yourself the time to unleash your creativity.

This brings us to the topic of material flexibility, which, in my opinion, is a crucial element behind all good materials created with Substance Designer. Flexible materials are reusable, give you and other users a wide range of possible applications, and save time. Moreover, creating flexible materials in Substance Designer is relatively easy to achieve – and enjoyable. Exposing parameters should deliver full control of Substance to the user. But remember to expose only those which are most important; too many switches can make Substance harder to control.

01. Create and blend patterns

Use many shapes

To create geometrical patterns, use several shapes, transform them and blend together. Disable Tiling in 2D Transform node – this allows you to move shapes freely. Create switches and expose their parameters to blend patterns and customise layers of your material.

02. Leaks and dirt effects

Rough up your edges

The Ambient Occlusion node is useful for creating leaks and dirt on your edges. You can use a Gradient map to blend it with your Diffuse map. Don’t forget to add it to your roughness layers.

03. Base colour scheme 

Get a good grayscale as a base

Don’t rush colour outputs; focus on creating a good grayscale first – it’s used as the basis for all outputs. Use the Gradient map on it to create a base colour scheme.

04. Histogram scan

Extracting a mask from a grayscale image

Using Histogram Scan is one of the best ways to extract a mask from a grayscale image. Don’t hesitate to use it – it will soon become your best friend.

Technique by Jacek Kalinowski

Nature texture

Before this contest I had only used Substance Designer for two weeks, so I wanted to start with something simple: batching a flow animation texture via Maya and using Substance and the flowing exposed parameters.

The principle I used was based on one Transform 2D node's y-axis exposed parameter (that could drive the flow), one Directional Warp node with a blurred Procedural map for the flow distortion and one unix-based pattern for control of emissive, height, normal, base colour and metallic map channels, enriched by procedural noises. 

The dry state and height of the lava are controllable by exposed Level nodes on the base pattern. Thankfully, after I posted my entry for the first time, I discovered a forum topic where someone explained the '$time' system variable and how it can create a timeline in Substance Player.

I applied this to my flow-exposed parameters as a multiplier and was able to make two options possible: automatic and manual flowing. 

With the Substance Player and $time variable I was equipped with a powerful animated outputs batcher! I could then use Maya and Arnold for shading, rendering and, finally, compositing.

With regards to the aspect and material, it was important to me to have a real visual change between the fluid and dry lava states with an inflation during the dry (a bit like a meringue in a microwave oven) and for the flow, in order to have the sensation of stretching and filamentous lava.

It would be hard to do a linear breakdown for this entry because a lot of things in this material influence others, so let's focus on some of the most important elements that helped me put it all together.

01. Create a flowing pattern 

Shift the y-axis to see the pattern

Lava based pattern (E), composed by two Grunge maps multiplied using a Blend node (A-B=C) and distorted through a procedural Perlin noise (D).

Place a Transform 2D node just before the distortion. By shifting the y-axis, you'll see the beginning of a flowing pattern.

02. Stretching the lava 

A second y-axis

You can achieve your stretching and filamentous fluid lava with a multiplied second pattern that will visually enrich the global aspect. Take a second Grunge map, add a Transform 2D and multiply it with a Blend node to the main pattern just before distortion. By shifting this 'bonus' y-axis, the second pattern will slide along the main, giving the illusion of the lava stretching.

03. Use procedural textures

Lava like the sun surface

Creating lava that looks a bit like the sun surface (D) was my goal for the whole liquid state, and by using two of Substance Designer's procedural textures this job was easy. Blend them in Add mode (A+B), distort the result with the same Perlin noise as the base pattern (C) and colourise through a Gradient map (C>D).

04. Flowing state marks 

Keep some flowing state marks for dry lava

When the lava is in a dry state, keep some flowing state marks by blending the base filamentous pattern from the beginning to the final Height map in Add mode. Visually, this will help you keep in mind that it's dry lava and not an asteroid or something else.

05. Exposed parameters 

Make the most of exposed parameters

You can see the influence of exposed parameters on each output, from hot (left) to the cold state (right). Exposed parameters in Designer are the strategic key to a powerful material, permitting Painter and other apps or users to adjust and bring variety with one material.

Technique by Janine Smith

Stylised texture

Hexagon world map

For this material, I really wanted to create something I'd been thinking about for a long time. Substance Designer has a really great workflow and is great for PBR and photorealistic material creation, but – encouraged by the Material Contest – I wanted to find out how well it can handle fully procedural asset generation.

I created a hexagon world map in which every mountain, river and forest is placed randomly and independently – in a natural and somewhat believable way. So the result is a material that's also a random map generator! How cool is that?

The best way was to generate multiple submaterials for each terrain element (for example forest, grass and river) and layer them together with sensible masking. Using hexagon tiles as masks gives the whole material a typical 'game world map' appearance. 

The tricky part was to expand and blur the mask so that the mountains and forests don't look artificially cut off at the borders. Letting them overlap the borders a bit also adds to the natural look and feel. Mask erosion and the Vector Warp node provided me with the best solution here. Then it's just a matter of tweaking and combining the right noises. For example, the Gradient (Dynamic) node was used for the forest and the Cell Noise is best for cracks, fissures, and apparently, for mountains.

The river was the last tricky part. Breaking it down, it's just thin, winding lines that join in some places. I used a trick called 'straight skeleton' and used Vector Warp to make it loosely follow the hexagon tile borders. 

01. Hexagon Masking 

Tile Sampler

The Tile Sampler is the easiest way to create hexagon masks. The Noise node determines which tiles are visible. A smooth noise gives a more natural feel compared to random placement.

02. Dilation Erosion

Bevel node

With the Bevel node followed by the Histogram Scan node, you can easily simulate the morphological operations: Dilation and Erosion. This is useful when expanding or shrinking a mask.

03. Vector Warp 

Dealing with borders

Using the Vector Warp node with noise on a mask is also a nice way to obfuscate the borders.

04. Dynamic Gradient

Gradient node

The Gradient (Dynamic) node is very useful when it comes to wood-like textures. It also helped me to shape the forest, in what can be seen as lines of trees.

05. Edge Detect 

Make a river mask

Using a Bevel node with negative distance visualises the straight skeleton of the input mask. By following this with the Edge Detect node and masking the centre, you can create a mask that looks a bit like a river.

06. River Distortion 

River follows borders

Using the Bevel node with negative distance and plugging the normal output into the Vector Warp node gives the river its final appearance. The river is now loosely following the hexagon borders.

Technique by Jan Hoppenheit

Fantasy texture

Dwarven stone

My fantasy entry was inspired by games like Skyrim. Fitting in with the Dwarven theme, I figured it would be cool to make stone slabs with a metal frame, with some runes inscribed on the edges. Since these kinds of Dwarven environments are situated underground, I wanted to add some emissive parts to the substance as well – something resembling marble veins.

With that in the back of my mind, I looked through my photo library for reference pictures for the marble/stone. A good reason for having a solid reference picture library is that in Substance it's very easy to 'lift' a gradient off parts of an image. That way you can make sure you have the right colours and colour variations. 

I began in Substance Designer by using a Brick Generator for the tile shape and then using that same node for the rune-like shapes found on the metal frames. 

01. Create and detail the shapes 

The pattern is different on each tile

To get these shapes I used Directional Warps and offset them using a copy of the same Brick Generator, with the Height Variation set to Max and the Interstice/Bevels set to 0. This way every slab has a different value so the directional offset will break up the pattern differently for each tile.

I usually work from large scale to smaller details, so start with shapes like the frame and stone. I then use noises to refine that, so from up close you can see exactly what kind of material it is. Cracks, dirt, dents and so forth tell you a lot about what has happened in the world.

To make the Height map for the stone, I used a Custom node (dubbed the Refine Noise node). It takes an input, filters it, and then adjusts the levels so there aren’t any pure black or pure white patches. It’s on Substance Share for those who want to try it. 

02. Create wear and tear 

Dirt and Metal Edge Wear nodes are used to make the wear and tear

For the wear and tear, I used two of my favourite mask generators: the Dirt and Metal Edge Wear nodes. I made a Normal map based on the Height map so I could use that as an input for two Curvature nodes (Smooth Curvature and Regular Curvature). I blended these so that I would have some fine details as well as the hard lines you expect. An Ambient Occlusion node was based on the same Height map as well. 

03. Generate your colour 

Four separate colour gradients

For the stone colour, I utilised a trick first used by Substance guru Vincent Gault. I have four separate colour gradients fed into a Dynamic Gradient node, which has its position slider exposed so the user can cycle through different stone types.

04. Use the color picker

Grab colours from the reference image

One of the features I really love is being able to 'pick' a gradient by dragging the Color Picker across an image. You can grab colours right off the concept art/reference images to make sure assets match the demands of the project you’re working on. 

05. Emissive elements

A gradient based on the stone noise

For the emissive parts, I made a gradient based on the stone noise, which only selects certain parts, making it look like veins. Then I masked out the frame and dirt, multiplied it with the stone colour gradient, and plugged it into an emissive output.

06. Bringing it together

Everything layered together

Finally, I layered it all together based on the mask for the frame, stone and mask generators. Boom! There you have cool fantasy Dwarven stone slabs.

Technique by Käy Vriend

This article was originally published is issue 212 of 3D World magazine, buy it here

 Posted by at 9:00 am
Dec 062016

For better or for worse, smartphones have changed the way we live. Depending on who you ask, smartphones have either made the world a more connected place, or they've turned people into zombies staring at their hands all day. They've definitely made life easier, though, as these witty doodle art comics reveal.

Created for British internet provider Plusnet, these comics take iconic movies and show how a smartphone would make the story so much more straightforward. The appropriately named campaign, App-y Endings: Films that would have turned out better with mobile data, takes the likes of Fight Club and The Lord Of The Rings and gives the main characters smartphones to help them on their way.

In each case, whether it's trekking to Mount Doom with the help of Google Maps or surviving as a cast away thanks to Netflix access, smartphones make short work of any problems the characters encounter. Explore the full series of comics below, but be careful that there could be spoilers ahead.

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Dec 062016

When Escape Studio’s Simon Fenton was trying to break into the video games industry back in 1995, it was a challenge. The cost of software was high and workstations were expensive. The only way in was to start as an intern or a runner.

Such tools have now become more accessible and more powerful than ever. Software is free and hardware is dropping in price all the time. But because of that, it can be difficult to know where to start.

“If you’re a student already, then Autodesk will allow you free access to its industry standard applications, which include 3ds Max, Maya and Mudbox,” says Simon. “However, if you’re not a student and are just interested in trying game development tools, you can start by making digital art with Blender for 3D art and using Sculptris for sculpting. In terms of 2D, I’d have to recommend Gimp as the free Photoshop, and Krita for a more painterly feel, if concept art is your thing. When I was teaching, I found that students who could only get access to Blender made the transition to learning an industry standard package like Maya with very little trouble.”

Prospective coders interested in learning technical art should turn to Houdini, the gold standard in procedural art tools, and Houdini Indie is easy on the wallet.

Start your engines

Unreal Engine is powerful and offers a user-friendly, node-based system, and is now free.

You should start exploring game engines, explains Simon: “The two to try are Unreal Engine 4 or Unity, both free and fantastic. Although take heed of one word of warning: if you want to create any interactions, then Unity requires you to learn C# scripting, whilst Unreal has an artist-friendly, node-based system called BluePrint.”

Whatever art packages you use, it’s important to remember that they are just tools. Anybody can press a button or add a filter. In the end, it’s your core skills that will help you create great work for your portfolio. “You need to demonstrate through art that you can observe reference, and translate it into a game’s context and a particular style,” says Simon. “It’s important that your work shows that you understand real-time rendering, as well as all of the constraints that go along with it.”

You should also work to practise your transferable skills, the kind that’ll help when working alongside others.

“Admittedly, proving that you can work as a team is a little tricky unless you create mods or contribute at game jams, so it’s important to be aware of when such events are happening near you,” says Simon. “Escape has recently run a game jam in association with Playhubs, and it was great to see people producing phenomenal work together. Working in teams helps you communicate, express ideas and – most importantly show that you are engaged at a community level, learning from your peers whilst contributing at the same time. Of course, it can be intimidating going to a jam, but it’s important to remember you are amongst like-minded people who are just as nervous as you.”

This article was originally published in 3D World magazine issue 213. Buy it here.

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Dec 062016

Buying stuff for a web designer can be daunting if you don't have an eye for design yourself. Here are 10 smartly designed doodads that ought to be a fairly safe buy for someone who's into design and tech. 

01. KeepCup

KeepCup is a barista standard reusable cup, designed for coffee lovers on the move
  • Price: £15.99/$19.90
  • Check out this gift at: Amazon

Does the web designer in your life like coffee? If so, a KeepCup makes a great gift; they’re designed to be used instead of disposable coffee cups in order to reduce waste and provide a nicer drinking experience. They’re ideal for people drinking coffee on the go. 

02. Pact coffee

Delicious and fresh, Pact coffee is delivered conveniently to your door
  • Price: Choose a gift voucher value
  • Check out this gift at: Pact

If your designer prefers to make their coffee at home, why not get them a few bags of Pact coffee? It’s fresher and more delicious than the supermarket variety – and it’s delivered conveniently to your door. 

03. Native Union night cable

The Native Union night cable is great for night time reading
  • Price: £17.49/$21.75
  • Check out this gift at: Amazon

No one wants to stop using their phone or tablet just because it’s run out of charge, but that’s exactly what happens with normal-length charging cables. This one is 3m long, so it will reach to your nightstand, and it’s got a weighted anchor knot to keep it in position. Works with Apple devices. 

04. Osomount bike mount handlebar holder

Use with care
  • Price: £14.49/$18
  • Check out this gift at: Amazon

Lots of web designers are also cyclists, so a gadget like this might go down well. While we don’t recommend composing tweets whilst cycling, a handlebar-mounted phone is a good way to listen to music and take calls.

05. Tweed iPad case

This tween case is like a suit for your iPad
  • Price: £19/$23.63
  • Check out this gift at: Etsy

Nice iPad cases are usually expensive, and cheap ones usually nasty. This one is a good balance between price and quality - it’s rendered in a stylish tweed with a real leather closer. 

06. Bluelounge JIMI USB 3.0 extender

The JIMI is a USB port that faces you, just as it should
  • Price: £12.95/$16.10
  • Check out this gift at: Amazon

Rear-facing USB ports are a friend to no one. The JIMI from Bluelounge is a nifty gadget that reduces frustration by making that port face you, just like it should. 

07. Cord organiser

A treat for your cables
  • Price: £7/$8.70
  • Check out this gift at: Amazon

Not the most exciting present, but super-handy – these are a cute stocking filler that will be of use to anyone who carries cables around.

08. Gradient notebook

Be ready when inspiration strikes with one of these beautiful notebooks

This distinctive notebook from Present & Correct is ideal for getting a prototype down when inspiration strikes. You’ll find a good selection of other interesting stationary at this site, should you wish to treat yourself as well. 

09. Chain reaction screenprint

This Chain Reaction print will add interest to any desk or home office
  • Price: £20/$24.87
  • Check out this gift at: Etsy

Another one for a cyclist web designer, this screenprint is a good choice for a bike-liker with an eye for design. It comes in three different colours, and will add interest to any desk or home office. 

10. Hay tower block

Enough stickies for the year, perhaps?
  • Price: £13.05/$16.22
  • Check out this gift at: Amazon

More gradient goodness comes in the form of this very tall stack of sticky notes by Hay – both the brand and the stationary item are a favourite among designers. 

Note: prices listed are calculated on exchange rates at time of writing and are subject to change.

Dec 062016

There are no apps designers want in their toolkit more than those of the Adobe Suite. The Complete Adobe Suite Mastery Package will help you unlock the true power of these programs with a massive collection of courses to teach you the ropes. Get it on sale for just $49 (approx. £39) thanks to a massive price drop!

If you're an aspiring creator, you'll definitely want to know your way around the Adobe Suite. It's the most powerful set of design tools around and the Complete Adobe Suite Mastery Package will help you make the most of it. In this bundle, you'll find 135 courses that will make you a master of Adobe's powerful artistic tools so you can feel confident in whatever you decide to create.

The Complete Adobe Suite Mastery Package is valued at over $4,000, and was on sale for $99. But you can get this incredible course bundle for just $49 (approx. £39) thanks to a massive price drop! You won't find a bundle this cheap anywhere else, so grab this deal today!

Dec 062016

Are you a cat person or a dog person? If you said dog person, just pretend you're a cat person for a bit, all right? We'll try and find something dog-related for you soon.

And if you're a cat person, do we have a treat for you! Kitten is a brush typeface family designed by Cosimo Lorenzo Pancini, with illustrations by Isabella Ahmadzadeh, and it's inspired by everyone's favourite domestic furry psychopaths.

Kitten comes in all the styles and weights you need

Its playful letterforms come in three styles - regular, swashy and slant - with multiple weights to add to the variety, and best of all it also features an additional set of adorable feline dingbats - or dingcats, if you prefer. And yes, we very much prefer.

Kitten is suitable for all manner of uses; its designer suggests that its curvy and bold shapes in the regular weight are purrfect for logo design and display use, while its single stroke monoline weight and condensed slant variant are suitable for longer text blocks.

If you're after a playful brush font that'll murder your garden birds, you're in luck

It also features over 60 special ligature characters, as well as support for more than 40 languages, with a full range of accents and diacritics.

It's completely free to use in personal, non-commercial projects, while if you'd like to use Kitten commercially you can buy it from Zetafonts with various licence options available.

Caution: Kitten may try to 'scent mark' your other fonts
Dec 062016

Free Creative Bloq textures

First posted a while back, we wanted to give you another chance to get hold of these fantastic free textures, which you can use in your next project!

We've teamed up with some of Future Publishing's biggest brands to provide you with this great offer. After trawling through our image archives, we found a selection of great free textures, and we're giving away 40 free textures for use in your personal and commercial projects. These textures include rust, paper, water, grass, walls, and more!

You can't sell on the images, or distribute them via a link or any other means, but other than that your are free to work them into your future projects - at no cost. (We've provided full terms below.)

So, what do you need to do?

Simple! Just click the link below:

Download 40 free textures here

Don't distribute the images, though, as this is against the terms. These are for your personal/commercial use.

There's no catch

We can't wait to see the work you start creating with these great free textures. The terms and conditions below are similar to those you'll find attributed to royalty free images around the web, but are worth reading anyway.

Terms and conditions

All images provided specifically for free download by Creative Bloq are owned by Future Publishing Limited and all rights in the images are protected by international Copyright Laws. Your use of any of the images shall comply with all applicable laws in the country in which You operate and will be subject to the following conditions:

  • You are solely responsible for determining whether Your use of any free CreativeBloq images requires the consent of any third party or the licence of any additional rights.
  • Creative Bloq grants You a licence which gives You the right to use the free image(s) an unlimited number of times for Yourself, or on behalf of Your client(s), but NOT to sell on the image or to sub-licence or redistribute the image(s) to anyone else.
  • Manipulations, deviations and modifications of free CreativeBloq images is allowed as is including images in composites.
  • You may not sell or redistribute these images where an original free CreativeBloq image is distinguishable in the compilation as a primary component. Images used in manipulated, modified or altered form in a composition that are so completely incorporated that they are not reasonably identifiable are not subject to these restrictions.
  • Ownership of the Copyright of manipulated, deviated and modified free Creative Bloq images remains with Future Publishing Limited and may not be assumed by any other person if the original image is still identifiable in part or in whole.
  • Downloading a free CreativeBloq image does not transfer any Copyright only a licence to use the image for the purposes stated above. You may not claim that the image is Your own.
  • The following types of use of free CreativeBloq images are NOT PERMITTED:
  1. Redistribution or resale as standalone digital or physical images
  2. Products or merchandise, whether free or paid for e.g. greeting cards, mugs, T-shirts, calendars, jigsaws, puzzles, artwork for resale, wallpapers etc.
  3. Inclusion within web templates for mass distribution, whether free or paid for e.g. websites, brochures, business cards, greetings cards etc.
  4. Logo, trademark or other corporate identity
  5. Pornographic, unlawful, defamatory purposes

By downloading any free textures from Creative Bloq you agree that you understand the Licence terms and agree to adhere to and be bound by these terms.

Dec 062016

December's round up of the best new tools for artists and illustrator is all about learning new skills and sharpening old ones. If you've ever fancied learning how to draw, in particular, trying your hand at manga, Letraset have introduced a great new beginners set. 

Learning or relearning still life is a quick way to take your work up a notch or two – Royal & Langnickel have everything you need to do that. And taking lessons in character design from one of the best in the business, Wouter Tulp, is more affordable than you might think. There's also a kit that promises to speed canvas making, a gadget that turns any room into an art gallery, and a rebooted app that will help you quickly create unique portrait references.

01. Manga starter pack

Get started with manga with this new pack from Letraset

This new pack from Letraset is the perfect set of pens for anyone who fancies getting into manga. It includes six twin-tip markers in various colours, a black fine-liner for detail work, paper, drawing templates and a how-to guide. Letraset also make expansion packs, so as your skills grow, you can add more tools to your collection.

02. Hello Kitty Limited Edition Moleskine

This limited edition Moleskine is a must-have for any Hello Kitty fan

While we're talking Japanese character design, Moleskine have released a limited edition collection of Hello Kitty sketchbooks to celebrate the brand's 40th anniversary. This version – large, 21x13cm – contains 240 Pages of ivory-coloured, acid-free paper. A must-have for collectors – just like the limited edition Harry Potter Moleskines, released earlier this year.

03. A portable art gallery 

Display whatever art you want, whenever you want with this digital art display screen

Electric Objects has updated it's innovative digital art display screen. It works like this: connect the EO2 to WiFi, download the free app, then search for and display art on the 1080p matte display screen. The screen easily mounts to the wall or can be propped up on your desk. You have the option to display a new art whenever you want – either your own, one of 30,000 community-uploaded artworks. 

04. Dutch Masters Pencils

Brunzyeel pencils are specially designed for those who like to build colour in layers

Brunzyeel put together a series of pencil sets inspired by the art of Vermeer and Rembrandt. They contain colours and grades selected to mirror the work of the Dutch Masters. Brunzyeel pencils are specially designed for those who like to build colour in layers. This set includes 24 pencils, in a tin which features Vermeer's Milkmaid. There are several others to collect.

05. Still life art set

Sharpen up your skills with this Royal & Langnickel still life set

Whether you're new to art or looking to sharpen up your fundamentals, this Royal & Langnickel still life set comes with everything but a bowl of fruit: 12 colour pencils, 12 compressed colour sticks, three blending stumps, a drawing pad, a sandpaper block, a sharpener and an eraser. It all comes nicely packaged in an aluminium tin too – so it's handy to take to classes. 

06. Create your own canvas kit

The canvas comes pre-attached to a stretcher bar and also includes corner and cross braces and screws

The "clever lever" included in this canvas kit promises to cuts traditional stretching time in half. The canvas comes pre-attached to a stretcher bar and also includes corner and cross braces and screws – plus instructions to keep you right. They're 100% cotton duck canvas, double-primed with acid-free titanium gesso, so you can use them for acrylic or oil painting. They're available in loads of different sizes too, but are particular good if you work on oversized stuff.

07. Raphael Lacoste's new art book

Find a wealth of inspiration in Raphael Lacoste's new art book

One of Creative Bloq's favourite illustrators, Raphael Lacoste, has a new art book. Worlds showcases a ton of personal pieces, including illustrations, mood paintings and sketches, alongside his best commercial work – book covers, concept art, matte paintings and artwork created for the Assassin's Creed franchise. A must-have for fans of fantasy and sci-fi art. 

08. Learn character design

Learn character design from master Wouter Toup with this new course

This new course from online educator Schoolism gives you the chance to learn character design from a master. Over nine-week Wouter Tulp will show you how create more believable characters – focusing on proportion, dimensionality and facial expressions among other things. Each lesson you'll create a character, based on the skills you've learned, which Wouter will then critique. 

09. Classes with masters 

Get your ticket now for the annual IAMAG Master Classes

Tickets are now on sale for the annual IAMAG Master Classes. The event is a chance to meet and learn from some of the best digital artists in the world, and gives you the opportunity to show off your portfolio and even win some work. The 2017 line up includes Marc Simonetti, Raphael Lacoste, Ian McQue, and many more artists, art director and studio heads. For those who can't drop everything to fly off to Paris, cheaper virtual tickets are also available.

10. Facetune 2

Facetune is a pretty powerful photo editing app

Facetune is often called a selfie app, but it's more than. It's a photo editing app, and a pretty powerful one, considering you can carry it around in your pocket. What makes it an interesting proposition for artists is – with automatic 3D meshing built in – the way you can dramatically transform a photo of yourself or someone else to create unique references for portrait work or character design.

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Dec 052016

The prospect of a company rebrand can fill some marketers with hope and the opportunity to start afresh, but it can also send others running to the hills with the thought of spiralling budgets and internal disagreements over colours and wording. If you’re tasked with a rebrand, we've put together the main areas you should consider before briefing your design team.

01. Check out your competitors

This is especially important if you are operating within a saturated market, as you want to stand out. Start by collecting together the logos of your competitors; often you find that certain industries follow similar brand styles. Don’t be afraid to break the mould and step away from what is the “done thing” in order to make your organisation stand out and show that you are different. Collecting these competitor logos can help to show the design team exactly what you don’t want and where your brand fits into the overall landscape.

This process will also help you when you are unveiling your new branding internally and securing buy-in from senior teams and board members, especially if you’ve chosen a particularly daring final design!

02. Understand who is creating your design

If it is an internal department, will they be fresh and innovative enough to create what you need? If it is an external brand agency, do they fully understand your brand, key messages and who your target market is? Depending on who is creating your design will affect the way that you brief them so it may be good to have an initial meeting to understand everything they need to know before giving a full brief for the project.

03. Take stock of everything that will be rebranded

Before starting to brief your team, you will need to know how many variations of the logo will be required and where they will be used. From brochures to business cards to email signatures and even on your company vehicles, you may need several variations and sizes to meet your needs. You may also need to consider where else you use your logo online -on your website and social media channels, for example. It will be more time efficient and cost-effective to provide your design team with all the information needed upfront and save to-ing and fro-ing and last minute alterations.

04. Invest in typography

Typography has a proven history of making a brand stand out

The font you use can become as iconic as the brand logo. Think of Coca Cola, Disney and even the simple style of John Lewis and it is easy to see how fonts can be as unique as fingerprints. Typography is an art form in itself but unfortunately is often overlooked in modern design. For something truly unique enlist a typography specialist.

05. Avoid using stock images where possible

If you’re preparing marketing collateral and websites, nothing says bland and boring like stock images and photography. If possible enlist the help of a graphic designer to create bespoke designs, so that you have something that is individual and unique to yourselves.

06. Are there things you can keep?

Often marketers read “rebrand” as creating something completely new and different, however it can be more of a brand evolution. If you have a particularly successful and established brand, it can be foolish to get rid of particular aspects of your branding which customers and stakeholders are fond of. This can especially be the case with historic and heritage brands. Building a brand is about building the strongest image of your company and it could be that holding onto an iconic brand image, a particular colour or a slogan is the best way of retaining your brand’s identity at the same time as moving it into the present day.

07. Be bold

There are so many logos and brands out there that it is easy to get lost in what is expected and what is conventional. The most important purpose for branding is to make your company recognisable and memorable so it is vital that you are bold and exciting with your branding.

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