All Posts By

Tara Hornor

50 Stunning Super Hero Posters

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a roundup of super hero posters!

I love illustration in general, but super heroes are an awe-inspiring genre of design that gets my creative energies up to their super power levels. These posters focus on various genres of super hero designs – illustrations, photography, and compositions. I just love the over-the-top, bigger than life design elements. So pull on your designer mask and buckle on your cape as you leap and bound into the exciting world of super hero poster design.

The Best HDR Photographs of Urban Subjects

High Dynamic Range photography produces stunning and unique pictures, perfect for making a design for the web or printed postcards appear irresistible. When photographers want to create an HDR image, they actually take several pictures (at least three) at different exposure levels, and then they use photo-editing software to combine the best parts of all the images into one picture. This allows the dark areas to still be detailed while the bright areas are still bright. Some HDR shots give a close approximation to how we actually see things in the world, taking in both the bright and dark at the same time. Other photographers have chosen to amplify the effect so that their pictures look hyper-realistic.

Urban shots look especially interesting in HDR. Subjects that we normally do not notice or if we do notice, chalk them up as “ugly” or “trash” suddenly become beautiful through the eye of a camera, and HDR really intensifies this appeal. In honor of showing just how much this theory is true, below we’ve rounded up some of the best urban HDR photos on the web. Enjoy!

30 Amazing Typographical Posters and Print Ads

Typography is a critical part of most designs, whether the text is meant to help connect the point of the design with the reader or even integrate fully with the design itself, such as with illustrations made of text. This collection of typographic posters and print ads are some of the best of the best at using font-based design elements, whether as illustrations or simply a creative layout. It’s a study in ways to use typography to enhance the design – not distract. As you review these designs, ask yourself how the text connects the main theme, how it builds upon the design and helps make a statement. Imagine how good some of these posters would look by making use of printing services to put them on your walls, desks or even vehicles. Enjoy!

Why and How Designers Should Build a Strong Network

The “why” of building a strong network is simple: your future as a designer is dependent upon your ability to build a strong community of clients around you. But many designers fail on the most fundamental aspect of building a network – namely, they build networks of other designers, not customers nor even networks that can connect them to clients, such as an online printing company, photography company, design company or even a marketing company.

Instead of networking with just fellow designers on sites like DeviantArt, Facebook, Behance, and the like; you have to build relationships with people who might be clients one day. With this key aspect in mind, here are some tips for how to build a better network. Therefore, the focus is on creating a community of clients, not just peers.

Explore Online Social Media Resources

Consider creating accounts across many different social media platforms. Social networks such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter provide a great starting point. Go further and create a Wikipedia page. Add listings on Craigslist and yellow pages. Link these sites together in the various ways they are designed to tie-in with other sites. Your goal should be to create a strong web that allows for you to net traffic landing on any of your individual accounts, providing road maps throughout your entire network.

Remember the goal is not just to find other designers. Look for creative directors, marketing firms, and other companies that regularly need designers.

Select Specialized Sites

If you are a graphic designer, consider starting accounts on graphic design networking sites. These sites create a forum of information sharing, simply generating communication within your specific field of interest. Go to this link to view a list of graphic design sites. Definitions of each site and its use are provided on the link as well.

Here again, non-designers are the goal. So build your accounts with non-designers in mind. People looking to work with a professional designer may be intimidated by hyper-creativity or else may not “get” a certain design style. So tone it down and make these pages appeal to your ideal customer.

Avoid Complacency

Take an active role within your online community. Keep up with new developments within your industry. Market your online network as a reliable resource for any information your clients need or want about the service or product you provide. Improving the perception of your expertise in the field will increase the quality of your online brand. Don’t wait for others to make the initial contact. Go onto the pages of others and reach out to those who you are looking to network with.

Your Words Have Power so be Careful

The online community is not always forgiving or understanding at times. Avoid careless statements and set up strategies to check yourself before publishing anything with a questionable tone or inappropriate content. Proofread your posts to ensure you avoid making mistakes that would misrepresent your cause and lower your brand equity. Utilize privacy settings to filter your messages.

The goal is to reach your intended market and no one else. If you are mad or upset, as a rule, don’t go online until you have regained control of your emotional state. People will work with you if they like who you are and what you represent. Make sure you understand the importance of the words you choose. Keep your tone informal and engaging. In the end, building trust takes time and consistency in the quality of content you share.

Provide Incentives

Think of ways to give back to the community. If you expect others to invest in your online networking product, be creative. Any strategy to add incentive onto the initial interest your websites might offer will become a powerful tool toward establishing a well-known brand.

Competitions, contests, and giveaways to print brochures are just a few examples. Bear in mind that these should be aimed at non-designers, so avoid too many contests for the best logo design since your potential clients probably can’t design logos.

Disclaimer: Don’t Be Rude

Okay, so I’ve emphasized just how important it is to network to prospective clients, but this does not give you license to ignore the design community around you. If a designer “Follows” you on Twitter, follow him or her back as an act of common courtesy. Reply to any comments on posts, your website, or your Facebook wall, no matter who the person is. As stated above, be careful with your words and be polite to all with whom you interact. Being rude only hurts you in the long-run; being polite is a positive move that will improve your appearance as a partner for future clients.

5 Tips for Avoiding Stale Commercial Designs

As designers we’ve all seen it happen. In fact, it’s probably happened to you at some point or another. It’s that moment you step back from a commercial design and realize it’s bland, boring, or just absolute crap.

So what happened? Maybe the quadruple-colored, content-crammed design for postcard printing that your customer wanted was destined to be junk. Maybe you just got stuck with “one of those projects.” Or maybe you could view it as an opportunity to turn this stale design into something inspiring.

So sharpen your colored pencils, grab your graphic tablet, or move that mouse and let’s get back to some basics. There’s no better way to step back from a design than to go to your fundamentals, and review until you get that creativity back. If you feel yourself slipping into the same old boring design routine every time you sit down to a new project, here are some tips for getting taking that design from boring to brilliant.

The Basics

Much of good design is said to come from a good foundation of theories. While this is true for some, for others it’s easy to get overwhelmed with too much theory. Fortunately, the basic design concepts are the most powerful tools, so you can just stick with a refresher of these if your brain feels too muddled already:

  • Balance — Balance brings closure to any design and really helps the eye navigate to all areas throughout the piece seamlessly. Your basic balance concepts include symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial balance.
  • Color — Color has so much influence on how the viewer interprets the rest of the information in the design, so choose wisely. You may be stuck with a brand scheme that limits your color selection, but you can always change the balance of an image using colors — even when limited to a small pallete.
  • Communication — As a designer, your job is to solve communication problems; to communicate the most information in the most efficient way. Is your copy cramped? Make sure designs allow enough room for creative aspects so that it doesn’t smother readable content.

The Layout

Remember the point of your commercial design. If it’s to advertise a specific product or an event, make sure the most pertinent information is the easiest to find in the layout. Briefly mentioned in the basics above, it is necessary to have a design that viewers can easily navigate through. If there is too much content in on place, it becomes crowded and confusing. On the other hand, if there is not enough content, the viewer may not even take the time to finish looking through the design.

Layout can be used to solve this problem. Balance heavier objects with more lighter objects in adjacent areas of the design. For instance, don’t put all the large content scattered over the design. Organize it into a secure structure that leads the eye into any key readable content. Some people are also afraid of blank space. Don’t be! White space, as it is referred to in the design world, is necessary for the eye to breath. Utilize white space in areas that get busier than other parts of a design to balance it out.


Some designers think of choosing fonts similar to choosing a color scheme. In many ways this is a good thing. The right font is necessary to create the atmosphere and mood of your design. Like picking color, there are fonts that compliment each other but there are also fonts that clash. In any good color scheme, there is a dominant color and a few accents — rarely more than three. In typography, the same is true. Use one creative font to encompass the mood, but then use less obtrusive fonts to communicate your message.

Stuck with a boring font based upon the brand definition? Use the established font for any copy and headings, but see about striking out of the box with something different for a title.


The medium in which you communicate is important. Many people are used to flyers and posters, so try expanding the formats in which you design. See how you might design the same project differently in a different format. How would you make a banner ad for the website as opposed to a poster? Diversity is always a great option when you need to freshen things up a bit.


Context is key! Artists don’t always have to worry about context because they aren’t always communicating, but commercial designs have a very specific context. Designers are visual problem-solvers. That being said, it is necessary to be aware of the context in which you are designing.

Viewers are attracted to good design no matter what, but there are ways to increase interest by making designs more relevant to the viewer. However, it can become easy to blend into what so many people already recognize. Creating an eye-popping design that remains outstanding among other designs and is still relevant enough to captivate many is considered good commercial design.

Take some time to study your core audience for the design. You may find some insights or relevant topics that can make your design stand out.


One of the main reasons a design comes off as stale is that it’s based upon a template. Sometimes a template can help you get a foundation that works, but sometimes it absolutely ruins your designs. Did you start with a template or old version of your project? Scrap it. Start from scratch and see what you come up with.

Get Opinions

So stuck you just can’t look at that project anymore? Get an opinion from a third party. Sometimes you’re too close to the design to be objective and getting someone else’s eyes on the project can snap you out of your funk.

Use discretion. You don’t want to send your ideas off to the competition, even if it is someone you know well. And don’t just send your designs to anybody. Pick 2-3 individuals who can give you solid feedback and help you get back on track.

What Else?

How do you break out of your stale designs? Any techniques you use? What about design tools that help you break out of the mold?

25 Winter Backgrounds for Design Inspiration

Working on a winter design project and not feeling the “wonderland” part so much? White, gray, freaking cold — that’s winter. At least that’s how you feel after staring through the screen for too long. Have no fear. With a little inspiration you can find your winter wonderland again.

Winter has many visually beautiful elements to it. This collection breaks the designs into three categories: landscapes, illustrations, and holidays. Between these inspirational images, you should be able to get out there and find backgrounds for your designs, whether it’s for a web project, greeting cards, or a print ad.

Landscapes in the Winter

If you just need a nice backdrop, these landscape photos are a great way to set a wintry tone. Snow covered trees and mountaintops allow for high contrast typographic elements, making it a great deal easier to read.

Mountain Snow Forest

Snow Tunnel

Trees Sleeping in the Snow

Tahoe Snow Mountains

Cabins at Mt. Assiniboine


Winter Ice

Shapes of Winter

Besides landscapes, some basic shapes are excellent for winter designs: snowflakes, snowmen, icicles, and snow covered trees are just a few examples. This section has a combination of images, vectors, and brushes for you to use.

Winter Wallpaper


Winter Tree with Snow

Snowman on Blue

Snowman Constellation

Shiny Icecicles

Icicle Brushes

Winter Trees (Brushes)

Snowflake (Vectors)


Last, but hardly least, the holidays are an obvious part of the winter season, and the hugest time zapper of the year. Save some time in projects by using pre-designed elements. From Santa Claus to Christmas trees and Hanukkuk, this part of the collection has vectors, graphics, brushes, and tutorials for your holiday design projects.

Cartoon Christmas Santa (Vectors)

Santa Claus

How to Draw Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (Tutorial)

Xmas Three (Vector)

Sparkling Christmas Tree (Vector)

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Ornaments (Brushes)

Christmas Manger

Wise Men

Here are more design inspiration for logos and tips on how to cut you expenses in website designing.