Most designers have at one point or another fallen into a handful of familiar ruts. Sometimes this means defaulting to variations on the same color palette, or realizing that you saw and didn’t save the perfect photo for your project. Luckily, we all encounter the same types of problems, and the online design community is here to help. So turn to these five great resources to find the inspiration or the solution you’ve been in need of.
Save Inspirational Images
A lot of times, you’ll be looking through stock photo libraries for one project, and stumble upon a lot of gems that might work for another. Learn how to bookmark these images for later use by trying out Shutterstock’s Photo Lightbox. You can make as many lightboxes as needed, and categorize them according to whatever system you prefer. They’re also easy to share via Facebook, Twitter, or email.
Browse and Sort Design of All Kinds
There are a lot sites that provide inspiration aggregation. Depending on your current project, you might try:
· The Dieline for packaging inspiration
· StyleVault for web inspiration
· Logopond for logo design
· TypeInspire for typographic inspiration
· The Book Cover Archive for cover design
All of these options have sleek interfaces and well-curated selections. But if you’re looking for a comprehensive experience, check out Designinspiration, and browse through all types of work. Search by category, keyword, or color scheme, and save your favorites into easily-accessed collections. Join in by submitting your own portfolio, and start following other peoples’ collections too.
Learn How to Create the Best Effects
If you’re full of inspiration but lacking in technical skill, your first stop should be one of the many sites run by the tuts+ network. There are separate resources for Photoshop, illustration, web development, and every other design topic, and they each come with a host of high-quality tutorials, freebies, and tips. You can also upgrade to a premium version for an even more in-depth experience.
Locate the Best Design Articles
There are so many great design blogs out there that it’s nearly impossible to keep up with them all. Instead, use Design Float to skim the surface, easily finding the most useful articles in all of the major design categories. Its Digg-style format is familiar, if not particularly attractive. But more importantly, it’s effective: Design Float allows you to skim titles and summaries of articles culled from all over the web.
Find, Create, and Integrate Color Schemes
If you’re in need of a fresh new color scheme, look no further than Adobe’s Kuler. You can search through thousands of palettes by tag words and hex colors, and quickly and easily create them yourself. You can even upload images and generate new themes by extracting colors.
Once you’ve made your theme, share it with the Kuler community and receive feedback. Better yet, the system is accessible through the Creative Suite 6’s software, so you can integrate the tool into your daily design process. A tablet app is available for Android, with other offerings available soon.
Whether you find the exact tutorial for the effect you want, or grab the perfect color scheme for your next project, you’ll find your workflow has been considerably sped up and streamlined by these handy resources. Enjoy!
Luke Clum is a Seattle based designer, developer and outdoorsman. If he’s not geeking out about UI design, you’ll most likely find him climbing something in the mountains. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum