Art for All: Celebrate Diversity in Design—Volume 4

Welcome back to our Diversity in Design series on Envato Tuts+. Discover four talented artists with inspiring styles you’ll love.

4 Artists You Should Know: Diversity in Design

Celebrate the work of these extraordinary artists. Each with their own unique
background, they draw inspiration from their culture and surroundings to create phenomenal illustrations.

Ndumiso Nyoni

Ndumiso is a motion graphic designer from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Film and design are his passion, and Ndumiso’s work features Afrocentric illustrations with brilliant colors and geometry. See more in his portfolio, or follow him on Instagram @ndumiso_nyoni

X-Men: Storm

I’m a Johannesburg based Illustrator and Motion Designer and I make contemporary African art. My art is a combination of vector
illustration, bold line work with vibrant colors and a touch of light
and shadow effects.

X-Men Storm by Ndumiso Nyoni
X-Men: Storm

After Midnight

Almost all my work is inspired by Africa and its beautiful people.
It is a continent that is filled with rich textures, bold colors,
carefully crafted shapes and diverse cultures. My goal is to celebrate
Africa with each artwork and portray it as the positive, fertile and
vibrant continent we know and live in.

After Midnight by Ndumiso Nyoni
After Midnight

Nomaqhawe (Mother of Heroes)

Nomaqhawe Mother of Heroes by Ndumiso Nyoni
Nomaqhawe (Mother of Heroes)

I Am Not My Hair

I’m a huge fan of traditional Ndebele patterns, so naturally Esther
Mahlangu’s work has inspired a lot of my art. I learnt about Bauhaus at
university and that has also influenced how I conceptualize my art. Some of my favourite artists include Esther Mahlangu, Malika Farve and
Gerard Sekoto.

I Am Not My Hair by Ndumiso Nyoni
I Am Not My Hair

Joanne Nam

Joanne is a fine artist and painter living in LA.

Her paintings are dreamy and ethereal, featuring scenes that pull you in with incredible little moments. See more in her portfolio, and support her work on Pateron @joannenam.


I was born in Korea and moved to America in my teens. I’m currently based in Los Angeles, and I love to paint based on
my experiences and emotions.

Floe by Joanne Nam


My inspiration comes from my
childhood. I used to live in a forest so it was an interesting subject
to daydream from time to time.

Current life experiences and relationships
between people and myself change the mood of my art. Even a cup of tea
changes my mood and it affects my art.

Buttery by Joanne Nam


Fate by Joanne Nam

The Dream

As I grow as an artist, I’ve
learned how to control my emotions and energy. I sometimes do certain
things to change my mood when I paint.

For example, I go to the gym to put confident bold brush strokes in my paintings. Then I listen to
delicate music to dig into the details.

The Dream by Joanne Nam
The Dream

Alex Herrerías

Our next artist is Alex, a children’s book illustrator living in Mexico.

He tells inspiring stories of triumph and tradition, and his work features lovely illustrations with mythological themes and more. See more in his portfolio, or follow him on Instagram @alexherreriasilustrador

El Aprendizaje – The learning

I am a professor at the School of Arts
and Design of Unam and I have become a father for the first time this year. My work is currently published in different parts of the world.

El aprendizaje by Alex Herreras
El aprendizaje – The learning

El Hombre Que Nunca Reía

I am working on my own graphic novel and I enjoy every project I do. I try to create a very comfortable work environment, with music, coffee and lots of sunlight.

El Hombre Que Nunca Rea by Alex Herreras
El Hombre Que Nunca Reía

Tú Eliges

Tu Eliges by Alex Herreras
Tú Eliges

The Surfing Luchador

Drawing in my notebook is of the utmost importance, I try to be very dynamic and honest with each idea.

For my process, I read books, see references and listen to music concerning it. Each illustrated project brings me a lot of personal learning.
Then I
draw the first ideas in my notebook and a larger final sketch before I send it to the client. The tools I use are usually: a pencil, notebooks, a Wacom Intuos and Adobe Photoshop.

The Surfing Luchador
The Surfing Luchador

Yifan Wu

Yifan is an editorial illustrator living in Baltimore, Maryland.

Her work is unique and profound, with beautiful subjects that will make you think. See more in her portfolio, and follow her on Instagram @icyfeetpie.

Let the Moonlight Soothe Your Soul

I am a visual artist and storyteller. I enjoy nature, funk, indie rock, dancing, reading and intellectual conversations.

Let the Moonlight Soothe Your Soul by Yifan Wu
Let the Moonlight Soothe Your Soul

Watercolor – What Is Reading to Me

A lot of my work is inspired by nature, life and fantasy stories.
There are also other pieces that express my quirky sense of humor and

Conceptually, I
get inspired from Kafka’s novels, 60s Polish animations, and illustrators
who do brilliant conceptual work like Saul Steinberg and Roland Tapor.

Watercolor - What Is Reading to Me by Yifan Wu
Watercolor – What Is Reading to Me


Boating by Yifan Wu

Respect Pussy

Making art is my way to escape from nihilism and connect to the world by raising questions for my audience to think. I believe that artists
should take on the responsibility of providing a clearer and deeper
insight into the world.

Respect Pussy by Yifan Wu
Respect Pussy

Celebrate Diversity! Send Us Your Favorite Artists!

Help us find more incredible artists from different backgrounds to share with our audience! Tweet me your recommendations at MelloNieves or use the hashtags #artforall and #tutsplusdesign on Twitter and Instagram. You never know, we may just feature you in our next article!

I’d like to extend a warm thank you to all the artists who participated in
this feature. Feel free to see more of their work in the links below:

Photoshop in 60 Seconds: RGB vs. CMYK

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Learn essential design terms in under a minute! Check out the quick video below.

Photoshop in 60 Seconds: RGB vs. CMYK

Learning color modes is essential for understanding design. In this video, I’ll discuss the main differences between RGB and CMYK, what they stand for, and how to change the color mode in Adobe Photoshop.

How to Change the Color Mode in Photoshop

RGB and CMYK are both acronyms to describe color. These colors are what we see on our screens and on printed work.


CMYK, or cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, comes from the days of the early printing presses where colors were applied in single, consecutive layers that were then left to dry until the print was complete. Today, it’s considered a standard design mode since it’s still used by professional printers.

CMYK RGB comparison
Comparing how RGB (1) and CMYK (2) modes affect the colors in your work.


RGB stands for red, green, and blue. RGB refers to the colored light on our computer monitors that displays everything we see. With millions of colors available, you can achieve way more artistically.

To change the Color Mode in Photoshop from RGB to CMYK:

First, Merge all the layers.

Then go to Image > Mode and select CMYK. Save your file in a high-resolution format or talk with your printer for more help.

CMYK Color Mode

Learn More With Our Tutorials!

Inspired to learn more design essentials? Start with one of our
tutorials! Continue to grow your skills over time while developing
amazing patience.

Get Amazing Design Resources

Want to create videos like this? Download the resources used in this video:

Check out these tutorials to learn more from our experts:

How to Create an Illustration With the Pantone Color of the Year 2018

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Every year, Pantone sets out on a mission to find a color worthy of carrying the title of “Color of the Year”. For 2018, the color is Ultra Violet, which is a beautiful blue-based purple that we’re going to be using ourselves to create this minimalist illustration.

As always, we’re going to be using some basic geometric shapes combined with some of Adobe Illustrator’s most basic tools.

You can always expand the project by heading over to GraphicRiver, where you’ll find a great selection of paint-themed assets.

 So assuming you’ve grabbed a fresh cup of that hot cocoa, let’s get started!

1. What Are Pantone Colors?

If you’ve been dabbling in the world of design for some time, this probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard the term, but have you ever taken a moment and wondered what it actually means? Well, according to Pantone LLC, the term is defined as a “standardized color matching system” used by graphic designers in order to ease the process of identifying and cross-matching colors within different printing systems.

The way this is done is by creating Pantone color swatches, which are individually defined by a unique naming system that uses a numeric indicator (the number of the color—Pantone Red 032), followed by a suffix indicative of the type of paper stock on which it is meant to be printed (C for coated, U for uncoated, M for matte).

This way, designers can easily identify and reproduce exactly the same color, ensuring that the design maintains its original values from start to finish.

In the case of Ultra Violet, you might notice that we have a different suffix, “TCX”, which stands for Textile Paper Edition.

2. The Queen of 2018: Pantone 18-3838 TCX

Every time the calendar grows older, the people at Pantone take the time and energy to give a new color the title of “Color of the Year”, explaining not only the reasons behind their choice but also the values and message carried by it.

2017: Greenery

In 2017, that position was filled by Pantone 15-0343 (Greenery), which was a fresh yellow-green shade evocative of the first days of spring.

greenery example

2016: Rose Quartz & Serenity

In 2016, for the first time we had not one but two shades to carry the title, Pantone 13-1520 (Rose Quartz) and Pantone 15-3919 (Serenity), meant to “psychologically fulfill our yearning of reassurance and security”.

rose quartz and serenity example

2015: Marsala

2015 was the year of Pantone 18-1438 (Marsala), which was described as a seductive red-brown shade, meant to draw us into its embracing warmth.

marsala example

2018: Ultra Violet

For 2018, the color is Pantone 18-3838 TCX, or Ultra Violet, which is a beautiful, provocative value meant to suggest “the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now”.

ultra violet example

As Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, puts it:

“We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination. It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level”.

And I do have to agree—the color does present itself as a symbol for experimentation and non-conformity, historically having been worn by unconventional artists such as Prince, David Bowie, and the brilliant Jimi Hendrix.

That being the case, I thought it would be a great idea to put our creativity to work by doing this minimalist project, where we’re going to play with this beautiful color.

3. How to Set Up a New Project File

Assuming you already have Illustrator up
and running in the background, bring it up and let’s set up a New Document (File > New or Control-N)
for our project using the following settings:

  • Number
    of Artboards:
  • Width:
  • Height:
  • Units:

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color
  • Raster
    Screen (72ppi)
  • Preview Mode: Default
setting up a new document

Quick tip: Now, as I pointed out a few moments ago, the Pantone Color system is mainly used for print, which of course uses a CMYK color space, so you might be wondering why we set our Color Mode to RGB. Well, usually when you attempt to use a CMYK-created color within an RGB document, you’ll notice obvious shifts between the two. Normally you would have to approximate the color using an intricate guide, but luckily for us, Pantone has put together an online color finder that gives you the RGB and Hex values for all of its colors, including Ultra Violet

4. How to Set Up a Custom Grid

Even though today’s project is not an icon-based one, we’ll still want to create the illustration using a pixel-perfect
workflow, so let’s set up a nice little grid so that we can have full control
over our shapes.

Step 1

Go to the Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid submenu, and adjust
the following settings:

  • Gridline
    1 px
  • Subdivisions: 1
setting up a custom grid

Quick tip: you can learn more
about grids by reading this in-depth piece on How Illustrator’s Grid System Works.

Step 2

Once we’ve set up our custom grid, all we
need to do in order to make sure our shapes look crisp is enable the Snap to Grid option found under the View menu (that’s if you’re using an
older version of Illustrator).

Now, if you’re new to
the whole “pixel-perfect workflow”, I strongly recommend you go through my How
to Create Pixel-Perfect Artwork
tutorial, which will help you widen your
technical skills in no time.

5. How to Create the Paint Stroke

We’re going to kick things off by creating
the paint stroke created by the roller, so assuming you’ve already set up the custom grid, let’s get started!

Step 1

Create a 96 x 240 px rectangle
which we will color using ultra violet (#5F4B8B) and then center align to the
underlying Artboard, making sure to
position it at a distance of 196 px from
its left edge.

creating the main shape for the paint stroke

Step 2

Start working on the paint drips by creating a 4 x 12 px rectangle (#5F4B8B), which we will position at a distance
of 64 px from the larger shape’s
bottom-right corner.

creating the smaller section of the first paint drip

Step 3

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created, by setting the Radius of its bottom corners to 2 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties.

adjusting the smaller section of the first paint drip

Step 4

Add the taller drip using a 4 x
28 px
rectangle (#5F4B8B) with a 2
bottom corner Radius, which
we will position on the right side of the previously adjusted shape, at a
distance of just 4 px.

adding the taller section to the first paint drip

Step 5

Create the center section using a 4 x 8 px rectangle (#5F4B8B), which we
will position as seen in the reference image.

adding the middle section to the first paint drip

Step 6

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created, by removing a 4
x 4 px
circle (highlighted with red) from its bottom edge using Pathfinder’s Minus Front Shape Mode.

adjusting the middle section of the first paint drip

Step 7

Add the side sections using two 4
x 4 px
squares (#5F4B8B), from the bottom of which we will remove a 4 x 4 px circle, positioning the
resulting shapes as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, select and
group all five shapes together using the Control-G
keyboard shortcut.

adding the side sections to the first paint drip

Step 8

Add the second paint drip using a 4
x 16 px
rectangle (#5F4B8B) with a 2
bottom corner Radius as your
starting point. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all three shapes together before moving on to the next

adding the second paint drip

Step 9

Create the paint stroke’s darker section using a 4 x 96 px rectangle, which we will color using #332B4B and then
position on the right side of the larger shape. Once you’re done, select and
group (Control-G) all of the current
section’s composing shapes before moving on to the next one.

adding the darker section to the paint stroke

6. How to Create the Paint Roller

As soon as we’ve finished working on
the paint stroke, we can start working on the roller, which as you’ll see is
really easy to create.

Step 1

Create the sponge using a 32 x
112 px
rectangle, which we will color using a complementary orange (#F7CB7F),
and then position on the right side of the paint stroke as seen in the
reference image.

creating the main shape for the sponge

Step 2

Add the paint using a 32 x 96 px rectangle (#5F4B8B), which we will center align to the previously created shape,
selecting and grouping the two together afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the paint to the sponge

Step 3

Start working on the roller’s handle by
creating its guard using an 8 x 24 px rectangle
(#F7CB7F), which we will position at a distance of 64 px from the sponge’s right edge.

creating the guard for the handle

Step 4

Add the actual handle using a 52 x 16 px rectangle (#F7CB7F), which we
will position on the right side of the previously created shape.

adding the main shape for the handle

Step 5

Create the rear end section using a smaller 8 x 8 px square, which we will color
using ultra violet (#332B4B) and then position as seen in the reference image.

adding the rear end to the handle

Step 6

Separate the guard from the handle using a hard shadow, which we will
create using an 8 x 16 px rectangle
(#332B4B), which we will adjust by selecting its top-right anchor point using
the Direct Selection Tool (A), and
then pushing it to the left side by 4 px using the Move tool
(right click > Transform > Move
> Horizontal > -4 px

adding the hard shadow to the handle

Step 7

Add the vertical grip lines using three 4 x 16 px rectangles (#332B4B), which
we will horizontally distribute 4 px from
one another, grouping (Control-G)
and then positioning them 4
from the shadow that we’ve just created.

adding the vertical grip lines to the handle

Step 8

Finish off the handle by adding the little
insertion point using a 4 x 4 px circle
(#332B4B), which we will position at a distance of 4 px from the center of its right edge. Once you’re done, select
and group (Control-G) all its
composing shapes before moving on to the next step.

adding the circular insertion to the handle

Step 9

Start working on the roller’s arm by creating
the main shape for its lower section using an 8 x 8 px square, which we will color using #5F4B8B and then
position on the left side of the guard.

creating the lower section of the arm

Step 10

Select the Pen
Tool (P)
and, using an 8 px thick
Stroke (#332B4B) with a Round Join, draw the arm’s main body, following the reference image
as your main guide. Take your time, and once you’re done, move on to the next

drawing the arm

Step 11

Finish off the arm, and with it the project
itself, by adding the left segment using an 8 x 8 px square (#332B4B), which we will position on the opposite
side of the sponge. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the paint roller’s composing sections, doing the
same for the entire illustration afterwards.

finishing off the illustration

Awesome Work! You’re Done!

There you have it, fellow Pantone lovers, a nice and easy tutorial on how to
create a cute illustration using the hottest color of 2018.

As always, I hope you’ve had fun working on the project and most
importantly managed to learn something new and useful along the way.

That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing
your final results, and if you have any questions, please post them within the comments
area and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

End Result

If you’re looking for more Pantone and color resources here on Envato Tuts+, why not check out the following awesome tutorials:

How to Create a Polar Bear Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Once upon a time in the frozen Arctic lived a polar bear. He was standing alone on a glacier, waiting for fish…

Today, you are going to learn how to create this animal in Adobe Illustrator. If you want more inspiration, then check out GraphicRiver. You will see tons of amazing images of polar bears

Some images there might look complicated, but here, I will show you how to create a polar bear using basic shapes. We will also use Warp effects and the Pen Tool. To use the Pen Tool and not have to worry, we’ll use the Smart Guides, which will help us.

Let’s get started!

1. How to Create the Scenery

Step 1

After opening a new document (850 x 850 px Width and Height), we will start by creating the background. Let’s create a blue square: hit the Rectangle Tool (M) and click on your artboard. Enter Height and Width 850 px, and press OK. Set its fill color as shown in the image below.

creating the background

Step 2

Next, we will add a darker blue rectangle on the bottom part of the image. Select the background and create a copy in front: press Control-C and then Control-F. Then, using the Selection Tool (V), narrow it down. Change the fill color. This will be the ice-cold ocean!

creating the ocean

Step 3

Now we will create an image of mountains. To start our mountain, we will use the Pen Tool (P). Select the Pen Tool (P) and set any stroke color you want and no fill color. We will change the color later on, so go ahead and choose any stroke color to start with.

Now, simply start to click on your artboard. You will see that the points will be connected by a line.

drawing the mountains

Once you reach the beginning of this shape (the first anchor point), you will see that there is a small circle there, near the Pen Tool (L). Now click on the first anchor point, while you still see this circle, to close up your shape. If you have never used this tool before, then I would recommend messing around with it first just to see how it works.

finishing drawing the mountains

As soon as you close up the shape, you can change its color to a darker blue and remove the stroke color.

changing the color of the mountains

Step 4

In this step, we will continue working on the mountain image. But first, in order to the draw the lines with more precision, we need to enable the Smart Guides. So let’s go to View > Smart Guides (Control-U). Select the Pen Tool (P) and make the lighter part of the mountain.

creating the light part of the mountains

Do the same thing with all the other mountains. Try to end up with a result similar to the one below.

continue creating the light parts of the mountains

Step 5

Using a similar technique, create another set of darker blue shapes. Make sure you have this order: light blue part, middle blue part, and then the darker blue part for each mountain.

These will be our mountains!

creating the dark parts of the mountains

Step 6

Finally, using the Pen Tool (P), create a glacier on the bottom of the image, where our bear will be standing. The Smart Guides will help you not to go beyond the boundaries of the background.

creating the glacier

Step 7

Now we will create some clouds! To do so, create a bunch of rectangles, and then place them close together. Now simply create some more clouds to finish it off.

creating the clouds

Step 8

To smooth the shape of clouds, select one and unite all of the rectangles making up the cloud by pressing the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). To smooth the clouds, select all of them and go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners… In a new dialogue window, enter Radius 10 px.

We just created a place for our polar bear to live!

smoothen the clouds

2. How to Create the Polar Bear

Step 1

To create the bear, we will start by forming the shape of the body. Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a white rounded rectangle. To get a rounded rectangle with very rounded corners, create a small rounded rectangle first and then stretch it. Or you can go to View > Show Corner Widget and modify the corners by dragging them inside.

creating the body of the polar bear

Step 2

Now, create a smaller white rounded rectangle and attach it to the larger one on the upper left side. This is the head. To create an eye, add a dark grey or black ellipse, using the Ellipse Tool (L).

creating the head of the polar bear

Step 3

For the neck, add a white rectangle and place it between the head and the body. Next, using the Direct Selection Tool (A), move its anchor points to connect the head and body.

creating the neck of the polar bear

Step 4

Now we will add the ears. Create three ellipses—two larger and one smaller ellipse—and place them as shown below. Change the fill color of the left and middle ovals to make them a little darker. Be sure the left ear stays behind the head (Control-X, Control-B).

creating the ears of the polar bear

Step 5

For the muzzle, create another white rounded rectangle and attach it to the left side of the head.

creating the muzzle of the polar bear

Then we will deform this shape by applying the Warp Effect: go to Effect > Warp > Arc and adjust the necessary options. Expand this shape: select it and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

warping the muzzle of the polar bear

Step 6

We will create a nose from an ellipse. Create a black ellipse and, using the Direct Selection Tool (A), move the left and right anchor points up.

creating the nose of the polar bear

Attach the nose to the muzzle of our bear.

placing the nose of the polar bear

Step 7

For the tail, create another small oval. Attach it to the upper right side of the body and rotate it to the left as in the image below.

creating the tail of the polar bear

Step 8

Let’s create the bear’s legs. First, create a white rounded rectangle. Then transform it: go to Effect > Warp > Arch, and enter the options shown below. Expand this shape (Object > Expand Appearance).

creating the leg of the polar bear

Attach this leg to the body.

placing the leg of the polar bear

Step 9

For the paw, create a small white ellipse. Now we will cut away the bottom part of the ellipse. For the cutter, create a rectangle with any fill color you want. Make sure that the rectangle overlaps the bottom part of the ellipse. While keeping these two shapes selected, press the Minus Front button on the Pathfinder panel. We will end up with the top part of the ellipse.

creating the paw of the polar bear

Attach this part to the bottom of the leg as a paw. The back leg is ready!

placing the paw of the polar bear

Step 10

Make another copy of the leg and attach it to the right side of the body as a front leg.

creating another leg of the polar bear

Step 11

Now create a copy of the front and back legs behind (Control-C, Control-B). Make them darker (use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to take the same color as the darker ear) and slightly shift the legs to the left.

Make sure the new darker legs are behind the whole body.

Our bear is ready!

creating other legs of the polar bear


And you are done! Great job. I hope you get used to this tricky Pen Tool and now will use it a lot. Or maybe you know already how to use it and just had some good practice. Anyway, I’m happy that you were with me through the whole tutorial!

See you next time!

final image

30 Stunning App Icon Designs You Need to See

Creating a good app icons design is challenging. The icon is a key visual element and it’s the first thing the users interact with. It should be beautiful, memorable, detailed, and the most important, it should reflect your design style. App icons is not a logo, but it has branding purposes. App icons should be placed into a square-canvas with specific size and context.

Here we have put together 30 stunning app icon designs which you would love to see. Some of them are simple and witty while other are complex with various design elements. Which one is your favorite?

1. Children’s help center — App icon


2. Bear Icon Design


3. Gallery Doctor app Icon


4. Love and Rockets icon design


5. Balloons design icon


6. Big boys play at night icon


7. Red Hills App Icon


8. Scary stories app icon


9. Teepee App Icon


10. Hatch app icon


11. New fork app icon design


12. Bag app icon design


13. Icon for Music Video


14. Monster Trucks Icon


15. Loose Leaf app icon


16. Electric range app icon


17. Cinnamon Roll App Icon


18. Pastry Icon


19. Pancakes App Icon


20. Electrics Old Fashioned Hot Dogs Icon


21. Egg icon design


22. Fried Egg Icon


23. Pizza app Icon


24. Bacon app icon


25. Krispy Kreme Icon Concept


26. Heineken Icon design


27. Heinz Ketchup Icon Design


28. Jack O’ Lantern icon design


29. Boxing glove app icon design


30. Oreo app icon design


How to Create a Typographic Valentine’s Card in Adobe InDesign

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Looking to impress someone this Valentine’s Day? This quirky letterpress-inspired card has an air of old-fashioned romance which is hard to resist. This is a great tutorial for developing or polishing print design skills, even if you’re a complete beginner.

We’ll be using Adobe InDesign to create the card design, and we’ll also look at how to export the design as a press-quality PDF ready for printing.

Looking for something a little more convenient for Valentine’s Day? You can find a huge range of card templates on Envato Elements and GraphicRiver.

Ready for romance? Let’s go!

What You’ll Need to Design Your Card

As well as access to Adobe InDesign, you’ll also need to download the following images and font files:

Save the images to a folder you can easily locate, and install the font files onto your system. Once that’s done, you’re ready to start designing your Valentine’s card.

1. How to Set Up Your Card in InDesign

Step 1

Open up InDesign and go to File > New > Document

Keep the Intent set to Print and uncheck the Facing Pages box. Set the Width of the page to 5 in and Height to 7 in. 

Set the Top and Bottom Margins to 1.0625 in, and the Left and Right Margins to 0.875 in. Add a Bleed of 0.25 in to all edges of the page, and then click OK

new document
new document

Step 2

Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and double-click on the Layer 1 title. Rename this layer Background and click OK

Click on the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the panel and rename this as Type

Create a further two new layers, first Details and finally Overlay


Lock all layers except Background, and click on this to activate it.

locked layers

Step 3

Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches). From here, you can create a complete color palette of CMYK swatches to use on your design. 

Choose New Color Swatch from the panel’s top-right drop-down menu, and create the following CMYK swatches, clicking Add and OK each time:

  • Forest Green: C=77 M=45 Y=100 K=48
  • Peppermint: C=63 M=13 Y=39 K=1
  • Orange: C=0 M=66 Y=67 K=0
  • Mustard: C=21 M=24 Y=81 K=5
  • Pink: C=6 M=42 Y=12 K=0
  • Cream: C=0 M=5 Y=27 K=0
  • Ochre: C=13 M=85 Y=87 K=3
  • Purple: C=43 M=95 Y=25 K=16
  • Off-White: C=0 M=0 Y=13 K=0

Step 4

With the Background layer still active, take the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and drag across the page, extending it up to the edge of the page on the left-hand side, and the edges of the bleed on the top, right, and bottom. 

Go to File > Place, navigate to the paper texture image you downloaded earlier, and click Open. Allow it to fill the whole image frame. 

paper texture

Step 5

Switch to the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag across the page, mimicking the size and position of the image frame below. From the Swatches panel, set the Stroke Color to [None] and Fill Color to Off-White. 


With the rectangle shape selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency and bring the Opacity down to 75%, before clicking OK


2. How to Map Out the Typography on Your Card

Step 1

Lock the Background layer and unlock the layer above, Type

With the rulers visible (View > Show Rulers), drag a guide down from the top ruler to Y position 2.47 in, and a second down to 2.8 in. 

Drag down two more guides, to 4.2 in and 4.53 in, creating a sequence of four guides in total. 


Step 2

Take the Type Tool (T) and drag onto the page to create a text frame at the top-right corner marked out by the margin line. 

Type in ‘V’, and from either the Controls panel running along the top of the workspace or the Character panel (Window > Type & Tables > Character), set the Font to Mr Darcy, Size 142 pt. 

v text

Step 3

Create a second text frame to the right of the first and type in ‘A’, setting the Font to Jacques Francois, Size 137 pt. Rest the baseline of the letters along the top guide line.

a text

Build up more text frames, with letters and fonts as follows:

‘L’ in Lovato Light, Size 167 pt.

l text

Move onto the second line, and set ‘E’ in Lovato Light, Size 162 pt.

e lovato

‘N’ in Mr Darcy, Size 160 pt.

n text

‘T’ in Naive Inline, Size 136 pt.

t text

On the third line, set ‘I’ in Naive Inline, Size 135 pt.

naive inline

‘N’ in Jacques Francois, Size 140 pt.

jacques francois

And finally set ‘E’ in Brixton Regular, Size 145 pt.

brixton font

Step 4

Once you’re happy with the position and arrangement of your letters, drag your mouse across to select all the text frames, and go to Type > Create Outlines. 

create outlines

This will create a vectorised version of your text, which you can scale and add stroke effects to with more ease. 

vector text

Step 5

Apply the Mustard swatch to the Fill and Stroke of the first letter, ‘V’. 

mustard color

Expand the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke), and set the Weight to 1 pt. Choose Right Slant Hash from the Type drop-down menu. This will give a bit of texture to the edge of the letter, giving it a less digital appearance. 


Step 6

Work your way across the letters, applying different colors from the Swatches panel to your design, as well as the same Right Slant Hash stroke settings to each. 

green color
text color

3. How to Add Extra Details to Your Typographic Design

Step 1

You can create arrows which criss-cross some of the letters on your design, creating a romantic and stylish effect. 

Take the Line Tool (\) and, holding Shift, drag from left to right across the ‘A’ and ‘L’ letters in the top row. From the Stroke panel, set the Weight to 3 pt and adjust the Cap to a Round Cap. Choose Pink for the Stroke Color

pink line

Step 2

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a small arrow head on the left side of the line, setting the Fill to Pink

arrow head

Create a small diagonal line using the Pen Tool or Line Tool towards the right end of the arrow. 

pen tool

Copy and Paste the line a few times to create a feather on the end of the arrow. 


Select all the feather lines and Right-Click > Group, before copying and pasting. Right-Click on the pasted group and choose Transform > Flip Vertical. 

flip vertical

Move into a mirrored position along the bottom edge of the arrow. 

flipped feathers

Step 3

Right-Click > Group all the arrow elements together, before heading up to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Multiply


Click on Drop Shadow in the panel’s left-hand menu. Set the Effect Color (by clicking on the colored square) to Pink, and make the shadow subtle and soft by adjusting the options in the window until you’re happy. 

effect color

Click OK to exit the window. 

Step 4

Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste the arrow a couple of times, positioning the copies over the second and third rows of letters as shown below. 

Use the Swatches panel to adjust the color of the elements that make up each arrow. 

swatches panel

Step 5

Lock the Type layer and unlock the layer above, Details

Now you can start to add quirky details to each letter, like dots and lines, to create a circus-style effect. 

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to add polka dots to the top of serifs, as I’ve done here with the ‘V’ letter. 

ellipse tool

Switch to the Pen Tool (P) to add large lines of color to letters with thicker stems, like the ‘A’ in the top row. 

pen tool

Use the Line Tool (\) and Ellipse Tool (L) to create slim dotted lines on some of the skinnier letters, like the ‘L’…

line tool

…‘E’ and ‘T’ on the second row, and ‘I’ on the third row. 


Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a compass-like shape on some of the remaining letters, as in the examples shown below. 

diamond shape
shape details

Step 6

As a final touch, we can add an overlay texture to the page, to soften the look of the typography and give the whole card a more vintage style. 

Lock the Details layer and unlock the top layer, Overlay.

Use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create an image frame across the whole page, extending it to just the page edge on the left-hand side. 

paper overlay

With the image frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Choose Multiply from the Mode menu and pull the Opacity down to 25%. 

text effect

4. How to Expand Your Card Into a Printable Design

You’ve finished the artwork for the front of your card—great job! To convert it into a printable format, we’ll now look at how to expand the design into a foldable card, with outside and interior sides.

Step 1

Preserve a copy of your artwork by going to the Pages panel (Window > Pages) and dragging the Page 1 icon onto the Create New Page button at the bottom of the panel, duplicating the page.

Scroll down to Page 2 to work on the layout here. 

Take the Page Tool (Shift-P) and click onto the page to select it. In the top Controls panel, type in 10 in for the Width (‘W:’), to double the width of the page. 

Unlock all the layers, select all the elements sitting on the page and shift it over to sit on the right side of the page, as shown below. 

page tool

Step 2

Lock the Type and Details layers, and then drag your mouse over the page to select all the elements sitting on the Background and Overlay layers. 

Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste, and move the copies over to the left side of the page. 

overlay layer

Step 3

Return to the Pages panel and drag the Page 2 icon down onto the Create New Page button to duplicate it. 

Working on Page 3, select all the elements sitting on the Overlay, Details and Type layers, and delete them. 

You can bring down the Opacity of the colored rectangle sitting on the Background layer (Object > Effects > Transparency) too, to bring through a little more of the papery texture sitting beneath. 

paper texture

Step 4

On the right side of the page, use the Type Tool (T) to create a text frame, and type in your Valentine’s message for the inside of the card. Make sure it’s centered on the right half of the card. 

Use a variety of fonts and colors for a quirky look. 

text inside

You can also Copy and Paste arrows from Page 2 to embellish your message, positioning them above and below your text.

inside of card

Step 5

With your card expanded, you’re now ready to export your artwork ready for printing!

Head up to File > Export, and choose Adobe PDF (Print) from the Format menu. Give the file a memorable name (e.g. ‘Valentine’s Card_for Print’), and click Save

In the window that opens, choose [Press Quality] from the Preset menu at the top. Under the Pages section, check Range, and set the page range to 2-3. 

press quality

Click on Marks and Bleeds in the left-hand menu. Check All Printer’s Marks and Use Document Bleed Settings, and click Export

marks and bleeds
pdf for print

Conclusion: Your Finished Valentine’s Card

Your card is finished and ready for sending off to print. Congratulations! The recipient is going to be delighted with their specially designed Valentine’s card. 

As well as creating a lovely, vintage-inspired card, we’ve also picked up some valuable print design skills throughout the course of this tutorial. You now know how to create greetings card templates in InDesign, how to format typography to a high standard, and how to prepare your artwork for professional printing.

Want even more Valentine’s Day inspiration? You can find a huge selection of easy-to-edit card templates on Envato Elements and GraphicRiver.

final card design

What is a CDN and why does your website need it

Both as a web designer, and as a user of the internet, you know that a fast website is a good websiteSpeed of a website is something which you don’t notice, until it’s missing that is.

Then it becomes frustrating. A bad user experience. A reason for bouncing off a website never to return.

If you want visitors to enjoy their experience on your website, you don’t need to think only about the design of the website, but how fast the website performs for ALL of your users!

Because good design is only one part of a good user experience.

After website design, the speed of page-loading is one of the most important factors which contribute to the success of a website. Besides that, it’s also a ranking factor.

Why is speed so important?

The necessity of having a fast website is a factor has been studied time and time again.

A negative experience is created in the mind of the user who is perceiving a site as being slow. A site’s conversion rate is also affected very negatively by slow performing websites.

Have a look at the graph below by research firm Soasta

Loading time vs conversion rate

Loading time vs conversion rate study

As can be clearly seen from the graph above, as load time of a page increases, the conversion rate drops drastically. The best conversion rates actually happen when pages take less than 3 seconds to load. Unfortunately, very few websites are actually able to provide such a fast user experience.

Is your website one of these slow-loading sites? Are you killing conversions and are not even aware of it?

But there are solutions which can help boost your website’s speed.

What is a CDN?

The term CDN is an acronym which means content delivery network. That is a fancy way of saying, a network of servers which are optimized to deliver the content (of your website) in the most optimal way.

But how does this content delivery network provide benefits to my website and how does it make the website load faster?

The CDN’s network of servers is an infrastructure which is designed to handle the load of traffic of a website better than that of generic hosting services.

Hosting services, especially the ones aimed at generic websites are geared at creating a stable but generic environment, at a low cost to both the hosting service and the client. These websites typically run on generic environments, such as Apache, PHP, MySQL and other stacks of popular hosting frameworks.

However, the environment has not been specifically optimized and tuned for website speed. Shared hosting services are typically quite slow, particularly in their initial response. The fact that each environment is hosting multiple websites simultaneously means that they suffer from a resource bottleneck problem. Essentially, each website is hosted on the same server as many others, they are “sharing” the same resources. But while the term used is sharing, in reality, they are competing for the same resources. To keep costs low, this sharing creates a situation where each request sent to a website has to wait before it can be served.

Have a look at the below. One of my websites, which is aimed primarily for ecommerce ( is hosted on a shared hosting environment, without a CDN.

Have a look at the following waterfall graph:

Load time without CDN

Load time without CDN

Can you see the waiting time above of 1.26 seconds?

This is the time it is taking for the server to start “working” on the request sent to it. Essentially, at this point, my website is queued up, competing for resources with other sites hosted on the same server as mine.

This is an implicit delay in created by using a shared website hosting service

Bear in mind, that this delay is before the server event starts to send any kind of content back to the user.

With a delay of 1.26 seconds, you can forget having a page-speed load time of less than 3 seconds.

This is a problem. So how do we go about solving this problem?

On the other hand, a CDN’s primary function is to make websites load fast. Their actual infrastructure setup is designed such that they help deliver a lightning fast website.

But how does a CDN actually speed up my site?

How a CDN speeds up your site

There are a few reasons why a website can load slowly:

  1. the shared hosting server has a lot of websites (to keep the price cheap) and is thus overwhelmed. The response times are therefore slow.
  2. Images and other large content of the are not optimized and take a lot of time to download.
  3. The website has installed many different WordPress plugins which are generating many CSS and JS files and other resources
  4. The hosting server is located geographically far away from the actual visitors of your website (think website hosted in the US, with readers mostly in Europe)

There are other reasons, but these are the main ones which generate the largest loading time hits.

You can take mitigating steps to fix each of the above-noted problems individually, but we’ll focus mostly on the last two in this article.

Your shared hosting is overwhelmed and slow

Shared hosting servers are by their definition – slow, especially if they are cheap. It’s just the economics of it.

When a hosting company rents or buys a server, they need to share that cost with their clients.

Put simply, and for the sake of example, if your server costs $100/month and you want to price your plan at $10/month, you need to host 10 accounts to break even.

If you want to price your plan at $5/month, you need to host 20 accounts to break even.

You get the gist. The cheaper the plan, the more the accounts you’ll need to host on the same server.

If a hosting service is advertising itself as cheap, and you want your website to be fast – run a mile!

So what happens, on shared servers, each time somebody visits your website, the server is (at the same time) handling the websites of all of the other users / accounts on that same server.  

With shared hosting, it can take more than a whole second to even start working on delivering your website’s contents.

You can clearly see that delay on the screenshot above.

VPS vs Shared hosting environment

VPS vs Shared hosting environment

If you want to make a website fast, this delay of one second in response time is creating a serious issue for you.

Here are our first recommendations

  1. If your website is using WordPress as the CMS, choose from the best WordPress hosting companies, the ones with known good service and great reviews. Stay away from cheap hosts.
  2. Going for the highest plan you can afford, a Virtual Private Server is a good balance between a (cheap but slow) shared hosting site and a dedicated server (fast but expensive). With a VPS, your site will have plenty of resources to deal with the load and respond within a few milliseconds, rather than a whole second.

The images of your site are not optimized

Images are one of the primary reasons why websites can be slow to load. 

It’s always great advice to use images in your articles. They help to create a break in large pieces of text. Images are also great for readability.

“An image is worth a thousand words” or so they say.

But images can also create problems.

Primarily, images which are not optimized for speed can have a serious negative effect on the loading time of a website.

It’s actually quite a laborious process to remember to save each file in a speed-friendly format, and compressing them to a size which is small enough but which does not lose any of the quality of the image.

Besides being labor-intensive, some people are simply not aware of the need to optimize images.

So what’s the solution to this problem? We need to find a method which will automatically optimize images.

Here’s where a CDN comes to the rescue. CDNs are designed to address this problem without requiring any manual intervention

This is because image optimization (including lossless compression) is typically a built-in feature of most CDNs

That means you don’t have to worry about the images. While you handle the design and creation of a website with awesome imagery, the Content Delivery Network will automatically compress and optimize the images.

The website is using a lot of scripts

This is another factor which has a bad effect on the speed of a website.

Almost all plugins which are installed on a website have an impact on the loading time of your website – each plugin adds more and more assets to the site, making it slower and slower.

Each plugin which is used to create a specific piece of functionality is also slowing down the site.

Some plugins create more JS files, CSS files, and other assets, so some are worse than others, but all of them have at least a bit of an effect. The fewer plugins you install – the better. This is a golden rule.

Each plugin also adds overhead in the form of requests.

Have a look at the following screenshot from a site which has not been optimized for speed. You can see that the performance scores are very slow, whilst the fully loaded time is horrendous.

Slow loading time due to many requests

Slow loading time due to many requests

Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate these problems:

  1. Install as little plugins as possible on any website
  2. Combine the files created by all the plugins into a few files only
  3. Enable HTTPS and then HTTP/2 on your website for better overall loading times

Once again, a CDN can help with the combining the files into fewer files and delivering that content over HTTP2.

The CDN actually performs compression and minification of JS and CSS files; this makes the overall size of your site’s resources smaller and therefore, faster to load.

Setting up of HTTP/2 in also highly recommended. HTTP2 is something which is a whole topic of its own so we’ll recommend a couple of great articles on WebDesignerDepot and on CollectiveRay blog which we’ve already written.

HTTP/2 has been created specifically to make improvements in the loading time of websites. It is designed to address certain shortcomings which older technologies did not deal with.

CDN services typically can enable HTTP/2 on your website, simply through the flick of a switch. HTTP/2 requires that HTTPS has been enabled on your site. Once again, CDNs typically have built-in support to serve content over HTTPS. Thanks to the CDN, you can enable HTTPS without incurring the cost and complication which is associated with secure website certificates. A CDN is also able to improve the overhead associated with the SSL/TLS handshake (which is a heavy operation). This ensures that even with HTTPS enabled – the site incurs no overhead.

There’s still one problem which we haven’t addressed which can slow down the loading speed of your website.

What is it and how can we fix it?

The geographical location of your website server

There is one thing which can negatively your website’s loading speed, even after you’ve performed all sorts of speed optimizations mentioned above.

Have a look at the following diagram.

Hosting server location vs visitor location

Hosting server location vs visitor location

This shows the typical time it takes for web data to travel from the one side of the Atlantic to the other. You can see that loading a website hosted on a different continent that your website is visiting from, is a problem. If your website is hosted in the continental US, any visitor outside of the US will experience this problem.

Of course, this applies all over the world. It can even happen within continents if the visitor is located far away from the hosting server.

The distance your website’s content has to travel has a direct (and negative) effect on how fast your website loads.

If your website has a localized audience, choose a good hosting service which is physically close to your target audience. If you are targeting users in New York, choose to host your website on a good server in New York.

However, what do you do if your website caters to an international audience?

You can’t choose a server which is located close to the visitors of your website.

However, there is a solution. As you might have guessed, the solution involves a CDN, because a CDN service specifically addresses this problem.

Let’s see an updated version of the previous diagram, this time we see how the loading time is affected if we use the services of a CDN such as Incapsula CDN, one of the largest players in the CDN industry.

Without CDN vs with CDN

Without CDN vs with CDN

Just like we discussed at the beginning of this article, a CDN service is designed to shorten the distance that content has to travel to reach the visitors of a website.

A CDN service is set up by creating a network of hundreds of servers in different locations in multiple countries and geographies. These servers, known as caching servers or edge servers, each contain a local copy of the images and files which your website needs serve.

When a user accesses your website, these files are served from the nearest physical to your visitor.

This reduces the problem of distance and makes a website much faster to load compared to if a website was not using a CDN.

Have a look the following diagram, which shows the geographical distribution of caching servers around the world – making it possible to always serve content from a location which is physically close to your visitor.

CDN global server map

CDN global server map

How to set up a CDN for free

The great thing about CDN services is that they operate on a freemium model – typically they offer a free plan. This free plan provides the localized caching functionality we have shown above.

If your website grows beyond the limits of the free plan, you can then move to a higher plan which suits the needs of your website better.

The easiest way to implement a CDN does not even need a plugin, it’s done by what is knows as a reverse proxy.

This only requires you to perform some changes to the DNS settings of your domain. You’ll find exact guidance for most hosts from the CDN you will opt for, or you can ask for support from the CDN’s support staff.

You can see below how your website together will work together with the CDN to send content to visitors. The origin server is your website’s server.

CDN setup using proxy server

CDN setup using proxy server

The CDN server actually receives the hit when a user visits your website. It then sends the request to your site, such that any necessary dynamic content is generated. Once it gets a response, the CDN sends the dynamic content and all static resources to the visitor.

This removes a lot of load from your hosting server – making your website load faster and able to handle much more visitors simultaneously.

Conclusion – are you ready to make your website faster?

As we’ve seen in this article, setting up a CDN can start from the very cheap price of free! Besides not having to spend anything, the loading speed of your website will be much-improved giving your site’s visitors a better user experience for your visitors.

If you’re looking to have a fast website, a CDN is a must.

How to Create a Cozy Winter Character in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Funny warm beanies, pretty mittens, warm chocolate beverages, and a Christmas mood—it’s all about December.

Today we’re going to create a cozy character design illustration using simple shapes and various tools of Illustrator. For example, we’ll work with the Shape Builder Tool, the Pathfinder panel, Zig Zag effect, and more.

So make yourself a cup of hot cocoa, throw a bunch of marshmallows into it, and let’s start. 

If you’re looking for winter inspiration, pop on over to GraphicRiver where you can find thousands of winter-themed vectors.

1. How to Prepare a Document and Make a Background

Step 1

First, set up a New Document (File > New) following these settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 800 px
  • Height: 600 px
  • Units: Pixels
  • Color Mode: RGB

With the help of the Rectangle Tool (M), make an 800 x 600 px rectangle and color it in light beige (#e8dcc5).

Also, turn Smart Guides on (View > Smart Guides).

Setting up the document in Illustrator

Step 2

Create a navy blue (#134854) circle by using the Ellipse Tool (L) and align it to the Artboard with the help of the upper Align panel.

Our background is done! Now let’s make a cute character. 

Creating and aligning of a circle shape

2. How to Make a Girl’s Face

Step 1

Create a yellow (#f9ba48) 100 x 115 px rectangle by using the Rectangle Tool (M) and round both bottom corners to the maximum.

Make two orange (#f68b1e) 30 x 30 px circles and place them on the face as cheeks. 

Making of the face

Step 2

Then, a nose and a mouth.

Make a small 20 x 15 px oval of the same color as the cheeks (pick the color with the Eye Dropper Tool (I)). Add two smaller dark brown (#2f2920) ovals under it as nostrils.

Place the nose on the face.

With the help of the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Segment Tool (\), make a 30 px width burgundy (#d3370d) line. Set 4 pt Stroke and Round Cap in the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Drag the middle of the line a bit down with the help of the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C).

Make a 30 x 30 px red (#f15a2a) circle and place it beneath the line. Select both the line and the circle, choose the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), and click on the unnecessary bottom part of the circle while holding Alt. Place the mouth on the face.

Adding of cheeks and nostrils on the face

Step 3

And now we’re going to make ears. 

Create a 35 x 35 px orange (#f68b1e) circle and place a small burgundy (#d3370d) circle with no Fill and 1 pt Stroke on it.

Group them (Command-G) for your convenience. Paste one ear from one side of the head and one from the other.

Making of ears

3. How to Create a Beanie Hat

Step 1

To make a beanie, create a blue (#80b5c5) 45 x 45 px rectangle with corners rounded to 5 px.

Create a 70 x 55 px beige rectangle (pick the color from the background) and round its upper corners to the maximum. 

Place the blue one on the beige (on its lower side) to form a hat.

Creating of a hat

Step 2

Let’s add a pompom.

Start with an 80 x 80 px blue circle (pick the color from the hat). Make a smaller 15 x 15 px one and place it on the top of the big circle. 

Select the small circle, choose the Rotation Tool (R), and click on the middle of the big circle while holding Alt

In the pop-up Rotate panel, set Angle: 360/20 (where 20 is the desired amount of small circles) and click Copy.

Then, Command-D as many times as needed to repeat your last action.

Making of a pompone by using the Rotation Tool

Step 3

Select all the small circles and merge them using the Unite option in the Pathfinder panel.

Copy the resulting shape, delete its inner part (by clicking on any anchor point and pressing the Delete key on your keyboard), and set a 1 pt light blue (#b0cdcc) stroke. Make this element smaller and place it on the pompom. Place two more smaller copies on the pompom.

Add our newly made pompom at the top of our hat base.

Adding of an ornament to the pompone

Step 4

Add a small light blue vertical line on the blue stripe on the hat. Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. In the Zig Zag menu, set 4% size, Relative, 4 Ridges per segment, Smooth points, and click OK.

Copy this curved line and paste the copied one on the other side of the blue shape. 

Select the Blend Tool (W) and click on both lines. Then, click twice on the Blend Tool thumbnail and set Specified Steps: 10.

Well then, now that we have a pretty knitted ornament on the beanie, let’s put it on our character’s head. We all know that it’s better to cover your ears in winter, but her ears are too awesome for it, aren’t they?

Creating of an ornament by using Zig Zag effect

4. How to Make a Scarf and a Coat

Step 1

Start with a 260 x 90 px blue rectangle (the same color as the hat) and round its corners to 15 px. Turn the shape a bit, copy it, and paste the copied one in the same place (Command-Shift-V). 

Move the copied rectangle beneath the original (you can press Command-[), color it in a darker blue shade, and Reflect it Vertical. Delete the unnecessary parts of the bottom shape by using the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M).

Add two more vertical copies of the first rectangle, color them in darker shades of blue, and place them as scarf edges. 

Making of a scarf

Step 2

And now we’re going to quickly apply a basic dots pattern.

Just Copy the upper part of the scarf and paste in the same place. Then, go to the Swatches panel and click twice on the Swatch Libraries menu > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphic Dots. Choose the 6 dpi 10% pattern. Once you click on its thumbnail, the pattern will fill the shape.

Adding of a pattern to the scarf

Step 3

Let’s make the pattern a bit bigger. Go to Object > Transform > Scale. Choose Uniform: 150% and click OK. Also set up Overlay blending mode and 15% Opacity in the Transparency panel.

Now you just need to create a copied layer for other parts of the scarf and copy this pattern fill by using the Eye Dropper Tool (I).

Scaling of the pattern

Step 4

Create a 190 x 200 px red (#f15a2a) rectangle—it’ll be the body. Add a forearm by using a 60 x 170 px red rectangle. Select its bottom right anchor, choose the Free Transform Tool (E), and drag the anchor a bit to the left while holding Command-Alt-Shift. As you can see, it’s an easy way to move two anchors symmetrically.

Rotate the forearm a bit and place it next to the body.

Creating of the body and a forearm

Step 5

Let’s continue with the arm.

Make another, thinner rectangle and color it in light red (#fc6e47). Round its upper corners to the maximum and connect it with the first part of the arm.

Adding of the arm

Step 6

And mittens!

Start with a 25 x 45 px blue rectangle with corners rounded to 5 px. Also make a 70 x 55 px rectangle colored in beige and round its corners to 10 px. Place them next to each other. 

Make a 35 px height burgundy line with 4 pt stroke. Form a snowflake by using four copies of this line. Place the snowflake on the mittens. 

Making of the mittens

Step 7

Add the mittens to the arm and copy all their parts. Group them (Command-G), Reflect Vertically, and place on the other side of the body. 

Adding of the mittens to the character

5. How to Make Hair and a Cup of Cocoa

Step 1

Well then, our girl is waiting for a cup of hot cocoa (she’s also waiting for hair, but let’s make the cup first).

Make a 90 x 90 px light grey (#f2f2f2) rectangle, and round its bottom corners to 20 px. Then make an 80 x 50 px oval with 10 px light grey Stroke and light blue Fill. Place this oval on the rectangle base to form a cup. Go to Object > Expand to expand the oval.

Making of a cups base

Step 2

Create a 1 pt light brown (#493d38) line and place it between the Stroke and the Fill of the oval. Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. Set 4% size, Relative, 4 Ridges per segment, and Smooth. Make two more copies of the line and place them under the first.

A small piece of the last line goes over the edge of the oval’s stroke, so delete it by using the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) as we did before with the scarf.

Making of cacao in the cup

Step 3

Copy the blue oval, paste in the same place, and recolor it in dark brown (#2f2920). Select the upper line and the dark brown oval and then delete the unnecessary upper part of the oval by using the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M).

Make the handle of the mug from a 45 x 45 px light grey circle with 10 pt Stroke and no Fill.

Place the mug into the hands of the girl.

Adding of the cup to the character

Step 4

And hair!

Make bangs from three 45 x 45 px dark brown circles. Then, form hair from a bunch of 55 x 55 px dark brown circles on the left side. Use Alt-Drag to make copies of circles quickly. 

Make a shape inside the circles to fill the hole. Unite all the parts by using the Pathfinder panel.

Creating of the hair

Step 5

Copy the hair shape, make the copied one smaller, and set 1 pt light brown Stroke and make no Fill. You may quickly copy these stroke settings from the cup’s light brown lines by using the Eyedropper Tool (I). Place two of these shapes on the hair to give it a more interesting and ornate look. 

Copy the hair and Reflect it Vertically.

Reflecting of the hair shape

6. How to Insert the Character on the Background

Step 1

Select all the parts of our character and place them on the big navy blue circle.

Then, select only the body of the girl and the big circle. Delete the unnecessary part of the body by using the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M).

Placing of the character to the background

Step 2

Make a simple shiny star from a 10 x 10 px yellow circle and a 30 x 30 px bright yellow (#ffde1a) circle with 10% Opacity. Group (Command-G) them and spread them around the girl. All the stars should be on one layer.

Making of shiny stars

Step 3

Finally, we’re going to make a Clipping Mask

Create a copy of the big navy blue circle and paste it in the same place. Select the layer with the stars and the copied circle. Right-click and choose Make Clipping Mask.

We’re done!

Hiding of the stars under a clipping mask

What a Warm, Cozy Mood!

We all did a good job. So I hope that it was as funny and joyful a process for you as it was for me.

Share your results in the comments. I’m always happy to see them. And feel free to experiment with colors and details.

Flat Winter Girl Character finall result

Art Therapy: Paint What You Feel

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Do you remember how it felt to paint something as a child? It was a very messy activity, but it was such fun to get creative with all those colors! Well, at least until you started to expect something from your art, for example to picture an object realistically and to get your teacher’s approval. The process of painting then became less important than the end result.

Today, you may feel paralyzed just thinking of taking a brush again. It’s so hard to paint something, and you don’t want to make a fool of yourself! But the truth is, it’s very easy to paint. Children do it, don’t they? Children don’t think about the future so much, and they don’t make plans—they just enjoy the moment. This lets them paint without any anxiety and fear of judgment, and this is something you can learn from them!

But what can you paint without analyzing and planning? The answer is: your emotions. It’s not only relaxing, but it’s also healthy to acknowledge what you feel and allow yourself to feel it without judgment. The best thing about it is that you can’t do it wrong. Nobody can tell you what such a painting is supposed to look like—only you. Keep reading if you want to learn how to start!

This tutorial is part of the Art Therapy series. It teaches you how to
use art for relaxation and fun, without putting too much pressure on

What You Will Need

For painting:

  • A set of paints—you can use anything you can get, but the best, in my opinion, are acrylics. You can usually get a set of 12 tubes in a stationery shop quite cheaply, as it’s considered a beginner’s set. They blend nicely, dry fast, and can be applied thickly on the paper. Watercolors can be more easily available, but they’re not so easy to play with.
  • A few brushes—at least a big, wide one, and a smaller one. The big ones are really expressive, so they’re perfect for this exercise.
  • Two sheets of thick paper—you don’t need to buy special, expensive paper for painters if you don’t want to. An art pad with thicker sheets should do just fine, though if you want to keep the painting afterwards, you may need to put it inside a clip frame to straighten it.
  • A glass of water—water makes the acrylics smoother, and you’ll also want to clean your brush every time you switch to another color. Just make sure to keep it away from the glass you drink from!
  • Paper towels—to clean your brush after taking it out of the water, as well as for emergency cleaning.
basic painting supplies

For the tutorial:

  • A pencil
  • A drawing compass
  • A ruler
drawing supplies

Before you start creating, make sure your workspace is not prone to staining. Place some spare sheets of paper under your “canvas” to have full freedom of painting—you won’t have to slow down close to the edges. Children don’t care about these things so much, but it may be hard for you to fully enjoy the activity if you’re worrying about making a mess!

Colors and Emotions

Although emotions are not visual and they don’t have any colors, we can associate certain colors with certain feelings. Some become linked by our experience, while others may be programmed in our mind before we’re even born. Synesthetes also find it very natural to describe feelings as colors.

I’ll show you a popular description of the meaning behind the colors, but keep in mind that various cultures assign different meanings to colors, so it’s not really a universal description—just a popular one. You can use this list to confront your own notions about colors and feelings, which can be especially useful if you’ve never done that before.


It’s the color of mystery, but it also symbolizes all the darkest feelings: grief, despair, sorrow. Just as black can’t get any darker, these feelings can’t get any deeper. Black covers everything just as these dark feelings can stop you from feeling anything else. Black can also be used to hide what you really feel—emotions you’re ashamed of or the ones you don’t want to acknowledge. It’s the color of domination and isolation.

the meaning of black


It’s the color of neutrality, dullness, but also apathy, numbness. Grey is more neutral than white, because it’s neither dark nor bright. It can symbolize indecisiveness, the fear of choosing a side, of appearing too bold or even of being visible at all. It can be a symbol of depression, of all the colors-emotions reduced to similar shades of grey—a state not as dark as the sorrow of black, but a constant tiredness of not feeling anything at all. On the other hand, grey can symbolize stability and rationality, especially when put next to vibrant colors.

the meaning of grey


It’s the color of energy, passion, ambition, but also desire and love. It symbolizes fierce feelings that come quickly and overwhelm you with their power, guiding you towards a certain goal that becomes more important than everything else. Red is about feeling “with all your heart”, be it love or anger. It also symbolizes sexual attraction and danger.

the meaning of red


It’s like a more rational, calmer type of red. It symbolizes joy and optimism; it can be about motivation, but without the blinding effect of red. It’s about cooperation, social activities, the power of working together, and also extrovert energy. Orange can also symbolize instinct and reckless acting.

the meaning of orange


Brown is really nothing else than dark, desaturated
orange, but because it’s the color of ever-present dirt, humans tend to treat it as
one of the main colors. Brown, like the ground, symbolizes stability,
permanence, reliability, and conservatism, but also dirtiness and foulness.

the meaning of brown


It can be considered a default color. It symbolizes spiritual purity, light, perfection, innocence. A white sheet of paper is perfect before you put anything on it; it’s good and complete on its own. Therefore, white is all about feeling confident and calm, without any stress to be something else. Every color can get neutralized by adding white to it, making their feelings calmer and less overwhelming. White is the color of enlightenment and spiritual awakening; a symbol of perfect contentment and balance between all the other colors (which create white when put together).

the meaning of white


It’s the color of joy, enthusiasm, happiness, and general cheerfulness. Yellow is the brightest of hues, and as such it symbolizes the optimism that brightens everything put next to it. On the other hand, yellow can also symbolize stubbornness and cowardice.

the meaning of yellow


It’s the color of hope, youthfulness, spirit, and also balance, calm, and safety. Green is the color of natural growth, of doing the things the right way, of harmony and peace. It’s the symbol of life and being alive in general. It also have negative connotations like jealousy, spite, and maliciousness.

the meaning of green


It’s the color of rationalism, wisdom, loyalty, and stability. It symbolizes calm, faith, and trust. It can be associated with conservatism, dutifulness, and introversion. It represents the mind rather than emotions; following logic rather than the gut. But it’s also associated with sadness, “feeling blue”, melancholy.

the meaning of blue


It’s the color of magic, mystery, of the extraordinary. It can symbolize creativity, independence, going against the flow, spirituality, imagination, but also pride, immaturity, narcissism.

the meaning of purple


It’s the color of recklessness, lightheartedness, of being silly and immature, but also of kindness, caring, gentleness, romantic love, and femininity. It symbolizes delicate, “quiet” feelings, as well as being detached from reality.

the meaning of pink

How to Create Your Emotional Color Palette

What colors do your emotions have? Let’s find out! There are so many emotions that it may be hard to tackle them all, so we’re going to use a simplified model—Robert Plutchik‘s wheel of emotions.

This exercise helps understand the emotions you may not even be aware of, and get a better insight into your inner state.

Step 1

Take one sheet of your thick paper. Place your drawing compass in the middle and draw a circle.

draw a ciorcle with compass

Step 2

Put the compass on the circle and mark the same distance outside of it. Then put the compass in the center again and draw a bigger circle through the mark (if you do it properly, it will be twice as big, but it’s not really necessary to do it so precisely).

draw a bigger circle

Step 3

Repeat the previous steps to create one more circle.

three concentric circles

Step 4

Take the ruler and pencil, and draw a line across the smallest circle. Sketch it lightly—it’s just a guide line!

draw line across circle

Step 5

Draw another line, perpendicular to the other.

draw a perpencidular line

Step 6

Draw two more lines to divide each quarter into halves.

divide quarters into halves

Step 7

These were guide lines for the lines we actually need. Draw them now by cutting each triangle in half. These are the final lines, so you can press harder.

draw final lines
draw eight parts of cricle

Step 8

Connect each end of the triangle with the outer circle using the ruler.

cross the circle
draw more sections

Step 9

Time to put the emotions in there! In Plutchik’s model, the center is taken by the most intense emotions, and they get gradually weaker towards the biggest circle. Fill the center with:

  • Rage
  • Loathing
  • Grief
  • Amazement
  • Terror
  • Admiration
  • Ecstasy
  • Vigilance

The order is important!

basic intense emotions

Step 10

Now add the secondary emotions:

  • Rage → anger → annoyance
  • Loathing → disgust → boredom
  • Grief → sadness → pensiveness
  • Amazement → surprise → distraction
  • Terror → fear → apprehension
  • Admiration → trust → acceptance
  • Ecstasy → joy → serenity
  • Vigilance → anticipation → interest

There are also tertiary emotions, combined from the two others:

  • Annoyance + interest = aggressiveness
  • Interest + serenity = optimism
  • Serenity + acceptance = love
  • Acceptance + apprehension = submission
  • Apprehension + distraction = awe
  • Distraction + pensiveness = disapproval
  • Pensiveness + boredom = remorse
  • Boredom + annoyance = contempt

Notice that in this model the antagonistic emotions are placed opposite to each other—for example, joy-sadness, anger-fear, etc.

wheel of emotions

Step 11

Time to color the emotions! take a look at the primary emotions in the center and try to feel what color they have to you. You’ll probably find some that you can get straight from the tube. Put them in their place.

colors of emotions

Step 12

Other emotions, especially the secondary ones, may need mixing to get the proper color. Fill the whole wheel, coloring each emotion as you see fit. Don’t worry if some get repeated, or if you need to guess others because you don’t feel the color clearly—it’s your wheel, and you can fill it any way you want!

color wheel of emotions

How to Paint Your Emotional Landscape

Now you know something about your emotions and the colors you assign to them. Time to start painting! Painting your emotions has many benefits:

  • You don’t need to feel pressure about being “good enough”, so you can fully relax.
  • You can better understand your emotional state at the moment.
  • You can change your mood by using the colors for emotions you want to feel (especially if you’re susceptible to suggestion).
  • You can experiment and have fun, with no expectations about the outcome.

Obviously, I can’t tell you exactly how to paint such a painting, but I can suggest a direction. See how I’ve created my own mood painting to understand what it’s about.

Step 1

I’ve started in the center with something optimistic and pleasant to my eyes. I didn’t paint anything specific—just a few strokes that felt nice under my brush, to better understand how it works and what to expect from various movements.

how to start an abstract painting

Step 2

I’ve added another patch of color, this time playing with the shape of the strokes. Their direction and thickness can be just as expressive as the color itself. Keep in mind you can adjust the level of blending by controlling the wetness of the brush.

You don’t need to stick to the colors you’ve placed on the wheel. You can use it as a palette, but after that exercise you should simply feel what colors are pleasant to you, and which have negative connotations you’d prefer to avoid.

how rto add colors to abstract painting
abstract colors strokes

Step 3

I’ve added a huge blob of yellow, painting “waves” and covering the previous elements with it. Because why not? Nothing can stop me!

thick strokes abstract painting

Step 4

You can get very expressive by adding the paint directly to the “canvas”. This will force you to use the whole amount, and you can create nice, strong strokes with it.

add paint directly to canvas

Don’t be afraid to paint over the edges—even if you limit yourself all the time, allow yourself to feel more open here and now.

paint outside of the edges

Step 5

You can blend various patches of colors with a wet brush.

acrylics blending

Step 6

Using two colors at once can give you fantastic results as well!

painting with two colors at once
pretty strokes with two colors

Step 7

You can paint on a previous patch of color. The effects will be different depending on the wetness of the surface—play with it to see for yourself!

painting on wet paint

Step 8

There’s no happiness without sadness, so I decided to add a pinch of negative emotions to this landscape. It may look out of place first…

color composition balance

… but you can balance it with other colors. This reminds me that we can’t be happy and enthusiastic all the time—negative feelings are just the way our body says something’s wrong. Sadness is normal—it’s just a part of ourselves, not an enemy to fight and get rid of. If you feel “black”, don’t be afraid to add it—instead, see how you can make it a natural part of the landscape.

how to balance warm and cold colors

Step 9

Fill the whole scene this way, playing with colors, the shapes of the strokes, and the amount of paint.

fill the whole painting

Step 10

A smaller brush will let you add interesting accents here and there.

add accents with small brush


Just looking at my mood painting makes me feel good and relaxed, and the thick strokes are so nice to touch. I hope you achieved the same pleasant effect with my guidance! If you want to try other relaxing art activities, don’t forget to check the other parts of the series:

You can also enjoy simple tutorials created for people with little or no experience at drawing:

how to paint abstract painting emotions