Archives for February 2019

Color Palettes for Web, Digital, Blog & Graphic Design with Hexadecimal Codes

Digital Color Palettes

Looking for some color ideas for your next design? Click the links below to jump to specific color palettes, or keep scrolling down the page to see them all.

Get inspired by these hexadecimal color palettes. Perfect for all projects from websites and blogs to digital and print graphic design. Discover color combinations for every season, vibe, and mood to make your next project POP.

Pin to your Pinterest board for easy access later!

How To Use Hex Codes

  • When designing, type the hex code of the color into your color palette to select the custom color.
  • These codes can be used in most editing programs, such as Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, and Adobe programs like Photoshop or Illustrator.
  • The hex code starts with a hashtag followed by 6 characters such as #00A5E3

Scroll down to see them all.

Bright Color Palette for Graphic Web Print Design Wondernote
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Spring Color Palette for Graphic Web Print Design Wondernote
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Summer Color Palette for Graphic Web Print Design Wondernote
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Pastel Color Palette for Graphic Web Print Design Wondernote
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Winter Color Palette for Graphic Web Print Design Wondernote
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Gemstone Color Palette for Graphic Web Print Design Wondernote
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Autumn Color Palette for Graphic Web Print Design Wondernote
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Ready to put these color palettes to use designing your own graphics?

Check Out These Tutorials:

 

 

How to Create Chevron in Illustrator

How to Make Chevron in Illustrator 5 Simple Quick Easy Steps with Video Tutorial

In today’s tutorial, I’ll be showing you 5 easy steps to make a chevron pattern in Adobe Illustrator.

You can watch the full video below, or scroll down for written directions.

You don’t need the pen tool to create chevron in Illustrator, and this is good news, my friends! Why?  Because it is notoriously difficult to get things perfectly straight, equidistant, and symmetrical with the pen tool. In fact, the pen tool is known to induce headaches. Seriously.

So how will we make perfect chevron without it?

To create a chevron pattern, we’ll use a combination of the Line Segment Tool, the Zig Zag Effect, and the Blend Tool.

For this tutorial I’m using Illustrator Creative Cloud (which is a fancy way of saying that I’m using a cloud-based Illustrator with all the latest & greatest features), but creating chevron is a simple process that you can do in any version of Illustrator. Depending on which version you’re using, it may take you a few additional steps. Also remember that certain tools or features might be located in slightly different places.

How to Create Chevron Pattern in Illustrator

How to Create Chevron in Illustrator Step #1: Draw out two straight lines

In the toolbar, choose the Line Segment Tool. Hold down the Shift key while you drag out a line to keep it perfectly straight/level.

How to Make Chevron in Illustrator Step 1 drag out a straight line

After you have your line, make sure it’s selected and hold down Shift + Alt (Option) to drag out an identical line. Drag it to the bottom of your artboard. Now you have one at the top and one below. Next we’ll make them zig-zags.

How to Make Chevron in Illustrator Step 2 Drag an identical line to the bottom of your art board

How to Create Chevron in Illustrator Step #2: Create the zig zag shape

With both lines selected, from the top menu bar, choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. Make sure Preview is checked so you can see how the settings are affecting your lines.

How to Make Chevron in Illustrator Step 3 Choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag” class=”wp-image-1255″/></figure>



<figure class=How to Make Chevron in Illustrator Step 4 adjust the size and ridges per segment to create zig zag lines
  • Size affects the height of the line.
  • Ridges per Segment will give us more or fewer zig-zags.
  • Make sure Corner is selected; otherwise you’ll have wavy lines.

Play around with the settings until you like what you see, then click OK.

At this stage, if you want the lines to be heavier or thinner, you can adjust the stroke up or down until you reach the desired thickness.

How to Create Chevron in Illustrator Step #3: Create the chevron pattern

Now we’re going to fill up the space between our top and bottom line with more zig-zags to create the chevron pattern. This is simple to do using the Blend Tool.

In the top menu bar, choose Object > Blend > Blend Options.

Edit your blend options. Object > Blend > Blend Options to fill in the chevron pattern.” class=”wp-image-1257″/></figure>



<figure class=Adjust your blend options.

In the Blend Options Menu, choose Specified Steps from the Spacing drop-down menu, and for Orientation: Align to Page.

The number you put into the box will be how many chevrons appear between the top and bottom line. For my chevron pattern, I entered 20, but don’t worry. You can always go back and edit this later.

Press OK. Don’t worry— your pattern will not appear yet. To fill in the pattern, go again to Object > Blend > Make

Choose Object > Blend > Make to create the chevron pattern” class=”wp-image-1259″/></figure>



<figure class=Once the chevron pattern has generated you can easily make adjustments

How to Create Chevron in Illustrator Step #4: Adjust the Chevron pattern

Now you can use your Direct Selection Tool to fine-tune your chevron pattern. To change the distance between each line, click on the bottom line and hold the Shift key (to keep it straight) while you drag up and down until it looks exactly how you want it. Add to or subtract from the number of chevrons by returning to Blend Options and adjusting the number you typed in the field in Step #3.

Use your direct selection tool in illustrator to drag the bottom line up and down, and notice how the space between the lines changes.

How to Create Chevron in Illustrator Step #5: Change Colors & Make Final Adjustments

Make final adjustments by changing the color of your Chevron or changing the stroke to make the lines thicker or thinner. Any changes you make will apply the same effect to all chevrons in the pattern.

You can adjust the stroke or change the number of chevrons in your pattern. any change you make will affect the whole pattern

That’s it!

If you enjoyed this tutorial, be sure to follow my Wondernote Youtube Channel, where I create graphic design tutorials using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop & more.

Check out more of my Tutorials:

How to Create Zig-Zag Lines in Illustrator

3 simple steps to create zig zag chevron lines in adobe illustrator tutorial screenshots video fast

In today’s tutorial, I’ll be showing you how to make zig zag lines (also called Chevron) in Adobe Illustrator using 3 simple steps. It’s super quick.

You can watch the full video below, or scroll down for written directions with screenshots.

It’s easy to create zig zag lines in Illustrator, and there’s no pen tool required. Have you ever tried using the pen tool to create something symmetrical in Illustrator? Beyond, say, a straight line? Bravo to you if you have! Personally, I find it to be a total pain in the you-know-what.

To achieve a perfect, symmetrical zig zag line, we’ll be using a combination of the Line Segment Tool and the powerful Zig Zag Effect in the Distort & Transform menu bar. So simple, fast, & easy!

I’m going to be using Illustrator Creative Cloud for this tutorial (which is a fancy way of saying that I’m using a cloud-based Illustrator with all the latest & greatest features), but creating zig zag lines is a basic process that can be duplicated in older versions of Illustrator. Keep in mind that depending on which version you’re using, it may require a few additional steps. Some of the tools, toolbars, or various features might be located in a different place, so don’t give up before you have a look around.

How to Create Zig Zag Lines in Illustrator

How to Create Zig Zag Line in Illustrator Step #1: Draw A Straight Line

Choose the Line Segment Tool from your toolbar and drag out a line while holding down the Shift key. Holding shift keeps the line perfectly straight/level.

3 simple steps to create zig zag line in illustrator step 1 draw out a line with the line segment tool easy tutorial

How to Create Zig Zag Line in Illustrator Step #2: Create Peaks

From the top menu bar, select Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. Check Preview so that you can see the changes in real-time and get the effect you want.

3 simple steps to create zig zag line in illustrator step 2 choose effect distort and transform zig zag easy tutorial
  • Size affects the height of the line.
  • Ridges per Segment will give us more or fewer peaks.
  • For sharp zig zags, ensure that Corner is selected. Otherwise, if you select smooth, you’ll have wavy lines (like ric rac).
3 simple steps to create zig zag line in illustrator step 3 adjust the size and ridges per segment with the corner option selected tool easy tutorial

When you’re happy with the result, click OK.

How to Create Zig Zag Line in Illustrator Step #3: Adjust the Zig Zag

Using the Selection Tool (keyboard shortcut: V), click on your line. In the top bar, you can adjust the stroke up or down to achieve your desired thickness.

Finished Zig Zag Line in Illustrator | Wondernote

From here, you can adjust the color, or you can select the Zig Zag effect from your Appearance Menu  (if you don’t see the appearance menu, go to the top bar > Window > Appearance. Make your zig zag line taller, shorter, or increase the number of peaks and valleys.

That’s it!

If you enjoyed this tutorial, be sure to follow my Wondernote Youtube Channel, where I create graphic design tutorials using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop & more.

Check out more of my Tutorials:

How to Create Ric-Rac in Illustrator

make rice rac wavy lines in adobe illustrator in 5 easy steps tutorial with written instructions photos and video In today’s tutorial, I’ll be showing you how to make ric rac, or wavy lines, in 5 easy steps using Adobe Illustrator.

You can watch the full video below, or scroll down for written directions.

The good news is creating wavy lines in Illustrator doesn’t require the pen tool at all. If you’ve ever tried to use the pen tool to create perfectly symmetrical wavy lines, you probably couldn’t achieve it. And if you did, you probably ripped out most of your hair along the way.

To achieve wavy ric rac lines, we’ll be using a combination of the Line Segment Tool and the powerful Zig Zag Effect in the Distort & Transform menu bar.

In this tutorial, I’m using Illustrator Creative Cloud (which is a fancy way of saying that I’m using a cloud-based Illustrator with all the latest & greatest features), but creating wavy lines is a basic process that you can easily recreate in older versions of Illustrator. Keep in mind that depending on which version you’re using, it may require a few additional steps. Certain tools or features might be located in slightly different places as well.

How to Create Ric Rac (Wavy Lines) in Illustrator

How to Create Ric Rac in Illustrator Step #1: Draw out a straight line

In the toolbar, choose the Line Segment Tool. Hold down the Shift key while you drag out a line. Holding shift keeps it perfectly level.

Make Ric Rac in Adobe Illustrator in 5 easy steps by using the line segment tool
Make Ric Rac in Adobe Illustrator in 5 easy steps draw out a line with the line segment tool

How to Create Ric Rac in Illustrator Step #2: Create Waves

In the top menu bar, choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. Make sure Preview is checked so you can adjust the waves to your liking.

Make Ric Rac in Adobe Illustrator in 5 easy steps effect distort & transform zig zag
  • Size affects the height of the line.
  • Ridges per Segment will give us more or fewer waves.
  • To round the waves, select Smooth (rather than Corner).

Play around with the settings until you like what you see, then click Ok.

Make Ric Rac in Adobe Illustrator in 5 easy steps by adjust the size and ridges per segment

 

How to Create Ric Rac in Illustrator Step #3: Adjust the Thickness of the Ric Rac

Using the Selection Tool (keyboard shortcut: V), you can adjust the stroke up or down until you reach the desired thickness.

Make Ric Rac in Adobe Illustrator in 5 easy steps by  choosing rounded versus corner to make waves

How to Create Ric Rac in Illustrator Step #4: Drag out More Ric Rac

If you want more than one wavy line, with the Selection Tool, click the line while holding Shift + Alt (Option).

If you want to create more lines that are the same distance apart, a quick shortcut is to press Command (Control) + D

Make Ric Rac in Adobe Illustrator in 5 easy steps by holding down command or control and D you can drag out even more lines an equal distance apart

How to Create Ric Rac in Illustrator Step #5: Change Colors & Make Final Adjustments

Select each line individually to change the color according to your liking.

With the line (or lines) selected, you can also return to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag to make adjustments to the number of ridges or the height of your ric rac.

Make Ric Rac in Adobe Illustrator in 5 easy steps you can change the color of each line individually

That’s it!

make ric rac wavy lines in adobe illustrator in five simple steps video tutorial and written directions with pictures

If you enjoyed this tutorial, be sure to follow my Wondernote Youtube Channel, where I create graphic design tutorials using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop & more.

Be sure to check out more of my Illustrator & Photoshop Tutorials:

How to Create a Heart in Illustrator

make a perfect heart in illustrator in 5 easy stepsIn this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to make a perfect heart in Adobe Illustrator in 5 easy steps.

You can watch the full video below, or scroll down for written directions.

The best part of this how-to is we won’t be using the pen tool at all! And trust me, that’s good news, folks. Because I don’t know about you — but in my past I tried countless times to make a perfect heart using the pen tool. It isn’t impossible, but it nearly is. And by the time you achieve it, you’ll have a few more gray hairs on your head than when you started.

To achieve a perfect heart, we’ll be using a combination of the Rectangle Tool and the powerful Pathfinder Tool.

In this tutorial, I’m using Illustrator Creative Cloud (which is a fancy way of saying that I’m using a cloud-based Illustrator with all the latest & greatest features), but creating shapes like this one is a basic process that you can recreate easily in older versions of Illustrator. Keep in mind that depending on which version you’re using, it may require a few additional steps. Certain tools or features might be located in slightly different places as well.

How to Create a Perfect Heart in Adobe Illustrator

Make a Heart in Illustrator Step #1: Draw out a rounded rectangle.

In your toolbar, click and hold down on the little corner of your rectangle tool to select the rounded rectangle tool and draw out a shape that is longer/wider than it is tall.

Make a Heart: Draw out a Rounded Rectangle in Illustrator

 

Make a Heart in Adobe Illustrator Step #2: Round out the Corners of your rectangle.

With your shape still selected, In the top toolbar, bump the corner radius all the way up until your corners are as round as they can be.

Make a Heart: Adjust the Corner Radius of the Rectangle in Illustrator

Make a Heart in Adobe Illustrator Step #3: Rotate your shape 45 degrees.

Press “V” on your keyboard as a shortcut, or click on the Selection Tool in your tool bar.

Click on your shape and hold down Shift as you drag down with the mouse to rotate the shape 45 degrees. You can rotate it more or less depending on your preferences.

Make a Heart: Rotate the Shape 45 degrees in Illustrator

 

Make a Heart in Adobe Illustrator Step #4: Rotate & Copy The Shape, adjust depth of the “V”

In the top menu bar, choose Object > Transform > Reflect. Make sure that Vertical is selected and click Copy.

Make a Heart: Transform and Copy the Shape in Illustrator

You can probably  see the heart shape already. Depending on how shallow or deep you want that dip or “V” for your heart, you can hold shift (which will keep everything at the same height) and drag the shapes closer together or further apart, like so:

Make a Heart: Adjust the Placement of overlapping V in Illustrator

 

Make a Heart in Adobe Illustrator Step #5: Divide & Unite with the Pathfinder Tool to Shape our Heart.

If you don’t see your Pathfinder Toolbar on the screen, in the top menu bar,  choose Window > Pathfinder. The pathfinder tool will appear.

Make a Heart: Select the Pathfinder Tool in Illustrator

Using your Selection Tool (keyboard shortcut: V), click down & drag your mouse over both shapes to select them.

First, from your Pathfinder tool, choose Divide. This literally divides our overlapping shapes into 5 separate pieces.

Make a Heart: Divide with the Pathfinder Tool in Illustrator

Using the Direct Selection Tool (keyboard shortcut: A), delete the two bottom pieces you don’t want, like so:

Make a Heart: Delete Extra Pieces from Heart Shape in Illustrator

Select the three remaining shapes. In the pathfinder tool, choose Unite.

Make a Heart: Unite the 3 Remaining Shapes into a Heart with the Pathfinder Tool in Illustrator

Voila! You have a perfect heart every time.

Make a Heart in Illustrator: Change the Color of the Heart

 

If you enjoyed this tutorial, be sure to follow my Wondernote Youtube Channel, where I create graphic design tutorials using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop & more.

Be sure to check out more of my Illustrator & Photoshop Tutorials:

How Much Does it Really Cost to Start a Blog?

money falling into a piggy bank - the real cost to start a blogSo you’re ready to start a blog?

You have a topic in mind, and you’re ready to share your passions, your knowledge, or your product with the world wide web.

Blogs are a great way to make your voice heard. To demonstrate your expertise. To build a community of followers with similar interests. Blogs can also be a great side-hustle (read: a source of extra income).

In this article, I’m going to detail what it really costs to get your blog up and running. First things first, a disclaimer: this post is written on the presumption that you already have access to a computer (or phone or tablet, at the least) and a reliable internet connection. I haven’t included these two expenses in the total cost, because they are implied. It goes without saying, but you can’t have a blog without them.

Now, you may be thinking.. costs? I thought starting a blog was free. Well, you’re not wrong. You can technically set up a blog for completely free on platforms such as Blogger, Weebly, Wix, or WordPress.com, for example. But, you probably also know that free platforms are extremely limited.

Still, it may be worth exploring a free option before making the leap into a self-hosted blog. You’ll be able to gauge how committed you are before making any financial investments.

However, if you want blog autonomy (and you do), and you’re serious about making money from your blog, you’re going to have to shell out some cash.

 

Cost to Start a Blog #1: DOMAIN NAME

 

At the very least — even if you’re hosting on a free platform, you’ll want to purchase a custom domain name/URL to distinguish your blog. No one has operated under www.myblogname.blogspot.com since 2008. Harsh, I know. But true. A custom name that matches the name of your social media profiles is best, and it’s the easiest way for readers to search and find you online.

The actual cost for your domain name will vary, and if your first choice isn’t available– you may have to compromise by choosing a different name altogether, or a different domain ending such as .org or .net. As long as your name isn’t highly competitive, a domain name is relatively inexpensive. Think $10-20 per year.

But word to the wise: if you already know that you won’t be using a free blogging platform, and you’ll be self-hosting instead, many companies offer a free domain name when you sign up for a hosting plan.

Domain Name Cost: ~$15.00

 

Cost to Start a Blog #2: HOSTING

Case in point: companies like Bluehost, GoDaddy, Siteground, and Google all offer one FREE Domain name when you sign up for hosting. What is a hosting site? It’s basically where your domain name/URL & all it’s content is parked online. And you have to pay for parking.

Most of the blogs you read are self-hosted. Self hosting has an advantage over free platforms- it gives you complete creative freedom over your blog– specifically the appearance, functions & the way you choose to display ads.

Most bloggers then choose to then install WordPress.org platform (this is different from the free WordPress.com blogs) on their website. This process requires some technical skill, but there are many tutorials online about how to do this. Squarespace is another popular blogging platform, but WordPress has a long-standing reputation with bloggers, and there are hundreds of thousands of articles and plugins that allow you to optimize your blog according to your taste. I consider WordPress.org the blogger standard.

Hosting costs- as with all things- depend on a number of factors such as how many websites you are hosting, how much storage space and speed you require, etc.

Most hosts offer the new sign-up price of $3.95/mo. You’ll have to pay for a full year at once, and this allows you to host exactly one website. After your first year, the price increases to the $12/mo range. However, a great bonus is that most hosting sites now include SSL (security certificate for your site) FREE! SSL is important because it gives you that little https:// prefix, which tells users that your site is safe. It should be noted that SSL can be an added cost if you need advanced security measures or have multiple domains.

Hosting Cost: ~$47.40

Bonus: SSL Certificate Free!

If we’re being technical, you can stop right here. You can start a blog for free, or for the price of your domain, or for about $60 you can get your custom domain name/URL and hosting. If you’re using WordPress.org, you can select from a variety of free blog templates. But if you want a blog that looks really good, that you’re proud of, then you’ll probably want to spend some extra money for a website design that really represents you/your brand.

 

Cost to Start a Blog #3: Blog Design (Optional)

Site designs can be as inexpensive as $10 for a premade template all the way into the $1,000s for a completely custom design. I recommend shopping on Etsy for premade templates, like these by 17th Avenue Designs. These premade templates are completely customizable, meaning you can change the colors, logos, photos, etc. Installing a WordPress template requires some technical skills, and full transparency: it can be a total headache.

Luckily, you can have the template installed for you, but— you guessed it. That’ll cost extra.

Premade WordPress Template Cost: $59.00

Template Installation Cost: $39.00-79.00

 

Cost to Start a Blog #4: Learning & Education (Optional)

Now that you have a pretty site, and maybe you’ve even made a few posts, I’ll bet you’re wondering when the money will come pouring in.

Monetizing your blog isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. It is possible, but it requires discipline and hard work. To learn how, you basically have two options:

  1. Spend hours upon hours of your life Googling how to make money from your blog, piece together advice from a billion sources, and then implement some trial & error tactics until one catches.
  2. Buy a course from someone else who will teach you step-by-step how to monetize your blog.

Not all courses are created equal, and there are tons of them out there. A decent course will start around $300, but there are much more expensive courses, too. Choose wisely. It’s worth it to invest in your blog if you want to start making money, but no matter what anyone promises you — no course will turn you into an overnight success. There will be a lot of elbow grease required, and you’ll only get out what you put in. More than likely, you’ll be working harder than you have in your life.

Educational Blog Course: $300+

 

Cost to Start a Blog #5: Marketing (Optional)

Marketing your blog could mean using paid advertisements or email blasts: basically, any service or tactic you’ll utilize for growth. You don’t have to use paid ads to grow your blog, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone on the internet who doesn’t emphasize the importance of an email list.

Why is an email list important?

Because you OWN your email list, and it isn’t subject to the whims of Facebook or Instagram or Google’s algorithms. You can start an email list for FREE with platforms like MailChimp or Constant Contact, but as your list grows, you’ll eventually have to pay to level-up and keep sending.

Email List (Based on Mailchimp’s Pricing): FREE (Up to 2,000 Subscribers + 12,000 Emails/mo

Mailchimp’s Grow Plan: $120/yr+

 

So what does it really cost to start a self-hosted, decent looking blog with the ability to profit?

Grand Total: $541.40

While $500+ may seem like a large number (especially compared to free), in comparison to the cost of starting a real brick & mortar shop or a restaurant, the start-up fees and monthly overhead of a blog is extremely small. If all you have to lose is your time and $500, there’s barely any risk involved! So the real question is: is it worth it to you?

Not sure what to blog about?

Read my Best Tips for Choosing a Blog Topic and Download my FREE Worksheet: Find Your Niche.

Want to learn Graphic Design using Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop? Check out my Tutorials:

 

 

5 Tips for Better Blog Photos

how to take better blog photos Do you want light, bright & airy photos? Have you been drooling over perfectly curated Instagram feeds? Wondering how you can have a photo feed that others envy? Think beautiful portraits with sharp focus and delicate blurred bokeh backgrounds. Here’s the good news: it’s possible. And you don’t need any fancy equipment. That’s right. You don’t need an expensive DSLR to get quality photos that will set your Blog, Instagram, Facebook, or Website apart. You don’t even need pricey editing software like Photoshop or Lightroom. You can achieve the images you’ve been dreaming of all with your Smart Phone.

 

Here are 5 Tips For Taking Better Photos with your Phone:

 

Take Better Photos Tip #1 – Use Natural Light

In my High School Photography Class, we made pinhole cameras using nothing more than cardboard, tape, and light sensitive paper. It involved no technical gadgets, no electric or mechanical functions. One trip to the darkroom and a dip in developer later, and I was holding a real 5×7 printed image in my hands. The lesson learned was that photography is all about light. In order to take great quality photos, you need good lighting. And the best light is natural light, which includes the full range of the color spectrum. Artificial light, on the other hand, is made to illuminate darkness. And it does have a place in photography –but it’s a whole ‘nother ball game. Leave it to the professionals.  

tip for better blog photos use natural white light not artificial yellow light  

Take Better Photos Tip #2 – Use Diffused Light

Believe it or not, there is a best time of day to take photos, especially when shooting outdoors. I’ll bet you’ve heard of Golden Hour, the time of day when the sun is low in the sky. Golden Hour occurs both at sunrise and sunset, and used well, it makes for some very ethereal shots. But guess what? Contrary to popular belief, Golden Hour is not the ideal time of day for a photoshoot. Instead, aim to shoot your photos a couple hours after sunrise or a couple hours before sunset. The sun is higher in the sky and the light is more diffused. This means the lighting is more evenly dispersed as opposed to midday when the sunlight directly overhead is too harsh (think blinding brightness and unflattering shadows on your subject). If you do have to shoot in the middle of the day, opt for a shady spot with even light.  

Tips for better blog photos - Direct harsh overhead light versus diffused lighting

Take Better Photos Tip #3 – Choose Solid, Neutral Backgrounds

Imagine you’re faced with the impossible task of taking your best friend’s photo at your town’s dump. Would you pose her in front of A) the giant trash heap or B) the blue garbage truck? If you chose neither, I don’t blame you! But for the sake of a better photo, I hope you choose Option B: the blue garbage truck. Imagine if your friend had to compete with the pile of junk behind her. As beautiful as she is, you might lose her amidst the rainbow of rotting garbage. That background is too busy. Avoid busy backgrounds. In contrast, your friend will pop against the solid blue background of the garbage truck because there isn’t anything to compete with.  

tips for better blog photos: Busy cluttered background versus simple plain solid background

Take Better Photos Tip #4 – Always shoot so the horizon line is level

Leave the angles for Myspace. A tilted camera does not an interesting photo make. If you think looking down on your subject is more flattering, think again. We all want to look our best in photos, and yes–angling the camera down does makes us look somewhat thinner. But it also makes us look like we have a deformed alien head. It’s forced. Unnatural. And so obvious what we’re trying to do. Always hold the camera (or phone) level. Have your subject turn their head slightly to the left or right and tilt their chin down just a tad. It will look much more natural and produce a more slimming effect than facing the camera head on. And understanding how to photograph people’s “best sides” without tilting the camera will have them clamoring to have their photo taken by you.  

tips for better blog photos: shoot with the horizon line level straight and head on versus crooked or angled down

Take Better Photos Tip #5 – Master Photo Editing Apps

Photoshop is an awesome tool, but I find it more useful for creating graphics than for editing photos. It’s a powerful software, but it’s bulky. It requires a lot of effort to upload photos, process and save them, organize them, etc. Lucky for us, we live in the age of pocket smartphone computers. And the apps keep getting better. Have you used the VSCO App lately? It’s free (with paid upgrades), and I’d argue that VSCO paired with Facetune can do all you’d ever want to do to a photo in Photoshop anyway. Get good at adjusting Brightness and Contrast. Up the Clarity a bit. Color correct a blue-toned photo by upping the Warmth. Desaturate the colors and bring out the orange hues for a vintage vibe. If you want to get even more fancy with it, adding grain to photos is trending. And try cropping your photo according to the Rule of Thirds to make the composition more interesting. All of this can be done in seconds on your iPhone or Android. Play around with these effects until it’s second nature, then add a pre-made filter to really amp things up. In VSCO, you can copy and paste edits onto photos, resulting in consistent results every time.  

tips for better blog photos: master photo editing apps like vsco to edit your photos

 

Anyone with a standard smartphone is capable of shooting incredible images. As with most things, consistency is key in developing your skill-set. But by following these simple tips, your iPhone photos will start to improve immediately!

Tell me. What other apps do you love for editing photos besides VSCO? Want more blogging tips? Read my Best Tips for Choosing a Blog Topic and Download my FREE Worksheet: Find Your Niche.

 

 

Check out My Graphic Design Tutorials:

9 Signs You Should Take a Break from Social Media

signs you need a social media break
You’ve heard of the city that never sleeps, right?
New York City. The subway runs 24/7 all 365 days of the year. The lights don’t go out. At least not all at once. And while you can’t peruse the clothing racks of Bloomingdale’s past 9pm, you can shop their website at any time and on any day you please. That’s because much like New York City, the internet never sleeps. We awaken each morning to a slew of new images. New products. New launches. Grand Openings. An inbox full of new messages, and the list goes on. If there’s a social event happening, we know about it. Before we buy anything, we price shop online. The first thing we do at work each day is check our emails. In fact, we’re so connected to the internet that many claim we’ve forgotten how to live in reality. While we’re busy curating the perfect social media presence, we’re more anti-social than any generation before us. Ask yourself: is that really how you want to be remembered?  

Here are 9 signs it’s high time you took a social media break:

Sign #1 You should Take a Break from Social Media: You can’t quit comparing.

We all suffer when we play the comparison game. Comparison is the thief of joy, if you haven’t heard. Yet we do it so often we hardly recognize it in ourselves. Imagine this: you’ve been scrolling Instagram for the past half hour. When you put your phone down, you announce, “That’s it, diet starts tomorrow!” Only to pick it back up five minutes later and double tap a pint of edible cookie dough being consumed by none other than Kim Kardashian. How can she eat that and look like THAT, you wonder. Listen. No matter how hard we try, we weren’t all born with the hips to waist ratio of Kim Kardashian. Heck, are we even certain that Kim was? Celebrities have a lot of help. And the rest of us have a lot of help from Facetune. But if you’ve forgotten that 100% of what you see online has been modified. If you actually believe Instagram is reality, then it’s time to log out. Delete the app and feast your eyes on real bodies in 3D until you see social media for what it is: pretty but mostly fake.  

Sign #2 You should Take a Break from Social Media: You’re depressed.

I’m not so daft to say that social media is the sole cause of your depression. Depression is complex and is a result of many factors. However, is social media making your depression worse? Social media fools us into believing that we’re making real connections 24/7. We send memes to our friends, but we don’t see their eyes light up when they read it. We don’t hear their laughter. They reply with a boring “lol” or the crying-laughing emoji. In reality, we’re short on actual experiences with other humans and long on isolation. And this isolation coupled with pseudo-connections isn’t making us less depressed. It’s making us more depressed.  

Sign #3 You should Take a Break from Social Media: You can scroll for hours without noticing the time.

You know the phrase time is money? It means your time is valuable. It implores you not to waste this precious resource. If you haven’t peeled your eyes away from the screen even to turn on a light while the sun went down around you, you’re probably addicted to your phone. So ask yourself: are you spending more time on social media than you’re willing to admit to your closest friend? Do you feel a twinge of guilt when the Screen Time Report appears on your iPhone? Did you play along and tease your coworker whose daily average was 3 hours, yet failed to admit yours is 6.5 hours? McDonalds would’ve paid you $47 minimum for that! That’s 10 Starbucks frappuccinos you could’ve bought for you and 5 different friends while you swapped stories over coffee.  

Sign #4 You should Take a Break from Social Media: Your daily Screen Time average is greater than your time spent with actual humans (outside of work).

A Daily Screen Time Average of 5+ hours is only humorous until the tears set in. Because you suddenly feel all alone. Been there! And friend, you’ve been neglecting your friends and family. How to remedy this? Quit waiting around for an invite. Extend one instead, even if your mom is the only taker. She’ll appreciate it, promise.  

Sign #5 You should Take a Break from Social Media: You think everyone else has their sh!% together while you don’t.

Take a quick inventory of your social media friends. Besides that one chick from high school who airs all her dirty laundry for the world to see, who’s riding shotgun on the struggle bus? None of them, apparently. You’re driving this bus alone. But are you? Remember: social media really is a highlight reel. It isn’t real. So while Brenda from 3rd grade appears to be living the perfect suburban life with her Louis Vuitton Neverfull and 2.5 blonde children, know that her 2 year old smeared his poopy diaper all over the wall at nap time and her husband is between jobs right now. She just didn’t mention that in her caption.  

Sign #6 You should Take a Break from Social Media: You want to be someone else.

You want the life of an Instagram Influencer, and you’re willing to go into great debt trying. People are doing it, after all, and that means it’s possible. Maybe you’ll get there one day. But do you know the hard work that goes into becoming an online influencer in the first place? You’re focused on the end result only, not the part that actually involves posting up behind a computer screen for hours on end while you sort out website malfunctions, or banging your head against the keyboard because the algorithm has changed yet again, taking 4,000 of your monthly website views with it. Besides, will that work truly satisfy you? What if your true gift lies in working with the elderly? Or in sales? What if your greatest life is the mundane day-in day-out of raising your children and loving your husband? You’re valuable no matter what your career-or lock thereof. You’re unique. You have gifts and talents specific to YOU. Embrace them, Use them well. Because a life of leisure is not always what it appears to be, and even if it was something to aspire to – it still wouldn’t be as rewarding as the love of your family and friends.  

Sign #7 You should Take a Break from Social Media: You’re jealous.

You see everyone on Instagram with their Louis Vuitton Neverfull, and you want it, too. The problem is you can never afford it. Still, you’re so fixated on it that every thought in your head has become negative, and every word out of your mouth is negative, too. You can’t think of a single nice thing to say about Heather from your book club because she has the Neverfull in multiple colors and sizes, but you’re happy to spread the rumor about how she sold her soul to afford them. In fact, you’ve become downright toxic. You steal the joy from others, not wanting them to be happier than you. You hate everyone because they have what you want, and you hate yourself because you don’t have what they do. If social media is causing you to have these thought patterns, then it’s time to cut the cord. And count your blessings.  

Sign #8 You should Take a Break from Social Media: You feel burnt out on life.

How do you know when you’re burnt out on life?

  • You’re Exhausted
  • You’re Unmotivated
  • You can’t see the good in anything
  • You can’t concentrate
  • Your work performance is suffering
  • Conflict at home
  • Your physical health is declining
  • You don’t have boundaries with work
  • You’re generally dissatisfied

Add social media to that mix, and it’s only going to highlight your unhappiness and dissatisfaction even more.  

Sign #9 You should Take a Break from Social Media: You don’t have any hobbies anymore.

When was the last time you baked from scratch or rode your bike? If a date asked you what your hobbies are, do you even have an answer besides “scrolling Instagram and tagging my friends in memes, lol”? So date yourself! Ask yourself, What are my hobbies? If you don’t have any, it isn’t too late to get some. Just imagine how cool your date will think you are when you can answer, “I’ve been brewing my own craft beer. Want to try it?”   Have you ever had to take a break from social media? Leave me a comment or send me an email about how you benefited. And remember: social media is a highlight reel. It isn’t always real. So if it’s causing you to be someone you don’t like, don’t hesitate to delete it altogether! It will still be there if and when you decide to come back. And in the meantime, soak up all the face-to-face, complex, emotional, messy, fun human connections you can get.   What’s next? Read my Best Tips for Choosing a Blog Topic and Download my FREE Worksheet: Find Your Niche.

Want to learn Graphic Design using Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop? Check out my Tutorials:

6 Ways to Boost Creativity Fast

easy ways to boost creativity fast

Feeling uninspired?

About as creative as a straight line?

Feeling as if nothing is new? Like it’s all been done before..

You’re not alone. In a world of perfectly curated social media accounts, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. With the stroke of a key we can be staring into the eyes of the Mona Lisa. In a mouse-click, we’re overlooking the Grand Canyon. The internet has given us instant access to all the creative beauty in this world, and yet, we’ve never felt so uninspired!

And if you’re a blogger, designer, or content creator, you know that’s a problem. Content doesn’t create itself. Clients won’t wait around for your next stroke of genius. So what can you do when you’re feeling stuck?

Here are 6 easy ways you can boost your creativity, and fast!

Easy Way to Boost Creativity #1: Unplug.

The internet is amazing. A simple mouse click can transport you to almost anywhere in the world. Maybe you’ve never been to Paris in real life, but you’ve visited the Eiffel Tower from your cubicle a dozen times. Google Maps is cool like that.

But did you hear the violinist as you strolled through Champ de Mars? Were your tastebuds delighted as you bit into a buttery pain au chocolat? Did a loving arm wrap around your shoulder as you stood staring at the twinkling tower on a warm summer evening? ..Are you catching my drift?

The internet offers cheap thrills. Experiences that leave us wanting more and never truly satisfied. Sometimes the best thing we can do is unplug from it all.

Peel yourself away from the never ending stream of pristine homes and white-washed flat lays; they’ll be there when you get back, I promise. Instead, spend some time admiring the beauty of something tangible. Something that can give back. Feel its weight in your hands. Close your eyes and breathe it in. Ignite your senses!

Easy Way to Boost Creativity #2: Clean Your Desk or Work Area.

And now that you’ve unplugged, how many of us creative types are guilty of living and working in organized chaos? Sure, we know the important paper we need for Monday’s meeting is in that basket. It’s buried under a month’s worth of take-out receipts. And the tax document is in the “important papers pile”, aka papers we have no clue what to do with. Oh, don’t mind the leaning tower of file folders. If it’s in a file, that means it’s organized, right? Hah!

In fact, a cluttered space is a constant reminder of all the unfinished business. And unfinished business is stressful. And stress is a creativity killer.

You’ll sleep better when there’s not a pile of dishes in the sink. Your mind can relax knowing there isn’t unfinished work waiting tomorrow morning. And you’ll create better when you come into a clean workspace each day.

Don’t close the door on a pile of disorganized papers, random receipts & unlabeled folders for another day. If you don’t know where to start, a simple rule is this: a place for everything and everything in its place. When you find an organizational system that works for you, the creative juices are guaranteed to flow better.

 

Easy Way to Boost Creativity #3: Get Moving!

One of my favorite ways to boost creativity — and for me, the fastest — is to take a quick walk! If you can’t get to stepping, then do some quick stretching in your seat. Or have a mini dance party in your cubicle. Heck, stand up and then sit back down in your chair for 10 reps. Whatever it takes to get the blood pumping.

There’s something about taking my eyes off the screen and getting my body moving that gets my best ideas flowing. And when you head out, even if it’s only for five minutes, never forget your phone. Why? Because the next tip for boosting creativity is..


Easy Way to Boost Creativity #4: Write everything down!

You never know when a good idea is going to strike. So get used to carrying a journal or phone where you can jot them down before you forget. The Notes App on an iPhone works well for this. However, if you’re like me– your most creative ideas seem to come while you’re on the-go. You’re walking or you’re driving when suddenly you’ve thought up the whole first paragraph for a blog post. And when this happens, I recommend using a Voice Recording App on your smartphone. iPhones have one built in.

Don’t forget to keep a regular journal on top of this. Sometimes you need to explore a topic over time and in-depth the way only honest journaling can. Good ideas build on one another, so the more time you spend exploring a topic on paper, the closer you get to your greatest creative epiphany yet.


Easy Way to Boost Creativity #5: Stop Comparing.

You’ve heard the saying Comparison is the thief of joy. But have you heard Comparison is the thief of creativity? If your first instinct upon beginning a new project  is to see how everyone else is doing it, well.. STOP. RIGHT. THERE.

Don’t you dare type anything into Google. Remove the temptation to mimic what someone else is doing. Log out of Instagram. Turn off your iPhone. Be present with yourself and your own creativity.

Ask yourself deep, intentional questions about your new project. What do you hope to achieve? Who will this benefit? What tools do you need? How long will it take? Etc. After you’ve reflected on these questions, don’t immediately open Google or Instagram for research purposes, either. Get a pen and paper. Make an outline. Write some more until you have a full-blown plan. Take your creativity into your own hands!

 

Easy Way to Boost Creativity #6: Do Literally Anything Else.

If you’ve been trying to solve a problem but haven’t made any progress in hours or even days, it’s probably time to take a break. Note: this does not mean throw in the towel. You may be too close to the situation to see the problem, and if you can’t see the problem, you certainly won’t see a solution. It’s okay if you need to take a whole day (or two week) hiatus. But if you have no time to lose…

A twenty minute break might be all you need to get your creative groove back. During your break, don’t allow yourself to think of the problem at all. Do the dishes. Call a friend. Try a meditation app. You’ll return to the project refreshed, re-inspired, and able to look at things from a whole new perspective.


While these tips should boost creativity instantly, don’t forget to be consistent. Let me know if these tips work for you or how you feel after you’ve given them a try.

Do you know strategies that work better? Feel free to share them with me in a comment or email.

 

Want more?

Read my Best Tips for Choosing a Blog Topic and Download my FREE Worksheet: Find Your Niche.

Want to learn Graphic Design using Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop? Check out my Tutorials:

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