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Minimalist UNO concept is about to become a reality

Remember the beautifully minimalist UNO concept design that took the internet by storm last month? If, like us, you were desperate to see it become a reality, you're in luck. Mattel has snapped up Brazil-based Warleson Oliveira's UNO Minimalista after the concept (quite rightly) went viral and spawned an impassioned change.org petition – and the classy cards are coming this summer.  

As we reported last month, Oliveira's beautiful design includes a streamlined logo, block colours and reduced symbols. The box has also been streamlined into a lovely, minimal piece of packaging design, and the reverse of the cards features a new, dark background – a sort of UNO Dark Mode. It seems even card games aren't immune from the dark mode trend.

"You asked for it, you got it," tweeted the official UNO account, while UNO manufacturer Mattel tweeted an image of the beautiful cards in the flesh at NY Toy Fair on Saturday (below). 

As you can imagine, the general response to Mattel's announcement mirrors our own: shut up and take our money. Unfortunately, details are scarce on exactly when Uno Minimalista is arriving, with the UNO account simply replying to several (very excited) tweets with "Stay tuned this summer". 

This isn't the first time a fan concept has seen the light of day. And of course, we hope Oliveira was properly remunerated for his work. This change.org petition also demonstrates the power of people getting behind designers, and shows the potential benefits of designing concepts and putting them out there online.

Uno concept design

Swoon-o

Oliveira's design was a huge hit when we reported it last month. We have a feeling we won't be the only ones waiting with bated breath for a game of UNO Minimalista this summer.

You can see the change.org petition here, and follow Oliveira on Instagram here.

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6 logos that shouldn't work but do

Logos need to communicate a message about a brand's values and personality. Just as there are all kinds of brands, there are all kinds of logos. They come in all colours, shapes and styles. But despite the variety, most designers would agree on certain commandments to follow. 

A logo should be clear and legible, as you can find out from our guide to brilliant logo design. It should tell us the brand name, whether in words or not. It should also be relevant to the brand and what the brand does, without too much guessing. On top of that, it should be scalable and ideally work without colours to give it versatility. 

A logo is also usually intended to stand the test of time, which means thinking with longevity in mind and not following passing trends. But rules are sometimes made to be broken. There are cases of logos that tear up the rule book and yet prove to be successful, memorable representations of their brands. Here are seven logos that break the rules and the reasons why they work.

01. Airbnb

Simplicity is considered a strength in logo design, but not to the point of such abstraction that nobody understands the meaning. If a logo should tell a story and be relevant to what a brand does, Airbnb’s apparently random abstract mark shouldn’t work. Devised by San Francisco-based DesignStudio, the 'Bélo' was conceived as a symbol representing belonging. It combines the A of Airbnb, a location icon, the shape of a person raising their arms, and a heart. But no one sees any of that. Instead it looks like a laundry care symbol, or worse, something far ruder.

Yet despite all that, it actually works. Airbnb's previous blue logotype looked not unlike that of a million other brands in 2008, including Twitter and Skype. The Bélo is distinct, recognisable and memorable. It has an element of arcane mystery, made less intimidating by the bespoke coral colour. Its simplicity and symmetry also make it scalable to fit into an app icon so that it can represent the brand's name on the screen of a mobile phone.

02. Instagram

When Instagram ditched its skeuomorphic Polaroid-like camera for a new logo in 2016, many users were predictably outraged. The new glyph was a drab, generic, ultra-minimised flat abstraction of a camera chalked over a sunset colour gradient that would leave it looking dated in the blink of an eye. People complained it looked cheap, poorly crafted, and like something from a set of stock flat design icons.

But feelings can change. People calmed down, and a design that initially seemed to lack resonance with the brand’s audience has come to be accepted. It’s also probably a better representation of what Instagram has become in the last four years. No longer simply a tool for aficionados to edit and share pictures, it’s now a branding, marketing and storytelling platform in which imagery is still key but photography plays only a part. The logo seems more in tune with the aesthetics of many of the app's users and the influencer industry it created. The much-mocked gradient doesn’t feel dated yet, and it helps convey some of the warmth missing from the identity of parent company, Facebook.

03. London Symphony Orchestra 

LSO logo

LSO’s logo is hard to read but contains a hidden treat

Created from a single flowing line, the London Symphony Orchestra's logo is hardly the most legible monogram. The three capital letters are linked together with ligatures in unsual places, and a viewer’s first impression might be that they’re looking at a foreign script. But the unusual lettering makes us look more closely, and the logo reveals a surprise that’s entirely relevant to the brand. The monogram forms the outline of the most important member of the orchestra – the conductor, baton in his left hand (the L) and his right hand waving to the orchestra (the O). 

It takes a bit of work to get it, but the LSO’s audience is a cultured lot and the logo is usually going to be seen in context. The modern, flowing lettering still feels fresh and different for the sector, breaking with any staid reputation that a classical orchestra might have. The same consultants, London-based The Partners was later able to capitalise on the initial concept of the logo to develop a striking visual identity for the orchestra’s 2017/18 season by visualising movements of the conductor to create images and type.

04. Nintendo

Nintendo logo

Back to red. After a decade, Nintendo backtracked to its classic colour

The Nintendo logo doesn't quite look like the logo of a technology company in the 21st century. Designed in 1976, it looks not only slightly retro, but its red roundedness recalls the cartoonish feel of Mario Bros and the younger age group the games appealed to. It made sense then that the company would try to modernise and 'age-up' the design with the launch of the Wii in 2006. The then-president Reggie Fils-Aimé blocked proposals for a complete redesign but the red was changed to grey. This made the logo less invasive when printed on hardware, and looked more modern and mature, but the grey logo lacked the resonance of the red. 

In 2016, the company embraced its traditional colour. When a company reverts back to an old logo a decade on, there's a risk it could be seen as going backwards rather than forwards. But for Nintendo, it had the opposite effect. The return to the red 1976 logo showed confidence and pride in the company’s roots, communicating a brand that felt no need to condescend to contemporary trends.

05. Museum of London

Museum of London logo

The Museum of London logo represents more than just a passing trend

A good logo should be timeless and strong enough to ride changes in tastes and trends. This means designers should think twice before taking inspiration from current design trends. In the mid-2000s, designs using overlapping liquid shapes were everywhere, including in logo designs. The below logos for the newly merged Bandai Namco and the Brazil tourism board were just a couple of examples. In this context, the Museum of London logo was first accused by some of lazily jumping on the trend for overlaid blobs of colour, and too many blobs of colour at that. And what did it say about the Museum of London?

Well actually everything. In this case the blobs of colour mean something. The overlaid shapes represent London's geographic limits as it expanded over time, and will continue to expand in the future: Roman London, medieval London, modern London, and a future inner and outer city. Like a thumbprint made of many layers, the colours also give a sense of the city’s diversity. Designed by Coley Porter Bell, the logo cleverly combines history and contemporary design to create a logo that tells us exactly what the museum is all about – London’s past, present and future. The layers and liquidity of the shape also meant it could be adapted to numerous supports from bags to wraps for black cabs. 

06. Demilich

Demilich logo

Insiders only. You have to be in the know to read Demilich’s intricate logotype

Logos are often our first point of contact with a brand, so they should tell us what that brand is. That means that when it comes to type, the most elementary rule is to use a clear, legible font or lettering. But just try telling that to Finnish metal band Demilich. The LSO logo mentioned earlier takes a moment to decipher, but with Demilich it’s all but impossible if you don’t already know the band. As an example of how all rules depend on product and the audience you want to connect with, extreme metal bands almost seem to compete to produce unreadable designs that can be deciphered only by insiders. As a fiercely independent genre, the message is that if you don't understand, it's not for you. 

To outsiders many of these logos might look like Rorschach tests printed in blood, but they have their own subtle language and categories of variations. Demilich's logo from 1990 was one of the first to take influence from nature rather than gore or medieval blackletter script. The result may look like an early maximalist exploration for the Blair Witch symbol, but the intricate design perfectly embodied the complex, precise songwriting and instrumental techniques of their particular subgenre of technical death metal. 

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Take your Adobe CC skills to the next level

If you've been thinking about ways to continue your creative education this year, you've come to the right place. It's never too late to continue learning and finesse your personal and professional objectives. 

You can brush up on your design skills with the All-in-One Adobe Creative Cloud Suite Certification Bundle, now with 97% off. To extend your Adobe skills even further, you could check out our range of tutorials that include the best Photoshop tutorials, and Illustrator tutorials out there. 

All levels of expertise can benefit

With 60 hours of content and hundreds of tutorials, this updated Adobe CC bundle is the perfect way to get more out of the programs you already use or are interested in learning. The eight-course package is geared toward various levels of experience, so no matter what your expertise, you're bound to get something out of it and master your skills in Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator, Lightroom, After Effects, and more. One of the best parts of the bundle is a certification upon completion, making it a valuable asset to add to your résumé and portfolio that will give you an edge over the competition.

Step your content up a gear

With endless amounts of lessons, you'll get the guidance you need to build your design portfolio with the latest updates in motion graphics, logo design, user interface design, photography, and so much more. This popular bundle is available 24/7, allowing you to come back and visit when you need to reference a specific tool or need a spark of inspiration for your latest project. Take your content to the next level, explore the latest updates on tool panels for each program, and even learn how to maximize your creative workflow to save you precious time. You'll be exposed to real-life exercises that test your understanding of the content, empowering you to practice what you learn.

While lifetime access to this bundle is priced at almost $2,000, The All-in-One Adobe Creative Cloud Suite Certification Bundle is currently price-dropped to only $34 - that's 97% off. It's certainly a great way to learn the latest and greatest in design artistry and continue to grow your career in 2020.

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We’re finally excited about a No Time to Die poster

With just over a month until its release, not one but two new posters have arrived for the 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die – and one of them has finally got us excited.

The first poster, shared by the official 007 social media channels on Friday, is giving us serious Sin City vibes. It's a moody, monochrome affair, and we're wondering if it means that No Time to Die will will be taking Daniel Craig's final appearance as 007 into grittier territory. Either way, we like it – and it's the closest any No Time to Die poster has come to our best poster designs list. 

No Time to Die Poster

Moody. We like it

We're big fans of the film's typographical logo (in lovely Futura Black) and are rather enjoying that the designers have colour-matched it to Craig's eyes. The new poster also confirms our suspicion that said eyes are so blue, they should have their own Pantone. (If you'd like to create your own Bond stare, perhaps use the RH Hover Color Picker from our list of photoshop plugins?)

Less impressive to us is the new IMAX exclusive poster, featuring Bond doing some Sid James-style gurning while riding a Massive Motorbike.  While the trailers have promised that the new film will "change everything", all this poster tells us is that Daniel Craig's last ride as 007 will involve some dangerous two-wheeled driving. Nothing new there, then (unless we're looking at 007's cycling proficiency test).

No Time to Die Poster

Is it an ad for the bike or the film?

There's also little that screams 'Bond' here. "If you could swap out Craig's head with another actor in a Bond poster and it doesn't feel out of place," says Reddit user Ryecue, "it's a bad Bond poster." We can't help but agree – it's all a bit Fast & Furious.

Aside from the new black-and-white offering, we've been disappointed by No Time to Die's poster campaign. We were particularly unimpressed by the initial teaser poster (below), an extremely basic effort featuring the title slapped over an image of a shifty looking 007 apparently trying to making an inconspicuous exit from somewhere he shouldn't have been. 

No Time to Die Poster

007’s walk of shame

And of course, who can forget the subsequent, tantalising series of posters (below), in which the film's minor characters seemed to be showing off their LinkedIn profile pictures? 

James Bond posters

“We read your CV with interest…” 

Taken as a whole, No Time to Die's poster campaign leaves us wishing the studio had taken more time to design. Still, the new monochrome poster finally has us excited for Daniel Craig's 007 swansong, and intrigued about where it'll be taking the character. If there's another poster to come, we're hoping for more black-and-white, and less motorbike. 

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How to combine real footage with CGI in iClone

In addition to making animations, iClone can be used to facilitate the compositing process by enabling you to add backgrounds or billboards, textured with real footage, to your 3D models. The tool reduces the number of meshes needed to create complex sets, while at the same time ensuring the scene is highly realistic.  

See how the process works in the video below, or read on for a full explanation and some expert tips for taking advantage of this feature in your own projects. All these methods are surprisingly straightforward and flexible, allowing you to make adjustments on the fly.

The video footage or still images used as textures can be edited like any other material used in your project. This means it’s possible to define masking areas, making part of the billboards transparent. If you're using tessellated planes, you can also include displacement maps to create depth deformation in your surfaces.

As all the elements are part of the same project, the lights within the scene will automatically interact with the billboards – so the billboard within the scene will cast shadows over its surrounding 3D models, and vice versa, depending on where the lights are placed. 

Finally, it's possible to set the billboards so they're light-emissive. This enables you to illuminate the CGI objects within the set using a light that perfectly matches the images they contain. For example, you could simulate the flickering light emitted by screens or TVs very easily, but it's also possible to illuminate the 3D models in a very convincing way using real footage of explosions, fires or atmospheric effects. Particle effects and atmospheric effects can also be included in the scene, and similarly interact with the billboards.

Being able to mix video billboards with 3D models is very useful. We can control the effect of the lights and the cameras, observing the interaction between all the elements of the scene in real time. Working with iClone, what you see is always what you get, so we don’t need to wait for slow renders and further compositing operations to be sure that the shots have been properly arranged. 

Working like this, the whole scene can be rendered in a single step, and there is no need to create render layers for compositing. It's an excellent way to speed up animations, saving a lot of time and effort in post-production.

Here are some top tips to help you make the most of iClone's compositing tools.

01. Use videos as a texture

iClone enables you to use videos as a texture by simply dragging and dropping the video file over a billboard prop. Using these panels with real footage as background and CGI props in the foreground means that we can move the camera to create a cool parallax effect. Set these panels to be self-illuminated, as well as not receiving and not emitting shadows, so they're unaffected by the light conditions of the scene. This way, they can be easily configured to match the original illumination of the footage.

02. Combine videos with transparent areas and CGI props

Images containing alpha channels can be loaded as a texture in iClone billboards. The transparent areas of the picture will also be transparent within the billboard, enabling you to create dioramas that mix CGI props, characters and particles with several layers of panels that combine still pictures with transparent areas and video footage. 

Again, you can create a cool parallax effect when moving the camera through the scene, and some of the panels can be set to be affected by the light of the particles to integrate them more effectively. 

03. Use panels with video to illuminate scenes

By setting the billboards as self-illuminated and increasing their Global Illumination parameters, they become a source of light within the scene. This way we get a perfect integration between the background videos and the light in the scene, especially when this light changes during the sequence, like in this example of a sci-fi city on a stormy night. 

Combining 3D models with light emissive billboards, rain particles and panels texturized with semi-transparent fog animations, we can obtain integrated results in one single step, with no need for any extra compositing.

04. Mimic camera motion from real footage

iClone enables us to set a video as a fixed background. As it’s not affected by the iClone’s camera movements, we can track and simulate the original camera that filmed the video using dummy characters placed in strategic areas of the footage. Once the iClone’s camera mimics the background footage, we can add CGI elements that will integrate naturally into the scene, thanks to the situation and proportion provided by the dummy characters.

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Master digital copywriting to make your content stand out

Are you having a difficult time making your digital content stand out? Copywriting is one of the most overlooked elements in a business. Take your digital skills to the next level and learn to create writing that sells with The 2020 Complete Digital Copywriting Master Class Bundle

Effective and clear writing is essential in any position, especially if you want to sell more products and progress in your career (for more advice that'll help your career progress, see our post on how to network). Whether you're looking to build a career in content marketing or you need ways to help your business, this 11-course bundle brings you everything you need to transform your writing into a profitable career.

What will you learn?

Alan Sharpe, a 30-year veteran copywriter/persuasive mastermind, teaches you step-by-step techniques to take on effective business writing. You'll learn how to carefully craft your message and avoid common mistakes. Become familiar with industry best practice on writing catchy product descriptions that rank well in search results, direct-response copy that generates online sales leads, how to effectively write white papers that stick, and so much more. With access to over 150 lessons, you'll quickly become a master at generating traffic to your website and converting that traffic into sales. 

If you're looking for a course that will help you get started on a new website or blog for your brand or online business, this bundle has it. Danny Liu, a seasoned 15-year career technologist, teaches you the ins and outs of building and setting up your own WordPress site to host all your content. Lay the foundation needed to scale your website as your brand grows, and learn how to build a professional-looking website in a fast and efficient way. You'll even gain top insights on how to select the best hosting, theme (see our pick of the best WordPress themes), and plugins that are best for your industry.

Easy to follow lectures and 24/7 access to the content will motivate you to revisit top-notch advice from the pros whenever you need it. Updates are included, automatically providing you with the latest tips for a successful copywriting career. This comprehensive bundle is even equipped with a certification of completion, allowing for a great résumé booster for your next endeavour. 

The 2020 Complete Digital Copywriting Master Class Bundle is usually priced at $700, but, for a limited time, you can start writing like a pro for only $39, that's 94% off! Transform your writing and help launch your career today.  

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10 must-know Instagram tips for creatives

With the right Instagram tips, you can transform your feed into a hotbed of activity. Instagram is no longer just an image-sharing app, but has evolved to become an extremely useful tool for enabling creatives from a range of disciplines to showcase their work to a potentially huge audience. 

Understanding how to ride the wave of Instagram’s rising popularity and tap into this growing community can pay dividends for artists and illustrators, and it’s no surprise that those with larger audiences reap the benefits. However, simply chasing Likes does not build engagement, especially as Instagram phases out Like counts (for more on this, see our Instagram engagement post).

Growing Insta engagement requires a clever eye, interesting viewpoint and genuine passion for what you do (and of course, simple tricks like how to change the font in your Instagram bio). Luckily for the time-poor, getting Instagram right doesn't involve as much planning as you might think. 

We asked six creative professionals to share their best advice for building and sustaining an audience on Instagram. Read on for their essential Instagram tips and tricks.

Also read: How to activate Instagram's Dark Mode

01. Share your working processes

East London-based animation studio Animade has 148,000 followers, and predominately uses Instagram as a platform to share some of the work the team's most proud of, as well as share insight into how they make things. "It’s a place to showcase the love of our craft, share knowledge and air some of our smaller, weirder experiments," says Amy Egan, head of marketing. 

"A big part of our studio culture is about experimentation and play – whether that’s trying out new software or techniques, or using any available time to work on a passion project – and I think our content on Instagram reflects this," says Egan.

We’ve had clients get in touch with us directly after seeing a specific post on Instagram

Amy Egan, Animade

Posting a mix of client work and passion projects, as well as finished animations, Animade often shares work in progress or behind-the-scenes bits that the team think might be interesting. This includes what they call 'breakdowns'; animated demonstrations of how a particular piece was made, which have proven quite popular (see above). 

"Often clients look to social media as a way of spotting talent, with the website as a secondary port of call," continues Egan. "We’ve had clients get in touch with us directly after seeing a specific post on Instagram; sometimes it just encapsulates what they’re looking for."

Rather than sticking to a rigorous posting schedule, Animade tends to share as and when the team feel excited about something. "We try to make sure we post as often as we can to avoid any 'tumbleweed' moments."

02. Pick key themes – and stick to them

Instagram tips

Having a uniting theme can help organise your feed

Rather than mapping out a rigid strategy for your content, Bristol based illustrator Rosi Tooth, who has around 9,000 followers, recommends following a few simple rules. For her, consistency is key, especially to nurture an audience that will stick around. “Interact and understand your audience, consistently produce content that is in line with your ethos and most importantly make work that you love,” she explains. “For me, a great account is an authentic account; feeds that not only have unique styles but also show off the artists as a person.”

Creating work which aims to challenge society's perception of what the female body should be through lighthearted illustrations and clay figurines, Yip's feed is awash with a subtle colour palette of pink, fleshy pastel hues, although it's not all about her illustrations. “I like to break up my illustrations with photos. I think this helps the illustrations stand out and not look too overwhelming,” she says. 

After abandoning her account for several years, Yip has managed to grow her audience from 300 followers to over 3,000 in less than six months by staying true to the issues and topics that matter to her most. 

It’s a sentiment shared by Detroit-based lettering designer and mural artist Lauren Ho, who has over 200,000 followers. Known for her bright colour palettes, playful letterforms, and quirky copywriting, Hom has created work for clients like Starbucks, Google, AT&T, YouTube and TIME Magazine. “I use Instagram to nurture my community and connect with other artists and share the work that wouldn’t necessarily make it into my portfolio in a timely manner,” she says.

Sticking to topics around creativity, freelance, food and humour, Hom narrowed down her focus based on what she was most interested in and what has resonated with her audience the most. “I often joke that the things you should explore in your instagram are the five categories you’d be the most confident in if you were playing Jeopardy!” 

03. Make your space your own

Timo Kuilder Insta image

Kuilder suggests a fluid approach to Instagram

Since joining Instagram in 2011, Amsterdam-based illustrator Timo Kuilder, who has over 32,000 followers, has built a steady following for his pared-back characters, simple colour palettes and tight linework. He advocates trusting your instincts, and sharing the work you enjoy the most.

"I’ve started using Instagram almost like a sketchbook and try to be less rigid about it. Once in a while I share a print, work in progress or a timelapse as well. Although I tend to do this in Stories instead of my feed." (see more about how to use Instagram Stories here)

Less concerned about posting for the sake of likes, Kuilder says the key for him is to keep it fun. "A recent obsession was using coloured outlines and cloth and how it can wrinkle on objects. In those cases, I share a lot of style explorations and just tiny ideas or sketches. Instagram becomes a glimpse into my sketchbook. Just make this space your own, it’s your private gallery where no one tells you what to do."

Japanese-born Brooklyn-based visual artist Hisham Akika Bharoocha, who has over 96,000 followers agrees. “The only thing I do is to be genuine. That’s always been my style and people seem to appreciate that.”

04. Don't over-curate

Bharoocha makes a lot of work using collage, large scale mural paintings, installation work, sound pieces, and music performance. “I post at times where I feel most people are on their devices. That’s usually around lunch break, evenings after work, weekend mornings. Sometimes I need to do planned posts for commissioned jobs that involve social posts and I let the client and my agency, Hugo & Marie decide on that stuff. I just write the caption how I would say it in my own voice.” 

Hom adds that the concept of a curated feed is not something she has consciously pursued. “My strategy is just to double down on the things that I love, and know a lot about, and make a lot of work around those things. I wouldn’t say my feed is intentionally curated, it’s just a reflection of me."

“Some people do have a ton of success with extremely curated feeds but that is not me in any shape or form, so I do not prescribe to that style,” continues Hisham. “There aren’t enough people who are not afraid to get a ton of likes. If you like it, post it if it means something to you. Personally I get very bored with over-stylised feeds.” 

05. Experiment with apps

Instagram tips: Daisy Emerson's feed

Curation is key, says Daisy Emerson

For creatives keen to create a sense of unity on their Instagram feed, using image editing apps help maintain a consistent colour palette on photographs, as Daisy Emerson, who has over 23,000 followers, has discovered. “I’m fairly particular on what I post. I will spend time editing a picture so that it looks in keeping with the rest of the work posted previously and I photograph things in the same way.” 

Specialising in hand painted typography and lettering, Emerson paints bespoke pieces in enamel, often hand finished with gold leaf. “A big factor is the colour palette too. I wouldn’t post images if they contained certain colours which didn’t fit with my theme, again for consistency,” she adds. “ I use an app for editing called A Colour Story, which is really good for achieving great-looking photos and clever editing.”

06. Find your weird

“Think about what you do that’s different,” says Egan. “ It’s not something we ever planned, but we’ve noticed that some of our naturally weirder projects attract a lot of attention, like Ricard’s Watering the Plant, in which a goggle-wearing character nurtures a plant in a kind of high-tech hamster cage, with an unexpected twist. It really seemed to stop people in their tracks. It got 2.2 million plays and 480 comments.

For Animade, self-initiated animations and illustrations in the studio often attract the most attention. A recent example is Frida’s Teabag, which attracted 143,000 plays. “It’s a sassy teabag dancing provocatively around a cup of tea.” says Egan. “The post with the highest engagement to date is a breakdown of Ed’s walking chili dog (shown in tip #1), showing the composite parts of the moving leg. It reached 3.4 million plays!”

07. Build your community

If you’re serious about growing your audience, it pays to invest time in starting conversations in a genuine way, says Bharoca. Talking to people you’re inspired by and feel a connection to can attract more engagement on your own Instagram feed. “I do that just because I want people to know if I like their work beyond just a “like” reveals Bharoca. “Often people will look at your work and decide if they want to follow your account based on your interactions with them. I find it disappointing when people don’t engage at all. It seems selfish and that won’t grow any kind of community ethos.”

Yip agrees. “I think instagram Stories are a great way to communicate with your audience too. It enables you to ask questions directly and take polls without your audience having to do much. As well as this, it’s great for sharing other people’s work and more personal parts of your day that maybe you don’t want to keep on your feed.”

 "I use Stories to post images of my son, events I go to, gatherings I go to, things I think are funny and don’t need to live forever online," says Bharoocha. "I’ve found that a lot more people engage with Stories and I find myself enjoying watching other people’s stories as it is a window into people’s lives that is candid.”

Instagram tips

Sharing personal work also resonates, as Yip discovered back in May 2019. “I was feeling pretty run down creatively. I drew out the eight things I like to do, which includes my favourite go-to feel good tv show, Gilmore girls, which turned out to be the same for a lot of people!” 

The post was one of her most popular. “I think self care can sometimes come with a price with so many products out there telling us that this new thing will definitely calm us, help us sleep, de-stress but sometimes what we actually need is a bit simpler.”

08. Ditch lengthy captions

Animade’s Instagram content reflects the passion and energy of the studio's culture. ”We aim to be open about our working processes by sharing experiments and showing how things have been made, sometimes in great detail. And not just for those in the industry; our ‘edumation swipes’ (above) aimed to decode animation jargon for a wider audience in a way that is still fun and engaging. We let the work speak for itself and avoid lengthy descriptions.”

Bharoocha agrees. “I truly hate seeing a lot of small variations on one project unless it adds depth to what I see in the first post. Switch it up. If you post one still image, post a video about process. Talk about it in your caption but don’t write a novel, because people don’t care that much.”

09. Add value

Alongside her thriving artistic practice Hom supports her community by sharing advice and industry insight, and runs a weekly ‘Hom-work’ challenge as an open invitation for artists and illustrators to participate, and create work, in response to a topic or theme she chooses. 

“It’s one of the things that has really helped grow my community on Instagram,” says Hom. “One of the things I noticed after talking to artists for a couple of years – and of course being one myself – is that it’s really nerve wracking to sit down in front of a blank page and want to create, but feel totally overwhelmed, and so these prompts are designed to get people started.” Hom promotes the ‘Hom-work’ challenge three or four times per week on Instagram Stories. “I get to showcase the work of other creatives to my large audience, and they get to build their community in turn. It’s a win-win.”

Giving something back in this way has not only seen her engagement on the platform sky-rocket, but Hom’s infectious enthusiasm and passion has seen her build a captive Instagram audience. “A great instagram account is something that brings value and remains consistent,” reflects Hom. “It means that someone who follows you will be confident that they will always know what they’re going to get and what they can expect.”

10. Strike a balance

Relying purely on social media to promote your work is not without risk. Despite her success, Hom disagrees that Instagram is essential to make it in design. “Instagram is just one method to share your portfolio and get you work. I don’t think it’s the be all and end all, and I don’t think emerging illustrators and designers should view it that way,” she confesses. “At the end of the day your portfolio, point of view and personality are more important. Instagram is just a vehicle.

Social media platforms come and go, of course – check out our favourite social media platforms here. “I think regardless of the platform, as a visual artist / illustrator once you figure out who you are and what you’re passionate about you will do well on any social media platform.” concludes Hom. “I started out on Tumblr around seven years ago, and it’s not what it used to be anymore, so whilst Instagram is the big thing right now, who knows what we’ll be doing in seven years from now. The best thing you can do is focus on developing your work and your personal style.”

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Leaked Batman logo intrigues fans

WB Montreal has been teasing a (currently unannounced) new Batman game for a few weeks, and now two new images have emerged on Twitter, appearing to show a brand new bat symbol inside the studio's HQ.

The bat symbol has undergone several transformations since the caped crusader first graced the cover of Detective Comics in 1939 – some more dramatic than others. Non-fans might not bat an eyelid at the new logo, shared by games reporter James Sigfield on Twitter (below). It's just a silhouette of a bat, same as ever, right? Not so fast – logo design is a complicated business (although our guide to logo design certainly simplifies things). 

So is this possible new logo any different? To help you tell one bat from another, Reddit user rdgxxx recently shared a fascinating look at the evolution of the symbol from 1940-2012 (below).

Batman logo evolution

Spot the difference 

While the logo in Sigfield's tweet doesn't completely match any of these iterations, it perhaps most closely resembles the one for 1999's Batman Beyond (compare them below). The head and wings in this new version are rounder, though. One thing's for sure – it's a departure from the logo for the recent Arkham game series. We're pleased to see a return to an all-black design, without the rather obvious 'Batman' splashed across the wings (we get it, guys).

Batman logo

The leaked logo and the one from Batman Beyond  

The Bat symbol is clearly close to fans' hearts – users were quick to comment on rdgxxx's post to declare their favourite – usually the one which evoked the strongest childhood memories. Djentleman5000 says, "I remember the ‘92/‘95 ones. I had The Batman cereal that came with Batman shaped piggy bank. I had a ninja turtles one too. Nostalgia…", while rdgxxx "used to watch the old TV Show every afternoon at home eating croissants with a home made latte! The '66 Logo!"

Although it remains unannounced, the studio has teased the new game with a series of mysterious images and videos of, each including the caption 'Capture the Knight'. Fans believe that the crests on display could be related to the Court of Owls, a secret crime group from the Batman comics:

Still, for all the teasing and mystery around the game, WB Montreal appears to be playing it safe with the new logo. It doesn't look likely to wind up on our list of controversial moments in logo design, which is just as well – when it comes to the fans, a dodgy bat symbol isn't going to fly. 

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Does Durex’s new logo have a misalignment problem?

Durex has revealed its sexy new-look flat logo, and we think it hits just the right spot with the design coupled with its clever font name ('One Night Sans', in case you missed it). But as soon as we published our excitement over the Durex rebrand, our enthusiasm was dampened once we received a tweet about it, and discovered a design flaw that could prove to be a major turn off for typography enthusiasts. 

Digital creative Helder Cervantes has pointed out that the placement of that 'd' seems to be just a teensy bit off. And it's left us a little hot under the collar – not in a good way (If you'd like to look at some well-spaced logos, you can check out our best logos post).

Cervantes has measured the distance between the top and bottom of the 'd', and what those red lines show is potentially not pretty at all. The 'd' looks like it's placed further down than it should be. It's not enough to notice at first glance, but a niggle that is enough to get on your nerves at closer inspection. 

Once you've seen it, you won't be able to unsee it, which may drive the most pernickety of designers to choose a different brand. After all, no one needs a design-induced migraine at an inopportune moment.

Durex

Does the ‘d’ render this one a dud for you?

It may not be as big as these design fails that were so bad they were actually good, but if Durex could shift that 'd' up a bit, we'd be interested to see how that compares to the new logo.

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8 essential tools for UI prototyping

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a good prototype is worth a thousand meetings. In user interface design, being able to share clear prototypes that all stakeholders can follow and understand is key to achieving smooth and efficient development and handoff without the headache. Prototyping helps keep designers and clients on the same page at all stages by giving clients a clear window into what is being created and the ability to respond with feedback. 

There are many prototyping tools on the market and no single perfect solution that serves for every product, or every stage of a product's development. Each tool has some benefits and features that others lack, so the best tool for a particular project or task depends on what you need in terms of fidelity, adaptability, collaboration, ease of use, and, of course, cost. Here are eight of the most useful tools on the market now for developing and sharing prototypes for feedback and usability testing. (Also check out our dedicated post on user testing.)

01. InVision

Prototype tool

InVision is easy to use to create simple click-through prototypes

  • Best for: A low learning curve
  • Price: One prototype, free; unlimited prototypes, $25 p/m  

Web-based InVision is one of the most popular tools for creating interactive prototypes of static screens that don’t require high-fidelity microinteractions or sophisticated state transitions. The app has a low learning curve thanks to its similarity to the design tool Sketch. It offers an easy connected workflow that allows designers to upload static screenshots and create clickable prototypes in a very simple way. Timeline animations are supported and interaction is quick and easy to understand, though performance can still be choppy with more complex prototypes. 

Project collaboration features allow feedback but don't reach the real-time collaboration offered by Figma. Another downside is that with no desktop app, you’re limited to online editing. There is a mobile application for native prototyping, but some designers complain that it doesn’t work as well as the browser. InVision also offers its own design app, InVision Studio for both Mac and Windows, which allows designers to skip Sketch or Photoshop and design directly in InVision. 

 02. Marvel 

Prototype tool

Marvel App is another of the easiest to use prototyping tools

  • Best for: Simplicity of use
  • Price: One project, free; unlimited projects $12 p/m

One of the easiest and most intuitive prototyping tools around, Marvel is another good option for making simple screen-linking prototypes if you don’t need to test more complex microinteractions. It works directly from pre-designed PSD or Sketch documents, so visual drafts can be used without conversion formatting. It’s perhaps the easiest app for non-designers to follow, and is very straightforward for stakeholders to use to give feedback. Like InVision, Marvel is limited to an online app. 

 03. Figma 

Prototyping tool

Figma is great for teams thanks to its real-time collaboration tools 

  • Best for: Collaborative working
  • Price: Starter account, free; professional account $12 per editor p/m

Figma is billed as the collaborative UI design tool and this aspect is what has made it so popular. Real-time collaboration makes it comparable to working on a Google document. The app retains smooth performance even with several team members working on a project at the simultaneously. This makes it great for sharing prototypes with multiple stakeholders and getting immediate feedback, and saves time by allowing teams to ditch the piece-by-piece approach and work across an entire project at the same time. Again like Google docs, previous versions can easily be retrieved, making it easy to keep track of iterations. 

The web-based tool also has desktop versions for Windows and iOS, and prototypes can be easily shared to Windows, iOS and Android. One drawback for now is the lack of animation features, with no support for lottie files as yet. 

 04. UXPin 

Prototyping tool

UXPin allows prototypes to include animations that come closer to the real thing

  • Best for: Animations
  • Price: From £20 a month

If you need to present powerful animations in a prototype rather than simply link screens together, then UXPin is one of the better options. You animate between different versions of any element and update properties between states with a single click. You can also add a layer of logic to prototypes and set rules for when interactions should happen, making it a good tool for showing how interactions will really work in the finished product. You can also use JavaScript to create computational components like shopping carts, and prototypes can easily be shared to iOS and Android via the UXPin Mirror. 

UXPin also has collaborative tools and provides automatic specs for handoff, making it an all-in-one package that can be uses from the initial design stage right through to delivery. It’s available for Windows, Mac and online. 

05. ProtoPie

  • Best for: code-free high-fidelity prototypes
  • Price: $13 p/m 

ProtoPie comes into its own when you need to show more complex interactions that come close to the real thing. It allows you to demo interactions with an object, trigger, and response flow. It also provides the ability to control smart device sensors in prototypes, including as compass, tilt, sound, and 3D touch sensors. This all makies it one of the best options at the moment for creating high-fidelity prototypes without coding, and for real usability or UX evaluation purposes when you need to show advanced user journeys using variables and conditions that can handle logic and dynamic inputs. 

Shareable prototypes can be displayed and experienced interactively within the browser app, or more usefully deployed on a mobile device to allow them to be tested like a real native app by simply scanning a QR code. 

06. Adobe XD

Prototyping tool

Adobe XD offers an all-in-one package from design to prototype

  • Best for: Designers working with Adobe products
  • Price: £9.98 p/m, per user

If you’re committed to the Adobe suite of products, Adobe XD integrates well and offers an all-in-one UI design option with a prototype tab that’s easy to switch into. It feels rather different to other Adobe products, but offers seemless integration. Of course it works on Windows as well as Mac, making it an alternative to Sketch for designing for Windows users. It’s also one of the very few options for creating prototpyes with voice command triggers and playback, which can make it useful for very specific projects.

07. Framer X

  • Best for: Designers who code
  • Price: $144 p/year

Framer X is one of the most versatile of all prototyping tools. The caveat is that to use its full potential, it helps to be comfortable writing some code. The majority of prototyping tools are code-free, but Framer X uses the JavaScript library React (read more about how Framer X works here). This and the lack of friendly controls mean that the learning curve can be daunting to non-coders. But if you can code, or are prepared to get up to speed, Framer X allows you to create prototypes that can be almost indistinguishable from the final product. This allows you to demo fully interactive prototypes and collect reliable feedback on natural user behaviour.

It offers seamless support for HTML, CSS, and Javascript. It supports calling the system keyboard, inputting real text then using it as data, and real control and monitoring of audio and video. Through its component store, you can also add analytics and heatmaps to test prototypes. 

 08. Principle 

Prototyping tool

Principle allows prototyping of specific complex animations

  • Best for: High-fidelity specific animations for iOS
  • Price: $129

Principle excels at smoothly displaying specific, complex animated interactions for iOS mobile apps. It offers the option to look at individual assets and how those assets animate independently, right down to timings and easing, which is great for prototyping minor interactions within designs. It can import Sketch files, and the Sketch-like interface makes it easy to learn to use. Users of Adobe After Effects should also find the adding of animations to layers quite familiar. 

Principle is an offline app available only for Mac, so it lacks collaborative tools. The mirror app for live testing is also only available for iOS, with no option available for Android.

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This concept Adidas ad is ingeniously simple

Barely a day goes by in the design world without a cleverly reimagined logo popping up. But every now and again, one truly captures our imagination – like this concept Adidas sandals ad (above) shared by reddit user u/aLp. 

The witty design takes Adidas' famous three-stripe logo and, with the addition of a single horizontal line, turns it into an image of the company's also very well known slider sandal (below). It's an ingeniously simple, why-didn't-I-think-of-that concept, which is particularly striking because of the immediately obvious iconic Adidas logo. While the three stripes didn't quite make our list of the 10 best logos of all time, it's certainly one of the best sports logos.

Adidas slides

The real deal

Over on reddit, users are fully appreciating the simplicity, although many were quick to point out what else the image could represent: a sailboat, the Sydney Opera House, an ice cream cone sitting sideways on a chopping board. For our money, it could also be a (very small) handkerchief poking out of a tuxedo pocket. Other were not so keen, with reddit user RomanBlue_ saying: "While interesting, I believe you are harming the identity of the logo. A big brand logo is not something to be toyed with."

Here at Creative Bloq, we love a clever logo concept, especially when they rival the real thing – like this smart new crocs concept, or this vastly improved Paris 2020 logo. And this isn't the first clever reworking of the Adidas logo we've seen. Earlier this year, architect Karina Wiciak included the stripes in a stunning series of logos reimagined as houses

Overall, as a concept design, we think this works really well. The incorporation of the logo in the design and its placement makes both the product it's trying to promote and brand immediately obvious. Of course there's an argument not to mess with iconic logos, but we like this one so much, we'll let it slide (sorry, couldn't resist).  

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Epic posters give diseases a movie makeover

It's that time of year when there are all manner of bugs going around, and what with Coronavirus hitting the headlines on a daily basis, it's all too tempting to head for the doctor's when you have a bit of a cough. Just to be on the safe side, you know.

Assuming you can actually get an appointment, is that the right thing to do? According to a new campaign from the NHS, maybe not. Plenty of minor illnesses can be dealt with just as well by speaking to a pharmacist, and to get the message home the NHS has commissioned a set of fantastic movie-style poster designs from graphic designer and digital illustrator, Doaly.

Each of the three posters is based around taking the drama out of minor illnesses by seeing a pharmacist rather than a GP, and covers a typical ailment that you probably shouldn't bother a doctor with, in an unmistakable cinematic style.

NHS movie posters

Think twice before bothering a GP with your gammy eye

There's a horror poster – 'The Night of the Itchy Eye' – that instantly recalls George A Romero's iconic zombie movies. 'Sore Throat and the Lost Voice' is an unmistakable nod to the Indiana Jones movies, while 'Earache Strikes Back' has more than a hint of Star Wars to it.

There are even animated versions of all three posters; they're not quite as epic as the original films, but we appreciate the effort.

As well as the note-perfect illustrations by Doaly, there's another clever layer of information added at the bottom of each poster. What looks like the usual set of credits that nobody ever reads is in fact a helpful list of symptoms that you might encounter from each ailment. It's a fun and useful additional feature.

NHS movie posters

Don’t skip the credits

If you're impressed by Doaly's confident touch when it comes to movie-style posters, there's a good reason for that. Over the years he's created artwork  for plenty of movie studios, including Disney, 20th Century Fox (sorry, we mean 20th Century Studios), Lucasfilm and Warner Bros, so this is definitely a style he's at home with.

To see more of Doaly's impressive illustration work, simply head for his site.

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Durex hits the spot with a sexy new logo

Durex, one of the world's biggest condom manufacturers, has revealed a new brand identity designed by Havas London, in a bid to position itself as an activist championing the "positive reality" of sex. 

Another new addition to the flat design movement, Durex's new logo does away with the original's convex, reflective style while maintaining the lozenge shape. It's got rid of the light flare so that the 'x' of its name is more prominent, which feels appropriate, given that this only emphasises the X-rated nature of its products. This more modern, simplified mark is another trend we're seeing more and more of (and something you can read all about in our logo design guide).

Durex logos

Durex is keeping it clean

Havas' rebrand also includes a new bespoke typeface by Colophon Foundry, with an ingeniously simple yet effective name: One Night Sans. This delightful play on the phrase 'one night stand' is certainly Twitter's most appreciated element of the new identity. If you're inspired to switch up your fonts, take a look at our list of the best (but admittedly less pun-tastic) free fonts

But despite the fun typeface name, Durex isn't screwing around. Elliot Harris, RB global executive creative director at Havas says the rebrand, "could be the most important piece of work we ever do", positioning the 91 year-old brand as an activist against sexual stigmas and taboos. A series of posters declaring 'porn's not the norm', and 'STD's are kinda real' (all based on the findings of Durex's 2017 Global Sex Survey) accompany the new look.

Durex poster

A sobering message for your morning commute

We love the cleaner look. Havas says it "needed a brand mark that behaved like a stamp of authenticity and trust", and the new, less glossy logo looks certainly makes us feel nice and safe (pun intended).

Durex logo

That ‘x’ is hitting the spot for us

It's great to see a new sense of brand activism from Durex (we certainly like to think it's possible for design to change the world). "Make no mistake, this is a proper commitment," says Harris. We applaud Durex for its ambition – and for making us laugh with that typeface name. 

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Photoshop gets dark(er) mode for 30th birthday

Today is Photoshop's 30th birthday. And to celebrate, Adobe has rolled out a number of updated tools and new dark mode support for the Mac version of its popular image editing software. These updates coincide with Adobe offering an incredible deal on its Photography Plan, with which you get full access to Photoshop, Adobe Spark and Lightroom CC for less. 

We must, however, admit to being a little confused by the announcement that dark mode had arrived for Photoshop. The UI is pretty dark already, right? But the news actually refers to Photoshop supporting the Catalina Mac OS feature overall. So while the main Photoshop UI hasn't changed, system dialogues such as File > Open and File > Save can now match the settings and look of dark mode on your Mac (get started with our guide on how to download Adobe Photoshop).

If you're on Windows or using Photoshop for iPad, then you'll still have to keep the lights on (it seems that like Facebook's dark mode, darkness isn't accessible to all users just yet).

Screenshot of system dialog box in Photoshop

Photoshop now has three appearance options

The update means Mac users now have three appearance options: Light, dark and Auto. If the dark UI is enabled, systems dialogues will be, well, dark. 

Other updates to Photoshop rolled out today include an enhanced Content-Aware Fill tool – which Adobe says has been a big customer request. Users can now make multiple selections and apply multiple fills without leaving the workspace, using a new apply button to make changes before committing to a final design. 

The Lens Blur feature has also seen some love. Now on the GPU, its overall realism is significantly improved, plus it now delivers more colourful bokeh via the specular highlights.

For Photoshop for iPad users, the most significant update that'll get creatives excited is the arrival of the Object Selection tool. Using Sensei AI and machine learning to automatically make a great selection, the tool reduces the selection process time on even the most complex of images. 

Below, Adobe's Russell Preston Brown demonstrates this much-needed new feature:

While these aren't huge updates, they are the kind of improvements that will make life easier for creatives working within the software, and show that Adobe is committing to continually updating its tool (after all, it needs to stay ahead of the game with all the Photoshop alternatives biting at its heel).

If  you don't have Creative Cloud yet, then you can sign up here. Or for full details on all of today's Photoshop updates, visit the Adobe blog

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