Trace Existing Icons to Create New Shapes in Photoshop

by Jake Rocheleau
on February 19, 2015

Icon design is one of the most tricky fields of digital design. It often requires some understanding of composition and other art fundamentals like symmetry, lighting, and color. The best way to learn icon design is by studying under the best of the best. Unfortunately they probably don’t have time to teach you so it’s important to learn how to practice on your own.

In this how-to guide I want to explain the basics of tracing existing icons using Photoshop. This requires some knowledge of the pen tool because you need to edit paths and anchor points according to existing shapes. But everyone has to start somewhere so I highly recommend using the pen tool at every opportunity.

ios camera icon trace path shape

I’ll demonstrate how to trace the camera icon found in Apple’s iOS 8 SMS app. This uses a flat design style which is traditional and great for beginners.

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How To Clear Color Swatches in Photoshop & Illustrator

by Jake Rocheleau
on February 16, 2015

Both Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are very common design tools. Although they possess an incredible amount of power the overall interface can be quite cumbersome even to intermediate users. But if you spend enough time learning the fundamentals everything else will just naturally fall into place.

For this quick tip I’d like to demonstrate how to clear out color swatches in Photoshop and Illustrator. Each program has a slightly different method of clearing swatches and you’ll want to stick with the most comfortable way to your workflow. The swatches panel is a little tricky and it’s not always used in every design project. But it’s still a palette that has plenty of value in the long run and it’s worth learning these little tricks.

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30 Best WordPress Themes for Bands & Musicians

by Jake Rocheleau
on February 11, 2015

There’s no doubt that WordPress has grown into a powerful CMS with the capability to mimic any type of website. WordPress themes offer extensible functionality which is often built right into the code. The absolute best themes are created by designers and developers who have a knack for WordPress and know how to customize these important features.

The following themes are perfect for any musical website for a band, lone entertainer, musical venue, or even a barbershop quartet. Each theme includes various layout tweaks and custom page designs for unique content. If you need a fresh musical website theme then check out the following examples to see if anything catches your attention.

Vocal Events

vocal events wordpress theme music

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Free Hi-Res Watercolor Photoshop Brushes

by Jay Hilgert
on February 9, 2015

Here are a nice set of PhotoShop Brushes from BittBox. I’m constantly going back and forth between Illustrator and Photoshop in my projects, and I’m starting to pretty much make everything from scratch. I often have trouble finding brushes that are big enough for what I’m doing, so I just made my own. The smallest Brush in this set is 1989px! I was limited by CS2 to 2500 pixels, so that is as big as they get. The set contains 18 brushes. Download below:

BittBox Free Hi-Res Watercolor Photoshop Brushes
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36 Dark Minimalist Portfolio Website Designs

by Jake Rocheleau
on February 6, 2015

It’s tough competing in the modern creative marketplace without a stellar portfolio. Creative people from every medium are pushing to make their own unique portfolio website that looks great, runs smooth, and incorporates a little touch of themselves. Dark portfolios are an elegant solution to this problem which plays upon contrast and deeply unsaturated colors.

This showcase is a collection of the best dark portfolios I’ve found from all around the web. It’s surprisingly difficult to find beautiful portfolios that also incorporate dark color schemes. But the dark vibe can work great on any design style whether it’s minimalism, realism, flat, or something else. Take a look at these shadowy examples and lose yourself in the dark side.

Danny Diablo

dark danny diablo website layout

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Free Resources for Designers at

by Dustin Martin
on January 30, 2015

We wanted to share a great place for designers to get exclusive content and tons of resources that you can use everyday. offers free graphics, vectors, fonts, photos, brushes, and more. They have a great selection of resources and their site it easy to navigate with the search bar being the featured item so you can get what you are looking for quickly. We love free resources here at Bittbox, you should check out next time you are searching. Here are some Valentines Day  vectors they currently have available for free download.


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40 Examples of Flat iPhone App User Interfaces

by Jake Rocheleau
on January 28, 2015

Apple users should already be familiar with the updated iOS 8 operating system. Their flat trend became popular back on iOS 7 and has since been adopted by Google and Microsoft. It seems that flat design is meant to be an easy barrier for designers to climb without a lot of struggle.

So if you’re new to interface design it may prove quite beneficial to get started creating mobile applications. Once you learn more about vectors and icon styles it should be no problem segueing into web design. If you need some inspiration to get started these interfaces should prove more than useful. Take a peek at the gallery below and see if you can practice creating your own flat iOS interfaces.

VPS iPhone

flat dashboard vps app

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Create Non-Destructive Filters using Smart Objects in Photoshop

by Jake Rocheleau
on January 26, 2015

We all know about the tremendous benefits of Photoshop. It offers a solution for editing photos, designing logos, mocking up websites, and refining vector graphics all in one location. But while Photoshop can handle a number of different tasks it is most well-renowned for photography editing. Every graphic designer or photographer can find dozens of tools directly related to enhancing and retouching images.

For this post I’d like to demonstrate how to create smart filters applied onto any digital image. Smart filters behave just like regular filters but are more fluid and flexible in long-term work. Not every project has a need for smart filters, but understanding how to use them properly is yet another tool worth adding into your graphic editing tool belt.

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PatterNodes – A Unique Pattern Design Generator

by Jake Rocheleau
on January 22, 2015

The process of creating a seamless tileable background is never easy. If you’re not familiar with PatterNodes it certainly wouldn’t come as a surprise – the program is tremendously useful but doesn’t have the same cult following as other design suites due mainly to the fact that it is a brand new product. PatterNodes is a Mac OS X tool for generating vector-quality patterns based on manual input from the designer. It offers controls based on pattern size, spacing, colors, and of course imagery located within the design.

patternodes software logo design preview

The following post covers an overview of the software and what can be accomplished using the product. The full version normally costs $19USD but if you leave a comment on this post you have a chance to win a completely free license for life! It doesn’t get much sweeter than this.

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The Basics of Photoshop Quick Masking

by Jake Rocheleau
on January 19, 2015

Selecting and rendering objects from their background can be a difficult skill to master. Nobody is inherently born with an understanding of Photoshop – it takes years of practice and lots of screw-ups to become even remotely good. Yet it seems that rendering and selecting an object always remains one of the most difficult tasks to incorporate into regular workflow.

photoshop featured quick mask preview

In the past I covered a method of selecting objects using the Photoshop pen tool. Although it’s always an option, the pen tool is traditionally considered to be the most complicated method. Excellent for advanced users but not perfect in every situation.

For this post I’ll cover how to get into quick masking with Photoshop by creating selections around objects. Much like the pen tool, quick masking will feel a little wonky at first. But stick with it and soon you’ll be rendering out images like it’s nobody’s business.

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