9 top tips for drawing in black and white

This may seem like an odd way to start an article on black and white drawings, but when I was a kid, my favourite drawing tool was a blue crayon. I drew everything in that one colour – the sky, the sea – and things that weren’t even blue, like my neighbour’s cat, our house, and my family. These monochrome drawings helped me develop the skills to know how to draw in black and white.

Ballpoint pens are readily accessible and easy-to-use drawing tools for black and white pictures. They also present their own challenges and limitless possibilities, which we'll explore in these drawing tips.

You might prefer to draw your black and white artworks in pencil or with marker pens, which we'll explore too. And if you need to stock up your pencil case, don't miss our roundups of the best pencils and best pens.

Have a look at the video below, then read on for nine tips for how to draw beautiful black and white drawings – or blue and white, if that's your thing…

01. Watch out for excess ink

image of a person and a hand with some lines on the right

The right isn’t a drawing; it’s excess ink from my pen

Ballpoint pens are great to draw with because we can make beautifully thin lines with them and create a lot of contrast. However, pens can also be very unforgiving: every mark is permanent – and so is every errant ink blotch! A big ink blotch could suddenly form and ruin your drawing forever. 

To prevent this, periodically roll the sides of your pen tip on a scrap sheet of paper to remove ink buildup.

02. Use various tones of black

some markers with a picture of a gorilla

A variety of markers = a variety of tones

When drawing with markers, try to get a variety of black tones to work with in order to create a maximum range of values. Markers draw really quick and clean but can be a little difficult to work with if you're not used to the starkness and graphic nature of marker work. 

Hopefully these next tips will …

The best computer for graphic design in 2019

If you're searching for a new computer for graphic design, you're in the right place. Creating great work is all about having the right skills. But it also helps to have a machine with sufficient specs – making it faster to produce designs that will please your clients and take pride of place in your portfolio. There's a lot of choice out there, though, which is why we've put together this guide. 

While you could choose a graphic design laptop, if you need better ergonomics, a bigger display and more power for less cash, then you're better off choosing a desktop. 

Here, we've selected what we think are the best computers for graphic design right now. Whether you're a Mac user or a Windows wizard, you'll find something in this list that suits your needs. 

There’s a small caveat for Apple users. As of early 2019, the iMac is nearing two years since its last update, meaning a new model is (probably) imminent. It may surface at Apple’s predicted March event, or WWDC in June, no doubt with an updated processor that will most definitely mean better graphic design performance. So it’s no longer top of out list. If you’re considering an iMac desktop for graphic design, we’d suggest waiting just a bit longer.

Generally speaking though, the more you pay the better the machine. But don't worry if you're on a tighter budget – we've picked the best cheap computers for graphic design, too. Read on for our selection of the best desktops out there…

Microsoft's Surface Studio 2 now takes occupies the top slot as the best computer for graphic design. As a fierce rival to Apple’s iMac (number 2 on our list), which badly needs an update, the Surface Studio 2 is an all-in-one that can do a few things the iMac cannot. Its high resolution 28-inch display (4,500 x 3,000) is touch-sensitive, which means it can be used like a giant graphics tablet when …

The Period Game is Dream Phone with ovaries

If periods could ever be said to be having a 'moment', this must be it. A documentary about menstruation – Period. End of Sentence – has just won an Oscar, and the stigma surrounding periods is being challenged left right and centre, as advertisers shake things up with new types of period product ads, and issues such as period poverty are discussed in Parliament. 

New educational board game The Period Game aims to engage the next generation with menstruation, and it's currently well on the way to meeting its Kickstarter target. It's designed by Daniela Gilsanz and Ryan Murphy – two industrial designers who have spent years testing out the game at schools – and has already won a Red Dot Design award.

The game is designed to teach players about puberty and the menstrual cycle, including topics such as PMS and different flows. There's pretty much no way you could play it without engaging with the topic, and the idea is not just to educate, but to make talking about the subject more natural.

The centrepiece of the game is two giant ovaries, which the player has to twist to release a marble. This is probably the oddest part of the game, as we don't think anyone should be advocating twisting organs.

Different coloured marbles denote whether the player has their period or not, and which card they get to play as they move round the four sections of the board – corresponding to a typical monthly cycle. The counters are also pretty cool, there's a pad, two tampons, menstrual cup and a pair of period pants, and we like the fact that it's not just all pads and tampons.

period game cards

The Period Game’s bright and fun approach encourages players to ‘go with the flow’

Overall, this looks like a fun game to teach people about menstruation, and we applaud that. We also like the bold design and clear illustrations, despite the colour scheme being very pink and red, as products about periods are want …

Read an unlimited number of books with this subscription

Bookworms, listen up! Imagine having access to an unlimited number of books every month, but paying less than the cost of one paperback. If you're ready to devour hundreds of books – plus peruse countless magazines and newspapers – this Scribd Subscription can be yours for just $80.

Be the envy of your book club with instant access to new releases, bestsellers and the classics. This year-long subscription instantly puts over a million books at your fingertips, ready for you to access any time and anywhere. Want to escape to an alternate universe during your morning commute or at home to unwind after a long day? Just use the Scribd app to get access on your smartphone, or pull up Scribd on a web browser.

And if you're hoping to give your eyes a rest, just pop in your headphones and relax while listening to one of thousands of audiobooks. There's even a vast collection of sheet music if you're so moved by your latest read that you feel like making music. And you can personalise your library by saving your favourites, creating collections and bookmarking titles for later.

Snag a Scribd Subcription for $80 here.

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from Creative Bloq http://www.creativebloq.com/news/read-an-unlimited-number-of-books-with-this-subscription…

Quiz: What CSS framework should you use?

CSS has many positive attributes but it can also be a real nightmare. We’ve all seen CSS that has spiralled out of control into a mess of co-dependent, poorly named spaghetti.

CSS frameworks like Bootstrap and Foundation give you the base styles you need to get your project off the ground quickly. But what if you need something more custom? What if your project is a beautiful, unique child that doesn’t conform to the rules, man?

At BuzzFeed, we've created Solid, a framework that codifies common UX patterns across our products and reduces the amount of custom CSS we’re writing.

This is important to us because we have a big, busy design team. Solid gives us a common UI language which helps to reduce our design overheads and keeps us visually and semantically consistent.  

In true BuzzFeed fashion, we have created a quiz to help you consider what is important to you and to decide whether to use an existing framework, make your own, or not use a framework at all.

So what approach should you take? Answer the following questions to find out:

 How important is the style of your project?

  • A: The style of the product is an afterthought for us
  • B: Fairly important, that’s why I’m taking this quiz!
  • C: The style is the product

 Are there common/shared patterns in your project?

  • A: No, but I would like there to be
  • B: Yes, the need for shared patterns like forms and buttons is apparent
  • C: Everything is unique and that’s how I like it

Do you need to implement a lot of custom, one-off designs?

  • A: No
  • B: I’m not sure yet, it’s too early in the process to know
  • C: Yes, this website is going to be flashy and blow minds

How much front end expertise do you have on the team?

  • A: It could be stronger
  • B: There is a strong front end engineering presence on my team

8 business tips for selling design goods

Online retailers like Not On The High Street and Etsy have significantly lowered the barriers to entry for anyone wanting to try their hand at selling their design goods online. That said, it's an increasingly crowded marketplace, and it's by no means easy to make a success of your online store.

In this article, we'll offer some advice for the kind of products you should consider selling, and how to make sure your business is commercially viable. If you'd like some ideas as to how your online shop could look, then check out our post on inspiring ecommerce websites.

01. Know your materials

Coloured Perspex and necklace chain for making jewellery

Finest Imaginary specialises in Perspex jewellery

Adjusting your mindset into that of a product designer can be challenging at first, but it’s essential to have the materials available to you in mind when starting the design process, to understand the limits of what is possible. 

"I love the challenges involved with Perspex," reveals seller Kim Lawler, founder of Finest Imaginary. "It’s such a versatile material to work with and comes in different colours and finishes. I can’t recommend it enough."

02. Test the waters with printed goods

Selection of colourful plant prints

We are out of office offers a large selection of risograph and screen prints

Small-run printed items such as cards, prints, notebooks and postcards are a firm favourite among illustrators and designers, and are a popular route into the designer-maker market; such products can often be turned around in less than a day.

With a decent colour printer costing less than $250/£250, printed goods are a relatively low-risk activity – but letterpressed or screen printed materials command higher prices. Whether you choose to sell online or post samples to potential wholesalers, print is a safe way to test the waters before moving on to more ambitious projects. See our list of the best printers here.

03. Don't buy pricey equipment to start with

Laser cut badges

Outsource things like laser cutting to start with

Making your own products often requires specialist equipment, which can bump up launch costs before you know if your …

How to raise your prices

Many creatives who go freelance want to build a business that affords them the freedom to choose who they work with and how much they charge. But a recurring topic of conversation with freelancers revolves around the anxiety they have about asking clients for more money. 

Figuring out how much to charge can be stressful. On the one hand, approaching clients and asking for more money than they’re used to paying can sour much-needed relationships. On the other hand, if you never increase what you charge, the real value of your income will decrease over time, your income won’t reflect your experience, and, you’ll make less money than you should for your time and skills.

Although it can be stomach-churning, raising prices is simply part of the freelance life. You have to get used to asking for what you’re worth. Here are some tips to help you work out how to raise your prices.

01. Don't go overboard

If your aim is to keep current clients, it doesn’t make sense to increase your prices by a large amount all at once. If you haven’t raised prices for five years, you might feel justified in putting up your rates by 200 per cent, but most of your clients won’t feel the same way.

Presumably, your clients trust you and feel that your services are valuable. Switching to another freelancer is likely to cost them time and money. They’re incentivised to stay with you, and gradual year-over-year increases won’t change that. But if you increase prices too rapidly, their reluctance to find someone new might be overcome by the increased cost.

So, freelance creatives should increase prices gradually – with small price increases every year. 

02. Have different rules for different clients

You don’t have to charge all clients the same hourly rate. If you think a crucial client will bridle at a price increase, you might consider keeping your prices the same for them, and increasing what you charge new clients.

Over time, your client …

19 super-cool design offices to stir the senses

For some lucky creative agencies, the days of dull and drab cubicle spaces are long gone, with employers realising that inspiring surroundings can have a direct effect on their employees' creativity. They don't have to be located in famous buildings – a tranquil setting, games area, or amazing design office mural can all help to stimulate creativity.

Here we showcase 19 awesome design offices, which have been developed to accommodate all the creative needs of an artistic workforce. Why would anyone consider working from home when they could be grafting in one of these?

01. Kinetic

Geometric Kinetic cubicle

This towering double-decker cube amazes visitors as they enter Kinetic’s office

Website design firm Kinetic has been helping clients to implement internet technologies in innovative ways since 1995, so it makes sense that it has a suitably out-there office. "When we outgrew our original space down the street, we felt it was time to really let our creativity run wild," says Kinetic founder Jay Brandrup.

"From the start, we wanted our space to be specifically designed for flexibility and productivity," he adds. With collaborative break-out spaces and private office areas sitting alongside retro pinball machines and steam rooms, this office finds a happy medium between work and play.

Outdoor office area with a large chess set and grass

The rooftop area is a great place to relax

02. D&AD headquarters

D&ad office space

Yep, that’s a bar behind the office table

It makes total since that those who champion the design scene need to have a pretty sweet office themselves. With this in mind, D&AD's headquarters in Shoreditch, London got an overhaul in 2017, with the help from architects Brinkworth. This allows the charitable organisation to have the flexible space it needs for its staff, but also the capacity to house events. 

There are two levels, big yellow letters saying D&AD, a mural outside, a comfortable office space, a bar, D&AD Annuals and design books, plus plenty of room for events and mingling. What more do you need?

D&AD mural outside

D&AD even makes a statement from the street

03. Cinco

cinco office space

We love the pared back yet unique look

Introducing the WordPress Gutenberg editor

Gutenberg is a block-based content editor that is being introduced with the WordPress 5.0 update. Gutenberg is going to reinvent the way we write and display content on the web, bringing powerful tools to the hands of all WordPress users, from editor to developer

With the rollout of Gutenberg, WordPress is taking a huge step towards bringing easy, responsive layouts into content editing. In this article, we take a look at the game-changing new tool, and what it means for those building WordPress websites.

What is the Gutenberg editor?

Gutenberg enables users to form their content out of responsive blocks – similar to website builder tools like Squarespace – to create posts and pages that mould easily with their theme to any screen size. Theme editors can style block types to match their templates, and non code-savvy users will find it easy to add elements like columns, cover images and social media embeds without the need for unwieldy WordPress plugins. It’s even possible to embed widgets in posts and pages. 

Gutenberg aims to negate the need for shortcodes and custom fields by standardising the content creation process. It makes publishing faster and more powerful, giving editors all-new tools to write and publish more efficiently than before. You can even write your content in other editors like Google Docs or Microsoft Word and paste into the Gutenberg editor, and it will translate your content into blocks automatically.

How does Gutenberg work?

Blocks are the foundation of the new Gutenberg editor. By splitting content up into different types – such as paragraphs, lists, images, quotes and more – blocks enable editors to insert, drag and drop, remove and swap parts of the post or page with ease. 

Compared to the previous TinyMCE editor, it may be somewhat alien to users who have never seen a block-based editor or page builder before, but after a little practice the benefits far outweigh the learning curve. So don’t lose heart if it seems daunting at first.

The default

9 tips for better side projects

Side projects are a great way to pick up a new skill, hone your creative talents, and, if you're lucky, make a bit of money. Thanks to online resources, it's now easier than ever to take your skills to the next level, but turning your side project into a success is still incredibly difficult. Although it certainly can be done.

Side projects can also be valuable additions to your portfolio – see our list of inspirational design portfolios to get some ideas – and employers are often to keen to discuss such projects at interview. To help you on the way to side project satisfaction, we asked designers for their expert hints and tips.

01. Break it into smaller chunks

daily drop cap I

For her Daily Drop Cap project, Jessica Hische found that breaking it down into small chunks of time helped it seem more manageable

“I think about side projects as these bursts of activity,” says Jessica Hische. “I didn’t think of Daily Drop Cap as a big project: I thought of it as 20 to 40 minutes a day. That was very palatable and easy to figure out how to work into my life.”

02. Do it regularly

“For larger projects, I’ll usually do a day or two at a time,” adds Hische. “So I’ll commit a Thursday or a Friday. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in two consecutive days. If you did that every other week, it’s enough to get through a big part of a larger project.”

03. Believe in your projects

The FUGA Collection

The FUGA Collection is Hey’s first foray into non-paper products and originally began as a side project

You should give just as much importance to the personal projects as the paying projects, says Paula Sánchez, Hey’s project manager, “but obviously only when the paying part isn’t a pressing concern!” Don’t just start a side project for the sake of it though, she adds: “do it with passion and believe in what you’re doing.” 

Personal projects can also help with client work in the end, says …