In this video I’ll show you how Figma’s new and improved Auto Layout features make designing responsive components and layouts easier than ever!
Figma’s original Auto Layout features were introduced in December 2019–and now, almost a year later, Auto Layout has been completely reimagined, rebuilt and is (in my opinion) much better.
Watch the Video
What is Auto Layout?
Figma’s Auto Layout allows you to create dynamic frames which adjust to their content. Here, for example, is a simple frame which contains some shapes:
By selecting the frame, then clicking the Auto Layout button in the sidebar, the shapes within the frame are arranged more efficiently and the frame itself adjusts in response to the area they occupy:
You’ll notice in the Auto Layout properties that we have Horizontal selected. This arranges the shapes horizontally within the frame. We can also choose Vertical and apply a number of other settings giving us great levels of control over alignment, distribution, and spacing.
This is a very basic demonstration, but with Auto Layout features we can create buttons which resize according to their content, or menus which do the same, even whole layouts which shift and adjust responsively. It’s without doubt my favorite feature within Figma.
New Auto Layout Features in Figma
As I mentioned earlier the concept of Auto Layout is nothing new to Figma, but this recent incarnation of it comes with plenty of new features. Check out the video above for complete demonstrations of these features—here’s a quick summary:
Imagine you create a text object for a button. You add the text to the workspace, then right-click > Auto Layout. Doing so immediately creates a frame around the text object (see the layers panel), applies a default 10px of padding between the items (we’ll get to this in a moment) and a default 10px of padding around the object (see the properties panel):
These values can be changed by entering different numbers. In the old version of Figma Auto Layout you could apply padding by specifying horizontal and vertical values, but in this new Auto Layout you can enter values for top, bottom, left, and right, all within the Alignment and Padding panel:
We also have some exciting new options for resizing. For example, we can apply Auto Layout to a button (just like above) then in the Resizing properties we can apply Hug Contents both vertically, and horizontally. This makes the parent frame “hug” the button by resizing itself depending on how big the button is
Alternatively we can set this resize value to Fixed Width and Fixed Height. As you might expect, this allows you to enter a fixed value for the width and height of the button.
The last possible value here is Fill Container, which will make the button as wide or as tall as the available space in the parent container allows.
These three approaches to the sizing of objects, especially as you can use any combination you like on one object, allow total control when dealing with whole page and component layouts.
The new Figma Auto Layout offers us some new alignment control too. In the old version of Auto Layout you would perform any alignment at the “child level”, ie. on the objects themselves. Now, you apply alignment properties to the parent container.
You can see the how alignment is impacting the child objects in the Alignment and Padding panel we looked at earlier:
In the image above you can see that objects within this frame are aligned to the top left. The space between the items is specified in the Spacing Between Items box we saw earlier. You can also see that the mouse cursor is hovering above what would be top center alignment. You can click anywhere in this space to change the alignment visually.
Personally I quite liked the older version where I could align objects individually, but I can see how this approach makes sense. If you’ve ever looked at Flexbox and how it applies alignment in CSS, you’ll see common elements in its behavior.
The layout shown above used the Packed distribution, but there are other forms of distribution too. Space Between, for example, effectively distributes the objects across the whole width or height of the parent container (depending on the alignment direction), with equal space between each one.
Learn More About Figma Auto Layout
That completes this introduction to Figma’s new Auto Layout features! I created a course a short while ago explaining the “old” Auto Layout features in Figma in greater detail. The features have been completely rethought since then, but the principles and best practices I cover are still perfectly relevant. Check it out!
WordPress is an amazingly stable platform thanks to the dedication and talent of the hundreds of professionals contributing to it, and the strict code standards they follow. Even so, the huge variety of themes, plugins and server environments out there make it difficult to guarantee nothing will ever go wrong. This guide will help you […]
2020 has been an interesting year, to say the least. And although I’m sure many of you can’t wait until the calendar flips ahead to 2021, it doesn’t look as though we’re going to be able to say goodbye to 2020 so easily. Many of the changes we’ve had to make this year are now expected to stay with us — a least for the following year.
The latest research gives us some hints about what’s to come.
If you want to start preparing for 2021 now, then these reports and surveys from organizations like 99designs, Upwork, Content Marketing Institute, and McKinsey & Company are a must-read:
1. 99designs Reports on the Common Challenges Freelancers Faced in 2020
That said, 2020 has been a rough year and it would be irresponsible for me not to acknowledge the challenges that all of us freelancers have encountered this year. This report is one of the few I’ve found that includes data on the major challenges freelancers have dealt with this year, including:
36% have struggled to maintain a steady flow of work or a stable client base;
27% had clients who cut their business budgets and, consequently, their freelancers’ workloads;
26% had at least one project cancelled or indefinitely paused;
22% have been ghosted by at least one client.
Beyond working more hours and hustling to find new clients all the time, what else can freelancers do to weather a business disruptor like COVID-19? There are a number of things.
2. Upwork’s Survey Reveals Educational Opportunities for Freelancers
Upwork commissioned Edelman Intelligence to put together its very first Freelance Forward survey. The goal of the ensuing report was to shed light on the state of freelancing, how the pandemic has changed it, and what we can expect in the future as a result.
One of the data sets I think web designers should pay close attention to is this:
According to this survey, freelancers only spend about 52% of their time on billable work.
Now, one of the reasons why entrepreneurs and enterprise companies make so much money is because tasks are relegated to different team members. For instance, if a design agency owner is good at building relationships with prospects, they’re going to spend time on sales calls and managing social media. The day-to-day admin tasks would then get offloaded to virtual assistants and billable project work would go to designers, developers, writers, and so on.
But as a freelancer, you don’t have the ability to delegate and scale when you’re working solo.
Rather than burn yourself out trying to handle all these things yourself, the report suggests there’s something else you can do:
Although freelancers recognize how important soft skills and business skills are, the first data set suggests that not enough attention might be paid to them.
What I suggest is that you take a look at the division of your work hours. If you’re spending less than half of your time on billable work, it might be a good idea to strengthen your non-design skills. That way, things like marketing, contract preparation, and client management won’t consume so much of your time in the future and you can bill more.
3. CMI’s Annual Report Reveals Profitable Opportunities for Web Designers
Content Marketing Institute’s annual B2B Content Marketing Report is, once again, chock full of useful tidbits about the state of content marketing.
While a lot of the data is focused around marketing organizations and how they’ve pivoted during the pandemic, I thought this bit of info would be really helpful for web designers:
For those of you who design B2B websites, take note of where these companies plan to invest in 2021. If 2020 has been particularly hard on you, or you simply want to expand your horizons, there are some other opportunities worth jumping into:
B2B Marketing Investment => Web Designer Opportunity
Content creation => Blog graphic design, infographic design, and schema markup creation
Website enhancements => Website redesign, website audits
Content distribution => Social media ad design, Google ad design, schema markup creation
Getting to know audiences better => UX research, UX design
Customer experience => Chatbot/live chat development, support portal creation
4. McKinsey B2B Analysis Suggests That Digital Is Here to Stay
For those of you who’ve worked for a B2B sales organization before, you know how important in-person interactions are to them. It’s not as though they can just sell their products or services online the way B2C ecommerce companies can. The key to B2B success is through customer (and partner) relationship building.
Prior to 2020, this meant lots of in-person meetings, phone calls, and emails. But something has changed this year, on both sides of the fence.
This chart from McKinsey suggests that digital relationship building and customer service aren’t just a temporary solution for COVID-19. B2B decision-makers are coming around to the idea that this is going to be their “next normal” (as McKinsey refers to it).
These new “go-to-market models” include the following:
Talk to prospects, customers, and partners via video calls;
Digital self-service options for customers who prefer the DIY method.
As a web designer, you can help your B2B clients level up their efforts to achieve this next normal.
Another thing you can do is build out self-service elements like live chat or chatbots, FAQs pages, knowledgebases, and support portals. As consumers become more confident with doing business online, these self-service options will make a world of difference in their experience with brands.
I know, I know. 2020 sucked. But at least we have a good amount of research and experience that gives us a much clearer idea of what we’re getting ourselves into with the coming year. (At least, I hope so.)
If you’re a WordPress developer, you know how important it is to have a wide selection of digital assets in your toolbox.
With thousands of items all in one place, Envato Elements is just the resource you need, and you can download as many assets as you want, as often as you like, for a single affordable monthly fee.
What’s more, all downloaded items are covered by a single license that gives you broad commercial rights when using the items you download.
If you have any doubts that Envato Elements is for you, here are the reasons every WordPress developer needs to sign up for this service today.
unlimited premium themes to download
unlimited advanced plugins
unlimited fonts for a stylish site
unlimited icons and graphics for website design
royalty-free stock photos and videos
the Elements plugin for WordPress
Unlimited Premium Themes to Download
With over a thousand WordPress themes to choose from in our library, I’m sure you’ll find what you need. From blog, eCommerce and minimalist, to multipurpose WordPress templates, we’ve got them all. Here are some of our favorites:
Blogosphere is one of our most popular WordPress themes. This premium WordPress theme was designed to make blogging easier and prettier.
The theme includes several blog layout styles, it’s Gutenberg ready and fully integrated with WooCommerce. This blogging WordPress theme can be adapted to any niche. Or you can use its ready-to-use demos:
The wonderful thing about using a ready-made theme is that it can help you cut out a lot of the grunt work that goes into building a site from scratch and focus your energy instead on making modifications that will make your site unique.
Envato Elements has hundreds of wonderful themes that will help you do just that, like Bonfire, a multipurpose WordPress theme that features 14 beautiful pre-defined homepages and is perfect for a wide range of creative businesses.
Bonfire is based on the Redux framework and works with loads of popular plugins like Visual Composer, Slider Revolution, Ultimate Addons for Composer, WPML, and Mega Menu.
Eunice is a stylish, attractive, and bright photography theme that will help you showcase your artwork. The theme features photo layouts such as full-width sliders, grids, masonry, ribbons, and albums.
The clean and minimal Zuka theme has ten unique demos, over ten header layouts, over four testimonial displays, and many other useful features. The theme comes with a simple drag-and-drop editor that easily allows you to customize your entire website.
Unlimited Advanced WordPress Plugins
Browse through a library of more than 600 plugins for WordPress websites. Do you need a slider? A Pinterest plugin? WooCommerce plugins? Download as many as you need with your subscription.
This WordPress plugin is one of the most popular plugins for a reason. If you run a WordPress blog, you know how important it is to integrate Pinterest in it. This plugin allows you to display your own profile pins and boards from Pinterest on your website.
The purpose of this WordPress plugin is to showcase your ideas and inspire your visitors and clients. Try it today!
Another reason to use Envato Elements is to access its awesome collection of plugins like the Next Post Fly Box for WordPress featured here. Next Post Fly Box is a lightweight WordPress plugin that creates floating boxes with the next and previous blog posts. Box content settings offer featured images, title of posts, excerpt, and a close button. This handy plugin also supports custom post types and post categories.
The default WordPress eCommerce plugin, WooCommerce, can be quite slow at times, which makes for a sub-optimal customer experience. WooCommerce Quick Order Plugin helps fix this issue by allowing your users to purchase your products faster!
Quickly and easily create complex FAQs for your customers with this WordPress plugin. Unlike the classic FAQs, you can have your users generate new questions based on their input, which will help you build a more thorough database fo FAQs.
Super Forms allows you to create a custom form that redirects to the PayPal checkout page. This is ideal if you have a website that deals with subscriptions and need to use a popular payment processor.
Unlimited Fonts for a Stylish Site
As a WordPress developer, you know the importance of fonts and typography. Download as many as you need here. Whether you need serif, sans-serif, script or decorative, there are thousands of premium fonts waiting for you.
If you need a beautiful, strong cursive font that makes a statement, Saekana Script fits the bill. A great font for logotypes, titles, and website headers, this big, bold script will certainly command attention in places where you need it. Saekana comes in two styles—rough and clean—and contains a full set of lower and uppercase letters and a large range of punctuation and numerals.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a simple and beautiful sans serif font for your logo design, website title, or headers, QARVIC is a terrific choice. It has two types of letters—plain type and type grunge—and also comes with outline icon characters. The font contains a full set of lower and uppercase letters, multilingual characters with accents, punctuation, and numerals.
Every WordPress developer needs a set of icons in different styles they can access for different purposes. Happily, with your Envato Elements subscription, you have access to an endless pool of icons in every style imaginable. All, like the Graphic Design Line Icons set featured here, are provided in transparent PNG files and are easy to customise using any vector software like Adobe Illustrator.
Don’t wait until you need terrific graphics to scramble to find them. With Envato Elements, you have access to any number of graphics that are super simple to incorporate into your website. This Happy Children Swimming on Sea graphic is just one of many vector illustrations available that will save you the hassle of searching for an illustrator or spending hours hopping from one site to the other to find illustrations that are just right for your purpose.
This fully editable and customizable icon set will work perfectly for mapping interfaces, navigation apps, and website designs. It includes all sorts of icons, including pins, pointers, highway signs, markers, and much more.
If you’ve got a veterinary WordPress website, you’ll love this minimalist logo. I’s vector-based, which means it’s fully editable and scalable without losing resolution. Edit this awesome and simple logo in Adobe Illustrator.
Finding the right logo can be one of the biggest challenges when creating a new project. Happily, Elements has hundreds of ready-made logos to make your task easier. Apricity Logo Template, an organic style logo template suitable for any business or product, is just one of many available with an Elements subscription. The template is easy to customise. You can change the size and colour and alter the text as you like.
This gorgeously delicate logo is another reason Envato Elements is useful for WordPress developers. With this kit, you get 18 logo designs, 17 icons, and 13 watercolour elements, and what’s more you can remove any elements you don’t need and modify everything to make it work with the brand image you’re creating. All files are well organised and fully editable.
This customizable logo comes in Adobe Illustrator format and is fully customizable. Whether you need to change the shapes, text, colors, fonts, or positions, you will have full control over this modern and sleek-looking logo.
Royalty-Free Stock Photos
Did you know there are over one million photos in Envato Elements’ library? As a WordPress developer, you’ve got to have the best royalty-free stock photos available. Here are just some of our top categories.
The beautiful landscapes section contains stunning photographs of some of the most amazing landscapes across the globe. If you need to display a landscape on your website or app, then you must check out these photos.
A well-chosen photograph can make a huge difference to the success of your project. With your Elements subscription, you can now take advantage of the hundreds of thousands of new royalty-free stock photos available at Envato Elements and take your project to a whole new level.
Unlimited Royalty-Free Stock Videos
The same goes for video, which is often far more expensive to source than still images. Give yourself the best chance of finding the right video footage for your website, when you access the hundreds of royalty-free stock videos at Envato Elements.
Slow-motion videos can add quite a bit of interest to your videos or can make great website background videos. You can choose from over 5,000 captivating videos for your next project from the Envato Elements library of slow-motion videos.
Bonus: The Elements Plugin for WordPress Makes It Easy
To make Elements even more accessible to WordPress users, Envato has developed an elegant new plugin. The Elements WordPress plugin currently offers scores of template kits, which together contain over 1,000 well-designed templates you can use while creating a WordPress site.
Because it’s designed to work seamlessly with popular WordPress page builders such as Elementor and Beaver Builder, you won’t have to write a single line of code while using it.
Creating professional-looking static pages for a WordPress site is hard, even for an experienced web developer. It involves tasks such as designing responsive layouts, finding appropriate creative assets, and acquiring the right licenses to use them. If you’ve ever tried doing all these tasks on your own, I’m sure you understand how time-consuming and expensive they can get.
Now you know some of the reasons that make Envato Elements an indispensable asset for WordPress developers. There are countless tools and resources that you can download, all with an Envato Elements subscription. If none of the items I’ve shared with you here catch your fancy, there are thousands more to choose from at Envato Elements, and you can download as many as you like for one low monthly price.
This post has been updated with contributions from Maria Villaneuva, a journalist and writer with many years of experience working in digital media.
Today we will be learning how to make a lightning brush in Photoshop. Add drama and energy to your photos with just a click of a mouse with a lightning bolt Photoshop brush! I’ll then show you how to create a lightning effect in Photoshop by applying your brush to a photograph.
What You Will Learn in This Adobe Photoshop Brush Tutorial
How to create a lightning brush in Photoshop
How to apply lightning brushes to a photo
How to create quick lightning effects with layer modes
How to create a quick stormy color grade
How to add fire to a photo
What You’ll Need
To complete this project, you will need the following resources:
Create a white to black Gradient Map adjustment layer, which will turn the image greyscale.
Next, create a Levels adjustment layer above the gradient map layer. Use this layer to increase the contrast of the image so that the lightning becomes darker and the sky becomes whiter.
Create a new layer under both adjustment layers, keeping it set to Normal.
Using a combination of both a hard and soft round Brush, paint black in the areas that still need to be hidden, like the sky. Make sure there are no harsh edges.
Finally, go to Edit > Define Brush Preset.
If the option is greyed out, simply Right-Click > Merge Visible all of your layers and try again.
Create a whole set of lightning brushes using the same method!
2. How to Apply Lightning Brushes to a Photo
You can use your new lightning brush by selecting the Brush Tool and going into the Brush Preset Picker. It will appear below all previous brush presets.
Open your photo and create a new layer.
Use the new lightning brush to stamp a bolt of lightning in the sky. This is the start of our lightning effect in Photoshop.
You can stamp multiple times in the same place to make the lightning appear brighter and more solid.
Use a soft round Eraser brush to erase any edges and to further blend the lightning into the clouds.
3. How to Create Quick a Lightning Effect Using Layer Modes
Create a new layer and stamp a second lightning strike.
Set the layer to Overlay.
Duplicate the lightning layer twice. You can duplicate it more or less depending on the image and how strong you want the lightning effect to be.
Group all three layers together, adding a Layer Mask to the group.
Use a soft Eraser brush to erase any harsh edges, blending the lightning into the clouds just like before.
You can use a soft round Brush set to white to further enhance the light flares coming from the lightning.
Either paint white directly on one of the lightning layers or create a new layer set to Overlay and paint the blooms of light.
4. How to Create a Fast Stormy Color Grade
Once you are happy with your lightning strikes, create a Color Lookup adjustment layer above all current layers. Find them by going to Window > Adjustments.
Set the 3DLUT dropdown menu to Foggy Night.
Set the Foggy Night layer mode to Multiply.
Bring the Foggy Night layer down to 57% Opacity.
5. How to Add Fire to a Photo in Photoshop
We can finish up our image with some quick and easy fire effects! And while a lightning strike wouldn’t cause a fire to spread this quickly, who’s to say a few lightning strikes wouldn’t!
Find a photo of Fire and drop it onto your canvas, below the color lookup layer but above everything else.
An image of burning sticks works best if you are creating a flaming tree effect.
Set the fire’s layer mode to Screen.
Shrink and place the fire over the tree. Hold Shift to squish the image horizontally if needed.
Enhance the fire’s color and saturation by going to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Set it to Hue +13 and Saturation +30. This will make it a more vibrant orange.
We are done! That is all there is to creating a lightning brush in Photoshop. Remember to create a whole set of them so that a dramatic lightning strike is only a couple of clicks away!
In a Hurry?
In a hurry and need a premium set of lightning brushes to create a lightning effect in Photoshop right now? Check out Envato Elements! Here are my top five favorite lightning bolt brushes for Photoshop.
These lightning brush textures are high resolution and are a great addition to any project. Use them in a digital photo manipulation, as visual effects for games or artwork, or just as decorative digital elements!
Looking for something a bit more classic? Then look no further than these 30 thin lightning strike stamp brushes! They’re perfectly thin, but they still pack a punch. Create bright streaks of light with just a few clicks of the mouse.