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What exactly makes something 'cool'? It's difficult to tell for sure: the science of coolness appears to be a highly sensitive balancing act. Try too hard and you look desperate or earnest; but if you're too casual and aloof you can come across as unlikeable.

For fonts, just like people, perhaps the secret to being cool is just to be yourself. That's certainly the case with these 10 cool fonts that try something new – and stand out from the crowd in doing so.

01. Oxymora

Format: OTF

Created by Austrian illustrator and lettering artist Birgit Palma, Oxymora is a mind-bendingly cool font inspired by the impossible shapes of Escher. The font, fittingly, takes its name from the word oxymoron, a figure of speech made up of two or more words that seem to be opposite to one another. Combining two perspectives into one font that remains readable is no easy feat, but Palma pulls it off.

02. TilburgsAns

Format: OTF

Ok, at first glance TilburgsAns might not appear cool, per se. But since when are you meant to wear your coolness on your sleeve? Designed by Sander Neijnens and Ivo van Leeuwen, this raw and idiosyncratic font...

Mid-century modernism enjoyed its heyday between the 1940s and 1960s. However, the influential design movement never dropped out of favour, and today continues to confound critics by remaining on-trend in a big way.

Interest in the aesthetic is fuelled by the success of cult dramas such as Mad Men, driving demand for mid-century modern items at vintage stores, furniture fairs and online marketplaces such as Etsy.

What is mid-century modernism?

Mid-century modernism is a practical, clean-lined design movement spanning architecture, interior design, furniture, product and graphic design created during the middle of the 20th century. The exact dates are open to debate: some place mid-century modernism between 1933 and 1965, while others claim the time period was smaller – from 1947 to 1957.

What is the mid-century modern style?

Mid-century modernism is as functional, simple and straightforward as its rather literal name. Mid century modern design is full of clean, sculptural lines, simple, organic shapes and neat proportions, as well as vibrant colour palettes – an evolution of earlier Modernist styles such as Bauhaus.

Read on to discover 15 iconic examples of mid-century modernism across furniture, architecture, products and graphics...

01. Eames Lounge Chair 

Many mid-century modern designers opted for a deliberately artificial aesthetic, rather than trying to imitate wood grain or other more traditional materials. Metal, glass, vinyl and plywood were commonly used.

Perhaps the most famous example of mid-century modern...

In the lead-up to the release of Rian Johnson’s much-anticipated The Last Jedi, the filmmakers were tight-lipped on what secrets were in store from the newest Star Wars film. But 3D World managed to get access to visual effects supervisor Ben Morris from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), who shared his experience of overseeing the film’s massive VFX effort.

Here, Morris breaks down how ILM’s visual effects crew helped realise The Last Jedi’s beloved porgs, what went into the motion capture and CG for Andy Serkis’ evil Snoke, powering up the Millennium Falcon, generating lightsaber effects, and dealing with Luke Skywalker’s mechanical hand.

The Falcon takes flight

One of the ‘characters’ featured in The Last Jedi is of course the iconic Millennium Falcon, this time piloted by Chewbacca and Rey (sometimes with a little help, or distraction, from the adorable porgs). In the original Star Wars trilogy, the Millennium Falcon was of course a miniature ship shot via motion control on bluescreen and optically composited into star fields and space battles. Now it is a completely digital creation, although cockpit interiors did rely on a partial set filmed at Pinewood Studios near London.

Because the Falcon has seen so much screen time in...

Plenty of people dream of designing their own game, but just don't have the tools or knowledge necessary to make it happen. Thanks to the Zero to Hero Game Developer Bundle, it's never been easier to get your start as a game maker. You can get it on sale now for 96 per cent off the retail price.

This is the bundle you need if you want to make this the year you learn to craft your own games. With more than 83 hours of actionable content that will train you on industry standards, this collection of courses is the perfect place to get your start. You'll pick up the programming languages you need to know to code your creation and learn the tools that make it possible to design and develop your dream game.

The Zero to Hero Game Developer Bundle is valued at $1,477 (around £1,055) but you can get it on sale now for 96 per cent off the retail price. That's a great deal for a bundle that could set you down the path to your dream job, so grab it today.

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Scalable Vector Graphics are now universally supported across all browsers (desktop and mobile) . Here's our guide to what they are, and how to design and implement them in your web design work.

First, here are eight reasons why you should be using SVG:

01. Vectors are crisp

SVG uses a coordinate plotting system to plot points and connect them to draw lines, shapes or paths. Vector graphics are drawn using mathematics, meaning they're sharp and crisp, not pixelating like other image formats, making them great for logos, icons and illustrations.

SVG has a number of other features, too – with filters, patterns, gradients and masking and the 'viewBox' property for framing the scene – and they're all animatable. SVG is extremely versatile and supported by all browsers going all the way back to IE9.

02. It's got a navigable DOM

SVG inside the browser has its own DOM. SVG is treated as a separate document by the browser and then positioned inside the normal DOM of the page. This is important for the 'viewBox' property as we can draw our image on a canvas of any size, but then display it in browser at another, all without updating the properties inside the SVG. This separate, navigable DOM is also how we interact with elements inside SVG using CSS and Javascript.

03. It's accessible

SVG has tags built specifically for accessibility, the main one being the '<title>' tag. The title tag along with the '<desc>' tag should be used to provide fallback content for screen...

The best manga art is colourful and expressive. In this Photoshop tutorial, I'll explain how I work with colour and form to make my manga art characters shine. I'll also go through the basic rendering techniques I use in my manga illustrations.

In this tutorial I used two custom Photoshop brushes: a square brush (which I use to sharpen the edges of solid forms) and a render brush (which helps me draw and render without having to switch brushes). You can download them for free here.

01. Start off by being messy

Here’s the preliminary gesture for the final image. At this stage you can be as gestural as you want. Go ahead and be messy, use construction lines and energetic lines until you find the pose you’re looking for. Sometimes you’ll find new and interesting ways of constructing a scene through these unplanned lines.

02. Include anatomical details

I always draw plenty of anatomical details during the initial sketch stage. Even though they’ll probably fade away during the rendering stages, such subtle details will still leave an impression. For example, most of the lines in the character’s back in my initial sketch are rendered out in the final design, but the impression...

Freelancing and working from home can offer immense creative and professional satisfaction, but there are plenty of challenges too. From the stress of juggling multiple projects and knowing you're 100 per cent responsible for them, to clearing your schedule for work that never materialises, freelancing can be as distressing and infuriating as it can be brilliant.

We've already bought you the ultimate 10 steps to freelance success – here are six common mistakes to avoid…

01. Small claims

Are you claiming every tax-deductible expense to which you're entitled? Have you checked? You'd be surprised what's eligible, including pot plants for your home workspace and some parking fees (but not penalties).

02. Double jeopardy

It's all too easy to spend your money twice. You've completed a project, invoiced the client and mentally added the fee to your earnings, so you spend that amount. Then you actually receive the fee and spend it again. There's barely a freelancer alive who's never done this. You probably shouldn't do it again, though.

03. Time out

Are you leaving yourself any time to stare out of windows, slump on sofas, fiddle, faff and waste time, or are you allocating every hour in your carefully timetabled working week to doing something specific? Clear some space to take time out and rest your brain. You should find it boosts your creativity in the long run.

04. Web history

It looks deeply unprofessional if your

Put your best pencils and doodle art to one side – it's time to delve into the art of pastel drawing. In use by artists for centuries, pastels are an especially portable medium, enabling you to create colourful art with no need for water, brushes or palettes.

But first, what exactly is a pastel? The definition isn't completely clear, and there's been some debate within art societies as to what exactly qualifies as a pastel. The Pastel Society in the UK, however, states the following media are acceptable for its exhibitions: "Pastels, including Oil pastel, Charcoal, Pencil, Conté, Sanguine, or any dry media."

Note that an artwork made using pastels is also called a pastel (or a pastel drawing or pastel painting). Pastel used as a verb means to produce an artwork with pastels. And of course, none of these terms should be confused with the use of pastel as an adjective, to mean pale in colour!

The pastels themselves come in the form of a stick, consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all coloured art media, including oil paints; the binder is of a neutral hue and low saturation.

Getting started with pastels

Soft pastel sticks do become dusty or dirty when transporting, so carry a cloth to wipe them off before...

Entries are now being taken for the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, an annual contest that combines humorous animal photography with a serious conservation message. Capturing animals is no easy task, so if you want to be in with a shot of winning, read on for some top tips from photography pros.

This year, sponsors include Affinity Photo – the award-winning professional photo editing app for Mac, Windows an iOS (it’s even Apple’s current iPad App of the Year). A new category, the Affinity Photo People’s Choice Award, will allow users to select their favourite image.

Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam are the co-founders of the awards, and users of Affinity Photo. Here, they give their top tips for taking great wildlife photography…

01. Figure out your gear first

Before you get out into the wild, make sure you know how your kit works. I know it sounds obvious, but you need to understand how and why to change shutter speeds and ISOs so that you can respond to changes quickly. 

If the perfect photo suddenly presents itself, you need to go with the flow. A cheetah can go from lounging around under a tree to 90kmph in a jiffy, and you need to know what to do! Also, make sure you can change lenses quickly if needs be.

02. Make the most of good light

Always know what the light is doing, where it is coming from...

An online portfolio is an essential self-promotion tool for any freelance designer. Often the first thing a potential client sees, it's a shop window to show off your work, as well as yourself – and you need to get it right.

A professional-looking layout is a must. If front-end web design is one of your skills, then you should practice what you preach and create something bespoke. But for illustrators, graphic designers and photographers, there are a wide array of off-the-shelf portfolio templates and website themes to choose from, which can be customised into an original design with little – or none – CSS tinkering.

Read on for our pick of 10 of the very best portfolio templates to choose from, representing five of the most popular portfolio website platforms...

01. Adobe Portfolio: Andreas

One of a fine selection of portfolio website themes for Adobe Portfolio designed by big-name creatives, this portfolio template by Andreas Levers really lets your work shine.

Its minimal layout is ideal for photography as each piece of work is shown large, and alternates between being left- and right-aligned, giving each image space to breathe.

Given that Adobe Portfolio is bundled with Creative Cloud, existing subscribers may well find the option attractive. But there are many other platforms out there, as we'll show...

02. Squarespace: Flatiron 

Modern browsers and design tools offer a lot in terms of creative power. Mobile devices have turned into pocket powerhouses with enough oomph to push all those Retina screen pixels without breaking a sweat.

It should therefore come as no surprise that dynamic websites, which tap into all this power, are emerging on a daily basis. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a modern website that doesn’t make use of animation in some way, be it in the form of simple hover transitions or in full-blown pieces of animated pixel art.

Why CSS animation?

Compared to script-driven animations, CSS animations are easier to learn and can be used without having to know JavaScript. They can be made responsive as they can be modified through CSS media queries. Despite having a relatively simple syntax, we can create quite complex animations with it, especially with the help of CSS preprocessors.

CSS animation consists of a style describing the animation and a @keyframes block that defines intermediate steps in an animation sequence. All aspects of the animation are controlled via a set of easily understandable properties: animation-name, animation-duration, animation-timing-function, animation-delay, animation-iteration-count, animation-direction, animation-fill-mode and animation-play-state. There is also the animation property, a shorthand syntax that combines all of the others.

This is what the CSS animation code looks like in its simplest form:

Using the same syntax, it is possible to animate SVG the same way as any other HTML element.

We will explore various aspects of CSS animation and how we can use it...

This image of Brunel's Great Eastern steamship from 1858 is on permanent display at a new £7 million museum in Bristol, which opened its doors in the spring of 2018. 'Being Brunel' is part of the National Brunel Institute and the SS Great Britain Trust.

The model in this image has been organised into multiple layers and was built primarily using 3ds Max and V-Ray. The characters were clothed with Marvellous Designer and Phoenix FD was used to generate a realistic light emitting from the ship's furnaces.

Coal piles are generated from a single object instanced many times with Particle Array, and Displacement modifiers have been used to create the gnarly rope textures. The model is lit by a blue-coloured GI environment, one VRaySun, five V-Ray Disc lights and 30 VRayIES accent lights.

For this exercise we will concentrate on the boiler room in the scene and build up one of the boiler unit 'lids'. There is of course more than one way to approach this, and with this tutorial I have broken down the process into a number of my own preferred individual steps. 

Finally, I'll share how to create and easily manipulate a length of chain link into any position using a bones system.

01. Cut out a hole

The cut-away...

Finding the right font pairing is an artform – in this article, we offer some tips and tricks for getting it right. Let's say you've hunted through all the great paid and free fonts you can find, and picked the perfect typeface to suit your project. 

Great fonts don't live in isolation – you need something to go with it that will complement it and help it shine. Then you need to figure out how to use your choices effectively within your design. Here are the golden rules of matching fonts to help get you started. 

01. Don't use too many fonts

First things first: don’t go mad with fonts. You want to pick a couple that work together and set the tone and mood you want to portray. Too many fonts will create a jarring experience. 

02. Consider context

Where is your typography being displayed and who is going to read it? Consider this when deciding which font is right for your project. Striking the right visual direction and tone is important when it comes to making sure your messages are relatable.

03. Don’t be afraid of space

Clarity and breathing space is important when making a message noticeable. Ensure your textual elements aren't fighting for prominence...

The familiar little flicks that help lettering flow together as you read have been falling out of favour over recent years, as brands have been trying harder and harder to make a bold impact with their logo designs. In fact last year we noticed that big brands were going one step further and resorting to an all-caps approach to their typography.

But are serifs really on the way out? Earlier this year we predicted the opposite, as our typography trends for 2018 forecast that serifs would be an important tool that brands would use to establish a sense of personality and uncorporateness (take that, The Man, we're making up words now).

Despite all of this, big brands seem to be pruning the serifs from their beloved logos and letters. Does this rob them of a personality, or does it reinforce an aspect of their identity? Let's take a look at five big brands who have ditched serifs to find out.

01. HSBC

In a rebrand that could be dismissed as 'same same but different', HSBC has snuck out a sans-serif logo. It's a rebrand that's largely flown under the radar, possibly because it's so inoffensive. As well as straightening out the lettering, HSBC has also swapped around the logo and the brand name, and deepened the colour of its hexagonal logo.

So why did this rebrand pique our interest? Well, it's mainly because HSBC was one of the last banking bastions of serif lettering. With a serifed font,...

The internet is full of web design inspiration for people learning how to start a blog or website. There are also a number of web themes available for different content management systems, such as open source platform Drupal.

There are over one million sites in more than 180 languages currently using the Drupal CMS. That might not be as many as WordPress. But with a massive online community, and more than 26,000 developers constantly building and offering themes and resources, it's safe to say that Drupal is a viable option for building your website on an open source CMS platform.

Here is a comprehensive list of the best Drupal themes to be found on the web. Happily, those on page one are completely free...

01. Drupal8 W3CSS Theme

  • Price: Free

Claiming to be the first Drupal 8 theme that uses the smaller and easier-to-learn w3.css framework, Drupal8 W3CSS is designed to be simple to use, with fast loading times. It's responsive by default and provides CSS equality across all browsers and devices. It also comes with 22 predefined themes, and has 22 regions and 26 sections with changeable colours.

02. Showcase Lite

  • Price: Free

Based on the popular Showcase+ premium theme, Showcase Lite is a free mobile-first theme built on the...

WordPress makes the web go round. The platform is extremely customisable and ready to be crafted into the perfect website. Learn to make the most of WordPress with the WordPress Essentials Lifetime Bundle. You can get it on sale now for 97 per cent off the retail price

By the time you're finished with the WordPress Essentials Lifetime Bundle, you'll be building amazing websites that will provide you with a web presence that people won't be able to ignore. These courses cover everything from the basics of building a fundamentally sound site to how to market your site and products with professional-level copywriting. It hits on all essentials for any upstart web designer who is hosting their site on WordPress.

The WordPress Essentials Lifetime Bundle is packed with $880 worth of WordPress content, but you can get it now for 97 per cent off the retail price. That's a great deal of savings for these must-have courses, so grab this deal today.

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Technology is a crucial part of our day-to-day lives. We already know that coding knowledge is going to become increasingly important over the coming years. But how do we equip children with the necessary skills to becoming coding literate? 

The secret lies in engaging their creativity and imagination – which is exactly what these amazing toys and tools do.

01. Botley

Aimed at children aged five to nine, Botley is a screen-free coding robot. Using logic and step coding, children can easily programme him to perform a range of basic movements, detect and avoid objects, and make sounds. Children can lay out the coding cards to plan and visualise Botley's path before coding his movements. He also comes with detachable robot arms he can use to move objects. 

02. Coding Jam

Here's something a bit different: with Osmo's Coding Jam, kids use code to create their own unique musical jams. Each coding block is a programming command – combine them in different patterns to create music. Sounds range from prehistoric cave beats, to interplanetary pings and science-lab techno grooves. 

03. Cubetto

Friendly wooden robot Cubetto offers a screenless introduction to coding. Children arrange the tactile wooden blocks in different sequences on the control board to tell Cubetto where to go. Each colour or shape indicates a different action.  The toy can be expanded using additional maps, challenges and storybooks.


Master the techniques of famous surrealist painters with the latest issue of ImagineFX magazine - on sale today. Inside the pages of issue 161 you'll discover how to turn abstract ideas into strong character art, plus you'll learn how surrealist artists whipped up a strong sense of atmosphere. There's more to it than painting melting clocks!

Buy issue 161 of ImagineFX here!

Elsewhere in issue 161 we pay a visit to Jake Parker's studio, celebrate 25 years of Magic: The Gathering, and reveal how to build up a ghostly scene with paints in our traditional artist workshop. On top of this there's the usual news, reviews, and reader art that you've come to expect from the world's leading digital art magazine.

Take a look at this issue's lead features below.

Click here to subscribe to ImagineFX Staying smart on social

Getting distracted by social media is a problem for everyone, but artists in particular struggle to manage their time online. We talk to artists from all walks of life to discover how they strike a work and social media balance, and hear how the online platforms can be used in a proactive way.

Inside the mind of Allen Williams

American illustrator Allen Williams' fascination for drawing started at a young age as his family moved around the country. We talk to...

Editorial work is a staple for many illustrators. While it's rarely as well-paid as branding or advertising commissions, it's a chance to stretch the creative muscles and tackle a broad range of subject matters.

Illustration can visualise the most abstract, surreal and complex themes and concepts that photography would struggle with. It can fill any available space, interact with the copy, grab readers' attention and draw people into the story.

As our illustrator hotlist 2018 attests, the global illustration scene is booming – and editorial is no exception. Read on for our pick of eight particularly inspiring editorial illustrations from around the world.

01. Calum Heath: Cyber Bullying

Editorial illustration can represent powerful, emotional and also quite abstract concepts, as this piece by London-based illustrator Calum Heath demonstrates.

Heath specialises in editorial work, with clients including The New Yorker, the Guardian and MixMag. This piece for VICE, one of his favourites to date, accompanied an article about cyber bullying. 

In a clever symbolic twist, it transforms familiar Facebook 'Like' icons into foreboding shark fins, circling a girl. "The drawing was originally from life – an observational sketch of my younger sister on her phone," he explains. "I re-contextualised the drawing to make her seem isolated and in danger."

02. A. Richard Allen: Trump Wave

Getting the typography right in your web designs is a vital skill, but one that's difficult to master. These top typography tools for web designers will help you on your way. Here we've included tools to help you find the perfect font pairing and great places to download fonts, but also some handy tools to help you make your font choices work well in situ. 

01. Gridlover

Gridlover is awesome at gauging font sizes and spacing on a web page when you’re considering how big your H1 and H2 titles need to be. This free tool enables you to dynamically set scaling rules that apply to your headers and tinker with the CSS.

It’s also a great tool for when you need to hand over designs to a developer. The output CSS and rules are really useful for ensuring consistency between design and code.

02. Canva Font Combinations

Canva's Font Combinations is a useful tool if you want to simply see font pairings and get some inspiration. Select your starter font and this tools will provide you with a list of useful ideas of great font pairings. A great advantage is that you can also see the pairing in situ with live examples. Although the font listing is not huge, you...