Obviously, pre-made Photoshop templates, brushes, shapes, and icons have been around a while.
It has made the lives of countless graphic designers considerably easier, though there’s a small chance any of them would admit to this for fear of losing out on business.
Regardless, there are more and better design tools than there’s ever been. And it’s about to explode as never before, with the launch of unDraw.
What is unDraw?
unDraw is home to a large library of open-source illustrations.
In their own words:
Create better designed websites, products and applications. Browse to find the images that fit your messaging, automagically customize the color to match your brand and use it as a normal image, embedded code or directly in your design workflow.
Because the images are open source, you can use them in any of your projects, personal or commercial, without attribution.
Basically, unDraw is the Unsplash of flat design and flat vector style illustrations.
When did “Flat” Design Rise to Popularity?
Nielen Norman Group UX Training, Consulting, & Research says flat design rose to popularity around 2012.
Perhaps tired of the same old, overdone Photoshop layer style effects mimicking realism but never fully achieving it, designers sought to go in a new direction.
And before long, it was reflected in popular Operating Systems, like Windows. Windows 8, in fact, is credited with popularizing the trend.
In my opinion, Windows 10 is a complete disaster design wise, and is even a step backward from Windows 8.
But regardless of design style, there are always good and bad examples. Flat design isn’t automatically better because it’s flat. It’s only noteworthy when it’s done well. The same goes for more realistic design styles.
Why the Obsession over Flat Design?
As a designer flat design captured my imagination.
I’d spent many frustrating years trying to master Photoshop layer style effects, and while I had some successes, I couldn’t produce consistent results. That didn’t exactly help my career as a web and graphic designer.
When I saw flat design for the first time, no one had to explain anything to me. I “got it” right away. And before long, I was Googling “flat UI colors,” “flat design tutorials,” and so forth, to see how I could create my own inspired designs.
Then, I started seeing some of my favorite bloggers and marketers using flat design on their websites. That made me like it even more. In some ways, flat design became synonymous with quality content creators like Brian Dean and CoSchedule.
I started taking inspiration from my favorite designs, sometimes creating my own, sometimes utilizing pre-made vectors and icons to spice up my website and eBooks.
Why unDraw is Awesome
From comments already made, I think you’re starting to get a sense of why I think unDraw is awesome.
But in this section, I will expand on why I think it’s great.
Open-Source is Godlike
There are a ton of awesome free images, icons, and vectors out there.
The only problem is that they often require attribution. That instantly made them less attractive to me as a designer.
After all, it’s not often that I’m looking to use the pre-made graphics as-is. I’m more inclined to use them in the context of designs I’ve created, or to create derivative works. It’s rare that I use pre-made graphics in isolation.
unDraw has got a huge library of quality illustrations (“quality” being the key word here) I can do with as I please. And that makes me happy.
I Can Create More Consistency & Variety with My Designs
I love design, but I’m more of a content creator and marketer than a designer. Which means I don’t like wasting countless hours designing something, unless I know it’s going to contribute greatly to a project.
For years, I used royalty free stock images from sites like Pixabay.
At first, the novelty attracted a lot of people to my content. Then, with the emergence of sites like Medium, people just got tired with the abuse and overuse of stock photography, because you can so easily load it into your content.
As a designer my hands were kind of tied, unless I wanted to spend hours taking my own photos or cooking up something original.
I took advantage of pre-made or custom-made flat designs where I could, but I still ended up leaning heavily on stock photography because it was more accessible.
With unDraw, I can start pumping out more flat design inspired creations. That is, of course, until everyone and their second cat starts doing the same and the novelty completely wears off.
unDraw’s Library is Huge
unDraw’s existing library of assets is already significant and is completely searchable.
There is a lot of variety depending on what you’re looking for, and of course, it’s customizable.
The frustrating part about stock creations in general, is that a lot of people just use the first image they see, and because of that, the top results get overused.
I suppose, in due course, the same thing will happen with illustrations, if they take off just as stock photography has.
For the time being, though, we’re not in danger of seeing unDraw illustrations everywhere, and even if we are, there is a solid variety to keep us engaged for a while.
It’s not about the tool. It’s all in how you use it.
That’s the way I feel about all the free design tools available at our fingertips.
I can’t imagine unDraw will kill stock photography, but it’s a nice addition to the mix, especially for those who aren’t designers and need access to more pre-made graphics.
Of course, I will still pay for custom graphics when I need them. But for general everyday use, it’s nice to know that there’s a resource like unDraw.
- unDraw, Open source illustrations for any idea, https://undraw.co/
- Nielsen Norman Group UX Training, Consulting & Research, Flat Design: Its Origins, Its Problems, and Why Flat 2.0 Is Better for Users, https://www.nngroup.com/articles/flat-design/
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