Graphic Design Trends 2008

Following graphic design trends? Well a rather well titled article popped up over the last couple of days the 7 most overused techniques in graphic design. Unfortunately I felt this was a little too short, lacking on design trend examples and missing a few other overused graphic elements and techniques.

Here are the 7:

1. Sun-rays / Rays of Light / Rising Sun
2. Black (or Coloured) Silhouettes
3. Ink Splatter
4. Swirls / Flourishes / Ornaments
5. Flowing Lines
6. Funky Circles
7. Smoke Textures

I think the only one I disagree with is the Ink Splatter – I love what Apple have just done with their latest nano-chromatic ads and I don’t think I have seen any real examples of excessive use of it only as a secondary kind of element and only in collages?

I tried to find images or designs which encompassed all these 7 – the best I could find was the Basmati Tree (using Black Silhouettes, Ink Splatter, Swirls, Flowing lines and Funky circles) and Phizz below – which are typical of the grunge / collage style which is very popular right now.

Top 7 Recent Examples Gallery

Here are some recent examples and good uses of some of these “overused” techniques:

1. Sun-rays / Rays of Light / Rising Sun

These are predominantly used for creating focal areas and have been overused some what in web design as shown in the following recently designed sites:

And here are some nice graphic designs using the ray of light really effectively:

Viva Designio! by Mario Belem

Communion by Cristiano Siqueira

2. Black (or Coloured) Silhouettes

This for me was number 1 of the top 7 and has been overused for a number of years. For the most part the overuse of this element is in poor quality designs as this technique needs little imagination – yet it can really be used effectively if combined correctly with other elements.

Here are some really nice graphic designs showing examples of the “overused” silhouette technique – but I think you will agree this is something that can be “overused” as I love to see what people can do with it:

Made in Japan by João Oliveira

Japanese Ritual by David Carvalho

Personal Portfolio by Jonathan Yeun

Bread and Butter by Justin Maller

Honda by I Love Dust

3. Ink Splatter

As I said I don’t think I have seen this overused recently only as secondary elements like in the Basmati Tree site above. Here are some examples of recent designs using ink splatter (which aren’t secondary elements of the design):

Photograph by Nadia Wicker

e-Toile by e-Toile Graphic

Fashion Victim by Jonathan Wong

Radio Star by Rikke Jorgensen

4. Swirls / Flourishes / Ornaments

Since calligraphy took off, years ago, swirls and flourishes have been used in design and art. Here is a selection of some recent effective uses of these techniques:

Computer Arts Cover by Tom Lane

Bare Skin by Francesco Mugnai

Life Type by Nik Ainley

Blooming by Myaki Design

5. Flowing Lines

There is no better way of creating a feeling of motion.

Traveling w/o Moving by Johannes Plank

2008 by Rik Oostenbroek

Nike air lab by Peter Jaworowski

Audi by Johnny Carr

6. Funky Circles

Celubichos by Azul De Corso

Carnival by David Carron

Portfolio by Manuel A. Panos

Camp | Ozone by Emmanuel Prissette

7. Smoke Textures

Smoke is very much a secondary element and is used to soften the background and diffuse colours on dark backgrounds and has only really been overused in this style.

Here are some really nice recent examples of smoke textures:

Pixel Criminals by Pixel Criminals

Haunt Me by Tony Ariawan

Communion by Cristiano Siqueira

Abduzeedo – Great Creating Smoke Tutorial

8. Glass tops / Reflective surface for text and images

I’m not sure if it was Apple that started this trend off but they certainly made the most of it (and still are) and it is being used everywhere now. The main reason for it popularity is that it is now a simple and quick Photoshop effect and makes something 2D like a logo, image or some text in to something much more 3D. Every tutorial site going has a tutorial that involves reflective surfaces in some guise and it really hasn’t moved on. Here is a good example (its No. 17).

9. Multiple waves / translucent waves effect

This is similar to No.5 Flowing Lines – but I mean design more like the standard Vista desktop, well yes it looked better than XP but, these sort of images have been used on Apple mac desktops for years. It is now one of the most popular ways to jazz up a software interface too. If you want to see a really nice minimalistic version check out the Sony PS3 default animated wallpaper.

10. The * Asterisk *

Wallpaper I believe were the first to really make this element a hit and now it is everywhere. IBM did a good advertising campaign a year or 2 ago but it really should be used as a secondary element to a design (I feel) and not a focal point – but even as a secondary element it has been overused.

Here are some recent website using the asterisk for their logo.

12. Notepad writing / Handwritten Notes

I’m not talking about script fonts – I’m talking about actually text that looks like it has been written by hand.

These tie in quite a bit with grunge effect and for websites in particular you see this technique used frequently. It is primarily used to make the site look more personal particularly website that are designed around a collage style. Also it is used to give a more urban feel like graffiti.

Others graphic trends that didn’t make it…

There are a few more elements / techniques I was going to include – like using stock images of people in hand made superman outfits – every other IT company seems to have used this – even a design agency for their marketing campaign promoting a PDF on how to write a design brief :

Also the use of shiny buttons as in Vista is something I have started to see being used right left and centre and not just in software design but web design too. But these are less to do with graphic design which this post is about.

What will be on next years list, in 2009?

Let me know what you think the next trend is going to be? Abduzeedo, who I am interview soon, has a distinct style of glowing / neon photoshop effects and techniques which I certainly think will start to become more popular?

Here are some trends to get you started for 2009

Further reading