20 Best Free Microsoft Word Corporate Letterhead Templates (Download 2019)

Want to make a good first impression for your business? Pay attention to your letterhead.

Use a letterhead design that portrays your business as professional, credible, and authoritative.

Letterhead Template Word from Envato Elements
A premium letterhead template for Word, like the one shown above, makes it easy for anyone to create an impressive business letter.

A great corporate letterhead design expresses your visual branding and conveys your value proposition.

You could commission a designer or agency to design your corporate letterhead. Or, do it yourself with the help of Microsoft Word templates. By starting from a company letterhead template, Word lets you achieve a professional and impressive design. 

Some of the best letterhead templates for Word are actually premium templates. You’ll find these on Envato Elements and GraphicRiver. In this post, we share some top premium Word business letter templates. For tight budgets, we’ll also share some free letterhead templates for Microsoft Word.

Find the Best Premium Business Letterhead Templates on Envato Elements (2019)

For top-notch business letterhead template designs for Word, Envato Elements is an all-you-can-download resource for creatives. As an Elements member, you’ll pay a low monthly fee and unlock access to thousands of premium, professional resources that include:

  • professional company letterhead templates for Word
  • stock photos and royalty free music
  • graphic templates, fonts, and more.

Envato Elements is the place to look for Microsoft Word letterhead templates. Free letterhead templates for Word are often not as robust as professional premium templates like those available from Envato Elements.  

Pro letterhead templates on Envato Elements - with unlimited access
Professional business letterhead templates on Envato Elements – with unlimited access.

Premium Elements themes include professional design options. Plus, the Word business letter template features go beyond the free Microsoft Word templates available around the web. 

Elements is intuitive and easy to use. It’s the perfect tool for making a statement with your business letters in 2019. It includes hundreds of business letterhead templates for Word.

Best Premium Letterhead Template for Word (Unlimited Downloads or Pay-Per-Use)

With a quick web search, you can easily find a free letterhead template for Word. 

To avoid common free Microsoft Word templates, consider premium Microsoft Word letterhead templates. You’ll get a more unique result. 

These are made by professional designers, with the aim of making them simple to customize. As a result, premium templates save you time while delivering extraordinary letterhead designs.

To create a variety of corporate letterhead designs, look to Envato Elements. Download an unlimited number of templates. Plus, you can get all the fonts, icons, photos, and other design elements you want—all for one fixed subscription price. It’s a terrific deal if you make many marketing and communication assets.

Microsoft Word Letterhead Templates from Elements
Envato Elements offers unlimited downloads of letterhead templates for Word.

If you only need a single company letterhead template in Word, then GraphicRiver is the budget-friendly option for you. Here, you can choose from a large library of business letterhead templates for Word and pay only for each use.

Below are just a few examples of the premium business letter templates for Word available from Elements and GraphicRiver:

1. Letterhead Template 04

Letterhead Template 04 for Word

For an urban feel with global appeal, check out Letterhead Template 04. The modern and colorful template has two color options built in. But you can also customize it with your own brand colors. Available in both A4 and US letter sizes, this template is also compatible with Adobe InDesign and Photoshop.

2. Letterhead by LeafLove

Letterhead Template for Word by LeafLove

This company letterhead template for Word delivers, not one, but six different designs, with a blue, green, and red version for each. Every object, color, and text in these A4-sized templates are editable. Aside from Word, the files in this template pack are also compatible with all versions of Adobe Illustrator CS.

3. Letterhead Template 03

Letterhead Template 03 for Word

If a clean, minimalist design is more in line with your visual identity, then Letterhead Template 03 is a good choice. Ample white spaces keep your message front and center. The template also provides plenty of for your contact information. This template comes in A4 and US letter sizes, and the template for a coordinating business card is available as well.

4. Clean & Modern Stationery, Invoice and Identity 

Clean  Modern Stationery Invoice and Identity Template

This template pack provides the total identity package. Aside from a letterhead template, you also get templates for:

  • invoices
  • cover page
  • binder
  • business cards
  • envelope
  • logo

Available in both A4 and US letter sizes, its files are also compatible with InDesign and Photoshop.

5. Be Letterhead

Be Letterhead Template Word

The striking design of this letterhead template is sure to make a good first impression. This A4-sized letterhead template for Word comes with a choice of three colors. Change the color to anything you want. 

When you download this template, you get files in Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign (CS5 and CS Layered), and EPS formats. Whichever application you choose, you’ll find this template easy to customize.

20 Free Letterhead Templates (Word)

We’ve already explained how premium letterhead templates for Word are better than free Microsoft Word templates. But if you’re on a tight budget you may have no choice. If you’re looking for free letterhead templates for Word, I’ve rounded up some of the most interesting and versatile designs below.

1. Business Letter (Sales Stripes Design)

Free Business Letter Template for Word Sales Stripes Design

This business letter template for Word features stripes that are customizable by editing the file in Word.

2. Business Letterhead with Blue Waves

The cascading waves in this letterhead design make it suitable for specific industries.

3. Blue Curve Letterhead

Here’s another free corporate letterhead template for Microsoft Word with blue waves. Blue Curve Letterhead is slightly more formal.

4. Business Letterhead Template 06

Free Business Letterhead Template 06 for Word

A thin border, a striking shape for the company logo, and geometric shapes in the background characterize this business letterhead template for Word.

5. Business Letterhead Template 08

This letterhead template for Word offers partial upper and lower borders. 

6. Letterhead Example 03 (Nature)

This letterhead template for Word is designed especially for businesses and organizations related to nature, science, and the like.

7. Rose Suite Letterhead

Rose Suite Letterhead - Free Template for Word

Rose-colored circles with a hand-drawn effect make this corporate letterhead template for Microsoft Word unique.

8. Formal Business Letterhead

As the name implies, this template makes for a more formal, traditional letterhead.

9. Business Letterhead with Dots

Blue circles of varying shapes provide the accent in this business letterhead template for Word.

10. Bold Logo Letterhead

Free Bold Logo Letterhead Template for Word

This letterhead template (Word) puts all the emphasis on the logo.

11. Letterhead Example 01

Colored bands in the header and footer of this letterhead template give it a unified look.

12. Pinstripes Letterhead

This corporate letterhead template for Microsoft Word is characterized by stripes, sharp corners, and hard edges.

13. From The Desk Of Letterhead

From The Desk Of Letterhead - Free Business Letter Template Word

This free MS Word letterhead template features a simple layout and fancy script font. This letterhead template is suitable for personal branding.

14. Geometric Letterhead

The geometric shapes in this letterhead template convey motion, energy, and dynamism.

15. Sophisticated Green Letterhead

A colored background and curvy green and brown stripes make this letterhead template unique.

16. Technical Letterhead

Company letterhead template for Word

This corporate letterhead template design works well for many industries. Try it for your engineering or technology company. 

17. Business Letter (Apothecary Design)

The solid grey border provides a sharp contrast in this striking letterhead design.

18. Business Letterhead with Globe

The globe icon and metallic band make this business letter template for Word unique.

19. Business Letter (Green Forest Design)

Free Business Letter Green Forest Design Template for Word

This unique corporate letterhead template for Microsoft Word gives plenty of space for a photo without overshadowing the business logo. 

20. Legal Business Letterhead

This letterhead template features a maroon sidebar and justice scale icon. It’s designed specifically for organizations related to the law.  

How to Make Great Corporate Letterhead Designs in MS Word

The time and energy you spend at this point will be well-spent. Everyone in your office can use the customized template for their business correspondence. It’ll give your business a consistent and professional image.

After you’ve chosen a Microsoft Word letterhead template, it’s time to customize it and make it your own. Download the template file and copy it, so you can revert to the original, should you need it again. (If you’re new to Microsoft Word, read this tutorial on how to create, save, and open files in Word.)

Follow the steps below to transform the template into a personalized template with your company branding and information. 

For this example, I am using premium Letterhead Template 04 from Envato Elements.

Letterhead Template Word - How to Customize

Step 1. Add Your Logo

Select and delete the placeholder logo image. Insert your business logo, then resize and drag into place as needed.

Letterhead Template Word - Insert Logo

Step 2. Add Your Tagline

Most company letterhead templates for Word include a placeholder for your company’s tagline. If not, insert a text box for it. Place it underneath the logo.

Letterhead Template Word - Tagline Added

Step 3. Personalize with Your Contact Information

Replace the template text with your business address, telephone number, and website URL. And any other contact information you want to include.

Letterhead Template Word - Personalize with Your Contact Information

Step 4. Apply Your Brand Fonts

After you’ve added all the text you want in your letterhead template, it’s time to use your brand fonts. 

Select the text, then choose the font you wish to use from the font selector. You can change the font size as well. Take note that it may be necessary to change the size of the text box to maintain the page layout.

Letterhead Template Word - Apply Brand Fonts

Some templates use styles to automatically apply to format to specific types of paragraphs. If the template you’re using is based on styles, this tutorial shows how to format your document.

Step 5. Apply Your Branding Colors

Finally, it’s time to apply your branding colors to the letterhead template. Double-click on an object to select it. The Shape Format dialog box opens.

Letterhead Template Word - Branding Colors

Choose your branding colors from the color selection panel.

The business letterhead template has been customized using Word.

Letterhead Template Word - Customized in Microsoft Word

Use a Letterhead Template for Word

Convey professionalism in your business communications by using a well-designed letterhead template. Word makes it easy for you to customize a template with your own information and branding. You and your colleagues will use the company letterhead template for Word for all your business correspondence. So, it pays to choose a good Word business letter template to begin with.

That’s why we recommend using a premium letterhead template for Word, although free templates are available. For unlimited downloads of letterhead templates go to Envato Elements. You’ll find professionally designed letterhead templates for Word that you can easily customize. There are thousands of templates for other marketing materials you’ll be needing as well.

But if you’d rather pay per use, then search in GraphicRiver for a Microsoft Word letterhead template. The rates are extremely budget-friendly, and the quality of the templates remains exceptional. The positive reviews attest to that.

It’s easier than ever to create a letterhead template in Word that supports your business branding and goals.

Download 20 Best Free Microsoft Word Corporate Letterhead Templates (Download 2019)

42 Best Instagram Templates (Posts, Stories, PSD, and More)

Want your Instagram account to have the polished curated look of an influencer? It’s easier than you think. You can up your Instagram game by using beautiful and versatile templates that help your account stand out from the crowd.

Instagram Stories Template
Use cool templates for Instagram Stories like this one to spice up your Instagram account

Today we’ll hook you up with the 42 best Instagram templates from Envato Elements and GraphicRiver to help your account shine and get the attention it deserves.  

Instagram Stories Templates

Instagram stories were an instant success as soon as they were launched back in 2016. But creating stories that are uniform in style, colour, tone and format to consistently reflect your brand is time-consuming.

You can take a leaf out of the playbook of business and influencers who are using InstaStories successfully by using Instagram stories templates. They’ll save you time and help you create your own cool, on-brand content quickly and easily. Let’s take a look at a few of the gorgeous Instagram stories templates on offer at Envato Elements and GraphicRiver

1. Instagram Stories Template

Instagram Stories Template

This Instagram stories template offers six high-quality Instagram story templates that are perfect for promoting events and products or sharing important information. The templates are designed in PSD format so that they are layered, fully editable, and easy to customise. Just be aware that the images used are for display purposes only and are not included with the template.  

2. Miminal Instagram Stories Template

Miminal Instagram Stories Template

If minimalism is your thing, then you’ll love these simple but stylish Instagram story templates. The template contains eight elegant designs which are ideal for announcing a new product, advertising a sale or event, or any other kind of promotion you have in mind. The well-organised layers are fully customisable, and there is a help file included if you get stuck at any point. 

3. Yellkie Instagram Stories Templates

Yellkie Instagram Stories Templates

These ten Instagram story templates are ready for you to use to tell a story, promote a product, or update your friends about the goings-on in your day. The layouts are presented in fully layered and well-organised PSD files so that you can customise as little or as much as you need to.

4. Instagram Quotes Stories Template

Instagram Quotes Stories Template

Looking to add quotations, short poems or text to your Insta-stories in an eye-catching fashion? Then look no further than this beautiful template for Instagram stories, which features 20 stylish PSD files that allow you to edit the text and colour and change images. Fun and easy to use.  

5. Direct — Instagram Story Templates

Direct  Instagram Story Templates

Why not give your Insta-stories a new look with these 16 fully customisable templates for Instagram stories? The templates all feature well-ordered Photoshop layers and feature easy image placement via smart objects, which means you can simply drop your content into the template, save it, and you’re ready to go.

6. Animated Instagram Stories Templates

Animated Instagram Stories Templates

You can easily bring your Insta-stories to life with these 20 unique animated Photoshop templates. The templates offer a range of different posts such as lists, photo galleries, follower goals, quotes, sales, and more. Each template has its own individual animation and design, and all colours, fonts and images are easy to customise to suit your own brand. 

7. Kaviar Instagram Stories Template

Kaviar Instagram Stories Template

These ten ready-made templates for Instagram stories are a great way to promote your brand and increase your follower count. Just change the text, colours, images, and graphics available in the templates to create the look you want, and mix and match the templates to customise your stories.

8. SRTP – Instagram Stories.06

SRTP - Instagram Stories06

These six Instagram stories templates offer a clean modern style with varying designs that are perfect for fashion, lifestyle, travel and food Instagrammers. The AI and EPS files are easy to customise to create just the look you want. 

9. Coral – Instagram Story Template

Coral - Instagram Story Template

The perfect template for fashion influencers, this Instagram story template is cool and stylish and oh so easy to customise. You’ll need your own images and to decide on the font and colours that you want to add to the eight templates. 

10. Instagram Stories Template

Instagram Stories Template

Here are over 15 stylish Instagram stories templates that you just won’t be able to resist. The layered and well-organised PSD files make the templates easy to customise, and they can be used alone or in various combinations to create stunning stories that are bound to attract new followers.

11. Instagram Fashion Stories

Instagram Fashion Stories

Fashion is one of those areas that does very well on Instagram, and if you want to join the many fashionistas there, you’re definitely going to need templates for Instagram stories and posts that make your photos stand out. Fear not, this pack of over 10 Instagram story templates will get you started in no time. All you need to do is upload your images, add text where appropriate, change the colours to reflect your brand, and you’re ready to take the world by storm.

Instagram Post Templates

Now that you’ve got your stories looking awesome, how about your posts? If you’re just posting plain photos that’s fine, but what if you want to add text? Or what if you want to combine multiple images or add shapes and other graphic design elements? That’s not so easy.

An Instagram post template can really help you out by providing some ready-made designs into which you can just drop your photos and text, usually in Photoshop. Here’s a selection of the best.

12. Nate – Instagram Posts Template

Nate - Instagram Posts Template

Want to get more traction on your Instagram posts? This Instagram post template is perfect for drawing in the likes, and it’s so easy to use. Just choose from the 20 design variations, add your image, and you’re all set.

13. Simple Instagram Post Templates

Simple Instagram Post Templates

Sometimes the name says it all. These post templates really are simple, but that doesn’t make them any less effective. You can see from the examples above how eye-catching they are, with bold text and clean layouts. You could even use them as an Instagram ad template for your next campaign.

14. Instagram Post Template

Instagram Post Template

This stylish pack of more than 20 Instagram layout templates is ideal for giving your posts more appeal. Yes, those cool fonts are included, and of course you can change the text and images to your heart’s content.

15. Instagram Post Templates

Instagram Post Templates

Let’s get down to business now. This stylish Instagram ad template is suitable for business promotions with its beautiful, professionally designed layouts and well-organised PSD, EPS and JPG files.

16. Travel Instagram Posts Template

Travel Instagram Posts Template

Travel is one of the hottest categories on Instagram, and if you want your holiday snaps to scoop up the likes, this template will definitely help. You get 20 design variations to help you display your travel photos in just the right way. Experiment with different layouts to see what works for your followers.

17. Roses – Instagram Post Template

Roses - Instagram Post Template

This Instagram post template is so clean and elegant. Take your feed to the next level by incorporating the clever designs and layouts in this pack of 25 designs. As usual, they’re fully customisable, so you can use them to create a huge variety of individual posts, with nobody ever knowing they all came from the same template.

18. Instagram Fashion Pack

Instagram Fashion Pack

These classy designs look as if they came straight from a glossy fashion magazine, but they could be gracing your own Instagram profile in minutes. Just use Photoshop to replace these photos with your own, change the text, and post away! You get 40 unique templates in an elegant peach, aqua and grey colour scheme.

19. Mixed Media Photo Template

Mixed Media Photo Template

This one will really wow your followers. Take your image and drop it into this Photoshop template to take advantage of the mixed media art effect. It looks like a painstaking creative collage that would take hours, but it’ll only take you a few seconds!

20. 30 Instagram Quote Templates

Instagram Quote Templates

Sometimes, it feels as if Instagram is awash with quotes, but there’s a good reason for that: they’re popular. Whether you want to convey your own words of wisdom or those of your favourite philosopher or celebrity, this Instagram post template makes it incredibly easy.

21. Hipster – Duotone Color FX

Hipster - Duotone Color FX

Duotone effects are all the rage, and you can get in on the action with the Hipster template. It comes with full instructions, but really it’s very simple. Just paste your image into the Photoshop smart object and either choose a suggested colour scheme or create your own. The image you see is not included, but you want to use your own photos anyway, right?

Instagram Layout Templates

This next category includes bundles that offer both post and story templates in the same glorious package. It includes creative templates and more promotional ones. What unifies them is the use of striking layouts to create effects your followers will love.

22. Instagram Ultimate Pack V2

Instagram Ultimate Pack V2

Looking to make a splash with some complex layouts? Try this Instagram layout template, which includes 12 different designs to help you stand out from the crowd. The Photoshop template is easy to customise thanks to its professional design and well-organised layers.

23. Instagram Fashion Banner Bundle

Fashion banner bundle

These bold, bright blocks of colour will jump out of your followers’ crowded feeds and just compel them to click. The punchy designs and upbeat vibe make this the perfect Instagram layout for a fashion sale or other promotional campaign.

24. Instagram Pack Vol 3

Instagram Pack Vol 3

Check out these creative layouts, which make great use of simple geometric shapes to lift your photos to the next level. Use them to promote your latest event to your followers, to draw attention to a sale, or simply to annotate your photo with the message of your choice.

25. 135 Instagram Multipurpose Banners Bundle

Instagram Multipurpose Banners Bundle

This pack offers tremendous value, with a massive bundle of 135 banner templates especially designed for Instagram promotions. But the huge quantity doesn’t mean compromising on quality. These professionally designed layouts are created to meet Instagram specs and are perfect for businesses looking to up their social media game.

26. Wedding Instagram Kit Template

Wedding Instagram Kit Template

Whether you’re a happy couple looking to share the news of your big day or a wedding planner looking to reach new clients, this Instagram layout template is for you. it comes with 12 templates: six for posts and six for stories. They all come with layered PSD files compatible with Adobe Photoshop CS3 or higher, and it’s easy to customise them using smart objects.

27. Instagram Template

Instagram Template

Here’s another Instagram layout template that offers both post and story formats. This one’s very colourful and creative, and you can edit it in Photoshop to create stunning, eye-catching posts and promotions. Your Instagram profile will never look the same again!

28. Lifestyle Instagram Template

Lifestyle Instagram Template

This one’s all about the lifestyle. It’s a template specially designed for people who use Instagram for online marketing. The clean, simple layouts are ideal for promoting an aspirational lifestyle brand. You get 30 separate templates to choose from, all perfectly set up for you to customise in Photoshop. Start building your following today!

29. Vintage Instagram Templates

Vintage Instagram Templates

There’s nothing better than a combination of old and new. This Instagram post template uses muted colours, sepia tones and rough textures to give your images a convincing vintage look. If you want to embrace the digital world, but with a distinctly analogue aesthetic, this is the template for you.

30. Monochrome Instagram Post & Instagram Story

Monochrome Instagram Post  Instagram Story

Let’s go even further back in time now. What could be more vintage than monochrome, black-and-white images paired with plain black text? Your Instagram posts and stories will look as if they came from an early 20th century newspaper or magazine. You get 20 different layouts—ten for posts and ten for stories—so you can create a coordinated look across your whole profile.

Instagram Ad Templates

Now let’s get straight into the promotional side of things. If you use Instagram to advertise your online store or other business, you’ll want to grab one of these templates to make sure you get the biggest bang for your advertising buck.

31. Instagram Ad Templates

Instagram Ad Templates

Make a splash with this Instagram ad template featuring watercolour designs. You can see the paint merging and dripping just like real-life watercolour paint. But, unlike real watercolours, this template is not messy at all—you get 30 PSD files with smart objects and easy-to-edit layers. 

32. Instagram Stories Template

Instagram Stories Template

Kick off your next ad campaign in style! This template gives you everything you need to create beguiling Instagram stories for your prospects. And it doesn’t matter whether you prefer to use Photoshop or Illustrator because it comes with high-resolution PSD and AI files included.

33. MEDINE Fashion Instagram Stories

MEDINE Fashion Instagram Stories

When it’s done well, good design looks so easy. Simple rectangles in black, white and gold, bold text, a little negative space, and it’s done! But in reality, of course, it’s not so easy, and that’s why this template is so helpful. It provides all the ingredients for you to create a winning Instagram ad campaign, and all you have to do is drop in your own text and visuals.

34. Fashion / Cyber Monday Instagram Ad

Cyber Monday Instagram Ad

Despite the name, this Instagram ad template could work in any industry, not just fashion. And you can use it either on Cyber Monday or for ad campaigns all year round. It’s so flexible that by the time you’ve added your own text and images, you could use it for pretty much any type of promotion. The download includes ten PSD templates, each layered by name and fully editable.

35. Promotion Instagram Banners Ads Bundle

Promotion Instagram Banners Ads Bundle

You want choice? You’ll be truly spoilt for choice with this whopping pack of 337 PSD templates, almost enough for a different ad every day of the year. Use them to promote your online store, business, creative endeavour, or whatever else you want to advertise. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in this mega-bundle.

36. Promotional Instagram Post (AD) Design Template

Promotional Instagram Post

Or if the previous item leaves you feeling a little overwhelmed, try this one, which offers just six templates. But these six may be all you need. They’re creatively designed to help your offer stand out with neat graphics against a clean, neutral background. All the shapes are vector based and pixel perfect, and the templates are high resolution, so your posts will look super sharp even on the most demanding retina displays.

37. Multipurpose, Startup Instagram Ad

Multipurpose Startup Instagram Ad

Do you have a new business startup that you want to tell the world about? Then try this Instagram ad template, which is designed for just that situation. Use the professional-looking layouts to introduce people to your company and start making money online.

38. Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories

Use these 20 Instagram story templates to advertise your latest sale and get the clicks pouring in. These elegant layouts have a perfect balance, giving plenty of space to your imagery while also giving you the chance to add some punchy text to advertise your sale or other event.

39. Instagram Template

Instagram Template

The days may be getting shorter in the Northern Hemisphere, but it must be summer somewhere in the world, right? Besides, the beauty of an Instagram ad template is that you can easily customise it in Photoshop to turn those summer colours and images into an ad campaign for the season of your choice.

Instagram Highlight Icons

Instagram highlights are stories that you can save and pin to your profile page so that they’re available to view at any time. And you can add your own covers, creating the perfect opportunity to give your profile a cohesive identity that reflects who you are. You could make them from scratch, but if that’s not for you, then check out these excellent Instagram highlight templates.

40. Instagram Stories Highlights Covers Icon Kit

Instagram Stories Highlights Covers Icon Kit

If you’re not using Instagram highlight icons, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to engage with your followers and tell them more about who you are. Use these 64 unique line icons to give your profile the professionally branded look it deserves.

41. Instagram Highlight Icons Template

Instagram Highlight Icons Template

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so don’t you want your Instagram profile to look as good as it can? This Instagram highlight icons template with 105 Instagram highlight icons cover just about any scenario you could think of, so no matter what your story is about, you’ll have the perfect icon to introduce it.

42. Floral Instagram Story Highlight Template

Looking for Instagram story highlight icons? Why not choose something a little different, like this set of 112 floral watercolour Instagram highlight icons templates.  They’ll give your profile a softer, more creative vibe that could be just what you’re looking for. Make your profile stand out, and connect with followers who share your aesthetic, by downloading these Instagram story highlight icons today.

Select Your Favourite Instagram Templates 

This is just a small sample of the terrific Instagram templates you can download from Envato Elements and GraphicRiver and customise. If you haven’t found just the right one for you here, head on over to both sites and have a browse. I just know there’s an Instagram template there that’s just right for you. 

By the way, if you’re looking for other great resources, check out the useful articles below:

Download 42 Best Instagram Templates (Posts, Stories, PSD, and More)

Top 3 Slideshow Video Templates for Final Cut Pro

Envato Elements recently launched its video project section, including templates for popular video editing apps like Final Cut Pro and Apple Motion. Even for rookie video editors, these templates can help you create professional videos by giving you an easy-to-use starting point. 

In this series, we’re focusing on the best-of-the-best projects that you’ll find in the Elements library. This round-up focuses on three of the best slideshow projects for
Apple’s Final Cut Pro. Although slideshows are a simple concept, you can
still take a ton of creative latitude with them. Templates from Elements make it easy to
build an engaging, dynamic slideshow.

Slideshow Example
This transition and slideshow are included with the FCPX 300+ Transitions and Slideshow package.

Top Easy Slideshow: In the Round

In the Round is an animated photographic carousel that will pull your audience right in. It’s one of the simplest—and best—slideshow templates for Final Cut because of it’s attractive style and ease of use. Great for video display panels.

  • Who it’s for: Anyone looking for a simple, yet unique, slideshow template for photo sharing
  • Why we like it: The carousel effect is sure to grab audience attention, and it’s incredibly easy to add your photos in just a few clicks

Top Creative Slideshow Pack: FCPX 300+ Transitions and Sound FX

Looking for a template with a lot of creative flexibility? FCPX 300+ Transitions and Sound FX is perfect for you. Just as the name suggests, you’ll get over 300 slideshow effects in one fast download. It’s the ultimate creative slideshow toolbox.

  • What it’s for: Making unique creative slideshows
  • Why we like it: You probably won’t need any other slideshow tools after this one

Best Modern Slideshow: Fast and Dynamic

Making a quick promo video, opener, or social media post? This template has a clean, modern look and is straightforward to use.

  • Who it’s for: Social media makers looking who need a simple-but-upbeat slideshow
  • Why we like it: Has the flexibility to fit a wide variety of projects

More Easy Final Cut Pro Projects

Download Top 3 Slideshow Video Templates for Final Cut Pro

New Course: Get Started Coding Android Apps With Kotlin

In our new course, Get Started Coding Android Apps With Kotlin, you will learn how to create a simple app with Kotlin. Your instructor, Annapurna Agrawal, will give you a comprehensive, practical introduction to this powerful language. 

You’ll start by installing Android Studio with the Kotlin plugins in order to create and run your first Android app. You’ll then go on to learn some of the basics of views and layouts in Android, how to use Android Intents, and how to use some of Kotlin’s special features to write safer, more concise code. By the end of this course, you’ll be able to use Android and Kotlin to build a basic app with cleaner code.

Get Started Coding Android Apps With Kotlin

You can take our new course straight away with a subscription to Envato Elements. For a single low monthly fee, you get access not only to this course, but also to our growing library of over 1,000 video courses and industry-leading eBooks on Envato Tuts+. 

Plus you now get unlimited downloads from the huge Envato Elements library of 550,000+ creative assets. Create with unique fonts, photos, graphics and templates, and deliver better projects faster.


Download New Course: Get Started Coding Android Apps With Kotlin

How to Create a Dark Fallen Angel Scene With Adobe Photoshop

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to use Adobe Photoshop to create a dark fallen angel scene using a variety of photo manipulation techniques. 

First, we’ll build the base scene with ground, sky, and rock images. After that, we’ll add the underground atmosphere, retouch the model, make jagged clothes with bandages, and create a half-black, half-white halo and smoke wings. Later, we’ll paint tiny dots and import particles. We’ll use several adjustment layers to complete the final effect.

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:

1. How to Build the Base Scene

Step 1

Create a new 1614 x 1302 px document in Photoshop with the given settings:

new file

Step 2

Open the sky 1 image. Drag this image into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V), and place it in the upper section.

add sky 1

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and reduce the Saturation value to -93.

sky 1 hue saturation

Step 4

Create a Curves adjustment layer and decrease the lightness. On this
layer mask, activate the Brush Tool (B) and choose a soft round one with
black color. Use this brush to paint on the left of the canvas as we’re aiming to make the main light source there.

sky curves 1
sky curves 1 masking

Step 5

Make another Curves adjustment layer to bring more light to the left
side. Use a soft black brush on the layer mask to erase the right so it
won’t be affected by this adjustment layer.

sky 1 curves 2

Step 6

Open the ground image. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select
the ground only, and place it in the lower section of the canvas. Use the
Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to change the ground’s perspective a

add ground

Step 7

Duplicate this layer, move it upwards, and use Control-T to make it narrower.

duplicate ground

Step 8

Use the Lasso Tool (L) to make two jagged selections in the middle of the ground.

make two selections on ground

Change the foreground to white and click the second icon at the bottom
of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. We’ll have a result
like the one below.

ground masking 1

Step 9

Add a mask to the second layer and use a soft black brush to soften the edges and blend this ground part with the sky.

ground masking 2

Step 10

Create a new layer and activate the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to refine some details on the ground.

ground cloning
ground cloning result

Step 11

Select all the ground and clone layers and hit Control-G to make a group
for them. Change this group’s mode to Normal 100% and add a Curves
adjustment layer to darken the ground. On this layer mask, use a soft
black brush to erase the part on the right.

ground curves  1

Step 12

Add another Curves adjustment layer to brighten the left part a bit. Paint on the right to keep its contrast.

ground curves 2

Step 13

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the ground. Bring the Saturation value to -66.

ground hue saturation

2. How to Build the Rocky Underground

Step 1

Open the rock images. We’ll be using image 2 and image 6. Isolate
the rock from image 6 to place it below the white space on the
ground. Set this layer below the ground’s group.

add rock 1

Step 2

Duplicate this layer three times to fill in the middle and the edges of the white space.

add more rocks to underground

Step 3

Cut out the rock from image 2 and place it on the right edge of the small, jagged area on the ground.

add rock 2

Step 4

We’ll use several adjustment layers and some other tools to fix the
light and shadow of the rock parts below the ground. Create a Curves
adjustment layer above the rock part on the right edge and set it as a Clipping Mask. Decrease the lightness and use a soft black brush to
remove the dark effect on the left side of this part.

rocks curves 1

Step 5

On the rock layer on the left edge, make a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray.

rocks DB

Use the Burn Tool (O) to darken and paint some shadow details within
this rock part. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result
with Overlay mode.

rock DB result

Step 6

Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to refine the light, shadow, and details of the part in the middle selection.

rocks DB 2

Step 7

Make a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the left portion of this rock part.
The selected part on the right shows where to paint on the layer mask.

rocks curves 2

Step 8

Use another Curves adjustment layer to darken the right of the rock.

rocks curves 3

Step 9

Continue using the same method to retouch the rest of the rocks.

rocks curves 4
rocks DB 3

Step 10

Make a group for all the rock layers and the clipped ones. Use a
Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate all the rock parts a bit.

rocks hue saturation

Step 11

Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the rocks more. Paint on the left of the rock to keep its lightness.

rocks curves 5

3. How to Make the Underground Atmosphere

Step 1

Open the sky 2 image and drag it into our working document. Set it below the ground’s group but above the rock ones.

add sky 2 to make mist

Use a layer mask to reduce the mist intensity, making it appear only inside the underground part.

mist masking

Step 2

Create a Curves adjustment layer to make the effect more subtle. You can
use a soft black brush to recover the effect on the left of the
underground part where the main light source is.

mist curves

Step 3

Create a new layer on top of the layers, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to paint light for
the contour of the circles on the ground.

ground DB

Step 4

Open the flame images. I’ve used image 4 and image 8 to add flames to both sides of the underground part (feel free to take the images you want)
and change the mode of these layers to Screen 100%.

add flames

Add a mask to each of these layers and use a medium-hard black brush to
remove the flame parts on the ground, making them appear only inside the
underground part.

flames masking

Step 5

Group all the flame layers into a new folder and change this group’s
mode to Screen 100%. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate
the flames and reduce their lightness.

flames hue sauration

Step 6

Add a mask to the flame group and use a soft black brush with a lowered opacity (about 30-35%) to reduce the flames’ visibility.

flames group masking

4. How to Retouch the Model

Step 1

Cut out the model and place her on the surface of the middle part of the rock. Add a mask to this layer and use a hard black brush to
delete the flying scarf part outside the model.

add model
model masking

Step 2

To create a shadow for the model, add a new layer below the model one.
Hold Control and click the thumbnail of the model layer to load her

load model selection

Fill this selection with the color #101010 and flip it vertically
(Edit > Transform > Flip Vertically). Convert this layer to a
Smart Object
. Move it to the right of the canvas and use Control-T to
make the shadow narrower to fit the way the light falls.

shadow transforming

Step 3

Lower the Opacity of this layer to 40% and use a layer mask to erase the
shadow part that’s fallen into the underground part, making it visible only on the

shadow masking

Step 4

Go to Filter > Blur Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 6 px. On the
filter mask, use a soft black brush to erase the soft effect on the feet
area to keep it hard and solid.

shadow gaussian blur

Step 5

Create a new layer and use a hard brush with the color #101010 to paint the missing shadow part below the feet.

paint missing shadow

Step 6

Make a new layer above the model one, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to refine the light
and shadow on the model.

model DB

Step 7

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the model. Bring the Saturation value down to -79.

model hue saturation

Step 8

Create a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #a0deed.

model photo filter

Step 9

Make a Curves adjustment layer to reduce the highlight on the model a
little. On the layer mask, paint on the shadow area and any details you want.

model curves 1

Step 10

Use another Curves adjustment layer to lighten the contrast of the model. Use this layer mask to reduce the light on the areas which are bright

model curves 2

5. How to Add the Bandages

Step 1

Cut out the bandages from the original image, and then take one of them to add to our working document. Use Control-T to rotate it as
shown below:

add bandage 1

Add a mask to this layer and use a hard black brush to remove the
bandage part from the model and below the arms. I recommend using a tablet pen to leave some tiny strings around this part to make the
result more realistic.

bandage 1 masking

Step 2

Make a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the lightness. On the layer
mask, paint on the front of the bandage so it won’t affected by this
adjustment layer.

bandage 1 curves

Step 3

On a new layer, use the Dodge and Burn Tool to enhance the light and shadow of this bandage a bit.

bandage 1 DB

Step 4

Take different parts from the bandages in the original one to add to the
model’s body using the same method. The masking process takes some
patience and time, but the result will be worth it.

add more bandages
bandages masking

Step 5

Create a group for the bandage layers and use a Hue/Saturation
adjustment layer within this group to desaturate the bandage parts.

bandages hue saturation

Step 6

Make a Curves adjustment layer to increase the contrast of the bandages.
Paint on the front of these parts to keep their brightness.

bandages curves

Step 7

Add a new layer above the bandage group and use a soft brush with the color #101010 and Opacity about 30% to paint shadow below the bandages.

bandages shadow

6. How to Create the Half-Black, Half-White Halo

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of the other layers and change the brush to one of the abstract circle ones. Take the one you like with the color #101010
(I’ve chosen the one numbered 700) and spot on the main canvas. Use
Control-T to scale it down and rotate it a bit, and place it over the
model’s head.

add dark halo
halo transforming

Step 2

Duplicate this layer several times and flip them horizontally to complete the halo.

complete halo

Step 3

Create a group for these circles and add an Invert adjustment layer to convert the halo’s color to white.

halo invert

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to recover the black on the right side. Now we have a half-black, half-white halo.

halo invert masking

Step 4

Create a new layer, and change the brush to a soft round one. Press F5 to change the settings of this brush:

dot brush settings 1
dot brush settings 2
dot brush settings 3

Use the color #e6e6e6 for this brush and paint lots of tiny dots around the white half of the halo.

paint dots

Step 5

Make another layer and turn the foreground to #101010. Use the same brush to paint dark dots for the black half of the halo.

paint dark dots

7. How to Make the Smoke Wings

Step 1

Make a new layer on top of the layers and use a smoke brush with black
color (feel free to take the one you feel looks similar to a wing)
to add to the bright side of the model.

add smoke 1

Use a layer mask with a soft black brush to erase the top of this smoke part and the part covering the model’s body.

smoke 1 masking

Step 2

Add more smoke to the top part of this side and the other side to complete the smoke wings. Use a
layer mask on each of this layer to erase any details you feel are unnecessary.

add smoke 2
add smoke 3
smoke wings masking

Step 3

Create a group for the smoke layer and add a Curves adjustment layer to
turn the wings’ color from black to white (you can use an Invert
adjustment layer instead). On this layer mask, paint on the right wing
(from the viewer) to get half-black, half-white wings.

smoke wings curves
smoke wings curves masking

8. How to Add the Particles

Step 1

Open the particles image pack. I’ve used image 2 and image 4 to add to the
main scene. Change this layer mode to Linear Dodge 100% and use
Control-T to rotate the images to make the particles fall straight down.

add particles

Step 2

Create a group for these layers and alter this group’s mode to Linear
Dodge 100%
. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the
Saturation value to the minimum.

particles hue saturation

Step 3

Add a mask to this group to reduce the particle intensity and visibility, making the result more subtle.


9. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the colors #9c7d6b and #80b1a7. Alter this layer mode to Soft Light 100%.

whole scene gradient map

Step 2

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights settings.

whole scene color balance midtones
whole scene color balance highlights

Step 3

Add two Photo Filter adjustment layers and pick the colors #71c0f8 and #72892e.

whole scene photo filter 1
whole scene photo filter 2

Step 4

Create a Curves adjustment layer to increase the contrast of the whole
scene a bit. The selected areas show where to paint on the layer mask.

whole scene curves 1

Step 5

Make another Curves adjustment layer to increase the shadow on the right
side. Paint on the bright side of the scene so it won’t be affected by
this adjustment layer.

whole scene curves 2

Step 6

Add a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the final effect.

whole scene vibrance

Congratulations, You’re Done!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the tutorial and learned something new for
your own projects. Feel free to share your results or leave comments in
the box below. Enjoy Photoshopping!

final result

Download How to Create a Dark Fallen Angel Scene With Adobe Photoshop

How to Draw a Porg From Star Wars

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

May the 4th be with you! Today we’re going to draw the newest addition to the creatures of Star Wars—the porg. This is part of a collaboration with Yulia Sokolova as she covers how to create a porg in Affinity Designer.

Although they don’t really take part in the epic story, these plump little birds have stolen the hearts of many. They’re funny, they’re cute, and they’re easy to draw—so grab a pencil and let’s get started!

1. How to Sketch a Porg

Step 1

Start with a vertical oval. Don’t try to make it perfect—there’s no need to! Also, remember to keep these guide lines light and subtle, to cover them with final lines later.

porg oval body

Step 2

Put a horizontal oval on top, slightly to the left. Looking at it this way, porgs are not much different in their basic construction from BB8!

porg oval head

Step 3

Add the stick legs right under the first oval. Draw little circles on both ends to define their width for later.

porg stick legs

Step 4

Sketch the toes.

porg stick toes

Step 5

Sketch the face area. Because our porg is turned slightly to the right (from its perspective), place it on the side of the head.

porg oval face

Step 6

Put a dot in the center of the face oval.

porg center of the face

Step 7

Draw an isosceles triangle around this dot.

porg face proportions

Step 8

Place the eyes and the mouth around the corners of the triangle. Draw the eyes as ovals slightly tilted to the middle—this will make them cuter!

porg eyes mouth placement
porg mouth

Step 9

Draw the “shoulders” right under the head.

porg shoulders

Step 10

Add the oval wing on the side of the body.

porg wings

Step 11

Draw narrow ovals along the toes to give them volume.

porg toes volume

Step 12

The basic guide lines are finished, but we still need more details. Outline the lips and nose.

porg mouth detailed

Step 13

Add the patches around the eyes.

porg eye pacthes

Step 14

Add ovals around the eyes, not much bigger than them and not perfectly aligned with their edges. This will help you create the eyelids.

porg eyelids

Step 15

Add the circular pupil to each eye.

porg pupils

2. How to Draw a Porg

Step 1

We have finished the guide lines, and we’re ready to draw the final lines. Now you can press harder or use a darker tool (e.g. fineliner) to make these lines stand out. You can also draw them on a new sheet of paper, tracing the guide lines placed below.

Draw the eyes and the mouth. Remember that the eyes are 3D spheres, not circles—this will help you draw the eyelids correctly.

porg face details

Step 2

Fill the pupils with black. Leave some white dots on their sides and a light smudge on top. You can use an eraser for that smudge to make it softer.

porg shiny eyes

Step 3

Outline the whole body as the guide lines suggest.

porg body outline
pirg feet outline

Step 4

Now gently accentuate other, subtler lines by crossing them with “fur lines”. This will add some volume without flattening the whole drawing.

porg detail lines

Step 5

We need to add the characteristic black-and-white pattern to make our porg more porg-like. You can do it easily by drawing “feathers”—clusters of lines. Draw them around the imaginary 3D form of the porg’s body.

porg dark feathers
porg pattern

If you want to give your porg more realistic feathers, you can experiment with the tricks from these tutorials:

Step 6

If you were to describe a porg with two words, these would probably be “eyes” and “plump”. Accentuate the plumpness by adding a subtle shading.

porg shading

So Cute!

What a cute little porg! If you want to learn how to draw other cute things, here are a couple more drawing tutorials for beginners:

how to draw porg step by step

Download How to Draw a Porg From Star Wars

How to Create a Porg From Star Wars in Affinity Designer

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

The creators of Star Wars did a really great job creating an appealing creature that will make your heart melt once you see it. As you may have guessed, we’re talking about porgs! Those fluffy little cat-bird-like creatures with huge sparkling eyes and naive expressions just can’t leave you indifferent. 

Let’s draw one of them! We’ll be using various tools and functions of Affinity Designer to make the process fun and easy.

We’ll be using a wonderful sketch by Monika Zagrobelna as a base. Check out her tutorial to learn how to draw porgs if you want to make your own porg doodle!

1. How to Draw the Porg’s Eyes

Step 1

Let’s create a New Document of 600 x 800 px and use the Place Image Tool to place the sketch onto the canvas. We’ll be using the Draw Persona of Affinity Designer, which is enabled by default, meaning that all our shapes will be vector, scalable to any size, and easy to recolor and modify.

Position the image in the center and lower its Opacity to 20% in the Layers panel. Set its Blend Mode to Multiply and Lock the sketch layer. This way, all the lines will remain visible when we start creating the shapes.

place image tool

Step 2

Create a new layer by clicking the Add Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. Place it beneath the sketch layer, and let’s start drawing!

We’ll start with an eye. Take the Ellipse Tool (M) and draw a 65 x 70 px shape. You can adjust the size in the Transform panel.

Rotate the shape 15 degrees to make it fit the eye on the sketch.

use ellipse tool

Step 3

Take the Fill Tool (G) and drag across the shape to create a gradient fill. Head to the control panel on top and change the Type to Radial. From here, you can also change the colors of the gradient parts. Click the swatch rectangle to open the Gradient panel and adjust the colors of the gradient sliders by clicking them and selecting the appropriate color from the color wheel.

Once you’re happy with the colors, move the central tip of the gradient slider up to darken the top part of the eye.

use fill tool for gradient

Step 4

Duplicate (Command-J) the eye and make the copy smaller. Fill it with radial gradient from blue to black and change the Blend Mode to Screen in the Layers panel, making the black part transparent.

Move the blue side of the gradient up, creating a bright overtone.

add overtone in screen mode

Step 5

Use the Ellipse Tool (M) to create a couple of white spots for the highlights. Lower the Opacity of the spots to 75%, making them semi-transparent.

add white highlights

Step 6

Group (Command-G) all the elements of the eye and duplicate (Command-J) the group. Use the Flip Horizontal function in the control panel on top to mirror the copy and move it to the opposite side of the face. Adjust its size and angle to make it fit the sketch. Don’t forget to flip the white highlights back as they should remain on the same side because of the light source. 

Now let’s move on to the body!

add second eye

2. How to Create the Porg’s Body

Step 1

Take the Ellipse Tool (M) and let’s make a 340 x 405 px beige oval for the body. Click the Convert to Curves button in the control panel on top and use the Node Tool (A) to move the side nodes, making an egg-like shape to fit the sketch. 

make an ellipse for the body

Step 2

Let’s create another oval for the head. If you’re struggling with positioning the shapes, disable the Snapping by removing the tick from the Enable snapping box. 

Convert to Curves and move the nodes around to fit the sketch. Then select both shapes and use the Add function from the Geometry panel on top to merge both shapes together. Now we have a silhouette of the body!

merge the shapes

Step 3

Create a 75 x 184 px brown oval for the wing. Convert to Curves and make its tip pointed.

Duplicate the wing and move it to the opposite side of the body. Move to Back (Shift-Command-[), placing the second wing behind the body.

add a wing

Step 4

Let’s go back to the eyes and add more details. Duplicate the eyeball shape and make the bottom copy slightly larger. Fill it with dark-brown color to add depth. Make another copy beneath and increase its size. 

Fill it with Linear gradient from brown to white and switch the Blend Mode to Multiply, making the white part semi-transparent. 

add details to the eyes

Step 5

Let’s take the Pencil Tool (N) and draw the nostrils. We can adjust the Width and other parameters of the tool in the control panel on top. For more precision, let’s enable the Stabilizer option and set the Length to about 10-15. Check the Use Fill box to create colored shapes.

Draw the nostril, following the lines of the sketch. Now let’s fill the nostril with a gradient to add some depth there. To do this faster, let’s Copy (Command-C) the brown-black eyeball shape, and then select the nostril and Edit > Paste Style. This way we can apply any gradients and color effects, picking the appearance from one element and applying it to another, speeding up the process.

Draw the second nostril and Paste Style.

use the pencil tool for nostrils

Step 6

Keep using the Pencil Tool (N) to draw the mouth shape. Try to keep your lines clean and smooth by adjusting the position of the nodes with the help of the Node Tool (A). You can delete the unneeded nodes by selecting them and pressing Backspace (on Mac). Adjust the position and angle of the node handles and press the Alt key while rotating them if you want to move the handles separately from each other. 

Edit > Paste Style to apply the same black-brown gradient to the mouth as well.

draw the mouth

Step 7

Let’s add some volume to the mouth shape. Use the Pencil Tool (N) to draw a triangular shape over the lower jaw. Press Command-[ to Move Back One.

Apply the same white-beige linear gradient as we have around the eyes and set its Blend Mode to Multiply.

use blend modes

Step 8

Draw another shape on the bottom lip, as shown in the image below. Fill it with linear gradient from yellow to black and switch the Blend Mode to Screen, making a highlight.

add a highlight

Step 9

Draw a nose shape around the nostrils, following the lines of the sketch. Adjust the gradient, making the shapes blend nicely. 

Place a gentle shadow under the lower jaw. We can toggle the visibility of the sketch in the Layers panel to check how it looks without the outlines.

draw the nose shape

Step 10

Now let’s draw a large shape over the parts that will be brown, leaving the muzzle area and the tummy untouched. 

Don’t worry about the piece that crosses the edges of the body—we can easily hide it inside the body shape! To do this, select the brown shape in the Layers panel and then drag and drop it onto the body shape, as shown in the screenshot below. You will still see the outline of the whole shape if you select it, but now it will be placed inside the body, as if inside a Clipping Mask. It will now be displayed as a group or a drop-down list in the Layers panel.

Use the Node Tool (A) to edit the shape, fixing its nodes. 

draw the brown part of the body

Step 11

Draw a feathered shape around the eye and fill it with orange color. 

Draw a feathered shape around the eye

Step 12

Keep the shapes clean and neat by working with the nodes and getting rid of all the unneeded ones. 

Once you’re happy with the shape, drag and drop it onto the body shape in the Layers panel. 

fix the nodes

Step 13

Duplicate the shape and Flip Horizontal to place the shape on the opposite side of the head. Squash the shape slightly to fit the perspective.

This time, drag and drop it onto the brown shape so that it doesn’t cross the white area of the muzzle.

Move all the elements of the eyes on top of the layer and group them. 

add a shape around the second eye

Step 14

Finish the muzzle by adding a feathered shape to its top.

Great! Let’s move on to the feet!

Finish up with the muzzle

3. How to Draw the Porg’s Feet

Step 1

Let’s use the Pencil Tool (N) to trace the leg and the foot of our porg. 

Draw two arched shapes for the web between the fingers. Drag and drop the web shapes onto the leg shape in the Layers panel to hide the unneeded pieces. Use the Fill Tool (G) to add shadows to the web.

Step 2

Use the Ellipse Tool (M) to make an oval claw and Paste Style from the brown-black shape of the nostril. Add a small highlight on top, switching it to Screen Mode.

Use a linear gradient fill to make the top of the leg darker.

Duplicate the claw and its highlight to add the remaining claws.

add the claws

Step 3

Take the Pencil Tool (N) and draw an arched shape across the leg. Fill it with brown-black gradient and switch it to Screen Mode, creating a semi-transparent overtone. Drag and drop the shape onto the leg, placing it inside the edges of the leg shape.

Duplicate the arched shape and drag the copy down. Press Command-J a few times to repeat the last action, creating more copies.

add more details to the leg

Step 4

Add notches to the rest of the fingers. Group all the elements of the leg and duplicate the group. Flip Horizontal and make the copy slightly smaller and narrower to fit the perspective. 

There we have it—the legs are ready! Let’s add some more details to our porg!

add a second leg

4. How to Add Final Details to the Porg

Step 1

Let’s make the body more three-dimensional. Select the beige body shape; grab the Fill Tool (G) and drag to fill the shape with a gradient. The program selects a matching darker color for the gradient automatically, but you can edit it from the Gradient tab if needed, as we did previously. Switch the Type to Radial to make the body spherical.

Add a darker color to the orange shapes as well, using the Fill Tool (G).

add radial gradient to the body

Step 2

Let’s add some feathers to the tummy of the porg. Take the Pencil Tool (N) and draw a feathered shape. Fill it with linear gradient from beige to black and switch to Screen Mode, making it semi-transparent. 

Draw another shape and place it beneath the first one (Command-[). 

Continue adding feathered shapes. You can duplicate the previous shapes and alternate them, using the Flip Horizontal function.

Now our porg looks fluffy!

draw feathers on the tummy

Step 3

Let’s add some feathers to the wing as well, this time using a beige-white color combination for the gradient and switching it to Multiply Mode to make the feathers darker.

add feathers to the wing

Step 4

Add more feathers to other areas of our character: to the orange parts around the eyes, forehead, and the side of the body.

Looking good so far! Let’s finish up by adding a simple background.

Add more feathers

5. How to Add a Simple Background

Step 1

Let’s add a few final touches to our illustration to make it look balanced and complete. Add a New Layer for the background and place it beneath the other layers.

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 600 x 800 px rectangle. Use the Alignment menu in the control panel on top to center the rectangle horizontally and vertically. 

Fill it with a radial gradient from yellow in the center to orange at the edges, adding depth to our image.

add a background layer

Step 2

Let’s add a shadow to the ground beneath our porg. Create an oval using the Ellipse Tool (M) and fill it with a gradient from orange to white. Set the Type to Elliptical, which will make the gradient fit the oval shape perfectly. 

Set the Blend Mode to Multiply, making it semi-transparent.

add an elliptical shadow

Step 3

We can actually duplicate the shadow and place an ellipse beneath each foot of the porg.

place two shadow ellipses

Congratulations! Our Porg Is Finished!

Awesome job! Our porg looks cute and fluffy enough to call it done! Now you can File > Export it in any size and format to your liking. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed following this tutorial and discovered some useful tips and tricks that will help you with your future illustrations.

May the Force Be With You!

Our Porg is Finished

If you’re interested in learning how to draw characters in Affinity Designer, be sure to check these tutorials:

Download How to Create a Porg From Star Wars in Affinity Designer

Photoshop in 60 Seconds: What Are Layer Styles?

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Layer styles are a classic Photoshop feature, but they don’t have to be stale and lifeless. See how to use GraphicRiver items to breath life into Layer Styles.

Photoshop in 60 Seconds: What Are Layer Styles?

Layer styles are a Photoshop feature that are sometimes seen as tired and/or amateurish. It’s true that the basic application of Bevel and Emboss and Drop Shadow has been overused and grown stale, but that doesn’t mean Layer Styles are ready to be retired. Check out this quick video on how to use an Envato Market item to create some vibrant and exciting effects with Layer Styles.


What Are Layer Styles?

Layer styles are an easy way to add non-destructive and quickly editable effects to any layer in Photoshop.

What are Layer Styles

Simply double-clicking the space next to the layer thumbnail, in the Layer panel, will launch the Layer Style dialog box.

Accessing the Layer Styles box

Each style can be enabled or disabled using the option boxes here along the left side. Then clicking on a layer style opens up the different options that the style contains.

Enabling options

Other Styles 

Layer styles are so easy to use and can give some excellent results. Consider these other Layer Styles for sale on GraphicRiver

Elegant Glass Text Effects & Styles

This set of Elegant Glass Text Effects & Styles from author Webtreats contains 8 Transparent Layer Styles and 3 Elegant Glass Text effects. This product is available for $5.

Elegant Glass Text Effects  Styles
Elegant Glass Text Effects & Styles

Supreme Fire Text Styles

Supreme Fire Text Styles from author Artorius contains 10 Unique Fire Text Styles and is available for $6.

Supreme Fire Text Styles
Supreme Fire Text Styles

New 3D Text Styles

New 3D Text Styles from author designercow contains 10 PSD files with 1 style and is available for $4.

New 3D Text Styles
New 3D Text Styles

Comic Book Text Styles

Comic Book Text Styles from author PixelBuffet contains 8 typical comic book text styles and is available for $5.

Comic Book Text Styles
Comic Book Text Styles

Freehand Ink and Other Artistic Styles

30 Freehand Ink and Other Artistic Styles from author dekurvajo contains 30 single layer Photoshop FX styles and is available for $4.

Freehand Ink and Other Artistic Styles
Freehand Ink and Other Artistic Styles

Download Photoshop in 60 Seconds: What Are Layer Styles?

What is BuddyPress? How to Set Up and Use it Right

If you’ve been using WordPress for a while, you probably know that you can use various plugins to extend the functionality of your website. 

Some plugins help you create more revenue for your business, while others are focused on creating a community around your website. In a sea of plugins, there is one in particular that has a number of benefits for a small business.

The plugin in question is called BuddyPress and it adds a whole slew of community building features. You can create your very own social network for your company and use it to facilitate communication and collaboration between employees.

Another benefit of BuddyPress is that you can allow anyone who visits your website to register and create a profile which is a nice way of connecting with your target audience, clients, and customers. It can help you build hype around your website and you can use it to provide immediate customer support.

How to Set Up and Use Buddypress
How to set up and use BuddyPress. (source graphic)

In today’s article, I’ll show you how to install and setup BuddyPress, how to create the necessary pages, and how to add them to the menu. I’ll also cover different user roles and how to extend the functionality of BuddyPress further.

What is BuddyPress?

BuddyPress is touted as a “social network in a box” and it helps you build any type of community website using WordPress, with member profiles, activity streams, user groups, messaging, and more. 

On top of that, you can take advantage of numerous great add-on features to add extra functionality to your social network. It allows you to include message attachments, document collaboration, likes, a Facebook-like wall, and more. It’s focused on simple integration, ease of use, and extensibility.

BuddyPress website
BuddyPress website.

Users can create their own profiles, send messages, create groups, share status updates, and much more. BuddyPress comes with several components that integrate directly with your existing WordPress site and it even works with your installed theme out of the box. 

There are also themes designed specifically to work with BuddyPress which allow for more customization and functionality, which are available on Envato Market:

Best-selling BuddyPress themes
Best-selling BuddyPress themes, available for sale on Envato Market (ThemeForest).

Now let’s look at how to use BuddyPress, from install and setting up, to working with it and customizations.

How to Install and Setup BuddyPress

If you have ever installed a plugin on your WordPress website, you’ll have no problems installing BuddyPress. In your WordPress dashboard, click on Plugins > Add New and then search for BuddyPress. It should come up as the first result so go ahead and click on Install and then Activate.

Installing the BuddyPress plugin
Installing the BuddyPress plugin.

You will immediately be taken to the BuddyPress welcome screen which has links to help you set up and manage your community.  

BuddyPress welcome screen
BuddyPress welcome screen.

The first thing we’ll do is configure BuddyPress settings. Clicking on the Get Started button on the welcome screen will immediately take you to the settings area for Buddypress.

Configuring Your BuddyPress Setup

As you can see from the screenshot (above), there are three areas that need to be configured:

  1. Selecting the components you want to include
  2. Creating and assigning pages
  3. Tweaking BuddyPress options

Let’s walk through each of them, one step at a time.

Step 1 – Activate the BuddyPress Components

By default, BuddyPress will have some of the components pre-activated. You can activate or deactivate all but two components. The BuddyPress Core and the Community Members components cannot be deactivated because they are needed for the plugin to function properly.

BuddyPress components
BuddyPress components.

The rest of the components include:

  • Extended Profiles – Users can customize their profiles.
  • Account Settings – Allows users to edit their account settings and notifications.
  • Friend Connections – Let users make connections with each other.
  • Private Messaging – Enables private messaging between users.
  • Activity Streams – Global, personal, and group activity streams with threaded commenting, direct posting, favoriting, and @mentions.
  • Notifications – Notify members of relevant activity with a toolbar bubble and/or via email.
  • User Groups – Allows users to organize themselves into specific public, private or hidden sections with separate activity streams and member listings.
  • Site Tracking – Lets you record activity for new posts and comments from your site.

You can select as many or as few of them, depending on the needs of your website. It’s also easy to enable certain components at a later date. Once you’re done selecting which components you want, click on Save Settings.

Step 2 – Set Up Your Pages

The next step is to configure the pages that BuddyPress will use. Most of the pages are already created, but you will need to manually create the pages for user registration and activation. 

Keep in mind that you will also need to enable user registration in Settings > General > Allow anyone to register for the site if you plan on having a public community.

Configuring BuddyPress pages
Configuring BuddyPress pages.

If you want to keep your community closed, you will have to enter new members manually and can skip the following step.

In your dashboard, click on Pages > Add New and then create a blank page called Registration and another one called Activation. You don’t need to add any content to those pages as BuddyPress will automatically display the appropriate content.

Once your pages are created, go back to Settings > BuddyPress and select the Pages Tab. Under Registration, select the pages you just created for the appropriate functions.

Click on Save Settings.  

Step 3 – Tweak Your BuddyPress Settings

Now that the main options have been set up properly, it’s time to tweak the settings. Click on the Options tab. Here you can configure various settings regarding user profiles, groups, activity, and main settings. The settings themselves are pretty explanatory, as you can see from the screenshot below:

Additional BuddyPress settings
Additional BuddyPress settings.

Select the ones that are relevant for your community and click on Save Settings.

How to Work With BuddyPress

The core of BuddyPress revolves around users. We’ve mentioned before that you will need to enable user registration on your site if you want to have an open community where your visitors can freely register for your website. 

BuddyPress itself doesn’t have any default member roles. Therefore, the safest option is to set the user role of new members to Subscriber or Contributor.

1. User Profiles

Once someone registers, they are given their own profile which they can control from the admin area. Aside from the regular profile options, each user can access the Extended Profile settings if you enabled it in the previous step.

A BuddyPress user profile
A BuddyPress user profile.

From there, they can enter as much information about themselves as they want to. You can create different profile fields under Users > Profile Fields to allow your users to enter their name, birthday, a short biography, links to their other profiles, and more. You can also group various profile fields to organize them better.

Extended profile options in BuddyPress
Extended profile options in BuddyPress.

Once your users are done entering their profile information, they can access their public profile which has a large number of features:

  • Last Activity
  • Profile
  • Notifications
  • Messages
  • Friends
  • Groups
  • Settings

This page also serves as a personal dashboard from where anyone, including you, can message other users, post status updates, join groups, modify global settings, and much more.

Users can post status updates
Users can post status updates.

Aside from allowing user registrations, you can also add users manually from your WordPress dashboard under Users > Add New.

2. How Groups Work

If you selected the Groups component earlier, you and your users will be able to create groups. Groups can be set to be public, which allows anyone to join the group. Public groups will also be visible sitewide and their activity will be displayed in the Activity feed.

Setting up BuddyPress group setting
Setting up BuddyPress group setting.

Private groups require users to request membership and they will be visible sitewide. The activity of a private group, though, is only visible to group members.

Finally, hidden groups are invite-only, aren’t visible on the rest of your website, and the group activity is visible only to group members.

Each group, regardless of the group type can be set to allow new invites in one of three ways:

  1. only group admins
  2. group admins and mods
  3. any member of the group

Similarly to members, each group can have an avatar and a header image which makes it more recognizable.

3. Adding Widgets and Menus

To make your community as user-friendly as possible as well as to make navigation easier, you can create a custom menu and take advantage of the widgets that come with BuddyPress.

Let’s take care of the menu first.

Go to Appearance >  Menus and click the create a new menu link. Give it a name and set the menu to be used in whichever menu position you’d like the menu to appear.  

Add the pages you want to show up in your navigation from the Pages section and add the desired BuddyPress pages. Here’s how our custom menu looks:

Setting up BuddyPress custom navigation
Setting up BuddyPress custom navigation.

Now click Save Menu to save it.

Next, let’s add some widgets to our sidebar so our members and site visitors have an easier time navigating around the site and can immediately get an overview of the site activity.  

Click on Appearance > Widgets. The default WordPress theme TwentySixteen has a sidebar widget area and two widget areas that appear below the content. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll be adding a Log In and Who’s Online widgets to our sidebar, but depending on your theme, you can add them to any widgetized area on your website.

BuddyPress widget options
BuddyPress widget options.

Bear in mind that the available widgets depend on the components you activated earlier. They allow your users to log in or register, see notifications, discover who is online, and you can also use them to post a sitewide notice to your entire community.

How to Extend and Customize BuddyPress

Now that your community is properly set up, you’ll need a theme to make it visually appealing. Our theme marketplace, ThemeForest, has a large selection of high-quality premium BuddyPress themes that are sure to take your site to a new level. 

They can be used to create any type of website but they are designed and developed to be fully compatible with the BuddyPress plugin to ensure all your pages, user profiles, groups, and all the functionality works as expected without any issues. Be sure to check out our curated selection of the best BuddyPress themes for community sites: 

There is also a number of amazing plugins that extend BuddyPress even further. Most of them are simple to set up and maintain. They give you the ability to add attachments to private messages, user collaboration on documents, and much more.

Here are a few of the most notable BuddyPress related plugins:

1. BuddyPress Links

BuddyPress Links plugin adds rich media sharing features to BuddyPress. This means that if you share a link to another website, it will automatically display some of the data included in the link. Images, video, thumbnails, and excerpts are usually displayed so your members can get an idea of what the link is about.

2. BuddyPress Docs

BuddyPress Docs is a must-have plugin if you plan on building a company network. It’s the BuddyPress version of Google Docs and it allows members of your community to collaborate on documents, create documentation, and more.

3. bbPress

bbPress adds a great forums solution to WordPress’s already powerful content management system.  It’s a great way to extend the functionality of your BuddyPress website and encourage user interaction. On top of that, bbPress integrates perfectly with BuddyPress.

4. BuddyPress Simple Terms And Conditions

With BuddyPress Simple Terms And Conditions, it’s easy to extend the BuddyPress registration page with a checkbox for accepting the terms and conditions or terms of use. This is a necessity if you run a business website. It can also save you a lot of potential headaches down the road.

BuddyPress Brings Community to WordPress

WordPress alone is a very powerful platform but when you combine it with BuddyPress, it becomes even more powerful. 

You can quickly turn your website into a full-featured social network, company network, and more. It allows your target audience to discuss and comment on your services and products, as well as get immediate support if they encounter any issues.

Pair BuddyPress with a few extra plugins and a gorgeous looking theme and you can open up your website to a whole new audience. If your company needs a place to facilitate communication and collaboration, look no further than BuddyPress.

Download What is BuddyPress? How to Set Up and Use it Right

How to Create and Publish a Jekyll Theme Gem

One of Jekyll’s noteworthy new features is the ability create official themes in the form of Ruby gems. These themes can be installed by a Jekyll user to style their static blog or website with ease, leaving them to manage their content.

Prior to this new theming feature, Kezz Bracey wrote a great tutorial on how to create a Jekyll theme. In this tutorial, we’re going to extend upon Kezz’s post by converting our template into an official Jekyll theme gem.


Before we get started, I would recommend you read through the previous tutorial. I’m going to assume you already have a Jekyll theme created using Kezz’s method, or you may even have a well written Jekyll site that you’d like to convert into an official Jekyll theme.

You’re going to need to use the command line when working on your Jekyll theme, but once again, Kezz has you covered!

Open your command line tool and make sure you have the latest version of Jekyll installed (at the time of this article it’s 3.3) by using the following:

$ gem install jekyll

You’ll also need Bundler, which is a gem for managing other gems. I’ll explain why you need this later on. You can install this using:

$ gem install bundler

Finally, you’ll need to sign up for a RubyGems.org account. Doing this allows you to push your theme to their registry so other Jekyll users can download and use it.

Getting Started

To help us get started, Jekyll has a command just for creating a new theme. In your command line tool, locate the directory you plan to work in, and use the following command to create the base files for your theme:

$ jekyll new-theme awesome-jekyll-theme

You should see something like the list below in your working folder:


The _layouts/, _includes/ and _sass/ folders are the same as the folders you’d see in a normal Jekyll project, containing all your page layouts, “includes” (or “partials”) and Sass files.

The assets/ folder is for files you want to output to the user’s site. For example, JavaScript, image or style files. You would normally place these files into js/, css/ or images/ folders.

awesome-jekyll-theme.gemspec is the file that describes your gem theme. Here is where you can list the name, the version, a description, a homepage, and a list of gems for your theme gem.

The Gemfile is for Bundler, which we mentioned before. This links the gems listed in your .gemspec file with Bundler in your command line tool. We’ll be using Bundler later to test out your theme.

Finally, the README.md and LICENSE.txt are there to document your theme and to provide a suitable license. You’re probably familiar with these files if you’ve created a GitHub project before.

Note: It’s important to document your theme thoroughly. That way, people who want to use your theme will be able to do so easily, and use the options and controls you’ve provided within it.

Converting Your Theme

Given that a Jekyll project has a pretty similar file structure to a Jekyll theme, you can go ahead and copy most of your files over. You’ll probably want to overwrite the pre-existing layout files that come with the base theme with your own. So, all your layout files need to go into the _layouts/ folder, your includes into the _includes/ folder, and your Sass files into the _sass/ folder within the base theme you created.

Hint: New to Sass? Check out this course by Adi Purdila, 14 Days to Learn Sass

You’ll need to place your main styles, JavaScript and graphic assets in the assets/ folder. This is a key folder for Jekyll theming as it’s the only directory that will appear in the end users site. You may end up with an assets folder that looks like this:


In turn, you’ll need to update the paths in your code to reflect this path change. For example, css/styles.scss will change to assets/styles.scss.

Hint: To make sure your paths are correct in your theme, you might want to check out relative_url and absolute_url which have recently been added to Jekyll.

Your Theme Metadata

The .gemspec file is designed to provide core information about your theme gem. The base Jekyll theme comes with this file, but you’ll need to replace the example values with your own. Here’s an example .gemspec file:

# coding: utf-8

Gem::Specification.new do |spec|
  spec.name          = "awesome-jekyll-theme"
  spec.version       = "0.0.2"
  spec.authors       = ["David Darnes"]
  spec.email         = ["[email protected]"]

  spec.summary       = %q{A short explanation of my awesome gem theme.}
  spec.description   = "A longer explanation of my awesome gem theme that isn’t the same as my summary."
  spec.homepage      = "https://alembic.darn.es"
  spec.license       = "MIT"

  spec.files         = git ls-files -z.split("\x0").select { |f| f.match(%r{^(assets|_layouts|_includes|_sass|LICENSE|README)}i) }

  spec.add_runtime_dependency "jekyll-seo-tag", "~> 2.0"

  spec.add_development_dependency "jekyll", "~> 3.3"
  spec.add_development_dependency "bundler", "~> 1.12"

Below is a run down of what I changed in my .gemspec file:

The name should be the name of your theme, which should match with the .gemspec file name. The version should be the latest number of your theme gem. The authors can be a list of people, but, for now, it’s just myself developing this theme. email should be the same email you signed up with for RubyGems.org.

The summary and description should be short and long explanations respectively of your theme gem. You can either set the homepage to a live demo of the theme or even the GitHub repo in which is resides.

The license should match whatever license you’ve provided in the theme gem (the LICENSE.txt file). The files value should be left unchanged as that marks the files and folders that will be used in your final theme gem.

The last part of the .gemspec file is a list of gems that are needed in order for your theme to work correctly. In my example, I have just one gem that is needed for it to run: jekyll-seo-tag. The other gems listed, jekyll and bundler, are development gems and are only needed when someone is developing the theme gem.

Make sure to add all the gems you need for your theme in this file. You can find a full list of Jekyll’s plugins on their site.

Testing Your Theme

Now that we have our theme files and our .gemspec file has been filled in, we can now perform some initial testing. However, we’re going to need some sample content, so copy over the _config.yml from your old template theme, along with some markdown content. An index.md file with some content should be sufficient for an initial test, but you may want to add an example post, as well. Blogging is one of the key features of Jekyll, so it would be a good idea to test this.

Note: Make sure your front matter has a layout selected or you might not see the theme correctly when running locally.

Remember that we installed Bundler and that Gemfile in the base of our theme directory? Well, Bundler uses Gemfiles to manage gems in projects and if you open that file, you’ll see the following:

source "https://rubygems.org"

What this file does is to tell Bundler to look on RubyGems.org for the gems in your .gemspec file. So, with that in mind, let’s test your theme.

In your command line tool, use the command below to install all the gems needed for your theme gem:

$ bundle install

This should install all the themes in your .gemspec, which, in my example, would just be jekyll-seo-tag. Now we can run the theme locally using:

$ bundle exec jekyll serve

You should then be able to view your theme at http://localhost:4000. If an error occurs, it might be because you’re missing a gem in your .gemspec file.

Note: You might need to whitelist gems in your _config.yml file, if you haven’t already done so, as well as stating them in your .gemspec. If you’re struggling to get to grips with Jekyll, Guy Routledge has created a great course for Tuts+ on Building Static Websites With Jekyll.

Refining and Adding Customisation

Next, you’re going to be spending some time refining your theme to make sure it works with a variety of content formats and sizes. You might also want to consider customisation options, either through a global setting in the _config.yml or on separate pages in the front matter.

The user has the ability to overwrite any file in your theme gem with their own file on their own Jekyll site. For example, if you have _includes/header.html in your theme gem, the theme user can overwrite that file with _includes/header.html on their own site. You might want to think about making your theme flexible enough that the theme user can easily overwrite your files to make their own site more unique.


If you’re adding customisation to your theme, you’re going to need documentation to go with it. Documenting your theme gem is very important. If the documentation is poor, then people won’t want to use the theme.

Here are some of the things that I would expect to see in a theme’s documentation:

  • A good description of the theme and its uses
  • A list of features
  • Clear installation instructions
  • Some demo content to show how to use the theme
  • How the configuration options work
  • How the page options work
  • Any shortcodes / includes that can be used
  • References to any open source projects you used to help create the theme

All of this can be listed in the README.md, which was created when we generated the base Jekyll theme. When the theme gets pushed up to RubyGems.org, the readme file will be processed and shown on the gem page for people to refer to.

Along with your documentation, I would recommend providing some demo content to get people started with your theme. A _config.yml, index.md and example post file, similar to the ones you used to test your theme with earlier, along with a Gemfile should be sufficient. Although it should only require the user to add the gem to their Gemfile, it would be very helpful to provide an example setup that they can download and use straight away.

You’ll need to provide a screenshot for your theme, as stated in the official Jekyll documentation, with the name screenshot.png. Not only will this allow people to see how your theme looks at a glance, but it will also provide a consistency across all Jekyll themes so that they can be displayed in a gallery or admin UI in the future.

Publishing Your Theme

Once you’re happy with your theme, and you’ve tested and documented it, you’ll need to push it up to the RubyGems.org registry so that others can use it.

Locate your theme gem with your command line tool and use the following:

gem build awesome-jekyll-theme.gemspec

Make sure to match the name of the .gemspec file in your theme with the command shown above. This will create a file called awesome-jekyll-theme-0.0.2.gem, which is your official Jekyll theme gem! Next, you’ll need to push your gem up to RubyGems.org. Use the following in your command line tool:

gem push awesome-jekyll-theme-0.0.2.gem

If this is your first time pushing a gem to RubyGems.org, it will ask you to log in with the details you used to sign up. After that, the gem should be pushed up to the registry, meaning your theme gem has been published.

Hint: With most command line tools, if you write the first few letters of a file and then press Tab, it should autocomplete the rest of the file name, as long as there isn’t another file starting with the same letters in the same folder.

Once this has happened, you’ll need to do some further testing and follow your own instructions on installing and using the theme gem. The instructions should be fairly similar to the ones shown on the official Jekyll site.

Additional Reading

As well as following this tutorial, you might want to check out these resources when it comes to creating your own Jekyll theme gem:

Download How to Create and Publish a Jekyll Theme Gem

Building Your Startup: Refining Email Templates

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

This tutorial is part of the Building Your Startup With PHP series on Envato Tuts+. In this series, I’m guiding you through launching a startup from concept to reality using my Meeting Planner app as a real-life example. Every step along the way, I’ll release the Meeting Planner code as open-source examples you can learn from. I’ll also address startup-related business issues as they arise.

In this tutorial, I’ll be refining the responsive, HTML email templates that Meeting Planner uses to send out invitations, notifications, reminders, and account-related messages.

During the initial stage of Meeting Planner development, I’ve focused primarily on functionality and have not yet invested significantly in design or hired a designer. Today’s goal is to clean up the appearance of the existing HTML templates so that the basic emails are more readable and usable for people.

Likely half of people’s first experience with Meeting Planner will be via a Meeting Request email.

If you haven’t tried out Meeting Planner yet, go ahead and schedule your first meeting. I do participate in the comment threads below, so tell me what you think! You can also reach me on Twitter @reifman. I’m especially interested if you want to suggest new features or topics for future tutorials.

As a reminder, all of the code for Meeting Planner is written in the Yii2 Framework for PHP. If you’d like to learn more about Yii2, check out our parallel series Programming With Yii2.

Messages and Templates

The Early Templates

Initially, I used basic frameworks I found on the web to create early emails for Meeting Planner. They worked acceptably for the early development phase.

Here’s an example of our existing HTML emails; they’re functional but not very appealing. And, overall, I’ve decided that people don’t need this many options and links within their invitations. It was time to reduce the plethora of options for a simpler experience.

Meeting Planner Templates - Original HTML Invitation Template

Even with the templates I’d used, email tables often appeared corrupted without easy explanation:

Meeting Planner Templates - Example of Corrupted View of Invitation in Gmail

I’d been preparing to migrate to more professional email templates, but it was definitely overdue.

The Variety of Messages 

Here’s a summary of the messages that Meeting Planner regularly sends today:

  • meeting requests (i.e. invitations)
  • meeting updates for changes (also known as notifications)
  • meeting confirmations with calendar file attachment
  • meeting reminders
  • requests for contact information for an upcoming meeting
  • password reset requests

For the alpha test, I’m hoping I can reach a reasonable aesthetic baseline by applying open-source templates to be found on the web. At a later date, we’ll hire a designer to invigorate the templates, theme and brand together.

I began scouring the web for the best email templates.

Open-Source Template Resources

There are a number of helpful guides like these:

And a number of providers offer open-source templates of their own:

Initially, I was drawn to the Mailgun templates as I felt they were thoroughly tested and I could build on them, but ultimately, I decided to go with Sendwithus’s Oxygen email templates. Sendwithus is a synergistic marketing platform for Mailgun (or potentially other email providers), but I don’t have experience with their overall service.

Oxygen offered a complete family of templates for useful scenarios. It seemed simple, organized, and easily extensible:

Meeting Planner Templates - The Send With Us Oxygen Templates

It’s kind of them to offer their open-source email templates without requiring you to be a paying user. Go open source!

Integrating the New Templates

As an MVC framework, Yii separates layouts from body content. So I needed to break down the templates and monitor differences between variations within a group.

You can download the Oxygen family of templates from the Sendwithus GitHub, but they’ve not clearly divided the standard style elements common to each template, so you have to do that yourself.

It took some time to choose which templates I preferred, which elements I liked in each, and which CSS should be integrated into the layout.

Separating the Layout

Ultimately, here’s the new HTML layout (I’ve truncated the styles here for readability):

use yii\helpers\Html;
/* @var $this \yii\web\View view component instance */
/* @var $message \yii\mail\MessageInterface the message being composed */
/* @var $content string main view render result */
<?php $this->beginPage(); ?>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
  <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=<?php echo Yii::$app->charset; ?>" />
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1" />
  <title><?php echo Html::encode($this->title); ?></title>
  <?php $this->head(); ?>
    <style type="text/css">
<link rel="stylesheet" media="screen" type="text/css" href="http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Oxygen:400,700">
<?php $this->beginBody(); ?>
<body bgcolor="#f7f7f7">
<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="container-for-gmail-android" width="100%">
    <td align="left" valign="top" width="100%" style="background:repeat-x url(https://meetingplanner.io/img/bg_top_02.jpg) #ffffff;">
        <?= Html::img('https://meetingplanner.io/img/transparent.png', ['class'=>'force-width-gmail']);?>
        <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="100%" bgcolor="#ffffff" background="https://meetingplanner.io/img/bg_top_02.jpg" style="background-color:transparent">
            <td width="100%" height="80" valign="top" style="text-align: center; vertical-align:middle;">
            <!--[if gte mso 9]>
            <v:rect xmlns:v="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" fill="true" stroke="false" style="mso-width-percent:1000;height:80px; v-text-anchor:middle;">
              <v:fill type="tile" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/swu-filepicker/4E687TRe69Ld95IDWyEg_bg_top_02.jpg" color="#ffffff" />
              <v:textbox inset="0,0,0,0">
                <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="600" class="w320">
                    <td class="pull-left mobile-header-padding-left" style="vertical-align: middle;">
                      <a href="https://meetingplanner.io"><?= Html::img('https://meetingplanner.io/img/email-logo.gif', ['alt'=>'Meeting Planner logo','height'=>'47','width'=>'137']);?></a>
                    <td class="pull-right mobile-header-padding-right" style="color: #4d4d4d;">
                      <a href="https://twitter.com/intent/user?screen_name=meetingio"><?= Html::img('https://meetingplanner.io/img/social_twitter.gif', ['alt'=>'@meetingio on twitter','height'=>'47','width'=>'38']);?></a>
                      <!-- <a href=""><img width="38" height="47" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/swu-filepicker/LMPMj7JSRoCWypAvzaN3_social_09.gif" alt="facebook" /></a>-->
                      <!-- <a href=""><img width="40" height="47" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/swu-filepicker/hR33ye5FQXuDDarXCGIW_social_10.gif" alt="rss" /></a>-->
              <!--[if gte mso 9]>
<?php echo $content; ?>
<?php $this->endBody(); ?>
<?php $this->endPage(); ?>

Replacing the Common Elements

Within the templates, I had to replace a number of elements:

  • Logo
  • Supporting images 
  • Links

I created a logo file that would work for now, and I statically hosted it and the helper images, e.g. for Twitter, on Meeting Planner’s server.

Meeting Planner Templates - Logo

I also replaced the default links within the email with code for our site links.

Building a Footer Section

To simplify reuse across the application, I separated the code for the footer:

use yii\helpers\Html;
use yii\helpers\Url;
use common\components\MiscHelpers;
  <td align="center" valign="top" width="100%" style="background-color: #f7f7f7; height: 100px;">
      <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="600" class="w320">
          <td style="padding: 25px 0 15px">
            <strong><?php echo Html::a(Yii::t('frontend','Meeting Planner'), $links['home']); ?></strong><br />
            Seattle, Washington<br />
        <tr><td style="font-size:75%;"><em>
          <?php echo HTML::a(Yii::t('frontend','Email settings'),$links['footer_email']); ?>
          | <?php echo HTML::a(Yii::t('frontend','Block sender'),$links['footer_block']); ?>
          <?php //echo HTML::a(Yii::t('frontend','Block all'),$links['footer_block_all']); ?>

Updating the Existing Templates

To integrate the templates, I wanted to start with the easiest one. Moving around complex, unfamiliar CSS and HTML is never simple.

I began with our Password Reset email template.

Password Reset

I chose Oxygen’s Welcome template shown below:

Meeting Planner Templates - Oxygen Welcome Template

Each of SendwithUs’s individual templates can be previewed and tested on their Litmus account.

Here’s our reset your password email now on an iPhone, much more aesthetically comfortable than before:

Meeting Planner Templates - Reset Your Password

I was a bit confused when the first Gmail attempts I received looked malformed to me. 

Meeting Planner Templates - Reset Your Password in Gmail

But reviewing their Litmus previews showed me that that’s what they look like in Gmail:

Meeting Planner Templates - Oxygen Welcome in Gmail

I later learned that Gmail requires more inlining of CSS than other services. I’ll guide you through repairing this in a future tutorial.

Here’s the passwordRequestToken.php code that helped generate the above:

use yii\helpers\Html;
/* @var $this yii\web\View */
/* @var $user common\models\User */
$resetLink = Yii::$app->urlManager->createAbsoluteUrl(['site/reset-password', 'token' => $user->password_reset_token]);
  <td align="center" valign="top" width="100%" style="background-color: #f7f7f7;" class="content-padding">
      <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="600" class="w320">
          <td class="header-lg">
            Reset Your Password
          <td class="free-text">
            Hello <?php echo Html::encode(\common\components\MiscHelpers::getDisplayName($user->id)); ?>,
            Click the button below to reset your Meeting Planner password:
          <td class="button">
            <div><!--[if mso]>
              <v:roundrect xmlns:v="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" href="http://" style="height:45px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:155px;" arcsize="15%" strokecolor="#ffffff" fillcolor="#ff6f6f">
                <center style="color:#ffffff;font-family:Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:regular;">My Account</center>
            <![endif]--><a class="button-mobile" href="<?php echo $resetLink ?>"
            style="background-color:#ff6f6f;border-radius:5px;color:#ffffff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Cabin', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:regular;line-height:45px;text-align:center;text-decoration:none;width:155px;-webkit-text-size-adjust:none;mso-hide:all;">Reset Your Password</a></div>
  <td align="center" valign="top" width="100%" style="background-color: #ffffff;  border-top: 1px solid #e5e5e5; border-bottom: 1px solid #e5e5e5;">
      <br />
<?php echo \Yii::$app->view->renderFile('@common/mail/section-footer-static.php') ?>

The Meeting Request

The invitation people receive as a request to meet is our most complex template. It’s sharing a brief introduction, possible places, possible times, and sometimes a note.

For this, I used the Oxygen Confirm template:

Meeting Planner Templates - Oxygen Confirm Template

I thought the Shipping and Date Shipped boxes could be used for sharing Place and Date Time options, and it’s worked fairly well.

Here’s what the invitation looks like now:

Meeting Planner Templates - Meeting Request Template

Certainly, the basic aesthetic appearance is much better. In the future, I may do some work to level and equalize the vertical heights of the places and date times boxes.

Here’s the invitation-html.php body code that helped generate the above:

use yii\helpers\Html;
use yii\helpers\Url;
use common\components\MiscHelpers;
use frontend\models\Meeting;
use frontend\models\MeetingNote;
use frontend\models\MeetingPlace;
use frontend\models\MeetingTime;
/* @var $this \yii\web\View view component instance */
/* @var $message \yii\mail\BaseMessage instance of newly created mail message */
  <td align="center" valign="top" width="100%" style="background-color: #f7f7f7;" class="content-padding">
      <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="600" class="w320">
          <td class="header-lg">
            Your Meeting Request
          <td class="free-text">
            <p><em>Hi, <?php echo $owner; ?> is inviting you to an event using a new service called <?php echo HTML::a(Yii::t('frontend','Meeting Planner'),MiscHelpers::buildCommand($meeting_id,Meeting::COMMAND_HOME,0,$user_id,$auth_key)); ?>. The service makes it easy to plan meetings without the exhausting threads of repetitive emails. Please try it out below.</em></p>
            <p><?php echo $intro; ?></p>
          <td class="button">
            <div><!--[if mso]>
              <v:roundrect xmlns:v="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" href="http://" style="height:45px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:155px;" arcsize="15%" strokecolor="#ffffff" fillcolor="#ff6f6f">
                <center style="color:#ffffff;font-family:Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:regular;">Track Order</center>
            <![endif]--><a href="<?php echo $links['view']; ?>" style="background-color:#ff6f6f;border-radius:5px;color:#ffffff;display:inline-block;font-family:'Cabin', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:regular;line-height:45px;text-align:center;text-decoration:none;width:155px;-webkit-text-size-adjust:none;mso-hide:all;"><?php echo Yii::t('frontend','View Request')?></a>
          <td class="w320">
            <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%">
                <td class="mini-container-left">
                  <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%">
                      <td class="mini-block-padding">
                        <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="100%" style="border-collapse:separate !important;">
                            <td class="mini-block">
                              <span class="header-sm">Possible Times</span><br />
                                foreach($times as $t) {
                                      <?php echo Meeting::friendlyDateFromTimestamp($t->start); ?><br />
                                <?php // echo HTML::a(Yii::t('frontend','accept all times'),$links['accepttimes']); ?>
                                <br />
                                if ($meetingSettings->participant_add_date_time) { ?>
                                <?php echo HTML::a(Yii::t('frontend','suggest a time'),$links['addtime']); ?><br />
                <td class="mini-container-right">
                  <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%">
                      <td class="mini-block-padding">
                        <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="100%" style="border-collapse:separate !important;">
                            <td class="mini-block">
                              <span class="header-sm">Possible Places</span><br />
                              if (!$noPlaces) {
                                foreach($places as $p) {
                                      <?php echo $p->place->name.' '; ?>
                                      <span style="font-size:75%;"><?php echo $p->place->vicinity; ?> <?php echo HTML::a(Yii::t('frontend','map'),
                                      MiscHelpers::buildCommand($meeting_id,Meeting::COMMAND_VIEW_MAP,$p->id,$user_id,$auth_key)); ?></span><br />
                                <br />
                                <?php // echo HTML::a(Yii::t('frontend','accept all places'),$links['acceptplaces']); ?><br />
                                if ($meetingSettings->participant_add_place) { ?>
                                <?php echo HTML::a(Yii::t('frontend','suggest a place'),$links['addplace']); ?><br />
                              } else {
                                  Phone or video <br />
          <td class="free-text">
                if (!$noPlaces) {
                    echo HTML::a(Yii::t('frontend','Accept all places and times'),$links['acceptall']).' | ';
               if ($meetingSettings->participant_finalize && count($places)==1 && count($times)==1) {
                echo HTML::a(Yii::t('frontend','Finalize meeting'),$links['finalize']).' | ';
               <?php echo HTML::a(Yii::t('frontend','Decline request'),$links['decline']); ?>

        <?php echo \Yii::$app->view->renderFile('@common/mail/section-notes.php',['notes'=>$notes,'links'=>$links]) ?>
<?php echo \Yii::$app->view->renderFile('@common/mail/section-footer-dynamic.php',['links'=>$links]) ?>

What’s Next?

Now that the basic templates have been updated, I’ll begin working to repair their appearances in Gmail. And soon, we’ll implement notifications and reminders using them.

While you’re waiting for episodes about these features, schedule your first meeting and try out the new templates. Also, I’d appreciate it if you share your experience below in the comments, and I’m always interested in your suggestions. You can also reach me on Twitter @reifman directly.

I’m also beginning to experiment with WeFunder based on the implementation of the SEC’s new crowdfunding rules. Please consider following our profile. I may write about this more as part of our series.

Watch for upcoming tutorials in the Building Your Startup With PHP series. There are a few more big features coming up.

Related Links

Download Building Your Startup: Refining Email Templates

30+ Best Resume Tips: That Will Get You Noticed and Hired

Have you recently sent out 15 or more resumes, only to get a single interview.

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. 

Yet, with just a few tweaks, your resume can get you a leg up on other

compiled the best resume tips and strategies into this quick-fire guide. These resume techniques will help you stand out, get more interviews, and land the job you really want. 

The best resume tips and tricks help you stand out to employers
The best resume tips and tricks help you stand out to employers quickly. (source graphic)

Note this post is part of our multi-part series on How to Create a Great Resume (Ultimate Guide). Here is our featured tutorial in this series, which is a great starting point: 

Now let’s jump into this collection of over 30 top resume tips and tricks to help polish your resume and improve your results.

Important Strategy Tips For Preparing to Make Your Resume

1. Read the Job You’re Applying for

Tailor your resume to every job

Read the job ad line by line. Highlight
phrases used repeatedly, company culture hints, and anything that resonates
strongly with your career experience.

“Include their
‘About Us’ page, company news, and annual revenue reports in your research.
These sources are a treasure trove of clues about company culture, goals, and
challenges,” says Sarah Dowzell,
COO Natural HR.

2. Send the Right Document

Are you applying for a job in the U.S.? Is
it an academic, scientific, or government job? Did they ask for a resume or curriculum
vitae (CV)? Read the application instructions. If you’re not sure which one to
send, check out this guide:

3. Don’t Have All the Skills Required? No

Do you pass on job opportunities where you
don’t have all the skills they’re looking for? Big mistake. Companies know
there’s no candidate with ALL the skills and characteristics they want.
Besides, they also get tons of applications from total beginners.

So what’s wrong with lacking one or two
skills they’re asking for? Nothing, so don’t
let it stop you
. It all comes down to how valuable you can be to their
team, based on your resume.

Emphasize your soft and transferable
skills. If you have the experience they need, but not in a company
setting, that’s okay. Side projects, volunteer experience, and academic work or
projects still count.

4. Don’t Write Your Whole Life Story

Your resume isn’t a diary detailing all the
job titles and duties you ever had. Think of it as a concise snapshot of your
present career and future potential.

5. Put the Impressive Stuff ‘Above the Fold’

the fold’
refers to the area people see before having to scroll down. In
print, it refers to the first half of the document, or the upper half of a
folded newspaper. This is the first part recruiters see after reading your
resume. Use it well.

Don’t waste space with a big header for
your name and contact details. It’s common practice to put this information at
the top anyway, so you don’t have to use a big font. This professional resume template has a personalized header, but keeps the space used to a minimum, so your summary statement and work experience stand out above the fold: 

Minimal resume template design
Professional resume design.

a good hook—an achievement, skill, or even a teaser question that will intrigue
the recruiter to read further.

Tips for Better Resume Writing

6. Use Digits in Writing Numbers

Numbers stand out in a sea of text, it also
makes your writing easier to read. Add numbers, statistics, percentages,
metrics, or ranges, to any skill or achievement in your resume to make it more

Number Use Examples:

  • Range:
    Supervised 5 to 9 IT associates while we developed a Fintech app for budgeting
    and investments.
  • Savings:
    Streamlined debugging process of new software, saving over 25 hours of work per
  • Frequency:
    Evaluated 7 website themes submitted by freelancers and in-house designers per
  • Results: 20% increase in ROI, while growing inbound traffic by 60,000 pageviews in the last year.

7. When Possible, Put Numbers at the Start

“People read
left to right so put numbers at the front of the bullets not buried in the
paragraph or at the end,” says Mike Sudermann, President &
Executive Recruiter at AscentSelect.

Example to Follow:

“15% reduction in
turnover after the creation and implementation of a new retention strategy”

8. Use Power Words Correctly

Power words are… well, powerful but only if
used in the right context and frequency.

Don’t forget these resume tips and tricks when
using power words:

  • Check the word’s definition in a dictionary.
    Don’t just use it because it sounds impressive. Don’t use words like ‘revolutionize,’ ‘pioneer’ or ‘dissuade’ if
    you can’t substantiate them, or if there are simpler words available.

Poor Example of Using Power Words:

“Improved team collaboration among
developers and database administrators using a revolutionized documentation

Doesn’t ‘revolutionize’ sound too much for this context?

  • Don’t use power words on every bullet in your
  • Avoid power words that are hard to comprehend.
  • Understand the nuances of your chosen power
    word. For example, ‘correspond’ means
    you communicated through email or letters. Communicate refers to both verbal
    and non-verbal communication.

out the downloadable power words I created for this guide:

9. Show, Don’t Explain, Soft Skills

Writing soft skills like ‘good
communication,’ ‘problem-solving,’
and ‘leadership’ is a waste of time.
Recruiters are immune to this.

Yes, these skills are still important. But
it’s better to prove you have these skills by subtly incorporating them into
your resume.

Leadership Example

“Led a
4-person team in creating a sales proposal for a new client.”

Teamwork Example

“Collaborated with the HR and marketing
team to create an employment roadshow that attracted top candidates from
different universities.”

10. Keep it Recent and Relevant

Only show the most recent and relevant job
titles you’ve held. Don’t waste valuable space for jobs you held in an industry
you’ve already left.

Remove job titles irrelevant to your
current professional goals. This frees up space to boost your qualifications
with more skills, achievements, or certifications.

11. Write a Summary

I often refer friends to companies where I
have an inside source, so I read lots of resumes. Until now, lots of them still
use a career objective that sounds like a wish list of what they want. 

Skip the objective. Write a summary
or career highlights instead. Limit it to 7 one-sentence bullets so recruiters
don’t gloss over this part. If you don’t want to write a customized resume for
every job application, re-write this part at least. For more information on this topic:

12. Maximize the First 3 Words of Your Bullets

In writing, I often read that the first
three words and last three words are what people remember most in headlines. I
think the same logic applies when it comes to writing bullets in your resume, because recruiters don’t read the whole document word for word.

Use numbers,
results, or power words to make your first three words count. Don’t waste it on
a preposition or article like ‘the.’

13. Avoid Clichés

Don’t use clichés like “creative,” “motivated,”
and “passionate.” They’re so overused that they’ve lost their meaning. Here are
the top 10 buzzwords to replace in your resume, courtesy of LinkedIn’s
2016 Global Buzzwords list

Top buzzwords to remove from your resume
Top buzzwords to remove from your resume.

14. Use
S.A.R. Format in Writing Achievements

“Use the formula ‘In Sitaution (S), I performed Action
, which led to Results (R).’ Adding achievements to your experience section
is one of the best things you can do for our resume. It gives recruiters a
tangible sense of how you use your skills to get results,” says Natalie
Severt, Career Expert at UptoWork.

Here’s an Example From

“To increase shopping cart value, I implemented an
upselling strategy, resulting in a 5% increase in sales.”

You can also
invert the formula to lead with the results: R.A.S.

R.A.S. Example – Leading With Results

“5% increase in sales after implementing an upselling
strategy for an e-commerce shopping cart.”

15. Create Curiosity

A little mystery is a good thing.

“You want the
reader to say to themselves, ‘Hmm… I am impressed this candidate had a 15%
reduction in turnover, but how did he do that?’” says Sudermann.

Don’t give away you best trade secrets. That curiosity is your bait in luring employers to call you.

they know what to do, what’s the sense in hiring you? It also lessens the ‘wow
factor of what you achieved, especially if they’re already familiar with your

16. Include Continuing Education

Add online courses and short seminars on
the education section of your resume. Don’t worry if it’s not taught in person,
or conducted by a well-known institution. Online education is widely recognized
nowadays so free and paid courses even from online providers carry weight.

If you took a course on Adobe Photoshop, MS Excel, or any other skill, don’t hesitate to
include it as long as it’s relevant to your job.

 17. Make Your Personality Shine

Your resume should reflect interesting
tidbits about your personality. Why?

Because high-achievers are interesting
people with diverse hobbies and interests. Employers often interview candidates
because something in their resume caught their eyes. Sometimes, these can come in the form of a sport, book, movie, side project, or volunteer

Some hobbies demonstrate skills related to
your job, such as how archery teaches focus and painting enhances creativity. These
activities do double duty to make you look both interesting and qualified for
the job.

Allow your personality to shine through in your resume. This stylish resume template has features to showcase your professional experience and skills, but also includes a “What I Like” hobbies section: 

Stylish personal resume design
Stylish personal resume.

Sprinkle references to books you’ve read,
sports you play, volunteer activities, and even places you’ve traveled in your
resume and cover letter.

18. Beware of Controversial Interests

Did you help a candidate during a political
campaign? Or maybe you raised money to support a church’s restoration. Both demonstrate
your work ethic and willingness to help. But those efforts could be used to
discriminate against you by someone who doesn’t agree with the cause. 

Tips for Better Resume Formatting

formatting increases your resume’s readability and helps focus attention on the most important
parts of it.

19. Organized Spacing

Should you use single space or double space
between job entries? Pick one and stick to it. If you want to combine different
spacing, make sure it’s consistent between different elements. For instance, no
spacing between bulleted points but double spacing between two sections (i.e.
education and work history).

 20. Font Size

My rule of thumb is if the reader needs reading glasses to read the resume, you have already aggravated them. Font size will depend on the specific font but it MUST be legible. Also, avoid cursive and other quirky fonts, the recruiter might think you’re not serious about the job”, says Michelle
, Certified Professional Resume Writer at Riklan Resources LLC.

21. Divvy Up Long Lists

Every profession has multiple skill sets related
to it. For instance, a UX designer has coding, design, illustration, and
administrative skills, just to name a few.

Dividing these skills into different lists
then itemizing what’s included in each clarifies your qualifications and
squeezes more keywords into your resume. It’s also easier to read this way.

22. Reverse Chronological Order

Start your professional history with your
current or previous job. Don’t hide your employment dates using a functional
resume, unless you have a long job gap or a similar situation that necessitates

23. Length

Limit your resume to two pages. Any more
than that and you run the risk of some pages not getting the attention it

24. No Center or Justified Text

People read from left to right, so it’s
easier if most of your text, except the dates, are aligned left. Using center and
justified alignment also makes your resume hard to read because the eyes need
to scan for where the text starts again, instead of just starting immediately
at the left most part of the page.

25. Job Title or Company Name: Pick Which One
to Bold

Format your job title in bold to emphasize
career progression between the job titles you’ve held. If your career progression
isn’t evident after a quick scan of your professional history, just emphasize
your employer’s name. You can also do this to highlight employment from big

Tips for Improving Your Resume Design

26. Prioritize Skimmability

White space is breathing room for the eyes.
It makes your resume skimmable and less overwhelming to read, which is always a
plus for recruiters who spend all day reading applications.

27. Insert Keywords on the Sly

“Use a small
font and white-colored text to insert extra keywords in your resume”, suggests
Darin Herle, Co-Founder of TrackMeet.

It’s a sneaky way to insert
keywords into your resume, so I suggest putting these invisible keywords on the
document’s footer to avoid detection.

28. Match the Company’s Colors

of a plain white-background document, one applicant submitted a resume that
matched our company’s colors. It was the most outstanding resume I’ve seen”,
says Alison Bradley,
Marketing Specialist and HR Assistant at Shiny Window Cleaning.

Using the company logo’s color theme shows
you did your research, and that you’re also passionate about the job.

29. Send a Traditional PDF, Even if You Have an
Infographic or Creative Resume

Creative resumes can help you stand out and get noticed. We have many resume templates with high quality, beautiful styles on Envato Market, such as those curated in these articles: 

Staffing firm The
Creative Group
polled more than 400 U.S. marketing and advertising
executives, and found that 78% of them still prefer traditional resumes in PDF
and word format.


Creative resumes can help you stand out but
unless you have an insider, there’s no way to know for sure if an employer
prefers them over traditional resumes. Just to be safe, send a PDF or word file
resume even if your main resume is an infographic or video.

There are also a number of professional resume templates on Envato Market with traditional and more modern styles. And many easy to customize designs that can be exported to both PDF and Word formats. Here is a simple resume template, with minimal infographic elements: 

Simple resume template design
Simple resume design.

More Useful Resume Tips

30. Add a Resume Supplement

It’s impossible to show all your
qualifications in two pages, so take advantage of LinkedIn, portfolio sites,
and personal websites. Just cover all the important details and accomplishments
on your resume, and then let your online assets do the rest.

A printed portfolio of your works and a recommendation
letter from an influencer are also good resume supplements.

 31. Don’t Give them Reason to Toss Your Resume

“When I’m looking through resumes, I’m not looking for reasons to
interview someone. I’m looking for reasons to toss the resume in the shredder”, says Joshua
I. Wilson
, CMT, Chief Investment Officer at WorthPointe.

Busy C-executives aren’t the only ones guilty of this. Many
recruiters read resumes with the intention of weeding out applicants instead of
qualifying them. After receiving hundreds of resumes with similar qualifications, it’s hard to blame them.

A recruiter’s job is to look for the best candidate,
not the average. Scrub your resume clean of typos and dull job
responsibilities. Emphasize what makes you unique. 

32. Google Me

“If your online presence is extensive and impressive
enough, tell the recruiter to Google you to get a sense of your accomplishments,”
says Herle. 

This is applicable to all applicants, not
just freelancers, writers, developers, and designers whose work are often available

 33. Name Your File

Use your name, job title, and the word ‘resume
as the document’s file name. That will make it easier for the recruiter to find
your job application, after you follow-up or send them a thank you note.

Improve Your Resume One Step at a Time

know reading everything suggested on this list is overwhelming. Doing it all is
even more tiring, so take it one step at a time. Some of these resume tips take
a few seconds to finish, while others might take half an hour—or more.

You don’t have to do it all at once. Make a few tweaks, then leave it at that and just pick up where you left off the next day. Improve your resume one step at a time. 

Learn more about how to make a great resume in our ultimate guide.

Download 30+ Best Resume Tips: That Will Get You Noticed and Hired

How to Highlight Freelance Work on Your Resume

If you freelance do you need a resume?

Some experts would argue that resumes are outdated when it comes to freelancing. The argument is that your website, portfolio, and social media presence contain enough information for a client to hire you. 

While it’s true that it’s possible to get freelance gigs without a resume, if you don’t have one you may be missing out on some lucrative opportunities. Even if you don’t use your freelance resume for every potential client, it’s better to be prepared and have one ready for when you need it.

One reason freelancers avoid making resumes is that creating a resume as a freelancer can be challenging. Most resume formats were designed with traditional employment in mind. It can be hard to fit a freelance career into a traditional resume structure.

Working on Freelance Resume
Working on freelance resume. (graphic source)

In this article, I outline why your freelance resume is important. I’ll also show you how to overcome resume obstacles that freelancers face. How best to include freelance work on your resume. Finally, I’ll share some template resources that work well for designing your freelance resume quickly.

To learn more about creating a resume, study our resume guide, and if you’re a freelancer then let’s get started.

Why Your Freelance Resume Is Still Important

You’re doing great as a freelancer. You’re getting lots of gigs and working regularly. So far, no one has asked for your resume.

That’s great. Now is the perfect time to update your resume to include your freelance work—before someone asks for it. 

When someone does asks for your resume, you want to have one nearly ready to go. You don’t want to have to spend a few days creating your freelancer resume under time pressure. It’s best to tackle this early and be prepared.

Here are some common scenarios when you might need a resume as a freelancer:

  • You’re applying for work with a larger client. In larger companies, freelancers (often referred to as independent consultants) are often asked to provide resumes. A large company is also more likely to use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to screen resumes.
  • You’re applying for work through an agency or a recruiter. If you’re looking for work through a third party, such as an agency or a recruiter, they may ask you for a resume that they can restyle and present to their end client.
  • You’re returning to traditional employment. The resume is still the mainstay of looking for traditional employment. If you’ve been freelancing for a while and are searching for a traditional position, it can be challenging to create a resume to encompass all your experience.
  • You’re applying for a professional license or certificate. In some fields, you may be required to submit a resume. Even if you’re not asked directly for a resume, it can serve as a reference to help you describe your experience.
  • You’re applying for an industry award. Sometimes an awards committee wants to see a list of your accomplishments. A resume is an easy way to summarize your accomplishments quickly.
  • You’re speaking at a conference or meeting. If you’re asked to give a presentation, the conference meeting organizer will probably want to introduce you. A resume is one way to provide them with the information they need.
  • Any other time a client requests one. Each client is different. Many will be happy with just a portfolio link. Others will insist on a resume. It would be a shame to miss out on a gig because you didn’t provide the client with the information they asked for.

Note that a resume does not replace a portfolio for a freelance creative. Rather, it supplements it. Be sure to include a link to your portfolio on your resume.

It’s also important to tweak your resume each time you submit it. Use it to emphasize how your experience and skills meet that specific client’s need. There’s no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” freelancer resume.

How to Handle Common Freelance Resume Problems

One reason freelancers don’t use resumes is because it can be difficult to know how to include freelance work on a resume. Here are some common dilemmas freelancers face when creating their resumes:

  1. What job title do I give myself?
  2. Do I list freelance clients by name as separate jobs?
  3. How much detail do I include about my freelance projects?
  4. What if there are slow periods in my freelancing career? Will these look like gaps in employment?
  5. Do I include a link to my website or online portfolio?
  6. What if I’m freelancing alongside a full-time job? Do I include both?
  7. How do I format my resume? 

I’ll answer each of these topics separately: 

1. Job Title

As a freelancer, your clients don’t provide you with a job title. It’s up to you to come up with your own job title.

Since your freelancing business is a small business, you may be tempted to put a title on your resume that reflects that such as “owner” or even “CEO.”  While such a title might technically be correct, using it on your resume probably won’t help you find work.

Many experts suggest using a title that describes the actual work you performed for your client. For example, the job title “Independent Graphic Designer” is more informative for a potential client or employer than the job title “Owner.”

2. Listing Freelance Clients

Should you list your clients by name? If you’ve had a lot of clients, do you need to list each one separately?

First, consider any contract agreements you made. For example, if you are a freelance writer who does ghostwriting your contract may specify that you can’t name the client. In that case, describe the work only. Consider something like this example:

  • Served as a ghostwriter for a corporate blog. Provided weekly posts of between 500 and 1000 words.

If the contract allows it, list the client’s name while making it clear that you were not an employee. Adding the words “contractor” or “independent worker” after the company name should be enough.

If you’ve done a lot of freelancing work, you don’t need to list every single client you’ve ever worked for. Career experts agree it’s better to highlight work you did for a well-known company or brand over work you did for little-known companies.

When listing a client, make sure there is a contact at the company who can talk about the work you did for that client. Freelance clients do check references.

The best solution is to use your freelancing business name as an umbrella and list the most important client names as sub-points below. Lump lesser known clients and occasional clients together.

Here’s an example from a freelance graphic designer resume:

Graphic Designer, Anytown Consulting 2012-2016
Provided graphic design services for multiple clients including:

  • Big Company No. 1 (Consultant)
    Designed and created newsletter design 
  • Big Company No. 2 (Consultant)
    Developed logo and business card design
  • Smaller Company No. 1 (Consultant)
    Created banner ad and brochure
  • Consulted with additional clients about marketing design needs
    and corporate branding

3. How Much Detail Should You Provide?

Space is at a premium on your resume. A longer resume is not a better resume. This is true for freelancers and non-freelancers alike. A resume for even a senior-level professional should not exceed three pages. (Some experts recommend no more than two pages.)

For that reason, your resume needs to be edited tightly. Limit yourself to a single sentence to describe each freelancing gig that you list. Do use keywords that emphasize your skills and experience.

Omit the Job Objective section. It has no place on today’s resume. It may even cause your resume to be rejected. Learn more about resume objectives versus how to use summary statements instead: 

4. Dealing with Slow Periods and Gaps

Freelancing is known for its ups and downs. Your work may be hectic one month, and slow the next.

You may worry that the ups and downs of freelancing will look bad on your resume. If you use the name of your freelancing business as an umbrella and list your freelancing gigs beneath it, you don’t need to worry that slow months look like a gap in employment.

If you do have legitimate gaps in employment, times when you were neither employed nor running a freelancing business, be honest. It’s better to be honest than to make something up. Some specialists recommend explaining long gaps right on the resume.

For example:

  • Left workforce to care for sick family member, 2011-2012

Volunteer work can also be a good way to fill a gap in employment. This is especially true if the volunteer position is related to the job you are looking for.

Whether or not you decide to list the reason for your gap on your resume, be ready to talk about it in an interview. You will almost certainly be asked about it. If the gap is because you were looking for work, explain that.

If you’re qualified and have an otherwise solid work history, an explainable gap in your work history can be overcome.

5. Sharing Online Information

As a freelance professional, you likely have an online portfolio or website that you want to link to on your resume. You may also want to include links to your social media accounts such as LinkedIn.

Most HR professionals agree that it’s important to share your online information if it’s professional and relevant to your job search. Include your links right after your contact information at the top of the resume.

Be careful, though. Just because you have a social media account doesn’t mean it should be on your freelance resume. Include only those accounts that are up-to-date.

6. Part-Time Freelancing

One dilemma unique to freelancers is whether they should include part-time freelance work on their resume. Here are some questions to help you decide:

  1. Is the part-time work relevant to the position I am applying for?
  2. Do I need to list the part-time work to cover an employment gap?

If you need to list the part-time freelancing to cover an employment gap, do so. Focus on anything relevant to the job you are applying for.

If the job is not relevant to the position you are applying for and you don’t need it to cover an employment gap, then leave it off your resume.

7. How an ATS Affects Your Freelancer Resume

Many medium to large companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to screen resumes. What this means is that your resume could be rejected before a human even sees it. These systems can even affect freelancers seeking long-term projects or returning to traditional employment.

Here are some pointers to help your resume get past the ATS:

  • Submit the resume in .Doc or .TXT format
  • Focus on keywords used in the job listing
  • Use easily identifiable labels for resume sections
  • Avoid using images, tables, or symbols
  • Fix any spelling errors or typos

Freelancers are often encouraged to submit a functional or creative resume. While those resume formats work great for resumes that will be seen by humans, those formats may cause an ATS to reject your resume.

To learn more about how to create a resume and format it properly, review these tutorials:

Other Problems Freelancers Face

Once your resume gets through the initial screening process, you may still face some struggles.

Here are some common worries that employers have about freelancers:

  • Culture Fit – Freelancers are often viewed as loners. An employer may worry that a freelancer won’t take instructions well. They may wonder how you’ll work with others.
  • Qualifications Matching – Employers often want someone with the exact experience in their ad. As a freelancer your experience is probably broader and more varied than what the employer is looking for.
  • Salary Negotiations – If you’ve been self-employed, salary negotiations can be tough. Employers like to base the salary they offered you on a past salary.

The best way to deal with these issues is to expect them. Be prepared when you go to the interview.

To deal with culture fit worries, explain why you believe you’re a good fit for the company. Stress how your values align with theirs. Emphasize that you are a team player who works well with others.

For qualification worries, focus on those projects and parts of projects where your responsibilities were closest to the position you’re applying for.

To learn what salary you should accept, do some research. Find out what the average pay range is for the job title you are being considered for. That will give you an idea of what you should ask for. Don’t forget to factor in any benefits you are offered.

How to Make Your Resume Stand Out

At some point, your resume will be reviewed by real people. This is why it’s important to make your resume stand out. Appearance counts.

Templates can help you create an attractive, professional-looking resume. It’s not too difficult to use a template. For step-by-step instructions on how to use a Word resume template, review:

Here’s a curated list of creative resume templates that can work well for many freelancers:

You can find even more great resume templates at Envato Market (GraphicRiver), with numerous trending new designs to choose from.


When it comes to creating a resume, freelancers face unique challenges. As a freelancer, you may believe that you don’t need a freelance resume. But whether you want to continue freelancing or transition back to traditional employment, it’s a good idea to keep your freelance resume updated.

Have you faced any challenges creating your freelance resume? Share your experiences in the comments.

Download How to Highlight Freelance Work on Your Resume

Building RESTful APIs With Flask: ORM Independent

In the first part of this three-part tutorial series, we saw how to write RESTful APIs all by ourselves using Flask as the web framework. In the second part, we created a RESTful API using Flask-Restless which depends on SQLAlchemy as the ORM. In this part, we will use another Flask extension, Flask-Restful, which abstracts your ORM and does not make any assumptions about it. 

I will take the same sample application as in the last part of this series to maintain context and continuity. Although this example application is based on SQLAlchemy itself, this extension can be used along with any ORM in a similar fashion, as shown in this tutorial.

Installing Dependencies

While continuing with the application from the first part, we need to install only one dependency:

$ pip install Flask-Restful

The Application

Before we start, you might want to remove the code that we wrote for the second part of this tutorial series for more clarity.

As always, we will start with changes to our application’s configuration, which will look something like the following lines of code: 


from flask.ext.restful import Api

api = Api(app)

Just adding the above couple of lines to the existing code should suffice.


import json
from flask import Blueprint, abort
from flask.ext.restful import Resource
from flask.ext.restful import reqparse
from my_app.catalog.models import Product
from my_app import api, db

catalog = Blueprint('catalog', __name__)

parser = reqparse.RequestParser()
parser.add_argument('name', type=str)
parser.add_argument('price', type=float)

def home():
    return "Welcome to the Catalog Home."

class ProductApi(Resource):

    def get(self, id=None, page=1):
        if not id:
            products = Product.query.paginate(page, 10).items
            products = [Product.query.get(id)]
        if not products:
        res = {}
        for product in products:
            res[product.id] = {
                'name': product.name,
                'price': product.price,
        return json.dumps(res)

    def post(self):
        args = parser.parse_args()
        name = args['name']
        price = args['price']
        product = Product(name, price)
        res = {}
        res[product.id] = {
            'name': product.name,
            'price': product.price,
        return json.dumps(res)


Most of the code above is self-explanatory. I will highlight a few points, though. The code above seems very similar to the one that we wrote in the first part of this series, but here the extension used does a bunch of behind-the-scenes optimizations and provides a lot more features that can be leveraged. 

Here the methods declared under any class that subclasses Resource are automatically considered for routing. Also, any parameters that we expect to receive along with incoming HTTP calls need to be parsed using reqparse.

Testing the Application

This application can be tested in exactly the same way as we did in the second part of this tutorial series. I have kept the routing URL the same for the same purpose.


In this last part of this three-part tutorial series on developing RESTful APIs with Flask, we saw how to write ORM-independent RESTful APIs. This wraps up the basics of writing RESTful APIs with Flask in various ways. 

There is more that can be learned about each of the methods covered, and you can explore this on your own, using the basics you’ve learned in this series.

Download Building RESTful APIs With Flask: ORM Independent

How to Draw a Unicorn Step by Step

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

What I love most about drawing is that it lets us picture unreal things as if they were real. If you want to feel the thrill of creation, in this tutorial I will show you how to draw a beautiful, realistic unicorn. These creatures were not just “horses with horns”—they were described as similar to goats, with cloven hooves and a donkey-like tail. Their horns were said to have magical powers, but since the animals were so timid, you’d need the help of a gentle maiden to capture one.

Today, unicorns are no longer believed to be real, but you can bring one to life with art. You don’t need to know how to draw horses, or horns—I will lead you step by step! But if you want to be better prepared, try this tutorial first:

1. Sketch the Pose of a Unicorn

Step 1

Start with an oval for the chest. It doesn’t need to be a perfect oval, and feel free to correct it as many times as necessary. The lines I’m showing you here are clean so that you can see exactly what I’m drawing—normally they would be much messier!

start a pose with oval

Step 2

Add the rump. Its size and distance from the chest will define the shape of the body. If this were a real horse, you’d need to be careful to achieve the right shape, but unicorns aren’t really horses—they’re considered a different species, often smaller/slimmer. So don’t worry if yours looks different than mine!

oval with half oval makes the body

Step 3

Add the neck and head. Again, you can use my proportions or modify them for something more original.

simple neck

Step 4

You can choose any pose you like for your unicorn, but it will be the most realistic if you borrow it from a horse. Check my tutorial about drawing horses to pick a pose. I’ve decided to use a frame from a canter—it’s a fast but very graceful running gait.

how to start drawing a horse in canter
horse in canter simple drawing

Step 5

Finally, add a tail:

drawing horse tail

2. Draw the Body of a Unicorn

Step 1

Now we’re going to add shapes characteristic for a horse body. Draw the head and the muzzle…

how to start drawing horse head

Step 2

… then connect them with two lines and add the ears on top of the head.

how to draw horse head

Step 3

This will be the eye:

how to start drawing horse eye

Step 4

Add some details on the head and start building the hooves. Adjust the direction of lines to the angle of the legs. Normally, the hooves would be larger, but in my vision unicorns are quite similar to deer in this manner.

how to draw horse hooves

Step 5

Finish the hooves:

how to finish drawing horse hooves
how to draw realistic horse hooves

Step 6

Add the wrists and heels. Yes, these aren’t knees!

how to draw horse knees

Step 7

Add some details to the heels. The bones are really showing in this area, and they create a typical horse look.

how to draw horse leg details

Step 8

Add the thigh and the arm.

how to draw horse thigh arm

Step 9

Connect the parts of the legs with gentle lines.

how to draw horse legs

Step 10

Before we draw the neck, it’s good to add some guide lines: the back of the shoulder blade and the width of the neck.

how to draw horse neck

Step 11

Now you can finish the outline of the body.

how to draw horse body

3. Draw a Unicorn Horn

Step 1

The horn of a unicorn may look complicated, but there’s actually a simple formula for it. Start by defining its length and direction with a line.

how to draw a unicorn

Step 2

Cross it with diagonal lines, skewing them more and more as you get close to the tip.

how to draw a unicorn horn

Step 3

Add a copy of every line below, keeping a little distance from the other line.

how to draw a spiral horn

Step 4

Connect each line with its copy with an arc.

unicorn horn tutorial

Step  5

Draw concave arcs in between.

horse horn tutorial

4. Finish the Drawing

Step 1

What would a unicorn be without its fabulous mane? Add some beautiful hair here and there. Traditionally, unicorns have been pictured with tufted tails, but feel free to use a normal horse tail if you want.

how to draw unicorn mane

Step 2

Your drawing looks very dirty right now, with many lines crossing and covering each other. But that’s normal! To create a clean picture out of this, you can use one of these tricks:

  • Create a new layer, if you’re drawing digitally.
  • Scan your drawing, lower its lightness/opacity with a program, and then print it with the sketch barely visible.
  • Draw over the most important lines with a ballpoint pen or a marker. Put a new sheet of paper above the sketch—the dark lines should be seen through.

Remember: tracing your own drawing is not cheating!

how to draw clean drawings

Step 3

Continue drawing on the new layer/printed sketch/new sheet of paper. This time, be more careful with lines, because they’re the final ones. You can again use my tutorial about drawing horses to add realistic details, but you can also finish it with your own style. It’s also always good to use a reference for this part:

how to draw detailed horse
Cloven hooves remind us that this is not actually a horse
how to draw a unicorn with pencil
how to draw a realistic unicorn

Fabulous Drawing!

Unicorns may not be real, but you have just created one! Is there something else you’d like to learn to draw? Let me know in the comments!

realistic unicorn drawing tutorial

Download How to Draw a Unicorn Step by Step