How to Turn Inspiration from Others into Personal Original Works

How to Turn Inspiration from Others into Personal Original Works

This is not an article on how to find inspiration. Everyone has his own sources when there’s a lack of ideas. This is an article on how to turn inspiration that derives from others’ digital projects into a new original piece. When you come accross talented designers works, do you spend days trying to achieve a similar result? If yes this post is for you. I want to show you a constructive practice to grow as designer.

Young designers are often in the habit of imitate others’ works. This is not bad. Not at the very beginning. To have a reference point is fundamental when starting a career, or simply cultivate a passion. But insist in this street will drive the designer to face a series of problems:

  1. Frustration – he/she wasn’t be able to replicate the style of a more navigated designer.
  2. Lose of identity – he/she will spend weeks without working on his/her personal style.
  3. Lose of time – he/she will realize at the end that this is not the best street to follow.

The method I’ll suggest in this post is a practical approach that goes from the observation of some works to the realization of a new one. Let’s start!

Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.

Thomas Edison

The Making of Type Grunge Poster

Premium members can download psd file of the poster at the end of the article (click on the image for a larger preview).

2 days ago I published a showcase of 30 amazing type treatments. This inspired me to create a poster focused on 3D typography. I had no idea of how to begin, so I started searching for typography related images. The first one that inspired me was Rebuild, created by Gomedia:


Let’s look at the image with attention. What could a young designer ask to himself after have seen this work? Maybe he would like to know what software has been used to create the text. He would like to learn how to create 3d type. He would start searching for tutorials on how to create 3D type. This is good, but not enough.

What is the first step to learn from the master? Observation. This goes beyond the technique. I can’t learn the method they used to create this piece, even if experience can suggest me a method to achieve a similar result (methods can be learn with tutorials). You have to observe important details that make the difference.

What are the feature of this piece that I observed?
  1. If you create a dominant text effect, you don’t need to add lots of details to the image>Next time I won’t spend hourse adding hundreds of details>The importance of balance in graphic design
  2. 3D text rocks when the font of choice is very bold>Download bold fonts for next projects with 3d type
  3. 3D elements can be harmoniously combined with natural landscape>I could try to put 3d elements into water!
  4. Text effects give a nice result if I play with letters rotation>Next time I’ll write something I’ll try this
  5. Light orientation is fundamental. Frontal text face stand out from the rest> I have to go into this argument, maybe a book can help me.

These are some of the fundamental features you can learn from this image. This is the exercise you should make when you see a work that you love. Maybe you won’t be able (for the moment) to create a wonderful 3d text effect. But with this exercise you are accumulating informations that will influence your way to design. When experience will give you technique, you’ll start having the background that can make you a great designer.

Switching to our grunge poster, I open Cinema4D, that is my 3d software of choice, to create the type. This is what I realize:

c4d render preview

c4d text

(I love type)

We will now repeat the same experiment with other works.

As you can notice from the following piece (Deadline realized by Rogier de Boevé) a grunge subtle background can help the text to stand out. Borders give to the work a canvas printed look. Background colors have a low saturation. This create a nice contrast with vivid 3D elements.


After played for a while with layer styles and grunge brushes, I create my background:

creating a grunge background

Take a look at Halifax by Nik Ainley


You can notice that the floor gives a realistic look to 3d text. Nik enhances his text with soft light effects. Also don’t forget that where there’s a 3d text with a wall, there shall be a shadow. With this in mind, here is how I modify my work:

add a floor and light effects

I’m creating a sort of room. At this point I have the impression there is something missing. In particular the wall shall be modified. This work created by Steve Goodin suggests me to realize decorative elements to cover the background. They make the background more pleasant without be distracting.


You know better then me that inspiration can’t derive only from web. Sometimes we need to go out from home breaking the umbilical cord that tie us to the computer. The following photo was made with my phone into a shop. My attention was attracted by the wall decorative motif.

baroque decorative motif

With the photo as a reference I’m able to sketch a nice baroque pattern that I vectorize in Illustrator and then import in Photoshop.

from sketch to vector

Here is where I place baroque decorations:

adding baroque decorations

decorations large preview

From now go on is all about playing with colors and adjustment layers. It’s surprising how these tools can give a totally new look to your images. Also I add nice details like the spider’s web and the soft letters grunge effects. Here is the final result:

grunge poster preview

poster preview2

poster preview 3


If you have a computer and an internet connection, you have all what you need to improve your skills as a graphic designer. With this article I wanted to suggest you to spend more time on details. You can learn a lot from other’s works, but this implies that you have to improve your ability to catch the details that make the difference, and integrate them into your works.


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(+add yours)
  1. Great post! Some things I am doing already but some great extra tips!

    I tend to complete a top quality tutorial on a topic I am interested step by step then use the skills/methods/tools to create an original ‘me’ peice which seems to work well for me!

    Great work keep it up!

    • Hi Joe,
      Thanks for sharing your opinion with us.
      You’re doing a great job. Tutorial’s aim is to drive you to create personal pieces.
      I’d like to suggest you another tip: sometimes, before start following tutorials instructions, try to achieve the final result by yourself, and then compare your method with the one explained by the author of the tutorial

      • Sebastiano,

        Thanks, I will definitely try that once I have got to grips with all the methods!

        I really like this site! The tutorials/articles have an artistic/intellectual feel to them. Love the topics and will continue to stay tuned to your content.

        Great stuff!

      • Thanks Brent, hope you guys can restore our bevoeld, fun and informative forums, too bad they’re down now and there are also other features missing on the website, like the CBG Issue Spotlight, about which we were writing a while ago

  2. this is a splendid post and I would give a five out of five rating to it. Need some more posts like this to be done. Thank you and looking for more of this kind.

  3. Excellent article…very useful to me.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sebastiano do you have any e-mail adress where I can contact you?

  5. Just Someone

    This article is awesome and very useful for me.

  6. Robert

    This article. What an eyeopener!

    I’m often busy dissecting works I like. But in the wrong way.
    Before this article, I was mainly trying to imagine/trace back which tools were used.

    But you are so right. It is more important to concentrate on which materials were combined to make the work (unique), and go well together. And then “do your own thing” with similar.


    • Robert you hit in the center the sense of the article

      • Robert

        You can “blame” your article for that. :)
        Very clear.

  7. Thanks for sharing, that was an interesting article.
    For me, I like taking notes on what I like about certain things that inspire me, which may later be incorporated into my work.
    .-= Sandy´s last blog ..Envy =-.

  8. Nice seeing examples of your inspirational pieces. Enjoyed that quote by Thomas Edison as well. Thanks for this post.

  9. Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a blog website?
    The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your
    broadcast offered bright clear concept

  10. Amazing! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a totally different topic
    but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Great
    choice of colors!

  11. It’s amazing designed for me to have a site, which is valuable for
    my knowledge. thanks admin

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