As a digital illustrator and designer, one of the biggest challenges you face is coming up with fresh ideas and designs that stand out from the competition. To do this, you need inspiration. Something that can spark your creativity and help you think outside the box. Inspiration can come from many sources, but one of the most powerful and accessible is nature.
If you don’t know me yet – my name is Monja, I’m an Artist, a Graphic Designer and a Teacher. I often struggle with finding new inspiration to create my digital products for sale. I actually sell digital products since 2008 on my website digidesignresort.com. And I often struggle with finding inspiration – so trust me, you are not alone. But we can overcome this with the help of nature and my Art Challenge “Finding Inspiration in Nature“. You get tons of images, colour palettes and even a workbook and video lessons to finally get inspired.
What does nature and digital design have in common?
Nature has long been a source of inspiration for designers across all fields. From fashion to architecture to product design and yes, these days also for digital illustrators.
This is because nature has a rich source of patterns, textures, colors, and shapes that are both beautiful and functional. In recent years, designers have started to pay even closer attention to the ways in which nature can inspire digital products. This can be from websites and mobile apps to user interfaces and interactive installations.
In this blog post, we’ll explore how to get inspired by nature to create digital products that are not only visually appealing, but also functional and sustainable. We’ll also discuss best practices for incorporating nature-inspired design elements into your digital products, while avoiding harmful stereotypes or cultural appropriation. By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of how to harness the power of nature to create truly innovative and impactful digital designs.
Specific ways to find inspiration in nature
First of all we need to figure how nature can help us to get inspired. Sure you can go for a walk. That might be a starting point but not the ultimate weapon when you face a blank canvas. Btw – it doesn’t matter at this point if you are a digital illustrator or a traditional artist.
Here are a few things I do to finally get the brush “rolling”:
Go outside and observe
One of the simplest ways to get inspired by nature is to go outside and observe the world around you. Whether you live in a city or the countryside, there are always natural elements to be found. From the shapes of clouds to the colors of flowers. Take a walk in a nearby park or go for a hike in the mountains and try to notice the details that catch your eye. Pay attention to how light and shadow play across natural objects, and take note of any interesting patterns or textures you see. While doing that make sure you don’t have any time pressure. Just take your time. You need it to fully dive in!
Take photographs of natural landscapes
Photography is another great way to capture the beauty of nature and use it as inspiration for digital design. Bring a camera or smartphone on your outdoor excursions, and snap photos of anything that catches your eye. You can use these photos as reference material later on. Or even edit them in a photo editing app to create new color palettes or textures.
Actually that’s what I usually do. Beside taking the time to enjoy, smell and really feel nature I run around with my mobile to take pictures. I even take videos to remember how I felt and what inspired me at a later time. This is also a great resource when you can’t get out but still want to be creative.
Sketch or paint natural objects
For those who prefer more hands-on creative activities, sketching or painting natural objects is a great way to capture their essence. And use them as inspiration for digital design. Whether you’re drawing a leaf or painting a sunset, take the time to really observe the object and try to capture its unique qualities. You can then scan or photograph your artwork and use it as a starting point for digital designs.
Attend natural history museums or botanical gardens
If you live in a city or don’t have easy access to natural landscapes, visiting natural history museums or botanical gardens can be a great way to get inspired by nature. These institutions often have exhibits and displays that showcase the beauty and diversity of the natural world, from rare plants to exotic animals. Take the time to explore these exhibits and look for patterns, colors, and shapes that you can incorporate into your digital designs.
Personally I love to visit zoos or botanical gardens and have a look at the fur of the animals. You can find much more than zebra-inspired stripes!
Research the science of nature and its patterns
Finally, if you’re interested in the more technical side of nature, researching the science of nature and its patterns can be a great source of inspiration. From the Fibonacci sequence to the Golden Ratio, there are many mathematical patterns found in nature that can be incorporated into digital design. Researching these patterns and their underlying principles can help you create designs that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also functional and scientifically sound.
By using one or more of these methods to find inspiration in nature, you can create digital products that are not only visually stunning, but also reflect the beauty and complexity of the natural world.
Applying nature-inspired concepts to digital design
Once you’ve found inspiration in nature, the next step is to apply those concepts to your digital design work. Here are some ways to do just that:
Color palettes inspired by nature
Nature provides a rich source of color inspiration, from the fiery reds of a sunset to the cool blues of a forest stream. By using natural color palettes in your digital designs, you can create a sense of harmony and balance that evokes the natural world. For example, you might use a palette of earthy greens and browns for line art to create eco-friendly products. Or a palette of warm oranges and yellows for a travel app that showcases sunset photos.
Organic shapes and curves
Incorporating organic shapes and curves into digital designs can create a sense of movement and flow that mimics the natural world. For example, you might use a curved line or a swooping shape in a logo to suggest the movement of a bird in flight. Or use a rounded button instead of a square one to evoke the smoothness of a pebble on a riverbank.
Natural textures and patterns
Adding natural textures and patterns to digital designs can create a tactile, sensory experience that connects users to the natural world. For example, you might use a woodgrain texture as a background for a digital design set about sustainable forestry. Or use a leaf pattern in a brochure promoting an eco-tourism destination.
Natural elements in user interface design
Incorporating natural elements into user interface design can create a sense of familiarity and ease of use. For example, you might use a sliding motion in a mobile app to mimic the movement of a zipper, or use a scrolling motion that mimics the flow of a river. Natural sounds, such as birdsong or flowing water, can also be used to create a more immersive user experience.
Integrating sustainability into product design
Finally, by integrating sustainability into digital product design, you can create products that not only look great, but also have a positive impact on the environment. For example, you might design a website that promotes sustainable agriculture practices, or create an app that helps users track their carbon footprint and make environmentally friendly choices.
By incorporating one or more of these nature-inspired concepts into your digital design work, you can create products that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also evoke a sense of harmony and balance with the natural world.
If you need help to get into the mood of getting inspired by nature I suggest that you join me in my Art Challenge, “Finding inspiration in Nature.”
I prepared seven challenges for you that help you to get inspired in nature. I’ve also added images I took on my walk for your use. I added colour palettes and even a workbook with drawing prompts for the entire year so you never run out of ideas!
Looking forward to seeing you in the Art Challenge: Finding Inspiration in Nature.
Thank you so much to Monja for sharing her amazing and creative insight with us today! For more content, check out my blog where you will find more tips and tricks all about Etsy, print-on-demand, and digital artists!