As 2021 comes to a close, we took a moment to look back and reflect on all the incredible work that was shared to Behance this year. After surveying hundreds of the most appreciated projects from our community, we’ve identified three visual trends that captivated the creative world in 2021.
One key color that emerged from top Behance projects was a bright and bold Tangerine Orange that demands our attention and embodies a hopefulness for the future. Tangerine Orange is a versatile hue that can be used alongside gentler colors for a hint of drama, or combined with other vivid colors to make a bold statement.
“The vibrant orange color was inspired by the beautiful color of the oil itself,” explains designer Marina Veziko of her cosmetic branding and packaging design for Pauli & Sisters. “This particular tone goes really nicely with a lot of colors, so it’s quite easy to make nice color combinations with it, from neon green to the calming, complementary blue.” Marina deliberately chose these strong, vivid colors to avoid the usual and expected muted earth tones seen in typical organic cosmetic branding.
Illustrator Eduardo da Floresta also gravitated towards Tangerine Orange for its versatility. In his series Collision, he used a combination of orange, purple, and green as his main color palette. “This orange has a great balance between a dark and bright mood so it’s easy for me to work with. It really transmits a feeling of a sci-fi mood when mixed with purple, like it’s from another universe. I feel like this orange is both nostalgic and futuristic.”
A theme we saw across a diverse range of creative fields from graphic design to 3D and illustration was the embracement of voluminous, rounded forms. These pillowy surfaces and organic shapes provide a sense of warmth and welcome.
The Microsoft Design team set out to create welcoming digital environments that would inspire their audience with their Flipgrid Backgrounds. These backgrounds are meant to be “conversation starters, making users feel at home, comfortable and excited to show up to a meeting,” says Nando Costa, designer at Microsoft. “These elements aim to create a more approachable, warm, and natural aesthetic, one that resembles the real world.”
“For me it is about having fun and relaxing, and I consider adorable rounded forms the best way to express fun and relaxation,” says designer Valentina Zigangirova. Valentina found inspiration for her packaging design from the malleability of clay: “I wanted graphics in this project to reflect properties of clay, process of sculpting, some atmosphere of this all.”
Approachable characters were at the forefront of branding, identity, and packaging designs in 2021. These friendly, often humorous faces brought warmth, familiarity, and comfort in times of uncertainty.
“Cute faces can communicate the brand’s character and make products look fun and friendly,” says Sorawit Opapongphun of Itemmm Studio. When creating the branding and packaging design for donut company Pan-Pan, Sorawit opted for a rounded character that mimicked the shape of the fried dough, but expressed in the style of vintage Japanese Manga like Astro Boy and Doraemon.
Part of his design process for Pan-Pan was balancing the branding elements to ensure that the final design looked polished and not overly cartoonish. “In my opinion, cute designs alone are not enough. The design must also be unique, eye-catching and link with the product to communicate the brand’s concept instantly to the customer.”
Graphic designer Antony Orozco has crafted a signature style incorporating fun and friendly faces into his illustrations, logos, and branding designs. He finds inspiration from his everyday life to create cute and often cheeky characters: “I think there is a connection between the characters and the positive emotions that my characters convey — they are simple things that can brighten your day. People have managed to find a connection with the attitude that the characters have and with the fact that they are cute and evil at the same time.”
See all the projects in our Best of 2021 moodboard. We’re excited to see all the inspiring projects you’ll share to Behance in the new year!