Flat design has been around for longer than most of us realize, but with Apple’s latest version of iOS hopping on the bandwagon, flat design is surely set to go mainstream. Soon we’ll see the craze over flat design infiltrating just about every possible medium as everyone rushes to copy Apple’s lead as usual.

Designers who are astute enough to notice this are already starting to look for the next cool trend in design in order to avoid getting swallowed up in the mainstream. One might offer that Long Shadow Design could be the next big trend. Just as its name states, this style is based on design elements with disproportionately long shadows to create interesting effects, but still holds much of the simplistic beauty that makes flat design so appealing.

Below are some examples of long shadow design that we’ve come across on the web:

Safari Icon - Long Shadow Design Camera Icon - Long Shadow Design Superman Logo - Long Shadow Design Gear - Long Shadow Design Document Icon - Long Shadow Design Application Icon - Long Shadow Design

So What Defines a Long Shadow Design?

If we take a look at the characteristics that make up this design style we can see that each focal element has a flat two-dimensional shadow. No, we’re not using the shadow filter in Photoshop as we have for years with skeuomorphism. Instead we’re taking the time to illustrate a long and graceful shadow that fades away from the focal point very subtly. It is also important to note that the shadow extends about two to three times the diagonal width of the focal element ensuring that the shadow is stretched so far that it becomes less of a cast shadow and more of a design element unto itself.

The shadow should also radiate from the focal element at about a 45-degree angle. Because we all read left to right, top to bottom, having this shadow reach down and to the right seems most comfortable for our eyes to digest and appreciate.

Don’t wait for Apple and other trend setters to inspire your latest design project. Get out there and explore. You never know what you might find.