California Cruisin' License Plate

This week's Dribbble Weekly Warm-Up is:

Design a License/Registration Plate


Like a lot of my designs, this one was a wild ride from start to finish. With license plates some things are a given, so I started out with a rounded-edge rectangle, the inner shadow circles for holes, et cetera. All of this was done in grayscale so I could focus on it without worrying about colors.

I have to be honest and admit I have no idea where the "Baja"/sunshine idea came from. I have never been to Baja, or Mexico in general, and I'm pretty sure I initially thought it was part of California...but I digress.

In version 1, the pink/turquoise gradient palette had popped into my head, and based on that inspiration I had an urge to draw out the letters spelling "Baja." 🤷 In version 2, I adjusted the outline of "Baja," some of the shadows and colors, and adding a lip to the top of the license plate.

In between versions 2 and 3, I had a crisis about using "Baja." I was really excited by the letters at first, but I didn't like them, I felt like they didn't fit with the semi-abstract vision I had in my head, and I felt like the design was being held back by I chose to delete them.

In version 3, I moved from realistic shadows to a more flat style based on the recommendation of my favorite design critic/UX tester. I also checked what others had submitted so far for shots and realized perhaps I was overcomplicating this. I changed the gradient to yellow/lime/turquoise, and spent a lot of time tweaking colors. The artboard background color changed as well.

Version 4 is very close to the final version. I again tweaked some colors, added the text for "California" (I decided to stick to the sunshine theme), adjusted the shape of the lip, and fixed the spacing and size of the license plate text. I also added two spaces for the registration stickers.

In the final version, I added a thin stroke to the "California" text and adjusted its size and spacing more.