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Stars and Stripes with Illustrator

Saturday May 24, 2014

Stars and Stripes by Sandra Trainor

In this tutorial, you will create a star shape using the Star tool, then create stripes using the Rectangle tool. With the help of a mask, you'll cut the stripes and paste them inside the star. To follow along, you'll need Illustrator CS6 or other recent version of Illustrator.

Put Shapes Inside a Shape with Illustrator

How Do You Organize Digital Photos?

Wednesday May 21, 2014

I was just reading a tutorial on FastStone Image Viewer in which the author strongly advocates using a folder-based system of photo organization based on the dates the photos were taken. Followers of this site probably know that I am a big fan of keyword-based systems for photo organization.

I don't know about you, but once something is more than a few months in the past it becomes a distant haze in my memory and I can not pin-point the date it occurred. Often I can see the picture I want in my mind, but I might not be able to recall where the event occurred or what I might have filed it as. In my workflow, I most often want to recall photos based on the people in them, which this person's preferred method of organization does not address at all. This is why the process of tagging my photos with keywords continues to work best for me. Although there is a requirement to invest some time upfront to tag your photos, this pays off down the road when you need to find a specific photo quickly.

While I have embraced the tagging method of photo organization, I know some people who absolutely can not wrap their head around the concept. So it's a great thing that we have choices! I'm interested in hearing how you approach the task of filing your pictures. Cast your vote in the poll or leave a comment about how you organize your digital pictures.

Also see:

Symmetrical Photos - Free Photoshop Action

Friday May 16, 2014

The symmetry action enlarges the canvas and then duplicates and mirrors the original image vertically and horizontally to create symmetry. Try cropping the original in an unusual way before running the action for some interesting results. Compatible with Photoshop 6.0 and higher. An example is shown below. Click the image to go to the download page.

Free Symmetry Action
Download the Free Symmetry Action for Photoshop

Swirly Design Graphics, Brushes, and Shapes

Wednesday May 14, 2014

Enjoy this free set of seven graceful, swirly decorations and twisting, winding leaf, flower and foliage designs from Shelby Kate Schmitz. The swirly designs are available as custom shapes and brushes for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, or you can download transparent PNG files if you prefer to use them in other software such as PaintShop Pro or GIMP. These swirly scroll designs will add a trendy touch to your cards, digital scrapbook pages, or other graphic designs.

Swirly Designs

Swirly Designs SKS

Swirly Design Graphics, Brushes, and Shapes

Poll: Do You Customize Your Software Workspace?

Tuesday May 13, 2014
Customizable work-spaces are a common feature in many graphics software programs. Do you generally customize your software workspace, or do you use the default workspace layout? Vote in the poll, and feel free to add a comment to explain your answer.

Lost Pictures Happy Ending

Monday May 12, 2014

Recently one of my sisters contacted me in somewhat of a panic because she had accidentally re-formatted several of her digital camera memory cards before she had copied all the photos to her computer. The photos were from a recent trip and she was very upset to have lost them.

I pointed her to my Digital Photo Recovery Software category and she was able to get back all the photos she thought she had lost. You see, when you delete files from a hard disk or memory card, the data is not really erased--only the references to the file are removed, but the data is still there until something else is written to that same "space" on the media. So if this happens to you, the most important thing you can do is take action immediately to recover the lost data. The more you use the media, the less chance there is that you will be able to recover the lost files.

The software my sister used to get her pictures back was RecoverPlus. What's interesting about this particular software is that the company offers a 48-hour license. Most of these recovery programs offer a crippled trial version and cost in the range of $30-50 for full functionality, which is a bit high considering that most people only need to use them once or twice in a lifetime. The RecoverPlus unlimited 48-hour license costs a reasonable US$12.95. My sister said it didn't work as well for the videos on her memory card, but it retrieved one video and all the pictures she wanted.

Have you ever needed to use data recovery software? Tell us about your experience by voting in the poll or posting a comment.

Related Links:
Digital Photo Rescue and Recovery Software
Salvage the Files You Lost From Your Hard Drive
Video: Undelete Photos on a Digital Camera
Don't Forget to Make Backups of Your Digital Photos

Originally posted: 3 October, 2007

Make Your Own Font

Saturday May 10, 2014

Make Your Own Font by Ian Pullen

Ian shows you how to you can create a font from your own hand-drawn letters using Illustrator or the free drawing software Inkscape, and a free web service, Fontastic.me. He'll walk your through importing a photo or scan of your alphabet into these programs, tracing them into a vector image, and exporting each letter to an SVG file. Then he shows you how to use Fontastic.me to convert your SVG files into a TrueType font you can use on any computer.

Create a Hand Drawn Font Using Illustrator
Create Your Own Fonts Using Inkscape
How to Create a Font Using Fontastic.me

Does Graphics Software Weaken Drawing Skills?

Friday May 9, 2014
In contrast to the story of my last post about the Electric Paint exhibition, a recent article in the Washington Post talks about how university instructors today are lamenting students' use of graphics software, saying it weakens classic drawing skills.
Computer graphics allow artists to move briskly. By contrast, drawing on paper can be frustrating, forcing concentration, introspection and revision as an idea or vision takes shape. The process hones essential skills and sensitivity and personality that make artwork unique, instructors say.

Stop Saying DPI When You Mean PPI!

Thursday May 8, 2014

This whole issue of resolution would be a lot less confusing to newbies if people would use the correct terminology! I can't tell you how often I get messages from frantic people who have been asked to provide a publisher with an image of 300 DPI. They go to the software looking to figure this out and the term DPI is no where to be found... all they see is PPI, the correct term. To be fair, most of the people asking for 300 DPI don't even know what they're asking for... they're just repeating what someone else told them. If you've recently referred to a digital image in terms of DPI, you're wrong, and you may need to brush up on Image Size and Resolution.


What is Resolution?

What is PPI?

What is DPI?

Discussion: Problem saving or opening in correct DPI

Stashing Syndrome and Reverse Digital Scrapping

Wednesday May 7, 2014

I was reading a post by Michelle at Scrapability about scrap bookers and their eternal compulsion to buy more scrapping stuff. As she noted, there's a similar phenomenon with any crafty hobby, and I think it also applies even to graphics software hobbyists who don't digital scrapbook. There's all those plugins, brushes, styles, patterns, and more -- free for the downloading -- and we want to collect it all! Come on, confess... how many of you have actually used more than 2% of all that stuff you've downloaded? Read More...

Photo Painting with the Match Palette Effect in Painter

Tuesday May 6, 2014

The Finished Painting
Photo Painting by Karen Bonaker

The Match Palette effect in Painter X lets you apply the color and brightness of a source image to a destination image. For example, you can match the colors in a photo to the colors in a favorite painting. You can then clone and paint your photo in the same style as your favorite painting. This tutorial with show you how to use the match palette effect to create a painting from a favorite photo.

Tutorial: Painting a Photo with the Match Palette Effect in Painter

Poll: Do You Use Graphics Software for Work or for Play?

Monday May 5, 2014

I think it would be interesting to see what percentage of you use graphics software primarily for work versus play. Please cast your vote on how you use graphics software in the poll to the right.

I originally posted this poll in 2007 and the results had hobbyists in the lead 2 to 1. We'll see if that has changed any in more recent years.


Get Help With Your Graphics Software Questions

Thursday May 1, 2014

This week's Get Help thread can be found on Google+.

Photo Credit: Petr Kratochvil from http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?picture=help-key&image=1819&large=1

Each week, I will start a new post for you to post your graphics software questions and problems, alternating between Facebook and Google+. If I don't already have an article addressing your issue, we'll take it under consideration for a future article or tutorial.

Fuse App Easily Sends Mobile Photos to SnagIt

Thursday May 1, 2014

Sometime after November 2013, Apple's iCloud PhotoStream up and stopped working on my Windows 7 PC. I depended on PhotoStream to ensure I had backup copies of all the photos from my iPhone and iPad, and losing that function was quite a nuisance. Every time I needed a photo from my mobile devices, I had to jump through hoops to send it to my computer. Sure, there are several apps (FileBrowser, Eye-Fi) and cloud services (Dropbox, OneDrive) I could use to do this, but none are quite as convenient as just having the photos auto-magically appear on my desktop without any action on my part.

TechSmith Fuse App Icon

Today I finally got around to trying TechSmith's free Fuse app for iOS. (It's also available for Android.) I learned of this app several months ago, but never actually got around to opening it until today. Since the early days of running this site when I first reviewed TechSmith's wonderful screen shot utility SnagIt, it has been one of my most used apps. I should have known that the makers of SnagIt would come up with a super simple and elegant solution to sending photos from mobile devices to TechSmith's desktop software. No, it's still not automatic--like PhotoStream is supposed to be--but it's very handy and dead simple! Read More...

Kits Aren't Only for Digital Scrapbooking

Tuesday April 29, 2014
Even if you're not into digital scrapbooking, the digital scrapbooking kits on this site can be great inspiration for other projects. For instance, my sister recently asked me for some backgrounds to use in an article on the Christianity About.com site. I used the torn paper from the Paesaggio scrapbooking kit as a starting point, then embellished it with my new Floral Flourish brushes. Check them out in her article 10 Encouraging Words for the Discouraged. There are two different backgrounds which alternate on each page. Here's more information on how they were done. Read More...

Don't Abort--Look For Export!

Monday April 28, 2014

Looking for a "Save" function in the software you're using and can't find it? Or maybe you did find save but it only offers a proprietary format as the only save option?

Many software programs including GIMP, Illustrator, and Photoshop do use a native or proprietary file format for saving your working files, but that does not mean there is no other option to get your files in a standard useable format for publication or transfer to another program. Most of the time, this is simply a matter of terminology. If "Save" does not offer you the options you need, you may need to look for an "Export" command in your software. The export command will generally allow you to save in all the common formats including JPEG, PNG, GIF, and so on.

But remember to keep a copy of your work in the software's native format, too, in case you need to go back and edit it at a later time. Some photo programs, like Picasa and Lightroom, save your edits automatically in the database as you work, but they still offers an export command for when you want to preserve your edits permanently in a standard format.

Suggested Reading:

Free Christian Brushes and Shapes for Photoshop and Elements

Monday April 14, 2014
Christian Symbols
Download several sets of free brushes and shapes for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. These shapes and brushes are based on Christian symbols and include crosses, doves, fish, stars, and many more Christian objects and symbols. Perfect for your Easter projects...

Free Brushes:
Christian Cross Brushes
Christian Dove Brushes
Christian Stars Brushes
Christian Symbol Brushes 1
Christian Symbol Brushes 2
More Christian Cross Custom Brushes

Free Shapes:
Christian Cross Shapes
Christian Symbol Shapes
Christian Fish Shapes
Christian Star Shapes
Christian Dove Shapes
Christian Assorted Shapes
More Christian Cross Custom Shapes

Christian Crosses and Gold Layer Styles

Monday April 7, 2014
Download a set of 36 Christian cross designs as Custom brushes and shapes for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. They are also available as transparent PNG files for use in other software. To go along with them, get the Gold 3 layer styles, a set of 24 metallic effects shown in the image here.

Gold Crosses

Crosses and Gold Styles shown here:
Christian Cross Design Graphics, Brushes, and Shapes
Gold 3 Layer Styles

More Crosses and Christian Symbols:
Christian Symbols Brush Sets - Crosses, Doves, Stars, Etc.
Christian Symbols Shape Sets - Crosses, Doves, Stars, Etc.

More Layer Styles:
30 Gold Layer Styles Set
Shiny Metallic Styles
Gold Stroked Layer Styles
Gold Layer Styles
Imperial Gold Layer Styles
48 Silver Layer Styles Set
Silver Metallic Layer Styles
Silver Stroked Layer Styles
30 White Layer Styles Set
Spring Layer Styles

Beware: 'Jaffrey Bay' is Not Representing Me

Friday April 4, 2014

I have recently been alerted to the fact that someone is using my professional head shot in a phishing scam under a fake Google Plus profile under the name "jaffrey bay." I have asked Google to remove this obviously fake profile, but so far all my attempts have been refused by Google. I am posting this here to announce that this profile and whatever phishing scam is associated with it is in no way connected to me. My image has been used without authorization and if you visit the profile in question, you will see that it is a very low resolution copy.

Jaffrey Bay - Fake Profile
Click for full size

St. Patrick's Day Digital Scrapbooking Kit

Friday March 14, 2014

Glen o' the Green by Sharia Braxton

Download this fun and free St. Patrick's Day kit of coordinating elements and papers for digital scrapbooking. These elements and papers can be used with any graphics software that supports JPEG and PNG files. The kit includes 5 papers, 3 ribbons, journal boxes, and several decorative elements to create a unified scrapbook layout for your digital photos.
"Glen o' The Green" Digital Scrapbooking Kit

St. Patrick's Day Collection Photoshop Presets

Tuesday March 11, 2014
St. Patrick's Day Collection
S.K. Schmitz
Here's a collection of brushes, custom shapes, patterns and layer style effects hand picked for St. Patrick's Day. This collection includes shamrock brushes and shapes, plus patterns and effects in green and gold colors for your St. Patricks's Day projects. The presets can be used in Photoshop 7 and up and Photoshop Elements 2 and up.
St. Patrick's Day Collection Photoshop Presets

Also see:
"Glen o' The Green" Digital Scrapbooking Kit
Free St. Patricks Day & Shamrock Symbols for Illustrator

Plaid, Plaid, Plaid!

Monday March 10, 2014

Tartan Plaid

My husband has always said that plaid is his favorite color. If you love plaid, too, you're in luck! We have several plaid patterns and layer styles from Shelby Kate Schmitz and myself. I've also created a tutorial that will show you how you can turn a regular plaid pattern into a tartan plaid, which can be tricky if you need to keep it seamless. So visit the links below and go plaid crazy!

Plaid Pattern
S.K. Schmitz
Plaid Patterns in Photoshop Format
Plaid Seamless Patterns in PNG Format
Plaid Patterned Styles by Shelby Kate Schmitz
Convert a Regular Plaid Pattern to a Tartan Plaid (and Keep it Seamless!)
Seamless Patterns (Some Plaid)
Sue's Plaid & Checkered Patterns for Photoshop

Celtic Knot Border in Adobe Illustrator

Saturday March 8, 2014
Celtic Border in Illustrator
Sandra Trainor
In this tutorial, you will use Adobe Illustrator to create a Celtic knot border design. With the aid of a grid and rulers, you'll work with the Pen tool to plot points and create lines, and by means of a clipping mask you'll make the lines appear intertwined. You'll learn how to create and apply color swatches and graphic styles to objects, and how to scale and reflect objects. You'll add text with the Type tool and apply to it specifications using the Character panel and Paragraph panel. This tutorial uses an Irish blessing for the text, but you can use your own text if you like; perhaps written for a greeting card or party invitation.
Make a Celtic Knot Border in Adobe Illustrator

Draw a Chibi Elf or Leprechaun in Paint Shop Pro

Thursday March 6, 2014
This Paint Shop Pro tutorial shows you how to create an elf or leprechaun in the extremely popular Manga style of cartoon drawing. Our elf is a Chibi, which is a cute and small version of Manga. Chibi characters are cheerful, adorable, mischievous and a lot of fun to create! You can dress your elf for St. Patrick's Day and send someone a shamrock with your holiday wishes!
Draw a Chibi Elf or Leprechaun in Paint Shop Pro

Nomad Mini 2 Paintbrush + Stylus

Wednesday March 5, 2014

Nomad Mini 2 Paintbrush + Stylus

Nomad Mini 2 is a compact rubber-tipped 2-in-1 touch screen stylus with a retractable paintbrush tip on one end and a rubber nib on the other. Read my review for all the details on this new stylus from Nomad Brush.

Nomad Mini 2 Paintbrush + Stylus Review

Also see:
What's the Best Touch Screen Stylus?
Choosing an Electronic Stylus for iPad
Smart Stylus Roundup: Pressure-Sensitive Electronic Pens for iPad
Top Touch Screen Stylus Pens and Brushes
Reader Reviews of Stylus Pens and Brushes

How to Make Retro Sun Rays in GIMP

Monday February 24, 2014
Sun Rays by Ian Pullen

Retro sun rays have been a popular graphic style for many years and their popularity shows no sign of waning. In this step by step tutorial, Ian show you how you can create your own sun rays effect using GIMP, the free raster image editor.

This graphic style is perfect for adding interest to backgrounds of all sorts of projects, including blog banners and adverts. While there are a few steps to take to get a balanced design, this isn't particularly complex and should be suitable for beginner GIMP users.

How to Make Retro Sun Rays in GIMP

Happy Birthday Photoshop - 24 Years!

Wednesday February 19, 2014
Wow! Has it been 4 years already since we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Photoshop? Yes, it has. Reminisce over the history of Photoshop for its 24th birthday with the Illustrated History of Adobe Photoshop and our reader-created birthday cards for Photoshop.

Graphics for Your Sweetheart

Friday February 14, 2014
Painted Rose
Sue Chastain
Valentine's Day is almost here! Grab some of these free graphics of hearts, candy, and flowers--or learn how to draw your own--and make something for your sweetheart this weekend.

Free Graphics:


When you finish your Valentine's Day crafts and projects, please take a screen shot or photo, and show them off in our Holiday Projects Gallery.

Holiday Projects Gallery Submission Form

Valentine's Day Digital Scrapbooking Kit

Thursday February 13, 2014
Download a free Valentine's Day kit of coordinating elements and papers for digital scrapbooking. These elements and papers can be used with any graphics software that supports JPEG and PNG files.
"The Shape of Love" Valentine's Day Digital Scrapbooking Kit

Dreamy Effect for Valentine's Day

Wednesday February 12, 2014
Dreamy Effect
Dreamy Effect
© Sue Chastain
Popularized by Michael Orton, a soft focus effect can give your photos a diffused, dreamy quality, which you may find appealing for Valentine's Day pictures. The Orton effect is easy to produce digitally, and can be fine-tuned to your liking with just a little tinkering. We've got tutorials to help you create the dreamy Orton effect in a number of popular photo editors.

Create a Dreamy Photo Effect with Photoshop Elements
Free Orton Effect Action for Photoshop and Elements
Enhance A Portrait with a Soft Focus Effect in Photoshop
Create the Dreamy Soft Focus Orton Effect in GIMP
Create the Dreamy Soft Focus Orton Effect in Paint.NET
Apply a Soft Focus Effect to a Photo in Picasa
Create a Dreamy Photo Effect in PaintShop Pro
Enhance A Portrait with a Soft Focus Effect in Photo-Paint
Enhance A Portrait with a Soft Focus Effect in PhotoImpact
Free Dreamy Photo Software from Auto FX
How to Ortonize Your Images

Heartfelt Curlicues - Shapes and Brushes

Tuesday February 11, 2014
Heartfelt Curlicue
The talented and prolific Shelby Kate Schmitz brings us another fun and whimsical set of Photoshop presets to enjoy. This set consists of six unique curlicue heart designs in the form of custom shapes and brushes for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, as well as transparent PNG files so you can use them in Paint Shop Pro, GIMP, or other software.
Heartfelt Curlicue Designs by SKS

If you like these heartfelt curlicue designs, you also might want to check out her swirly foliage designs, too!

Free Valentine's Day Graphics

Saturday February 8, 2014
Download free Valentine's Day graphics in the form of transparent PNG files or Paint Shop Pro picture tubes. This collection includes hearts, frames, dolls, and more.

These images have been generously contributed by Barry Meyer, creator of PSPTubez.com. Visit Barry's Place to download thousands more Paint Shop Pro Tubes, transparent PNG objects, clip art, photos, picture frames, and other graphic elements for a small monthly membership fee. Currently Barry is tripling all new memberships!

Free Valentine's Day PNG files and Paint Shop Pro Tubes

If you prefer a vintage look for your Valentine's Day projects, be sure to also check out the gallery of vintage postcards and greeting cards from Collectibles Guide Barbara Crews.

Vintage Valentine Postcards and Illustrations

And when you finish your Valentine's Day crafts and projects, please take a screen shot or photo, and show them off in the Holiday Projects Gallery.

Holiday Projects Gallery Submission Form

Interlocking 'Olympic' Rings Tutorials

Friday February 7, 2014

Interlocking 'Olympic' Rings  Sue Chastain

Update: I've just added brand new tutorials for how to draw interlocking rings in Photoshop and Inkscape. Thanks, Ian!

With the 2014 Winter Olympics kicking off this week, you might be interested in learning how to create interlocking objects similar to the interlocking rings we're all familiar with from the Olympics logo. Here are several tutorials for both interlocking rings and intertwined hearts. You can use these techniques anytime you need to make objects appear as if they are intertwined, interlocked, or overlapping each other.
New: How to Draw Interlocking Rings in Photoshop
New: How to Draw Interlocking Rings in Inkscape
Interlocking Rings with Xara Xtreme
Interlocking Rings with Adobe Illustrator
Interlocking Rings with CorelDraw 8
Interlocking Rings with CorelDraw 9
Intertwined Hearts in Photoshop
Interlocking Hearts in Illustrator
Intertwined Hearts in Paint Shop Pro

Seven Ways to Black and White in Photoshop Elements

Thursday January 30, 2014

7 Ways to Black and White in Photoshop Elements by Liz Masoner

How do I B&W thee? Let me count the ways...

There are at least seven distinctly different methods for converting a color photo to a black and white photo in Photoshop Elements.  Which you use is mostly a matter of preference as the initial results are nearly identical. Take a tour with Liz as she shows you all the ways you can convert your color photos into black and white.

Seven Ways to Convert Color Photos to Black and White in Photoshop Elements

More like this:

Discover Your Inner Jackson Pollock

Tuesday January 28, 2014
Jackson Pollock App
Jackson Pollock App for iPhone
Miltos Manetas
In honor of Jackson Pollock's birthday (Jan. 28), I'd like to introduce you to a fun iPhone painting app.

"Jackson Pollock" for iPhone and iPod touch is a simple, yet delightful app for creating art work in the style of the American Abstract Impressionist Jackson Pollock. The app does not have a lot of options--there are no tools (except for your fingers), no layers, no eraser, no undo--but its simplicity is part of its appeal. Read More...

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