Archive for February, 2015

How to Easily Choose Fonts for Your Blog Graphics

how to easily choose fonts for your blog graphics

I was always trying to be creative on the computer when I was a kid. As a teen, I sat in my room and made website layouts and played with Adobe Photoshop for hours on end. It was probably more like an obsession than a hobby for awhile. I often would refer to a homemade font style guide in a Word document for picking out a typeface more quickly on my computer. I hated cycling through a list of tiny font examples in the programs I used to get a good idea of what a font would look like.

It’s rather time consuming to easily choose fonts for your blog graphics when you are sitting there, clicking every choice on the list.

I made my style guide by copying and pasting the same word over and over, making each one a different style. All the fonts were there in front of me without me needing to go through the list in Photoshop. They were also displayed at a more adequate size. When I wanted to select one, I just clicked the one I liked and looked at what the name of the face was.

The other day, I was exploring the interwebs and I came across a website that caused me to have a, “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment. There in front of me was Wordmark.it. Basically, a similar concept to what I had been doing eons ago–but better!

how to choose fonts for your blog with wordmark.it

What Wordmark.it does is it finds the fonts residing on your computer and shows them to you like the image above. You can type in the word or phrase you’d like to see in your font styles, make the text bigger or smaller, and see the letters in all caps or lowercase.

how to choose fonts for your blog images with wordmark.it

Another thing you can do is to reverse the black and white to make your text white on a black background. So, if you want the words white, you’d click the word negative at the top of the screen. Click positive for black text which is the default option when you first visit the site.

The names of the fonts are also displayed below each typeface so you can easily find it in whatever program you are using.

Another cool feature is, you can filter certain fonts out of the bunch to see them together.

how to choose fonts for blog graphics with wordmark.it

Just click the font examples you are contemplating so that a green box appears around your selection. Once you have chosen them, click on filter selected at the top right of the page. It helps to see them side by side like that, don’t you think?

From there, you can also share the fonts that you have picked out with someone else. Don’t worry, it doesn’t share the actual font file. You are given a url you can share with a client or design partner in order for them to see your selections and give you their feedback.

I really love it when I can find handy design tools like this! What are some of your favorite tools that make your creative process a bit easier? Comment below!

Fantasy Wardrobe Friday: Valentine’s Day Jewelry Gifts

valentines day jewelry gifts

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner (the ads are all over the place). Red, white, and pink hearts are friggin’ everywhere, the symbol of the event…I guess hearts are almost like a logo for Valentine’s Day if you think about it. Though there is also Cupid’s arrow and Cupid himself. Anyway, the heart shape is the most synonymous with the day, but it has never really been my favorite shape at all. So, for this week’s Fantasy Wardrobe Friday, I decided to compile a collection of heart-free Valentine’s Day jewelry gifts.

I mixed things up a little stylewise. There’s some chunky, dainty, blingy, and natural looking pieces. I really like all of these items, but my favorites besides the chunky rainbow statement necklace are the items with the more organic stones and geodes. They are very pretty and the metal parts have a lot of simplicity, so all of your attention goes right to the colorful stones. They would definitely make unique gifts for Valentine’s Day!

What are your suggestions for unique Valentine’s Day gifts?

Swarovski Creativity Ring

 

Janna Conner Turquoise Fire Agate Aurelie Ring

 

Full Spectrum Crystal Bracelet

 

Navy Drusy Rue Ring

 

Turquoise Fire Agate Pendant Necklace

 

Rainbow Frank Collar

 

Illuminating Rectangle Ring

 

Grace Cuff

 

Vintage Crystal Studs

 

Terra Rock Pendant

 

Concentric Wrap Bracelet

 

Pyxis Earrings

 

Pavé Droplet Ear Crawlers

 

 

11 Free Open Source Software Alternatives

11 free open source software

Software can be really expensive. If you are a designer, animator, photographer, video editor–the industry standard programs can cost into the thousands of dollars. Understandably, these computer programs are fully loaded with all the bells and whistles, but if someone is just learning or trying to experiment in a certain area of interest, it may be an investment that the individual does not yet want to make.

A great example of high priced software that is pretty popular is Adobe Photoshop. It’s not just for photographers and professionals working in design firms. A lot of bloggers use it, as well as more casual users.

Adobe has changed their pricing and the way they offer their software since I last purchased from them. A few years ago, you could have bought Photoshop for about $600. Now, a user can pay for a subscription to download and utilize it. I think it’s a convenient way to offer their products to people who want to try them because it is a cheaper alternative than having to purchase the entire kit and caboodle while in the learning stage. The user can cancel if they don’t like it. The programs also stay current and up to date as new tools roll out. However, for a long term user, I don’t feel it’s always the most ideal plan (frankly, for my needs I don’t require the most current version as I can go a few generations without an issue…although, I am really hankering to test out Illustrator since mine is ancient).

It seems Microsoft Office is veering toward the subscription route as well, but there are still CD versions available. I personally don’t think anyone should have to pay a subscription for an office suite. That’s like having to pay a subscription fee to use your hand to write. It’s a commonly used tool that is pretty necessary.

Software choice is still a thing of personal taste, and you may be okay with shelling out the money. However, the main point of this blog is there is an entire cyberspace of free open source software programs out there that can be downloaded for free.

Keep in mind, they might not quite have all the same capabilities but as I said before in this post, if someone is wanting to experiment with a certain interest–trying out open source software could be the way to go in the beginning.

Graphic Design, Photo Editing, & 3D Modeling

Adobe Photoshop = GIMP

GIMP is a powerful software that has many of the same capabilities as dear ‘ol Photoshop. This is a widely used program. While the interface might not be as slick as the industry standard photo editor, it still features layers and masks for non destructive editing techniques, among other things. It supports PSD, TIFF, JPEG, and PNG. There are plugins in the GIMP registry online that can extend the software’s capabilities to work with other file formats as well.

Adobe Illustrator = Inkscape

Inkscape is a program I initially stumbled on when my Illustrator 10 kept refusing to work properly on my machine. I needed to edit my logo, and fast. So I searched for open source vector programs and Ta Da! Besides some simple tools I used within it, I haven’t explored the program much more but have been researching what it can do. As far as I’m aware, it doesn’t have quite the nifty pattern generator the new Illustrator has, but it does have tiling pattern and image tracing capabilities. It isn’t as user friendly or intuitive; in most cases though, it looks like it will get the job done (whatever the job is)!

Adobe InDesign or Quark = Scribus

The other day I was watching a tutorial that included working with Adobe InDesign. I remember having nightmares about that program during my college years. It looks a lot easier to me now, but I was curious about the open source alternative. The one that I found was Scribus. This one doesn’t sound quite as advanced as the industry standard programs, and from what I have read the learning curve is steep. But, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to use.

AutoDesk Maya = Blender

If you’re into 3D modeling, sculpting, or animation, you might enjoy working with Blender. I have spent hours trying to learn this program for creating Second Life objects. It is an amazing program once you conquer the steep learning curve, but there are so many informative tutorials out there that will help.

Sound and Video

I want to start by saying there really isn’t a super fantastic equivalent video editor to something like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut. Most of the editors I found were not cross platform, had basic tools, or progression had seemed to halt on their development. With that said, the two that looked like they would be sufficient were Blender and Lightworks.

Adobe Premiere or Final Cut = Blender

Yes! You can use Blender as a video editor. This is just like a third arm of what the program is capable of. It doesn’t look like it would be the easiest to figure out right off the bat since there is a lot of other functionality to this software, but if you need something, it’s there.

Adobe Premiere or Final Cut = Lightworks

This isn’t a true open source program, but this version is free. There is a Lightworks Pro that does cost money, but for more simple projects the free version looks like it might be worth a try. One drawback is it does not export in 1080p.

Camtasia = CamStudio

CamStudio is a program that will allow you to record videos of your computer screen. It also records audio. This is ideal for recording software tutorials for YouTube or other video websites.

Apple LogicPro = Audacity

If you record music or voice recordings, Audacity is something you may want to look into. I remember downloading this to record something a few years ago, and it worked well.

Office Tools and Other Utilities

Microsoft Office = LibreOffice

LibreOffice is a full office suite. Much like Microsoft, there is a bundle of programs for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, and one for math. I haven’t tried any of them out, but from doing some investigating it looks like a useful alternative.

Microsoft Office = OpenOffice

There aren’t many differences between LibreOffice and OpenOffice because they are two branches from the same tree. They use most of the same code, and the feature set is nearly the same. So, choosing one is much like choosing the other except for a few minor differences. One of which is where the word count is located in Writer, the word processing program both of them have.

Adobe Acrobat XI = PDF Creator

If you need to create a PDF, this is your tool. Perhaps you want to create printables or ebooks. PDF Creator has the features needed to make these documents have your desired security restrictions on editing, opening, or printing.

I hope you found this list of open source software helpful! We all would love to have the highest rated, fancy programs on the market, but it is nice to know there are free options that will work for most of what we need to do. The equivalents may not be perfect, have steeper learning curves, or not have quite the same features, but be patient. Use Google and YouTube to guide you in learning what you need in order to complete your task.

Have you used any of the free open source software listed here? What are your thoughts?