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April 30 2013

12:00
GraphicSprings - Free Online Logo Builder

What can you use the app for?

GraphicSprings is a logo maker that allows individuals to build logos for professional and personal use. The site provides a collection of hundreds of pre-designed graphics that serve as the basis for each creation. All available images are sorted into one of the many categories provided. Categories include children, religion, cleaning, medical, business to animals, construction, politics, landscaping, photography, computers, retail and many more. The user selects one pre-made piece and can begin customizing by applying custom text, colors and other visual elements. Once the logo is finished, the user can download the file as a JPG or PNG. The interface provides a basic three step system intended to help guide anyone through the process, including those that are not artistically inclined.

What is the history and popularity of the app?

GraphicSprings is designed to help startups, individuals and small businesses create a professional presence for themselves in any marketplace or industry. The service has caught the attention of startup focused blogs and sites, which boast its free price and user friendly design. The application continues to attract users by offering a way to create a logo on a shoestring budget.

What are the differences to other apps?

GraphicSprings offers a nice balance of price and flexibility. A professional designer will cost money, which is understandable because this is a valuable service. GraphicSprings provides those who cannot afford the fees a way to build an eye-catching logo without a large investment. Users can create an original logo starting with a pre-made image. Of course the finished product is not going to be 100% tailored to the user’s specifications, but it is possible to make something that looks professional and usable with the application.

How does the web app look and feel to use?

The GraphicSprings interface is very easy to use. The application is clean and well-organized. There are a few banner ads placed around the sides but these are generally kept out of the way so they don’t interfere with the logo building process. Anyone can create a professional looking logo in minutes with minimal effort. No technical or design knowledge is required.

How does the registration process work?

New users can click the blue “Start Your Logo” button found in the lower, right corner of the GraphicSprings homepage to begin. Next the user is asked to select a pre-made image. This will serve as the basis for the logo. The user is directed to the logo editor where visual elements can be edited and text applied. The last step is to download the finished logo using the button found along the top of the editor. No login details are required and individual accounts are not offered at this time.

What does it cost to use the application?

Price is one of the best things about GraphicSprings. Anyone can utilize the application for free. There are no subscription fees and the user is not required to make any purchases. Ad revenue helps pay for the cost of the site. This is a good tradeoff to keep access to the editor available to everyone at no cost.

Who would you recommend the application to?

GraphicSprings is a great tool for anyone who wants to build a simple logo with little to no budget. The application makes it easier for startups and small businesses to establish their brand. The only downside to the app lies in the sorting of the base graphics. Users may find that some images appear in categories they should not, like arrows and abstract designs popping up in the animals category. The search tool is also somewhat unreliable. A search for “dog” turns up just one image, yet the animals category has at least two canine themed images that do not show up with the appropriate search term. The interface is very user friendly and contains no other obvious flaws.

Screenshot
Tags: Design

August 28 2012

01:23

Why Are Pinterest & Instagram So Popular?

Why Are Pinterest & Instagram So Popular? is a post from: Advocate's Studio

Why Are Pinterest & Instagram So Popular? is a post from: Advocate's Studio   And why should you care?   Niche social networks Pinterest and Instagram have captured and maintained the attention of the tech elite and the mainstream far past the honeymoon, probationary period. And the numbers are compelling. A recent report from Experian [...]

July 27 2012

23:30

Find Design Inspiration And Amazing Freelance Artists On The Behance Network

behanceThe Web abounds with beautiful images. Seriously – a pretty picture is one of the easiest things to find online. Whether you’re looking for free stock photos from sites like SXC.hu, or random images to ponder from aggregators like ffffound, finding nice pictures is really not a problem.

Finding good talent for creative work, however, is an entirely different proposition. This is where the Behance Network comes in. This beautiful collective showcase lets commercial-level artists showcase their work, and makes it very easy to find top talent in just about any niche you’re interested in.

This can be useful whether you’re looking to contract a freelancer for design work, or if you are a graphic artist looking for inspiration and new connections.

Getting Started

behance[4]

When you just land on Behance, the first thing you’ll notice is a grid of large, beautiful thumbnails surfacing talent from all over the website. This creative mishmash has gems made for major commercial venues, like this Typographic ID work created for Italy’s History Channel, or this mind-blowing 8-Bit Butcher Diagrams installation by Jude Buffum:

behance[6]

Works are all accredited and displayed by their creators, even if they were made for large commercial outlets. This lets you interact directly with the people behind big-time graphics. Many works include short introductory texts explaining where they were used, and sharing some of the thinking that went into each piece.

Searching and Filtering

behance[8]

As could be expected, Behance lets you filter works by many criteria. To me, the most useful option is location-based search. By combining this with filtering by creative field, you can get very fine-grained results. If you were wondering who are the top designers from your city or state, this is how you can track them down with one quick search. Another benefit of making a local search is that you will likely know many of the works being showcased – TV commercials you’ve seen, or billboards you’ve come across around town.

There’s also an Advanced Filter that lets you drill down to the tool level:

behance[10]

This level of detail is fantastic for bringing extra work into an existing project. If you have a large body of work made up in Corel Painter and need someone to make use of existing collateral, here’s how to track that person down.

Big Names Included

While sites like deviantArt are great for budding creators, on Behance you will find some of the truly top names in today’s commercial art world:

behance[12]

This image is taken from Michael Kutsche’s work, which I tracked down using the Corel Painter filter shown above. Even without talking to Mr. Kutsche, just knowing that he used Corel Painter to create the concept art for John Carter opens an interesting window into his style and workflow. In fact, the Tools part of the page reveals he used both Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop to create this mind-blowing work. Artists also tend to be generous with what they share: This page contains over ten large images of John Carter concept art. Another important feature is that Behance makes it possible to talk to the artist and possibly hire them (although you would admittedly need a sizable budget to hire someone of this caliber).

Finally, the Behance Network can help you find answers you’d be hard-pressed to track down elsewhere. For example, do you know who did the art direction and design for Adobe’s tablet Touch Apps? With Behance, you can easily find out – and I leave this last question with you, so you’d have an excuse to dive into the site and start exploring.

Who Did You Find?

In exploring the Behance Network, what interesting artists and big-name projects did you dig up? Let me know below!


April 17 2012

23:31

The 6 Best Places To Design Your Own Facebook Timeline Cover For Free

facebook timeline coversFacebook’s Timeline profiles, while creating an uproar when first introduced, are here to stay. As the only Facebook profiles available, they cannot be ignored, and if you’ve so far neglected to create a nice Timeline cover for yourself or for your Facebook Page, it’s never too late to start.

Your Facebook Timelime cover can include a nice photo of you or one you took, but can also be any other photo you like, and can even be designed to include multiple photos, your name, your logo, graphics, and almost anything you can think of. Below you will find 6 awesome and free places to create a unique Timeline cover for your profile that your friends and customers will not be able to miss.

Timeline Cover Banner

facebook timeline covers

Timeline Cover Banner is a flexible Timeline tool, which not only provides a wide variety of backgrounds for you to choose from, but also lets you design your very own Timeline cover, complete with a profile picture which can be integrated into the Timeline cover. You can choose one of the provided backgrounds, or jump straight to the profile cover maker. Here you can upload your own background and photos, and arrange them exactly as you want them. You can also add text, shapes, drawings, and play with your photos’ saturation, brightness, etc.

When you’re done, the app will let save the Facebook timeline cover and profile picture as PNG files, which you can then manually upload to your Facebook profile. This is a nice feature, since you don’t have to grant the app permission to access your Facebook account.

CoverCanvas

fb timeline covers

CoverCanvas is a tool I covered fully in the past, and is a great option whether you want to use your own photos or someone else’s. With CoverCanvas, you can choose between custom covers and static covers. In custom covers, you can use your own profile pictures, with or without your name, and create a unique Timeline design using one of CoverCanvas’s layouts. With static covers, you can browse the many available categories, and find a photo to place in your Timeline.

The service requires access to your Facebook profile, and will also post on your wall when you upload your cover. Nevertheless, you can create some truly unique things with CoverCanvas, so it’s probably worth it.

InstaCover

fb timeline covers

If you’re a true Instagram addict, this one is for you. InstaCover lets you create a Timeline cover out of your or other people’s Instagram photos. The interface is very simple, and surprisingly versatile. This means that not all InstaCovers are created equal. You can decide to include only photos from a single user, photos that meet a certain category or a certain tag, or simply get random photos. You can then choose between different layouts, change background and text colors, and choose to include dates and number of likes for each photo.

When you’re done setting things up, click on Preview and see if you like the results. If you do, you can upload it straight to Facebook. For this the app requires access to your Facebook account, which is a shame, since it would have been just as easy to let us download the result and upload it ourselves.

DesignYourTimeline

fb timeline covers

If actually designing your own Facebook Timeline cover seems like too much work, some sites offer ready-made covers in various categories. Reader John recommended DesignYourTimeline in a comment, and after checking it out, I think it’s one of the best places to find ready-made Timeline photos. The site doesn’t require access to your Facebook account, it doesn’t require any designing decisions on your part – all you have to do is choose your image.

Browse the available categories, and when you find a nice image, simply right click and save as. You can now upload it to your Facebook account. The only thing DesignYourTimeline gets back is a small square with the site’s name on the top right of the image. For the simplicity it offers, it’s worth it.

MyFBCovers

timeline cover

MyFBCovers is a one stop shop for Timeline covers. Here you can find lots of ready-made covers which you can use as is, a cover generator to which you can upload your own image and edit it, and even a collage maker for a cover that includes photos of 24 of your friends, if that’s your thing. I especially liked the cover generator, which lets you add some effects to your image, change its size and rotation, and choose whether you want it to include the myFBCovers watermark or not.

When you’re done creating or choosing your cover, click the “Make My Facebook Cover” button, and the app will upload the new cover to your Facebook account. For that, it naturally needs access to your account, as well as for the collage feature which uses photos of your friends.

Pic Scatter

facebook timeline covers

PicScatter is a nice collage tool which would have gained a better place on this list had it not included consistent nagging to buy the premium version (which is very affordable, around $2). The free version includes the collage layout you can see above, which you can fill with photos of your friends, photos you like, or photos from one of your own photo albums. You can give the collage a title, which will appear in white on black on the collage, along with the small Pic Scatter branding which is mandatory with the free version.

You can click an image in the collage to replace it, and also drag it inside each square for best position. When you’re done, download the cover as PNG and upload it to your Facebook account. The app requires access to your profile in order to pull your photos, but doesn’t post on your behalf.

Do you know of more great places to design your own Facebook Timeline cover? Share them in the comments!


April 06 2012

13:40

New Master Artist - Online Marketplace for Artists


Logo

What can you use the app for?

New Master Artist is an independent art marketplace that gives almost anyone a way to become an artist. Art uploaded to the site receive ratings by qualified experts and can join public competitions. Competitions are listed with the organizer name, art needed, awards, deadlines, number of entries, who is voting and how to submit work. The marketplace portion of the site displays artwork by category. Categories include painting, drawing, photo, mixed media, sculpture and more. Users can also filter by country, size, main color, style, theme, subject, feeling, upload date, number of expert ratings, artist representation and art education of artist. Each piece is displayed with details about the work and artist as well as price information (if available).

What is the history and popularity of the app?

New Master Artist was created as an independent project not associated with any dealer, gallery, auction house or expert. The website was developed to help break down the boundaries that have tied many skilled artists down and kept them out of the creative limelight. The site hasn’t received significant popularity, but has been mentioned on websites throughout the web. Many turn to New Master Artist as a place to discover and share art that might have otherwise been overlooked.

What are the differences to other apps?

New Master Artist is a unique marketplace because it sells art, but also adheres to a very high level of quality. There are a number of websites that let users sell the things they create. The problem with this concept is that the user who wants to buy or explore is exposed to everything, even the low quality pieces. New Master Artist encourages skilled individuals to submit their work, which can be rated by experts and supported by the community.

How does the web app look and feel to use?

New Master Artist maintains a rather plain, simple design which works exceptionally well. The site isn’t without its visual appeal. The white background is offset by hints of black and deep red that add variety. However the focus remains right where it should be: fixed firmly on the beautiful and stunning pieces submitted by the user community. The interface is well spaced and contains no clutter to interfere with the user’s ability to navigate.

How does the registration process work?

A new user can join the New Master Artist community by clicking the blue “Sign In” link in the upper, right hand corner of the homepage. This takes the user to the login form, which includes three links to the right. Users can choose the link that corresponds with the type of user they are, which includes a visitor, artist or expert. Visitors are asked for their title, first and last name, country, email address and password. The user must complete account activation by email before signing in.

What does it cost to use the application?

New Master Artist invites all users to sign up for free. Every user receives the same level of access and can view all art uploaded to the site. There are no restrictions and the user isn’t required to pay a subscription fee or make a purchase. The site allows artists to list pieces for sale, which a user could buy. This is left entirely up to the user and is not a requirement to keep an account open.

Who would you recommend the application to?

New Master Artist is ideal for two types of people: those who make art and those who love to look at art. The website contains a wide range of art in various forms. Users can filter search results to view pieces based on color, medium, artist education level, expert rating and other criteria. The interface lets users of all levels navigate easily while taking in a collection of underground art.

Screenshot
Tags: Design

April 04 2012

00:31

March 01 2012

19:00

6 Tips To Get The Most Out of LibreCAD Free CAD Software

free cad softwareFinding good, free CAD software is not an easy task. There are plenty of great 2D CAD programs out there, like TurboCAD or AutoCAD, but how many quality options are completely free?

You could always try and use free drawing apps out there, like the ones that Saikat reviewed – but they will not offer the accuracy or features that 2d CAD software offers.

There is one free CAD software package that Angela briefly covered in 2011 called LibreCAD. In that article, Angela introduced you to the drawing pane, and how to start off creating some basic shapes and dimensions.

Since then, the software has been updated a couple of times, with the most recent update on February 8th, 2012. If you are hard up for cash, but really need high-quality 2D CAD software, I’m going to show you a few quick tips to take full advantage of what LibreCAD  has to offer.

LibreCAD is Free CAD Software You Can Depend On

LibreCAD is available for multiple OS platforms, including Mac, Windows or Linux – so there’s goodness here for everyone.

Tip #1 – Set Your Default Units to Save Time

The first tip is to slow down during the installation and select the default units that you’re most likely willing to use when you launch this software.

free cad software

This can save you a lot of time later when you open up new drawings – the software will automatically use the units that you prefer.

Tip #2 – Use Tooltips to Navigate the Button Menu

When you first run LibreCAD, you’ll find all of the drawing tools condensed into just a few buttons on the left side of the screen. Each of these tools contains the entire subset of additional tools. For example, when you click the “line” tool, there’s an array of additional tools that you can use to draw lines, and shapes that contain lines.
cad design software
The sign of well-written software is that when you hover your mouse over a button, it shows you a tool-tip of what that graphical button means. With LibreCAD, if you’re confused about the symbol on a button, just hover the mouse over the symbol for tips.
cad design software
No matter how complicated the function of the button, the tooltip will explain its purpose to you.
cad design software
As you can see above, I’ve started drawing the floorplan for a section of our house.

Tip #3 – Use Snap to Grid to Make Drawing Easier

If you’ve ever used non-CAD drawing software, then you know that creating straight lines and aligning objects on the drawing isn’t always easy.

open source cad software

In LibreCAD, you can enable snap-to-grid so that the lines and shapes you draw snap to the dot-grid, making it a cinch to align elements of the drawing as you go.

Tip #4 – Use Layers to Build Your Drawing

In my opinion, the best thing about drawing with CAD software is the fact that you can create “layers”, which are basically drawings that can be placed “on top” of other drawings. It’s soft of like a transparent sheet with specific items drawn on it, that you can add or remove on top of an existing drawing.

Use the “Layer” menu item to add a new layer to your drawing, and select a color for the objects in that layer.
open source cad software
Now, as you start drawing you’ll notice that all of the lines use the default color for that layer. As you’re working through developing your overall drawing, this is an excellent way to keep object types or larger components of your drawing well organized.

When you want to focus on that group of objects or just remove the confusion for the rest of your drawing, you can just add and remove layers so that you can focus more easily on the details.

Tip #5 – Use Text Throughout the Drawing

This tip really depends upon the type of drawing that you’re working on, but in most cases you really can’t have too many labels in a drawing. Labels allow you to spell out what objects are supposed to be, or the purpose for different areas of your drawings.

Text is really easy to add in LibreCAD. Just click on the Text button in the left menu, then choose the size, font and alignment.

open source cad software

When you’re done with the formatting, you can just place the text anywhere on the drawing that you like.

In this example, I’ve placed text in the same layer as the furniture, but a lot of people prefer to do all of the drawing text inside its own unique layer.

Tip #6 – Taking Measurements Inside the Drawing

Another really cool feature that is common for CAD drawing tools like this – but especially easy inside LibreCAD – is the ability to quickly measure lengths and dimensions right inside the drawing.

You can do this by clicking the line measurement tool in the left button menu, and then just clicking on two points in the drawing. The distance between those two points (using your default units – remember that?) prints out in the bottom status display pane.
free cad software
As you can see, LibreCAD is not only really easy to use free CAD software, it’s also highly functional. These six tips are only the tip of the iceburg. As you continue to explore the software and build your own drawings, I’m sure you’ll discover your own favorite features.

Have you ever tried LibreCAD? Do you have any of your own tips that you can share with other readers? Share your thoughts about the software in the comments section below.

Image Credit: CAD Software Via Shutterstock


February 22 2012

21:01

Is Everyone Ripping Off Apple’s Designs? [Opinion]

Apple’s products all have a certain look to them. Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive wouldn’t have it any other way. The question is whether everyone is ripping off Apple’s designs at this point in time – and in the most glaring of fashions. It’s a question that is being asked in protracted legal battles around the world, and that’s no exaggeration.

Apple is the absolute master of obtaining patents over the most vague features of its products – even the designs, whether they be very obvious practical sensibilities or something that is present more for visual appeal. I guess the ultimate blame for this lies with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), but Apple certainly hasn’t helped the situation. Which is why I’m happy to rip on them over this issue.

Apple Designs

Apple’s design sensibility is fantastic. Whether you love or hate the company and its legion of fanboys, few people could reject that assertion. This design sensibility is one way in which Apple stands out from the crowd; a crowd which contains a multitude of other tech manufacturers all releasing devices which, though they do what is expected of them, don’t look anything special.

All of Apple’s main line of products follow the principles of industrial design, which seeks to make consumer products look iconic as well as be functional. And that’s exactly what Apple’s products do. Most of that has been created since the Second Coming of Steve Jobs – the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac – are iconic and would even look at home in museums.

Copycat Syndrome

Other companies have witnessed this changing of strategy and how it has helped Apple grow from an also-ran into the biggest company in the world (for the time being). And there is no doubt that many are following Apple’s lead. Apple releases a product, and then a handful of companies release similar products, in terms of functionality, features, and design.

However, we shouldn’t forget that Apple didn’t invent personal media players or tablet computers, instead the company weeded out the flaws in existing products and brought them into the mainstream. So Apple is just as guilty of copycat syndrome as any other company, it’s just that it spends time getting the design and functionality of the devices absolutely correct before launch, often spending years doing so.

Apple Undesigns

With that in mind there is a case for arguing that Apple doesn’t design its products, it undesigns them. Yes, that’s a made-up word. At least according to my spell checker. But it seems a fitting way in which to describe how Apple goes from concept to finished product.

Steve Jobs was, by all accounts, a hard man to work for. And one of the reasons for this was his desire to make everything just work, and in as simple a fashion as possible. Why have 10 buttons when you can have a scroll wheel? Why have endless menus when you can simplify the choices down to just the bare essentials? This means that Apple starts with an over-fussy design and then undesigns it. Essentially removing all the extraneous crap in order to leave only what is necessary.

It’s a concept that Thomas Baekdal explores in a brilliant article comparing the iPad with the Samsung Galaxy Tab. He argues that Apple pared the design down to its core essentials, meaning Samsung, and any other tablet manufacturer, has to add extra, non-essential flairs in order to differentiate their product and avoid infringing on Apple’s design patent. Which is, quite frankly, ludicrous.

All Consumer Electronics Look The Same

Looking at the bigger picture – cameras all look very similar. As do wristwatches. Washing machines. Toasters (see above). Name a product, whether practical or otherwise, and there are dozens of examples from dozens of companies, all of which look almost identical. Why? Because design always comes second to functionality.

Cameras need to be held facing forward with some kind of view finder at the back, and be light and portable. Wristwatches need to fit comfortably on the wrist and have an easy to read clock-face. Washing machines need to have a drum with holes in and have trays for powder and liquid within easy reach. Toasters need to have bread-shaped spaces and some kind of control mechanism at the side.

Functionality inspires design.

In The End, Does It Matter?

When all is said and done, does it actually matter? Surely it should come down to a lot more than how a product looks. I’m sure the most-dedicated Apple fanboys will tear me to pieces for saying so, but if I was Apple I’d look at any hint of copying as nothing more than a compliment to the company and the team who created the product in question.

The endless legal battles involving patents often awarded before smartphones and tablets were even imagined suggests a lack of self-belief on the part of Apple. It clearly isn’t confident enough in its products to believe they will outsell the competition no matter how much they may look similar to Apple’s originals. Which, often times, aren’t even all that original.

As always feel free to comment, whether you agree or disagree with any of the above. I do love a good argument…

Image Credits: icanteachyouhowtodoit, JMacPherson, meddygarnet, Heungsub Lee, SambaClub, Colin_K


February 17 2012

14:17

Logotype Maker - Free Professional Logo Builder


Logo

What can you use the app for?
Logotype Maker is a simple tool that provides individual professionals and businesses with stylish logos. The user can adjust the appearance of their log by changing shadow, outline, reflection and gradient effects. Clipart can be applied as well as images the user uploads to Logotype Maker. Completed logos can be exported as .PNG, .ZIP or .PDF files. The user can also modify an existing logo. The user provides the text and Logotype Maker supplies a collection of diverse logo options to start with. These include full text and initials. The user can browse randomly generated logos and refresh the list to see additional random suggestions. A zoom viewing feature is included so the user can inspect each randomly generated option up close before modifying or saving.

What is the history and popularity of the app?
Logotype Maker was introduced in 2011 as an alternative to hiring a pricy logo designer. The application hasn’t been widely discussed however it has made a positive impression with those who have tried it. The main draw is the user friendly interface and design options that allow the user to make changes until they are completely happy with the logo. The application offers budget-minded business owners an alternative way to create a professional logo.

What are the differences to other apps?
Logotype Maker stands out because it is one of the few applications that offer users an easy way to build a logo to represent their business or brand. The style options are diverse and give the user many options to create a unique logo that will make a positive impression with consumers. The user doesn’t have to pay for a professional and can modify their logo or make changes later on whenever they need to do so.

How does the web app look and feel to use?
Logotype Maker has a very clean, stylish interface that reflects the many eye-catching design options it offers. The pleasant color scheme features vibrant blues and greens along with subtle textures that add depth. The user interface is extremely simple to use and gives the user many customization options without learning complicated image design software. Anyone can visit Logotype Maker and dive right into the logo design process without the need of a tutorial.

How does the registration process work?
Users are not required to register to use Logotype Maker. A visitor is presented with the logo design form as soon as they arrive on the homepage. A single text field is available for the user to enter their company name (or whatever text they want to appear on the logo). After clicking the gold “Generate Logo” button below the field, the user is taken to a list of randomly generated suggestions that can be modified or refreshed to present new options.

What does it cost to use the application?
The price of Logotype Maker is one of the most attractive aspects of the application. Anyone can design and save a logo for free. There are no subscription requirements and the user is not required to purchase the logo after they build it. All users are given access to all design options and the user can return as often as they want to make new logos or edit existing logos.

Who would you recommend the application to?
Logotype Maker is ideal for startups and small businesses that need a logo designed on a budget. It doesn’t get any more budget-friendly than free. Logotype Maker also provides users with a diverse collection of text, color and style options that can be tweaked to the user’s preferences. The company can stick with a color scheme and create a professional looking logo that they are proud to share with affiliates and customers.

Screenshot
Tags: Design

January 24 2012

23:31

Create Your Own Unique & Personal Timeline Covers For Facebook With CoverCanvas

facebook timeline coversA lot of bad things have been said about Facebook over the years, many of them justified. But there is one thing about Facebook that even the most zealous critic can’t ignore – it makes people more creative. What do I mean by that? Well, can you imagine yourself designing something like your Timeline page just right before Facebook came along?

Sure, a lot of you are artistic as it is, and were designing their own beautiful websites long before Facebook came around, but for many people, Facebook is their official face on the web, and as such they try to make it as appealing and unique as possible. Some people even go out of their way to design something special, just for that huge central Timeline photo. But what if you’re not a designer? That’s what services like CoverCanvas are for.

CoverCanvas

CoverCanvas is a very simple web app which helps you create some interesting Facebook timeline covers which make your Facebook profile stand out. It uses pre-made designs and your profile pictures from Facebook. It’s basically a Facebook app, and requires authorization and access to your Facebook account, like any other app.

What it doesn’t require is any sort of sign up or setting up process. Simply click on “Get Started” and you’re on your way!

facebook timeline covers

Designing A Cover

After you authorize the app to access your Facebook account, it will automatically pull all your profile pictures to use in creating covers. Unfortunately, you can’t use any of your other photos with the apps, only your profile pictures, so we’ll have to make do with these.

timeline covers

First, you get to choose what kind of cover you want to create. Under Custom Covers, you’ll find Photos And Name, Your Name and Your Photos. With these you can create a cover which includes either some photos and your name, only your name on a unique design or only your photos. For each one of these options, there are numerous different designs to choose from, which you can browse using the top bar.

timeline covers

Like I said, there are lots of designs to choose from here, and you can create covers with all kinds of different feels to them. Here is an example for a Photos and Name cover I created.

timeline covers

This is one of the “photos only” covers I created. There are many different designs here too.

abstract timeline covers

And this is one of the “name only” designs you can create. As you can see, not all of them are that serious.

abstract timeline covers

If you’d like to create something different, and not use your profile pictures, you can choose from the wide array of Static Covers. These are divided into categories such as Art, Love, Food and Drink, Movies, Superheroes and Cars. Most categories are also divided into sub-categories, which helps you zoom in on what you’re really interested in. Here is a food themed cover I created.

abstract timeline covers

You can also create something with a darker feel, if you prefer. The number of options is not huge, but it should definitely appeal to a wide variety of different tastes.

covercanvas-7

Since most of us have a lot of profile pictures, you may want to see different designs with different pictures. You can’t tell CoverCanvas which photos to use, but you can click on “Remix Photos” again and again, and see the different designs with different photos each time.

covercanvas-9

When you’re satisfied with a design, click on “Make My Cover”. This will upload your new cover to Facebook and will automatically transfer you to your profile page where you can put the new cover to use.

Placing Your New Facebook Timeline Cover On Your Profile

So now you’ve been redirected to your profile page on Facebook, and you want to use your new cover. How do you do it? If you don’t already have a cover, you’ll see a “Add a Cover” button where the cover goes. If you already have a cover, the button will read “Change Cover”. Click the button, and from the dropdown menu choose “Choose from Photos”.

covercanvas-10

CoverCanvas will create a special album for you, where it will store all the covers you create, but the most recent covers will be available through Recent Uploads, without having to access any album.

covercanvas-11

If you can’t find the design you want, click on “View Albums” and choose the CoverCanvas album. You will find your design there.

covercanvas-12

You can now preview what the new design will look like on your page. Facebook will offer the option to drag the image around, but since the design was made specifically for this area, it’s already in its exact size and there’s nothing to move around. If you like it, click on “Save Changes”.

covercanvas-13

And there you have it. A unique, personal design for your Timeline profile, that people are just that much more likely to remember.

covercanvas-14

Note that CoverCanvas, like many other apps, will post a status update for you when you upload a new canvas through the service. The post includes the new canvas (so don’t upload ones you’re not sure you want people to see) and a link to the website. It looks like this.

facebook timeline covers

Bottom Line

All in all, CoverCanvas is a great way to personalize your new Facebook Timeline profile. You can create many different designs, and switch them around whenever you feel like it. That way, you’ll never get bored with your cover, even if you use the same pictures over and over again.

Do you know of some more services which help you create your own customized design for Timeline? Did you create a cool design with CoverCanvas? Share in the comments!


December 28 2011

16:31

November 14 2011

14:17

Visual.ly


Logo

What can you use the application for?
Visual.ly presents users with a unique way to compile and display data. The application focuses on infographics, or images that depict data. The website showcases what it deems are the best recent visual data presentations on the web. Users can explore designs or submit their own creations to share with the Visual.ly community. When sharing designs, the user can receive valuable feedback that helps them improve the way they display data. The site currently showcases a diverse array of eye-catching infographs, which cover many topics ranging from the lifecycle of a startup company to the relationships of girl gossip. The site does not yet offer infograph building tools, although there is an area reserved for such tools which are going to be added in the future.

What is the history and popularity of the application?
The concept behind Visual.ly was created around the belief that data displays are becoming a big thing on and off the web. This approach to sharing information is versatile and far more interesting than a simple black and white list of numbers and text. The website currently offers plenty of visual appeal and a collection of unique infographs, however it offers very little in the way of functionality. This is because the actual infograph design tools have not yet been added. For the time being, users will find little to keep them coming back until they can start using Visual.ly to create their own infographics.

What are the differences to other apps?
It is difficult to compare Visual.ly to other applications because it is currently nothing more than a colorful website. Users can find videos and text content discussing infographs and the purpose of the website. There is also an area reserved for a future update that will introduce actual building tools to the website. However until that happens, Visual.ly doesn’t hold a candle to websites that actually allow users to compile data and display it in a graphic.

How does the application look and feel to use?
The Visual.ly website is very smooth and remains clean with plenty of personality. A new user is enticed by vibrant colors set against a white background and black headers. This seems to hint at the diverse styles and colors used in the infographs displayed on the showcase page. Users can easily explore the website and learn more about the value of the infograph by reading through the content. The quality of the building tools that will be later remains to be seen. If they are anything like the website, then they will offer the user a positive, hassle-free experience.

How does the registration process work?
A new user can join Visual.ly by clicking the pink “Join Us” button nestled in the upper, right hand corner of the homepage. A pop up box appears and asks the user for a username, email address, password and optional website URL. A brief note at the bottom of the form advises the user that by submitting the form, they are agreeing to the Visual.ly terms of service and privacy policy. After clicking the “Sign Up” button below the form, the user is automatically taken back to the homepage and can log in to their account.

What does it cost to use the application?
Visual.ly is currently available to all users for free. Anyone can register for an account and start browsing the website. Users are also welcome to upload their infographs at no charge. The site will be making significant updates in the future, which will include the addition of actual infograph building tools. Whether these will come with a fee remains to be seen. The site does not currently note any subscription or fee requirements planned for the update.

Who would you recommend the application to?
Visual.ly is a fun website for anyone who is interested in infographics. Users who build their own infographics can showcase their work by uploading it to the Visual.ly collection. At this time, there is little functionality available however there may be many opportunities for professionals and educators once the site unveils its infographic building tools to the user community. Until then, the site is a fun place to read about infographics and check out a few stunning examples.

Screenshot
Tags: Design

November 08 2011

14:17

Design Signoff


Logo

What can you use the application for?
Design Signoff gives users a way to present their design concepts and manage discussions based around their work. The user can begin by building a gallery of images that showcase their designs. The application provides an interface that gives the user’s work center stage that doesn’t interfere with viewing. The user can invite others to check out their work and provide valuable feedback, comments and suggestions. Users can converse to collaborate on projects. Designers can work closely with clients while giving them a better perspective on what the finished product will look like. The idea is to achieve “design signoff,” meaning the go-ahead to complete the actual project. Users can present new work or keep clients and others in the loop about the most recent updates to a visual project. Additional tools include automatic email updates, sign off tools and project statistics.

What is the history and popularity of the application?
Design Signoff promises to provide designers with a way to streamline the collaboration process. The application was intended to help open up the lines of communication between designers and anyone they need to review their work. Although the application’s blog states that official release was planned for summer 2011, by September, that had not yet occurred. Design Signoff acquired Get Signoff in May of 2011 with a note that Get Signoff users would eventually have to migrate to Design Signoff when the site was officially closed down.

What are the differences to other apps?
Design Signoff provides users with all the same features that other applications like it offer. The user can upload images, share them online and get feedback to help them create the perfect finished product. These features work well, so this is a good thing even though it doesn’t do anything for the originality of the application. Some users may appreciate Design Signoff’s sleek, stylish interface and galleries which could be a selling point.

How does the application look and feel to use?
Design Signoff can be easily described as clean and trendy. The application uses a light background with hints of solid black and deep orange to give it life. Each page is very well organized, with plenty of open space and just enough content to prevent it from becoming boring or plain. User comments are listed much like a thread, so collaborators and clients can easily follow conversations. The interface also stays away from the spotlight, allowing the user’s work to get all the attention (just as it should be with this type of application).

How does the registration process work?
A new user can create a Design Signoff account by clicking the white “Beta Signup” link in the upper, right hand corner of the homepage. The following page asks the user to provide an email address to request an invitation to the Design Signoff beta. After submitting the form, the user must wait for an official invitation. The last page encourages the user to invite others to try Design Signoff. Users who invite others are given priority on the beta registration list.

What does it cost to use the application?
Design Signoff is only available to paid users. Users have to give their creditcard details when they subscribe. After the free 14 day trial users have to pay $12 per month for the cheapest plan. The most expensive plan costs $35 per month. Users can not cancel their paid account when they are logged in to their own dashboard. They have to go back to the homepage and click the -My Account- link to cancel the account.

Who would you recommend the application to?
DesignSignoff.com was created specifically for designers. Anyone who work with images, websites or other visual products can use the application to share their work and get feedback that can help them take it to the next level. The user interface is very clean and allows users to collaborate quickly, even when they are not physically located in the same office, or even the same country.

Screenshot
Tags: Design

October 12 2011

00:00

Fab: Design-based Shopping Platform


Fab is a members-only online shopping website for design. It provides daily design inspirations and sales at up to 70% off retail. Membership is free but numbers are limited. Learn more
http://fab.com
Brought to you by Go2web20.net - The web applications index

September 29 2011

19:01

Adaptable Gimp Makes Using The Gimp Easy [Windows & Linux]

Do you love using the Gimp, but feel lost amongst all the tools and options? Find just the things you need for the job at hand, instantly, with a simple search. With Adaptable Gimp, you’ll even find step-by-step instructions for accomplishing precisely the thing you want to do. This software, powered by user contributions, makes it easy for just about anyone to use The Gimp. It all revolves around “TaskSets”, a concept so amazingly useful you’ll wonder why it wasn’t in The Gimp all along.

Want to remove red eye from a photo? There’s a TaskSet for that. Same for adding drop shadows to text, cropping and resizing photos and drawing basic shapes. Stop stumbling through controls. Whether you consider it a Gimp training tool or a full-blown replacement for the image editing suite, Adaptable Gimp is something you should check out.

Introducing TaskSets

For the most part, Adaptable Gimp looks like The Gimp. The main difference is the left sidebar:

As you can see, there is a search bar and a box containing a subset of Gimp tools. Search for a given TaskSet and you’ll quickly find results:

I’m constantly cropping and resizing photos for MakeUseOf, so “Crop and Resize” is the TaskSet for me. When I select this TaskSet, this is what I see:

As you can see, only the tools I need to crop and resize images are here, and nothing else. Even better, they are here in the order that I need them, and there are instructions for using them. This makes my job a lot easier.

Naturally, many of the toolsets are more complicated than this. Are you curious about the kinds of TaskSets that are out there? Find them all on the Adaptable Gimp wiki. This wiki isn’t just a fan-created list of all TaskSets: it’s the actual database used by Adaptable Gimp.

New sets are added constantly, which is really nice. Users of the software keep making it better, meaning you can accomplish more and more with this software as time goes on.

Creating TaskSets

Do you want to help make Adaptable Gimp better yourself? Simple. A built-in TaskSet creation tool makes this easy:

Just add the tools needed for a given job, then provide instructions. Your TaskSet will be saved to the wiki, making it available to all Adaptable Gimp users. You’ll be sharing your Gimp expertise with the world, and making this software better for everyone. So don’t complain if Adaptable Gimp doesn’t yet do something you want to do. Instead, add your own TaskSet and it will help everyone out.

Download Adaptable Gimp

Ready to start using Adaptable Gimp? Download it here. You’ll find an installer for Windows, and installation instructions for Linux. Sorry Mac users!

Once you check it out, be sure to let us know what you think of the software. Can you see yourself using it regularly? If not, do you think it’s a useful tool for teaching others? Or do you prefer websites with instructions for learning The Gimp? Should Photoshop add something similar to Adaptive Gimp? Share these thoughts and more in the comments below.


September 01 2011

14:17

LoveDsgn


Logo

What can you use the application for?
LoveDsgn is a website that houses an online community based around designs. Although the site caters to website and graphic designers, it doesn’t limit its scope to digital creations. Creative individuals can display any kind of design work. If it has a visual element, it can be displayed and discussed on LoveDsgn. Some users specialize in clothing and accessories while others design labels for cigar boxes and other products. The user can upload an image and add a name and description. Others can choose to “love” the item to show their support. Items can be tagged to make them easier to find. Sharing tools are also presented on each page, including buttons for Facebook, Stumble Upon, Twitter and Google. The user can also build a profile on LoveDsgn to showcase their work and receive feedback and insight from others with an eye for design. Comments are also enabled on each item page so the user can receive personalized feedback or encouragement related to specific design submissions.

What is the history and popularity of the application?
LoveDsgn was created to provide designers with a place that would allow them to show their work and receive honest feedback and comments that can help them improve. The website nurtures improvement and a celebration of visual creations. LoveDsgn is hosted by Media Temple. The site continues to see new artists and designers signing up and building unique profiles that showcase a diverse collection of work creating in many different mediums.

What are the differences to other apps?
LoveDsgn has built a community that is very expansive. Rather than limit its members to those who work online only, LoveDsgn welcomes all designers. Whether the user creates websites, icons or actual products and labels for the offline world, they can upload images and share what they do with the LoveDsgn community. The site provides a place that allows users to share ideas, feedback, comments and more based around designs.

How does the application look and feel to use?
The LoveDsgn website gets newcomers interested with a vibrant design that features hints of dark pink. The homepage contains many visual elements, including large color images of items uploaded by users as well as smaller new user thumbnails. Each image presents an entirely different color scheme and style that gives LoveDsgn a very unique appearance. Rather than transforming into a confusing mess, the site manages to keep everything contained and organized without limiting creativity and individuality.

How does the registration process work?
A new user can join the LoveDsgn community by clicking the “Sign Up” link tucked into the upper, right hand corner of the homepage. The user is required to request an invitation code prior to filling out the registration form. This can be done by clicking the “request an invite here” link positioned to the right of the registration form. Once an invitation code has been received, the user can return to the form and enter it into the first field on the form. The user is also asked to supply a full name, username and email address.

What does it cost to use the application?
LoveDsgn welcomes all designers to join for free. There are no subscription fees or other expenses required. The site contains a few small advertisements. These are generally all the same size and shape, and are kept well away from the actual content. The ads also seem to remain relevant by suggesting services that a designer might be interested in (such as online photo hosting).

Who would you recommend the application to?
LoveDsgn.com is intended entirely for anyone who designs. The site is ideal for those who are creative, whether the user designs for a living or as a fun side hobby. The site promotes user interactions through a comments system and makes it easy for users to share their work or the work of others online.

Screenshot
Tags: Design

August 09 2011

00:30

2 More Places To Design & Sell Your Own T-Shirts

design and sell your own t-shirtsFor those of you that have tried to dive into the online t-shirt business, you probably already know about Zazzle and Threadless, and you also likely know about Etsy and CafePress. However, chances are that you are looking for a couple of more options by now.

Thankfully, entrepreneurship is not dead (yet), so today, we’re going to provide you with two more places to sell your t-shirts. Fortunately, unlike other sites you may have dealt with in the past, these sites have a pretty solid foundation.

Spreadshirt

Spreadshirt has the basics down-pat for making your own t-shirt store. Referring to them as “shops”, the program is based on uploading your own designs, displaying them on your very own customizable website, and then self-promoting your products – just like a legitimate business.

design and sell your own t-shirts

Although Spreadshirt offers a snazzy premium service, its free option still gets the job done. With a free account, you can set up a shop, customize the HTML header and CSS, and even redirect the URL to the domain of your choosing. Even if you don’t know how to pull off code, everything is still customizable including colors, fonts, and even header graphics. Another one of the nice features it offers is its discount system, so you can occasionally send out codes to your best shoppers who might want to cut a little off their next purchase.

design and sell t-shirts

Furthermore, Spreadshirt offers an iFrame code which allows you to just embed your shop within whatever website you are using. Personally, I think this would work well with blogs or simple web pages. However, you could always just insert images of your products on your website and link them to their unique buy pages on your Spreadshirt store.

design and sell t-shirts

In addition to Spreadshirt’s ability to sell t-shirts on your own site with whatever mark-up that you desire, the website allows you to sell designs that other stores (and Spreadshirt itself) can use for their own items. Basically, when a shirt is sold with the design that you have placed in the public marketplace, you will be paid on commission. Beyond that, if you include Spreadshirt’s t-shirt customizer on your own shop, you will earn a percentage of each shirt sold.

design and sell t-shirts

As I mentioned before, Spreadshirt allows users to become a premium member through a monthly subscription (topping out at $100 a year). Besides its many other features, the upgrade allows you to have three shops under one account, removes all Spreadshirt-themed advertising from your site, and places your own custom logo on all invoices.

RedBubble

RedBubble is mainly for the artistic types, and its products are a little more expensive than the Five Dollar Deal shirt you picked up at that one flea market while visiting your family down in Alabama.  The quality is posh, but if you think you can keep up with the big dogs on this site, then go for it.

design and sell t-shirts online

RedBubble places you in a vast community of masterful artists who love sharing their work, so you will never be short of inspiration if you want to make an artsy tee. With that in mind, this might not be the best place to sell your “World’s #1 Mee-Maw” t-shirt concept.

A minor downside for some users might be the fact that RedBubble does not offer you a way to set up a shop like Spreadshirt, for it presents itself in a style that could be best described as being an upper-scale DeviantArt. However, much like how you could sell prints on DA, you can sell shirts on RedBubble (in addition to various other wares).

design and sell t-shirts online

Shirt design in RedBubble is a little different than Spreadshirt. Right off the bat, you are asked to download a template so that you can use the proper pixel dimensions. The template offers you a wide range of space to work in, so don’t worry about it limiting your creativity. Speaking of creativity, RedBubble respects your own, so it allows you to place either watermarks or even transparent overlays on your images so that other users cannot steal your work.

design and sell t-shirts online

Marketing your work on this site is going to be a little like going to a craft fair. People who show up are likely selling their own creations in the same place, but the community-nature of the site is sure to find you some supporters. However, if you feel like selling off-site, I would suggest using the same method that I offered with Spreadshirt by linking images to the buy page.

design and sell your own t-shirts

There are several sub-communities throughout RedBubble, and it is really easy to connect with others even if you aren’t wanting to sell. You can share ideas, personal pieces, and input using each community’s section of the site, and you can also interact with individuals via BubbleMail.

Conclusion

Arguably, Spreadshirt and RedBubble have two of the best shirt-selling methods in the online world. By all appearances, the user-base seems a little small compared to Zazzle and CafePress, but they seem to be exactly what next-level shirt sellers could want. Test them out if you haven’t before, and see if you can get a feel for them.

What other uncommon shirt-selling websites do you use? Have you had any luck in the t-shirt selling business? What kind of designs have you made?

Image Credit: alvimann

2 More Places To Design & Sell Your Own T-Shirts is a post from: MakeUseOf


July 01 2011

00:00

Compversions: Designers: Get Feedback. Simply


Compversions allows your clients to easily view multiple versions/revisions of each design/mockup/comp/photo Learn more
http://www.compversions.com
Brought to you by Go2web20.net - The web applications index

June 30 2011

22:31

Mockup Builder Helps You Quickly Get Your Ideas On-Screen

So you have this incredible idea for a website. It’s kind of like LOLCats meets Star Wars, with a dash of Foursquare thrown in. It’s going to be bigger than Facebook. But when you try to pitch it to your friends or potential investors and show them how awesome it is, you run into lots of blank stares. What you need is a mockup, or a “dummy version” of your site, to help people understand your vision in clearer terms.

Another case where you may need a mockup is when re-designing an existing site, or extending it with a new section. Mockup Builder is a Silverlight-powered Web app that provides a very effective way to put those mockups together.

For this review, let’s start from the end. Here’s a mockup I made with Mockup Builder in a couple of minutes:

Image

So we’ve got a headline, a subhead, a button and a video player. Anyone looking at this can see at a glance what these components are and where they sit on the screen in relation to each other. Now let’s see how I got them there:

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So the interface looks a bit like the Ribbon in Office 2007/2010. It’s a horizontal menu up top, and then a row of large icons in every category. Not only is it similar to the ribbon, but it also gives a nod to Mac OS X’s dock:

Image

See that zoom-in effect? Nice. Basically, all you have to do is go to the category of the item you’re looking for, find that item, and drag it onto the canvas. Removing an item is just as easy — just click it and hit Del. If that sounds basic, it’s because this is an app you’re supposed to be able to use instantly. Ideally, it should be as easy as drawing your mock-ups on paper.

Once you put your UI elements on the screen, you might want to align them. When you select more than one element, the sidebar changes to present a list of alignment commands:

Image

Some of the icons are a bit similar, but if you hover over them, they show clear tooltips.

Next, let’s talk a little bit about the Screen Manager. You can use Mockup Builder to plan more than one screen. For instance, you can build a Wizard in an app, or a site registration process. Each step would take up one screen, and you can add as many screens as you need. But if it’s a Wizard interface, many elements repeat. The window always has to be in the same size, and you always have a Next and Back buttons. Mockup Builder’s developers thought about that, which is why you can create “Template Pages”.

A Template Page is just a basis for another page. You can create one page with your frame, and then use it as the template for all other pages. Here’s an example:

Image

See how the background is greyed-out? That’s because I just created a new page, used my “main” page as the template, and added an alert box on top. That was easy!

But how can you switch between screens? Well, I’m glad you asked! Turns out you can select any element (button, label, whatever) and just link it to a screen. Here’s an example:

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In this case, I linked a button to Screen 3, which is the Alert screen. So when you click that button, the presentation will jump to screen 3. That’s right – I said presentation, and that’s what we’ll look at next. After all, when the time comes to share your brilliant idea, you’ll want a nice way to show your mockup. Mockup Builder provides a Presentation View just for this purpose. It looks like this:

Image

So your mock-up looks exactly the same, only it’s “static”, so to speak. In presentation mode, links work (so if I click Boom!, I get an alert box). Also, you can’t drag elements around just by clicking them. You get a host of other tools useful for talking about your creation (rather than directly changing it). Here’s the presentation-mode toolbar:

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The first button exits presentation mode – they could have made this clearer. But the others are quite clear. You can point at things on the screen, doodle around them, erase other marks (not the mockup itself), add text, etc. Here’s my interface after I played with some of the presentation tools:

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This is fantastic for showing things on-screen in a presentation, or even in a Skype screen-sharing session. Speaking of which, you can also invite other people to look at your mock-up:

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The resulting email contains a simple link. In fact, let me share it with all of you right now: http://mockupbuilder.com/App/132 — simply click that, and you’ll be transported right into this cutting-edge self-destruct interface, which you can tweak and improve to your heart’s content.

Bottom Line

As a web designer/content author, I am often called upon to come up with new layout ideas. I have no doubt I will be using Mockup Builder for this in the future — it is a very capable, fast and free tool. Lovely.  Have a go at it yourself and let us know what you think of it in the comments.


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Mockup Builder Helps You Quickly Get Your Ideas On-Screen is a post from: MakeUseOf

More articles about: design, Silverlight, web development, webdesign, webmaster tools, website builder

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May 12 2011

01:31
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