All posts by James

About James

Graphic designer based in Phoenix, Arizona | Owner/Author of TheGraphicMac.com | Husband | Daddy | Mac Geek

Free stock photos from Unsplash

Unsplash photos

There’s nothing better than free stock photos, except maybe high-quality free stock photos. Unsplash offers up 10 new stock photos every 10 days.

You can visit Unsplash and download the photos individually, or sign-up for the email newsletter which contains a link to download all 10 photos in a single .zip file.

All the photos offered by Unsplash are of fairly high-quality, and though it doesn’t say so, each collection of 10 images appears to be of a particular theme. The images can be used for anything you wish (personal or commercial use).

There are lots of free photo sites out there, but I really like Unsplash because the images are fairly unique in their subject matter. You’re not likely to see similar images elsewhere.

The photos available on Unsplash are submitted by people just like you. So if you have a photo you want to make available for anyone in the world to use, feel free to submit it using the link at the top of the homepage.

Turn your photos into cool vector-pattern art with Vectoraster

Vectoraster 6
Vectoraster 6 is a fantastic little app for Mac OS X that creates vector-based artwork and patterns based on raster images. Simply put, it turns your photos into patterned vector art that you can then edit further in Adobe Illustrator.

The cool thing about this app is the “discoverability” of the app. Import an image and start playing with sliders and buttons, and you’ll soon find yourself spending a considerable amount of time coming up with ways you can use the app in your design work. That’s because Vectoraster shows you the results of your adjustments in real-time, in a single-window interface that’s quite easy to figure out.

Vectoraster 6 - sample

Vectoraster not only allows you to turn your images into vector halftone and line patterns, but it allows you to adjust the colors, hue, saturation, and density of the patterns as well. A host of other tools are also available that allow you to customize the results in almost any way you could need.

Once you’re done, you can export to vector format as an EPS or PDF, or a JPG, PNG or TIFF file if you prefer. And if you have a group of images you wish to apply the same effects to, there’s batch processing available.

The use case for this app is endless. For instance, I had a rather small 5×7 image of my son that I wanted to enlarge to hang on the wall – but I didn’t want a simple photo enlargement. So I ran it through Vectoraster and used the Character/Text point shape option to have the letters of his name create the entire photo. Not only was it a cool piece of art, but because it was vector, I could size it to whatever I wished.

Here are some more screenshots to give you an idea of how the app can help you:

Vectoraster6_color_gradient

Vectoraster 6 text raster

Vectoraster6 wavy line raster

Vectoraster is a bit difficult to explain, but the video below should give you some idea of what you can do with Vectoraster.

Vectoraster is one of those apps that you won’t use daily, but one that you’re glad you have when you want to spice-up an image in a design piece.

Vectoraster 6 requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.7.5 or later, and supports Full Screen mode. The full version costs $32, and upgrades are available for $12. A free demo is available so you can check it out for yourself.

The one Adobe Photoshop plugin you should absolutely be using

FlatIcon for Photoshop
I’ve tried a LOT of Photoshop plugins. They all have their specific uses, and many of them are worthy of your purchase. But few are as useful on a daily basis as this one.

FlatIcon is a plugin for Photoshop CS5 and later that places a new panel in Photoshop that allows you to search for, and place in your document, vector icons from a collection of over 41,000. Best of all, they’re free. And because they’re vector shapes, you can resize and edit them without losing quality.

To use FlatIcon, visit Window > Extensions > Flaticon to bring up the panel. Then you simply search for the icon you wish to use, click and drag it to your document, and start editing it as you would any other vector shape in Photoshop. It couldn’t be easier.

FlatIcon is a plugin many designers, particularly web designers, will use daily. For me, having a collection of arrows and typical web elements is worth the install alone.

FlatIcon is free, works with Adobe Photoshop CS5, CS6 and CC. You can download FlatIcon here.

By the way, if Photoshop plugins aren’t your thing, you can also download the icons individually from FlatIcon as a PNG, SVG (vector) or Webfont from the main site.

New look for the site

If you’re not a first-time visitor to The Graphic Mac, you’ve no doubt noticed that the site has changed dramatically. Not just the blog theme, but the color scheme as well. The color scheme change goes against everything I know about “branding” – but quite frankly, I was tired of the bright green. I may even switch the colors on a whim, or go back to the bright green in the future. Who knows.

The layout is a little easier for me to manage. Regular posts get the larger headlines with white background. While link posts, those post that simply point to a page on another site when you click the headline here, have a smaller and italicized headline with a grey background. Everything else, you’ll figure out on your own.

This change to the site, like others in the past, is not meant to be “creative improvement.” I’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating: I don’t care about the design of this site. It’s about the content. And because this site is a hobby for me, I have to make it as easy for me to manage as possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I value input if you have it, so feel free to share in the comments.