Category: Photoshop

Import free assets into Photoshop and Illustrator with BlendMeIn

BlendMeInBlendMeIn is a nifty new Photoshop and Illustrator extension that allows you to search thousands of assets, including popular icon packs, without leaving Photoshop or Illustrator, and place them in your document directly via a Panel.

Unlike FlatIcons, which I recently reviewed, the artwork available in BlendMeIn is free via Creative Commons Attribution license. Unlike FlatIcons, it works in Adobe Illustrator as well as Photoshop. I still prefer FlatIcons, but this is a great option.

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Photoshop’s Align & Snap to Pixel Grid explained

When working with the vector tools (such as the shape tools), Photoshop has a preference to “Snap Vector Tools and Transforms to Pixel Grid”. This preference is extremely helpful when creating shapes that need solid, straight edges as it snaps the edges of the shapes to be fully aligned to a pixel, preventing soft, anti-aliased edges. Julieanne Kost explains it as simply as I’ve seen.

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Improve text appearance with Photoshop’s anti-aliasing

One of the most important things you can do to improve the look of your text in Photoshop is adjust the anti-aliasing of the text based on the size the text will be displayed at.

Photoshop text anti-alias
Text anti-aliasing can be found in Photoshop’s Control Bar (usually located at the top of the screen) when you have the text tool selected. You’ll find it just to the right of the point size entry box, as seen in the screenshot above. You can adjust the anti-aliasing by selecting the options in the drop-down menu.

There are four anti-aliasing options, Smooth, Strong, Crisp and Sharp. Which one you use depends on the size of your text.

Photoshop anti-aliased text sample
As you can see in the image above, larger text sizes look better with Smooth or Strong. Smaller text sizes tend to look better with Crisp and Sharp – with tiny text on a website almost always looking best using the Sharp setting. The image doesn’t really show the difference in smaller text as well as I would like, but if you adjust the settings in your own document, you’ll surely see the difference.

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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.

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Photoshop documentor plugin for web designers & developers

Ink plugin

Ink is a plugin that helps web designers and developers provide extra information about their mockups by documenting layers, typography, effects and shape sizes, etc.

Though I’m not a web designer or developer by trade, I can totally see how the free Ink plugin would be extremely useful. Truth be told, I use Photoshop’s built-in Notes feature to document complex PSD files that I share with clients and other designers/vendors. It’s also a great way to leave notes to yourself on how you created a particular effect (the settings you used in Gaussian Blur filter, for example).

The Ink plugin is currently in beta and is available for Photoshop CS6 and CC only.

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