Free public domain photo site offers categorized stock photography

Public domain stock photos

While I was searching for images for a project, I came across Photos Public Domain, which offers images of various quality with a decent range of subject matter. The site doesn’t have thousands upon thousands of images, but there are quite a few gems. The best part is they are, as the name implies, public domain, and free for commercial use. Donations are accepted of course, but not necessary. I particularly liked the holiday collection.

Ambient sounds from Elsewhere for Mac

I’m the type of person that can’t work without some sort of sound. I mean I absolutely hate quiet – it’s maddening to me. But there are times when I’m trying to concentrate on a project or simply read an article on a website, and a podcast or my favorite iTunes playlist is just too distracting. This is where a little ambient sound comes in handy.

Ambient sounds from ElsewhereElsewhere is a new app from Eltima Software, makers of the popular Folx downloader and Elmedia Player apps. Elsewhere’s purpose is simply to provide ambient sounds on your Mac to help you relax or concentrate.

The app looks absolutely gorgeous, and is simple to use. You invoke Elsewhere’s interface by clicking the icon in the menubar. You simply choose which type of ambient sounds you wish to hear – forest, beach or city, and whether you want to hear day or night sounds. You can also adjust the volume in the window, as well as pause the sounds if you need to.

The preferences are simple, you can set Elsewhere to launch at login time, and switch between day and night ambient sounds automatically.

The beauty of Elsewhere, besides its simple interface, is that you don’t notice any audible looping of the sounds. They appear to go on forever as if you were sitting in the location the sounds are coming from.

I’m not much for one-trick ponies, but this app could only be made better by adding the peaceful sounds of a mountain stream.

Elsewhere is normally $4.99 on the Mac App Store, but is on sale for 99¢ at the time of this review. Because the Mac App Store doesn’t offer demo versions, you can visit the Elsewhere web page for a working preview of the sounds.

Adobe Creative Suite 6 Design Premium: First look at speed

Adobe CS6With every release of the Adobe Creative Suite apps, one of the first questions always seems to be “is it faster?” Whether you use Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator or Flash, you probably crave improved speed almost as much as new features.

With all the major Adobe Creative Suite apps being fairly mature in their lifecycle, new marquee features have taken a back seat to minor tweaks, small feature additions, bug fixes, and speed improvements. Creative Suite 6 follows that trend for the most part, and that makes it a bit easier to compare the speed of the apps between CS5 and CS6.

I’ve been using Creative Suite Design Premium for a few weeks now, and have collected my thoughts and observations about CS6 regarding speed. It should be noted that, with the exception of the launch-time chart below, these are my opinions based on very unscientific testing. I’ve not run any benchmarks or other timed processes, just real-world “eye-ball” tests.

Test Macs

All my observations are based off the results of running Adobe CS6 (and CS5) on two Macs, both running OS X Lion 10.7.4:
Mac Pro 2006 (MP): 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Xeon, 11GB RAM, 7200 RPM internal HD
MacBook Air 2011 (MBA): 1.7 GHz Core i5, 4GB RAM, SSD

Installation

I chose the download option for CS6, rather than the boxed DVD collection. So I installed CS6 from the mounted disc image on my hard drive. This is important to remember, and you’ll see why below. (more…)

Want your own custom T-Shirt? Fibers is a great fit!

There is no shortage of websites that allow you to print customized T-Shirts. When I found myself looking for a reputable site that could print a quality shirt at a reasonable price, my head was spinning with all the options.

Fibers.comFibers.com was my site of choice, and I’m glad I settled on them. Fibers offers a ton of shirt options; long-sleeve, short-sleeve, sweatshirts, T-Shirts, tank-tops, and more, and the prices are reasonable. What I loved the most was the feeling that I knew exactly what I was going to get when my shirt arrived.

Many sites offer a customization process that is lacking, to say the least. You choose a color from a limited visual palette and the color is overlaid on the image of the shirt. It’s not an exact photo of that colored shirt, so you’re never sure exactly what the shirt will look like. Uploading your custom artwork can also be a crapshoot. In most cases, sites have an upload button, and very basic placement options (size & rough placement of art on the shirt), but not much more.

Fibers offers variety and simplicity

Fibers.com offers a ton of options when it comes to styles and colors of shirts. You start the customization process by choosing a product (T-Shirt, long-sleeve, seatshirt, etc.). The options are based on the cut/style of shirt, mens, women’s, and material (they offer cotton, bamboo and performance-grade). Next, you choose the size and color. As soon as you choose the color of the shirt, the large preview image is updated with a photo of your shirt.

At that point, you can use Fibers’ built-in type, image and effects tools to create your shirt online, or upload your own artwork in a variety of file formats (including .eps, .jpg, .tif, .bmp, and a few more).

Fibers.com customization

Fibers.com offers plenty of easy-to-use customization tools

Once you upload your custom artwork, you can scale it, rotate it, flip it, align multiple pieces of art, add layers, and of course place it exactly where you want it within the printable area of the shirt. Once you’re done with the front, you can add artwork to the back as well (at an additional cost which is constantly updated in the upper portion of the screen). If you’re not sure about your design, you can save it for later updating.

The checkout process is quick and easy, and they offer a variety of shipping options.

The final product

I was pleasantly surprised when I received my shirt in the mail. It came in a relatively tiny box, but the shirt itself was nearly wearable out of the box – little wrinkling to speak of.

The color of the shirt was exactly as it appeared on the website in the preview image. Excellent! The placement of my logo was exactly as it appeared in the preview image as well, both on the front and the back.

Graphic Mac T-Shirt

Close-up of The Graphic Mac T-Shirt logo

The quality of the print was pretty good considering I chose a dark charcoal gray shirt, and have white and bright green subtle gradient in the artwork. After the first wash, I saw no visible fading to the artwork on the shirt – but time will tell how the print holds up. I suspect it will be no different than any other printed shirt.

At just under $30, I’m pretty happy with my custom T-Shirt. There are cheaper sites out there, and I suppose some of them actually offer a decent product. For me though, Fibers.com delivered a great user experience, and a quality product at a reasonable price. I’ll definitely be ordering more from them.

How to select and move all items on an InDesign layer

Experienced InDesign users know the value of using Layers on complex documents, particularly ones where text, object and image items are stacked on top of each other.

Layer item selectOne handy shortcut is the ability to select all items on any particular layer, which you can do by either Option + Clicking the name of the Layer in the Layers panel, or by clicking the Item Indicator square on the far right of the Layer in the list. Performing either action will select all the items on that particular layer.

Now let’s say you want to move all the items from one layer to another. Simple. Just click that little Item Indicator square of the layer you want to move FROM and drag it to the layer you want to move it TO.

Fonts & Intellectual Property, an interview with Frank Martinez

Frank MartinezBy Jim Kidwell
Product Marketing Manager at Extensis

The issues surrounding copyright, intellectual property and design can confound even the most intrepid designer. Fortunately, there are those who specialize in the field.

One of those experts is Frank Martinez, the legal mind behind the intellectual property law firm The Martinez Group PLLC. Mr. Martinez’s work focuses on the legal issues surrounding the field of design, and this has often taken him into the legal and intellectual property issues surrounding the development, sale and use of fonts and typography.

Now considered one of the pre-eminent experts in the field, Mr. Martinez took a few minutes to answer a few questions about his design roots, font licensing and the future of design law.

What follows is an edited excerpt of the full interview with Frank Martinez, which can be found on the Extensis blog.

(more…)

Extensis WebINK: New pricing, unlimited fonts & more!

Extensis WebINK

Extensis has unveiled groundbreaking changes to their leading web font service, WebINK. If you are a seasoned web developer or just getting started in the fast-paced world of web design, it’s time to check out WebINK.

WebINK brings fonts to your website design, quickly, easily and affordably. You just select your fonts, drop the provided CSS into your site code and publish. It really is that simple.

  • WebINK plans start at $20 per year
  • Access to the entire WebINK font catalog of 4200+ web fonts
  • Unlimited web sites
  • FREE live site prototyping
  • Unlimited fonts per site
  • No repeat visitor penalties – plans based on unique visitors, not page views
  • Easily transfer complete projects to clients

I use WebINK to power the fonts used here at The Graphic Mac. I can tell you that it truly is as simple as Extensis claims. (more…)