Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Best Free Design Software: Image editing

  • GIMP - is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.
  • Picasa - is a free software download from Google that helps you to locate and organise all the photos on your computer, edit and add effects to your photos with a few simple clicks, share your photos with others through email, prints and on the web.
  • Paint.NET - is free image editing and photo manipulation software for computers that run Windows. It features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. An active and growing online community provides friendly help, tutorials, and plugins.
  • Magnifier - has the following features: no popup adverts or spyware, easy to use with any other program, resizable magnification area, adjustable zoom factor, overlay a grid.
  • Easy Thumbnails - creates thumbnails and scaled copies of all your images. With Easy Thumbnails, you can find and process images individually, in groups, or in whole folders using a simple file selector and built-in image viewer.Thumbnails can be created in any existing folder or a new folder, and you can identify them clearly by adding a prefix or suffix to their names.FastStone Photo Resizer - is an image converter / resizer intended to enable users to convert, rename, resize, crop, rotate, change color depth, add text and watermarks to images in a quick and easy batch mode.
  • ImageDiff - allows you to compare two images side by side, and see a difference mask showing you the exact pixels that have changed. Features include: Compare images of different formats, including JPG, GIF, BMP, and TIF, PNG. Compare images of different proportions and imageDiff will scale and calculate the difference automatically.
  • IrfanView - is a fast and compact image viewer/converter. It is trying to be simple for beginners and powerful for professionals. Many supported file formats and features. Features include: multi-language support, Thumbnail option, slideshow, toolbar skins, fast directory browsing, batch conversion/editing, multipage editing, file search, change color depth, scanning, cut/crop, IPTC edit, capturing, lossless JPG operations, effects (sharpen, blur, Adobe Photoshop filters), EXE/SCR creating, many hotkeys, command line options and plugins.
  • FastStone Image Viewer - is a fast, stable, user-friendly image browser, converter and editor. It includes a high quality magnifier and a musical slideshow with 150+ transitional effects, as well as lossless JPEG transitions, drop shadow effects, image annotation, scanner support, histogram and much more. It supports all major graphic formats including BMP, JPEG, JPEG 2000, GIF, PNG, PCX, TIFF, WMF, ICO and TGA.

  • Inkscape - is an Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, Freehand, CorelDraw, or Xara X using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format. Supported SVG features include shapes, paths, text, markers, clones, alpha blending, transforms, gradients, patterns, and grouping. Inkscape also supports Creative Commons meta-data, node editing, layers, complex path operations, bitmap tracing, text-on-path, flowed text, direct XML editing, and more.
  • SmoothDraw NX - is a powerful freehand drawing tool. It?s a limited free version of SmoothDraw. It produces the most smooth and expressive stroke through your tablet. It also smoothes mouse input for who don?t have a tablet.
  • SPRAY vector generator -is intended to produce helper objects for vector illustration software like Xara X, Corel Draw, Adobe photoshop. You generate huge number of circles with random position, fill, outline color; random paths, grids, and rays. You can place generated objects thru clipboard at your favorite illustration app. Developed for Xara X but also works with Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator.
  • ParticleDraw - is a novel windows drawing program powered by a state of the art general system simulation engine. The brushes are dynamic systems of particles with interesting behaviours, which you can completely customise. Each brush is intricately tuneable with many underlying physical parameters and one can construct arbitrary systems of particles and use these as brushes.
  • InsightPoint - creates sophisticated illustration and layout for Web and print. When it comes to spell out and share your ideas, in text and in graphics as well, InsightPoint is the fastest and easiest way to get you there. Built on top of XML technologies, comprehensive object-oriented vector design tools, trivial learning curve, and smooth drawing experience.
  • Serif DrawPlus - is a powerful drawing and graphics software. You?ll be amazed how easy it is to create high quality graphics and animations without having to spend hours designing or pay for expensive training.
  • Project Dogwaffle Free - is a paint and animation programa for the PC developed in VB by special fx artist, animator & novelist Dan Ritchie and made available for free downloading and use.
  • AmitySource Userbar Generator is an easy-to-use program for generating unique and attractive userbars. With it you can create nice-looking userbar within five minutes and without any technical or artistical knowledge. It has everything you need for creating personal userbars: you can choose colors, special effect, pattern, a glow effect, an overlay image for your composition. AmitySource Userbar Generator allows to save the created userbar in different popular formats.
  • Terragen - is a scenery generator, created with the goal of generating photorealistic landscape images and animations. It is available for Windows and the Mac OS. At this stage in its development, Terragen is free for personal, noncommercial use.
  • uMark Lite - allows you to add a text or image watermark to your digital photos. You can choose from 9 pre-defined watermark placements, set a custom font, size, and color, as well as opacity level. The freeware version can batch process up to 50 images in a single run. The watermarked images are saved in a new folder, so your originals remain unchanged. 50 images at a go, adds uMark Lite watermark.
  • TouchArt Sampler - is a great way to learn the art and skills of performing live visuals and VJing. TouchPlayer and 21 interactive 2D and 3D animations (synths) are included in this sampler. Touch lets you manipulate visuals in real-time, giving you control of various parameters like lighting, color, textures, motion, video playback, and composing. Play some audio and you can sync visuals to the BPM.
  • Synfig Studio is a vector based 2D animation program. It is designed to be capable of producing feature-film quality animation. It eliminates the need for tweening, preventing the need to hand-draw each frame. Synfig Studio features spatial and temporal resolution independence, high dynamic range images, and a flexible plugin system.
  • AnimPixels is an animated movie software specialized in Isometric Pixel Art. Use your own movie components, or download them from the Web, to create a original pixelized animated movie. Download the free AnimPixels animation software. No evaluation period or limited feature.
  • UnFREEz -is a high-speed Windows application that will take any number of images, saved as separate GIF files, and create a single animated GIF from those images. What makes this program unique from its competitors? First and foremost, UnFREEz is freeware, which means you may use it forever without paying a cent or feeling the slightest bit guilty
  • LOOXIS Faceworx -is a free Software which creates a 3D head out of two standard 2D photos.You need two well illuminated pictures; one from the front (mugshot style) and one from the side. The software demands some skills in placing reference points and marking the contours of the face; mouth, nose, ears and eyes. The final 3D portrait can be saved and exported in the well known OBJ format.
  • Bryce - is known for creating photo-realistic 3D landscapes and featuring a shallow learning curve for beginners. Start out building or importing a landscape as impressive as the Grand Canyon. Populate it with buildings, people or any other object you create or from the extensive DAZ 3D library. The Light Lab provides you robust control over your sunsets, moonlight nights or high-noon ambiance.
  • Blender - is the open-source software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation and playback. It is available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License.
  • Google SketchUp - is a free, easy-to-learn 3D-modeling program with a few simple tools to let you create 3D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, woodworking projects, and even space ships. You can add details, textures, and glass to your models, and design with dimensional accuracy. You can place your finished models in Google Earth, share them with others by posting them to the 3D Warehouse, or print hard copies.
  • 3D Canvas - is a real-time 3D modeling and animation tool that incorporates an intuitive drag-and-drop approach to 3D modeling. Complex models can be constructed from simple 3D primitives, or created using 3D Canvas’ Object Building Tools. Modeling tools are provided to deform, sculpt, and paint 3D objects.
  • 3D Box Shot Maker - is an easy and FREE tool to virtually design quality box shot as your software box cover. It is important to present a professional boxshot to attract your potential customers to take a closer look at your products. An impressive box shot will make your software outstanding, and easily defeat your competitors at the start.
  • Flash Slideshow Maker is a Flash album creator to make animated photo slide show with SWF file as the output format. It transforms your digital photo collection to Macromedia Flash file format ( SWF ) which you can share your memorial moments with your family or friends on your own homepage, post on your Blog or upload to your own website.
  • Sothink SWF Catcher for IE - is a free and useful extension to Internet Explorer that enables you to save multiple Flash based charts, presentations, e-cards, games and Flash movies in it at one time. The small size allows it embedding in IE by just adding a new button. With only few clicks you can store your favorite Flashes easily.
  • FontRenamer is a tool, that renames truetype font files (*.ttf) to the real name of the typefaces. Simply select a folder of font files and click the Rename button. The program will display a list of the original file name and the renamed name and also offer an option to undo the operation.
  • Digital Image Tool - was created specifically to batch process images quickly, applying flexible resizing methods, rotation, cropping, scaling, watermarking, renaming and more. As a multimedia designer Digital Image Tool has come in very handy?..we made it originally for use in-house but decided to put a little more effort into the program and release it for free to the public.
  • JR Screen Ruler - is an easy to use, small screen ruler that you can use to measure distances on your screen. It supports pixels, centimeters, picas and inches and can be adjusted in length to fit your screen.
  • Quick HTML Color Picker -is a freeware color picker application designed for Windows OS. With Quick HTML Color Picker, you can easily pick any color from the screen. You can preview the color, use mouse or keyboard to select the color you wanted, and get the color in RGB and HTML format.
  • LS Screen Capture - captures your desktop in several handy ways. Capture the entire desktop screen, the entire desktop work area, capture using your mouse by creating a rectangle, capture an entire window, the entire window work area, capture any active window with key stroke (Ctrl + F2).
  • ScreenHunter is a free screen-capture tool for you to easily take screenshots. ScreenHunter can capture a full screen, an active window, the client window, or a rectangular area. It automatically saves captures in BMP or JPEG format, so you don?t have to stop each time you capture, and you can capture as many as you like. It also can save captures to the Clipboard to be copied to other programs, such as Motion Studio and Word. ScreenHunter has a selectable hot-key capture (F1 to F10) and delayed capture, and uses virtually no system resources on standby. ScreenHunter freeware version has no expiration date and can be distributed free of charge.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Little Quiz

Which example would you think is faster to find the margin-right property?

Example #01
div#header h1 {
z-index: 101;
color: #000;
position: relative;
line-height: 24px;
margin-right: 48px;
border-bottom: 1px solid #dedede;
font-size: 18px;

Example #02
div#header h1 {
border-bottom: 1px solid #dedede;
color: #000;
font-size: 18px;
line-height: 24px;
margin-right: 48px;
position: relative;
z-index: 101;

You can’t tell me that Example 2 isn’t faster. By alphabetizing your properties, you are creating this consistency that will help you reduce the time you spend searching for a specific property.

I know some people who organize one way and others who organize another, but at my company, we made a consensus decision to all organize alphabetically. It has definitely helped when working with other people’s code. I cringe every time I go into a stylesheet where the properties are not sorted alphabetically.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Efficient CSS with shorthand properties

Efficient CSS with shorthand properties

I get a lot of questions about CSS from people who aren’t crazy enough to have spent the thousands of hours working with CSS that I have. Sometimes I’m asked to take a look at something they’re working on to see if I can figure out why it doesn’t work as expected. When I look at their CSS I often find that it’s both bloated and unorganised.

One of the reasons for using CSS to layout websites is to reduce the amount of HTML sent to site visitors. To avoid just moving the bloat from HTML to CSS, you should try to keep the size of your CSS files down as well, and I thought I’d explain my favourite CSS efficiency trick: shorthand properties. Most people know about and use some shorthand, but many don’t make full use of these space saving properties.

Some background

Shorthand properties can be used to set several properties at once, in a single declaration, instead of using a separate declaration for each individual property. As you’ll see, this can save a lot of space in your CSS file.

Quite a few shorthand properties are available – for details I suggest the W3C CSS specifications of the background, border, border-color, border-style, border sides (border-top, border-right, border-bottom, border-left), border-width, font, list-style, margin, outline, and paddingproperties.


The most common way of specifying a colour in CSS is to use hexadecimal notation: an octothorpe (#) followed by six digits. You can also use keywords and RBG notation, but I always use hexadecimal. One great shortcut that many don’t know about is that when a colour consists of three pairs of hexadecimal digits, you can omit one digit from each pair:

#000000 becomes #000, #336699 becomes #369.

Box dimensions

The properties that affect box dimensions share the same syntax: the shorthand property followed by one to four space separated values:

  • property:value1;

  • property:value1 value2;

  • property:value1 value2 value3;

  • property:value1 value2 value3 value4;

Which sides of the box the values affect depends on how many values you specify. Here’s how it works:

  • One value: all sides

  • Two values: top and bottom, right and left

  • Three values: top, right and left, bottom

  • Four values: top, right, bottom, left

Thinking of the face of a clock is an easy way of remembering which side each value affects. Start at 12 o’clock (top), then 3 (right), 6 (bottom), and 9 (left). You can also think of the TRouBLe you’ll be in if you don’t remember the correct order – I first saw this in Eric Meyer’s excellent book Eric Meyer on CSS.

Margin and padding

Using shorthand for these properties can save a lot of space. For example, to specify different margins for all sides of a box, you could use this:

  1. margin-top:1em;

  2. margin-right:0;

  3. margin-bottom:2em;

  4. margin-left:0.5em;

But this is much more efficient:

  1. margin:1em 0 2em 0.5em;

The same syntax is used for the padding property.


Borders are slightly more complicated since they can also have a style and a colour. To give an element a one pixel solid black border on all sides, you could use the following CSS:

  1. border-width:1px;

  2. border-style:solid;

  3. border-color:#000;

A more compact way would be to use the border shorthand:

  1. border:1px solid #000;

I always specify border values in that order:

  1. border:width style color;

Most browsers don’t care about the order, and according to the specification they shouldn’t, but I don’t see a reason for not using the same order as the W3C does in the specification. There’s always the chance of a browser being very strict about the order of shorthand values.

The same syntax can be used with the border-top, border-right, border-bottom, and border-left shorthand properties to define the border of any single side of a box.

You don’t have to specify all three values. Any omitted values are set to their initial values. The initial values are medium for width, none for style, and the value of the element’s color property for color.

How wide a medium border is depends on the user agent.

Note that since the initial value for style is none you do need to specify a style if you want the border to be visible.

The border-width, border-style, and border-color properties used in the first border example above are themselves shorthand properties. Their longhand alternatives are very rarely used, but they do exist:

  1. border-width:1px 2px 3px 4px;

is shorthand for

  1. border-top-width:1px;

  2. border-right-width:2px;

  3. border-bottom-width:3px;

  4. border-left-width:4px;

The border-style and border-color shorthands use the same syntax as border-width: the box dimensions syntax described above.

Using the various border shorthands can also save some typing when you want to give an element’s border different properties on different sides. These declarations will make an element’s right and bottom borders solid, black, and one pixel wide:

  1. border-right:1px solid #000;

  2. border-bottom:1px solid #000;

And so will these:

  1. border:1px solid #000;

  2. border-width:0 1px 1px 0;

First the borders on all sides are styled identically, and then the different widths are specified.


Another very useful shorthand property is background. Instead of using background-color, background-image, background-repeat, background-attachment, and background-position to specify an element’s background, you can use just background:

  1. background-color:#f00;

  2. background-image:url(background.gif);

  3. background-repeat:no-repeat;

  4. background-attachment:fixed;

  5. background-position:0 0;

can be condensed to

  1. background:#f00 url(background.gif) no-repeat fixed 0 0;

Like with the border shorthands the order of the values isn’t supposed to matter, but I’ve seen reports of early versions of Safari having problems when the values aren’t listed in the order used in the W3C specification, which is this:

  1. background:color image repeat attachment position;

Remember that when you give two values for position, they have to appear together. When using length or percentage values, put the horizontal value first.

As with the border and border sides properties, you don’t have to specify all values. If a value is omitted, its initial value is used. The initial values for the individual background properties are as follows:

  • color: transparent

  • image: none

  • repeat: repeat

  • attachment: scroll

  • position: 0% 0%

This means that it’s pointless to use the background shorthand without giving a value for either color or image – doing so would make the background transparent.

I almost always use the background shorthand to specify background colours for elements, since background:#f00; is the same as background-color:#f00;.

Remember that this will remove any background image specified by a previous rule. Consider these rules:

  1. p {

  2. background:#f00 url(image.gif) no-repeat;

  3. }

  4. div p {

  5. background:#0f0;

  6. }

All paragraphs not in a div element will have a background image and be red where the image doesn’t cover the background. Any paragraph that is in a div will have a green background, and no background image.


As with the background property, font can be used to combine several individual properties:

  1. font-style:italic;

  2. font-variant:small-caps;

  3. font-weight:bold;

  4. font-size:1em;

  5. line-height:140%;

  6. font-family:"Lucida Grande",sans-serif;

Can be combined into

  1. font:italic small-caps bold 1em/140% "Lucida Grande",sans-serif;

Again, when it comes to the order of the values, I see no reason not to use the order given by the W3C. Better safe than sorry.

When using the font shorthand you can omit any values except font-size and font-family – you always need to give values for those, and in that order. The initial values for the individual font properties are these:

  • font-style: normal

  • font-variant: normal

  • font-weight: normal

  • font-size: medium

  • line-height: normal

  • font-family: depends on the user agent


The shorthand property for ordered and unordered lists is list-style. I personally only use it to set the list-style-type property to none, which removes any bullets or numbering from the list:

  1. list-style:none;

instead of

  1. list-style-type:none;

You can also use it to set the list-style-position and list-style-image properties, so to specify that unordered lists should render their list item markers inside each list item, use an image for the list item markers, and use squares if that image is not available, the following two rules would do the same thing:

  1. list-style:square inside url(image.gif);

is shorthand for

  1. list-style-type:square;

  2. list-style-position:inside;

  3. list-style-image:url(image.gif);


The outline property is very rarely used, mainly because of its current poor browser support – as far as I know only Safari, OmniWeb and Opera currently support it. Anyway, using the individual properties you can define an outline like this:

  1. outline-color:#f00;

  2. outline-style:solid;

  3. outline-width:2px;

or like this:

  1. outline:#f00 solid 2px;

Outlines have some interesting characteristics that make them useful: unlike borders, they do not take up any space and are always drawn on top of a box. This means that hiding or showing outlines doesn’t cause reflow, and they don’t influence the position or size of the element they are applied to or that of any other boxes. Outlines may also be non-rectangular.

Referred from :

Organize CSS Properties Alphabetically

Which example would you think is faster to find the margin-right property?

Example 1


  1. div#header h1 {
  2. z-index: 101;
  3. color: #000;
  4. position: relative;
  5. line-height: 24px;
  6. margin-right: 48px;
  7. border-bottom: 1px solid #dedede;
  8. font-size: 18px;
  9. }

Example 2

  1. div#header h1 {
  2. border-bottom: 1px solid #dedede;
  3. color: #000;
  4. font-size: 18px;
  5. line-height: 24px;
  6. margin-right: 48px;
  7. position: relative;
  8. z-index: 101;
  9. }

You can’t tell me that Example 2 isn’t faster. By alphabetizing your properties, you are creating this consistency that will help you reduce the time you spend searching for a specific property.

I know some people who organize one way and others who organize another, but at my company, we made a consensus decision to all organize alphabetically. It has definitely helped when working with other people’s code. I cringe every time I go into a stylesheet where the properties are not sorted alphabetically.