Free For All Grab Bag: Fonts, Icons, QR Codes, and Illustrator Goodies

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Adobe Illustrator Plugin SubScribe Designer

SubScribe Designer is an extraordinarily useful—and therefore surprisingly free—plugin for Adobe Illustrator CS3, CS4, CS5, and CS6. (Note: At the time of this writing, the CS6 version is only for Mac, though the CS3–CS5 is available for Windows. Here’s hoping they catch up with a Windows CS6 version soon.)

Serious Illustrator users are probably already familiar with some of Astute Graphics’ other plugins. SubScribe might have slipped below your radar, however. If it has, don’t let it; this is a valuable tool, as you can see in the video.

SubScribe is actually a set of tools that streamline common Illustrator drawing tasks. For example, using one of the three new circle tools, you can quickly draw a circle by tangent, by single click and drag to describe the curvature desired, and with a rapid-fire method of creating two or three anchor points that SubScribe will automatically use to define the area of the circle. Similar tools allow you to quickly create arcs while other tools instantly add tangent or perpendicular lines from existing paths—a tremendous time saver. A favorite among those who do a lot of tracing and redrawing is the Orient tool. When one or more objects is undesirably rotated, the SubScribe Orient tool will fix the rotation. All you have to do is a draw a line or orientation matching the current (undesired) rotation or angle of the drawing; SubScribe will automatically rotate all objects until that orientation line reaches 0- or 90-degrees. No more guessing at rotation values or awkward guide-littered workarounds.

700 Icons and Counting

That’s what IconMonstr boasts—700 free icons and counting. This unique stock imagery site provides simple, iconic imagery for use in user experience design for mobile, Web, apps, and wherever else you might need simple, instantly recognizable graphics of everything from cut, copy, and paste images to flammable, poisonous, and shock hazard warnings.

40 Free Stylin’ Fonts

For a limited time—only through October 2012 apparently—Cult of Mac is giving away a set of 40 fonts free. These fonts are all licensed for commercial and personal use. They aren’t all winners—you’ll find the much maligned Papyrus and the clichéd Bleeding Cowboy in the set, for instance—but it’s still a great set with plenty of uses. Get it now while you can!

Creative and Brandable QR Codes

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve seen QR codes somewhere, whether on product packaging or business cards or stickers slapped on subway tunnel tiles. These little phone-scannable codes are highly useful, despite the jump-the-shark moment of QR codes foolishly being incorporated into highway billboards—as if drivers will somehow be able to scan those codes with their cell phones from 35–500 feet away while approaching at 55–75 MPH. QR codes typically contain URLs to Websites, apps within an app store, or e-mail addresses, but they can also contain a good deal more information, including phone numbers and other contact data and, for Android devices, even WiFi access point details. It’s even possible to incorporate your enter vcard-format contact details into a single QR code—think: your entire business card in a tiny graphic that, once scanned by a mobile, adds all your contact data directly into the recipient’s contacts list.

As useful as they are, however, standard black-on-white QR codes are kind of boring. They don’t have to be. Mobile devices can scan these codes in any contrasting color set, not just black on white, and, in fact, can scan them just fine even if multiple colors comprise the QR code. Oddly enough, in most cases, it isn’t necessary for the entire QR code to be scanned. That fact opens up a whole new world of creative and branding possibilities because, if parts of the code can be omitted or covered up, then logos and other artwork can be incorporated into those codes!

There are plenty of tools available to generate QR codes—some of which I’ve already covered in previous installments of Free for All. Recently I discovered QRHacker.com, an excellent free, browser-based tool that lets you generate QR codes from just about any snippet of information, and then customize the background and foreground colors, add photos and logos, and even paint each individual pixel of the QR code. When you’ve finished you may download the code as a PNG image, all without signing up. If you do signup for a free account you’ll be able to save your QR codes to the site’s online library and recall them later for further editing. From there, additional features such as the ability to create private codes and download vector-format codes are available as $59 and $99 annual upgrades.

What can I find free for you? Want more free fonts? More Photoshop brushes? How about more online applications that do this or that for free? Tell me in the comments what you’d like to see in future installments of Free for All, and I’ll do my best bloodhound impression to track it down for you.

Please note: Free for All will often link to resources hosted on external Web sites outside of the control of CreativePro.com. At any time those Web sites may close down, change their site or permalink structures, remove content, or take other actions that may render one or more of the above links invalid. As such neither Pariah S. Burke nor CreativePro.com can guarantee the availability of the third-party resources linked to in Free for All.

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