Free For All: Harvest These Freebies
Take Your Publications Beyond Print and PDF
InDesign and QuarkXPress are the tools of choice for creating a multiple-page publication destined for print or PDF, but neither is of much use when those publications are headed elsewhere. And yet, with the growing popularity of digital magazines, books, and slideshows, you've got to think outside the traditional output media. Of the online applications that are cropping up for this purpose, FormatPixel is among the most promising.
With tools and controls akin to pro page-layout apps, FormatPixel lets you lay out a multi-page document in a Web browser. You add, remove, and rearrange pages in a PageMaker-like organizer that beats anything in InDesign and XPress. You can insert and format text and graphics; add FLV video files; change object blending modes; and position and layer objects with full transparency support.
When you're done, your FormatPixel project can be viewed on the Web -- either in FormatPixel's gallery or embedded in your own site. Your project will appear like a magazine, with two-page spreads, automatic page numbering, and page-turning animations that are classy and minimalist.
With the free "Vanilla" FormatPixel service, you can create one project up to 512KB in size. From there, paid packages come in different flavors (literally), such as the "Apple" 5-project, 5MB account for £15 PA (about US$25); up to the £40/$66 "Chocolate" plan with 20 projects and 20MB of storage.
Photoshop actions are macros; that is, recorded series of commands and settings that automate just about any task or series of tasks in Photoshop. They're so flexible that many can take the place of expensive plug-ins.
I've compiled six photo-processing actions and six effects-based actions. After downloading, extract each and move the .ATN files into the Presets\Actions folder under your installation of Photoshop (in the Applications folder on a Mac or under Program Files\Adobe\ on Windows). Most, if not all, of these 12 actions should work equally well in Photoshop CS, CS2, CS3, and CS4.
It's already been three months since the all-fonts edition of Free for All, and I think it's time for some more free fonts. Yes, I pointed you to more than 300 free fonts in last month's special Halloween edition, but those fonts are specific to Halloween and Saimhain. Let's get 15 more general-purpose free fonts into your library.
Lacuna [At the Flash-based Web site, click "Type Design" and then "Lacuna." The download links for Mac and PC are at the bottom.]:
Generate Color Palettes from an Image
When I first saw this freebie, I nearly passed it by. It analyzes a photograph and generates a color palette file comprised of the colors complementary to those in the photo. "Eh," I thought. "Anyone can build a palette of colors in a few minutes with the Eyedropper tool and Color panel." In the interests of being thorough, however, I gave the Pictaculous palette generator a try, and it really surprised me with its utility.
I uploaded a photo of a pier at sunset, and within seconds Pictaculous returned a nice selection of five colors, along with related color suggestions from Kuler and ColourLovers. It then let me download a Photoshop .ACO swatch file. Try it yourself!
Still looking for a perfect online invoicing option? Check out Zoho. Although the free account is limited to only five invoices per month, that just might be enough if you're lucky enough to have a few big accounts. All other features of the free account are the same as paid accounts: the ability to send estimates and invoices as PDFs; invoice tracking and overdue reminders; recurring invoices for, say, site maintenance contracts; and automatic currency conversion for clients in different countries.
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.