Free For All: I Can't Believe They Give This Away!

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Batch Resize Images
Need to resize a bunch of raster images en masse? You can always whip up a Photoshop action and use it in a batch operation, but there's an even easier method -- particularly if you also want to convert the resized images to Web-ready JPG, GIF, or PNG. Shrink O'Matic is a tiny Adobe AIR application that runs on Windows and Mac OS X. Add source images by browsing for a folder or simply dragging and dropping images directly into the application, and Shrink O'Matic will scale them down by ratio or to a maximum height and/or maximum width; rename and number the results; and even convert the file format to JPG, GIF, or PNG, all in one operation. With a slider to control the output quality of JPGs, Shrink O'Matic is great for readying online portfolio images. Unfortunately, it offers no options for GIF and PNG export.

DVD, CD, and Case Templates in Photoshop PSD Format
Templates for DVD and CD labels, and DVD and CD cases, are all over the place and nearly all free. However, the seven templates below are not your average free templates. Not only are they native Photoshop PSD file formats, filled with easy-to-modify layers, smart objects, and often vector elements, but they're also cooler than the average template. They're custom designed by working creative pros and released for royalty free use in your own projects.

Download DVD Label by Niklas Olofsson, 2N2:Media
Download DVD Case Inlay by Niklas Olofsson, 2N2:Media
Download DVD Case Template by Mauricio Estrella
Download DVD Cover Template by Alan880
Download DVD Plastic Case by Mauricio Estrella
Download Paper DVD/CD Case by Don Haney, TRD Productions
Download CD Jewel Case by Dennis van Lith
Vector Clipart
To paraphrase the site's tagline, Vecteezy has a stupid name but is a fantastic resource for free vector clipart. There you'll find everything from holiday clipart to religious iconography, abstract background patterns to precisely rendered device schematics, tattoo-ready skulls to cartoonish pandas, people silhouettes to sports car clip art. Vecteezy's entire library of resolution-independent vector art is available for free download in EPS and Adobe Illustrator AI formats.

Online Diagramming and Flowcharting
I've tried various flowcharting and diagramming tools but have always deemed them too left-brained. If that's you, too, then you might like this recent find. LovelyCharts.com is a Web-based, full-featured diagramming and flowcharting application with a designer-friendly user interface. Its conventions and controls even feel like those in core designer apps. For instance, each object has a bounding box with control corners. Drag a control corner to resize the object and hold SHIFT while dragging to resize the object proportionately. Drag around your view of the canvas by holding the Spacebar, just like any Adobe application.

You can select a shape or symbol from the extensive library, drag it to the work area, and type its name. Connect two or more symbols by clicking on them with the Create & Connect tool; the application automatically draws connecting lines that are perfectly aligned with objects. Easy to navigate dropdown menus let you change arrow and object size, shape, color, and fonts. When you're done, export your chart as a JPG or PNG, or save it to LovelyCharts.com and share the URL of your diagram with clients and colleagues.

Be sure to watch the 90-second introductory video to get your first session up and running fast.

Tartan Maker
Every once in a while I like to point out an application or resource that fulfills an obscure function you might need only once in a while. This next one I need only once a decade, but boy is it helpful then!

In my 20+ years in graphic design and illustration, I've needed a Tartan pattern twice. Both times, I created the pattern from scratch in Illustrator. Trying even slight variations to band width and thread pattern required major path revisions. A tool like TartanMaker.com would have saved me time and headache.

This Flash-powered tool creates tileable tartan patterns with controls to change the color and thickness of up to three color bands, as well as the overall yarn size and orientation -- either horizontal and vertical stripes or diagonal. After previewing the resulting pattern on screen, you can fine-tune it or download it as a raster PNG image. It's for those rare occasions when you need a Tartan pattern. Though with such an easy tool, you might find yourself turning to Tartans more often.

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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