Free For All: Resources for Creative Pros
Print Design Templates
Nick Pagano's basic print design templates are handy resources to have. They're based on standard sized print documents such as business cards, letterhead, CD covers, posters, billboards, flyers, and brochures. Each includes crop, bleed, trim, and live area guides, and many, where folding is necessary, score lines.
Available in both Adobe Illustrator native and EPS format, the templates are ready for use in a vector drawing application and for placement into InDesign and QuarkXPress.
Don't use templates yourself? You still might find a use for these. Nick encourages print shops and other providers to distribute the templates to clients as guides for submitted art.
Easy Multiple Image Duplicates in Photoshop
In Photoshop, working on a duplicate of an image lets you safely try out major changes without fear of losing your original work. The Image > Duplicate command is also quite handy when you're prepping an original, full-sized, layered, RGB or Lab image for specific media output and want to change the resolution or color space or flatten the layers without risking the original image.
One drawback, though, is that the Image > Duplicate command creates a single copy at a time. Sometimes you need multiple copies of the same image.
Enter Steve Wareham's handy little Photoshop script, MultiDup. Executing MultiDup from Photoshop's File > Scripts menu will prompt you for the number of duplicates you'd like, and then it will make them; if you want 10 duplicates of the current image, it's a one step operation to get 10 new versions opened and ready to be altered.
Visit the script's page on Steve's site to download and learn how to install the MultiDup script. Note that Steve's main focus on the page is to show you how to write the script yourself; look in the sidebar under "Script Files" for the link to download it. Just remember to change the extension of the downloaded file from TXT to JS before installing it into Photoshop's Scripts folder.
Small-Business Bookkeeping Help
Freelancers and small studio owners know that the least-exciting part of running a business is the bookkeeping. There are quarterly taxes to pay, with as many legal deductions as humanly possible. You need to track your business spending and your income. And, again, those dreaded taxes.
Quickbooks is arguably the best-of-breed bookkeeping software on the market. Yet QuickBooks, and its competitors, require you to manually feed them data. What happens if you forget to include income delivered to your PayPal account? Your profit and loss reports will be off, and you might also run afoul of the IRS. Though forgetting to include deductable expenditures won't bother the IRS in the least, it will bother your bottom line. Sole proprietors and freelancers sometimes co-mingle business and personal expenses, like the printer ink you picked up at Target while getting your prescription and toothpaste. Even if, come tax time, you remember that expenditure, the temptation is to just leave it off -- especially if you have to take the time to recalculate sales tax on the specific items. None of the commercial bookkeeping programs can do anything about forgotten income or expenses, nor can they automatically separate business and personal expenditures in the same sale.
Outright, however, can do all of that and more. And Outright is free.
All you have to do is provide Outright with your bank, PayPal, and credit card account information, and this free Web-based bookkeeping service will do the rest, automatically. You can even ask it to track financial transactions logged to online invoicing service FreshBooks, Shoeboxed receipts, and cash expenses logged on your mobile device with Xpenser. Outright tracks every deposit or credit, every expense, and identifies those that are business expenses -- all on autopilot. It even keeps a running estimate of your taxes and deductions. As the deadline for quarterly and yearly taxes approach, Outright will generate for you tax reports and filings and, if you need them, 1099s for your contractors. Again, all of it automatically and free.
Of course, no software should be fully trusted to handle your finances without human oversight. You'll want to use services like Outright for the heavy lifting, but have its results scrutinized by a trained professional before you file. That's why Outright offers additional services for your accountant, bookkeeper, or tax professional. Your trained expert can ensure that everything is accounted for, that you've gotten every deduction you can, right in the Outright bookkeeping software. From there, he or she can either generate your tax filings from Outright or export the data and bring it into his or her own tax preparation software.
HTML Color Chart and Cheat Sheet
[Editor's note: The website that hosted this chart is undergoing changes, so as of July 30, 3010, the chart is not available from the original location. Instead, you can download it from http://www.creativepro.com/files/downloads/html_colors_cheatsheet.pdf.].
Whether you're a full time Web designer or a print designer dipping your toes into Web or mobile design, getting to the HTML/hex code for just the right color can be a bit of a challenge. It's easy to remember that #000000 is black and #FFFFFF is white, but what hex code will produce a vibrant blue violet (#4D4DA4) or bright green (#B6FF4D)? Charts and cheat sheets definitely help in this area, and the one produced by A Coding Fool is among the best I've ever seen -- free or otherwise.
This well-designed, downloadable (and printable) PDF chartcontains 1,050 colors arranged by hue, saturation, and brightness into triangles. Every color swatch contains its HTML color code in red, green, and blue hex code values. In the free space on the single-page chart are additional diagrams of the 216 colors in the Web-safe color palette and the 16 most-common greyscale colors.
Plant and Shrub Textures
Max Stanworth once again wows with this collection of 15 vegetation photo textures. Each image is large and high resolution at 3,264 x 2,448 pixels and 14 MB per file. They're free for both commercial and non-commercial use.
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.