One set of my favorite plugin developers, MacPhun, has released an article on their blog about the expected changes in the upcoming MacOS Sierra. While I’m usually quite hesitant to upgrade my OS (I don’t like buying software upgrades for my existing apps – and what happened with Mavericks and it’s lack of video codecs is inexcusable), some of the revelations about the new Mac native photography apps are intriguing.

I skipped Mountain Lion, I’ve skipped El Capitan – but I might consider Sierra (after a good, long, healthy wait to the .2 update version).

Check out their article at: MacPhun

As my Photoshop students have already learned, brushes can be made using any set of pixels and can be manipulated almost unendingly with the Brush panel. But sometimes, it’s very helpful to have a starting point. Grutbrushes.com provides some beautifully made starting points! The detail and settings of his brushes are unique in their realism and detail in use. They work well with just a mouse, but like any brush, take on their real strengths when using a pen tablet like the Wacom brand of tablets.

Normally, I pass by a lot of the ads I see on Facebook, but a few months ago, I decided to click on one and found an excellent resource.

At Grutbrushes.com, the (very responsive) developer Nicolai has made sets of brushes, ranging from inks to calligraphy, to natural media, and more. He even provides a Photoshop Extension to open a panel in which you can organize your brushes into sets as you like them. Just recently, I used just one of his cloud brushes in a project, and created very realistic clouds. He offers a LOT of freebies, and if you sign up for his email list, you can get even more. He sells sets of them as well. His full set is a VERY reasonable $22.

Remember, all of the brushes are just starting points – Presets – from which you can use the Photoshop Brushes panel to manipulate them, resize them and alter how they work.

You all know, I LOVE Free stuff – and here, there’s a plethora of freebies along with the paid content. I think any Photoshop user will find a great deal of use and enjoyment of these. Plan on seeing some lessons on this within a few weeks.

Grutbrushes.com

 

Topaz Labs Photoshop Plugins   August 16th, 2016

As I mentioned, I’d be discussing some Photoshop plugins. One of the first I’ll be discussing is a set of plugins from Topaz Labs. This software has a zillion modules and excellent tools, from Image Effects, to retouching to masking. I’ll be reviewing a bunch of these shortly, but in the meantime, here’s a link that’ll get you a $20 credit for whatever product you buy. I own the whole set, and one of my favorite things about these guys is that once you buy a plugin, the upgrades are FREE for LIFE. Check them out HERE!

Download.com has negotiated a deal with Adobe for the Adobe CC Photography Plan (Photoshop CC and Lightroom). Instead of $9.99/mo the first year of the plan, they’re offering 20% off the first year of the plan, so your first year is $7.99/mo (and will go up to $9.99/mo after that). This offer is valid through June 30th, so take a look!

https://creative.adobe.com/promo/downloadccpp

By the way, this may be more important than you think… Adobe seems to have just announced that their Trial versions will no longer be valid for 30 days, but for only 7 days. See a future post for more info on that one!

For the love of Typography   April 2nd, 2016

As most of my design and graphics students know, I’m a bit of a type geek. In almost every class, even if it’s not in our regular syllabus, I try to include at least a brief introduction to Type as Design – or, Typography. 

And, you probably also know how I stress the idea of kerning – the way individual letterforms fit together, as a method of refining your work, adding a cohesive look and confirming that you’ve taken some time and put in some effort at making your type look good, as well as read well.

Today, I found an excellent infographic at Digital Synopsis.com, that may help you to make better decisions about how to improve your Headers, your Titles, and all display type. Take a look!

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 1.37.40 PMToday, March 31st, 2016, is WORLD BACKUP DAY!!!

Many of you in both my live and online classes have heard me, very strongly, tell you to BACKUP your data! As I’ve mentioned before, the only time you miss having a backup is when you need it and don’t have it. 

I always recommend more than one method of backup, just to be safe. Hard drive space has become very reasonably inexpensive, and cloud space can often be had for FREE (my 2nd favorite price, as I often say) ?

Some strategies you might mix and match:

  • A CLONED backup of your system, or just your startup drive. Cloning is creating an exact replica of your hard drive (please note, for this discussion, I’m not referring to “Disk Imaging”, which creates what is essentially a zipped file of your cloned hard drive, but doesn’t use the suffix .zip). You need a hard drive with space that matches the size of the drive you’re backing up for this. As for software, Windows users have the options of Macrium Reflect Free, Paragon Backup and Recovery (Advanced) Free  ,   Acronis True Image 2016 (not free), and several others. I do a weekly clone of my startup drive, so that in the case of disaster, my system is only one week behind. However, please note that I do the next strategy daily.
    For Mac users, there’s DejaVu, Carbon Copy Cloner, Super Duper!, Data Backup, along with many others . Note that there no longer seems to be much FREE cloning software for Mac, but that’s because the MacOS has Time Machine built in – we’ll discuss that momentarily. With any application you choose, I recommend getting one with the following features:

    • Exact duplicate clone capabilities
    • Creation of a bootable backup (contains the files necessary to start from and use the backup drive, should your original drive go “bad”)
    • Duplication of the startup drives “Recovery Drive” feature (I know Carbon Copy Cloner does this on the Mac, but am unsure what does in the Windows world)
    • The ability to SCHEDULE your backups on a regular basis – so that you don’t have to remember to do them – your system does it automatically.
  • A duplicate backup of all my “Work” drives, which includes my USER FOLDER from my startup drive. I do this nightly, scheduled with the same backup software I use for my weekly backup of the startup drive. Every night, the drives (or folders) that contain my daily changes are duplicated to a secondary drive. Note that my user folder is in there, so if I ever need to reinstall from my cloned drive back to a new hard drive, I can also move my user folder into place, and my emails and documents, etc. are up to date. On this drive, I don’t duplicate my startup drive. Since I have several drives in my computer, I need quite a large capacity drive for this backup. However, since it only changes the file that have been changed that day, the backup process is quite quick.
  • Mac users may also take advantage of the MacOS built in “Time Machine”. This requires quite a lot of storage space, but it does an hourly (give or take) backup of all changes made to your system. The advantage of this is that you can store and restore files from many months back, in case a file gets corrupted, accidentally deleted, or just plain messed up. The DISadvantage to this is that the drive is not bootable (you can’t start your computer from it), so there’s downtime if you must replace your original hard drive, while Time Machine copies your files back to the drive.
  • ONLINE backup into the “cloud” is also a great option. Some systems automatically upload your files to their cloud, but you may need to pay for the service. Please note that these will NOT backup your system files, so an Operating System reinstallation would be required). But, your work files will be saved offsite, which is always safe. Nowadays, there are what seem to be a Zillion choices out there for this service. One popular service is Carbonite, and another is Backblaze, there’s also iDrive,  CrashPlan,  Pogoplug (I love this option, because it also offers a hardware “personal cloud”)….. I could go on for days on this. Some of these plans offer a free option for a small amount of space. In addition, there are FREE:
    • Dropbox – 2GB – file size limit 10GB
    • Box.com – 50GB – file size limit 250MB
    • OneDrive Windows – 5GB – file size limit 10GB – or 1TB with an Office 365 plan
    • Google Drive – 15GB – file size limit – varies – but up to 5TB for non-converted files
    • Verizon Cloud – 5GB – 1200KB from phone
    • Amazon Cloud (w/ Prime) – 5GB for video and files, unlimited for photos – file size limit 2GB
    • Copy.com – 15GB no max file size limit
    • hubiC – 25GB Free – got 30GB with code

Oh, and DON’T FORGET TO BACKUP YOUR CELL PHONE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS. Use a cloud to do automatic uploads, use iTunes, or whatever software you have to get those photos on your harddrive and back THOSE up. I’ve seen such sadness when someone loses their phone, corrupts the data, accidentally resets the phone… PLEASE remember that those photos will not be easy to recover, if they’re recoverable at all.

In my line of work, there’s been a lot of money to be made by people having NOT backed up their data – please save yourself the money of data recovery, the heartache of lost files and work. Find a strategy that suits you and remember to BACK UP!!!

Oh, and if you ever do need to have data recovered, I do recommend DriveSavers, in Novato, CA. Their “cleanroom” work is the best in the business. If you ever need a discount, please feel free to use my code DS16297.

****Broken hard drive image, courtesy of DriveSaversDataRecovery.com

Today, Google announced that their excellent Photoshop Plugin “The Nik Collection” is going to be free to everybody.

This excellent collection includes: Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine – professional level controls to refine your images. I’ve been using it for several years (along with some other plugin sets) for efficient control over my effects, sharpening, noise removal and more.

For those of us who use Photoshop on a regular basis, getting this (previously $149) plugin for FREE is a boon!

Check out their post at: https://plus.google.com/+NikCollection/posts/AFGsG2Di7EK

As almost all of my students know, I’m a bit of a type geek. So, imagine how fulfilled my inner geek feels, when I find blog post about Typefaces, Type Structure, Type families, Type anatomy, and Type Classification, the use of Type in Paragraphs, Typographic Terms like kerning and spacing, Page Layout and Type, and so much more!

Although this article is written with a focus on software development, the article is about DESIGN. Knowing what you’re using, and why. As I always say “in design, you can always break the rules, but first you have to know what the rules are!”

I seriously recommend this article to all my design students, my motion graphics students, my still image students, and anyone else who feels that Type is more than just a way to make a word show up.

http://www.imaginarycloud.com/blog/a-typography-workshop/?ref=webdesignernews.com

Today, many Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers (and subscribers to other sites who do business with Adobe) got emails with the subject line “Take 10 free images on us”, with a link to the Adobe Stock site.

While this is a great offer for those who want access to very good Stock Imagery, please be aware that this offer is not anything new or interesting – it’s simply a “First Month’s Free” offer.

In order to get your “Free” images, you need to sign up for their basic 10 images/month plan, with recurring payments of $29.99/mo. Then, they’ll credit you the first month. At that time, if you don’t cancel your plan, you’re going to continue to be billed $30/monthly.

Adobe Stock is a great plan for those who need these images, and the pricing is reasonable as far as the market goes. But it’s important to make sure that you know what you’re signing up for.

 

.ScreenShot2016-02-16

No More ROBOCALLS!   December 8th, 2015

I wanted to thank my friend, Lora? for introducing me to NoMoRobo.com. This free service blocks robocalls – and I get a TON of those – and I HATE them! I signed up for the service on Thursday (it’s limited as to who has access to the service – mostly VOIP and Digital Phone accounts – no cellular or landline holders – I have FiOS Digital Voice). The only notification you get is that the phone rings once, then stops ringing.

Of course, I was concerned that it might be blocking legit calls, but I’ve checked Fios, and all the calls seem to be real junk.

I haven’t yet checked if it’s gonna block things like Kaiser’s machine calls, but in my comments here, I’m going to attach a link to an article that talks about the technology behind the service. I feel confident that this is gonna work just fine. Check them out! They’re FREE!