Why spend big bucks on graphics software when you can get many, if not most, of the same features from freeware? Here are three mui-expensive graphics apps and their free counterparts:Adobe Illustrator Available for Windows only, Creative Docs .NET (yeah, weird name) is a vector-based graphic design tool for creating illustrations, manuals, flow charts, icons, and the like. It offers advanced features like Bezier curves, styles, convert-to-curves, and curved-path text. Adobe Photoshop You've actually got two choices here: GIMP, which is available for all platforms, and Paint.NET, which is Windows-only. Both programs offer powerful, Photoshop-caliber image-editing tools, … Read more
Need to make a flow chart, a family tree, a diagram, or just plan the layout of your new apartment? Check out OmniGraffle, from the folks who make the classy OmniWeb browser. OmniGraffle offers all the tools you need to make professional-looking diagrams for any presentation you might have. Whether you're just sketching out ideas for a business plan or even planning an elaborate presentation, OmniGraffle helps you create a nice-looking diagram everyone will appreciate.
Still not sure if OmniGraffle is right for you? Download OmniGraffle and read our review.
Robert Rauschenberg died this year.
For now we have Robot Rauschenberg.
Well, technically speaking (which we try not to here), his name is Viktor.
Just one name, like only the finest artists, Viktor is a drawing and painting machine. He's made from bits taken from other machines, ones that were made for entirely different purposes. (I suppose he will one day describe them as his muses.)
Viktor is really an amalgam of ordinary design software and industrial motors of various kinds.
Instead of drawing graphs for presentations, Viktor creates art for the world. Or, at least, what … Read more
For years now, it generally has been accepted that the earliest known photographs made using easily repeatable techniques (photogenic drawings) were made about 1839. Some photographs had been made earlier, but they required extremely long exposures and were considered impractical. However, the world of photography might soon be turned on its head if a photogenic drawing that was recently removed from auction at Sotheby's turns out to have been made in 1802, as one photographic historian thinks it might.
Drawing has never been my strength. I love looking at art and can certainly appreciate an artist's skill and patience with creating something pleasing to the eye. But when it comes to putting a pen or brush to paper, I simply don't have the talent. I always admired my friends who had the gift of being able to draw, but it was a gift I never received. I'm sure there are many of us who have thought it would be nice to be able to draw at one time or another.
Fortunately artists (or maybe even just … Read more
The Genius MousePen 8x6 is a pressure-sensitive graphics tablet that lets you draw freehand in programs like Corel Painter. Usually such tablets start at around $80, and large ones like this run even higher, but Amazon has it for just $39.99 with free shipping.
I'm no tablet expert, but the reviews on Amazon and this one on About.com peg this as a pretty solid model (the ratings average 4 out of 5 stars). It features 1,024 pressure-sensitivity levels, a wireless pen, a wireless mouse, and a copy of the aforementioned Corel Painter. Although the specs indicate … Read more
Design collaboration service ConceptShare, which turns one years old next month, has launched the second version of its service today, along with an all new branded version for CorelDRAW users called CorelDRAWConceptShare.
We originally checked out its core service back in late November, and with today's release, the company has focused specifically on UI improvements to help its users get work done with "less clicks" than before. The new version also gives users more vertical workspace, to suit the needs of design users with vertical display configurations who previously had to make due with the mostly landscape-centric … Read more
It seems hard to believe that, well into the 21st century, so many offices still must keep fax machines to do business. But at least some manufacturers are trying to evolve their Paleolithic technology, whether by going mobile or making lattes. (A little perfume never hurts either.)
NEC is taking an even more ambitious route that, surprisingly, involves the most analog form of communication of all: handwriting. The SP-NA640 will scan the worst of your chicken scratchings or doodlings and send them to any mobile phone as an image document, even in color, according to Akihabara News. With such great … Read more
Whiteboarding tools associated with virtual conference solutions frequently don't offer an easy way to record what's being written down, or distribute it elsewhere after the fact. And for presenting, we're often limited to PowerPoints, video, or audio recordings--or sometimes a hodgepodge of all three at once. Enter Sketchcast, a happy medium between voice and whiteboard recording that the service coins as "Sketchcasts." Users can create their own audio-enriched doodle sessions for all to see, and embed them on blogs or Web sites to distribute their work.
Sketchcast creator Richard Ziade drummed up the idea after finding it cumbersome to spend the time blogging out his ideas, and equated his experiences in meeting rooms, with the potential for blog readership. At least that's the concept, anyway. If Sketchcasting has anything in common with Podcasting (which it does), both require your audience to absorb content in a linear fashion, which is far slower than giving someone several paragraphs of writing that they can peruse at their leisure. There's also the problem of indexing and searching the content, which (for now) is only made possible with tags and user-submitted descriptions.
As a tool, Sketchcast gives users a massive color pallet to choose from, along with an eraser and text tool. All three of the tools can be summoned or dismissed in an instant with keyboard shortcuts, which is a big help to power users. The recording feature is also incredibly simple to use, and can be paused at any time if you need time to draw out your next slide. When finished, the tool gives you the standard smattering of links, including a simple URL, e-mail link, and embed code. Videos are broken down into four categories, including one just for tutorials. The service also is also set up to support user ratings (on a five-star scale), and comments that show up just like they do on YouTube.
I'd definitely recommend giving Sketchcast a spin, if only to play with its editor, which is incredibly simple and fun to use (Ed: It requires registration to use.) As for its worth as a blogging tool, I can only say that preparing a proper Sketchcast takes more of my, and likely more of my reader's, time, which is hardly a suitable replacement for text--as much as it is a complement to whatever is being written. I've embedded an example Sketchcast after the break.