I’m into graphics on the Mac. Not in a big, huge, Photoshop way. I’m more of the bargain basement girl.
Here’s a few of what I use to make graphics that make my friends nauseous.
Seriously. It happens. Some people have talent and some want to have talent. We’re wannabes.
I want to have graphics talent. Some people want me to have it, too. They know I don’t. Oh, how they know.
Yes, I bought Photoshop. It was one of the first Creative Suite versions of Photoshop and Illustrator. It was an upgrade, so it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. It was mostly leg.
Unfortunately, Photoshop users live in Photoshop world which somehow requires 12 hours a day of Photoshop use.
Honestly, I think the CS version comes with a meter.
If you don’t use Photoshop a required number of hours each day, an alarm goes off, then sends an alert to your friends who come over to laugh at your attempts to create a graphic.
Seriously. I’m sure that’s happened more than once.
Since Photoshop Creative Suite One, there’s been a Two, and a Three is on the way to power graphic pros using Intel Macs.
What I’ve been doing the past few years is collecting additional graphic tools to complement my Photoshop prowess.
What that means, since I have no Photoshop prowess, is that my complementary tools are the antithesis of Photoshop.
They’re cheap. Of course, nearly anything is cheaper than Photoshop.
For example, I work with friends on their web sites, helping out with graphics in exchange for food and a chance to use their washer and dryer.
Usually, they don’t ask me back to help them, but I managed to have enough friends to keep the baby Kayhill in nearly white diapers.
One of my favorite Mac apps is iPalette, which converts colors to either hex or RGB values. That’s handy because I absolutely cannot remember all those little numbers and letters and things.
The latest version of iPalette is somewhat unique. Yes, it’s a Universal Binary so it works well in PPC and Intel Macs.
There’s a few odd improvements here and there, and some features that were removed from the earlier version. Go figure and don’t ask.
Also on my list of free graphic tools is iPick. It does about the same thing as iPalette but also has a nice theme generator.
That brings up an interesting point about graphic tools. I have no ear for music, and no eye for colors. I’d be willing to pay for an application that helps me do colors.
The fact that iPick can create eye pleasing, and web matching colors with a click just sends me into a graphics high. iPick is PPC only.
I’ve written about Image Tricks before. I like it because, well, yes, it’s free, it’s from an excellent Mac developer (BeLight Software), but it does things which I just can’t do in Photoshop.
My friends tell me that everything Image Tricks does can be done better in Photoshop. If they were true friends, wouldn’t they just do all those things for me?
After all, a person can only point and click just so much, you know?
That’s the problem. Photoshop requires not only a lot of pointing and clicking, which I can do, but Adobe expects you to actually know what to point and click.
Sorry. No can do. Beautiful graphics and effects has to be easier than that.
Image Tricks takes your photos and adds special effects. It’s that simple.
Instead of 23 layers and 19 Actions to get something done, Image Tricks requires a click. Multiple clicks gets you that many multiple effects.
For example, a photo can have a blur applied, a distortion added, Crystalized, Moasic imposed, halftones, tiled, Kaleidoscoped, and cropped.
Once you’ve clicked yourself into a frenzy and the end result is a graphic that won’t scare little neighbor kids and pets, it can be exported in a bunch of compatible formats.
Choose your poison. TIFF, JPG, PDF, PNG, GIF. What else do you need?
No list of free graphic tools would be complete without a digital ruler and something to help you move our graphics. Like a baby bowel movement, but with bits instead of what Cap’n Crunch cereal does to a child’s diapers.
Free Ruler is and does what it says. It’s free, so we’re half way there. It’s also a ruler. Free Ruler sits on top of your application, whatever it is, Photoshop, a web page, whatever, and rules things.
Actually, it’s a pixel ruler and lets you measure vertical and horizontally, all the pixels you can’t eyeball with as much accuracy.
In my case, that would be most of the pixels on screen. Hey, those things are small.
Once I’ve created my graphic masterpiece, and my friends have stopped laughing, and the baby’s quit crying (I call it Mommy’s Graphic Colic Child), you need to move that image.
What better way than Image Well from XtraLean. It’s like a well. You drop in your images and wish something could be done.
Otherwise, you drop your images into Image Well and resize, crop, shape, rotate, add a watermark, even dialog balloons.
Yeah, it’s all the same stuff you could do in Photoshop for $700 and two years of education at a local junior college, but point and click is so much more satisfying.
Did I mention that Image Well moves images? Yes, you can upload your finished product to a .Mac account or an FTP server.
Repeat after me. Point and click and free. Point and click and free.
OK, just in case you feel my graphics talent isn’t sufficient to entire you to deal with non-professional products on your Mac, let me clue you in on one of the best commercial apps in my Mac graphics bag.
GraphicConverter. Yes, I admit it. I paid money for this little jewel. I’m not too proud to say it. For $30 there is nothing quite so powerful that it rivals Photoshop output.
Well, it rivals any output I’d make of an attempt to use Photoshop. You get the picture.
GraphicConverter is the Swiss Army Knife of graphic tools at a French Army Knife price.
It does everything. Download it, try it out for the try-out period, let me know how it goes.
That’s just a few of the nifty neato free or low cost Mac applications that make me the graphics babe of the neighborhood.
What’s on your list? Got a great tool you can’t live without? Share with the Mac360 crowd.