Archive for the ‘Linux Graphics’ Category

Police Sketch Artist

Friday, October 21st, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Windows
screenshot of Identikit

If you're a fan of the police drama on television, you may marvel as the ability of the detectives to solve their cases by the final commercial. Or you may sit there scratching you head wondering "why didn't they pick up on THAT clue?". One of the resources they rely on is the police sketch artist. Given just a few pieces of information, these forensic artists put together a drawing of the suspect, leading to their ultimate capture and arrest. So how would you like to give it a try, but without all that pesky training and such?

Identikit is an app that lets you put together drawings of faces similarly to how those artists do it. Working with nose, eyes, eyebrows, and mouth, you can change the shape of the face, move items relative to each other, and even add hair. Add your own elements if you like. And at the end, you'll have your sketch. While it may not be enough to put the bad guys away, you'll at least have a greater appreciation for the work those artists, and their real-life counterparts, do.

Identikit is a free download. It's a Java app, so should be able to run on any system with the appropriate Java runtime.

Download Identikit

Printable Luggage Tags

Monday, June 27th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Printable Luggage Tags

If you're going on a trip, you're going to bring luggage. Unless you can live for a day or a week with just a toothbrush shoved in your pocket, you'll want to have a change of clothes or two, some toiletries, as well as a camera, sporting goods, and other toys. Take those suitcases, trunks, and duffel bags and pack them full of stuff, and head off to the terminal. Whether you check your bags or try to stick them under the seat in front of you, you need to identify them—after all, everybody else has that same exact bag that you have. Time for a luggage tag or two.

Printable Luggage Tags offers a big range of luggage tags you can download, personalize, and print. Choose from luggage tags with animal themes, images from nature, sports, or plain old luggage tags. Luggage tags come ten to a page and can be printed on heavy paper or on special business card stock. Choose from PDF versions to print out and enter your information by hand, or grab a Word DOC version, where you can type your name and contact information into the luggage tags before you print them out.

Printable Luggage Tags are free to download, so grab as many as you need. And bon voyage.

Download Printable Luggage Tags

Add a border to your digital images

Friday, May 27th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of BorderMaker

Sometimes what a picture really needs to set it off is a nice frame. Look at all the framing shops that have spring up over the past several years to see how important that can be. So if you've got a Picasso sitting in the corner collecting dust, it's easy to grab it and head off to get it framed. But what about the digital images on your computer? While they may not be the next Matisse, they might look better wrapped in a nice frame. Unfortunately, you're probably going to have a problem jamming that picture frame into your computer.

BorderMaker might be the alternative you're looking for. Rather than shoving a bunch of fancy molding into your hard drive, this app will help you craft the just-right border your digital images need. You decide the size and shape you want, and before you know it, your pictures are all fancied up. If you like, you can also add text and titles ("How I Spent My Summer Vacation"), or watermark them with your copyright information, or even all the vital info regarding camera settings when you took that great shot.

BorderMaker is a free download. It's available for Linux, Mac, and Windows machines.

Download BorderMaker

Image converter and resizer

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of XnConvert

Some big jobs require a fully-packed toolbox and a highly-trained mechanic; other somewhat smaller undertakings can be completed with nothing more complicated than the screwdriver from the kitchen junk drawer and the neighbor kid. If you've got big image manipulation tasks to take care of, you probably want Photoshop, GIMP, or some other similar full-featured app; but if your needs are more modest, you might get away with something a bit smaller.

XnConvert is a tool you can use to tweak your digital images. Not a full-on image editor, you can use it to resize, rotate, and watermark your images, as well as playing with brightness, shadows, and more. It supports hundreds of image formats (I didn't know there were hundreds of image formats), so you probably can't find a file it won't handle. And it's cross-platform, running on Linux, Mac, and Windows machines, with both 32- and 64-bit flavors, and has been localized for over a dozen languages.

XnConvert is a free download.

Download XnConvert

Screenshots with annotations

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Owely

It can be handy to capture what you see on your screen. You might want to document something interesting you found on a web site, or some funny message you see on a desktop app. Most operating systems let you grab a piece of your display's real estate, but it's not always the easiest—or most intuitive—thing that you'll do today. It can involve a couple of arcane commands and a few not-so-often used apps. Or you can check out Owely.

With Owely, you can grab a piece of your screen, which is convenient enough, but then you can add to it. Crop your image to keep only the important stuff; annotate your screenshot to show people what it is you're trying to point out to them with text, shapes, or even hand-drawn lines, arrows, and such. And when you're all done, it's easy to upload your masterpiece, so that everybody else can see what you've done.

Owely is available for Linux, Mac (10.5, Intel only), and Windows (2000 and later).

Download Owely

A new way of designing websites

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of The Square Grid

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) give you great control over how your web pages are going to look. Back in the day, if you had some real preferences over what went where on a page, you had to enter the world of tables nested inside of tables, and that wasn't pretty for anybody. With the advent of CSS, there was a real break between content and presentation, and everybody's code was dramatically cleaner. Nice. But frankly it can still be rather complicated to make sure that the right bits hit the page in the right place.

The Square Grid is a framework that greatly simplifies the process of creating CSS-driven websites. It consists of a set of templates and worksheets to use in laying out your pages. Sketch sheets let you design on paper with pencil. Template files for Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, let you set up your pages with your favorite graphics tool, and a style file has all the parameters you need to implement your design on your actual pages.

You can grab your copy of The Square Grid for free.

Download The Square Grid

Tool enlarges bitmap images

Friday, October 1st, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of SmillaEnlarger

They say good things come in small packages. While that may be true, sometimes those good things are too small to really work with. Take a small image file, for example. That may be the finest photo, drawing, or icon around, but if it's too small to really see, it's not going to do anybody any good. We all get spam email about helping to enlarge, umm, certain things all the time, but what about a tool to enlarge images?

SmillaEnlarger is an app that helps you make small pictures big. While there are lots of tools you can use to accomplish this task, generally the quality of your images takes such a hit that you'd be better served to just squint and try to do with best you can with the original. This app employs some technical sleight-of-hand to render your enlargements much clearer than you might expect.

You can grab SmillaEnlarger for Linux, Mac, or Windows systems.

Download SmillaEnlarger

Free CAD tool helps you design circuit boards

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of EAGLE

Some tools are designed for general use. A car will take you to work, or to the store, or over the river and through the woods to visit Grandma. A word processor can draft a letter, write a report, or any of a zillion other uses. Other tools are designed for a specific purpose—not too many things you can do with a fire extinguisher other than the obvious. Some software applications are designed for specific purposes as well.

EAGLE (Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor) is a CAD (computer aided design) program. Like the drafting table and T-square of yesteryear, these types of apps help you in putting together mechanical drawings. While that in itself may seem fairly specialized, EAGLE is even more tightly focused than that: it's designed specifically to draw electrical and electronic schematics and design circuit boards. Instead of having to break out a pad of graph paper, shape templates, and a well-sharpened pencil, you can put your circuits together on your computer. It's a lot easier to make revisions when there's not danger of rubbing a hole through your paper with an eraser. EAGLE combines the ability to lay out physical components as well as show how they fit together logically and electrically using just the one tool. It's got built-in libraries of components so you don't have to waste your time drawing transistors and all, and can focus your attention on the "big picture" instead.

EAGLE is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows systems. You can use the reduced-functionalilty free version if you don't plan to use it for profit. Otherwise, they want you to license it.

Download EAGLE

Paint my picture with MyPaint

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Windows
screenshot of MyPaint

Some people tell their story best in words. They've got word processors to help them out. Other people do a better job of expressing themselves in images. For those folks. image editors are the name of the game.

MyPaint is, as you might believe from the name, a paint program. Rather than springing for a full-price tool like Photoshop, you can do much of your raster image editing with this free tool. It supports layers, which are all-important when it comes to extensive edits—you don't want to break what you've got by adding something new—and layers let you try new stuff out before it becomes "real", to say nothing of having the ability to, ummm, layer elements over one another. It includes a lot of interesting brushes, so you can make a drawing look like it came from a smudge of charcoal or a drizzle of paint, instead of a nice, new, very pointy pencil. And it's easy to move all the palettes and toolbars out of your way so that you can focus on your artistic vision rather than being cramped into the programmer's idea of how a paint program ought to act.

You can grab MyPaint for Linux and Windows.

Download MyPaint

Dia draws delightful digital diagrams

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Dia

Diagrams make the world go round. Try to explain a process of any complexity just verbally, and often you will be met with a vacant stare, or the sound of papers being shuffled. Either way, you can be sure your point has not been made.

Dia is a free drawing tool. Aimed at folks who want to draw diagrams, it takes its inspiration from Visio, the tried-and-true flowchart, orgchart, and UML drawing application. With various floating windows and palettes/toolbars, you can rearrange your workspace to put your most important go-to tools within easy reach. Built-in symbols make it easy to put all the pieces together; add a couple of lines and arrows and you've got a new network design, or you've promoted yourself into a corner office—on paper, at least. It may not have all the spit and polish of Visio, but if your diagramming needs run to the less formal, and your wallet runs to the less full, it may be just what you're looking for.

Dia is a free download, You can grab a Windows installer, or packages for several flavors of Linux. There are reports that it can be compiled under OS X, but you're going to have to be made of strong stuff to go down that road.

Download Dia