Archive for the ‘Windows Graphics’ Category

Check for Legibility on Your Website

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of ColorSelector

Just because you can do something doesn't necessarily mean that you should do that thing. You could put white text on a white background on your website, but that doesn't mean that it's good for your visitors. If you have a story to tell, it's important that your visitors can actually read it, so you need to choose wisely in picking colors for the text and backgrounds on your website or in your desktop app. You could stick to safe but boring combinations of black and white, or you could guess what might be a good set of contrasting colors, or you could check out ColorSelector.

ColorSelector helps you to make sure that the text on your page can be read by your visitors. It tests your combinations not only for light and dark contrasts, but also keeps in mind color combinations that could get in the way of visitors with various types of color blindness. Enter color values directly as decimal- or hex values, use the built-in palettes, or the eyedropper tool can grab colors off the screen. Now everybody can see what you're talking about.

You can download ColorSelector for free. It's available for both Mac and Windows systems.

Download ColorSelector

Combine Individual Images into PDF Files

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Swift PDF

Sharing images can be complicated. One image may be fine, but if you've got a pile of pictures, you don't necessarily want to have to attach half a dozen PNG files to an email or upload a stack of JPGs to a server somewhere. One way to avoid all that is to combine your images into a PDF file. Everybody's got Adobe Reader or some other PDF reader app, and it's always going to be easier to deal with one PDF file that a dozen individual image files.

Swift PDF takes your individual image files and combines them into a single PDF document. Drag and drop your images into this tool, and then drag them around to re-order them in your doc. You can choose margins and layout for your document, including the size and orientation of the paper. In addition, you can customize margins for individual images, and decide to stretch images to fill a space. Add meta info—title, subject, author, keywords—and you're good to go.

Swift PDF is a free download. It's a Windows application and runs under Windows 95 / WinNT and later.

Download Swift PDF

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

Capture and annotate screenshots

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Snaplr

Taking a screenshot is easy. There are a bunch of tools—some even included with your operating system—that let you grab something you see off the screen and save it, maybe to insert into a document, or maybe to attach to an email. If you need to do something with your image—maybe add a note or draw an arrow or circle to draw attention to a particular feature of your picture—then you have to open your image file in a paint program and add that there. Or maybe you could use a tool that lets you do all that at one time.

Snaplr is a screenshot tool that also lets you edit your picture in the same tool. Grab your picture, add arrows, lines, boxes, or even write directly on the image, and then save the image to a file or drag it directly into an email. Makes the whole process a lot quicker, and lets you get on with your life, rather than getting bogged down with the tool itself.

Snaplr is a free download. It's available for both Mac and Windows (Vista or better).

Download Snaplr

Print to image files

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of ImagePrinter Free

In the beginning was the printer. If you had something on your computer that you needed reduced to a sheet of paper, you sent it to the printer. Somewhat later, people decided that a hard copy wasn't always necessary, but they still wanted to capture the information that would have been printed out. People started "printing" to PDF files. Now it's possible to even go beyond that.

ImagePrinter Free is a virtual printer that lets you print documents to any of several different image file formats. While the PDF option is still there, you can also print to web-friendly PNG and JPG formats, as well as Windows' BMP format and the old reliable TIFF format. Like other virtual printer tools, all you need to do is to install ImagePrinter Free as a printer on your system, and choose it for output when you want to print to a PNG instead of a piece of paper.

ImagePrinter Free is a Windows Application. It should be compatible with systems running Win2k and later.

Download ImagePrinter Free

Pick and identify colors

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Colors MiniLab

Of all the pieces involved in web design, getting the colors right just might arguably be the most complicated. When you write your code, you're dictating how things are going to be done, and there may be many ways to accomplish a task to get the desired end result. When it comes to matching that precise shade of green, however, there is going to be exactly one way to do that, and close enough probably isn't really close enough.

Colors MiniLab is a tool that can give you a hand with all things color for web design. It lets you convert arbitrary color values between hex (#ffff00), decimal, RGB, and HSL (HSB). In addition, it features a color picker so you can grab a color on the desktop, essential in matching colors between what you've got and what you're building. It's a small app, so you're not making a major commitment in terms of disk space to bring it to the job, and it's just a single file, so you can stick it on a pen drive or just drop it anywhere that makes sense, without having to worry about an installer making a mess of your machine.

A free download, Colors MiniLab is a Windows application.

Download Colors MiniLab

Slim down those image files

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of JPEG & PNG Stripper

Sometimes bigger is better. Other times, you'd rather have just the basics—the necessary stuff and nothing else. Take those photos on your computer. Sure, it's cool to see where you went on vacation, or to look at the nifty new car sitting in your driveway, but each of those images carries a bunch of other baggage with it in the form of metadata that tells you about the image, but is not itself the image.

JPEG & PNG Stripper is a tool that takes all that extra stuff away. It doesn't affect the image itself, but it can shrink file sizes by cleaning out all that unnecessary stuff. And while your mileage may vary, it can never hurt to make those files smaller, especially if you have to download or archive them. And if you're feeling particularly adventurous, there's a command line mode, as well as the GUI format, so you can add this functionality to scripts and batch files as well.

JPEG & PNG Stripper is a Windows application.

Download JPEG & PNG Stripper

Create animated cursors

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of AniFX

Part of the fun of computers is the amazing amount of work you can get done with relatively minimal effort. The other part is some of the "cool" things you can do. Like messing around with your mouse pointers.

AniFX is a cursor editor that lets you tweak or even create your own on-screen pointers. Create new cursors from scratch, or adapt existing images into cursors. It has a full complement of drawing and editing tools, as well as support for several different color palettes and modes. Use the onscreen grid to make sure everything lines up just right. It supports animated cursors, so you can add more excitement to your desktop. You can work with standalone files, or even get in mess around with those that are buried inside of EXEs. While your new cursors probably won't make you any more productive, they'll at least keep you amused as you click through your day.

AniFX is a free Windows application. It runs under Windows 98 and later.

Download AniFX

Alternate download link

Screenshots made easy

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Cropper

When you go on vacation, you take pictures to show folks where you've been and what you've seen. Not every trip you take, however, involves an RV and the Grand Canyon. Sometimes you stay much closer to home, like when you tool around on your computer every day. While not everything you see there is of particular note, sometimes you do want to take pictures and share them with others.

Cropper is a tool to grab screenshots. Whether you want to keep a souvenir of your visit to a web site, or you're documenting the UI for some new application, you can quickly and easily capture what you see on screen and save it to share with others. Once you click-and-drag to define the region you want to grab, it's easy to tweak and fine tune your selection with a keystroke or two, to move your selection, or expand or contract it. Once you've got things set just right, you can save your selection as BMP, PNG, or JPG, as well as saving it to the clipboard or even printing it directly out of Cropper. And if that's not enough, there are community-supported plugins as well, which can add to its usefulness and functionality.

Cropper is a Windows application.

Download Cropper

Preview images

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of NexusImage

Maybe you just came back from vacation, or perhaps you just went nuts online downloading photos. Or perhaps you're compiling a big report and have all the photos and other images you have to make your case for why you should land that new contract. Whatever the reason, you find yourself with a whole bunch of images you need to sort through and make sense of. You could open them up one at a time in Photoshop. Or you could beat your head against the wall. Either way will be just as productive.

NexusImage is an image previewer that can help you see what you've really got in all those pictures. Fire it up and you get a screen with a line of thumbnail images down the side. Choose a picture to look at more closely and it pops up in a "lightbox", that float-above-the-page style that you've seen all over on websites. Along with previewing the images themselves, you can look at the Exif info for behind-the-scenes information on your photos. And to help you remember the subject and context for your images, you can also add captions to your pictures.

NexusImage is a free download. It's a Windows app and runs under XP / Vista / 7.

Download NexusImage