4 High Quality WordPress Theme for Bloggers

In the past few months I’ve written about some of my favorite WordPress themes for photographers a couple of times. I’ve also started writing more posts that touch on elements of web design and blogging in general, so I thought it might be a good idea to share some new themes for the New Year for all the bloggers out there, most of which are not blogging to show off their photography portfolios. Perhaps with the turn of the calendar there are a lot of you about to start your first blogs about whatever is you are passionate about. If there is one thing I can help with, it’s showing you some themes that will help your site look great! With a free WordPress.com or Blogspot account, you have all you need to make a free website, and there are lots of free themes for you choose from out there. However, if you have a few bucks to spare, usually $35-$45, you can buy a great professionally developed theme that will really help your blog stand out and deliver additional functionality to you as well. Here are some of my favorites:

2012 was the year Pinterest really exploded, so if you are a fan of that type of layout, this theme does a great job of laying out a homepage in that style.


This is a theme for those who like really large, in your face elements to grab the attention of the reader. Features an integrated page builder to help you template some custom sections of your site.


Sometimes simple is best, and this theme focuses on just the words and content. Great for a personal blog.


This is an interesting theme for those who are fans of the Facebook timeline, as this allows you to create your own timeline style blog.


I hope you find a theme that will fit whatever it is you wish to blog about, good luck to all of the bloggers out there, both new and experienced. Happy New Year!

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6 Unique Custom Christmas Card Design Ideas

With the Holiday season in full swing, I thought it would be appropriate to continue my series on DIY print design with something infused with the Holiday spirit. Recently I’ve looked at cool designs for brochure printing, business cards, and postcard printing, so today we will take a look at some awesome designs for Christmas cards! Custom Christmas cards are very popular item this time of year, going back many years. You can often purchase some templates from big retail stores like Target or Walmart that allow you to insert a photo of your own, or just have interesting designs so you can send out a nice, consistent version of your card to everyone. However, if you really want to customize the entire card, the online printing services out there can offer you a limitless level of control over your entire design. You can be guaranteed that no one else in your family will be sending out the same cards as you! Here are some of my favorite designs I found from around the web for inspiration:

This one has a snowflake and ribbon attached with a button, giving off a really nice hand-made appearance.

How about a card with an awesome snow globe on it!? Really love how this card came out.

I love anything interactive, so this card that lets you fold it into a Christmas tree is really impressive!

I like the cut out snowflake effect and the candy cane style bow tying this card up.

If you have family that likes to display all the cards they get, this one is easy to stand up anywhere.

This rotating snowman card is another one that appeals to my interactive side.

So there you have it, perhaps this has sparked some good ideas for you to make your own cards if you wish next year, and I hope you have a Happy Holiday!

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4 Amazing HTML5 Sites for 2012

While this blog focuses on mostly on the beauty of visual creativity, the world of website development can showcase technical beauty as well. With the advent of tablet computing and HTML5, we are in the midst of a reset of sorts among interactive site development. Back when Flash was first introduced, creative types and developers crossed over to create ever more impressive feats of visual wizardy right within our browsers. Flash continued to evolve, and the power that afforded produced more and more interactive content that tied in with data driven sites to create some really cool experiences.

Of course we all know what happened next…the iPad took the world by storm, and its lack of Flash support ushered in a new era that forced developers to abandon Flash to produce interactive experiences that work within its browser. All the years of progress and experience in the Flash platform were thrown out the window, the web now having to rely on the brand new HTML5 technologies to produce similar content. The results have been a mixed bag, as Javascript based animation is often slow and clunky on mobile optimized processors, at times limiting what can be accomplished and resulting in a step back in presentation from the Flash era.

That said, we are starting to see some truly impressive work being done sans the Flash plugin, so today I’m going to show you some sites that have striven to push the envelope with browser based technology. I encourage you to take a look at them and play around with the features they offer, some of it is mind blowing!

This a site any fellow TV addicts will appreciate, creating a 3D universe to explore the connections of TV creators past and present.

Agent 008 Ball
This is essentially an advergame for IE9, but who cares, it is a very solid showcase for a canvas based game of billiards and runs very smooth.

This Shell
A promotional drag and drop game that is cooler than it sounds. Challenges you to piece together a puzzle before the time runs out, and rewards you with a free .mp3 if you win. The small slices of video on the pieces themselves create a really fun effect.

Buffalo Wild Wings Protect the Football
One of my favorite places to eat, B-dubs used to have a full Flash site, and has now updated the entire site to use HTML5 technologies. This game is the feature of that effort, and timely as well as it features an endless runner mechanic that has proven very popular over the past few years.

There are plenty more to feature in a future article, enjoy!

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Five Unique and Creative Business Card Designs

We all love to edit all of our favorite photography in Photoshop, but it is also the industry standard for a huge variety of business related tasks. You could be a small business or a one man workshop, if you perform any services for clients, one thing you will usually want to have is a business card. Most business cards are pretty standard fare, but I think there is great value in taking the time to design one that is unique and leaves a lasting impression for your business. It is easier and cheaper than ever to get your custom design fashioned into a real life stack of business cards with the rise of online printing companies. Most of these companies have lots of options, whether it be a business card, 48 hour print, brochure, or even custom greeting cards.

Here are a few of my favorite business card designs I found around the net to give you some inspiration!

Pop up cards…how cool is that?

A sweet stand up card in the form of an easel, very creative!

Ticket stub style – would be great for any kind of event company.

As a cat lover, I just had to share this one…so cute!

Construction card – who doesn’t like to fiddle with things like this? Great use of interactivity.

As you can see there are lots of creative options, so next time you need a business card it never hurts to be memorable! They don’t all have to stray so far from the standard like the ones I’ve posted today, sometimes a simple card with a great design can be just as eye catching.

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Free Icons, Stock Photos, Textures, Brushes, and Actions!

You can never have enough free resources to play with for your projects, so today I’m going to show you a few more of my favorite places to go when I’m searching for that perfect something to help with my latest creation.

This is a very popular, community-powered site that features free icons across a good number of categories. This site is very easy to navigate and allows one-click downloading of its icons in nicely zipped up packages and in multiple formats. You’ll find a very great variety of stuff here, from Pinterest icons you can use on your site, to movie and gaming icons you could use in a forum signature or something like that. New items are getting added all the time, so check this one out frequently.


Also an extremely popular site, this focuses on free stock photography. Stock photo sites serve a large role in web design, but most of them require a fee to use their photographs. This site hosts a huge amount of free images for you to experiment with or use in your projects, across many categories. It even has some textures and shapes to explore, so check those out as well.


Lost & Taken
I mentioned this blog once before on a free textures post, but I think they deserve mention in this roundup as well for those that missed it. If you want really, really high quality free textures, this is the place to go! These textures have been featured in magazines, and used in television shows, print ads, etc. The blog is about textures and only about textures, and it does a fantastic job, so give it a look and see what you think.

Lost and Taken

As you can likely deduce from the title, this site is all about free brushes for Photoshop. I really like the easy on the eyes design, and you can really spend some time browsing through all they have to offer with the ease of navigation. Also offers one-click downloading of the brushes you are interested in. And brushes are not all they have, the site also features actions, patterns, and a few other Photoshop goodies.


JHP Actions
This site features some really amazing actions, this page will direct to you his free offerings. He does offer some paid packs as well, but they aren’t very expensive and are a great value if you decide you really like his free actions. These can be great time savers, especially when you need to batch edit a large set of photos from an event. Highly recommended!

JHP Actions

That’s it for today, have fun exploring these resources, and I’ll be back with more soon!

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Making Video Game Sprites, Five Great Pixel Art Tutorials

Video games are a huge part of our culture, and the visuals companies can produce these days are incredible. High resolution textures that are applied to 3D models and the like are something we will talk about in a future post, but today we will bask in the glory of old school video game design, pixel art!

There is something innately charming about pixel art, and screenshots of certain games can really trigger that nostalgic feeling in many of us. I still love seeing Link holding up that piece of Triforce he just found, or Mario mid-jump, fist ready to bump those mushroom spawning blocks. The graphic stylings of the 8 and 16-bit eras are still going strong, as the rise of mobile gaming devices has lent itself very well to his particular style of gaming. Learning how to “push pixels” is quite the useful talent to possess right now, even more so for those one man game shops out there looking to drum up some graphics to support to cool game engine he/she just built. Here are some of the best pixel art tutorials on the web, enjoy!

The Pixel Tutorial
I’m leading off with this one first because it is a really nice, multi-part introduction to the world of pixel art. I recommend starting here and getting a good feel for what this art form is all about.

The Pixel Tutorial

Pixelling a Monster Sprite
A nice step-by-step tutorial on how to create the kind of monster you might see in an RPG battle, such is Final Fantasy.

Monster Sprite

So You Want To Be a Pixel Artist
This fantastic collection of pixel art articles and tutorials has been around for ages, and is one of the most read and cited references on the subject. Don’t miss the sidebar for more tutorials.

So You Want To Be A PixelArtist

Kiwinuptuo’s Color Palette Tutorial
Color theory is something you’d do well to gain a basic understanding of, and this tutorial does a great job of introducing this topic in an easy to understand visual manner.

Color Pallette

Lotusware’s Pixel Art Tutorial
Tile-based games are very prevalent amongst the pixel art style. This tutorial explains the concepts behind creating your own tiles and how to join them together seamlessly, an essential skill to learn.

Pixel Tiles

That should be enough to get you started, maybe I’ll include some more in a future post. It’s a really satisfying thing to work on, so just relax and have fun! For you other Photoshopping gamers out there, here are a few of my favorite video game related sites that I really like. We all like to get the best bang for our buck, so check out Prepaid Game Cards for some really cool discounts on Steam and Origin game keys and prepaid game cards. You can get some stuff for up to 50% off! I also enjoy GameFly.com, which is basically Netflix for video games.

And if any of you create something you want to share, please share it in the comments!

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4 High Quality Photoshop Alternatives For Editing Your Photos

While this site is heavily focused on Photoshop, there are some alternatives out there to explore if you can’t get your hands on a copy of the world’s top photo editing software, or maybe just want to try something different or less daunting. My friends have asked me several times in the past about what else they could use for common photo editing tasks without plunking down a small fortune for Photoshop, so today I’m going to list some other capable applications that can suit your needs. In addition to the products I have listed below, there are lots of very impressive online photo editors available that have been picking up popularity, so don’t hesitate to give those a try. It’s amazing how fully-featured some of them are!

So I’ll start you off with the most obvious alternative:

Adobe Photoshop Elements
At $99, Photoshop’s little brother is HUGE bargain, and can accomplish a great deal of what the full version of Photoshop can. You get most of the same interface elements, making the transition to Photoshop a painless one if you ever decide to step up. Elements is actually used by more people than Photoshop is, and can thus claim to be the world’s #1 image editing software. Elements is more than capable of handling any common photo editing task you can come up with, and for most people, there really isn’t any reason to use Photoshop over Elements at all. I’d even say that many people will prefer to use Elements if they had copies of both, as you won’t need to bother with sifting through niche features that would never get used anyway.

Photoshop Elements 10

GIMP is a very popular photo editing application that has been around for many years now. The best part of this product…it’s FREE! It runs on all of the most common operating systems and is much more fully featured than any free software has a right to be. You can accomplish any common photo editing task here, and this program is up to the task of handling professional work as well. One issue that GIMP used to have (and still does to some degree) is that the user interface wasn’t very welcoming to new users, making it difficult to discover just how powerful the program is. This has been improved a substantial amount in recent years. It will likely always lag behind a bit in the polish department of its big budget competitors, but if you can some to terms with its quirks, you’ll have yourself a very powerful application at zero cost to you.

Gimp Photo Editor

PaintShop Pro X5
Developed by longtime creative tool company Corel, PaintShop Pro has amassed a great following over the years. The standard version is $79, with a beefier “Ultimate” version available for $99. There are many users that prefer the PaintShop interface to that of Adobe’s offerings, and the software itself is fully capable to delivering the same top quality images. There is a free trial available on the site to see if Corel better fits your style, so take advantage! One thing to keep in mind is that this is Windows only application.

Corel PaintShop Pro

Like GIMP, Paint.NET is completely free to use. This is also a Windows only application. And no, this isn’t the Paint application that comes installed with Windows (though it was originally developed to be a replacement option for it), this is a fairly powerful image editor in its own right. It’s pretty lightweight compared to the other options, so starting it up and editing for small tasks is really fast and convenient. I keep a copy of this on my machines for quick tasks, though it can be used for everyday editing. This app is actually quite popular with pixel artists for creating art for use in such products as video games, and I highly recommend it for this purpose if you are interested in that sort of thing.


I encourage you try each of these out, 2 of them are free and the other 2 have free trial periods, as it never hurts to see what fits the way your mind works best. You can always move ahead to Photoshop later on if you feel you’ve outgrown these options, and at that point you’ll be experienced enough to pick it up quickly regardless of which app you came up from.

Don’t forget to keep your photo editing workstation up to date with the latest anti-virus software and operating system updates (Windows, Mac). The last thing you want to happen after you’ve edited hundreds (or thousands!) of photos is to have them corrupted by a virus or malware. I’ve had some friends go through this painful and time consuming experience, so consider this my PSA, don’t skimp on the updates! :)

Feel free to suggest some more apps it the comments if you use something I haven’t mentioned that you think deserves some attention (especially Mac users, as I’m not as in tune with what you guys might use outside of Photoshop). Enjoy!

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4 Awesome Sites To Download Free Fonts For Photoshop

There are a lot of times that you want to add some text to your images for various reasons, and the default selection of fonts that shipped with your computer will probably limit your creativity pretty quickly. Luckily, the internet is full of amazing sites that offer up untold amounts of font choices for you to sift through to find that perfect text to suit your project. Below I’ve listed some of my favorite sites I go to when I’m looking for something new. Almost all of these fonts should work on both Windows and Mac machines, just be sure to quickly check first.

Very popular font resource, currently boasts over 16,000 fonts. Lots of creative choices and fonts are categorized for easy navigation.


This site has been around for a long time. Easy to navigate and download your selected font.


Urban Fonts
Over 8,000 free fonts with lots of cool creative options. One click downloads of each font.

Urban Fonts

Font Squirrel
Popular site with hand-picked fonts. Cool web font tools for web designers that are very useful when you have need of them.

Font Squirrel

All of these fonts can be used in any application that supports your system’s fonts. For instance, Adobe Flash will be able to make use of these, Microsoft Word, pretty much any modern application that allows font selection will be able to advantage of your growing font collection Now you can apply a nice, professional font to your next essay your get from writemyessays.net! :)

There are a TON of fonts sites out there, so if you are having trouble finding what you want from these sites, just do a quick Google search for something more specific, I’m sure you’ll be able to find it. Enjoy!

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Daily Deals For Web Designers and Bloggers, Lots of Goodies!

Like many of you, I’m a big fan of daily sites such as Groupon and Living Social. I’ve discovered lots of new local restaurants and activities that have become favorites. That’s why I’m excited to announce that PhotoshopGirl.com has partnered with Mighty Deals to bring all my readers some fantastic daily deals on popular resources for web designers and bloggers. I know that many of you are the perfect audience for some of the products offered, and any time we can all get some great, professional products for a bargain, we all win. :)

There are lots of great free resources out there for sure, but some of these professional items are an absolute steal at the rates they go for while on sale.

This list of deals is constantly updated, so be sure to bookmark this page and check back often for deals that might interest you. You’ll find deals on web layouts, templates, WordPress themes, vectors, fonts, stock photography, icons, and more!

These items are on sale for a limited time for a length determined by the content creator. Some of these items are offered at a HUGE discount, up to 90% off for the few days the deal is active, so be sure to look through for some great finds. Click on the item you are interested in to get a lot more detail, including when the deal ends. Enjoy!

I’ve also created a page for the current featured daily deal, so bookmark that one as well!

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3 Cool, Unique iPhone Camera Apps

There are tons of great photo editing and photo sharing apps out there for the iPhone, many of them fully featured do-it-all types of apps. Today I’m going to focus on the unique side of mobile photography! There are lots of fantastic, unique apps on the app store that will produce all sorts of interesting photos. Some of them can even be a little weird, but that never hurt anyone. :)

Love Mosaic
This one is definitely on the slightly weird side, but also very unique! This app will walk you through a photo shoot of yourself, at the end of which you will produce a mosaic that forms a heart from your hand gestures. This app is sure to produce some likes for you on Facebook! You could even use the result as a background for your next mobile website design, the possibilities are endless.

Love Mosaic App

Photo Collage
Who doesn’t love a good photo collage? This app make it easy to whip up a quick collage of your photos and share with friends.

Photo Collage App

DMD Panorama
Panoramic photos can be a bit of a process to create, having to stitch photos together, lining them up just right. This app aims to help with that by assisting in lining up your photos correctly while you rotate. You can also assemble your completed panoramic masterpiece within the app!

DMD Panoramic Full

That’s it for today, I hope you can find some fun uses for some of those apps!

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