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Top three free programs every theme maker needsInkscape
Inkscape is a free SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) editor similar to the likes of Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW.
SVG files can be used to create graphics that can be scaled/enlarged into any size. As a result, it’s handy when designing for different screen sizes.
This advanced editor is great for creating icons and headers for use in your theme, as well as graphics such as in the image above.GIMP
GIMP is a piece of must-have image-editing software. The possibilities of GIMP are similar to that of Adobe’s Photoshop. GIMP can be used to change the colors of images, retouching photos, combining images, adding filter effects … just about everything you can do in Photoshop.
And did I mention it was free?Notepad++
Having a helpful text-editor is, almost, a must for productive coding.
Notepad++ builds on the features of Notepad and adds a slew of editing tools for developers. This includes syntax highlighting, bulk text editing shortcuts (such as sorting a bunch of lines by their first letter) and the ability to add your own plugins.
Inkscape Tutorial - Alien Robot
This is the image we are going to be creating
So to start: Use the ellipse tool to create the basic shape of the robot. A oval head with a much bigger body, make sure the body is under the head [Page down] & open up your colour palette [ctrl+shift+f]. Set the stroke colour on both to white: ffffffff, and the stroke width to about 8px. Set the fill on both to a linear gradient with the colours: a2a2a2ff to f7f7f7ff
Next were going to create the eye’s. For this you could use the ellipse tool again. Or, we can duplicate the head [ctrl+d] and shrink it down on scale [hold shift]. Then set the fill of the eye’s to pure black, 000000ff, and remove the stroke by pressing the “X”. Once you get the eye the right size, duplicate that as well [ctrl+d], & move it over while holding “ctrl” to keep it on the horizontal line.
Now we are going to make another ellipse with the ellipse tool. Make a perfect circle [hold shift+ctrl] near the top left of the eye and set the fill to perfect white [ffffffff], remove the stroke if it is there. And blur it by about 10. After all of this, duplicate both the eye and the pupil [ctrl+d] & move it over on the horizontal line [hold ctrl]
Next we are going to create the eyebrows. These are fairly simple. Grab your bezier tool [shift+F6] and make the point of a triangle. You can stop without connecting all points by right clicking. Set the stroke to black [000000ff], and remove fill. Set stroke width to 5. Click the top corner of the eyebrow and hit “Make selected nodes auto-smooth”. Now you have a nice eyebrow. Duplicate this, and move it over the other eye.
Alright, let’s allow this robot some arms shall we. First, grab your bezier tool again [shift+F6] & make a very basic arm shape by making straight lines all the way through the arm. Now use your bezier tool and drag out in between all your points to make the more rounded, eventually you should get to a shape that looks similar to an arm.
And now just duplicate that, bring it below everything [page down] and move it over to the left of the body to make it look like its just poking out.
Next we are going to make him look like he is floating. First, create a square using your bezier tool [Shift+F6] & fill it with a solid colour, remove the stroke & move the square just a little over the bottom of your robot. Pull the top of the square in towards itself with the bezier tool a bit & pull out your selection tool.
Select both the body and your square, and hit path-Difference. You now have a much more smoothed out bottom.
Now were going to make the blue floating with of the robot. Create two circles, the one on top should be slightly bigger & above [Page down] the one below.
Once again, select both of them and hit path-Difference. You should now have a nice floating ring under the robot. Duplicate this twice [ctrl+d] & move them all underneath each other.
Finally, create a square with the square tool and fill it with the same linear gradient that we used on our robot. Move it below the rest of the robot & congrats. You’ve just finished your Alien Robot!
APPLICATIONS [not apps]
Continuing with my random list of lists… some of the latest applications I’ve been using [Windows 7]:
- OneNote – this might just be the most undervalued piece of software in the Office Suite. Perfect for collecting random stuff, organizing thoughts, planning, and so much more. Also: it can read text from photos and pictures (i.e. you can take a screen grab of a site and it knows what the text is and makes it searchable).
- Inkscape – Vector Graphic drawing software. FREE. And since I don’t know Illustrator, I don’t know if I’m missing any features. [Also, GIMP for photo editing is good too]
- F.LUX – software that changes the brightness of your monitor depending on the time of day. Oddly it’s a really nice feature.
- Divvy – helps manage how much space programs take up on the monitor. Good for making multiple programs easily visible. Jury is still out on the usefulness of this one.
- Microsoft Security Essentials – no more paying for virus software. This one has it covered and it’s free.