35 Stunning Hi-Res “Public Domain” Astronomy Images

by Jay Hilgert
on January 14, 2015

In the wake of Shepard Fairey’s debacle with the AP over the rights to the image he used as reference/inspiration for his wildy popular Obama poster, I wanted to share a list of Public Domain Licensed images, in this case, astronomy. Fairey’s situation should hit home with all pixel junkies out there and remind us that we have to pay close attention to the licenses associated with the images we use in our design work. I’ve compiled a list of beautiful, inspiring astronomy images that all have a Public Domain License.

35 Stunning Hi-Res

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37 Intriguing 404 Error Page Designs

by Jake Rocheleau
on January 5, 2015

Words cannot describe the vehement frustration felt when reaching a 404 page. Sometimes the website just has a broken link and other times the user is at fault. But regardless of fault the 404 error page is unbecoming to even the most well-designed sites. The best way to spruce this up is by adding a lighthearted effect into the design.

For this post I’ve organized a collection of unique 404 error page designs. Many of them utilize humor as a good-hearted gesture for comedic relief. Other designs are more pragmatic offering related links and possible solutions for finding the missing page. Your choice of 404 style really depends on the type of website. Just keep in mind that frustration is best handled with a cool & collected mentality. The best 404 pages try to solve the problem by offering solutions instead of a dead-end street.


github code repo 404 page

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How to set the default program to open a certain type of file in Mac OS X

by Jay Hilgert

You can easily set the default program to open certain file types from any “Get Info” window, from any file in Mac OS X.

It can get annoying when you double click on a jpeg from your desktop and it tries to open in Photoshop. Not only is it annoying, it can be a time waster as you close the default application and drag the file to an application on the dock.

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Build a Custom Photoshop Swatch from an Image

by Jake Rocheleau
on December 29, 2014

Sampling from a photo is an excellent way to pull colors for painting, digital design, or any creative project. However manually sampling each color is time-intensive and only useful when you really need a precise color match. Otherwise it’s a whole lot easier to build new swatches dynamically through Photoshop.

featured image - custom swatch palette in photoshop

I’ll be showing you how to open an image in Photoshop and pull a large sample of colors into a new swatch. The process is relatively automatic and just requires flicking through a couple menus. Once you’ve built a new swatch you can use that as a baseboard for creating a digital interface, icon, logo, or anything else you might need. Color swatches are very useful once you learn how to control them and put together a solid color scheme library.

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Convert Photoshop Layer Effects into Separate Layers

by Jake Rocheleau
on December 22, 2014

Most users of Photoshop should already know about layer effects. These are the extra little tidbits added onto layers via the small “fx” icon in the lower-left corner of the layers palette. Using these effects you can build a number of extra features like shadows, gradients, bevels, and a whole lot more.

layer effects custom layers fx

For this brief tutorial I’d like to explain how to convert a collection of layer effects into their own layers. Most effects are customizable and stack together when adding layer effects(or layer styles) onto a shape. But if you ever need to edit the effects individually you’ll need to create new layers out of each effect. The process is quite simple but also tricky if you’ve never done it before.

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Photoshop 101: True Black (CMYK)

by Jay Hilgert
on December 20, 2014

I’ve got a quick Photoshop 101 tip for print media. This can also apply to Illustrator, but I just filed it under Photoshop. We should all know by now that RGB documents are meant for screens, and CMYK documents are meant for printing. Therefore, when you print a CMYK document and you need a really rich black it’s important to remember one little teeny tiny thing: 100% K isn’t the blackest black you can get. More after the jump.

Photoshop 101: True Black

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How to Simplify the PSD to HTML Conversion Exercise

by Maria Minney
on December 19, 2014

Nowadays, everyone is in a haste to acquire a highly dynamic, search engine optimized and web compatible website. Although there are a number of options available for designing high-performing websites, often website owners feel that their site lags behind in some specific assets. One such scenario that is being faced by website owners is the use of Photoshop-based web pages.


A PSD to HTML conversion serves as an excellent means for boosting the overall performance of a website. If you too own a photoshop-based site then its time to upgrade to an HTML site that will enable you to enjoy multiple benefits in terms of conversion rate and global presence. In this blog, I’ll be walking you through certain handy tips on undertaking the PSD to HTML conversion process in a hassle-free way.

1. Its better to avoid blending modes

While converting PSD files into HTML, it is recommended to avoid the usage of blend modes simply because they can’t be recreated using CSS at a later point of time. Never get carried away by the stunning effects of the blending modes as they might result in creation of a website that comprises of an entirely different HTML code.

2. Creating Rollover Effects for CTA’s is highly beneficial

Call to Action

CTA’s(Call-To-Action) becoming one of the most crucial components of a website, it is necessary for you to place the call-to-action buttons, boxes etc, at the right places within the site. You can complement the CTA’s with rollover effects. While a CTA just consists of an image including a link, the rollover effects actually convey that each time an image is being hovered by the user, some visible changes occur to the respective image. These changes can be in terms of color, saturation, hue, lighting etc.

3. Flattening should be avoided while merging the layers

Flattening should be avoided while merging the layers

designing photoshop designs, you(as the designer) might have to merge the layers or opt for flattening them for empowering the design’s overall performance. As a recommendation, I’d like you to avoid flattening the layers so as to make it convenient for the new developer to work on your design project during your absence. You can use a simple keyboard shortcut i.e. Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E for merging layers, without flattening them in any way.

4. Keeping PSD files organized is vital

Quite similar to any other type of website conversion project, even the conversion of PSD files into HTML CSS has to be managed in a flawless manner. As a designer, you need to keep all the PSD files in an organized way. Doing this would aid you while looking for a specific graphic layer, font layer or any other layer within the design. You can choose to organize the layers by assigning them specific names, followed by grouping them in terms of header, footer, sidebar etc. Also, don’t forget to arrange the groups of layers as per the specific flow of the photoshop document, with the header group placed at the top, followed by footer group placed towards the bottom of the page and so on. Here, don’t forget to place the elements on grid as this will reduce the number of steps that are involved in converting PSD files into the HTML format.

5. Pay attention to the selection of fonts

Pay attention to the selection of fonts

It is important for you to be familiar with the fact that fonts display differently in different operating systems and browsers. Thus, before settling down for a specific font that needs to be used in your design, make sure to check how it looks in a range of targeted web browsers and operating systems.

6. Proper spacing should be considered without fail

Proper spacing should be considered

Since you may feel the need for adding new content to your web pages at any point of time, it is necessary for you to maintain a proper spacing within website elements. This spacing would enable you to make the desired adjustments for placing new content.

7. Advantage of the common browser resolution must be kept in mind

While converting PSD files into HTML, make sure to keep the layout not wider than 1300px. This is necessary for avoiding any side to side scrolling.

Wrapping Up

If you’re heading for PSD to HTML conversion, then abiding by the aforementioned pointers will help you in adding a professional touch to your website.

26 Websites using Classic Retro Vintage Effects

by Jake Rocheleau
on December 15, 2014

With the takeover of flat design it seems like deep textures and rich patterns have been pushed to the wayside. But even through this trendy flat design phase there are still hundreds of brilliant websites catering to exceptional realism.

For this post I’ve organized 26 exemplary retro-style vintage website designs for inspiration. Each design utilizes a series of textures, patterns, icons, and text effects to recreate the feeling of yesteryears. Feel free to incorporate some of these effects into your own future work. And if you know any similar retro websites feel free to share in the post comments below.

Henry & Co. Real Estate

henry and company real estate website

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Make a Dotted Line in Photoshop

by Jay Hilgert
on December 12, 2014

Making a dotted line is easy in Illustrator. You just change it in the stroke palette. Photoshop, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. There is more than one way, but I want to show you how to quickly make a dotted line in Photoshop. Ever make a Photoshop mock-up of a website design before getting down and dirty with the code? This little trick may come in handy.

Make a Dotted Line in Photoshop
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30 Unique Website Designs with Illustrated Graphics

by Jake Rocheleau
on December 8, 2014

In the realm of digital illustration there’s a lot to be learned from web design. Many layouts rely on illustrated vector graphics to enhance branding, content, and functionality. In fact modern illustration design and web design seem to be closely interlinked through a very systematic methodology.

I’ve put together a series of websites featuring illustrated graphics for design inspiration. These examples should prove useful whether you’re a graphic designer, web designer, or some combination of both. Plus there’s always room for growth and you can learn an awful lot by studying the work of others.

GitHub Education

github education page website design graphics

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