Designing a website exactly as you or your client envision can be difficult to do if you don't know code. You can work with a developer, but that cuts into your profits and adds extra time to your project, which in turn costs your clients more. For these reasons and more, many professional web designers are turning to website builders, a lot cheaper and faster solution than learning to code. However, there are loads of website builders and not all are created equal. Some site builders are completely free even after the site is live, but these often come with limitations in design options and no e-commerce option. Others advertise that their website builder is specifically for designers, but they come with additional requirements or a limit in regards to the price. Webydo is a website builder that has recently come to my attention and covers all of the aforementioned cons. The founders started Webydo because they wanted to help create a more efficient web design process by allowing designers to communicate directly with a client, rather than through a developer. So they created a website builder that provides designers with creative freedom and turns their projects into an HTML website and CMS seamlessly. It even comes complete with ecommerce options, unlimited access to all of the design features in the free plan, and a platform to create a responsive website with cross-browser capabilities. Every designer is different, so Webydo may not be your cup of tea. But take a look at the premium, professional features and some of the stunning websites that designers are creating with Webydo. Even if you decide not to use Webydo, it is undeniable that the creators of this website builder certainly did an amazing job! Free Preview Stella and Lori home page designed on and powered by Webydo All of the features are great, but probably what surprised me the most about Webydo is that they allow designers to create a website in-browser for free. You can even take the site live temporarily to allow clients to preview it before deciding to publish through Webydo's cloud hosting. A real live website in your own domain name does come with a price, but thankfully a very reasonable price (see the plans below). And once you do purchase a subscription, the cloud hosting includes automatic backup, fast and secure servers, and worldwide CDN through Akamai so that clients access your site through whichever server they are closest to. What all of this boils down to is assurance of a fast website no matter where in the world viewers access the website. Free - 15 pages, Webydo's sub-domain, unlimited bandwidth, 1 GB storage, can create as many temporary sites as needed Premium - $7.90/month (billed annually) subscription or $9.90/month (billed biannually) - unlimited pages, own domain, unlimited bandwidth, 2 GB storage Large web agency premium plan for over 100 websites Easy Design Features Here's the fun part - designers have amazing tools to use while creating their web design and all in-browser. Just as with most website builders, Webydo works on a drag and drop system but extra design features include fill, shadow, stroke, smart guides with snapping, text captions for images, grid generator, layers window, and set corner radiuses. One of the best time-saving perks is the automatic optimization of any media you upload, no need to worry about good site performance. Another time saver is the access to free open-source web fonts, so you don't have to spend an hour looking for the right free font and then downloading it to your hard drive. Stella and Lori interactive About page designed on and powered by Webydo Keep in mind that Webydo is definitely for those with design experience, and especially web design experience. You have the choice to start either with a blank screen or a readymade design. Webydo points out that you can change every single pixel of the design, but what about when you just want a quick switch? As of now, changing templates is not possible, but head over to the suggestion for adding the ability to switch templates and add your vote (more on this below). Ecommerce, Responsive, and More Webydo uses the Ecwid E-commerce widget so that you can offer an ecommerce solution to customers. It comes with various payment options, excellent control over stock, product descriptions for media-rich categories - all the basics for a website selling products. For the first few years, Webydo was cross-platform but not responsive. Thankfully due to enough votes, the builder now creates responsive websites so that your website looks great even on mobile and tablets. Honestly, the fact that a designer can create a responsive website makes Webydo much more competitive in the website builder industry. Yoav Gurin Business gallery designed on and powered by Webydo An interesting feature unique to Webydo is the ability to reinforce your brand as a web designer. You can replace the Webydo logo with your own in the client's login screen, your dashboard, client's CMS, and even your online design studio. The CMS functionality of your Webydo website is quite robust. You can choose which design elements you want to lock and which you want to leave open to your client to edit. The design is a WYSIWYG and similar to Word, making it easy for your client to learn. It also comes with SEO features, site analytics, and the ability to manage multiple clients from single dashboard. Suggest and Vote on New Features I like this aspect so much, that I gave it an entire separate section. Webydo has a page on its website called Participate, which is basically a forum. Just like other site builder forums, you can either suggest a new feature or you can report bugs. However, the awesome extra on this forum is that you can vote on suggested new features and the guys over at Webydo will not only listen and respond but also add these new features. Sometimes Webydo will immediately agree that a suggested feature needs added, but other times they wait to see how many votes a suggestion will receive. With enough votes, they will push the suggestion to the top of their to-do list. The other nice function is that Webydo shows the status of a suggestion on the forum, such as "Gathering Feedback", "Started", or "Completed". This is a brilliant move on their part, as it gives users a powerful voice in the improvement of the features. After reading this review, if you feel like Webydo is the website builder for you, then head over to the site and immediately start designing. Or even you want to try it for free, remember that you can create a design in-browser and preview it, with no pressure to sign up. With this in mind, the free-no-strings-attached aspect of Webydo is enough to garner even just a quick look, especially since no other robust website builder offers such a refreshing pressure-free offer! Tara Hornor Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design, and desktop publishing. She is a Senior Editor for Creative Content Experts, a company that specializes in guest blogging and building backlinks. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.
Today I decided to make a change and make a review instead of a feature post. This amazing opportunity came to me from car designer Arvind Ramkrishna from Driven Mavens, he gladly sent me one copy of his DVD now in sale "How to Draw Cars Now". I really had a fun time going through his DVD and this is my review. What started as a Kickstarter Project hugely became into a successful story about Arvind getting his knowledge out for aspiring designers and drawing hobbyists to automotive design and illustration using markers, pencils, gouache paints and of course Photoshop. A great mix of modern and old school styling into your work. To find out more about Arvind Ramkrishna and Driven Maven, you can check out his website / blog at DrivenMavens.com, also check out their website HowToDrawCarsNow.com or just like them on Facebook. Review With more than 4 hours of video content with 4 ebooks, Arvind really takes you on a ride of instructional content and you clearly see the focus is on How to Draw Cars and with a complete workshop on the matter. With loads of training exercises and reference, what strikes me more is that Arvind kept the old good ways of drawing with pencils and markers. Since with all the technology around us, I am in agreement that the best way to learn. One thing I really enjoyed was how easy Arvind took us along the way in the videos. He has a way of explaining things with such a educational and inspiring to work more on your drawings. Of course, it will take a lot of practice but I truly think you can produce some amazing sketches and renderings in the automotive design. Some samples from Arvind Ramkrishna's work Arvind Ramkrishna from Driven Mavens Arvind Ramkrishna from Driven Mavens Arvind Ramkrishna from Driven Mavens Arvind Ramkrishna from Driven Mavens Arvind Ramkrishna from Driven Mavens Arvind Ramkrishna from Driven Mavens Discount Code Arvind is giving us away a Discount Code "Abduzeedo" of 15% of any purchases on his store. Check out this store at: store.drivenmaven.com.
Today I wanna share a review about an app I tried a couple days ago and I truly enjoyed it. It's the Gradient App from Jumpzero, the app is the opportunity to create gradients for web browsers. It's a really good app for the web designers and also for designers that wants a useful colour app at hand. All rights reserved to GradientApp.com The Look As I first noticed, the look is really simple, one window with straight-forward options. We can clearly see that the purpose is to create the gradients. All rights reserved to GradientApp.com The Options The Gradient App is coming with three different main functions to make gradients. You have selecting the colours which is pretty common. You have also by setting the gradient appears or by creating it in CSS. The use of the Custom Color Picker is very recommended also. All rights reserved to GradientApp.com More Options You can also select the type of gradients, either is direction and centre position. Choosing “linear” type, you will choose one of four directions; down, right, diagonally down and diagonally up. If you select a radial gradient then you have a few more choices as to where you want the gradient to centre. I think it's a good option to make some variations. All rights reserved to GradientApp.com Get the Code The CSS button will give you a Live Preview of the code you chose. If you're happy happy with it, you can just copy to clipboard and paste it into your design, or go back and make some modifications. All rights reserved to GradientApp.com Final Words I truly enjoyed the simplicity and efficiency of the Gradient App. For the price of 4.99 (US - Canada), you get a simple useful app packed with great features. Get it now on iTunes. For more information about the Gradient App and Jumpzero, you can check out the gradient website at GradientApp.com or simply follow them on Twitter @jumpzero .
As a graphic designer I have to admit that I am not good at drawing. At first it was something that always bothered me, but I never thought that to be a good graphic designer I had to master the craft of drawing too. So during these years I was reluctant to get a tablet. Now I finally got one and I must say, I should have done so years ago. The tablet I'm talking about is the Wacom Intuos 4 Wireless and it is awesome. In terms of design it’s a beautiful piece of equipment. It's also wireless which means your desk will remain clean and clutter-free. If you’re like me and get extremely irritated with cables...you will be pleased. Unboxing... always an awesome experience The new Intuos4 Wireless pen tablet with Bluetooth® wireless technology lets you relax in your favorite working position or move about freely up to 33 feet (10 meters) from your computer. Enjoy the freedom of working "unattached" from your Mac or PC and reducing cord clutter. The new Wacom Wireless comes in one size only, which I believe is the standard medium of the wired versions. I'd say it’s a good size, although my track record with tablets is low. After 10 years of using mouses and trackpads, the idea of the Wacom as being my screen area still confuses me so that will definitely take a little getting used to. The Intuos 4 Wireless size compared with a Macbook Pro 17 Using the Wacom Wireless Like I said, I'm still getting used to it and I'm also traveling at the moment, so even though I have played with it quite a few times, I haven’t exactly had the time I want to dive into this device and start getting all the magic from it. There is a video, however, from the Wacom site that gives you an idea of just how powerful this baby really is. It has eight customizable ExpressKeys with illuminated displays and a finger-sensitive touch ring that controls up to four different functions per application. The grip pen introduces Wacom's newest tip sensor technology that delivers precise pressure control with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and 60 degrees of tilt recognition. If you have a tablet I'd like to invite you to share your opinion with us. I know there’s a lot of people that think like I used to in terms of the advantages of having a good tablet. I think it's a very important tool for a designer giving ample freedom to add our own style and trace to our artworks. As I mentioned, I haven't had the necessary time to come up with some examples however I'm working on some really cool illustrations for a client, which I cannot show them right now, but I have to say, the Intuos4 Wireless is making my life much easier and that's why I want to just give you a sneak peek of the type of work Illustration created using the Intuos4 Wireless For more infornation I highly recommend that you check out Wacom Intuos4 Wireless website. Unboxing and photos of the Intuos4 Wireless
New Masters of Photoshop is an amazing book that I'll be reviewing on this post and sharing the best parts of it. If you like photoshop and learning from tutorials this is a must have, check it out. The Book New Master of Photoshop is a book that was released back in 2003 right when I was highly exploring and creating all sorts of graphics with Photoshop with the intention to learn as much as possible. So when I found out about this book I couldn't resist but to get it. The book had the intention of "showcase of Masters who use Photoshop, and Masters of Photoshop use. The photographers, animators, artists, and designers assembled here have a myriad of different skills: some manipulate, some animate, some create from scratch. All of them produce remarkable, beautiful things. In these pages, the authors will demonstrate examples of their print work, web work, public work, and private work, explaining the techniques they use to achieve their results. More than that, though, they'll tell you how they think: who their influences are, where their ideas come from, and how they find inspiration when the well has run dry." and this is exactly what they did, the book is a selection of 19 masters (photographers, animators, artists, and designers) and each person took a chapter to talk about their experiences on the past, how they started working with photoshop, along with their work being displayed and by the end of each chapter each person finished off with a nice tutorial with some great techniques. What I learn from this book wasn't only a bunch of different techniques in photoshop but I actually got to know how all these 19 masters started they journeys and with a lot of work and a lot of practice they got to the where they are. That's truly inspired me to learn more and more and the tutorials are great which makes this book a complete piece and very well recommended to anyone willing to learn. The Masters Tim Bird, Michael Cina, Gavin Cromhout, Josh Fallon, Jens Magnus Karlsson, Derek Lea, Adrian Luna, Catherine McIntyre, Wojtek Madej, Jason Mohr, Eun-Ha Paek, Andrew Park, Paul Sinclair, Colin Smith, Yoshi Sodeoka, Peter Stanick, Johann Terrettaz, Norma V. Toraya, Mike Young Preview
One of the greatest challenges for a young designer is how to start making money. In my case I've always thought I would have to work on those super cool design studio to do that. Now, after a decade, I found out that there are several ways to do that online without even leaving the comfort of your home. GraphicRiver.net is another great option, not only to make money but also to find really useful graphics. GraphicRiver.net is a marketplace focused on design related content. Designers can buy and sell simple but very useful things such as textures, icons, graphics and vectors for very affordable prices. The whole content of the site is provided by digital artists, designers, illustrators and enthusiasts. Pretty much anybody can submit their work and start selling it. As an Author on the Envato Marketplaces you are eligible to receive between 40% and 70% of every sale should you choose to follow our Exclusive Authoring plan. Being an exclusive author means that any items you sell on an Envato Marketplace are unique to our libraries. We highly recomend that you visit GraphicRiver.net and we have a great giveaway thanks to the Envato Marketplaces team. We're giving away $20 in credits to the first 100 readers that post a comment with a valid FlashDen / GraphicRiver username. Check out the Terms & Conditions for the Giveaway. Terms & Conditions for Giveaway Entrants must comment a valid FlashDen / GraphicRiver username. Entrants may only enter once, usernames will be cross referenced with IP addresses, emails and other parameters to ensure fairness. Credits are not exchangeable for cash and will be made within 10 days of the posting regardless of whether the quota of 100 valid entries has been met. Entrants who receive the credit will receive an email informing them of the credit to their account. No other notice of "winners" will be made. The first 100 valid individual usernames will receive a credit of US$20 to their accounts to spend on GraphicRiver. Examples of Graphics, Textures and icons you will find at GraphicRiver.net
Last week Adobe started shipping the new version of their CS suite of applications. The Adobe CS4 family comes with a redesigned interface and a ton of new features. To get up to speed with all of the new features Lynda.com has created the CS4 University. I had a chance to access the CS4 University, and found that you'll have everything you need to upgrade your skills for the new Adobe Apps. There are videos lessons such as: New Features, Getting Started, and Essential Training for Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, After Effects, InDesign, Flash, Soundbooth, Premiere, Contribute, and Encore. “We are excited to offer in-box training from lynda.com and have worked closely on the development of their CS4U video training to help our designers and developers discover new possibilities and unleash their creative potential”. Thomas DeMeo, Director of Product Management Adobe Creative Suite ABOUT CS4 University: CS4 University is comprised of very diverse, specialized course titles that cover virtually every aspect of the Adobe Creative Suite 4 product family. Some of these courses are very advanced, while others include special applications for people working more at the consumer level. All of these courses are designed to help lynda.com’s Online Training Library® subscribers get the most out of the new Adobe software. Included within these courses are three new series: The “New Features” series focuses on what has changed since Adobe Creative Suite 3 software was released. The “Getting Started” series is designed to get Creative Suite 4 users up and running quickly. The “Essential Training” series supplies the ground-up fundamentals needed to master each application in Creative Suite 4 Lynda Weinman, co-founder of lynda.com, said: “As the software landscape continually evolves, a lynda.com Online Training Library subscription remains the most comprehensive and efficient way for designers, instructors, students, and hobbyists to keep their skill sets up to date.” “Packed with hundreds of new, innovative features—the Creative Suite 4 product line advances the creative process across print, Web, mobile, interactive, film and video production,” said Chad Siegel, group product manager for Creative Suites at Adobe. “lynda.com shows our customers just how to incorporate these innovations within their daily creative workflows with their new training offerings for CS4.” After a few days taking the Lynda Courses, I have to say, they are really good. I’m taking the After Effects and Cinema 4D courses, and I’m pretty happy with my evolution on those apps. I highly recommend that you check their courses out. They have both subscription plans and DVDs; but the access to their online library is definitely worth it.
One of the most difficult, and in my opinion most annoying tasks is when you have already sketched some ideas, then you start the digital process and you have to cut a person, or tree from the background. Doing that can sometimes take hours until you achieve a good result. There are many ways extract people and objects from the background. Photoshop has some nice built in features such as the Extract or the Background Eraser Tool. However, if you really need a professional result and don’t have much time to spend on it, you have to check out a plugin called Fluid Mask 3. Fluid Mask 3 is the professionals’ choice. Fluid Mask 2 established itself as the market leader in still image cutting-out – Fluid Mask 3 takes masking to the next level. Quick to pick up and intuitive to use, Fluid Mask 3 gets professional results fast. I have been using it for a few days and I’m really surprised with the quality of this plugin. You can get a fantastic result in a no more than a few minutes. Even for the most complex images. Here are some features of version 3: Faster initial image processing - For multi-core machines, Fluid Mask 3 runs its initial image processing up to 40% faster. With ever growing image file sizes our everyday image editing tools need to catch up – Fluid Mask 3 runs faster than ever. Localised edge detection and blending - It’s a true-ism when cutting out objects from their backgrounds that often 90% of the time is spent on 10% of the image – getting a difficult edge “just right”. Fluid Mask 3 now has a set of easy to use tools to isolate a difficult area (in a Patch) and apply alternative edge finding and blending techniques - making easy the tricky parts of image cutting. Intelligent Edge Blending - Fluid Mask 3 not only finds edges but also understands the width and character of an edge. On edges which are largely free of noise and where there is some contrast between foreground and background, Fluid Mask 3's intelligent blending is the only blending around to automatically extract the morphology (character) of an edge - remember there is no such thing as a 6 pixel feather on all edges in real life! Use feather blending where there is no contrast or lots of noise in an edge. Fluid Mask 3 will still find the correct edge width. I highly recommend that you check this tool out. If you deal with this kind of task on a daily basis it’s a must have plugin for your tool box. Below some example For Tutorials: http://www.vertustech.com/fm_tutorials.htm For Live Training: http://www.vertustech.com/fm_webcast.htm Also we have a copy to give away; so as usual we will pick a reader that drops a comment, but this reader must have an abduzeedo account ;)
The program formerly known as "Project Wukong" has been released a few days ago as Essential HDR. I've no idea why they would drop an awesome code name like Wukong, maybe the guys from Imaging Luminary aren't real Ninjas after all... But they are certainly nice people: You can download the demo version for free (called community version), which is essentially a demo with a bottom frame watermark and 1 megapixel size restriction. Even better, the first 1000 copies are on sale for 30% off ($48.99 instead of $69.99). Essential HDR is an HDR generator and tonemapper. It has a global and a local tonemapping operator. The local TMO (Detail Revealer) is the big selling point. According to the developers it is a new algorithm that produces less artifacts (halos, over-saturation) and runs at a decent speed (multicore support). I can wholeheartedly agree: this is indeed a very powerful tonemapper. Without much fuzz I got a very natural images, the preview is pretty accurate, and it is super-easy to use. For control freaks there might be too few sliders, but I find it very intuitive. Update: Due to a bad misunderstanding, I've used Christian Bloch's review on Essential HDR. I did actually use the software, and I did enjoy it. These are my comparisons. Side-by-side comparison. The overall interface is kept simple and it blends right in with other Windows Vista applications. There is no Mac version, but it runs fine on Boot Camp or VMWare Fusion. My test image #1. My test image #2. My test image #3. We have 2 copies to give away, so just leave a comment and we will announce the winner next week.
It's been more than a year that I write tutorials almost every week. Even though I got used to the process of capturing screenshots and then organize and save them with the right names for the right steps, it was still very time consuming task. Now, I've found a software that really helps the process of writing tutorials. Screensteps is as the documentation tool for people who don't want to do documentation. Basically Screensteps allows you to capture the screens directly to a document. Then you can add title, description, and export it in many different ways: PDF, HTML, straight to your blog, or even to Screensteps live blog system. But it's not just that. You can edit steps, replace and resize images, add sequences of numbers, graphic elements such as rectangles, ellipses, and arrows. Also you can format the text with bold, italic, and different text colors. However the coolest thing is that you can create templates and export your tutorial the way you want. In my case, I write tutorials for 2 blogs, Abduzeedo and PSDTUTS, so I have 2 templates and just choose the one I will export it. That simple. Screensteps really helps the process of creating tutorials, although, I think, there are some features missing that would be very important, like add more than one image per a step for example I highly recommend you to download the demo and check it out. Besides that we have a copy of Screensteps to giveaway, so just leave a comment and next Tuesday we will announce the lucky winner. Quick Intro Video More Screenshots
This week I had the chance to test the new Flashloaded component, called 3D Wall. It’s a really cool component that allows us to create 3D walls with pictures and you can navigate through the photos in a 3D space, very Apple TV style. 3D Wall displays images on an engaging interactive 3D wall using the Papervision3D engine. The wall can be flat or set at any curvature to create a truly unique look. The viewer can also scroll, tilt and zoom the wall freely. Includes a built-in preloader for seemless transitions between thumbs and large images. Over 60 parameters to customize your wall ensures unlimited number of looks and an enticing viewer experience. Available for ActionScript 3.0 (Flash CS3) only. I’ve done some experiments here with the component and I have to say, it’s awesome. There are a lot of parameters but it’s easy to understand, and if you want to create a simple and stunning portfolio site, this is a good option. Give it a try. Some Features: Flat or curved wall Double sided thumbnails Interactive wall tilting Adjustable number of rows and spacing Customizable animation settings Mouse and keyboard interactivity Swivel camera External XML file Glow & reflection XML or Component Inspector Depth of field Mouse events Built-in skinnable scrollbar and preloader We have two copies of 3D Wall to give away, so just leave a comment and next week, May 1st we will announce the winners. For more information visit Flashloaded.com UPDATE: The winners are: Anjana Giackop