It’s been a while since my first design resources for bloggers post, and since then I’ve discovered (and rediscovered) a couple of sites that are super useful- not just for bloggers trying to DIY bits of their own sites, but even for experienced designers who don’t feel like opening up Photoshop (PicMonkey), who need a free quality webfont (FontSquirrel), great textures (Lost and Taken), or some great inspiration and to brush up on skills (Nicole’s Classes). Today’s roundup features resources that are really versatile- I use them but they’re simple enough to navigate that a beginner can use them with ease as well!
PicMonkey is a great (and free!) photo editing website created by some of the same guys who developed the photo editing software that you may be familiar with from the Google Picassa days. It’s super user friendly, has fun seasonal add-ons like their current Halloween effects, and has tools that you’d also find in Photoshop like multiply, overlay, etc., that you can learn the effects of on a free program. If you’re looking for a tutorial, you can check out my tutorial here on how to create a Twitter header photo collage using PicMonkey.
I’m a fan of free fonts, especially when they’re well-designed. Font Squirrel has quite a few free fonts that are not only free, and well-designed, but that also come with webkits (aka the code and licensing you need to use them on your site) so that if you’re good at doing a little CSS hacking, or have a developer working with, you can grab a Font Squirrel font to use as a header or body font on your site. For example, I use Museo Slab over on my LLY Designs site as the body font, using their webkit. Pretty fancy stuff, huh? Be careful though, you can’t use *just any* font on a website- you have to make sure you’ve got the proper licensing. On Font Squirrel, though, you’re good to go for web or print use!
3. Nicole’s Classes (blog)
First off, I can absolutely recommend the classes that are offered through Nicole’s Classes! I took Alma’s pattern class, and it was SUPER helpful! Secondly, their blog is a great resource. Always has great inspiration, fabulous tutorials, plus free downloads on the regular. It’s a great resource to keep handy and it’s nice to see what you can be learning from their classes since they post work from current students, not just the instructors.
Last but not least, Lost and Taken is a great place to turn for all sorts of high resolution textures- if you know how to use blending modes, you can add them to mess with photos in PicMonkey or Photoshop, or you can use them as subtle (or not so subtle backgrounds) for photos, headers, icons, or even an entire blog. Definitely a fabulous resource and it’s updated regularly, which makes it even more of a go-to favorite.
Hopefully these are 4 more great resources to add to your design arsenal! Next time I do a design roundup- are there specific things you’d like me to focus on? Sites for colors? Fonts? More textures? Just general inspiration? Leave a comment and give me a heads’ up. And if you try these sites out, let me know what you think!