Photoshop Brushes & Brusheezy

Ever saw illustrations like the following?




These has been all the range in today media from website, poster, and even commercials. Usually targeting the younger generation who like all the swirls, bold lines, circles and bubbles etc.

Every wonder how they are created? The amazing things about these illustration is that although everything is popping up everywhere, everything is so precise, the lines are all of the same thickness and their is certain pattern to the randomness. Needless to say these illustration look like they take forever to make.

The truth is though, these drawing are in fact quite easy to make with the right tools of course, namingly adobe photoshop. You see in adobe photoshop and other adobe software there is a brush tool to create illustration like those. All you have to do is download brush and let the creativity begin.

Two website that has especially large and fantastic collection of brushes are Brusheezy and Deviant Art. Brusheezy is a simple web2.0 specifically devoted to photoshop brushes. There are currently over 250 brushes and counting. Deviant Art of course is open source site for all things art, just browse through the brush section, the sheer quantity and quality is amazing!

Alright now you have brushes start designing and feel free to send us some artwork to showcase!

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Monetizing Customization

I switched to Green Marinee weeks ago, but I'm still not quite down with customizations. Today I tweak the template a bit to monetize this blog and integrate Google Adsense. I won't go through all the technical details and how to, its all already documented under hacks and Google Adsense. Basically you need to run the Adsense code through our HTML Parser.

You can see I have a 468px ad running across the top. At first I was going for a square ad floated left of the content for better exposure like at my other blog Blogging2.0. However the square no matter what the size always cause some issues with the design of the blog. I rather have no ads at all rather than ad that 'break' my template. This brings me to another point, for better click through rates its advised to have the ads as much like normal content as possible. Having the link the same color as normal link and background color with no border like normal background are very important.

This ad thing is really demands lots of changes doesn't it? To accommodate the horizontal ad, I had to move my meta information like labels, authors, etc to the body of each post when the coment was. I increased the font size and added a green boarder running across the top to seperate the meta info from the body of each blog entry. Overall I'm pretty pleased with this change as it blend in with Green Marinee's design characteristics.

Finally, I also added a Adsense Referral ink at botom on each page. Don't see it? That's because I only added to the subpages that shows individual post? How did I do that? Well, just wrap whatever you want in subpages inside

<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == "item"'></b:if>


So, you can see in the May the 4th be with you post that we recommend you to use Google Adsense

That's it for this customization, undoubtedly I will tweak this template a lot more but that's all for now. Good night!

Template Building Block

In the dawn of time
There was a nothingness
That shroud over blogs, there
Were no decent templates, just rigid
border to wrap around you posts, sidebars,
widgets and whatever else. Needless to say it was
A time of great blandness and spartan designs. Until
three came and changed things, taking a giant leap for blogs
changing the look of blogs forever ----- K2, Kubrick, Hemingway
[ok, I will end my peculiar star war intro before I creep you out more]

Like all websites almost a decade ago, blog designs were extremely bland and boring compared to blogs today. The first template that was exceptionally new and fresh design-wise was Wordpress based because of its easy HTML, coding integration; Which still remain one of the reason why there are tons of Wordpress theme and only a dozen Blogger templates.

That very first template was Kubrick which remained the default template that comes pre-installed with Wordpress till this day. Then K2 became more popular followed by Hemingway. These three templates are not special just because they are the 'first' templates but also all three templates are very customizable and many other templates are based on them. Some templtes just swapped the graphics used while leaving the coding framework, yet the customized template look different enough to go under another name.


Kubrick
Kubrick is designed by the good people at Binary Bonsai, you can get a little history of Kubrick from the site. You can see that Kubrick uses rounder corners that are popular in the new web2.0 age of the internet and web design. The general color and clean feel also fits the web2.0 style.

In terms of coding, Kubrick started the cornerstone of blog template coding with organized CSS, clean divs, and excellent element tagging with class and id to identify each distinct element of a blog and their purpose. ie. a header post title would be clearly classed "post-title". This way designer who aren't as strong in coding could simple replace old graphics to have everything fit in place.

Kubrick is very widely customized with widgets, coloumns [2,3,4 columns], and ported into other blog publishing system.


K2
K2 is a second theme designed again by the good people at Binary Bonsai, it has its own site at http://getk2.com/. K2 is somewhat a heir of Kubrick, continue the web2.0 theme. K2 did away with the round corners and added the tab navigation. The meta information for each is moved up under the blog title with some nifty FAMFAMFAM icons added. Again K2 retains Kubrick's clean layout that's easy on the eye. K2 and Kubrick share very similar sidebars. In fact, one of the tricks to identifying a modified K2 or Kubrick theme is by the sidebar, a streamline blue list with a gray title at top.

Similar to Kubrick, K2 is very well coded and heavily modified into many different versions.

Overall I think K2 provides a great alternative for those who aren't into round corners but more so for angular designs.


Hemingway

Hemingway is designed by Kyle Neath at Warpspire. Although it is not as popular as Kubrick and K2 it is very widely used by thousands of blogger and one of the first choices as the skeleton for customization. Hemingway features a minimalistic desgin white on black that leaves a lot of rooms for extra graphics and tweaks. Designs with Hemingway as the skeleton usually have excellent readability featureing clear text, large line spacing, and distinct level identification in content and lists.

Hemingway is also one of the first blog that has the option to have the links at the foot and post occupy the entire top section of the design. Another bit of trivia is that the name of the template came from the designer's favorite author.


Of these three template, you can find K2 at Blogcrowds in new Blogger XML Template supporting labels and widgets. I'm pretty sure Kubrick is converted to Blogger XML as well somewhere on the web. Hemingway is yet to be moved to new Blogger.

2 comments

Frustration

Baaaahhh, almost another week with no new template entries, I'm really kicking myself in the umm behind.

Lately I have been bogged down with the number of new posts we have at blogcrowds forums since we imposed the three post till you get your template rule. Well, of course, as a result we got a boatload more posts and I personally would like to respond to every single one. There goes an hour more of my spare time. Should have saw that one coming, I actually did but just as well prepared as I thought. I know all of the above sound like a lot of excuses when there should be none... Oh well, guess I have to be more efficient in the future.

In any case I do have one new template to showcase:



Here it is for all the die hard baseball fans, The Road To October is designed especially for you!

And if anyone's kind enough, feel free to post a reply with something like

Get to work, lazy umm behind, there better be a design magnified for this template!


Thanks a million times.

1 comments

Green Marinee Released!

Alright, I finally went through the entire Green Marinee Template and everything seem to be fine. So here it is, in response to popular demand (well at least from the request I have gotten), Green Marinee - converted to blogger xml template is released for public download:



Demo | Download

Above is a screenshot, a demo (not that I need another one) and a link to the download page. Hope you enjoy this one.

To see other full Blogger XML Template with labels and all other new blogger features visit Blogcrowds.com and there are many more to come! Now its easy than ever for bloggers to download Blogger XML Templates at Blogger Templates. Good luck blogging everyone.

25 comments

Green Marinee

Great, our first serious template review / template magnified. We'll start off with the latest template I have been working on that's used on this very blog, Green Marinee.

Green Marinee
is a WordPress based theme designed by Australian web designer Ian Main. Visit his website/portofolio at http://e-lusion.com/ for other excellent examples of web design.


DESIGN
From top down, Green Marinee has the site name offset with the solid black. Although a logo is not present, the blackground should very well with your own custom logo.

Next, like one of Ian's nonpublic WordPress theme, BrettPro, Green Marinee uses the single strip trend with the lime green strip going across the background. The strip certainly make the background more interesting and further enhancing the drop shadow from the main body. Coninuing with the strip pattern you can see many broad green line going across the template, below the site name, for each sidebar module, even in the links.

The content area of the template is given a large area with good size font and improtant information emphasized with font weight and coloring. Overall very clean and comfortable on the eye. One thing about the main content is that it might get a bit boring as you scroll down leaving with plain white and some drop shadows as the case on this blog. This could might be remedied with fixing the background black and green to the background so when you scroll they don't move.

Unlike some designers who embellish the content the area but neglect the sidebars, it looks like Ian spent some extra time on the sidebars. The sidebar has excellent list icons and lime green module seperators that perfect blend with the template. Green Marinee even has second level list icons.

Finally the footer, which is text transformed into all uppercase with a list for special styling aligned horizontally.


CODING
Overall, I won't say Green Marinee is very difficult to code, the hardest part is probably the background and drop shadows. Ian could have done two things to achieve the sidebar shadow at the sides.

Have the background as a single thin horizontal slice and repeat it vertically using one div container


or

Append the left and right drop shadow to each side using two div container


Of the two, it looks like Ian used both, he appended the drop shadows to the left and right as well as included a background image for the center. This explains the number of div wrappers around the container. One thing I'm puzzled about is why use an image for the center, why not just set the background color to white?

The advantages of the technique is that he made things a lot easier for me to resize to change the dimension of the template and add a third sidebar. Which also make Green Marinee ideal for a fluid design.

One thing I don't get in Green Marinee's coding is that while the design is excellent, the coding is terrible in terms of SEO. Search engines read the HTML code top down and identify the top content as more important than the lower ones. However, in Green Marinee the main column is place at the very end of the HTML code while the sidebar is above it meaning search engine will see sidebar linking more important than the actual content. Most people read from left to right so the main content comes first so why not code it above first?


In conclusion, Green Marinee is an excellent template, very clean with extra touches that really stands out. Overall 8.5/10. You can find Green Marinee with the extra sidebar shown here soon, sometimes in the next few days at Blogcrowds Blogger Template page.

...and that it people, our first design review or as the label says design magnified.

3 comments