I’ve been doing a bit of design work over the last week or so, which has been fun. I’m not a great graphic designer, but I can do enough to be dangerous. I enjoy having the freedom to experiment with different ideas without having to bother somebody else to do the heavy lifting.
This is the first time I’ve really got stuck into this sort of work since I switched to my Mac, so I’ve had to get used to a bunch of new tools.
For HTML and CSS I’ve been using Coda, which I chose basically on the strength of its logo (see right), but which has turned out to be a nice tool. I especially like the built-in reference books, which are great for somebody like me who doesn’t spend all of their time coding and needs regular help.
For image editing I’m using Pixelmator to replace my old favourite on Windows, Paint.net. It’s taking me a while to get used to this, and I’m not sure I’ll continue with it beyond the free demo period. I am feeling quite slow using it, and it’s missing a few of the things I use a lot – for example, it doesn’t support vectors at all so there is no rectangle tool, instead you need to select the required area and then fill in the selection which seems cumbersome when you’re doing it a lot. I’m also pretty slow with it generally, but I have a feeling that will improve once I get on top of the keyboard shortcuts etc. It’s very pretty, but I’m not sure this is the right tool for the job I have in mind.
I’ve had a quick play with Inkscape, but it uses X11 and doesn’t really feel like an OS X application.
What other alternatives can you Mac users recommend?
(In looking around I did find a really cute tool called Scribbles. If you’re into graphic design I definitely recommend having a play with this, just to check out the smart interface, including a whole new approach to layers which seems really intuitive. It’s designed for kids, but I suspect that kids of all ages could have a lot of fun with it.)
I’ve also found a couple of other useful tool-lets which I thought I’d share (for my own future reference if for no other better reason):
At Webstock Dan Cederholm talked about basing a colour palette on a photograph from nature. This tool from De Graeve makes it easy – simply upload your image and it will pick out a range of complementary colours from the image. It even gives you the hex codes:
They also have a simple fav icon editor:
Robin Wood has a really useful introduction to the OS X Colour Picker, which is actually much more powerful than it first appears.
The magnifying glass and swatch drawer were both new to me.
And, what’s more the picker can be extended with third-party add-ons.
I found this from Waffle Software, which adds a simple hex picker tab (see screenshot right):
What other tools are people out there using for this sort of thing? I’d be interested to get your suggestions.