Free For All: An Awesome Assortment

Your Handwriting as a Font
Back in the 1990s, design-related magazines carried ads for mail-order services that converted your handwriting into a font. You had to wait to receive a template on which you’d draw each character or glyph of the font, and then you had to wait for your TrueType font to arrive on a 3.5-inch floppy. Now there’s a free online service that converts your handwriting into a font in as little as five minutes. is in public beta, but as you can see from my scrawl in the figure below, it works quite well. The site presents you with a character template, which you must print, fill in by hand, and then scan into a PNG format. Upload that PNG to through a special form, and the automated recognition software builds a new cross-platform TrueType font from your handwriting in moments — all for free!

Just download the font and install it to put your personal touch on any computer-generated text. The site recommends using a Sharpie marker to draw your letters, which is what produced the heavily emboldened sample of my writing below. After this experience, I would suggest you use a fine-tip felt pen instead.

Free Stock Photos
I’ve covered resources for free stock photography in past Free for Alls, but just as you can never have too much pasta, you can never have too much free stock photography. This time around I stumbled on the aptly named Freerange Stock.

Instead of charging for stock photos, Freerange Stock uses an advertising revenue model. Membership is free and includes unlimited downloads, but you have to see on-site advertising (which is no more obtrusive than ads on the average blog or news site). Photographers who submit photos get a share of ad revenue. I hope that Freerange’s revenue model works in the long run; designers can use as many free resources as we can get.

Easy, Hosted Online Store
I’m really excited about Big Cartel for artists with work to sell but without the Web skills to build their own sites or budgets for credit card merchant accounts. The site gives you an easy-to-set-up-and-maintain online store for your art, clothing designs, jewelry, or whatever else you may have to sell. All you have to do is upload a picture of each product, enter a description and price, and tell the world where to find your store. Customers purchase products through your store, and Big Cartel processes payments and deposits the money into your PayPal account. You can customize your store by applying pre-built store templates and changing colors and graphics.

The free “Gold” account option offers a store of up to five products, with one image per product and basic customization. However, if you make even one or two sales per month, it’s almost a no-brainer to jump up to the $9.99 per month “Platinum” or $19.99 per month “Diamond” plans, with support for 25 and 100 products, respectively, more photos per product, full store customization, inventory tracking, and your own custom URL.

The Adobe Shortcut App
The Adobe Shortcut App is a cross-platform Adobe AIR application that lets you quickly locate any default keyboard shortcut for Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, After Effects, and a bunch of other Adobe applications. (InCopy, Adobe’s red-headed stepchild, is left out.) The Adobe Shortcut App runs on Mac or Windows, but provides keyboard shortcuts for both platforms. You can save favorite shortcuts to the Favorites tab for even faster location later.

Cartoon Bubbles Photoshop Plug-in
Although I can see commercial potential, the main point of using Cartoon Bubble is just plain fun! This free Photoshop plug-in from Digital Anarchy provides a host of options for creating comic strip-like dialog bubbles in your artwork.

Photo Credit: © Pariah S. Burke

What can I find free for you? Want more free fonts? More Photoshop brushes? How about more online applications that do this or that for free? Tell me in the comments what you’d like to see in future installments of Free for All, and I’ll do my best bloodhound impression to track it down for you.

Please note: Free for All will often link to resources hosted on external Web sites outside of the control of At any time those Web sites may close down, change their site or permalink structures, remove content, or take other actions that may render one or more of the above links invalid. As such neither Pariah S. Burke nor can guarantee the availability of the third-party resources linked to in Free for All.

Posted on: October 19, 2009

9 Comments on Free For All: An Awesome Assortment

  1. The Air Shortcuts app is a good idea, but unless you know the command or option’s exact name, or at least how its name begins, it fails to find what you want, unlike Quick Apply (in InDesign, not sure which other CS applications it’s in), which needs you to type only a partial sequence of letters in the command to filter the list. For example, “dde” finds “Show Hidden Menu Commands” or “Hide Hidden Menu Commands,” depending on if the current state is showing or hidden. Pressing Enter/Return executes the command. In commands that toggle, like Hidden Menu Commands, the same abbreviation turns the command on or off.

    Peter Gold
    KnowHow ProServices

  2. this is great! thanks for all your hard work!

  3. great fun

  4. You’re absolutely right, Peter. Unfortunately InDesign and InCopy are the only apps with Quick Apply. Thus the great potential for the Adobe Shortcuts App being useful to many users.


  5. I need the raphael font. I don’t want to pay for it. I know it is an adobe font. Any Help?

  6. I’m sorry, Guest, but Free for All only provides resources that are actually free, not stolen items.

  7. I especially like the DIY handwritten font. It’ll make holiday newsletters a little more personal this year! ;’] More of everything please!

    BTW, a great source for FREE stock images is


  8. Do you have a link where I can find holiday borders to use in InDesign? I am most interested in a variety of Christmas ornaments.

    Please send your reply to:

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