Free For All: No Foolin’ Freebies

Unreadable FPO/Mockup Type

Stop me if you’ve heard this story before. Once, many years ago, I had a client who asked me to design product sheets, brochures, and other marketing material ahead of having the copy to add to these designs. Naturally, I used the time-honored Lorem Ipsum placeholder text a stand-in for the as-yet-with-copywriter marketing copy. When I presented the layout proofs to the client he jumped up and, in an expletive-laden tirade, proceeded to explain to me how Latin was a dead language, that only an idiot produce marketing material written in Latin (except, maybe, the client allowed, for doctors and lawyers), and that the audience for the materials I was working on would be English, not Latin, readers. The client then threatened to terminate his contract with my firm, a contract worth a little over $100 thousand. Copious application of my lips to his butt saved the contract, but the client wouldn’t even indulge me an explanation of the purpose for the Latin—which, of course, wasn’t even readable Latin.

That client was a rare exception, of course. Most clients are either already familiar with Lorem Ipsum or easily accept the reasons behind its use. Still, Chuck—the aforementioned client—can’t be the only one out there. Even if he is, you may just be tired of using Lorem Ipsum. In either case, you have options. First is BLOKK, a free font that produces not letters and numbers but blocks that look like text you may have zoomed out from in InDesign or another layout program. For a more natural balance of ink and whitespace while still remaining completely unreadable, check out FILLR. It’s another free font for placeholder text, but one composed of squiggles such as you might use to represent text in hand drawn sketches. Both fonts were created for use in Web design and mobile user interface mockups and wireframes, but work just as well as alternatives to standard FPO (For Position Only) text in any medium.

If neither BLOKK nor FILLR tickles you, you’ll find that I’ve previously covered a number of Lorem Ipsum generators and alternatives here on

Rare Books on Calligraphy and Penmanship

Some of you young whippersnappers may not realize this, but most of the creative professions existed long before computers. Long, long before Jobs and Gates, long before even ENIAC, humans already had a need to present written words in a pleasing, well-designed aesthetic. Our forebears in those regards used ink applied directly and by hand to paper. Mind-blowing, but true. Some say that the soul of calligraphy was lost when computers replaced hand lettering.

Should you like to reclaim a bit of that soul, or, for anthropological reasons, simply explore the practices of ancient creatives from the 1800s and early 1900s, you will find a wealth of free ebooks in PDF format courtesy of the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrassers, and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH). The organization, which is quite lively with more than 700 members worldwide, an annual convention, and a charter dating back to 1949, maintains arguably the most complete online library of rare and early books on the arts of hand lettering, calligraphy, and penmanship. With gems such as Lessons in Engraver’s Script, Lessons in Ornamental Penmanship (the 1948 edition), Steel Pen Trade 1930–1980, and 19th Century Swedish Copybook, the free to view online and download PDFs are a treat for any aficionado of the principles and history of design, letterforms, calligraphy, or penmanship.

Chart: Megapixels to Print Dimensions

Megapixels are today the most marketed feature of digital cameras, and one of the biggest selling points of smartphones with onboard digital cameras. But, what is a megapixel, you may ask. It’s a unit of measure equal to 1,048,576 pixels. Thus, the 8-megapixel camera built into the iPhone 5 can capture 8,388,608 pixels per image. If you’ve spent a fair amount of time working in digital graphics for the Web, mobile, or any other location where pixels are an important unit of measure, you’ll likely have an immediate concept of how large roughly 1 and 8 million pixels are on screen, and thus an understanding of megapixel measurements relate to typical digital image work.

What you may not as intuitively understand is how megapixel measurements translate to print sizes. You could do the math—number of megapixels × 1,048,576 × output Pixels Per Inch (PPI) measurement. Or, you could prevent the smoking ears and use this handy dandy little chart from a little design firm in Fort Lauderdale, Design215. The chart assumes a standard print output of 300 ppi to correlate number of megapixels with number of inches. For example, that 8 megapixel iPhone 5 capture will print out just under 11 inches at 300 ppi.

You can also scroll down the page a bit and check out a table that shows common megapixel and print output sizes at 200 and 150 ppi resolutions. And, for an even deeper understanding of megapixels versus pixels versus print dimensions, check out this article by Ben Long from February 2011.

Photoshop Actions

In Photoshop the Actions panel enables you to automate just about any task or series of tasks that doesn’t absolutely require the mouse. For example, I frequently use actions that adjust colors and curves in images from specific devices; actions that resize, trim, and convert images between formats, and; actions that apply a variety of special effects such as weathering, distressing, embossing, and more. One or two clicks, and I can accomplish what would might take a few hundred clicks and an hour of effort. Moreover, actions make the tasks, processes, and effects repeatable, rendering consistent results time after time. Actions can do quite a lot for you, and I’d like to end this not-so-foolish-April-Fool’s-Day edition of Free for All with a collection of amazing free Photoshop actions you can put to work right now.

Idiot Actions (Worn Text, Faux-HDR, Blocky Effect, Dribbblify)

Retro Photography


Semi-Vintage Collection

Retro Vintage Pro Pack v002 (Black & White Negative, Color Negative, Cross Processing, Velvia Low, Velvia Med, Velvia Hi, Lomo Low, Lomo Med, Lomo Hi, Cyanotype)

HDR Tools

50 Photoshop Actions Pack 2

Color Action

AFW’s Bluezy

Double Sketch

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: April 1, 2013

7 Comments on Free For All: No Foolin’ Freebies

  1. This is awesome guys, thanks for the support 🙂 Webelemint love’s you!

  2. Just to give you a ‘heads up’, there’s a typo in the last paragraph in the section on Megapixels.
    Other than that, always good stuff.

  3. @adkbob Thank ypu! 😉

  4. Thanks for these! More free fonts are always great (I am a fontaholic).

  5. Thanks for sharing the many treasures you find! You’re the best!

  6. Would love to see some free templates for Photoshop and/or InDesign for basic designs like movie posters, collages, ads.

    Also some websites that post free photos for real that don’t require a signup or other hoops to jump through.

  7. Love, love, love getting these Free for All!

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