Using actions in Photoshop is like using quick keys on your keyboard (If you still say Apple instead of Command raise your hand). If you're not using them, why not? They save you time and can make your life easier. You can do something the long way, but why not just push a button and watch the magic happen? Also with the plethora of free actions out there, you can also add amazing effects to your pictures or logos, along with guaranteeing uniformity if you're working on a set of photos that you need to make black and white. I found this great list of 50 free Photoshop Actions and loaded up some of my favs from their list into Photoshop to see how they would look using the same two photos: A stock image of a woman and a stock image of a sunset road. And as a bonus, I did a more difficult action that involved creating a custom shape to my AG Designs icon.

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Book Covers That Pop!

The hand-written font look is dominating packaging and design right now. My love for it runs deep and it doesn't seem to be a trend that is letting up. But surely there will be a backlash soon. A possible hint of that, I just redesigned a magazine that was only a year old to rid it of a hand-writing font that hand just become to ubiquitous: 

Hand of Sean

. So, maybe the actual fonts are getting to be tired, but when something is truly one-of-a-kind, created by hand, like on book covers, they just pop off the shelf. And that's definitely what publishers and authors want. The book that actually got me thinking about handwriting again was this one, 

The Missing Ink

. A book about the lost art of handwritten notes. I loved the cover so much and then found that it has an equally awesome UK cover. It sounds like a fascinating read and I added it to my list on


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Stamp it!

Or...more on the branding of my independent design business:  AG Designs.  My last post was about the personalized notepads I made. A notepad is great, but to make other pieces of paper and plain envelopes into professional stationary, I knew I also needed personalized self-inking stamp. It had to include my logo icon and just a couple of lines of text. It should to be simple so that it wasn't difficult to read. I was thinking about including my phone number and email address but that's all available on my site. Why muddy the waters? Most of the time the best design is also the most straight forward aka "form follows function." (Which I thought from my memories of college graphic design classes was a Bauhaus philosophy, but it turns out it was an American architect named, Louis Sullivan as well as a song by Lupe Fiasco. Thanks Google!)

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