Essential Keystrokes is…

where I share my favorite tips, tools, reviews and commentary on web design, marketing, blogging, new media and related topics. For more about this site and the voice behind it, check out my About page.


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Archive for Graphic Design


Tiled Backgrounds Designer

Posted by: Char | Comments (2)

I love finding cool new tools!! I literally Stumbled across this really neat tool for creating custom tiled backgrounds that you can use for just about anything! The site is

tiled background pattern designer

Using the web-based designer, you select a combination of colors, canvas texture, images, rotate them, scale them and test them. Then you can download the background tile to use how ever you see fit. There is also the social aspect of the site which allows you to share your creations using the major social bookmarking/sharing sites, save your backgrounds and vote on others’ creations.

Bgpatterns is definitely one of the coolest tools I have discovered recently and it is another staple in my designer toolbox – along with the 13 sites for great patterns and backgrounds and 13 sites for unique textures I shared in previous posts.

Comments (2)

2008 CMT Music Awards - Red Carpet
Image details: 2008 CMT Music Awards – Red Carpet served by

Guest Post by David Peralty

Something often overlooked by bloggers are images for their content, but with recent reports that most readers skim content equal to around one quarter of what is actually written, an image can sometimes be your only opportunity to hook a reader into really reading all that you have to say.

Just like with all other content, the images you can get for your posts can come from legal or illegal sources. Most people don’t pay attention to this fact, but with companies seeing decreasing revenue, protecting intellectual property is on the rise, so taking images you found from a Google Image search isn’t the best idea.

There are many free and legal sources for images, but you have to be willing to look around.

Currently, I work for PicApp, a company that provides access to high quality images from companies like Corbis and Getty. PicApp allows you to easily embed images in your posts.

Some others worth mentioning that I have used before include Flickr’s Creative Commons images that users have uploaded and given open access to, as well as stock.xchng.

The only issues with these sites are that they don’t always have the highest quality images, nor the latest editorial images.

Some other reasons you might want to make adding an image to your posts a regular endeavor is to break up the content, which can allow it to flow better, or helping convey thoughts, ideas, opinions, or even the overall mood of the text around it.

It allows you to differentiate from your competitors as many bloggers aren’t spending the time and energy finding images worth posting, and this opens up an opportunity for each and every one of you to make the most out of your content and how it is displayed.

One last thing I wanted to note that is special about PicApp, and incredibly useful for me as a blogger is the ability to subscribe to my searches via RSS. If you are a celebrity blogger talking about Miley Cyrus, it can be hard to keep up with everything that is happening with regards to her and her brand, but by subscribing to an RSS feed of your image search, PicApp will let you know when there are new photographs that you can use, and I have already been told that it has helped inspire posts, and I can see it helping some bloggers beat their competition in releasing an article.ek-div.gif
About our Guest Blogger:  David Peralty has been a full time blogger for the last three years, and now works as Community Manager for PicApp while also building his own blogs like eXtra for Every Publisher.

Comments (5)

13 Sites for Unique Textures

Posted by: Char | Comments (9)

Textures can make interesting backgrounds for web sites, but they are also great for use in creating custom images with interest, depth and of course, texture. There are literally thousands of sites where you can find textures, but here are 13 that I check first when I need inspiration, something unique, high quality and low cost.

1. deviantART – A community of artists and enthusaists who submit and share their art. deviantART contains thousands of textures, tiles, backgrounds and images – some are free, some for purchase.

Deviant Art

2. Bittbox – Definitely one of my favorite sites for graphic design extras. Bittbox has a nice collection of free Photoshop brushes, fonts, and recently they have added some free textures, too.


3. UrbanDirty – Huge collection of free stock textures for your artwork, desktop, and viewing pleasure.


4. CGTextures – Amazing collection of free textures for use in print and web.


5. GrungeTextures – Free high resolution textures, backgrounds, photos and digital art for use under creative commons license.


6. TextureKing – Growing repository of high quality texture photos that are free for personal and professional use.

Texture King

7. Texture Library – Good variety of textures from fabric to circuit boards and everything in between.

Texture Library

8. Free3dsTextures – Creative commons license collection of interesting textures


9. Free seamless textures -Tutorials on how to create seamless texture images and a gallery of textures to download.

Free Seamless Textures

10. ImageAfter – Free high resolution textures of metals, floors, skin, wood, rock, walls etc for personal or commercial use.

Image After

11. Got3d – Free and for purchase textures. The free textures are photographer’s surplus that are free to use but cannot be resold.


12. StockXCHNG – One of my favorite resources for free stock photography also has a good selection of textures.


13. And don’t forget Flickr! Using various search terms, you can find large collections of textures and backgrounds you can download on Flickr. (How to use and understand Flickr images)

More 13′s:

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Categories : Graphic Design
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