The 9 best alternatives to Photoshop

You could be mistaken for thinking there are no real Photoshop alternatives around. Photoshop is such a powerful brand that, like Google, it has actually become a verb: 'to Photoshop' is shorthand for editing an image. This might make you believe that no other software could possibly do as good a job, and stop you from looking any further for your image editing needs. 

In fact, Adobe doesn't necessarily have the market cornered and the backlash against Adobe's move to the Creative Cloud in 2013 actually helped to spur on a wide range of alternatives to Photoshop. These options can be just as powerful, and produce results that are just as professional.

So whether you're looking elsewhere because you can't afford the subscription, you want to support smaller development houses, or you just don't need all the millions of features that come with Photoshop CC, there are a number of image editing tools open to you. Here are the best Photoshop alternatives.

01. Affinity Photo

The 9 best alternatives to Photoshop: Affinity Photo

Can this Photoshop alternative topple Adobe from its throne?

  • Platform: Mac, Windows, iPad
  • Price: £48.99/$49.99 (one-off payment) 

Fully compatible with Photoshop and other file formats, Affinity Photo is aimed squarely at professional photographers and designers, and although it is hugely cheaper than Photoshop (with no subscription), its creators argue it's actually better. We think it's perhaps the most serious Photoshop alternative we've seen to date. 

It comes with a promise of higher speeds, fewer crashes and unlimited undos but in truth, the amount of improved performance you'll get will probably depend what equipment you're using (it's been specifically designed to take advantage of the latest quad core technology). 

Available on Mac and Windows, Affinity Photo for iPad had an update in 2018. If you're looking for an alternative to Photoshop, Affinity Photo is definitely worth investigating. 

02. Sketch

The 9 best alternatives to Photoshop: Sketch

Sketch includes tools similar to that of Photoshop and Illustrator at a fraction of the price

33 of the best 404 pages

A 404 page, if you don't know, is a standard response code in HTTP telling the user, in effect, that they've clicked on a broken link. If you're designing a website, you're going to need one. 404 error pages have traditionally been an immense source of frustration, but in recent years, creatives have been using them as an opportunity to add something to the site. More and more, we're seeing bespoke 404 pages that use humour, great UX or beautiful design to sweeten the pill of finding you're in the wrong place.

Done really well, a 404 page can become a mini-ambassador for the website itself. It might even be shared on Twitter or relevant blogs as an example of the site's commitment to customer service or unique design style. The 404 error pages we present here have achieved all this and more, so take a look and be inspired to think outside the box with your own.

01. Android

Android turns getting lost into a fun experience with its gamified 404 page. Tiny worker Android Bots shoot out doughnuts, jelly beans and marshmallows, and the user spins the cogs to direct them into the correct tube. Sporting a simple, cute and on-brand design, this game is as addictive as the sweets being sorted. Check it out here.

02. Gymbox

Gym Box is a gym company that aims to offer "the most unique and diverse classes in London". The limits of that claim might be the kind of magnificent 80s fitness spectacle that appears on its 404 page. Short shorts, crop tops and pelvic thrusting – what more could you want from an error page? 

03. Slack

It's only a slight exaggeration to say that Slack's 2019 logo update was met with widespread horror, and its super-saccharine 404 page is sure to have its fair share of haters too. Go wrong in Slack, and you're directed to a magical landscape of lush foliage, mountains and rainbows, where butterflies, chickens and tiny little pigs roam …

The best code editors

Finding the best code editor can have a big impact on your productivity and workflow. Whether you are new to the world of programming or an old hand, you'll need a great code editor to help you perform your magic. 

The best code editors will make you more efficient at coding and writing, assist you in examining and editing your code, and be customisable to meet your needs. They will also create a more comfortable user experience, which should not be underestimated, as you’ll be looking at your code editor for potentially hours every day.

There are dozens of text editors, code editors, IDEs, and more out there for you to choose from. So how do you pick? You really only want to have to make the switch to a new editor once in a while, as you'll lose some efficiency while you’re adjusting to the different software. 

Read on to discover five of the best code editors for developers and designers, and find the best-in-class tool for you to use every day. At the end of the post on page 3, you'll also find information on what is a code editor, and how to pick the right code editor.

Sublime Text is the editor that really changed the way code editors worked. It is lightweight, open and ready to edit your file almost as soon as you have managed to click the button. This responsiveness is one of the things that makes Sublime Text the best code editor in its class. If you want to open a file and make a quick edit, waiting for a few seconds for loading may not sound like much, but the delay can grow tedious. 

Another big benefit of Sublime Text is that it is crazily extensible, with a huge and ever-growing list of plugins available to install via the package manager. Options include themes with which to customise the editor’s appearance, code linters (which can assist with more quickly locating any errors in your code), Git plugins, …

The best laptops for graphic design in 2019

If you're on the hunt for the best laptop for graphic design, you're in the right place. Whatever your budget and skill, our handy guide has an option to cover all your needs. So whether you need a powerhouse of a machine or one to handle simple tasks on the go, there's a laptop here for you. 

Taking into account its features and price, our overall pick for the best laptop for graphic design right now is the stunning Microsoft Surface Book 2, which, aside from being an excellent all-round laptop, also doubles up as a ridiculously good tablet. Plus, there are some good deals around on the lower specced versions.

There's also a notable addition at number two on our list: the Lenovo ThinkPad P1. This powerhouse costs as much as Apple’s excellent 2018 MacBook Pro, but offers a 100% AdobeRGB display, which delivers an amazing picture for all kinds of graphic design work.

There's also the Huawei Matebook X Pro (number six), which is a stunning laptop for graphic design that rivals the mighty MacBook Pro; as well as its smaller and more affordable sibling, the excellent MateBook 13.

Prefer working on a desktop PC or Mac? Then take a look at our pick of the best computers for graphic design.

Laptops for graphic design: What to look for

So how do you pick the best laptop for your graphic design work? Clearly you'll be guided by what you can afford, which is why we have the best options for all budgets here. But there are a few other things to consider too. 

One is power versus portability: you need something that’s thin and light enough to throw in your backpack, but also powerful enough to run your suite of creative tools. You also need to decide whether macOS or Windows is right for you. The former used to be the staple of creative professionals, but it really doesn’t matter what platform you use these days. 

Whatever your preferences, each of the machines …

5 top tips for speedy learning

The design world evolves super quickly, with new techniques and web design tools coming at you from every corner. One issue that bothers both beginners and experienced professionals is how to keep up with the fast pace.

The solution hinges on two skills: the ability to choose what to learn, and the ability to learn it quickly. In this article we'll focus on the latter, to show you a five-step plan for speeding up the learning process.

Once you're up to speed with the best ways to learn you can put it into practice with our list of the best web design tools, or get started on learning a new skill from one of our pick of amazing Illustrator tutorials.

01. Prepare for pain 

A hard truth we have to accept is that learning anything is difficult. Think about the time you tried to pick up the guitar or ride a bike. How long did you take? How many times did you fail? Did you give up?

Many people forget the path to learning is paved with confusion and pain. We want to believe we’re excellent humans with powerful cognitive skills. So if we fail to learn something quickly (like within a few hours), we give up and decide we’re not talented in this area.

Once you realise that learning is inherently difficult, you can adjust your expectations. Then you can create a game plan that will help you get even further than you can possibly imagine.

02. Make a game plan

person running with a laptop

Now it’s time for you to create a game plan to get you where you want to be. Your plan should answer these questions or points:

Why do you want to learn [insert thing here]? 

Because learning anything is inherently difficult, you need to know why you want to learn whatever it is you’re trying to learn. The reason you give yourself must be strong enough to tide you through the initial difficulty.

What’s the goal you’re aiming for (in this stage of learning)?

You want to create a …

Disrupt your design thinking

Remember when you decided you wanted to be a designer? It sounded like a dream job. You’d be able to express yourself. Originate new and exciting ideas. Craft bold, game-changing visions. How’s that working out for you? 

It’s all too easy to feel like your creativity is being stifled by clients, bosses, colleagues. But sometimes, that’s just an excuse. In fact, we often end up restricting ourselves by our own design conservatism. 

While by definition they’re in the minority, there are many designers who consistently defy convention… and still keep their clients happy

You find yourself drawing on the same visual elements that other designers are using everywhere you look without ever thinking about why you’re doing so. Sometimes you realise you’re subconsciously second-guessing what others want to see, rather than trying to push things forward. And while the results may be adequate and fulfil the brief, you know in your heart that they’re never going to win any awards.

If crafting safe and predictable work is threatening to become your default setting, maybe it’s time to change things up and dabble in a little experimental design. That can be a little scary, but you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised with the results; or if not, at least with the process itself. Most importantly, you will have reignited your original passion for design that’s been flickering on a low flame for far too long.

The good news is, you won’t be alone. While by definition they’re in the minority, there are many designers and studios who consistently and successfully defy convention, even occasionally breaking the rules of design. And despite this (or perhaps because of it), they still manage to keep their clients happy. 

Here we speak to six of them, to find out how breaking away from the norm, experimenting and daring to be different doesn’t necessarily mean compromising your business goals. You can, it seems, have your design cake and eat it. Here's how to disrupt your design thinking.


Amazon Prime Day 2019: everything you need to know

Prime Day is Amazon’s summertime Black Friday, but while Black Friday deals tend to be gifts for other people the Prime Day focus is on things you buy for yourself. That’s good news for designers, because it means discounts on things you actually want or need for your work. 

It's for Prime subscribers only – but fear not. If you don't want to sign up for membership, you can still take advantage of the Amazon Prime Day deals by signing up for a free 30-day trial. The good news is that you can cancel the trial at any time before the end of the 30-day period, so you're not tied in. 

But are the Prime Day bargains what they seem? Is Amazon Prime Day 2019 going to be a designer’s delight? Let’s find out.

Get a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime: US | UK | Canada | Australia | India

When is Amazon Prime Day 2019?

Amazon hasn’t revealed the date for Prime Day 2019 just yet, but Prime Day has previously been on the second Tuesday in July, close to Amazon’s birthday (it was founded on 5 July 1994 and officially launched on 16 July 1995) – so that would mean Amazon Prime Day 2019 would run from Tuesday 9 July 2019 into Wednesday 10 July 2019. That’s because Prime Day is actually 36 hours, not 24.

There’s a possibility it might be a week later, though. Last year’s Prime Day was a week later on the 17th because of the World Cup, although it’s possible that Amazon might stick with the later slot. If so, Prime Day 2019 would fall on July 16 2019.

Will there be an Amazon Prime Day 2019 in Australia?

Yes. already has a holding page in place, and we’d expect Prime Day Australia to be a bigger deal in 2019 than its 2018 debut. Last year Australian shoppers were only offered 340 deals, compared to 2,800 in the US, and the focus was very much on smart home and gaming devices. In …

17 standout Shillington student designs

Creating a memorable design that suits a client's wants and needs is no easy feat. In order to successfully promote a product or service, campaigns need to be both eye-catching and thought-provoking. But developing such design skills takes time and practise. This is why graphic design students at Shillington are regularly put through their paces with complex briefs, which, more often that not, involve creating concept designs for real-life brands in just three months (or nine months part-time). 

From billboards and display ads, to web concepts and poster designs, here are some of the best projects from Shillington students at six campuses around the world for you to enjoy and be inspired by. 

To view all 17 projects in full, visit the Shillington blog

01. Evena Wong

Based in Brisbane, graphic design student Evena Wong developed this identity for a Cuddly Sharks cafe, with the aim to change people's perceptions of sharks. “Sharks are constantly portrayed as monsters in the media,” she says. “This event aimed to encourage an appreciation for the overlooked charm of sharks.” 

02. Ray Wong

Working out of Shillington's London campus, Ray Wong created this concept for the Grub Festival, an event which asks why insects don't form staple part of our diets today. "The aim was to incite an environmental change by taking the focus away from the livestock industry, and to normalise the consumption of the creepy crawlies, in a fun and exciting way," Wong explains. 

03. Tom Shepherd

Tom Shepherd is a Shillington student based in Melbourne. Here he got under consumers skin with this body positive campaign for Dove, which encourages people to attend a 'Dove Yourself' event. Shepherd's sensitive illustrations and hand-drawn typography, carrying the message to 'love the skin you're in', result in beautiful poster design with serious impact.

To view all 17 projects in full, visit the Shillington blog. And if you want to see more, check out the complete Shillington Student Showreel and Showcase.

from Creative Bloq…

How to change the font in your Twitter bio

There are a lot of people on Twitter – 261 million Twitter accounts last time we checked. And that means it can be hard to make your account stand out. One way to be a bit different on Twitter is to change the font in your name and bio from the default. 

The good news is that changing the font on your Twitter bio is super-easy, and it's easy to play around with different fonts and change back to the default if you're not happy with what you've chosen. Below is the best way to get the font you want on Twitter. Note that this process is very similar to changing the font in your Instagram bio.

01. Choose your font

LingoJam Twitter fonts screenshot

LingoJam shows you all your font options. Some are nicer than others

There are a number of different text generators you can use to find your perfect Twitter font. These range from the very ugly and non-user friendly to the quite nice and easy-to-use. We like LingoJam the best (pictured above), although some might enjoy the stark simplicity of  Unicode Text Converter.  

You might also like to experiment with YayText, which shows you how your new font would look in an actual tweet (as opposed to just your bio). You'll have to copy and paste the text each time if you want to use a different font in all of your tweets though. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

02. Paste your font into Twitter

Laura Jordan-Bambach Twitter profile

Laura Jordan-Bambach uses a different font in her Twitter bio

Once you've decided on your font, you just need to copy it, and then paste it into your Twitter bio – go to Edit Profile to do this. Make sure that you're changing your Twitter name as opposed to your username (e.g. Creative Bloq as opposed to @CreativeBloq), as Twitter won't allow you to change the font of your username. 

Your Twitter profile will then update and you can decide whether this is the right font for you. If …

30 top vector art tutorials

There's loads of stock vector art available on the web, but there are times when you need something a bit more special. If you want the perfect piece of art for your project then you can add a personal stamp by creating your own vector graphic.

We've selected the best vector art tutorials out there to help you create digital illustrations that are infinitely flexible. Whether you're a beginner looking to master the basics, or a seasoned pro wanting to sharpen your technique, we've got you covered.

Using vector software like Illustrator CC, Affinity Designer or Sketch, these tutorials will guide you through the process, giving you total control of your vector art design.

Once you've motored through these, why not add some more tools to your toolbox and try our Photoshop tutorials and Illustrator tutorials?

What is vector art?

Unlike pixel-based images made in tools like Photoshop CC, vectors are based on mathematically defined lines and points, which combine to form shapes. So however you scale your vector art up or down, it will never become blurry or lose clarity. 

For more on the difference between vector and raster images, plus more handy works and phrases you might be getting confused, take a look at our post on key terms every graphic designer should know

In an increasingly digital world, demand for vector art is rising. So let's get going with the best vector art tutorials around.

01. Start making artwork

Fox graphic

If you’re a total beginner at making vector art in Adobe Illustrator, here’s a great place to start. The software's makers explain how to easy build your artwork from simple vector shapes that you can adjust, combine, and colour to make eye-catching illustrations.

02. Create and edit shapes

Collection of shapes

Continuing on from the previous introduction, this tutorial from Adobe sets out the basics of creating and editing shapes in Adobe Illustrator CC, including how to draw combine, and trace shapes.

03. Vectors Explained! Affinity Designer Tutorial