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I have received many emails re: raster to vector conversion. I have always used Adobe Streamline in the past, but Adobe has discontinued Streamline and replaced it with the new tracing tool in Illustrator starting with version CS2 and going forward. Fortunately, there is a free Open Source application called AutoTrace that is available (ref: http://autotrace.sourceforge.net/ “AutoTrace – converts bitmap to vector graphics”). I have been following the development of AutoTrace for a couple of years, now. It has been available for the Windows platform for awhile, now, but it was difficult for the average user to configure all the open source parts of the program to get it to work.

Now there is an online tool that anyone with an Internet connection can access at the RO I T Systems website: http://www.roitsystems.com/cgi-bin/autotrace/tracer.pl. Simply upload your raster image and the program will convert your raster image into a vector file in SVG format. You can save the SVG file to your drive, then open it in Illustrator (CS or later version) and be able to make edits or save it as Illustrator AI or EPS format.

AutoTrace is also available for the Macintosh in the program Delineate. A Mac OS X version of Delineate 0.5 has been bundled together with potrace and AutoTrace. It is available as a single Mac dmg file. It is available here: http://delineate.sourceforge.net/download.html. This is the link to the Delineate main page: http://delineate.sourceforge.net/.

At CreativePro.com, there is an article written by Pariah Burke on March 18, 2009 with links to a whole bunch of freebies. Among them are an application for batch resizing images, free vector art, free downloadable DVD templates in Photoshop PSD formatand an online diagramming and flowcharting application. The article can be found at http://www.creativepro.com/article/free-all-i-cant-believe-they-give-away and it is called, “Free For All: I Can’t Believe They Give This Away! | CreativePro.com”.

Here are some of the freebies:

Batch Resize Images
Shrink O’Matic
http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/marketplace/index.cfm?marketplaceid=1&categoryid=6&event=marketplace.offering&offeringid=10355

This is an Adobe Air application that runs on Windows and Mac OS X. You can add source images or drag and drop a folder of images. Shrink O’Matic will scale them down by ratio or by maximum height or maximum width then rename and number the resulting files. You can output in JPG, GIF or PNG format.

DVD, CD, and Case Templates in Photoshop PSD Format
These are some realy nice looking, professionally designed templates by various artists that are avaiable for download on the Internet. Here is the list:

DVD Label
http://www.deviantart.com/download/102545702/DVD_Label___PSD_Template_by_2N2.zip

DVD Case Inlay
http://www.deviantart.com/download/102545406/DVD_Case_Inlay___PSD_Template_by_2N2.zip

DVD Case Template
http://www.deviantart.com/download/61443492/DVD_Case_Art___PSD_file_by_manicho.zip

DVD Cover Template
http://www.deviantart.com/download/68100969/WWE_2007_DVD_Cover_Template_by_Alan880.psd

DVD Plastic Case
http://www.deviantart.com/download/86546288/dvd_Plastic_Case___PSD_file_by_manicho.zip

Paper DVD/CD Case
http://www.deviantart.com/download/87290547/Paper_CD_Case_by_trd_productions.psd

CD Jewel Case
http://www.deviantart.com/download/69316052/JEWEL_CASE_PSD_FILE_by_LeMarquis.rar

Vector Clipart
Vecteezy
http://vecteezy.com/

All the clipart in Vecteezy’s library is available in EPS and Adobe Illustrator AI format. You can find religious iconography, holiday clipart, background patterns, device schematics, tattoo-ready skulls, etc.

Online Diagramming and Flowcharting
LovelyCharts.com
http://lovelycharts.com/

LovelyCharts.com is a user friendly web-based flowcharting and diagramming application. You can select shapes from their library and drag and drop them into the work area, resize and label objects, etc. It has an automatic connecting line feature and a 90 second tutorial video.

Quark Inc. offers low price upgrade from QuarkXPress 3, 4, or 5 before September 30, 2009.

If you think your old QuarkXPress® 3, 4, or 5 licenses are beyond use, Quark is offering a great deal. Until September 30, 2009, you can upgrade ANY previous version to QuarkXPress 8 for one low price. For $299.00 USD (North America) you can upgrade version 3, 4 or 5 to version 8. In the past, its been my experience that the $299 upgrade deal was only offered for the most recent previous version and only for a short time (I think it was about 30 days).

This is a huge departure from Quark’s previous position on upgrades. In the past they were more strict, and the $299 upgrade offer was very limited. If you have been thinking about upgrading but didn’t have the cash, then this would be a good opportunity to take advantage of the deal.

Every month, SoftMaker gives away quality fonts from its font collection at http://www.freefont.de/. This month’s free font download is Old Blackletter. Old Blackletter is available in Type 1 PostScript for Mac and PC and TrueType format for PC only.

This is a major announcement! FontLab Inc. has just announced the release of the newest upgrade to Fontographer for Macintosh users – version 4.7 . This is the first upgrade in years and reflects FontLab’s commitment to Fontographer users worldwide. This new version runs in Mac OS 10. Now Mac OS 10 users will not have to resort to Classic mode to run Fontographer. Get the scoop here: http://www.fontlab.com/Font-tools/Fontographer/.

Due to font embedding restrictions on some TrueType fonts, sometimes you may need to print TrueType fonts as graphics instead of sending them to the printer as outlines. These new tutorials – one for Windows XP and one for Windows 98 will show you how to configure your PostScript printer to do just that.

Every month, SoftMaker gives away one of it’s high quality fonts from its font collection at http://www.freefont.de/. This month’s free font download is Worcester. It is available for Mac and PC in Type 1 PostScript and TrueType formats. Worcester comes in 4 weights: regular, bold, italic and bold italic. Worcester is one of the faces in the famous Serials Type Collection.

I have just added a new and very important tutorial on avoiding font substitution when printing TrueType fonts to a PostScript printer in Windows. There are also two new tutorials for configuring a PostScript printer to avoid font substitution – this one for Windows XP and this one for Windows 98. I have also revised the Windows XP and Windows 98 tutorials for PostScript printing without a printer to include a note aout font substitution in Windows.

Announcement – We have just added a new font – Terminator Real NFI. This is a great display font which is perfect for bold headings and logos. It is available in Macintosh TrueType, Windows TrueType, Windows Type 1 PostScript and OpenType formats.

We have a new series of Photoshop tutorials on photo retouching. The first in this series deals with Photoshop Levels Adjustment. There are more Photoshop photo retouching tutorials to come. Topics in the works include Photoshop adjustsments using Curves, Color Correction, Brightness and Contrast, etc. Come back often to look for these new tutorials.