How to Open .ai Files Without Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is arguably the most popular and most powerful vector graphics software. If you ever work with a designer, it is very likely that you will have to deal with .ai files. Even if your final files must be in a different format (PNG, JPEG or something else), it would be nice to have vector sources in addition to them – it will make your life much easier if you need to change something and cannot hire the same designer again.

But how do you open an .ai file, if you don’t have Adobe Illustrator – which is a complex and expensive piece of software hardly used by anyone except professional designers? In most cases it’s really easy — you need only free Adobe Reader software, which is already installed on most computers. Right-click the .ai file you need to view, point to Open With… and then click Choose Program and choose Adobe Reader from the list. Or you may simply change the .ai extension to .pdf and open the file by double-clicking it. Continue reading How to Open .ai Files Without Adobe Illustrator

Best Free Sets of Social Networking Icons

There is definitely no dearth of free social icon sets on the Web. Creating a set of social icons is a good way to get links from blogs, so many designers grabbed this opportunity. The problem is, 90% of these designers stick to just two shapes: a square (in most cases with rounded corners, the iPhone-style) and a circle. There are some very good sets of square and round icons (and I will devote a separate post to them a bit later), but… the same shapes again and again… you know, it’s just boring. Besides, you may want to use something more original to draw the attention of visitors and make them follow you.

On this page you’ll find a list of 9 best social icon sets based on some less commonly used shapes. I didn’t purposely limit the number of sets, but selected only usable, professionally designed icons that look good both on light and dark backgrounds.

The sets are listed in no particular order, you decide yourself which you like better.

Starry Site by Evohosting
Star-Shaped Social Icons
16 star-shaped icons with PSD sources.
License: Free, a link to the company website is required.
Continue reading Best Free Sets of Social Networking Icons

Application Icons Need To Be Realistic

According to UX Magazine:

UI elements are abstractions which convey concepts and ideas; they should retain only those details that are relevant to their purpose. UI elements are almost never representations of real things. Adding too much realism can cause confusion.

But:

There is at least one specific area where more details are good: application icons. You want your icon to depict one specific idea: your application.

Application Icons

Coda’s leaf isn’t a representation of the idea of a leaf; it’s a very specific leaf, the Coda leaf. Acorn’s acorn isn’t just any acorn, it’s the Acorn. Adding details moves these images from a generic concept towards a specific entity, and in the case of an application icon, this is exactly what you want.