As a designer, its important to have something that helps us break through the dreaded ‘designer’s block’ when it strikes. Some days all it takes is a 10 minute break away from your computer or a walk outside but at other times we need that immediate spark. For those moments its a great idea to have a collection of inspiring, creative resources to drive our imagination back into gear.
But how do you capture that inspiration? This post aims to list some of best tools, both desktop and web based to help you do just that…
- Paparazzi – Small utility for for screenshots (Mac)
- Littlesnapper – Screen and Web Snapping (Mac)
- Jing – Snap a picture of your screen and share instantly
- SnagIt – Snapshot anything on your PC screen
- Skitch – Fast and fun image sharing (Mac)
- SnapNDrag – Effortless Screen Capture (Mac)
- Image Spark – Discover share and tag images
- Scrnshots – Share Your Inspiration
- Evernote – Remember Everything
- Screengrabs and Fireshot – Firefox Add-ons which create screenshots
- Capture Me – Screen Capture and Recording (Mac)
- SnapzPro X – Capture & Record anything on screen (Mac)
- WebKut – Let’s cut the web!
- WebSnapshot – Screenshots with Drag&Drop features
- InstantShot! – Screen captures in just a few Kbytes (Mac)
Paparazzi! is a small utility for Mac OS X that makes screenshots of webpages. It takes screenshots of websites which do not fit on one screen, allowing you to specify the desired width, minimal height and the URL. The program displays a preview and you can save the screenshot to PNG, JPEG, TIFF or PDF.
Allows you to capture snaps of entire webpages, as well as areas of your screen, the various tools allow you to mark up your images with text, callouts, shapes, lines, arrows, blurs and highlighting. You can also tag, rate, comment & organise your snaps using LittleSnapper’s library tools. With the free QuickSnapper account you can also share your images with others.
Price: 28.99 GBP
The Jing Project is allows you to easily capture screenshots or record video and then upload them to Screencast.com. Once on Screencast you are able to share your video or image with friends, colleagues, or readers. You can also mark up images with graphics and notes and is available on Mac OS X and Windows.
Price: Free (Or Jing Pro – $14.95/year)
Another great product from TechSmith – who also created Jing (detailed above). You can capture anything you see on the screen. Edit and combine those captures. Share them via your favorite applications. Organize and find them again later. Very intuitive to use and recommended by alot of Windows users!
Skitch works alongside the skitch.com website to give you 1-click uploading of images for fast and fun image sharing, along with video capture. You have your own library of captured images which you can browse through at any point. Or use your own FTP, SFTP, Flickr or .Mac account. Paste your Skitch.com link into any web-page, forum or chat or you can also keep links private.
Super simple screen capture with no key combinations, no file conversion to deal with, no file dialog boxes to navigate and no temporary files to erase later on. It supports multiple file formats including PNG and TIFF for times when image quality cannot be compromised. Or use JPEG with adjustable quality for smaller file sizes.
Image Spark lets you upload and create a library of images that inspire you in whatever it is you do. However it’s not just about collecting and storing images â€” you can converge images using Image Spark’s moodboards and help set the visual tone or style you’re after. You can browse through other user’s libraries and moodboards as well as keeping any of your screenshots private.
ScrnShots is a great way to take, find, and share screenshots of web and screen based design. You can tag your screenshots for easy retrieval and viewing, save Favorites and search screenshots by keywords to find inspiration for your design problem. You can embed screenshots in your site or blog and add contacts and subscribe to their screenShots feed to keep up with their collection.
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. Its free and is available as a desktop application (Mac and Windows), on the iPhone and via the web interface.
Price: Free or Premium Version at $5/month or $45/year
Screengrab! saves webpages as images. It will capture what you can see in the window, the entire page, just a selection, a particular frame as an image and saves either to a file, or to the clipboard. FireShot is a Firefox extension that creates screenshots of web pages (entirely or just the visible part). It also provides a set of editing and annotation tools, which let users quickly modify web captures and insert text and graphical notes.
Capture Me is a flexible screen capture and recording utility for Mac OS X which features a floating capture window, several saving options and a resize ability. You just drag and resize the floating window to cover the area you want to capture. Then click in the window to capture the screenshot. You can resize it, copy it to the clipboard, and save it in a variety of formats and locations. You can also record up to 1 minute of video.
WebKut is an Adobe AIR application that allows you to capture web pages, or parts of them in a very simple way. It provides you 3 capture options: the entire page, the current view, or only a selection. Its a super easy to use application, well worth downloading and trying out!
WebSnapShot is another simple Adobe AIR application which allows you to enter the URL and press snap, or Drag&Drop it from your browser. Firstly select the type of Snapshot you want to make: Thumbnail, Browser size, or Full Page. Then just click on the Thumnails to Save. With Auto Save Checked, the thumbnails are immediately saved to your ‘save’ folder.
InstantShot! offers classical screenshot functionality for capturing the whole screen, a portion of it or a window and also the option to make timed screenshots or to make delayed captures over time. It offers a wide range of preferences and options to fit most people’s needs.
Although this list features a wealth of Mac applications there are a range of screen capture tools and utilities exclusive to Windows, which i have compiled below (also see SnagIt detailed above):
- Power Screen Capture: Application / Price: $24.95
- Windows Vista Snipping Tool: Built into certain editions
- FastStone Screen Capture: Application / $19.95
- Snippy: Browser (IE) Based / Free
- WinSnap: Application / $24.90
- ScreenHunter: Application / Free (Paid Versions available)
- VMN Toolbox: Application / Free
- PrtScr: Application / Free
While not an exhaustive list, i hope these will give you a starting point to start capturing and building a collection of inspiration for your future projects. I personally use Littlesnapper as its super simple and is fantastic in building mini collections and smart folders for future reference.
The key to remember when in search for inspiration is to let it “inspire you to design, not inspire your design”.
Have i missed any of your favourites sites or applications? If so drop a comment with the link so others can check it out.
Photo by _neona_