A Latest Screenshot

I’m running Mint 12, with a wallpaper I made myself 🙂

Mint 12, running LastFM and menu button is now simple Mint icon!

Lovely stuff!


Making Wallpapers!

Yeah, I know, it’s the ultimate sign of a procrastinator, but I’ve been making wallpapers from icons again like here and here, and not working much.  I’ve also been playing WideLands, an amazing open source clone of Settlers (round about Settlers 2-ish).  So I made a wallpaper for when I can’t play, it makes me think I’m playing!

These were created using a combination of SmillaEnlarger, GIMP, and Inkscape.

Firefox!  Who doesn’t love Firefox!

Firefox Wallpaper

1024 x 768

This is another icon turned into a wallpaper.  I look at them, and I think, wow, that could be a wallpaper!  This one’s actually rather nice as a wallpaper.  I blurred it a bit to create depth and stop the foreground distracting.

Gnome Icon Wallpaper


This is a beautiful image as an icon, I don’t think I did it justice.  Still works really well as a wallpaper, with the right kind of theme…

Wallpaper made from icon by Gion


This next one turned up on Wikimedia.  It was part of an image stack icon.  This is an icon for a middle-wheel animation on commons.wikimedia.org.  It’s a slice of anatomy of some kind.  I’m not a medicalologist 🙂

From an icon on Wikimedia Commons


This is flowers and a hot air balloon.  The balloon is made of vectors, and the flowers are real.  It’s such a great perspective and makes a great summer wallpaper.

Hot air ballon and flowers.



There are two icons I currently seek the SVG for, or a large PNG file.  If you know of any, please get in touch!

There is one that is a Tango style icon, with a bright seascape and a sillhouetted bird flying across it.  There is another, a Nuvola icon by a guy called David Vignoni, with a cityscape style thing on it.

A nice potential wallpaper for me 🙂

And the other…

There should be a sax playing somewhere in the distance…

These icons, though they exist purely as functional pictures, are actually capable of being beautiful and serene artworks.  Keep up the good work!

Lastly, here’s my WideLands wallpaper.  I can’t stop playing.  I think it’s becoming a problem…

Procedure:  Play WideLands.  Take screenshot.  SmillaEnlarger to ridiculous size.  Play with colour levels a little in GIMP.  Crop and size.  Make Layer Mask with linear gradient between a normal version and a heavily blurred version.

Widelands Wallpaper


Let me know what you think…

More Theming of LMMS

In order to create a nice Linux Mint looking theme, I took a look at the style.css file in the theme folder.  I couldn’t find the bit that themed the main menu.  I turned everything red or blue to see what would work, and nothing did.  I’m a bit in the dark here…

So I Googled a few of the names of things.  QMenu and all that.  The whole thing is run by QT, of which I have no experience.  So I’m going in to have to read a bit about it.

Meanwhile, I did find the top menu, anyway.  I’ve styled it slightly so it’s getting there.


So far, so silvery…

If anybody is interested in helping with this, you’re welcome – just get in touch.  I’m warning you, I don’t know much about this stuff though!

GNU OS box

Graphic Design Practise with GNU OS

Background – The GNU OS

In 1984, Richard Stallman decided he wanted the world to have a free operating system.  Since he was working on Unix at the time, he decided to clone Unix completely from scratch.  Working with a small team of hackers, he set about recreating every piece of a working system, calling it GNU, or GNU’s Not Unix (a recursive algorithm).  Most of it was complete by the 90’s but the central piece, the operating system base, or kernel, was still in development.

In 1991 the system became complete with the addition of Linus Torvalds’ kernel, known as Linux.  Since then, the GNU/Linux operating system has exploded round the world, being used in servers, supercomputers, mainframes and home PC’s, in a bewildering array of distributions, such as Red Hat Linux, Debian GNU/Linux, Slackware, as well as the hundreds, perhaps thousands of spin-offs and independants, such as Linux From Scratch.

Since the Linux kernel exists, and is Free and Open Source software, the philosophy of the GNU project has been realised.  The result is a mix of Free Software ideals and Open Source development.  An operating system that anyone can use on their PC, without charge and without restriction, and for companies and individuals alike.

Because many of these distributions follow the Free Software guidelines, there is no longer a need for an actual GNU operating system as such.  I’d like to pay tribute to the GNU OS, and get a little graphic design practise along the way.

Making a box

I am imagining here that the GNU OS is a complete, self-contained distribution, packaged in a modern way, keeping a little historic context and harking back to the 80’s a little in it’s design.  That’s why I chose a combination of beige and brown.  (I normally hate to see these colours together, but I thought I’d like to “date” the design somewhat, as if the product has been going since the 80’s with the original colour schemes and logos to the extent that our pretend customer base has grown accustomed to this.  It’s not often I get to engage a “trousers of time” effect in my graphic design, so I thought it would be fun.

The GNU logo itself has been updated a few times, but the original scribble is still full of life and personality, so I thought I’d feature it as ambient design, and focus on the SVG logo as the main centrepiece.

For the text on the box, I used a nice generic sans font called Liberation.  This is a “free software” licensed alternative to the MS and Mac fonts, familiar to people using GNU/Linux or other Free Software, such as the GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP.

Anyway, a few perspective transforms later (GIMP should have a proper “perspective” tool with actual perspective formulae, not the headache-inducing transform that’s called “perspective”!  Also, while you’re at it, GIMP devs (and I know you trawl the internet looking for blogs with good ideas!) how about a “path” transform where you can path round a bitmap area and bezier it as well as pulling nodes around?), here is the final box!

GNU OS box

This is the final box, with reflections and a few gradients slapped all over it.

If you have any comments or improvement ideas, I’d love to hear them 🙂

Take care now…

Gnome Default Image Icon Wallpaper

What I done did

I was looking for wallpapers for my GNU/Linux Mint(Gnome) 9 LTS desktop.  I happened to notice that the default image icon was really nice so I wanted to make a wallpaper.

Here it is.  It’s 1440×900 and it’s been stretched in Inkscape and cropped to fit my screen.  I’ve also removed the framing and shine to make it a regular image.

Here’s the original icon:


nice 🙂

I would love to credit the creator of this iconic icon, but I don’t know who it was.  Big thanks to the Gnome Art Team for the tasty SVG.

Gnome Default Icon Wallpaper

That tree is just too nice for just an icon

So it’s looking nice on my desktop so far 🙂

Mint 9 Gnome Screenshot

Why do all good screenshots have to feature a transparent terminal?

If you know of any nice icons that would make good wallpapers, let me know!

How I done did it

Ok, I was in a hurry.  Couldn’t find anywhere the icons were located in the short time, so I had to improvise

1. Put generic image file on desktop (try an XCF if it keeps thumbnailing!)

2. Stretch icon (right click)

3. Screenshot

4. Crop and save (GIMP) as JPG file

5. Open browser to Google Images

6. Click and drag image into search box (Aha!  SVG in Wikipedia…)

7. Download and Edit in Inkscape

A bit convoluted, but it worked.


Web Design 14 – Resources

Hope you liked this little series outlining how you, like us, can learn web design from scratch, for free, in the comfort of your own home and start a lucrative business with it.  I’d like to take this opportunity to summarise with a bunch of links for software and learning resources.

Click here to see the first article in this series


Comodo – free antivirus/firewall suite for Windows
OpenOffice.org – all the business software you need!
GIMP – your bitmap/raster graphics editor
FileZilla – a nice free FTP client for uploading your sites
FireFox, Chrome, and Safari – the three most popular browsers after Internet Explorer
Explorer Virtual – for checking in different versions of Explorer
Notepad++ – an advanced PHP editor
Kompozer – a simple WYSIWYG website editor
Inkscape – a vector graphics editor
Scribus – desktop publishing software
FontForge – typeface creation program
Thunderbird – a nice email client
FlashDevelop – create stuff in Flash!

Learning Resources

W3Schools – the “official” web developers learning site
Tizag – a great alternative to W3Schools
SixRevisions – has links to all the best tutorial sites for web developers
Grok the GIMP – advanced GIMP learning
A List Apart – CSS standards, technologies and tutorials

Wikipedia – start learning anything new here
About – a great place to get to grips with subjects for beginners
Google – not just a great search engine, but full of advice on SEO, marketing, and maps to stick in your site

FlashMP3 – a free MP3 player for your website.  Comes in many flavours, customisable
FLVplayer – a similar Flash application, but for video

PortableApps – find software you can run from a pendrive

And finally, proof that all this works, my girlfriend’s web design company:

Tangled Frog Web Design – if you’re good enough, we can send some work your way – or if you’re having trouble, we can handle the stuff you’re having trouble with.  If you’re too good, we can take on some of your overflow!

If you know of any more, let the people know!  Add comments with your favourite links and reasons why they’re useful.

If you have any problems at all with any part of learning web design, get in touch and I’ll post a link to your solution or write an article.

Good luck freeing yourself from the tyranny of college fees, overpriced software, the poverty trap, or just being a single parent with nothing to do – happy web designing!

Web Design 13 – Portability

Picture the scene – you’re on holiday, you don’t have a laptop with you, and one of your clients phones you up with an urgent update.  You might have access to a computer, but it would be a nightmare to have to install all that software just to make a few design and coding changes.

Help is at hand with PortableApps.com!  Here you will find most of the software featured in this series in a standalone form you can fit on a USB pendrive which can fit neatly in your pocket and will run fine without needing installed.

GIMP, OpenOffice, FileZilla, XAMPP, Thunderbird will probably  be your most useful, but there’s also portable versions of FlashDevelop (with a little tweaking), Scribus and InkScape.

If it’s GIMP, you’ll want to remember to add any fonts or brushes you’re working with.  If Thunderbird mail client, you can set up your test email addresses on it before you go.  When using XAMPP, you have to remember to put in the websites you’re working on!  Also, when you run XAMPP from a pendrive, you have to run the setup program before you begin, so it knows where it is.

Problem solved!  Now you can be a web designer from any computer, including Internet Cafes and friends machines, without installing a thing…