Friday, October 21, 2016

TemplateMonster's Flagships of 2016

Featured today is a guest blog from our new friends,  the folks at TemplateMonster, a group of talented web designers and developers, "using everything they have learned to help you build amazing websites the right way."

This round-up is absolutely special. It contains six flagship templates for TemplateMonster.

The themes are really awesome; you can build absolutely everything out of them. The variety of their features strikes the imagination.  The themes are powered by different engines, so choice depends on  requirements. To start a website or blog - choose WordPress, Joomla, HTML, or Moto CMS. Or to launch an eCommerce store, choose PrestaShop or Magento.

The best thing is people  don't need in-depth technical skills to breathe life into their project, since TemplateMonster's professionals have done all the complex work. Websites will look good on all modern gadgets screens as all of them are responsive and cross browser compatible.

But that's not all. Your websites will be ranked high in all popular search engines. So, your visitors will easily find them on the web. The layouts of your websites will look modern for years to come. Your products and services will be perfectly presented on your web pages thanks to sliders, videos, quick view, carousel, product zoom, etc.
MegaMenu, Ajax search, and multiple filters will help the visitors find exactly what they need quickly.

Do read and view the information about each flagman to decide which works best for you. Who knows, maybe you'll find your perfect web design and development kit here.

By the way, a pleasant surprise is waiting for you at the end of this round-up — a free e-book about how to start your website in 2016.

Multipurpose Joomla Template - Jumerix

This incredibly powerful solution for a website or blog can also become a fully-fledged store thanks to VirtueMart integration. The theme comes with a whole web UI kit, so it will be easy to tweak its layout. It is shipped with multiple pre-designed pages, color schemes configurator, allowing to change the palette of your site interface with only one click. Home landing page is also available as well as multiple blog variants. The theme features a fully responsive design, it is SEO-friendly. The theme offers an integrated Kunena forum, pricing tables, and Komento component. The theme allows building responsive slideshows of your products and services with Swiper Slider. Jumerix is supplied with Mega Menu, you can embed YouTube videos into your web pages. Font icons, Google fonts, Preloader, Social icons, Online chat, Social login, and Less will take care of great user experience on your site. Jumerix is optimized for speed, so your pages will load lightning-fast.
                                                          Details |  Demo

Monstroid All-Purpose WordPress Theme

Monstroid is a multipurpose WordPress theme packed with everything you could only dream of to make the process of building websites as easy as possible. Monstroid pack includes 50 child themes for most popular business niches. This means that you pay for one theme and get 51 for the price of one instead. A very good bargain. Monstroid includes 100+ PSD files to dig in, it offers multiple layouts. Of course the theme is responsive, it is beautiful with parallax effect, video background, and multiple sliders on board. Monstroid is powered by Cherry framework and has Installation Wizard, which guarantees you simple theme installation and customization. It is equipped with theme settings backup and a number of premium plugins that are free for all Monstroid owners. The theme supports third-party extensions, you can create unlimited amount of shortcodes and call on any content anyhow you want with Shortcode Editor. All plugins included into the Monstroid pack can be used independently out of the framework. Monstroid is integrated with a powerful eCommerce platform, WooCommerce
Details |  Demo

Intense - HTML5 Multipurpose Website Template

TemplateMonster names Intense the #1 HTML template of all time. It's not surprising as the number of template's features is numerous. We will recap the major ones here. The theme comes with 250+ HTML files, 10 Home Layouts and Demos, 13 Header & 4 Footer Styles, 10+ eCommerce Shop Templates, 30+ Blog Templates, 20+ Portfolio Templates, 60+ Reusable Elements, 2000+ Font Icons, 190+ PSD Files, Event Templates + Calendars, SCSS, Jade Available, Working Ajax Forms, Widgetized Mega Menu, Responsive Slider, Responsive and Retina, Various Additional Relates Pages, Customizable Video & Audio Players, Unlimited Skins and Colors, Touch Swipe Photo Gallery, Complex Social Integration, Smooth Parallax Scrolling + HTML5 Videos, Advanced Video background, Unlimited Skins and Colors, Additional Responsive Flex Grid System and Units, and many others.

Details |  Demo

Vini Magento Theme

This advanced Magento 2 theme will become a profitable online fashion and beauty store. It has a full set of features requisite for contemporary eCommerce project. Vini is equipped with Megamenu, Ajax compare, Ajax filter, Unique product page, Unique catalog page, Configurable swatches, Sass, Responsive design, Sticky header, Slider, Crossbrowser compatibility, PSD source files included. In a word, this extensive set of practical features will make your e-business a success by all means.

                                                       Details |  Demo

Styler Fashion Boutique PrestaShop Theme

Styler is a perfect fit for clothing and apparel stores. The theme is responsive, multilingual, which will help you expand your product market. Color Schemes feature allows you change the palette of your site interface with one click only. The theme is also equipped with Lazy Load, Ajax Search, Blog, Stick-to-Top Menu, Parallax Scrolling, Megafooter, Megamenu, Tabs, Newsletter Subscription Pop-up, Login Dropdown & Social Login, Custom Block, Deal of the day, Quick view, Carousel, Product Zoom, Product Image Pop-up, Customers Also Viewed, Categories Badges, Badges, Product Filter, Product Sort, Accessories, Product Pack, Favorite Products, Suppliers, and YouTube video. Not bad, yea?
Details |  Demo

Spectrum - Moto CMS 3 Template for Business Co

Need an all-in-one solution for your business website? Then, Spectrum is the right choice. No coding skills are needed. Just drag and drop elements to build your web pages. Your website will look perfect on any device thanks to its responsive nature. The theme features a handy layout, conversion-optimized elements, and user-friendly navigation. Theme package includes 19 ready-to-use pages, 4 additional home pages, and personal blog. Regular updates are included into template's package. Theme editing is made via an easy-to-use admin panel. Fascinating widgets, subscription form, presets builder, Google fonts & color picker, SEO integration, White Label, and 24/7 support are all in this template package.

                                                         Details |  Demo

Starting a Website in 2016: What Options Do You Have?

This round-up of TemplateMonster's flagship templates ends up with a pleasant bonus. You can download an e-book written by industry professionals for free. The book covers main aspects of starting a website in 2016. We believe it will come in handy both for newbies and those entrepreneurs who want to be up-to-date running their online business.
                                   Download Free

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2 Diverse Home Sweet Home Clipart Collections

A big square box. This was how our older daughter described our home as a  teen. Through those oh-so-jaded eyes our century-old Italianate was severely lacking in personality.

While I couldn't argue that the lines weren't simple and the details minimal, it was the character and charm of the interior that had captivated me. Trim, such as nothing you'd ever find in a house today, a spacious country kitchen and lots of bedrooms had me thinking very little about curb appeal when we decided to buy it.

This memory comes as lately houses have been getting a lot of attention in our family. It starts with our younger daughter and her husband. They are persistently on the lookout for a forever home — something that will meet the needs of their growing family. With things like closet space for example.

Their current abode is a post-First World War dwelling, with homey front porch, gabled attic and tall windows. It too has all of the solid wood trim that my husband and I found so attractive in our house.

But it's small in stature and short on storage.  It was with the arrival of their first child two years ago, and the accompanying essential accoutrements that the search for spacious began.  Since their heart is with their first home together, though, it's been a reluctant hunt.  It's not long after one catches their eye that they find a reason not to change their mind it seems.

Our two sons on the other hand have recently bought new houses, without any looking back. The older, suddenly single after 12 years of marriage, is thrilled with the easy maintenance of his new condo. While the interior is basic, the exterior is an impressive architectural gem which at first appearance looks like a massive Victorian. That is until you happen to notice there are four front doors.

When it comes to getting attention for curb appeal, however, props will go to our younger son. While he had looked at a variety of places in a variety of styles — from vintage ranches to charming Tudors, he and his fiancĂ©e opted for a quirky cottage-style structure built into a hill. A rolling front lawn features pretty landscaping (incorporated we suspect to avoid mowing), while jutting balconies offer vantage points from the house. Though the front door is tucked down beneath the main part of the building, wooden stairs and decking wind around the house to a back patio for those who prefer a scenic route.

Asked to come and give it a once over and our opinion, my husband and I noted that it suited them perfectly, though figuratively shaking our heads at its impracticality.  What would be deal breakers for us, however, were nothing for a couple searching for a great starter, solid but with personality.

Returning home, the realities of the very different types of homes our children have chosen (our other daughter lives in a rambling split-level on 25 acres) sparked some conversation. What we found interesting is that it's the child who is the most artistic, the most free-spirited, the most unique, who has fallen in love with an old traditional house full of closed spaces and large baseboards. She was the art deco girl, the girl who yearned for a city loft or sleek condo.

Conversely,  we would have been less surprised by her older brother being in a log cabin in the country than in a new build with a row of houses tight beside him all looking the same.  Then again, we also thought that the one who chose quirky would find himself an old Victorian with turrets and porches.

And finally there's our older girl whom I always believed would be in a brand new house. I'm still pretty sure I got this one right, though.  I'd bet the farm that some day that split level with be coming down in favour of a spiffy new open-concept bungalow.

So given all of this I'm thinking that perhaps the saying you don't choose your house, it chooses you is accurate.  It might not be the style you've always thought your wanted, it might lack some of the amenities you thought you needed. What it is though,  is home,  and you know it the moment you walk in the door.

With this thought in mind here are some great home sweet home clipart collections: House Illustrations House Illustrations

Friday, October 14, 2016

How To Unravel the Mysteries of a Keyword Search

Providing the ultimate 'shopping' experience for our customers has always been important at Vital Imagery Ltd. To that end we've recently added LiveChat to our websites so that people who have a quick question while browsing clipart can reach out immediately.

It's been an interesting exercise, of course — people using the feature for play time for example.  However, when someone is seriously interested in an answer to a legitimate query, there is great satisfaction for the support staff in being able to respond in a timely manner. 

One of the most frequent requests has been for assistance in finding a particular image or photo. The quandary for us is to determine if laziness or intimidation are at heart.  If it's the former, and people just can't be bothered, we're happy to help as much as we can. If it's the latter, however, we need to find a way to help people feel less overwhelmed by the incredible amount of content.

For this reason, I've decided to come back once again to the topic of keywords. In my years at a community newspaper, finding graphics was a part of the job that could be frustratingly time-consuming. Particularly before the introduction of online graphics services.  Way back in the good old days, with deadlines looming, searching for a visual element to accompany a story or advertisement involved leafing through the enormous clipart tome. Hundreds of pages of multiple images, sorted in various categories, were perused before the appropriate one was discovered.

Now, however, with a few simple words and a couple of clicks, the number of results should be minimized. In a perfect world anyway.

Ensuring that the hunt for the perfect image is as efficient as possible means attaching 'keywords' to it. While it might seem a simple task, those who do it conscientiously have  much to consider before putting fingers to keyboard. When first looking at an image, keyworders should consider its potential — how might it be used, who might be interested in it and what steps are required so a diverse group of clients can find it easily.

Of course, since no one sees the world the same as any other person, even the most basic images can be open to interpretation. For example, when searching for 'rat' it would be likely to find hassled, harried businesspeople as well, since the word would be added for the purpose of those looking for an image to depict 'rat race'. 

Ultimately, because there are many variables and variations to be considered when keywording, people taking the time to search should keep in mind that what narrows a search for one might broaden it for others. For instance, in the above example, putting 'rats' rather than 'rat' into the search box should get rid of the dudes in suits.

It's beneficial then to use all of the tools at your disposal, too. On sites such as, and every effort is made to provide options to help customers separate the boys from the girls so to speak. For instance the first link shows the results from a simple keyword search for boys. As you will see there will be women and girls in this as well.

iPHOTOS Results for Boys

After using the Advanced Search 'Exclude' option to take away girls and females from the results this is what you get: Advanced Search for Boys

You can also search for black and white only or colour, segregate by specific categories or by orientations.

The important thing to remember is that keywording is a human science. Also with thousands of images being added to the sites weekly,  to ensure content is always fresh and exciting, it can take time for staff to get them properly keyworded.  I guarantee though that with patience and the right tools finding your clipart shouldn't take too much effort.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fantastically Spooky Photoshop Tutorials for Halloween

It was Thanksgiving Monday — one of those glorious Canadian autumn days. Temperatures were just cool enough to freshen the air, but not so much that folks wanted to hide indoors. It's what we routinely call sweater weather.

The colourful collage of changing foliage, the sky's pretty azure blue and the brilliant blaze of the sun were the perfect combination to celebrate a day intended for gratitude and counting one's blessings.

Our large family gathering had been held Sunday, so this day found my husband and me with some hours of down time, a few of which we decided to spend in the company of our younger daughter, her husband and their charming two-year-old. Bean, as she has been affectionately named since her in utero days, is our free spirit. Prone to breaking out her dance moves in public places and displaying her version of fashionista in tutus and rubber boots, she is a constant source of amusement.

Monday was no exception as she was only too happy to show off yet another nifty outfit. In this case something brown, woolly, clawed and spiked. A casual comment about Halloween found her happily fetching her new costume for Mama to put on. Within minutes the "scary dinosaur" (her words not mine) made her appearance, and with dimpled grin and giggling snarl she did her best to terrify us.

There are still plenty of days before she gets to take her act on the road, yet signs of the imminent arrival of other dinosaurs, not to mention ghouls and goblins, witches and warlocks are all around. These will only increase now that Thanksgiving's behind us.

Halloween really is a visual event. The creepy countenances of carved jack-o-lanterns, wispy tendrils of ghostly apparitions,  creepy skeletons suspended from invisible strings create eerie vignettes on porches as they await the visits of tiny trick-or-treaters.  There are the terrifying masks and assorted costumes depicting everything from pooches to princess, that are displayed in retail outlets.

From decorated homes and storefront windows, to promotional materials and classroom activities, ghostly themes and spooky designs are in the the minds of parents, merchants, teachers and tiny tots.

These are the images that inspire the occasion. And for folks who like to play in Photoshop there are always a variety of fun tutorials out there that will inspire some Halloween magic. Whether it's a graphic element to serve as a starting point, a photo alteration or a creepy background to which you can add text for ads, flyers or posters,  there are many ideas online.

With the holiday being so visual parties are among the activities that are enjoyed so invitations and decorative elements can also be created with a little help from Photoshop. There's absolutely no reason to fear you won't be able to find something to raise the bar on scary.

Here's a one-stop shopping guide to some terrific tutorials to help you dress up your Halloween projects:

Design a Halloween Invitation in Photoshop

Creepy Halloween Tutorials

16 Halloween Photoshop Tutorials

17 Photoshop Tutorials

20 Creepy Halloween Photoshop Tutorials

Design a Halloween Poster in Photoshop

Thursday, October 6, 2016

5 Delightfully Spooky Collections of Halloween Clipart

The people who use images in projects are always thinking ahead. Preparing products and promotions in advance of seasons and events is standard. So, while Halloween is still days away, these folks are right on top of this autumn celebration.

Linking to some fun Halloween clipart collections then, seemed an appropriate focus for today's missive. But first, before we get to that, I hope you will indulge me as I share some personal thoughts and remembrances about this particular time of year.

One of my earliest recollections of Halloween was my first one in Kindergarten. My classmates and I wore our costumes to school and showed them off as we paraded through the senior classes. Call it a trial run on the ooh-and-aah factor because if we heard these from the Grade 8 girls or saw reluctant grins on the faces of the boys, it was an assurance we were looking pretty darn cute. Which meant that getting our treat bags stuffed to the brim was not going to be an issue.

The standard practice as a youngster in those days was to hit as much of the town as possible. However, travelling to one area just a few blocks from my modest, middle-class neighbourhood, was imperative. Older kids, our siblings and friends from that area encouraged it. Home to the affluent, it was well-known that the greatest satisfaction for a sweet tooth was here. Rather than single chocolate bars, these people often met us at the door with goody bags full of decadence.

That's why it's strange that my only, albeit rather harmless and humiliatingly unsuccessful, foray into Halloween mischief targeted a home in that neighbourhood. If 'trick or treat' is the mandate for this holiday, then my gang and I had clearly fallen outside the terms. But who can understand the ways and  minds of teenagers?

Having reached the age caught between 'adorably cute in costume' and 'too cool to care', some friends and I decided to grab a few bars of soap and hit the town. And again, for whatever reason, we chose as a first stop a home that had always delivered in the treat department.  Perhaps it was the absence of lights in the back. Perhaps it was the temptation of the open garage door. Either way, with our brains taking a back seat to common sense, we believed we had our target. Entering the building, we raised the bars to the window just in time to be illuminated by headlights from a car turning into the driveway.

Knowing back then that getting caught would be a very bad thing for us on the home front, we sidled out with the speed of centipedes before hightailing it down the street. The soap was dumped and we headed home, never to stray into  the criminal life again.

It was after having kids of my own, though,  that the best memories of Halloween were formed.  They are far too many to list, but pictures of a tiny princess, a sweet lederhosen-clad boy, a pretty kitty and super-cute Dracula are among the reminders of those special years.

Back then, hubby and I alternated who would take our brood around town and who would stay home and dole out treats to the other sweethearts.  Each was equally satisfying — one could see everyone's reaction to our darlings, the other enjoyed seeing the variety of little characters who came to the door.

After the kids grew up and left home I transformed into a bit of a Halloween Scrooge. I had little interest in the celebration, and could have cared less about participating on any level.

Then a few years ago circumstances forced me into a costume and buried feelings began to emerge. I remembered that it's rather fun to be someone or something else for a bit.

The arrival of grandchildren has also put the pleasure back in Halloween. We have toured around with a little bee, a lion and pumpkin. Given that they received treats in the process and being with them is a treat for us, life couldn't have been sweeter  on either side.

So, as I reflect on past Halloweens,  I approach this one with renewed elan. To go along with that here are some of those adorable clipart collections promised earlier: Cute Halloween Illustrations

262 Adorable Halloween Illustrations from

A Terrific Halloween Collection Halloween Cartoon Illustrations Halloween Images

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

6 Delightful Collections of Craft and Hobby Themed Clipart

"A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship." — John D. Rockefeller.

The friendships we welcome into our lives will always enrich us. New acquaintances have  experiences to share and often open us to possibilities we would never have dreamed of on our own. When the going gets tough it's wonderful to have friends to prop you up. They can provide the support you need, not just helping you find the strength to keep on trucking, but supplying it when your store is depleted.

True friends will always be there, not just sharing in the fun and adventure, but in toil too.  When a goal lies before us they will work with us to its fulfilment. It might just be providing that extra push when we lag in our commitment, or making lighter work of manual labour but either way, without hesitation their presence can be counted on.

When we think about it, it's really not that much different with friendships founded on business. Brainstorming together, forging a strong union are integral components of building success into the future. Connecting with companies that complement the ideas and ideals of another, forming partnerships that inspire growth are important for businesses if they want to remain competitive in today's commercial world.

Vital Imagery Ltd., an online subscription graphics industry leader, loves making new friends in business. As the parent company of several popular image sites, including,, and Animation Factory, VI can provide clients diverse content for creative success.  In the royalty-free subscription market they offer the world's largest collections of wholly-owned content, as well as fresh and original photos, illustrations and animations. Exclusive packages mean great value on quality images. As the company is proud to say, "We help you do great work."

Just like any good friend.

One of the newest relationships VI has formed is as an Affinity partner with the Craft and Hobby Association. With over 2,300 member companies from 50+ companies, the majority of whom are small-business owners, CHA Director of Membership Jason Baum said the opportunity to take advantage of the vast quality of images available to them from VI is a big benefit. "They'll have easy access through the CHA website complete with great discounts."

CHA's roots date all the way back to 1941 as the Model Industry Association (MIA). Many big changes have happened in the years since. Most notably, in 2004, the two prominent organizations serving  the industry, The Hobby Industry Association (formerly MIA) and the Association of Crafts and Creative Industries combined to form a "more robust association with a greater purpose," said Jason.

"CHA was constructed by the hands of creative arts product leaders and inventors with decades upon decades of experience. Today, CHA is the global  non-profit trade association for the creative arts products industry." Companies are engaged in the design, manufacture, distribution, education and retail sales of creative arts products worldwide.

Among the myriad of resources that CHA offers its members is the annual trade event in January — Creativation. This award-winning gathering is the largest and longest-running event of its kind in North America. In addition, CHA members get valuable research on the size of the industry, craft participation by category and trends.

Other exclusive member benefits include business webinars, industry news, networking events, chapters and sections and affinity discounts, like the one offered with VI.

"We knew our members would love the image content available from Vital Imagery Ltd.," said Jason. Not to mention the great savings."

From our side, to recognize the beginning of a beautiful friendship,  I've sourced some wonderful craft and hobby themed VI clipart and animations. As well, there are some links to some collections from our Pinterest board which inspire design and inspiration. Craft and Hobby Illustrations Swirls and Elements from Our Pinterest Board Scrapbooking Backgrounds from Our Pinterest Board Small Business Photos Craft and Hobby Illustrations

Animation Factory Craft Animations

Friday, September 30, 2016

If You Love Oktoberfest You'll Love These Incredible Images

He was an uncomplicated man. He knew little of life but struggle and hard work. His days began before dawn and ended as dusk crept through the sky.

Each morning he set out to the fields and animals he loved, speaking little, expressing less.  He spoke little bowing to the formidable personality of his stalwart wife. He was a man of the land, leaving the day-to-day aspects of life in her cracked, dry, capable hands.

She was unquestionably the strength, a woman toughened by the realities of raising a family through the Great Depression. She loved her kids like a tigress, yet sentimentality was a foreign condition.

These were my paternal grandparents. Solid, honest people who kept emotions at a premium, they thought less about happiness than they did about labour and its rewards. She was the dominant force in this partnership, the one who faced adversity without emotion, who rose each day putting one step ahead of the other. My first memories are of her sitting playing hymns at the big pump organ in the parlour, of hands working through rich garden earth,  or of her standing for hours in the kitchen. For her there were no other places.  There was no television. The only book she read was the Bible. And relaxing was an incomprehensible concept.

When I think of her husband, my dad’s father, I think of a man who showed little by way of affection, yet who was never impatient or unkind. He would sit in the chair at the kitchen door, gnarled hands planted firmly in his lap as he waited for the evening meal to be served. He rarely smiled, but never growled. Though he seldom acknowledged us in a tender way, his tolerance, whether my cousins and I ran screaming around him, or chatted incessantly behind him as he walked to the barn, was admirable. He allowed us to follow noisily behind and we were thrilled to tread in his footsteps.

This pair were both grandchildren of German immigrants. And it was that which indirectly provided the most cherished memory I have of my grandpa. Both of my grandparents were fluent in the mother tongue of their forefathers.  Conversations between the two often were a combination of their two languages.

I have no recollection of how it happened, but at some point I expressed an interest in learning the foreign words they exchanged between themselves and their children. I was quite small but remember sitting on his lap as he counted, recited poems he had learned as a schoolboy, and taught me the most important words in any language. Ich liebe dich might not sound as elegant as Je t’aime or even I love you, but it was lovely to me.

Those times with him raised an interest and pride in my heritage. Some casual research in recent years has disclosed that my maiden name is Bavarian — the land of lederhosen and dirndls, food and drink, folk music and gemutlichkeit. That I have married a man of German descent as well,  has tightened the connection to our past. We plan a trip following retirement to the our ancestors' place of of birth to see what we can learn.

Were we there now we would be in the midst of the annual Oktoberfest — a celebration of heritage and culture, an expression of the Bavarian informal love of life. However, staying close to home soon brings the same, as a neighbouring city  to us hosts the largest North American Oktoberfest in the days following our Canadian Thanksgiving.

As a girl with pride in her German ancestory, it's only fitting then that I honour these occasions with some wonderful clipart collections: Oktoberfest Illustrations Oktoberfest Illustrations