VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) Decoder/Fixer by chris1001

I have a custom PHP/MYSQL/JS project ive been working on for a year and need a better VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) decoder. I currently have a subscription to a web based VIN decoder service and this works, but not as well as id like… (Budget: $250-750, Jobs: AJAX, Javascript, MySQL, PHP, XML)

Small Additions To Travel Si 2


I need to finish some things on my site.

You can check it here
user admin
pass bling10

1. I need to make the map on the main page a google map with pins for some of the listings

2. I need to make the image show random listings from the database
3. If you do a search, you will see a map on the left, I just need to make sure the listings are showing
4. I need to fix a couple of bugs in the search filters
5. I need to finish the dashboard (logged in area)
6. I need to finish the actual listing page once you click on the search results

The site is pretty much done, I just need to finish up a few things so that it is just like

My site is a clone of that so I just need to finish up a few things to make it a clone clone..will be a few other things besides that list above but those are the main things. I need to finish asap…this shouldnt take long though.

Emailer Marketers: Mass Email to craigslist addresses by MT2008

I am looking for someone that can mass email to craigslist emails. Please reply to this project only if you have emailed @craigslist before WITH inbox success! Email addresses used for mass emailings must not be your typical spam address, e.g… (Budget: $30-250, Jobs: Bulk Marketing, Classifieds Posting, Craigslist, Internet Marketing)

Dive Into A HUD Diver Mask Animation – Day 1

This 2 Part Tutorial aims to show various techniques used to create an imaginary hi-tech divers mask, as seen from the divers viewpoint.

In Day 1, I will show how to create the graphical elements that form the basis of all the in-visor display systems. These will be done in Adobe Illustrator, but the same techniques can be used in After Effects.

Then I’ll show how I created the glass warping effects used to simulate a 3d glass wraparound visor, and also put some water droplets onto the outside of the glass.


Download Tutorial .flv

File size 206MB

Quick Tip: Using and Sharing Files With the InDesign Library

In this Quick Tip tutorial you will learn how affective the InDesign Library palette can be for storing and reusing objects. Once a library has been established it is independent of InDesign documents and saved objects are stored in one place. Using a library is a convenient way of accessing these objects quickly for reference, using and sharing.

Continue reading “Quick Tip: Using and Sharing Files With the InDesign Library”

How to Illustrate Deliciously Realistic Grapes using Simple Techniques

In this tutorial we will learn how to illustrate a bunch of grapes using basic Adobe Illustrator tools. You will learn how to render multiple light sources and how to model a complex object using simple shapes and techniques. Let’s get started.

Continue reading “How to Illustrate Deliciously Realistic Grapes using Simple Techniques”

Essential Synthesis Part 2: Classic Synth Pads

If you followed the first part of this series then you’ll know that we are looking at a group of synth patches that represent the building blocks of subtractive synthesis. In the first instalment we looked out how to manipulate a simple noise oscillator.

In this instalment we’ll take a look at how to create a classic synth pad patch, an essential part of any synthesist’s armoury. The last tutorial was completed using Logic’s ES2 soft synth, this time around I’ll be using Steinberg’s Prologue. In fact I’ll be using a different instrument for each instalment, to show that these techniques are truly generic in nature.

Step 1: The Pad Patch

What is a pad? Well as the name suggests it’s a patch thats used to ‘pad’ a mix out. They are more often than not used at pretty low levels and supply a lush backdrop to our music. Most synth manufacturers supply a pretty decent selection of pads as standard with their synths but often these patches can present problems when used in the mix.

To many sound designers and synthesists the temptation to create complex pads that show off the instruments feature list is often to alluring. These complex pad patches can be great to play in isolation but in the mix they are often too busy and can end up clashing with existing elements as opposed to complimenting them.

Often the best pads are simple ones as they tend to sit more comfortably in the mix. In the following steps we’re going to take a look at how a basic but effective pad patch is put together and how these patches can be easily transformed into something more complex if required.

Step 2: Choosing Our Oscillators

As usual I have started with an initialised patch that consists of a single sawtooth waveform, an open low pass filter and very basic envelope settings. It’s always a good idea to start with a clean slate and very few modulations when creating your own patch.

The basic untreated saws

Download audio file (2.mp3)

The untreated saw wave and some very basic chords.

As our pad is going to be pretty heavily filtered the choice of oscillators in not as crucial as you may think. Of course your choice will effect the amount of harmonics created and a harsher brighter combination of oscillators will give you the ability to open the pads filter to reveal a more aggressive tone if needed.

To demonstrate this and show that we can create a smooth pad from even the harshest waveforms I have opted for two straight saw waves here. As there was already a saw wave present in our initial patch it was simply a case of adding a second.

These saw waves were then detuned to create an instant unison / chorus effect. This is great for creating depth and works perfectly for our pad. If you wanted to create a more complex, harmonically rich pads you could add a third oscillator of a different kind but to keep things simple here we’ll stick with two.

The detuned saws mixed

Download audio file (2b.mp3)

The same chords with the two detuned oscillators

Step 3: Envelopes and Dynamic Signatures

The core of a good pad sound is its dynamic signature. Simply put we need a long attack and long release, these two qualities combined automatically give us the traditional signature of a pad or string. With these set the patch plays like it should with a long, trippy feel. With this sort of envelope setting the timing of the patch is very forgiving and most sequences sound pretty good, perfect for adding extra parts to any track.

With these simple envelope values dialled in we are really starting to see the pad take shape but currently everything is just too bright and upfront. Let’s take a look at some filtering to sort this out.

The amplitude envelop in place

Download audio file (3.mp3)

The chords played with the new envelope

Step 4: Filters and Filter Envelope

To give our pad a traditional mellow feel we need to apply some pretty heavy filtering. We’ll be using a low pass, slightly resonant model to remove a large amount of high end from the sound. This will then be modulated by a dedicated envelope to add some dynamics.

The low pass filter used

So with out low pass filter chosen the cut off is decreased pretty drastically to remove all the ‘sharp’ edges and a healthy dose of resonance is added to introduce some warmth and harmonics. I have also utilised the ‘drive’ circuit that Prologue features, this adds further harmonics and some saturation. Other synths may not have this feature but there are plenty of saturation plug-ins out there that can achieve the same results.

The dedicated filter envelope somewhat matches the amp envelope

Download audio file (4.mp3)

The patch with the filter and envelope activated

Step 5: Some Light Modulation and Effects

Our patch is now resembling a classic pad sound and is pretty much usable in its current state. To finish it off and give it an extra edge and some dimension let’s add some light modulation and a few effects.

Our modulation is a simple slow-moving sine wave based LFO effecting the filter cutoff, this gives the sound an evolving feel and keeps it interesting over time. After this I added some built in delay and chorus from the synths effects sections for extra dimension. If your chosen soft synth has no effects section, get those plug-ins out!

The LFO used to modulate the filter

… and some dimensional effects

Download audio file (5.mp3)

The patch with modulation and effects

Step 6: Conclusion

As you can see going from only a simple single oscillator to a fully blow and usable pad sound is extremely easy. You should find now matter what synth you are using that you are only really a few moves away from creating this sort of patch.

The patch being played with a beat

Once this is mastered you have one of the essential building blocks of synthesis under you belt and from here you should be able to create much more complex and involving string and pad patches. Look out for more on this in future tuts!

Download audio file (6.mp3)

The patch being used at the start of a project

Incorporating Surrealism Concepts into Your Digital Artwork

Have you ever wanted to incorporate Surreal concepts into your artwork, but weren’t sure how to approach it? In this article, I share my personal pipeline for fusing Surrealist notions with my imagination to create fresh work. Learn to unleash your mind, capture your dreams, and fuse wild ideas into well crafted digital works of art through experimentation, planning, and execution.


I am in no way a Surrealist technique master, nor am I a Surrealism scholar. I am not here to discuss what Surrealism is and how it’s done right – as there are no rights or wrongs. What I will share with you in this article is strictly my personal approach to creating Surreal digital artwork by incorporating the Surrealism approach with my own twists.

Below, you will find five sections, which roughly define my pipeline of how I approach creating Surreal artwork and basically any otherworldly work. They are formatted from early conceptual notions, to actual execution, things to look out for during creation, and final tips that may help you with the entire process.

Parade of the Dreamers,” by Jeff Huang, For Desktopography 2009

Unleash Your Mind

No, this is not relating to the Matrix, but it is an important matter to discuss. When it comes to creating your own artwork, you must remember that you aren’t trying to please anyone but yourself. You are not aiming to please a client, nor do you have to worry about revisions. Self-satisfaction should be your goal in creating personal artwork.

The biggest misunderstanding is that people often try to stress their imagination and try to force themselves to think of something extraordinary. You do not have to do that. As a matter of fact, it makes matters worse because you may force yourself too hard, be stuck, and end up getting frustrated. To avoid all of that, I believe one should just let go, relax, and let their imagination do the work. You’d be surprised how much better the imagination works when you aren’t forcefully trying to get it to work.

Remember not to get frustrated. You may find yourself stuck at times, but that’s alright! Move on to doing something else! Go take a walk, watch TV, buy some groceries, go have dinner with your loved ones. What I’ve learned is that I often come up with ideas when I least expect it. Life itself inspires, and if you just go about it daily, there are an infinite amounts of things that we see, hear, and feel that will spark our imagination.

Below is an example of something I’ve seen here in NYC that certainly inspires.

Alamo (The Cube),” is an outdoor sculpture by Bernard (Tony) Rosenthal, which is located on Astor Place, on the island of Manhattan in New York City.

Capturing Your Dreams

So you’ve come up with an idea and want to execute it. Here are a couple things to do in order to capture that idea before it fades away:

  1. Sketch It Out – You do NOT have to be an amazing draftsman to quickly sketch your concept out. All you need is either a piece of paper and pen/pencil or a tablet. It is up to your preference what tools you use – you could even use a chisel and hammer if you’re into that sort of thing…though I don’t personally recommend it. Nonetheless, draw your vision out roughly. Don’t finesse any details yet, but just lay out key points of your vision.

  2. Find Reference Images – Gathering reference images will help you greatly in realizing your new idea. Gather images that directly relate to what you have in mind. If you are looking to create a piece that revolves around a grass field, gather images of grass fields that suit your vision roughly, it doesn’t have to be exact.

    If you’re looking to create a certain style of art, gather certain pieces by the artist you like. Personally, whenever I work, I almost always create a folder of reference images and have it accessible on my secondary monitor, or at the very least have my browser open with one single image that strongly inspires me.

Below is a sketch of a potential upcoming piece and a few reference images that I possess. I imagine the structures floating to be rocky structures, thus I found references of strong rock textures, as well as relevant inspirational surrealist work.

Sketch of mine for a potential upcoming piece.

Reference images of rock textures and Surrealist work.

Mindset During Creation

Now that you are ready to start the piece, let’s go over some things you may come across during the creation process.

  1. “Does this look real?” – This is a weird question. I believe the real question should be, “Is this convincing?” In my own opinion, Surrealism is at its best when it’s convincing enough that it could be real, however we obviously know that the subject matter you are creating is nonexistent, thus is not real.

    A rule of thumb that I have for myself when creating Surreal work is to make sure the subjects are convincing enough to exist in the world which is my current canvas. This means, to match the lighting, shadows, and everything in between. Don’t get it twisted though, this does not mean it has to be super realistic.

  2. I imagined something rather epic, but I doubt I could make it happen! – Make it happen to the best of your ability. When I approach work which I feel would be incredibly challenging to realize, I just go about it the best I can. In the end, this is just a learning experience as an artist.

    When you try to approach something challenging, even if it doesn’t turn out the way you envisioned, you will learn the skills you may need for next time to make it work. The worst thing you can do is be afraid and back off from your idea, because you would never learn that way. You must remember that if you are making personal work, no one is there to be critical to you or to make fun of you. It’s a sort of self-meditation. Experiment and learn from it. Be brave, and have patience!

Below is an example of how something could be convincing but not hyper-realistic.

Meditative Rose,” by Salvador Dali

Realism Versus Surrealism

This goes back to the earlier question of, “Does this look real?” If you want to create a Surreal piece of art, I believe it’s important to know the difference between Realism and Surrealism. I will try to define what these two terms mean to me personally, not as written by the Dictionary. Remember, this is what the two terms mean to me, and I have no intension to start a mass debate on what they truly mean.

  • Realism – Takes subject matters of the ordinary and common world which we call "reality." It almost always takes a non-exotic and non-extraordinary subject matter and theme. There is no need to think outside of the box, as that is not "real."

  • Surrealism – A twist on Realism. It explores the subconscious mind, with subject matters concentrating on dream-images and often aims to distort the ordinary and what we call reality.

The point that I’m trying to make is that one can be free when creating Surrealist work. This goes back to unleashing the mind as mentioned earlier in the article. This is what I love about Surrealism and it is the reason why my artwork often exhibits a Surreal atmosphere.

I don’t need my work to be hyper-realistic, nor am I aiming to be in the future. I just love playing between the lines of the Real and Unreal. As an artist, I feel rather powerful to have the ability to control and deliver such notions to the audience based on my will. To me, Surrealism is the perfect movement for artists who enjoy letting their imagination go wild, which allows them to delivering their wild visual ideas in a believable atmosphere.

Tips and Recommendations

Here are some tips and recommendations that I have that may help you with your creative process and artistic vision:

  1. Keep a sketchbook – I personally enjoy drawing with a pen/pencil on paper, as it feels much more natural than a tablet’s texture. Keeping a sketchbook would not only improve your draftsmanship, but also allow you to quickly capture ideas that you may have come up with suddenly.

  2. Patience – There are no doubts about it that patience is a virtue. An important thing to have is patience, especially when it comes to creating personal artwork. Take your time, no one is rushing you to finish!

    If there is something important I’ve learned from creating work in a few hours and work that takes weeks…it’s that the ones that take weeks are much more refined and detailed. Be patient and it will improve your artwork.

  3. Buy books and observe – A great way to study a certain style, in this case Surrealism, is to buy books of artists whom you are interested in. I have a few great books of Salvador Dali’s work, one from his museum in Figueres, and it’s awesome.

    Nothing beats being able to read and observe these masters, because as you read and observe their work, you unconsciously absorb lots of visual knowledge that you will recall in new work without even noticing. It’s rather magical!

  4. Zoom out – I cannot stress how important it is to simply zoom out of your canvas to view the work in full. Unless you plan to display your work as chunks or full-res, the zoomed out image is what the audience will see in the end.

    That is not to say to detail the piece while zoomed out, definitely not! But it is very important to zoom out to see the piece as a whole – to ask yourself how convincing it looks. A lot of times artists focus so much on one area that they fail to notice that it looks off in conjunction to the piece as a whole.

  5. Experiment – Experiment with techniques and styles. Making work digitally is great in that you can always undo something. Play with Photoshop, go crazy, and often you’ll find yourself being able to take pieces of each experiment and incorporate them into one successful piece.

    I never took a Photoshop class before, and almost all my knowledge is from experimenting and learning over the past five years. When I did have to take a required Photoshop class in school, there was nothing I didn’t already know. You’d be surprised how much you could learn by yourself if you just jump in and play around! There is no harm in exploring!

A piece from my sketchbook, created 2007.


So there you have it, a peek into my mindset, a look into how I incorporate Surrealist concepts into my digital artwork. Surrealism is perfect for artists whom enjoy playing the fine lines of the real and unreal. Digital artists – remember that the software is just your canvas and basic tools. Your main tool is your imagination.

A lot of people ask what sort of software an artist uses to create their artwork because they believe it is the software that does the work…but this is totally wrong. Many people could use Photoshop, but it is how you use it in conjunction with your mind, your attention to detail, and overall aesthetics that makes you stand out above all.

Resources and Inspiration

Create a Textured Female Robot in Photoshop

Photoshop is great for creating resizable, realistic, characters. Thanks to its basic support of vector shapes, its amazing layer styles and the endless possibilities offered by textures we can create compelling vector characters with complex shading while keeping file size to a minimum and performance to a snappy level. In this tutorial we will create a female robot made of simple vector shapes, we will use layer styles to lay down convincing metal shades and a few textures to add a final layer of realism.


The following resources were used during the production of this tutorial:

Step 1

Create a new blank document, using the size you want. Activate Snap from the View menu with Shift + Command + ; and hit Command + ‘ to turn on the grid.

Using the Pen Tool (P) in Shape Layer mode draw the head (1a). Make sure all points snap to the grid and all lines lie on the pixels, not across them. This way we’ll avoid anti-aliasing. Using Color Overlay (1b) make the head light pink (1c).

Step 2

Add a Gradient Overlay style (2a, 2b) to simulate metallic reflections (2c).

Step 3

Add some Inner Glow (3a) to simulate ambient reflections and Inner Shadow (3b) to enhance the roundness of the surface. The character is mainly lit from above and ahead so the inner shadow around the top of the head effectively pushes back the outline (3c).

Step 4

Create the neck with a simple, gold rectangle. Again make sure you snap to the grid for perfectly crisp edges (4a). With a Gradient Overlay (4b, 4c) we add reflective highlights. An Inner Shadow (4d) simulates the shadow cast by the head (4e).

Step 5

On to the eyes. Draw a gold circle (5a). Add an Angle Gradient Overlay (5b, 5c) to create a different type of metallic reflection (5d).

Step 6

Using a Stroke set to Inside create the raised border (6a). With an Inner Shadow (6b) and a Drop Shadow (6c) we make the eye protrude from the head (6d).

Step 7

The pupil is a simple orange circle (7a). A Bevel and Emboss set to Down (7b) will make the pupil inset (7c). The Inner Glow set to Center (7d) will turn the eye on (7e).

Step 8

To finish off the pupil we have to add an Inner Shadow (8a) and a purple Outer Glow (8b). The eye is complete so we can duplicate it (8c). Here are the layers so far. It’s important to keep an organized layer structure. Use folders and colors, if you like (8d).

Step 9

Draw the shape for the lips (9a). Using a yellow-to-transparent Gradient Overlay (9b) we highlight the upper lip (9c). Add a Stroke, an Inner Shadow and a Drop Shadow or better yet copy them from the eye to complete the lips (9d).

Step 10

Create the center tooth as a dark brown rectangle (10a). Use Bevel and Emboss (10b) and Inner Shadow (10c) to inset the tooth. It is in fact a slit in the lips (10d). The rest of the teeth are created with copies of the center tooth, shortened vertically with the help of the grid (10e).

Step 11

The torso is a trapezoid (11a). The shading technique is the same as before. Gradient Overlay (11b, 11c), Inner Glow (11d), Inner Shadow (11e). The result is a metallic cone (11f).

Step 12

The skirt has a bell-like profile (12a). Yet another time use Gradient Overlay (12b, 12c), Inner Glow (12d) and Inner Shadow (12e) to shade it (12f).

Step 13

Draw the left arm as a thin metal rod that initially curves out and down from the shoulder and then ends in a straight line (13a). Using a dark Inner Glow (13b) we simulate a rounded surface (13c). With the same method create the hand (13d).

As you can see similar materials are created with the same layer styles. Of course you have to use your judgment and make minor adjustments to the settings to adapt the styles to different shapes and/or dimensions.

Step 14

The hand is attached to the arm via a round joint similar to the eye (14a). Apply a similar Angle Gradient Overlay (14b, 14c) and a slight dark stroke to enhance the edge (14d). The hand is finished (14e).

Step 15

To complete the arm we need to draw a wire that winds around the metal rod. Create a new layer. Draw the spiral with the Pen Tool (P) in Paths mode (15a). Hit B to activate the Brush Tool and then F5 to open the Brushes palette. Pick a hard-edged, round preset and set the Diameter to 2px (15b). Now in the Paths palette right-click on the spiral path and choose Stroke Path. The path will be stroked on the new layer (15c). Mask the spiral where it curves behind the arm (15d).

Step 16

Activate the Dodge Tool (O) and set it to Shadow mode. Paint on the spiral where it faces the view directly. These parts catch highlights and should be almost white (16a). The arm is finished so you can group all its layers. Duplicate the group and flip it horizontally to the other side of the body to create the second arm (16b).

Step 17

It’s time to add some detail to the body parts. The head, the neck, the torso and the skirt are made of metal plates soldered and riveted together.

Create a thin vertical rectangle down the middle of the torso, make it medium gray (17a). Now open the Brushes window (F5) and increase the spacing to about 600%. In the preview you will see the brush stroke change to a trail of dots (17b). Holding down Shift paint a vertical line of rivets along the rectangle (17c). Add a white Drop Shadow (17d) to make the rivets look inset. Duplicate the layer to create a second row of rivets (17e).

Step 18

Add a few more rows of rivets to the torso (18a), place one on the head and on the neck too (18b).

The skirt has no rivets, just horizontal lines carved in it. They have the same white drop shadow as the rivets (18c). Crop the lines with the vector mask from the skirt itself (18d, 18e).

Step 19

The torso is not complete without a big reflective highlight. Draw a white ellipse on top of it (19a) set it to Screen, 35% Opacity and crop it with the torso’s vector mask (19b).

Step 20

In lieu of ears the fembot has small antennas. First create the base of the left ear with a gold rectangle (20a) filled with a Gradient Overlay (20b, 20c). That’s shiny enough (20d).

Step 21

Use an Inner Shadow coming from the left (21a) to simulate the shadow cast by the head (21b). Add a thin rectangle filled with a single two-tone vertical gradient for the antenna to wrap around (21c).

Step 22

Draw a yellow circle at the end of the stick (22a) and use an Inner Glow to make it round (22b. 22c). Create two squashed ellipses, one dark brown and one bright yellow, to complete the ball (22d).

Step 23

Create the small antenna the same way you created the arm. Draw a path (23a), stroke it in white and mask it (23b). Apply an Outer Glow style set to Linear Dodge (23c) to create a very bright glow (23d). The left “ear” is finished so simply mirror the right one (23e).

Step 24

For the leg draw a small rectangle with rounded corners (24a). Fill it with a copper Gradient Overlay (24b, 24c), an Inner Glow (24d) and an Inner Shadow (24e). Duplicate this module several times to complete the leg (24f).

Step 25

The foot joins the leg by way of a small steel ring. You know how to create it by now (25a). Create the foot as a Shape Layer path (25b) and copy and paste the layer style from the leg module. Just modify the Contour of the Inner Shadow (25c) to alter the color variation (25d). The leg is finished so group everything and create the other one.

Step 26

The fembot is finished but it looks too polished. She needs some realistic textures to be really complete.

Place the Rust #1 texture in the document and resize it to fit the head (26a). Set its blending mode to Soft Light and crop it with the head’s vector mask (26b). For the neck use Rust #2 (26c) set to Overlay mode (26d).

Step 27

Place the Rust torso texture on the torso, of course. Set it to Soft Light (27a). The skirt gets both Skirt #1 and Skirt #2 placed on top of each other while the legs and feet get the same rust applied to the head (27b). The fembot looks much better now.

Step 28

No respectable robot has a bare chest, especially a female one. Let’s give her a control panel.

Draw an ellipse (28a) and apply an Angle Gradient Overlay to it (28b). Also add the usual Inner Glow (28c), Inner Shadow (28d) and Drop Shadow (28e).

Step 29

Complete the oval plate by texturing it with Copper (29a). The display is a smaller ellipse (29b) with a bunch of layer styles applied to it (29c).

Step 30

The blank screen (30a) can be filled with a warm “hello” and a couple of status icons (30b). Also add a reflection on the glass by drawing a white crescent set to Screen, 35% Opacity (30c).

Step 31

This step is optional. Open the Broken glass #1 image and go to Select > Color Range. Select Highlights (31a). Hit Command + J to create a new layer from the selection and drag this layer over the fembot’s glass screen. You can add a white Inner Shadow (31b) and a dark Drop Shadow (31c) to simulate depth and of course use Broken glass #2 the same way (31d).

Step 32

Just add a background and a floor of your liking and the fembot will finally be complete.


In this tutorial we used very simple vector shapes and well-thought layer style combinations to create a fun female robot made of metal parts. Since the result was too polished and plastic-looking we added a layer of realism by simply juxtaposing rusty, corroded and dirty textures. Not only do they add life to the materials, they also heighten the realism by providing subtle color changes, realistic surfaces and ambient reflections.

The beauty of this workflow is that the entire character is made of infinitely scalable vectors. For the most part the layer styles will scale with the body parts and the few elements that don’t, the textures, can be obtained in high resolution and require little effort to be applied again should you change the size of the document.

I hope you had fun creating the robot but especially I hope you learned a useful method for creating scalable characters in a raster-based application like Photoshop.