Find creative inspiration online

The Web is a breeding ground of new ideas and collaborative resources–you simply need to know where to look. But while there are plenty of great Web sites aimed at giving advice to creative professionals, sometimes you simply need to play around.

When we’re looking for that perfect font for a project or simply need to flex our creative muscle, these ten right-brained sites help us get our imagination chugging again. For other great online resources–including great ways to save money and interesting conversation starters–check out the rest of our ongoing “Web Sites We Love” series (and be sure to share your own favorite sites for creative inspiration.)

Be more colorful
Looking for the perfect palette for your next project? ColourLovers offers a vibrant community of designers and artists who post and exchange colors, palettes, and patterns. You can search the database for the perfect paint shade to complement your new ochre comforter, or catch up on the latest color fads in the blog and trends page. Adobe’s kuler program is another nifty way to get out of a color rut. You can use color-picker tools to find complementary or secondary matches, create new themes, and import palettes directly into your Adobe programs.

Discover fabulous fonts
Not all nice fonts are free and not all free fonts are nice. Thankfully, big font collections like the one on My Fonts make it easy to find the perfect font for your project at an affordable price. Want a font that expresses the whimsy of childhood or that has a retro ’70s flare? Use the site’s search feature. Enter a line of text to see how it will look in each font. The site also offers helpful tools like What The Font, which scans the text on any image you upload and finds the closest matches in its database.

Find the perfect image
It’s easy to spice up your blog post on the history of electric blankets with some visuals. Just make a quick visit to PicApp and search for “electrical fire.” This friendly search tool offers tons of free, ready-to-embed stock images that you can use legally. For historical photos, check out PingNews’ Flickr collection of government photos in the public domain. It has loads of great images from NASA, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives.

Make a CD cover
Sometimes to find your muse, you have to indulge in a little random creativity. Step back from whatever project has you stumped and head over to Flickr’s CD Cover Meme group. The game picks a random band name, album title, and public Flickr photo for you to transform into a fake CD cover for the hardest-rocking fake band ever. (The group also posts alternative assignments to keep things interesting). You’re sure to be reinvigorated and inspired when you’re done.

Hear from the source
Get inspired by some of the world’s smartest and most creative people. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a unique conference and Web site that features thought-provoking 18-minute talks from a variety of speakers and performers. There’s no bad place to start listening, so try randomly picking from categories, such as most jaw-dropping, most inspiring, and funniest. Your iPod will thank you.

Have Fun with your photos
Your brother likes being the center of attention. So why not send him a birthday greeting that’s as unique as he is? MushyGushy.com offers funny animated cards featuring the head of someone you love (or hate). From party invites to congratulations to musical montages, the site offers cards for just about any occasion. Simply upload a photo of yourself and/or the recipient, use the simple online tools to frame the head, and add your customized message. The results are oddly mesmerizing.

Get published by National Geographic
Do you have what it takes to be a photojournalist? Every day the photo editor for National Geographic picks a dozen user-submitted images to feature on the Web site–a select few even make it into the pages of the monthly magazine. Together, the photos offer a beautiful and sometimes poignant glimpse into modern life. You can submit one photo per month. Be sure to read the detailed submission guidelines before you upload your image.

Explore your dark side
Remember those motivational posters your guidance counselor seemed so fond of? Despair gives you the tools to create satirical parodies of those posters using your own photos. Upload a photo, add your own antimotivational text, set a few parameters, and the Parody Motivator Generator will design an 11-by-14-inch poster. You can download the resulting design to your computer or purchase a printed copy for US$13. Or if you just want a laugh, take a tour of the Demotivator gallery.

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