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14,000 hints and counting! - Wonderful desktop images Pick of the Week
PlasmaDesign iconThe macosxhints Rating:
10 of 10
[Score: 10 out of 10]
  • Developer: PlasmaDesign
  • Price: £7.00 [$12.84] -- lifetime membership
This week's PotW is slightly off the usual track -- it's a website, not really a program, but the stuff there is purchasable and downloadable, so it's close enough in my book! is the home to Rob Randtoul's amazing digital artwork, a very small sample (both in pixels and quantity) of which you see above this line. I first stumbled on Rob's work when looking for desktop images to fit my 1920x1200 screen; they were few and far between, until I found PlasmaDesign. In looking through the site, I was simply astounded by the quality and variety of the images, separated into Aqua, Landscape, and Abstract categories.

If you don't like computer-generated landscapes and images, you probably won't like much of what Rob has to offer (though I still think the Dew Drop image shown above is astonishing). But if you like such imagery, give the site a quick visit, and you might like what you see. There are a number of free images available; the £7.00 lifetime membership fee gets you access to his collection of widescreen images (up to 1920x1200), dual-screen images, and a bundle of images in OS X's screensaver format.

I realize there are literally hundreds of sites with tens of thousands of free desktop images out there, so why go somewhere that charges for their images? Well, Rob only charges £7.00 ($12.84 as of Friday's exchange rates) for a lifetime membership, and the quality of his work is, to me, well worth that small fee. New images are added regularly, and I continue to be impressed by Rob's amazing designs. Finally, having 1920x1200 images available saves me the time required to upsize smaller images (not to mention the resulting loss in quality).

As an aside, this week's PotW was heavily influenced by the fact that I've been busy updating the Mac OS X Hints book for the past couple of months ... which means I've been staring at lovely grayish or blueish neutral backgrounds for that whole time (the neutral backgrounds are used to take the literally hundreds of screenshots required for the book). But tonight, I wrapped up the final first-cut pass at the update, which means I'm once again able to enjoy Rob's artwork! Goodbye dull gray desktop!
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No more grey backgrounds
Authored by: lagroue on Jun 01, '04 02:54:24AM

The little Application named Backdrop simply opens a wide-screen and flat window, which you can use as a screenshot background.

Its default color is white, but you can change it.

So if I understood you well, it would have help you keeping your favorite desktop pictures while making your book (I was so sad reading your note).

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No more grey backgrounds
Authored by: robg on Jun 01, '04 07:58:48AM

The problem with an application to do this (I used to use TextEdit to accomplish basically the same thing) is that it adds to the required application switching to get the layering right. So if I need a screenshot of a given app with a Finder window open behind it, or of app #1 with app #2 also visible, I have to do a fair amount of clicking in just the right order to get the windows all set up on the proper layers.

Setting the Finder background gets rid of one more thing to manage in the screenshot process, saving some time at the expense of desktop beauty :).


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No more grey backgrounds
Authored by: jmhaney on Jun 05, '04 10:41:16AM
There's an easy enough solution to this. I can update Backdrop to give a setting which will place it behind everything, just like the background on your computer. I didn't have this in the past because, for my own purposes, I needed the blank white to cover the 300 icons on my desktop! :-)

Thanks lagroue for mentioning my little Freeware app...

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Re: thanks
Authored by: lagroue on Jun 08, '04 11:53:48AM

You're welcome !

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Backdrop 1.1
Authored by: jmhaney on Jul 17, '04 10:53:43AM

I just released an update to Backdrop which has the option to place the window behind the desktop icons (this may only work for 10.2 or later).

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No more grey backgrounds
Authored by: imageworx on Jun 02, '04 11:41:01AM

I just use my Nikon Pro14n and shoot nature. Then with some Photoshop time, I have my own desktops. At the res I want. Its amazing what you can find in your parents garage, or workplace. Some sofbox light, a filter and presto...its art martha!

To BeOS or Not to BeOS

[ Reply to This | # ] - Wonderful desktop images
Authored by: VHDLBigot on Jun 01, '04 06:15:07AM
Along a similar vein, about two years ago I purchased a subscription to Digital Blasphemy. The renderings are always cool but often have an 'not of this world' theme. The artist produces a new render about every week to ten days.


[ Reply to This | # ] - Wonderful desktop images
Authored by: Bluemunky on Jun 01, '04 02:16:36PM

DB is a ripoff. The pictures are almost always ruined with his website address located in a terrible position, the renderings are often cheap and I was subscribed right during his "my wife is pregnant I don't feel like rendering anymore" stage so in like 6 months I saw about 4 updates and 30 apologies for not updating. Never again will that turd get my money.

[ Reply to This | # ] - Wonderful desktop images
Authored by: rbenezra on Jun 03, '04 01:16:06AM

I agree. Waste of money. How this was a "PotW" is beyond me as the choices are usually quite good. I hope there is no kickback involved here (ok, only klidding don't take it personallly).

[ Reply to This | # ] - Wonderful desktop images
Authored by: robg on Jun 03, '04 09:25:35AM

I didn't pick DigitalBlasphemy. I picked PlasmaDesign, and I stand by my pick -- I love Rob's artwork, and I think the images are well worth the trivial amount of money involved (for a *lifetime*, so no more money required for additional images, ever).

However, you don't have to agree -- that's why it's my Pick of the Week, and not yours :).

No kickbacks involved in *any* PotW. Just things I like that I think others may find interesting.


[ Reply to This | # ] - Wonderful desktop images
Authored by: hexghost on Jun 01, '04 01:19:52PM

I discovered this site almost a year ago, back when Rob had very few backgrounds. The ones he did have, however, were so good I was compelled to pay the $5 lifetime membership. Since then he's only gotten better. I've got all his beautiful backgrounds in a folder that os x rotates among for background images every hour. It's definatly worth the money!

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They are nice, but...
Authored by: asher on Jun 01, '04 07:15:21PM

It's obvious that you guys don't have grand children. I'd be happy to e-mail you a few thousand of the cutest pictures - for free.

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They are nice, but...
Authored by: robg on Jun 01, '04 10:18:47PM

No grandkids, but my daughter owns screen #2 :).


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No gandkids (yet), but...
Authored by: rgray on Jun 03, '04 08:56:38AM

Our cat just had kittens... Guess what is all over the desktops here...

Since I got my digicam desktop materials are always available... I can't imagine paying..

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Authored by: 1e6 on Jun 05, '04 12:49:41PM

Hey -- I love this place, and everyone and thing in it -- but please, Rob, no squeeky chalk on the blackboard! My guess is it's just a typo, and you meant to say "dull," because "droll" means "funny" (see, e.g.,

[ Reply to This | # ] - Wonderful desktop images
Authored by: robg on Jun 05, '04 01:06:10PM

Yea, mental typo :). Fixed now, thanks!


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Dual screen desktops
Authored by: stimpy on Jun 12, '04 01:11:09AM

Both plasmadesign and digitalblasphemy offer dual screen desktops, but how do you make an image span two monitors in os x?

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