A basic understanding of computers is all a person needs to create their own graphics with today’s design software. Even with just small amount of design understanding, people can still use simple design programs to build their own cartoons strips, holiday cards, flyers and invitations. Your business and yourself can save money on special occasions by using one of the several user friendly affordable programs that are out there.
The number one choice for design software by both professionals and amateurs is Adobe PhotoShop. By cropping, recoloring and adding special effects, PhotoShop allows users to change photos anyway they wish. Entirely new pictures can also be created by using special drawing tools, or existing pictures can be modified anyway the user desires. PhotoShop uses a system of “layers.” By using layers, separate pieces of a picture can be changed while keeping the changes separate. For example, you can change the color on the bottom layer without affecting the color on the top layer. If you wish to draw more than creating full pictures, Adobe Illustrator may be the choice for you.
PhotoShop is a pixel-based program while Adobe Illustrator is vector based. What does this mean your probably asking yourself? When you make a picture in PhotoShop, you must use a certain resolution. A computer screen displays 72 pixels per inch for a clear picture, but when you print a 72 dpi picture, it appears blocky and blurred. If you are making a picture for printing in PhotoShop, you need to use 300 pixels per inch to get a nice, sharp image. Because Illustrator is vector-based, it uses a system of paths rather than pixels. In simple terms, it uses lines rather than colors. This means that everything you create in Illustrator can be enlarged up to any size you wish without ever becoming blurry or grainy. Designers often use Illustrator software to build logos for a variety of advertisements. The same picture or logo drawing can be used on a small business card or enlarged to fill an entire billboard.
For those wishing to create simple greeting cards or party invitations, there is a variety of user friendly software programs made specifically for these purposes. Many offer templates for several print sizes and folding options. For the more experienced user, the software program Quark is an excellent print layout tool. Adobe InDesign also offers professional quality layout options along with many of the same tools used in Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator. If you are to use these two programs, you will easily be able to create professional quality materials with InDesign.
There is a wide variety of file types used in graphic software programs. Most have their own native formats that can only be read by the parent programs. PhotoShop files have a .PSD extension, and Illustrator files are AI, making them only accessible by PhotoShop. When you are working with a work in progress, it is a good idea to save files in these formats, as they offer you the greatest flexibility in altering your creation. However, once you have completed your work and are ready to print your materials, you can save them in a variety of ways. Web pictures should saved as JPEGs, GIF or TIFF files. Pictures ready for printing are best saved as EPS files, to preserve color accuracy. If you plan to send graphics via e-mail, PDF offers the greatest flexibility, as most computers have Acrobat Reader, the program needed to read the PDF file type.
No matter what software fits your needs, making digital graphics can be a enjoyable and simple hobby, or even a professional career. It can take some time to get used to the terminology, but once you learn the tools of digital art, you will be on your way to building functional and decorative graphic masterpieces to share with the electronic world.