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Week4 Graphics Resources

Week4 Graphics Resources

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Published by o_dimitrov
Short graphic resources reference.
Short graphic resources reference.

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Published by: o_dimitrov on Nov 20, 2009
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05/11/2014

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Graphic Design Resources
Well, it does you no good to have a wonderful webhost, a catchy domain, a fast loadingwebsite and a super snazzy shopping cart system if your colors and graphics look horrible.So, it seems only fitting at this point that we take a few moments to discuss some graphicsand color palette software and services. The keys here are you want to be able to creategreat looking images without being a graphics designer (because most of us are not andcannot afford to hire one - at least in the early stages of our business).Now, I actually only use two image editing programs and one of them is an old program thatI used when I was teaching (and NOBODY else uses it). But, it's what I'm used to and Iknow how to make it do what I want. That being said, the program is horribly outdated atthis point and I would not seriously recommend it to anyone else because there is muchmore powerful software available for free. So, rest assured, I will shoot straight with you (asI have throughout this book) and make it clear which of these programs and services I haveactually used and which I have not.
The Website Boss - Cheap or FREE
 
...» To Avoid Paying Me a Commission:www.TheWebsiteBoss.com 
Following this particular review you will find a few recommendations for free software andservices which should be of tremendous benefit to you in regards to your graphic designendeavors. However, before I get there, I'd like to point out a little gem that I just ran acrosstoday which I believe will save you HOURS on graphic design for your websites, ebooks,etc. not to mention giving them a really professional look (and depending upon your needs,it might not cost you a dime).You see, this guy Ross "The Boss" (I know, it's corny, but he's got some really greatgraphics) has a FREE membership package where you can get hundreds of high qualitygraphics, sales page templates and killer text templates to use for your marketing and webdesign projects. Just go to the link above, and you can read all about it and see samples ofwhat he's offering - it won't cost you a dime.So what's in it for HIM? Well, when you sign up for the free membership, you'll be given aquick opportunity to "upgrade" to an Elite membership, but, no worries, it's unbelievablycheap and if you decide you're not interested, you'll be put straight through to downloadyour free membership graphics and such. However, I think you're going to find that the costis peanuts compared to the resources you're going to get from the upgrade. I wasabsolutely floored when I read through all that the Elite membership upgrade offered andthen got to the bottom of the page and found it was only $12 for the upgrade. That's it!Now, I don't know this guy from Adam. I'm not plugging his site so he'll plug mine like somany "Internet Gurus" these days. I honestly have no idea who this guy is, but I can tell youthat he's put together an amazing graphics package that will completely revamp any site
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you currently own or are considering putting online. For $12 I just couldn't resist plunkingdown the cash to see the whole package.And, once I was able to download all of the materials, I was just as impressed with the valuefor my money. I mean, honestly, I couldn't have produced ONE of the incredible graphics inthis package in less than an hour. So, considering that I value my time at MUCH more than$12/hour, I look at this as a VERY GOOD BUY!All of that being said, I do have a few qualms. First, many of the graphics are provided inpng format. This is fine, if can find an image that you like AS IS and will simply be insertingit directly into your site. However, if you want to "tweak" any of the images, png format isgoing to make it a bit tough. Providing the files in Adobe psd format would have been muchmore useful for editing purposes.Moreover, the above issue is even more significant because many of the graphics areprovided in only a few different color variations. So, unless your website color scheme justhappens to match one of those color variations, you'll need to modify the color, and thiscould take a bit of fiddling.Also, downloading and extracting all the files is somewhat of a pain. There are numerousdifferent zip files in this package, so, once you've downloaded all the large zip files, youthen have to go through the process of extracting all of them, which can be a bit timeconsuming and annoying. A better solution would be offering a single executable file whichwould extract all of the graphics into an appropriate and well organized folder structure all atonce, saving the end user the hassle of doing it manually. Of course, this would result in amighty large executable file, but it would be nice to have that option for those with highspeed internet access.Lastly, as implied at the end of the previous paragraph, a little better categorization of thefiles would be helpful for finding what you need. I suppose once you get used to whereyou've saved and extracted the files, it probably won't be much of an issue, but, when youfirst extract, the process of sorting through all that you've got can be daunting.Nevertheless, even with the slight annoyances listed above, you're only paying $12 for theentire set of graphics, so I think a bit of manual effort to make good use of them is morethan acceptable. Check it out for yourself. I think you'll be very happy with the graphics setand $12 is a SMALL price to pay for the time savings this graphics package offers. (go there)
The Gimp - FREE
 Ok, I did a little research and the funny name, GIMP, stands for "GNU Image ManipulationProgram". Really doesn't much matter, but I know I thought the name was quite interestingand wondered where it came from. Now you know. So, what is GIMP, really? Well, it's aFREE and very capable replacement for programs like Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop Proand Corel Photopaint, all of which will generally run you in the hundreds of dollars. Thisprogram is power packed full of features both for power graphics designers and forbeginners (although it doesn't do alot of hand-holding, so beginners might find the programa little intimidating).
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What IS nice, though, is that they have a very complete selection of online tutorials to helpboth beginners and experienced users with basic functions and advanced features. Thereare also many websites devoted to helping you learn how to use the various functions inGIMP. And, there is a pretty complete help file (although it does not install by default withthe Windows installation - it is installed separately - and I had to change my preferences inGIMP to use the GIMP help browser instead of my web browser to be able to view the helpfile). In my opinion, if you're willing to do a little bit of reading, you should be able to figureout how to do just about anything you'd ever like to do with GIMP.In fact, let it be known that I am by no means a graphics artist, just a guy who needs to beable to do some basic graphics editing in order to create websites for my various websites.As I mentioned at the beginning of this "Graphic Design Resources" chapter, there isanother program that I have primarily used for all my image editing needs. It works well, butisn't nearly as powerful as some of the newer software available (such as the most recentversion of The GIMP).What I found, though, was that most of the primary features available in The GIMP wereunderstandable from my use of this other graphics manipulation program. It certainly wasnot all exactly the same, but I was able to find my way around GIMP without too muchtrouble. And, as I tested the program and read through some of the tutorials I was AMAZEDat all that The GIMP can do. In fact, I'm even considering spending a week or two usingGIMP to see if I can get comfortable enough with it to make it worth ditching my currentgraphics program - The GIMP is
that
good.Quite frankly, the only downside I can see to GIMP is the interface. It takes some gettingused to. You'll often have at least 3 and possibly up to 5 or 6 different windows open, all forThe GIMP. You'll generally have the primary program window, a layers/channels/pathswindow and your image window. Depending upon what functions you might be using, acouple more windows might be open. This can be confusing for new users who are runningGIMP on a Windows system. We're used to programs that are all "contained" in one largewindow. Linux users (Linux is a competing and less expensive operating system toWindows) are more used to this type of program layout where many aspects of a programare more modular in nature.So, if you're a native Windows user, this modular layout of the program may take a littlegetting used to, but for the power that GIMP offers in a free program, I think it is well worththe effort. Make a commitment to use The GIMP for all your image creating and editingneeds for just one website project, and I guarantee you'll end up making GIMP your editorof choice. It's a program that truly rivals commercial image editing and manipulationprograms costing hundreds of dollars and you won't have to pay a dime for it. (go there)
Color Scheme Generator
 One of the aspects of good site design/graphic design is choosing the right color palette foryour site (a group of colors that all look good together and can be utilized for differentaspects of your site - background, header, border, text, links, images, etc.). A poor colorpalette can easily send your website visitors packing. Choosing colors that work welltogether can be the difference between a mediocre website and a great website. So, it'sclear to see that I think this is important.
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