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Thread: How to begin in Graphics Design

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    Question How to begin in Graphics Design

    Hi,

    I have been wondering this for a long time, and I'll bet I already know some of the answers, but here are a few noob questions:

    1. I've seen all those cool "aero" icons and buttons (especially in Windows Vista), but I can't figure out how they were made. How are aero, glassy images made?

    2. I am really interested in getting into graphics design, but I don't know where to start. What is the best way for one to begin (i.e. what programs, computer hardware, etc.)?

    Thanks for considering my questions, and for helping me out!

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    To answer part 2:

    You don't need any special hardware, though you will need a reasonably fast computer. If you are using large images and want to use a few at a time, you may want to have at least 2GB, maybe 4GB of RAM. Large images can also take up space quickly so you may want to get some extra storage space-- you'll have enough time to figure this out though. Finally, if you want to take this very seriously, you may want to purchase a high end monitor. LCD monitors tend to distort things a bit, so a nice CRT (not flatscreen) might be a good idea. Generally speaking, though, none of this is necessary especially when you're just starting. Your graphics card is probably good enough as-is.

    If you start doing any 3D or video work, not just image editing, then more might be required.

    As for software, there are a lot of options, but the standard is Photoshop. It's expensive, but good. You don't need it to start, but if you end up making a career of this, you'll definitely want to at least know how to use it, if not use it as your primary program. You can get a 30 day trial (last time I checked) from adobe.com. For something cheaper (and maybe not as good), there are lots of other options. I used Paint Shop Pro for a while and thought it was good, almost as good as Photoshop. That was many versions ago, so I'm not sure what the program is like now. In fact, if you are just starting, then maybe you can buy an old version of one of these programs for a very low price.
    If you want to look into vector graphics (logo design, cartoons, sketches, but not photo realistic or photo editing), then programs like Adobe Illustrator are worth considering. Illustrator is popular but there may be other programs that are just as good-- it's not as clearly a standard as Photoshop.

    If you want to use free programs only, then the GIMP has almost all of the features of Photoshop and some people really like it. (I don't, personally, but that's mostly because it's never run smoothly on my computers-- it's always improving so give it a try.) And Inkscape is the same for vector graphics.



    As for question 1, please post some examples of exactly what you mean. I don't use vista, so I'm not sure what you're referring to. It's probably a complex set of operations to give it the final look, though, or it might be something that can be accomplished with a filter (which usually does a set of complex operations for you).
    Daniel - Freelance Web Design | <?php?> | <html>| espa˝ol | Deutsch | italiano | portuguŕs | catalÓ | un peu de franšais | some knowledge of several other languages: I can sometimes help translate here on DD | Linguistics Forum

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    The Back button in Mozilla Firefox is an example of an aero image. It looks kind of glassy, with a light shining through it.

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    I'm on a Mac and the back button is just gray and black. A quick google search didn't show any examples based on "aero". Please post a link to something so we can check it out.
    Daniel - Freelance Web Design | <?php?> | <html>| espa˝ol | Deutsch | italiano | portuguŕs | catalÓ | un peu de franšais | some knowledge of several other languages: I can sometimes help translate here on DD | Linguistics Forum

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    Here is an example. It's the Play button in Microsoft Windows Media Player. It's attached.

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    There are many ways you could approach that. Generally, though, it looks like a white triangle with rounded corners on a blue background. But then the entire shape was embossed (causing the shiny edges-- that's probably part of the programs options) and then it was rounded. There's a filter in Photoshop called "spherize" that would help. The light effects that look like reflections could be generated in a number of ways. In fact, it could be a basic 3D model, but you could fake it in 2D as well. The question is whether you want to design these by hand or have it automated. Microsoft probably automated it, but you could replicate it by hand without too much trouble, at least for a few images.

    For something complex like that, it's the kind of thing you will be able to do with experience. There's definitely an art to graphic design and it gets easier as you become more familiar with various techniques.

    If you want to look for some tutorials you can search for "glow", "emboss" and "light" effects on google. You'll probably find some ideas that are relevant.
    Daniel - Freelance Web Design | <?php?> | <html>| espa˝ol | Deutsch | italiano | portuguŕs | catalÓ | un peu de franšais | some knowledge of several other languages: I can sometimes help translate here on DD | Linguistics Forum

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    "glossy buttons" is also a good search term for this look

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    OK, Thanks you guys! I will get to work and start practicing with this stuff. I have GIMP, and yes, it is hard to figure out and a little buggy, but it works, so that's where I'll start.

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    When you have found the program you will use, I would suggest you to find some tutorials on YouTube.

    Just a few examples for Photoshop:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o31WJTQjiQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7vyR...eature=related

    Regards

    Buch

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    Quote Originally Posted by djr33 View Post
    To answer part 2:

    I used Paint Shop Pro for a while and thought it was good, almost as good as Photoshop. That was many versions ago
    I have not made the move to PhotoShop yet, and am on the newest version of Corel's Paint Shop Pro. It can be had for under $100 and if you are on Corel's mailing list you get specials regularly. I think PSP is awesome for the price. Most newcomer's only complaint is that there is a lot less training available than for PhotoShop (online or traditional books) but there are some cool sites if you look around.

    Richard

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