Monthly Archives: July 2011

5 Top Sites for Free Vector Clip-Art and Illustrations

CDs and Stack of Jewel Cases

As a graphic designer, one needs to have a library of graphic elements from buttons, web graphics, icons to backgrounds.  If you are purchasing all your graphics,  building this library can get very expensive pretty quickly.  Here’s where the web has become a great resource for finding high quality, high resolution vector graphics for all your design projects.  They are usually created by other graphic designers and given away for free as a promotion and so website owners compile these free resources and make them available to you.

However, like anything else these freebie websites that provide free vector graphics vary in quality of content as well as graphics provided.  I have compiled some of the five best free websites.  They’re good because not only can you find top notch vector illustrations but they also  provide information such as the design company who authored them, the description of what you get in your downloadable file, the licensing arrangement and the file type, either .eps, .ai or .png and carefully organize and categorize their images.

Although this is not a comprehensive list, these five great sites should get you started.  You’ll feel like a kid in a candy store grabbing up all the goodies you can!  Of course, you’ll have to carve out some time in order to spend time searching, downloading and organizing all your new graphics! Read the rest of this entry

Photoshop CS5: Secrets and Photoshop Tool Tips (Part 2)

And not to be outdone, here is the second part of my latest Photoshop tutorial!

This video tutorial is the second part of  a summary and overview of  Adobe Photoshop CS5 photo editing tools for beginning and intermediate Photoshop users. The idea was to provide some additional tips and tricks that you don’t often get in typical Photoshop tutorials.  This tutorial has been divided into two approximately 15 minute sessions.

TRANSCRIPT:

00:00:00–00:02:55

..of things that you can do.  Mobile Devices, Printing, TV, Movies that kind of thing.  You’ll have to know how to use these dimensions.  Anyway here we have the different sizes, we have NTSC. These…let’s see, one, two, three, four, five and six examples or options. I stumble here because there are actually so many choices that there are with film and video, but Photoshop starts you off with several options so that you won’t have to always type what in as far as the film size or the video size. Sometimes you may not be using the full screen, just a little portion of the screen for your videos, your graphics, your animation and your videos in the whole picture.

So, anyway, there are six of them.  This is for NTSC.  NTSC is the American code for television, that’s the format that they use.  Now you’ll see PAL, that’s the format for European countries and they have a slightly different format than the United States.  In fact, they are not interchangeable.  You can’t play a PAL movie on American TV and you can’t play the opposite. If they are PAL and you want to play it on American TV, you won’t be able to.  It has to be converted or initially designed for either or.  Then you have the other formats, you have digital pro and then you have the HD and you have the other formats.

00:02:56–00:04:24

So, all in all, you got a pretty good start here and it’s not that these represent everything that there is out there, but it does give you a start.  And I think there was one more…Okay, I think we’ll go back to Custom.  If you are making a custom size, which most often people are because somebody [client] will say, “Hey, I need a four-color printed process, for example… an ad.  I need it 5″ x 7″ and it’s going to be printed in a full color magazine, it has to be high-gloss, (so on and so forth). Okay, so what do you do?  Change this to inches, since your client gave you the dimensions.  So what did I say?…Oh, yes, 7″ by 5″ , 7″ width and 5” height.  Okay, so it’s going to be that tall.

Okay, now, how much resolution do you need for print? Okay, so I would say you need a lot.  In fact, I would say 300 dpi (that’s dots per inch) for anything that is printed.  We’ll get into why later.

00:04:25–00:05:58

So, we will put the 300 in there and then we’ll change this to CMYK and why?  Because this is for video and this for print.  And for the background, that is totally up to you, you can have a white background, a particular color background or a transparent background.  I usually like to work with white because it’s what the paper is made out of, for example.  Usually, printers start out with white paper and use the colors it turns out to be. Okay, white.  So then will name it, let’s say “Timely Ad”  I say that facetiously because they always expect ads to be timely.  Okay, so let’s check to see if we have this thing right.  We have the image size, it’s  7″ by 5″, we have 300 and it’s okay.

00:05:59–00:08:08

Let’s say the client wants it reduced.  So let’s go back to our pre-chosen image and you can reduce it from here. You can reduce it by percent.  It start out at 100, obviously, anything below that is going to make it smaller, anything above that is going to make it larger.  One interesting thing about enlarging a low resolution (72 dpi), this image is pretty low at 72 dpi.  A low resolution can not be made larger or add more resolution.

Now, resolution means more dots per inch and when it has more, it clearer and just is a better looking image.  It’s got more information in there.  You can’t make something that starts out small into something that is sharp and clean and that has a lot of dots per inch.  It’s just not possible.  There are ways to trick the program but it is not always used.  It’s not really a good recommendation. You have to start off with a high resolution image.  This “Rev It Up Studios” image was designed in a high resolution, then I reduced it down to this size so that I could send it to the client to look at.  There is a higher resolution in the file that is going to be used for printing. So this image is basically for transmitting over email and then sending it the client for viewing and approval.

00:08:09–00:11:29

So, that’s what we have there. Now we are going to try to change the size.  We are going to actually go here and reduce it by 50%.  And if you’ll notice, that the bottom number changed too.  That’s because I have this box checked off, “Constrain Proportions”.  So, when I did that, that caused it to constrain the size so that both sides would be equal when it is reduced.  It will come down 50 percent in both the hieght and the width.  So, I am going to cancel that and go back to our image again and reduce it down without the options I had chosen. I’ll take this off and then reduce this down by 50 percent.  There it is, it didn’t automatically constrain the proportions. One side 100 percent and the other had 50 percent and as you can see distortion took place.

Okay, so you go up to “Edit” and “Undo” and you’re back to where you started from.  Okay, I’m going to stop for now and we’ll come back real quick.  Hopefully next week, and we’ll talk some more about some very interesting things.  We are going to talk about the tools on the left hand side, we are going to talk a lot about what’s behind all these File Menu drop-down menus.  You know, what’s in there?  What can you do with them?  These are things that are very important, you know you will have several options up here.

Depending on whatever it is you are using in Photoshop, whether it is the old version or the new version, you will see this or you won’t see it at all.  And then, what can you use on the right hand side to have it always available.  That’s these things here so that you could always go to it.  You know that they are useful things that you use all the time.  You know you are going to decide for yourself. You are not necessarily going to do what I do.  You are going to decide for yourself what’s important to have on the right-hand side as helpful quick reference and quick access to tools.

The ones on the left, they can be removed but you don’t want to do that because you are going to be always using them and need access to them.  I think they were created this small and this obscure so that they are out of the way but Photoshop knows you are going to be using it so that they are there.  So, anyway, I have done enough talking for today.  I’m going to stop for now.  We’ll come back and deal with tools and menus.  Thank you for joining and see you next time. Bye.

Related Post:

Photoshop CS5: Secrets and Photoshop Tool Tips (Part 1)

Photoshop CS5: Secrets and Photoshop Tool Tips (Part 1)

I said I would get back to marketing and provide you with additional informative tutorials. Here is the latest one!

This video tutorial is a summary and overview of  Adobe Photoshop CS5 photo editing tools for beginning and intermediate Photoshop users. The idea was to provide some additional tips and tricks that you don’t often get in typical Photoshop tutorials.  This tutorial has been divided into two approximately 15 minute sessions.

TRANSCRIPT:

00:00:00–00:01:33

Hi, thank you for joining. Today we are going to touch on a very,very, very interesting subject and that is the tools of Photoshop. I’m using Photoshop CS5, I haven’t upgraded to 5.5 but anyone who is using Photoshop would be able to take from what I’m talking about and use it on their particular version. Things do change…things have gotten alot better. Photoshop is an amazing tool and I think you know that and that’s probably why you are looking at this video right now, but I think what you want to get from this video is a way to understand Photoshop in a deeper…more…let’s say particular area. That would be for example understanding the tools. And, knowing that and also that the tools have underlying things that are kind of hidden. They are not really hidden. but they are. Unless you know where to look and what you are going to do with the tool, then you will better understand where to go, to get that particular tool to do what you want to do.

00:01:34–00:03:14

Right now it sounds very kind of nebulous, (you might not understand what I’m saying) but as we go along you’ll get the gist of what this series is going to be about. Yes, this is going to be a series. I’ll be touching on a few things today…and then I’ll try my best to do one every week or so for you. Okay, here we are in Photoshop and we have an image that I did for a T-shirt and they wanted it to look like, perhaps some resemblance to Tron and then it is a music studio and so this was what was designed for them. I’m not showing it to you for any particular reason or even to advertise for them but in order to have something up that we could work with.

One of the things that I think is most important to a new person to Photoshop is understanding image sizes and how they fit into print and web . So we will start with the image and image sizes today. And if you go up to the top menu, you’ll see that it’s the third one from and to your right. And you’ll see “Bold” , “Adjustments”, “Tone”, “Auto-Contrast” , “Color”, “Image Size”, “Canvas Size” and “Image Rotation” (that’s so you can actually rotate the image). We’ll get into all of them eventually.

00:03:15–00:05:26

Let’s talk about what this image is about…Okay this particular image as you can see up here is a jpeg. And there are different formats and the different formats are for different uses. For example, jpegs are usually used for (you might want to write this down if you don’t know this) the web. It is a very low resolution image and it is created that way so that it can be used without hard or long loading time on the web itself. So, most people use the jpeg and the gif (sorry I was picking up a paper there). Okay, let’s see what happens about the size. I’ll go to the size and you’ll se that it will give you some information on there and that’s what we’re going to talk about today, about sizing and resizing. Okay, right here we have the width and the heighth and then you have numbers that are given about what they are and this is giving the same information only it’s in inches and it refers to the document. What is a document? The documents is the whole image as it is.

Now, what does it mean when it refers to pixel dimensions? It means how many pixels there are to make up this image. Well if you took, this number and multiplied it by this number you would get the amount of pixels that it takes to make up this image. Now what is a pixel? This is were we go a little bit deeper (that’s why we say this about secrets)…

 00:05:27–00:07:04

Okay, If I enlarge this to that size, you can see that there a little squares. Those little squares are varying degrees of shade or color. This image happens to be black and white so you are going to have varying degrees of shade not particularly color. And that’s what we mean by pixel. So, it takes that many pixels to create an image. So, let’s take it back down…and you’ll see that once it gets back to it’s original size, it will get into focus and look a lot better.

Now, we’ll go back to the image and select “Image Size” and we’ll see something about this window [dialog box] over here that we need to understand. Because a lot of times people don’t know how big an image is going to print, how it’s going to…are you creating an image that is big enough to fit in an area you want it to fit into. So you start off with a measurement that you need to begin with , especially if you are creating something entirely new. That dimension will be your starting point. Now, so let’s see how that works.

00:07:05–00:10:02

So let’s start with a new image. So, we’ll go up to File and create a new one, and then it will ask you, okay, what do you want. And here we have various situations [options] for your image. For example, if you already know it’s going to be a US paper image, international paper image, or photo, a web page, or a mobile device, a film or video. But then it gives you the size you already have up, which is interesting because I don’t think…well, if you didn’t have an image up, I don’t think you would have one…let’s put it that way.

But, I’m going to stay with custom. And the reason I’m going to stick with Custom is because we are going to see how these presets can be of use but they are not entirely. But, even before we go to Custom, I’m going to see what the default size is. The default size is 7 inches by 5 inches that is 72 and it’s in RGB color. Now, RGB compared to Bitmap, Grayscale and CMYK and lab color are things to remember. If you are working with a grayscale image, you don’t need that color information at all, then you would want to go to grayscale. Bitmap, that’s an option you would use when working with very, very hard colors ( not too much gradiation) so you might want to stay away from there.

There is going to be reason for Bitmap, Grayscale, CMYK and further down. RGB is mainly for video because it deals mainly with colors that are set up with a three color range and that’s the Red, Green and Blue. Red, Green and Blue pick up the images that you see on your television, on just about anything that is video, on your computer screen and so on. So, this would be the colors or the color mode that you want to be in if you are creating something for the web, for example. CMYK is for printing. And CMYK works in a four color process, meaning that there are four colors that make up all the colors of the rainbow and shades and what have you for printing. And those colors are Cyan, that’s the C, M is magenta, Y is yellow and K is for black.

00:10:03–00:14:24

Now, those are the colors that you are going to be using ( or I should say the printer will be using) when he prints. So, therefore, you will have to have your work set up if you’re going to have it printed in CMYK format. Lab Color is a subject that is very, very difficult to explain at this particular moment, so we’ll come back to it. All right, we are going to stay with RGB right now, and go back up to Custom and the other options available. So let’s look at US paper and see what they [Photoshop] give you, we want to look at the default size and we saw what that was, that’s 75 by 72, and then we go to US paper and it’s 8 1/2 by 11, 300 resolution. We are going to talk a little bit about resolution too.

Okay, and then we’ll go to International and see what International paper size is and we’ll find that is in millimeters. Now what is a millimeter? If you go to inches, you’ll see that it is 8.268 by 11.693, that’s actually close to 8 1/2 by 11. Actually, there are different sizes for international paper as there are different sizes for US paper. Okay, on “Photo” what is the photo size? They are giving you approximate standard sizes, but we all know there are different sizes to photos, and Photoshop will give you that pull down menu so that you can choose that also. And being that these are open, you can actually choose those so that you can make your photo whatever size you want to make it. And that goes for anything else you are creating.

Web, that’s 640 pixels by 480. And please notice, that when working with Web, they are most often interested in pixel dimensions, they are not interested in size. But they are kind of interchanged and substituted for one another. But if you hear pixels don’t get scared. You can always find out what a pixel is in inches and what an inch is in pixels. Come back to this dialog box and put in the inch size, check and see like I did, with pixels to inches and you’ll see what it is. You can actually write down the inch size, type in the inch size and then go to pixels and you can find out if you got it right. If it’s not right you can always fix it.

Anyway, now we’ll go to mobile devices to see what the options are, and that’s pretty much what they are giving you and there are variations too. You are given some options to work with mobile devices. Film and Video…there is actually a whole slew of options, but we’ll talk about that right now just to fill you in with what Photoshop can do for you as far as a Photoshop artist. You should be able to understand the different formats that you are working with or for so that you can create those things for your clients. If you are interested in becoming a Photoshop artist, you want to be able to handle a range… [ Continued in Photoshop Secrets- Part 2]

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Related Post:

Photoshop CS5:  Secrets and Photoshop Tool Tips (Part 2)

Juggling Work Tasks: The Ups and Downs Of Freelance Work

First the background story…

I have been plugging away at this internet thing for several months (maybe two years in other internet or online projects), and  believe me it requires consistency, consistency, consistency.  Funny thing,  but many of  those pricey internet marketing gurus don’t seem to prepare you for the day that all your hard work starts paying off and your blog starts gaining traction. Okay, I’m not talking rock star blog and visits; but, at least a consistent and growing flow of traffic (and I thank you).Man Juggling Work Tasks

Back a few years ago, I had gone through the labor of creating a static brochure type website, paid for the hosting and posted my content to the internet.  Results?  My website had very few visits,  it was way off the Information Highway so to speak, something like a billboard about a few miles off a desert highway!  Not the kind of way you want to start your internet marketing journey, by any means.  I didn’t realize the number one thing about developing a small business, especially graphic designers (besides the skill and/or product you have to offer)… is that you have to learn how to market it and generate traffic to your website.

I was ready to throw in the towel; however, I started reading and wading through quite a few  “How to Develop Your Blog” type of blogs in order to get a handle on the internet publishing  and marketing ropes.  And it seems some of that advice, at least the advice I have taken the time to implement,  is beginning to pay off.

Read the rest of this entry

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