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I've had a number of people ask what I use to create my graphics.

I've listed all my tools on this page.  Hopefully it will help you make 
the right choices from the beginning and avoid the mistakes 
I made (like buying over 450.00 worth of software that I never used).

WHAT I USE:


Adobe Photoshop
Wacom Art Tablet
Digital Camera
Great Resources

Some great sites on the net
and finally:
A good eye and lots of 
TIME..TIME..TIME

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ADOBE PHOTOSHOP

In my opinion, the best graphic program around is Adobe Photoshop.  I don't think there is anything that you can't do with Adobe.  Yes, it is expensive, but that's because it is reliable and can do just about anything in terms of graphic creation.  It allows someone who can't draw (like me) to become a digital artist..

There are hundreds of sites with tips, tricks, tutorials, and a score of books written by Photoshop lovers, so there's no end to the help you can find on the net.  Plus, Adobe has a wonderful website themselves!

Adobe Photoshop and other Adobe graphic programs are the preferred choice of special effects artists, TV and Advertising production staff, and graphic professionals around the world.  And it's definitely the program of choice for this graphic artist!

It is a pricey program, but you might find an earlier version on Ebay for a fairly reasonable price.  I did over half these graphics in Adobe 4.0 and only upgraded because I got a good deal on the upgrade. Adobe 4.0 is probably to old to find, but any full earlier version will be less expensive then the current version if you are on a budget.  Then any upgrade is going to be less expensive from there.

Paint Shop Pro

Ok...so you want to get into Graphics, but not in such a big way. (are you sure now?). A much less expensive Graphic program  is Paint Shop Pro. There
are many sites on the net that tout the wonders of Paint Shop Pro and what it can do. I've visited some of the sites on the net and must say that they look very professional.  So if it's a budget you're on, then Paint Shop Pro is the way you might want to go.  It can't do everything Photoshop can do, but then it's also 1/5 the cost.

Wacom Art Tablet
This is your most important graphics tool
 (besides your computer)!!!

Unless all you are planning on doing is resizing images taken from the net, and adding text, then you don't need to worry about a Wacom Art Tablet.  If, on the other hand, you are going to make graphics, GET A WACOM GRAPHIRE ART TABLET and force yourself to learn to use it.  You'll never regret it!


I do most of my graphics after everyone has gone to bed
so here you see me with my feet propped up working in my
robe with my wacom art tablet.  I don't even use a mouse anymore, as
my wacom pen beats any mouse I've ever used.


The little button on the side of the pen
acts as the right and left click of the mouse.


Here is a screenshot of Adobe Photoshop and a digital photo
of a beautiful moth that I found on my porch.  With the Wacom
art tablet I can get right up to the outline of the moth and carefully erase the background (using the erase tool in photoshop).  Then I use the lasso tool to cut the moth out of the photograph and put him on the moth page of Internet Clipart.

Try tracing that close to the outline of an object with a mouse!  It is like when you were a kid and were trying to color, staying inside the lines with a very fat dull crayon!  Remember how wonderful you could color when you had a very sharp crayon?  The wacom art table and the tools in Photoshop give you a VERY SHARP CRAYON!

Don't be confused by the different sizes.  The 4" x 5" is plenty large enough for most things you'll need for the internet.

DIGITAL CAMERA

To find a good digital camera that will suit your needs go to www.cnet.com or www.pcworld.com and look up their camera reviews.  I never purchase any hardware with out first reading online reviews from one of these two sites.  The only time I did, I got a real lemon of a scanner...so I learned my lesson on that.

You don't need to spend a fortune on a camera if you're going to be taking images close up and using them for the web.  If, on the other hand, you are going to be wanting to take pictures at a distance, such as at zoos, bird shots, etc, then a camera that will allow you to add telephoto lens, such as Cannon or Nikons SLR cameras.  At least 5 mb.

Great Resources Sites

WHAT WOULD WE DO WITHOUT GOOGLE?
They are much more then a search engine these days!

Advertise through Google - Consider buying space on sites that cater to yoru target audience through the use of Google Adwords.  Check first to see if the high ranking sites in your field (the ones that show up high in the links when you do a search of your site's keywords) and see if they run Google ads on their sites.  If they do, there's a very good chance you can get on those ads through the Google Adsense program.  It's worth checking out!  A way to stretch your advertising budget and get your ads in front of those that really count!   You start by opening an account through Google and fund it with a set amount of money.  Google runs your ads on their network of websites, as well as on their search engines as sponsored ads.   You only pay when someone clicks on one of those ads and visits your site so you are getting a lot of advertising bang for your buck! 

Generate Google Revenue. If you have a website that receives a fair amount of traffic, then you may also want to check out the Google Adsense program and run Google Ads yourself.   This site runs Google Ads and I'm quite pleased with the results.  So you may want to give it a try too.  You can be in both programs, Google Adword and Google Adsense!  Both are great resources for anyone with a website! 

Dynamicdrive.com!  They are a great resource for fun and useful Java scripts to help your sites stand out among the millions of sites on the net!  The scripts are free to use on your own sites, either commercial or personal.  There are a few restrictions as to the use of their scripts so be sure to read their terms of usage page.  The mouse trail scripts that I used at the begging of certain categories here on this site came from Dynamic Drive.

Guru99.com - Truly a great site with a lot of free learning stuff!  Without a doubt a must have site to have in your sites when you're in learning mode!

IN A NUTSHELL...

STEP ONE   ...GET A WACOM ART TABLET!
It will be the best money you ever spent if 
you're serious about learning to do graphics.

STEP TWO  ...You'll need an imaging program, the best, if you can afford it, is Adobe Photoshop, without a doubt.   Photoshop 5.5 is an older version you might find on the net and is every bit as good as any newer version you'll find.  Just be sure to find a book that will go with whatever version you buy.

If you don't have the money to put out for Photoshop, then an inexpensive route to follow will be to purchase an earlier then version 9 copy of Paintshop Pro on the net.  Paintshop pro is a pretty good program, from all I've read, and is less expensive then Photoshop.

If you've got the money, go with a Wacom Art Tablet and purchase Paint shop Pro.  

FOR SERIOUS FUTURE GRAPHIC ARTISTS WITH A BIT OF CASH TO INVEST:  If you want the best and have the money, then go with the Wacom Art Tablet,  PHOTOSHOP, and a good digital camera. When I began 5 years ago, my total initial investment was 2100.00 (prices of cameras have come way down since then though, and now you can often find good deals on software and hardware on sites like Ebay...just be sure to check feedback ratings on the sellers.)  You're cost to start out will be nearly half of what my costs were!

STEP FIVE:  Don't go it alone.  There are plenty of sites out there that offer help for the new graphic artist and webdesigner.  And this help is FREE in most cases.  Good thing too, because if you bought all the equipment I mentioned on this page, then you're broke!  I know I was after I bought it all, but I've never regretted any of the above purchases!

 

 

Any questions, feel free to email me, Dustie, at dustie@dustie.com 
HAPPY GRAPHICS CREATION!!

 
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