Friday, January 4, 2013

Affordable Image Editing Software Options

Regardless of how simple it may be to alter an illustration, it can't be done without image editing software. Yet, for people starting in small business, or for everyday people working on everyday projects, it's not always economically feasible, or even worthwhile, to purchase expensive software.

Don't despair, however. There are many online alternatives to costly programs.

Individual needs and abilities are varied, so what works for one may not be what another wants.  Good thing life is about choice.  And when it comes to finding software to meet your needs there's plenty of that. 

I decided to do a little searching and see what options  I could turn up. Happily I discovered a website that did most of the work for me, offering choices galore.   mashable.com 35 Free Graphics Programs  provided links to, and information about, a number of possibilities.

Here is the Coles Notes version of what Graphics Toolbox had to say:

For people in search of a manipulation program that works well for photo retouching and image creation, gimp 2.8 could be the perfect solution, while, Paint.NET Free Software for Digital Photo Editing is image and photo editing software for Windows computers.

For a speedy graphics program with plenty of features, also for Windows, try Ultimate Paint, while Skencil is a vector drawing program with many elements, such as gradient fills and bezier curves.

A vector graphics editor, Inkscape is a good option for people interested in something akin to Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW.

SmoothDraw To Be an Artist Now is a freehand drawing tool, which will also smooth lines drawn with a mouse.

For people who like to paint without the mess Project Dogwaffle is a functional program developed for the PC.

Sodipodi is a vector-based program with a ton of features, such as the ability to create vertical text, and out-of-centre gradients.

A freeware paint and drawing program for Windows, Artweaver the Artist Way has a wide range of painting tools, and comes in free and cost versions.

So you see, finding the right program for your needs needn't mean a big outlay of cash or settling for something you don't find user-friendly.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Winter Elements and Backgrounds for Scrapbooking

I love an uncluttered life. Yet, despite a Libra's inclination towards organization, I have not thrown myself into the scrapbooking craze, sorting photos and creating albums for each and every significant occasion in my life. 

While collecting photographic memories may be an interest of mine, compiling them into unique mementos apparently isn't.  It's not that I don't love the finished product; I guess I'm just not devoted enough to the hobby to find the time.

That said, I have indulged in a little artistic sorting  having made a scrapbook a few years ago. A special friend had passed away suddenly.  She was very close to our then, quite young, grandson, so the scrapbook was intended to help him remember. It was also therapeutic for me. And being so emotionally involved in the project kept me focused.

One of the aspects of the craft I most enjoyed was finding backgrounds and elements online to enhance my project. Though in this particular case it was generally all about daisies, butterflies and sunshine, there were times when I needed to spice up the photos with a little winter seasoning.  Here are some cool collections that do just that:

iCLIPART.com Winter Elements and Backgrounds

Acclaim Images Winter Backgrounds

Clipart Guide Winter Backgrounds

ClickArt Online Winter Elements and Backgrounds

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Photoshop Tutorials for Beginners

Having spent roughly 15 years in a previous life working with film and photos in a darkroom, the arrival of Photoshop to our newsroom was quite an exciting alternative for me.

However, with the pressure of deadlines, my education in using the image editing software was rudimentary at best. A crash course taught me what I needed to know to get the job done, and the hectic schedule left little time for advancing my limited skills.

Enter the 21st century and I'm starting to feel a little left behind. Everyone, from graphic designers to grandmas, is talking about image editing software for their projects, while my abilities  have continued to stagnate. Let's face it. What's required for getting a weekly newspaper together doesn't generally get put to a lot of use when you step outside that atmosphere.

And what tends to pop up on the internet for education seems to be quite advanced. Seeing so many tutorials for everything from creating vectors to mastering 3D effects,  I got to wondering if there's any hope for novices to catch up on their own. I decided to scope out some informative sites for beginners —my own Photoshop 101 you might say — and actually was pleased to discover there's still lots of opportunity to up my skills.

mashable.com 12 Beginner Photoshop Tutorials

psdtuts+ 50 Photoshop Tutorials for Clever Beginners

makeuseof.com 10 Must-Know Introductory Photoshop Skills for Beginning Photographers

Photoshop Essentials

1stwebdesigner.com Exceptionally Great Beginner Photosop Tutorials

Six Revisions 35 Basical Photoshop Tutorials to Get You Started

Monday, December 31, 2012

Illustrations of New Year's Resolutions

"Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits."  –Anonymous

For more than three decades we have gathered together with good friends on Dec. 31 to ring in the new year. During a portion of those occasions some of the discussion has centred around our New Year's resolutions.   Of late, however,  this topic isn't even mentioned. Perhaps we've concluded there's enough disappointment in the world, we certainly don't need to set our selves up to fail.

But then I wonder. While we may have often fallen back into old habits within days of making our resolutions, we have obviously at some point realized success. We boast a 100% smoke-free room when we gather.  There is talk of going to gyms and of evening walks, of having lost weight, of eating better, of spending more quality time with people we love.

American author and journalist Hal Borland has said: "Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us."  Having gotten a little older and wiser, I no longer see the breaking of a New Year's resolution as a failure, but an acknowledgement that something must change. Seeing that, is perhaps the biggest step towards making it happen.  Maybe not this year, but some day.

So here's a clipart illustration to provide a little inspiration for changing your bad habits:


iCLIPART.com New Year's Resolutions