DSRA April Meeting Presentation Recap

Authors Moonlighting as Graphic Artists

I take my car to the local lube shop to get my oil and filter changed. I buy my meat at the grocer already cut and processed. I don’t sew my own clothes. Although that last one would be scary amazing to do myself, there are so many services in today’s world. As an author, you will need graphics work. You have the choice of paying a graphic artist to do pieces you need like website banners, badges,   etc, or you can take creative control and see if you like doing it yourself. The benefit to doing it yourself is that you have that vision in your head of exactly what you want and like.  The downside is that you may spend too much time learning and still not create what you want. Only you will be able to determine the worth of contracting for graphics work or trying a DIY project.

The links for the presentation from April’s meeting can be found at http://www.delicious.com/brin145 . This was a hands-on presentation. On the page of presentation links, pay particular attention to the last link on the page which is sumopaint.com. This is the free graphics editing software we used to create a banner. You can work in it online and there is no need to download. If you create an account, you can store your work there or you may download to your computer if you wish.  Most graphics software use similar toolbars and menus. Although some at the meeting were familiar with using Gimp software, Sumopaint was an easy transition because of the similarities.

I displayed my own website banner and discussed the method of creating a new one. You will need a graphics editing program (like Sumopaint) and stock or personal photos.  I purchase my photos from bigstockphoto.com at $2.99 each.  The resolution of this smallest image size  is perfect for most website work. If you are doing something for print, you will want to go up to the next size (and price level) for purchasing images. You can also just use photos that you’ve taken if you are handy with a camera.

When working in any graphics program, it helps to understand layers. The beauty of working in layers is that you can place individual elements on each layer. When you want to change one element, then you only change the work on that layer. For instance, if my image is on one layer by itself (such as a book cover), I can go in a year later and replace that layer with one displaying my new book cover.  I don’t have to change the entire banner unless I want to do so.  Layers are also “stacked” so always be aware of the level of the layer. A background color or image would be on the bottom. If you accidentally moved that layer to the top of your work, it would be like taking a sheet of paper to the top of stack of photos. The other items would be hidden beneath.

I mentioned during the meeting that I was doing a graphics series on my friend Gloria Richard’s blog.  I am going to direct you to these lessons as they are so similar to what we discussed in the April meeting. Click here to watch my video I created from the most recent lesson on her blog. There are also screenshots, videos, and discussions that might be helpful if you are interested in learning to do simple graphics. In these posts, I used Pixlr‘s online free software.  Pixlr and SumoPaint are both great, free, and similar. Hope you have fun learning to create your own graphics. It will save you money and give you a product you envisaged.

Graphics 101 or Graphics Step #1

Graphics 102 or Are You Kidding Me? I’m Not a Photographer or Graphic Artist

Graphics 103 or Finding My Artistic Mojo

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