05 December 2011

Just For Kicks: Graphic-ing

Just For Kicks is a weekly meme held by me, The Authoress, that lets us share whatever random thing we want--whether it's book related or not is up to you.

#15 - Graphic-ing (and stuff)

So last week, I fulfilled a graphic request sent to me by The Book Barbies (shameless shout out--cuz you gotta love people who credit you couple dozen times on Twitter ^_^).  Until last week, graphics had faded into the background for me.  The only time I ever did one was when I wanted to change my own header, which, if you've noticed, has gone from elegant, complicated graphics to simple text style graphics.  (Easier to make it fit the blog that way.)

Last week, graphics came back to life for me.  By doing that request, I remember how fun it got to play around with images, colors, brushes, and textures.  Seriously, it's fun stuff!

Now, if you aren't a graphic artist yourself, you just might be thinking, "Man, I wish I could do that stuff. I just know I'd be bad at it!"

Dude.  I wasn't exactly brilliant at it when I first started.  When I started, I was on CorelDraw 9.  (You probably have no idea what that is.)  I made graphics back then that make me cringe just THINKING about it now.  What I thought was cool as a twelve-year-old is horrific to my present day seventeen-and-a-half-year-old self.

Point is: you will suck.  Bad.  But it's like writing, teaching, playing an instrument--any type of job or craft--you won't get any better unless you practice.  The only way to become a better writer is to write, and to study the greats.

Let's just say that you're feeling a bit adventurous right now.  (No, do not go out and buy the first Photoshop program you spot at Best Buy.  Hear me out first.)  Let's just say that you might take a whack at this graphic-ing thing.

Here's what it takes to get good:

  • Keep your temper tantrums to a minimum.  Ranting about your failures will only wear you out.  Which is a shame when that energy could be going towards your masterpiece.  Going to a fellow graphic artist for help is perfectly fine--encouraged--but not a bitch fest.
  • Find a graphics community and become active.
    • Graphic communities are easy to find and provide a wealth of information for graphic artists old and new.  
    • Once you join a graphic communities, hunt down their tutorials and complete as many as you can.  They are a great help.  I still use them when I'm lacking in my own inspiration.  Many of my best works were inspired by a tutorial.
    • If you don't feel like googling graphic communities or if you want my own recommendations, I say visit Shadowplay, Red Carpet & Rebellion, and/or Caution.  I've been a member of each at one point or another, but Shadowplay is my personal favorite.  I am constantly going to them for resources.  Check out their galleries for inspiration and guidance. :)
  • Start building up your resources, like stocks.
    • Stocks are the images that you put in your graphics.  I suggest weheartit.com or Tumblr for finding good stock photos.  Be warned: weheartit's images don't exceed a width of 500 px, which is irritating because it can limit the type of graphic you use the picture in.  Still.  They're free and really neat.
    • Textures are also an important part to graphic-ing.  It's what gives an image depth and complexity while being incredibly simple to add.
    • Brushes can be a lot like textures because they're adding depth, except they're brushes and they work a little differently.  You'd be amazed at how you'd think something would be a "texture" when it was made by a brush.  This picture, for example.  The blue part in the middle behind the model I made with a brush, not a texture.  Brusheezy.com is a great place for free brushes.
    • Fonts.  Fonts.  Fonts.  You can try and get by on fonts that come with your computer, but I wouldn't recommend it.  There's only so much you can do with "Arial", "Georgia" and "Times New Roman".  So try dafont.com for free fonts.
    • If you're looking at all this stuff--the galleries of good graphic artists, finding really good brushes and fonts--make a valiant effort to save up money for a good graphics program.  Anything by Photoshop is great--it's what I use.  (I REALLY WANT CS5 EXTENDED.)  Paint Shop Pro is good for beginners.  Make sure, regardless, that you do your research because these things are not cheap.
  • Practice a lot.
  • A.  Lot.
When it comes to style, you're on your own.  Again, it's like writing.  How you show information, develop characters and build your plots can't be taught.  Don't be afraid to develop your own individual style and try new things.  And if you stumble across something you think you might wanna use later, save it to your computer.  I've always had a folder on my computer under "Graphics" marked "Admirable" where I save graphics that I really, really like and might want to pull from later.

Going into graphics, if you're a high school or college student, is a good career I've heard.  I've considered it as a side job to writing--it's ideal because I've been doing it long enough to where I'm pretty good and I didn't need to go to school for it.

Also, making your own blog graphics is a real plus.  It means you always get exactly what you want.  (Usually.)  And I love making graphics for other bloggers.

If you're considering trying graphic making and have any questions or concerns about anything I've said, shoot me an email. :)  Especially if you want to download all these brushes and fonts and then have no idea what to do with them.  Installing them can be irritating until you get the hang of it.  (And if you're on a PC.  Macs install fonts and brushes much easier than on my old PC.)

If you're wondering if I can do a blog graphic for you, the answer is yes.  Just go here for more information.

To graphic artists: anything to add?  What's the key advice you'd give to new graphic artists?

Future graphic artists:  what do you think?  Maybe not as scary as you thought it would be?