art

The best way to learn Photoshop and other complex programs

Computer software become more and more powerful and allow us to do lots of things that we could only dream about a decade ago. But with the increased power comes complexity. Programs like Photoshop are highly complex, and take many years to master. So what’s the best way to get started learning such programs.

The answer for me has been a training website called Lynda.com. For those of you who’ve never heard of this site, you really need to check it out. The site has thousands of training videos that can really help you gain the skills you need for a professional career.

Each course comes with exercises that you can download and work on. Therefore, you end up getting hands-on training to help you put your new skills to use.

What’s more, the instruction is really top-notch. Most courses are taught by people with both professional experience and teaching experience. However, there is no fluff, and the courses move really fast. For this reason, I recommend people go through the courses twice in order to ensure they have mastered a certain subject.

Lynda.com gets very high marks from me. To date, I have not found a better way to learn new programs on the Internet.

How to do graphic design on the cheap

design compromise diagramIf you’ve hired a graphic designer in the past, you know exactly how pricey such professional help can be. The top graphic designers charge quite a bit of money, and while you may receive high-quality, impressive work, your pocketbook will certainly be worse for wear. The good news is that times have changed, and with the resources available on the Internet today, it’s possible to get graphic design down at a reasonably affordable price. In this post, I will go over how you can do that.

There are several options if you want to design something cheaply. The first, most obvious one is to learn a bit of graphic design on your own. By going to sites like Lynda.com, you can take online courses that teach you basic design concepts and how to use popular design tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator. But as you will soon realize, graphic design is a very complex field. You may be able to learn some of the basics in short order, but if you want to get to the point where you consistently create attractive designs, you will need lots of training. Keep in mind, graphic design is a field that many people get degrees in. So don’t fool yourself into thinking you can learn it quickly. To become a competent designer, you will need to invest hundreds of hours, and spend quite a bit of money on training resources, software, and other tools. If you are a student, you can often get the tools you need at a discount. Photoshop, for example, can be purchased at a fraction of its retail price if you are a student. But even still, you will end up spending quite a bit of money collecting all the tools you need. Therefore, learning design is not a practical option for most people.

With that said, if you still want to learn design on your own, the video below presents some cheap design software you may want to consider using:

A second option is to hire a designer online. Although graphic designers on the whole are rather expensive to hire, there are many places you can go online to hire cheap design help. Fiverr is one such site, and you can get many things such as logos designed for as little as five dollar. But as you can probably imagine, you can’t expect top quality work when you pay such a small amount of money. If you get lucky, you may receive design files that look okay, but in many cases, the work done by cheap graphic designers and below par and don’t pass muster if your goal is to convey a professional image. To make matters worse, some of the least expensive designers on such sites are located in foreign countries. This adds another layer of complexity to your project, as language barriers can often lead to miscommunications and costly mistakes.

A third option is to work with online printing companies. Many of them offer free templates you can use, and if you need a modestly attractive piece produced quickly, this is a good, inexpensive option you might want to consider. In most cases, you can design such pieces rather quickly, since the image and design work is already done. All you typically have to do is add the text you want to appear on your printed material. One great thing about working with an online printing service is that once you create your design, you can place your order quite easily. As you may or may not know, ordering printing services online is a straightforward process similar to ordering many other products. You will always have a chance to view a final version of your artwork before you place your order. I recommend reviewing this screen very carefully, since you don’t want to order thousands of printed goods that contain a typo. Also make sure you search the web for any online coupons or special discounts you can use to bring down the price of your order.

Ultimately, my suggestion is to use a combination of these different tactics. For simple things like website buttons or photo editing, you should definitely learn how to do such things on your own. Graphic design tasks that are a bit more involved can be done by inexpensive designers you find online. And simple print projects, such as business cards, can be designed using online tools that are available at online printing companies.

None of these solutions will yield the snazziest designs or win you any awards. But by using one of the methods discussed above, you will be able to get decent looking designs that look quite good, especially considering how little money you have spent. In an ideal world, you would have a dedicated, talented graphic designer you can turn to. But in the small business world, such is a luxury most of us don’t have. Fortunately for us, the Internet provides us with many alternatives that aren’t perfect, but allow us to choose a reasonable compromise.