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Give Your Graphics A Professional Look without the Price

Graphic design is an intimidating subject for many Internetentrepreneurs. However, most of us must learn some basicdesign techniques to avoid the high costs of hiring a professional graphics designer....

Graphic design is an intimidating subject for many Internet
entrepreneurs. However, most of us must learn some basic
design techniques to avoid the high costs of hiring a
professional graphics designer.

You can create your own graphics that can look just as nice
as some of the professionally created graphics for a fraction
of the cost.

In order to create your graphics, you will need to invest in a
good graphics program. You don't have to spend hundreds
of dollars on a fancy graphics design software. Paint Shop
Pro is a wonderful graphics program and is the only program
you'll need to design professional looking graphics. You can
download a free 30-day trial and register the software for
only $99.

The first and probably most important graphic technique we're
going to discuss is text. This is probably what you will use the
most. Not just any text, but text to be used with your logo,
banners or page titles.

When you're ready to begin, open Paint Shop Pro and click on
"File" then "New" and type in a width and height for your image.
Make sure your "Image Type" is set to 24-bit and select your
background color. You can leave the other settings at their
defaults. Make sure you give yourself a large enough space to
work with, as you can reduce it later.

Your first step will be to select a good font. Depending upon
the effect I want to achieve, I use one of three different fonts;
Impact, Verdana, or Arial Black. If you don't have these fonts
installed on your computer, you can find them here: ypography/fontpack/default.htm

The first text effect we will be creating will display your text in
a large font size with a drop shadow effect. This drop shadow
effect can also be used with any other images you create.

Your first step will be to select your text color. To change the
foreground and background colors, double click on the top
and bottom color squares on the right. Your text will be
displayed in the color within the top box, which is the
foreground color. For this example, I will be using a light
color as my foreground color.

Once you've selected your text color, click on the text tool on
the left side (It looks like a capital "A"). This will launch your
text window. Select your font and text size from the drop
down menu and type in your text. I will be using "Impact"
bold, size 24. Make sure you select "Antialias" and "Floating"
then click "OK."

Antialias will smooth out all of the rough edges of your text
and blend it in with your background color. You will use the
Antialias setting with various graphic tools when designing
your graphics, so it is important to remember its function.

You will now see your text with, what looks like, marching ants
around it. If you'd like to move your text, click and hold your
left mouse button to drag your text to your desired position.

With your text still selected (with marching ants), at the top of
the screen, go to "Image" then "Effects" then "Drop Shadow."
This will launch the "Drop Shadow" window. Your image will be
viewable with the drop shadow in the little window at the right.
You can try different settings until you achieve the shadow
effect you desire.

Another text effect that is popular will display your text in a
graduated color effect. Your text can be displayed with a dark
color at the top and gradually get lighter or just the opposite.

To achieve this effect, the foreground (top box) color must first
be set to white. Next, click on the text tool and follow the same
procedure for displaying your text. You should now see your
text displayed as "marching ants," only with no color. Now
you'll need to select a dark color for your foreground color and
a light color for your background color.

Once you've selected your colors, click on the "Flood Fill" icon
on the left. To change the effects of the Flood Fill tool, locate
the little box on your screen that says, "Controls" then click on
"Tool Controls." Under "Fill Style" select "Linear Gradient"
and then click on "Options" at the bottom. The "Blend Mode"
should be set to normal. In order to select which color will be
at the top of your text, where it says, "Degrees" type in either
0 or 180 depending on your desired effect, then click OK.
Now place your mouse over each letter and fill it by clicking
on your mouse.

After you've filled your text, you can either create the shadow
effect or "right click" on your mouse to deselect your text.

If you'd like to decrease your graphics window size, click on
the "Selection tool" on the left (dotted rectangle) and select
the portion of your graphic that you'd like to display within
your new sized image. Click on "Edit" then "Copy" then
"Edit" - "Paste as a new image."

After you've completed your graphic, go to "File" then
"Save As" and select a folder. Type in a name for your graphic
and save your new file in the .GIF format. The program will
prompt you and ask you if it's all right to reduce your file to
256 colors. Click on yes. Your new graphic is now saved.

Now that you've mastered these new techniquesComputer Technology Articles, try them with
some of your other images. The drop shadow effect can be
used with photographs or just about any image you'd like. Try
the graduated color effect with your banners or image
backgrounds and give your graphics a professional look.

Article Tags: Drop Shadow Effect, Professional Look, Make Sure, Drop Shadow, Shadow Effect, Then Click, Marching Ants

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Shelley Lowery is the Webmistress of
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