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Which graphics programs?

 9:05 pm on Dec 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

I have been using Paint Shop Pro to do all my graphics. Usually I lay the page out using the vector tools and then add any shadows, effects, pictures, etc. after. I'm wondering which programs the rest of you use. I am thinking of getting Photoshop but from the little I know it lacks vector tools, would it be a good idea to invest in Illustrator as well? Also what about Fireworks, can it be used for actual image creation or just for slicing and positioning? So basically I'm trying to get a feel for what program or combination of programs are commonly used and the methods used to create graphics with them.



 9:32 pm on Dec 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

If all you're doing is internet graphics, PSP should be a great choice. I've also heard raves about Fireworks for web graphics... you can use is for image creation as well as optimization and slicing, etc. A lot of people do professional web design work with either or both of those two programs.

Photoshop is an excellent program, especially if you're doing print design as well, but it's a heck of an investment... however, if you want to jump in and learn it, there's no reason you can't stick with PSP for your vector graphics, if you're satisfied with their tools (ie- Illustrator is not necessary, and Photoshop's own vector tools are improving).

Personally, I use Photoshop and I love it... but I don't think there's enough reason to spend the money on it if you're just looking for a good web graphic design program. From what I've heard about PSP, you're doing just fine right now. :)

GIMP, on the other hand, is often called the "Open Source Photoshop," and is available for Linux, Windows and OSX. Since you can download it for free, that might be an excellent program for you to play around with, if you're looking for new toys ...err... tools for your graphics. ;) If you try GIMP for free, and decide that neither it nor PSP are everything you want in a graphics program, you can always check out other packages as well... but in the meantime, you haven't spent hundreds of dollars to find out.


 10:48 pm on Dec 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

Studio MX will get you Freehand(My favorite vector package, illustrators main competition.), and Fireworks(The best graphic compression software), Flash(nuff said), Dreamweaver(killer WYSIWYG), and Homesite(My favorite text editing tool). I think it is the best deal on an entire graphics suite. Fireworks is awesome for web graphics. Like mivox said if you plan to do print then expect to have to invest in Photoshop. If you don't do print, and you have the money I highly recomment Studio MX for a little more than the price of photoshop.


 11:29 pm on Dec 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

Photoshop isn't a drawing tool, it's for graphic manipulation.

Although it is more of a graphics tool now than it ever was.

Illustrator is the industry standard (In the UK anyway) vector drawing tool. This is the best choice if your are doing illustration work - for print or screen.

Fireworks is the web graphic tool - it ties in with Dreamwaever and Flash brilliantly.

Fireworks is, in my opinion, the best for web graphic tool there is.

Yes, you can use FW to design all your logos and buttons and etc.



 11:32 pm on Dec 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

This is the best choice if your are doing illustration work

I have to respectfully disagree. Freehand has always out performed illustrator being one step ahead with updates and saves to illustrator format. More and more shops are now using freehand. Head to head I guess you could say they are compareable, but in a high output print environment I think Freehand will win. If nothing else because it is a much more light weight program than illustrator. IMHO you are buying the Adobe brand with illustrator.


 11:34 pm on Dec 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

But really, if you're on a tight budget, there's no reason to use Adobe or Macromedia products for something as simple as web graphics... there are much cheaper, high quality options out there for almost any of their products (barring Flash development, AFAIK).


 11:36 pm on Dec 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

I agree with that mivox. You can even use swish, much cheaper than Flash, for Flash development.

PSP is perfectly fine for web development. Some large sites are created and maintained with paintshop pro. And agian gimp is actually a nice program. I have been testing it and for free it is pretty nice.


 12:05 am on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

It'a also worth checking out Xara's software - both vector and bitmap. They are low price, specifically designed for web purposes, and export to every format you want, including swf.

I've seen some beautiful work done entirely in Xara's products.


 2:49 am on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies. One thing I failed to mention is that I am also trying to build skills in "industry standard" programs in case I attempt to find employment in this field some day (as opposed to doing it freelance on the side as I'm doing now). Given that which of these programs would be most worth learning?


 3:13 am on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

Depends on the shop. Some want the macromedia suite and others want photoshop and others still have paintshop pro. I have seen a few using corel draw. Photoshop is probably the most common while fireworks is second.

In all honesty I make the rules when I go to a new job. I use what I am comfortable with. Your first time out that may not be the case but usually there is only one designer and they pick the programs. Once you are experienced they are buying your creativity and skill. An employer is wise to let you use what you do your best work in.


 6:45 pm on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

If you want industry standard, shell out the money to get both the Macromedia MX suite, and any of Adobe's "package deals" would be a good choice... each is geared towards a different facet of the design industry: web, print, video, etc. Then learn them all. :)

If you're looking at going into print design seriously, QuarkXpress might also be a good choice, though I much prefer Adobe InDesign for the same page layout work.


 6:48 pm on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

Has anyone tried Deneba Canvas?

CNET rated it better than Illustrator and freehand in a comparison....


 7:10 pm on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

Depending on your future plans mivox is right. If you intend to design for ad agencies/web development firms or you are going to interact with these medium and larger companies then you basically will need to know the industry standard programs.

They are:

Adobe Photoshop (bitmap editing)
Adobe Illustrator (vector drawing)
QuarkXpress (page and book composition)

Macromedia Dreamweaver (web page design)
Macromedia Flash (moving stuff for web pages)
Macromedia Fireworks (bitmap editor for web graphics)

Some shops use Adobe products for web development:
Adobe GoLive (web page design)
Adobe ImageReady (web bitmap helper)
Adobe Photoshop (bitmap editing)
Adobe Illustrator (vector drawing)

I also agree that Macromedia Freehand is the best vector program but so many shops use Illustrator I have to use it for compatibility.

Keep in mind there are many great graphics programs out there and I do use them often for a single feature. But if you are trying to work with the majority of companies out there, you may as well get started on the right track and jump right into Adobe and Macromedia products.


 7:37 pm on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

If you're looking at professional web design, on top of Dreamweaver and/or GoLive, I'd recommend learning basic html in a text editor also. I personally learned on GoLive, and "graduated" fairly recently to using BBEdit (a Macintosh text editor), but I probably would have progressed a lot faster if I'd made more of an effort to learn coding early on, rather than relying on the software to do it for me.


 12:53 pm on Dec 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

well guys, i personally love photoshop and itís plug-ins. iíve been using photoshop for almost everything relating image editing and creation, so right now iím able to do practically whatever comes to my mind with photoshop. iíd definitely recommend it, although itís very pricey, imho, it worths every mb. version 7 has improved tools and commands for vector graphics, iíve done print jobs based on vector graphics entirely on photoshop and didnít have any problems. adobeís photoshop elements is a kind of limited photoshop, and at $99, itís maybe worth a try.


 1:14 pm on Dec 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

Most photoshop filters and plugins work with paint shop pro. Apart from its lower price and ability to do anything you need really for web graphics including saving and reading all formats, it also loads up much faster! We changed to photoshop for a while but it felt like using an elephant to do a dog's job...

Jon, I would question whether those macromedia and adobe products are seen as the only standards for web design and development. Especially dreamweaver. its not at that stage yet. You will be surprised to find out how many think Front Page is a standard that all should know.

IId highly concur with photoshop for print however.

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