Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Anti-Alias

What kind of term is Anti-Alias and what does it do for me?
Anti-Alias is simply a method of fooling the eye that a jagged edge is really smooth.
So why can't I make a smooth edge on my computer? Because computer images are made up of tiny square pixels.  When you want to make a straight line, you'll be able to have a straight line of pixels stacked up one another.  However when you have an angle or a curve, the pixels can't bend as they need to fill in that block, thus seeing the steps of the rounded edge. 
That is where anti-alias comes in handy.

The clever system that anti-aliasing uses to fool your eyes into thinking that a line is not jagged is to use subtle changes in color around the curved or diagonal area. These slight changes in color make the image blend around curves and giving the impression that the line in true. The colou changes are on such a small scale that you eyes cannot detect them under normal circumstances
**taken from Panther Products website**

Make sure when you use the marque tool (the cutter tool) in Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro you always have the anti-alias option checked.  Back when I first started designing no matter how many times I tried to make a smooth circle I couldnt and didn't understand why.  Then one day, not too many days later, I realized I had unchecked that box.  Boy did that make a difference.

So how can you see if your anti-alias is check-marked. 
Open your program and click on the marque tool.
From there, look to the top of the screen and you'll see the following in Photoshop CS4
(hopefully the same for the other versions)

Or the following in Paint Shop Pro X2
(hopefully in the other versions as well)

To see what I am talking about, here is an example in Photoshop CS4 with the anti-alias unchecked:
Are the edges (pixels) are more noticeable to the naked eye?
Notice how the edge is jagged--you can see the steps of the circle!

Now take a look at this circle with the anti-alias checked
Doesn't that look like a smooth, round circle the way our eye is used to seeing an image?
That is the difference between on checked or unchecked button.

Make sure when you are using shapes Anti-Alias is ALWAYS checked!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Learn Your Program

After learning about copyright the next thing you should do is learn as much as you can about your program; know what it does, what it is capable of doing, how to do those things, etc.  Designing is not purchasing the best Commercial Use products available and recoloring with each and every kit.  Designing is an art of creativity.  For most it is starting with the basic shapes and creating from there on up, adding shadowing, textures, etc.   
Take for example this construction barricade.

What shapes do you see when looking at this element?
It is basically created from squares and rectangles. 
When I was changing my blog around, I sat down at the computer and imagined what a barricade looked like and started creating my template.  I started at the focal point, creating shapes to look like what I was envisioning in my head.  Once I created the template it was just a matter of filling in the colors, adding bevel around the edges as well as adding texture to the sign.
There are a handful of designers who do the exact same thing when it comes to creating templates.  Look in any online digital store, under Commercial Use, and you'll see countless templates filled with shapes in all different sizes and characters.  These designers look at something and recreate it with shapes or they are artistic and draw the element they are wishing to create.  That my friend can be you if you learn and understand what your program is capable of doing!
Where do you start?
Well if you are reading my blog, I guess this is a good start.  But generally when I started learning how to design and about my program I relied on Google for the answers.  There were nights while my husband was deployed that I would be searching "Photoshop CS + Ribbon Tutorial".  I would walk myself through several tutorials on that element, learning how to do it without looking at any guides, notes or tutorials. 
Another thing you can do it enroll yourself in some classes where it be online or in your local university.  There are a handful of online sites that offer classes with different programs.  The perk of it being online is that hopefully you are able to work around your schedule, work, naptime, etc.
When in doubt if you dont know, understand, have questions ask a fellow friend who uses the program.  I had been designing for several years and one day Melissa Daniel Designs said "hey you know if you do this . . . . "  and a lightbulb went on in my head understanding what she had told me! I had no idea that I could do that with my program, let alone the possibilities she had opened up by telling me a simple suggestion!
Learn your program before jumping in to designing. It makes it that much easier when the harder stuff comes knocking at your door.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Understanding Copyright

To some copyright can be a scary thing when the legal department is knocking on their door demanding payment of some sorts due to a violation  To others it just is a legal, mumbo-jumbo word that doesn’t mean anything to them. 

So what exactly is copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection to the authors or creators of original creations.  Copyright protects both published and unpublished creations.  A copyright gives the owner of the creation exclusive rights to (1) reproduce their work, (2) create creations that derived from their original creations,  (3) distribute copies of their work by sale, rent, transfer, lease or lending, (4) perform publically if applicable (5) display work publically if applicable. 
It is illegal for anyone who does not own the copyright of that creation to violate any of those clauses

It is important for you to learn and understand what copyright allows and doesn't allow before creating a digital product or project.  That's right folks, even with our scrapbooking, we need to be diligent in making sure we are not violating copyright laws when we put together our layouts!
Now when you are creating an element, you have to be careful not to steal someone’s creation that is protected under copyright laws.  Take for example Prima’s flowers; they are protected under copyright laws.  If you go to your local Hobby Lobby, JoAnn’s, etc  and pick up one of these flower packs you’ll notice a little note saying “copyright” on the package.  That means, you cannot purchase one of these flowers, scan them in to your computer, extract them image and use them in your product.  That is violating Prima’s copyright and you will get some sort of a punishment should Prima catch up with you and your designs.   Before you think about being sneaky and doing this be warned that Prima has caught up with a couple digital designers a few years ago who were using Prima's flowers in their own products as well as selling them for Commercial Use!
That is just one little example of copyright for one little element, which if abused can cause a whole lot of trouble for you as the designer who violated that company's copyright of said product.
It is very important for you as the designer to know the laws, know what is protected and what you can/cannot legally use in your digital creations.  You cannot go into your local Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's, etc and purchase $100 dollars worth of scrapbooking products, photogragh or scan the products in to the computer, extract the image and use it in your creations, let alone turn it in to a Commercial Use product if those things are protected by copyright laws!  It is plain and simple. 
Scrapbook paper is another thing that is copyrighted.  Just think, digital designers are asked to create paper lines that sell in stores like Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc.  If you scanned in that paper and use it for your own creations, it would be no different than you downloading their digital product and reusing it as your own.  Its wrong and something that needs to be avoided to save you the headache and hassle of finding a lawyer and dealing with your consequences.
In a nutshell, learn and understand copyright laws and how they can protect you as well as keep you out of trouble when learning how to design.  If you don't know if the product is under copyright seek legal advice from a lawyer who specifically deals with this issue.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Designing Tutorials

Alright since I have nothing better to do . . . . .if you believe that one then let me sell you the Brooklyn Bridge for half-off the original price! 

Lately I've been noticing several posts around digiworld asking beginner questions about designing.  Just recently I saw a post over at MouseScrappers and decided to answer it with a few things that I've learned along the way.  Later, as I was talking with my best friend, AussieGirl, it was suggested that instead of posting here and there things that I've learned why not post them on my blog so that people can come to the blog, read things they are looking for in one central location instead of this site or that site.  So hopefully as time goes on I'll be able to share with you lessons along the way in case you are one of those people wishing to learn how to design.

Sound interesting for you?
Is it something you wish to see?
What are your thoughts because I would love to hear them.
I'll post a couple things and if there isn't any interest in the tutorials, then I'll not continue.  If there people interested, I'll continue sharing what I know.  Got any questions about designing?  Feel free to email me and I'll try to answer them, if I know the answer that is!  LOL