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Internet Marketing Tools - Graphics Basics

By Shelley Lowery
Posted Friday, June 25, 2004

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

In order to create or edit your graphics, you'll need to
invest in a good graphics program. The most popular program
used by Internet marketers is Paint Shop Pro. This powerful
program 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.
(http://www.jasc.com/)

Image Formats

The most popular image formats used on the Internet are GIF
and JPEG.

Graphic Interchange Format, better known as GIF, uses a
maximum of 256 colors and is best suited for images such as
logos, buttons and bullets.

GIF images can be saved in two different formats:

- 87 - 89a

The 89a format is the preferred GIF format, as it has the
following benefits:

Transparency

Images saved in the 89a GIF format can have a transparent
background. This will enable the canvas of an image to be
transparent and enable the background to show through.

Interlacing

Images saved in the 89a GIF format can be saved as
interlaced. This will enable your image to display as it is
being loaded into a web page. The image will gradually
become clearer as the page loads.

Animation

Images saved in the 89a GIF format can be used to create
animated images. Animated images are simply several GIF
images compiled into one GIF image file that loops. In order
to create an animated image, you'll need a special editing
program.

Joint Photographic Expert Group, better known as JPEG, is
the best format for photographs. JPEG images can contain
millions of colors and allow you to specify the degree of
compression.

Although there are many graphics programs available on the
Internet, this tutorial will focus on using Paint Shop Pro
7.01. If you are using a different version of Paint Shop Pro
or another graphics program, the graphic tools mentioned
below will not be located in the same places.

Editing Images

When working with images in Paint Shop Pro, you will have
the ability to save your image in PSP format. This format
will enable you to begin working on an image, save it in PSP
format and finish the image at a later time. It will
preserve all of your work without any changes.

If you would like to edit an image that has been previously
saved in the GIF format, you must first increase the image's
colors to 16 million. If you don't, your colors will be
limited. Go to "Colors" - "Increase Color Depth"- "16
million colors (24 bit)" to increase your image's colors.

Resizing Images

If you'd like to resize an image in JPEG format, you can do
so in one of two ways -- through your graphics program or
within your HTML. You can resize your image within your HTML
by changing the HEIGHT and WIDTH values. To retain your
images original characteristics, make sure you adjust the
height and the width equally. In other words, if your
original image dimensions are 50x100 (width 50 and height
100), to reduce your image to one half the size, change the
width to 25 and the height to 50. Although you can use this
method, it's not recommended, as it will make your file size
larger than necessary.

If you'd like to resize an image in JPEG or GIF format, go
to "Image" - "Resize" and select "Percentage of original."
Type in your selection in the first box and click on "OK."
There's no need to fill in the second box, as it will be
filled in automatically. For example. If you would like to
reduce your image to half the size it is now, type in 50.
This number is telling the program that you'd like to reduce
the image's size by 50%.

If you would like to increase your image's size, type in a
number over 100. Your original image is considered to be
100%. If you would like to increase your image's size by
50%, type 150 in the first box.

Rotating Images

If you'd like to rotate an image, go to "Image" - "Rotate"
and select your preferences.

When rotating an image, it may lose some of its clarity
(become blurry). You can correct this problem by sharpening
your image. Go to "Effects" - "Sharpen" -"Sharpen." If after
sharpening your image it still appears a little blurry,
simply sharpen it again.

Working With Text

If you would like to use text within your image, your first
step will be to select your text color. The "Styles" boxes
are located on the right hand side of your screen. The top
box should be set to Null (off) and the bottom box should be
set to Solid, which will look like a paintbrush. To change
the style of each box, click on the black arrow and make
your selection.

To change the text color, click in the center of the bottom
box and select your preferred color. Your text will be
displayed in the color within the bottom box.

If you would like to outline your text in a different color,
click on the black arrow of the top box and select the
paintbrush. Your text will be displayed in the color your
bottom box contains and outlined in the color your top box
contains.

Text Tool

Once you've selected your text color, click on the text tool
on the left-hand side of your screen. 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. 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 directly over your text to drag
it to your desired position. Try to center it as well as
possible, but don't deselect it.

If you would like to rotate your text, now is the time to do
it. Simply follow the same instructions (above) used to
rotate an image.

If you make a change to your image and you're not satisfied
with the outcome, you can undo your last change by going to
"Edit" - "Undo." It will only undo the last thing you did.

Adding a Drop Shadow

Your next step will be to add a drop shadow effect. With
your text still selected, go to "Effects" - "3D Effects" -
"Drop Shadow." Your selected text will be displayed in the
window. Try different settings until you achieve the effect
you'd like. Click on OK. When you're satisfied with your
text, right click on your mouse to set it.

Now that you have a basic understanding of graphics, take
some time to learn some additional techniques. There are
many free tutorials available on the Internet. Not only will
it assist you in creating professional looking images, but
it will also save you a great deal of money.

Copyright © Shelley Lowery 2002.
About the Author
This article was adapted from the highly acclaimed ebook
series, Web Design Mastery. Web Design expert and author
Shelley Lowery's latest ebook is an in-depth guide to
professional web design that is rapidly becoming known as
the "Bible" for professional web design.
(http://www.webdesignmastery.com)