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Graphic Design Self Education
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Aug 3, 2004, 05:17 PM
 
Is there anywhere I can go to get some self-eductation in graphic design? I'm fairly competent in Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro - but I'd like to expand my knowledge so I can integrate it with my video skills.

Are there any good books, web sites, or other resources where I can expand my skills?
     
art_director
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Aug 3, 2004, 05:46 PM
 
There's a great series of do-it-youself books. Perhaps they would help. I just finished the "Do-it-yourself F-16 fighter pilot" book. Now I'm off to protect the world from evil does.
     
art_director
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Aug 3, 2004, 05:53 PM
 
Sorry, didn't want to be mean. Just a joke.
     
Macola
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Aug 3, 2004, 08:49 PM
 
Look for Photoshop books by Deke McClelland (various editions, depending on your version).

I find it more productive to play around with the software (maybe mock up a fictitous project) when learning a new program, but books are good for reference.
I do not like those green links and spam.
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art_director
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Aug 3, 2004, 11:42 PM
 
Macola speaks words of wisdom.

Create a project for yourself. It could be recreating something you like / admire. Just give yourself a goal. That's the best way to learn the nuts and bolts of the apps.
     
ChrisF
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Aug 3, 2004, 11:54 PM
 
Originally posted by Macola:
Look for Photoshop books by Deke McClelland (various editions, depending on your version).

I find it more productive to play around with the software (maybe mock up a fictitous project) when learning a new program, but books are good for reference.
Good design skills are not based on knowing how to work a computer program. Education in the arts and design is more about learning why something is done a certain way than how something is done.
Fundamental design principles don't depend on a computer either so perhaps a trip to the library to look for graphic design books is in order. Don't overlook texts covering the history of graphic design too.
Is there a local college that offers graphic design classes you can take? Granted, the introductory classes are not always so interesting but they are invaluable in teaching you a visual vocabulary.
     
art_director
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Aug 4, 2004, 12:40 AM
 
Chris is right...knowing how to use a hammer does not make you a carpenter. Likewise, knowing Photoshop does not make you a designer.

There's no quick route to understanding design. If you want a rudimentary base then some books will suffice. If you want more you need an education in the field.
     
Macola
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Aug 4, 2004, 10:08 AM
 
Both the above are true. I use this argument many times for prospective clients who say "Well, I have FrontPage, so I don't need a web designer".

However, my impression was that the OP was looking for specific help in learning Photoshop. I agree that you can't acquire design skills (in any form--print, web, multimedia) from a book, or even a class.

On a more philosophical note, I tend to believe that most humans are born with creativity, but it gets beaten out of them by the school system until there's not much left by the time they graduate. The truly creative ones are those who've learned how to circumvent the system.
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KidKit
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Aug 8, 2004, 04:15 PM
 
I agree that knowing how to use a hammer doesn't make you a carpenter... it also doesn't stop the vast numbers of amateur weekend projects out there, and those weekend projects are the pride and joy of many, even when they are a little rough

I'm no graphic designer, but that doesn't stop me poking around with programs like photoshop, messing about with my digital pictures, or even the occasional foolhardy bravery to volunteer to design something for church or for friends.

It sounds like at least a couple of you are professionals. I was wondering if you would know of any good websites with online tutorials or "tips and tricks" for amateurs. You know... sort of like www.macosxhints.com, except for graphics and stuff

Thanks in advance!
mavafyipdq
     
birdman
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Aug 8, 2004, 11:24 PM
 
Since the topic has been introduced... While knowing how to use a hammer doesn't make you a carpenter, a good carpenter *should* know how to use a hammer properly. That is to say, if you're interested in design, by all means learn the tools of the trade. One of those tools is a computer.

In college, my graphic design professors were fond of saying "when the lights go out, you still need to know good design." (One could argue that many design jobs require a computer so you really *do* need electricity, but that's beside the point.) While I understand what they mean, it seemed they used this more as an excuse to avoid teaching us how to properly use programs like QuarkXPress and Freehand. I had to learn those programs from books because my prof knew very little about them (and yet, every single assignment, even if they started on paper, ended by using Quark or Freehand for the final version). And whaddya know, I get out into the working world and -- guess what! -- everyone wants me to know Quark, Freehand, Illustrator, Photoshop, Pagemaker, and Lord knows what else.

I was at a disadvantage when I graduated because I wasn't experienced enough with things as simple as using spot colors in Quark, but fortunately, again, I learned those things through books while doing freelance projects, which helped me get a job later. So while I agree that it takes more than knowledge of software to be a good designer, *not* knowing how to use the software is certainly a drawback, unless you happen to land a design job that doesn't require using a computer.

Also, this is purely anecdotal, but... I know several people who have a keen eye for good design and are quite adept at learning the ins and outs of art and design software quickly. While they might be at a loss with a pen and ruler and X-Acto knife and black flapping paper, they can still produce good design in a computer. It's just another tool. (Before you ask, no, those particular people are not professional designers, they just do it in their spare time, but they're creative and do good work.)

And just like any other field, the knowledge is only a starting point. Obviously one can't just read books and learn the software and instantly become a pro. As someone said above, coming up with a fictitious company and designing their logo, letterheads, promotional materials, etc. is a good starting point and gives you good examples for your portfolio of the variety of work you can do. I had intended to do this, but got a job before it was necessary.

-birdman
( Last edited by birdman; Aug 8, 2004 at 11:30 PM. )
     
KeriVit
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Aug 9, 2004, 10:19 PM
 
I have a couple of "non-designers" in my prepress department and though I truly believe in the sentimaents expressed by those above... bottom line- the computer is a tool to compose one's ideas... i often pick up "The non-designer's design book" by Robin Williams to teach them some principles. It gives you a nice grasp on working the space and fonts, etc.

Also, there are many books in the graphic design book clubs to get you started on seeing what good design looks like.

good luck- think of it as a stepping stone to a degree and/or career in graphic design.
     
birdman
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Aug 9, 2004, 11:35 PM
 
Actually, The Non-Designer's Design Book is a book we used in one of my introductory graphic design classes. I'm sometimes afraid to mention it in forums like this because some pros really dislike Robin Williams because she tends to simplify/generalize things. But I do think it serves its purpose: it's a big help to non-designers, to get them thinking in designer terms and knowing what to pay attention to when laying out a page.

For specific programs, I really like the Visual Quickstart Guide series from Peachpit Press. They have a book for just about every major art/design/desktop publishing program out there, and new editions come out with each version upgrade. Very easy to follow, and big on using screen shots to explain procedures. They're also handy to have as a reference even if you already know the programs (I refer to the HTML one all the time).

-birdman
     
killer_735
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Aug 10, 2004, 02:34 PM
 
"Drink, smoke plenty of cigarettes, and fsck as much as you can."

-Bukowski
"Leave it. Leave it, it's fine. It's fine. I WILL DESTROY YOU!" -Morbo
     
rob5243
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Aug 11, 2004, 09:43 AM
 
You can find a lot of free online tutorials for the adobe apps if you search hard enough. Most won't go over the important stuff but it's a start.
     
   
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