Over the weekend, while playing with one of my projects, it occurred to me that if I launched it as a blog, there would need to be a logo. Logos (decent ones, anyway) mean graphic design. I know nothing about graphic design. In fact, I barely use my graphics applications. They just sit on my hard drive looking pretty, waiting for the rare moments I need to crop something.
Now, while most sensible people would start hunting down a professional, the dabbler in me wanted to know if I could ever do it myself. This is despite the fact that a running joke in my family is that even with a pencil and a ruler, I can mess up drawing a straight line.
The first thing I needed to do was to figure out if my installed software, Paint.NET and GIMP, were up to the task. Most of the graphics tutorials I’ve seen tend to use commercial software. While mine seemed to be OK for basics, I wanted to know if there were any freeware alternatives before having to fire up the credit card and venture to the Adobe website. I was able to track down Inkscape as an alternative to Adobe Illstrator, and once that was installed, it was time to go looking for advice on how to get started.
There are loads of graphic design tutorials out there, some very good, some less than wonderful. The ever-helpful Smashing Magazine has a very good how-to section covering all sorts of design topics, and the All Graphic Design website also has a good forum where newbies such as myself can pester wiser souls for advice and tips. Generally though, I prefer to have a play and fiddle around with software when trying something new.
While they don’t give tutorials on a daily basis, I did also find some very good graphic design blogs that I have added to my RSS feeds to pick up some pointers. First up was Brian Hoff’s The Design Cubicle, which I find similar to Smashing in terms of tone, but a lot more personal and full of posts that I find especially relevant. Next up was Northamptonshire-based Tara’s Graphic Design Blog, which is not updated as regularly as others, but is always informative when it is. Also on my list is Andrew Houle’s MyInkBlog, which is cuck-full of freebies and resources, along with well-informed commentary on a number of issues.
So, how am I doing so far? Well, after several hours, and some choice swearing, I’ve settled down into my default learning mode. Whenever I have some down time now, I tune out the rest of the world, fire up some Mozart and play around with images. Am I in a position to design my own logo yet? According to the man in my life, “Not bloody likely.” But I am expanding my knowledge base, and figuring out how things work. I will probably have to hire a professional in the end, but thanks to the research I did over the weekend, I now have a fair idea of what I’m looking for.
[Image by Jurveston]