What you need to know about Graphic Programs

So, you run your own handmade crafty business or are thinking of starting a small hand crafted business from home? Starting up can be exciting and daunting at the same time. If you are in the business of making necklaces, wall decals, prints, children’s clothing and so on, finding quality supplies at reasonable prices can be a struggle. It may take some time to try out lots of different products before you find a supplier you are happy with.

And then there is the design work. If you are unfamiliar with graphic programs, you would have to be willing to take a 6 month course (minimum) to learn the basics of a program like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, it is not only time consuming but very expensive, once you add the cost of the software. Using anything other than the industry standard software from companies like Adobe or Corel means you are probably downloading free graphic software from the internet, and to be honest, these types of programs are very limited in what they can do and therefore your designs will suffer for it.

But if you have the time and money to invest in taking courses and learning how to use a graphics program like Illustrator, then I highly recommend it.There are a few things I would like to point out first. Some people think that graphic programs ‘do it all for you’. It’s true that programs like Photoshop offer amazing tools that can take a design from mediocre to fabulous BUT they certainly DO NOT ‘do it all for you’. Graphic programs are merely an extension of an artist’s toolbox. 99% of all designs that end up being polished in a graphics program will have begun life as an amazing concept drawing on paper.

Other things to consider are the ‘rules’ of design. There are design concepts worth learning like Colour Theory, Page layout, Typography, etc, all relevant to the product or field you want to specialise in. Knowing basic design concepts will help you immensely with your design projects

Another option is purchasing commercial use graphics from artists (like me), leaving yourself time to concentrate on crafting your products, rather than sitting in front of a computer spending hours on design work, because I will be honest with you, designing and drawing artwork in graphic programs is rather time consuming

A lot of people ask me what programs I use to create my artwork. There are two programs I rely on – Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Illustrator is a vector program. What is a vector, you ask? Unlike Raster images (JPEG’s, GIF’s) which are made up of pixels – vector graphics are comprised of paths which are defined by a start and an end point. Because they are not made up of pixels or in other words, a specific number of dots per inch, they can be scaled to any size without pixellation. For example, I create an image of a bird in Illustrator that measures 5cm in height. Because it is a vector image, I can enlarge that bird to 50 meters high if I wanted to, without any pixellation whatsoever

For me, drawing in vector is a personal choice as I am sure most people probably use Photoshop or Elements instead. The reason behind this is simply because I am comfortable with vector. I am a Signwriter by trade and vector was our file type of choice and for good reason. At times we would print 10 meter high banners with graphics drawn at 30cm in height. No pixelation means great looking prints – means happy customers – means happy us!

Adobe Photoshop: Unlike Adobe Illustrator which specialises in Vector designs, Photoshop specialises in Rastor images – meaning, you are working with the dots per inch graphics. Because of this, you must be wary of the sizes you create your artwork at because you will have issues scaling the artwork later if for example you wanted to print a 10 meter high banner! But this is not a problem if you are working on sizes that do not require change.

I sometimes use photoshop to add special effects to my vector illustrations that you simply can not do with ease in Illustrator. For example, I create a vector digital paper in Illustrator but I want to add a grungy, worn looking border to that image with a nice worn looking grain effect over the paper. Photoshop is perfect for this task. Also, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator work well together so moving images to and fro is relatively easy.

Other programs that you may be interested in are Corel Draw and Corel Paint. Draw is Corel’s Vector program and Paint is Corel’s Rastor program. I would have to say from experience that the Corel interface and toolbars are a little more user friendly that Adobe’s programs but it all comes down to personal preference.

Another program is consider is Photoshop Elements. I know that 90% of my customers use Elements. Photoshop Elements is a Rastor program. It is very similar to Photoshop but a down graded, simpler version that contains all the tools that home crafters need to ‘do their stuff’. This program is not suitable for those die hard graphic designers or digital painters.

Another great aspect of Photoshop Elements is the hundreds of helpful tutorials you can find on the internet to help you out with those tasks you just can’t seem to work out.

I know of and have seen some people draw artwork in programs like Adobe Flash or Adobe InDesign – it seems to work for them but I scratch my head and wonder why. I won’t go into the details!

So there you have it – investing time and money into obtaining and learning Graphic software can be beneficial to those who are willing. I do highly recommend that you have some form of artistic ‘flair’ before venturing down this path. If you simply do not have the time or the energy to spend on learning the ropes, don’t do it. You will end up with an expensive program that you won’t end up using because it’s like trying to interpret a mysterious foreign language. I have seen this happen too often!

what you need to know about graphic programs blog what you need to know about graphic programs blog


If you are interested in viewing or purchasing this image – Dorothy and Toto – you can find the listing HERE


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