Sometimes you know exactly what you want in a graphic but you just can’t find it anywhere. Or, you find what you like but purchasing the correct type of license for it isn’t within your budget. I finally got serious and decided to search for a software program to help me create my own graphics.
After much research, I selected two open-source programs: GIMP and Inkscape. I used them to create the four graphics you see on this page.
Raster versus Vector Graphics
My two programs, GIMP and Inkscape, are capable of producing similar works, with one major difference. GIMP produces raster graphics while Inkscape is a vector program. The best way to illustrate their differences is to look at what happens during resizing. Have you ever expanded a picture only to be disappointed with a rough, grainy texture? That’s what happens when you expand raster graphics. Vector graphics, on the other hand, are infinitely expandable with no distortion.
What I love About GIMP
There are two functions that make me love GIMP: photo editing and painting with digital brushes. Removing the background to create an isolated image is ridiculously easy in GIMP. I can do that in Inkscape as well, but there are more steps. If all I need to do is crop a photo and overlay some text, GIMP is the easy answer. An unexpected bonus is its digital painting capabilities. It had been about five years since I picked up a paintbrush. As soon as I became comfortable with a couple of GIMP’s standard brushes, I started creating landscape paintings similar to the ones I used to do in acrylics (and just as badly, I’m afraid, so no samples provided in this blog post). GIMP comes with a set of brushes and a powerful eraser that removes all fear. You can download extra brushes made available by kind-hearted souls all over the ‘net.
What I Love About Inkscape
Hands down, what I love about Inkscape is the flexibility to transform images with no distortion. This is really handy as I may use slightly different versions of the same graphic for Pinterest, Facebook and LinkedIn. Each social media platform has its own ideal image size — and these can change without notice. Company logos are another perfect example. How many times have you tried to increase the size of a logo only to end up with a fuzzy design? Not good. For these reasons, I tend to do most of my work in Inkscape.
Here’s How To Get Started
Give yourself a little time to become familiar with these programs. If you’ve used a graphics program in the past, some features and concepts, such as layers, will be familiar. I was a total newbie so I headed straight for YouTube.
- Useful Graphic Design Tutorials – Caroline and Davina have some of the best videos for both programs (and lots of other topics as well). The videos are short, clear, have good sound, and are easily followed. They gave me a solid start in both programs. I still access their videos whenever I have a question. Twitter link: @GraphicDesTuts
- For lessons on special effects, filters, and tricks, take a look at Little Web Hut‘s videos. Website link: www.littlewebhut.com
Later this week, I’m publishing information on three websites that will help you make a customized Facebook timeline cover. No graphics design training needed and no software programs required. They will even calculate exactly where your profile photo sits so that you can design around it accurately.
Don’t miss an update! If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so directly below: