Easy Web Graphics

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""Easy Web Graphics"" is the ideal guide for the growing crowd of computer-literate people who run a Web site and want it to look its best and be easy to use -- without hiring a full-time Webmaster. The book helps readers evaluate their Web pages with a critical design eye and points them toward the right hardware and software to tackle their design projects -- focusing on the programs in Microsoft ""RM"" Office 2000. The book also covers text fundamentals -- font selection, aliasing, paragraph spacing, and so ...
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Overview


""Easy Web Graphics"" is the ideal guide for the growing crowd of computer-literate people who run a Web site and want it to look its best and be easy to use -- without hiring a full-time Webmaster. The book helps readers evaluate their Web pages with a critical design eye and points them toward the right hardware and software to tackle their design projects -- focusing on the programs in Microsoft ""RM"" Office 2000. The book also covers text fundamentals -- font selection, aliasing, paragraph spacing, and so on -- and shows how to use special effects to jazz up headlines and other large text elements. It also discusses photos, drawings, and clip art (including where to find it), it explains critical technical information such as graphic resolution, color palettes, and file formats, and it shows how to draw simple illustrations and shoot and retouch digital pictures with Microsoft PhotoDraw ""RM"" . It also presents design treatments that work with both text and graphics. The book covers projects such as using pictures as links, animating GIF images, and creating tiled backgrounds. It also includes a handy listing of Web and print resources that offer excellent design advice and technical assistance.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
This guide to Web design introduces some basic principles of design and then offers instruction for using software like Microsoft FrontPage 2000 and PhotoDraw 2000 to produce logos, text effects, backgrounds, and buttons. Specific chapters address elements of design, tools, details, text, and pictures. An appendix discusses Web-safe colors. King is an author and design consultant. Features numerous color illustrations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780735611924
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press
  • Publication date: 2/17/2001
  • Pages: 278
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.17 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2: fast and easy, Design Tools

In my office, I have four computers, three printers, two digital cameras, a scanner, a CD recorder, a drawing tablet, about 30 graphics programs that I've collected over the years, and, most important, a little electric coaster that keeps my coffee warm. Truth be told, though, I could get along fine with just 25 percent of this stuff. (The coffee warmer stays.) I use the rest only for occasional special projects.

The point is, creating Web graphics requires just a few vital hardware and software components, which we'll explore in this chapter. I'll also introduce you to a few goodies that aren't absolutely necessary but will make your graphics work easier and more enjoyable.

Hardware: Is Your Computer Up to the Job?

Working with graphics puts a significant strain on a computer's resources. If your system doesn't have much muscle, your graphics software will run very slowly and may even cause the computer to freeze up on occasion. The system components that affect graphics work the most are the processor, RAM (random access memory, or simply memory), the hard drive, and the video card. Here's a look at how each of these components factors into the graphics equation and my advice on the minimum requirements for speedy, reliable performance:

  • Processor It's probably no secret to you that the processor plays a big role in how quickly the system carries out your commands. The good news is that if you bought a new computer in the past two years, you've probably got the processor power you need. At a minimum, I recommend a Pentium II 233 MHz chip (or its equivalent). Most new systems go well beyond that, especially if they're designed for computer gaming.
  • RAM (memory) This is the category where the average system falls short. If your computer doesn't have adequate RAM, it may not be able to perform some high-level graphics tasks or allow you to keep more than one picture open at a time.

    Most new graphics programs require a minimum of 32 MB of RAM, but trust me, you won't be happy with anything less than 64 MB, especially for photo editing and creating 3D artwork. More RAM is definitely better; go for 96 MB or 128 MB if your budget allows.

  • Hard drive When it comes to your system's hard drive, it's not overall size that counts but the amount of empty storage space. Your hard drive is the location where you will typically store your graphics and other personal files, but your computer frequently uses it too. When you work on your computer, data typically gets stored temporarily in RAM. If the RAM supply gets low, your computer may use your hard drive as additional storage. So you should always keep some empty space on your hard drive. If your hard drive is really cramped and you can't offload any files to a floppy disk, CD-ROM, or some other secondary storage device, do yourself a favor and invest in a bigger hard drive or add a second drive to your system. Some programs allow you to specify a removable-media drive, such as a Zip drive or a CD-ROM drive, for your temporary storage space, but these drives typically are too slow for this purpose.
  • Video card The speed at which images are displayed on your monitor is determined in part by the video card, sometimes called the graphics card or display adapter. Equally important, the video card also controls the maximum screen resolution and the number of colors your monitor can display at each of the resolution settings the card offers.

    Evaluating video cards requires an advanced degree in geekology because so many designs exist. But for graphics work, one critical spec is the amount of video RAM on the card. You need a card with at least 2 MB of video RAM to display 24-bit color (about 16.7 million colors) at a screen resolution of 800 by 600 pixels and a card with 4 MB video RAM to get 24-bit color at a screen resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels. Especially for digital photography work, I think that 24-bit color-also known as true color-is a must, but everyone's not as picky as I am. (Note that the actual video RAM requirements for these examples are about 1.4 MB and 2.3 MB, respectively, but cards come in configurations of 1 MB, 2 MB, 4 MB, and up.)

Again, if you're using a relatively new computer, your system likely meets all these qualifications. If your computer isn't up to snuff and a new one isn't in the cards, you can improve performance by cleaning out your hard drive to free up more scratch disk space. Investing in additional RAM also offers a good return, although memory isn't as cheap as it used to be. As for upgrading your video card or processor, neither option is simple or inexpensive, so be sure to weigh the cost/benefit ratio of upgrading to buying a new system.

Graphics Storage: What's the Best Option?

If you work on a computer that's part of a large corporate hive, you may never have to worry about finding storage space for all your graphics files. But if you're flying solo-doing your work on a laptop, at home, or in a small office system-you'll eventually reach the point where you can't stuff one more file onto your hard drive. You can always add a second hard drive, of course, but you should also think about investing in an auxiliary device that stores files on some type of removable medium. This option not only enables you to reserve your hard drive space for files that you use regularly but also protects you from losing important files if your hard drive goes wacko.

There are many storage options, but my top pick at the moment is a CD recorder, which costs around $150 to $400, depending on the model's speed and whether you buy an internal or external unit. When CD recorders were first introduced on the consumer market, I considered them too complicated and too prone to problems to recommend to anyone but experienced computer gurus. But now they're as easy to use as a floppy drive. Using special recording software, you can simply drag and drop files to the CD drive's icon, just as you do when copying or moving files to a floppy.

For the best deal, get a CD recorder that offers both CD-R and CD-RW capabilities. (In case you're wondering, the R stands for recordable and the RW stands for rewritable.) With CD-R, you can record your files to a CD, but you can't erase any files from the CD once they're on it. CD-RW enables you to add and delete files as necessary. Some older CD drives can't read CD-RW disks, however, so you'll need to stick with CD-R for files that you need to access on those drives. Also, CD-R is best for archiving files that you want to keep for a long time; data on CD-R disks is less likely to degrade over time, and you can't accidentally overwrite an important file. Best of all, CD-R disks are cheap, cheap, cheap-about 30 cents apiece if you watch the sale ads. A CD-RW disk costs a little more-about $1.00 on sale-but of course, you can reuse a CD-RW disk over and over, whereas a CD-R disk is a one-shot deal...

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Introduction xii
Part 1 Image Is Everything
Chapter 1 Seeing with a Designer's Eye 5
Weed Out the Clutter 6
Guide the Eye to Important Content 9
Be Smart About Ad Placement 9
Spice Up Text-Heavy Pages 10
Create Visual Rest Stops 11
Dump the Splash Screen 12
Make Text Easily Readable 14
Create Identity Through Design 14
Be Aware of Technical Traps 16
Chapter 2 Fast and Easy Design Tools 23
Hardware: Is Your Computer Up to the Job? 24
Scanner or Digital Camera--or Both? 26
Scanner Buying Guide 28
Digital Camera Buying Guide 29
Software: Do You Have What You Need? 33
Photo Editing Software 33
Graphics Cataloging/Management Software 37
Chapter 3 Pixels, Palettes, and Other Pesky Details 41
Think Pixels, Not Inches 42
Squaring Away Pixels 42
Comparing Screen Pixels and Image Pixels 43
Designing for the Small Screen 49
Choose "Safe" Colors 52
Making color with Light 52
Keeping Colors in Bounds 53
Preview, Adjust, and Preview Again! 61
Chapter 4 Creating Your Design Framework 63
Developing a Design Theme 64
Using Themes to Create a Unified Look 68
Applying a FrontPage Theme 69
Adjusting Theme Colors 71
Changing Theme Graphics 72
Substituting Fonts 74
Plotting Out Your Page 74
Dealing with Layout Realities 75
Frames 76
Absolute Positioning and Other CSS-Based Formatting 77
Working with Tables 77
Ways to Create a Table 78
Table Formatting Options 80
Cell Formatting Options 83
Adjusting Table Spacing and Layout 86
Using Templates 90
Chapter 5 Building Beautiful Backgrounds 93
Digging into Backgrounds 94
Setting FrontPage Background Defaults 97
Laying Down Background Tiles 100
Solid-Color Sidebars 101
Gradient Sidebars 106
Shadowed Sidebars 107
Ragged-Edged Sidebars 110
Horizontal Stripes 113
Textured Backgrounds 115
Repeated Background Patterns 120
Faux Backgrounds 121
Part 2 The Fine Print
Chapter 6 Everyday Text 129
Creating Text in FrontPage 130
Typing and Editing Text 130
Bringing in Text from Another Source 131
Formatting Text 132
Formatting Text as a Link 135
Using HTML Paragraph Styles 136
Choosing Web-Friednly Fonts 136
Stick with "Safe" Fonts 136
Go Sans Serif for Better Legibility 142
Don't Anti-Alias Small Type 143
Limit Yourself to Two or Three Fonts 144
Sizing Type: It's All Relative 145
Spacing Things Out 146
Inserting Special Symbols 148
Chapter 7 Text as Art 151
Creating Text in PhotoDraw 152
Adding or Deleting Characters 154
Changing the Font, Size, or Type Style 154
Moving and Rotating Text 154
Anti-Aliasing Text 156
Giving Text the Treatment 156
Filling (and Stroking) Text with Meaning 157
Bending Your Words 160
Using Pictures as Characters 161
Creating Stylish Bullets 162
Part 3 Picture This
Chapter 8 Simple Drawings 169
Opening Pictures 170
Zooming In and Out 172
Changing the Canvas Color or Design 173
Sizing the Canvas 174
Creating Simple Graphics 175
Drawing Primer 175
Painting vs. Drawing 177
Basic Picture Editing 179
Shuffling the Stacking Order 183
Quick Buttons and Bars 184
Object Lessons: Forging Shapes into Pictures 186
Using Clip Art 190
Chapter 9 Photography for the Web 193
Taking Better Web Pictures 194
Secrets for Shooting Shiny Stuff 196
Fixing Photographic Flaws 198
Selecting the Area to Edit 198
Snipping Away Part of a Photo 206
Making Areas Transparent 208
Adjusting Colors, Brightness, and Contrast 210
Sharpening Focus 217
Exploring Other Photo Editing Options 217
Resizing Pictures 218
Saving Pictures for the Web 220
Saving in the PhotoDraw Format 220
Saving GIF Images 221
Saving Photos as JPEG Images 227
Chapter 10 Bringing HTML into the Picture 231
Preparing Your Picture 232
Importing Pictures into FrontPage 233
Deleting a Graphic from a Web Page 236
Doing Minor Alterations in FrontPage 236
Setting Size Attributes in FrontPage 238
Positioning Pictures 240
Using Graphics as Links 242
Creating a Simple Graphical Link 242
Breaking a Link 243
Creating Image Maps 244
Creating Thumbnail Links 246
Providing Alternative Text for Graphics 249
Creating Special Web Effects 250
Moving Pictures (Animated GIFs) 251
Rollover Buttons 254
Appendix Web-Safe Colors 261
Index 265
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