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  1. #1
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    Question Newbie looking for a start in Web Graphics Design

    Hello,

    I am looking for some start off tips to become a Web Graphics Designer.

    I am a student in further education studying A-Level ICT and BTEC Business Studies. My GCSE's were consisting of:
    Maths - B,
    English - B,
    Science Chemistry - B, Physics - D, Biology - D,
    GNVQ Business Intemediate - C,
    General Business Studies - B,
    GNVQ ICT - C.

    Most of those qualifications aren't necessary for Web Graphics Design, but I thought I'd put the whole lot down to make people aware of my capabilities.

    A friend of mine, Max Tappenden, introduce me to WHT a while back and I have only just recently decided to give this a good go. I would like to begin Web Graphics Design or PHP/HTML programming. But to start I need some tips and ideas on what I should do or need to know to begin this career.

    I have Adobe Photoshop CS and I am quite knowledgable of it, I can do almost all the basics and I am still learning the advanced and just getting the hang of it. I have heard its quite a program to begin with. (Although CS2 has been released I am unable to afford this as of yet).
    I am using Windows XPSP1 on a 512kbps Broadband connection, if that helps.

    Is there any important notes that I should take heed before I start making random designs suitable for websites?
    What exactly is 'suitable' for a website?
    Are there any ground rules for beginners to take note of?

    I am really interested in doing this, since I like to be creative and I like to create graphics and designs.
    Unfortunately I do not have any portfolio of any work I have done, and I haven't made anything from scratch, I have mainly just fiddled with random pictures of Google Search.

    I hope this is enough information to give advice to me.

    Thank you
    Yours
    Craig Blake
    (Amethyst1989)
    Last edited by Amethyst1989; 07-19-2005 at 06:57 PM.

  2. #2
    I suggest you learn (X)HTML and CSS first, I think the best resource for this currently is w3schools (Not owned by the W3C). You can begin learning HTML here; http://www.w3schools.com/html/default.asp and CSS here; http://www.w3schools.com/css/default.asp

    HTML is used to structure your content, whilst CSS is used to style the HTML document. Common mistakes amongst beginners/amateur developers is the use of tables for non-tabular data, for example using tables to structure and layout your website. I suggest going through the tutorial links provided above to get a basic grasp on the technology.

    You should then use your graphics program (PS CS in this case) to help improve the visual look of your website. The use of graphics and CSS combined in an (X)HTML document produces some very nice results.

    The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) lays out specifications and recommendations for web developers. I reckon about 80 - 90% of developers ignore these, thinking they know better, please trust me when I say, they don't.

    A lot of developers have a hard time admitting that their knowledge is flawed, now I'm no guru, but the difference between the other 10 - 20% of developers like me and the 80 - 90% that choose to ignore these, is that they're willing to learn the technology correctly, and use it to its full potential.

    The W3C also provides validators, to validate your mark up - (X)HTML / CSS in this case. The (X)HTML validator can be found at http://validator.w3.org and the CSS validator can be found here; http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator

    I suggest getting into the habit of validating your documents before releasing them for purchase or public use (Ie. On a client website).

    You should also test your sites in multiple browsers, because you're beginning I suggest Fx (Firefox), IE (Internet Explorer) and Opera. As you get more skilled, you should increase these and test on Mac, PDA's, cell phones and anything else that allows you to view your site.

    As for graphics, I can only suggest trying the ways you find best to learn, whether it be buying a book, doing an online course, learning at a school/college/uni course, or messing around. I learnt very slowly, and breaking the creative barrier was a challenge for me, now I find I can achieve pretty much any effect required, and the ideas flow to me like water in a stream.

    I hope this helps Maybe I typed to much
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  3. #3
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    My friend was right...
    You don't get better advice anywhere else, thanks a million, I did learn HTML at W3Schools before, I guess it is best to revise! As for the XHTML I did try to learn but got caught up at school, but now I have left school I have all the time in the world to do this.

    Once again, Thank you.

    Yours
    Craig

    (If anyone else is willing to offer any more advice it still would be very much appreciated! so please don't stop!)

  4. #4
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    As Pauly said, going through tutorials, reading books etc will help alot. Also browse the net and get 'ideas' or inspirations. You know like randomly enter a url or use our friend google and type in any subject and hopefully it will get you to a nice looking page.

    Good luck

  5. #5
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    Once again thank you, both Pauly and Roi.

    If anyone is willing to keep on sharing ideas, offers, advice I will still appreciate it, this is one career I do not want to give up on!

    But One question remains, What are vertex's for?
    Someone told me that vertex's are a absolute necessary in web designing... If anyone could answer that I would appreciate it very much.

    Thanks again, all of you.
    Craig

  6. #6
    If this person is referring to the mathematical vertex's, not they're not a necessity.

    By the way, if you find yourself lacking inspiration, I find my greatest source of inspiration is cartoons. I don't try and replicate anything I see, but, sitting watching cartoons with my niece helps me come up with ideas. Sounds wierd huh? It's probably just me that does this.

    There's actually a short discussion located here; http://iwdn.net/showthread.php?t=2588 about the benefits of taking 'time outs', it may be worth something to you.

    Note to mods - If linking back to a site I co-own is against the rules, although on topic, please remove the link.
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  7. #7
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    Once again Pauly, thanks, and thanks for that link to the 'time outs' too.

    I am still accepting any more advice if people are still willing to share.

    Once again, Thanks to those who have shared some advice to me.

    Yours,
    Craig B.

  8. #8
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    May 2004
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    One of the best resources you'll find is a good discussion group from which you can learn, such as the one you've found here on WHT. Web development may seem like a mature field at this point, but in reality, it is very much in its infancy. A lot of the best knowledge is tribal knowledge, and as the industry becomes more codified and advances in technology become more predictable and evolutionary in nature, more formal resources will be better suited for learning about the industry.

    There are a lot of hotly contested subjects in all areas of Web development. Some of these include designing with table v. tableless layouts, appropriate use of JavaScript, appropriate use of plug-ins (mainly Flash), color theory, content considerations and probably the biggest subject in which debate rages and changes are expected almost daily is search engine optimization.

    You'll find on a lot of topics that two or more equally professional, equally qualified people will have completely different opinions on the best methods for achieving an online objective. Learning both sides of the coin will make you a much more savvy developer, regardless of what beliefs and practices you eventually adopt.

    Welcome to the world of Web design and development! I hope you brought your boots
    Studio1337___̴ı̴̴̡̡̡ ̡͌l̡̡̡ ̡͌l̡*̡̡ ̴̡ı̴̴̡ ̡̡͡|̲̲̲͡͡͡ ̲▫̲͡ ̲̲̲͡͡π̲̲͡͡ ̲̲͡▫̲̲͡͡ ̲|̡̡̡ ̡ ̴̡ı̴̡̡ ̡͌l̡̡̡̡.__Web Design

  9. #9
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    My boots are strapped on tight
    I don't like to take once side of ideas, I like to hear both sides of the world. It's my nature to do so. Besides I am willing to hear as many aspects of Web Development from many many people first, that is why I am accepting ALL advice that people wish to share, and I thank every single person for doing so.

    I know that this type is very 'infant' but, I do know and will know HTML, XHTML, CSS, PHP and I have a book on CGI, Javascript and Perl. Most of my information comes from W3schools.com. I occasionally go to my local library too, but my school is very poor on the IT/ICT side of education, the English Education department.. in my opinion are very poorly informed on the latest techniques and do not teach enough or sufficient resources on web development to all further education students, except of course, universities.

    And thank you the_pm for that piece of information, I do accept all information from absolutly everyone who knows what they are doing.
    Thanks again,

    Yours,
    Craig B.

  10. #10
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    I personally think that the best place to get info on IT stuff is on the internet. Even some higher education providers, unless they specialised in IT, do not have enough resources for their students to gain more info.

  11. #11
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    Your right Roi, thing is though, the internet is a maze, and for me its quite hard to find reliable sources for information.
    W3C, W3Schools and WHT are exceptionally good in my opinion.
    I also found the PHP.net was really useful too, especially since I downloaded the whole 300+ page tutorial on PHP I liked that.

    I am still accepting advice if people are willing to share.
    Once more, Thanks to those who haved shared their knowledge.

    One minor question though, My school uses Dreamweaver MX 2004 Educational, whats the difference between DWMX2k4 Educational and DWMX2k4?

    Craig B.

  12. #12
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    Great advice given on where and what to learn

    If you want to get good at actual design, I have some books to recommend.

    Making and Breaking the Grid - Understand the importance of layout design and how to do it right. I've just read it recently, at first as a refresher for what I've learned in school but it really nails everything well.

    Stop Steeling Sheep (and Find out How Type Works) - An excellent book on how to use type correctly and effectivly. This is usually the weakest point in most designers skillsets. If you can learn how to use type really well then you'll stand out.


    As for the difference between Educational and regular, there's probably some functional differences in the more advanced features, but mostly with the Educational version you do not have the rights to publish professional work created with it.

    Good luck!

  13. #13
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    Thank you phos for that, I will be looking into those books as soon as possible.

    Just to tell you a funny little something, it was my Grandfather who told me about Photoshop. haha. oh well.
    And it was my friend Max who told me what to do with it and how I could make a living out of designing.

    Anyways thanks for that confirmation on the Dreamweaver MX versions.

    Craig

  14. #14
    This is actually helping me out too .. I was a graphic designer a while back (2002) and .. well, now I am wanting to get back in .. thanks

  15. #15
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    Just goes to show that WHT W3C and W3Schools are three of the best places to learn, I just remastered the HTML and had it Validated a few times and I am taking the Advanced sections at the moment and soon I will do the CSS tutorial and then I'll redo my PHP tutorial from PHP.net just in case I'd need it.
    Plus I'll learn XHTML along with it to fully understand the concept of HTML.

    I am still looking for those books I have checked eBay and Amazon and they have them, but I am going to check my local library first.

    And as for this message board helping you out too pr1ve, just hints why its open to public and I haven't asked for E-mailed or PM'd information, I do believe that knowledge is power but I am starting to sound like Stalin if I do carry on there

  16. #16
    Practice photoshop a lot, find some tuts online. and if you think you've practiced enough, practice more. learning never stops.

    - Theo
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  17. #17
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    Well my biggest thing is when it comes to graphic design its not a thing you can learn..its something you have to love. For example ill sit down behind my dual monitors turn on some music and just sit back and start playing with things. I wont know what im making till I get started. Its art basically. Once you find what you love doing...weather it be logo design or ad design or maybe web design...then start practicing it. Go look up tutorals and try to make things with them..then take them and mix them up and make something that has them all in it. You will learn little tricks by doing that which will make your stuff become unique. The other thing is dont follow the flow..if you try to follow the flow as you are learning you will always be a step behind...instead create your own style. This isnt highschool...you dont ahve to follow the trend to be cool. Now if another thing I did to improve my skills is I found websites online that I though had a nice design..I then would try to recreate them in photoshop...not doing print screen but acually creating them from the ground up. (now dont publish these...cause thats someone elses work..but its a way to learn styles). Then after you have done some of those...grab paper and draw up some ideas and then take them from paper to the digital world!

  18. #18
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    Thanks CEdwards for that styling idea, I didn't want to go with the flow in the first place, I was planning to actually come up with a new and totally out of this world idea. Just like that Alienware, that was just so stunning my grandad, a 56 year old man bought one!
    So I thought thats it, I want to be RECOGNISED let alone be different from the rest, I want to make my mark in this career, I love art, I love creating things, but my disability stops me from using paper and a pen, so I just use the computer, just as easy!

    Craig

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