Archive | November 8, 2017

Choosing the Right Graphics Tablet

Graphics tablets are most popular among designers, and those working in creative fields: digital painters, engineers, web designers, photographers. A graphics tablet frees it’s user from the mouse, which feels unnatural when compared to real media. The ability to design with ease improves accuracy, and allows the user to work more efficiently.

These days, you may notice that designers aren’t the only ones raving about graphics tablets. The general computer user can use a tablet to write digital notes, create digital signatures, navigate through applications, give professional presentations, and surf the web – everything that you would normally do with a mouse.

Both designers and non-designers alike are picking up a pen stylus to prevent and reverse the effects of repetitive stress injuries (RSI). The pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and even rheumatoid arthritis can be greatly reduced by switching to a graphics tablet. In some cases, the use of a tablet will allow a person to keep a job that they would otherwise be unable to do.

If you’be was doing some research, you know the benefits of using a digital tablet, and perhaps you’ve made the decision to buy one. How do you go about choosing the right tablet? What features will work best for you? Let’s take a closer look:
If your computer is a newer model, chances are, it has a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port. Most of today’s graphics tablets use USB to connect. It’s much faster than an older serial connection, and easier to use. Once you connect a USB tablet to your computer, it automatically recognizes the connection, and installs the needed drivers. All you’ll have to install is your tablet’s software.
If you are using an older computer with a serial port, serial tablets are still available. Wacom continues to produce Intuos serial tablets.
What you get
You will find that most graphics tablets come bundled with a pen stylus, a mouse, and graphics software applications. For example, the Aiptek HyperPen 12000U package includes ULead Photo Impact 5, and Art Dabbler, among other applications. Wacom’s Graphire3 comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 and Corel Painter Essentials 2. Versatile software combinations like these allow users to do more with their tablets.
Companies like Wacom, Aiptek, and NISIS, know that users still find mice useful, and have integrated this into their products. A graphics tablet’s mouse is usually wireless, and used exclusively on the surface of the tablet. However, you don’t have to stop using your current mouse, nor do you have to spend time changing settings to switch between the two. Use your current mouse, even with your tablet’s mouse resting on its surface.
Some tablet models require batteries for the mouse and stylus, like the NISIS G5 which uses AAA batteries. This helps to keep the cost of graphics tablets down, making them more affordable. NISIS starts you off with batteries included, but the buyer will have to weigh the cost between paying less for a tablet, and buying new batteries over time, or using rechargeable batteries. This is definitely something to consider if you use your tablet every day.
Standard graphics tablet sizes are 4 x 5, 6 x 8, and 9 x 12. There are also larger sizes available. Keep in mind that it can be easy to confuse the physical size of the tablet with its actual work space, especially when buying from online stores, where you don’t have the physical product in front of you.

So, which tablet size is the best? That depends on what you plan to do with your tablet, and how you prefer to work. My Wacom Graphire3 measures 10 x 11, with a work space of 6 x 8. Most of all, I use it to create digital paintings, and I find this size works best for me. Overall, the most popular tablet size is 6 x 8. On the other hand, I know artists who would prefer a 9 x 12, because it more accurately mimics the range of motion used in real media, however, artists often go with smaller, cheaper models.
There is also the issue or tablet resolution, which is measured by lpi (lines per inch). You’ll find tablets with around 2,000 to 5,000 lpi. A higher resolution is useful for more detailed work.

Pressure sensitivity effects the level of control that you have while your tablet translates what you do with your stylus onto the screen. The harder you press down on the tablet, the darker and larger your line will be. You will get more gradation control with a 1,000 level tablet, than you would with a 500 level, for example.
In most cases, tablets with higher lpi’s and levels of sensitivity are more expensive.

Getting used to your tablet
The time that it takes to adjust to a graphics tablet depends on the individual. It took me a couple days to get used to my tablet. For others, it may take longer. It’s a bit odd looking at a monitor instead of your hands. It also takes a while to get used to hovering the stylus over the surface of the tablet without touching it. The more you use your tablet, the easier it will get.

Basic Web Design Programs Offered for Free

Due to increasing technology opportunities some high schools are offering web design courses that cover the basics. With increasing students and people taking web design up as hobby free sites can be a great alternative to buying programs designed for people who do it for a living. If you do not want to spend money on programs for web desing these sites can be useful however if you are doing very advanced web design or do it for a living these may not suite all your needs.

Kompozer is WYSIWYG editor or what you see is what you get editor. It is available for free and is an easy alternative to writing code you as the interface makes it easy to design it with the toolbars and by appearance rather than checking the code. This is not to say that it is not great for using code though because you can opt to write your own code and view what it looks like without opening browsers which can be extremely convenient.

Notepad ++ is great for designers who write all their own code because it is just a text editor like the standard notepad programs but it separates and highlights HTML tags making it much easier to remember which scripts go with each tag. It also allows for multiple pages to be opened at the same time in tabs instead of new windows which I find useful for editing multiple pages of a website at the same time.
Gimp is not an actual web design program it is a photo editing program but since most websites will require images it is useful to have a good editing program for making thumbnail images and changing the file type to make it compatible with your site. The program is offered free and is a great alternative to Photoshop.

Seamonkey is another WYSIWYG editor was made by the Mozilla which is most famous for creating Firefox (Sea monkey). A great feature about this program is that it is offered for multiple operating systems so it can be used by Windows, Linux or Mac users. Like other Mozilla programs Sea monkey claims to be a community project.

Earn Your Degree in Video Game Design or Animation

All of the regular computer gamers I know have considered at one time or another trying to get a degree as a game designer or in game animation. If you play often, it may seem relatively easy to design a game. You know that the animation is sometimes looped and repeated, and you’re familiar with the general templates that seem to be used in many similar games. Easy, right? Hardly. Computer game designers and animation specialists have to be fluent in complicated computer languages and should be familiar with graphic design.

Think of all the different aspects that go into a simple video game. Graphic design is important for characters and scenery to be realistic. User interface is key, of course, so that your games are playable. A video game is, by nature, a visual method of communication, and you’ll need to create a narrative to tell the story of the game to the player. Video game design is a highly technical as well as artistic field that is not for everyone.

Still think you have what it takes to earn a game design degree? Great! Polish up your math skills and begin to find the degree that is right for you. Most degree programs offer classes that will teach you the basics of computer science, computer languages, graphic design, and geography or landscape planning. Game designers have to consider physics so that their animations are realistic, so look for a degree program that includes all of these aspects. Forward thinking students may want to find design degrees that include pedagogy or some education training as well because many learning institutions have begun to use computer games to teach students.

A game designer will need the skills to design games and animation for many different gaming platforms. Most games released today are produced for several different gaming systems: PC, Macintosh, X-box, Play station, Wii, and many more. Your degree should give you the background to design games and animation for all of these systems – and the new ones that will be released in the next few years while you are going to school.

Game designers and animators are in high demand right now, so your degree won’t be wasted time. Your education in graphic design or animation will give you the opportunity to create products that will educate and entertain the next generation – as well as the already established millions of video game players in the world today.

How to Hire a Web Designer

Hiring a Web designer is a common step for many businesses and organizations, but the sheer number of designers can be overwhelming. Each designer has a different set of skills, and each business has different needs for their site. Finding the right designer for your budget and vision can be tricky, but a little preparation will go a long way with a successful relationship with a Web designer.

Know What You Want
Many people go into the search for a Web designer with only the basic idea that they need a website. Web designers will not expect you to know everything ahead of time, but it will make their job easier (and possibly save you money) if you take a little time to determine what you want from your website, and what features are important to you.
Do you want a blog? Do you need an e-commerce system? Do you expect the Web designer to provide written content or graphics? Do you have a vision for the organization or design of the pages? Questions like these will help the Web designer to more quickly and effectively begin work on the website you need.

Know the Business
Check out how different Web designers charge for their work, and use this as a base for what to expect to be charged when you advertise your website design project. The complexity of your project will affect what you will pay, and many Web designers will give you a free consultation with a time and budget estimate. Staying informed about current rates for Web design projects will prevent you from overpaying or hiring a designer that might charge a cheaper rate for lower quality work.

Know Who to Hire
After you have advertised your website design project and have reviewed estimates from the Web designers you selected, you will need to make a final decision. Be careful about selecting a designer based solely on their portfolio or budget estimate. Many skilled designers may not have built a solid portfolio yet, but they might have the talent to design a website that fits your company.
Also, the cheapest option may not be the best option; many times in Web design you will get what you pay for. A designer that charges much less than the competition may not put the necessary time in for quality work. Make sure the designer you hire is one that you will be able to work with. This is a business partnership that will likely last for several weeks or months, and you should be able to get along well with the Web designer.

The process of hiring a Web designer will be much smoother if you are prepared. A good Web designer will be able to help you through this process, but it will save you time and money by knowing where to start. There are many designers out there, but after an informed search you will soon be on your way to having your new website.