Tips & Tricks

There are a few little things about making and editing graphics that you'd learn somewhere along the line, usually by making mistakes. Hopefully this tutorial will save you from having to go through that!

Save Constantly
When editing an image, always save intermittently, whenever you remember. Graphics programs are likely to unexpectedly crash every now and then, which has the often heartbreaking result of completely and irretrievably losing your hard work.

Use an Uncompressed File Type
While you're working on your image, and saving it as you go along, be sure to use an uncompressed file type, such as PSD in Photoshop or PSP in Paint Shop Pro. Once you've finished working on it and it is ready to be displayed, then save it as a JPG, GIF or PNG. This is to keep the quality of the image as good as it can be. When you save an image as a JPG (or GIF or PNG), it is automatically compressed to a smaller file size, which degrades the quality of the image. Thus, each time you save the JPG, it loses more quality.

Resizing Bitmaps
JPGs, GIFs and PNGs should not be resized to a larger size, even if they've been resized to a smaller size before. Bitmapped images use as few colors as possible to cut down on file size, so when you enlarge one it comes out looking pixelated and distorted, because there aren't enough colors to render the image at the same quality. If you ever resize an image to be smaller, you should keep the original, just in case you should ever need it at a larger size again. You should also scan images to be larger than you'll actually need them, to get the best quality possible.

The antialias effect makes curves seem smoother, by blending the usually jagged edges of the object. Antialias should be applied wherever possible, especially to text. The only times you should not apply antialias is when the text or object is small, then it just appears blurred; and also when you plan to reselect the object later, or put it on a transparent background of a different color than the background of the image. Then you'll get an ugly outline of the image background.

GIFs and File Size
To keep the file size as low as you can, follow these rules:

  • Use as few colors as possible.
  • Set the background to be transparent whenever possible.
  • When making an animation, rather than using the same frame more than once in a row, simply set that one frame to display for a longer time than all the other frames.