Image editing programs
After you scan an image into a computer or take a photo with a digital camera, most likely you will want to make some changes to the image. You may need to clean up some dust and scratches; change the brightness, contrast, or colors; or take out the background and add other images. Whatever you plan to do, you need an image editing or photo retouching program. The most popular image editing program is Adobe Photoshop. However, there are others, such as Photoshop Elements, MetaCreations Painter, Corel Photo-Paint, and Jasc Paint Shop Pro that have similar features.
This kind of application creates images using pixels, the tiny dots on the screen, so the images are bitmapped graphics (information is “mapped” to each pixel on the screen with “bits” of electronic messages). The combination of all those pixels can hold thousands or sometimes millions of colors, and you can edit files in an image editing program pixel by pixel. You can use paintbrushes, erasers, spraypaint, and other similar tools to create or edit graphics.
Image editing programs have hundreds of features, far too many to list here—but what is just as important is what they don’t do. The following are a few things you shouldn’t do in an image editing program.
Don’t include unnecessary, large areas of solid white. For instance, if images have a lot of white space between them, it may be better to separate the images into separate files rather than make them one large graphic.
Don’t increase the size of your finished artwork. For instance, don’t place the graphic in your page layout program and then enlarge it. And don’t try to drag an image from one document into another and then resize it up. Because of the way a graphic is created in these programs, increasing its physical size could make it blurry or chunky. (For more information on this, see Chapter 6.)
Don’t set text and effects in a page layout program if you need the text to appear as if it is part of the image. For instance, if you want to set text to spell out a custom license plate on a photograph or a sign on a building, you do want to set the text in the image editing program. If you set it in the layout program, the text will seem to float above the image.
- Don’t use an image editing program to set large amounts of text. A program such as Adobe Photoshop even lets you check the spelling in text. But image editing programs don’t have nearly the same features for formatting, searching, and working with text that a page layout program has (see the chart at the end of this chapter). You’re much better off setting text in the page layout program.
- Don’t set text with effects in an image editing program if you can apply the same effect in a page layout program. As a general rule (and this is a very general rule and can be easily broken, if you need to), you should try to apply text and special effects at the last stage of your layout process. For most people, this is their page layout software.