Experience 1: Graphic Designer
I was so lucky to kick off my 40 work experience jobs with my very lovely friend Ally Blake, who describes herself as an author of romance novels, designer of graphics and seeker of delight. I especially love the last one! Not only was she great fun to hang out with (that’s us in the picture above wearing our ‘uniforms’ at her kitchen bench), she was able to help me make my webpage look beautiful and teach me some things along the way. We caught up for a few days the week before I launched my website to work on a header image and logo. Considering my very basic experience with computers, it was fantastic to work through the design process with her.
What did we do?
A basic introduction to some graphic design:
To start, Ally made an example of a header image for my 40 40 Experience website. We found a free image that I liked, which she popped into Photoshop, zoomed right in on the image, changed the colour slightly and cropped the size of the image so it’d fit perfectly into the space on my site. Clicking lots of buttons like the pro that she is, Ally added my title over the top of the background image, changed the font and size of the writing and the numbers, added some shading and voila! We had a header image.
Although I loved it and was fascinated at everything Photoshop could do, when I put the image on my website it didn’t look quite right. The colours didn’t give quite the vibe that I was after for my site. Interestingly, I learnt that while I don’t necessarily know what I do like, I do know what I don’t like when I see it. I wanted my website to be eye-catching, fun, and bright. I’m going to be looking at this site a lot over the coming year (seriously…it’s been at least a million times already), so it’s important I feel happy every time I open it.
I had some homework to do. I needed to find a new background image to use for header 2.0. After looking at many different blog sites to get an idea of what designs and colours I liked, and scrolling through a range of different images on Freepik.com, I was drawn to the watercolour backgrounds and picked my favourite, which was this one by Starline.
At ‘work’ the next day Ally put the image into photoshop. It was a bit tricky as the original free image came with writing layered over the top which had to be removed one click at a time. That took a while! Next it was a case of doing pretty much what we’d done the day before, which was to play with the image. Ally showed me all of the different photoshop functions we needed to do all of that, and was very patient letting me have a go at the font shading, bevelling and embossing. I’ve always been the sort of person that learns by doing so that was great for me.
We had so many versions of the header image, each slightly different to the one before. A few examples are shown here.
It amazed me that just the tiniest changes can make a difference to the overall look of a design. Whether that be the font size and style, colour, width of the bevelled edge, positioning of writing etc. We tweaked and compared each image to the next until we were really happy with the end product.
If you’d like to find out more about Ally’s work, check her out at AllyOop Designs.
What did I learn?
Basically when making a graphic image through Photoshop you use a number of layers. Each layer is placed on top of the layer before it. In the case of my header image there were 7 layers: a layer of background colour, a transparent layer, a layer of white, the background image from Freepik, a cloud layer of pinky-orange to make the title stand out, the title fonts, and the subtitle.
Although Photoshop is a very complex program, and I’m aware that I only scratched the surface of what it can do, it can be learnt. Ally taught herself how to use it as she had a need for it, in designing book covers for herself and then by designing them for others. She read about it, studied youtube tutorials and tinkered around with it over time and is now able to create some fabulous designs.
I’ve also learnt this lesson through setting up my webpage. There are so many amazing FREE tutorials on how to do pretty much anything on the computer. I was thinking I’d need to do a computer course to update my skills, but by going through some tutorials and taking baby steps, what seemed impossible for me to do a couple of months ago I’m now able to do. I’ve definitely got a long way to go, but I’ve made a start.