Before we start talking about designing print materials for your church/ministry/business, I wanted to include some tools of the trade that you might find very useful.
Of course, the Adobe Creative Suite is industry standard for graphic designers. It is powerful, versatile, and generally amazing. Unfortunately, all that amazing-ness will cost you $700 for Photoshop alone or $1,300 for Creative Suite 5 Design Standard.
The good news is that there are cheaper ways to do things! If you are a teacher or full time student, check with your school to see if you get a discount. I bought the CS5 Design Standard for around $400 with the discount.
The gooder news is that there are FREE ways to do things too!!! GIMP, is a free image manipulation program that I used before switchign to photoshop. According to their website, “It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.” There are many different opinions on GIMP vs. Photoshop. As someone who has used both, I would have to say that I prefer Photoshop for its ease of use, but found GIMP adequate for basic design. It is fine for designing graphics for a website, brochures, business cards, etc. Like Photoshop, GIMP is a program for working on raster images, which are made up of squares of color called pixels. It is used for print images and photo editing. It is not used for logos or other images that you would want to be able to resize drastically. You can check out GIMP for more info or to download it.
For images that you want to be able to resize, such as a logo, you will want to use a vector design program. Vector is basically another word for line. Vector programs save images with a mathmatical formula so you can make them larger or smaller without losing any quality. Of course, Adobe has an incredible vector design program, Illustrator, and you can also use CorelDraw. But if you don’t have an Adobe budget, you can get a vector design program for FREE: it’s called Inkscape! I’ve worked with Inkscape in the past and have found it to be very effective, if a bit slow. You can check out Inkscape for more info or to download it.
This should get you off to a great start when it comes to design programs. Remember, there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to learning new programs. With a simple Google search, you can find hundreds of helpful tutorials to walk you through the basics of working with GIMP and Inkscape.
Another that will be helpful for designing is Microsoft Publisher. You can use the preset templates to produce brochures, menus, flyers, calanders, etc.
Any great free programs that I missed? Leave a comment with your favorite programs and why they work so well for you!