How a Complete Graphics Newbie Can Make Money Selling Ecover Art

Q: How can I make money online when all I have is a bunch of software on my computer, but I really don’t have any talents?

I get asked a lot of questions like that. Part of being a teacher and speaker means having the responsibility to help others with their businesses or better yet, help turn a hobby into a business!

In answer to that question, I would ask them what software they have on their PC. If Photoshop is the answer, then I would tell them that they are sitting on top of a business that could make them roughly $1000 per hour if they get enough clients.

Clients are not hard to find, because many of today’s small businesses are surrounding us and we don’t even know it. I was moving into a new apartment and the landlord told me that 6 of his tenants run online businesses! That is outstanding, when in a little Florida town like Beverly Hills 6 of this landlord’s tenants are completely self employed online!

So that means that a carefully worded advertisement in your local paper or any of the online classified sites (even Craigs List – as long as you advertise in a local section for your city) you can offer to make graphics locally to businesses who need book covers, DVD covers, spiral notebooks, even binders for reports done professionally can end up getting you a lot of clients at $25 to $100 per job.

Using Photoshop to make ecovers is a challenge to learn, but once you know how to do it, you can write your own paycheck, in fact, you can make a really nice looking paycheck right in Photoshop… Just kidding.

“But how do I learn how to do that when I don’t know much about Photoshop to begin with?” Ok, I can see this is frustrating you, but take a moment and think about how powerful Photoshop is to use. Over the years, one of the best features of Photoshop is the ability to record actions and play them back for repetitive tasks.

One of my friends has created action scripts for Photoshop that make it really easy to make professional looking covers, binders, books, notebooks and even an ipod with the client’s product in the window! These 40 scripts are so professional looking that you have to look twice to make sure it isn’t a photograph of a real cover!

But this isn’t a commercial for Ben’s scripts, this is how to make money using Photoshop, so you can find some cheaper scripts out there that won’t look as good as his, but will still do the trick for your needs as an eCover designer. Make sure the scripts allow you to make the template page first, so that you can fill in the sections that you are going to be modifying on the covers to make them unique.

You take any pictures that your client may have requested (making sure that none of them are copyrighted – to avoid lawsuits) and include the title of the product, the author and any sub titles. Choose easy to read fonts, avoid Serif fonts as they can become harder to read when they are twisted or warped by the scripts. In most scripts, you have to flatten the layers back to the original ones created by the template.

Flattening layers can be done by selecting only the layers that show up in the section you are working with (like side cover or box top or whatever the name of the original layers were). You can select non-consecutive layers at the same time by holding the ctrl key. Then you go to the layers menu and select flatten layers.

Unfortunately, Photoshop will name the layer anything but the name you want it to have, so you need to rename the layer using the Layer Options menu when you right click on it and rename it in the little box to the original layer name (box top or front cover), taking care to name it exactly as it was (capitalization counts). Do this for each section and then run the second part of the script to take your artwork and turn it into a work of art!

Get your scripts before you start finding clients and practice doing this for your own sample products to have something to show new clients, to give yourself a chance to become familiar with the scripts and what they can and can’t do. If you take a few days, and invest a little bit in yourself, you can find yourself making a good living helping others make their products sell better!

Graphic Design Classes Teach Cutting Edge Techniques

As the world becomes more technologically advanced, images and messages must change from traditional paper and ink printed texts to digital imagery and computer generated graphics. Keeping current with ever-changing methods of communication and advertising is the only way businesses and industries can compete. Consumers demand attractive methods for grabbing their attention. Therefore, employers hire graphic design professionals to meet this need, and as a result, employment opportunities for artists and designers are dramatically increasing. The most proficient designers prove their worth and credibility by completing classes at the college level.

Completing graphic design classes is a must for anyone who likes to work with commercial graphics. In these classes, you learn techniques using digital graphics, computer imaging and production so this knowledge can be applied to your job designing advertising for print and web media or for use in the film industry. In one class, Computer Graphic Illustration, develop digital drawing skills for publishing items in print, the Web or other media. You learn to draw using a vector-based drawing system. This enables you to create technical illustrations, diagrams, logos, cartoons, clip art and complex geometric patterns. As a designer, take the drawing and import it to other media software such as motion graphic designs, digital graphic or 3D software.

The course Digital Imaging Processing teaches skills using Adobe Photoshop. Become proficient in graphic and web design using digital illustrations. Create texture and bump maps for 3D models or animation and learn photo restoration. Take your study with 3D a step further when you enroll in Computer Animation Processing. Using the program Maya, you build digital models and hone your craft in 3D animation and software.

Perhaps you want to develop a 3D movie; classes such as Motion Graphics help achieve this personal goal. Study how to develop visual effects for film, video, DVD and the Web. Learn to integrate these skills among various computer software programs to produce high quality work and the movie you want. If 3D is not your first love, perhaps the course Interactive Media Design is more appealing. Plan and create animation using Adobe Flash Player. Create movies and banner ads as well as interactive presentations and websites to post to the World Wide Web. No matter your choice, a design class can teach you the art of digital visual effects and animation.

Other graphic design classes teach how to create and build a website. Develop a website and use an HTML table for webpage layouts. Learn to update and manage websites with file transfer protocol, FTP.

During your coursework, be prepared to build relationships and networks with other students while in the design lab. Here you can work collaboratively on projects, ask for or offer guidance to others. These relationships that you build can make you a better student and designer and aid in future employment opportunities. Working with various people gives you the chance to develop lasting connections that can remain with you throughout your career as a graphic designer.

With a graphic designing career, you enter an exciting and constantly changing field. No other time in history has technology played such a vital role in communication throughout the world. These classes will prepare you to participate, and possibly change, a part of history.

Designing Your Graphic Design Portfolio

When you start working, your great graphic design portfolio is going to help you land that great job. Your portfolio represents your skill and artistry, so put it together carefully because your artwork is going to speak for you.

Sort through all the work you have done – paid or unpaid, including design school assignments – and select the best work. Be critical here and take help from friends or professors to get an unbiased view. Leave out your not-so-great efforts, because it’s better to show 10 samples that range from excellent to good, rather than 20 to 30 samples which may include artwork that is passable or so-so.

Let your portfolio begin with your very best design and let the final artwork be your second best design. This way, you not only kick off with a strong impression, but you also leave your potential employer with another strong impression as his last memory of your artwork.

Graphic design is found in printed materials, on the web and on CDs and DVDs, so to make a complete graphic design portfolio, include samples of your work in all three media.

Quite a few clients need printed artwork, so select your best designs including as many different projects as you can to show off all your skills.

Include, for example, letterheads and calling cards, your best logos, any CD or album covers that you may have designed, a completed campaign, brochures, designs for paint boxes or toothpaste tubes, posters and banners, newspaper or magazine advertisements, labels, postcards – a wide-ranging selection of your work, you understand? Include a few pieces that you have really excelled at, like a random artwork or photographic study showing your Photoshop skills. The best of each project should give you 10 to 15 samples, just enough to interest a client without overwhelming him. Mount your artworks well on a neutral coloured sheet to show them off to their best advantage. Use a professional looking portfolio case to carry your samples. A case that allows you to add and remove leaves is a good idea, because then you use only as many leaves as you need to display your work.

A website portfolio is practically a necessity, with the internet being almost the main vehicle of communication, information, and most buying and selling today. Having a website in your own name not only makes you look professional, it also gives you an email address @yourownname.com.

Keep the website design simple. A neutral color background will allow your artwork to stand out. Keep your image samples at 100kb -150kb, so that they load quickly and no one with a slow internet connection will have to wait. The navigation should be easy, and available on every page, so that the viewer can go back and forth easily. The design of your website itself will display your artistic skills and add another dimension to your graphic design portfolio.

Your CD or DVD portfolio will be a slightly different version of your website. You can use the same design and pages, if you like. The image files can be larger, since no download will be necessary and you can add a little animation to make it interesting – and display yet another skill! Again, be sure to make it easy for your client to find just what he is looking for.

Have fun putting your graphic design portfolio together. Make your portfolio, website and CD/DVD easy on the eye and interesting to go through – and your clients will enjoy seeing your work!