In my last post, I talked about why and how to resize images to the optimum size for your website. For this article, I wanted to take a step back, and talk about the best ways to actually get images to use on your site.
Sure, there are many sites to find stock images online. These vary from free (which are generally lower-quality) to paid stock images (generally higher quality). These sites are perfect for quickly sourcing images for your website and blog, but sometimes you might not be able to find the exact thing you have in mind, or you want a more unique image that nobody would have used before.
Below are some of my ideas for creating your own website images:
1. Digital camera
This one sounds obvious, but how many of us actually carry around a digital camera wherever we go? You can be on the lookout for interesting textures, patterns, and objects as you go about your daily business.
While not as good quality as a standalone digital camera, every smartphone has the capability to snap a picture. And the best camera is the one you have with you! Luckily, your images don’t need to be high quality to use on the web. And there are loads of cool photography apps to make your pictures look more unique. Try Instagram, Hipstamatic and PictureShow to get you started.
3. Screen grab
Sometimes, you might be blogging about something you’ve seen online, you might be writing a tutorial to demonstrate how to do something with software, or you want to capture your friend’s funny expression on your Skype call. A quick and easy trick that everyone should know is how to capture a screen grab (or screen capture).
If you’re using a Mac, take a screen grab of the whole screen with the key combination Command-Shift-3. Or, use Command-Shift-4 to take a grab of a selected area of the screen. To grab a whole window, use Command-Shift-4, then when you see the crosshairs hit the Space bar, then click the little camera on the window you want to grab.
If you’re using a Windows computer, hit the Print Screen key to copy a screen grab to the clipboard, then open an image editing program and paste the image in. To capture just the active window, hold Alt before hitting Print Screen.
4. Creative websites
Websites such as Polyvore and Pinterest also have potential for creating web images. Put together an outfit on Polyvore, then save the resulting composite image to use on your blog. Or, capture a snapshot of your Pinterest boards using the screen grab methods outlined above.
Another way of getting interesting images, patterns, and textures onto your computer is through using your scanner. You might have newspaper or magazine clippings, hard copies of photographs, objects, or books that you can scan and edit with your computer to upload to your website. Which brings me to…
6. Image editing software
Learning how to use an image editing software package, such as Adobe Photoshop, will catapult your images to the next level of professionalism. Learning how layers work opens up a world of collage. Learning about removing dust and scratches from old photos makes them come alive. Some of these packages can be quite daunting at first, but there is a wealth of information online to learn them. Try doing a Google search for the particular effect you want to achieve, or look on YouTube for video tutorials.
7. Vector graphics software
As with image editing software, knowledge of how to use a vector graphics software package, such as Adobe Illustrator, opens up a new world of image creation. These programs allow you to create illustrations and scalable vector images to use in your blogs. Try tracing a photograph to create a stylised version of it, or drawing a quick line drawing to get your idea across. As with image editing software, look online for tutorials and other help to learn how to use this type of program.
So there are some of my ideas for creating your own web images. Please share your own ideas in the comments!