Background: I am working as a freelance web-developer. Now, lately this has meant that I have to design a lot of graphic images, logos etc for the the websites I create.

So, are there any good resources to learn these things? And, what softwares should I ideally be learning? I have always heard about Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop being the frontrunners. Is it worth my time to learn these two 'huge' softwares?

+2  A: 

Omnigraffle is not designed for making websites but I find it really useful and good for making images for the web.

+5  A: 

I still to this day use Paint Shop Pro 7. Love it. None of the extra bloat that Corel added to it when they took over.

+4  A: 

I like Gimp for graphics

David Sykes

It looks wonderful and I would love to try it... But, I don't have a Mac! :(

And, I am looking for softwares to create just images and not whole websites!

Adhip Gupta
+21  A: 

Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard for vector image creation. Inkscape is a free open source alternative.

Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard for image creation/manipulation. The GIMP is a free open source alternative.

It's up to you as to what to buy/learn.

+14  A: 



I'd suggest playing with photoshop, it being huge isn't really a con as you never learn something like that all in one go, you learn how to do simple things in tons of babysteps, also there are a number of really great tutorial/starter books for photoshop that a simple amazon search will uncover.

+3  A: 

Omnigraffle is not a graphics package in that sense, though it rocks for doing database schema. Adobe Fireworks is the premier application for building web graphics; it combines the best features of Photoshop, ImageReady and Illustrator into one gorgeous, easy to use package specifically intended for nothing else but this. Photoshop is really hard work to use by comparison, though I know it well and it's one of my favourite apps for general design work.

Illustrator is actually a really hard application to learn properly, so I'd suggest you don't need to learn it. Although if you do, you will find you have unlocked the real power of Photoshop. But all that is more about design than about web graphics production.

+1  A: 

I have used GIMP, but the UI is terrible. So I bit the bullet and purchased Photoshop.

For vector images I think Inkscape is fantastic and hardily recommend it.

+2  A: 

Just to add in my two cents, I also heartily agree with Paint.NET and Inkscape. Both of these have served me well for quite a while now.

+1  A: 

Paint.NET is my personal favorite. It's free, very powerful, and in my opinion, much easier to use than Photoshop or GIMP.

+2  A: 

Another vote for Paint.NET. When ever Photoshop isn't available Paint.NET will come to the rescue. It users submitted file extensions make it complete allowing opening of PSD files and creation of ICO (for Favicons) etc etc

However if I'm designing for the web I tend to opt for Fireworks due to the vector nature being much more appropriate for web design imho

+1  A: 

I use illustrator to create images because my partners last employer bought her a copy of an Adobe suite and it's something I used a while back. Before that windfall I'd started to use Inkscape which is a pretty cool free software app that does lots of what illustrator does and has a good interface.

It's worth discovering what you are comfortable that makes the kind of work you want to do easy and then sticking with it. It's the guy doing the work that makes something special not the tools.


I highly recommend you download buy Adobe Photoshop. CS3 is nice but overkill.


+1 for and Gimp.

if i ever need the any of the functionality in photoshop that's not in the others, or I start doing graphics professionally then i might buy/use it, but until then, I don't need that particular 800Lb gorilla cluttering my hard drive, taking up valuable pr0n uhh mp3 space

also, keep an eye on sites like and for interesting bits and bobs

+9  A: 

Adobe Fireworks is the best way to go for any web work as far as I'm concerned. It seamlessly integrates vector capabilities with raster graphics creation (much better than photoshop). I use it not only to mock up site designs, but also to create all of my logos and images.

If you are used to PS and Illustrator the interface will throw you off at first and seem "amateurish", but once you learn it you will love it. Paint.NET is similar and somewhat comparable, but still not as good.

I only use Photoshop when I absolutely have to (complex photo editing) and I sometimes use Illustrator when I need to do complex vector work (line art logos). But as far as I'm concerned you really can't beat Fireworks (freehand was way better than Illustrator for animation work too, but that went the way of the Dodo).

always been a corel user and steered clear of adobe products but this post made me get the trial for FW--I have to say, pretty handy for certain tasks, thanks for the tip.
Dimitar Christoff
+4  A: 

Since no-one has suggested it yet, you could try Adobe Photoshop Elements before taking the plunge and laying down lots of money for CS3. Photoshop Elements has most of the Photoshop features that web-designers will need.

Also GIMP can be a little quirky to use, for a more Photoshop-like interface try GimpShop which wraps GIMP in a UI which closer reflects Photoshop.

+1  A: 

I'm going to add in here and also give a +1 for Adobe Fireworks.

From all the image editing applications that I've used, for web graphics, none come close to Fireworks.

There are some pretty good tutorials / projects on Adobe's site.

Steve Willard
+1  A: 

It depends on the kind of graphics you want to use. Inkscape or/and Adobe Illustrator for vector graphics, Photoshop or Gimp for touching up pictures, Painter or ArtRage for painting (useless without a graphic tablet)

Not that sometimes the free version is not just an ersatz of a commercial one. For example Inkscape actually offers some very nice functionalities Illustrator doesn't.

+1  A: 

Having started with GIMP and then used Photoshop and a job, I can say that GIMP is a pretty good set of training wheels for Photoshop. It doesn't do a lot of the intelligent (magic wand comes to mind) things as well as PS, but it does do them, and you can get valuable experience working with layers, transparency, and the limitations of different image formats. It has a lot of the same tools as in PS, too, so it can get a lot done.

My advice is that if you're doing graphic art enough (in other words, enough to justify spending money), spring for PS. If not, you can actually get a lot done with GIMP.

Brian Warshaw

As other voted - Photoshop for image creation, definitely among the best in the market and widely used in marketing, gaming and movies industry. Others mentioned Paint.Net and I strongly recommend that since while maintaining the same pipeline as the Photoshop, it is simpler (although have less capabilities, but it seems like you won't be acceding these soon), and the best feature - it is free and very high quality.


If you aren't tied to the windows platform there are a number of other great Graphic design solutions. and VectorDesigner come to mind.


Adobe Photoshop in any flavour possible. Mainly because I'm used to it, and doing things will be easy and fast.


I have been doing some graphic design recently using inkscape. It is a free program for drawing with vectors. I highly recomend it! :) I have had nothing but good experiences with it. If you have time I would sugjest playing with the program, and if you get stuck the "help" button is genuinely helpfull! good luck!

Crazy Comquat

I use a combination of Inkscape and Pixelmator.

Inkscape works best for vector graphics (icons, interface elements, etc) whereas Pixelmator is great for raster graphics (photos, drawing, etc).

+2  A: 

I noticed nobody been using Microsoft Expression Studio.

Because I got it for free with my MSDN subscription, I've been using it to create my graphical buttons & web headers.

The 'problem' with Expression Designer is simply that too many graphic designers are used to the Adobe suite so it's difficult for them to make the switch. It is though, pretty good for developper with minimal knowledge of graphic design.
David Brunelle
"Developper with minimal knowledge (of graphic design)" that's me.