Draw and Scan
Start with a scanner. From that one little flat box with a glass screen you can create web graphics from your own freehand drawings and even take it farther and make scanner art.
One of the best geekery tools I have bought myself is the small (photo-sized) HP scanner. I splurged on it when I was having a tough day and wanted a pick-me-up, retail therapy. I love the scanner. I knew it would be a great thing for making art. but It’s even better than I expected. You can do more with a scanner than just scan photos.
I’m an amateur when it comes to drawing. I’m not far beyond the whole ASCII art and stick figure stage. However, there are so many things you can do with coloured pencils, gel pens, and different kinds of paper too. You don’t have to draw like an expert to create something unique, colourful and usable. Practice drawing, study some how-to guides for techniques and you will get better at it.
I always draw freehand. People who draw better than I do will start with shapes and sketches, the way most drawing guides and tutorials will show you. I don’t know why I’m so stubborn about sticking to freehand. But, I do like it.
Making Scanner Art
I also clip things out of magazines, sales flyers and the newspaper. The trick with using something you have cut out is to give it a white background. If you add a plain white sheet of paper behind the clipped out picture you will have a much easier time making use of it later. Plus, fewer of your jagged/ cut edges show.
Try placing more than one image (hand drawn and/ or clipped images) on the scanner, like a collage. Experiment and put them in different order, overlap some of them. You can always re-scan the image if you don’t like the first results.
You can add more to your scan than flat paper. I’ve taken everything out of my purse and put that on the scanner, artfully arranged and mildly edited. Have a look at the links to scanner art for some really unique ideas. Real scanner art doesn’t use a camera but often looks that good. It should be right off the scanner too, not touched up with the extra effects which I do when I turn my scans into web graphics.
Keep the window of your scanner clean. Check it for spots of dust or ink from your pens. Anything on that glass will show up on your scan. I use a soft cloth, the microfibre type made for dusting computer screens, so it won’t scratch the glass on my photo scanner.
Resize your Image and Add Text and Special Effects
Once you have your picture or drawing scanned you need to open it in a graphic program to finish it off. Mainly you will want to re-size it and save it to a file type that will work on the web. You can also add text to turn your image into a button, icon or blog header. If you really want to get into designing look at the special effects and other options included with your graphic software.
I used to like the graphic program that came with MS FrontPage, it was simple and straight forward. Now I run Ubuntu Linux (instead of Windows). I’ve started using Gimp and trying various web image editors. Most of the web image editors will give you the basic features you need to turn your image into a web graphic.
Now that your image is scanned and resized, and you have saved it to an image file (.png, .jpg or .gif), it is now an official image. You can load it to anything you like: your blog, your personal site, an email signature, an avatar for your profile, a blog header, any where you can use an image. Images can be tiled for a background or wallpaper. The trick is to measure your image so the pattern matches up.
So, there’s the story of my web graphic ability.
Scanner Art (Scanography)