How Really Useful are the Photoshop Tutorials Online?

If you’re interested in graphic designing or Photoshop, you have probably seen some of the many Photoshop tutorials that float around the web. Some are posted on private blogs, others on forum and still others on websites devoted specifically to Photoshop tutorials. Wherever they are posted, there are some important common features. All tutorials will, as the name implies, teach you how to do something in Photoshop that you might not have known before, or how to do something old in a new way.

How useful are Photoshop tutorials?

It isn’t just the newbies who benefit from Photoshop tutorials — people of all skill levels can read and learn. Because of the immense complexity of the program, it is difficult to learn how to do absolutely everything the program is capable of, so most designers tend to specialize. They develop their own routines for doing common tasks and become set in their ways. This can sometimes mean missing an opportunity to do something new and creative, or save time doing something a new way.

The very nature of graphic design changes constantly. There are always new shortcuts invented or discovered, and if you want to keep your job or hobby skills tuned up, you have to stay in touch with the new trends. Learning new things is also just plain fun!

Which is better: a video or a written tutorial?

Depending on what type of learner you are, either a video tutorial or a written tutorial might help you more. Some people like to follow along graphically and have the reassurance of knowing they’re doing exactly what they should be doing at this step; for them, video tutorials work best. Others enjoy the process of discovery that comes with following a written tutorial, or simply don’t like to watch videos, so they prefer written tutorials. Do you get what you paid for, or are free tutorials fine? Some tutorials can be found for free, while you have to pay to access others. People’s opinions vary on this subject, and you might prefer one or the other for your own reasons.

Those who support free tutorials argue that information and knowledge should be kept free, and there is probably a free version of any paid tutorial anyway. Others believe that paid tutorials are a better way to go. They say that when you pay for a tutorial, you pay for the expertise behind it, and it’s true that paid tutorials tend to be, on average, better-quality than free tutorials. If you are a professional designer, you might want to carefully consider where you get new knowledge from. If you get a better-quality education from paid tutorials, it might end up paying off.

Photoshop tutorials are a great way to learn about different Photoshop techniques. Even if you consider yourself a pro, few people can possibly master absolutely everything in Photoshop, so great is the program’s potential. By following Photoshop tutorials, you could learn how to do something you had never thought of before!


Upgrading your Graphics Card for Improved Performance

Upgrading a graphics card can provide a tremendous performance boost to your PC experience. A new graphics card provides a far greater performance increase for graphics and design work than any other component in your computer, including the processor, as the heavy loads are now lifted by the GPU and not the CPU. The graphics card is like a computer in itself, complete with its own processor and memory.

Placing a new graphics card into a PC which is already four years old can still yield amazing results in games. If your computer is much older, however, it may significantly hold back the performance of a new graphics card. For those who have never upgraded a computer, tampering with the system’s internals may seem a bit daunting. The reality is however, that upgrading a graphics card is a simple process that can normally be done in half an hour or less.

1. Choose the Right Graphics Card. Choose a graphics card that is compatible with your system. The system requirements can be found on the box of any graphics card. Make sure that you have the correct interface available (such as PCI-Express) and a good enough power supply to run the new graphics card. Be sure to check operating system requirements as well as any other hardware requirements.

You may also want to stick with the same brand as your existing graphics chip. If you already have a dedicated graphics card, this will either be nVidia or ATI. Before you purchase anything, shortlist some products within your budget range. Read some reviews on the Internet to help you decide which upgrade to go for.

2. Uninstall the Existing Graphics Card Drivers. Boot up into Windows and remove the existing graphics card drivers and any associated software. The process will vary slightly depending on your current setup. If you have a CD which came with the original graphics card, use this and go through any on-screen process to uninstall the existing drivers. The best way to ensure removal of the existing drivers is to go to ‘Uninstall a program’ in the control panel underneath the ‘Programs’ section in Windows.

In Windows XP, go to ‘Add and Remove Programs’ in the control panel. Go through the list and find your graphics card drivers. If you have an nVidia card, it will be under something like ‘nVidia drivers’. If you have ail ATI graphics card, it will be under something like ‘ATI Catalyst drivers’.

If you have an onboard graphics card, this will need to be disabled by going into the BIOS. To access the BIOS, restart your machine and press the correct key to enter setup. Normally this is F2 or Del. The computer should tell you which key to press when you switch on the system. Once you get into the BIOS, you should be able to find a section entitled ‘Integrated Peripherals’ or something similar. Within this section, you should find ail option that allows you to enable or disable onboard graphics or video. If you are having difficulty finding this, refer to the manual for your computer’s motherboard.

3. Install the New Graphics Card. Turn off and unplug your computer. Remove the case cover. If you have an existing graphics card, this will need to be removed first. The graphics card is what the monitor plugs into in the back of the computer. Remove the screw that holds the card in place and gently remove it. Simply slot the new card in, making sure that it is securely fitted.

Replace the screw to attach the graphics card bracket to the back of the case. Most modem graphics cards also require an extra supply of power. There will be one or two six pin sockets on the side of the card which need to have PCI-Express cables from the power supply connected to them. Locate and connect these cables. Once you have done this replace the case cover.

4. Install the New Drivers. Start up the computer. It should boot up as normal. Once you get to the login screen, the resolution will probably be very low and the display quality will be poor. This is perfectly normal. You just need to install the drivers for the new card for it to work correctly. To do this, simply go through the driver installation process from the CD that came with your graphics card. Better still, go to the website of the manufacturer of the new graphics card and download updated drivers. Once the new drivers have been installed, restart the computer.

How to Share Photos and Images in Forums

No matter what subject your favorite online forum discusses, you’ll probably want to share a photo or two with the rest of the members. If you’re a group of cat lovers, you’ll want to post pictures of your fur baby. If you’re all into cars, you’ll want to show off your classic Mustang. The only problem is that you don’t know a fast, easy way to share your favorite photos with the other forum members. That’s about to change.

Uploading and sharing your pictures takes just a couple of minutes—and won’t cost you anything. One of the most important things to know is the forum’s protocol for sharing photos. Every forum owner has his or her own preferences. You need to follow these rules so that you’ll continue to be a welcome part of the online community. Pay attention to things like size requirements, appropriate subject matter and what means of posting the forum owner prefers (some want you to embed the photo in your post; others prefer an external link).

Once you’re familiar with these rules, pick the pictures that you’re most interested in sharing. Make sure that you have backup copies of these images before you do anything. That way, you won’t lose anything if something goes wrong. A routine backup every few weeks or so is a good idea even if you don’t modify your photos, as a computer crash will take out your files. Not many forums let you upload to their site directly from your computer.

This method stores the image files on the forum’s server. That will take up a lot of valuable space that’s better used on other things — like archiving past forum posts. Instead, you can upload your pictures to an online photo service. Photobucket and Image Shack are two popular examples of these sites. After you sign up, you can create a photo album. In many cases other users can view these images if you send them the URL. This is a quick, easy way to share your photos with everybody on the forum. All you have to do is create a clickable link directly to the photos that you want to share. The other readers will take care of the rest (clicking, mostly).

An even better way to share your pictures is to embed them in your forum posts. This is easy to do. Go to the message composition (or message reply) page. You should see a button on the control panel that lets you create an “img” link. Click on this once to open that code. Now copy the URL of the photo that you want to share and paste that into the message window. Close the tag and preview your post. If all has gone well, you should see your image right there in the forum.

One courteous thing to do is to resize your photos at some point before you share them with other forum members. You can resize the files with an image editing program like Paint Shop Pro. And if you don’t want to spend any money on software, The GIMP is a legally-free alternative. Just resize your image, upload to the online storage site and share as usual.

Many people, however, aren’t familiar with image editing programs. Others just don’t want to put that much effort into editing their digital images. If you’re one of those people, look for a storage site that lets you resize the images you’ve already uploaded. Some sites even give you labeled defaults so that you don’t have to put much work into figuring out the right sizes for your forum-bound photos. Just click on the appropriate size and let the site do the rest of the work.

Another thing to remember is that many people are still using dial-up Internet access. You should keep your photo posting to a reasonable level — say, two or three resized images at the most per thread — to make sure that these users will be able to enjoy the forum as much as you do. If you still aren’t sure of what you’re doing, you should search the forum for answers. Typically, somebody before you has had the same problem. He or she probably created a thread about the issue, and received help. If you use the forum’s “search” feature to find this thread and follow the advice, you’ll save yourself the time and trouble of creating a new thread and then waiting for replies.

Sharing your favorite images and photos with other people on online forums and sites is easier than you might think, especially nowadays. Just follow the above tips to get started.