You don’t have to get hung up on software yet at this stage in the game. The graphic design principals I’m teaching here apply whether you’re using Adobe InDesign like the big wigs or Microsoft Word. It’s up to you whether you want to spend a ton of money, or no money. However, there are some things you should be aware of.
Microsoft Publisher is going to be the obvious choice for many people simply because of its availability. Many people already have it on their computers at work and/or home. Publisher is not really graphic design software but it will get you started.
The software seems to work best when you use the templates provided. It also works much like Microsoft Word, which most people are already familiar with. Just promise me you won’t use the cheesy templates. People can tell, trust me.
Obviously, Microsoft Word is for word processing but it now has plenty of graphic features as well. Just beware of the hokiness factor. Microsoft word clip art? A sure sign you’re a total rookie. I can also spot most templates a mile away. Of course, there are other limitations with using word processing programs for graphic design but knowing basic design principles is half the battle.
Let’s face it, the program is made for on-screen applications, not print. I have had people bring PowerPoint files into the print shop I used to work at and we had no way to print the files in a manner that actually looked good. The resolution (quality) was too low for print.
However, if you’re actually going to be giving an on-screen presentation, I give it the green light. Again, just beware of those templates!
Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Illustrator & Photoshop)
The basic Adobe Creative Suite includes InDesign for desktop publishing, Illustrator for drawing graphic images and Photoshop for creating special effects and editing photos. The Adobe Creative Suite (CS) has taken over the market and is what a lot of people are using these days. The Creative Suite is also my graphic design software of choice. But unless you’re a student, it’s not going to be cheap.
Quark Xpress (comparable to InDesign)
I call Quark “Quirk,” but maybe that’s just because I’m partial to InDesign. Quark reigned supreme as the standard page layout software for many years and many people still use it. If you have access to it, by all means, use it, it’s professional design software!
However, it isn’t what I would recommend. QuarkXPress is expensive and you’ll get more bang for your buck with the Adobe Creative Suite.
Free (Open Source) Programs
In today’s day and age, what is called “open source” software has become a viable option. Have I used these free graphic design programs? I have to admit that I haven’t. But they’re free! If you don’t have the cash for professional design software like the Adobe Creative Suite, I would say it’s certainly worth a try. Listed below are recommendations for the best free software found online.
Scribus: Desktop Publishing – compare to Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress (Win/Mac/Linux) http://sourceforge.net/projects/scribus/files/
Inkscape: Vector image editor/creator – compare to Adobe Illustrator. (Win/Mac/Linux) http://inkscape.org/download/
Gimp: Bitmap image editor/creator – compare to Adobe Photoshop. (Win/Mac/Linux) http://www.gimp.org/downloads/
Adobe Illustrator CS2– free version : http://www.techspot.com/downloads/5724-adobe-illustrator-cs2-free.html
Adobe Photoshop CS2– free version : http://www.techspot.com/downloads/3689-adobe-photoshop-cs2.html