Digital Art Made Easy

Kenneth C. Hoffman

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Everybody who likes to take pictures would love to have some of them enlarged and framed for their walls. Its very presence would give you instant satisfaction and the confidence that you, do have an artistic bone in your body after all. A casual perusal of you snapshots, however, might lead you to believe that not one of these snapshots are good enough for the wall. Now, just for a moment, make believe that you could change anything you don’t like about a picture of yours and that you could match that image to the image in your mind. You can - with the help of a scanner and a photo enhancement program. Of course, if you have a digital camera, you don’t even need a scanner.

There are four basic levels of photo software. Freebee programs meant only to crop, change the color balance, and fix red eye in your pictures. A middle quality program uses a macro to change shapes, improve sharpness, and offer some filters for creating a few special effects, like crude oil paintings or black and white charcoal effects. The next step up often will cost $30.00 to $50.00, but will include all the basic tools you need to create a proud-to-display masterpiece. Micrografx (now Corel) Picture Publisher presents six sizes of paint brushes, an air brush, pastel chalks and colored pencils. You can change the size of your picture, crop it any way you want, and take advantage of dozens of filters which simulate real art textures like water color on parchment paper, palette knife paintings, etc. Turn white skies into blue skies with fleecy clouds, soften some of Grandma’s wrinkles or remove a garbage can from an otherwise perfect picture. A cloning tool permits the addition of outside elements, skin retouching, background cleaning and the filling in of empty spaces. A magic cropping knife can isolate a subject, move it onto another background and let you move the objects in your picture around at will, like decoppage, creating a whole new world of graphic manipulation.

The top of the line is Adobe Photoshop and its competitors. This program is considered professional software, costing $300 to $700. The basic tools are the same, but many more levels of manipulation are offered. The dozens of filter you used with Picture Publisher have multiplied but keep in mind that dozens of filters and effects can still be utilized by both programs through plug-in filter software. A two week course is recommended in order to learn how to use the Adobe program effectively while the Picture Publisher help boxes are considered sufficient instruction for most people.

Your finished artistic creations can be saved in computer albums against the time you need a nice graphic for decorating an article or for an artistic card. They can be put on tee shires, mugs, calendars, Holiday Cards, stationary, post cards and business cards. Wall enlargements up to 13 x 19 are easily produce with a Hewlett Packard 1220 Deskjet printer or an Epson printer. Both are available with archival inks lasting over 60 years without fading. But the most of the enjoyment comes from the creating!

As a retiree, I can take any pictures I want.

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