No, this is not an advert but it is a blog of acknowledgment. I had some graphic work to do that needed more power than the Paint program that comes with Windows and with Paint.net that can be downloaded free.
I’ve been exploring Aviary, which drove me up the wall ,but since I have learned to use it, I think it is fair to blog what I learned as a vote of thanks and to help the next noobe.
Free and online
Aviary is a a free, online powerful graphics editor.
Modularized and beautiful looking
Aviary is broken up into modules named after birds which is one of its irritating features ~ I could never remember which was which. It’s beautiful to look at, these are graphic designers after all, and it certainly seems that we can make beautiful creations with it. You can even sell your creations through them.
But first, we noobes have to get started. After you have joined up (all free and painless), you will find a set of modules. I used 4.
Raven is the vector image editor
Vector images, for a noobe are “not raster” and “not pixel” based. Basically, you slap down shapes and push-pull and overlay them to make sytlized images. Once you are done, you can save on Aviary for later use and export in various formats.
Pheonix is an image editor
Once again, assuming that I am speaking one-noobe-to-another, an image is a .jpg or .png file. You are used to these. These are files that you saved when you exported your vector image.
You need to understand two things here.
- First, when you save your vector image, it is now an image. You can’t go back to treating it as vector and push-and-pull its shapes around.
- Second, you use .png formats if you want transparent backgrounds. .jpg formats save solid backgrounds.
Peacock is an effects editor
Someone kindly wrote out a tutorial for me. Basically, you pick a shape, generate some kind of image, and edit it with various effects. I didn’t use it but I put the tutorial on the Aviary forum. Hope you can find it. It’s tough to find stuff there ~ no tags.
The image markup is separate from the image editor. I used it to bring in images (.png and .jpg) for cropping and rotating. I could save temporary versions of my images on Aviary and my hard drive. Then when I was done, I selected Advanced Editor and was transferred automatically to Phoenix, the image editor, without losing my image.
So what could a noobe like me achieve in Aviary?
First, be warned that this is a time-sink. This is a great program to learn if you are trapped somewhere, like an airport, with a WiFi connection and nothing to do. If you are a rank noobe, budget on 30-100 hours before you achieve very much at all.
Get your head around what the modules do for you
Second, think like this.
- Draw in Raven/vector editor by adding, pushing and pulling shapes. Save as .jpg and .png.
- Crop and flip in Image Markup.
- Mashup images and add text in Image Editor (Phoenix).
Hard learned tips
Overlap images. There is one variation to this pattern. If your images will overlap each other, you will need to treat them as shapes in the vector image where you can push them to bottom or top (as you can in Office). Or you will have to change the order of your layers in the Image Editor.
Delete backgrounds. Another useful tip is how to delete the background of an image (.jpg). Bring an image into Image editor, pick the wand, then go to Edit/Cut. The edges might be a bit rough but you can save now as .png with a transparent background and mash the cut-out bit in with other shapes or backgrounds.
Getting canvas size exactly right. When I had to mashup shapes with canvases of specific-sizes, then I found it useful to reduce an image to the right size, save it, and bring it onto a fresh transparent canvas of the right size.
Delete parts of images. Another useful edit was to bring in an image, use the color box (bottom left) and color picker (eyedropper) to match the color, go to square and enter the number manually and draw matching colored boxes over what I wanted to wipe out (like unwanted text).
What did this noobe achieve?
I found the program a little temperamental and could never figure out whether “it was me” or “it”. That said, I managed to produce a bird and edit professionally made vector images that I wanted to mashup with some text and another back ground.
Tutorials needed – let’s put them up on Aviary
If you do take this on, it would be nice to keep some notes and put a noobes tutorial on Aviary.
We all need an online graphic editor that we can use occasionally!
If you are stuck in an airport this weekend waiting for the volcano to die down, here’s your chance! Learn to draw online! You will more than pass the time.