Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Exploration in Design

I have an opportunity to get back into something I've always enjoyed: Design.  Since I was first introduced to a computer, I've played around with making flyers, invitations, etc but lately haven't had an opportunity to play around with design as much as I'd like.  I feel like I'm starting over so I wanted to go out and see what kinds of software are available for doing some of these projects.  A quick post to twitter yielded three tools:  InDesign, Pages and Scribus.

InDesign by Adobe was the first program I tried because I knew I wanted something good and this was highly recommended by my twitter pals.  In my case, money wasn't too big of a deal, especially when I can get an educator discount on this one for 198.95 over at Academic Superstore (you have to prove you're an educator/student).  My first noticeable issue with this one is the install.  It took me about an hour to complete the download/install of the 30 day trial.  The program is definitely intensive, probably more than I need for what I'm doing but it does allow you to do a lot with design. I stared blankly for a while at the interface, figuring out quickly that I had no idea what some of the buttons did nor did I know what some of the words on the buttons meant.

This is definitely software for someone that knows a little more about design than I do.  Overall, I can see it's a great tool, but I think it may be more of one than little ol' me needs.  I felt like completing a simple task such as coloring in a circle took more knowledge than I wanted to put into it.  In the end I decided I'm still a teacher, not a professional designer and this is probably not the tool I need yet.
Check out this screenshot to see the available options and layout.

Pages is a no-brainer to at least try if you work with a Mac.  I hadn't used it in a while so diving back into it was a fairly new process for me.  I noticed the price of 19.99 for this program in the Apple App Store so the price is great.  On first glance, this program like all apple products, is easy on the eyes.  The look and feel draws you in and makes it easy to use.  In the end, however, I had some issues with shapes.  Unless I'm missing something, it just dumps the shape in the center of the page.  It took me a while to figure this out and after working with it for some time, it got to be kind of annoying.  That being said, however, if you're not getting deep into designing your own stuff, the templates are fantastic and easy to add your own information.  For what I want to do right now, I want something a little more intense so pages will probably not be my pick. 

Scribus was recommended to me as a free, open source software and silly me, thinking it would not be that great, put it off to look at last.  I was pleasantly surprised by download/install time and ease of use once I got in the program.  There were a few things I couldn't figure out on first glance, but for the most part, this program will do about everything you need it to do and it's pretty easy to use.  Most options are in a right click menu and properties show in a separate popup window.  Take a look at the basic layout of scribus noting the properties popup on the left:

When it was all said and done, the program I least expected to like might just be the program I use: Scribus.  The only thing I don't like about it is the ease of use/integration of media that all apple products have, but the photos I'll be adding arent' necessarily ones that I would want/need in my iPhoto library so I think it will be ok.  I really like the properties box in Scribus and I think the overall layout of the program works the best with the way I think and work. 

Thanks Gerlos for sharing your photo!

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