Having made a few websites, next you need some custom graphics. Pictures of you and your staff, your office or building, a logo, your local courthouse, and some pics representing the type of law you practice. You may have already found a few decent sample graphics in the templates of the services you’ve used in previous lessons. And you probably already have some business photos of yourself or a logo of your law firm. But you still of course want to learn how to edit them, so they fit snugly in whatever web sites you make. And I’m assuming you don’t have an expensive copy of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator lying around.
Pixlr.com is widely used as a free substitute for Photoshop. If you have not used Photoshop before, stick with the express option. Browse for an image on your computer to experiment with. Then choose the adjustment button on the bottom of the screen. Practice with ensuing options like crop, resize, and contrast. Then, with the save button at the top of the screen, save your file under different names using the quality slider on the save screen to save different versions with different file sizes. This is important to make sure that you are not putting pictures on your web site that are unnecessarily huge in file size that will make your web sites load slowly for your site visitors.
If you have used Photoshop before or want to become familiar with a Photoshop-like interface, use the editor version of Pixlr at http://pixlr.com/editor. Especially try learning how layers work if you dive into the advanced editor version, because layers make it easier to organize lots of little changes to your picture. If the editor version looks too scary, ignore it and let’s play with the next tool.
You’ve edited a few photos and now you need a simple logo to put at the top of the pages on your web sites. There are many free logo makers on the web but you have to be wary. Many of the logo generators will take you through the whole process of having you create a nice logo design for yourself. Only then will they tell you either that you have to buy it in order to save it, or they will only save it for you in a tiny size or resolution, or they will put their own watermark on it (basically meaning they will paste their own logo on your logo!).
One logo generator without these restrictions is http://cooltext.com. You will see many goofy designs for your logo, but don’t be put off by the cartoonish ones. Go for the design format that’s actually called Legal at http://cooltext.com/Logo-Design-Legal. Simply put the name of your firm in the “logo text” box, change the text size or other settings to your liking, hit the “create logo” button, and you’ll be taken to a page that has your logo. Click “download image” and you can save it with no tricks.
Now you can use this logo on your web sites, or if you’re feeling ambitious you can take it to another virtual studio to work on it some more. If you’re put off by the pixlr editor, check out a simpler way to work with layers at http://kleki.com. There’s a nice help section you can get to by clicking on the question mark at the top right part of the app. Basically you just want to make a layer and import your logo to it. Then make another layer that is beneath your logo layer. On the lower layer, add a little background flair by importing a piece of clip art or painting a nice brush stroke. The help section even has videos to show you how the interface works. Now your logo has some zing!
For adding neat effects to your images, you might have come across http://pixlr.com/o-matic when you were exploring the versions of Pixlr earlier. It’s very similar to what Instagram does with photos. For even more unique effects, http://www.psykopaint.com allows you to paint filter effects on your images. This means that you can paint brush strokes on your photo, and the brush stroke will automatically take on the color of the underlying photo section. So you’re making your photo look like an oil painting, just by dragging the brush tool across it! Even better, you can use this tool on your logo to make the letters of the logo look more like someone painted the letters with paintbrush strokes. This will help give your logo a unique creative look while maintaining consistent colors.
Another tool with a Photoshop-like interface but designed for painting is http://www.queeky.com. This tool has a large number of brushes that you can use, and you can watch recorded videos of other users as they were making their artwork. Plus there is a search engine where you can search to watch specific types of paintings being made. I was actually able to find a painting of lawyer Atticus Finch being made stroke by stroke.
This was just a quick introduction to let you edit photos, make a logo and simple artwork, and then apply brushes and filters to give you a few custom graphics for your web sites. Next we’re going to be jumping into online presentations, so you can show potential clients you’re not just a pretty face and logo maker, but also the legal expert they should hire.