Web Image Editing
Do Choosy Mothers Really Choose
This aspect of design is in some ways much
simpler than it would seem, provided you have access to the
right tools. It also has a very significant impact on the
impression your pages create, as casual browsers are a lot
more tuned into the overall look and feel of things than the
text content and details of quality graphic design.
The two primary concerns when planning and
designing web graphics are file size and color rendering.
We're not going to get in-depth here (check out our recommended
links instead) but in a nutshell, the trick is to choose the
file type that will keep file sizes small while maintaining
There are three common file types used for
images on the web: GIF (Graphics
Interchange Format), JPEG
(Joint Photographic Experts Group), and PNG
(Portable Network Graphics).
The Practical Basics:
Especially suited to solid blocks of color in logos and other
graphic elements. GIF's allow transparency, animation, and
excellent compression of file sizes provided the palette is
in a web-safe color range. Not well suited to photos or complex
gradients, as the "dithering" of the 256 colors
used in GIF's will create splotchy or spotty images when used
for these sorts of images.
Especially suited to photographs, JPEG's can display over
16 million colors. JPEG's don't support transparency or animation.
When compressed intelligently and with the right software,
an excellent balance between file size and image quality can
be achieved. If poorly compressed, images will look scrunchy
or rippled at the edges of contrasting colors or bright and
Originally designed as a replacement for GIF's to battle some
"copyfight" issues, PNG's also utilize a 256 color
palette, but achieve better compression, better gamma correction
(cross-platform rendering of image brightness), and more sophisticated
transparency. They do not support multiple-image animation.
Unfortunately, Microsoft seems to have no interest in supporting
PNG's in Internet Explorer, so their best features are slow
to gain recognition. Most of these features work in FireFox,
Safari, and other browsers, however.
There's More To Life Than Photoshop
For web imaging there are several tools
that are actually a lot more productivity-oriented than Photoshop,
which of course remains the pervasive and obviously sophisticated
choice for advanced image editing.
Especially if you opt to not install some of its consumer-oriented
features like album-creation and photo sharing, PhotoImpact
presents a streamlined and relatively intuitive interface
that makes for quick editing of existing files for the web.
It also has a very adequate set of features for new image
creation, including 3D objects and text, but is not especially
suited to print graphics. It is usually available for under
As well as plugging in nicely with Dreamweaver, Fireworks
provides excellent compression results, works nicely when
"image-slicing", and has a very intuitive interface