How to Use Raster-Based Software with WordPress
The two most common raster-based graphic software programs used byWordPress designers are Photoshop and PaintShop Pro. Although these programs have vector capabilities as well, they aren’t known as vector-editing programs, and their vector capabilities are somewhat limited. When you work with raster images, you need at least one of these two programs in your arsenal to create your designs.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Available from Adobe Systems, which has several graphics programs and design software suites, Photoshop is the most popular software for raster images, and Illustrator is the most popular software for working with vector images. Everything you need is available online via the Creative Cloud from Adobe. The cost for a new member is $49.99 per month, but there are a variety of other plans that may also suit your needs.
With graphic and web designers using Photoshop, the most popular format is a PSD file. A PSD file is a single image file with multiple layers that contain complex image effects and text layers that compose a full image. PSD files are often used and developed to create full website designs.
You can lay out an entire design look for a web page in one file, and then using different layers and elements, you can create one, flat raster image for use in the overall design.
On the bottom-right side on the Layers tab are several layers that compose the file. You can open a PSD file anytime to change or edit any of the graphics, and then save the graphic as a single file in JPG, PNG, or GIF formats to use on the web.
You can add several tools (developed by either Adobe or third-party developers) to the Photoshop software to help you create effects and elements for your graphic design, including
Plugins: These small add-on programs created by Adobe, or third-party developers, add new features and effects to Photoshop, such as the array of Photoshop plugins available from Alien Skin.
Brushes: These small graphics created by Adobe, or third-party designers, give you some great effects to use with the Paintbrush tool in Photoshop.
Patterns and textures: These small graphic files created by Adobe, or third-party designers, give you interesting textures and pattern effects to use in your graphic design.
Photoshop is also well-known for its built-in tools for editing and enhancing photographs. Many photographers use Photoshop for this purpose, and as a web designer, you can also take advantage of the photo-editing tools in Photoshop to enhance and optimize photographs for your website designs.
Corel PaintShop Pro
Available from Corel, well-known for its suite of graphic-editing and photo-manipulation software, is the PaintShop Pro X5 image and photo-editing software available for purchase and download. PaintShop Pro is available for download as a single product ($49.99), or as part of the larger Paint Shop Pro X5 Ultimate software suite that bundles several digital image, photo-editing, and design products ($59.99). Currently, Corel PaintShop Pro is available only for Windows.
A compression level of 10 has been applied to the photo. This amount of compression is a good trade-off between reducing the file size and retaining much of the original image quality. PaintShop Pro allows you to preview the compressed image before you save it, so you can decide whether or not you like how much compression you’ve added, and can adjust if needed.
PaintShop Pro makes several add-on tools and utilities available to extend the capabilities of the program, enabling you to increase its feature set for methods and techniques you can use to create and edit images, including
Plugins: These add-on programs developed by Corel or third-party developers extend the features of the program. Photoshop has plugins as well, and you can use those plugins with PaintShop Pro because they’re compatible.
Masks and tubes: These small image files created by Corel or third-party designers give you some different image effects and graphics you can use in your designs.
Brushes and textures: These small image files created by Corel or third-party designers allow you to add different effects and elements to your design work.
Which is better for raster-based image files, Photoshop or PaintShop Pro? Both are good for different cases; however, Photoshop is the most popular mainly because it’s available for Windows and Mac, whereas PaintShop Pro is available only for Windows.
Also, with Photoshop, you can create layered PSD files for full website designs, whereas with PaintShop Pro, you can’t (but you can edit them, with some limitations). Of course, Photoshop is much more expensive, so if price is a big consideration for you, you may want to opt for the more affordable PaintShop Pro.