I get a lot of questions about how I make my homeschool printables, so I thought I’d share them with you. By the way, this also applies to my digital scrapbooking supplies.

What software program do I use to make my downloads?

  • Software: I use Photoshop Elements, or Photoshop CS3 depending on what I need to do. If you are just starting out, I find Photoshop Elements very user-friendly and great for beginners. There are TONS of free tutorials to get you started, and it’s about $80, but you can usually find sales on it if you look. Photoshop CS3 (at the time of this post they have CS5 and it is currently $699), so there’s quite a price difference!
  • Tutorials:
    • Jessica Sprague: One of my favorite tutorial sites is Jessica Sprague, she offers some free tutorials that include graphic image downloads, as well as video classes that are well worth the cost. She is a very good instructor, plus most of her classes come with great digital freebies to help complete your projects! There are also TONS of free tutorials online, just Google “Photoshop tutorials” and you’ll see what I mean.
    • TutVid! Another favorite is TutVid! These tutorials are wonderful, this guy is a Photoshop genius and shares his knowledge FREE for all us newbies! Thanks, TutVid!
    • PSDTUTS+: Another great Photoshop tutorial site.
  • Process: I have a round-about process, but it’s been working so I’m stickin’ with it! After creating the images in Photoshop, I save my Photoshop file as a JPG then insert the jpg into an MS Publisher document. (I use MS Publisher because it is part of my MS Office Suite but you could easily use any Word program.) Finally, I save that document as a PDF file (I use PDF Creator).  (You can save the PDFs right out of Photoshop, but they seem to be much larger, even if you flatten the image first, so this is just a workaround I do so they are smaller and also so I can create multiple page downloads. NOTE: If anyone knows how to create a multiple-page PDF from Photoshop, I’d love to hear how!)
  • Organization: I use ACDSee 2009 to manage all of my digital scrapbook elements as well as my images for homeschool. Although Photoshop Elements comes with an organizer, I found that once I got a certain quantity of images in it, that it was very slow and had a tendency to crash. ACDSee 2009 seems to do a better job of managing my images. Although it was fairly easy to understand, there is a “How To” class offered at Jessica Sprague for ACDSee.
  • Space! Everyone should have an external hard drive that you can back up documents on in the event of a hard drive failure or some pesky virus! PLEASE TRUST ME ON THIS! I’d have to have you lose all your fabulous creations because you didn’t ‘backup!’ You can get a fairly inexpensive USB external hard drive to give you some peace of mind, I like these:

Where do you get all of your clipart/images?

  • My Images: I draw several of my images myself using Photoshop Elements or Photoshop CS3.
  • Public Domain Clip Art: I do use some public domain clipart that I find online. I do try to be VERY careful about making sure an image I use is indeed public domain before using it though. I’d rather not worry about Copywrite laws! Most sites will have a Terms of Use that will explain what you are allowed to do with their images.
  • Microsoft Clipart: I have MS Office, so I use quite a bit of clipart from Microsoft. You don’t have to have MS Office to use their clipart though, they offer tons of clipart online.
  • Stock.xchng: This is a great site with free tutorials, photos, clipart, etc. You do have to sign up for an account before downloading any free material.
  • iStockphoto: This site is not free, but they do have an excellent array of clipart if you plan on using it.
  • Dover Clipart: These design books are wonderful resources for images! Here are several to choose from, I usually make sure to get the books with CD’s or you’ll have to scan the images!

Please let me know if you have any questions not addressed here and I’ll do my best to answer them!

For other questions such as laminating, please see my Frequently Asked Questions!


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