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Banner Design Tips

Graphic Tools

Using a graphics software is essential to banner creation. At bare minimum, you need a drawing program to create the banner and save it in the GIF format. From there, a static banner can be made more dynamic (animated) using a separate program that will string together multiple static images into one GIF file. Other special effects will require an advanced program that will likely increase the GIF file size. Finally, to combat size increase, you will need a GIF compression program.

Only a few of these programs are available free of charge. But that doesn't mean you must spend money. You can certainly get by using the free programs. If you desire better quality and greater efficiency however, you may consider a commercial product. We offer this list only for your reference. We do not endorse or have a vested interest in any of them. We recommend that you try out the demos before committing to a purchase.

The Essentials

Paint Shop Pro - This Windows95/NT shareware is a full-featured graphics program for image creation, viewing, and editing. It is ideal for beginners and people who cannot afford and/or do not require the full power of PhotoShop.

PhotoShop - This expensive commercial product is geared toward serious computer artists. It is the best graphics tool for drawing just about everything, including banners.

Net Sketch - This Windows 95/NT program guides you through creating and designing buttons, banners, logos, and illustrations of all kinds. It hones in on attributes such as fill style, edge style, shadow style, softness, transparency, position, size, skew and rotation.

Web Painter - An all-in-one web graphics and animation software. It has a fully functional free trial version which you can test out for yourself.

Ulead GIF Animator - A tool for designing, producing, and optimizing GIF animations. This program too, offers a free trial to interested viewers.

GIF Construction Set - Another tool for designing, producing, and optimizing GIF animations. Its functions are very similar to those of Ulead. Most experienced designers use either Ulead or GIF Construction, (but not both) depending on personal preferences.

AniMagic Gif Animator - Another GIF animation tool.

GIF Builder - Web freeware for Macintosh to build animations.

Other Tools

Ulead Web Utilities - Besides GIF Animator, Ulead has a collection of other utilities especially for special effects. This is a great place to look to spice up your designs!

Smart Draw Pro - Program for web graphics whose features include drag & drop drawing, automatic connecting lines between shapes, and clip-art libraries. Works with MS Office.

CDH Image Explorer - Allows for viewing and management of all image formats, including GIF animations, Photoshop specific format, and many more (nearly 50 supported formats)! Features include: format conversion among all supported formats, slideshow capabilities, image mailing, deleting, renaming, zooming, image information, image printing, etc.

Graphics Workshop Pro - Functions of this program allow you to drag & drop, convert between formats, print your graphics as hard copy, drive a scanner, decode pictures from the Internet, process and fine tune your photographs.

Movie Gear - Tool that builds GIF animations, shrinks files, resizes graphics, supports Photoshop PSD, JPEG, AVI, BMP, and GIF files. Free trial version for Windows 95/NT only.

GIF Wizard - Another GIF compression program.

GIF Lite - They will compress your GIF images free of charge. But it is done through email - expect possible delays.

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