Beginner with CS4, where to start?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by Joemero, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. Joemero macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2009
    I ordered Adobe CS4 Web Premium and plan on taking the tutorials on My goal is to become a freelance web & graphic designer. I was wondering in which order I should take the tutorials in order to learn the quickest and most efficient way: DW, PS, IL, FL ?? I'm thinking IL & PS, DW, FL, because as soon as I start the DW tutorials, it's all about adding content, headers, banners, buttons, badges...etc. and I feel that being proficient in IL & PS will help me get the ball rolling quicker. How about Fireworks? Suggestions?
  2. mofunk macrumors 68020


    Aug 26, 2009
  3. Joemero thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2009
    How about after photoshop? Any other suggestions?
  4. TheOnlyJon macrumors 6502a


    Jul 25, 2009
    Take every Photoshop tutorial you can get your hands on. Text effects, general effects...these will all acclimate you to the tools and will aid future projects when you're trying to visualize the steps it will take to produce a certain effect.

    Do not think that Illustrator and Photoshop are the same - in fact, they are far from it. While many hotkeys are the same, the way you manipulate objects that you create is entirely different. Biggest and best pointer: DO NOT FEAR THE PEN TOOL! It is NOT as hard as people make it out to be. It takes some finagling to get used to but it is very powerful and can produce stunning results.

    Dreamweaver can be learned in one of two ways: the code perspective, or the design perspective. That is, you can create a webpage in Dreamweaver solely in the design tab and inserting tables, editing their properties with the properties editor, and adding content. That's fine and dandy. OR you can do a combination of design and code work. Create a map in the design tab and then fine-tune in the code. This will take a good knowledge of HTML, but it's pretty straightforward once you get past learning the syntax and basic keywords. A good way to learn web-coding if you don't already know it is to go to your favorite website, then, depending on your browser, view the source code. In Safari, go to View -> View Source. Look at the code side-by-side with the site and see how elements are graphically laid out with the code.

    As far as Flash goes, I can't really say much - I don't really know it all that well. I need to learn ActionScripting...But don't think that you absolutely NEED Flash to create a kick-butt website - CSS and Javascript are your friend. But that's a whole 'nother chapter. ;)

    As far as the order in which you should approach learning the software bundle, I would DEFINITELY say Photoshop first. Master it. Once you do that, turning a web template that you create in Photoshop into a working site is as simple as slicing and saving (you'll learn this on Lynda...I've seen those tutorials before and they're GREAT for beginners such as yourself). There are plenty of established web design firms that produce stunning content with just Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and CSS/Javascript - as I said, don't rush into Flash. That's the cheese on the burger. You'll be just fine without it, but it is nice to have it once in a while. As far as Illustrator goes, it will be great for creating logos and other branding materials, but in my experience (most recent site, I find that I RARELY use Illustrator when creating a web design.

    HOWEVER, since you did say you're interested in becoming a freelance graphic designer, that's another can o' worms. Illustrator should be the FIRST thing that you learn. Corporate branding simply cannot be done in a non-vector format. I can say from experience that 99.9% of the time the client will want their logo/letterhead/business card/poster/packaging/vehicle wrap in VECTOR format. Vector should scream Illustrator. If this is the path you're most interested in pursuing, exit out of Photoshop and learn Illustrator. Don't get me wrong, you'll need both, but Illustrator is much more important.

    So it's a decision on your part. Web or graphics? It doesn't have to be a decision at all - I do both and have been successful in both areas for many years (just turned 20). But when it comes to the question as to what to learn first, ask yourself that question. Don't do little-by-little. Immerse yourself and master it, and you'll find the others are more easily learned as well.
  5. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I don't understand why anyone would just outright "buy" such an expensive program without knowing even just a little how to work it.

    I do have a coupon for the app. :D
  6. TheOnlyJon macrumors 6502a


    Jul 25, 2009
    The thought had crossed my mind as well jess, but I was hoping he didn't pay for it, got an insanely good deal, or purchased through an educational package. I got the Master Collection through where I work (although I had the Design Premium before...legit copy, too. My dad works for a university).
  7. Joemero thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2009
    I'm an MBA student, so I bought the whole thing (Web Premium) for only $349. I'm also pretty aware of what I want to do and what software I need to accomplish what I want to do, I was just asking if there was a preferred order in learning it. ;)
  8. Joemero thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2009
    TheOnlyJon: Great advice, this cleared up a lot of things, Web is my priority right now, so Photoshop is where I'll start. Thanks!
  9. Joemero thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2009
    Web Premium or Design Premium

    There's a backorder on the Adobe CS4 Web Premium I ordered and I can either wait it out or buy Design Premium which is in stock at my university bookstore. For web & graphic design, should I just go get Design Premium instead, or wait out for Web Premium. I think the only difference is that I would get Indesign CS4 instead of Contribute and Soundbooth. I don't plan on working on a network with others so I don't see how Contribute could "contribute" to my cause. What do you all think, is Indesign a pretty good tradeoff?
  10. TheOnlyJon macrumors 6502a


    Jul 25, 2009
    Just go ahead and get the Design Premium. From what it sounds like, you want to focus on graphics and InDesign will be very beneficial to have if/when a project calls for magazine layout or something similar.

    Go for the Design Premium.
  11. jdesign macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2008
    for web, learn:
    - photoshop and dreamweaver at the same time
    - illustrator last.
    - flash is a different game so i suppose once you know enough about creating a website, you can decide if you still want to learn flash

    Graphic design:
    - indesign & photoshop at the same time, and a little bit of illustrator would help

    I work as a graphic designer, my company subscribed to and i learned my coding from .. so you are in the right track .. Good luck
    note: don't choose the dreamweaver training there. i think i chose to "learn css for designer " and it's great to start you web knowledge
  12. macrumors member

    Oct 4, 2006

    I'd say this. Learn XHTML first. That way you will get a basic understanding on what you can do with webcoding. Then continue to CSS. CSS and XHTML in in theory all you need to know to make a website. And DONT USE DREAMWEAVER! I used Dreamweaver in the beginning but the app is so bloated and full of stuff you will never use! A real web designer always uses code-view only. Today i use Coda, its far superior to DW since it doesn't have 5000000 features that you won't need anyways, it only has the features you need.

    Then learn the design part. Begin learning basic photoshop, then start drawing layouts. If you wan't to design logos, learn Illustrator.

    Now you can make basic and good looking websites. Continue mastering XHTML, CSS, PS and Illustrator (1 year or so).

    Then continue to learning PHP/MySQL and Flash.

    Thats what ive done and its worked brilliant.
  13. Joemero thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2009
    Any suggestions where the best place to learn XHTML and CSS?
  14. IBradMac macrumors 68000


    Jun 27, 2008
    #14 has some great books avail.
  15. moderniste macrumors member

    May 7, 2005
    I was going to give more conventional advice, but with hindsight being 20/20, I'm recommending this:

    1. Flash. The tutorials on Lynda will have you up and running quickly. Flash is self-sufficient, you could make a reasonably interesting site even if Flash were the only thing you knew. Simple Flash sites pay better than simple html sites, and the experience with vectors will give you a head start on Illustrator. You could even do logos in Flash if you really needed to.

    2. Photoshop. Because you must know Photoshop, for everything. Deke's 'One on One' series on Lynda is a good place to start.

    3. XHTML/CSS + a CMS like Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla or a shopping cart. Handcode in Dreamweaver, skip all the wysiwyg stuff. These days most sites are built using a CMS, so get used to it even if you don't understand all the PHP. If all you know is xhtml/css, you will be severely limited.

    4. Illustrator & InDesign. InDesign is comparatively simple and easy enough to pick up after you learn the basics of Illustrator. Even more than the other software, being good in Illustrator is about being good at design/illustration. Unless you are also undertaking some sort of formal design training (and I hope you are), you won't get much out of learning Illustrator early. However, if your coursework supports it or you're really keen on doing print, you could learn this earlier.

    You'll almost never need Fireworks. I use it on rare occasions to make animated gifs. If you need it for something specific, spend 15 minutes taking an online tutorial just for that purpose.
  16. Adam0306 macrumors regular


    i'm not much that into design but try There is some free stuff that you can watch, but there is also some paid stuff.
  17. jdesign macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2008
    aggreed with boatski

    1. go to w3 school and learn css , xhtml ( would only took 40 minutes max )
    2. you can do what i did, learn from " css for designers"
    3. built some website to apply your knowledge , as you need experience
  18. z062007 macrumors member


    Mar 28, 2008
    Detroit, Michigan
    i learned Illustrator first, followed by photoshop, dreamweaver, then flash. Illustrator will be good for making vector based drawings. A client may want to take one image and print it in different sizes, so this would be good because it will be math based so you don't have to redo a lot of work.

    Photoshop is good for making quick buttons or logos. personally i use this to make content for websites.

    Once you have the content from photoshop, you can then place it in dreamweaver easily.

    Flash will be good when you have to make interactive websites. Action script isn't that hard to learn but it can take some time to understand what the errors mean. when using action script, tracing is your best friend when it comes to debugging errors (using this command (trace("does this work yet?");).

    hope that helps you.

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