I know many of you out there are very intrigued and motivated to become a talented Web Designer and/or Graphic designer. I am going to give you guys a few tips on where to get started with your long adventure ahead of you. 1. Get yourself a copy of Photoshop. I suggest buying it, but as we all know, that most likely won't happen. I won't explain to you how to get it free, but go ahead and download the free trial to start. 2. Go try out a TON of tutorials. I would suggest http://psd.tutsplus.com/ for a starter point. I started designing forum signatures at first. They are small and leave you enough customization to be free with your techniques. I can't help but emphasize to do these tutorials more than once! Your not going to get anything out of doing a tutorial once and moving on to the next. Copying down every bodies settings is not the way to go as it will leave no creativeness for you. After doing these tutorials multiple times you will begin to understand what settings need to be changed for each type of effect your looking to get. Do them over and over until you can do them on your own without having to look at the tutorial! After you do this, go ahead and use that tutorial to make your own image similar but NOT THE SAME as the final image the tutorial creates. Give it your own feel by adjusting the settings and/or brushing in your own way. 3. Stock up on brushes and stocks. You can download many stocks here at BHW or you can look for them around the web. A very nice and easy place to get stocks from that I would suggest for beginners would be www.officialpsds.com. For brushes I would strongly suggest you go to deviantart. http://browse.deviantart.com/resources/applications/psbrushes/ is where you will find many great brushes on deviantart. I would recommend choosing the most popular from "All Time". http://www.brusheezy.com/ is also an alternative you may use. There are many brush sites out there, but to begin with, just stick with these. Finding brushes can end up being more of a time waster than you wish. Getting caught up in the hunt for brushes is very common and can result with an unsatisfied result. Just because the image they made was cool with the brushes, doesnt mean your going to be able to instantly make that image by brushing! 4. Play with filters. I myself don't use many filters, however they are very useful and should be studied to a point. Typically I use the blurs for many different effects in an image, or to create a unique multicolored background. Blurs can be used in so many ways its unimaginable. Study up on filters! 5. Play with text style settings and image style settings. Setting a layer style is going to be very very important. Drop shadow, Gradients, Color Overlays, Pattern Overlays, etc. These are all widely used in every design you do and you should be sure to experiment with these settings. This is where tutorials come in handy simply because they will show you some effects that can be made with certain settings. After doing so many tutorials, so many different times, you will eventually be able to understand what each setting will do for whatever it is you might be trying to style. 6. Play with your brushes. Brushes are powerful and can really create a realistic feel to your image. They can be implemented to give a nice background for your image, or even to make your stock image come to life. You have your own style that you are looking for, so download brushes accordingly. If you want a darker feel to your image, go for grunge brushes, maybe grab some blood brushes as well to get an evil type image going. If your looking for a nice clean feel, download some abstract brushes, star brushes, and texture brushes. Combining these can create quite an appealing image for the user to look at. 7. MORE TUTORIALS! Tutorials will teach you throughout your lifetime as a designer. The more tutorials you do, the more you are going to learn about new techniques and styles. Eventually there will come a time where you may not need a tutorial, but in this case, that's not going to be for a long time. 8. Buy some nice images or designs to toy with. Go to themeforest.net or graphicriver.net and check out some of the designs and images they have up there. They are not expensive at all, and if you download them, you can take a look at how they made what your looking at. You can toy with them to change the look of the images, and you could study the style they created by looking at each element of the website. Studying others PSD's has helped me throughout my time as a designer, and given me many insights on all the different styles out there. Choose a style that fits you right because many designers out there will start with a style and stick with it through the end. It's true that not even the best designers around will be able to create every type of style imaginable. Only YOU know what you want, so once you learn to design it, you can finally have the style you've been looking for this whole time. Many amazing designers out there who create amazing elegant designs, wont even be able to create a nice looking grunge design, and vice versa. Everyone has their own style, and over time you should try and develop multiple styles. I made this out of boredom, and I haven't even gone over it sadly. If it is poorly written or doesn't give you enough advice, then let me know what you need help with. I will be glad to give you any advice you need. Please don't come to me asking me how to make this image or that image, because the reality of it is...I'm not going to make you a whole tutorial for an image! There are many steps involved and you will just have to figure things out yourself and learn through others!