There comes a time when you need a banner, an ad, or some other graphic and, rather than higher a designer, say to yourself, “Gee. That doesn’t look so hard. I bet I could do it myself.”

Uh huh. I can see you blushing.

Okay, maybe it’s not such a bad idea. Technically. In reality, you can get overwhelmed by the software or even trying to figure out the right sizes or eye catching color schemes.

Therefore, to help you along in saving money for your home business, I’ve decided to put together a few links for you to check out that teach you how to do it yourself. I know, I’m a giver.

First, you need a color scheme. Typically, using complementary colors (blue-orange, red-green, purple-yellow) are always a safe bet. Before choosing some colors, though, you should probably have a good idea of who your audience is first. If you are targeting parents, use kid friendly colors (primaries or soft pastels for babies). If you are targeting techies, go for greys and blues. There’s a whole science behind color and its effect on people. Feel free to explore “Color Pscychology Quick Reference Cards” for more information.

If you feel like using more than two colors, though, head on over to, possibly one of my most favoritest sites ever. Each color scheme is about 5 colors each (at least, none are more than 5 colors) and you can search by keywords. For example, in a course I recently built I really wanted the colors of a reading room. So, in the search box, I typed in “reading” and about 49 schemes popped up. You can do the same thing with  “web 2.0”, baby, kid, Internet, and the list goes on.

Mostly, you just want something that goes together well (pleasing to your eye, at least) and doesn’t seem too garish. Try to choose a scheme that has at least one color that sticks out, like a scheme of soft blues with an orange accent color. That accent color will give your graphic, well, an accent to draw the eye of the reader/buyer/customer to where you want their eye to go. Pretty neat, huh?

Okay, so now you have some colors. Whoopeedoo. What are you going to do with them? Well, you are going to hustle your buns over to some very easy to understand and follow along tutorials.

Wow. Does your mom know that you inherited her guilt-inducing sigh of reluctance?

Tutorials are good for you. They provide you with information, can be a springboard for later projects, and grow hair on your chest. Okay, maybe not on your chest but they really do help you learn how to use not only a program but create something from scratch too. Located below are some decent tutorials for you to peruse. If you do not have Photoshop, i.e. if you aren’t a graphics designer and need its features, get GIMP**. Very cool open source program that is similar to PS. And it’s FREE.

We love free stuff.

Not sure what size banner or buttons to use? Wikipedia has a whole section devoted to the standardized sizes of banners and buttons. If you are in doubt, double check the width of your sidebar or whereever you are going to post your images. Asking never hurt either.

The best thing you can do is to look at what is already in place. If there is a certain look to the ads that are going up on the sites you are targeting, then you should probably be developing and designing similar ads. Don’t steal ideas but something in a similar vein is perfectly acceptable.

Another good idea is to look at what the pros are doing. Read “30 Top Web Design Blogs To Read Daily” for some really great eye catching stuff.

And, definitely get a grounding in some of the design principles, CARP. (or CRAP, depending on your sense of humor). C.R.A.P. stands for contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. If you’re going to be doing anything on the web, you probably should have a handle on those concepts.

In the end, if you feel comfy creating your own advertising graphics, then go right ahead. Don’t feel like you are letting anyone down, though, if you decide to hire it out. At the very least, you have a clue about what the designer is talking about when he or she throws about words like “vector” and “raster” and “ppi”.

Have any tips to share? I’d love to hear about them!

** Unfortunately, most of the GIMP tutorials I have come across are not exactly professional quality. Not that really good GIMP tuts don’t exist (maybe) but I’m not linking to the poorer ones here. However, the good news is that has plenty of tutorials at beginner-intermediate-expert levels to get you going. Once you know the basics, you can go through some of the simple PS tutorials listed. The ideas are the same even if the application differs a bit.