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I use the website picmonkey.com to do fun editing and graphics to make Christmas cards, invitations, etc.

I have been using an online printing website but someday I want to expand this and be able to print stuff on my own.

I'd like to be able to get different textures and effects that you can get by ordering an already made template online.

Does that take a special printer, or special program, or will I need special paper?

I have no education in Graphic Design, as I don't have the time and money to go back to school. I just have a very creative side and wanted to try this on my own. Any help is greatly appreciated!

  • What do you mean by 'different textures and effects'? Some textures and effects are achieved within the image itself, sometimes it's in how it's printed. But it all depends on what, specifically, you are referring to. – DA01 Jan 19 '16 at 21:00
  • This question is pretty much impossible to answer, and some of it is rather unclear what you want/wonder about. I suggest you start with doing research online and find examples of stuff you would like to do and then "reverse engineer". This way you will learn what printing techniques are used for what, and what effects you can make yourself with the images themselves. Basically: you need to research, we cannot do that for you, or even begin to answer such a broad question like this. – benteh Jan 19 '16 at 22:52
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You're partly answering your own question!

As you know, being a graphic designer requires you to learn specific software, get prepress (printing) technical knowledge and also learn how to handle different types of files (and so many issues too long to enumerate.)

If you want to do print layouts for cards you'll need to use design software that will give you all the freedom to do whatever you want to create and you'll need to learn how to use them. Being creative is often not enough, unfortunately.

What you are using online might be fun for now but it's possible you'll never be able to export that work into files that can be sent to a print shop. So for the long term, you might want to explore alternative ways to create layouts. Search for the Adobe products, and if you want free software, look for Gimp, Inkscape, Scribus, etc.

Some software come with banks of images or cliparts... but keep in mind that these graphics have been used already by many designers (by many I mean thousands or even millions)! So if you want to be original, you might need to learn how to create your own original artworks. You can always purchase "templates" online from stock picture sites but make sure to read the terms of use, especially if you plan to resell them. Even when you see free images or illustrations online, you need to make sure you read the license and terms.

Regarding the printing and the paper, that's something you'll need to investigate for yourself depending on the quality and quantity you want to get printed. Some people simply purchase a laser or inkjet printer and sell their own creations in small quantities, other go to a small print shop or photocopy center to get small runs of digital printing, and the most ambitious (or quality oriented or with higher budgets) will go to a real offset printer that can print hundreds or thousands of copies of your cards. All these different printing methods will require you to learn different skills to prepare your files in the best quality possible. Graphic design and doing print layouts isn't just about putting images together and making stuff "look good"! Depending on the printer you use, you won't be able to use certain type of paper. That's mainly a question of budget, and how much time and money you're willing to invest.

As you see, there's quite a few technical and legal sides to consider if you want to get in the business of creating layouts and selling them!

I encourage you to have a look at this question/post if you want to get started as a graphic designer:

Popular questions about Graphic Design - Start Here

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