The standard is to use Adobe products, I recommend downloading Photoshop for a start. Illustrator is a great tool for creating your own vectors and customizing.
Some websites for inspiration and tools:
- http://brusheezy.com - online library of free brushes, patterns, styles, etc.
- http://vecteezy.com - online library of free vectors.
- http://psd.tutsplus.com/ - online library of free tutorials and stock.
- http://www.vectoropenstock.com/ - online library of free vectors.
- http://webtreats.mysitemyway.com/ - online library of free ps resources like textures and patterns
- http://www.smashingapps.com/ - online library of inspiration and curated best of web sort of things like best free textures, etc.
- http://www.dafont.com/ - online library of free typefaces. be careful as there are a ton of "bad" fonts to weed through.
- http://www.google.com/fonts/ - google open source "web" fonts, can also download to use in your work.
- http://losttype.com/ - free fonts.
- http://www.fontsquirrel.com/ - free fonts.
Both Google/Youtube have basic photoshop tutorials that will help you grow immensely as a artist. As with all things practice makes perfect.
Also http://www.gimp.org/ might be worth checking out, it's similar to photoshop but open source (free).
Pointers from MinnyMaus -
- K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid!) Sometimes less is more!
- If you're in a rut some times it's good to walk away from the computer, do something else, then return to the canvas with fresh eyes and a fresh mind. Also flipping the canvas horizontally (mirroring it) can help refresh your eyes. When you look at something for too long it becomes a blur.
- It can be tempting to overload on the textures, blending modes, and filters but over usage can potentially ruin the piece.
- Try to customize settings when you're using blending modes as the default settings can be bland or tacky.