There are lots of guides out there for working with various programs to edit images. I'm not going to get into a lot of detail here, just going to hit on some important points.
Places to get Neopets Images
The most obvious place to look is the downloadables section of the Pet Central. Start with backgrounds
and look through the other sections. I tend to avoid this section as I have other places to get my images.
The Caption Contest
has had some interesting and possibly useful pics. Check out the "Past Winners" page to browse through all the previous pictures.
Your gallery's items (and items in general) are also a good source, use the item pictures to make a tiled background, or as a border on your main background.
Most of the site's content is in Flash, .swf files. These images can be re-sized without losing quality due to the file format. Wearables, games, and plot comics are the most abundant. Ever notice how some people stretch their pet lookup images to almost fill the whole page? They can because its a flash file.
You need special programs to download and edit the actual files. That doesn't stop you from using the images though. Your computer should have a print screen button. When you see something you want to use in a layout, press print screen then paste the screenie into an image program to edit it.
Here's the fun part. Remember how I said the images were re-sizable. If you know the flash file's full URL you can see a rather large version of it, free for the screenshotting. Visit these two pages, and click on some of the items:Background BonanzaLilacia's SWF Collection
Nice, right? Now those aren't all the available wearables, far from it. SWF petpages like those are few and far between. There are ways to get the urls of wearables on your own, but they require either sifting through code, or downloading addons. I don't want to try to explain either of those in a beginner guide.
If there is a wearable not listed on either of those pages that you have your heart set on, neomail me the name of the item and a pet that its currently equipped on. If the item is currently in the nc mall, I just need the name as I can try it on my own pet to get the code. I'll reply with the link.
Editing Your Images
For the purpose of my guide, all you have to do is choose a width and stick with it. You can make your images in MS Paint for all I care.
As for the image format, I recommend PNG. The file sizes are larger than formats like GIF or JPG, but most internet speeds can handle that now. With the larger size, your image quality doesn't get reduced, and partial transparency is supported. Partial transparencies are how I accomplish many of the effects that make my layouts look pretty, hurray for see-through images.
I use GIMP as my image editor. Its free, and has most of the features you can find in photoshop.
You can find guides for specific programs via the petpage directory Soroptimist. The program guides are found in the third column of this page.
Uploading Your Images
Once you've made you image, you need to upload it to an image host to be able to use it in a layout. Here are the image hosts I've used with some comments. I can't provide a direct link, you'll have to find these places yourself.
Bandwidth is basically how many times your image can be downloaded to peoples computers and viewed in a certain time frame, so the higher the better. The ideal image host would have no bandwidth or size limits, and minimal downtime. You can get that, but it costs money. Free hosting should be good enough for your gallery layout.Photobucket
: You have a bandwidth limit. There is also a size limit. Free Accounts: 1MB each or 1024 x 768 resolution. They are a very reliable host. If your images are within the limits, and you don't expect much traffic, go ahead and use them.ImageShack
: Much more lenient bandwidth limits. There is no resolution limit, but 5MB is the largest file size allowed before they start "optimizing." Accounts are optional, if you plan on using them I recommend creating one though to keep track of your images. I have had issues with pictures randomly being deleted, most likely due to exceeding their bandwidth. Servers also tend to go down more than I was comfortable with. Use at your own risk and make sure to keep your files saved on your computer just in case you need to re-upload them.Tinypic
: Tinypic has been bought out by photobucket, so the future of the site is iffy. For now, they are my preferred image host. Accounts are not required, but recommended. If you upload an image without being logged in, it will be deleted if no one views it in 90 days. Images on accounts are safe from this. The max image size is 1600x1600, anything larger than that will be re-sized. That is big enough for most purposes. I have not had any issue to date with disappearing images or exceeded bandwidth.
Once your image is uploaded to the site of your choice, you will be given a bunch of different link options. The one you need to use in layouts is called the something like "Direct Link" or "Raw Image." If you copy-paste that link into your address bar, you should get -just- the image. No indication of what site its hosted on. That is what you need when I ask for the URL of the image in a code. Make sure to copy it completely, you need the full URL.