HardwareFor the best performance and optimal settings for image production, recommended or above recommended components. Hardware are the physical components used for image editing; for example the Processor (CPU), Graphics Card (GPU), Memory (RAM), Monitor/ display for instance.Graphics CardFor many the graphics card is considered the backbone for image production. The graphics card, otherwise known as GPU, is responsible for outputting the images the computer send to the monitor or display. The better the graphics card, the higher the quality and resolution it can output regarding that the monitor can handle it. This means for image editing it can produce better renders of some images for the user when working on the image. If the VRAM that the card has is a large amount it can load effects faster and handle some 3d image creation. The graphics card is connected to the motherboard however it is can be removed and easily upgraded if needed which can futureproof the pc.The impact this has is that it can create larger images at higher resolution meaning there are more pixels in the image which can be manipulated. Not only that if images are in 3d or gif format better graphics card with a larger VRAM can help render the previews of the final product faster and in better quality.Processor- CPUA processor which is located on the motherboard of the pc. The processor otherwise referred to as the Central Processing Unit (CPU) is considered the most important part of the pc as it contains the circuitry capable of processing all information and input the computer receives. When combined with the memory it processes the information and allocate it to the ram modules. There is 3 important factors when choosing a good CPU- the clock speed, the core / thread count and the size of cache available . Clock speed is important as it determines how fast the processor can handle and assort information it receives. Having a high core count can determine how many tasks the CPU can handle at once making it better for not only multitasking but sending information to other components easier. Having a large amount of cache can make opening and processing information faster as it can reserve information from an open application that may be needed for future reference. Having a good combination of cores and clock speed with a high amount of cache means that the CPU will not only be better at multitasking but it will be able to process the information quickly. Having a good CPU and GPU combination is important to gain the most optimal performance. If the GPU is good but the CPU is weak the GPU will however work slow as the CPU will be sending the images late to the GPU limiting its maximum performance. If the CPU is strong and the GPU is weak, the CPU may work at the best performance but the GPU will not be able to send the information to the display as quickly. This is known as bottlenecking.The impact a CPU can have on image processing is that it can respond to actions quickly and smoothly as well as potentially run other background applications, say for example if you need to preview the original image on the side of what you’re working on. High cache memory can help with faster speeds when reading information since it’s on the CPU and is easier to access then on the RAM therefore the image may render faster.Memory – RAMThe memory, also known as RAM (Random Access Memory) is also located on the motherboard and it is responsible of storing information of a running application which the CPU can use. RAM comes in various speeds, sizes and configurations. Having a larger quantity of RAM and increase the amount of information that can be stored in general and by a single application; allowing for not only more applications to be opened at the same time which results in better multitasking but it can make some programs which are bottlenecked by a RAM usage cap more space to hold more information which results in better performance. For example 8GB of ram is smaller than 16GB meaning you can multitask better. Having faster ram means the information can be read by the CPU faster and easier. For example 1600Mhz is slower than 2600Mhz meaning the information can be sent and received by the CPU faster. Having different configurations such as 2 sticks of RAM at 2600Mhz each but 4 GB each totaling in 8GB of available space, is better than a single stick of 8GB of ram at 2600Mhz. This is due to the workload and information being split amongst the 2 RAM sticks allowing for a faster read and write speed, one stick could be dedicated to sending and another to receiving information.This is useful in image editing as it can help load up large images quickly and remember more information from applications that are presently open. It can also potentially run other background applications, say for example if you need to preview the original image on the side of what you’re working on or if you are needing to quickly transfer files to the computer.Mass Storage- SSD vs HDDWhen it comes to mass storage which is the actual pictures and projects, there are 2 types that a computer uses; a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and a Solid State Drive (SSD).A Hard Disk Drive or HDD uses magnetism to store data on a rotating platter or ‘disk’ with a control arm to read and write data. HDD’s come in a either 2.5 inch or 3.5 inch form factors. HDD’s come in a range of sizes from 250GB to 10TB but commonly most people who purchase HDD’s tend to chose around the 1TB mark as it is fairly cheap for that large amount of storage (currently as of September 2017 a 1TB HDD can cost around £40 on Amazon depending on brand.) meaning large amounts of data applications, pictures and files can be stored for when needed.An advantage of using a HDD over a SSD is that it is the cheaper option in terms of £ per GB, and has a higher maximum capacity at around 10TB vs the SSD which you can only find some in 4TB. However there are lot’s of disadvantages of using HDD’s; they are slower than SSD’s at loading files, applications and operating systems, data can be easily erased if it is dropped or comes into contact with magnets due to it using magnetism to write data.A Solid State Drive or SSD uses similar technology found in USB memory drives. It uses circuit board but on a larger scale to store data onto the components. They have a processor which sorts the data that’s being written and read off of the drive. SSDs come in a range of form factors, from tiny PCB boards which slot into the motherboard directly called M.2 and PCI-E to 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch and some. SSDs come in a range of sizes from 120GB up to 4TB people tend to buy SSD at sizes from 120GB to 512GB due to them being more expensive per £ than the HDD (currently as of September 2017 a 1TB SSD costs around £250-£300 on Amazon depending on brand). SSD’s would generally be used to store the operating system and applications due to it’s faster read speeds meaning faster boot up and load times.The advantages of using a SSD over a HDD is the faster read and write speeds due to the process being electronic. However there are some disadvantages of using an SSD over a HDD; the £ per GB of a SSD is more expensive than the HDD making the drive more expensive in general, they are more likely to survive a drop than a HDD and are completely safe from magnetism.For image editing there should really be a combination of both being used. The operating system and applications should be stored on a SSD due to it’s really fast speeds and all projects should be stored on a HDD due to them coming in larger sizes, being more able to support the potentially large file sizes that the projects may have..Graphics TabletA Graphics tablet is an input device which uses a pen or touch to act as a mouse. It is similar to using a pencil and paper however there is no need for objects such as a scanner to input the work into the software used. Graphics tablets come in different sizes and have different features. Some have a screen built in so it is easier to see what you’re drawing onto, whereas some don’t. Some allow touch and pen use whilst some do not. Some have buttons which activate shortcuts, some do not.The impact of using a graphics tablet is that the person can create freehand drawing easily when making images. Also they have a greater degree of accuracy when creating the image if they are drawing it from scratch. An alternative to this would be a mouse however some people may prefer the natural aspect of holding a pen when drawing.MonitorMonitors are output devices which display the image that the computer generates. Monitors can use a range of different interfaces to display an output from the computer; HDMI (High Definition Media Interface), DisplayPort, DVI (Digital Visual Interface), and VGA (Video Graphics Array). DisplayPort and HDMI are considered the best for achieving high quality images being outputted at resolutions like 4K. When it also comes to monitors there are multiple display types for example; TN displays (Twisted Nematic) and IPS (in-plane switching). Both of theses are commonly found on monitors that use LED to output the image.TN panels have their advantages for example high refresh rate, meaning more frames can be outputted to the screen in a single second, and also low latency times, meaning the input you press on the keyboard will be processed to the monitor display faster. However there are some major disadvantages with TN panels that can specifically make it not the best option for photo editing. One disadvantage is that it can have bad viewing angles, meaning as you tilt the screen the colour may appear washed or show evidence of streaks and marks. This is not good for image editors if their monitor is proportioned in a way it is not centre from their normal seating position as it can fade colours from which they are meant to be seeing. Another disadvantage is the fact that that the panels have a lower colour range than ISP panels. Most TN panels feature 1000:1 colours which although that is good at this moment in time, some panels require further adjustment to get the best image possible.The IPS panel also has disadvantages of it’s own, the panel is known for being slower than TN counterparts. This means that the input will appear much slower than a TN panel. However for image editing this is a better choice with wider viewing angles and better colours being displayed.For image editing, I would recommend an IPS panel that can output a high resolution like 4K. This means they can view the highest quality of image with the best colours when working so the pictures can come out more accurate for the user. Touchscreen can be an added bonus since it gives the editor direct control over the product eliminating peripherals such as mice which can add a certain limit of accuracy, however with the vast range of graphics tablets, this can be paired with a monitor at a cheaper cost since touchscreen isn’t widely accepted as a standard in the monitor industry.KeyboardA keyboard is a computer component which people use to type or use to execute commands quickly in programs.There is many different options to consider when buying a keyboard for example; form factor, the inclusion of macro keys, media keys and many more. There are many form factors when choosing a keyboard but the main two are full size and tenkeyless (TKL). The difference with a TKL keyboard is that the number pad is removed. Generally people who don’t encounter using the number pad may like this option however some image editing software may have shortcuts that require a number pad.Another feature of keyboards are Macro keys. These are an extra set of keys placed on the board which allow a user to store a chain of commands the key executes when pressed. Although generally designed for gaming purposes those doing image editing may find it useful if they want to execute commands at a single press of a button increasing the productivity and efficiency of their work.Another feature on a keyboard is media keys. These have short cuts pre built into them for example skipping songs, muting audio, brightness control for example. This can be good for those image editing as it increases productivity by allowing them to pause music whilst working without having to tab out of the program to control it. This means they can quickly and easily do actions without losing focus on what they’re initially doing.For image editing a, keyboard with a number pad, macro keys and media keys is the best for productivity in my opinion. Some image editing programs use the number pad to bind tools. This means they can use the pad to gain quick access to controls which can cut down on time when making images if they need to do it within a time limit. Whether it is a mechanical keyboard or not is down to personal preference. It depends on whether or not the user wants to have the tactile feel when pressing a key to know whether or not they’re pressing the button.Digital CameraA digital camera is a device which can take pictures in formats that can be uploaded onto a computer easier. These are different to the older cameras that used film to take pictures as the film would need to be developed into the print. That would take time and money to be done and to import them into a computer you would need to use a scanner. A digital camera uses a SD card to transfer and encode the images onto for easier file transfer. Digital cameras today can be stand alone products or implemented into phones and tablets.Higher quality cameras such as DSLR or mirrorless are different from the digital camera on a phone as they have higher quality parts and are more customisable. These types of cameras also require lenses which are sometimes not included with the body of the camera and can be purchased from the manufacturer or from aftermarket companies. These can alter how the pictures look. For example a wide angle lens will capture a wider field of view when taking a photo.The best camera for image editing would be a mirrorless camera as it produces the best quality photos, has the most customisation and can use aftermarket products well to change how the photo looks. These are ideal for photo editing as the user can gain better reference shots to use to edit with in their program of choiceSoftwareFor image editors, most of their work in creating the final product is done through software based editing solutions. Software is applications that is made out of information that are used by the CPU to make instructions. There are 3 main types of software to be associated with image editing; Bitmap Software, Vector Software, and Photo Manipulation Software. The difference between the three is vector based applications stores information in colour based shapes with vector positions (X,Y,Z). Bitmap Software stores information in colour based squares called pixels that blend together to make the picture. Image editing software is mainly directed at altering pre existing images to make certain adjustments such as filtering the photo, adding border stroke or blur.Serif DrawPlusSerif DrawPlus is a vector based software application that allows users to be able to create drawings or paintings from scratch. This program costs £19.99 for a lifetime copy of the program. This is cheaper than its alternative program Adobe Illustrator CC which can only be bought in subscription based packages starting at £19.97 per month for the program itself.The primary uses of vector image based programs is to create logos and print based graphics. This is due to vector graphics being a composition of shapes, colours and positions which gives it an advantage of better resizing without compression or loss of quality commonly found with bitmap graphics.Advantages of using Serif DrawPlus is that the technical support from serif has been known to be one of the best according to its high customer satisfaction. This can help an image editor if they are struggling with troubleshooting errors and experience lots of technical difficulties. This can help the user if customer support is good so they can receive fast updates and resolutions on any system problems faster than using any other program.Another advantage is the price. As mentioned earlier it is cheaper than using alternatives such as Illustrator which doesn’t allow users to purchase a lifetime subscription to the program.Another advantage is that compared to Bitmap alternatives, Serif creates vector photographs which are better when they are being printed or used for logos since they are better at being resizing.A disadvantage however is that DrawPlus is considered a ‘legacy’ program. This means they are no longer supplying updates to that program. Compared to alternatives like Illustrator which has major updates every year and minor updates every few months.Another disadvantage is that Serif has a larger learning curve due to the vast amount of content and feature it contains. Users would have to use the program for a while before they gain enough experience to be knowledgeable about it.Microsoft PaintMicrosoft Paint is a bitmap based software which is free to use. It is distributed in windows operating systems. The program allows users to draw and create images from scratch similar to Serif DrawPlus. The difference between the two however is that paint uses bitmap which is the assortment of pixels into a given canvas size which can be quickly adjusted by clicking on the corners of the canvas or along the centre of the edges. This would probably be suitable for beginners into image editing who are making basic drawings or images more suited to web design. All tools within the program are easy to access along the top of the window along the toolbar.The paintbrush has easy to access styles and the size of the brush can be changed easily. The colour palette is easier to access than in other programs such as photoshop and the minimalistic toolbar makes it easier for beginners to grasp the program.Advantages of using Microsoft Paint is that it is the most easily accessible image editing software with it being not only free but pre installed on windows based systems. This means for an image editor they have a base program to start working on right away. Another advantage is that it has a more simple and cleaner toolbar system making it easier for new users to get the hang of using paint and makes the learning curve quite small.However there are some major disadvantages with using paint. Firstly, the selection of tools is basic; there is not a wide range of things you can do to the image compared to another program like photoshop that has thousands of tools with the ability to install more for example installing different brush shapes, the size tool doesn’t allow for precise values for the size of erasers or brushes. This would make it harder to make intricate drawings. Another disadvantage is that there are no special effects that can be done to the picture. Compare this to photoshop which has blending options such as pattern overlay, stroke, bevel and emboss as just a few of the many effects that can be done not just in the blending options but in the program in general. This makes it more useful to the user if they want more complex effects easily without having to implement it themselves manually.PhotoshopAdobe Photoshop is a bitmap based image editing software which allows users to make images from scratch and edit pre existing images. It costs £19.97 for a subscription based service charging monthly. it can be purchased at a reduced price as a part of a ‘photography’ package, bundled with Adobe Lightroom CC at a reduced price of £9.98 per month on subscription. Primarily Photoshop is used for image manipulation due to its wide range of effects and options that can be done to the photo to change the result. Multiple effects can be used at once. For example applying a black and white filter to an image of a sports car then applying a small gaussian blur. However the application is only locked to using and saving in bitmap formats and .ai (Adobe Illustrator Artwork) files. Even though illustrator is a vector program Photoshop can read and interpret its files through using the ‘place’ feature and can export items into Illustrator however it will be an assortment of pixels still. Photoshop is considered to be an industry favourite amongst most image editors who work in producing bitmap graphics for example photography groups who specialise in creating images used in advertising campaigns. Also those who make web based graphics for example YouTube banners for companies. However for new users, there is considered a sizable learning curve like Serif DrawPlus due to the vast amount of content in the program that needs to be learned and mastered.Advantages of Photoshop includes marginal values for paint brushes and erasers allowing for more accurate paint strokes and better accuracy when creating images. Compared to a program like paint, which has a predefined size, Photoshop can go brush sizes in between the predefined sizes that paint give and also much larger than the predetermined sizes.Another advantage is the large range of tools already given in photoshop. This can allow an image editor a greater scope when editing and doesn’t limit them to using certain styles or tools to achieve the image they want. This means that image editors can make more complex photos if they want based on the given tools they have to work with.Another advantage is the support from the community that uses photoshop to supply more tools on top of what exists. This means that there is the ability to expand the tools the editor is given to an even larger range. This makes the program have an almost endless supply of tools at their disposal when creating images.However a disadvantage is the cost. Compared to alternatives like gimp and paint it costs around £240 for a yearly subscription to the service, whereas the alternatives mentioned earlier are free to use.Another disadvantage is the worse quality of images that Photoshop can produce compared to Serif DrawPlus and Adobe Illustrator. This is due to it being a bitmap program meaning when pictures are stretched or shrunk, there is a higher chance of pixelation to occur.GIMPGNU Image Manipulation Program otherwise known as GIMP is a free to use and open-source bitmap software which allows users to make images from scratch and edit pre existing images. The program is free to download and is open- source mean users can modify scripts within the program and can develop plugins which can allow it to do functions that it couldn’t do previously for example making a photo filter that has a dissolving effect when the opacity is adjusted. GIMP is used in image manipulation and the creation of bitmap images. It has a fairly extensive range of tools available in its base model; larger than paint but less than Photoshop.GIMP is considered to have a fairly large user base due to it not only being free to use but also open- source meaning a lot of software coders are able to create plugins for the program. It can produce high quality pictures with fairly complex editing like photoshop.An advantage of using GIMP is that it is easier to diagnose bugs and issues. This is due to it being open- source meaning users can easily snoop around in the scripts for the program and self- diagnose the issue and resolve it. This means it can be fixed and running easily and is more likely to be a smoother experience than using a Photoshop where it would be harder to verify what the bugs are and fix them.Another Advantage is that the program is free to use. Compared to Photoshop which costs £19.97 for a monthly subscription. This makes it a cheaper alternative if the editor is unable to pay the pricing for Photoshop.However Compared to Photoshop, there is a inferior range of tools in the base versions of the programs. Photoshop offers more to the user out of the box making the range and combinations of effects in their images endless. Only through modification and installation of plugins would GIMP users be able to have the same or a larger amount of plugins.