New images that are vibrant, vivid, rich, and amazing....HOW???

I've working in photoshop for years now and built websites, but i'm noticing that some websites that graphics look absolutely amazing. they're rich, vibrant, and vivid. compared to making cool graphics in photoshop and then saving them as .gif's or .jpg's, these seem to be completely different. look at this website for a sample of what i'm talking about:

click on some of the icons on the right to bring up some of their artwork. these images are clearly different than the logo on this site, for instance. they're crisper, sharper, more clear, etc. HOW?? I have no idea what software is used to make images like this. Is it photoshop? maybe it's just the format of the images? i'm not sure. can someone help explain this to me...the type of image and they software used to create it. and how they save it for the web and screen presentations. i'd like images like this for some presentations i'm working on.

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shamstarConnect With a Mentor Commented:
The biggest thing that stands out in these images is contrast, all of the images have a high level of contrasting colors.  The other thing that helps this is the use of highlighting and shading and the choice of colors used for those details.  Next, it is the very high level of detail put into the images, even on one of the more seemingly simpler ones such as the cloud ice-cream cone, you can see the great level of detail that has gone into making the image perfect, the amount of shading for example.  Also, it would seem like there has been a lot of airbrushing and bluring, all done with very tiny size brushes to ensure that even the finest details can be seen.  The choice of colors is also important even though only a few colors have been used.  White makes a very vivid impression on a pure blue background, and thats why you'll notice the image looks more rich towards the top rather than at the bottom.  The blue gradient also looks very fresh when used on its own, but too much of the lighter blue can take the effect away, which is why its been covered up with more clouds.

The next thing to realise is that there is no automatic method for creating great looking images, the ones you see on those site were most likely worked on for a few weeks and retouched countless times - there just isn’t any other way but to spend a lot of time on them.

Secondly, as far as the programs used, there may well be more than 1 program used, the could picture could probably all be made in Photoshop with airbrushing, blur and other tools.  But if you look at some of the others, then they seem like parts of the images could have been produce in 3D programs, such as Bryce, so for example, the trees on the main page could have been rendered in Bryce and then changed around in a program like Photoshop.  Also the island in the Summer Gift 04, 2 seems like a good candidate for generation in Bryce as well.

In short, pictures like these will go though many changes and are likely be produced with the help of many different programs that specialise in different aspects of image generation, and they are also going to be very time consuming works.
I'm geussing its just exported as a much higher file quality with the right colour palettes, etc.

The logos and such are saved in lowish qualitys, so they load quicker on dial-up modems.
chuckp27Author Commented:
thank you for your comments. i'll look into Bryce a little. One thing I noticed as well is that the font in the images, like "iCone" is very sharp. When font is produced in Photoshop, it's not that sharp at web resolution. Maybe the font is just in Flash or they used a higher resolution...not sure. I guess they could have also done it in a vector program, like Corel or Illustrator?
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Aside from high contrast, theyre also using highly saturated colors. That makes a difference. Theyre not dull washed out colors because they didnt choose dull washed out colors.
Sam CohenConsultant to Digital/DeveloperCommented:
There actually a technique that can be use to get pics alot sharpen
as well as using the saturated feature - as what weed has said
ill post it
Sam CohenConsultant to Digital/DeveloperCommented:
and theres also a free 3d world program that is similar to bryce
I use it all the time
the links here

designer get while you can before it start costing
The iCone text you mentioned would seem to be standard flash based text rather than a bitmap.  Flash uses anti-aliasing for text by default which smooths out the appearence, Photoshop also does the same so maybe you might have the option switched off for the text or set to a less noticable setting.  When you have the text tool selected then you should be able to see/change the anti-aliasing options on the toolbar.  If you use the same background and text color as in iCone then it will give you something to compare your Photoshop output to.
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