Friday, May 22, 2015

Using PicMonkey to Make Word Art

We're out of town, so I thought I'd take this week to share with you some of the tips and tricks I use on PicMonkey to make this blog prettier. This is installment four of four, also see Lesson 1: Using PicMoney to Make Good Photos Great and Bad Photos Pretty Good, Lesson 2: Don't Make These Mistakes Using PicMonkey to Make Shareable Images, and Lesson 3: Using PicMonkey to Create Graphic Designs and Pinnable Images. PicMonkey is an online photo editing and design site. The basic version is free, but you can also choose a yearly subscription to "Royale" that gets you more options, and no ads. This is not a sponsored post, I just like PicMonkey. This post contains affiliate links.

In previous posts, I've discussed how I use PicMonkey for photos and graphic images, but sometimes, you just want to let the words do the talking.

I know *I* do. Quite often.

For examples of all the different types of text-focused images I've made with PicMonkey, check out my Printable Prayers board on Pinterest.

But for today, let's take a step-by-step look at two word art images I made recently.

As with the graphic images I make, it's all just trial and error, and lots of fiddling around with it until I get something with which I am happy. Mostly, you just have to try it and see what happens.

- Credo: I Believe -

I made this one at the request of my friend Molly, from Molly Makes Do, and The Credo Project. The Credo Project is a simple way for Catholic bloggers to give their readers a quick, easy, non-pushy way to find out more about the Catholic faith, with just one click of a button on their blog sidebar.

The only direction I got was, that it should say Credo: I Believe.

After brainstorming for a bit, I decided I couldn't do better than putting the text of the Nicene Creed behind the words, since that is what we as Catholics profess to believe.

1. Step one was to put in the text, which I began to do by cut and pasting chunks of it.

2. I thought I'd have different sections in different fonts and colors. But it looked lame. And wasn't going to fit.

3. So I just did it all in one block and one font.

4. Then I made myself a color palate. From the Overlays Menu, I went to Geometric. I wanted five colors, so I put five circles onto my image, then I selected a different color for each circle, playing around with it until I had a group that I liked together. Then I shoved them way over to one side. I also resized my text box a bit, so I could get to the whole thing.

5. I selected little chunks of the text, and using the Eyedropper Tool, selected the color from one of my five color spots. I went through the whole text, changing the text colors bit by bit in order of my color spots.

6.  I moved my color spots over off of my image, but they are still there (you can see the square outline there of the orange one) because I'm going to pull them back over and use them again later. And I faded my text to create a more subtle background.

7. Then I made my foreground text. On that little horizontal menu above the image there is an option to "combine all image elements." If I did that before I started adding the foreground, I wouldn't have to worry about layers and trying to select which text box I'm working on. But I really, really hate to do it, because then it becomes the permanent background and I can't fiddle with it any more. So I pretty much never do that. What I do instead, is drag my foreground text boxes out over the edge of the image, so I can go out there and easily grab the edge of the text box I want to edit.

8. I changed the colors of the foreground text. More fiddling.

9. Then I wasn't loving the background font and started messing with it. This one was too hard to see.

10. Too round.

11. Too busy.

12. Close but no.

13. I ended up going with a different font entirely, adding more text to the version for the button, and adding my watermark for the printable prayers version. I moved the color spots off the image again and saved it and it's a done deal.

As with all my printables, you are welcome to right click on the image and save it to your computer for your own personal use. You may print the images and / or upload them and have prints made for your personal use or to give as gifts. (These are sized for 8x10 or square but will print well much bigger.) You may use my images on your blog, just please link back to my blog. If you would like to sell my images, please contact me first.

For LOTS MORE free printable prayers, check out my Pinterest board.

If you'd like to get the html code to put the button on your blog sidebar, go to the bottom of this post

- Thomas Merton Quote -

This one was a request from reader Theresa M, whose older brother is a novice entering the Abbey where Thomas Merton lived and is buried. Pretty. Awesome. She wanted it to look kinda like the Grace Before and After Meals prints I made, but be in teal or turquoise on a light background.

1. As always, the first step is to put the text of the quote on there and start messing about with it.

2. I kinda can't help myself with the making the "o" in "love" a heart instead. It's how I roll.

3. I just kept changing the fonts around until I liked it.

4. Then I started messing with the colors.

5. And messing.

6. And messing. Until it looked right.

7. When a quote or prayer doesn't have enough words to fill the space, I add Overlays.

8. And, if necessary, right click on them to open up this little menu, which allows me to Send to Back, so it's behind the text.

9. I selected colors for the overlays, using the Eyedropper Tool when I wanted to match colors in other parts of the image..

10. I used the fade bar on some of the overlays, to make sure the text was visible. And this one I liked, so I saved it.

11. I wanted to have another version with a colored background, so once it was saved, I went to the Basic Edits Menu, selected Canvas Color, and tried to find a color I liked. NOT this one.

12. This one I liked. But then I wasn't feeling the gray in the overlays.

13. So, using the Eyedropper tool, I made them the blues of the text, and then faded them down to different levels. For variety. And then I saved this one.

14. But then I was feeling like all that love really needed a little pink. So I used the little "undo" arrow in the horizontal menu over the image and backed it up until the canvas was white again. I started clicking on overlays and making them shades of pink, to give me one more version. And I saved that one, too.

And here they are:

There are a ton of other things you can do with PicMonkey, of course. You can make collages, and Facebook headers, and all sorts of other things. But this has got to stop somewhere, right? So I'm stopping it here.

I hope you found the series helpful. Let me know if you have any burning PicMonkey questions that weren't answered this week. We'll be back to regularly scheduled programming next week.

Have a blessed Pentecost and a fun Memorial Day!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Using PicMonkey to Make Graphic Designs and Pinnable Images

We're out of town, so I thought I'd take this week to share with you some of the tips and tricks I use on PicMonkey to make this blog prettier. This is installment three of four, also see Lesson 1: Using PicMoney to Make Good Photos Great and Bad Photos Pretty Good, and Lesson 2: Don't Make These Mistakes Using PicMonkey to Make Shareable Quotes on Images. PicMonkey is an online photo editing and design site. The basic version is free, but you can also choose a yearly subscription to "Royale" that gets you more options, and no ads. This is not a sponsored post, I just like PicMonkey. This post contains affiliate links.

PicMonkey is great for photos (um, obviously), but I also use it quite a bit to create easy graphic design images.

These can be used for cards and posters, party decorations, or to give a blog post an image when you don't have any photos to go along with it.

The trouble with trying to create graphic images is that the possibilities are pretty much infinite.

I have exactly zero training or professional experience doing this. My main technique is to play around with stuff and move it around and switch it out until I like the way it looks. I've refined my "style" a lot over time. I think you have to be willing to make some mediocre images at first, while you figure out what you actually like.

I'm going to share some examples of things I've made, and explain a bit about how I make each type of image.

- Using PicMonkey Overlays -

You never have to leave the PicMonkey site to create some pretty cool looking graphic designs with options right there in their Overlays or Themes menus.

I don't always have photos to go along with posts I write. But I'm a very visual person, and I just can't bring myself to hit publish on just a bunch of words. Plus, if you want a post to be pinnable and sharable on Facebook, or show up in related post widgets, it really helps to have an image. So, if I don't have any photos, I make a graphic image of the title of the post in PicMonkey.

Themes Menu, School U Theme (here's this post)

Themes Menu, Santa Land (here's this post)

I created this image for a little social media game I did last year:
Themes Menu, School U

This is an image Jack (12) made to print on an iron-on transfer and put on a t-shirt for one of his brothers for Christmas:
One note: see how it looks kind of dingy? While the image above, also made on a white background looks . . . white? I don't know why that happens, and I've only noticed it as an issue putting the images on the blog. For some reason, if you save the image, then open it in PicMonkey again, then save it again, that seems to fix it. I don't know why. But it works.

Themes Menu, Comic Heroes
At our recent CWBN CA Conference, the fabulous Jenna Guizar advised us to create a "brand" by using consistent colors, fonts, and overall look on images on our blogs, in order to make them more recognizable. I think it's really good advice, but I have a hard time following it. SO MANY CHOICES! 

I do try to stick with three main fonts (recently anyway), and supplement with a couple others, but I think that's the best I can manage for now.

Overlays Menu, Critters (here's this post)
This one is probably my favorite of the bunch. PicMonkey has a lot of choices, but they did NOT have any castles or invading armies. So I made them myself . . . out of shapes:

Overlays Menu, Geometric & Banners / Themes Menu, Cupidity (for the arrows)

 - Using Images You Find Yourself -

I made these notebook covers for the kids at the beginning of the school year.

I found the vintage superhero images online, saved them to my computer, then opened them in PicMonkey. I put Simple Borders around the images, matching the color of the original background using the Eyedropper Tool, then cropped the images to put the superhero where I wanted it on the page. Wonder Woman and Superman had an antiqued background that I matched in the Texture Menu, using one of the Smudge options, faded way down. For Supergirl, I went to the Effects Menu, and used Draw to fill in the background across the page. Then I added text, overlays, and a few thin colored borders.

To make my most-shared image EVER, I found this pleased looking beef cow online and saved him to my computer. I opened up a blank square canvas under Design, then went to the Overlays Menu, and selected Computer from the Your Own dropdown menu. I selected the cow, and made him the size I wanted, then added my text. If the edges of my overlay had been visible, I would have used Draw, and with a soft brush, blurred the edges. (You have to combine the image elements on the menu above the image you're creating to be able to draw on an overlay.) Then I added text. Since I planned to use the image on Facebook, rather than as a printable, I saved it at 1000x1000 pix, which is still plenty big.

And now, I'm going to take you -- step by step -- through how I created a graphic image for a guest posting series I'll be hosting on the blog during my "maternity leave" in August.

1. I looked through a TON of vintage images, until I found one I liked, that I thought would work with the title of the series. I saved it to my computer, then opened it in PicMonkey.

2. From the Basic Edits Menu, I cropped the image to square.

3. Also on Basic Edits, I resized the image to 1000x1000.

4. I started adding text, matching the colors to coloring in the image using the Eyedropper Tool. By right clicking on "mystery" I could select to bring that word to the front of the stack of text, so the y's were visible.

5. I added the rest of the text I wanted on the image, but was having trouble with the visibility on the bottom part.

6. To make it more visible, I selected a banner from the Overlays Menu, stretched it across the bottom of the image so that the indented edges weren't visible, and faded it so the the original image shows through.

7. But I wasn't quite feeling it. So I decided to try putting an overlay over the whole image, to make the text stand out. I selected a square from Overlays, Geometric.

8.  I made it white and faded it way down on the little pop-up menu.

9. And I stretched it to cover the whole image, then right clicked and sent it to the back, behind all the text, and the banner.

10. But then the tag line was TOO visible.

11. So I got rid of the banner. But I still didn't like it as much with the muted background. So I resized the square overlay into a white banner behind the (now teal-colored) tagline text. And I was happy with that.

And that's that. Now you have to wait all the way until August to read the posts. But I hope you'll be able to keep yourself occupied with your awesome PicMonkey skills until then.

Don't be afraid to make lame stuff. Making lame stuff is the first step toward making awesome stuff.

If there are any of you left who haven't died of boredom or sprained a finger with all the scrolling, there's one installment of this series still to come . . . Using PicMonkey to make word art.