You don’t need fancy design skills to make attractive web graphics for your blog or online course. This tutorial will teach you how to create beautiful web graphics using only PowerPoint, images, and screenshots. To be more specific, we are going to find a nice background image on the web, then add text to it using PowerPoint. Once we have something we like, we’re going to take a screenshot and post it to the web.
Step One: Search for a Background Image
I’m creating a banner for a Mental Health Nursing course, so I chose to search Yahoo Images for photos that are “labeled for reuse”. These images are free and legal to reuse in my own work. [Find out more]. I download the image file in the largest possible size I can get– in this case, Medium.
Flickr makes it a little tricky to download images from their site– here are more instructions if you get stuck.
Step Two: Open PowerPoint and place your image
We are going to use PowerPoint as a “workbench” where we can stack images, text, and colors until it looks like a professional web graphic. Any presentation software like Apple Pages or LibreOffice Impress would work too.
Playing with your options
We can start by changing the background color, adding the text we want, playing with our fonts, resizing the image, and maybe putting a shadow on it too. In PowerPoint, selecting the image will bring up the “Picture Tools”. Give yourself the time to play around with them and get a feel for what they do.
If you don’t know which fonts to use, you can download a bunch of great free ones from Google.
If you need help coming up with a color scheme, you might want to install a color dropper like Colorzilla [Firefox & Chrome] to help you “pick up” color combinations you see on the web and use them in your designs.
Adding boxes, playing with fonts, shadows
You can see here that the addition of a box behind the text, some shadowing on the text, and some variation in colors and fonts creates a pretty nice effect.
Don’t worry if this doesn’t come naturally to you– design is all about playing with the options you have! PowerPoint has some nice tools and effects that you can use to liven things up.
And now, the MAGIC.
Once you have your PowerPoint slide looking the way you want it to, use the Windows Snipping Tool or Mac Grab to take a screenshot of a screen region. This will let you draw a rectangle on the screen, capturing that part of the screen as an image.
You will normally want to create your images in JPEG (.jpg) format for easy sharing on the web.
It’s that simple
As you can see, you can produce beautiful and compelling graphic design pieces without professional software. Posting this in your course will make you look like a design pro.
Remember, when you use Creative Commons images in your work, make sure to give credit and a link back to the original author.
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