Thursday, March 13, 2014

How you can create unique images for your blog using Microsoft PowerPoint

Especially handy when you don't own or know how to use Photoshop!

As a blogger, you understand the necessity to include images with your blog posts and the importance in making sure that the images you use are free of copyright restrictions. I know, I have accidentally included images that I thought I was permitted to use, only to realise a few months later that I was mistaken!

Since I discovered my monumental mistake, in the interests of not wanting to be sued for infringing upon other people's copyright, I now create my own images using Microsoft PowerPoint. I actually have Photoshop installed on my computer - my son purchased a student version when he did a Digital Media course - but although I have it, I find the program too confusing to use, and I don't have the time to do a course in order to learn how, so I needed to find an alternative way, and I realised I could utilise my Microsoft Office suite to greater usage than I'd previously given it.

I'm not the best image creator by any means, but I'm not the worst you can find either.  Check out some of my recent creations, each of which supported the blog post I was writing for my resume and jobsearch training blog:

"Fonts" accompanied an article about the types of fonts to use and not use in resumes, cover letters and applications.

I started by making the PowerPoint slide background the lilac colour you see, and then adding a white rectangular Shape over top. Then I added a Text box, and wrote the word 'fonts' before changing the font for each letter so that I used a few different styles: serif, sans serif; scriptive, decorative and commercial.  I used a darker shade of the lilac for the 'o' and later added the star shape over top.

I added a Glow effect to the word 'fonts' and arched it too, then added another text box with my blog details and so that the original works, if shared, remained attributed to me as its creator.

Because I have found that PNG images seems to have more durability when used on the different social media sites, and JPG often loses some of the images sharpness, I 1. Save the PowerPoint presentation as a PowerPoint presentation - so that I keep the original in case I need to go back and make changes to the original (after learning the hard way that I had to start from scratch one time when I didn't) and 2. Save the Image, usually with the same name, as a PNG image, which Blogger allows me to upload.

With this second image, I used it for a post aimed at giving advice to returning to work mums.

Once again, I used a standard size default slide and changed the background colour, and I found the image in Clip Art. I added a Text box and wrote the words 'Interviews Here today' and then angled the text box over the bus sign or whatever used to be underneath.  I wanted the sign to look like that it had been stuck up over top of an existing signage - like a lot of employers stick up in their offices to tell people things like 'come this way' or 'lift out of order' etc.

This road map took me hours to create. I used the freehand drawing tool to create a couple of squiggly lines and then formatted the lines so that they became as thick as they are and then copied the original narrow line and pasted it as the dashed yellow or white lines over top of my 'tar' road.

I added lots of clip art, text boxes and shapes to create the water, trees and map markings.  I saved the files again as a PowerPoint presentation and as a PNG file and then I found the cute little guy in the sports car and just had to go back and add him starting out on his journey, at a point before he could 'do it right' or take a wrong turn (as a subtle reiteration of the blog post).

Not all graphics you create have to be time consuming though.  I created this resume graphic to advertise my business on a Facebook group, and this image generated a lot of enquiries for me for a couple of weeks, as members who had seen me comment on people's posts suddenly realised I offered paid services that they were in need of - despite my mentioning that I am a private resume writer and jobsearch coach frequently. This simple graphic was, again, a standard slide with background changed to one solid colour, with a Text box that was later angled and colours changed to make it look like a sheet of office paper.  In hindsight, I could go back and make the background be a wood texture, so it looks like a resume lying on the desk of a hiring manager!

What I love about PNG images, is that in PowerPoint you can place other images over top of it, so you can build a unique image by creating 'layers' just like you would using Photoshop.

As you can see, if you are able to Insert and Format Shapes and text boxes in Microsoft PowerPoint, then you are able to create some decent looking original images - and that way, you will never be without an image for your blog posts ever again.