In a previous post, I explained how I use PowerPoint for all of my graphics projects. A designer will laugh at this because they probably use software such as PhotoShop to handle complex projects. Well, I don’t know PhotoShop well enough to whip out something fast, but I know just about everything that PowerPoint can do. And for the types of projects I have, I’ve figured out how to get them done fast using this software I already have.
Here’s how I did it (links to YouTube videos included below).
UPDATE: All the videos on YouTube show you how to do this in PowerPoint versions 2003 and 2007.
Ready PowerPoint for Your Design
- Decide on your color scheme, matching your Website, blog, etc. (or not), and sketch out a rough design. (Here are some charts that show you Web colors that match.)
- In PowerPoint, resize a landscape slide to 20” Width and 12.5 inches Height (click the File menu, Page Setup). Depending on your monitor and resolution, you may have to reduce the Zoom level in order to see more of your slide. Both monitors are set at resolution 1280 by 720 pixels.
- Either from Slide Master view or directly on the slide, change the color of your background. Make it more interesting by using two colors and experimenting with Shading styles (click the Format menu, Background, down arrow to Fill Effects, Two colors (then click the down arrow and choose colors). Try the different Shading styles. My @peggyduncan Twitter background is a dark blue and white with the Shading style, From title.
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Place Your Graphics and Customize Your Design
- Display the ruler (click the View menu, Ruler).
- To place graphics on your slide, first set your Zoom level at 50%. The zero (0) marks the center of your slide. Using the ruler as your guide, to the left, place your graphics between 0-8.5. On the right, place them between 4.5 and 6.5.
- Use guides and a grid to help you line everything up (View, Grids and Guides, Display drawing guides on screen, Display grid on screen.
- Create more guides by hovering your mouse over one and dragging while holding down the Ctrl key. When you’re finished and don’t need as many guides, click and drag some of them off the screen.
- Add any other drawing elements and graphics you want (the higher the resolution the better). Add text using a text box so it will be easier to move around (located on the Drawing toolbar. Click the Tools menu, Toolbars, Drawing).
- Save the slide as a PNG (click the File menu and change Save as type to PNG Portable Network Graphics Format, Current Slide Only). The final filesize can not be larger than 800k for Twitter. If you need to resize any photos (but maintain the quality), read my previous post, Resize a Bunch of Photos by the Batch.
It’s important to note that when you save your slide as a graphic, it’ll only be 96dpi. This might be good enough for your design but if it’s not as sharp as you want, check out Image Exporter from the PPTools Website. This is the software I use when I need to save my PowerPoint slides in higher resolution (about $30.00 and worth every dime), especially when I need to print them.
Add Design to Twitter as Background
Once you’re satisfied with your PowerPoint design, sign into your Twitter account.
- Click Settings, Design tab.
- Under the default theme, click Change background image, Browse to find your graphic, double-click it.
- Untick the tile background box (so design won’t repeat itself when viewing using different monitor resolutions), Save changes.
Tweaking It Until It’s Right
You will probably have to tweak your PowerPoint design several times and resave until you get it just the way you want it. I use two monitors: one on my laptop and a second 22?, with both set at resolution 1280 by 720 pixels. The designs looked different on both so I tweaked it as much as I could so it would look great both ways. You have no control over other people’s monitor resolutions so just do this to your satisfaction. A huge advantage of doing this in PowerPoint is that tweaking is so easy.
Now change the default colors in Twitter such as the sidebar background color, text, and links.
- Go back into Settings, Design tab, Change design colors.
- You may want to change the text, links, sidebar, and sidebar border, keeping everything color-coordinated with your new design.
- Click the sidebar block to select it. Now use your mouse to click desired color in the box and use the sliding bar next to it to hone in on the exact color you want. When you’re satisfied, click Done.
- Repeat Step 3 for each color block until you’re satisfied and click Save Changes.
After you’ve created your new background, leave a comment and link so I can check it out.