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Graphic Design

PowerPoint…it’s not you it’s me

Graphic DesignYou may have noticed things have been fairly quiet in these parts. I have been completing a Certificate IV in Graphic Design and it’s been a huge commitment in addition to parenting and work. However it has been wonderful learning new skills and being around other creative like-minded people. I love being in a place where we can have in depth discussions about the finer points of printing on gloss v semi gloss paper!

I wanted to do formal graphic design training because I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated by the limits of PowerPoint. After completing 6-months intensive training in Adobe Creative Suite, typography and graphic design elements and principles, I feel much more equipped to create dynamic presentations. Perhaps the most exciting skill I’ve learned is the ability to make my own vector graphics. I’m no longer limited by the options available in stock libraries or the auto shapes in PowerPoint…the sky’s the limit.

Creating a Visual Resume

Have you considered that many of the skills we use to convey information in a professional setting can be used in other areas of our lives e.g. designing birthday invitations, creating a map to show directions to a venue etc. Recently I set myself the challenge of updating my resume so that it would be more of a visual display of my achievements and skills. I wanted to keep the document to one page only (reducing it from 3 pages) and distill larger amounts of information into key essential messages.

I created this visual resume in PowerPoint using auto shapes, text boxes and by inserting icons. To create a consistent effect, I used the colour picker tool to select a colour from my photograph to use in the rest of the document. I then saved the final product as a PDF document. I think this version is a much better reflection of who I am and the skills I have and I’m not sure that I could go back to the humble Word document again.

Make Great Tip

If you would like to create the effect of ‘dummy’ or latin text in PowerPoint 2010 when creating a document such as the one above, place your cursor in the text box and type in the following:

=lorem()

Then press enter and you will find your text converted to latin.

Communicating with Colour

This year I hinted for a Pantone Colour guide for my birthday and I was thrilled to receive this set of colour swatches. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) was invented in the 1960s to assign a number to every colour. It’s not an essential tool for a presentation designer, but it’s wonderful for replicating a colour, getting inspiration for a project and getting the expected result when you have something printed.

In terms of PowerPoint presentations, if you want to replicate a colour that you’ve seen on a poster or magazine, the colour can be identified by holding the fanned out colour swatches next to it and identifying the closest match. The set of colour swatches I have contains the corresponding RGB (Red/Green/Blue) code printed beneath each colour. The RGB code can then be entered into the PowerPoint text or autoshape settings to achieve a match.

Colour choice is an important component of any presentation. It’s full of symbolism, can generate emotions and provides another useful way to reinforce your message.

Here I’ve assembled a few of my tips on colour selection:

  • Consider the audience. The colours selected for an audience of young people would almost certainly differ from that of an audience of older people. It’s a fact that age affects how a viewer reacts to colour (think Wiggles). There might also be cultural considerations to take into account if designing a presentation for a CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) community.
  • Choose colours that mesh well with your content and help to enhance the meaning of your presentation. For example hot pink might not be the best choice when designing a presentation with an environmental theme.
  • Experiment with the saturation of colours to achieve different effects.  Bold saturated colours are used when it’s important to attract attention. The best example of this is road signs. Bold colours also look great when used minimally or on top of a black & white image. Desaturated colours have a more calming and professional look.
  • Consider competitors’ colour schemes and the colours associated with the industry. Do you want to look the same or different?
  • Function comes before form. No matter how gorgeous the colour combination is…if you can’t read the text or understand the message than it’s got to go.
  • Learn to love the eyedropper tool in Powerpoint. It helps to create colour schemes from images within the presentation.
  • Once you’ve decided on a colour scheme, be consistent with it throughout the presentation. It will create a cohesive and professional look.

Do you have any of your own colour tips to add?