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How To DIY Printables

Happy Weekend!

I thought I'd wrap up my day busy Saturday with a little "How To" guide for creating your own printables.  You might think making your own printables requires some fancy software, or even years of graphic design training...but let me tell you a little secret...there's nothing further from the truth.

Earlier this week, I shared the "Now that I'm Grown Up" printable I made for my mom's birthday gift...and today I'm sharing a behind-the-scenes-once-you-know-how-I-did-it-you-will-no-longer-think-I'm-all-that-artsy look at the process for creating your own DIY printable art.

To create your own printable you'll need a few things...words (from a poem, book, song, or even words you've written yourself), a computer with Microsoft Power Point, and a jump-drive or other file-storage device.  For this demo, I'll be describing Microsoft 2010, but you can take this same concept to create printables in other versions of the program.

If you have those three things then you're ready to go!  Here's what you do...

PowerPoint will automatically create a presentation that is 10x7.5, but you can make your printable any size you would like by simply changing the page size.

Once you are in the Page Setup toolbar adjust your page width and height, and decide if want your artwork to appear portrait (smaller width than height), or landscape (smaller height than width).

If you plan on framing your artwork, keep in mind page sizes are not the same as photo-sizes.  For example, a standard page size that you would use to print from your printer is 8.5x11, whereas a photo size would be 8x10.

Frames and mats are designed to accommodate photo sizes, so keep that in mind when making your printable.

Once you've sized your page, determine what color you would like your printable to be.  PowerPoint will default to white, so if you've chosen another color simply change the background settings of your presentation.

PowerPoint has a lot of great colors to choose from in the main toolbar, but you can click "more colors" for a wider color selection.

Once you've selected your background color the challenging part begins.  Now you will start the process of making the words you have selected look visually appealing.  For this there are no set rules.  You'll just need to play with it until you come up with a look that you like.

I usually limit myself to no more than three fonts for my pieces. Personally, I think this keeps the piece from looking hodge-podge.  It gives it some consistency and balance.

Another tip I have found is to select varied fonts, and fonts that are easy to read.  What I mean by that is you don't want all of your fonts to look like Times New Roman.  Choose one font that is straight-lined, another that is traditional, and if you go for a third font let that be your fun font.  Each of these fonts should be easy to read, so avoid any fonts that look too funky.

To create different effects with your piece, adjust the font size and color until you get the look that you want.  Shift your text-boxes around to move them closer, or farther away from other words on the page. 

Once you've found the look that you like you're almost done.  Now you've just got to get your printable printed!

I'm sure there was a part of you that wondered why I would recommend using Microsoft PowerPoint to create printable artwork.  You're probably thinking, "Kelli, how is a presentation going to hang on my wall?"  Well, let me answer that question...

The sneaky little thing about PowerPoint is that you don't actually have to save your work as a presentation.  There are many different formats you can save your file in, but for your artwork projects I would recommend the good ol' JPEG.

When you save your PowerPoint file as a JPEG, it will save your presentation slide as an image, rather than a PowerPoint file.  So, just like you would take your digital camera down to get your photos printed out, you save your "presentation slide" as a JPEG and you're ready to go.

Now, if you have a fancy-schmancy printer, feel free to print your artwork out yourself...but if you don't I'd recommend letting the pro's take care of it.  For me, I chose to have my piece printed out at Staples because I was afraid my printer would leave print lines down the piece.  I'm really glad I did this for a few reasons...

Numero uno...Staples had several different types of papers to choose from, as well as different thicknesses.  I went with this really fancy shimmery paper that they had...


Not sure if you can actually see the shimmer (it was difficult to photograph), but I thought it gave the print-out a professional touch.  Staples also had gloss finishes, matte finishes, colored paper, etc.

Reason numero dos...Staples equipment definitely produced a higher-quality image than my printer would have at home...and the grand total for this baby was only $1.40.  I think it was worth it!

Now, earlier I mentioned it was best to create printables that were photo-sized rather than paper sized...here's why...

Unfortunately this was a minor detail that I didn't remember until after I had already printed my image at Staples, which meant I had to trim my framing mat to accommodate my 8.5x11 print out.  Luckily, it wasn't a deal-breaker.  In fact, it was a pretty simple fix, but I'd much rather trim my print than trim the frame mat.  Live and learn, I guess.

The best part about this project is that it doesn't require a lot of effort before you can see your results...and the results are super fun!  When I look at the final piece, I feel like I purchased it from a store somewhere.  But the reality is it is truly a homemade gift that says exactly what I want it to say.

 Oh, and one last thing that is really good to know...it's really easy to change up your artwork when using this method.  Simply change your background color and/or font color to get multiple versions of the same print!

So, now you know my secret.  The truth has been told.  I'm not some amazingly talented graphic designer with an artistic eye...I'm simply a girl with who knows how to use text-boxes and save files as JPEG's.  I hope you don't think any less of me!

Enjoy your weekend!



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