Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine Design: a lesson in desktop publishing

I recently posted a tutorial for recycling crayons in the oven with silicon baking molds.  My son had such fun with those that he made heart shaped ones for his classmates for Valentine’s Day.  I turned his valentines into an opportunity to teach him a little desktop publishing using Microsoft Publisher.  Below is a chronological list of our process for using the computer to make the tags pictured above.
Determine the Dimensions: First we determined the dimensions of our plastic treat bags.  We used 3”x4” treat bags.  We decided that a 1.5” tall tag looked best so we doubled that to get a 3”x3” square that would be folded in half over the top of the treat bag and stapled in place.  I explained that the top half of the tag would be printed upside down so that once it was folded both sides of the tag would be right side up. 

Rough Draft on Paper: On paper we decided what words should be on each side of the tag.  He liked “you color my world” best for the front and to and from on the back with space to write the recipients name.  I recommended adding a disclaimer that the treat wasn’t edible (I’ve had experience making cinnamon applesauce ornaments with my art club when I was teaching high school, we made them for all the teachers and left them in their mailboxes.  Despite the hole punched in them and hanger attached two bright teachers ate theirs!)  Anyway we added an excerpt of a cute rhyme we found online: “this may look like a sweet treat, but take note, it’s not to eat!” and added this to the back of the tag.

Snap to Guides: Since we knew we needed to make 3”x3” tags we started by adding snap to guides.  I showed him the rulers on the top and side to help us create the right sized tags.  Just click on the ruler with the mouse and drag a green line onto the document that will not print in the final draft. 

How to "Undo" Something: Then I taught him “control z” the command that will undo the last thing you did, so when you make a mistake there’s no need to worry, just “ctrl z” and you can undo it! 
I showed him how to add a text box and let him type out the front of his tag.  This was a little painful to watch him hunt and peck.  Note to self we need to find some fun keyboarding games to learn how to type.

Highlight words to change their font
Format Your Text: Then I taught him how to highlight his text to change the size, positioning and line spacing.  We changed the color and font.  I had him settle on one font and then he decided to make each letter in the word "color" a different color.  I told him that if he made one thing on the tag a different color and only used that one color that it was called spot color.

Adding Clipart: Then we added one piece of clip art.  I showed him how to change the text wrapping so that the words and the image were in their own space and not overlapping. 

Add spot color to for emphasis
Keep it Simple: Then we worked on the other side of the tag.  (I was sure to create a new text box so it could be turned upside down when we were finished with it.)  He was excited to choose a different font, but I told him that it’s nice to choose a fancy font for one thing and choose a simple font for the rest so they don’t compete.  He chose to add spot color for his name. 

Turning a Text Box: Then we turned the top portion of the tag upside down by clicking on the green circle at the top of the text box and while holding the button down dragging it in a circle as the box turned. 

Copy and Paste: We selected all the elements of the tag once we were satisfied with how it looked and used “control c” to copy and “control v” to paste it until we had 6 tags per page.

Do the Math: We determined how many sheets we’d need to print.

After printing the tags on white cardstock I cut them out with my paper cutter and helped him fold them and staple them to the bag. 

They came out great!  And he made all the design choices with only a little help from me.  I hope this will encourage you to try designing something with your creative little heart.

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