Posted in Project Ideas

The Sketchbook Bio

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It’s not a photo album and it’s not a biographical sketch either. So, I gave it my own name. I call it a sketchbook bio and your presentation graphics app is the perfect tool for creating one. I’m using Keynote but PowerPoint or Impress will work just as well. The techniques are the same, but the actual commands will be a bit different.

I’m using Keynote’s Letterpress theme – one of the standard themes that comes with Keynote. I chose it because of the sage green color and the canvas textured background. Although Keynote themes come with a number of different layouts for title slides, text slides and image slides, I’m using only the blank slide for this project. It takes more time to build a slide, but I have more flexibility with fonts, image styles and element placement.

Most of the content in this project is created using text boxes and images.

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This slide contains both an image and a text box.

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The challenge here was the photo. Unfortunately it’s permanently attached to the photographer’s frame and the edges of the frame weren’t in the best of shape.

Click the image to select it and Keynote’s Inspector displays the Style pane. I chose to use the blurred edge frame with its rounded corners and experimented with the blur feature until the worst of the frame’s damaged corners were smoothed out.

I then tilted the photo a bit and added a shadow – also on the Style pane – to add dimension. A simple text box holds the journaling associated with this slide.

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Here I’m using a grungy line around the graduation photo to help camouflage the rough edges on this class picture. Choosing a color found in the photo for the line helps it blend in with the photo and doesn’t draw attention to my edge camouflaging effort.
To select a color from the image, follow these steps:
  1.  Click on the color block for the stroke element.
  2.  Use the color wheel option, then click on the magnifying glass icon to activate the color selector.
  3.  Move the color selector magnifying glass over the image until you find the color you want. Click to select it.

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In this project, I kept to a limited number of fonts: Enview for titles, Monaco for journaling text and Kiev for the photo captions. There was one exception . . .

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Of course a wedding photo needs an appropriate font.

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The last slide displays the sources used in my story. I didn’t want them detracting from the page designs so I placed them at the end.
One last tip . . . if you noticed, most of the text looks like it was pressed into the background paper. This is easily done by adding a shadow to the text. The difference is this is a light colored shadow instead of a dark one.

Resources

Because there are no multimedia components in this project, distribution options include exporting to PDF or exporting to images. If you choose the image option, you can then display them using a digital frame.
Software: Keynote from Apple’s iWork suite
Fonts used in the Barker sketch: Enview, BickhamScript Pro, Monaco and Kiev.
Posted in Graphic Resources

Create Graphic Books With Keynote

If you think Keynote (Mac, iOS) is only for presentations, you are missing out on a lot of graphic goodness. Keynote offers a broad range of features that can be used in all kinds of creative ways. Forget the bullet points and test drive its graphic features to create beautiful books, cards, blog images and much more.

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Scrapbooking doesn’t have to be cutsy. In this example, the notepaper layer tells how to layer the graphics, but it could just as easily be used to tell a family story. Keynote makes it easy to layer graphic elements like the textured background, the page from an old family letter and the vegetation. When you don’t have a photo to complement your story, look for other options.

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Keynote can also be used to introduce a blog post. This one is quite simple . . . an old family photo, a map of Savannah from an old book, a graphic and some cool fonts. The graphics and the title grab the eye and make your readers want to learn the rest of the story.

Historic graphics such as the map shown above are easy to find. My first stop is always Flickr Commons. Archives, libraries and many other institutions from around the world have posted their photo/graphic collections in the Commons. Even better, most of them are public domain so we can put them to good use. It’s doubtful you will find a photograph of an ancestor, but you can find plenty of images to add atmosphere to your stories. KeynoteGraphics103

This photo takes us back to Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland, sometime around World War I. If you are telling a story focused in a particular place, check Flickr Commons to see what you can find. Both the British Library and Internet Archive are scanning and posting graphics from old books at the Commons that can also be quite useful.

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Even today’s photographs can be aged to fit your needs. Apps like Stackables [iOS – $2.99] and Distressed FX [iOS – $.99] can turn a photograph into a piece of art – aged or otherwise.

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Keynote makes it easy to combine your text with photos, maps, graphic images and ephemera to build a graphical storybook.

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One other thing that makes Keynote so useful for storytellers is that you can create your “little stories” as your research discovers them, then rearrange them in whatever order you want. And, when you are ready to share, all you do is export the entire “presentation” as a PDF document.

Your graphic book can now be easily shared with family and friends.

Posted in Project Ideas

Creative Powerpoint

If you think Powerpoint is just for business presentations, think again. It’s  more than slide after slide of bullet points. A whole lot more. Powerpoint (along with Keynote for Mac, WordPerfect Presentations and LibreOffice’s Impress) also makes a great scrapbooking platform. For family historians who want to combine old photos and memorabilia with text in creative ways, any one of these apps can make it happen.

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This example turns a short biographical sketch into an eye-catching delight. It was created using Keynote and the Parchment theme. A couple of vintage fonts add to the “atmosphere”. Note that the graduation program is layered over the schoolhouse photo. This is just one of many “scrapbooking” features available on all these presentation apps.

It gets better! Most presentation apps support background music and have the ability to export your slides as a video. This was created in just a few minutes on an iPad using Keynote.

As you can see, there are lots of possibilities – and your family will love them! Pull out your presentations program and take it for a family history test drive. I think you’ll be delightfully surprised.