CreativityCredit: Cory Stophlet, 2014

When you open a webpage what catches your eye first, the title or the picture or both? For most of us the images grabs us first then the big print titles. There is our objective: eye catching images and titles. Creating your own pictures and images for your InfoBarrel content can be quite fun as well as keeping you safe from claims of unauthorized use of someone else’s work. Personally, I like to use public domain images and graphics provided by Pixabay, Morguefile and WikiMedia Commons. Unfortunately, you can’t always find just what you need online.

Original Art

Sometimes we just have to create what we need when there is nothing else to fill the need. Maybe all we need is a wash of color with geometric shapes, just to catch the readers eye. Maybe what we need is a specific subject that is unique to our topic, for example: a certain breed of dog or cat; maybe it's a model of car; maybe it's a tourist site. Our options are often to take photos ourselves or create what we need. I would prefer to take photographs myself but the subject matter needed may not be around for a photo opportunity.

Our adopted cat Gibbs, abandoned by the previous ownerCredit: cory stophlet, 2009

When I feel like being a bit creative, I might make a sketch/drawing or painting myself. And, since I write a lot of Project Management articles, I like to create PowerPoint presentation slides of the material and turn them into images that can be uploaded into my content.

If you have a friend or relative with a talent for sketching and painting, you could always recruit them for specific projects; just remember to get their permission to post their photographs.

Get the Kids Involved

For those of you with children or grandchildren (I have three granddaughters), you can always recruit them to do some creative art for you. Most printers have scanning capabilities allowing you to save the artwork as a JPEG file. If scanning is not the best option, you can still take a photograph of the art work and upload that file into your computer. Your young ones may be budding photographers and might find helping you compile your own library of article images fun, interesting and challenging. Be creative – original art and photos will enhance your InfoBarrel content.

Creative Tools: PowerPoint and Paint

Graphic ToolsCredit: Cory Stophlet 2014

My favorite two software applications are Microsoft PowerPoint and MS Paint (Windows Paint). Yes, Microsoft PowerPoint (MSPP) is filled with public domain “clip art” images. Many of the images you will find with my content are created through MSPP and MS Paint. The nice thing about using PowerPoint is that you can copy/paste your own photos and artwork into a slide; add text, shapes, colors, effects, sound, and create a collage or whatever you want to make. With MSPP you can even modify other graphics to fit your need.

I use the image/graphic insert function or the copy/paste options to put together multiple images, shapes and colors. After I finish assembling my new creation, I use the keyboard shortcut keys of [ctrl+Prnt sc] to copy the entire screen shot; then paste that image [ctrl+V] onto Microsoft Paint. From “Paint” I can use the “select” option to outline the image I want to save [ctrl+C]; then open a new Paint file; paste [ctrl+V] the selected image on the new Paint window; then go to the menu and save as a JPEG file. The result is an image anyone can create and tailored to meet your specific need. Here is an example created with MS PowerPoint and MS Paint.

Team5Credit: Cory Stophlet, 2014

Another advantage of PowerPoint version 2010, and later, is the ability to create videos from your images that can be uploaded to YouTube and then used on InfoBarrel or any other site that accepts YouTube or video uloading. You may still need to download “Microsoft Movie Maker”, in order to convert the slide show to a video file. Even if you have an earlier version of PowerPoint this video creation can be done it just takes a lot longer because you have to load each of your MSPP page images individually into Microsoft “Movie Maker”; then add audio separately and save as a movie.

Creating Video

For more specifics on how this is done go to the MSPP Help Menu topic “Turn your presentation into a video.”

Adding Sound

Below are a couple of simple poem samples I created for YouTube using MS PowerPoint, Clip Art and Paint. You can do far more yourself with little effort. Be careful, you might have fun and become addicted to creativity. 

Christmas Cheer

Christmas Minstrels

Final Word

Remember, the image you use with your article, content or blog is the first thing that tends to catch a reader’s eye – even before they notice the title. If you don’t want to create a new image every time to post content to InfoBarrel, you can always create several pictures or graphics in your spare time and save them on your computer to use at a later date. Essentially, you can create your own library of original art to use and reuse in your blogs, articles, Facebook postings or any web site.