Get creativity with imagery
Every eLearning designer needs some kind of imagery to feature a visible element and enhance the planning. I always wish to keep it fresh by trying new things. Review your current library of photos and artwork and ditch the dated-looking ones. You know, those with big hair and large monitors. So let’s mention ways you’ll get creative in your eLearning projects. Here’s a photo of an environmental agency course that I’m creating. I’ll use this as an example to show what you can do with photos if you just use a little imagination. Here I’ve simply added a shape, a white rectangle, and applied transparency thereto. I’ve overlayed it on the image and added text. It’s still very readable and that I can still see the image. This overlay is slightly different in that it’s a dark color with lighter text over it. It works better on a lighter image or the lighter part of a picture. Adding overall transparency to the image itself is a nice look. You could use this for your title slide as shown here or a less busy image would work well on your content slides as well. Reducing the saturation, or amount of color is another option. You can do this in some fashion in most eLearning applications. Here, I’ve added the text in color to make it stand out more. You can also try something new with your layouts, instead of centering them, try offsetting them. Add shapes of color to draw attention to the images. In the first example here, I’ve added a transparent white box over the image to show the text. And in the second one, I created a box on the right with a shape of color behind it to tie the whole thing together. When you’re adding imagery, also be mindful of the crop. In the top example, I’ve cropped the image, but a bright spot in the sky draws my eye right to that crop. In the bottom one, I’ve adjusted the crop slightly and I think it works much better. Just a simple adjustment and the learner’s far less distracted by that bright spot at the top of the slide. Adjusting the temperature is another dramatic effect on your photos. This can be done in some fashion in most eLearning programs, or you could always adjust it in Photoshop. This doesn’t enhance the learning but provides a different artistic look for the slide. Let me show you how I did it. Here I’ve opened that same photograph on a slide in Powerpoint. Let me show you how easy it is to enhance the photo here. I’m going to double-click on the photo, and you can see that my format picture box pops up on the side. I’m going to go over here to the fourth icon, the picture icon and I have some options to pick from. If I go to picture color, I can make some adjustments here with saturation, if I want to, to increase the color. And I can also change the temperature of the color. So here I’m getting a completely different look for the photo just by dragging this little slider. If I wanted to turn this into a black and white image, I can cut the saturation altogether, I turn it into a black and white image. You see flat icons like this everywhere. They’re a popular look today. Some major brands work only with grayscale, and some with full-color. If you have the option to use color, here’s a great way to stretch your usage for stock icons. Recolour artwork works on icons too. Let me show you how it works. Here I’m Powerpoint and I’ve got my icon and I’m just going to select it and duplicate it. I’m on a Mac, so I’m using cmd, D. On Windows, I would use ctrl, D. So now I have another one just like the first one. I’m going to go over here into my format picture, go to the image area and I can go down here to where it says recolor. Click this little drop-down menu and look at all these options I have. I can change the color of this just with one click. So if you were doing something where you needed that same icon, maybe you had four different lessons and you wanted to give each lesson a different color, this is a perfect example of how you can use that. So again, just going in and using the recolor artwork feature gives me the option to get in here and change that one icon and get a bunch of different looks. Characters are still used to eLearning and can be an effective way to tie a course together. Here’s an example of a character in two different poses. They’re particularly useful for beginners or people who need a little extra coaching along the way. Stock icons can be used in creative ways as buttons too. Anything can be made into a button, so try some new ideas. The video icon is great for playing a movie, and the compass is a great choice for showing a caption that offers directions or resources. The cars can be colored and used for multiple purposes too. So much more fun than just having a plain old button. Use these ideas to inspire new and creative ideas in your courses, and give you more design options. Giving the learner some dynamic visuals can make it a more engaging experience for every learner.