We all know that graphics can make our eLearning courses fun and engaging, but we also know that our graphics should be relevant to the content, and that we should avoid decorative graphics as much as possible. Designing effective graphic that really works is time and resource consuming, so in this post, I will cover 3 easy ways to create effective eLearning graphics.
- Crop existing stock photos – Using existing stock images can be a real time saver, but most of the stock images are simply boring. Furthermore, a lot of these images have been used and reused so many times that most of us are so tired of looking at them that we often ignore them to the point where these images become meaningless in the course. Luckily, there is an easy and quick fix for that. Consider cropping photos, so that you only leave the details that are truly pertinent to your message. You can easily crop stock photos using Photoshop, but if you don’t have that tool available to you, you can consider other image manipulation tools including free ones, such as GIMP or Croppme. Typically, most companies and organizations have a subscription to royalty-free stock photos, but if you don’t have access to those, consider using free sites, such as Morgue File and Fotolia. While free sites don’t have a huge selection of images, you should still be able to find what you need for your course. Just be sure to read the fine print to ensure there are no legal restrictions.
- Recolor existing graphics – In addition to cropping photos, you may consider recoloring them. If you don’t have Photoshop, Paint.NET will become your best friend. You don’t have to recolor the entire photo, but may choose to change shades of certain colors or match the color scheme of your lesson. You can recolor any piece of graphic including clip art, or any other object you created previously and want to reuse.
- Change background of existing graphics – When you change the background of already existing graphic, it becomes a brand new graphic. You can completely remove it, match it to the existing color scheme of your lesson, or apply a new background that you think matches the point you are trying to make. For example, if you have an image of two people sitting at the desk in a classroom setting, but your course is geared towards business professionals, you may consider making the background of an image transparent, and applying the “business background” over top. You may also consider, cropping the image, so that the background (in our example, classroom) is removed, and paste the people from the image on the “business background” that matches your content. Again, if you don’t have Photoshop available to you, you can use other tools to remove your background. PowerPoint is a great tool that can either remove the background, or make it transparent. In fact, the new version of PowerPoint can take care of most of your graphic design needs, so you won’t have to invest in expensive tools such as Photoshop.
As you can see, you don’t need to be a professional graphic designer to create new and stunning graphics for your eLearning courses, nor do you need to spend a fortune on your graphic design needs.
In my Instructional Design for eLearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses book, I cover designing effective graphics in detail. This book is also available in Spanish.
In addition, you may be interested in my Instructional Design for eLearning course, which has a lesson on eLearning graphics.