MKW Graphics
Helping small businesses turn brand vision into visuals
mkw_coffee filter sculpture.jpg

Tips + Thoughts

To call myself a blogger feels all too millennial. Instead, I consider this portion of my website to be part knowledge library, part design magazine and part entreprenurial-digital-nomad travel journal. Hope you enjoy reading my musings!

- MKW

Designer Hack: D.I.Y. Social Media Graphics on your Phone

When I design brands for my clients, I want to give them a toolbox that they can use to bring their brand to fruition. Most of the time, this includes custom illustrations and hand drawn text elements that are harder to manipulate outside of the design programs that I am making them in. 

LO' AND BEHOLD: ADOBE SPARKPOST

...this is not an ad, I just love this app... but hey Adobe if you want to pay me that'd be cool too :)

Here's a step-by-step of how I used Adobe Sparkpost to make a quick social media graphic for a client all on my iphone:


STEP 1:

Download Adobe Spark Post from the App Store

Honestly I am kind of shocked that this hasn't been launched sooner. There are probably a million combinations of ways that you can make posts for social media, stories, blogs, etc. etc. even adding animations to text graphics which are really slick. You can read more on the website here: https://spark.adobe.com/ or just keep following this tutorial.


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STEP 2:

Download the illustrations, Images or other graphics that you want and save them to your camera roll.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we'll use this yoga girl. I made this seated yoga pose illustration for my client Balanced by Katie. The plan is to use yoga and physical therapy illustrations throughout her branding.

To make overlapping graphics, you're going to want to use transparent high resolution .png files. This means that what you see here in white is actually transparent and will layer nicely over the surrounding graphic elements.


STEP 3: 

Use custom color codes to create a solid background.

Toggle over from "swatches" to "custom." Your graphic designer (hopefully me) should have provided you color codes in your branding guides. There are a few different ways to communicate color digitally:

  • CMYK = meaning cyan, magenta, yellow, k=black... this refers to the colors that printers use, but do not necessarily translate digitally
     
  • RBG = meaning red, green, blue ... these are color codes used in digital display
     
  • Hex Code = Hex code is what you see here. It's a combination of letters and numbers which give you a color based on  "hexadecimal values. The codeitself is a hex triplet, which represents three separate values that specify the levels of the component colors. The code starts with a pound sign (#) and is followed by six hex values or three hex value pairs (for example, #AFD645)." (https://www.techopedia.com/definition/29788/color-hex-code)

STEP 4: 

Specify size Dimensions

This is one of my favorite features of this app, frankly because when I design these kinds of social graphics in Illustrator, I have to know (usually look up) the exact pixel x pixel dimensions for each of these platforms, whereas Adobe Sparkpost does it for you right here. What I also love (and will show later) is that once you have a design that you love, you can resize it to these different specs and it will auto generate the text and images to size appropriately (sometimes you have to make minor adjustments). 


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STEP 5:

Delete Auto-generated Content or add your own Titles now

I just deleted this text my hitting the trash can icon in the top header section.


STEP 6:

Add in your custom graphics.

  • At the bottom panel, you'll see an option with a "+"
  • Hit that and this menu will appear

There are a lot of great options here to use. Sparkpost has preloaded patterns and free photos you can use. If you use adobe for other programs like lightroom and creative cloud, it will pull your images from there as well which is really nice.

  • Hit "Photo Library" to retrieve your graphics

 


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STEP 7: 

Drop in, position and resize your custom graphic.

This was such an ah-ha moment! Once the graphic is in there, you can move around, manipulate and resize to your liking. Other ways to use this feature would be to add your logo like a watermark on your photographs (should be only your original photographs or images that are exclusively free stock). 

Then hit done.


STEP 8:

Add in your custom text.

  • In the bottom panel hit "+" to add
  • Click "Add Text"
  • Change text by double tapping on it and adding whatever verbiage you need, here I added "New Blog Post"
  • Sparkpost gives you tons of options for fonts. They may not have the font you use in your brand guides available, so pick something similar or complimentary. We use Montserrat in the brand guides, but Lato is VERY similar. 
  • Adjust the color, style, shape and alignment along the top panel to get it the way you want it to look.
  • You can also adjust the size by resizing and moving with your fingers. 

STEP 9:

Create more text in different arrangements and colors.

Here I added the potential blog post topic, changed the arrangement and played with the spacing. You can get really creative and layered with your elements here. 


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STEP 10:

Match your color blocks to colors within your existing graphics with the eyedropper tool.

I was pretty freaking excited when I figured this one out. If you want to change the color of the text or background of a particular part of your graphic, scroll over on the top panel to color. From there:

  • Toggle from swatches to custom
  • Hit the little eyedropper tool
  • this will prompt you to scroll over the spot in your graphic you want to match (!!!) huge timesaver from trying to punch in your custom color codes regularly. 
  • Here, I scrolled my finger over the color of the yoga pants and it changed the background of the text box to match. 

EXPORT + CELEBRATE

Once you get your post looking the way you like...

  • hit the top corner "Share"
  • I like to hit "Save Image" and send it straight to my camera roll, but you can also go facebook, instagram, twitter, message, email, etc. with it 
  • After you save this, you can go back into the app, duplicate, and resize for all the corresponding platforms which makes it super easy for all your social media needs! 

* Keep in mind that you may have to pay/upgrade to get the "#AdobeSparkPost" tag or whatever it is OFF of your social graphic. The cheater way to do this would be to export as is and then crop the tag off, but your dimensions won't be as exact that way. 

Hope you found this helpful! Good luck + tag me in your graphics on social so I can see what you've made! @mkwgraphics on facebook and instagram. Toodles!

Michelle Wintersteen