My last post talked about how to use a template for chalkboard art. Well, how did I make that template? Did I use fancy software to extract images or bend the letters? Is template making something only professionals can do? NOPE! I’m going to show you how to make a template on Word. Yep. Using only Microsoft Word. It can be just that easy.
You can use these steps whether you’re making a chalkboard art template, or painting a large image on the wall, or doing a wood carving… whatever you do that needs a template. How you transfer it will depend on what medium you’re transferring to, but the template creation steps are the same.
For this tutorial, I’m going to make a template of an X-Ray for Budgie’s upcoming Doctor-themed birthday party. To start with, I found an X-Ray image on Google. I’m sure you know what an X-Ray generally looks like: a lot of black with shadowy white where the bone is. I do not want to have to print that out and use all of that black ink. I want to make a template out of it so I can transfer the image to my chalkboard easily.
Start by making a blank Word document. Before you do anything else, change the size of the paper to the size of your finished product. (If your chalkboard is 18″ x 25″, make the paper 18″ x 25″.) Go to Layout -> Size -> More Paper Sizes. Here you can enter your custom dimensions. While you’re there, select the Margins tab and make your margins narrow; no point wasting paper on margins. I use a .5 margin.
Creating the Image
Next, copy the image from the source and paste it in the document. Resize it so that it is appropriately sized for the project. Sometimes that means you’ll make it as big as the template. Sometimes you’ll have to shrink it. That’s up to you and your design. For the X-Ray, I’m making it big. For the coffee cup template, I played around with the size of the image as I entered the text.
Here comes the artistic part: tracing the image. Believe it or not, Word has all kinds of art tools. The easiest one for tracing is the Draw tool. It’s a newer tool and works best for touch screen computers. Select Draw from the top menu, and select Draw with Touch. Use a color that will stand out against the original image and just trace. Simple as that.
If you don’t have the Draw tool, or you don’t have a touch screen computer (and are shaky with the mouse like I am), there’s no fear. Use the Shapes tool. Select Insert -> Shapes. Use the shapes to trace the image. For my example, I almost exclusively used the Curve shape. There’s no geometric shape the directly correlates with bone, so I just made curves. If you’re tracing a coffee cup, you may use an oval over the top and curves on the sides. Use your judgement. I trust you!
TIP: If you make a shape and it’s not quite right (your curve ends early, the oval doesn’t line up), select the shape and go to Format under Picture Tools. Then, on the left, you’ll see Edit Shape. Select that and a drop down will show up. Select Edit Points. Each point will have a box that can be dragged to adjust the shape. Make the necessary adjustments so that your shape is just right!
TIP: Color code your image! Use different colors to help you remember what is what. For example, I’m using blue to show me the fuzzy outline of muscle and skin, and red to show me the bone. I’m going to do the fuzzy stuff in gently shaded white chalk and the bone in clean, clear chalk pen.
Now that you’ve traced everything important, you can remove the background image. All you do is select the background image and delete. Simple as that.
Adding and Shaping Text
But what about fun, shaped text? Well, I don’t need fun shapes on this template in particular, but I will talk you through how to add it.
Once again, go to the Insert tab. Way on the right, you’ll find Word Art. If your screen (or window housing Word) isn’t wide enough, it’ll appear as a sub item of Text. Select Word Art and pick a style that is close to what you want. (You can always change as you go.) When I’m making a template, I usually pick something rather simple. I’m not going to be doing shadows or reflections (usually), so I don’t pick a style that has those.
Type the words you want to appear in the Word Art. Keep in mind, you may end up making a new word art for each line, depending on how you need to shape it. Before you start shaping it, play with the font by going to the Home tab. Find one that fits your theme, and have fun mixing and matching. My coffee cup template combines a fun, scripty font with a very serious, serif font. This template will have the patient’s name in the bottom corner, so I want a good, solid font, but nothing fancy or serifed. (Honestly, I’m still deciding if I even want it there. It may not end up in the final version.) Keep in mind, that you’ll need to be able to trace it. Make it big enough to be able to trace, and the fancier the font, the larger it’ll need to be to trace it well.
To change the color (if you selected a colored style and want to print in black), go to Format and select Text Fill. Change that to black. Then, if you notice a colored outline, you can do one of two things. First option: remove the outline by going to Text Outline and selecting No Outline. Second option: make the outline black by going to Text Outline and selecting black. Keeping the outline will make the text a little thicker. It may help with tracing, or it may make the letters bleed together. It all depends on the font selected and the size of that font.
Now that you have your text, it’s time to shape it. Still under the Format tab, select Text Effects. To shape it, select Transform. Chose the shape you want. There are a variety of Inflate and Deflate options that will curve text around an object. You can also make the text Wave, Fade, Arch, etc. Use what works for your template. If the curve doesn’t line up just right, use the little yellow dot in the image to adjust the curve. Depending on the shape, the dot(s) can tilt the wave or arch, etc. You can also tilt the text. The circle with an arrow at the top of the text box is the tilt option. Depending on what you’re shaping, you may need to tilt the text around something.
Add all of the text you want and continue to transform as you see fit. When you’re all done, you need to Save As in a .pdf format. Go to File -> Save As. Title it appropriately, select PDF from the drop down below, and Save. The .pdf format is very important for printing it as a large template.
Printing the template
Open the PDF document in a PDF viewer. (I like Adobe Acrobat. It’s free, easy to use and just about everyone has it and uses it.) To print, select File, then Print. Under Paper Size & Handling, select Poster. This will preserve the size you created for your template and divide the image over an appropriate number of pages. My template is going to take 4 pages. Then click Print in the lower right corner. Once it is all printed, tape the pages together. I find that I need to trim the excess off of one edge so I can precisely line up the lines.
You’re done! You’re ready to transfer this to whatever surface you need to transfer it to. For chalkboard transfers, you can read my previous post. To transfer to a painted wall, wood, or fabric, you can use carbon transfer paper. (For fabric, this is if you’re going to embroider or fabric paint the template).
Now enjoy the beauty of your finished product. You’re pretty awesome, aren’t you. You did this all on your own… and without any fancy, expensive software.
BTW, here’s the finished product once it was transferred and filled in on the chalkboard. It was part of the decorations for my son’s Doctor themed birthday party.