Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Beyond Presentations: Customize Google Slides to any Dimension

One simple tweak under hood can unleash a world of freedom!

Now, that sounds like something a gear-head teenager might say after barreling out the carburetor on his mom's Passat. What we're talking about here though is Google Slides. With one not-so-obvious click, any Google slide can take on any dimension.

Make it tall and rectangular and create infographics. Make it long and rectangular and trick out your Twitter banner (1500x500 pixels) or your Facebook cover photo (851x315 pixels for desktop, 640x360 pixels for mobile) or go square for Instagram like I did. You can choose dimensions in inches, centimeters, points, or pixels.

To customize the slide, go to FILE and then PAGE SETUP.
 The thing I find most useful here is the fact that Slides connects so nicely with Google Photos. If I am posting to Instagram and want to create a collage of pictures from a trip or if I want to add words of wisdom to an image then Slides is one stop shopping. You can download your image as a JPEG in the FILE menu. It's too bad we can only post to Instagram from a mobile device.

Customizing slide size is just another way a lot of creativity can be fostered through Google Slides...and has nothing to do with just making slideshows.

For more creativity tools, especially for Chromebooks, check out the Chromebook Creativity Project and follow #CreateWithChromebooks on social media.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Turn Keynote into a 3D Design Studio

With the advent of a growing shape library in Keynote and virtually unlimited fonts (if you use the Mac version), the presentation application can be leveraged into a dynamite design tool...even for 3D printing.

For years I have been using Keynote for just about everything except slide shows. I create fun graphics for video production, t-shirt designs, as it is where I stop long before I fire up Photoshop. Now with a growing assortment of silhouette shapes and symbols, the creativity possibilities have increased exponentially.

Here is a quick workflow for turning Keynote creations on a screen into 3D printed reality.

1. Design in Keynote. Just make everything black so it will convert easily. Here I have designed a shark that will stand up on a small pedestal (to be added later in Tinkercad) with the words "Great White Shark" added to the base. Notice how I added some grass and star fish to liven up the design a bit. I did this one quickly on my iPad so fonts were limited but had I used the Mac version, I could have gotten a lot more in depth with my text designs. Note: Everything you create in Keynote will essentially be one object in the CAD program so it will all print at the same thickness. If you want objects to have differing thickness, just create separate slides for each individual part.

2. Export your slide as an image and then convert to a scalable vector graphic (.svg file). The easiest way I have found to do this to use is SVGcreator.com. It's a simple upload, automatic conversion, and download process.

3. Open your 3D design app or site of choice (I work mainly in Tinkercad.com) and import the .svg file or files you created from the converted slides.

Add any extra pieces you want and then assemble the pieces. I added a wedge piece for the base and then under my text, I slid a small rectangle that will help keep my text together. Eventually I will glue that printed text onto the front of the base.

4. Scale, adjust, and download for printing. Really, that is all there is to harnessing the tremendously creative power of Keynote into something you can actually pick up and handle.

Here is the final product as produced with our XYZPrinting DaVinci Mini Maker. Like most designs, this one too could use some refining. The text ended up being too small to be useful and a little poster putty went a long way to help our shark stay afloat. Still, this is a fun example of what Keynote, creativity and some free conversion tools can help you and your learners create. Think about all of the knowledge they