Melbel’s Secrets to Great Graphics

Melbel is well known on HubPages for her great personality and sound advice. As her audience is usually caught up in the interesting information her Hubs have to offer, many don’t realize that Melbel has also created some awesome graphics for her Hubs.

We invited Melbel to give some additional tips and advice for those interested in creating original images for their work (special artistic talents: optional). I think you’ll find her recommendations to quite useful- I know I did!

Though you use great photos in your Hubs, I’ve also seen that you create custom images in some cases. When did you first start doing this?

I started doing this in one of my first few Hubs, so shortly after joining HubPages. I used screenshots right off the bat since they’re the best way to show how to do things on the computer.

When creating a Hub, what makes you decide between using photos or creating images?

If the subject is something readily available, I’ll take a picture instead of searching for one. I’ll ALWAYS use a screenshot if it’s a computer tutorial, since it’s much easier to make one than to find one.

Your Hub on multiplying polynomials solves the tough issues of finding attractive images for more abstractly-oriented Hubs. What did you use to create those graphics of various mathematical equations?

It was seriously impossible to write that Hub with images that are currently floating around the ‘net. I tried a number of techniques, but I found that creating original images using GIMP worked out the best. GIMP is similar to Photoshop, but it’s free, so it’s a great option if you don’t have extra money to put into image editing software that you *might* use.

For that specific Hub, I thought it would look nice if I matched the polynomials to HubPages design, so I took a screenshot of my HubPages profile and used the color picking tool to grab the color from the badges.

In your guide to installing fonts, you include screenshots in addition to a text-based graphic you made. Screenshots are another great way to include images in a Hub when photos wouldn’t necessarily make sense. How do you grab screenshots on your computer? I know there are many different options.

It depends on what kind of computer you have. If you have a Windows machine, you can (usually) just hit “Print Scr”, open Paint, then hit CTRL+V to paste it into Paint, and then save it.

If you have a Mac, you can do the same with with Command+Shift+3 and it’ll save it automatically for you. What’s awesome about a Mac is that if you hit Command+Shift+4, you can select the specific area you want a shot of.

Are there any additional resources you would recommend for creating custom graphics for Hubs?

There are tons of resources for graphic design out there. And, while risking giving a non-answer, I really, really recommend getting comfortable with Google Search operators. If you get to know a few of them, you can seriously find exactly what you need on the Internet. If you run into a problem when making something, there’s bound to be some forum post on some random site where someone is having the same exact problem.

I recommend just jumping in. There are all sorts of free things out there (I’m a huge fan of “free”): fonts, image manipulators, tutorials, etc. You can just download GIMP and play around in it and see what you get. If you end up making something ugly (I’ve made tons of horrible looking graphics), you don’t have to use it in a Hub.

You Don’t Have to Be an Artist to Create Great Graphics

Many Hubbers have shied away from creating custom images for their work because they are not comfortable with their artistic skills. Even if you might not be happy with your doodles, sketches, and paintings, you can still create fabulous original graphics for your Hubs that add polish, demonstrate meaning, and improve readers’ aesthetic experiences.

Consider making use of colorful text, the way Melbel has done in some of her helpful math Hubs (we’ll be hearing more from her later this week). Also consider playing around with GIMP (free editing software similar to Photoshop) or some straightforward drawing programs, as Wayseeker has done splendidly (in addition to creating beautiful sketches by hand) with some of his Hubs (we’ll also be hearing from him this week).

6679003_f1024If you’re really averse to the idea of creating custom images, let the numbers create them for you! Graphs and charts make for wonderful graphics, and can be as informative as they are attractive. Microsoft Excel, Google Spreadsheets, and even basic online graph tools intended for young students make for great graph generators.

Also don’t forget that simple screenshots count as custom graphics, and can be quite helpful for Hubs that provide advice on navigating various websites, completing tasks on different operating systems, and using software programs.

As you can see, there are many options for creating custom images for Hubs- even for those who are not so artistically inclined.

If you don’t consider yourself to be an artist, but still incorporate original graphics into your work, we’d love to hear from you. Tell us about the images you create and the tools you use by posting on our Facebook page, tweeting @HubPagesDotCom, or striking up a conversation with +HubPages on Google+.