Archive | July 1, 2008

Free Wordle Tool Creates Custom Text Backgrounds

The free website Wordle is a tool that creates custom text backgrounds (or “cloud art”) from text that you give it. This tool would be great application for creating custom backgrounds or design elements for scrapbooking digitally or for printing for use in paper scrapbooks.

Using Wordle requires having the most current edition of Java installed on your system. If you don’t (and you’ll be able to tell because the create tab won’t “create”), there is a link to download and install the free utility in the troubleshooting section of the site.

Wordle is simple to use – just select the “create” tab and paste in some text. A good choice for a scrapbook page would be to paste your journaling. Wordle then creates an initial version of the art and puts you in the screen where you can make adjustments to it.

By default, Wordle dumps out “common” words in the language such as prepositions. This default can be turned off for effect if the designer wants though. Other available choices include changing the font, the color palette of the design, the shape of the design, and the orientation of the word arrangement (vertical, horizontal, or a mix). The placement of the words is random and can be regenerated multiple times until the designer is satisfied with the placement.

Java PrintingI created this piece with several paragraphs from my Café Autism site describing taking my daughter swimming with her grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins. The words grandparents, pool and Bridget are prominent, and I chose a color scheme and font that say “staying cool in the pool” to me. (Click on the graphic to see it larger.)

To get your creation out of the creator into a form you can use for scrapbooking you will need to have a “print to PDF” function available on your computer. If you don’t, there are free utilities available on the internet that will give you that function. (I recommend Cute PDF Writer.)

Once the file is a PDF, it can be imported into an image editing program like Photoshop Elements.

Despite being generated with a white background, mine imported into PSE with a clear background, giving me the option of printing it on a colored paper or adding a background of any color that I wanted! The imported file was 300dpi and aproximately 6.5″ x 7.5″ – a very good size and resolution for a scrapbooking element.

There is a gallery on the Wordle site with examples of what people have generated with the tool if you need inspiration.

Text is a hot design element…Wordle is a fun and free tool…what more could a scrapbooker want?

[An additional note regarding CutePDF writer and how to use it: Once you have downloaded and installed CutePDF, it will show up as another printer in your print options printer list. So to create a PDF of something you will actually "print" it and then change the printer in the print options screen from your usual printer to CutePDF. It then takes you into a save window where you can name the file, etc. To get your creation out of Wordle into a PDF, install CutePDF and then hit Wordle's "print" button and select CutePDF instead of your printer. ]


My MOO Cards Arrived!

A few weeks ago I wrote about MOO Cards and their potential uses for marketing for scrapbook companies and businesses. I remembered being given some of “those funny shaped cards” before at a conference as contact cards but didn’t know where they had come from. When Wendy recommended them on Sparkplugging, I was very excited to read about them!

I’m going to be attending a national autism conference next week and want to be able to share the URL of my new autism website, Café Autism, with people I meet. MOO MiniCards seemed like the perfect way to do it! So I designed and ordered some. Although I could have had a different graphic on each of the card backs, I opted to have the same graphic on each one (my site’s logo).

The cards arrived today and they are beautiful!


The black background of the graphic is perfectly saturated and the white is clean and bright. The cards have a very nice matte finish to them. The tiny type on the back is perfectly readable and positioned correctly.

The only thing that had made me at all nervous about using MOO after the enthusiastic recommendation from Wendy was the international shipping from their London location but that went off without a hitch. The cards arrived in the early part of the shipping window they provided me. They were in a plastic envelope, and packaged inside of that in sturdy recyclable plastic boxes that are perfect for storing the cards in (or for packing in suitcases) while they are waiting to be used.

In addition to their unique small-sized cards, this week MOO also started offering full-sized business cards. The new MOO business cards have the same features as their mini-cards, including the ability to put a different image on the back of each one.

If you have something that you need to promote and be memorable, check out MOO!