06 August 2013

DIY: easy anniversary art

Last week when I showed you the newly-spruced-well-at-least-no-longer-despised china cabinet:

Eagle-eyed reader Rachel spotted some of my homemade wedding art! Wait, you don’t see anything to do with our wedding? Well, take a closer look at those numbers. 6-19-2010. Anniversary art code! Major brownie points to Rachel for figuring it out. High five!

I made that way back in the old house when I needed some cheap free art for the gallery wall in the guest bedroom. Maybe if you squint, you could see it back there? Ehhhhhh?

And of course, it’s simple enough that you can make some, too!

Now, I made mine with Illustrator, because my job requires software that fancy – and pricey, oh so pricey. And the font I used (Ministry Script) isn’t free, either (you can FIND it for free, but it’s not free). Still, you can make similar art on the cheap/free, using software most people have – PowerPoint. Yes, the nerdy businessy slideshow software can be used to make art for your house!

One reason I like PowerPoint (and Illustrator) for this job is that you can easily define the size of the image. I was using an older version of PowerPoint to take these screen shots, but no matter which version you have, there’s a way you can set the precise size of your DIY art. Just draw any old rectangle in the color of your choice, then define its dimensions:

This is important because if you’re putting it in a 5x7 frame, you want that specific aspect ratio (which is different for 4x6 and 8x10 and every standard frame size). Save yourself the time and set it correctly! To make the frame effect, I just copy-pasted a second box right on top of it, set it to no fill and white border, and held the option key (on my Mac) to resize it. That shrinks the box while keeping it centered. Easy frame effect!

Then it’s just a matter of playing with fonts and colors! Here’s a more cheerful and modern version of our wedding date in Champagne and Limousines (available at dafont):

Sometimes you have to mix up which numbers are spelled in words and which use arabic numerals. Here’s our friends’ wedding date in La Portenia de la Boca (oops, that one’s not free... sorry):

We got lucky with a wedding date that lends itself well to number art, but other dates... obviously not so easy. For instance, we’re attending a wedding later this month on 8-24-13. A fine date, except it’s so... long:

See what I mean, with the text box around it? I tried all sorts of combinations, but every one came out too wide, especially in the font I chose (Origin, also at dafont). But you can fix that! In Illustrator, it’s just a matter of resizing the text box, and the text within will skew to fill the box. PowerPoint... not so much. There’s stlll a way, though!

First, make the background of the text box itself the same color as the rectangle. This will prevent a white fill background behind your text later. Then, cut the text box from the document, and immediately re-insert it using the Paste Special command in the Edit menu:

That should bring up a dialog box. Choose “PDF” from the list of options. (“Picture” will kinda work too, but I’ve found that PDF leads to better image quality in the end.

The image of text you just pasted as a PDF is no longer editable – that is, no changing the font or editing the text. But you CAN skew the text! Just resize the box:

And you can adjust the text to fill the available space. Ta-da!

Actual graphic artists might be annoyed that I’m screwing up a perfectly designed font, but I think skewing the text looks better in the end (with the right font, within reason). So there.

Of course, skewing the text can only help so much. It’s especially tricky to figure out a combination of numbers and letters for dates more than thirteen years ago – that is, in the NINETEEN HUNDREDS. This is the best I could do with our birthdays (in Trajan Pro, a standard system font):

Clearly, “80 three” is not exactly the same thing as eighty-three, but... close enough!

As you can see, this is so easy-peasy that, unless you are a total newbie at making DIY art, it didn’t even really need a tutorial. And spelling out dates as art can hardly be considered a novel art idea... cutting edge, I am not. Still! I hope my tips can help you make your own DIY anniversary (or birthday, or any kind of date) art. Go forth and fill your empty frames with free and meaningful art!


Rachel C said...

Woo hoo! My life as a blog reader is complete because I inspired a post!! (You might have intended to post this all along, but I'm still claiming it.) And thanks for the tutorial. I have no experience making word art, but I'm certainly going to try. Now I just have to figure our how to break up my long anniversary date -- 10/24/2009.

Sarah said...

@Rachel, Consider your blog-reader-life complete, haha! Thanks for the inspiration to write a post about it. Sometimes I totally forget about projects I've done until a fresh pair of eyes reminds me! And hmmm, I'm tempted to take to Illustrator for your challenging wedding date.... maybe three lines? "twenty 09" or "two thousand 9"? I hope it works out for you!

Rachel C said...

Haha. I would gladly display your work of art if you feel inspired! Everything for our wedding was written 24-10-2009 because I think it's pretty like that, so I was considering "24 ten two thousand 9" on two lines.

Janice said...

I am loving this idea!! THANKS for sharing with us :)