Graphic Tools for Indie Authors — Part 3

Introduction

Hello and welcome to Part 3 of of my series, Graphic Tools for Indie Authors. In Part 1 I covered resources and the first tool — PowerPoint. Part 2 examined a cool photo/image manipulation tool called PhotoFunia.

In this post I’m going to review a versatile tool from Adobe — Spark, which allows a user to create social media posts, web pages, and videos. I’ll focus on using Spark to create graphics. Videos will be addressed in another post.

I’ll use the same format as the last post and cover the following points:

  • What is Adobe Spark?
  • Website overview
  • Using Adobe Spark — Graphics
  • Adobe Spark Applications
  • More resources

What is Adobe Spark?

Adobe Spark is free, web-based application that allows you to create graphics, videos, and static web pages. The graphics and videos can be shared easily on social media. Spark comes with many pre-made templates and both royalty free graphics and background music.

The interface is simple to use, features an undo button in case you make a mistake, and practically promotes experimentation. The free version will insert an unobtrusive watermark in the lower right hand corner of images and adds a credit screen to the end of any created video.

Watermarks can be removed with the paid version, which also features a unique branding capability. You can upload your logo and/brand colours and Spark will incorporate them into any template suggestions it makes when you are creating new graphics, videos and web pages.

However, the free version is likely more than adequate for most indie authors so that’s what this post will cover. In addition, the focus will be on images and, in a further post, video because, frankly, I just have not played around with the web page option.

Website Overview

Adobe Spark’s web page is pretty straight-forward. Arrayed across the top is information on the Spark features you receive when you upgrade (ie. pay for Spark). If you have created any graphics, videos, or web pages in the past, they are available for editing. That’s pretty much it.

You can immediately start the creation process using the big blue “plus” button at the center top of the screen.

Graphic Tools for Indie Authors, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Adobe Spark Home Page

You’ll have a choice at the point to create a graphic (image), web page, or video.

Using Adobe Spark — Graphics

“Graphics” refers to still images composed of different elements — images, illustrations, shapes, fonts, colours etc., and sized for a particular purpose (e.g. Instagram post). Animated GIFs are not included.

Adobe Spark provides a number of different pre-formatted templates for graphics. These are all sized for different social media platforms and contain suggested content — images, pictures, fonts, icons, and illustrations. You can use one of these templates as a starting point and modify it to you heart’s content, or “start from scratch”.

I suggest you start with one of the pre-made templates to get get acquainted with Spark. You’ll have a lot of options when working with a graphic. Below I’ve selected a pre-made Instagram graphic. It’s pretty simple and merely displays an image of woman surrounded by a heavy black border with some text at the top. The Adobe Spark logo is visible in the lower right hand corner.

There are four main “edit types” arrayed along the right hand side of the screen:

  • Design
  • Colours
  • Layout
  • Re-size
Graphic Tools For Indie Authors, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Starting template for an Instagram Post selected

Design allows you to immediately apply a new layout and colour scheme using the elements present in the original template. Clicking on Design will display a scrolling list of new template layouts on the right. Click any of them to immediately update the original elements to conform to the new layout, colours, and fonts.

You can keep selecting until you find the design that most closely matches what you want. Note that some designs will fit the template elements better than others. Use the undo button at the top centre of the screen to, well, undo.

Graphic Tools For Indie Authors, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Sample Designs using elements from the original template

The Colour option allows you to change the colour of non-photo elements on the screen by selecting from a colour palette.

Clicking the colour option on the far right of the screen replaces the design options with a scrolling list of colour palettes from which to choose. Click one and the graphic immediately updates to reflect the new palette.

Graphic Tools for Indie Authors, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Sample colour changes

The Resize menu option allows you to reformat your graphic into a variety of social media and print formats. As with the other menu options, clicking Resize will open a scroll list of sizing options. Select one and your graphic will immediately resize. Don’t like any of the pre-sets? No problem. You can enter your own custom dimensions.

Graphic Tools for Indie Authors, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Sample resizings

It should be noted that you have full control over text, font size, font face, and colours used. Moreover, you can upload your own image(s) to replace the ones provided in the template.

Once you are are happy with your design you can save it as an image or a PDF (for later printing). Alternatively, you share directly to Twitter, Facebook, Google Classroom, via email, or by link. Download and Share buttons are in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

One thing to keep in mind is that while Spark is incredibly easy to use, the trade is somewhat less flexibility in design than is provided by comparable productions — most notably Canva. However, there is more than sufficient scope for design to allow you to come up with a design that fits your needs.

Here’s a image I created for use in a Twitter post:

Graphic Tools For Indie Authors, Part 3, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
A Forseng Fiction graphic suitable for a Twitter Post

Adobe Spark Applications

I’ll start with obvious first — graphics created by Adobe Sparks can be used an on a variety of social media platforms. In fact, Spark seems designed with that use in mind, given the plethora of social media format available for use. Frequently there is more than one sizing option for a particular social media platform (e.g. you can resize your graphic for a Facebook page cover, profile cover and/or event cover).

Moreover, for those of you into hard copy, Spark allows you to resize your design for a variety of print purposes (letter, poster, AS, card, etc.) — useful if your marketing plan involves printed material.

More Resources

There are a ton of Adobe Spark resources available. Here are a few on YouTube to get you started:

Conclusion

Spark is easy to use, free, and comes with a wealth of pre-sets and ready-made templates. While somewhat less flexible than comparable products such as Canva, it’s incredibly powerful. The Adobe Spark logo inserted into anything created by the free version is unobtrusive. For the price — free — it is well worth checking out.

So what about it, readers? Have any of you used Spark? If so, what for?

Thanks for reading, and I will see you again next time.

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