Graphic Tools for Indie Authors — Part 4

Introduction

Hello and welcome Graphic Tools for Indie Artists, Part 4 of my series dealing with graphics tools which can be used to promote indie novels, blogs, and social media campaigns.

In this post I’m going to continue my review of Adobe Spark, which allows a user to create social media posts, web pages, and videos. In Part 3 of this series I covered using Adobe Spark to make graphics for use in blogs, social media, and marketing campaigns. I was going to skip Spark’s page creation option but have decided to cover it after all.

I’ll use the same format as the last post, though I will spend a little less time on some of the elements of Adobe Spark covered last time.

  • What is Adobe Spark?
  • Website overview
  • Using Adobe Spark — Web Pages
  • 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. The application is available in both free and paid versions. With the later you can remove the Adobe Spark logo from your creations. You can find a more comprehensive description of Spark here.

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.

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

Graphic Tools for Indie Authors -- Web Page Creation, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Starting Web Page Creation

Using Adobe Spark — Web Pages

Upon clicking “Web Pages” you are presented with a number of template options including “Grow Your Business”, “Teach and Study”, “Promote Your Brand” and others. Templates allow you to quickly whip something together as you are mostly altering the elements of a pre-made design. In addition, you can choose to start from scratch by using the button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

We’ll start from scratch.

Adobe Spark Web Pages are “scrolling pages” which allow you to add several different elements:

  • Photos
  • Text
  • Videos
  • Buttons (useful for providing links to other web pages/sites)

Generally, you lay out the elements sequentially, starting at the top of the page and moving down. However, there are three options that allow you to alter the layout of the page:

  • Photo Grid
  • Glide Show
  • Split layout

Getting started

When starting from scratch you’ll first add a title for the Web Page and, optionally, a photo. Note that when beginning your web page the only two options seem to be add a photo and/or add a title. Moreover, you seem to have to add the title first. However, once added, you may edit or delete either.

You can preview your web page at any time by using the preview button.

Graphic Tools for Indie Authors - Part 4, Brant Forseng, @brantforeng
Title and first image added

Once the first image and/or title is added, all of the options become available to build out the web page. Access them by scrolling the page down and clicking the small plus sign in the centre bottom.

Graphic Tools for Indie Authors - Part 4, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Menu options for adding page elements

Adding Text

Adding text is simple. Merely click the Text button and type. Text appears below the previously added element (in this case a photo). Text appears centered under the previous element. A tool with limited formatting options appears as soon as you click the Text button. You can insert hyperlinks in text if you wish.

Previously added text can be edited by clicking anywhere in the text. Add the next element by clicking the small plus sign under the newly added text.

Note that the “+” sign used to insert new elements appears between each added element, you can always go back and add new elements in between those already positioned on the page.

Graphic Tools for Indie Authors -Part 4, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Adding or editing text

Adding Video

You add video (or any other element type) by clicking the “add element” + sign and selecting Video. You don’t upload the video to the page. Instead you supply a link to video already residing on YouTube, Vimeo, or Spark itself.

Copy and paste in the link, and there you go. It’s pretty simple because you have no control over whether or not the video is centered (it is centered automatically), its size, or whether video controls are displayed.

Graphics for Indie Authors -- Part 4, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng

Adding a Photo Grid

A photo grid is exactly what the name implies: you upload a number of images and Spark will arrange them on the page in a rectangular grid, adjusting the size of each so that the entire grid “fits”.

Don’t have photos of your own? No problem, Spark allows you to search for and upload photos from several different sources with a creative commons license.

Photos are uploaded and placed on the page one at a time. The grid re-sizes images automatically to make them fit the page, though you do have limited control over this. Moreover, you can control the order in which the images in the grid are displayed. Finally, you can supply a caption at the bottom of the photo grid.

Graphic Tools for Indie Authors - Part 4, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
A four-image photo grid

Adding a Glide Show

An interesting element to add to an Adobe Spark page is a Glide Show. Essentially you add a number of photos, the same way you would when creating a grid.

When the finished page is displayed, you can cycle through the photos in the glide show as if they were in layers, each fading over top of the previous one.

Once the photos are added, you can enhance them with text, block quotes, other images, videos, or buttons. These additional elements “overlay” the larger image, though are much smaller and positioned to the left.

Edit the Glide Show by clicking on any of the Glide Show images and making the appropriate selection from the pop up menu.

Graphic Tools for Indie Authors - Part 4, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Editing a previously created Glide Show

Adding a Split Screen

Just as the name suggests, you can add a photo on one side of the page and text (or a second image, or button or a video) on the other. You choose which goes on the left and which goes on the right.

Graphic Tools for Indie Authors - Part 4, Brant Forseng, @brantforseng
Adding a split screen

You can replace the elements or edit them (in the case of text) at any time, even swapping the left and right elements.

Changing the Theme

Your page has a default theme which can be changed at any time. In the free version of Spark, themes control text font and, in a few cases only, the page’s background colour. Most themes have a white background (or slight variation thereof). To create your own theme (with the fonts and colours you want) you will need to upgrade.

Change the theme by clicking Theme in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Sharing Your Page

You can either share a link to your page, or print your page. We’ll share a link. To share a link, click the Share button at the top of the page and supply some basic information, such as page name, photo credits (optional), whether or not you would like to have your page possibly featured on the Adobe Spark website.

With those options chosen, you click the Create Link button.

When the link is generated you and copy and paste into a web page, or share it through Facebook, Twitter, Classroom, or email. Embed code is also available.

Here’s a link to the page built in this blog post:

Lady Merreth Artwork

Adobe Spark Applications

The most obvious application of Adobe Spark is to build a page to be used in your author platform (website). You cannot just take the page code and seamlessly add it to your website as the page is hosted by Adobe. Hence you’ll need to use either a link, as is done above, or embed the page (something I have not experimented with yet).

Within that limitation there are a couple of possibilities:

  • Book launch page
  • “About me” page

You can probably think of more.

However, given that the page can be easily shared on social media (Twitter and Facebook), you could leverage that for book promotion, particularly as Spark pages can contain links (via the button element).

Keep in mind there are a number of limitations as a byproduct of Spark pages’ ease of use. You have limited control over images. You cannot resize them, for example. Additionally, you may not be able to place them precisely where you want them.

Font choices and colours are limited, particularly on the free version. The Spark branding appears on the page with the free version, though you may not care about that.

However, the ease with which a Spark page can be created argues strongly for its use by Indie Authors.

Further Resources

Here are a few more resources on Adobe Spark Pages for your use:

So, what do you think? Have you used Adobe Spark? If so, what did you think? Let us know in the comments!

Until next time, thanks for reading, and we’ll see you again.

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