Worship Media Arts

Archive for Graphic Design

5 Easy Steps to More Effective Announcement Slides


It’s a funny thing really… we all do them, but it’s practically unanimous that no one thinks they work. I’m referring of course to announcement slides.

For the past several years at my Design Matters seminar, I’ve regularly asked attendees whether they use announcement loops and if they feel they work. 99.9% of the time, the majority of the crowd responds first with nods and then with shaking heads.

The “announcement loop” seems to be completely ineffective, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 5 tips for making your announcements more effective.

1.) Kill the clipart

The first and perhaps biggest problem is that from a design standpoint, our announcement slides stink. They are often thrown together at the last minute, are mostly made up of text, and are ultimately devoid of any sense of design. When we do incorporate imagery, we look to the wrong sources.

If Microsoft Office’s clipart gallery is your starting point, you’ve unwittingly discovered the root of the problem.

Clipart was originally designed for prints purposes. It was literally clipped/cut out and pasted to fliers, newsletters and other print publications.

While clipart may have served a distinct purpose in the print mediums of the past, it doesn’t usually translate well to screen use. Unfortunately, no one gave the folks on the PowerPoint development team that note.

Avoiding clipart will start you on the path to more appealing announcements. Look to full-screen, or high quality stylized art found at such places as www.istockphoto.com or www.shutterstock.com. Try using the search illustrations option to find some really tasteful source material.

2.) Engage in the creative process

For many announcement “designers”, creativity is barely considered when announcements are put together. Usually, creativity is limited to the selection of gradient colors, what font(s) to use (Comic Sans is the devil) and which clipart file best fits the headline.

Creativity matters! Brainstorm ways to make your announcements fun and visually appealing. Is there a creative twist you can put on your announcement that will catch the eye? Could you do a parody of a movie poster to convey the information? Might you display your info in the image on a brick wall, yellow legal pad or iphone rather than over a gradient or solid color? Look for visual hooks to make your announcements stick.

In this men’s prayer breakfast image, syrup is used to creatively display the title. This makes it more fun to look at than a simple block font.

3.) Consider your audience

The visual style of your announcement should appeal to your target audience. This may mean doing a little research.

For announcements appealing to youth, look at the design styles of MTV, G4 and other edgy networks. Lifetime and OWN might provide visual insights for imagery that appeals to women. ESPN, Spike and Comedy Central would be good references for men.

Also, don’t design in a vacuum. It never hurts to pull someone in from your target audience to give a little feedback on a graphic’s appeal.

4.) Model after the Movies

One of the best models for worship announcements can be experienced at your local movie theater. Using trivia, word scrambles and other creative slides in between your announcements can help keep the attention of the viewer. When you pose a question on screen, it’s only natural for the viewer to want to wait around for the answer. This means that they read everything in between.

There’s only one rule for how to make this work. You can only use the trivia one week! Don’t be tempted to reuse them – even once.

Here are a few simple examples I use at my seminar:

5.) Make multiple versions

Believe it or not, there is a shelf life for announcement slides. The newness of a design wears off after about 2 weeks.

It’s sort of like wallpaper. Lots of care and attention goes into the selection of a pattern, but once hung, it’s not long before wallpaper almost disappears. When seen every day, what once was appealing becomes uninteresting and unworthy of focused attention. If you use the same announcement slides week in and week out for weeks on end, people will tune them out.

The solution to the wallpaper problem is to design a minimum of 3 slides per reoccurring announcement – 4 or 5 would be even better. Any given design should only be used for one week at a time; never to be repeated on a consecutive week.

When followed, these simple tips will give your announcements some traction.

If you’re interested in saving time with pre-made layered announcement slides, check out our Announce It! Volume 1 and Announce It! Volume 2.





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What to Insist on When Getting a Church Logo


Over the years, I’ve designed many logos for churches, non-profit organizations and secular companies. If you’re not careful, you may not get everything that you ordered, or you may find down the road you need your logo in a format that you don’t have.

I just finished a logo for Tipp City United Methodist church (don’t visit the site, the new logo isn’t there yet), and as I was building all of the various versions, I was reminded of an article I co-authored with Chris Johnson for my other company Simplifilm. This is an adaptation of that article:

It’s hard to imagine, but a lot of large companies and organizations have trouble with key details for their logos designs. Simple things like vector and transparent background versions can’t be found or don’t exist. When a ministry grows, decisions that made have been made long ago have a painful impact in the present and future.

So if you’re thinking about getting a logo, here are some tips to think about right from the beginning. These are intended to help you avoid major amounts of frustration. No more “what font did we use” hunts on places like WhatTheFont. Read the rest of this entry »


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New After Effects Tutorial: Video Rewind Effect


Are you an After Effects artist looking to learn new techniques? One of my favorite sites to learn cool After Effects tricks is aetuts.com. Last month they approached me about developing some tutorials for their site. Below is a link to what will (hopefully) be the first in a series of tutorials for their site.

In this first tutorial, you’ll return to the days when VHS and Betamax ruled, to learn how to make an authentic analog looking rewind effect.  The 35 minute tutorial doesn’t require any 3rd party plugins. Hope you enjoy it!

Here’s a preview:

Get it here!


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New Resource! Worship Textures


We are excited to announce a brand new Midnight Oil resource: Worship Textures!

Worship Textures is a collection of incredible high resolution, royalty free photos designed for designers and worship artists. Add a little flare to your visual creations with these ultra high quality textures or use them as is for background elements in worship and beyond.

This versatile collection comes in both screen and high resolution and includes over 275 different textures in the following categories: Abstract, Asphalt, Bokeh, Clouds, Concrete, Dirt, Fabric/Material, Metal, Paper, Patriotic, Plants, Rock/Stonework, Stained Glass, and Wood.

View the entire collection here.

Worship Textures is $49 but is available exclusively through Midnight Oil for a limited time at the introductory price of $39.

Get five textures for free right now! Grab this free mini-set as part of Monthly Media Freebie.


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New Sources for Inspiration, Part 2: 5 More Sites to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

A couple of months ago Jason highlighted some sites that he turns to for new ideas and creative energy. In case you missed it, here it is. As we discuss in our book Design Matters, references are both a powerful tool and a vital part of the design process. A designer can never have enough cool sites for new ideas and references.

With that in mind, here are some more great sites, full of incredible examples of effectively communicating concepts through visual images, still and moving..

Read the rest of this entry »


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