Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tagxedo Teacher Appreciation Card

It's Maisie's last day of school tomorrow and, as usual, I've left it until the last minute to think about thank you gifts and cards for the teachers and teaching assistants.  I had a quick look on Pinterest and I found this great idea to make a Tagxedo word cloud card.  Do have a look, there's a free printable for an 'apple for the teacher' card.

I've experimented with Tagxedo before and I know how addictive it can be, so I really wanted to have another play myself.  I thought it might be a bit more personal to try to get a picture of Maisie on there, along with the teacher's name.

I chose this picture to manipulate -

(It looks a bit weird because I cropped it and rotated it to get her face to the right angle.)

I then cut out all of the background and photoshopped in bunches. (Yep, I know, my Photoshop skills are a bit on the basic side, but please work with me!)

I increased the contrast so that her face was starting to look white.

I then converted it to grey scale and increased the contrast again to get a completely black and white image and saved it as a jpeg.

To load the image into Tagxedo, go to 'Create' and click on the arrow next to 'shape'.  At the bottom you will see the option to 'add shape'.

Once your image is up there you will be shown 'threshold' and 'blur' sliders.  Have a play with these until your image gets the definition you want.  For mine, I moved the threshold all the way up to 99% and the blur, all the way down to 0% but you can play around with these.

Now comes the fun part!

Click on 'Load' and then enter into the text box all the words that you want to appear in your word cloud.  I chose words that I felt described the job of a teacher and the qualities that they have.  The more often you type a word, the more prominent it will be.  I only wanted to make sure that I had the teacher's name in large bold letters, so I typed that several times at the beginning.  (Place a tilde between the title and the surname to prevent them from being separated.)

Here are the words that I entered, but you can use whatever words you like -
Teacher's~name Teacher's~name Teacher's~name literacy numeracy teaching patience support nurturing encouragement kindness motivator play imagination guidance support fun listener role~model mentor inspires enlightens young~minds

I played around with the orientation option and I thought that the horizontal/vertical option worked the best for my image.

Under 'Word Layout options' I chose to significantly increase the tightness and the maximum word count as my image has quite a few narrow and delicate lines and this would give me more definition.  In fairness, 'front on' faces aren't an ideal subject for Tagxedo.  It does work much better with big, bold shapes, or high contrast faces in a slight profile, but I'm working with what I've got.

There's a huge choice of colour themes and I chose 'Blue vs Grey' or you can create your own.  You can also select the fonts from the website, or choose to use the ones on your computer.  If you don't like the layout, colour or font, just keep re-spinning until you get one that works for you.

Just have a play - you really could lose several hours trying to get the look you want!

You can save your image in various formats.  I just saved mine in jpeg so that I could open it up in Photoshop.  After cropping it, I resized it to 300dpi and 9.5cm wide.

I managed to print 4 images out onto one A4 inkjet transparency, mirroring the image first.

It was then just a case of trimming down my portraits and attaching them to the card fronts with my crop-o-dile hole punch and eyelets.

It's not very clear in the photograph, but I added a little organza bow to her hair as a final hand made touch

Hardy Leung, the very nice man that created Tagxedo has put together a list of 101 things you can do with Tagxedo which is worth a read.

Tagxedo is free at the moment and has been for at least the last 3 years, but for how much longer, I don't know...  Give it a go, you'll lose hours!

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