Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video Photos and illustrations, part of Learning Graphic Design: Presentations.
- An illustration is good for showing things that a photo can't. A cut away drawing, for example, like this garden stream. You'll need to make it visible for those in back so zoom in. And you'll need to make it understandable, so guide your audience around with captions that build one at a time. Or you can just use your laser pointer. Drawings can be complex and still be understandable if you zoom in and guide your audience step by step.
Photos are real life. There's almost no substitute. If you have a real product, show it. If you have a place, show it. If you're talking about people, show them. Nothing is better at this than a photo. If you use a photo as clip art or metaphor, take care that it doesn't look cheesy. We're very good at spotting fakes. Instead of this, use this. Photos are rectangles and therefore interact with the rectangular slides so place them carefully and intentionally in the middle of a slide or obviously off to one side.
These photos leave phantom frames. Running the photo full width or full height eliminates the frame and gives you clear zones for copy. This is a very clean look. A full bleed is the most like real life. It's immersive. Try to avoid placing a photo in the corner because this leaves you an oddball shape to deal with. If for some reason you must, you might darken the background to lower the contrast so the edge is less visible.
But don't do this for just one slide if it breaks a pattern you've established. And avoid misaligning photos in the middle, unless you're making a scrapbook. Whenever possible, keep words off of your photos. Often you can just talk while showing a photo on the slide. If you need both together on a slide, design a clear layout for your words that you can then repeat. If you absolutely must put copy atop a photo, make is as short as possible, as big as possible, and find the clearest most open space possible.
This will be very difficult to sustain over a series because you don't want your word jumping around. In no case, though, should you add an outline or a shadow to your type in an effort to make it more visible. This is often done, but it's never attractive and it always looks like a work around. It also creates unintended difference. You want words in photos to be clear and consistent.
So design from the start with that in mind. If you can picture your product against an empty background, do it. It looks great. It clears away every possible distraction so all eyes can focus on your product. It's like a picture hanging on a museum wall. It's the only thing there to look at. And it eliminates those rectangles and their interactions. And finally, it goes without saying that your photos should be high quality.
Clear, well composed, well lit. If your presentation is important, it's not a place for blurry, dull, funny color, shadowy photos. If you don't have a good photo, don't use one.
Good presentations take time and thought. Design is too important to leave to a computer! Use these techniques to make personalized, thoughtful presentations that both educate and inspire.
- Putting data in a story form
- Using a simple background
- Choosing the right typeface
- Incorporating charts, photos, and illustrations
- Connecting emotionally with your audience