Graphics For Bloggers [Series - Part 1]

Education & Training with Tech Training for You!

Time to start a new blog series! (BTW, I will continue the Picasa series, not done with that one quite yet) Let's change "channels" for a little while and talk about graphics in your blog! Take a look at different blogs and how graphics can be used well to catch a person's eye and then engage them to stay to read the content. In the figure on the right, notice the difference and how much more interesting the article with graphics is (exact same textual content).

This series is going to dive a little deeper into the waters of intermediate to advanced topics and may not be for everyone... but, I'm going to teach you what I know and you can decide if you want to go for it! I'll do my best to break down the steps so you can get how to do it.

When it comes to graphics, use your own original content whenever you can and you won't have to worry about the copyright issues. If you want to use graphics from the web, search ActiveRain for articles about best practices for getting graphics. This series is not about where you get your graphics, but what you can do with them once you have them.

One tool that I have on my computer always that helps me with graphics is a cool little app that you might think has a funny name. It is called Irfanview (ir-fan-view, it is named after the author of the app, Irfan Skiljan)

It is a FREE app and you can go to this page to download it. It is not bloatware, adware, spyware, nor malware... it has been in the top downloads list for years (download count 52+ million) and I've used it for a LONG time and can highly recommend without question. It starts instantly (unlike photoshop) and I have it assigned to my hotkey Ctrl+Alt+F to call it up in a snap whenever needed (which is extremely often).

Three things in graphics get used frequently for me (1) crop (2) resize (3) convert/saveas type. Ifranview does all these with amazing simplicity.
To crop something, drag a bounding box and press Ctrl+Y
To resize a graphic (to blog size), press Ctrl+R and enter the desired pixel sizing
To save, click the save button and save the file and pick type you need (JPG, GIF, PNG)

Let me illustrate a typical task sequence for me with a listing presentation graphic. First I'll create a photo collage in Picasa (click here for that "how-to" blog article). Once the collage has been finished (i.e. "create collage" button), I right-click on the image and choose "Open With" > "Irfanview" (once you have the app installed, it will become available to use in this way). You can see this step illustrated below.

For best practice, the very best first step is to do the  "save as" command. You can very easily do this by pressing S or by clicking the saveas button on the toolbar. You will want saveas, because you don't want to overwrite your higher-resolution original with a lower-resolution web copy. Pick a destination folder and name and you'll be all ready to upload the graphic into your blog post.

The next step is to get a nice tight crop eliminating all the extra white space around. Once you have the graphic open in Irfanview, you can drag a bounding box of where your crop lines will fall. Don't worry about getting it precise when you draw the boundary, you can adjust the edges of the crop lines after in order to get them exactly where you want them to fall. Once you are ready to crop, press Ctrl+Y (shortcut for crop)

By the way, another great shortcut in Irfanview is by pressing the F key. It will toggle between "Fit to screen" and regular size. If you have a huge graphic, you'll want to see it in Fit to screen mode

Now if you are thinking about using the graphic in a blog, you'll want to resize it down to "web sized" proportions. Press the Ctrl+R shortcut to "resize". You will get a dialog box like is shown below and you can type the target pixel size. When I create blog graphics, I target the width value. I aim for 600-640 pixels width for a full width graphic and about 350-400 for a graphic that I will wrap the text around. (I'll get more into these metrics on a next part of this series, but for now there are some numbers to work with)

Finally press Ctrl+S to save all the changes that you just made (remembering that you had already done 'saveas" in the step above so you are not altering your high resolution original)

Stay tuned... this blog series will be continued! (new subscribers appreciated!)

I've tagged this series so that you can click here to see a list of all the articles in the series so you won't miss any. :)

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Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Coleen - not a mac user so I can only help with concepts but what about this ... 
(since Irfanview is a pc app) - set up your chart on the screen so it is nice and clear and then do a screen capture (there was a little conversation on this post with David about that). From there save the file. Next resize the file down using "Preview" app down to blog size (about 640pixels I recommend)
would that help?

Sep 26, 2010 02:12 AM #121
Wade Kawahara
Dominion Real Estate Partners, LLC - Phoenix, AZ

Craig, thanks for the information.  I will try it out.

Sep 26, 2010 06:09 AM #122
Tina Gleisner
Home Tips for Women - Portsmouth, NH
Home Tips for Women

Craig, THis is a great tutorial and I want to try the tool you suggest as Photoshop does take too long to open although I also like being able to eliminate things from photos & change graphic colors when needed. 

Sep 26, 2010 06:37 AM #123
Diane M. Phillips Realtor 443-286-4365
Frankly Real Estate Inc. - Manchester, MD
Specializing in Carroll Co., MD

Craig ~ good stuff! Thanks for sharing! Kind of a bummer it a PC app only.

Sep 28, 2010 02:36 AM #124
Liane Thomas -Top Listing Agent
BROKER Allison James Estates & Homes BRE 01885684 - Corona, CA
Bringing you Home!

Oh boy, do I need some serious help! I subscribed to your series and look forward to figuring this out. Thanks!

Oct 02, 2010 01:18 AM #125
Menlo Park Real Estate and Homes for Sale
Wende Schoof - Menlo Park, CA - 650.504.0219 - SF Peninsula

Thanks, Craig!  This is helpful, and I'm off to apply what I've learned with my next post.

Oct 03, 2010 01:17 PM #126
Robert Schwabe
EXP Realty - Orange Park, FL
Orange Park Real Estate

Craig - Great tutorial. What are you using to get all the little red arrows on the pictures.

Oct 08, 2010 03:58 PM #127
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

Thanks for the post. I've bookmarked it for future reference.


Oct 17, 2010 01:04 PM #128
Mike Mayer
Mike Mayer, Broker/Owner - i List For Less Realty, LLC - Lafayette, LA

Had to subscribe as well as bookmark this information. You offer a wealth of tips and advice that are practical and in a format that is easy to understand.

Oct 19, 2010 04:28 PM #129
Eva Aliaga
Keller Williams Realty Boca Raton - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton & Delray Beach: SE Florida Real Estate

Hi Craig, got this bookmarked. Quite abit of info to digest.

Oct 19, 2010 05:43 PM #130
Kim & Kristine Halverson, Santa Monica Real Estate :) - Santa Monica, CA

Super cool and simple.  Thanks for sharing.  It's great to learn about quick simple techniques that have a big impact.


Kristine :)

Oct 21, 2010 12:17 PM #131
Betsy Schuman Dodek
Washington Fine Properties - Washington DC Area Real Estate - Potomac, MD

Craig - you  are a fantastic teacher. I will keeping reading your top 10!!!

Jan 01, 2011 07:19 AM #132
Jimmy Gilley
Gold Star Realty - Niles, MI
(269) 362-4841 - Search Niles MI Home For Sale

Excellent post!  Thank you for sharing, bookmarking for future use.

Jan 03, 2011 03:29 PM #133
Ron Wood
HTR/Wood Realty Group, Inc - Benson, NC
Johnston, Harnett, Sampson & Wake

I have been using Irfanview for several years and even though I am not the best at graphics software it is easy to use.

Ron Wood

Jan 04, 2011 05:44 AM #134
Larry Atkins
State Wide Realty Co. - Farmville, VA

This looks awesome, I've downloaded it and am going to try it today....looks like a big time saver.

Jan 06, 2011 02:40 AM #135
Jeremy Joslin
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - South Windsor, CT
Professional Real Estate Marketing and Sales

I played a little and seems like a great easy to use photo editing software.  Surprised this one is free.  Thanks I will use it.

Sep 05, 2011 02:08 PM #136
Mimi Foster
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

So I downloaded Irfanview and I am pulling my hair out trying to figure it out.  The two things I need most are watermarking (or adding a caption) and resizing.  I have always used Picnik.  I thought this would be a good solution, but how the devil do you figure it out????????????? :)

Feb 26, 2012 01:42 AM #137
Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Mimi - you have questions, I have answers! I'm going to see you in class right??? :)

Feb 26, 2012 01:56 AM #138
Mimi Foster
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Will class answer those questions?  Yes, I was actually just signing up

Feb 26, 2012 02:09 AM #139
Mimi Foster
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

What I had been reading was that you did a long series on Picnik.  Obviously that is not going to be the case now.  I'm excited and frustrated at LEARNING CURVES :)  I thought I read somewhere that you had a Picassa class.  Help me, Craig, help me :))))  I am signed up.  NOW WHAT???   LOL

Feb 26, 2012 02:15 AM #140
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