Getting started with pixel art!

Let me start off by telling you that I’m not a pixel art expert. I’m just a regular guy. To be honest, I have done pixel art but that was over 25 years ago, and I would not really call it art. I was 10 years old and I created black and white pixelated images of superheroes that I liked.

Lo and behold I have seen the rise of pixel art in the past year. And I love it. But how could one start creating pixel art from no real experience? I asked a twitter group but I go little to no reply. Next up, Google search. I found a couple of cool tutorials on deviantart.com that explained the basics of creating shadow highlights also called dithering. That seemed just the right place to start.

I also found out that Photoshop is used the most in pixel art tutorials, however using Microsoft Paint will do just fine. Since I’m fairly familiar with Photoshop and I saw a couple of essy tutorials on how to set up my basic grid, I decided to give that a go.

So, what to draw? I want to create something really really cool, however cool stuff is usually really really difficult. So I decided to go for something simple first. In a previous post I shared how you can create your own graphics in PowerPoint and we did not start out with very difficult things, we created simple items.

So again this time I started out with simple items a monitor, computer, that kind of stuff. Check out some of the stuff I did below.

pixel-art-by-jeff

As you can see this looks pretty cool and it was really easy to make simple lines and bringing the whole piece together. It’s important to know what you are going to draw so making a quick sketch can really help you out. Alternatively you can grab a simple picture and trace it. Tracing is a great way to learn how to draw.

Once you feel comfortable drawing basic pixel images start with something more challenging or try adding more detail. For some reason I long to draw superheroes once again…

So that’s it, open Photoshop, Microsoft Paint, or any other graphics program that you’re comfortable with and start trying to create simple items. Go ahead, you’ll love it.

Pixel-Minion

Got any questions or comments? Let me know below and please feel free to share this article with your friends.

WEBINARS FOR LEARNING… GOOD OR BAD?

I’ll be frank, I love the idea of webinars for learning. An expert sharing his experience with an interested audience, what’s better than that?? Having the ability to connect with peers and the expert, ask questions and discuss the how, what and why of a topic, now that’s where learning happens right? …Right?

Maybe it’s just me, but in reality, most webinars I attended aren’t that great. They’re long, there not that interactive and they’re too crowded to get any real answers to your questions, unless you’re lucky enough to get picked out by the Webinar facilitator at the end.

If you do some research on setting up webinars you’ll quickly find that there are interactions like polling, and asking direct questions to people to make sure the audience keeps participating. Some webinar tools even have a feature that shows if someone is doing something on another screen. To me that seems like the world upside down. You shouldn’t be building in activities force them to focus. Your story and expertise should be engaging enough to do that. Heck, that’s probably why people signed up for the webinar in the first place!

SO HOW CAN A WEBINAR BE IMPROVED?

Simply, make it as short as it can be. Small learning nuggets are well accepted in learning. Don’t waste your audience’s time with a 20 minute introduction. Be concise, stick to the topic. If there is information you want to discuss send anything that can be done as pre-work to the attendees. Watching a video or going through a document or detailed slide deck during a webinar can add so much time which can be prevented with a simple ‘required’ pre-work assignment.

Whenever I do a webinar I force myself to keep it within 30 minutes. That means I plan for 25-30 minutes of content instead of 60-90 minutes. I also plan to have time available to answer as many relevant questions as possible. I tend to plan for 45-50 minutes for the total session and if I use less people are generally happy have some time left.

AN ALTERNATIVE

Are you one of those persons that signs up so you can just watch the recording? I am. I think I attend 20% of the webinars I sign up for and watch 80% afterwards, fitting my own calendar. I do this on purpose. Based on the speaker, topic and obviously time of the webinar I select which ones I want to attend and interact in and which ones I want to just watch. If I have questions I just contact the facilitator afterwards.

I’ve experimented with this format myself and noticed that in our company many people prefer to watch recorded webinars at their convenience and I’ve actually started using this as a default way to share information with my internal customers. I’ve combined it with our social platform pointing them to the webinar post in an email invitation and making use of the commenting ability of the platform to receive and answer questions.

I still do live webinars but only when I feel it makes absolute sense to have people join and participate.

GOOD OR BAD?

So what are your webinars like? Are they good or bad or something in between? There’s always room for improvement! Did you like this post or have you got additional tips? Please share it in the comments below.

 

This post appeared first on LinkedIn.

Custom Feedback Master Slides for Quizmaker and Storyline.

Mike Enders shared a post called Create E-Learning Courses With Custom Learner Feedback in which he shared how we can change the default Storyline quiz feedback popups.

In this post he shared the wellness course feedback and I decided to template that one for Storyline 2 and Quizmaker’13 because it’s just awesome!

Since most Storyline projects I do are wide-screen I’ve opted for a 16:9 resolution. The Quiz-maker file is set in the traditional 4:3 format.

FeedbackMasterLayouts

You can simply change the color scheme in the Feedback Master slide. If you want to change the default texts for the Correct/Incorrect/Try again titles and the Continue button you can do that via the Player > Text labels.

How-to Video   Quizmaker'13 file   Storyline 2 file

 

If you like this post let me know in the comments!

 

This post appeared first in the Articulate e-Learning Heroes community.

Looping Animations in Articulate Storyline

Looping animations in Storyline, by default there is no such thing (wouldn’t that be nice). However during a recent Articulate e-learning challenge about button animation and effects, an idea popped into my mind that I wanted to share with you.

Back in the days of Articulate Studio’09 there used to be a next button in the default player that started pulsating when the timeline ended. This was a perfect way to indicate users that they should click that the content on that slide had played out and they should click the next button to continue.

When Storyline 1 came out with its new player as well as Studio’13, the pulsating button had vanished as a feature in the default menu. Now some years later I still see the question being asked from time-to-time how to enable the pulsating button.
looping animation

This is where looping animations come in. If I am able to change the appearance of a button with a fade-in and fade-out animation, two basic entrance and exit animations in Storyline, I could mimic such an effect. The fade effect should be really short and… it should loop until the user clicks that next button to jump to the next slide.

This is exactly what I made happen. Check the demo and tutorial video below to learn how. If you like you can download the Storyline 2 source file to see how I did it.

Play Demo   Watch Tutorial   Download file


Questions or remarks? Leave your comments below. Don’t forget to share!

Creating Animated Buttons in Storyline

Hey Everyone,

In this post I’ll share how you can add that little extra to your project by animating your buttons. In this weeks Articulate eLearning Challenge Community Manager David Anderson set the challenge to create creative buttons and he shared some awesome examples he found on the web.

Having seen these examples I set out to recreate some of those effects in Articulate Storyline 2… and it was easy!

Check out my demo and view the video tutorial to learn how to create these kick-*ss buttons! Feel free to download the Storyline 2 file to see how I put these buttons together.

View Demo    Video Tutorial    Download Source File

Note that HTML5 does not support all Storyline animations. Be sure to try out different animations before creating your buttons.

If you like this post or have some questions please leave me a comment below and feel free to share this post.

My 1st Articulate Guru Awards entry!

View Demo

Today I’ve uploaded my first entry to the 2015 Articulate Guru awards. The Guru awards are hosted by Articulate and are open to anyone that wants to show off their mad Articulate skills.

This is my first time entering the Guru awards and I must say I’m excited, and a little nervous, about it. I want to do something good, heck I want to win (which is odd as I am the least competitive person I know). Although most entries will probably be Articulate Storyline based I decided to submit an Articulate Studio 13 demo.

The demo I submitted is a Call Center interaction based on a Storyline interaction Tim Slade created and shared in the Articulate community.

The demo features:

  • fully animated interface to enhance the user experience,
  • branching scenario using the challenge-choice-consequence model. This means that your scenario will develop based on your choices. It allows users to (re)try different options and gives them the opportunity to correct any mistakes they’ve made along the way.
  • illustrated characters with facial expressions to enhance user feedback and add to the emotional experience
  • Avatar selection to personalize the course experience.

The cool thing, if I say so myself, is that anyone that sees this demo automatically thinks it is built in Articulate Storyline and it’s not. It is 100% Articulate Studio and it only took me about 6 hours to build and 2 hours to bugfix, making sure all scenarios for all avatars where branching correctly.

This demo is probably one coolest things I’ve built in Articulate Studio and it shows how incredibly powerful and versatile it still is. Articulate Studio is where it all started for me and this Articulate Guru entry is my personal tribute.

 

Aren’t you using Articulate Studio yet? Get a free 30 day trial version at Articulate.com. You should really check it out!

3 Tips to Optimize Your Screencasts!

Have you ever watched a screencast video where you where thinking “What the heck am I looking at?!”. The items on the screen where so small they were nearly unreadable and where did that mouse pointer jump off to this time?? These are common annoyances for anyone who has ever watches a video tutorial online. Luckily there are a couple of easy things you can do to make this a little better!

Increase Your Mouse Pointer Size

This might seem a little awkward in the beginning, dragging around a massive mouse pointer, but your viewers will love you for it. On your Windows PC go to the Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Devices and Printers > Mouse.

Select the Pointers tab and check the Scheme section. You’ll find a range of possibilities and you want to select one of the ‘Extra Large’ schemes. As you can see below I’ve selected the Windows Aero (extra large) (system scheme).

mouse pointer

When I started using this trick I used to switch back and forth between regular and extra large scheme because I felt the uncomfortable with the large mouse pointer turned on all the time. After forgetting to increase the size for several screencasts and having to re-record them again I switched to the extra large scheme permanently and actually have come to love my large mouse pointer.

Whenever I get behind a computer now, the first thing I do is increase the mouse pointer size because it is so much clearer when doing my day to day stuff.

Give it a try, you just might like it!

Increase Your System Text (And Other Items)

Another way to increase the readability of what you are recording is to increase the size of system text. Go to your Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Display > Make text and other itmes larger or smaller. By default it is set to Smaller -100%. Now switch it to Medium – 125%. The system will ask you to log off and on to take this into effect.

Once you’ve logged on again everything will be slightly bigger and thus more readable for your viewers. It’s a slight difference but worth the effort wouldn’t you say?

textsize

Again this is something that takes a little getting used to and as the screen mentions ‘Some items may not fit on your screen if you choose this setting while your display is set to this resolution’. Be sure to check if your display shows what you want to record properly.

I’ve been using this for a short time and have not encountered any problems as of yet but it’s a good habit to check before encountering an issue halfway.

Add zoom regions to your screen (for Articulate Storyline Users)

If you are using Articulate Storyline to record your screencasts and use them as a single slide video you can add Zoom regions on your video to help the viewer focus on the area you’re discussing.

Zoom regionYou can add multiple zoom regions on a single slide by going to the Insert tab and selecting the Zoom Region button in the ribbon. You can spread your zoom regions over the time line to zoom into the various areas you want to highlight.

 

That’s it. If you have any questions or comments drop me a line in the comments area below. I love to read your feedback!

Create your own PowerPoint illustrations for visual communication

Download all Images and the PowerPoint Source File

A little while ago Blair Rorani started a Twitter drawathon to get people excited about his new book Everybody draw now in which he teaches how to become a visual communicator by drawing! I joined in as I’ve been meaning to start drawing on my tablet for a while and this seemed like a great opportunity.

After the 15 day drawathon I was hooked. I bought Blair’s book (and so should you!) and learned so much more. I was so psyched that I actually kept the Twitter drawathon going up till last week when I took some vacation. I did not stop drawing however. What I did was prepare for a special drawathon, a PowerPoint drawathon!

Did he say… PowerPoint?

PowerPoint is one of the most powerful versatile tools you’ve got on your computer and you’re probably only using it for the most basic stuff. I’ve learned PowerPoint is so much more than a tool that allows managers to create horrible presentations. I use it for everything from story-boarding, developing training materials to designing graphics… You name it!

And that last one, designing graphics in PowerPoint, is what we’ll be looking at. Most e-learning developers spend a lot of time searching for images for their courses. But what if you were able to create your own… In a tool you already have installed on your computer? What if I told you that you can create your own unique graphics and won’t need to spend a dime and a lot of time on finding stock images and photography.

Yes, you can!

The cool thing about creating graphics for visual communication is that the don’t need to be works of art. So for the next few weeks let’s start drawing in PowerPoint exclusively and build a new skill. You’ll love how easy PowerPoint makes it for you to create cool looking visuals that are fully scale-able and customizable to your every need. Every image is nothing more than a bunch of shapes, and shapes is an area in which where PowerPoint excels!

So join me and spend a few minutes a day drawing in PowerPoint and become a PowerPoint Illustrator Pro!

Luckily you won’t have to come up with your own topics. When I mentioned my idea to Blair he suggested to use one of the lists in his book and that makes absolute sense.

Just like with the original #Everybodydrawnow Twitter drawathon I plan to share a video of me drawing the object of the day and I’ll be sharing the image on Twitter using the #Everybodydrawnow hashtag combined with the hash-tag #pptx. You should too! (Check out all entries on twitter here).

Let’s get started!

Day 0: Setting up PowerPoint for Illustration (Video)

Day 1: Watch (Video)
01 WATCH

Day 2: Tablet (Video)

02 TABLET

Day 3: Laptop Computer (Video)

03 LAPTOP COMPUTER

Day 4: Desktop Computer (Video)

04 DESKTOP COMPUTER

Day 5: Mouse (Video)

05 MOUSE

Day 6:  Document (Video)

07 DOCUMENT

Day 7: Sticky Note (Video)

08 STICKY NOTE

Day 8: Folder (Video)

09 FOLDER

Day 9: Pencil (Video)

11 PENCIL

Day 10: Brief case (Video)

12 SUITCASE

Day 11:  Drivers License (Video)

13-DRIVERS-LICENSE

Day 12: Money (Video)

14 MONEY

Day 13: Trash Can (Video)

15 TRASH CAN

Day 14: Printer (Video)

16 PRINTER

Day 15: Photograph(s) (Video)

21 PICTURE

Day 16:  Calendar (Video)

18 CALENDAR

Day 17: e-Mail (Video)

19 EMAIL

Day 18: Cup (Video)

24 CUP

Day 19: Take-Away Cup (Video)

25 CUP

Day 20: Boy & Girl (Video)

20 BOYGIRL

THE END! A big thank you for all of those that joined the Drawathon and shared your illustrations on Twitter or otherwise! And a special thank you to Blair Rorani who started it all!

FREEBIE: Download all images and the PowerPoint source file here (1,5 mb)

 

Like this post? Got questions or remarks? Please leave your comment below. I love to read your feedback!

Jeff

Less = More: Customizing the Articulate Player

When you’re creating courses using Articulate Studio or Storyline you’ve got a very effective and highly customizable pre-built player available. It allows you to adapt the color scheme to your specific needs, to turn on and off every possible player feature from menu, to volume button, from glossary to previous and next button.  This allows you to create the exact look you need.

But what if you want to go that extra mile? What if you want to give your course that fully custom look? In that case you’ll need to make a few extra adjustments.

Turn off all Player features

The first thing you want to do is turn off all the player items. You’ll do this in the Features section of the Player Settings. Turn of everything, the menu, the title, the seekbar , all player tabs like glossary and notes… everything!

Make the Player fully transparent

As I just mentioned you can customize the color scheme of the player to create your own unique look and feel. You can do this by going into the Colors & Effects section of the Player settings. Here you’ll find the option Show advanced color editing. Next to selecting a specific color for every conceivable element of the player there is also a transparency setting. This is where you’ll do your magic.

colorediting

When you select the Show advanced color editing option the label will change into Hide advanced color editing as you can see in the image above.

When you select Edit item: a menu will fold out with all player elements, don’t worry you don’t have to set them all to 100% transparency. All you need to focus on is the Base section. The base section contains seven items and you need to set all of these to 100% transparency to make your player fully transparent.

That’s it for the player, it’s now fully transparent. To make it easy on yourself you’ll want to save this as a custom player setting. You can do that by selecting Current Player in the ribbon. This will open a pull down menu were you can save your adjustments. Select Save as… and save it. For easy reference I suggest you call it ‘Transparent’.

Remove the Previous / Next Button

So now you’ve made the player fully transparent there are still a couple of things to change. Unfortunately we cannot turn off the Previous and Next button in the player settings. This is a setting that needs to be adjusted at page level.

The easy way to do this is by selecting all slides in your scene when you are in Story view. Just select the first slide and press CTRL-A. Now uncheck the Prev and Next buttons in the Slide Properties section in the right-hand corner below the Triggers panel.

slideproperties

Note that when you turn off these navigation buttons it’s up to you make sure users can navigate from slide to slide.

So that’s really it for the Player… Well, almost.

Changing the Feedback Slide Master

One of last things that needs to get customized it the Feedback Slide Master. By default this has the standard design for the basic feedback windows that get shown when you use quiz slides. You can create a new generic look and feel that could match any of your projects or a specific one for this course. Either way, you’ll want to get rid of the default look.

feedbackmaster

And that’s it! Adjust these screens and you’re course will look as unique as it possibly can.

Note: There are some default screens we cannot alter that have that default feedback look. This applies for the popup that asks you if you want to continue where you left off and the screen that will popup when you haven’t selected an answer on a quiz slide. These popups are colored according the default color scheme and if you want to adjust these you need to go back into the advanced color editing section of the Player settings.

Like this post or have any questions or concerns? Let me know in the comments below. I love to read your feedback.

 

 

How I Get Things Done with Jeff Kortenbosch

As part of the ongoing Articulate e-Learning Heroes challenges David Anderson asked to record a Podcast or Vodcast explaining how we we get things done. He provided a nice list of interview questions and the result of my very first Vodcast (video podcast) can be seen below.

What’s your job title? What title do you think really captures your roles and responsibilities?

What software tools do you love?

What’s your workspace setup like?

What is your creative or design philosophy?

How do you stay fresh and keep building your skills?

How do you avoid burnout?

How do you save time and boost your efficiency day-to-day?

How do you manage your workflow? Do you have a project management tool you love?

What kinds of tasks do you love to do? What gets you excited to sit down at your desk?