E-Learning Challenge #10: Challenge | Recap

In our workshops, people frequently ask how to create more meaningful slide designs. There are a lot of ways to answer this—but one of the easiest places to begin is with your slide background.

Creating Awesome Background Graphics

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to shoot decent-quality background photos. Most phones have a built-in camera that is good enough to capture a shot for your course.

The secret, though, is in the post-production process where you apply photo filters and effects. Free mobile apps like Instagram, Aviary, and others offer unlimited opportunities to transform bland office pics into pro-looking e-learning graphics.

Going From Blah to Booyah!

To illustrate how simple this is, take a look at a warehouse photo I shot at night with an iPhone 4S:

This is hardly an award-winning photo, right? The lighting wasn’t great and the phone/camera was a year old.

The first thing I did to clean up the image was crop and straighten the image. I also removed the floor grates but that’s probably more than I needed to do.

Next I applied an Instagram-style filter to my photo and blurred it to create a depth of field effect:

TIP: Another idea is to use images that are wider than your actual slide so you can make subtle changes to your backgrounds.

Add the slide text, graphics, and people to create the perfect background graphic for your e-learning course:

What an improvement, right?

So whenever you need a custom photo background, I suggest this simple three-step process here:

  1. Create a shot list of things you want to include. You don’t have to shoot everything on your shot list, but you should list out things you might want to shoot. Look at some office stock photos on iStockPhoto or Shutterstock and note the different scene locations and angles. Shot lists can be a simple two- or three-column word documents like this free template.
  2. Shoot your photos. Shoot as many photos as you like. Try different settings on your phone or camera to experiment.
  3. Edit your photos. The final step is to edit your photos so they work for your project. Your original photos will likely not look as pro as you’d like. This is where filters and effects come in. Try different combinations of filters and effects until you find the results you’re after.

Challenge of the Week

Create a shot list of possible images and shoot your own background graphics using your office or work area as the primary location. When you share your photos, please include your shot list and at least one original photo so we can compare the before and after.


Share just a few photos, or as many as you like.

You can use Google Drive, Dropbox, PowerPoint, Word, Articulate Storyline, Articulate Studio ’09, or Articulate Studio ’13, to share your photos. You can even zip up the photos into a bundled archive that we can download.

Note: It’s easier to show and share your examples in highlight posts if you publish in Studio or Storyline.


For more information on using backgrounds, shot lists, and photo filter sites, check out the following posts:

Using backgrounds in e-learning:

Articles on using shot lists:

Online photo tools:

Sharing your examples

  • Comments: Use the comments section below to share a link to your published project. The comments section allows links but not attachments. If you have a question or want to share your source files, you should use the forums.
  • Forums: Create your own thread in our forums, and share a link to your published source file. You can also attach your project files if you’d like some help or feedback.
  • Personal blog: Post your published example on your own blog.

Last week’s challenge

I can’t tell you enough how much we appreciate the time you take to share your creative ideas and examples with the community. You guys are awesome!

To keep you shutterbugs focused on this week’s challenge, check out the last week’s portfolio of clip art demos shared by your fellow community members:

Have a picture-perfect week, E-Learning Heroes! 

Post written by David Anderson


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