As the name implies, Articulate Storyline is a great tool for building out stories. And stories work well for e-learning because they drive home the learning objectives and key messages in your course.

So what’s one of the most important visual components of a story? The characters! And since Storyline ships with a variety of both illustrated and photographic characters, it’s never been easier to feature awesome characters in your next project.


While many e-learning designers lean toward a preference for photographic characters, illustrated characters can look just as polished and professional if you incorporate appropriate background images.

Apart from creating stories or scenarios, there are lots of other great reasons to use characters in your courses. They add a touch of personality, and can help learners better relate to your content. A character can also serve as a guide or narrator to unify the material and tie the course together. Additionally, studies have shown that a human face on the screen attracts attention, so you might use a character to keep learners focused on your website. Whatever your reason for using characters, here are a few quick and easy tips you can apply when you use characters in your projects.

Improve Your Workflow

When you need to edit a character, try the “double-click trick”: just double-click on the character to automatically launch the Design tab on the ribbon, and then you can quickly and easily edit your character. Some options include: cropping, removing or adding a drop-shadow, changing the expression and pose, or even swapping out one character for another. Believe me, this shortcut can be a huge timesaver!

Add a Background

When you use characters, a great way to provide context is to incorporate a background. Plus, the result will feel more authentic than having your characters floating in the middle of an empty slide. Another thing to consider when you’re using a background is scale. Adding a giant, 12-foot-tall character will not add realism, and might be distracting to learners.

Resize and Crop

Storyline characters can easily be resized and cropped, which you might need to do to make your layouts work cohesively. You’ll notice that the photographic characters are available in three pre-cropped formats: “Full,” “Torso,” and “Headshot.” You can, of course, crop and adjust these further with the Crop tool from the Design tab on the ribbon.

With these simple tips, you can really improve the way you use the photographic and illustrated characters in Storyline. Give them a try in your next project!

Want to try something you learned here, but don’t have Articulate software? Download a free trial, and come back to E-learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any comments, please share them below.

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Douglas Audirsch