How to Make a Personalized E-Card Using Powerpoint
When the holidays approach, I always seem to procrastinate when it comes to buying and sending traditional greeting cards. If I do make it to the store, I spend far too much time sorting through the card section because I can never find exactly the card I want. More often, I find myself browsing for e-cards, because I have left the card buying until too late for the postal service to transport it on time. Again, I often will find great e-cards, but they are never exactly right, or I have to pay for them. I just can’t see paying good money for an electronic greeting card.
Several years ago, I decided to try to create my own e-card when I wanted to send one to my husband who was out of the country for the holidays. I played with the Movie Maker program and had a lot of success. Recently, I discovered that PowerPoint is also a fabulous program to use for making e-cards. In fact, with the animation functions, it might even be better than Movie Maker.
An e-card is essentially a mini-movie. It is a series of images, still or animated, with music and text to relay your message. Did you know that you can make a movie out of your PowerPoint presentation? To make your own, personalized e-card, follow the steps below. Experiment, play, and have fun! (Please note that I used Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 to create the videos in this article.)
1. Make a Plan
Decide which image or images you want to use in your card.Do you want to have moving objects or just still photos? Do you want one picture in the background or several images throughout.I have used our wedding photos to make anniversary e-cards. When I make a card for Valentine’s Day, or any holiday, I choose my favorite photos of my husband and I to form the backgrounds.Knowing that these e-cards are between him and I, that works for us. I wouldn’t broadcast those on Hubpages or YouTube though, so here the examples are generic. Generic images are fun too!
Decide on the text of the card. For Valentine’s Day, your favorite love poem, song lyrics or wedding vows might make great text for the card. Or you can keep it simple and to the point, like I have in the examples displayed here.
Decide on the music. Choose your favorite love song for Valentine’s Day. Create a voice over or sing “Happy Birthday” for a birthday card. The possibilities are endless.
Remember to consider where you plan to send and post your card when you are choosing images and music. If you are creating a card to email to the one you love, the sky is the limit. If you plan to post it online, be sure to give credit where credit is due to photographers and musicians.
2. Create Images
If you don’t wish to use stock photos, personal photos or clipart, you can use online applications to create unique images.
3. Begin Creating the PowerPoint
To begin the e-card making process, start by making a PowerPoint presentation.
Create a background:
- There are several pre-set backgrounds in PowerPoint. These can be found by clicking on the “design” tab. Simply click on the design you like and it will appear on the slide. (See example #3)
- To create a color background, right click on the slide and select “format background.” That will give you a menu to choose solid or gradient colors. (Example #1 uses a solid black background, while example #2 uses a gradient color selection.)
- While in that format menu, you can also upload a photo to use as your background. However, I often find it easier to insert the photo using the insert tab. Then, you can size the photo to your liking. You can make the photo the background by clicking “send back” on the right click menu. This will place the photo behind other objects on the page.
Will You Make Your Own E-Card?
4. Insert Text, Shapes, and Images
- Begin laying out where you want to place the text by inserting text via textboxes. There are a variety of font and color options, so you can customize the text. Don’t be afraid to break it up into more than one text box on the page in order to get the words placed exactly where you want them.
- Insert shapes. The hearts in example #2 are taken from the “shapes” options under the insert tab. Once you choose and insert a shape, you can customize it. To customize a shape, either right click and choose “format shape,” or click on “format” on the top of the screen. You can change the color and angle of the shape. You can add a shadow, bevel, glow, or make it 3-D. The options are vast. Once you have the shape created, you can copy and paste it in order to duplicate it, as I have done in example #2.
- Insert images. For example #1, I created images using a web app. After saving these images, I was able to insert them by using the “insert pictures” option under the “insert” tab. Originally, these images had a white background. However, I wanted only the image to show and not the large, boxy, white background. In order to get rid of the background, I simply made the white color “transparent.” This is easy to do. Once you insert the picture, click on it to highlight it, and you should have a “format picture tools” menu on the top of the screen. Under “color” there should be a “set transparent color” option. Click on the option, then click on the background of the inserted photo. The white background will disappear, leaving only the image.
- Create multiple slides or only one. For example #1, I created four different slides. For example #2, I used only one slide. In the end, you can make a seamless mini-movie using both approaches, so experiment and have fun.
Example #2 (created by Donna Hilbrandt)
5. Make It Move!
Certainly, you can create a static image, which will look like an e-postcard. If that is your goal, all you have to do is finalize the layout and save the slide as a photo. To do that, click “save as” and change “PowerPoint presentation” to a jpg using the drop down menu. It will save as a photo, and you can email it.
One of the beauties of e-cards, however, is that they move and sing. To create movement in the card, you need to set animation features.
- Click on the animation tab on the menu across the top of the screen. Then, click on “animation pane.” This will pull up a pane on the side, which will list the animation features you create.
- Choose an object to animate by clicking on the image, shape, or text box.
- There are entrance, movement, and exit features. Mouse over them, and your highlighted shape will move. Once you find the one you like, click it and it will appear in the animation pane on the right. You can change the effects and timing by using the drop down menu for each individual animation in the animation pane. This is the area of creating your e-card where you should have fun and experiment!
Example #3 (created by Donna Hilbrandt)
6. Add Music
To add music to your e-card, insert audio. This feature can be found under the insert tab. You can choose a song from your files, just like you would insert a picture. Once you insert the song, the audio icon will show up in the middle of you slide. On the menu at the top of your screen, there is an “audio tools playback” tab. Under that tab, you can click the box to “hide during show.” That will make the icon disappear. Also under that tab, you can set the volume and start time. The music will show up in the animation pane. It can be moved around. I suggest that you move it to the top of the order.
For example #1, I tried to “trim” the audio using the feature in the “audio tools playback” menu. It didn’t work for me. I also was stumped about how to get the audio to play across the whole slide show. This is how I solved the problem for example #1.
- First, when I made the audio the first animation, nothing else was working.
- Under the “audio tools playback” tab, I clicked on “play across slides” which was under the “start” drop down menu. That worked, but I had trimmed the audio and thought it would repeat in a loop. That didn’t happen.
- To solve that problem, I inserted the same audio a second time in the third slide. That fit the timing of the clip I wanted.
It might take a bit of experimentation to get it right, but these steps should get you started.
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7. Finalize Your E-Card
Before saving your e-card, you will need to do one last step. Click on the “slide show” tab in the top menu. Then, click on “rehearse timings.” This will pull up a slide show on your screen with a timer in the top left corner. If you have multiple slides, this step is super important. Click to the next slide when you want the transition to occur. When you get to the end, a message will pop up telling you how long the slide show is, and it will ask you if you want to save the timing. For me, this step was crucial. I wanted the music clip to be exact, so I played with the timing several times in order to time the movement to the music.
When you are happy with the timing and flow of the presentation, which you can check by playing the show back (F5), you are ready to save. Go to “file” and “save and send.” There, you will see a “create a video” option. Click it on the menu, then choose “create a video” on the screen of directions. Choosing this feature will create a “windows media video” or wmv. This will save separate from the actual working PowerPoint presentation.
After you have completed all of these steps, your personalized e-card is done! The first time you create an e-card, it will take time, patience and experimentation with the features. However, once you figure it out, it is easy, fun, and fast to make additional e-cards. Have fun and good luck!
Questions & Answers
I was unable (after sending a personalized E-card using PowerPoint to myself) to have the message automatically pop up on the card. How can I fix this?
You can set the timing for each slide to play after the previous rather than “on clicking.” This should solve that issue. Sorry for the huge time delay in answering your question. Thank you for reading.
© 2013 Donna Hilbrandt