Simple Chart vs Not So Simple Photoshop

For the first assignment working with our semester long topics, I hope to create something similar to this infographic:


This example is pretty long and contains a lot of information on my topic–the sexual education reform. It has some very simple but also well organized graphics. There aren’t many complicated details–just a few images, fun and interesting fonts, maps, and graphs. Like this infographic, I will be focusing on charts and maps discussing the content within abstinence only sexual education programs specifically in the Southern region of the US. I want to include a map portion with some states standing out and so I originally prepared a tutorial this afternoon that highlighted Texas with a diagonal custom made pattern in Photoshop. Ironically when I went to post the tutorial about the states standing out on a map of the Southern US, Erika had beat me to posting a similar tutorial. While I still plan on including that detail in the final infographic, I thought I’d take the time to create a different tutorial that might benefit someone else as well instead of reposting a similar one. As many of us probably discovered, Photoshop can be pretty tricky and also frustrating to use when you aren’t familiar with it. I look forward to becoming more comfortable with this program so that I’m able to effectively use it soon in hopes to create an awesome infographic.

After trying dozens of different tutorials and watching way too many YouTube videos about Photoshop, I’m going to share how I made a pie chart by following these few tutorials online.

Despite the simplicity of a pie chart, this took an embarrassingly long time to create in photoshop because of technical issues when it would have only taken a minute in Word. Good thing is that now I could recreate this one in just a few minutes! I was hoping to make it 3D after watching a tutorial on how to do that but unfortunately my computer doesn’t have enough space (or so a pop up warned me) to utilize the Photoshop 3D functions. Anyways, here is the pie chart I made! I hope to spice it up and make a more interactive chart as part of the infographic for this assignment.



Editing Trick – Making a Selection Stand Out

Usually, technology and I don’t get along. 

Therefore, the idea of starting this Photoshop project was a little daunting. I had great ambition in the beginning – I got some inspiration from this infographic with all of its interactive features and thought about creating something the viewer could mouse over and have fun with. But I’m not that good.

In the end, I took a look at this infographic and decided to go from there. I liked the simple, clean look and the way each of the geographic divisions stood out – this would be a good starting point for examining how much states or regions spend on arts education – but it looked almost too plain. I wanted to give the selections a little more depth, so this is what happened:

I started by opening up my chosen image in Photoshop and increasing the image size. Then, I zoomed in to about 375% so I could get a more defined outline of the object I wanted to select. I used the Lasso tool to select the state of New York. I wanted to make this selection its own separate entity, but I was unable to create a new layer because the selection was empty. (Honestly, it took a while to get used to this whole “layers” thing.) The quick fix here was to fill the selection with a color.


Now that the selection was filled, I was able to right-click within it and select “Layer via cut”. I was free to manipulate New York however I pleased.

To make my selection stand out more, I borrowed from a tutorial used to create the rollover graphics that I thought about creating in the first place. With my outline still selected I went to the Styles panel and started fiddling around with the different preset styles found in the drop-down menu. In the end, I chose the Buttons preset and the Bevel and Emboss, Inner Glow, and Drop Shadow options. This gave my selection the three-dimensional look I was going for.


Granted, this is still pretty rough and I’ve still got a lot to learn about Photoshop, but I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. I’m really looking forward to doing more research and improving upon this project!

Sample Trick: Text as Image (with photo).

I started from the Creative Commons search page, looked for images of “people moving night,” and eventually selected this one from Flickr user bcbeatty, which has a license that allows me to remix it, as long as I give credit and allow others to remix my work.

I then cropped the image to get a wide banner of just the people. After that, I clicked on the “image” menu, then under “mode” I clicked “grayscale” to get rid of the existing color information (this left me with a black and white image). Then I went back into “mode” and selected “Duotone;” from all the color options, I picked “cyan bl 1.” That left me with a tinted version that looked like this (you can see that I still have the crop tool highlighted):

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.09.26 PM

Then I put the word “Public” on top of my image. You can see that I selected the typeface Stencil STD, size 280. You can also see (look to the tool bar on the right) that I manually made the letters closer together than they would be with standard typesetting.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.19.18 PM

Next, I held down the shift key and used the magic wand tool (right above the crop tool) to select all the pieces of all my letters. After I had done this, I went to the “Select” menu and clicked inverse. I had everything except my letters selected. After this, I looked at my layers on the right—I wanted to be sure the background layer was the one I was working with. It was. I clicked delete* (if you’re using a PC, this won’t work; you can use the “cut” command in the edit menu instead). I looked for a second like I just had a white screen with letters selected on it.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.27.44 PMBut then I deleted the layer with the white text in it, and I had this left (you can check if this is going to work by just clicking the little eyeball next to the text layer, which makes it invisible):

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.29.09 PM

Then I picked a contrasting typeface and added the phrase “writing for the…” to my public:

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.35.09 PMIf I was going to make this the header for my infographic, I’d save it as a photoshop file (.psd), so that I could edit all the layers and the text later. If I was done for now and wanted to email it to someone to check out or post it to the blog, I’d save it is a second, smaller file too—I’d click “File” > “Save for Web & Devices.” I might then pick to save a version as a medium quality .jpeg file.

If you didn’t click the link before, consider now that this is the photo I started from:

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.42.19 PM

Beyond using this technique for lettering, I might find it useful as a way of giving a little bit of extra visual intrigue to something like a bar graph or pie chart (just be careful not to compromise utility/readability too much in the interest of cool).