Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Creating Word Clouds with Tagxedo

I love graphic design. I have no training in it, and my designs aren't all that great, but I enjoy playing with it and creating blog buttons, birthday invitations, Christmas cards, and flyers.  I have PhotoShop on my computer at work and I would love to learn more about it. For now, I try things out to see how they work.  I have used PicMonkey quite a few times to create blog buttons or graphics for my posts.  My friend Michelle wrote a great post on how to use and I've tried it out a few times now. 

Shortly before Christmas I was looking around for gift ideas that wouldn't cost much and I stumbled across another great corner of the web! is a place to create word clouds in any shape you could possibly want!  If you like word clouds, you'll want to check this out.
word cloud

Tagxedo is a site that allows you to control many different aspects of the word cloud creation process.  You can choose the shape of the cloud, the color scheme, the fonts, as well as what words are used. Let's get started!

First click "start now"
word cloud
This will take you to the main layout page where you can make your design changes.On the right you'll see their generic image, on the left you'll see the editing menu.  
word cloud

First you'll want to pick a shape using the "shape" menu under options.  There are a number of pre-loaded options already available, but if you don't see one you like, it is very easy to create your own. To create your own just head over to Google Images and run a search for the shape you want. Or, you can open Word and type in a letter, word or phrase and adjust the size and font until you get what you want. You will want an image with a low amount of detail to it for the best results. Save your image somewhere you can find it, and back at Tagxedo, click the "shape" menu and then "add image." That will allow you to find the image you saved and import it.

The image that loads will be a shadow of the image you uploaded.  You can click the bars underneath to adjust how thick or thin your lines are.  Keep in mind that very thin places will be unlikely to get filled with words.

Once you have your image the way you like it, click "accept" and your image will show up with the default words.  To change which words show up, click "load" at the top of the left hand menu, right under the Tagxedo logo. From here you can upload a file from your desktop, you can enter a url or you can copy and paste (or type) whatever text you want into the box and then click "submit."

You now have your chosen words filling out your image.  If you don't like the way it looks, you can change the shape or text at any point, but I recommend playing around with those before you move on to the next step.

On the left hand menu, you can adjust the color, color theme, fonts, orientation, and layout.  Click the "reload" arrow will make a random adjustment, you you can click the black arrows next to theme, font, and orientation to be more purposeful about your adjustments.
word cloud

When your image makes you happy, you can click "save|share" or share it.  There are lots of different options here as well, depending on the quality of the output you are looking for.  I made a lot of these for friends for Christmas and printed them directly to the color printer and framed them.  They made thoughtful, personal gifts for basically the price of a frame.

The ones I made for my kids were in the shape of something that made me think of them (horse for Frances, puppy for Henry, and tiger for Benjamin). I input words for each kid that included their name, nicknames, and other words that came to mind. I honestly thought it was a dorky kind of gift and more for me than for them, but they have spent hours looking at all the words and shouting them out excitedly. It is especially sweet for Henry because he is just becoming a fluent reader, so big jumbles of letters where words jump out at him are exciting!

Have you tried Tagxedo or do you think you might give it a try now?  It's lots of fun with tons of options!

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