03 February 2009

How-to: Making Buttons for Your Posts

Several people have asked me to teach them how to make a button or badge that they can use on their blogs for challenges and to add visual interest to their posts. So I'm going to tell you how I make buttons. This is not the only way or the most sophisticated way to make buttons, but it works and is easy. If you have an easier or better way to make buttons, please let me know!

Step 1: Find an Image

I do not create my buttons from scratch; I am not a graphic designer and I do not own graphic designing software. Thus the first step is the hardest for me because it involves searching the Internet for an image that is in the public domain. What do I mean by in the public domain? These are graphics or photos that are free to use without infringing on anyone's rights; they are not copyrighted or otherwise under restrictions.

So where does one find such an image? To find photographs, do an Internet search for photo-sharing sites such as Photobucket, Picasa, and Flickr. You can find both photographs and graphic images on these types of sites. Before downloading a photo to your computer, make sure that the file is indeed available to anyone who wants to use it.

To find graphics and other images, do an Internet search for "images public domain," "clip art public domain," "photos public domain" or some such wording. If you are interested in a particular theme, then add that to your search item, such as "dragonfly image public domain."

Wikipedia has an article on public domain image resources, which is another good place to start your hunt for the perfect graphic. Get creative in your search; for example, try museum sites, government sites, and art sites. Search your own photographs.

Before downloading any file, I make sure to read the terms of use. The site owner may ask that in return for using the image you place a link or a thank you on your blog. Or the terms of use may simply state that all images are freely available. Some sites ask for a small fee. When you're happy with the image and you're sure you have the right to use it, download the file to your computer.

Ok. Let's assume I've done my search and here is the image I found. I like this one because it has a book theme and it has a frame so I can add my words in the space at the bottom left corner. This is not the only option. The button I created for my Weekly Discoveries posts was cropped from a larger image.

Step 2. Find a Program

Now that you've found an image, you have to add the text. There are likely many other methods for adding text to a button, but I started making buttons using software that I already owned and was familiar with. I add text via watermarking software. What is this? It is a program that allows you to put copyright information on your photographs to protect them from misuse and to clearly state that your image is not in the public domain.

Watermarking software is available as shareware and as supported commercial software. The costs are free to about $60. I use a commercial software program because I like the options available for processing my photographs. If you're interested in making only a button or two, then you'll probably want to find a shareware program.

Before searching around for suitable software, check your own computer! Your camera's software or a program such as Photoshop may be able to add text to images. If you want an official watermarking program, do an Internet search. Softsea.com lists some shareware programs and this About.com article has some advice for picking a watermarking program.

Step 3. Add the Text

The process of adding the text will depend on the specific program you are using, and you will have to spend some time practicing and familiarizing yourself with the software of your choice. This will be the hard part for some of you, but if you spend a few hours playing around with a user-friendly and simple program, you'll quickly get the hang of it. This article from About.com is very helpful.

The procedure should be about the same for each program. The first thing I do is to save two or three copies of the image under different names—just in case! The graphic I downloaded for this example is saved as GirlwithBook1, GirlwithBook2, and so on.

Open the software and search for your image. Open the file and, if needed and if the software allows it, crop, rotate, or otherwise tweak the image. The graphic I downloaded in step 1, didn't need any further help.

Next, click on the button or tool that lets you type in your text. Then choose a color and font. Then, depending on the software you're using, you might want to add some effects such as shadows or animation. Or you may want to place the text on a slant or in a swirl.

When you're satisfied, hit save. And you're done. It took just a couple of minutes to make this button with the program Watermark Factory.


Louise 2/3/09, 10:16 AM  

Beth, this post was so right up my alley. I have been wanting to create some buttons for a couple of weeks now, and while I have found out how to make other things, I never succeeded in finding what you just described. THANKS!!! I will use this.

Alea 2/3/09, 11:13 AM  

Cool! I'm going to check out this information on public domain images!

Sandy Nawrot 2/3/09, 11:48 AM  

Beth, you are the best! You are generous enough to educate us non-techie folks. Thank you!

Anonymous,  2/3/09, 12:30 PM  

This is a fantastic how-to post! I saw it and thought, "Wow, that's a cool thing to post, I wonder how she thought of it?" and then remembered about the BIP list asking for a how-to post. What I mean is, I think it's especially cool that you posted something that you might have posted anyway and so the project just helped you find the motivation to do it.

One thing that might be helpful, in here or as a follow up, is how to then take the pictures and get them to your blog. I know in Wordpress you have a certain amount of space to upload photos, but I'm not sure about how Blogger works, and other people might not be either.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

Molly 2/3/09, 12:36 PM  

OH --- thank you - thank you - thank you!! I have wanted to learn this technique for quite sometime, but could not find directions anywhere.

I am anxious to try my hand at it when I get home.

Unknown 2/3/09, 12:44 PM  

thanks so much Beth, that's really a neat post with great advice.

Beth F 2/3/09, 12:45 PM  

Everyone: I hope this helps and that you are successful in your button making. This is my self-taught way of doing things -- so I'm always open to suggestions.

Kim: In Blogger, we just hit a photo icon, browse for the image, and it is automatically uploaded and dumped in our blog post. That is the extent of my knowledge!!

Bonnie 2/3/09, 2:09 PM  

Thank you Beth!!! I've been wanting to try and make a button and this is perfect. I'm going to give it a try with my husband's assistance as he has more computer knowledge than I do and can help me in the process.

Nely 2/3/09, 3:06 PM  

Neat-o. Thanks for the great insight. Buttons for Dummies! Simple enough. I just gotta do it now. :D

Anonymous,  2/3/09, 5:04 PM  

Is it bad that I have "buttons" by the Pussycat Dolls in my head now? ;o)

Great post!!

Anonymous,  2/3/09, 5:30 PM  

Bless You, Bless You. And, Thank You, Thank You. I am going to devote some time to this and invite you over to check out the results. I appreciate the time you took to do this. Thanks again.

Anonymous,  2/3/09, 5:41 PM  

If I need a button, I think I'll be begging you to do it for me.

Sherrie 2/3/09, 7:00 PM  

Thanks for all the info on making a button. I was wondering how that was done. I need a button for my weekly feature What Are You Reading? Now I know how to do that. Thanks again. Have a great evening!


Melody 2/3/09, 9:35 PM  

Wow, this is great, Beth! Thanks for sharing! :)

Nise' 2/3/09, 10:22 PM  

Thank you so much! I have got to get a program now, don't see one on my computer that I can use.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 2/5/09, 11:25 AM  

Beth, Thanks so much. I printed this and will try it out when I have free time.

The Tome Traveller 2/5/09, 1:39 PM  

Thank you, Beth, this is a fabulous post. I have always wondered how people managed to create their own buttons! Now, maybe I can make one for myself. Thanks again!


Anonymous,  2/5/09, 3:12 PM  

I have to thank you again. I DID IT!!! After many hours I finally got what I wanted. It's sitting in my sidebar for my Favorite Places meme.

I've already figured you are smart but now I'm raising my opinion of you to genius level. I couldn't have done it on my own without your how-to.

Thanks again.

Anonymous,  2/5/09, 7:27 PM  

I need to bookmark this page and send it out to other bloggers who email me asking about this. Love your explanation!

BookChook 2/6/09, 6:00 AM  

Great explanation, Beth. I will see if it is up to the challenge of me attempting it, soon!

Anonymous,  2/7/09, 3:12 PM  

I'm bookmarking this, and will refer back to it. Great step-by-step explanation ... thank you!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 2/8/09, 7:09 AM  

This is an absolutely fantastic idea for a post and the execution is fabulous. Thanks! You might actually see a button from me now from time ti time.

Jenners 2/8/09, 9:04 AM  

I found you via Bermuda Onion's weekly links and this was fantastic! I love how to posts like these and this is something I had wondered how to do! I'm bookmarking it and hope to do this soon. I'll come back and show you my button when I get it done!

Helen Ginger 2/8/09, 9:32 AM  

Great post. Very helpful to us non-techies. Thank you.

Alessandra 2/9/09, 3:35 AM  

Great post! I can't see myself doing buttons very soon but at least now I know how to do them!

Unknown 2/13/09, 1:06 PM  

Great post! As a techie you would think I would know where to search for photo's for buttons..but I didn't!

As for watermarking software, It's not exactly referred to as watermarking, but I think paint.net is an easy program to add text to an image...it basically does the same thing as watermarking. I have a post on my blog on where people can get the software (it's free!) and how to use it.


Beth F 2/13/09, 1:13 PM  

Kris: Thanks for the compliment. But more important. Thanks for sending me and my readers to another resource. I appreciate it!

Unknown 2/13/09, 1:31 PM  

Beth - you're welcome! I think I'm going to link to this post on my blog too...I think it's great!

Kathleen 2/19/09, 6:07 PM  

I don't know why I didn't think of writing this for my how to post. I just couldn't think of ANYTHING!

I make my own buttons already but quick question. Are we allowed to use flickr photos. I've seen others do it and they usually have a line crediting the person. I've done it once or twice but couldn't find anything on the flickr website saying if we could or not.

BookChook 2/19/09, 6:21 PM  

Chiming in here to Callista but want your opinion Beth - my understanding with Flickr, if you make sure it is under Creative Commons, and then make sure it is the top one, the one that says you are free to manipulate the image, it would be okay. I always tell the person i am using their image and thank them. Then I put an attribution on my blog post when I use the pic. With a button, maybe you could put the attribution somewhere on the blog sidebar? What do you think?

Beth F 2/20/09, 7:38 AM  

Callista and BookChook: BookChook has it right. If you take an image off a photo sharing group, first make sure it's in the public use or creative commons section. Then be sure to add an attribution and/or a thank you on your blog.

To be sure and to be polite, take the time to contact the person and thank him or her. I have a thank-you section in my blog's footer where I put this information.

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