For our next step I’m going to assume that the computer you create church graphics on is connected to the internet. I know of several churches that refuse to allow their media computer online access, afraid that something terrible will pop on the screen during a service. While those concerns aren’t entirely without merit, I’m planted firmly in the camp that considers connectivity as important as the presentation software. We severely hamper our media staff when we take away their greatest resource.
That brings me to our sixth step to improve your church media right now:
Keep up-to-date and organized bookmarks.
This is pretty self explanatory. There are tons of great resources out there for fonts, textures, backgrounds, loops, etc. You’ll save yourself a ton of time by bookmarking the best resource sites rather than starting from scratch every time you’re searching for a resource. Rather than talk this to death, I’m just going to share some of my favorites:
This blog constantly has fantastic resources, especially free fonts, that they post on a consistent basis so bookmark the main site. Grab some of their best font collections: 30 High Quality Fonts, More High Quality Fonts, 17 Quality Fonts, 25 New High Quality Fonts, and 15 High Quality Fonts. Even more available by searching the site.
This online store (meaning you have to pay to download) is the largest collection of fonts and type families on the web. It’s also home to “What the Font?” a powerful tool for identifying fonts. You can upload an image or give the URL for an image and it will search its vast database of fonts to find a match. If that doesn’t work, you have free access to a forum full of the world’s leading typographers and font nerds that will happily help you identify the mystery typeface.
These are the sites I use the most. There are a green gazillion more online so poke around, explore, and bookmark away.
Backgrounds, Textures & Resources:
I create most of the backgrounds I use from scratch. It usually starts with a texture or a portion of an image that I’ve found, and then I’ll build it up from there using brushes or other textures layered in Photoshop.
This is a collection of 430 hi-res textures available for free. All are beautiful and you’d be amazed how many backgrounds you can make with 430 images (for you math nerds, if you combine 2 images, that’s 184,900 possible combinations; 3 takes that number to over 7 million possibilities).
Offers tutorials, inspiration, and freebies including textures, Photoshop brushes, photographic elements, vector elements, and a ton more. Download everything.
GoMedia is a powerhouse creative agency that is probably best known for their series of vector illustrations and apparel templates. If you have the budget, grab as many of their Arsenal vector collections as you can. The blog features great tutorials and freebies.
VideoHive.net: Great resources including loops, lower thirds, complete After Effects projects, and other elements.
WorshipHouseMedia.com: A one-stop shop for a wide variety of church media for purchase including stills, loops, countdowns, and mini-movies from myriad design and film companies.
Again — I could spend the rest of my life listing resources. These are some that I use every day, in addition to image sites like Google Images and Flickr.
Recommended Reading & Inspiration:
There are a ton of great blogs for designers out there. Don’t limit yourself with the “church designs” mindset, or you’re going to get really tired of crosses, doves, and bible backgrounds. If you’re designing for church, you’re a designer. Period. There’s no separation, just like you can’t separate your spiritual life from your every day life (cue gospel organ hit). I’m going to throw out a smattering for you:
PSDTuts+: The Envato network of websites is vast and impressive. Start here and then allow yourself to click through all their sites to get a feel for just how vast the scope of design really is, and how great the resources are that Envato makes available.
These guys are pros. Like, the pros that the pros hire when they need pros. After Effects tutorials that will make your head spin, and can take your media to heights you never imagined. This isn’t just rhetoric. They make great motion graphics so accessible that, if you own the software, you’ll have no excuse for not learning after you visit.
Seriously, I could go on and on and on. But believe it or not, all of the sites above (with maybe one or two exceptions) are sites that I visit at least on a weekly basis. I encourage you to bookmark these and then explore to find some great resources on your own. I’ve gone long, so I’ll cover organization in a “bonus” post later today.