Welcome to this FaithLink post covering Church Artwork. This post discusses an app called WordSwag which is not a product of Aperture Interactive LLC or FaithLink Apps, but it is an app that we have introduced to many churches that we work with so that they can begin generating high quality artwork for their app.

Artwork In The Church: An Endless Struggle

If you are involved with the media department of a church or have been tasked with helping with media, then you know the unending need for new art assets to keep people informed and to keep things looking fresh. I’ve dealt with the problem secondhand and firsthand at my church as I’ve worked as part of a team and also taken the entire responsibility on myself (and now we are back to a team, phew!). It literally becomes a fulltime job for even a medium sized church, so how can you possibly continue putting a good face forward with great artwork?

I’m going to introduce a tool called WordSwag. It is an iOS app (sorry Android users) which costs $3.99 to purchase (at the time of the writing of this article) with no additional subscription after the purchase. There are a few in-app purchases available, but nothing that is necessary. And with as useful of a tool as it is, I sort of wish that there were more in-app purchases because I would be glad to pay (which I don’t think I have ever said about another app).

Prefer Watching A Video Instead Of Reading? We Have Your Covered! This Video Tutorial Covers What Makes WordSwag So Valuable For Your Church!

Not Just For The Inexperienced

Initially, WordSwag could seem like it is a good tool for a church with no media department, but in reality it covers a lot of bases. I am borderline descent with Photoshop and my wife is very good with it. We both create all of the sermon series artwork for our church and a lot of the announcement graphics. So if we are capable of doing everything we need to do with Photoshop, then why would we ever use a simple, more limited tool on an iPhone or iPad? Seems to be sort of moving backwards, right?

The problem is that everything we do in Photoshop takes a lot of time. There is the issue with finding a good starting point, finding the right background graphic if a picture is used (and making sure it is legal to use that picture), and finding the right font. Every step can take minutes, but more often hours, so even though we are fully capable with Photoshop, that doesn’t mean we have time to tackle multiple pieces of artwork every week (some week we don’t even have time for one!).

For our church, WordSwag is a tool that saves the day by offering the ability to mock up designs. Sometimes we end up using the mockup as the final asset that is used in church (because WordSwag works that well!) and other times we use the mockup to push us forward much, much faster as we dive into using our mockup as an initial draft with Photoshop.

The Secret Swag

WordSwag allows you to do 2 things that are invaluable:

1) Find royalty free artwork to use.

2) Overlay a font that looks right for the occasion (mixing and matching multiple fonts is possible by RE-SWAGing).

In my opinion, background artwork can be the hardest thing about creating graphics for church. There are resources available for buying religious artwork, but they tend to be rather expensive (don’t these sites realize we are on a church budget?) or just don’t offer enough graphics to choose from.

WordSwag taps directly into a resource known as Pixabay, which hosts a huge assortment of free-to-use artwork that you can search through using keywords from within the app. I’ll cover this more in detail when I describe the workflow of using WordSwag, but the most useful thing about the app is the ability to type in a keyword related to the graphic you want to design and having 100 backgrounds populate that are ready to use. In 5 seconds you can save yourself over an hour of searching for a legal, free background!

The other huge benefit of WordSwag is the font selection. There is a reasonably large assortment of styles to choose from, and most styles have 5 different sub-styles to use. This give you the ability to create a lot of artwork without making it appear that you are using the same theme over and over again. All fonts can be zoomed (using pinch-to-zoom like you would expect) and rotated (by placing two fingers on the screen and rotating them around each other).

WordSwag In Action

I’ve integrated WordSwag with a number of ministries in my own church and I’ve also introduced it to a number of other churches to begin integrating throughout their church. From my experience, there is a small learning curve that can turn people off to the app because they don’t get the full scope of what the app can do. I have had experiences where churches have told me they are not interested after trying it, but then I walked them through creating a piece of artwork and they turned around and bought an iPad just so the church could create artwork using WordSwag!

You already have an advantage because you have read this far, but I also want to show just how simple it is to put something together. To do this, I am going to walk you through the process of creating a graphic for a cookout (because I am a special kind of person that enjoys writing tutorials and I think this can really help you hit the ground running).

Step 1: Launch The App

The first thing you are going to need to do is launch the app and get to where you can start searching for pictures to match whatever theme you need for the graphic.

The circle at the bottom of the launch screen with two Polaroid photos on it gets you to start searching.

Step 2: Searching For An Image

After pressing the Polaroid button, you are presented with a few hundred images. While some of them are nice, the selection is far too slim to cover most artwork that a church would want to create. The key here is that these are just a few suggested pictures to get your mind going and there is no real basis for their selection. I don’t even bother looking through the pictures offered here because every time that I open WordSwag, I already know what the theme of my artwork should be.

All that you need to do is touch the text field that says “search pixabay images…” and type in what you are looking for. You don’t want to be too specific or you won’t get any results (for instance, if you search for “Small Church Cookout” then there is very little chance you will get any good results, since pixabay will only return results that meet ALL of those criteria).

In our case, we are creating artwork for a church cookout, so let’s type just “Cookout” in the search field. The app then queries the pixabay database of free-to-use pictures and returns 100 images that we can choose from! Not just that, but often there are a LOT of great choices.

Step 3: Starting To Work With A Selected Image

As soon as you touch an image to pick it, you’ll be taken to a new screen where you will see a larger version of that image (notice that we chose the 2nd image in the 2nd row of images in the list of images that came up when we searched for “Cookout”). WordSwag assumes that you want to crop the image to be a square. I almost NEVER want an image to be a square because I am designing artwork to be presented on an HDTV (in a church hallway) or from an HD projector (in our sanctuary), so it’s important to get this step right so that you aren’t stuck with a square version of the image that you chose.

You can select the screen ratio that you want to crop your image to, or you can find the button at the top right corner of the screen that says “SKIP”. Touching that button will move you into the customization stage without actually altering the image.

And with almost no effort, we now have a nice image that we can legally use in our artwork! Phew, what a relief!

Step 4: Customizing Your Image With Text

With the cropping option now chosen for the image, you will be taken to the screen where you can add text. A large block of text will already be overlaid on your image, which says “Double Tap Me To Change Text”. Go ahead and double-tap the overlaid text and you will be taken to a screen where you can edit the text (since you probably don’t want your cookout artwork to say “Double Tap Me To Change Text”… but that does sound like a pretty epic cookout).

There are a lot of different settings on the edit text screen, but you never actually need to do anything here other than just change the text to what I want it to say (but feel free to try things out!). So in this case, we are going to delete the “Double Tap Me To Change Text” text and then type in “Church Cookout” and then touch “Save & Close”.

Step 5: Stylizing The Overlaid Text

Well… we were able to change the overlaid text, but after all of this work, it looks pretty bad because we have large white boxes behind the text and the text is all clumped together! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?!?!

But fear not, this is the fun part!

The bottom portion of the screen has a reasonable number of font choices listed in a horizontally scrolling view. By simply tapping and font choice, you will see the “Church Cookout” text transform into a new font/style. And the numbers at the very bottom of the screen are different versions of each font, so you can slightly customize most fonts in 5 different ways, so don’t assume that you don’t want to use a font just because the default version of the font looks bad.

In this case, I went with the font named “Precisely, Sheldon” and used the 4th option for the font. You can also pinch the text to make it bigger or smaller and drag the text to where you want it to be. I did both of these to get it right where I wanted it.

Step 6: The Finishing Touches

Once your text is where you want it and you have the perfect font chosen, simply press the “DONE” button in the top-right corner of the screen and your image will be saved to your device.

But what if you want more details than just a title? What if you want times, locations, and/or a short description? Good news! WordSwag is designed with that in mind!

After saving an image, you are presented with a screen with SHARE and MORE options. In the MORE section there is a RE-SWAG option, and touching this will take you back to your finished image, with the ability to add new text. You cannot change anything from the saved version (so old text can’t be moved around), but you can add new text wherever you want it.

The Finished Product

After ReSwagging to your heart’s content, you now have an image perfect for the occasion!

When I first started using WordSwag, I thought it was a neat tool but now that I have implemented it into my workflow, it can sometime seem like a necessity. Whether you need a resource to help you migrate away from clip-art, or you want a tool to create quick first drafts for series artwork, we hope that you can find the incredible value in WordSwag that we did at Aperture Interactive!

John Holtkamp is a mobile developer for Aperture Interactive LLC who works with churches around North America developing media strategies and developing web and mobile solutions. If you would like more information about FaithLink mobile apps or TV channels for churches then please visit the church app section of our website.