Found Ephemera: Keynote Vector Graphics

If you have Keynote for Mac, you can draw your own decorative embellishments using the built-in vector drawing tools. What is vector drawing? It’s is the creation of digital graphics using lines, curves and shapes. Unlike bitmap graphics which are made up of a collection of tiny dots (pixels), vector graphics can easily scale in size (larger or smaller) without affecting its quality. Photographs are bitmap graphics while illustrations such as architectural drawings, logos and most digital art creations are vector drawings.

Keynote’s drawing tools don’t provide the features found in full-blown illustration programs such as Adobe’s Illustrator or CorelDraw. Keynote doesn’t have their learning curve either. You can be creating your own scrapbook-style embellishments in minutes rather than weeks. Here’s how.

Keynote screen
Choose the Draw with Pen option from the Shape panel.

To begin, create a Keynote presentation with a blank slide. Click the Format icon on the toolbar to display the format panel on the right. Now, click on the Shape icon in the top toolbar and choose the Draw with Pen option at the bottom of the shape panel. It doesn’t matter which colors you’re using at this point.

Click anywhere on the slide to start.
Click anywhere on the slide to start.

Click anywhere on the screen to create a starting point. Click somewhere else and you create a straight line between those points. When you click, you create straight lines. To create curved lines, drag your mouse. Double-click to end the line. The dark line you see in the example above shows a number of points along its length. Once a line has been created, each of these points can be dragged to adjust it. The purple squiggle began as a collection of straight lines. Experiment to see how this works.

Now look over at the format panel on the right. When an element is selected, the panel displays the styling options available to you. The selected item is formatted as a “rough pencil” line in black that is 8 points wide. You can change any of those things to create an entirely different look.

Shape editing examples
Standard shapes have options too.

Even standard shapes have some manipulation options you can put to good use. Look at the star on the left in the example above and you’ll see two green points inside the selection area. The outside point can be dragged clockwise to add points to the star – as in the eight-point star on the right. The inside point can be dragged in or out to adjust the thickness of the points. Other shapes can be manipulated in similar ways.

Then there is the option of combining shapes to create new ones. The arrow was layered with the rectangle to make a pointer. Below that, the line was grouped with three diamonds to create a text embellishment. And, on the left a “drawn” box was copied, enlarged and grouped with the original box to create a doodle frame.

You don’t have to create these graphics from scratch each time you want to use it. I’ve created a Keynote file just for my growing graphics library. It contains elements I’ve found as well as those I’ve made myself. When I need one, I just copy/paste it from the library presentation to the working one. Although you can only create these vector drawings in the Mac version of Keynote, you can use the graphics you create in both the iCloud and iOS versions of Keynote and Pages. I keep my library file in iCloud for easy access. And, to make things even easier, I’ll often copy a slide containing the graphics I’ll be using into the working presentation file so I don’t have to keep moving back and forth between files.

Taking advantage of Keynote’s vector drawing capabilities lets me create custom design elements for my family history projects. It’s quick, easy and affordable. It’s just one more reason, Keynote’s my scrapbooking platform of choice.

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