Microsoft

Quick Tip: Create professional looking graphics with Art Text

Create professional looking, high quality graphic headings, logos, icons, and buttons in Windows 8.

I occasionally need to create graphic elements for presentations, websites, and other documentation projects and recently decided to see what I could find in the way of graphic creation app from the Windows Store. While culling through the available apps, I began downloading and experimenting with various apps in hopes of finding one that would fit my needs and be easy to use.

While I found several promising apps, the one that really seemed to work for me was Art Text from BeLight Software. This program is extremely easy to use and will allow you to create professional looking, high quality graphic headings, logos, icons, and buttons. In fact, Art Text is as easy to use as Microsoft Office's Word Art, but allows you to create graphics that look like they were developed in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator.

Getting Art Text

Art Text is available in the Windows Store in two versions: There is a free version called Art Text Lite and a regular version that sells for just $9.99. To quickly find both versions of Art Text in the Windows Store, move your mouse pointer to the top right corner of the screen to access the Charms bar. Then click the Search charm. As soon as you do, the Search pane will appear and will be targeted on the Windows Store. Now, just type Art Text in the text box and click the magnifying glass icon. You'll then see both versions in the results as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

There are two versions of Art Text in the Windows Store.

As you can imagine, the Lite version is missing several of the features found in the regular version, but it otherwise is fully functional. You can create graphics and save them. (I have the regular version and that's what I'll be using for my examples.)

Working with Art Text

When you launch Art Text, you'll find a very clean looking user interface, as shown in Figure B, which gives you plenty of room to work as you craft your creations. Along the bottom you'll find a menu bar that provides you with easy access to all of the features this tool provides.

Figure B

The menu bar provides you with easy access to all of the features this tool provides.
As you can see, the app initially displays a block of text that you can begin working with immediately. However, if you click the Designs button, you'll find a vertically scrolling gallery containing more than 100 templates in four categories: Headings, Icons, Logos, and Buttons. Figure C shows a page from the Icons section of the gallery.

Figure C

The vertically scrolling gallery contains more than 100 templates for you to use.
In addition to the templates, Art Text also come with a number of basic shapes, as shown in Figure D, which you can use to create your images. If you don't see the shape that you want, Art Text provides a Vector Editor that you can use to edit an existing shape or to draw one from scratch.

Figure D

There are a ton of basic shapes that you can use.
Once you begin working with your image, which can be made up of multiple elements or layers, you'll find that the available tools provide you with an incredible number of ways to customize your image. For instance, click Fill and you can choose to fill your image with a solid color, any one of the available background images that come with the program, or choose one of the Shader objects and customize it with the available controls, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

The Shader objects and controls provide you with some neat effects.
Want to change the shape of your image, just click Transform and choose any one of 20 adjustable vector transformations, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

The Transform tool allows you to adjust the shape of an image.
From the Effects options you can apply strokes, add a shadow, or define a customized glow as shown in Figure G. As you're experimenting with various options, just click the Undo button to try another one.

Figure G

Use the Glow effects to bring your image alive.
When you are satisfied, click the Save button and your image will be saved in the program so that you can work on it later. When you are completely finished with your image, click Export, and when you see the Export bar, as shown in Figure H, click the Save Image button. You can then save your image in one of four file types: BMP, PNG, TIF, or JPEG. You can then use your image in your project.

Figure H

Use the Export option to save your image as a file.

Notes

While Art Text is a great tool for creating graphics, you cannot edit graphics that you have created in another program. In other words, there is no File Open command nor is there an Import feature.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

5 comments
Ron_007
Ron_007

I've been playing with the free version. It does not have as many templates (23) and shapes as the version you reviewed. How did you create the last example? I don't see any way of getting that fine control over placement of text, and I don't see any way of creating that underline. Could you maybe do another article explaining how you did it? I agree that it is more than passing strange that an app that advertises creating vector diagrams does not offer to save (export) in a file format that allows subsequent vector editing. At least you can save the results in the program, allowing subsequent editing in native, vector, format, as well as Export the graphics to PNG, JPG, BMP and TIFF formats

TNT
TNT

The reviewed software is awfully limited - and can you tell me why a vector graphic tool doesn't export to a vector format? Odd. For decades I've used Adobe products. Illustrator and Photoshop were my staples (along with PageMaker, then InDesign), but now that Adobe is moving to SaaS and charging a small fortune for access, coupled with my diminishing need for graphics tools, I'm looking for a new tool set. I just downloaded a preview of Xara's Photo & Graphic Designer last night, but haven't yet reviewed it. I'd be interested in hearing what other TR members are using - especially for vector graphics.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What tools do you use to create and edit graphic elements in your organization?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...the free version does have other limitations besides the limited number of available templates-most significantly the Layers feature. I used the Layers feature when creating the last example- my GCS Consulting logo. To get the level of control over the placement of the text there are five layers i.e. G is a layer, C is a layer, S is a layer, onsulting is a layer, and the underline is a layer. Having each individual component be a layer, I can move/position/resize etc them anyway that I want very easily. The underline is simply a rectangle Shape that is resized to a narrow line and the reshaped with the Transform tool. At first, I too was a little confused by the inability to be able to export an image in a vector file format, but then I realized that the Windows 8 app version of Art Text was never intended to be a full fledged application. It's an app with a very focused capability - creating awesome headings, logos, icons, and buttons.

Ron_007
Ron_007

Ahh, layers. Right, the underline is a box, created "thinking outside of the box" {grin} That distinction, that Metro apps are tightly focused "craplets", not full fledged desktop applications is one that MS seems to have missed. The obvious example is MS telling us to use 3 metro craplets to "replace" the functionality of Outlook.