Pontybrenin Primary Year 6 Leavers Book. – Project.

Scenario : The project was based on the schools wanting a Year 6 Leavers Book. This was produced last year by an external company which cost £400. This was for the designing  and  printing.  Therefore this year raising the question of, Could we create the book internally using existing staff skills? This would also be a cheaper option for the school. As I have just started the ITec apprenticeship practitioner course it made sense for me to use this to help create the book for our Year 6 Leavers. Therefore I was asked to undertake the challenge and use ITec for help and guidance.

First Thing : The first thing I had to do before starting this challenge was to look at last years design and decide whether to keep it the same or totally create a new design. In talking to the Year 6 teacher it was decided to keep it the same. Therefore I said I would but tweak it slightly to put my own stamp on it.

Software : In choosing the software the first thing I needed to do was to decide which program is best suited for the job. So I thought I would use Microsoft Publisher as this is similar to PowerPoint which I have used many times and am familiar with. Publisher is suitable for even the beginner computer user, and is pretty flexible when it comes to creating  just about anything. It is easy to create booklets and keep consistency between pages ( which are called ‘Master Pages’), it can utilize text, images, and various complicated types of formatting and is much better when you’re dealing with a lot of graphics! I had never used this before and it was fairly easy to use as it is similar to power point which I use regularly!

Limitations and Advice : Even with this program allowing me to do all these things the graphics let me down.  I was unable to create the attractive swoosh using Publisher auto shapes. The results were harsh on the eye and didn’t look professional. Therefore I asked for help from others, I knew what I wanted to do, but the program wouldn’t allow me. I was advised to use Photoshop. I had never used this before and found it challenging to pick up in the time frame I had. I was also advised to create all graphics at 300ppi and at 100% dimension, which is A4 size 29.7cm x 21cm. This is to make sure it was suitable for printing.

Photoshop and Internet research : In looking at Photoshop and fiddling about, I was faced with all sorts of new tools and methods which were all new and confusing. E.g Layers, paths, fills, tools etc. Once researching how to use these using the internet and with some help I found them very useful and they gave a professional finish.  When looking information up on the internet I had to be careful that the information I obtained or site I used were reliable. I was very aware of this when gathering information for this project. When researching how to create a swoosh for example I chose to go with ehow because it demonstrated exactly what I was looking for through pictures and when trying these out they gave me the results I needed.

Layers were used to help create my design. These are important because they allow you to modify your image  (add text, change colors, put two pictures on the same page, etc.) without modifying your original photo. So until you like the change, you can play with it. Move a layer to the back, bring it to the front, etc. Using Photoshop made it easier to create my ” swoosh” which is the main shape repeated through my design. This meant using the internet again to learn how to use new tools.

  • Pen Tool :     This allows you to have three options: Create a new work path, Create a new shape layer, and Fill Pixels.

  1.   Create a new work path : (You can find these options in the top left hand corner of the Photoshop window. See the image below.)This  was very tricky to use and took some practice!

 2.    The pen tool had several different options for the resulting path. The one I used was “add  path area”. (See image below.)


           I took my pen tool and each time I clicked I created an anchor point.  This took some getting used to. Once I mastered this I had to grab what I can only describe as a sea saw and drag one end so that it would make the curve I wanted. This took time and patience!! (Examples below.) This bit was essential for my design!!


All of this was done using the “Layers” as mentioned earlier, allowing me to retain separate detail enabling me to make changes and corrections later.

3.     Gradient Fill : This tool creates a gradual blend between multiple colors. I used this when creating my front and back pages for the background. This stopped the cover from being flat which is kinder on the eye and a more professional look.

  • Brush tool : Allowed me to use my mouse as a paintbrush, simulating pressure which varied the thickness  of swoosh.

In looking at original leavers book, I liked the spotted detail in the design on the front cover and tried to simulate this on my design. Deciding to change it a bit. I chose to leave it on the front and back cover but change it in the way of keeping it transparent, in the same colour  as the pages, but just slightly lighter ( original is white). This wasn’t as straight forward as I would have liked as the auto shape tool bar had no similar shapes I could work with. So I had to Google ‘Photoshop Auto shapes’. This found circles which I experimented with but abandoned  as it was taking up too much time and didn’t look professional enough. Therefore decided to create my own Auto shape.

I started off by searching ‘Pop Art’,  finding a design that I liked, and then goggling ‘How to make a custom auto shape’. Once I read this I used the auto shape, applied effects ( Gradient overlay, Transparency, texture, bevel and emboss). These gave depth and looked professional.

Next I wanted to add text to the curved swoosh. Publisher wouldn’t allow me to create text curved to a line, so I used Photoshop for this. Again zoomed in I used the Pen tool and Paths. Following the line of the curve, highlighted this, checked handles on see saw altered to line up and then went to ‘T’ to add text.

Publisher : Now it was all coming together I needed to ‘Create Master Pages’. The main purpose of this is to easily change anything in the entire page with one click instead of redoing the corrections separately for every page. (See screen shot) A = Left page, B = Front and Back pages, C = Right page. Needed separate left and front pages to create mirror image effects. Now I had my master pages I could start filling them!

Content : These pages included :

  • Creating text boxes
  • Font sizes,  choosing colour and Styles
  • Inserting clip art and Photos
  • Putting boarders around photos
  • Choosing attractive layout options
  • Ordering photos and rotating them.

Trouble shooting : When doing the above, true to form, things never go smoothly! When inserting the photos I came across Horizontal lines across some photos when printing out. In trying to get rid of these I saved the document numerous times and printed them out as various PDF writers e.g Adobe PDF, Cute PDF. I also checked the file sizes – comparing optimization methods. After trying all these I took to the internet to find out  how to fix this.  There was a few things I could try. But, in reading them all, I didn’t take the first option I found as I found a much more simpler way to fix the problem. Which is a good tip, if you carry on reading you might find a simpler solution, don’t always struggle with the first solution you find!! It turned out all I had to do was to install the latest version of Adobe Reader and all was fixed!! (saved to Diigo) So it all boils down to trial and error!!

Then I needed to proof read, check capital letters, grammar, spelling, punctuation, see if there were any missing words and cut down some of the text/ quotes from children to make them fit space required.

Completion : After completing and printing out a rough copy and confirming it was all perfect and good to go, I phoned printers to confirm that the book was ready and I would be sending a copy via drop box for them to check and start printing. Once this was all printed out I received a copy and I was very happy at the end result!!


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