Crafting the Cloud – Prepping the Wordle Gift for Production

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If you’ve been following this thread on how to make a custom gift for a blogger using Wordle, you have selected text, created a wordle, and saved it in .png   Now you need to do a little graphic editing before you can send it for production.

I used the humble Paint program for this step but other graphics programs can be used as well.

The steps:

1. Crop dead space.  Get close to the word cloud on all sides.

2. Erase fine print.   Print the design.  Anything that’s hard to read on paper will print as an inkblob on the shirt.   I used the Paint eraser tool to take out all the small words.   

3. Re-shape the cloud.  Sometimes just a few words stick out from the edges of a cloud, or maybe there is a huge word that just doens’t belong.   I used cut and paste to do a little re-shaping.

4. Give credit where credit is due.   Wordle requires that you show the design was made with wordle.net and the image is licensed under Creative Commons.   Open source software, such as WordPress, is licensed under GPL, and I mentioned that too.    I made a small graphic with attributions to copy onto my shirts.   I’m far from an expert and you should consult one if you’re unsure what to do.   What I can tell you for sure, is that anything under 16 point font did not print well on the shirt.

5. Save as .png file.    The best size is 2000×2000 pixels at 200 dpi — get as close as you can to that.

I’ve only done shirts in black and white so I can’t help you much with a color design.   With B&W, I did have Paint force all colors to B&W, not grayscale to get the sharpest look.    Using image-sharpening software didn’t seem to print as well on the T-shirt.

Now you have a design that is ready to take to a T-shirt vendor such as Spreadshirt Designer. I started with Spreadshirt Designerbecause my web host, 1&1gave me a free premium store there.

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Capturing the Cloud — Getting the Gift Design out of Wordle

Give a Gift Designed by You!
The previous two posts talk about creating a word cloud gift with wordle.net.    The next step is to capture the design in a format for graphic editing.   

Here are three basic ways to capture the cloud.    There’s undoubtedly more, but these are free and easy.

1. Screen Capture.    Not recommended because the resolution is too low for printing a shirt — I tried it.

2. Print and scan.   Brute force, but its quick.   You must have fresh ink and clean scanner glass though.

3. Print to PDF, read into a graphics program.    The wordle creator recommends this route using freeware CutePDF and open source Inkscape.    I haven’t tried this path yet.  (Hey, I saw the recommendation after I did the print ‘n’ scan thing.)

Whatever path you take, you need to emerge from this step with a .png file, preferrably in 200dpi resolution or better.
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