Google Drawings – Free Images for Creators

Overview: A simple and free method to create images for your blog and/or social media content.

First, An Important PSA Regarding Creation

I’ve always been willing to put myself out there. I perform (music), speak, write (books, articles, poetry, essays, etc.), and have even done some acting. In fact, I’m working on a short script and have plans for other content. I’m comfortable with the creative process. Well, minus drawing… but that is temporary, I’ll get better. 

But recently, in part because of some friends I’ve been helping with their own creative pursuits, I’ve adopted a new-found absolute intolerance for what I call, “the do-nothing critic.”

I’m going to write about more completely in the next day or so. In short, “the do-nothing critic” is that person who doesn’t pursue or expose their creativity in anyway. But they feel compelled to share their opinion (always negative) with creators. This is a character issue. The ultimate projection. 

I’ve been a fan of Brene Brown since the first TED Talk she did. But her talk on critics is pivotal. In short, if you are not sharing the creator’s journey with me or with those artists and entrepreneurs I coach, am honored to know, and speak with, your input is not only irrelevant, it will be quickly muted! But give me a couple days and I’ll tell you how I really feel.

Now, let’s look at Google Drawings.

Another Overlooked Google Tool

Google is abysmal at being amazing!

I say the above phrase a LOT when I speak to groups. Here is why… the number of people with a Gmail account but who really have no idea about the free tools and applications Google provides with your Gmail account, is shocking. Google Drive includes a document editor, a spreadsheet, a presentation slide application, a drawing program, a way to create web-forms for surveys, etc. – and other tools. ALL FOR FREE! 

Google Drawing is NOT Photoshop

Nope… Google Drawing is pretty sparse in features and limited in output. Don’t let “true” graphic designers shame you. Unless you have a good budget and/or want to purchase and learn Photoshop, you probably can do with this for now. In a pinch, you can create blog and web images. Let’s quickly go through one type of image, a blog image for sharing on Facebook. 

When you share a web page on Facebook, your image should be (Facebook recommends) 1200×630 pixels. This ensures that when you share the post on Facebook, it displays the complete image across the mobile or PC timeline.

Here is an example of a web-page (blog post or page), shared on Facebook, with the correct image size and the summary text specified:
Sharing the proper image size on Facebook

Now let’s look at how to create a full-sized image in Google Drawing.

Creating a Google Drawing with Text Overlay

From Google Drive

1) Select New->More->Google Drawing
Create New Google Drawing

2) File->Page Size
Google Drawing Page Size

3) Page Size Custom
Google drawing Custom Page Size

Enter 1200×630 and Select Pixels as unit of measurement
Google Drawing Facebook Sharing Size

4) Insert/Drag Your Image
Google drawing cropped image

I cropped the above image from the original below:
matthew moran songwriter at holy grounds

5) Overlay Text

I don’t have a screen shot of this. Use the text tool in the editor. It’s fairly obvious – but, as I often say, click on a few things and you’ll find it.

6) Make Your Text Pop With a Semi-Transparent Background

A simple way to make your text pop is to place a semi-transparent shape behind the text. In the final image below, I use a simple rectangle. 

Insert a rectangle, use the “arrange” command to move it behind the text but in front of (on top of) the image. Then set its transparency (see below).

TIP: To quickly move a shape behind any text but in front of the main image, select the rectangle and send it to the back. This places it behind everything – including the image. Now select the image and send it to the back. Voila, the rectangle is now in front of the image but behind any other text or shapes. This is handy when there are multiple objects (text, shapes, images) on a page.

Making Your Shape Transparent

Select the shape (the rectangle), select Fill Color from the toolbar, and select a blank custom color square.
Google drawing transparent shape

Use the right column to set the color transparency.

Final Image

I’m not going to win any awards with this image. But… for the price of free and about 10 to 15 minutes, you could do a LOT worse. 

Google Drive/Google Apps Benefits

Besides being free, here are a couple reasons to consider adding Google Apps to your toolkit

  • In the cloud:
    No software to install. It’s available whether you are on your computer, a borrowed computer, a library computer, etc.
  • Shareable:
    You can collaborate with your team – ie: your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, sucker willing to give you some time, etc. 
  • Fewer Features:
    I know, this sounds like a drawback. But, maybe not. Featureitis is a problem. Sometimes sparse means you spend less time tinkering, more time, in your primary creative activity.

Sharing the Correct Image on Facebook

I’ve covered this before on my consulting site. You can read that article here.

In short, I use WordPress and the YOAST SEO Plug-in. I set the desired image as the WordPress Featured Image and as the YOAST SEO Facebook Image. 

I also explain how to change the image that Facebook caches (stores) when the URL is shared. Read the above article and you’ll know how to fix things when the preview on Facebook is wrong.

You can test this, share the URL of this blog post on Facebook. See what I did there, asked you to share it as a “test” – pretty clever. But seriously, share it, someone will thank you and you’ll see the image above is what is previewed. And it is full-screen. Cool, right?

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