First Birthdays are so much fun! For most parents the first birthday is a BIG milestone. It seems hard to believe that the little bundle that was handed to you in your arms is now all grown up (we parents do exaggerate ;)) and is a little person with his/her own likes and interests! As the first birthday approaches there begins intense planning and discussions on how to celebrate the big day? Celebrating the first birthday can be tedious and nerve-racking. To get over the nerves, you might want to actually create something on your own for your baby that encapsulates his/her key milestones.
The Chalkboard poster is one such great way of showcasing your child’s milestones. It also presents a good photo-op opportunity with the little one on their special day. Infact, you can create a chalkboard for any event be it a birthday or anniversary or an achievement.
Here are the steps to create a chalkboard poster for your child’s birthday. I have used the Mac Preview program to create my chalkboard. A lot of people use photo editing software like Photoshop Elements, GIMP or Picmonkey but I used the Mac Preview program simply because it was free and easy to use 🙂
Choose the Chalkboard Background:
Decide the chalkboard background that you want to use. I personally prefer the black chalkboard but there are also green and blue backgrounds. Look for a hi-res chalkboard image online and save on your desktop (right click on image and click save). You can save the image as a pdf or png or jpg. I prefer .png files because of the higher resolution. Choose a chalkboard that is atleast 800*1000 pixels. I used a file which was 2400*3000 pixel resolution and this ensured that you could opt for a large 16″ X 20″ or 16″ X 24″print
Finalize the Content:
The first step is deciding what all information you want to lay out in your chalkboard poster. There are several first birthday chalkboard poster samples available online. You must browse through a few of these to decide what key milestones you want to highlight for your baby. Remember to keep it personal and relevant. For instance – many chalkboards highlighted the child’s favorite book or the first words they spoke. This was not relevant for my daughter who hadn’t started to talk or read at the 1 year mark. She was more of a hyperactive kiddo who was interested in moving around, breaking things, opening drawers etc. Also highlight your child’s achievements especially the ones that you are proud of such as “Walked at 10.5 months” was my daughter’s achievement. Here are a few interesting themes that you can choose to highlight through your chalkboard viz. favourite pastime, favourite foods, nickname, words your child can say, things he/she can do, things he/she hates, first trip, favourite song/rhyme, favourite toy, favourite animals,your child’s height, weight and number of teeth at the 1 year mark
Download Chalkboard Fonts:
The fonts maketh the chalkboard poster! Really, it is the fonts and dingbats that make the chalkboard poster come alive. There are some really cool chalkboard fonts available online especially at www.dafont.com which you must explore. The fonts that would be available on your mac would be very basic and too drab and dull for a chalkboard. So you will need to download fonts that you want to use to design your chalkboard. I have depicted my favourite chalkboard fonts in the chalkboard image below and have also included the links to each of them in the table below. These include a variety of handwriting, chalky, kiddie and fancy fonts which help to amp up your chalkboard design. Install the fonts that you wish to use on your laptop/computer (click on font and you will be taken to a web page where you can download the font. To install double click the file and click the install button that appears on top. This will add the font to your list of fonts)
|My Favourite Chalkboard Fonts|
|a. A song for Jennifer||b. Schalk|
|c. Return to sender||d. DK Crayon Crumble|
|e. Sketch Block||f. Pea Ellie Bellie|
|g. Handy George||h. Orange Juice|
|i. JB Cursive||j. Janda Curly Girl Pop|
|k. Thinking of You||l. Dotness|
|m. Grutch Shaded||n. Quickie|
|o. Appleberry||p. Carte Blanche|
|q. Kg Skinny Latte||r. Papyrus|
This step is as critical as deciding which fonts to use. Infact I spent a lot of time searching for dingbats. The chalkboard is all about the visuals and it is the dingbats that help create the visual effect. Overall I felt that choice of dingbats is limited as compared to fonts but I did find some great dingbats which I used to good effect in my chalkboard. The Chalkboard image below captures some of my favourite dingbats. Apart from these I also liked these dingbatsWW Beary Special , Pea Lauren Doodles, Pea KT Doodles, Picture Squares and Itty Bitty Baby
The dingbats will also need to be downloaded and installed in your laptop before you can use them.
Preview and Select the Fonts :
The real task of designing the chalkboard begins after you have installed the fonts and dingbats that you wish to use. The dilemma is which font to use for a particular section. I ofcourse followed the tedious route of actually trying out different fonts on my chalkboard before deciding which I wanted to use and this took hours! Recently I came across another DIY blogpost that mentioned this website www. wordmark.it that true to its tag line “helps you choose fonts”! Its a great site. All you have to do is type a word or sentence on the box on top and the site will show you that word/sentence in all the fonts that are installed on your computer. I just typed my daughter’s name MIRAAYA in the box and Viola ! I can now see in which font her name looks the best. Totally brilliant isn’t it! You can even select the fonts you want to compare and press filter selected. There is also a negative button that will show the text as white against a black background which is perfect for a chalkboard
Preview is a simple program to use for creating a chalkboard poster. Open your Chalkboard background with preview. There will be a markup toolbar on the right which looks like a briefcase. Click on the markup toolbar and this will display all the toolbar options. I primarily use the Text tool (marked T). You can choose the fonts you want to use and alter the size and colour. Remember the program is called Preview but does not allow you to preview all the fonts 😉 For that you need to follow the preview tips mentioned above.You can further stylise your chalkboard by adding dingbats. if you want different words to be in different colours or fonts, you will need to add new text boxes and position them as desired on your chalkboard. Finally after your design is complete, you can save your file by selecting File>Export.
Drawbacks of Preview:
Photo editing software like Picmonkey or Photoshop has a lot more functionality than Preview. Preview definitely has some drawbacks for instance as you cannot change the colour of individual alphabets in a text box in preview and you cannot bold or italicize your fonts in the chalkboard. You also cannot have animated elements on your chalkboard and the file once saved cannot be edited (individual text boxes cannot be edited). Some fonts and dingbats also get cut off. But then for me the biggest benefit of Preview is that it is free !
Hope this tutorial was helpful. If yes then consider sharing on Facebook and Twitter below. Happy Chalk boarding. Do share your chalkboard with me at https://www.facebook.com/mommyreflects when it is done.
PS: I got my chalkboard printed and pasted on a soft board (see picture below). We put it up on an easel at my daughter’s first birthday venue.