The Learning Curve of Learning Curves

I admit to you freely that this is a little off the ResearchBuzz path, but this resource saved my bacon. And I figure bacon-saving (or tofu-saving, or chicken-saving, or whatever your protein of choice for saving) is a universal desire.

One of the many tasks in my Real Job is graphic designer. I’m competent at it, in the sharp-cornered, slightly awkward way of someone who has zero natural aptitude for a task but who studies and practices diligently in order to build skill.

My boss asked me to design a sales flyer. There wasn’t a lot of time to do it, so I quickly wrote up some copy (that I can do), thought about it for a few minutes, and then shoved it into the back of my mind so my subconscious could chew on it while I took care of more immediate tasks.

Later that evening my subconscious went bing! and I had a pretty good plan for a flyer.

For a while everything went according to plan. Got some graphic elements together, got a layout, fit in the copy. It looked pretty good. I was over half done with it, congratulating myself, when I realized I had made a big mistake:

I needed a curved text element.

In fact, I needed five of them.

I normally use GIMP when I’m designing, or if it’s not something really complicated I use PicMonkey. Curved text in GIMP is not something that comes easy to me. I knew it could be done, so I went and found some tutorials, then tried to follow along with my own flyer.

The results would have been great if I was designing a flyer for drunk Scrabble players. Alas, I was not.

At this point it was about 10pm. I complained on Facebook (as you do) and my friends suggested using Inkscape, but I did not have time to climb up that learning curve. So I went hunting for an alternative.

And I found it on GRSites, at .

That site is a logo designer. You can pick out a texture if you want one or a color if you don’t (and you can specify a hex color), font (you can even upload a font if you want), some special effects, etc. And you have a choice of curving the text up or down, with each orientation having seven different options.

This is ResearchBuzz with a slight up curve:


And this is ResearchBuzz with the greatest down curve, which is actually a circle:


Using this tool I was able to quickly generate the five curved text items I needed – I think it took me about ten minutes. And the flyer was finished.

Now, were they perfect? No. The kerning was a bit weird on one of them, and in another case the curve was a little odd relative to the graphic image I was using. But at the same time they looked fine, and certainly a hundred times better and a hundred times faster than I could have done myself.

GR Sites is not free – you can play with the tools all you like but to download/save items you’ll have to have a subscription. I was more than happy to pay $12 for a month’s access to all the tools on the site (there’s an icon maker, etc.) It saved me far more than that in time and all the hair I would have pulled out doing it myself! If the site is something you think you’d use a lot, yearly subscriptions start at $69 (and according to the pricing page, education discounts are offered.)

Because of all the folderol about sponsored posts and so on, I feel I must make the following disclaimer: GRSites is a product that solved my problem so I’m telling you about it. This isn’t a sponsored post. The GRSites people don’t know me from a hole in the ground. They don’t know I’m writing this post. I gave ‘em twelve bucks and I was happy to do it. Etc.

If you find yourself with graphic design tasks and you need a curved text element, but you’re not a hotshot designer, this is a great tool. It isn’t perfect and it isn’t free, but it’s very good, and will save you a tremendous amount of time.

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3 replies »

  1. Have you tried Word Art? If you don’t have MS Word already then it’s very far from free, but if you *do* have it it’s well worth experimenting with for this sort of thing.

    • Alas, I’ve been using LibreOffice / StarOffice forever. But I do remember a tool that made curved text really easy – Microsoft Publisher! (LONG time ago!)

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