Create Custom Letter Shapes in Keynote

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I made this Everyone Can Create image when I got home from the World Wide Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in July. I left truly inspired and I wanted to create an image where I could showcase pictures of my friends and colleagues to highlight creative experiences from the week. Since I posted it in July, I have had many requests on how to create this, so I thought I’d share!

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I knew I wanted to create “picture frames” of letters and use those as shapes to mask images. There are some great online tools to do this, but I really wanted to create it myself and try to find a way to make it happen. I immediately went to Keynote and started playing around with different ways to complete this project. For the first part of this project, it has to be done on the Mac. Within the shapes menu, there is a very powerful tool called the ‘Draw with Pen’ tool. It is an amazing tool and you can pretty much create whatever your heart desires. Truly, the sky is the limit, just ask my good friend and “Master of the Keynote Draw Tool,” Ben Mountz. He’s made the most amazing images in Keynote using this tool. If you haven’t checked out his work, his Twitter handle is @BenMountz and I promise, you will be amazed.

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I used one of my favorite block fonts and inserted a text block. I resized the text and changed the opacity of the text block so that I could trace over it using the draw with pen tool. You could certainly do yours freehand, but I need a little more practice than the average person because drawing is not one of my talents. 🤣

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The way the Draw with Pen tool works is that you add points to draw line segments. When you join the points to the original point, you create a closed shape. From there, you can edit the shape to create curves. Once you have your shape, click on it to see the editing points. A square indicates a sharp line, while a circle indicates a curved line. The more you play around with this tool, you can learn the advanced features, including creating a bézier point, which pretty much means the points and the curve change intuitively along the path. If you draw a shape and use a secondary click, you will have these options: sharp point, smooth point, bézier point, or an option to divide the path.

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Once you have all of the letters drawn for what you want to create, then I’d suggest duplicating the letter shapes so that you have more than one of each letter. Using the object list is a really nice feature when creating your own shapes.

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Once the letters are created, you can do the rest of this project on Keynote for iOS.  In the picture below, I filled the letter E with an image. I used the slider to fit different parts of the photo inside the E and I moved the photo around to get it just right.

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Finished project for my son’s baseball team.

You could most certainly extend the use of letter shapes by animating them in Keynote and exporting them as videos. My first thought went to how amazing it would be to have younger students animate and insert voices for letters to demonstrate knowledge of letter sounds. How fun would that be! I’d love to see what you come up with and all the various ways we can turn letters and words into art!

Have fun creating!! #EveryoneCanCreate

PS…I will be taking a break from publishing blog posts. I hope that you go out and continue creating and I encourage you to find awesome people to follow on Twitter! Thanks to all my readers for all your support and feedback over the years! Cheers!!

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2 thoughts on “Create Custom Letter Shapes in Keynote

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