How to design a sermon graphic Part II

So glad you decided to stop by. You made it for the best part (at least for me), the process of designing the sermon graphic. 🙂 

In Step 3 I’ve shared my screen in a video as I design a series for the book of Romans based off of a thumbnail sketch you’ll see in Step 1. So if you want to skip all this and jump to the video, feel free!

At this point I’ve talked to my pastor about the series and reminded myself who my audience, the church family is, so I have everything I need to start designing the sermon graphic. Let’s get to it!

If you missed Part I, I recommend you check it out. It covers the most important parts of the process and will make the steps I’m sharing today much smoother!

1. Sketch thumbnails on paper

This step may seem antiquated but I recommend giving it a shot if it’s not already part of your process. You could use an ipad or tablet, but I do recommend using a pencil of some kind. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good old fashioned number 2 pencil or an electronic one. There’s something about pencil on paper that is free and easy. While it can be clumsy, there is an openness to it that helps get your creative mind flowing. 

The main thing to get it on paper before getting into the weeds in photoshop or whatever design software you will be using. This step usually results in a pretty strong design direction and a sense of confidence moving forward.

When I sketch thumbnails I have my notes from the conversation I had with the pastor handy. Sometimes I even create a list of keywords from the notes and jot them down in the sidelines to help keep me on track.

Thumbnails for a series on Romans

You can see that my drawings are NOT good. Be encouraged, this is visual brainstorming, most likely no one will see it (unless you stupidly post it online somewhere) … and it works!

2. Create an idea/mood board for inspiration (optional)

This step is helpful if you want even more design direction before getting started. I will often use Pinterest and create a new board for a series. I simply choose images, layouts, colors and fonts that give me a similar feeling to how I want my audience to feel when they see the graphic.
Designspiration.com and Behance.net are other great websites where you can find inspiration.

3. Choose your software & work out your best thumbnail(s)

At this point in the process you have notes, thumbnails and maybe even a mood board. Now you are more than ready to design. Choose 1-2 of the thumbnails that you feel are the strongest and start to work them out in your design program.

When it comes to choosing a program, I choose whichever software will work best for the results I want. For the example Roman series in the video below, I used Photoshop because I knew I would be manipulating photos. If the look I wanted was going to be more graphic with few or no photos, I would have chosen Illustrator because it’s built for drawing. If I am short on time and want to use a template, I might hop on canva.com.

This video is 4 min, but it took me a couple hours to design these slides. There are times when it takes me a few days to design a series because my first thumbnail sketch wasn’t working and I had to choose a different one. So don’t worry if it doesn’t all fall into place on the same day. It’s all part of the process and we all work differently.

Designing a sermon graphic for Romans

A note on artboards: You can see in the video I have 2 boards inside the same document. One is for the main graphic slide and the other is for the background slide. These are called artboards. Artboards are an option in both Illustrator and Photoshop and they are incredibly helpful! They allow me to design multiple pieces inside the same document and easily keep the look consistent. When finished you can export each artboard into a separate file.

In Photoshop check “Artboards” when opening a new file
Example of Photoshop file using artboards

4. Get approval

After I have the main slides done, I will send these to whoever is in charge of giving me the thumbs up. We usually need additional matching graphics to post on social media, the website, etc. but I don’t want to do all that and then have to back and make changes!

5. Create all the sizes your church will need

Once I have approval I will create a new file (in this case, in Photoshop) with several different artboards in ALL the sizes I need (see photo above). Then I can export them all at once into a folder that I will share with the team.

6. Share your work!

Our church uses google drive but there are many different avenues for file sharing. As long as you have your files appropriately named and inside a folder for the team to grab you are good to go!

Create a process that works for you

I hope this process doesn’t seem too cumbersome. This is just what works for me. I find when I put the extra work in to prepare for designing sermon graphics or any project, the design part just flows.

Having a process in place allows me to stay on track to designing a sermon graphic that my pastor is happy with and keeps me on a design path that is true to the series and the audience it’s intended for. It also saves me time because there are usually very few, if any, changes that need to be made.

Thanks for letting me share…I hope it helps you put together a process of your own and makes working on sermon graphics a creative and fun experience!

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Hello

I'm Meridith

A mom and wife based in Arizona. I love good design and have worked in small churches for lots of years. Now I’m sharing my collection of sermon graphics and some things I’ve learned along the way.

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