Photoshop Artboards (and why your church should be using them)

As a church communications director, one of my favourite things to do every few months is design the branding artwork for our next sermon series. It’s a task that can’t be rushed — these graphics are going to be seen by hundreds of churchgoers. These graphics help sharpen our focus at church, and shape our thinking around the topic at hand. They assist the preacher by providing a consistent, distraction-free canvas for sermon points, illustrations and scripture references. They provide a link between our physical, Sunday gathering and our Facebook, Instagram and website presence. These graphics matter. But just because they shouldn’t be rushed, doesn’t mean we can’t streamline the creative process to make designing our sermon series artwork quicker, more efficient and more consistent.

This is where Photoshop Artboards enter the scene.

Artboards were introduced to Photoshop as part of the 2015 Photoshop CC update, and when it comes to branding, they were a game changer.

Artboards allow the user to work on any number of different sized canvases, all within the same document, or artboard. Illustrator users will already be familiar with the artboard concept, but now we can all enjoy its benefits in Photoshop too! Each time I design new artwork for a sermon series, I’m likely to need a title slide and content slide for the preacher’s sermon points, as well as graphics for Facebook, Instagram, our church blog and our sermon webpage. Plus I might want to produce a flyer/handout/booklet, or use part of the graphic in a sermon bumper. Previously I’d end up with a folder full of PSDs with random names (sermon_graphic.psd, sermon_graphic1.psd, sermon_graphic2.psd, sermon_graphicFINAL.psd, sermon_grahicACTUAL_FINAL.psd, instagram_graphic1.psd… get the idea…) Now, thanks to artboards, I can design all the artwork I need, each with its own correct ratios and design specifications, all in the one place.

My standard workflow when it comes to using artboards is to create a single artboard first (typically at the largest resolution I’m likely to need for any piece of sermon series artwork), and start the artwork design process. When I’m happy with the concept, I duplicate that artboard, then resize and re-adjust to suit whatever size/ratio/design I need, whether that be a Facebook image, 16:9 slide, A5 brochure or website header. When all my artboards are finished, I can ctrl>click each artboard in the Layers Panel to easily and quickly export them as PNG files, ready to be used for whatever purpose they were intended.

Seeing all my files at the same time in the one place makes for such easy tweaking, and ensures brand consistency across all our platforms.

Artboards are also a great place for experimenting. Can’t decide between two designs? Can’t choose which font you like? Tossing up between two different background images? Create two designs side-by-side on your artboard, and observe them both together.

Here are some “real life” examples of how artboards are working for my church.

Photoshop artboards have really helped to speed up my workflow, giving me more time to invest in other projects working to promote the gospel of Jesus. If you’re working on Photoshop CC and haven’t yet looked into artboards, now is the time!

Here are some helpful links to get you started with artboards:

Brief overview of What Is An Artboard

More comprehensive look at using artboards from Adobe Help

Cheat Sheet of Social Media Image Sizes

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