Shape Tools

Revised Shape Tools Diagram

February 23, 2016

MaskingFlowchartDURevisedSmallWith much help from Dr. Parlin, the flowchart has been revised to be more readable. I am still working on the infographic and will post it as soon as it is done.

What changes were needed? First, the text was not easy to read. It was small and pixelated. I thought that Georgia was a recommended font, but it didn’t work with this graphic. I switched to Times New Roman to remove the pixelation. I can’t tell if it did the trick, so I would appreciate any feedback.

Second, the shapes were too small, making it impossible to fit easier-to-read text inside the shapes. I increased the size of the entire graphic, making room for bigger shapes. I also changed the star to a parallelogram. The parallelogram offers more real estate to enter text. Finally, I changed the font to normal (instead of bold). These changes allowed me to make all the font sizes match, increasing the size to 20 (from a mix of 10-12).

As I started to work on this chart and really tear it apart, piece by piece, it was obvious that I had not been careful in making everything match as part of one graphic. Some arrows were blue (#0000FF) while others were blue (#000099). Some were 4 points; others were 5. The same was true for the shape outlines. Some were 4 points and others were 7. Finally, some of the text was title-case while other shapes had sentence-case. All in all this had a decent look to my naked eye, but it really needed assistance in the consistency department. Ironic, since consistency was one of the traits I was aiming for, both between the types of steps and between the flow chart and infographic.

Original Graphic and Post


Masking Flow Chart


Masking Infographic

Shape Tools

The two graphics above will be a part of the unit on Fireworks CS6. The flow chart will serve as an at-a-glance review for teachers who complete the unit. The infographic is a step-by-step tutorial for adding a mask to a background image in Fireworks CS6. Both graphics will be part of the masking section of lesson three. My goal in creating these graphics is to provide users who complete the unit with both a step-by-step guide to applying a mask, and a visual aid to use when creating masks in future educational settings.

Target Audience

Staff members at Anytown Private School (APS) have Fireworks on their school-provided laptops, but not all will have access at home. As a result, this unit will be optional for APS staff members. Also, because this unit is provided online, anyone who uses Fireworks CS6 will be able to find and complete this unit. Since the audience has multiple source possibilities, I will refer to the audience as the global target audience. “Global target audience” includes APS staff members and online users from outside the APS community.

APS staff have a working knowledge of educational technology through email, browsing, and tablet usage. Most staff members do not have graphics editing experience, though, so this unit is devised for the beginning graphic designer. This approach to the unit implies that Internet users outside of the APS staff who choose to work through this Fireworks CS6 unit will also be at the beginning level of graphic design. However, intermediate-level graphic designers may want to work through the materials as a refresher course.

Because the global target audience is largely unknown, it is hard to determine any particular characteristics of audience members. There are a few details that can be surmised, however. First, audience members need to have a working knowledge of how to use the Internet in order to work through this unit online. Second, they must have at least a sixth-grade reading level to understand the material presented. Finally, they must have access to a computer with Fireworks CS6 installed.

The age of the global target audience is unpredictable. I do know that there is at least a potential range of teachers who have taught one year to those who have taught almost forty years. That is the range among APS staff members. Online users will be comprised of anyone who can find the unit and work through it, from pre-teens through retired adults.

Solution Strategy

There are two graphics for the assignment this week because each one serves a different need for the global target audience. Global target audience members who have not used Fireworks before may prefer the infographic because it provides details for the step-by-step process. Users who are familiar with fireworks may choose to use the flow chart alone to walk through the steps for masking. The flow chart can be easily printed on a piece of 8.5″ X 11″ paper for handy reference. The infographic can be printed on an 11″ X 17″ sheet of paper, but it works best when used online.

Each of the two graphics uses the same shapes and the same order of the shapes for easy understanding and retention. The different shapes are used to indicate different types of actions required by the user.

  • Logo – The masking logo that was used to introduce masking to users is included at the top left corner of each graphic. This logo and positioning provides continuity within the unit. It also serves as a reminder of the definition of the term.
  • Rectangle – This shape indicates that the user needs to open a menu item.
  • Diamond – These indicate that the user needs to complete an action involving creating or manipulating graphic objects on the canvas.
  • Octagon – To encourage users to step back and assess their creations while working, I used a stop sign shape. When drawing, I find it best to save every time I like the effect I just created. This reduces the chance that I’ll lose something that may be hard to recreate. On the other end of the spectrum, when I don’t like something I undo it. But, I won’t know either way unless I stop and view the whole graphic as if I’ve not seen it before.
  • Star – Stars indicate that the user needs to select, rearrange or resize an object.

Using the same shapes in the flow chart and the infographic provides a continuous flow that will help users to understand and apply the information presented in the unit.

The display shape of the flow chart is a square (Lohr, 2008, p. 250). To fit the square shape, I aligned the flow chart symbols and sequence in a square layout. I also used angular shapes within the flow chart to match the square display shape. Instead of the connector lines provided by Fireworks, I chose to use arrows to indicate the direction of the work flow (Lohr, 2008, p. 248). The overall flow chart shows the process (Lohr, 2008, p. 253) of adding a mask to a graphic, which suits the goal of these images. I used rectangles to group the information (Lohr, 2008, p.249) on the infographic. These rectangular shapes provide visual cues to enable the user to align the information with the flow chart shape.

User Input and Changes Made

Originally the shapes were filled with a sold color. In the blue rectangles and red octagons, the text was white. The text was black inside the orange diamonds and green stars. This text was hard for the test audience to read. The font was Trebuchet MS, and it was also hard to read when printing the graphics.

The shapes fared better with the test audience. It was easy for the user to identify the meaning and purpose of the different shapes. Continuity was also a factor that the user mentioned as a positive feature. The user also indicated that the arrows provided visual cues that supported the text in the graphics. However, the link for opening the image was less than clear. The user’s concern was that someone would mistype the address and not be able to complete the tutorial.

Revisions to the Original Graphics

First, I changed the font to Georgia. This font provides a clear, easy to read alternative to Trebuchet MS without having to make the font bigger. Then I changed the fill of each shape from solid (100%) to transparent (25%). Finally, I changed all text to black. The black text is easier to read inside the shapes. It also serves to unify the image because all of the text is now black.

I changed the link to the graphic in two ways. First, I shortened the link with Google’s URL shortener ( Then I added hotspots to the graphics. Since this unit is all online, the clickable hot spots will help the user by removing the need to type a URL to get the image of the roses.

Bonus Graphics

The tutorial provides users with steps to create a Valentine’s Day graphic. Click here to see the completed graphic. Also, while I was toying with Fireworks CS6 to learn how to use a mask, I created a second graphic that involved two different background images. You can view that graphic here.

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson/Merrill/Prentice Hall.


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