8/17/09
11:49 am

MacMost Now 280: Making Twitter and Facebook Icons with iPhoto

Learn how to take a photo in iPhoto 09 and make a small square icon to use as your icon or avatar in social media networks like Twitter, Facebook and other blogs and forums throughout the Web.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi, this is Gary, with MacMost Now. On today's episode, let's look at how you can use iPhoto to create icons for Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.
So, icons or avatars are those little square graphics that depict who you are on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Now, creating one is usually as easy as uploading a picture of yourself; sometimes you can even use your webcam to create a quick snapshot. But you can also go through your iPhoto library and get that perfect picture of you to use as an icon. Let's go and look at how to do that, and how to edit it so it fits perfectly.
Now, here we are in iPhoto 09. Let's go and find a good picture to use for an icon. Here's one I want to use, but you can see there's far too much background to use as an icon. I would be too small in the image. So I'm going to go and crop it. First thing I'm going to do is I'm going to select it, I'm going to press CTRL-click or right-click, and I'm going to select "Duplicate", which is one of the choices further down. So I've got two versions of it, because one of them I'm going to crop specifically for use as an icon.
OK, next, with it selected, I'm going to hit the "Edit" button, the little pencil at the bottom of iPhoto. Now, once I'm in there, I can go and do various things with the photo. The main thing I want to do, though, is I want to crop it, so that I have just the part of the photo that I want. So I use the "Crop" tool right here. Now, I get this little tool here that says "Constrain", and I want to use the constraints there, and I want to set it to use a 1:1 ratio. So the way I do that is I go down to the bottom, and you can't see, it's right off here, but there's a "Square" choice; now it's a square ratio. Now I can go ahead and drag the corners of this to create a square. Since most icons for most websites are square, I'm going to create a perfectly square image. So I'm going to center it like that, just like I want it, to get the pieces I want in the photo. And when I get exactly what I want, I'm going to hit "apply", and now I'm zoomed in on the area that I want for my icon.
So I'm happy with this; I can go ahead and export. While still in editing mode I go to File > Export. I get this dialog here and I want to choose "File Export" at the top. The kind I want is JPEG. I want to set the quality to "High", for a little nicer image, and I'm going to play with the size here. So it says Size, "Full Size"; I'm actually going to go and choose "Custom". This will expand the box here and I want to choose a maximum dimension. It's square, so if I make it, say, a maximum 200, I'm going to end up with a 200 x 200 image. Now, I like the size 200 because it's the largest size you can use for Facebook, and it's pretty decent quality. Even though Twitter icons are smaller you can still click on somebody's icon in Twitter and see a larger version of it, the full-sized version. So a 200 pixel image is nice to use for that as well. So I'm going to create 200 by 200, I'm going to hit Export; it's going to give me a suggested filename, I'm going to replace that with something, and save it. And now I can go ahead and upload that to Twitter, Facebook, or any other place that I want to use my icon.
Now, if I'm not completely happy with the image or I want to do something a little bit different, you can do some things right here in the edit mode in iPhoto. So I'm going to go ahead and look at the effects, and it gives you a grid of nine different effects that you can use. So for instance I can create a nice sepia, I can change it to black and white, I can go ahead and fade the color. And you can combine lots of these, clicking the "Original" in the middle to go ahead and go back to what you had before. So, basically, I can keep fading color if I want. I can go ahead and use one of these ways to create a ring around it and basically keep bringing it in and create something like that, so there's all sorts of different things that you can do and play with. In addition to that, you can also go to the color adjustment, and in there you can do all sorts of things to your image; perhaps if the photo isn't perfect, or if you just want to create something that looks a little bit different. For instance, higher definition, or more highlights, something like that. So you can get pretty creative and artistic with it. You can even go ahead and colorize, by changing the tint at the bottom, to get something even more stylized to use for your icon.
And of course it goes without saying that you can enhance and retouch the photo as well. Pressing the "Enhance" button is always worth doing just once, just to see what the picture looks like. You can always undo it. You can also get rid of red-eye; you can do retouches to change things in the background if you want, and you can go ahead and straighten the photo too if you need.
Besides Twitter and Facebook and other networks you belong to, you may also want to visit gravatar.com, where you simply can register your icon with your email address. And most WordPress blogs and some other sites use gravatars, so when you have a gravatar registered it will instantly appear next to your picture in forms and blogs all over the web.
So there's a quick look how to use iPhoto to go ahead and create various icons and avatars for your social media networks. You can go ahead and create the perfect one, or you can create a whole series of them and change them every once in a while. Til next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 2 Responses to “MacMost Now 280: Making Twitter and Facebook Icons with iPhoto”

    Daniel
    8/17/09 @ 8:27 pm

    Very cool “how to” episode. Already know who I’m sending this link too. :-)

    Larry
    8/22/09 @ 8:17 am

    Great episode — timing is perfect for me — was looking for exactly that info. Thanks and I’m passing it on.

Comments Closed.