How I make PECs on the iPad – Part 2

My first foray into this topic has so far proved to be the second most popular post on my blog – ever – so I decided to update it and tell you about my new favourite app for producing single PEC cards – DesignStudio by BoogieBot. For creating visuals that use multiple pictures, like first-then-next boards, choice boards, schedules and games then be sure to check out my next post which is a review of the app Custom Boards by Smarty Ears.

DesignStudio is a free app with no ads. If you want to create more sophisticated files like QR codes, then there is an in-app purchase of 99 cents, but for creating PECS or other straightforward graphics, this app is free, easy to use, very versatile and sharing files is a breeze.

Let me show you what I mean by walking you through an example. When you open the app, you have a number of new file options – the one to select if you want to create a PEC card is “New Design File”.

Select the size of the visual that you want to create; I enter 1024 x 1024 just to create a square file. The file you’re working with is the grey area at the top left corner of the screen. Selecting the button I’ve labelled ‘Anchor file’ lets you move the file around the screen so you can centre it if you like. Tap the same button again to lock the file in place. Use ‘Zoom’ to adjust the onscreen size of the file. I’ll come back to ‘Lock labels’ and ‘Export’ later, for now let’s look at all the options available when the ‘Toolbox’ icon is selected.

Tapping on the Toolbox gives you access to 7 different ways of adding items to your blank file.
T (green) = Text
Star (blue) = icons
Pencil (red) = draw or write
Camera (aqua) = Take a picture with your device
Film roll (pink) = Import a photo from your library
Select the button circled in yellow if you want to choose a pattern as your background, but I think the best option for PECS is to select the fill-in bucket (circled in black). Tapping on it allows you to select the following options:
  • Top & Bottom Background Color – you can select different colours if you want a fancy fade-in effect but for a simple PEC card I choose white for both Top and Bottom.
  • Corners will default to right-angled but you can slide the button if you want a rounded effect.
  • You can choose the colour and width of the border – I left the setting at default.
  • The Alpha slider button affects the opacity of the graphic item you are working with – I’ve included an example of that later in this post.

Once the background colour is set, then you can add an image. I imported a picture of Thomas from my camera roll:

You can then drag the image to the position you want it to be in on the card and use a two finger pinch-zoom gesture to size. Once you’re happy with the size of the picture and it’s placement, then select the button I marked as ‘Lock Labels’. This lets you lock the image in place. You can unlock, reorder or delete it at any time.

Tap on the Text button in the Toolbox, type in the text you want to add, choose the text colour (default black) and size, then select ‘Add Text Layer’. You can place the text anywhere you choose – below, above or on top of the image.
Double tapping on the text allows you to add certain effects as well as change the font type:
Changing the size of the text relative to the image is easily done:

If you’re using AAC colour-coding or simply want a background colour other than white, that’s easily accomplished. Once you’re happy with the final file, sharing it is also easy. Tapping the export button enables you to save the file to your camera roll, convert to PDF, email or export to your Dropbox.

Items can be easily layered on top of each other so, for example, let’s say you wanted to add an icon like an arrow, then you can select the ‘Star’ button from the Toolbox:

I chose a ‘+’ sign which I then rotated into an ‘X’ in order to indicate that Thomas was not available (yeah, right). Adjusting the ‘Alpha’ setting made the ‘X’ sufficiently transparent that the image and label could still be seen through the icon:
One option I would really love to see added is the ability to set default file settings. If I could create files that defaulted to the settings I last chose in terms of background, image size and font type and size, that would make the process of creating cards even quicker. An even better alternative would be the ability to save different files as templates.
However, as-is, I like this app for creating single PEC cards because it is:
  • free
  • easy to use
  • quick – I can create a card in less than 60 seconds
  • versatile – especially the ability to control the size of images and text
  • enables me to share cards instantaneously across all my iOS devices (via photostream) and with others via email. Once in my photostream I can import the cards into any app which uses visuals.
  • I can access the cards from anywhere via Dropbox, plus cloud storage means I always have a backup.

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4 Comments on “How I make PECs on the iPad – Part 2”

  1. solodialogue June 14, 2012 at 12:57 am #

    Your instructions make it seem easy and dare I say-fun? You make me want to try it. Toots pretty much uses written words over pictures now but I still think this would be great for visuals of all kinds! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • OMum22 June 14, 2012 at 1:00 am #

      It really is super-easy Karen and I do enjoy doing this stuff. Remember too that even though Toots is reading, pairing visuals with words will actually reinforce and build his reading skills 😉

  2. Teriann June 15, 2012 at 5:33 am #

    Brilliant Deanne! I was actually going to look up your last post on this subject this week as I have some visuals I want to make for the ipads but this is even better!!!

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