Church Graphics Handbook by Brady Shearer

Church Graphics Handbook by Brady Shearer

November 13, 2014 by
Church Graphics Handbook by Brady Shearer

Feeling Graphically Challenged

You’ve been charged to create graphics for your church. Yet you’ve never ventured outside of PowerPoint, much less opened Photoshop. What do you do?

There are third-party websites that offer pre-made slides and graphics. While not an ideal solution, this has still provided solid value to many churches. The transition from clip art into graphic design is a huge jump and any organization that makes the change should be applauded.

The transition from clip art to graphic design is huge. Any organization that makes the change should be applauded.

That said, this is 2014. Shouldn’t there be a better way of creating high quality images that not only look and feel professional, but are customized to match your organization?

Brady Shearer from Pro Church Tools thought so and created the Church Graphics Handbook. Perhaps you heard Brady when he joined us on the Church Marketing Podcast not too long ago.

Three Flavors

The Church Graphics Handbook comes in three flavors with three distinct price points.

1. The Book

The first and least expensive option is The Book which contains a 137-page e-book. If you already know how to use Photoshop and command the design elements you need, this book is not for you. The book is for someone who knows virtually nothing about design, but has a desire to learn.

2. The Book + Videos

The second, middle-tier option is The Book + Videos. This is probably the best option for someone with some understanding of visual design, but doesn’t know how to manifest the picture inside their head onto the computer. If you plan on making your own images or your church has a particular style that you need to maintain, this is the package for you.

3. The Complete Package

The third and high-end option is The Complete Package, which is the package I am reviewing here. In my opinion, the launch price of $249 is a steal for this much content. Best of all, this package can be used across ministries, to train students, new staff or new volunteers and help low-funded departments create high-quality images.

What Comes in the Church Graphics Handbook

The Church Graphics Handbook (the Complete Package) includes a 137-page e-book, 22 video tutorials, 401 read-to-go templates and 1,028 beautiful stock photos. The Complete Package is delivered via one small 71 MB ZIP file.

“Wait, how can that be?” you ask. “One video would surely take up that much space on its own.”

The first thing I noticed about the package: it’s delivered in bite-sized segments. When you unzip the download you’re met with one PDF and four folders.

The E-Book

The e-book is a down-to-earth articulation of basic graphic principles like spacing, alignment and font usage.

The e-book is meant for “the person I [Brady] was six years ago.” Back then, Brady had a basic understanding of what looked good and what didn’t. But he had no idea how to achieve graphics that looked good. He wasn’t alone. He shares quotes from other church leaders who are frustrated or intimidated by graphic design.

This book is written for everyone who needs to design graphics but has no background or formal training in design.” That sums it up.

Brady uses the book to encourage and build up individuals tasked with creating graphics and equipped with little more than a heart for God and a willingness to try.

He gives new designers permission to be simple, permission to copy good examples, permission to be consistent and, among others, permission to never use the Papyrus font. Ever.

Yes, the book has encouragement infused throughout the pages. But don’t worry—there is actually graphic design content, too. The e-book is a down-to-earth articulation of basic graphic principles like spacing, alignment and font usage. In addition to the theory, Brady also guides you through the process of how to apply those principles.

The book is 10 chapters long and each one builds on the previous one. It is very easy to navigate and understand and I believe any non-designer can understand the practical instruction Brady shares. Honestly, it would have been nice to have something like this when I first started using Photoshop back in 2004.

The Resources Folder

The first folder in the Church Graphics Handbook download is the Resources folder. This contains all the files necessary to go through the step-by-step tutorials included in the e-book. As you make your way through the e-book, you’ll use the individual resource files to comprise your very own church graphics.

The Stock Photos Folder

When you open up the Stock Photos folder you’d expect to find all 1,028 images ready and waiting to be used, right? Wrong. And that’s a good thing.

Having 1,028 photos to sort through is not a fun task. Instead, Brady opts to include a single HTML file that you open in your Internet browser. In it, you’ll see Brady has carefully organized the photos into categories. Click on the category you want to begin downloading.

Once downloaded, you have two options for viewing the photos. You can open an HTML file and scroll through the files in your Internet browser. Or browse the images in the downloaded folder. Either way, the photos are ready for you to use.

The Templates Folder

Like the stock photos, the Photoshop templates are delivered via an HTML file. The templates are broken down into four folders.

The Title Graphics and Icon Graphics folders both contain 16×9 graphics that are perfect for projection screens. The Social Media Accounts folder has templates bearing the dimensions needed for individual social media artwork (eg. Facebook profile picture). Finally, the Social Media Posts folder contains square templates.

The templates are comprehensive in that there is a pre-made template for just about every event a church will ever do.

I encountered one issue that might be frustrating. The templates incorporate an excellent selection and combination of fonts. Fonts are not transferable, meaning that you cannot manipulate a font within a file without having that font loaded onto your computer.

Don’t fear, Brady has you covered. Every font used in The Church Graphics Handbook is free and Brady has listed all of them for easy access. This is a massive advantage over many other services which offer similar templates but use paid and exclusive fonts. Well done Mr. Shearer, well done.

The Video Tutorials

The video tutorials may be the most valuable feature of the entire package. To have this many high quality tutorials in one place is a gold mine.

When I first began learning Photoshop in 2004, I would search the web for tutorials on how to use a certain tool or achieve a certain look. In 2005, YouTube came along and made it easier to find video tutorials. But it was still difficult to narrow down which tutorial was going to give me what I was looking for.

Having 21 high-quality video tutorials created by one person, with one reason and to one audience is an asset that you will not find anywhere else. Subscription sites like Lynda.com are great, but finding the right tutorial can sometimes take longer than actually watching the video.

The tutorials are broken into three primary categories and one bonus category. The first category is Photoshop Tutorials. This will give you an overview of Photoshop tools and working with text, layers, etc.

The second category is the Graphics Formulas tutorials. Each video corresponds with style of templates from the Templates folder. Very cool.

The third category is the Building Your Toolkit. Essentially, it’s an outline of how to curate tools, resources and images within Photoshop. This is not the category of tutorials you would want to start with, but once you get through the others, it will be fun to venture into this section.

The Bonus Tutorials category is really tactical suggestions to help you apply your new skills in meaningful ways. It’s a good way to become inspired as you improve your church’s graphic design.

Final Thoughts

If you struggle to produce high quality content quickly, consider purchasing the Church Graphic Handbook

Based on my review, I think the Complete Package is the only package that will give churches a maximum return on investment.

While the two lower packages provide value, it’s clear that each element is meant to work in rhythm with the others. Luckily, the e-book states that if you want to upgrade to another package in the future, Brady and his team will take care of you.

If you work for a church that has several designers and you are not utilizing volunteers or novice designers, this would not be a wise investment. If you work for a church that has an experienced designer, but struggle to get a lot of high quality content produced quickly, consider purchasing the Church Graphics Handbook.

If you work for a church that currently does not have a graphic designer, but has a key volunteer or a staff member with a desire to begin creating graphics, I strongly recommend The Complete Package.

Word to the Wise

The Church Graphics Handbook isn’t a magic genie. By estimate, to go through all the content it would take several days of dedicated learning. The resources, tools and training provided will work, but only if you do, too.

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Dave Shrein


Dave Shrein is the author of The Communicator's List, a free publication for church communicators. You can connect with Dave on his blog, daveshrein.com, where he writes about leadership and communications or follow him on Twitter. Dave also hosts our Church Marketing Podcast.
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