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How to make awesome card covers using Google Slides - for free!

I might as well say it now - I don’t have a creative bone in my body, I can’t draw, I can’t sketch, I can’t use paint or anything like that to create anything pretty, I just can’t do it! I don’t have any pictorial expertise at all, either by hand or with a specific programme for the sketching inept. I can waffle for thousands of words, I can weave stories from my mind, I can write dissertations and theses about a single topic, not a problem, but nothing that requires a talent for the visually picturesque!

When I see public boards, I’m always amazed at the card covers that Trello users create to make their boards even more awesome than usual! Some that I’ve seen are utterly inspired and creatively stunning, and yet, I remain totally artless. 

So I thought that I would see how I could make my cards and boards look like I have an ounce of creative ability, not an easy feat!

I looked at Google Drawings, but that means you need to know what would work and what wouldn’t work, which I clearly don’t have! Canva was another avenue that I looked into, but nothing really spoke to me. Unsplash has amazing photographs by inspired photographers, but knowing how to manipulate an image to make it what I wanted felt wrong because that’s someone else’s work and I could never find a font that matched the image and a border, and I could never get it right! Like I said, no creative flare at all!

I use Google for most things in my digital life (outside Trello). I use Google Docs every day (I'm writing this article on it right now before I copy & paste it), I use Google Sheets to manage anything spreadsheet related (including a really cute habit tracker), I run both of my websites on Google Sites, I use Gmail and Google Calendar as well as Google Drive. It's safe to say I'm a bit of a Google Girl!

The standard templates for Google Slides are a little rigid and stuffy, just my opinion, they’re very professional I think is what I’m trying to say. But for an individual with a very colourful Desktop board with gifs and company logos, they don’t quite cut it for me personally. I’d almost given up hope, then Sethi released an amazing video “Get FREE templates for Google Slides and PowerPoint” on the websites that he uses for his more creative and colourful templates for Google Slides which expand the classic and formal slides to the more fun and different variations. He uses three or four websites specifically (Slides Carnival, Slides Mania, and Slides Gala, as well as Slides Go), and I can personally attest to how varied and wonderful the options are. These websites also have the Microsoft PowerPoint versions as well, if Microsoft is your thing!

These websites use different ways to download the Slides templates that you want, but I’ve found it’s useful to have a folder on Google Drive called ‘Google Slides Templates’ and put them all in there, then you will always know where to find them. To be able to use them, most of the time, they don’t show up as templates, and you can’t add them as such either, but the easiest way to do it, is to go to the folder where you put them and either click once on the one you want, click the 3 dots (top right) and then ‘Make a Copy’ or (because I can’t remember which ones are the ones I want to use), open the template from the Google Drive folder, then when you know it’s the one you want, make a copy when it’s open by going to File/Make a Copy/Entire Presentation (or just the slide you want to use if you’re already on that slide), then you can rename it to whatever you’re using the presentation for and edit to your heart’s content!

I’m pretty sure there was another video I watched ages ago, probably on the Flipped Classroom Tutorials YouTube page, where I learned that you can export a single slide from Google Slides Presentation as a .png or .jpg, which can be used anywhere you can use a picture, by going to File/Download/JPEG image (.jpg, current slide) or PNG image (.png, current slide) when you’re in your Google Slide presentation and as long as you’re on the slide you want to export. This means that you can have a whole slideshow of card covers that you’ve made using the same template so that things look how you want them and export them individually, which is especially useful if you find a template that you love which has different types of slides and backgrounds/designs.

Then, save the picture file wherever you save your Trello card covers and rename it if you want to. I personally have a folder on Google Drive called ‘Trello’ then each board that I have has another folder within that, so I can save everything that I use on one board into the specific folder that corresponds to the board. For example, these pictures that I made are saved in Google Drive/Trello/Desktop because that’s where I’m using the pictures.  Remember that any Google Docs, Sheets, Slides don’t take up space on your Google Drive, so you can download as many as you like to have in your back pocket to use whenever you like! 

Doing this has enabled me to be able to make really eye-catching card covers that I would never have been able to create on my own! This is what my Filing Cabinet list looks like at the moment on my desktop board. 

Screenshot 2020-01-18 at 17.55.37.png

To get these card covers, I used the Strokes template (for the top card) and the Sinclair template both from Slides Mania, (for the rest of the covers, so they all followed a similar theme). I made a copy, deleted the slides I didn’t want (because it’s a copy, it’s not going to remove the slides from the master version), then exported the slide that I wanted, put them into the right Google Drive folder (if you use Google Drive to hold all your documents), then attached them to the card as usual. I would add here, that you can’t attach them from Google Drive from the back of the card (this will attach the file as a link and not a picture), you have to attach them as a normal attachment otherwise they won’t show as a card cover. The other way to do it, which is my preferred way, is to open Finder (I use a Mac), find the picture, open and copy it, then open the card I want to use it on and paste it there.

Because I'm a little bit over the top, and I can never remember which templates I use, I put the title of the template either in the comments or description (depending on the use of the card). I also attach the original template through Google Drive, as well as the specific Slides file that I made. Just in an overabundance of being able to find it again should I need it, rather than searching through 50+ Slide templates to see which one is the one I used! It looks odd, but at least I know I'll be able to find it again, especially one that is a favourite of mine that I know I want to use again!

Screenshot 2020-01-19 at 16.16.46.png

There are some stunning free Google Slide templates on those websites, so I highly recommend, if you’re like me, seriously lacking in the creative department, that you check them out for card covers. Of course, they’re also fully functioning Google Slide templates, that you can use for all your presentation needs, this is just another way to make them awesome!

Also please excuse the random card name - I'm in the process of 'decluttering' and I want to be able to keep a record of what's in each box under the bed (for tax returns etc), but writing everything that's in each box on the actual box is a pain, which begged the question, how do I keep an accurate record of box contents? Of course, a Trello card was the answer, with about 12 checklists in it (depending on how many boxes I end up with), so that I can keep a record of everything from each box without having to have teeny tiny writing on the box itself! So the boxes will be numbered, and then I'll be able to see exactly what's in the boxes without having to get them all out! Just another way that Trello is amazing!

I would welcome any feedback on other sites that have free Google Slide templates that you’ve found and other ways that you’ve used Google Slides other than their intended use!

10 comments

I'm still a relatively new Trello user, so I love these ideas :) I'm not using any covers for my cards right now... time to start!

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Esme Crutchley Community Leader Jan 20, 2020

Thanks @Samie Kaufman_ Gliffy!

Most things I try and do have to be free (except my business Trello account - where I live!!) and if it helps up your card covers game...game on!

Would love to see what awesomeness you create in your journey!

Esme :)

Thanks @Esme Crutchley ! That is quite handy and yet so easily done. So cool! I'm also very serious about card covers but this will help me make the boards even more appealing and more consistent. Oh, you don't know how much I like that! 😂Thanks again!

Esme Crutchley Community Leader Jan 20, 2020

Thanks @Max Foerster _Decadis AG_, you are most welcome! I'm excited that you're excited!

Being able to have a specific set of card covers for a specific board or even list, makes my little heart happy! It's such a simple thing, but the difference it's made to my boards is unbelievable. So I wondered if other people knew about it. Next thing I knew, I'd written this whole article, oops! 

And even better - it's FREE - woohoo!

Alice Causarano Community Leader Jan 29, 2020

I'm a big Canva fan and I never used Google Slides but your post definitely tempted me to give it a try!

Esme Crutchley Community Leader Jan 29, 2020

I'm a Canva fan as well @Alice Causarano but I think because I use everything Google, and I can save the Slides documents that I make as well as the .jpg files, I can always go back and add new individual slides to the presentation which will keep all the 'master' versions together and if I ever want to go back and change them, it'll change the whole set, which saves so much time.

And, it's free! What's not to love!

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Alice Causarano Community Leader Jan 29, 2020

@Esme Crutchley ah yes! Sometimes we get tempted to use fancy tools only because they are popular and we miss the good simple free ones already available for us. 😅

Esme Crutchley Community Leader Jan 29, 2020

I know that you mean @Alice Causarano

I'm the same with Microsoft Office - we use it because we've always used it, but there are free options out there that do most of the same things; Google Docs, Sheets & Slides and Apple's Pages, Keynote and Numbers, depending on your preference there are probably cheaper/free ways to do virtually the same things, but we stick to what we've always used because we've always done it that way!

I've been in academia for many years where Microsoft Word is the gold standard, and I use Office 365 at work every day. But I much prefer Google Docs, Sheets & Slides and use it as much as I possibly can and always use it for my personal documents. Not to mention, the ability to be able to attach Google Drive files and folders to Trello cards is a lifesaver! 

Alice Causarano Community Leader Jan 29, 2020

@Esme Crutchley oh yes! That's a great example I can relate to. It's so nice you can build your entire productivity system using Google products for free. Also, I prefer Google Docs for collaboration and Google Drive to store my files.

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Emily Koch Atlassian Team Feb 07, 2020

I'm not using covers for most of my work boards, but they'd be great for my personal boards! Thanks for introducing me to them!

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