In the last post, we explained the basic steps in PowerPoint that we can use to create simple picture books: how to insert and edit images, sounds, texts… This time, we will expand our knowledge and create interactive stories!
There are a lot of different digital materials for reading and learning available on the internet. However, it’s important to note: although many of this content is named “digital picture books” or “interactive picture books”, most of them are, in fact, simply “digitalised” picture books. This is because most of the works simply use the same elements as traditional books – they have some images and text, sometimes recorded sound etc., but are mostly linear – the story develops in a sequence and allows little if any “real interaction” on the reader’s part.
An important part of digital media is interactivity. Interactivity means that the reader/player has some sort of influence on the content. Mere flipping through pages is not really an interactive act; therefore, many theoreticians also name this characteristic of digital media “interpassivity”. Real interactivity would mean that the reader can explore the story by choosing which way the story develops, explore (hidden) images and sounds and thus widens his/her understanding of the story. This option is usually called hypertext and is, actually, quite often found in internet texts. Hypertext is made by using LINKS; by clicking on the link (that is associated with a text, image or sound), the reader opens new content and manages his/her reading.
A real digital picture book is made on digital media and uses their possibilities to create a more immersive and interactive relationship between the text and its reader. For example, beside the text and images, it usually also has a sound discourse (narrator reading the story, musical background, hidden sounds etc.). Links through the text allow the reader to explore the image, text, and sounds and/or allows the reader to choose the path of reading the story. Although they are not completely nonlinear – because there is a certain number of possible paths in the story – these multilinear stories can provide real pleasure of the reader’s exploration!
Most of these playful picture books are available in English; check out a few of the interactive stories made by a publisher called Nosy Crow.
Making this type of picture books is actually quite a challenge for a publisher who needs to gather a team of writers, illustrators, animators, and programmers! This is why there aren’t many of these types of books out there, especially in languages other than English.
However, this lack of picture books can be an initiative for us to create them! In this post, we will explain how to create simple interactive picturebooks using PowerPoint.
INSTRUCTIONS – Before making a picture book…
- STORY: Write a story or adapt an existing story you wish to work on.
- HYPERTEXT: Make sure you think of two or three “nodes” – parts of the story where it will branch, make the reader decide which path of the story to follow…
- SCRPIT: Write the script – choose which image accompanies certain parts of the text on pages etc.
- SOUNDS: Record your reading of the story, e.g., using your mobile phones. Edit the sounds in Audacity. Also, search (or record) a few sounds that will enrich your story! In this post, we have published links to a few of the platforms you can use to find different sounds for your work.
- Create your picture book in PowerPoint, and then animate it and make it interactive. You will learn how to do that by following the steps in the text below and the video tutorial. Note that there are only two main actions you will need to master: making LINKS and TRIGGERS.
- Important: make sure to remove the option to go through the pages/slides on mouse click.
EXERCISE 1: Creating hyperlinks
Download and read the document “The sea”.
The first page takes us directly to the second page. You can not open the second page by clicking anything else BUT the arrow. This is done by choosing Transitions and removing the tick next to “On mouse click” (as mentioned earlier).
After that, we have added LINK to the arrow image.
Right click / LINK / Place in this document – and choose “Slide 2”.
On the second page, there are three images of seashells. Each one of those images leads the reader to another segment of the document/story. We have achieved that by LINKING images of seashells with different places in the document.
The image of the first seashell is connected to the slide 6 (with blackout poetry). The second image of the seashell is connected to slide 3 (a riddle); the third image of the seashell is connected to a poem (visual/concrete poem about the waves and also, hidden, there is a poem about the sea).
*I have hidden the second poem behind the first one by selecting the first image (visual poetry) and choosing “Animation / Exit animation / Fade out – on click). That way, if you click on the poem, it will disappear and it will reveal what was hidden behind it (a new poem).
Using the same principle, we made the riddle – if the reader chooses the right answer (the rain/water), a slide appears with the words “Bravo!”…
To make the reader more comfortable in navigating the document/story, whenever one branch of the story ends, offer the signal (symbol of some sorts) for the reader to come back to the beginning of the story or to the place where he/she first made the decision so that he/she may explore other options of the story.
It is important to understand that there are different types of images. Backgrounds can be in JPG format (in The sea, the images of the beach and the sea are JPG). However, if we wish to create interactive images, it is important to use PNG files. PNG files do not have a background so it allows us to create a visually appealing combination of the images and the background (seashells – PNG -> on the sandy beach – JPG).
Some of the used icons we have found in PPT itself, and images of the seashells, we found by a simple internet search “seashell PNG”. Read more on where to find or how to make PNG files here.
The picture book The sea is saved as PowerPoint Show. I have saved it in this format to make sure that anyone who downloads it can see all the images, hear all the sounds etc.
If you wish to explore the document further, simply open a blank PowerPoint presentation and go to File/Open/ and then choose The Sea. That way, you will open the document in editing mode with the possibility to explore it further or change it.
EXERCISE 2: Creating triggers
Triggers allow us to connect the text, image or sound to another element. For example, this allows the reader to discover a hidden text, image or sound or to start an animation when clicking on the chosen place.
Download and read the document “Nature”.
- On the first page, we have inserted an image of a meadow. Then we added the PNG files – images of a cow, a sheep and a bird.
- Then we added a sound of cow mooing.
- Then we chose Animations / TRIGGERS / On click of / and we found the image of a cow. That way, we have connected the sound of cow mooing with its image, so the sound will play ONLY when someone clicks on the image of a cow.
The same way, we have connected the sounds of a sheep and birds singing with the appropriate images.
This is the same process we use to animate an image.
Another way to use triggers is to connect the image with an animation.
In this example, we have used a JPG image of a meadow and a PNG image of the little girl. Then we chose: Animations / Emphasis / Spin.
Animations determine how and in which order the images will:
appear – those animations are color coded with green
exit – red
or emphasize – orange.
Right after choosing the animation of the image, we clicked on TRIGGERS and / On click of / and we have chosen the name of the image. This means, every time someone clicks on the image of the little girl, the image will spin.
You can always edit the animations when you click on “ANIMATION PANE” in the upper right corner.
For some reason, PowerPoint doesn’t name the images with the same name of the file you insert, so it might take you some time to play with the triggers until you find the right name of the image. Therefore, I would suggest to insert one image at a time and add triggers, one by one, so that you don’t get lost in the list… This little trick helped me create many animations per page, without losing time on figuring out the names of the images.
After you have completed these exercises, make sure to watch the video tutorial and – start creating your own picture book!
Last reminder: When you are done, make sure to remove the “On mouse click” in the Transitions and – save your work as a PowerPoint Show document!