Primitive Faux Postage|
Lessons for the Novice Computer User
Written Specifically for Microsoft Word
By Penny Wessenauer
"Faux postage," pretend postage stamps you make yourself to decorate
your outgoing envelopes and other art projects, may be the newest art craze, but
you may find it also to be something that is just plain fun to fool around with!
With a little experience, the novice computer user will be able to create
primitive faux postage using these instructions. This tutorial was written with
MS Word users in mind.
I have used "Microsoft Word 2000", the most recent version, to write
this tutorial. However, you will find, for the most part, that these same
instructions will work with whatever version you are using as well.
If you have problems with these directions, please email me, and I will do my
best to help.. I would love to see what you create using this tutorial. If
you care to send a scan or a bit of finished faux postage in
my direction, I would like that that very much!
With MS Word opened on your computer screen, left click with the mouse key to
open the "File" pull-down menu at the top of the screen, and select
"New" by left clicking it. Then select "Blank
Document" by left clicking it and hitting
the "OK" key.
Under the "View" menu at the top of the screen, select "Print
Layout." (If this version is not available on your version of Word, try
all the different options until you see a ruler across both the top of the
screen, and along the left side
of the screen.)
Under the "File" menu at the top of the screen, select "Page
Set-up." In order to maximize the space on the sheet of paper where the faux
postage will be "built", it is necessary to do two things. The
first of these is to set the margins to provide the greatest working space.
The second is to create columns on the page so that you may more easily create
multiple copies of the original false postage stamp you create.
Once the "Page Set-up" screen is open, set all margins as small as
possible. With my HP5p laser printer, I am able to set my margins at .3"
for top, bottom, left, and right margins. Your printer may allow different
margins, but .3" will be a good place to start from. If you set the
margins too small, either a message will appear on your screen indicating the
margins are set incorrectly, or a portion of your page may not print. So
play around with this until you feel comfortable with the output from your
Next, set the "Header" and "Footer" margins to "0"
to assure sufficient working space on your page. Check under the "Paper
Size" tab to see that the page orientation is set to "Portrait."
(Once you have created a page or two of faux
postage using these directions, you may want to set the page orientation to
"landscape" and to change the number of columns and spacing between.)
Click "OK" to close the menu.
Column formatting is a relatively painless thing to do. The number of
columns you select and the space between columns you establish will determine
the width of the individual "faux postage" stamp you create.
Open the "Format" menu at the top of the screen and select
"Columns." For your first sheet of postage, I suggest setting the number of
columns to "6" and the space between columns to ".25 inch."
Make sure that the "'Equal Column Width"
box is selected. Assure, also, that the box indicating, "Line Between"
the columns is de-selected. You will not want lines interfering with the
final cut or perforated edges of your stamps. Click "OK" to close the
The 6-column / .25" selection will allow for "stamps" that are
approximately 1-1/16" in width. Another time, you may want to try 5
columns, with .4" between. This option would permit "stamps"
approximately 1-¼" in width.
Inserting Clip Art
With the columns formatted, it is time to insert a piece of clip art into the
first "stamp" area. So that you can more readily see the actual width
of the column you will be working with, I suggest you do the following.
Select the smallest size font available (6 or 8 point size), and type, using any
key, across a line or two. Later, you may delete this type by highlighting
it and then deleting the typed letters.
Insert clip art by selecting the "Insert" menu at the top of the
screen and choosing "Picture", then "Clip Art." Once you
have decided on a particular piece of clip art (also referred to as
"picture") to use for your postoid, select it by quickly double-left
clicking with the mouse to add it to your screen page. (On the Microsoft Word
2000 version, it is necessary to left click, once, and then select by left
clicking the top option on the pop-up menu.) You will need to take several more
steps with this particular picture you've chosen. You must re-size the
picture to fit your postage image concept, and you may also want to format the
Formatting Clip Art
Formatting the picture will allow you to add text close to the sides of the
picture and / or on top of the picture. Without this option, you would only be
able to add text above and below the picture, but not along the sides. To
use this option, you need to select the picture on the screen by placing the
mouse cursor over the picture and then left clicking with the mouse key.
You will then need to right click in order to access the pop-up menu. With
the pop-up menu open, select "Format Picture" by left clicking it.
When the "Format Picture" menu screen opens, select
"Layout", and then choose "Wrapping Style." Select "In Front
Of Text" if you would like to be able to print text over the top of your
picture. (More on this option later.) Select "Square" wrapping
style, and choose a left, right, or center alignment. This will allow text to be
placed very closely next to the sides of your clip art, either to the right,
left, or along both sides of the clip art, respectively.
Again through the "Format Picture" option on the pop-up menu, select
the "Picture" tab. Under the "Color" option under the
"Image Control" heading, various selections are possible:
"Automatic": this option maintains the original coloration of the clip
art; "Grayscale": this will change colored clip art into shades of
gray, black and white; "Black and white": the image will appear only
in black and white (this can produce some strange results!); and
"Watermark": this choice allows the image to retain its original
colors, however the image appears much lighter, in effect, allowing text to be
placed atop the image. The image would then be visible behind the text.
If this option is used, it is important that you select format: layout: wrapping
style: "behind text." (See previous paragraph.)
Resizing Clip Art
Resizing clip art is fun! No kidding! It works almost like magic. To
change the size of a picture that is on your working screen, move the cursor
over the picture and left click the image. (The arrow will change to a
four-ended arrow.) A series of small square boxes will appear around the image,
at each corner and midway along the sides of the box. Placing the cursor
directly over a square will cause the cursor arrow to change to a two-headed
arrow that will indicate the direction in which the image may be "resized."
To do this, move the cursor over a square (say, over the lower right square);
hold down the left mouse button and drag (pull or push) the mouse on the mouse
The image will resize proportionately if you drag from one of the corner
squares. However, if you resize from a square midway along the top,
bottom, or sides, you will be able to change the height and width proportions of
your picture. Sometimes this is a desirable thing.
Once the image reaches the size you want it to be, release the left mouse key.
If you wish to replace the picture at any point, you may double click on the
left mouse key and the clip art menu will open. Simply select another
piece of clip art and proceed as before. (Using the newest Word 2000 version, it
is necessary to open the "Insert" pull-down menu at the top of the
screen, and then select "Picture" and "Clip Art" again,
deleting the first picture you have placed.) To delete a piece of clip
art, simply left click it until the small boxes appear around the picture, then
hit the "delete" key on your keyboard.
The addition of text will help to turn the picture into something more closely
resembling a postage stamp. Select the font style you will use by left
clicking the "Font" drop-down menu at the top of the screen.
Text may be added at any
point where you find a paragraph mark (indicated by a backwards double vertical
line "P"). Note: To show the non-printing paragraph marks, it
may be necessary to click the button with this symbol along the top of the
After moving the cursor to just before a paragraph mark, and left clicking at
that point, simply begin typing, changing font style, size and location as
desired. Remember that your text may be right aligned, left aligned, or
centered. (Check the options under the pull-down menu "Format",
"Paragraph.") Remember also the options available using "Word Art."
If you have not yet used this neat little sub-program, give it a try. Lots
of opportunities for creativity here! (Look in the Help Index under
Adding a Border
A border will add further realism to your faux postage, and is well within your
ability to accomplish! If you choose to do this, however, you will need to
make sure that both your clip art and your text fall well within the boundaries
of the column confines. When you give the directions to create a border
around your image, the computer will produce a border larger than you expect.
Therefore, should you want this option, it will be necessary to reset the space
between the columns to allow a wider-than column border.
In order to re-set the column information, left click on the "Format"
pull-down menu at the top of the screen. Select "Columns" by
left clicking. Leave the number of columns set at six, but increase the
spacing between columns to .4"
(This may be something you will have to go back and readjust later. If so,
repeat these instructions.)
The process for creating the border is as follows: Highlight, by holding the
left mouse key down and dragging the mouse over the text and clip art images.
Release the left mouse key. Left click on the "Format" pull down
menu, and select "Borders and Shading." From the 'Borders" tab, under
the heading "Setting", select "Box." Under
"Style", select a line style. Line width and color options are
also available, so check those out also. Left click the
"Options" setting. Set "From Text" dimensions to 2 pt
for top, bottom, left, and right edges. Click "OK" for this
"Options "menu, and then click "OK" once more to close the
"Borders and Shading" formatting menu.
There should now be a border around your postoid image. It may be
necessary to play around with this a bit until you get it exactly the way you
would like it to print. (This may be something you will have to go back and
If so, repeat these instructions.)
The really neat thing about adding a border, aside from making the postage more
realistic, is that the rectangular frames will facilitate making a template to
confine any sponged color that you might be adding to your faux postage.
Copy and Paste
Once you have the "postage stamp" image exactly as you would like it
to be printed, you will want to begin to make multiple copies of your creation.
First though, add one or two "enter" strokes at the end of your text
maneuvering room to copy and paste.
There are several different methods for copying and pasting. I will
discuss the standard copy / paste method that you will find continually useful
for any number of things. Then, I will discuss the particular method I
recommend for working on your faux postage images.
Standard method: To copy, hold the left mouse key down and drag the mouse over
the text you want to copy. When it is highlighted, release the left mouse key
and right click to open the pop-up menu. With the left mouse key, select
"Copy" option. To paste the text image you have just copied,
move the cursor (or arrow) to the area where you want to place your copy.
Right click the mouse key to open the pop up menu. Select
"Paste" with the left mouse key. Items
previously selected should now show in both the original position as well as in
the new location.
Recommended method for faux postage: Perhaps the easiest method for
copying a complete faux postage image that will include clip art, text, and
possibly borders is to use a "Select All" approach. It is
important, first, to clear everything else off your "sheet of paper."
This would include any small letter keystrokes you may have added in the
beginning to indicate where your columns lay. Once your page is
clear except for the postage image created exactly as you would like it to be
printed (with border, if you have chosen this option, then, move the mouse
cursor to just before your image and press the "enter" key twice.
Repeat this step directly after your completed image. (The purpose, again, for
this is to give you maneuvering room. You will go back later and delete
these as necessary to properly justify the page.)
Now, left click the "Edit" pull-down menu at the top of the screen,
and choose "Select All." Then, opening the pop-up menu by clicking
the right mouse key choose the "Copy" option by clicking it with the
left mouse key. Move your
cursor to the area you would like your new images to be placed, and open the
pop-up menu once more by clicking with the right mouse key. Select
Repeat "Pasting" (move the cursor to the area where you want to place
your copy. Right click the mouse key to open the pop up menu. Select
"Paste" with the left mouse key.) into each new location. Soon
you will have the first column completely filled with your postage stamp image
and text. If you end up at the end of the column with not enough room for
a complete postage stamp image, simply delete incomplete portions from the end
of the first column and start again at the top of the next column.
Justifying the Contents
of Your Faux Postage Page
At this point, you will need to make sure that each faux postage image is
precisely and equally spaced along your column height. You may add or
delete "enter" strokes as necessary to accomplish this.
Once you have the first column completed, highlight the entire column (as
indicated before with "Copy" instructions) and then place the cursor
at the end of the first column before the last paragraph mark (). Left
click and select "Paste." Repeat "Pasting" at the end of
each new column until you have filled the entire page.
Now, go back and examine the entire page. Make sure that the rows are
evenly spaced along the height of the columns. (Again, you may correct this by
adding or deleting "enter" strokes, indicated as paragraph marks).
At this point you should have a complete page of evenly spaced, very
primitive-looking faux postage. Print out this page.
Note: You may need to reset the side margins at this point. If so,
this will be evident when you print a sample sheet of your postage. (Once you
have a complete sheet of faux postage, you may find that the outside edges on
the right and left columns of postage rectangles will be missing. To fix
this, pull down the "File" menu at the top of the page, and select
'Page setup." Reset the side margins to a larger number. Try .4"
and reprint a sample page. You may need to
experiment with this a bit.)
Creating a Plastic
Template for Masking Purposes
The next step is to add color to your postage rectangles. This is very
easily done using a template you cut from a plastic transparency sheet.
Lay a transparency sheet over your printed faux postage sheet.
"Build" a template for two rows by tracing rectangles around the
limits of your postage rectangles, carefully maintaining 90-degree angles for
all traced stamp images. Using a craft knife carefully cut out the rectangles
from the transparency film. This should leave you with a plastic grid that
should cover the area between the "stamps." Placed over the
primitive faux postage sheet, this template will allow you to sponge on color
while protecting the white area between the "stamps."
This step is simplified if you have created a border around each postoids image.
Simply print out a page of your formatted faux postage directly onto a sheet of
overhead transparency. Using a craft knife, excise the rectangular space
within each individual border. Voilą!
The Muse -- an online art 'zine www.coxes.com/muse