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Primitive Faux Postage
Lessons for the novice computer user

Written specifically for MS Works
by Penny Wessenauer
donpen@concentric.net


"Faux postage," pretend postage stamps you make yourself to decorate your outgoing envelopes and other art project, 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 Works users in mind.  I have used Microsoft Works, version 4.0 for Windows 95 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! 

Page Setup

With MS Works opened on your computer screen, select the option "Start From Scratch."  Follow the on-screen instructions as you run the "Task Wizard." Select "Word Processor" and choose the font you will be using by selecting from the options listed under "Text Style." At this point, select the "No Border" option. (Note that after your page is completely set up on your computer screen, you will be able to change the font style you have selected by using the "Font" drop-down menu at the top of the screen.)

Under the "View" menu at the top of the screen, select "View Ruler." 

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 printer.

Next, set the "Header" and "Footer" margins to "0" to further allow more working space on your page. Check under the "Source, Size And Orientation" 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."  De-select the box indicating that you want lines separating the columns.  You will not want lines interfering with the final cut or perforated edges of your stamps. Click "OK" to close the menu.

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 "Clip Art." Once you have decided on a particular piece of clip art (also referred to as "picture") to use for your postage, select it by left clicking with the mouse to add it to your screen page.  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 picture.

Formatting Clip Art

Formatting the picture will allow you to add text close to the sides of the picture if you decide to use a rather small 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 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 "Text Wrap", and then choose "Absolute" under the "Text Wrap" setting.

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.  A dotted box will appear around the image. The box will be bounded by small squares 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 an arrowed box that displays the word "Resize."  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 pad.

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.

Adding Text

The addition of text will help to turn the picture into something more closely resembling a postage stamp.  Text may be added at any point where you find a paragraph mark (looks like a backwards double vertical line "P").  Simply begin typing, changing font size and location as desired.  Remember that your text may be right aligned, left aligned, or centered. 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 "Word Processing documents: adding Word Art.")


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 to provide
maneuvering room to copy and paste.  To copy, hold the left mouse key down and drag the mouse over the text and clip art 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 the "Copy" option.  To paste the 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. 

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 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.

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."  Voilą!

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