How to Create Background Images for your Online Course - Course Pursuits

How to Create Background Images for your Online Course

Great looking images are an absolute must for the success of any online course. Great looking images gather a reader's attention and are a useful but quite often overlooked tool when it comes to keeping the reader hooked.

As an online course teacher, your job is not only to teach but to keep your students focused on the subject. Keeping students engaged in a physical classroom itself is such a challenging task that I don't even need to mention keeping your students focused in an online classroom.

There are several ways by which you can use images not only to grab attention but also keep a reader hooked. By doing so, you can enhance the overall quality of your online course. Some of the ways by which you can grab or keep attention to your online courses using images include:


Use a great looking thumbnail to attract eyeballs.

This thumbnail image of an online course says it all - the background image suggests that the course is on writing and the picture of a woman in the fore-ground suggests that she is probably the course creator.

Without the use of a single word, this picture is good enough to grab the attention of anyone interested in buying a course on writing. Such thumbnails are very helpful when your course is listed in a marketplace like Udemy and is competing for attention.

Use images to convey what readers should do.

Use images frequently especially when the reader has a lot of text to read like in a sales page or the notes of your course lecture. You may be a great writer but it is very hard to keep the attention of your current or potential students. Images break the monotonous flow of text and enhance the quality of your page.

For example, a strategically placed arrow in the above picture conveys what probably even a thousand words won't.

Online course creators, in general, are not great graphic designers and in fact, they don't need to be one! (unless they're teaching a course on online graphics design). They don't need fancy tools like Adobe Photoshop as the need for graphics work is minimal and they need something, which gives them maximum impact with minimum effort.

One such tool is Stencil. With Stencil, you can create great looking images from any browser and you can fire your graphics designer for charging you obnoxious amounts of money. Stencil is simple and minimalist. I feel it is the cheapest and easiest option to get started with online graphic design.

Stencil is free to get started with and there is a premium, subscription based version as well. You can get started with Stencil for free using this link.

With a free account, you can create up to 10 images per month, which is probably more than what you may need for now. Stencil subscription is not a bad option either. It starts from $9 per month and gives you access to a much bigger library with tons of other features. One option I like to recommend to everyone is to get started for free and decide later whether to upgrade or not.

How to Create a Background Image for your Online Course using Stencil

Why do you need a background image for your online course? 

Whenever you want to make changes to an existing image or create a new image, you'll need to work with moving some elements to the background so that the others can come to the foreground.

I made use of simple images in this article earlier and both of them make use of elements either in the foreground or in the background.

With Stencil, by default, every image gets loaded as a background image on the canvas. Stencil does the initial homework for you -- it resizes all photos to fit your canvas either by resizing at the width or the height of an image — depending on which is larger.

You can now quickly click through images and see how they’ll look without having to think about resizing. If the background image bleeds beyond the canvas either vertically or horizontally, you can click and drag anywhere on it to move it around within the canvas. If moving images is not a good option, you can resize the images. 

Filters & Edit Options

When you think filters think Instagram. Instagram is what made filters cool and now everyone knows how to use them. Before Instagram, everyone thought filters are meant for professional photographers.

Stencil has several such similar Instagram style, which can transform your image. 

You may decide not to apply any filter or you can make the picture B&W or apply retro look or even transform a picture taken during noon to look like it was taken at sunset or sunrise. So cool!

There are several other edit functions available in Stencil to transform your image. You can increase or decrease elements like blur, transparency, light effect, etc.

Resizing Images

Another great feature of Stencil is that by default, all of your uploaded images will load into the canvas as a "Resizable" image. These are images that appear smaller in the canvas and can be completely resized. This is best suited for icons or smaller graphics. 

By resizing images, you have the option to add multiple images in your canvas at the same time. 

Any photo (from Stencil stock or ones you've uploaded) can be easily converted back and forth from a "Background" to a "Resizable" image. Just click anywhere on the photo and select either "Convert to resizable image" or "Set as background" depending on what state you're currently in.

Transparent Background Images for your Online Course

​With Stencil, you can make the background of your image transparent just with ​the click of a button. ​Click anywhere on the background and select "Make Background Transparent" from the toolbar that appears.

make transparent background image

Keep playing with your images until you get what you were looking for.

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