Have you seen images with inspirational quotes circulating around Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media sites? I bet you have, and that's the point. These kinds of images are popular because they give people a boost of inspiration or help convey an idea or thought.

I kind of always thought they were a little bit stupid, despite liking some of the quotes. I think that maybe, for me at least, the quotes may not apply to me or the images looked too generic, like they came from a stock photo website (which turns me off).

But the simple fact of the matter is that people prefer images over text and image quotes are a quick way to transfer information. This is called Visual content marketing. On Twitter, tweets with images received 18% more clicks and 89% more favorites and can boost retweets by as much as 35%. On Facebook, images get 53% more likes and 104% more comments than text.

There are many websites that will help you make an image quote and they are easy to find. Here I'll be covering how to make a great looking image quote that will better match your personality.

Step 1: Requirements

To follow along with this guide, you'll need:

I will be using Illustrator CS6 and there might be some differences if you are using an earlier version or the CC version.

Step 2: The Mammoth Watercolor Kit

I LOVE this kit. I really can't say this enough!!!

I work primarily in Illustrator because vectors are so clean and resizable. There are some things that are harder to do than in Photoshop, like blending colors and making more hand-drawn designs.

Anyway, the Mammoth Watercolor Kit is super-duper and comes with a bunch of fonts, watercolor swatches, foil styles, patterns, splatters, etc. It's really perfect for these image quotes.


Purchase and download the Mammoth Watercolor for Illustrator kit into a destination of your choosing. Go to the .zip file's location and Extract All into another destination of your choosing. Open that location.

There will be 2 folders, TheFonts and TheVectors, and 3 files. The RTF file named SwatchesLinks will open a document that gives links to Dropbox, where you can download the sets of watercolor swatches, paper textures, foil styles, and vector designs. Open it.

Open the JPEG file, HandyGuide. This will name and show you everything you can download from the Dropbox links. Copy and paste the links into your browser. Feel free to download all of them or pick and choose the ones you want to use. Of the watercolors, I'll be using Tranquila (Blues), Sailorific (Blues), Latte (Darks), and Polka (Pinks). Save them to the same place as everything else. What you'll get is a bunch of zip files that includes a .ai file of the swatch for both Windows and Mac versions of Illustrator.

Go back to the folder where everything is saved.



Installing fonts is super simple. Navigate to TheFonts folder in the kit and double click on the font file. It should open a window showing what the font looks like and at the top, there will be a button that says Install. Click it and you're done! Fonts in folders are installed the same way, individually.


To get your swatches into Illustrator, you can extract them directly into their appropriate folder in the Adobe files. On my computer, that location is:

C: -> Program Files -> Adobe -> Adobe Illustrator CS6 (64bit) -> Presets -> en_US -> Swatches

You may add a new folder for each color group to keep them separate.

There are other items in this package that I will not be using, but they are installed in a similar way.


Open Illustrator.

Go to Windows -> Swatches and make sure it's checked. You should have either a floating window or it will be docked on the side with other windows. To open a swatch, click the button on the bottom left corner that looks like a library. Navigate to the folder you created and then the swatch you want. That swatch will then show up in its own window with its name.

If you want the swatches to always show up when you open Illustrator (by default you'll have to open them every time you want them), go to the top right corner of the specific swatch window and click on the menu dropdown button. Click Persist.

Step 3: Your Quotes

I'm currently reading "The Edge of the Sea" by Rachel Carson. Most people don't realize that she had best selling books other than "Silent Spring." She was actually a marine zoologist and many of her books were about the sea. Like "Silent Spring," her books about the ocean are fantastic reads.

The book starts with the quote "The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place."

Aaaaand I'm sold.

Besides getting me hooked into the book, this sentence is so simple, yet so descriptive. As a marine biologist in Maine (Rachel Carson also lived in Maine), I completely understand what she means. She's talking about life of animals and algae living in such a changing environment as rocky shorelines. They have had to adapt to live there and compete.

My point is this: find quotes on a topic that mean something to you and that you want to share with others.

I want to share this Rachel Carson quote because I think it will spur people to read the book, go discover how amazing the coast it, and gain an appreciation for the animals that live there.

Once you find a topic, you can find quotes. Maybe you even have quotes in mind already.

Sites like BrainyQuote and Quotes.net are good places to start looking!

Copy and paste the quotes with author names into a text document or spreadsheet.

Step 4: Your Image

You are completely free to find images online, but make sure you are only using images labeled for reuse or reuse with modification.

Using Google you can do that by image search and going to the rightmost menu option, Search Tools, and then Usage Rights.

If you want to buy a license to an image, you can also go to one of many stock photo sites. Creative Market has a great variety of photos too!

Of course, you can also take your own photo for use. That's what I'll be doing!

Whatever you choose, have your image(s) at the ready.

Step 5: Prepare Your Image

Open Illustrator and create a new file with a 10 x 10 in (720 x 720 px) artboard.

Use File -> Open to navigate to your image or drag and drop your image on to the artboard.

The image will likely be bigger than your artboard depending on its resolution, but that's ok. Click one corner and hold SHIFT as you resize the image (this maintains the ratio). Resize it so that what is in the artboard is what you want behind your quote. I personally like to have a bit of space without much going on somewhere in the image. Use the Navigator window (Window -> Navigator) to see preview what the artboard will look like when saved.

To reduce distraction, I want everything NOT in the artboard to disappear. To do this, use the Rectangle Tool to make a square the same size as the artboard. then click and drag to select the shape and the image. R-click and choose Make Clipping Mask or go to Object -> Clipping Mask -> Make.

The clipping mask removes everything that was not inside the shape, so now you have a square image that is 10x10 in.

Add a new layer (Layer window -> Create New Layer) and lock the image layer by clicking on the empty box between the eye icon to the left and the layer name on the right.

Copy your quote and paste it, using the Type Tool, on to your image in the new layer.

Next, we'll play with text!

Step 6: Quote Text

Now you should have everything you need to make a pretty sweet image quote!

Right now it doesn't look very inspiring, so let's spruce it up.


Open the Character window (Window -> Type -> Character) and select your text. I want to use a font that looks handwritten, but a bit cursive while still being legible. The Mammoth Watercolor for Illustrator kit comes with a few fonts that are perfect and I have chosen Soulbeams. Navigate to that font or another of the kit's fonts.


Choose a color that stands out and fits in to your image. White just happened to be what fit best. We're going to be doing some more with color in the next few steps.


Now use the Character window or drag the selected text, holding SHIFT to increase the font size while maintaining its ratio. Here you just want to make it big and readable!


Keep the text selected and R-click and choose Create Outlines or go to Type -> Create Outlines. This converts the text into a vector shape, so make sure you're happy with the quote and font before doing this!

All outlines will be grouped together, but we want it to be easy to move individual words around. R-click and choose Ungroup or go to Object -> Ungroup.

Everything is ungrouped now, even individual letters. But again, we want whole words movable. Click and drag to select each individual word one by one and go to Object -> Compound Path -> Make.

We're making compound paths because vectors created from fonts are made of many paths. Letters with holes need a path that punches the hole out of the path of the letter (that is, the hole in "o" has one path that makes the outline of the "o" and one the makes the hole in its middle - without the inner path, it would just look like a circle).


Now that each word is its own compound path and select-able, move them around on the image to your heart's content. Play with placement! You can change it around later.

Word Sizes

Still looks pretty dull.

I'm a big fan of increasing the size of nouns and adjectives and keeping everything else small. Words can be increased based on your opinion of how important it is and/or how good it looks.

Author Name

You'll note in this step that I have also added in the author's name. Don't forget this!!!!! I'm keeping it small and in a location where it can be read.


To finish off this step, select all of the words in the quote and make a compound path. Now the entire quote can be selected.

Step 7: Artsify Your Image

So this step is optional, but I really like making the photo have an artsy twinge to it. Mine is not too complicated, so feel free to leave this step out if yours is more complicated.

Lock and hide the layer with text (click the eye to the left of the lock to hide and unhide a layer). Create a new layer between the text layer and the image layer.


Create shapes to cover each aspect of the image with the same colors.

I did the sky first by making a rectangle and editing the corner points (use the Direct Selection Tool with the white arrow icon and click on the point you want to edit, then drag or use the arrow keys to move it) and adding points (use the Add Anchor Point Tool, which is a type of Pen tool and click on the path you want to add a point) and moving those. The sky was then selected and I used the Tranquila swatch from the Mammoth kit at 50% opacity.

For the water, I made a rectangle in blue at 50% opacity, then used the Eraser Tool to erase where the rocks in brown are in the image (use the Smooth Tool and Direct Selection Tools to tidy up). Drag and select all the blue water and make a compound path, then copy the path and paste it outside the artboard.

Now make another rectangle in brown. Select this rectangle AND the blue compound path below. Go to the Pathfinder window and select Minus Back. What this does is create paths in brown out of the eraser marks in the blue path. Kind of like a negative! Make a compound path of all the rocks.

Doing this also deletes all of the blue path, so select your copied blue path and put it back where it belongs.

There should now be blue water and brown rocks!

Select the water and swatch it with the Mammoth kit's Sailorific. Swatch the rocks with Latte. Opacity for the water is 30% and rocks is 20%.

Now each element in the image has a watercolor vibe to it. Awww yeah.

Lock this layer.

Step 8: Artsify Your Text

Unhide and unlock the text layer and Oooooo, it's looking better! But we want the text to really stand out!!

Select the text and swatch it with Polka from the Mammoth kit.

To call attention to the text, we want it to look like the white version of the text is behind the swatched text, but a tad off-base. Do this by selecting the text and going to Effect -> Stylize -> Drop Shadow. Make the color white (or whatever looks best for your image/text) with an Opacity of 90-100%, X-offset of 0.05 in, and Y-offset of 0.

Step 9: Save!

Since you'll probably be sharing this on social media, go to File -> Save for Web (for a PNG) or File -> Export (for a JPEG).

But wait! I have another fun quote idea to do in the next step.

Step 10: Simplify Your Image Quote

So you made an image quote...yay!!

What if you want to simplify and really call attention to the quote?

Here's what you do...

Make a new 10 x 10 in artboard (either as a new file or new artboard in your current file) and copy the fancy text and the author name. Paste on to the new artboard.

Draw something that relates to the quote. I drew a brittle star and a crab using the Blob Brush Tool (my favorite tool) then swatched them with Sailorific and made them compound paths.

Resize and rotate the vector drawing and place it in an open spot. Make sure there's not too much going on!

Add some large quotation marks at the beginning and end and swatch them with the same style (Polka). Make the opacity very light, like 10%, and make sure they are arranged beneath the text.

Now, as you might notice, mine looks like it has been done on paper. Install the paper.ai (linked in the SwatchLinks file) just as you did earlier with the watercolor swatches. Make a rectangle the same size as the artboard and use a paper swatch.

To make the text and drawing look like it's on paper, open and follow the directions in the SecretTips file that came with the Mammoth Watercolor for Illustrator kit. I'm not going to direct you how since the creator of this pack specifically says not to tell anyone the secrets :)

Did you make one for youself? I'd love to see them! Please post a comment if so.

<p>I think this is very cool!!...</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: Marine Biologist. Bryozoan-lover. Photomicrographer. Mocha latte addict. Artsy-craftsy and overall dorkus. I love to think of ways I could make something that I can't ... More »
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