Valentine's Day Image Design for Non-Designers

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Maybe you dislike or are nervous about designing your own images for your blog posts or social media because you’re assuming

  • that you need a special talent or at least “a feel for it” which you don’t think you have,
  • that you need complicated or expensive tools, design programs or apps,
  • that it’s too difficult or time-consuming to do yourself,
  • that therefore it must also be difficult and time-consuming to learn,
  • that only professional designers can do a good job, or
  • that you can’t do or enjoy doing it in the future because you didn’t in the past?

I invite you to open your mind to a new experience. :)

While I certainly don’t have all the answers, and as long as you don’t expect to learn in a few hours what a professional designer spends years on learning and developing, I can help you make designing your own images a lot easier and faster - and in a good quality, too!

And even if, for whatever reason, you want to outsource the final image creation to a professional designer or your VA, you'll at least have a system for quickly "sketching" ideas and variations in a way that will make communication so much clearer.

Before I tell you more about this short design course for non-designers, have a look at a few quick examples which I made using the exact processes that I'll show you in the next weeks - well in time for Valentine's Day!

These are all images designed and formatted for posts on a blog, social media or Pinterest - which is what we're focusing on here - but they could just as well be modified for use as profile pictures, header images, PDFs or eBooks, and even printed cards...and courses, of course. ;)

Now before you even start wondering about the tools I used: I made all these designs with Apache OpenOffice Impress, that's a free and open source equivalent to Microsoft's Powerpoint or Apple's Keynote.

No complicated, overwhelming graphics program at all! If you can write a letter in Word, or a blog post on Wordpress, then using the slides application from a standard office suite for designing images will come very easy to you.

Sure, the tools and functions available are very limited in comparison to special design programs like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, and (unless you create them yourself) there are no zillions of templates to choose from like on Canva or Crello. But...

...that's definitely an advantage if you like it quick and simple, if you feel easily overwhelmed, or if you find it difficult to make decisions when you have too many choices.

There's even an expression for that, something that every artist and designer knows about: Setting "creative limitations" by intentionally limiting themselves to using only certain materials, or colours, or techniques, or whatever else they want to explore and focus on.

Two more HUGE advantages of using slides for image design are that you can set up infinite variations with literally a mouse click each and without having to save them separately, change them up without worrying about messing up something, and then use the thumbnail-sized sorter view to pick the ones you like best.

So if you want to create quality images really fast, this is the way to go!

Intuitive Image Design for Non-Designers

Even with the most expensive and elaborate tool, though, without some design know-how the images might look unprofessional, and without certain skills (and tricks) it can take ages to finish one - whereas a professional can achieve great results quickly...and with a bucket and a spade, so to speak.

Such knowledge and skills are the results of years of learning and development and lots of work. I think I can safely assume that if you're interested in this course it's because you're looking for a quicker, simpler solution - else you'd be studying design.

You may not think it's possible for you to come up with a bunch full of good quality designs in just a few hours of work because [fill in here any negative belief or experiences regarding your ability to design or to know when a design looks good], but I can assure you that you've got all the talents, abilities and skills you need - already, right this moment! And I'm supplying you with the know-how you might not have yet.

I'm also confident that I can show you what your special powers are and how to use them, because over the years I've shown many students how to tap into their hidden creative reservoirs. In fact, that's what I like best about teaching and coaching: To surprise my students with their own abundance. :)

What you may expect from this intuitive design course, and what not


  • Results: Images you can use right away, at almost any point of the process.
  • Tons of ideas, plus a simple system for creating even more, any time.
  • Focus and clarity instead of not knowing what to do next.
  • Theme of this course is "Valentine's Day", but what you learn you can apply to any other theme or topic - you can even reuse the templates and layouts you create here!
  • You will learn and immediately apply the most important design principles - not by learning theory and "rules" but by using your everyday experiences.
  • You will also learn what to avoid and how to check for typical flaws that shout "Uh-oh...". You'll get printable checklists for that.
  • Right from the start you'll be creating something useful. By doing the individual tasks per lesson you're already working on your class project.
  • Just by doing the class projects you'll have at least one usable image each week. Because we're working with variations and different formats and sizes though, that's more likely to be a dozen...or many more.


  • As we're approaching design from a practical, natural and intuitive perspective, you will NOT get a lot of theory or explanations from me apart from some guidelines and tips what to look out for. Your own insights teach you far better than I ever could. :) My task is to guide you to those experiences.
  • We will not spend time on discussing theories, not even common ones you might have heard of already (like the Rule of Thirds and Colour Triads). Instead I'll give you some examples and ask you how they make you feel. In addition you can run your own tests and experiments, but...
  • ...these experiments can be highly addictive - time just flies by! Unless you have that time, I suggest that for the duration of this course you leave them out, and come back after Valentine's Day to re-do the course under this new aspect. You have access to all the course material as long as you need, so there's no hurry.

Course Structure

  • This course consists of a short preparation followed by 3 main parts = 3 weeks. Per week you get one class with a specific weekly class project. Each week is based on the previous week but in itself entirely self-paced so you can work in your own time.
  • Each class is split up into lessons so tiny that on average they will take you about 10 minutes each to complete. Altogether you'll need 2 to 3 hours per class/week, depending on your personal circumstances - please see the FAQ below for "How much time do I need for this course" !!
  • As soon as you finished a week's class project, you can submit it for feedback if you like. I've created a special "lesson" for this so we'll keep all related students' works together in one place.
  • Between two classes/weeks, I recommend taking a break of 1 or 2 days to allow the old content to settle before adding the new. To make taking these breaks easier for you, I'm uploading some fun extras which will also come in useful during the following week. :)
  • The course opens for registration on 17th January 2018. When you sign in you can immediately access the "Welcome" section and "Before you start". Publishing dates for the contents of each week are 21st and 28th January and 4th February, but if you're a bit behind that schedule that's not a problem either as they remain accessible.
  • While you may ask questions any time (to which I will reply in my time), I'm also offering live "office hours" once a week until 28th February 2018. In addition and also any time after that you can receive answers and feedback via the comments on specific threads on the CourseShaper Facebook Page to which I'll give you the links.

What you get

  • 3 classes in one, plus bonus material at the end
  • Checklists (printable PDFs plus at the end all checklists as a text file so you can add your own items)
  • Handouts with the summaries of each class (printable PDFs)
  • A big bag full of image and template files (how many I don't know because I keep adding to them)
  • Fun and very useful extras :)
  • Regular support and feedback plus live office hours until 28th February, plus designated Q&A threads on Facebook
  • I'm also working on turning the lessons into handouts, perhaps an eBook, which you'll get - for free of course - as soon as they're finished.

How about it? Are you in?

Maria xx

Testimonials from former students

  • Thank you so much for your help, it gives me some great ideas and tools to process. I want this to be right and while I like my previous drawings (they are part of my learning experience) I know that there is better and so I am working on learning as I go.

    — Naomi McClelland-Handsaker
  • Maria was wonderful at teaching me how to paint with watercolour. I was already painting with friends but her lessons gave structure and understanding. Maria is very patient and always open to new ideas.

    — Alexandria Painter
  • I already know a few things that need to be changed in the picture but I would really love your professional opinion. […] That is why I want the professional critique so I will know what to work on and practice so when I do it again I will do a much better job. Thank you so much for all of your help.

    [and later:] Thank you so much! You just confirmed everything I thought about the birdhouse and the background. I have been coloring and drawing and painting my whole life and I have always criticized myself and put down everything I do and everything I complete. It is the biggest thing that has always held me back from having an art career which is my dream and my biggest fear.

    — Katie Johnson

Table of Contents

Don't let this long Table of Contents confuse you - it looks like this because many other items like the thread where you can introduce yourself, feedback sessions and live support appear here as well.

The mini lessons themselves are marked with a ▹. There's only a lot of them because I really broke the contents up into defined steps with individual tasks rather than presenting them as two or three long lessons per class.

About this course and what you'll get out of it
What you'll need
News, reminders & updates
Introduce yourself
Any questions to begin with?
Before you start
Study tips
▹ Setting up your workspace
▹ Working with slides 101
▹ Finding and choosing suitable images
Week 1: Images
Introduction & your class project for this week
▹ Inserting and exporting images
▹ Positioning images
▹ Reformatting images
▹ Resizing images

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I have access to this course?

Forever! Once you've enrolled and paid, you'll have access to the course material for as long as you need. Support, feedback and the weekly live "office hours" will continue until 28th February 2018, so if you have any questions or would like me to comment on your assignments, it's best to do so by then.

If you have any questions after that, you can do so any time with a comment on specific threads on the CourseShaper Facebook Page to which I'll give you the links.

What if I can't finish my class projects in time, or if I start late? Will I miss out on something?

No, you won't miss out on anything as there isn't a time limit for completing this course, only best-by dates (see also the question above):

1) Every week of the course is completely self-paced, so you work in your own time.

2) Although the material for Weeks 2 and 3 as well as the Bonus material won't be accessible BEFORE their date, they will remain accessible any time AFTER.

3) Even if, for whatever reason, you don't finish all 3 class projects by Valentine's Day, as long as you've done the first one you've got something you can use and post!

4) Last but not least: What you learn here is of lasting value - way beyond Valentine's Day!

How much time do I need for this course?

I do my best to keep things simple and quick for you. :) How long it will take you depends on several factors like your computer skills in general, your working style, or potential distractions.

Most of these bite-sized lessons take not more than 10 or 15 minutes to complete. The tasks of each lesson lead you automatically to the successful completion of your class project, so there's no additional time necessary for that unless you want to do additional, optional projects.

For Week 3 there are only a few lessons, but because you've learned so much in the meantime you'll have many more possibilitites to play with. Therefore you'll likely spend more time on the individual tasks. I'd also suggest that you maybe plan for another hour or two for choosing, tweaking and finalising your project for that week.

If you focus on each task as it is presented - rather than immediately following up on the dozens of other ideas that might pop up in your mind as well ;) - I'd say that each week you'll need 2 to 3 hours.

HOWEVER, it's very easy to get carried away and to keep playing and testing and creating more and more variations, and time just flies by! Guess how I know... So create your own time frame for this course and maybe even set a timer when working on the tasks. Don't say you aren't warned. ;)

Can I use my class projects for anything, or are they just exercises?

The images you create are immediately usable! Already after the first three lessons of Week 1 (Positioning, reformatting and resizing images) you'll have a handful of images to choose from, and you can post them right away on your blog or social media.

I'm colour blind. Can I still join in?

Yes, sure! There are some ways, tricks and work-arounds that will help you create with confidence. After you sign up, introduce yourself and include that you're colour blind (as there are different kinds of colour blindness, perhaps explain what exactly is difficult for you). This will allow me and the other students to give you specific support or advice.

PS: Colour blindness often results in amazing art work!

I've heard rumours that there will be a surprise bonus mini class. Is that true?

Yes, that's correct. :) Every student who completes and uploads all three weekly class projects by 28th February 2018 at the latest will then get an email from me with a bonus mini class. If I tell you now what it's about then it won't be a surprise anymore, but let me just say this: When you apply it to your images, your audience will do a double take when they see them - literally!

What if I'm unhappy with my purchase?

Well, I would be sad...and would want to know why you feel that way about it. But if you're really unhappy with the course, just email me within 10 days after registration to get a full refund.

Before I sign up, I still have a question about this course. How can I contact you?

I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. Send me an email at

This course has closed for registration, but if you'd like me to send
you an email when new courses come out, just enter your details below: