10 things to consider when writing a tutorial
Are you interested in trying our Official Photomanipulation Tutorial Challenge but unsure of where to begin? Look no further! Here are some tips about creating a tutorial that is easy for you to write and easy for us to understand. We hope these pointers will be useful to you; as always, feel free to leave questions or comments.
1. Sit down and really think about what you are good at doing
What do people compliment you about most frequently? What are you most proud of in your manipulations so far? It could be anything, from the way you select and cut out stock to the way you make your colors pop. Start from your strength, something you can talk about with ease.
2. Take the pressure off!
No matter how "good" someone is at photomanipulation already, they still have something interesting to learn from YOU. Yes, really! Maybe you do things a bit differently. Maybe your ideas are faster and fresher. We can all learn different ways of doing the same task; a little variety never hurt anyone. Maybe by sharing your way, someone will know how it can be done even better, so you BOTH learn. It's a win-win situation. Therefore, take the pressure off of yourself.
3. Think like a photomanipulator
Don't think like a tutorial writer. Think like a manipulator! How would YOU prefer to have someone explain it to you? What do YOU need to see in order to learn? If you had to explain this to yourself in words that you can understand and put to use, what would you say? Be personal.
4. Learn from the BAD tutorials out there!
We've all come across them: Tutorials that are so hard to follow that you give up one or two steps into the problem. You can learn from these, too! In fact, they have given you an example of what NOT to do! What do you think they could have done better? What would you have needed in order to have been better able to follow the tutorial? Make sure that YOUR tutorial has this missing information!
5. Sketch it out
Sit down and think through the steps you go through when doing your creation. Write out the steps in a numbered list, with arrows connecting each step, showing the sequence in which the steps proceed. (For example: Choosing the stock --> cropping the images --> setting the cut-outs onto the page) Include every step you take, even if it seems mundane and unimportant. This should give you a "blueprint" of what your tutorial should look like. You can start to add details (or as we say in the US, "flesh it out") from there.
People don't like to read much text. So, while it is important to write details, it is also important not to write too MUCH detail. They don't need to know the moon phase that was influencing you when you wrote the tutorial. Be sure to give what they need to know, perhaps with a couple of hints and tricks here and there, without telling too big a story. Use bullet points and numbered lists when you are able. Think "short, sweet, and to-the-point."
7. A picture is worth a thousand words?
Yes, please! A good way of giving detail without using a lot of words is to use pictures and screen captures. But, don't just put a cropped screen capture on there; briefly state what it means and where you got it. At the very least, you should have a caption with "Step 2" on it or something that will connect the graphic with the step you are showing.
8. KISS: Keep it simple, silly!
Walk-throughs are great and have an important purpose in our community: they show how a deviation is created from beginning to end. Tutorials, generally speaking, focus on the development of a particular skill. You won't be able to create an entire deviation from just one tutorial. For an effective tutorial, you should focus on explaining only one part and explaining it thoroughly but succinctly. Again, stick with what you're good at doing and what you know the most about.
9. Give it a test drive
Go through your tutorial yourself and see if you can follow your own instructions. Is every step clear and unambiguous? Is there anything that needs to be added to improve the flow? Does it make sense? Is it in a logical order? See if you can create the end product based solely on the information you provided, without using your own independent working knowledge. If you cannot, then your tutorial needs more work.
10. Check, mate!
Have a friend check your tutorial and give you their opinion. Is it too hard to follow? Is it too easy? How useful is it? Our friends and colleagues can be our best indicators of how user-friendly our tutorials are. Be sure to take advantage of this great human resource!