Tutorial: A Fool's Guide to Perk Spreads (Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 & Paint)

Greetings, it is I your Lord and Master Golden Fool here to explain the process that I use when creating perk spreads either for myself or for you the members of the Skyrim Blog. (I don’t think I can keep that up for the entire thing so I’ll quit while I’m ahead). Like me I’m sure that many of you are either too lazy to learn the finer points of Photoshop and GIMP or perhaps you have tried and still haven’t managed to figure it out. Now that’s quite alright that’s why I’m here right now, to help you fool the other members of the blog into thinking you can through the use of witchcraft and sorcery… um I mean Microsoft PowerPoint and Paint.

Before I get started on the guide I'd just like to create a glossary of sorts, at points I use subscript and superscript which I cannot find buttons for in PowerPoint so I use the shortcuts for them (which I had to google, which is why I'll include them here):

Subscript: ctrl + =

Superscript: ctrl + shift + =

First things first we’ll be needing an image to serve as the background for the spread. For the purposes of this guide I’ll be using the image bellow.

Now then has everyone got there image? Well too bad if you don’t, on with the guide.

Once you have your image you will need to paste it onto a PowerPoint slide and then adjust it to either fit the slide or be big enough for you to fit your perks onto it.

Once you have the image to the desired size and position on the page the next step is to add some text boxes. The easiest way to do this is to add one text box and then alter it before duplicating it to the required amount through copying and pasting.

Should your image be mostly black or another dark colour like mine it’s a good idea to change the colour of the text to white so that you can see what you are typing. Next center the text in the box and type "skill" in the first line and "perks" in the line below, this is mainly done as a placeholder until you are ready to fill it in properly. I usually set the first line to a size of 32 and the second line to 20 as these are generally good sizes to have the text.

Now we will be duplicating the text box so that we have enough for each skill used and one extra to list what level the perk spread is for. For example in this one I am using a total of seven skills, so I have pasted another seven onto the page making a total of 8. 

Now comes the actual filling out of the individual skills and perks taken. This is fairly simple as all you need do is fill in the first line with the name of the skill and any subsequent lines with a perk each, in the case of a magic skill or the Lockpicking tree where they have the perks novice, apprentice, adept, expert and master it is easiest to simple write Novice – whichever is the highest rank taken. Should you have decided to use a perk that can have multiple points placed into it I place a space after the name of the perk and then increase the size of the text to 28 before continuing. This is where subscript and superscript comes into play and they are used to give the number of points a fraction like appearance as opposed to just typing it out like so: 2/2. To start activate Superscript and type the required number of ranks; so in this case 1, once that is done deactivate it and type a /. Do the same for the total number of ranks except this time using Subscript and you should have something like below.

Just a warning if your chosen perk like mine is out of 2 and you have only taken 1 point, continue onto the rest of the perks before coming back to fill it in, as PowerPoint likes to mess with 1/2 for some reason and it messes up the layout

Once you have that done repeat it for each skill until you have each filled out with its required perks.

Here comes the fun part, altering the colour, outline and font of the text (I like to use a different font for the skill name for the purpose of clarity) as well as the position of each text box on the image. By using the two options that I have outlined in red you can change the fill and outline of the text. Sometimes just changing the colour and size of the text is not enough to make it stand out against the background in which case by opening the menu outlined in green you can add a glow effect to the text which you can choose the colour, opacity and size of by going into the advanced options.

Now for turning this mass of text boxes and the picture into a usable image, to do this hold down shift and select each text box and the image and then open the right click menu and select group and then group again. This will join it all into a single item which you can then copy over into paint.

Once you have copied the now grouped image into paint you may end up with white borders around you perk spread like shown below, all you need to fix this is change the size of the canvas to fit the spread by dragging the edges until they line up with the edges of the image.

Once that is done it is only a matter of saving the file and you should be done (on a side not be careful what you name the file as people can see it when opening it in another tab or mousing over it). Something I like to do after this is to open a new discussion in the Character Building group and then add only the perk spread to view it as a preview; be careful here we don’t want to accidently be adding a bunch of discussions that contain only a perk spread to the group. The reason I do this is to see if the text can be clearly read against the background when viewed as part of a discussion, if it can’t it is simply a matter of going back to PowerPoint and fiddling around with either the colour of the text or its size until you are satisfied with how it looks.

Once you have finished with all that you should end up with a perk spread like the one below. 

That concludes this humble Fool’s guide to making a perk spread without the use of Photoshop or GIMP, should you have any questions please comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them. Or should you still not be confident in your ability to make a spread you can always make a request in the Art Group Services Request Thread where either I or one of our other members would be happy to help you out.

Tags: Art:Tutorial

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Replies to This Discussion

That's pretty cool there Golden, so this can be done in Microsoft Word without doing anything else. Alright this is really informativwe and well done, thanks for posting it Golden, ill try and do one with this for my next build.

By the way perhaps doing a matching Equipment Spread Tutorial could help some people *cough* me *cough*

I was thinking of doing one as "some people" have said to me about how they struggle with the equipment spreads. I might get onto after I finish some other things I'm working on.

Well you know that guy who shows up sometime will be your number one visitor to that discussion.

Great guide, Golden! (I alliterated the sh** out of that. Can you put another g-word in your name?)

Seriously though, I hope this encourages and enables more people to try creating their own perk/equipment spreads!

Don't forget that GIMP is free and very user friendly, folks! And hand in hand with that are free font sites like Da Font and 1001 Free Fonts. Make magic!

Hmm another g-word... if you can find a synonym for fool that starts with a g I might consider it.

I actually have GIMP and have used it on occasion for when I need to edit something when I can't use word or paint for it, I prefer not to as while I have a rudimentary grasp of its use, a lot of it is still lost on me 

Goofy? Gallant (stretching, there, I know)?

There might be a tutorial for GIMP floating around here. But, like anything else, I suggest simply practicing and playing with it. If you can think of a specific effect you want to try, there's also bound to be a tutorial for it that's just a google search away.

I'm pretty sure that Billy made a tutorial for how to use GIMP to make a perk spread, but I've found a way that I can use and I'm perfectly content to not put any effort in to learning a new way 


Thnx so much for the guide I would've been completely lost without this. I have a question though i followed your tutorial and made one although it wasnt very good lol, but i have it in a word document and i tried to save it as image and it saved the picture without the text boxes how do i save it with the text boxes

"Now for turning this mass of text boxes and the picture into a usable image, to do this hold down shift and select each text box and the image and then open the right click menu and select group and then group again. This will join it all into a single item which you can then copy over into paint like below. " 

Sorry about that I accidentally repeated an image instead of using the one that goes with this text, although I've fixed it now.

Very helpful

Can anyone give me a link to Microsoft Paint can't find download.

Your computer didn't come with Paint already installed? You should be able to find it with this: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/getting-started-with-paint

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