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Creating Your Own Memes

By Bradley Jones

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If you are on social media, then you've been bombarded with memes. Memes are everywhere, and it seems as if everyone is creating them. Memes in the Internet world are images, videos, pieces of text or other elements that generally have a funny twist to a message being shared. The expectation is for memes to be copied and spread rapidly, often with slight adjustments.

What seems like the most common type of meme on web pages or social media today are those created with an image or photo with text included that pokes fun at some sort of cultural or social idea.

While you can create memes using a variety of paint programs including those that come with Microsoft Windows (such as Paint and Paint 3D), there are several websites that make creating them even easier. To create a meme on these sites, you need an image and the quippy text you are going to include with it.

Creating Images for Memes

The first step to creating a meme is to obtain an image. While the internet is full of images, it is highly advised that you ensure you have the right to use any image or pictures you include. While searching through your favorite search engine can provide numerous results of fantastic images, you might not be able to legally distribute them as part of your meme. There are sites that do offer images that you can legally distribute for personal and commercial uses. A couple such sites include:

  • GoodFreePhotos.com: This site contains over 27,000 photos under the Public Domain license. You can use them for personal or commercial use without asking for permission.
  • SkitterPhoto.com: Photos available under the Creative Commons license (CCO). You can use them for personal or commercial use without asking for permission.
  • LifeOfPix.com: A free stock photo website

You might also have your own photos or want to pull an image out of a home movie. You can easily capture an image from your computer screen using a variety of programs. In a previous article, I covered how to use a free tool included with Microsoft Windows 10 to capture all or part of what is shown on your computer's screen.

Adding Text to a Meme

Once you have your image, you'll want to add your quippy text to create your meme. As mentioned before, you can use a program such as Microsoft Paint to add the text; however, there are many free tools that make adding text for a meme a lot easier and more visually pleasing. You can use your favorite search engine to look for "Free Meme Generator" or similar phrases. A few examples of meme generators include Meme Generator (FreeMemeGenerator.org) and ImgFlip (ImgFlip.com).

Most meme generators work in a similar manner. You start by selecting an image from the meme generator site or uploading your own. You then enter text into text boxes for various locations. The generator then stitches them together to create a single image that you can download.

Example: Using Meme Generator

The best way to see how to generate a meme is to show an example or two. Meme Generator is a basic online tool for generating memes. It includes images that you can use. The steps to creating a meme with Meme Generator are:

Step 1: Go to freememegenerator.org.

Step 2: Select the "Make Meme >>" button. This will put you on the page to start creating your meme:

meme01

Step 3: Either click the "Upload your image" button to upload your own graphic or enter a search term to use an image from the Meme Generator Site. For this example, I entered "Dad" into the search box as shown in the following image:

meme02

Pressing enter will search for all images related to "Dad". If you don't get results that work, then you might try additional search terms. The search for "Dad" only returned two images, so a second search was done for "Homer", a famous television dad. This returns five results.

meme03

Note: This site provided these images; however, you should verify that they are freely distributable before using them. If you share a copyrighted image without appropriate permissions, you are legally responsible for any copyright violations.

Step 4: Select a result from the images. For this example, I selected the first image by clicking the "Create Meme >>" button below it. Doing this will take you to the next page, which allows you to enter your meme's text:

meme04

As you can see, you are able to create text for the top and bottom of your meme. You can also force the text to all uppercase (which is common for memes) as well as change the text size.

Step 5: Enter the text you would like to have generated on your meme. For my example, I entered the following:

  • Top text: When does a joke become a "Dad Joke"?
  • Bottom text: When it becomes "apparent"

I also increased the size of the top text to make it stand out more. I decreased the size of the bottom text, so it fit across the meme without wrapping:

meme05

Step 6: Click the Make Meme button. This will generate the meme.

meme06

Because you are using a free site, you'll generally get branding added. Regardless, you can either use the links provided to share your meme, or you can copy the image from the web page.

Example: Using ImgFlip

Meme Generator is one of the easier free tools to use. I often use ImgFlip.com to create the memes I share. It operates very similarly, but also lets you change the font color as well as the font outline color. If you go to Imgflip.com, you'll be greeted with a screen that lets you select from popular images on the site or with the ability to upload your own. The following was the default image when I went to the site for this article:

meme07

You can select the "Upload your own image" tab to upload a new image from your machine, or you can use one of the images on the site. Like before, you can enter your top text (text #1) and bottom text (text #2). Clicking on the white box to the right of the text box will let you change the font color from white to something else. Clicking on the black will let you change the font outline color. The gear will allow you to view a setting box that has additional controls such as turning off the font shadow, using all caps, adding bold or italic, changing font size, and changing font alignment.

You can also adjust the placement of the two text boxes. You do this by clicking on the meme example shown on the screen. This will give you a "move" cursor as well as add handles to the text boxes as shown in the following image:

meme08

When you are done adding text and entering your settings, you can generate the meme. If you make the meme private, then you'll need to download it. If you don't, then like before, you'll be presented with a screen that includes links that can be used to share the meme you've created:

meme09

A Few Final Thoughts

The software used for creating memes can also be used for creating simple ads or other image/text combinations that you can use on your site. In fact, any time you need text overlaid onto an image, meme creation tools might be a good solution. The one caveat is that meme programs generally target a specific image size.

The final thought on creating memes is simply a caution. With great power comes great responsibility. It is easy to overdo or go crazy by generating a ton of memes. You should be careful not to deluge the world with an overabundance of memes!



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