Behind the scenes: Making the author profile finder

September 27, 2013

Recommended Authors

If you haven’t seen it already, I made a little application to find author profiles on Tableau Public. I was pretty happy with the way it turned out. It’s crazy how a few simple shapes and some custom fonts can really make a dashboard look a lot more organized. A few people have asked me how I did some of the custom styling on the dashboard, so I thought I’d make a little tutorial here.

I use GIMP for most of my design work, mostly because I was a poor college student when I was first teaching myself graphics and couldn’t afford Photoshop, and now I’m used to it. It’s a great tool, being free and all, but I know there’s a bit of a learning curve. But, everything I made for this dashboard was totally easy and beginner friendly.

I designed the basic sheets and dashboard interaction before I touched any images. It may look complicated but when you remove all the custom images, my dashboard is really just 2 tables and 4 sheets. The images of the featured authors are laid out in a table with their pictures set as custom shapes. The other table just a text table with a wildcard quickfilter on the field for “display name.” The name, description, profile link, and featured viz are all each their own sheet being filtered to only show information for the last person clicked on. If you take away all the images, this what you are left with.

dashboard without any images


I wanted away to separate sections but at the same time make everything fit together a little more, so that’s how the module idea came about. Plus, all the rounded rectangles reminded me of pills on the column/row shelves so I thought it looked mildly Tableau looking. As you can see in the image above, I had already been working a particular color scheme in mind. It’s a bright, fun palette I found on colourlovers called “Ocean Five”

Color by COLOURlovers

I had also decided that I wanted the titles to have a more decorative font, so I used one called “Qlassik” that I found on Since I had already basically placed things on the dashboard, I knew about what sizes I needed all the shapes to be. I used SnagIt to measure the size each of the boxes needed to be so that I could make my shapes fit nicely.

Making the shapes is super easy. This was the process:

  1. Create a new file that is the dimensions I need the shape to be.
  2. Use the paint bucket to fill it with the desired color. Use the text tool to add the title.Creating an image
  3. In the Menu go to Filters>Decor>Round Corners… Selecting Rounded Corners
  4. Uncheck “Add drop-shadow”
  5. You now how a nice little container to float your sheets on top of.

Feature Viz Box



Repeat the process a couple times and there you have it! If you like easy design tips like this, you are going to love October on the Tableau Public website because it is design month! I know that I’m excited to share all my design tips with you and I can’t wait to hear some of yours!

#Main #Tutorials
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