Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Non-Geek-SpeakerStruggles On

In keeping with my latest venture with Blogger, I've been trying out different kinds of headers to go with different templates. I don't want to get into actual template design at this point, but I would like to learn how to install custom backgrounds. I read the directions. They are very clear- until they get to the point where there's something I don't know that I need to know. Then they just elide right over that one little thing as if it ought to be obvious. Hey, come on! I don't speak Geek!

But the headers, now that's something I understand. I've done a number of them for friends, and quite a few for myself in the past. I enjoy changing the look of my blog. I wouldn't wear the same dress every day. Why should I want to wear the same blog every day?

For the most part, custom headers need to be distinctive and enhance the entire blog, but they need to be background that showcases the blog owner and blog title. My friend Tori Scott wanted a deep red or burgundy color, something dramatic, and had in mind a burgundy-light chocolate-black combo she had used in decorating a room. We had to compromise a little because the same colors tended to not work as well for our purposes here. Check out the whole blog design here:

We've all seen those blogs that are so busy they scream at the reader, calling attention in a hundred directions at once. I'm trying not to do that. I want to give a design that enhances what the author has to say, not screams for attention on its own.

I've been playing with the basic idea I used for Tori's site, and I have to say it's fun and versatile. The basic background involves two layers, the top one rounded beveled and shadowed like a website button, and the bottom one slightly larger, usually contrasting in some way, as a base. I'm posting a few of my attempts here. They look nice on their own but they really stand out when combined with a compatible template. I'm putting my own name on some of them, and a fanciful title, but they can all be changed. In the meantme, they're a good idea to experiment with, and will probably lead to even more ideas.

I tried "Impressions" on a very soft watercolor type landscape that echoed the colors, and the Window Template has a semi-transparent post background that carries out the mood. I believe the original is a JMW Turner painting, but I haven't been able to find it recently to verify it. Someone told me it was by Claude Lorrain but I doubt it. This is entirely Turner's style, especially that brilliant splash of sunlight in the middle.

"My Secret Cay" is a double play on "Key". When I was a teen I read a book about a couple who bought Marina Cay in the Caribbean and lived there alone for a year. Recently I found an old scrapbook and in it was the map of the island I had traced from inside the front cover. The Desert Island principle, I think- it always fascinated me. I looked up the book on Bookfinders and copies now sell in the hundreds of dollars. And I'll bet the library threw it away when it got doggy.

The measurements I've been using for these headers is one that works pretty well with all Blogger templates: 3"x9" @300 ppi. Always "shrink to fit" when installing. The height could be 2" or even 1", if you want a narrow design.

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I write write write. Sometimes I travel. Then I write some more. And I have a great family who understand that I write write write.