Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Make a Christmas Blog Header

A few days ago I designed and posted A Splash of Ink's 2014 Christmas header, and a few people asked me how I did it. I wanted to give a quick tutorial on how I did my header and offer up a few less technical options to you guys as well!

My tools:
Wacom Bamboo pen and touch tablet, and Adobe Photoshop Elements (this is the cheaper version to the full Photoshop program, aprox. $80)

My Process: (Doesn't this make me sound all creative and artisty?)
When I create a Christmas header, I'm not aiming to make a brand new image. I want to take the header that is already in use and embellish it with Christmas-y goodness. I still want the blog's "brand" to be recognizable. Using my pen and touch tablet, I open my current header in PSE and get drawing. Each "element" of the header gets a new layer so I can get rid of my not-so-good-ideas easily. I start by drawing a rough shape and colouring it in. I find that the shapes really come to life by dodging (lightening) and burning (darkening) to create highlights and shadows. It's an easy way to take an image to the next level. Here's an example of a Santa hat with and without the shading.

Here's the hat without shading. 
And here's the hat with shading. 
 My go-to ideas for shapes are Santa hats, lights, Christmas trees, nativities, snow, snowmen, presents, holly, and other greenery. Finally, I always save the final as a PNG, so that the background will be transparent. Then I upload the new header and enjoy the Christmas festivities.

I know what you're thinking right now.

But Sunny, I don't HAVE Photoshop Elements or a fancy drawing tablet! How can I make a super awesome Christmas header?

That is where the second part of this tutorial comes in!

After hearing talk of in the blog-o-sphere, I decided to check it out. I was surprise with just how much it had to offer. Here's the thing about picmonkey: they have a free version and a version you pay for. The free version offers a lot, but you will stumble across certain features that require the upgrade.

To make a Christmas themed header, start by uploading an image of your normal header. Then go to the click on the snowflake called themes in the bottom left-hand corner. As of Dec. 2014, they have a Winter Wonderland theme and Santa's Workshop theme. Each of them offers Christmas stamps that you can use to decorate your header. Don't be afraid to use the eraser tool to give the stamps a layered look. Here's a screenshot of me working A Splash of Photography's header (it's usually just plain text).

In addition to using the provided stamps, picmonkey allows the user to upload "overlays" (under the butterfly icon on the left). With that feature in mind, I have pre-drawn some shapes you are welcome to download and paste on your headers (see end of this post). 

A few lovely bloggers let me use their headers as examples of how the finished product can look!

First up is Cait from Paper Fury:

 I used two of my pre-drawn overlays in this design. This one:

I layered this to create longer lines and then used the eraser tool to make it look like the lights were disappearing behind the figure.

And I used this Santa hat:
I gave this Santa hat a drop shadow around the "fur" so it would show up on white backgrounds
Next up is Rachel from Secret Scribblings:
For this header, I used these two overlays that I drew:

I didn't technically draw this, but I used a snowflake brush in PSE to create it. Psh...details.
In the header, I added a bit of sky and snow behind this in PSE.
So there you have it! That's how I make my Christmas blog headers. I hope that answered some of your questions and gave you a few resources to help you make one of your own. As I said earlier, you are more than welcome to copy any of the images I drew and used in the sample headers. Just right click on the image, click "Open Image in New Tab" and then do the good ol' click and drag onto your computer. All images have a transparent background, so you shouldn't have any problems using them as overlays. Be sure to leave a comment if you do have technical problems.

As always, let me know what you thought of this tutorial. Be sure to leave links if you decide to make a Christmas header! I'd love to see them.

P.S. Here are a few other Santa hat options that I drew. Two of them don't have drop shadows, but the fur will show up on a non-white background.

Reading: Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Listening: Christmas Playlist
Watching: Youtube


  1. AHHHH I HAVE A SANTA HAT. OMG. I LOVE THAT. Now I get it. x) My little bald header is very congenial to hats. Imagine it all through the year with hats! I could have an Easter hat and a Valentine's hat and a Halloween hat...
    This is awesome, btw. I love your tutorial and I think you're super talented at this design-ness.

    1. SO MANY HAT OPTIONS!!! That would be awesome!

      Thanks for all your compliments:D Glad that you liked it!

  2. Well... Made my crazy Christmas header. It was fun!! (Perhaps a little too much fun... haha!)

      Thanks for sharing your link:)

  3. This post is awesome :D
    What version of Photoshop do you use?? I've been wanting to buy a Tablet for so long but can't seem to save enough money to buy one..>.<"
    Peacock in your header with Santa outfit looks so cool hahaha..XD

    Neal Kind
    Daily Diaries

    1. Thanks!
      I use Photoshop Elements 10. It came with my Wacom tablet, which made the purchase a bit easier:)


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