Designing featured images for my blog posts is something that I’ve learned to enjoy–and I’ve found a way of doing it that’s really easy & that I’d like to share with you today! It does require a little bit of practice, but most of it is simple enough that even if you’ve never edited a photo, you’ll be ready to make a beautiful graphic for your post after reading this.
Here are some examples of images that I’ve made. No two are quite alike, though there are some similarities between them because there are certain types of fonts and styles of design that I love. As you make your headers, you’ll discover what your interests are as well.
(Images link to their respective posts, if you’d like to check them out.)
To illustrate my points through this tutorial, I’ll be making a graphic for this post that I wrote before I starting making graphics consistently, called Finding Happiness in a Jealous World.
Choosing an Image
The great thing is, you don’t need to be good with a camera to get a free image that you can use on your blog! There are several sites online with free stock photos that you can use without having to credit anyone, not to mention that most are fantastic quality. I usually use Pixabay or Unsplash for my graphics.
Step #1: Use Different Keywords
Usually, I don’t know exactly what kind of image I want for a post, but for this one, maybe something nature-y? Maybe something with trees, because I like trees. So I’m going to search for “trees”.
If you find any that you think you might like, open them in a new tab and keep looking. You just might be able to find something better! If you can’t find something that you think fits the mood of the post, try a different keyword or a different subject.
Here are a few that I’m now considering:
Step #2: Use a Picture with Space
Remember, you’re going to need to add text to these pictures, so you don’t want a picture that’s crammed full (like a picture of a forest). You’ll want a picture with a lot of open space where text can be added. If you look at this picture on the left, there’s not very much open space where the text could be seen. The only open places are the sky and the grass around the border of the picture, and most of the time you’re going to want your text to be somewhere near the center. You can get away with it being a little off (and sometimes it even looks better like that), but generally, you want your title to be around the center, and these trees are blocking that.
You’re going to find some pictures that you really like, but if they don’t have space for text, don’t use them. Use them in your post as a pretty landscape or something.
Step #3: Choose Your Favorite Picture
Yep, that’s what it comes down to when you have multiple great pictures with a lot of space. You want to choose the picture that you think is the prettiest and also fits the mood of the post the best. It’s your choice.
I like all of these, but I actually like this one on the right the best. I feel like the orange leaves complement the post the best, even though I’m not entirely sure why. (I’m not sure if this is instinctive or just because I’m the author of the post and I know what mood I want.)
Once you choose your picture, download it, and we’ll add some text!
I normally use PicMonkey for this because it’s easy to use and it’s online, so you don’t have to download anything. I don’t have the premium membership, so fonts are limited, but it’s still quick and easy.
Step #1: Choose a Fitting Font
You may have to try a few different fonts to figure out which one you like the best. Personally, I tend to like thin fonts, and I either type them in all caps or in all lowercase–but you do what you like the best! I think this post will look better in all caps, so I’ll find a font I like for that.
Oh, and remember to choose simple, readable fonts. Even if you love a crazy font, it’s usually best to use something that’s readable, even if it might seem a little boring. (Again, there’s always exceptions.)
Sometimes it’s harder than others to find the right font (this was one of those times), but keep looking! You may not be able to find the perfect font, but you can find something you really like. I normally don’t use handwritten fonts, but I actually really like the bottom right one, called “Sue Ellen Francisco”. I think it fits with the post.
Step #2: Keep it Balanced
As you’re formatting the text, remember that balanced does not always mean centered. Having balance means that the entire image feels like it works together when you look at it–from the image to the font. (Coloring the font in the next step will also affect this.)
Additionally, make important words bigger as you format the text. It’s usually better to have some variation in font size rather than in font type. And use your space! You can either use it to make your words really big and prominent, or you can use it to surround your words and have emphasis. Keep playing around until you get the look you want.
Step #3: Add Some Color!
Coloring the font can be fun–and it it can also be hard. I really love the overlay function (on picmonkey, click on the text and it’s under “blend modes”). If you’re using overlay, have black or white text originally. I’ve found that this makes the overlay look the best.
If you’re just going to color the text directly, there is one very important rule to remember: only use colors that are found in the photograph naturally. Most photos don’t have pure black or pure white in them, so using those in the fonts looks a little bit garish. The eyedropper tool is very useful for this.
In this header image, I wanted to emphasize the orange, but I didn’t want it to be super bright, so I picked a muted orange and brown from the picture and used those for my colors.
Ta-da! You’re done!
Look at that beautiful image!
What would you have done differently than me for this header? How do you do the graphics on your blog? Do you like tutorial posts like this or not? Are there any questions that you have on what I’ve said? I’d love to help & explain more!