How to Design Lovely Images for Your Blog Posts

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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.

progress-blog-header-2dares april 2017screenshot-2017-01-03-at-7-23-48-pmdisappearance blog headerjanuary-daresspotlight 5 header

(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:

cristina-gottardi-177261.jpgpaul-morris-181528.jpgsean-afnan-205024.jpgmatt-lee-18767.jpg

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 wherematt-lee-18767.jpg 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.cristina-gottardi-177261.jpg

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!


Adding 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 thdifferent fontsat.

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 nexblack text headert 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 thhappiness jealous world header.pngat 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!

happiness jealous world header.png


let’s talk!

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!

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17 thoughts on “How to Design Lovely Images for Your Blog Posts

  1. Abigail May 13, 2017 / 1:50 PM

    I love Unsplash!! Picmonkey is always helpful also. I totally agree, it’s really important to have space in a photo! Great post!

    Like

    • Lana May 13, 2017 / 5:44 PM

      I know, Unsplash has such pretty images! I’ve always admired your graphics and photographs. Thanks for reading! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Abigail May 13, 2017 / 7:47 PM

        Aww thank you!

        Like

  2. May @ Forever and Everly May 13, 2017 / 2:01 PM

    Oh, I love the featured image you ended up making, Lana! It looks super awesome. 🙂 I miss playing with overlays and different fonts (MY DEAR CALLIGRAPHY FONTS), now that I’ve decided to have a theme with my featured image, but it’s more professional now! 😀 I loved this tutorial, and it would be awesome to see more of them. 🙂

    Like

    • Lana May 13, 2017 / 5:46 PM

      Thanks! 😀 Yep, it is more professional to have the same theme throughout, but…I just love playing with different things so much. 🙂

      I’m glad you liked it! I had fun writing it, but I don’t have any other tutorial ideas, which is fine because I’m not sure how well they fit into my blog. (Although, does my blog even have a common theme? Who knows?)

      Liked by 1 person

      • May • Forever and Everly May 13, 2017 / 5:51 PM

        That’s what I like! Playing around with different things. Maybe I’ll just make a whole other blog for that… XD

        Like

  3. Kellyn Roth May 13, 2017 / 10:07 PM

    What would you have done differently than me for this header?:
    I would have made it much worse than you did. XD Seriously, though, I’m so awful about this! I would have been able to find an image (maybe), but I wouldn’t have been able to find a good font (or fonts that match) and I wouldn’t have been able to match the colors … at all.

    How do you do the graphics on your blog?:
    I think they’re all gorgeous! The one you made was kind of autumny (I don’t know why; it just struck me as such; might be the browns and redish tinges), but it was still great! Can’t wait to see that post. 🙂

    Do you like tutorial posts like this or not?:
    I do! This was wonderful! It taught me so much!

    Are there any questions that you have on what I’ve said?:
    Well, not really. You can’t teach me how to have taste. 😉 Really, though, I have so much trouble with this. Maybe I should start using PicMonkey, like you, so I could at least use the correct colors. Although it’s more a matter of taste … *sigh* People who have aestheticy brains are so lucky! 😛

    I’m going to start getting better at graphics, though. I mean it … 😛 #moreresolutionsiwontkeep

    Like

    • Lana May 15, 2017 / 3:32 PM

      Oh pshaw, Kell, you could make a graphic! I do think some of it is part of thinking aesthetically, but a lot of it is the tips I posted about. I bet you could make something fabulous! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kellyn Roth May 15, 2017 / 6:31 PM

        Well, I’ve been practicing, but mostly my lack of taste overwhelms it. 😉 But yes, I might eventually be able to learn … I hope. 🙂

        Like

  4. chёrnaja kuriцa May 15, 2017 / 9:32 AM

    that is a great idea for a post! lovely tips, really useful) thanks for sharing

    Like

    • Lana May 15, 2017 / 3:28 PM

      Thanks for the comment! I’m glad you enjoyed! 🙂

      Like

  5. Jordy Leigh May 15, 2017 / 10:01 PM

    I loved this tutorial post, I love Unsplash and I love PicMonkey. Even though the last two statements are true, I actually use my own photos (because I also love photography) and I use another online tool called BeFunkey (because I started with it before I knew about PicMonkey). I prefer PicMonkey to BeFunkey, but I’m more familiar with BeFunkey and I’ve already set up a style guide compatible with it. But one day, something may tip the scales in favor of PicMokey and I may just migrate over. Bottom line: great suggestions for online tools and services to use!

    Like

    • Lana May 22, 2017 / 3:00 PM

      If you have your own photography to use, then go for it! That’s awesome. I just don’t take pictures enough to use for my blog posts, so it’s easier to get them from someone else!

      Like

      • Jordy Leigh May 27, 2017 / 2:26 AM

        For sure. And the photos from Unsplash are so beautiful, it almost seems too good to be true that anyone can just download them and use them as they please!

        Like

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