You learn something new every day, and today was no exception for me. I was watching a video from Sarah, a fellow Blogging Business Artisans team member, called Etsy for Absolute Beginners: Banner Making, which explains how to create an Etsy banner using the free features of PicMonkey, an online photo editing program. I wondered if I couldn’t do something similar with Corel Paint Shop Pro. I have used the program for years, but certainly don’t know everything about it. In particular, photo editing layers—which allow you to superimpose one image on top of another—have always been a mystery to me, and there was something about Sarah’s video that just made things click into place.

Layers, whether you’re working in Corel PaintShop Pro, Adobo Photoshop Elements, or Photoshop, are pretty much the same thing. You can think of them as adding components to a blank canvas, with each addition to your canvas being a layer. You can remove components by removing a layer, and also change the order of your layers.

I experimented first in PicMonkey by following Sarah’s instructions for importing a photo from my laptop. Any photo, to tell you the truth, will work because you won’t actually be using that image. Using PicMonkey’s design tools, you’ll resize your image to fit your banner, which for my WordPress template is 1200 pixels wide by 210 pixels tall. Once you enter your banner’s dimensions, you’ll stretch and compress your photo so that it really looks terrible. I randomly selected the collage photo below.

Stretched compressed photo

Don’t worry, as you will “paint” over the above image with white or some other solid color. I colored my photo white, just so I could start with a clean rectangle. Because you wouldn’t be able to see the white rectangle against the white background of this post, I added an outline, but your white rectangle won’t have this unless you add a frame as one of your PicMonkey effects.

White canvas with outline

Next, I added a texture effect called Burst. You can use any of PicMonkey’s preset textures, or you can import a texture (image file) from your computer. Any photo will do the trick; feel free to experiment.

Burst texture effect

I decided I wanted to add the name of my Web site. You can use the free typefaces within PicMonkey, but there’s an option for you to use your own fonts, too. I added “this creative journey” using the Honeyscript font, located on my laptop. I saved the image to my laptop, and used it as my first “layer” in Corel Paint Shop Pro.

Blue Basic Banner

I was now ready to use my own software, so I opened the above image, which I’ll call my Base Layer, in Corel Paint Shop Pro. You could do the same thing with your preferred photo editing software. Then, I selected photos I wanted to overlay to the left and right of “this creative journey.” How did I get this effect?

Blue Basic Banner With Photos 1

1. Within your photo editing program, open multiple windows for the Base Layer and all photos you want to overlay. Each of these photos represents a layer in your project.

2. Go to your first photo and resize it. In my case, I used a height of 190 pixels, slightly shorter than the 210 pixel height of my Base Layer, and selected proportionate resizing so that my program could calculate the width of my image automatically. I repeated this with all of the other images.

3. Next, I copied one image using a couple of keyboard shortcuts, CTRL + A to select the photo, and CTRL + C to copy the photo.

4. I opened the window for the Base Layer, and inserted it with another keyboard shortcut, CTRL + V. Obviously, the photo had to be moved to the right location, so I took care of that in the next step.

5. Move your photo where you’d like it to appear by selecting your program’s equivalent of the “pick” and “move” tools.

6. You’ll notice that my photos have a glowy effect around the outer edges. When the photo was selected, I applied this Layer Effect. All I had to do in my program was to right-click, select Properties, choose the Layer tab, and then choose an Effect. Likely your photo editing program will have some similar options.

7. Repeat steps 3 through 5 (or 6, if you want to apply a Layer Effect) for each photo.

That’s it! Save your image, and upload it to your blog, Web site or selling site. I don’t know if I’ll actually use the banner shown in this post, as it was a learning exercise. But one thing I did also learn is that everything I did in PicMonkey can also be accomplished within my photo editing program. PicMonkey just simplifies the starting process for you.

If you know of other shortcuts or handy online programs that make banner design easier, feel free to share in the comments below.

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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6 thoughts on “How to use “layers” to design your blog banner”

  1. I’ll have to check that out later. It looks terrific. Thanks for the tutorial. I do like using picmonkey, but can’t get a handle on Canva yet. That’s free too.

  2. Just catching up on my reading – and saw this Blog! I have been using Photoshop for many years (just the basics) – I have tried layering – but somehow I just don’t seem to get it. My friend who uses a Apple Computer which is better designed for Art Projects has showed me a few times – but on my PC doesn’t work as easily. Definitely going to check out “PicMonkey” as I have been trying to redesign my Shop Banner for a while – don’t don’t seem to get the dimensions right – or able to layer various items.
    Thanks for another great information article!!!

  3. Good tutorial Judy. I’ve always used Photoshop to do my work and use layers too. Haven’t tried doing special effects though. This inspires me to do more playing with Photoshop.

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