A Tutorial On How To Make A Blog Banner Using Picasa Instead Of Something Fancy and Complicated Like Photoshop

(This post has been updated (2015) to reflect new changes in Blogger templates.)

(a few examples of past headers I've made)
I’ve been asked SO many times how I make my collage header (also called banner) images. I came upon this free and easy way to make your Blogger blog look more original and professional...I was desperate and didn't want to pay for a blog designer, and didn't have time to learn Photoshop...I also LOVE the design process of changing things up once a month.

You will want to choose the Simple template in the Design section of Blogger.

I promised a tutorial a long time ago, but knew I’d have to wait till the kids went back to school to spend the time to put on together. So here it goes.

First you need to download Picasa. It’s free and it should be easy to figure out how to get your pictures from your files into Picasa. Picasa is 'made' by Google and it won't make your computer blow up, or slow down, or act really weird...I swear. I really love using it…I’ve tried almost everything, and I think this is the best (and most self-explanatory) FREE editing system out there…especially if you are using Blogger. I am really not very computer savvy, and I don't have the time to learn Photoshop right now, try as a might. So I've squeezed every ounce of juice out of Picasa and have been very happy with the results.

Once you download Picasa, it is easy to figure out how to 'Import' (there's a button) your pictures from your files into Picasa. (You can do them a file at a time just to see if you like it.)

SO, let’s say you are in Picasa and you want to select 4 or 5 pictures (you will see, once you experiment, that a header can be made with a bunch of photos or just one and still look good).

Fullscreen capture 852009 112401 PM You are going to select a photo and press the Collage button on the bottom of the window. (You can edit your pic first if you want....see the left hand side for tons of options.)Fullscreen capture 852009 112627 PM In the Settings choices, you will choose Picture Pile because it allows you to work with a bunch of photos and manipulate them around in tons of ways. Fullscreen capture 852009 112749 PM Click and hold on your photo and drag it to the corner (or wherever you want it). (By the way…you can see that you can select different colors for the background…experiment away…the possibilities are endless. Also under background options you can select "Use Image". You can download free scrapbook paper and import that into Picasa and use that as a background image if you want something besides a solid color. I did this from here. You will see in my September banner I have chosen a pattern, but the one I have for August I chose a white background.) Fullscreen capture 852009 112825 PMSee that little grey circle on the photo? That allows you to make the photo bigger or smaller and also allows you to manipulate the angle…crooked or straight, and allows you to move it everywhere. If you look in the Settings box, you can also chose to add a white border, or a Polaroid border, or create a shadow on your photo.Fullscreen capture 852009 112840 PM Now you want to add more pictures. Click Clips right next to Settings. If you don’t see the photos you want to add go to Get More and it will take you back to your Picasa files. Click on your pictures there and then go back to the Collage file on top…see that button…next to Library. The picture you clicked on will show up in the little Collage window. Press the + button and it will be added. If you change your mind click on the photo you don’t want and press Remove. (You can also press View And Edit if you decide you want to use some of the cool editing features in Picasa to make your picture better-looking.)Fullscreen capture 852009 112905 PM For this example, I am lining up my photos as straight and evenly spaced as I can get them. Remember, the possibilities are endless though...they don't have to be straight. I DO try to keep them on the top 1/2 of the collage..yes, it looks funny at first, but you want your collage to be long and skinny..you will crop that bottom half off later, after you add text. Just work with the top 1/2 when making a header.

Fullscreen capture 852009 113039 PM When I’m set I press Create Collage.Fullscreen capture 852009 113133 PM That brings me back to the main Picasa page. I find my created Collage in the Library file, and click on it. Now what comes up is the basic editing features…Basic Fixes.Fullscreen capture 852009 113144 PM I find the Text button and press that…there you have TONS of choices of type. Play around and see what you like best…this is the “funnest” part…you can move the text where ever you want (even on top of the photos), make it whatever size you want (keep it on the page!), pick the opacity of the text, and determine the color you want it…it has the same grey circle that you manipulate around. Remember though…you want it rather long and skinny like a header normally looks so keep it up there in the 1/2 of the space provided.
Fullscreen capture 852009 113240 PM If you want to create a whole different grouping text, you can do that too. Just click the phrase you are finished with and move your cursor to a new spot…it doesn’t have to be the spot you want the type to show up, because remember…you can move it. Now you can choose the color, font and size of your new phrase.Fullscreen capture 852009 113332 PM After you have your words down, click the Apply button and you will go back to the basic Edits. You are going to Crop your Collage so it looks like a header, not a huge photo, so press Crop. I make it really even on all sides and bring the crop right up under the writing. Fullscreen capture 852009 113347 PM Press Apply when you are finished.Fullscreen capture 852009 113431 PM You are going to Export (see that button on the bottom?) your collage to your photo files. When you press Export a window like this will show up. That little slider bar lets you choose the size.
I used 800 for my banner.

Fullscreen capture 852009 113446 PM Fullscreen capture 852009 113508 PM

NOW, go to your blog and press the Layout tab. Press Edit on the header part (where your title is.)Fullscreen capture 852009 113613 PM Choose your Image (your collage) from your Files where you sent it. Make sure you press the “Instead of title and description” button first, and make sure the Shrink To Fit button is NOT checked before you upload your picture.

Fullscreen capture 852009 113635 PM Press Save. If the Collage seems too big for you, just resend your collage at the next smaller size when Exporting to your photo files from Picasa.

If the blog banner isn't centered, you will need to go into the Template, go to "Customize", find Advanced, scroll down to CSS, and copy and past this code to the CSS:

#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto;}

Press Enter (you can see your blog header move to the center after pressing Enter) and then Save.

Here's some great advice: Start a new blog...a sample, "fool around" blog, and just try stuff out on it. Google some tutorials...that's how I learned. In your Settings, you can choose to make that Sample Blog private, and hide it on your profile so no one sees it. Then play away! You can see how things look on your Sample Blog first, practice, and then try it out on your new blog.

Check out these cute headers made from this tutorial:
I'm so proud of you! (and I'm proud of me too, for actually explaining something and having it make any sense for once.)
(If you have one you would like to share, leave a comment below!)

If you want to get a little more creative with different fonts and scrapbook paper backgrounds, or are interested in making scrapbook pages with Picasa HERE is a great tutorial.

If you are still confused, HERE is a great step by step video series of tutorials on making collages with Picasa that can help you get started.


Berry Breakfast

We shared. I couldn't resist.


Back to School...Yippee, Boo Hoo

I sent 3 kids to school yesterday. (Isaac started last week….see photo below for proof.) 061
009 017 018 Series of events:021 023 024 025 026
He doesn't look so happy about losing his playmates.  He will miss them.


Birthday Two for One

While I was out front taking these pictures:023 026SOMEONE (I wonder who??? no, I don't) decided to climb into my van and use the cake box (that I had JUST picked up!!!) as a stepping stool:041I tried to patch it up, but this was the best I could do. It was seriously squished and all the original frosting was smashed on the top of the box. But guess what? It still worked!!! Imagine that!!!046059 We rented Mr. Jumpy Dinosaur…something we don’t usually do, but we had a block party AFTER the birthday party so we knew we would get massive usage out of it. I seriously am in LOVE with Mr. Jumpy Dinosaur. Although I must apologize to him, because even though he came with a long set of instructions, I payed absolutely NO attention to any of them. I was supposed to sort of “guard” him from danger. I left him to fend for himself completely. I thought he could handle it, and he stepped up to the responsiblity beautifully.
A great photo of the love of my life:
Aunt Jill, I knew you would love this one!039


Another Beautiful Life

God asks no man whether he will accept life. 
That is not the choice. 
You must take it. 
The only question is how. 
~Henry Ward Beecher

( Ellis Island)

I found another amazing story in the obituaries today. What an incredible, inspirational life.
"Our beloved mother was lifted on angels' wings to be reunited with our dad, Ted, the love of her life and husband of 64 years. Frances was a devoted wife and caregiver, who took loving care of her husband for 18 years, prior to his passing on November 1, 2001. She has missed him dearly and in spite of her loss, her faith and devotion to Mary, the Blessed Mother, provided her with the strength to live her life with a kind heart, grace, and laughter that touched the lives of all who knew her.

Frances, the daughter of ___, was born in Wierzbowczyk, Poland on July 24, 1921. At 19, she met our dad, Ted, a handsome, young officer, at a dance, and after a brief courtship, were married on January 28th, 1940. After only 2 weeks of marriage, the newlyweds were shipped by cattle train to Siberia and spent the next 2 years as laborers in a Russian concentration camp. Her son, Ted was born in Siberia and died at 6 months. Of the 68 families deported to Siberia in 1940, Ted and Frances were 2 of the 10 survivors. Mom believed that her First Communion prayer book sewn into the lining of her coat was the reason for our parents' survival.

After Stalin's declaration of Amnesty, in 1942, the young couple were separated for 6 years. Frances worked as a nurse in Africa, and Ted, a staff sergeant, served in the 2nd Polish Corp., in the Middle East and Italy. Neither knew whether the other was alive. The young couple were reunited in England in 1948.

In 1951, Frances' cousin sponsored them to New York to begin a new life. They arrived with a 15 month old daughter, a trunk of personal possessions, and 5 dollars in Ted's pocket. Job opportunities moved the family to Ohio, where 2 sons, John and Chet, were welcomed into the family.

Mom's fondest memories have always been of time spent with her cherished family and friends. Mom was a wonderful cook and baker, her torts were never duplicated. She was a gifted seamstress who made all her children's clothes. She enjoyed collecting angels, music, dancing, reading, embroidery, and making wreaths. Mom's garden and home were always filled with flowers. After her husband's death, she spent her time as the "master gardener" of Sunset Village. Although her physical health slowed her down she always recruited someone to plant and water "her flowers".

Mom was currently writing a book of her memoirs. The book remains untitled and unfinished, but her memories will remain with us forever. Mom was briefly employed at UT's Carter Hall athletic dining room. She enjoyed serving the athletes, "her boys". She fondly told stories of the huge quantities they ate and the unusual food combinations. A couple of "her boys" paid their respects to "mom" at our father's funeral.

We remember in our thoughts and prayers those who have predeceased our mother. Our father, Ted; her infant son; her parents; brother and 2 sisters."

We are SO lucky to live in this country right now. I find myself "whining" about the dumbest things...can you imagine what this young mother had to do without when she moved across the world with her baby? Can you imagine the "stress" of the unknown when caring for your sweet little baby, especially after losing your first born previously? The trust you would place in your husband to provide? That incredible love between two people who went through such devastating things? No parents to rely on, just your own bootstraps? And then to come through all that, and be a loving mother and wife who appreciated the simple, beautiful things in life, like flower gardens and baking, and laughing at college kids who eat too much?


Happy Birthday Andrew!

You are 6 today!
The day you have been waiting 364 days for!

Birthdays always make me sad...I know I should be celebrating the fact that you are healthy and growing and all that sort of stuff, but it just goes so fast and I want to squish you back to the age you were last year and keep you like that forever.

You, the baby with all that hair!

The baby that had colic morning, noon and night, the one I "wore" 24 hours a day till you could sit up and crawl on your own. (I wouldn't squish you back to that age, cute as you were...you about did me in back then.)

Being #4, your toddlerhood went by in a wink...you worship those older kids you follow around now, and it was no different a couple years ago...you learned to talk fast, walk fast, hang with your siblings (at any cost!)...they couldn't say NO to you, although I'm sure they wanted to at times.

You are Daddy's twin...but Mommy's buddy.

I can never be lonely with you around, can I? You like to talk....you like to keep me busy...

...you are no loner that's for sure...the more the merrier....your attraction to all things "fun and exciting" keeps me young. Young and tired, but I'll take it, nonetheless.

Happy Birthday!
Here's a wish for a great big year of growing taller, learning to read, making lots of friends, and having FUN.
Love you Andrew!


The End Is Near

We are rounding out our last week of summer vacation. I'm ready. They are too. School supplies bought, uniforms in order, and I'm doing a little of THIS to start our next season fresh. I am yearning for quieter and SLOWER days where I can actually get something accomplished and it can STAY accomplished, so I thought I'd get a jump on creating a sense of order. Maybe then, when the kids really do get on that big yellow bus, I can read a book, make an apple pie, take a slow walk with Patrick, and feel like I don't have 100's of other things I should be doing.

This last weekend I cleaned out our closet...3 large garbage bags of clothes to Goodwill. It looks and feels so good. The best after-summer therapy there is. I had a helper...of course.


Chicken Hugs

Thanks Aunt Elizabeth!
And Cormac!
You've produced lots of laughs with your special package you sent with Grammy today! You've saved me 2 months of indecision before my favorite holiday. I couldn't have picked out something more perfect myself...