As anyone who follows my blog will have noticed, I've been working very hard on the appearance of Epic Things in an effort to make the site more worthy of its name :) And since I did work so hard on it, I wanted to share a little about how I went about it, and link to some of my resources. It was a little frustrating at times, but I think it was well worth the effort I took to find the "baby bear" look :D This is hopefully going to be helpful to anybody trying to design or redesign their own blog, but it's going to be a long post, so stay with me!
To begin with, I had to choose a blogger template that I could personalize, and since the one I was using before was rather chunky, I went for a template that could support transparency in a few places without being hard to read. I personally love the look of the posts floating over the background :) It looks just a little more special, and I can choose a background that has a focal point. There are a couple of templates that would work, but I chose Picture Window because it was easier to read the text. The templates come with their own color schemes and pre-assigned fonts, but I always change them XD Trebuchet is my favorite font, so that's my main choice, but I like an accent font to mix things up. I chose Calligraffitti for the post headers and I think it's a nice touch :)
|Fonts say as much as the words they make!|
Along with the fonts, I always change the colors; I prefer to keep it at 3-4 colors and the presets are just too busy for me. But I can't choose the colors until I know what my background (bg for short) is, for two reasons: I obviously want it to match the bg, or at least not clash), and I also need it to be readable! There were several pre-loaded bgs that I liked and could have used; but again, with presets there's always a catch. In this case, the majority of the preset bgs have color schemes assigned to them, so selecting them also resets any colors I picked out :P So frustrating! But that's alright, because picking my own bg is more personalized anyway :) However, it's not as easy as it sounds: for a "full" bg, blogger recommends an image that is 1800x1600, but the file size must be under 300kb. That is nearly impossible to find in google images!!!! (unless you want a tiled/repeating image, and then you're alright; but that's boring) Turns out, it's a lie. My current bg is 1528x928; odd measurements, I know: I kept cropping until it was under 300kb.
|Some things don't look very good when cropped...|
But with my screen maximized, there is only a tiny border on either side of the image, and it doesn't look bad at all in my opinion :) And since I went with a nice rainy day pic, it made my color scheme very, very simple: black, white, dark grey, and a very light beige. In hex codes, that's 000000, FFFFFF, 717171, and d9d1c5. Huzzah for copy-paste on that last one :) At any rate, once I knew I was using a rainy background, I need to pick a favicon. What's a favicon? Look up in the corner of any tab in your browser. Yep, up there. On most blogger sites, you're going to see an orange square with a B in it, because most people (in my experience) don't know what it is. It's pretty easy to find one: just do an image search for anything you'd like to see up there, and then filter the results to "icon." Or you can put the word icon in your search terms. Or you can be cool like Anna and make your own :D I found my little raincloud just by searching, and I love it because of the transparency.
|My first favicon :)|
Searching is not always that simple, of course (I forgot to mention that I spent many, many hours searching for my background image). This is especially true in the case of looking for widgets or gadgets! I'm not sure which is the correct term, but I'm going to use widgets for now. Again, unless you're using something like Clearly, you've seen my blog and the nice little widgets I have for my Amazon wishlist and Goodreads "currently reading" list. Again, I'm picky and don't like my blog to be too busy, so I try to keep the number of things on one page to a minimum. But I wanted to add at least one thing that would change every day, even if I never finish Don Quixote and only post once a month. My first idea was to (manually) add a quote under the blog header every day. Then I realized that I'm lazy, and there's technology in place already that will take the work out of it for me XD Hence, widgets!!! I spent many more hours looking for the perfect widget for my blog.
|I don't think an oversized magnifying glass |
is always helpful, but it is cute!
I did look for some quote widgets, but it was pretty early on that I realized I wanted a verse-of-the-day instead. Since my phone freaked out on me a few weeks ago, I've really missed the two apps I was using. It's amazing how 5 minutes a day in the word of God can help with issues like fear, bad attitude, and depression :) But I digress! The point being, I finally found a really nice site called Widgetbox that has hundreds of widgets. I found many that I could customize, but some had ads, others were only in portrait orientation, and the worst ones had strange images; I want sleek, landscape, simple. I found it :) I changed my original plan to put it under the header, so it is now at the bottom of the page, but I think it looks really nice, and most importantly it matches the blog!
|Making sure everything matches is fun!|
The last part of the redesign was the banner. Holy. Cow. It took about half the day to finish it, and I had lots and lots of help from my dad :) Usually, my darling husband makes my headers because he's very handy with Photoshop; you can see lots of his handy work at Seven Serpents. At the moment, though, neither of us have Photoshop, and my dad is a design pro. Seriously. He's made logos for me before, too. I am eternally trying to start a jewelry business, and at one point we made some business cards... but that's another story :) Long story short (too late!), I wanted a banner in the same basic style as the skull banner, but using my new accent font Calligraffitti and a different image. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I'm picky and google images can't read my mind, so find the image? Needle in a haystack. Found my needle, though!
|Click to see the details :)|
It started with just a sketch I found, and turned into a very long search for the perfect silhouette pic. After a while, I realized that if I could just find the shape I was looking for, my dad could turn it into a silhouette for me (which also takes care of those nasty stock photo watermarks). It still took quite a bit of reworking once I finally found the images to make the base, but my dad was really awesome about it and I don't think I'll need to change my banner anytime soon! Honestly, I don't think I'll change anything on my blog for a long time; the only thing I could think of that I might want to do is add music, and I know that can be annoying sometimes :( I'll probably make a poll about it, see what everybody thinks about it... I might be able to find another widget! :)