Blog Post Header Images For Photoshop Newbies

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Today I’m going to show you how I make the intro pictures for my posts. I use photoshop CS2, but you’ll be able to do this with most versions of photoshop- and a lot of other programs too if you know where all the tools are. This is a pretty basic technique you can use to make a lot of different things once you master it, so hopefully you’ll find some good ways to put it to use!

Step 1: Create a new document. Big images are good- just not too big! It’s a good idea to make it as wide as your content is. If you don’t know how big it is, find an image that you’ve included that is the right size. Copy it, and then create a new document in photoshop. The height and width should match that of your copied image when you create it. I personally use 600×500, because that’s what works for my blog size-wise.

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Step 2: Create a background. You have a lot of options here. You can do a simple colour background by using the paint bucket tool, which would look like this:

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Or you could use an image background like this:

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Or you could use a patterned background like this: (hint: colourlovers.com is a great place where you can create your own tiling pattern! great for backgrounds)

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I created my patterned background by finding a black and white image I liked. I pasted it onto my document, and then created another colour layer underneath it like this:

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I then adjusted the fade level on the pattern layer until it was the colour I wanted.

Step 3: Add the text. Having a bunch of non-standard fonts to choose from makes this bit a lot easier, and picking the same collection of fonts for all your images helps with your branding. It makes everything look the same, and like it all belongs together. A good place to download new fonts is dafonts.com. They have every font you could ever need, and installation instructions there that are easy to follow. Pinterest also has a wealth of suggestions.

Once you have your fonts, you need to know how to arrange them. I like to use multiple fonts on the same image for visual interest, but you can use the same font. The same font would look like this:

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When using the same font, I like to switch up the size of the text to put the most important keywords bigger. Like this:

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Combining different fonts takes a little trial and error to get right. I like to use a combination of handwriting-type fonts and blockier/sleeker fonts to contrast. That’s why my standard post images look like this:

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Here are some other examples of font mixing to give you some ideas:

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You can see how easy it is to create a different aesthetic feel by using different fonts, so try to pick some that match your blog’s brand and give off the impression that you want- not just ones that look good.

And that’s it, save and you’re done! Quick and easy, right? You can save the template as a .psd file and keep the layers intact so you can open where you left off and not have to start from scratch every time if you use it more than once.

I’d love to see what you create, best of luck!

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7 Quick Tips for Faking Confidence

CONFIDENCE

Confession: I am a nervous giggler. When I get nervous, especially in front of crowds of people, I giggle even when there’s absolutely nothing funny going on. Once, in an acting class, I was preparing a piece with another student to perform and I swear I didn’t make more than two run-throughs of the script without bursting into laughter. It was aggravating and embarrassing and I’m pretty sure that guy was praying I’d get the chicken pox just to get me out of his hair. I’m not a bad actress, and I’ve since gotten over my stage fright, but I’m always afraid I’ll get into another situation like that again and giggle myself out of a great opportunity.

We all have times when we feel less than confident, even if we normally have good self-esteem. First dates, job interviews, having lunch with that disapproving aunt who keeps asking why you haven’t married rich and why you’re not the CEO of Google by now… No one is 100% confident 100% of the time. Here are some of my tips for faking that confident swagger even when you have no idea what you’re doing.

1. Bigger is better. It worked for Henry VIII, and it can work for you: relax your muscles and take up as much space as you can without looking utterly ridiculous. Don’t sit up straight on the edge of your chair like you’re in the principal’s office. Sit back, use the arm rests, stretch out your legs instead of crossing them. If you need desk or table space, use it the way you would your own desk or table, don’t just take up the little corner allotted to you. Filling up space is a visual indicator of confidence, while people who are unsure tend to shrink nervously like they’re trying to make themselves invisible. Own your own space, and you’ll look like you own the whole room, even if you don’t feel like it.

2. Preparation, preparation, preparation. If you can prepare yourself, it’ll make you look polished and even perhaps give you some actual confidence for the task ahead instead of just faking it. It can be something as simple as remembering to take tissues to wipe off your sweaty palms, or having a few unusual ice breaker questions ready for a lull in the conversation.

3. Listen. Don’t spend the whole time focusing on yourself and worrying about what to do or say. Take a breath and focus on what the other people around you are saying or doing, and only think about a response when they are finished. It’ll allow you to respond thoughtfully, and save you from blurting out something you didn’t mean to!

4. Smile. Smiling sends a message to your brain that you’re happy, even if you’re not, and releases the appropriate chemicals. It can be a great way to trick yourself into relaxing, and it also shows those around you that you’re having a good time and are relaxed.

5. Do something with your hands. Fidgety hands demonstrate nervousness, and can even be misread as an indication of lying. Occupy your hands with a drink, focus on how you’re holding the mic, or offer to hold something for someone else in order to occupy your fidgety fingers.

6. Don’t use wishywashy words. This is the moment to pretend that you’re a witness to a crime, and are being cross-examined by a cutthroat defense lawyer. “I think he went out the back door” will get you annihilated on the stand. “He went out the back door.” doesn’t give him reason to doubt how sure you are (even if you’re not). Avoid phrases like “I think”, “I believe”, words like “probably”, or “might”, and filler words like “um”. It will make you sound like you know your stuff and are confident in your ideas.

7. Know what you want. What do you want from that interview? What do you want from giving that wedding toast? It might sound simple, but when you have clear, specific goals to fixate on, it’s easier to get there. It’s easy to get sidetracked, go off on a tangent, or try to fit so much information into someone else’s brain at once that nothing fits at all. Being specific about your intentions means that other people will be more likely to understand them, and that you’ll have a better idea of how to get there even if you’re mostly winging it.

 

What are your confidence faking tips? Let me know in the comments!

Pop Is Not a Dirty Word

GENRE

Every time someone asks me what kind of music I make, I hesitate. On the one hand, I love talking about my music and I am always flattered when someone shows an interest. On the other hand, I feel like the moment I explain it, they’ll look at me a little differently. I love the kind of music I make, it’s exactly the kind of sound I love, but the words I use to describe it can carry a lot of bad connotations.

Fitting my art into a box and slapping a label on it isn’t as easy as it sounds. I sometimes wish I fell into an easier genre to say, like jazz, or rock, or even classical. That’s not what I want to fall into, but, it would be less embarrassing to explain. See, I like my sound to be dark and laden with violins, piano leads, and deep, throaty drums. I like it to have clever and soulful lyrics, and I want it to make people feel something deeper than just a need to get on the dance floor and grind with a stranger (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It is pop music, but it’s not the kind that you tend to hear overplayed on the radio at the grocery store. When I tell people I make pop music, I feel as if all they conjure up are images of Britney and Justin Bieber, or pretty girls with acoustic guitars making covers for youtube. I don’t want that label to make people think I didn’t work hard to make it, or that it’s just “ear candy”.

I could add a whole lot of adjectives to it, to make it sound better. People look at me a bit funny when I call it dark pop- after all, how could the quiet girl with the hipster glasses pull that one off? I could say electronic, as a lot of my inspiration is more electronic, but I don’t use a lot of synths or electrobeats. I could say indie, but people associate that with acoustic, which isn’t really my bag. I don’t like to say pop, but there aren’t many other words to use, either.

So I keep saying pop, and I keep hoping whoever I talk to will understand that I put in effort, that the lyrics are meaningful, that I want to make them scream and cry and fight back all at once. I am a pop artist, but I want to be respected. If I have to put myself in a box, if I have to slap a label on it, then I’d like for pop not to be a dirty word anymore.