Monday, March 29, 2010

A New Look

You may have noticed that A Steampunk Reverie has gotten a makeover. I've often thought that it's very important to have not only a cohesive image to market, but also one that immediately represents what I write.  Though I liked the previous setup, it felt a little plain and ordinary, so I started searching for a new background that would fit into the theme I have going with my website, blog, business cards, etc. 

There really are some great backgrounds and designers out there, though some backgrounds were far more difficult to install than others.  The simplest setup was a small bit of code that was easily copied into an html window within the blog.  Some of the designs out there are amazing.  To find these sites, simply do a search  for BLOG BACKGROUND MINIMA and you should come up with some great sites.  MINIMA is the Blogger template that these backgrounds work with.  I'll admit I don't know if these would work with Wordpress, but code is code, so I'd think it might.  

Though there were some great backgrounds, none really had the feel I was looking for, but I soon realized that the code was more or less the same, with the only difference being a link to an image. That got me thinking that I could make my own background for my blog. It did take some finagling but I finally got it down.

In case anyone else is interested in creating their own unique background to their blog, I figured I'd include the steps here.  Now I will warn you that I know nothing when it comes to code, but I'm a pantster by nature, and not only when it comes to my writing. So I experimented, until things seemed to work.

First you want to alter the size of the image you're going to use to approx. 1600 x 850. Many images can be found on Flickr.com and can be used through Creative Commons, so that you're not overstepping into copyright issues.  Just make sure to check that the image is free to use.

Keep in mind that your text will be running down the middle so you may want to add a solid section in that area through a photo or paint program, like Gimp.com . That section should be around 7.5-8 inches wide. You then need to upload it to a website that allows you to store files that size. Photobucket.com will allow it if you pay for the upgrade, however, Picasa.com is free. Once uploaded, just make sure you zoom in to the maximum size, right click, select properties and then copy the URL. From there, you want to copy it into this script with your URL fitting in between the " " as indicated below...

<style type="text/css">
body {background-image: url("YOUR URL GOES HERE"); background-position: center; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-attachment: fixed; }
</style>
<div id="tag" style="position:absolute; left:0px; top:30px; z-index:50; width:150px; height:45px;">
<a href="http://blo64rt.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">
</a></div>

Once you have copied in your URL, you then copy the script into a HTML box in the layout section of your blog.  You will also need to make sure that your blog template is set to one of the MINIMA templates.

That should be it!!  I hope you'll find this helpful if you do indeed attempt to give your blog your own personal look.

P.S.  Here are a few of the sites that have some great premade backgrounds that are easy to install.
http://www.backgroundfairy.com/
http://www.shabbyblogs.com/index.html
http://itkupilli-cutencool.blogspot.com/
http://www.thecutestblogontheblock.com/
http://leelou-freelayouts.blogspot.com/

28 comments:

Wendy aka Quillfeather. said...

Like the new look! But then again, the old one worked for me too :)

rklewis said...

Nicely done! Really like you've darkened it up, made it more moody.

Calista Taylor said...

Thanks guys!! Glad you like it.

Robert, my story's pretty dark, so this might be a bit more accurate, mood wise. I just love playing around with the software that's out there. : )

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the new background - just gorgeous! You do so well when you "just play around". I nearly broke the universe. I had the most difficult time changing my template last weekend. Still not working all that well. This appears relatively simple, but I am most definitely Blogger challenged :)

Calista Taylor said...

Thanks, Jemi! The new look on your blog also looks great, but if you need a hand with anything, just let me know. : )

Lisa_Gibson said...

The new look is fabulous. I've recently changed things up as well. I think it's important to freshen things up once in awhile. I like this and thanks for the info on great sources to go to.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

This is beautiful and certainly gives the reader a feeling for your genre. I changed my blog a couple of months ago and have a black background. A word of warning, be careful when you change the color of your text. Some colors are very hard to read on a dark background. Take it from someone who has learned the hard way. I love what you've done!!!

Theresa Milstein said...

I liked 'em both too, but this is definitely unique. My blog is just a google template and I'm afraid to play around with it. I should because on the right, my map and Facebook fan section are cut off. Sadly, I don't even know how to fix that!

Maybe I'll get brave and play around with the links and HTML you've provided. Thanks for the info.

Calista Taylor said...

Lisa, your blog looks great. It's definitely fun to change things up and keep things fresh, even if it's just a new version of the old.

Kathi, I agree that getting just the right color font, no matter what the background color, is so important. I like to use the online color hex code generators for a larger selection than what's offered by Blogger.

Theresa, you should try one of the sites that offers premade templates for MINIMA. There's a huge selection, depending on the look you're going for, and it's VERY easy. Just cut and past into an html box. Here are a few sights I looked at when trying to find a background. I actaully used a premade template for my cooking blog, though it's quite a different feel to this. lol. Hope this helps!

http://www.backgroundfairy.com/
http://www.shabbyblogs.com/index.html
http://itkupilli-cutencool.blogspot.com/
http://www.thecutestblogontheblock.com/free/free-backgrounds.html?section=1

Alexandra Shostak said...

Ooh pretty! Love the new layout! Thanks for putting the steps for changing the background and stuff--I just recently went through some frustration trying to change my layout. Some of the free templates ARE really hard to install!

Calista Taylor said...

Alexandra, love the new steampunk feel to your site. Very appropriate for your story!

Elana Johnson said...

It looks great! It's so much work to change over a site, isn't it? I hated doing mine, but I like it now. :)

Calista Taylor said...

Thanks, Elana! I must say, using the backgrounds off the sites that offer the html code that can be copied into the html box really couldn't be easier than cutting and pasting. A great alternative for those, like me, who are html challenged.

Your site looks great, btw!!

Terry Stonecrop said...

Your new look is great but so was your old look!

Thanks for posting this. If I feel inspired one day, I might play with it.

Matthew Rush said...

Hi Calista, what awesome advice. I'm a total noob at this blogging thing so this may be tough for me but I will definitely look into it.

Your blog looks great.

I've become a follower, please feel free to visit my blog and do the same.

catwoods said...

Love the look. Love the tutorial, panster that it is! You are amazing when you put your mind to something.

I am still a lot naive when it comes to technology.

Calista Taylor said...

Thanks so much, guys!! Glad you like the look of the blog, and also happy to hear you might give it a try. Really, one of the premade templates is very simple to use if you can find something that suits your style, but this other method wasn't bad if you can figure out the photoshop programs. : )

on Chris said...

Hey Calista, thanks - decided to change my new blog from plain white to footsteps in the sand, because all new writers sometimes feel lost in the desert.

Your post really helped.

Medeia Sharif said...

I love the new look. I enjoy playing with free pictures and themes--there are so many out there.

Cynthia Watson said...

Love it! Like the dark!

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Calista, I gave you a blog award on my blog today. Stop by and pick it up. :0)

Calista Taylor said...

Thanks so much, Kathi! Will do. : )

netgator said...

This new look is really awesome. I like the dark and shady background. Thanks for the method you share with us.

Calista Taylor said...

Thanks, Netgator! Hope the method will be of some use.

xoxo said...

I like the background, looks like something grunge.

Terresa said...

Oh, a writer's blog with an artistic flair. I am smitten.

Jarmara Falconer said...

Thank you for letting us know how to make the change. Your blog always did look great, but I do agree it needs to be kept fresh to make it interesting to others

Calista Taylor said...

I'm so glad you guys like it! Thanks so much. : )