Creating a Custom Header for “Wave”


If you’ve decided to try out the new “Wave” theme for your website, here’s a tutorial on how you can create your own custom header graphic. I should mention that you have to be a Professional or Premium member to upload a custom header graphic, so keep that in mind before you proceed. 😉 Not to worry though, if you’re a Standard member, there are dozens of headers already designed in the library for you to choose from!

Step #1: Choosing a Photo
Choosing a photo might be the easiest step for some, or one of the hardest for others. The header graphic is one of the first things that a visitor will see when they arrive at your site, so take your time. Also note that the picture will be cropped into a panoramic shape, so try to find an image that will look great even when it gets modified in this way.

For the sake of the tutorial, I’m going to pretend I’m an agent from Las Vegas. I want my header graphic to display my city, but, again, you can choose whatever image you want that suits your style, location and/or niche. Here’s my choice:

It’s also worth mentioning, that you should own the rights to your photo, or have permission to use it on your website. Once you have selected the photo you wish to use, open it in Photoshop (File> Open> Select the Photo).

Step #2 – Cropping the Photo
The Wave header graphic is designed to be exactly 1010×250 pixels large, so you’re going to need to edit your photo accordingly. Select the cropping tool, and enter the dimensions listed above:

Remember to add “px” after the number to denote pixels – you don’t want to crop your photo 1010 inches wide! Next, click and drag the cropping tool over the desired area of the photo:

When you’re happy with the crop, hit “Enter” (or Return) to activate the cropping.

Step #3 – Adjust Levels
For the Wave theme, the website title and slogan are layered in front of the header graphic. You’ll want this text to be easily readable, so light colored text on a dark background or vice versa is best.  I’m going to choose a darker text on a lightened header, so I’m going to adjust the levels first.  Select – Image> Adjustments> Levels:

All you need to do is lower the black output levels so the your photo appears substantially lighter. I pushed it to “96” but you’ll need to adjust it in accordance with your original photo. Keep in mind that the header for this theme is meant to be subtle and soft, so it’s fine if it looks washed out.

Step #4 – Adding a Gradient
To add an extra dimension to the header, let’s add a white gradient over the photo to enhance the soft, dreamy look. Select your Gradient tool (click and hold on the Paint Bucket tool if it’s not visible), and set your foreground color to white.  Make sure you have your gradient type set to “linear,” and choose the “foreground to transparent” preset (click the drop down arrow highlighted with a red circle to change presets):

Next, click and drag the gradient tool up your photo starting from near the bottom. Hold the “Shift” key at the same time to maintain a perfectly vertical line.  Release when you get about 2/3 up the photo :

The result will be a soft fade to white towards the bottom  of your photo which will seamlessly transition into the main content area of your website.

Step #5 – Save for the Web
Keeping the file size low allows your website to load faster.  To save a graphic for the web, select File > Save for Web & Devices.  Next, choose “JPEG” as your file type, and adjust the “Quality” to about 70-80.  It won’t affect the overall look of your header too much.  Click “Save,” name your file and select where you want to save it to, then click “Save” again.

You’re all finished!  If you need help uploading it to your website, see the Graphics and Buttons section of the user manual.

Here’s my final result: Las Vegas Header – Feel free to use it if you like 🙂

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