PicMonkey is a free online tool for editing photos and creating graphics. It's easy and intuitive to use, and it's more powerful than many people realize. I'm a PicMonkey superfan!
Today I'm going to show you how to easily create a beautiful new banner for your blog or Etsy shop, for free, using PicMonkey.
Head over to PicMonkey and you'll see a brand new feature right on the homepage: design. The new design option is terrific because it allows you to immediately jump into designing something on a blank canvas.
PicMonkey give you several sizes to choose from, or you can create a custom size. For this project I chose "custom" and plugged in the banner size needed for my Typepad blog. You could plug in the size for an Etsy banner (760 x 100) or the size required by your blogging platform (you can also select "Facebook cover" and easily create a perfectly sized cover image for your Facebook page).
Now you'll enter the editor and get started designing your project.
You can choose a background color or make your background transparent. I chose to make mine white so that it will blend with the white background on my blog (Etsy also has a white background).
Now you get to add fun graphic elements! The free version of PicMonkey comes with lots of graphics and icons to choose from, and they add more each season. Click on the butterfly at the left to scroll through groups of graphics. (Note that anything with a crown on it requires a paid membership, but there's lots of great free stuff, too!)
If you don't find something you like, you can bring in your own graphics. I suggest bringing in graphics that are .PNG files. These are easy to layer over one another with no square background getting in your way.
So where can you find nice .PNGs if you don't know how to make them yourself? You can buy sets of them for just a few dollars. Search on Etsy for "clipart" or head over to Creative Market and look under the "graphics" tab. Take minute on both sites to check the license for the graphics you're considering purchasing to be sure you're allowed to use them for your intended project.
I bought a really pretty set of flowers on Creative Market. For $7 I got 16 .PNGs instantly. I'll use these throughout my blog in buttons and on various pages to make a really nice, unified theme (yay, more PicMonkey projects!). I uploaded them to PicMonkey and started to play.
To make them larger and smaller, or rotate them, just grab the corner of the object and drag. By clicking on one while holding down the Control button on my keyboard I get a menu that allows me to send them forward or back and duplicate them.
Now add some text. Change the font, colors, and sizes of the words until you arrive at something pretty.
Once you have something you like, you can merge the layers. That way when you add more things the first layers won't move around and annoy you.
Yay! Your banner looks awesome! Now save it and upload it to your blog or Etsy shop.
I had so much fun making it! Now my blog looks fresh and new for the start of 2014.