An aesthetically pleasing banner consists of four parts: cropping, textures, brushes, and text...


Welcome to Banner Buddies! I'm Rica, the founder of this site. People always used to ask me how I made my graphics, but I wouldn't be able to tell them because of my lack of time. I decided that I would make a guide to banner making that would answer all their questions in one place, and that's how Banner Buddies was born!

This is a guide, not a tutorial, to making banners. Design aspects of banner making will be a focus in the guide, not the basics of banner making. This means that, instead of discussing the basic methods to make banners, this guide will talk about how to make a banner look appealing and high quality.Follow the navigation to your right to begin your experience of being a banner buddy!

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Getting Started

Step 1: Cropping

What does a well-cropped image look like?
Well, usually, there will some sort of focal point. A focal point is located either to one side, the top, or the bottom of the image. Take this image for example:

See how your eyes focus towards the skulls? That means that the skulls are the focal point. The focal point is the center of interest or activity in a composition, therefore your eyes will be drawn towards it. Don't try to cover up the focal point of the banner, since this will make it very hard. Take a gander at one of my oldest banners:

Not the best, is it? Well, bad texturing methods aside, look at the cropping. Notice how I just blended two images together and stuck some text on top? I had to make the text very gaudy for it to be visible! This technique is definitely not efficient.

Since the text was on top of the image, there was no balance in the banner. Both text and the image seem to be competing for attention because they are placed so closely together, there is a confusion of what should be emphasized and it is not clear which of the two is more important visually, while they should be working together.

In summary...
Try to have a focal point for your banner and keep this focal point off to one side. Never let your image compete for attention with your text, instead let them "work together".

Step 2: Texturing

Look above you, you are looking at some textures. Textures are esential to any high quality banner, they can make or break a banner. Textures can be used by copying them, pasting them as a new layer, and changing the mode. First of all, I'll discuss the different types of textures and their uses.


The first texture is a grunge texture. They usually result in a slightly "dirty" looking banner. However, I feel that these are one of the most useful kinds of textures! They can make an image that much more interesting if you use the right texture. Just try and stick to similar colors when you use the textures, it usually results in a more aesthetically appealing banner. There are generally three modes I use for these textures: Overlay, Burn, and Screen. I listed these in the frequency I use them, so I use Overlay the most and Screen the least. But try and experiment with them and use different modes. You can also add layer masks and play with the opacity, the sky's the limit! But try not to overdo the textures to the point where you can barely recognize the image.

This banner is quite overtextured This banner is suitably textured


Usually, these textures are set to Screen to change the coloring. Still, these can be useful if used correctly. Try not to keep the opacity at 100%, since this overpowers the image. Around 30 to 60 percent is a nice range for these. These textures can work wonders for changing the "mood" of an image, though. For example, having warm colors, like reds and yellows, will give a very cute and energetic mood. Having cool colors, however, like blues and greens, will give more of a calm mood. So if you have an image that you're trying to give a happy mood too, applying a pink light texture should do the trick!


These textures are very interesting, and I have only just started using them. But, they are quickly proving themselves very useful! When applying them, it makes circles of light appear on your banner. Similar to out of focus photos a camera might take! These textures are also similar to other textures since they can also slightly change the coloring of your banner, depending on how you use them. I usually set these textures to Screen or Lighten Only, this way only the light spots show up. But if you have a very bright image, you may want to set the mode to Overlay to tone it down. I would move these textures around a bit, so the light spots will help add to the overall appearance of the focal point.

In summary...
Textures can be a boon, but only when used correctly and in moderation. Grunge textures are useful, but best when set to Overlay or Screen. Light textures can completely change the vibe of an image, but may also overpower it. These are best when used conservatively. Bokeh textures can add an "out of focus" look to your images, and can be used in a variety of ways.

Step 3: Brushes

Above are some examples of brushes. You can right click the image and select view to see them in full size. Brushes are among one of the most easily customizable tools to use on your banner. There are simply hundreds of brushes to be found, and you can pick and choose which ones you'd like to use. Moreover, you can apply the brushes anywhere on your banner, and even erase certain parts of them. But be warned, brushes are often incorrectly used, and this can be distastrous for your banner!

Before I go over common mistakes that are made when using a brush, let me first explain how exactly you use a brush. First of all, you need to find a page with good brushes. I'll be using Foomanshu. Now, pick an image with good brushes and copy it. Next, go to GIMP (I only have GIMP, but I'm assuming it's similar to Photoshop) and paste this as a new image, like the image below.

Now use the lasso tool, the tool that looks kind of like a collar, to draw a polygon around the brush you want. I'm going to be using the bottom left brush,so I traced a shape around it and connected the ends.

Now, you should copy the selection by going to Edit/Copy. Paste it as a new image like you did with the original pack. It should turn out like this.

Now, if you were to use this as a brush, it would turn out terribly! You would have white all around the actual brush. Here, I'll explain how to turn this into a proper brush. First, you must go to Image/Mode/Grayscale. It shouldn't look any different, but this step is important, trust me. Now, go to Image/Flatten Image. It actually seems worse now, doesn't it? Well, this step is supposed to do that too! It should look like this now:

Here comes the slightly confusing part: you have to save this image as a brush. It actually is harder than it seems, but don't worry, I'll walk you through it! You have to save it as a brush in the brush folder of your GIMP folder. Your GIMP folder is probably saved in your User folder. For example:

Inside your GIMP folder, there should be a brushes folder. This is where you'll save your new brush! Give it any name you want, I called mine's Earth Saying. This image has to be saved as a GBR file. So, the name of this brush would look like "Earth Saying.gbr" and it would be in my brushes folder.

When you save the brush, it'll ask for a description. Just put anything you want, it doesn't matter! I decided to call it Text since it is, after all, a text brush. Now, you can use this brush on any image you want! Just read the rest of this guide to find out how to use them well.

Common Pitfalls

Some banner makers-such as myself when I first started-will want to pile on the brushes, thinking it will look better. While brushes are a good thing, we all know that too much of a good thing is a bad thing! Likewise, too many brushes will give your banner a cluttered and crowded feel, usually not the best. Generally, anywhere from one to five brushes is the perfect amount. Sometimes, I may not even use brushes!

Too Strong
Even if you are using the perfect number of brushes, three for example, there is always the possibility that you are making them too strong. Most text brushes -brushes that look like writing-will draw attention to themselves. In some cases, too much. When using brushes, I make a new layer and set it to Overlay. This is the layer I'll apply all my brushes to. I also reduce the opacity, but it can range from 10 to 60% I set all my text brushes too a very low opacity, this way they won't take attention away from the actual text or the focal point. Other brushes, such as splatter or shape brushes, can be slightly more opaque, to help add to the overall appearance of the banner.

Wrong Places
I myself have often put brushes in the "wrong places". Like previously mentioned, brushes shouldn't take away from the focal point, rather they should add to it. So, putting brushes on the focal point is the right place, isn't it? Well actually, this isn't always the case. Sometimes, putting brushes on top of the focal point will cover it up, and that wouldn't be much of a focal point, now would it?

This banner that I made at the start of my banner-making career is the perfect example of brushes being misused. Every single one of the brushes used are very visible, and highly distracting to the viewer. I found that when I looked at the banner, my eyes jumped around from each of the brushes rather than focusing on either the Acara or the Shoyru. If you look closely, it seemed like I had put the brushes around the two focal points in an effort to improve my banner. However, this had the opposite effect; the two focal points-the Acara and the Shoyru- were being covered up by the brushes.

So in summary...
Brushes, once again, are best if used in moderation and set to a very low opacity. Brushes should be an accent to the image, not drawing attention away from it. In most cases, brushes should be barely noticable, but sometimes they will help draw attention towards the focal point.


Ah text, no banner would be complete without one. In fact, a banner isn't considered a banner unless it has at least some text! So it stands to reason that all banner makers must know how to apply text, right? Sadly, this is not the case. Many, many banners simply look like they just have slapped text on top of their image. But if you remember all my talk about focal points, this is a definite no-no.

Text should be on the other side of the focal point, and significantly more noticable as well. Hopefully, if you are reading this guide you already know the basics to applying text. If that is the case, you should know how to apply a border to your text and make it glossy. I will be going over three different methods I use to apply text to my banner. But first, I want to slightly go over the concept of Themes

Look at the two different banners above. Which one do you think looks better? You would probably say the one on the right, right? But if you look closely, there is no difference between the two banner except for the font used for the text. So it seems like text can go a long way in making a banner look better!

While this banner may not be very "high quality," it is an excellent example of following a theme. The image I picked was somewhat spooky and mysterious. It wouldn't do to use a curly, cute font such as Never Let Go, would it? So, I went the extra mile and searched up a spooky font. This wasn't very hard, but it did take a couple more minutes. I decided to use Lycanthrope to help add to the theme of the image. Overall, the banner conformed very well to it's theme. This sort of matching is what you should aim for in every banner.

Now onto some different methods of applying text:

The first method I use is one of the most common I've seen. The result will look similar to this:

Basically, we have white text with a colored border. It's very easy to do, but works best with slightly monochromatic images. When using this method, you can try and give the border a Gaussian Blur, sometimes this looks slightly better as the border will not stand out too much. A Gaussian Blur is an effect used to turn an image into a blurry version of itself. For borders, this will have the effect of making the border look like a "cloud". Try not to use this method with very light images, as sometimes the white text is hard to read. Also, since this banner isn't the best, the border is very distinct. I would suggest trying to have the border blend in more by making the color lighter, but still setting the text apart from the image.

This method is also used fairly often, but gives a slightly different result.

This is the reverse of the previous method, with colored text and a white border. When using this method, you basically do the same thing. One thing to remember is that if you have text that is not at 100% opacity (slightly transparent), you should make sure that the border layer is only a border. That is to say, that you select the text and delete it from the border. Now, the border won't interfere with the text.

The last method is a method that I recently "discovered" however, I'm sure that others have been using it before me.

Here, I have white text with a light dropshadow. I played a bit with the text's settings, and have given it a slightly transparent look. I won't go into much detail, but it will require more than one layer, and you'll have to change the modes and opacity. Sometimes, the dropshadow isn't neccessary, but if the text is hard to see, you may want to use it. This method is best suited for more dynamic backgrounds, since it would be hard to match the text or it's border with changing colors. But remember, the best way to find out which method of text will look best is too try more than one out!

In summary...
Try making a theme for your banner, it will make it that much better! There are many methods for applying text, so experiment with them! But when applying text, the most important thing to remember is that the text must be readable!

Joining In

So, you want to be a banner buddy too? Well, today is your lucky day! I'm currently hosting a special event: Banner Buddies! I suggest you skim through my guide or even thoroughly read it before participating.
An aesthetically pleasing banner consists of four parts: cropping, textures, brushes, and text...
For this event, the site community will try their hardest to make banners with the said components. If you were to drag the image below to the address bar, you would notice 9 different images. These images will be the bases of our future banners!

The Images

I've taken the liberty of picking and cropping the images for our banners. Hopefully, this will make things easier. To see all of the images at once, please drag the following image into your address bar. Pick a couple that you'd like to work on. I've tried to pick a variety of images so we all have an adequate amount to choose from.

The Jobs

This event corresponds to my guide, since there are four steps there should be four jobs, right? Well, since I cropped the images myself (to save time), there are only three jobs. The jobs are going to be done in a certain order, since you can't put something like Text before the textures. The three jobs are:

They're listed in the order that they'll be completed, so if you want to be a texture person, keep in mind that you'll have to be the one starting the banner. Try to be courteous to fellow banner buddies who might be waiting to do their job. It's completely acceptable for you to wait a couple of days to work on your banner, but if you are the first person to go, you may want to finish it up soon. Thanks!

Deciding Your Role

Since the images have already been cropped, there are only three parts left. Each image will have three people working on it, each on a separate part. You can sign up for your preferred role (a first and second choice) and your preferred image (a first, second, and third choice) using the form provided below.

I'll neomail each person when I recieve their application. Don't worry about when to start working on your banner and all that. I'll notify you when it's your turn to start as well as where you can pick it up. All I ask is that you notify me when and where I can pick up your finished banner. When a group of "Banner Buddies" finishes their banner, I'll display it here for all to admire. When everyone is finished, we can have a gallery of sorts and see what the site community can do when it works together!

Finished Products

Here, I will showcase the wonderful finished banners. I'll also reveal who were the banner buddies behind it! If you are a banner buddy, you should be proud of yourself! You tried your hardest to make the best banner you could, and it turned out beautifully. Congratulations!

By Kelly and Brian!

By Holly, Rica, and Turnip!

By Kierron and Krazy!

By Totem and Brieta!

By Alex and Caro!

By Summer, Nicole, and Heidi!

By Unknown and Veegal

Here, take this special button to show your participation!