One of the reasons I chose the current template for the blog way back in 2006 was that it had a nice little area at the top where you could put your own graphic as a banner.
And so I took to this idea and have, over the last 6+ years, created any number of graphics to fit into that banner space. Some I have been quite happy with. If you have visited here very often, you have probably seen the EverQuest chessboard banner which I put up when I am feeling nostalgic. Others have been less pleasing.
But one of the challenges of creating a banner is the size. To fit in that space at the top of the blog, the graphic has to be 730 pixels by 140 pixels in size.
When I picked the template, I did not give the size much thought. Later, when I was trying to make banners, I began to realize what such mail slot-like dimensions really meant. Basically, any banner graphic is very heavy on horizontal relative to vertical, with the ratio being more than 5 to 1 in favor of the left-right bias. That is a wider ratio than Cinerama.
So I have to find pictures or screen shots where what I want to capture is in a very narrow vertical zone, but spread out on the horizontal plane. So I have, over time, developed a sense of what pictures might work and which will not. There are a lot of screen shots where I have to shake my head and move on because the vertical element required to get across the message or feeling I want is too much.
And if the aspect ratio were not enough, the template itself works against me. I have to take into account that there are two tabs that stick up into the banner at the bottom left. So I cannot let anything key to the image get covered by that.
And then there is the name of the blog itself, which the template superimposes over the image. I don’t want anything key being covered by that. Plus, I need to make sure that the banner contrasts enough with the blog name so that it can be read. I do have the option of turning the blog name off, in which case I can lay it out myself on the banner image. I have done that a few times, but I do not make a habit of it.
I also have to maintain the banner images manually.
Today, with many of the new templates, you can upload banners, crop and edit them, and even setup a list of banners from which the template will draw at random. However, way back when I started, WordPress.com templates required you to provide a URL to the banner. No storage, no editing, and no randomizing. And while they have updated some of the templates, the one I use (Regulus) is still pretty much stuck in 2006.
All of which has left me with a collection 730 by 140 images saved away in various directories of my hard drive. I have tried to collect them all together in one post. If you are interested to see what I have created over the last few years (or what a few other people created as part of a contest at one point), all the ones I could find are after the cut.
There are about 90 in the gallery at this point, but I keep finding more. And I know there are still more store away somewhere. I used to put them up on Image Shack, but I cannot find many. I did not adopt the convention of putting “banner” in the image name until I was well into making them. So I suspect the list will grow over time.
Banner mania after the cut.