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Old 09-15-2015, 01:34 PM
Graphics Team Manager

polaris's Avatar
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 301,986

I've noticed that there are quite a few people that actually follow my GT banner tutorial, and as I don't even follow that tutorial and my method has changed and GT has evolved a bit, I figured to make an updated version of it. Especially since I'm now involved in the actual customizations of the boards, so I have a better understanding of what works, and what doesn't.

Let's get started.

Step 1: Gather your information/supplies
You'll need to find good quality pictures (if available) of the cast you're working with, or three/four pictures of the celebrity you want to work with.
If you are just practicing, I recommend going to DeviantArt and searching your subject and add "png" to save yourself some time.

Go to design seeds to find a colour scheme that you like or that the board that you're working on prefers. Screencapture your colour scheme or just save it so you can open it in photoshop.
Feel free to use a different site but we'll always recommend this one because the combinations of colours just work really well.

Make sure you have brushes at your disposal (like these) and have them installed on your PS before you open it.

I chose Holland Roden as subject and I chose a colour scheme.

Step 2: Open your files in Photoshop
Now you will need to open all the saved files in photoshop, these being the pictures of the celebrity/tv show, the colour scheme and a empty file of 460x200.

Step 3: The bases of the banner
This step is incredibly important, especially if you're on the Graphics Team. The bases need to be solid for you continue the following steps and making the banner look interesting.

In most colour schemes there will be a very light colour, sometimes even more than one. These colours are perfect as base colour for your canvas. This being because all the colours and pictures that you will put above it will give it the illusion of being darker while it's not and it's soft on the eyes, which is a must for a board banner.

If there is more than one soft colour, feel free to try out both or just choose one of them. Often this decision will be influenced by the posters of the board.


I'm picking the pinkish shade as my basecolour so that I can make the brush layers more of the green tones, as the pictures of Holland also have a red tone to make it all work together.
If the colour scheme you chose doesn't have a light shade like those, make your own by clicking the colour of the lightest colour and dragging it towards white.

Like I did here. (1,2)

Step 4: Placement of your pictures
Along with step 3, this is the most important step in my opinion, which is why we "demand" that you constantly save your progress in PSD files so you can always return to the previous steps, especially this one.

This is when you add your pictures to the main banner canvas. This is always a hard task for beginners because most don't have the "vision" of what works and what doesn't, because that often comes with experience and failing etc.

Some general tips for this:

- Always pay attention to the side that the body or head is angled and try to place them to that side when you can for a less awkward position in the banner that will look more fluent. If the angle really isn't working for you, rotate the picture very slightly to a angle where it does work, without making the person look weird.

- Always remember that we work with perspectives. With celebrity banners this means that we'll always work with the perspective of a line, meaning there's one picture that's more the front one and the ones following that get a tad smaller as the line goes on. This technique can also be used with television banners, although often we'll go with a V-shape for television banners because it's an easier way to include more people. The V-shape means that you start in the middle or semi-middle with the lead character. Then on either side you go on with the other leads or main characters and then finally the supporting cast if the posters of the board want those included. As you get more to the outsides of the V-shape, the people get smaller and smaller so you have a nice perspective going on as if the characters were standing right in front of you. (example)


I have placed all three pictures in the canvas, starting with my main focus picture on the right and going smaller as you go further to the left. As you can see the middle picture has a angle/lean to the right that I am going to rotate as the others don't have it and it makes the balance look off in the canvas.


Remember the line I was telling you about? I drew it on my banner to hopefully give you a better idea of how most of the placement works in them.

Step 5: Brush Layers
Now you pretty much have done the hardest part, now comes the part that I personally find the most fun and relaxing because a lot of it just entails trying out different things and experimenting with colours and shapes.

It's time to get your colour scheme out again. Place the colour scheme next to your banner canvas so you can easily switch between them when you need to get a colour code or a different shade, it's just for practical reasons.

Create a new layer between your basecolour and your smallest picture (the lowest in your list) so that the new layer will appear under all the pictures.

Now it's time to open your brushes, most of the time you'll use multiple in a lot of layers to make the canvas look fuller and more interesting.
Go to your colour scheme and copy the colour that you will start of with.

I already said that I was using the pink base colour so I could make my brushes mostly the green/brown shades, so I will start with those.
Once you've picked a brush and a colour you will just start brushing away. Most of the time this will be with a simple mouseclick as that's all it takes with watercolour brushes or nature brushes (most of the time). Don't try to make make your brushsize too big as it will look more natural if you spread out the brushes and it will give you more of a "round" and interesting effect. Because when you make your brushsize too big, it can happen that you can only fit in one brushstroke and it will most likely look quite boxy.

Repeat this with as many colour shades as you please (that are in the colour scheme), preferably in all different layers as it will make your cleanup a lot easier and it's practical for if you which to add an effect to one layer or make it softer when it turns out one of the colours "demands too much attention".


I've added four layers, two of those are normal. One of them has a lower percentage of visability and one has an effect on them because I liked how it made the colour under it pop out more.
You can always return to this step after you've added the name or have blended it in the background when you notice a small gap or some brushes that are too far up. This is why I do each colour in a different layer, as it's easier to see afterwards which one I need to erase or make stand out more.

Step 6: Add your text.
This step is quite important also as you want the text to stand out and not just blend too much in the banner but you also don't want it to stand out so much that it just doesn't seem to fit with the banner.

Your text should pop out of the banner, be easy to read and not too boring. For this it's very practical if you have a large collection of fonts at your disposal. I strongly recommend checking DaFont for this as it probably has the largest collection of fonts out there.
Also be sure to install these before opening Photoshop.

A different site that could help immensely to pick the right font, is WordMark. On this site you can just input any text that you need on the banner, and it will show you that text in all the fonts you have on your computer so you can already have a clearer view on what would work and what wouldn't.

I'm scrolling down to find something that catches my eye, especially since it's for a female board, I'd like the font to look more elegant.
Now comes another part that often quite difficult, but I have a system for it which makes it quite a lot easier. This being the colours of the text. I will always refer back to my base colour and look at the colour scheme which are the colours that are very similar in colour.

For me this is obviously the darker pink in my colour scheme. (

Now I will have to decide what looks better. You can go for a dark outline with a softer colourfill or the after way around. Your choice way still change after you resize your banner as it can be hard to predict how it will look when it's smaller. / /

For right now I'm going with the last one.

Step 7: Blending everything.
We've now come to the second to last step which is blending and of the greatest importance. This is the time that you can (but you do not have to) make one layer out of the picture layers.

First you'll erase the bottom of the picture layer(s), this being with the same brush that you used on the brush layers, or a regular basic brush that's very soft and won't leave hard edges.

Often you'll notice that your brush layers are also coming through on the bottom, and we have to erase those too. Your text should be the lowest part of the banner, and there should not be anything below that.

Don't worry if you didn't do this perfectly, you can still check and erase more later.

Next we're gonna make sure that the sides and top of the banner are not cutting off any brush layers. If this is the case, erase parts of the brushlayers until it's not. If we don't do this, the banner can't blend into the background of the board and we'll just have edges all around.

When you're pretty sure that all your edges should be fine, we'll move on to the last step.
Step 8: Final adjustments

This is the final step and the step where everything should come together and if it doesn't, now it's the time to either go back to a previous step or make minor adjustments.

To start you'll resize your banner to the size it actually needs to be, which is 230x100.

Often you'll need to make the outline around your text bigger as the resizing often messes with that or you'll need to re-adjust the placement of the text.

If all of that seems okay to you, you can experiment a bit with the colourcurves and levels to see if you prefer a different look or if you strayed a bit further from what the posters of the board wanted, this is the time to adjust your colours.


As you can see I adjust the colours a tiny bit to make the pictures pop more and give more dimension to the colours of the brush layers.
Once you've done that, there's only one thing left to do. Open a new file and fill it in with the basecolour (the one after the adjustments) and drag the banner to that file.

What I do might be odd, but it helps to see it from different lightening points. Tilt either your screen or move your head around to see if you notice any edges around the banner. If this is the case, go back to your file and either erase the edges or go over it with the basecolour. It gives the same effect.

My banner does blend quite well, except I noticed the edges when I tilted my screen further back, so I will go over the banner edges with the basecolour to be sure.

To make sure you don't erase/go over any important parts, I suggest taking a very small sized brush and zooming in on the banner so you can very precise in your covering of the edges.
I am now done with the banner, and it can be saved to my computer.


Extra: Additional Information

First of all, keep in mind that this is how I make my banners and other people might definitely have a different workprocess and that's okay. It's the end result that matters to us.

Second, often to make people/characters stand out more we'll add an outerglow when the characters blend into the background to much. You can see this as Step 5.5.

And last, if you wish to apply to the Graphics Team, feel free to contact me. Or if you have any questions, let me know.
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