Creativity Magazine

Mr. Puddle Opens A Store

By Mrstrongest @mrstrongarm

It’s been awhile since I worked on a new header, but I had occasion to design one recently.

I joined Fine Art America last year. It’s one of many sites where an artist can sell prints and greeting cards online.

For a $25 annual fee, you get your own store– basically a site which you can personalize, including the header.

Here’s what the default header looked like:

Original default header for illustrator Mark Armstrong's Fine Art America store where he sells prints and greeting cards

Pretty simple, pretty boring, a typical default.

Also: extremely narrow. Its dimensions are 970 pixels by 100 pixels. (My blog header, by contrast, is 920 pixels by 180 pixels.)

Not much room to work, but I decided to give it a shot. I wanted to add a bit of humor, and the blog’s URL. Here’s the result:

New Bottled Genius header for illustrator Mark Armstrong's Fine Art America store where he sells prints and greeting cards

Here are two larger detail images. That’s a little caricature of me as a puddle. Yes, I’m a man who knows how to relax.

detail image for new Bottled Genius header for illustrator Mark Armstrong's Fine Art America store where he sells prints and greeting cards

detail image for new Bottled Genius header for illustrator Mark Armstrong's Fine Art America store where he sells prints and greeting cards

I drew the graphic elements at approximately double-size. I was pretty sure I’d have to make adjustments when I pasted them into the allotted space, so I didn’t worry too much about trying to get the sizes and perspective exactly right. Here’s the finish.

I included some extra jokes: a little umbrella and a straw. I thought I’d have room for them. I was wrong. 

drawing of Bottled Genius ink bottle with straw and drink umbrella and ink puddles and Mark Armstrong caricature puddle for new Fine Art America store header

Adding a black border shows how very narrow the allotted space is. I had to delete the umbrella and straw, and you can see that my head is now longer and flatter.

Bottled Genius Mark Armstrong Fine Art America header construction sequence, paste in, resize, distort ink bottle and puddles

How do you squash a head and keep things proportionate? In Photoshop, it’s the easiest thing in the world: you select it, then apply Transform>Distort. I clicked on the upper center handle, then pulled down and to the right. You can always Undo and try again until you like the result.

Distort sequence showing how to use Photoshop Distort tool to flatten and stretch image to make it look like puddle on flat surface

After positioning the elements, I added some flat color, using a darker brown to suggest a table surface.

Bottled Genius Mark Armstrong Fine Art America header construction sequence, add flat color for background and desk top surface

I used three separate text layers for maximum control, and a layer mask to eliminate the hard edges between the two colors.

Bottled Genius Mark Armstrong Fine Art America header construction sequence, add text and mask out left side edge of desk top surface

To finish up: a bit of grainy texture, some shading, and a few ink blots.

Bottled Genius Mark Armstrong Fine Art America header construction sequence, add texture and shading to complete final image

Here’s the finished header again, in context. If you’re an art lover, I invite you to drop by the store!  : )

New Bottled Genius header for illustrator Mark Armstrong's Fine Art America store where he sells prints and greeting cards

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Do you pay much attention to headers? Ever tried to design one yourself?

Is it dignified for an artist to portray himself as a puddle? Does it suggest he likes to lay down on the job??


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