Kubrick Headers, Part One

If you’re like me, you like noticing that new blogs are using WordPress. If the dead give-away is the Kubrick theme, that’s fine. It’s a kind of thumbprint and as more people come to recognize it, the strength of WordPress increases.

However, blue just doesn’t suit everyone the same. If we had some sort of header gallery where users could simply select a new header image whenever they wanted a change, but the theme would still be the highly recognizable Kubrick, that would be marvelous. And if they could do all of this from within the admin screen, it would be accessible to absolutely everyone.

I’ve been working on a total solution to what some people might call “the tired default theme problem.” WordPress 1.6, which is still in development, will support a theme-specific plugin file named functions.php. Each theme can have one, and it will be loaded whenever that theme is loaded. It may contain functions used within the theme’s code and it can provide an options page in the Presentation section of the site admin pages.

My Kubrick lets me select from several albums of custom header images I have created from photos and color gradients. It also lets me change the header text color from the admin screen. The only difference between my Kubrick and the standard version is the addition of a functions.php.

I’ll be submitting my functions.php and several new images for inclusion in WP 1.6. With the options page and ready-made images, new users will be able to customize their Kubrick in seconds and get down to the business of writing!

Now, I’ve done nothing but tease you all through this post. I think it’s time to give you something you can play with. I created this Adobe Photoshop template for making my own Kubrick header images. It has four horizontal guides to show the position of the site name and the tagline, and one vertical guide at the center.

Using this process and a lot of photos from my travels around the United States, I was able to create more than fifty header images in just a few hours:

  1. Open the template
  2. Open a photo
  3. Press Ctrl+A to select all of the photo
  4. Press Ctrl+C to copy it to the clipboard
  5. Press Ctrl+Tab to go to the template
  6. Press Ctrl+V to paste the photo into the template. It should go into a new layer, between the Background and Wrapper. Wrapper has a feathered transparent area where your picture will show through.
  7. Press Ctrl+T to show the Transform bar so you can move and resize the image until it is nicely framed by the Wrapper and press Enter when it looks good.
  8. Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S (Save for Web) to save the new header image as a jpg.
  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 to make another header image with the same photo.
  10. Press Delete to delete the middle layer, leaving the template ready for another go.
  11. Press Ctrl-Tab to switch back to the photo
  12. Press Ctrl-F4 to close the photo, then go back to to step 2 to make another!

I made about twenty-five more header images using the Gradient Tool instead of pasting photos. Maybe someone would like to start up a Kubrick Header Repository where artists can share and users can download gazillions of original Kubrick header images… or else I might. ;-)