So most of you would have noticed that lately, things have been looking kinda different around here ^^
Gone is the constant, static photo of Gong Yoo on my blog header, staring at you with smitten, puppy-dog eyes (aw. Now that I talk about it, I kinda miss that smitten face. Maybe I should bring him back..?)
Instead, the blog now has 38 – OMG. THIRTY-EIGHT!!! – rotating headers, and I, for one, am kinda completely floored by this new development.
See, I made those headers myself. And here’s the thing. I never thought I’d know how to make a header. Never.
Ok. Let’s backtrack a little.
I started this blog on something of a whim (you can read more about the origin story of the blog here) and so working stuff on a blog dashboard was completely new to me.
I’d never managed any kind of website or blog before, and although I had drama thoughts aplenty, putting them into posts and publishing them was a bit of a learning experience for me, as was setting up the blog itself and getting it to look (sorta) nice.
As a visual person myself, I like having stuff on my blog that people can look at. I like to write, yes, but I didn’t want to give readers just blocks and blocks of text. Where’s the fun in that, if there’s no pretty to go along with, right?
Without any kind of photo-editing experience, I made do with what I knew.
I used screencaps in my reviews, and that was simple enough to figure out. All I had to do was google how to take screencaps and I was very quickly trigger-happy, taking screencap after screencap as I watched my dramas.
When it came time to do my year-in-review post, though, I wanted a composite picture for the post (coz all the cool kids had composite pictures for their year-in-review posts and I like to think that I’m a pretty cool kid, heh) and resorted to using – wait for it..! – Powerpoint in order to create that picture:
Yes, I know necessity is the mother of invention and all that, but it’s still kinda embarrassing to admit that I’d resorted to using Powerpoint >.<
It’s ok. You can laugh. I don’t mind, really, I don’t 😉
So what made me, with my close-to-zero abilities with photo editing, start trying my hand at actually making headers?
Credit has to go to my friend Michele. She was the spark that ignited my header-making.
Michele’s a regular reader of this blog, and she understands and indulges my love for Gong Yoo by emailing me to squee with me over his hotness. Not only does she grace me with her squeeing company on a regular basis, she also spoils me by sending me photos of him to add to my growing collection.
One day, she emailed me out of the blue, saying that she’d taken a break from her late-night drama watching to fire up a collage-making app on her iPad to make me this:
Like, isn’t she the sweetest?! ♥
Looking at the collage, I thought, what if I learned how to make collages too? Maybe that’s something that I could put on the blog?
I asked Michele what she was using, and she informed me that it was an app for iPad called Pic Kick Pro.
I filed this away for reference, but I honestly didn’t think that I’d be using it much, since all my photos are on my Mac and I prefer to work off my Mac than my iPad.
But, I was intrigued enough with collage-making to google for photo editing apps for Mac, and shortlisted a few that looked interesting.
The most promising of the lot was GIMP, which is popularly known as the free equivalent to Photoshop.
To be honest, I’d heard of GIMP before, and had seen an ex-, non-IT-savvy-colleague of mine struggle – or more like tear her hair out trying – to use it. I’d also seen my design-savvy sister working Photoshop, and both programs looked super intimidating to me. All those panels and toolbars and layers floating about made me see stars.
But, I thought to myself, GIMP is free, so what’s the harm in giving it a good ol’ try?
So try I did.
I didn’t read the manual, coz I don’t particularly love manuals, and other GIMP users had commented that the manual was too complex for casual users. So I just jumped in and started trying out stuff.
Imagine my surprise to find that it wasn’t so hard to navigate after all. I think watching my sister work Photoshop had kinda given me some sort of instinct about all those panels, toolbars and layers.
It wasn’t long before I produced the first generation of customized headers for this blog.
Here’s one, which was up for maybe 2-3 days before it got promptly retired:
As I experimented with GIMP and as I learned more stuff, I saw new possibilities.
With my (relatively) more knowledgable eyes, suddenly, older headers that I’d made which I’d originally been super pleased with, started to look old-fashioned and uninteresting.
My design-savvy sister also gave me feedback on the headers, telling me what looked good and what didn’t, from a design perspective.
All my free time over the course of a week was basically spent immersed in header-making, experimenting and tweaking and publishing, then tweaking some more, deleting and re-publishing. Many of the early headers got slapped with early retirement when I didn’t like them enough to use them as they were, but didn’t have any idea how to tweak them in a way that would make me happy.
For those seven days, the headers on the blog were in a constant state of flux, and I wouldn’t blame you if you visited the blog and wondered what the heck was going on!
Now, though, I’m finally happy to leave them as they are, more or less, and will probably add to the collection in a more piece-meal manner.
So what’s my takeaway after an intense week of GIMP-ing?
Well, I learned SO. MUCH. about photo-editing, which was a skill that I’d never imagined myself having coz it all looked so complicated from afar. Who knew that a blog that I never thought I’d host, would give me the impetus and opportunity to learn a skill that I never thought I’d have? Mind. Blowing.
In the process, the entire look of the blog has evolved, and you might have noticed that I’ve removed the blog title and tagline from being shown. I’d only ever envied other blogs with customized headers, and now, I get to make my own headers! Too cool!
And! Now I’ve got a collection of headers that blow my mind every time I look at them.
Here’re a couple of my favorite ones:
I really hope that you’re enjoying the headers as much as I’ve enjoyed making them, and I hope to bring you more (& better!) headers in the foreseeable future.
For now, I just wanted to squee out loud a little, coz I particularly love feeling like I’m making progress and growing in any kind of capacity, and it’s been (& continues to be) a blast learning how to do photo editing.
That I get to watch the look of the blog evolve in a way that I’d only previously dreamed of, as I learn all this, is cherry-&-icing-&-all-kinds-of-fantastic on top of my cake.
Now, who ever said that blogging was a waste of time? 😉
Last but not least! Special thanks to Michele, for sparking this all off, and also, special thanks to my sister for giving me feedback in the process and challenging me to do better. You guys rawk ♥