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Taylor's Guide to Vertical Banners

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Some of you have expressed an interest in learning about my technique for making Vertical banners. Today I’m going to teach you the steps I use to make them. This will be a general how-to guide and should be fairly transferable.


Step 1 – Building the Base


I prefer to keep things fairly simple on vertical banners. I mostly will pick a stock image I like, I.e. a window, or corridor, or forest etc. and resize it so that it’s about double the size or so of the width of the banner.

I will then duplicate this image until it covers the whole canvas, usually 2 or three times. Then I will shift things around so not the same part of the image is showing, I may rotate things to give it a different angle etc.

Now, I need to blend out the parts, edges etc., of the layers I don’t want. To accomplish this, I start with a layer mask and a simple b+w gradient map and eliminate the edges of each stacked layer. 99% of the time this is all I need since it’s the same stock image and blends well. Sometimes I may need to use a soft brush to fine tune some blemishes or areas that don’t quite fit.


Note: The same strategy applies to use a texture as a base.



Here is what my base would look like after it's been blended. This example used only two layers of the same texture.




Step 2 – Composition


So, because this is a vertical banner, we read it from the bottom up, instead of to the left or right. I wouldn’t say that this makes the composition tricky per say, but it does make it a bit different. I typically use 2 models, sometimes 3 if I’m feeling particularly daring. I place one towards the bottom and one towards the top.

The thing about this composition is that depending on the background you are using, it may look odd to have a model just plopped up towards the top of a banner like they are floating in midair. If you have a scene where there are mountains meeting sky you may be able to blend carefully enough to make it appear as though the model is behind. However, I find mostly that this doesn’t work the way I want it to.


So, now we have to add in things to make it more… well, pretty. I use various ways to accomplish this. It will depend on the feel of your overall graphic and the background you selected. For instance, if you have a floral background you may want to use stock such as a clock or books etc. You would place these so they cover up part of the model and then blend out the parts of the model you don’t want.


Sometimes I get more creative and I’ll select an image of a model sitting and place them on top of the said object, i.e. a moon texture or something similar. You can be as creative with this as you want. The idea is to help the model flow into the rest of the piece and not stick out like a sore thumb.


In this example, I used 3 models and you will see how I used the clock png to cover up areas of the female model at the top (her leg and foot) and over the male model to hide the bottom edge of the layer.




Step 3- making it fancy


This is optional. Sometimes between the background and the composition I feel the graphic is put together enough on its own. Sometimes I want to give it an extra oomph. This is where I’ll use textures. Selecting textures should fit in with the feel of the graphic. If you are using an all texture background then I suggest going a little bolder with your texture use, but it should makes sense and enhance your focal point.


Here you can see how textures can bring the composition together and give it an extra pop.




Side Note: You will also see that in that banner the model is sitting on top of the rune circle texture. This is an example of the other composition method above.



Step 4 – Text


This isn’t a tutorial on how to do text but some suggestions.


On a vertical banner, I will usually put the main text in the center between the two models. There are some cases where I like a particular look in the center and may move the text elsewhere so as not to cover it up. But 9/10 Main text in the center.


Typical text suggestions apply here. Choose a font that flows with the graphic, select a color from the background, etc. etc.


What I find tricky with text on vertical banners is the fact that the width is so short. I tend to keep the main words fairly short so that I can play around with the size and font to make the pop. I also will rotate the text to make it fit as well. I may even stack them atop each other to help them fit as well.


For smaller “quote” text I use a font like Arial or Calibri at 8-10px and place it either towards the top or bottom of the graphic. Whatever looks better…


Here is what my text usually will end up looking like




Step 5 - Finishing Touches



Now, it’s time to color and filter. There are so many techniques and styles to this with many great and helpful tutorials so I'm not going to go into too much detail there. Basically, by this point, you are adding your creative touches to the banner.


I will say that I find with Verticle banners I tend to prefer full-color graphics. Black and white may be something I use depending on the mood I want to portray. That said, I have both light and dark coloring styles in my verticle banners. Personally, I don't like how monochrome looks on these so I avoid it. However, if you love mono and feel it works GO FOR IT! Be as adventurous as possible here.


When it comes to filtering, I save it for the end once I've completed everything else. I do this across all of my graphics. Filtering is one of those things that you have to find what works for you, so experiment or use what you feel comfortable with.


I filter the graphic at the end once everything is complete. However, you already filter your graphics is probably just fine.


By now you should have your final product. Here is an example of one of mine completely finished…




That, my friends, is my secret to making vertical banners. I think it’s pretty easy once it’s all broken down.


If any of you have questions or want help with these steps please feel free to ask me, I’m happy to help. That said, I hope you enjoyed and found my tutorial helpful. Go try it out! J

Edited by ailhsa
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This is super helpful!!! I really struggle with comp on vertical banners and your insight makes so much sense <3

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this is a great tutorial! as someone who never makes vertical banners (i think i made like a total of 3 in all of my graphic making years) i find it extremely helpful to see how people who are really good at them go about composing such a weird graphic size :P


thanks for writing it!

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Wow ! This is crazy awesome, thank you so much for making this! I'm going to have to use your tips and tricks here and give it a shot later today--especially since I struggle the most with base making and comp so much for vertical banners but you spell it out so wonderfully that it seems a LOT less scary.

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