I am going to teach you all how to make graphics for your blog without using Photoshop. Want to hear something ridiculous? I actually own Photoshop, but I have no idea how to use it. I keep saying I’m going to teach myself to use it, but then my brain starts hurting and I stop thinking about it.

But…. I still need graphics of some sort every once in a while, and this is how I make graphics for my blog without using Photoshop.

I make all my graphics in Picnik, which is a photo editing service from Picasa. The basic version of Picnik is free, but you need to upgrade it if you want to make decent graphics. It’s $25 a year (or $5 a month), and trust me: It’s worth it. If you don’t have Picasa already, download it now and upgrade your Picnik account. I’ll wait right here.

You back? Ok, good. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Create a white .jpeg. There are a few ways to do this. I open Microsoft Word and take a screen shot of a blank document. On a Mac you do this by holding down “Control, Shift, and 4″. Use the curser to select a wide section of the white space in a blank Word document and then: BAM! You have a white .jpeg to work with. If you aren’t comfortable with doing a screen shot, you can also open Microsoft Paint and save a blank project as a .jpeg.

Step 2: Open Picasa. The program will automatically upload your blank .jpeg. Click on the blank picture and then choose to edit it in Picnik. Once Picnik opens from Picasa, your screen will look something like this:

Hello blank .jpeg just waiting to be embellished.

Step 3: Resize the blank image. For this tutorial, I am going to make a blog button. Since blog buttons tend to be square, I am going to size the image into square dimensions. Most buttons are 125×125 or 150×150, but I am not going to start out with dimensions that small. It would be too hard to work with. I’m going to crop it to 500×500, and I will resize again it later.

If you wanted to use this method to make a blog header or other rectangular graphic, then you would want to resize your image to those dimensions. If you want to work with a larger size, just make sure that whatever sized blank image you start out with is proportionally the same as the image want to end up with. For example, if your header is 640×180, a larger version of that would be 1280×360. Make sense? I hope so! Moving on….

Step 4: Add a background color. I highly recommend utilizing the color palettes from Colour Lovers. You can make your own or pick from the zillion they already have. For this tutorial, I am going to use a color palette I made called “Cake and Ice Cream“:

Cute, no? You can totally use it.

Go to the “Effects” tab. Under that, select “Duo Tone”. I filled the two color selections with the color code for the orange and blue color in my palette. The color codes can be found on the palette’s profile in Colour Lovers. So easy!

Step 5: Choose a border. Under “Frames”, I chose “Rounded Edges”. You can adjust the radius however it pleases your eye best. Here are two different looks you can create with this effect. Note: I checked the “transparent corners” box because I like the way it looks in the end result.

I also like the “Borders” and “Polaroid” effects. I highly recommend trying many different effects until you find one you like best.

Step 6: Add a geometric shape from the “stickers” tab. This is when you will be glad you upgraded your account. Most of the shapes aren’t great, but if you poke around you are bound to find something pretty cute. I messed around with a few different options. FYI: I made the blue color look like a border by placing a white circle from the “geometric shapes” inside of it. Pretty crafty!

I thought this whale was pretty cute. I adjusted the color to match my palette:

Then I found a combination of stickers that I really liked:

Again, I adjusted the color of the martini glass to go match the palette. The trains already matched- yay!

Step 7: Add text. Go to the “text” tab and peruse the wide variety of fonts. You can adjust the color of the text too. I tried a few and ended up using “Burst My Bubble”. I also had to shrink the stickers to make the text fit.

Step 8: Resize your image. I resized this one to 150×150

Step 9: Save your finished graphic to Picasa. Click the yellow box in the upper right hand corner that says, “Save to Picasa”. How helpful is that? Note: Do not replace the original image. Save it as a new one.

Step 10: Save the image to your desktop. Like this:

Ta da! Give yourself a big high five and a pat on the back because you have just created a graphic without using Photoshop!

Now, here are links to some other tutorials that will help you use your newfound graphic design skilz:

PS: You can also use this technique to make printables, party invites, business cards, stationary…. The possibilities are endless!