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Roll Out The Guillotine: Time To Behead My Old Header

March 19, 2012

Yes, I was sick and tired of my old header. Time to give it the chop. Here’s the new one. Oh, that’s right, I guess you can see it up at the top… : )composite new blog header image for Mark Armstrong Illustration featuring Charles Bronson, business card, Steve Jobs, and The Thinker

I used bits and pieces of six different illustrations. I put them all on separate layers in Photoshop, then blended them together by painting on layer masks with low-opacity brushes. I added new text especially for the header.

I was pretty excited about using the business card to get my name up there. Here’s what the original looked like: an illustration for Inside Counsel Magazine about the career paths of new law school graduates. The card is a parody of the old Community Chest cards found in the famous board game, Monopoly.

New law school graduate looking like corporate woman lawyer holding big card that looks like Community Chest card from Monopoly board game

I decided that keeping the yellow would make the card harder to read, so I deleted it in favor of plain white, and added new text. I also deleted the strip of blue which grounded the original illustration. Now it looked like this:
corporate businesswoman in suit carrying briefcase holding a large business card saying Go Directly To Mark Armstrong Illustration

The actual header that you see at the top of this blog is quite small: 920 pixels wide by 180 pixels high. I was working on a much larger scale, but even so, the Card illustration was much taller than the header.

After pasting the Card into the header, I had to scale it down to make it fit. Since they’re connected, the woman holding the card was scaled down proportionately. The result was a serious visibility problem: the woman was much too small compared to the other images in the header. new Mark Armstrong Illustration blog header showing how pasting in an image and scaling it down caused problem of image detail becoming too small hard to see

My first thought was to bang my head on the wall. Fortunately, my second thought was this is Photoshop– there’s always a workaround.

And it was fairly simple: go back to the original layered file, make a couple of copies, and reconstruct the card and the woman as two separate images. I’ve simulated the result below, showing the gap that now exists between them.corporate business woman in suit with briefcase and large business card split into two separate images for controlled scaling

First I pasted in the card, and scaled it down just like I did before:new blog header for Mark Armstrong Illustration with business card pasted in and scaled down separately

Then I pasted in the woman as a separate image. Here’s the result showing her at actual size:new blog header for Mark Armstrong Illustration with corporate business woman pasted in and scaled down separately

I just needed to reposition her so she wasn’t blocking Mr. Jobs and his vintage Apple:new blog header for Mark Armstrong Illustration showing business card and woman pasted in and scaled down separately

Here’s the finished header again in its entirety: composite new blog header image for Mark Armstrong Illustration featuring Charles Bronson, business card, Steve Jobs, and The Thinker

What did it replace? Here’s my previous header. In retrospect, I’d say I tried to squeeze too much in. old blog header for Mark Armstrong Illustration with brushes, baseball, executive, grunge rocker, painter, pen bomb, gene kelly singing in rain

And here’s my original header when I first began blogging about two years ago. I still like it, but it conveyed a much more limited impression of what I can do. original blog header for Mark Armstrong Illustration with beaver picking his teeth and three gnawed pencils dam good work

What do you think? Is the new header an improvement? Do headers create a crucial first impression of a blog? Have you ever changed your own header? Hope you’ll leave a comment.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to subscribe. You can either leave a comment and click the box that says Notify me of new posts via email, or click on the Subscribe button below the Portfolio Thumbnails in the sidebar at the top right of this page.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Where The Steve Jobs Image In The New Header Comes From

Where The Charles Bronson Image In The New Header Comes From

How The Previous Header Was Constructed Using Photoshop Layers And Layer Masks

footer for all future blog posts showing picture of blog author Mark Armstrong, along with short bio and contact information

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 40 pixels high

25 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2012 9:23 AM



    • March 19, 2012 9:22 PM

      Ah– I’m a sucker for praise from a Literary Lollipop! : )

      Many thanks for your emphatic comment and for stopping by!


  2. March 19, 2012 5:07 PM

    The header is crucial and it’s a perfect indication of how creative and talented you are! That’s cool how you took non-artists like myself, through your thought process of placing all the different pieces into a cohesive banner!


    • March 19, 2012 9:35 PM

      “… a perfect indication of how creative and talented you are!”

      Hm… nope, nope, nope, there’s just no way I can improve on that expert analysis… : )

      Thank you, dear Tracey, you’re too kind as always. I must dispute your characterization of yourself as a non-artist, however. You have the supreme gift of knowing what needs to be said and done to bring beauty and harmony to the world. And that’s just another way of describing an Artist.


      • March 20, 2012 10:01 AM

        A creative genius, expert, and a gentlemen. The more I get to know you Mark the more impressed and thankful I am. And that’s a real tribute to you:-)


        • March 20, 2012 1:00 PM

          That’s about the nicest compliment I’ve ever received. My sincere thanks, Tracey.


  3. Margie permalink
    March 19, 2012 6:22 PM

    As a Canadian, I like the beaver header the best! The beaver and the chewed pencils are wonderful!


    • March 19, 2012 9:43 PM

      The Beaver gets a vote– awright!! I must admit he’s been an excellent pencil sharpener over the years, even though he refuses to vacuum up the chips. You’ve got us both showing our toothy grins here, and we thank you for, um, pelting us with that kind comment! : )


    • March 24, 2012 11:04 PM

      Me too! It’s my first choice for sure – ya know?


  4. March 19, 2012 6:30 PM

    Your new header is more representative and colorful. It shows your incredible works and ability while at the same time shows your great sense of humor!

    Excellent! I love it! 🙂


    • March 19, 2012 9:57 PM

      Blush, blush!! Is it hot in here, or is it me?? Oh, I see, my cheeks are on fire to hear such praise. Good thing I’m a strong man– I can take it!! : )

      Thank you so much, Inge. Very glad to know you think it’s an improvement, that means a lot– as do your kind words and loyal support. Thanks again! : )


  5. March 19, 2012 6:56 PM

    I noticed your new header as soon as I saw this page. My first thought was “Hey, Mark changed his header — it’s awesome!”

    And indeed it is. I do agree with you about your previous header. Although I did like it, I remember looking at it with great inspection to see what was there. The new header still fluently shows what you do and your particular style =]

    I like the strap-lines for both the old and new headers. A definite positive attitude ^-^


    • March 19, 2012 10:06 PM

      Ah, dear Fox, you certainly know how to make a Yank smile– thank you!

      I trust your artist’s eye, and must agree: the previous header was definitely over-dense. The temptation to squeeze in more “stuff” must always be resisted– in illustrations, portfolios, gnome lawn decorations, whatever. Less is more!! (unless we’re talking chocolate or possibly Sailor Moon merchandise… : )

      Thanks as ever for your kind support!


  6. March 19, 2012 9:46 PM

    Ooooh, nice header Mark!! Lots of tasty morsels of your talents laid bare for all to enjoy. In fact I would go so far as saying you are on fire Mr Strong Arm!

    Aptly enough I now invite you to bask in the flame of glory which is the Blog On Fire award, an accolade you most certainly deserve because you are brilliantly talented and not least because you make me almost wet myself with laughter on the Tube!

    Please don’t feel any pressure to accept (we wouldn’t want you to explode afterall) I will still think you’re great, but if you do follow the link to find the treasure:


    Tan 🙂


    • March 20, 2012 1:10 PM

      Me?? On fire?? Nonsense! Why that hasn’t happened since someone bet me tuppence that I couldn’t eat a whole chicken while it was still on the barbecue grill… : (

      Well, thank you, Tan, I accept with a profound lack of humility– and it’s certainly a lucky thing I happen to be wearing asbestos underwear today… : )

      Sincere thanks for all your lovely comments and support.

      Can’t say I’ve ever been a hit on YouTube, but it’s gratifying to know that I’ve come close to, er, making a splash on TheTube… : )


  7. March 20, 2012 5:02 PM

    Dam good work … in fact, pure genius!


    • March 21, 2012 12:20 PM

      The beaver’s blushing, I’m blushing, now we’re dancing around making weird happiness sounds– thank you for that outrageously kind comment!! : )


  8. March 20, 2012 9:06 PM

    Your new header is creative in terms of mixed media. Fun too.

    But I think the talent of a real illustrator shows it in …pure drawing illustration. Yea, I’m a purist, in this age of photoshopping. Ok, maybe I should go somewhere and look for glaciers, considering the fact they are melting more quickly than we want.


    • March 21, 2012 12:41 PM

      I hear you, Jean. When I look at the work of people like Howard Pyle, Hal Foster, Alex Raymond, and so many others, and see what they did in the days before Photoshop, working entirely by hand on paper or canvas, well, my mind just boggles. That is, indeed, true artistry. They leave guys like me in the dust. Hey, it’s an honor just to be in their dust!!

      Glaciers? We gotta bring ’em back– like print and nickel candy bars!! : )


  9. March 21, 2012 3:09 AM

    When I first discovered you,I said to myself — now here’s a guy who will soon be in possession of a tuppence and next thing I know, you’ve got enough tuppences to place a bet! I’m just proud of myself and of you.

    New banner–striking! And just right. Love the new picture of you in the hat! Love the backwards s in genius and a naked Jobs is a good call in any situation!


    • March 21, 2012 9:23 PM

      And I’m very proud of you for being proud of me! : P

      Yes, that’s me up in the corner doing my famous Charles Bronson impression. It’s brilliant, but unfortunately, people see the hat with the flower and right away they know it’s me. And you picked up the symbolism– yes, I am a backwards genius. Steve Jobs… so it is! I didn’t recognize him without his blue jeans… : )

      Thanks for your support, you wisenheimer, you!


  10. March 22, 2012 4:08 AM

    Hello Mark, how’s my great boss doing… You really are so creative…but hey because of that your blog is on fire now and you are one of my top recent commenters, so please accept my humble token of appreciation for nominating you with these awards:
    Dolly xoxo


    • March 22, 2012 2:06 PM

      Alas! After seeing your latest Toothsome cartoons, I’m resigning as your boss. I’m not worthy. Your genius is too great. I shall become your humble assistant, carrying your digital toothbrushes and drills, and bringing you any leftover coffee after drinking most of it myself… : P

      Thank you for my latest awards. I really can’t think of anyone who deserves them more than me. It means adding more display toilets, but it must be done.

      I shall stop by the Lemons R Us Dental Clinic just as soon as I can charter a helicopter and pack a sandwich.

      Again, my humble thanks. : )


  11. March 24, 2012 11:10 PM

    Hi Mark,
    I enjoyed the post and the clever way you shared your creation of a new header is a great little tutorial. The new header is hmmmm interesting but I’m a Canuck and the beaver header is my first choice vote — tails down! 😉


    • March 26, 2012 10:24 AM

      Ha! You and Margie are giving me gnawing doubts about my new header!! Viva La Beav!! : )

      Tell you what: I’ve made a note to get the beaver back up there on July 1st– and we all know what that is, eh??

      Loved the tails down bit– now that’s an emphatic vote– SLAP!! : )


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