Create a Vibrant Modern Blog Design in Photoshop

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This post was originally published in 2008
The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.

Taking a closer look into the world of web design this tutorial will cover the process of designing a vibrant and colourful modern blog layout in Adobe Photoshop. Beginning with a blank canvas we’ll go through the process of creating the entire structure and effects from scratch.

Blog Design Tutorial

This particular design is one I'm currently producing as a WordPress theme for Springy Developments, in the future we'll take a look at the coding process and see how the site is pulled together into the final product.

Bear in mind that during the original creating of the concept, the process was much less clear cut that the following tutorial steps. Plenty of experimentation was conducted and elements were often recreated to test out what worked the best. However this walkthrough will hopefully give a good understanding of what tools and techniques are used during the creation of this chosen layout from scratch.

Blog Design Tutorial

Open up Adobe Photoshop and create a New Document. I like to work on a large document that reflects the larger widescreen resolutions. Remember to use the RGB color mode with the site being viewed only on screen, and a resolution of 72dpi.

Blog Design Tutorial

The first area I tend to work on is the page background, this is where a little interest can be introduced which fills out the space for those on higher resolutions. Choose a solid colour for the background, then drag out a radial gradient from the top centre. Obviously the choice colour palette is down to you, but here I'm using a mix of green and cyan.

Blog Design Tutorial

Open up a brown paper resource from a recent post, this will be used to add some interest in the form of texture to the background.

Blog Design Tutorial

Desaturate (CTRL+SHIFT+U) the texture, then add quite a broad Gaussian Blur to remove much of the finer detail.

Blog Design Tutorial

Position the texture over the gradient and change the blending mode to Overlay. Alter the opacity to 90%.

Blog Design Tutorial

When working in website design the range of user monitors plays a large part in the layout of a site. Unless otherwise required, I will accommodate resolutions down to 1024×768, therefore guides are drawn in to represent a 960px width in the centre of the document, this gives an approx 40px space at either side as a little padding before elements run beyond the confines of the screen.

Blog Design Tutorial

Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool draw in a content area filled with light grey (#eeeeee) with 20px corner radius. Notice in this case the rectangle doesn't span across both margins, this is to allow for a little design touch later down the line.

Blog Design Tutorial

Double click on the rectangle's layer and add an 8px white stroke. Change the Blend Mode to Overlay and drop the opacity to 30% to give a cool transparent effect.

Blog Design Tutorial

Add a slight Inner Glow to the rectangle, using white at 5px in size to give a very slight bevelled edge effect.

Blog Design Tutorial

Finally add a subtle Outer Glow using black at 15% opacity to give a slight shadow to the content area.

Blog Design Tutorial

On a new layer, draw another rounded rectangle, this time with 10px corners at the same width as the original. Add a little gradient fading to grey at the bottom.

Blog Design Tutorial

Right click on the Effects of the grey content panel and select Create Layers. On the newly created layer that consists of the stroke, use the eraser to fade out the stroke halfway down the document.

Blog Design Tutorial

Add a little extra touch to the stroke by drawing a 1px line with the Pencil Tool vertically up the entire edge. Hold Shift to constrain the axis to give a crisp straight edge.

Blog Design Tutorial

Fade out this line using the eraser to match how the rest of the border fades away into black.

Blog Design Tutorial

The content area so far has a large flat area of grey, that gets slightly darker at the bottom. The top corners are a larger radius than those at the bottom and the border has a transparency that shows the underlying background and fades out towards the middle.

Blog Design Tutorial

Position a copy of the paper texture of the top half of the content area. Use the Hue/Saturation Tool (CTRL+U) to give a blue/green colouring.

Blog Design Tutorial

Press CTRL and click the thumbnail of the content layer to create a selection, inverse the selection (CTRL+SHIFT+I) and delete out the excess. Also use the erase to slightly fade out the texture leaving a strip across the top.

Blog Design Tutorial

Use the Pencil Tool to add a horizontal 1px white line under the heading.

Blog Design Tutorial

Create a selection from the content area again, then press ALT while dragging the Rectangular Marquee across the document to exclude the majority of the selection. On a new layer draw a white to transparent gradient downwards and adjust the opacity to 90% add a glossy highlight across the header.

Blog Design Tutorial

Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to draw in a sidebar that extends past the main content area. Fill this with the grey background colour (#eeeeee).

Blog Design Tutorial

Add a transparent border effect to the sidebar using the stroke option from the Layer Style window.

Blog Design Tutorial

Use the Outer Glow option to add a very slight grey border, adjusting the Spread to the max will turn the default glow into a solid strip of colour which helps add this double stroke effect.

Blog Design Tutorial

Use the Inner Glow option in a similar manner to add a thin white stroke effect to the inside of the sidebar. The Choke option set to max also makes the glow appear as a solid block.

Blog Design Tutorial

Finally add a gradient to the sidebar spanning from white to the light grey background to add a little interest and dimension.

Blog Design Tutorial

Split the sidebar into individual sections, the plan is to have separate sections for each set of menu items.

Blog Design Tutorial

A similar approach will be used on the post area of the blog design, each post will be enclosed in its own container. Draw a rectangular selection to simulate one of these containers.

Blog Design Tutorial

Fill the area with white, right click on the sidebar and copy the layer style. Paste this layer style onto the container to quickly add the same border effects.

Blog Design Tutorial

With the structure of the layout almost complete, mockup the textual elements of the page to test out colours and sizes.

Blog Design Tutorial

Create a navigation area by creating smaller selections and adding a fading gradient above the header. Type in the links with the Text Tool.

Blog Design Tutorial

Taking the content of an upcoming blog post, paste in the information and adjust the colour and sizing of the text to give the appropriate hierarchy. The title is the most important element therefore must be large in size and bold in colour. Whereas the meta information isn't so important, so it can be smaller in size and lighter in colour.

Blog Design Tutorial

Draw a rectangle with a subtle blue gradient at the bottom of the post container.

Blog Design Tutorial

Using the fantastic icon set from Function, add secondary information such as the comment count and a link to read the whole article. Highlighting these in their own strip separates them from the content but gives useful information to the viewer.

Blog Design Tutorial

Finally add other page elements such as subscription options. The RSS icon here can be found in the form of a tutorial or as part of a free icon set.

Blog Design Tutorial

With a good selection of information presented on the page it gives a clear picture of what the overall website will look like. In a future post we'll look at exporting elements of this design and coding up the layout into a real webpage.

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  1. Nice work dude. I like it. But the texture you are used is not good. That is making an extra bump for Background.

    Could you make a tutorial about the slicing process of this web design?


  2. Heinrich says:

    Love the colour scheme! It looks nice and clean.

  3. liam says:

    Looks great man, I’d like to see a larger preview if possible. Thanks, and cheers for including the function icon set :)

  4. ARTNNELSIE says:

    Muy bueno gran ayuda!!!!!

    Cool. good luck

    artnneslie desing

  5. Jay says:

    Really Incredible. I am wondering if you will do a slicing tutorial as well. Even though you are in my rss reader, I actually came here because I saw a screenshot of your main site on Flickr. I never realized you had the main site, just the blog. Really nice.

  6. Brilliant Chris!!! Teach us more :D

  7. Looking good! I will have to start putting some content on it now!!

  8. PekeniaVi says:

    Awesome!! Thanks!!

  9. Thanks for the post. Will you be doing a follow up on slicing and building it out for WordPress? Thanks…

  10. Thanks everyone, I hope to continue the tutorial into coding into xhtml and css in a future post!

  11. Yeah I’d love to see a tutorial of this being sliced out for the web.

    There just simply aren’t enough of those out here.

  12. Lori Cole says:

    It is a very elegant design. However, do you intend for the entire background to be loaded as a single image? Seems like it would be a rather large jpg and slow the initial loading to a crawl.

  13. DKumar M. says:

    Nice & easy !!

    Light steps for anyone to understand with nice writing.

  14. copy112 says:

    I am interested in how you are going to do with the background when coding it. I know you can make it to an image, but it would be slow to load?

  15. cone says:

    thanx for that i might use it

  16. David says:

    Great tut! CAN”T WAIT to see the coding tutorial! Thanks!

  17. Pete says:

    Hi! Excellent tut and blog! I am really looking forward to the coding into xhtml and css tut. Thanks!

  18. Great tut! Nice design.

  19. Michael C says:

    Nice work Chris, looking forward to the coding stage, no pressure :)

  20. Very good tutorial showing those all those simple techniques..:)Nice result, indeed!

  21. Tastee says:

    This is a great tutorial, I have actually applied it to creating custom backgrounds for Visit and use any of my free blog resources.

  22. ghawyy says:

    wow i will make one like that and i will name it Vista template ;)
    you are rock my Friend thank you

  23. says:

    it’s great, i’ll wait for the slice, xhtml and css.

  24. Sprogz says:

    What a great tutorial, providing a great insight into your web development process.

    I, like many can’t wait to see how you slice, XHTML and CSS this Photoshop design.

    Thanks for all your hard work!

  25. insic says:

    Nice Layout , Clean and elegant.

  26. Takumi86 says:

    This looks cool, i could use this for my Blogspot templates, thanks

  27. megamega says:

    How I get 100s of NEW MYSPACE friends a day

  28. Where can I go to encode my blog once I make it in photoshop?

  29. joriahp says:

    it’s great tutorial.

  30. would love to see further how the design takes up the shape to fully coded php template !

  31. Moslem says:

    Very nice! thanks.

  32. Ryan says:

    hey, what is the general font being used on the blog post? Anybody know offhand?

  33. dave says:

    Awesome! Stumlbed, dugged, bookmarked

  34. ghawyy says:

    its really great tut thank you so much

  35. Spaksu says:

    Nice design… Thanks..

  36. Superunge says:

    great work! continue inspiring other with your work sir.

  37. K says:

    The effect ok. But tutorial… you can do this better.

  38. Novice web-designer says:

    Great tutorial.

    However, I have a question/req. Can you please explain how/why to use guides in more detail? I am really confused on how and why we use the guides. I tried to do some research after reading this tut. but couldn’t find any useful tutorial on guides. I make web-designs without the use of guide…never coded. But I wish to learn now.

    Thank you

  39. sam says:

    muy bueno, gracias!

  40. Great job, thanks for an awesome tutorial.

  41. dreams says:

    Very simple and elegant design with nice color combination….

    Great man……go on with more tutorials….

Comments are now closed