Header for WordPress Theme

header for wordpress theme preview

Today we’ll show you how to create a website header, we’ll make the header 960×150, so it can easily be used with a lot of WordPress themes.


This is what we’ll be creating:

(click to enlarge)

Header for WordPress theme

Step 1

Create a new image size 960×150.

Step 2

Set the color to dark gray (161616).

Use the bucket fill tool and make the background layer dark gray.

gray background layer

Step 3

Create a new layer and name it “line”.

Select the pencil tool, choose the brush called Circle(01) and set the color to 343434.

Now zoom in at the very left end of the image, about 34px above the bottom of the image click the mouse button once. (You can look at the coordinates in bottom left corner of the main Gimp window, they should show 0,116)

create a line layer

Scroll to the other side of the image, hold in Shift and Ctrl (in that order, this should give you a straight line), and click at the very right end of the image.

(Make sure it’s a straight line (coordinates 959,116)).

That should give us a line like this:

gray line on header

Repeat the procedure, only this time set the color to black (000000), and create a new line directly below the first line. (at 0,117).

black line

Step 4

Create a new layer and name it “brush blue”.

We’re going to make things easier and quicker for us by downloading a brush, the brush we’ll use is from ObsidianDawn.com and you can download it here.

If you don’t know how to install a brush in Gimp, have a look here.

After you’ve installed the brush, select the Brush tool, and set the color to light blue (3976ff).

Also set scale to 0,6.

Choose the brush called SS-gradient-designs.abr-014.

Brush tool settings

Now place the brush in the approximately same place I did in the image below and click once.

placing the brush

Step 5

Create a new layer, name it “more brushes”. Set the layer mode to “overlay”.

Select the brush tool, set the color to white (ffffff) and the scale to 0,2.

I used two of the other brushes as well to quickly create what you see in the image below, the brush to the right is at the very end of the header.

more brushes

Step 6

We’re going to add some more content to the dark gray part of the header, this is an excellent area for adding promos, tag lines, RSS buttons and such. I’m just going to add a brush, but feel free to be creative!

Create a new layer, name it “even more brushes”

The last brush we’ll download is this one, also from ObsidianDawn.com.

Install the brush. (If you don’t know how look here)

After you’ve installed the brush, select the brush named SS-tribal1.abr-008, make sure the scale is still set to 0.2, then place your mouse in the same place I did in the image below and click once.

place it on the even more brushes layer

If you want to you can also add some text, like a tag line to your image.

Select the text tool, I used the font “Verdana Bold” and set the size to 20.

Click on the image, write your text, then use the Move tool to place it like in the image below.

adding text

Now right click on the text layer in the layer dialog and choose Merge Down.

Step 7

Make sure you have the layer named “even more brushes” selected. Then right click on that layer and choose Alpha to selection.

That will give us a selection like this:

selection made with alpha to selection

Select the Blend tool and choose the gradient named Brushed Aluminium.

Click and drag from the top of our symbol thing, and down to the line.

gradient from top to bottom

Now go to Select -> None.

Our image should look like this now:

gradient added

Step 8

Make sure you have the layer named “even more brushes” selected.

Then go to Filters → Light and Shadow → Drop Shadow

Set Offset X and Offset Y to 5, and blur radius to 12, also set opacity to 100.

drop shadow settings

That should create a nice drop shadow like this:

Drop shadow

Step 9

Now lets add some buttons!

Select the text tool, I set the font to Verdana Bold size 18.

Now click on the image, write “Home”, and move the text with the Move tool.

text tool settings

Repeat the procedure for all other buttons you want.

a bunch of buttons

Now create a new layer and name it “button lines”.

In the layer dialog, move the layer down until it’s right above the “line” layer.

Now we’re going to do the same thing we did when we made the line, only in the vertical direction this time.

Select the pencil tool, set the color to gray (343434), and choose the brush called Circle(01).

move the layer above the line layer

Now, in the image, find the area between the Home and Categories and click once right underneath the horizontal line.

using pencil to create a dot

Then hold in Shift and Control (in that order) then click on the bottom edge of the header.

draw a line

Now set the color to black, and create a new line beside the gray line.

draw a black line next to it

Repeat the procedure for all the button text you’ve added.

a gray and black line between all

Step 10

If you want to you can add text on the left side too, typically your website URL or company name.

However, note that some WordPress themes has built in options for adding and placing that text, so it might not be necessary to do that in Gimp.

If you do wish to add it in Gimp however, select the text tool, set the font to Verdana Bold, and the size to 42. Click on the image, write your text, and then place it where you want it using the Move tool. I just wrote “something”. That gives us our finished image:

(Click to enlarge)

header for wordpress theme

Some people have asked me about how you actually insert the header or other graphics into a WordPress theme and code the necessary CSS and XHTML. To put it short, you basically should either learn CSS and XHTML from scratch, or you should use a customizable WordPress theme that lets you do all that stuff without knowing how to code. If I have to recommend one, it would definitely be this theme, it’s highly customizable and you can upload your own header easily or choose from the 200 built in headers.

Hopefully though I will find the time sometime to add a short follow up tutorial on how to use your own custom headers with regular WordPress themes, but if you can’t wait, go for a customizable theme.

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  1. Facade

    May 16th, 2011

    Simply amazing, extremely easy and a really nice outcome. Thanks.

  2. sam

    June 15th, 2012

    Really helpful thanks.

  3. Gerben

    September 13th, 2012

    Thanks for making me get going on the GIMP. Using 2.8 is slightly different, but no bother.

  4. vishal

    October 13th, 2012

    How that’s impressive tutorial. I am also a gimp user. I love to see more of your artwork. Because I am a big fan of graphic designers using gimp.

  5. Gabriele Krokato

    January 2nd, 2014

    I am just starting to use gimp and need exactly this kind of tutorial to get familiar with it. Thanks!

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