design your own timeline cover tutorial

Some people, like me, go out of their way to design something special, just for that huge central Timeline photo. I’ve created an easy and basic tutorial using Photoshop.

If you don’t have Photoshop you can download a free 30 day trial from Adobe. All keyboard shortcuts provided are for CS5 on a PC, they may vary slightly for other CS versions or Mac platform. Shapes used in this tutorial were downloaded from DeviantArt, fonts were downloaded from DaFont, background was downloaded from PremiumPixels, all were unzipped and installed onto my computer. Find out how to do this here.

The best-looking cover photos tend to be images that are designed to take advantage of the cover photo’s exact size and shape.

  1. Create a new document (CTRL + N) with the official Facebook cover photo dimensions of 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall, a resolution of 72 ppi and a transparent background.timeline_cover_screenshot_1
  2. (Optional) In the new document, turn on your document grid (CTRL + ) to help with precise placement of your silhouette and Snap to Grid (View > Snap), and then make sure Snap to Grid is checked (View > Snap To > Grid).
  3. Turn on the ruler (CTRL + R). Drag from the vertical ruler to create a vertical guide at 0.25 inches from the left edge. Drag from the horizontal ruler to create a horizontal guide at 2.6875 from the top edge, or go to View > New Guide > Horizontal and enter the position.timeline_cover_screenshot_3
  4. Add a new layer (SHIFT + CTRL +N), rename your layer Profile Picture.
  5. Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) from the tool bar and drag out a rectangle, the size does not matter right now, then release the mouse. You will see a line of “marching ants” outlining your shape.timeline_cover_screenshot_5
  6. Fill (Shift + F5) your rectangle with 50% Gray and bring up the Free Transform box and handles around the rectangle (CTRL + T).
  7. Enter into the reference point location bar the following dimensions 170 pixels wide by 121 pixels tall. timeline_cover_screenshot_7Press ENTER to accept the transformation. Move your rectangle to the intersection of your guides and deselect (CTRL + D) your rectangle. You just created a place holder for your profile photo, which will be turned off prior to uploading your completed cover image.
  8. Add another layer (SHIFT + CTRL +N) between your background and Profile Picture layers. You always want your placeholder to be on top, so that you can build your cover image around it.
  9. Place your background photo in your document, by going to File > Place and selecting the photo you want to use. Click Place.
  10. Time to make your photo fit your document. Your photo layer should be active and the Free Transform box and handles should appear around the photo (otherwise press CTRL + to make them show up). timeline_cover_screenshot_10Pick a corner, wait for the cursor to change, now hold down your SHIFT + ALT keys as you drag to resize it. By doing this your proportions will be constrained and the shape will resize from its center. Hit enter to accept the transformation.
  11. Set the foreground and background colors to their defaults of Black and White (D). Select the Text Tool (T) from the tools palette and add your text.default-colors
  12. Add another layer (SHIFT + CTRL +N) and select the Custom Shape Tool (U) from the tools palette. In the upper left area right under the top menu there are 3 options – Shape Layers, Paths and Fill Pixels. Make sure you have Fill Pixels (the one on the right) selected.Untitled-12
  13. Pick a shape (in this case I chose a trio of holiday ornaments) and drag it out on the layer while holding down your SHIFT + ALT keys as you drag to resize it. timeline_cover_screenshot_13bBy doing this your proportions will be constrained and the shape will resize from its center. Release your mouse when satisfied. Rename your shape layer (3 Ornaments).timeline_cover_screenshot_13
  14. Add a new layer, select another shape (in this case pair of ornaments), draw it out and rename the shape layer (2 Ornaments).timeline_cover_screenshot_14
  15. (Optional) Add additional shape layers.
  16. (Optional) Add styles to your layers by clicking the second icon at the bottom of the layers palette.timeline_cover_screenshot_16
  17. When you’re satisfied with your image, Hide the Profile Photo layer and save (SHIFT + CTRL + S) your image as a jpg.Timeline-Cover-FINAL
  18. Upload your image to your Facebook account.

That was easy! Now you give it a try!! 

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