The Banner Tutorial (PIP)
This banner tutorial is for Microsoft Picture It! Publishing (PIP) users. The tutorial was written using the 2001 version, but it will probably work with other editions.
(If you'd like an introduction to what these "banners" are, please read the first paragraph of the Paint Shop Pro tutorial here.)
First, go to http://tinypic.com/view.html?pic=z7o2d, which will give you your banner's base. You'll see a black rectangle that's 700 pixels wide by 150 pixels tall. Right-click on the rectangle and select Save Picture As. Make sure the drop-down menu under Save as type is on JPEG, and type in a name for your banner. You should save it in an easy-to-remember folder like My Pictures. After you've clicked OK and saved the base, go to the folder you saved it in. Right-click on it, select Open With, and choose Picture It. (If Picture It's not already on the list, select Choose Program under the Open With menu and select Picture It.)
Your base is now open in PIP (Picture It Publishing). Click on the black rectangle, and resizing handles will appear around it. Drag the handles so that the dashed outline is a little outside the rectangle. The screen should now look something like this:
For starters, it's easiest to use specific images. Two pictures are plenty, although with some experience, you can easily use more. First comes the background image: go to http://www.framecaplib.com/lotrlib/html/episodes/images/fotr/fotr0049.htm, which is a photo of Frodo in the Shire. Right-click on the image and select copy. Now go back to your PIP window and press down the Ctrl and V keys together; this will paste the image. Since the banner doesn't fit in the viewing window right now, look to the lower right-hand corner of your screen and click the magnifying glass with the - on it to zoom out. Back to the banner now: the Frodo picture has the resizing handles on it just like the rectangle base did. For this picture, click on the upper left-hand corner handle and drag it to the left. Stop dragging when the banner looks about like this:
Now take the lower right-hand corner handle and drag it to the right until the banner looks something like this:
To complete the background, hold down your cursor around the middle of the image and drag the image upward, until it looks something like this:
Tada! The background is finished. Now for the foreground: go to http://www.framecaplib.com/lotrlib/html/episodes/images/fotr/fotr0050.htm, which is a close-up of Frodo from the same scene (yes, it's a weird picture, but this is just a tutorial: you can use whatever images you want after you've learned how to make a basic banner). As you did with the background, right-click the image, select Copy, go back to your PIP window, and hit Ctrl + V. Use the magnifying glass with the + on it to zoom in once. Use the corner resizing handles to shrink Frodo so that the edges of the picture aren't quite up against the edges of the banner. Now, on your left menu, click on Cutouts and Pictures > > Create a Cutout. Then choose "By tracing an area on my own" from the menu that comes up. Now you get to "cut out" Frodo from his background. Starting about at the top right-hand corner of Frodo's head, hold the cursor down and trace completely around Frodo. Your tracing should look about like this:
As you can see, the tracing doesn't have to be extremely exact: just close to Frodo's outline. Click the yellow diamond, which will close the outline. Go back to your left menu, and click the Next button. Select the "Leave it in the original picture" option, and click Done. Now hold the cursor down on Frodo, and drag him away from the center of the banner. You now have two Frodos: one is the original picture, and one is a rather jagged cut-out. Click on the original Frodo (the non-cut one), and press the delete button on your keyboard (you don't need this picture anymore). Now click on the cut-out Frodo, and use the corner resize handles to enlarge it a little (to see the whole banner better, zoom out once). The cut-out should be on the left side of the banner. Enlarge it until it looks about like this:
Now you need to take care of the jagged images. Zoom in again, and with the cut-out still selected, go to your left menu, and click on Edge Effects > > Soft Edges. Drag the slider to anywhere between 10 and 20: your choice. 10 will leave you a harder edge, while 20 will make it blend in more with the background. Click Done when you're happy with how the edge looks.
Before you think to yourself "Hey, I'm done with the whole thing!", hold on. True, you're finished with the main part of the banner, but there are still a few touches that you should use to make your banner more professional-looking. First, zoom out once to look at the whole banner. See how the foreground and background have the same color, same lighting, etc.? This is great for blending, but normally it's best to draw more attention to the foreground. To accomplish this, click on the foreground, and on the left menu, go to Touchup > > Brightness and Contrast. Drag the Brightness and Contrast sliders to whatever values make the banner look best to you. For my version, I used 8 for Brightness and 25 for Contrast. Click Done when you're satisfied.
The next touch is text. To add some, go to the left menu again, and click on Add Something > > Text. Type whatever text you want in the box (for simplicity's sake, you can just type "Frodo"). Use the drop-down menu to select your font (Pepita works well for this banner). Use the corner resize handles to enlarge the text, and hold down the cursor over the text to move it around. The placement is your choice; I chose the bottom right-hand corner. Unselect the bold icon by clicking on it. Now the color needs to be changed. You can simply click on one of the preset colors if you want, or even go to More Color Choices for a wider selection, but a fancier effect, keep reading. Click the Apply image effects buttons, and select "Fill text with color, gradient, or picture," and then select Color Gradient. Under the styles menu, scroll down until you see the swirly box (bottom row) and click on it. Then click "Custom two-color gradient." A simple color choice is green for the first and white for the second, but you can also use the More Start/End Color Choices option. For my version of the banner, I chose the More Color Choices option, with a dark forest green for the first color, and a dark yellowish green for the second. Don't worry if your color choice makes the text too dark to read: the next step addresses this. When you're satisfied, click Done, Done, Done, and Done.
If your text is light enough to read without squinting, skip this step. If not, read along. On the left menu, go to Edge Effects > > Highlighted edges. Select the thick, solid red edge (yes, it looks horrible right now, but it won't after you customize it). Go to Customize the edge, and select any light color for the edge. Drag the width slider to about -50. Click Done and Done. Now go to Edge Effects again, and then go to Soft Edges. Drag the slider to anywhere between 10 and 20 (I chose 18). When you're satisfied, click Done. You're almost finished!
Here's the final step. Go to Size & Position > > Change page size. Make sure the proportion drop-down menu is on Custom, and that the Units menu is set to pixels (pxl). With the Maintain proportions box checked, set the height to 150 and hit the tab button. The width will then jump to 700. Recognize these dimensions? They're the ones we started with: the ones the base rectangle had. After clicking Done, there's only one thing left to do. Go to Save or Send > > Save As. The type should be set to JPEG Interchange Format, and the Catalog box should be unchecked. Type in a name for your banner, choose the folder you want to save it in, click Save, and you're finished!
But wait...yes, there's a tiny bit more. Before you close the PIP window, go to the folder you saved your banner in, and view the banner. Are you satisfied with it? Do you wish you had given the Frodo picture a little less contrast? Do you not like the font you chose? If there's something you want to modify, change it now, and resave it: after you close the PIP window, you won't be able to edit all the different parts of your banner.
Tada! You're done :) You can now upload the banner to your site to share it with others, e-mail it to friends, or just keep it as a nostalgic souvenir of the very first banner you made with Microsoft Picture It! Publishing.
The finished banner