The Complete Guide To Creating Custom Featured Post Images That Rock

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In this post, I'm going to show you how to create amazing looking featured images to use in your blog posts from start to finish.

First of all, what is a featured post image?

A featured post image is an image that is used for a blog article or web page. It is the primary image.

This primary image can be seen at the top of most content pages, for instance - blog posts, often appearing before the content.

By default, featured images are usually pulled up first when sharing a link to an article on social media.

Featured images come in all shapes and sizes. For instance, for Magnet4Blogging, I use large, 1280px custom featured images for my blog posts.

Are featured post images really that important?

Personally, I think yes they are.

Featured post images don't just open up a great blog article, but they can also help compel people to want to click on, and read an article or page. You can view the featured image as a magnet.

And like I said earlier, featured images are the primary image that's often associated with a shared link on social media, so it is the first thing most people will see before anything else.

What tools do you need to create amazing looking featured post images?

What I'm going to do first is share with you the tools that I use to create my featured images, and then share some other tools which I think you might be interested in using yourself.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you may know that I use mostly premium (paid for) tools in my business.

However, you don't need to go out and spend money on new graphic design tools to create attractive images for your blog posts or website. There are plenty of free image tools you can find and use out there.

So, for editing my images and graphics I love to use the following tools -

  1. Photoscape (Free and premium App)
  2. Affinity Designer (Premium professional vector graphic design App)
  3. Affinity Photo (Premium professional photo editing App)
  4. TinyPNG (Free online service)

I work on a MacBook Pro, and all of these tools work very well for me, however, these tools are also available for Windows.

Here are some other tools I think you might be interested in checking out and using yourself -

  1. Canva (Free and premium service)
  2. Gravit Designer (Free vector graphic design tool)

Where to get high-quality images from?

These days, quality stock images are in an abundance.

There are so many websites out there currently offering high-quality stock images for both personal and commercial use.

Cast your mind back to just a few years ago when finding images was a complete nightmare. Once upon a time, you'd either have to use Flickr images and give credit to the author every time you used an image in your post/page or pay a huge wad of cash for images on premium stock photo sites.

Here are some of my favorite free stock images sites -

  1. Pixabay
  2. Pexels
  3. Death To The Stock Photo
  4. Negative Space

How to use free stock images in your featured images

The best way to use free stock images in your featured post images is to customize and add some personal flair to them.

Don't just use them in raw format, because chances are, many other websites out there will have used those images too.

I will now share with you the steps to take to create great looking featured post images for your blog posts.

How to create attractive featured post images for your blog content

The tool I'm going to use to create our custom images in this tutorial is called Photoscape.

You'll need to download Photoscape if you don't already have it, its free. And, there's a premium version too if you are interested in additional editing options and filters.

Or, you can simply use any other photo editing tool that you have on your computer right now.

So, I'm going to create a simple 800px by 400px featured post image. First, I want to find and download a nice photo from Pixabay.com.

I do have a user profile on Pixabay which you can check out here. I like to contribute to the site by sharing my own images from time to time.

Here's one I found that I really like. It's a beautiful photo of Hong Kong at night taken by Peng LIU.

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Right, I'm going to show you how you can transform a beautiful photo like this one, and turn in into a cool featured post image like the one shown directly below, all using the free version of PhotoScape X.

Remember, this tool is available for Mac and Windows and it's completely free.

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#1. Editing the photo

The first thing that we'll do is emphasize a specific color in the photo and neutralize the other colors. So we're choosing the cool blues in this image to stand out. See image below.

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To achieve the above look, simply go to Edit > Adjustments > Point Color / Emphasize Color.

Next, we want to add a gradient filter.

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Adding a filter means adding a solid color layer over the top of the image and applying opacity to that color to make it semi-dark transparent. See image above.

The reason why we do it this way is so that any text layers or objects that we place over the top of the image later on, including a logo, will be clear to make out and not clash with the background image.

So, just for the fun of it, we've added a simple dark box to our image and resized the box shape to fit half-way across the image only. See images below.

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Next, we'll combine the photo and gradient layers together (Merge into Background).

#2. Adding effects to the image

Now we want to add a nice effect to our stock image to make it more unique. For this tutorial, we're going to add a lens flare effect. See image below.

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To achieve the above look in PhotoScape, simply go to Film > Lens Flare to add one that you like.

You can also change the tint of the lens flare to whatever color you'd like. I've chosen a purple tint as it's my 5-year-old daughter's favorite color, and, she insisted I made it purple as she's standing right over my shoulder watching me put together this post.

3. Adding some text overlay and branding

Next, we'll add some custom text to our featured post image.

Again, in PhotoScape X this is very simple to do. You can also adjust line-height, letter spacing, color, and opacity.

I've also added a made-up logo to brand our featured image. See images below.

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4. Adding further customization to our featured image

As you will see from the final image above, I've added some Vignetting effect to the image.

The PhotoScape X tool has some amazing editing options, effects, filters, gradients, clips that you can use to really make your blog post featured image stand out. I recommend you play around with your featured graphic until you find the perfect look to match brand.

Saving our featured image

OK, so once we've created our featured blog image, it's time to merge everything together and save it.

Merging elements together is very simple to do in PhotoScape X, all you have to do is click on the link that says Merge into Background inside the editor.

When you save the image, don't forget to give it a good title too. Also, consider including your SEO keyword in your image title.

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Tip: I recommend saving your featured images in JPEG format and adjusting the quality to around 100 to 120KB before uploading it to your website.

You can also save it as PNG for better quality images, however, the size of the file will be much larger and may take longer to load on your website.

You can compress PNG or JPEG images further using a tool like TinyPNG. See image below.

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Wrapping things up

So there you have it, that's how you can create amazing and personalized featured post images for use in your blog posts and website pages.

The process shouldn't take much time at all, probably 5 or maybe 10 minutes at the most, and depending on how creative you want to get with your featured images too.

Hopefully, you will be able to do the same after reading this post, especially if you're not including images in your content right now. It's very important that you do.

Best of luck!

Psst! If you need help with your graphic design needs, click this link.

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