August 01, 2007

SnowScene, SnowFlakes, and CSTeam blog themes

Following the lead of Jose, Jayme (one of the newest CS Team members) and Kevin...

My three entries for the Community Server 2007 Theming Extravaganza were all blog themes. 

SnowScene is a fairly simple alteration of the Vanilla theme that adds a background image and some transparency to provide a Vista-ish look. It is actually a theme I started (and blogged about) well before CS 2007 was released.

SnowFlakes is based on a template I saw on OpenDesigns.org (and blogged about in April). This one was done from scratch (other than using the css template) and took quite a bit of time to complete. I really like the look of this theme and it will probably be my blog's theme soon. I believe that if I have a theme that medals at all, it will be this one. I have a site-wide theme based on SnowFlakes that is about 90% completed, but it was just going to take a ton of work to get through that final 10% and I just didn't have the time.

My final entry was just a fun one I put together a few nights ago that uses all the images from the CS team found on UnProfessionalCommunityServer.com. I thought the CS team would get a kick out of it. The little "face" icons are actually animated gifs that rotate displaying the face of each team member. This blog theme is based on the Vanilla theme as well - I find that it is a great simple, yet complete, theme that provides a good base for customization.

Creating blog themes is pretty easy, especially if you can use one of the existing themes as a spring board. I had a blast putting these together. Give it a shot, you'll be expressing your design skills in no time.

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  1.  avatar Jose Lema says:

    Great work, Dan! While I like them all, I think SnowFlakes is my favorite, and I agree that it may be a contender :)

  2.  avatar Kevin says:

    Great job Dan! Those are three very nice themes. I love the transparency of the first - it looks so Vista-ish. And the third is hillarious - I might have to create a fake/spoof blog just to have use that theme. =)

    But SnowFlakes is just awesome. It's so warm and inviting - definitely one of the best blog themes I've ever seen.

  3.  avatar says:

    Thanks, Jose and Kevin. I was just looking through some of the submissions. There are some good ones in there and I know how much work goes into a site-wide theme (Kevin!).

    I love the CSTeam blog theme, too. It may not be the best looking, but is just so much fun.

    I agree on SnowFlakes - it is warm and inviting. I of course cannot take credit for the design - that is thanks to opendesigns.org and specifically freecsstemplates.org. I will, however, take credit for the implementation! I'm glad you guys like it, too.

  4.  avatar says:

    One other blog theming tip (now that the contest is over!)...

    I think I actually borrowed this tactic from Scott Water and others.

    If you are artistically challenged like me but would still like to create a custom blog theme then take a look through opendesigns.org or one of the other free css template sites. They have some great templates designed specifically for blogs. Most templates are free to use and require only attribution to the creator.

    You can either look for inspiration from several templates or find one specific template you like and implement it. Even when choosing one you can still add your own style to it and bending it to your liking.

    I've taken the same approach to website designs in the past, too. Finding a template that is two-thirds what I am looking for is a lot better than starting from scratch. Those more artistically inclined may disagree, but it has always worked well for me.

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