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How to Create an Awesome Facebook Cover Photo

Like it or not, in today's socially-connected world, a Facebook page is a must for anyone who wants to make a name for him/herself and that holds especially true for photographers. There's a whole world of platforms out there for your online portfolio and sales. Facebook is still one of the best ways to share your photographs and get your name out there, either as your portfolio page or in conjunction with it.

That said, it's not enough to simply have a page; it's important to have a page with impact. Like any other promotional or sales tool, a Facebook page is only as good as what you put into it and the first things your visitors will see are your profile photo and cover photo.

First Impressions are Important

People are visually oriented. That means that if you want to grab the attention of a potential audience, you need to give them something spectacular to look at right away. If you're interested in getting people interested in your photographs, the top of your page is the best place to start.

Since your cover photo is the biggest thing at the top of your page, it's going to have the most impact. Let's take a look at how you can ensure that it will “knock the socks off of” your visitors and make them want to look at more of your work.

Facebook Requirements

First things first: what's the best way to prepare your cover photo so that it displays well on Facebook? According to Facebook's Help files:

“Your Page's cover photo:

  • Displays at 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall on your Page on computers and 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels tall on smartphones
  • Doesn't display on feature phones
  • Must be at least 399 pixels wide and 150 pixels tall
  • Loads fastest as an sRGB JPG file that's 851 pixels wide, 315 pixels tall and less than 100 kilobytes

For profile pictures and cover photos with your logo or text, you may get a better result by using a PNG file.”

That's pretty straightforward. It also raises an important point: Your cover photo will display differently on different devices. That means that Facebook is going to resize it, so if you want it to look its best on all the platforms, having that w x l ratio correct is critical. Stick with the recommended 851 x 315 pixels for the best results.

Working with Adobe Photoshop CC

So, now that you know the right size, all you need to do is choose one of your favorite images and crop/resize it to fit the format. We'll walk through doing that in Photoshop, just because it's the most commonly used application among photographers. There are a few methods that will work, but here's one that's quick and easy.

Start by opening a new file with the right dimensions and resolution:

  • From the main menu, select File/New (or use Ctrl/Cmd+N)
  • Set the Width to 851 pixels and the Height to 315 pixels.
  • Set the Resolution to 72 pixels/inch. (This is the optimum for display-only files.)
  • Set the Background Color to white.
  • Under “Advanced Options”, choose sRGB (Working RGB) for the color space.
  • Leave Pixels set to “Square Pixels”.

I recommend saving these settings as a preset so you can select them quickly for future cover photos.

Next, open the file you want to use with the File/Open command (or use Ctrl/Cmd+O) It's okay if it's a higher resolution file.

In the Layers Panel for the new file, highlight the Background layer and select Layer/Duplicate Layer from the menu, then select the original file you created as the Destination. This will load a copy of the photo into your pre-sized template.

Click on the tab for your original file. You can now resize the photo to fit the format.

  • Select Edit/Transform/Scale (Ctrl/Cmd+T).
  • Hold the Shift key to constrain the proportions of the layer.
  • Use a corner of the bounding box to resize the layer to fit the portion you want to use into the existing format.

Now you can edit your photo as you like to make it really shine, and add any embellishments you like, such as your page title, a logo or and your signature watermark.

When you've got it looking really awesome, select File/Save As from the menu (or use Shift+Ctrl/Cmd+S) and save the file as a JPG if it's just a photo or as a PNG if you added text, etc.

Your new cover photo is now ready to use and should look great on everything from computer monitors to smart phones.

Alternative Editors

Before wrapping up this tutorial, it's important to mention that there are several alternate ways to create a Facebook cover photo, from free online “cover makers” to Photoshop clones like Gimp. One of our favorite alternative editors is  Luminar from Skylum . Not only does it come with a cropping ratio specifically for Facebook , there's a whole range of presets that will give your photos real “punch” with a singe click. Check it out, even if you're a PC user, because a Windows version is about to be available!

Upload and Enjoy!

Now that your cover is ready, just go to your Facebook page and click on the little camera icon that's visible (when you're logged in) on top of your current cover photo. Select the file you saved, upload it, and “Voila'!” Let the “Likes” roll in!

P.S. Changing your cover photo often will help keep your page interesting. Consider a monthly or seasonal update!

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