If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably heard that the new Timeline will take effect on March 30th. And if you haven’t taken the plunge yet, it might be because you are uncertain about how to create the large picture that goes at the top – it’s called your “Cover.”

Your cover image needs to be wide – wider than high def, even. Most pictures that you have, if they have been taken with a regular digital camera or camera phone, are not going to work without some modifications. But you can make them work.

If you have one of the graphics programs that uses “layers,” you can create some awesome Covers, but even if all you have is the Microsoft Paint program that comes standard with Windows, you’ll be fine.

Look at the image below. It gives you the dimensions of the Cover graphic. Facebook says you can use any image that is at least 720px wide, but my recommendation is to go with the exact size if you can.

When you look at a page that uses a Cover, you will notice that the little square profile picture covers a portion of the lower left corner. That space is represented by the darker blue box in the image below.

If your graphics program uses “layers” –

For those of you who can use “layers,” I have included a link to a .PSD file for you. There is a background layer and a profile image layer, and your Cover image should go in between them, so that you can see what the profile image will block. (click to download the .PSD file)

And now you can have some fun! You aren’t limited to one picture – you can add all sorts of text and embellishments, almost like “digital scrapbooking.” Here are some examples that I snagged off of Facebook…

Once you have your image just the way you want it, turn off the visibility of the profile picture layer, and save it as a jpeg and upload it.

If you are using Paint –

Here’s a short tutorial that will show you how to create your Cover using Paint.

Step 1 — First find an image that you want to use. Make sure that the size is bigger than 851px wide. Usually if it is an image that you have taken with a digital camera, it will work just fine. Sometimes cell phone images are too small.

Step 2 — Choose your image and open it in Paint. You will be taking a horizontal “slice” out of the image, so choose one with that in mind.

Step 3 — I am going to use the picture of Santa and my granddaughters for our demonstration.

Step 4 — The first thing I am going to do is resize the image. Click the “Image” button and then choose “Resize” from the drop down menu.

Step 5 — When the Resize dialogue box opens, change the default from “Percentage” to “Pixels” and make the width 851. The height should automatically change proportionally. If it does not, make sure the “Maintain Aspect Ratio” box is checked.

Step 6 — The next step is to select the area that you want to keep in your Cover. First click the “Select” box to change the tool so you can select the area that you want.  Click and drag the mouse all the way across the image because you want it to be 851 pixels wide. The next step is the tricky part…

Step 7 — You want the width to be 851 pixels, which is easy, because it is the whole width of the image, now that we have resized it. But you want the height to be exactly 315 pixels. If you look down at the bottom, right below the image, you will see that the numbers change as you move the cursor. You want to get those numbers to be exactly 851 x 315. If you don’t get it quite right, or you want to give it another try, click the ESC key on your keyboard and the selection will disappear.

Step 8 — Once you have your area exactly the way you want it, you will “crop” the image so that your selected area is all that is lift. You can do that by choosing the crop tool from the toolbar, or you can right-click your mouse and choose “crop” from the menu.

Step 9 — Now you just have to save your image with a new name and upload it to Facebook. Here’s my finished image added to my profile.

Be sure to link to your facebook page so I can see your profile – you can do that in the comments section of the blog. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!!