Photoshop: Creative Google+ Cover Photo

(Update: Google+ has changed the layout of their Cover Photos rendering this tutorial not useful anymore. ):

The Google+ UI recently got a major update. One thing brought along was the ability to use Cover Photos similar to Facebook. With that said, I’m pretty sure you know where this is going. Especially, if you’ve seen my last tutorial (grin). In this tutorial, we’ll be taking a look at how to take one image and split it into both the Cover and Profile photos like you see below.

Google+ actually has two different templates you can choose from to set as your cover photo. One of them, the “Single Big Banner” pictured above. The other, a set of five smaller images pictured below.

I went ahead and created two different templates for you guys to use. One for the single big banner and another for the set of five small images. You can get them below.

Get ’em both (ZIP) 12.8MB



We’ll take a look at splicing this image into both the Cover and Profile images in Adobe Photoshop CS6 Beta. It’s available free to try over at No excuses for not having Photoshop!

Step 1

We’ll begin by opening the Single Big Banner template in Photoshop. If you get a message saying, “This document contains unknown data which will be discarded to keep layers editable…” Just click, “Keep Layers“.

Depending on your settings, You should see exactly what I see here;

If you don’t see the Guides, go to View > Extras, Win: Ctrl-H Mac: Cmd-H

The purple area in the photo represents the cover photo area. The red to the right indicates where it’ll be cropped as Google+ crops the cover photo. The black area is where the profile photo will sit.

Step 2

Lets import our image to be used. From the various methods of opening an image in Photoshop, I chose to go to File > Place and opened an image of a zebra.

Make sure this new layer is above the Reference layer so you can see to position it.

Our goal is to have this zebra’s body show as the cover photo and head be our profile photo. I’ve resized and positioned it to this result;


We now need to extract our cover and profile photos from this template. With the photo layer selected go to the Rectangular Marquee Tool (and select the cover photo area. You can refer to the guide layer to help with your selection.

Once done, go to Edit > Copy.

Note: If you have more than one photo layer, turn off all layers except the one’s that are part of that sequence of photos. After you make the selection, go to Edit > Copy Merged instead. This will copy all visible layers merged into one.

Create a new document, File > New and we can name this, “coverphoto“. The size here should be 940 x 180 pixels since that is the size needed for Google+ cover photos. Click OK.

Go to Edit > Paste. You should now see the comple cover photo. Go to File > Save As and save this in whatever format you prefer and that Google+ allows. I chose JPEG with a quality of 8. Google+ also allows animated GIFs as your Cover Photo.


Now that our cover photo has been extracted, we need to go get our profile photo. Go back to the Single Big Banner Template and just like before, we’ll need to make a new selection using the Rectangular Marquee Tool. This time, select the area in black if your looking at the guides layer. This will be our profile photo.

Go to Edit > Copy or Copy Merged depending on if you have single or multiple layers.

Go to File > New and create a new document. We’ll name this, “ProfilePhoto” and leave the size as-is.

In this new profilephoto document, Go to Edit > Paste. Your profile photo is now placed inside that document.

Go to File > Save As and save this in whatever format you prefer and that Google+ allows. I went with JPEG at a quality of 8. Preferably the format you used in the last step.


Now all that’s left do do is to place these image on our Google+ page. Upload the cover photo in the cover photo area and then upload the profile photo. Google+ may want to crop your profile photo but don’t allow it. Make the selection over the entire photo and you’re done!

Five Icon Template Usage

Open the 5IconSet.psd template in Photoshop. Again, If you get a message saying, “This document contains unknown data which will be discarded to keep layers editable…” Just click, “Keep Layers“.

If you don’t see the guides, go to View > Extras, Win: Ctrl-H Mac: Cmd-H

You may be overwhelmed by all the guides and extras you see in this template. Not to worry as you won’t need to touch those. I’ve placed those slices in this template that’ll help us out later when saving this photo.

Place your image within this document. File > Place.

Align this placed image within the document exactly how you’d like it to appear on your Google+ profile. You can use the reference layer to help you out.

Now, remember those slices I’ve added? This will allow us to save all these images with a click of a button! Simply go to File > Save for Web. I chose JPEG with a High quality around 60. Click Save… and make sure the Format is set to, “Images Only“. Choose a file name and click Save.

You’ll now have a new folder titled, “Images” and within this folder you’ll see the five icon images along with our profile image to be uploaded straight to Google+. Such a time saver than having to select each photo individually.

That’s all! Just upload these five icons as your cover photo in Google+. Then upload the profile photo depending on the style you’re looking for.

That’s it! We’re done. You’ve just created a very neat looking cover photo that coincides with your Google+ profile picture in Photoshop! Look through some of the inspiration links I’ve posted below. You’re only limited to your imagination! If you know how to create animated GIFs you can even animate your cover photo to make it stand out even more!


If you happen to trick our your Google+ profile using the methods in this tutorial, leave your Google+ profile link in the comments below. I’d love to see what you guys come up with and maybe even share them.

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Posted Under: Photoshop


Written by Robert Carreno

Robert began making video tutorials on YouTube nearly 7 years ago. Teaching Photoshop and Sony Vegas, he's made over 250 video tutorials helping almost 6 million people and has been recognized by Sony. He loves being able to share his knowledge with others and inspiring them to create something awesome.