Create a Custom Theme

In this article, you’ll learn how to use the Custom Theme Builder in Atticus to create a one-of-a-kind design for your books. 

If you’d prefer to save some time and simply customize a preformatted theme, you’ll want to watch Part 1 from this series, Customize Preformatted Themes.

To achieve a completely unique aesthetic for your book, start by clicking on the Create Custom Theme button in the formatting tab of Atticus, with your book open. 

Choose General Layout

You’re presented with three choices:

  • No Image
  • Background Image
  • Image Element
Step 1 of the Custom Theme creation process within  Atticus - choosing a General layout. Image shows options of No Image, Background Image, and Image Element

No Image Layout

No Image will simply style your chapter number, chapter title, and subtitle. You can change the font, sizing, and alignment for each element. 

This section will need to be custom set regardless of which General Layout you choose.

As you can see, you can set a unique font, font size, and alignment for each element.

Once these choices are set, you can also choose the font size and alignment for print books’ header and footer.

Let’s see what we can accomplish using the Background Image layout.

Background Image Layout

If you choose the Background Image format, you can choose an image to be placed behind the text of your header. If you are planning to publish your book in both print and eBook versions, try to choose an image that will look appropriate as a full page image as well as simply a header image.

For print versions, depending on the size of your image, it may also extend down the page into the body content of your book. eBooks do not offer full bleed nor will they work well with images behind the body content, so you are restricted to just the header setting for digital versions. 

It’s also important to remember when you’re choosing your image that it costs more to print images in color, so it’s a good idea to choose images that will be as attractive in greyscale as in full color.

Atticus has an added integration with Book Brush, a design program developed specifically for Authors. If you click the brightly colored button, you’ll be relocated to Book Brush where you can set up either a free or paid account, and design perfectly pre-sized full page images for your custom theme background image.

If you’d prefer to create the images elsewhere, for additional help properly sizing your image, check the description box below for the related post, Image Sizing for Print and eBooks.

When designing a custom theme with a background image, you'll want to ensure the size is adjusted to the trim size with bleed of your book before importing into Atticus. This image shows the Upload and Book Brush integration options.

Image Element Layout

If you prefer a single image or icon to a background for your header, the Image Element layout will place your image above or below the elements in your header, depending on your settings. 

You can align the image as you prefer and adjust the width of the image up to 100%, which is full bleed in print books and to the maximum margins allowable on an eBook.

The Image Element theme inserts an uploaded image in one of four locations in your header:

  1. Above the Chapter Number
  2. Between the Chapter Number and the Chapter Title
  3. Below the Chapter Title
  4. Below the Subtitle

If you want to have a single image used throughout your book, repeating in each chapter, you will reduce the file size of your book, at least for eBook versions. 

To really set your book apart, however, you can also create header images that are unique to each chapter of your book.

Create Individual Chapter Header Images

If you’d like to have the images in your header change for each chapter, whether you’re using an Image Element or a Background image, you’ll need to take a few extra steps.

First, in the custom theme section, toggle the “Use Individual Chapter Images” button on. You’ll notice that the ability to upload an image disappears.

Image of the "Use Individual Chapter Images" toggle within the custom theme settings feature of Atticus. Turn this ON to use unique images for each of your chapters.

Finish customizing the rest of your optionis and Save your custom theme.

Once saved, Atticus will return you to the main Formatting settings tab. Under the heading “Visible Chapter Details,” ensure the box beside Image is checked.

Next, click Content from the top of the left navigtion panel and choose your first chapter. You’ll notice a link near your chapter title and subtitle that says Add Image. Click here to upload your header image for this chapter.

Image of the Add Image button used when selecting individual chapter images for a custom theme.

Once added, you should see the image show up in the previewer as well as a thumbnail image next to your chapter title. The option to Add Image will now be hidden, but if you need to change the image at any point, you can simply click the thumbnail to switch it out.

You’ll repeat this process with each of your individual images for your chapters.

Example of an image inserted as an individual chapter image.

Save and Finalize

Once you’ve customized your theme, make sure you give it a name and save it for future use!

You’ll be redirected to the main theme menu where you can further adjust the settings. If you haven’t yet watched Part 1 in this Design Your Book with Atticus series, you can refer to that video for more guidance.

The main difference between customizing a preformatted theme and further customizing a custom theme is the addition of the Image feature toggle for any books designed with background header images or image elements. Make sure this is checked for your images to show up in the previewer and on export. 

Edit Your Custom Theme

If you need to edit your custom theme for any reason, find the theme in the Formatting tab under “My Themes” and click the three dots beside the title. Make any changes necessary but always remember to scroll to the bottom of this page and Save to make sure your updates stick.

Design Your Book with Atticus – Next In Series

In Part 3 of this series, you’ll learn how to select and format special pages for your Front and Back Matter. If you’d like to watch the videos to this series and more tutorials, subscribe to our YouTube channel and ring the bell to always be notified when we release new or updated tutorials.  

Last Updated: 10/20/2022

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