Designing your New Template is basically, a four-stage process. This post details the first of these four stages - The Template. Soon to follow, in this post series, will be the remaining three stages; Background, Layout and Advanced.
It might also be advisable to ease into changing, if you have multiple blogs.
The usual step of making a back-up copy of your existing blog template is required.
When you log-in to either, Production Blogger - (Orange), or Blogger in Draft, - (Blue) Dashboards, the Template Designer, is available via your newly named Design Screen option, which replaces the Layout/Customise Screen option, for a particular blog, on your Dashboard, or Navbar. see: Images 1 to 3.
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Once you are have navigated to the Template Designer (Image 3), the blog you wish to upgrade, or change to a New Designer Template, should load - Image 4 - in the main window, and in the Live on Blog window. Note: This can sometimes be slow, depending on your Browser. I use Chrome Browser, as opposed to Firefox, when changing a template, as I believe Blogger has tailored the New Template Designer and Blogger in Draft to operate more successfully, in Chrome Browser. Internet Explorer 8 also expedites this.
One aspect to note is that individually customised gadgets will not function, or appear, as they did before changing to the New designer Templates. You should back them up, as you will have to add them again - eg: the Hidden Topics/Labels gadget I have in my sidebar.
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There are now, FIVE various basic templates to choose from. Simple, and Picture Window by Josh Peterson, Awesome Inc. by Tina Chen, and Watermark - again by Josh Peterson, and the new Ethereal, by Jason Morrow. This information has recently all changed with the release of the New Designer Templates into Production Blogger, so it may vary slightly in reality, from my images etc on this post.
To select a template, click on the picture of the style of template, such as Simple, and a variety of default colour schemes will appear under it. You can click on these and an example will load in the main window.
The following images are examples of the varieties of templates.
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When you decide on the variety of template you want, you can then either save the changes you've chosen, by clicking on Apply to Blog, or move on to the next stage, which is choosing the Background you desire. It is in this stage that you can really personalise the look of the template.
Of course, New Designer Templates may not be for everyone. If you have changed from the Layouts template style, to the New Designer style, and don't like it, you can still revert. There's some good news for you!
The next stage is Background - Stage 2.
see also: Blogger Help