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Adam Barker
Adam Barker

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How to make a dynamic Twitter Header with Switchboard Canvas

A number of interesting posts here on describe how to make a dynamic Twitter header/cover and they inspired me to add this capability to Switchboard Canvas - an API-driven image generation tool.

With Switchboard Canvas, users first create a template, then use the API to create images from it with data you supply or from other tools that you already use.

In this tutorial we’ll:

  • create a template
  • Use Switchboard Canvas to make a connection to Twitter
  • Use the API to generate an image from the template
  • Use the API to actually update your Twitter header

What are the dimensions of a Twitter header/cover image?

The correct size for a Twitter header/cover image is 1500x500 pixels.

Making a Twitter header/cover template

Open the Previewer and choose Profile header from the Twitter section.

Twitter Cover in the Switchboard Canvas Palette

Saving your template at this point, despite it being empty, will default it to this size in the future.


For a background, I chose this moon and stars backdrop from Adobe Stock. I also resized it to a height of 500px. Upload the resulting image to your Library.

Add an Image element choose the image from your Library. Make sure the API name for the image is backdrop.

Adobe Stock Preview

Starry sky backdrop in place

When choosing a background for a template, it’s helpful to have it fade into another color, especially if you’re going to add Text elements on top of the image.

In the template properties, set the background color to #112346:
The template's background color

Now we can change the Element Opacity of the background image to something around the 75% mark:

Setting the background image's opacity

Adding a quote element

To add a quote to the image, we’re going to add a Text element. I’m using a Google Font called Sorts Mill Goudy from Google:

Using pinning, we’re going to ensure that regardless of the quote we use in the Text element, it will stay centered, and won’t take up any more room than the bounding box.

Follow these steps to create and position the Text element for your quote:

  1. Click Add Text or press T to add a Text element.
  2. Set the API Name to quote.
  3. Set the Text Color to white.
  4. Set the Text to something generic such as “This is a placeholder for a favorite quote”.
  5. Click the Bottom and Right pinning icons to enable pinning to those edges.
  6. Set the Top edge px value to 50.
  7. Set the Left and Right px values to 200.
  8. Set the Bottom edge px value to 0 and the % to 50.

The Location panel properties should look like this:
Pin settings for the quote Text element

We’re pinning the Text element to 200px from the left edge, 200px from the right edge, and 50px from the top edge.

On the bottom edge we’re pinning to 50% - which is 50% of the height of the template.

Ensure the Horizontal Alignment and the Vertical Alignment are set to Center and Middle respectively. This will keep the text in the center on the bounding box in both directions.

The quote element in position

Adding the latest follower images

The next step is to add a series of five Image elements that will show the profile pictures of our five latest followers.

This data comes from Twitter automatically, so we just need to add the elements and make sure they’re named properly.

Follow these steps to make a profile image:

  1. Click Add an Image, or press I.
  2. Close the Library popup that appears - we don’t need an image at this point.
  3. Change the width and height to 100.
  4. SHIFT+Click the Bottom Pinning icon. This enables pinning to the bottom edge but also keeps the height you entered - 100 pixels.
  5. SHIFT+Click the Right Pinning Icon. Likewise, this enables pinning to the right edge but keeps the width you entered at 100 pixels.
  6. To add a little offset from the very edge, set the Right Pinning px value to 20. Before leaving this field, press SHIFT+Enter. This sets all px offsets to 20.

The follower image pin settings

To finish off the image:

Set the Stroke Color to white, and set the Stroke Width to around 20%.
Setting the stroke color and width

Lastly, change the API Name to follower5-image.

Your first follower image should look like this:

The first follower image in place

Making the other four follower images

With follower5-image selected, press CTRL+SHIFT+V to duplicate it.

Change the Right pinning setting as follows:

  • Drop the edge selector down, and instead of edge, choose follower5-image
  • Drop the side selector down and choose Left
  • Make sure the px value is still 20px.

Set the API Name to follower4-image.

This pins the right hand side of follower4-image to the left hand side of follower5-image with an offset of 20px.

Repeat this process 3 more times, duplicating the element and setting the edge selector to the element you previously created.

Don’t forget to set the API Name of each new element follower3-image, follower2-image, and follower1-image respectively.

All the follower images in place

Adding a thank-you note

The last element to add to the template is a thank-you note, thanking your last five followers.

Follow these steps to add and position this Text element:

  1. Click Add Text or press T to add a Text element.
  2. Set the Text to something like “Thank you to my latest followers:”
  3. Set the Left pinning edge selector down and choose follower1-image and set the side selector to Left.
  4. Click the Right pinning icon to enable it.
  5. Set the Right pinning edge selector to follower5-image and set the side selector to Right.
  6. Set the Height to 60px.
  7. SHIFT+Click the Bottom pinning icon to enable it, preserving the 60px height.
  8. Set the Bottom pinning edge selector to follower1-image and set the side selector to Top.
  9. Set the Bottom pinning px value to 10.

These settings pin the position of your thank-you Text element to the follower images, specifically, to the left edge of follower1-image, to the right edge of follower5-image, and 10px above follower1-image.

The thank-you Text element pin settings

Previewing the template in other sizes

Even though we’re making a Twitter header/cover which are always 1500x500, we can use the Preview control to make sure our template is responsive.

Press P to open the Previewer and choose some of the other sizes. The follower images and the thank-you message should always be in the bottom-right corner, and the quote should be centered at the top of the template.

Make sure we’re designing back at 1500x500 before closing the Previewer panel.

Make sure your template is saved and that the API Name for it is twitter-header.

Connecting to Twitter

Now that the template is created, visit your Profile page to connect Switchboard Canvas to your Twitter account.

Click the connect to twitter hyperlink. Twitter’s authorization page will load and ask you to accept the request. Once authorized, Canvas will indicate a successful connection.

Using the API

Now we can use the API to create an image from the template.

You can specify a quote to appear in the Text element in your template.

Using a REST client such as Insomnia or Postman, make sure your API key is added as the X-API-Key header, and send a POST request like this:

    "template": "twitter-header",
    "sizes": [
            "width": 1500,
            "height": 500
    "elements": {
        "quote": {
            "text": "Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly."
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This will return a response with a link to your new image:

  "duration": 2327,
  "usage": false,
  "success": true,
  "warnings": [],
  "sizes": [
      "warnings": [],
      "success": true,
      "size": {
        "width": 1500,
        "height": 500
      "url": ""
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Pre-update preview

As you can see, the quote has been set but the follower images have not.

Send the request again but this time, set the updateTwitterHeader property to true:

    "template": "twitter-header",
    "sizes": [
            "width": 1500,
            "height": 500
    "elements": {
        "quote": {
            "text": "Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly."
    "updateTwitterHeader": true
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Post update preview

The final Twitter profile preview

Thanks again to the authors of the following posts for the inspiration!

Please visit if you're interested in automating image generation with an API.

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