"Candy rainbow" graphic element for a site design

I want to change the rainbow element in the header of the webcomic site I'm tweaking. The logo is set in stone, as are the general site colours. Check the header visible at [url removed, login to view] to see the rainbow. (I'm talking about the thing with "Archives About Forum"... on it.)

It's just a bunch of wavy pastel rectangles I put together in Fireworks years ago. Perhaps my simple idea is the best way to do things, but I've always felt like it deserved some kind of depth. Gradients with drop shadows? Streaks? Textures? At first conception I actually wanted sprinkles of candy stuff in the rainbow but gave up on that when it moved beyond my sketchbook.

I don't really know WHAT I want it to look like exactly, but it has to be somewhat flat with soft gradients, or else it'll look way out of place. I think the ideal design is something I can sort of picture in my head - a nicely redrawn wavy ribbon with candies and other bits flowing through the rainbow in a tasteful way that matches the cartoony look of the site.

Getting the art right is the most important thing. But I need it to perform these functions in addition to the links you see now:

* Integrate the "New Reader?" link into the rainbow - either as a new major link next to "About", or something that peeks out of\integrates with the rainbow.

* Create a variant where this "New Reader" link is made more obvious for new visitors - it could be enlarged\coloured, could be garishly decorated like the Google design shown in the attached [url removed, login to view], whatever suits the aesthetic.

* Create a variant with AND without the "Updates Monday, Wednesday and Friday!" text - it will only appear on certain pages.

* Replace the Frutiger with Freight Sans Pro Semibold (I'm trying to unify it under the same typeface we use in the site body, and semibold feels right for the navbar.) You could use Frutiger or Helvetica as a (weak) placeholder if you don't have Freight Sans Pro though.

* If character art (you can see we use character art all over the site, like in the headings on [url removed, login to view]) is a part of your idea, this is fine - draw a placeholder and real art could be drawn in later by my partner.

* Adjusting the colour of the rainbow is fine, but please check around the site and note how the pastel rainbow colours are used everywhere. This is one of the reasons I've had trouble changing it, but perhaps you can find something harmonious where I could not?

I've attached a bundle of idea graphics to look at, but none are perfect. I've also attached some resources - the homepage without a rainbow, an Illustrator file of the logo, and the original rainbow source file (it's a Fireworks PNG containing vectors.)

In bidding, please give me an idea of what you can provide. Typical heavy looking Photoshop work isn't going to be appropriate for this site, so it'd be better if you could show some bright and happy Web 2.0-looking art. Or, ideally, share with me an unpolished concept!

As for the file format I'd want: Photoshop, Fireworks, whatever format is fine so long as I can edit it. You should probably make it @2x too, for lovely iPad retina screens. (1900px wide, that'd be.)

Thanks for your time!

Kemahiran: Reka Bentuk Grafik, Pengilustrasi, Rekabentuk Logo, Photoshop, Reka Bentuk Laman Web

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