Create a WordPress Child-theme on Thematic framework

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I’m a huge fan of ThemeShaper‘s Thematic base theme, by Ian Stewart. After spending some time getting to know it, I have very little reason to start my custom themes from scratch. Since coming to understand the structure, I have yet to feel limited by it. View a diagram of the Thematic structure here. After a few projects, you’ll learn to see that plain white wireframe as an endless ocean of all possibility.

Obviously, start by installing the latest version of Thematic. Then decide whether you need a simple standard child theme, or a highly customized child theme.

Standard Sub-theme: The developers kindly offer a convenient way to implement a standard child-theme. From your FTP client:

  • Navigate to wordpress/wp-content/themes/thematic
  • Duplicate the directory thematicsamplechildtheme, copy it into the themes directory, and rename it to your liking.
  • Go inside your child-theme directory, open the style.css, and edit the info found in the head of the document accordingly.

At this point, you should be able to activate your child-theme from the WordPress backend. Have at it!

Custom Sub-theme: For complete control over the design, you will want to override many Thematic files. To do so:

  • Duplicate the thematic directory and rename it accordingly
  • Open your new style.css, and delete the contents.
  • Replace the contents with something like this:

Theme Name: Custom Child Theme
Theme URI:
Description: A Child Theme on Thematic framework.
Author: Your Name
Author URI:
Template: thematic
Version: 1.0
Tags: Thematic
Thematic is © Ian Stewart

@import url('../thematic/style.css');

/* Your Child Theme CSS Here */

*Note: The document head is the same as in their standard child theme style.css.
*Note: We are importing the main stylesheet from the parent theme.

  • Open your new functions.php, and delete the contents.
  • Optionally, you can replace the contents with something like this:


// Custom Child Theme Functions

// I've included a "commented out" sample function below that'll add a home link to your menu
// More ideas can be found on "A Guide To Customizing The Thematic Theme Framework"

// Adds a home link to your menu
//function childtheme_menu_args($args) {
// $args = array(
// 'show_home' => 'Home',
// 'sort_column' => 'menu_order',
// 'menu_class' => 'menu',
// 'echo' => true
// );
// return $args;

// Unleash the power of Thematic's dynamic classes

// Unleash the power of Thematic's comment form

// Unleash the power of Thematic's feed link functions


*Note: This this the content offered in functions.php of the Thematic sample child theme.

Now you can also delete the library directory. You can build your own eventually, but this particular library must stay unique to the parent theme.

By copying over the Thematic files, you now have a duplicate theme overriding the parent, allowing you to make all the changes you want without harming the original.

Lastly, Thematic’s developers recommend copying their default.css into your style.css if you are going to be making major changes.

  • From your FTP client, navigate to themes/thematic/library/styles/.
  • Open default.css, and copy the contents.
  • Go back to edit your style.css, and paste in the copied contents at the bottom.

And there you have it — a major head start on a highly customizable theme.

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