Thoughts from a 21st century educator.
So I thought I should give more detail on how to create a theme for Drupal 5.
What I basically did was copy page.tpl.php, node.tpl.php, block.tpl.php, box.tpl.php, comment.tpl.php and template.php from the Garland theme. I then also created a file called page-front.tpl.php. This gave me a basic framework with which to work.
For the creation of the theme for the Skin Drupal site, the first thing I did was rip out all of the html between the body tags in the page.tpl.php file. I then looked at the picture my wife gave me, and mentally divided it into regions.
From this picture, you can see it could be easily divided into 4 blocks, which is essentially how I created the html.
First I inserted a wrapper div, to make it easy to center the display of the site for people with browsers with resolution greater than 1024x768. We decided, by doing some research online, that a theme that was 960px wide by about 500px tall was ideal for display in most people's monitors. We'd be leaving those poor 800x600 people out of the loop, but that's only 10% of the market, and not likely to be the people looking for themes at our site (developers tend to try and use the best tools at their disposal).
Inside the wrapper div, I inserted two sibling divs to divide the site into the header and main regions. Since the content of the header was so simple, I just inserted 2 divs for the right and left portions of the header and the same for the main portion.
The 5 rotating image blocks, I quickly realized I would have to position absolutely on the page in order to make the fade in and fade out work. This presented problems later and led us to eventually scrap this theme, but more about that in a future post. Anyway, to allow for this, I opened up my blank template.php file and created a themename_regions function, and created 5 more regions for my site, calling them easy to remember things like box 1, box 2, box 3, box 4 and box 5. Before I went any further, I created 5 views to match these blocks and used the block administration page to match the blocks to their position on the front page. I went ahead and created some filler content, so we'd be able to see these blocks at work.
It was pretty simple to set some default blocks for the right column of the main page, and then I went ahead and worked on the css for the theme, which is remarkably simple since our layout is so clean and easy.
Fix the width of all of the blocks, fix their height, add float left to most of them, and float right to the right column, and we were set. Then I used absolute positioning on the blocks and wrote the JS script to fade them in and out. jQuery is amazing, I have to say, this script was a breeze to write. If you examine the source of the page, or use JSview, you can see the name of the JS file, which you can safely view in your browser. You'll see that it's pretty short.
I kept the default html for the box, block, comment, and node files, but used a views theming function inside my template.php file to greatly simplify the html presented by the views (since all I really wanted to see was the thumbnails). Then Tada! I had a really simple plain theme. The idea of the theme is that it looks essentially unthemed, and that our themes will be ways to spruce up the site.