Today, I wanted to talk about my biggest project of the last month. Book covers! My books is out to one of my editors to read so I’m waiting for it back. In the meantime, I’ve been working on my book cover. Now first thing to note, yes I am self-publishing for many reasons. Maybe another post I’ll talk more about it, but I have a few reasons that are different than most.
Part of the reason is I like to have full control over what is happening to my book. Part of that is, of course, the cover. Now I have NO art skills. I can color in a picture beautifully, but I can’t sketch to save my life. So you’d think I had no means to make a book cover. However, I did it and so you can you. Just an example of the kind of book cover a newbie like me can make with some digital art programming, YouTube, and creativity.
So as you can see, you can get some pretty cool effects. Now I’m going to explain to you what I used to make this. First off, the program I used is called GIMP. It’s a free program you can get online. Here is the link. http://www.gimp.org/downloads/
Once you have downloaded it, you can open it and see how it works. There is a manual you can download to help you below the download link. That is also helpful. However, what worked for me was watching Youtube video after Youtube video.
Once you’ve done that, you need to go to your POD website and look at their requirements for covers. Now I’ve only looked at Lulu and CreateSpace so far, but most have the same basic principle. The first way you can do it is to take the size of the book you want. Both sights have a way to calculate out the dementions you will need. Write down that number. Then open GIMP and select ‘new’. When you open the new file it will ask you to set the size. What you do is click on the px button and change it to inches, type in the books measurement and that will give you your template. In GIMP it looks like this.
Now to learn how the program itself works, I again recommend going to YouTube and the guide you get with the program. If you’d like specific links let me know in the comments and I’ll update it. For now, if you don’t want links just look up the topic on YouTube. The ones I think you’d want most are ‘color manipulation’ and ‘shading’.
I am going to share some tips specifically for authors with no art skill. These are my tricks and tips on how to use this program to make a good book cover. You won’t find these in any YouTube video.
1. Use those brushes! Now brushes are in the tool box that looks like this.
Now there are some good brushes that come with the program, however, about 95% of the tools I used to make that cover were not already in the program. Anyone can make a brush. The program helps you do that. Online, there are lots of people who have made free downloadable brushes you can use. I used an eye brush and lightening brush pack by http://www.obsidiandawn.com/ This site provides lots of amazing free brushes you can use. Just make sure you mention that you used their work in making your cover. They agree to let you use them at no cost, if you credit them and personally, I want to credit them. If you don’t want to credit them, you can buy a license that will let you use them without giving them credit, but not sell the brushes to others. Now brushes allow you to make patterns and shapes with just a few clicks. With a creative mind, you can work that out in seconds. About 80% of the sample cover I made was done with brushes.
2. Using Logos
Now, again watching a video on how to make logos will be more helpful. Here I show you how to copy that logo into your main work, as GIMP does not allow this and I’ve not found a video to tell you how. I will summarize how to make them. Go to file+create+logo. A side bar will open with the different styles of logos you can make. A list of what they look like is here. http://opdenacker.org/gimp/logos Once you select one it will show you a menu with options on how to make it more personal. For the GLOWING, this is the menu.
Once you have the settings you want, click okay. Once it’s made, to copy it into the main project you’re making your book cover on. To do this, click on the layer that has the main letters. Go to the Select Menu and click ‘Select All’. Then hit copy. This will paste it into the brush menu on the top left square. Anything you copy will turn into a ‘brush’ in the top left of the brushes menu.
Now go back into the book cover project. Select brushes and pick that top left brush. (Makes sure it has your letters in side of it. If it’s black, try again.) Then you just click where you want the letters to go. If the shadows or other effects didn’t carry over, click on the shadow layer in the logo project, copy and paste just like before and click that brush right under the first one you made. That will form the full logo look. That’s how I made the logo for this cover.
3. Outlining – Take another picture and trace it.
So this one I use quite a bit. What you do is you take a picture that has the outline of what you want. For example, you want to put a kitten on your cover. First, find a picture of a kitten in the pose you want. Download the photo and open it in GIMP. Then make another layer and call that layer outline. Then take either you brush tool or path tool. With both tools, you will make dots on the edges of the photo.
With the path tool, you just want to make sure the white line that is formed matches the sides of the picture until it matches like shown here. There should be a dot at every curve because the lines are straight.
Or you can use the brush to do the same, BUT you won’t see the dots, instead, you will press and hold the shift key to make straight lines into the shape. It looks like this.
I used yellow so you can see the line I used on the photo, but you want to use the actual colors you want the lines to be. When you use the color you want, it maybe hard to see with the original photo in view. To hide it, on the layer that has the photo you want, click the eye button on that layer so you can then just see just your outline.
Personally, I like the brush method better. So that’s why I use. The video that explains those tricks and tips best is this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA8mZsPbcyI This is the one I used and it helped a lot. Other topics to look up that will be helpful are ‘How to do shading’ and ‘color manipulation’. Also, all of these tricks an idea work in Photoshop or a more advance program if you have them.
So my challenge to you is to try it. Make really any photo or picture using this idea. You’ll be amazing what you can do with no art classes, no art skills and spending little to no money. It also allows you to stay in the control seat. You decide exactly how it looks! You also can make a few ideas and use your current readership or author group to vote on which they like best.
So have fun! Get creative and find the inner artist in you!