GIMP for Beginners 6: Make a Simple Book Cover for Free | Brian Jackson | Skillshare

GIMP for Beginners 6: Make a Simple Book Cover for Free

Brian Jackson, Author/Publisher/Educator

GIMP for Beginners 6: Make a Simple Book Cover for Free

Brian Jackson, Author/Publisher/Educator

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9 Lessons (25m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Book Cover Size

    • 3. Create a White Book Cover

    • 4. Scale and Crop the Image

    • 5. Free and Pay For Images

    • 6. Add Text

    • 7. Add Colored Boxes

    • 8. Make Your Text Pop

    • 9. GIMP for Beginners, Book Cover, Final Thoughts

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About This Class

In this GIMP for beginners class I will teach you how to create stunning, professional looking book covers using only three simple components: a background image, text and colored boxes.  Following my simple technique you'll have a book cover in no time that will attract readers to buying your book.

The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is a free software program that runs on the Windows, Mac OS and Linux operating systems.  For the cost of a few dollars for a background image, we'll be using the GIMP to create inexpensive and easy professional quality book covers.

This class addresses the following topics:

  • Book Cover Size and Resolution
  • Create a White Book Cover
  • Acquiring a Background Image
  • Sizing Your Background
  • Add Text
  • Add Colored Boxes
  • Make Your Text Pop

If you need a professional looking book cover and you need it cheap then this class on the GIMP is the one for you.

I'll see you in the classroom,


Meet Your Teacher

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Brian Jackson



Born in Los Angeles in the middle of the last century, I have always wanted to be a writer. After twenty-five some odd years spent working in the computer industry in the heart of the Silicon Valley, first for Lockheed as a Systems Programmer and later for Cisco Systems as a test tool developer, I managed to retire early and begin my next career as a self-published author.

Along with writing and publishing my own novels I also publish the works of my wife, Melanie Jackson. During the past four years I've published well over 100 books in paperback and eBook formats. Oddly enough this includes eBooks on how to self-publish books and how to create professional looking book covers using the GIMP. I've also recorded and distributed a pair of audiobooks available for purchase on Amazon... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello. And thank you for purchasing my class in this class. We're gonna look at creating book covers using the free graphic tool the gimp. Now, if you're not familiar with the gimp, you may want to refresh your memory about things by taking any of my gimp for beginners courses. Just search for gimp for beginners on skill share, and you'll find my previous seven courses during this class. We're going to work on a class project to make this book cover over to the right. Then it's up to you to build your own book cover following the instructions I provided and uploaded to your class project. Now let's get going with making our book cover. 2. Book Cover Size: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the class Before getting started, I want to give you my quick little dissertation on book covered dimensions and resolution or making sense the varied requirements. Let's look at the book cover size dilemma. We have Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook smash words Apple in the E book arena, and every publisher has different cover dimensional and resolution requirements. Then you add print on demand paperback requirements. The situation is maddening, but allow me to add a little sanity to the situation. Here's what I know about cover dimensions. Amazon Kindle requires the greatest dimension by requiring that the longest side of your book be at least 2500 pixels. All publishers require that one side yearbook cover be longer than the other, most the time. It's taller than it is wide. But Children's books is sometimes a wider than tall, in my experience, maintaining a 3 to 2 ratio between book cover height and with produces the most attractive cover. Now, as faras book cover resolution create space print on demand, Paperback publishing requires the highest resolution. It requires print resolution of 300 pixels bridge rather than the 72 pixels per inch. That's satisfactory for most e book and Web graphics. Additionally, create space requires that you keep your text on your book cover out of the five inch border around the outside. That would be top right and bottom of your book cover. So one of the things will need to remember when creating our book covers to try to keep 1/2 inch barrier around the outside. Now, if we take these requirements and we do the math, what do we come up with? We're going to make book covers at 2500 pixels by 16 66 pixels at 300 peopie. I resolution. This satisfies the most stringent dimension presented by Amazon, kindle a 25 100 pixels and at the same time satisfies the create space hard copy requirement of 300 pixels per inch. And what if you're working in inches like maybe you're making your book cover in Power Point? Well, just divide the pixels per inch into the number of pixels you want. It showed you the number of inches you could perform the same math and centimeters of using the metric system. Now final warning. Before I leave you cover dimension requirements change frequently. So check with your favorite publisher for their individual cover requirements. They usually tell you as you're uploading a book, cover what the minimum requirements are, and that's it for me. In the next lesson, we're gonna begin creating your book cover. 3. Create a White Book Cover: Hi, everyone. And thank you for enrolling in the class in this lecture. We're gonna create a base canvas for our book cover to show you some of the things that you don't have to know. Like how to start the gam powder to create a simple image and how to save the results for use later and for use in preparing your book cover. So the first thing that we're going to do is we're gonna start the gimp. It reads, It's resource is and comes up with the standard three window layout. Now we're going to create a white book cover, I know not very useful, but it's gonna be the right size and the right resolution to do this. We're going to come up to file new, and then we're going to set the dimensions for the book cover. Now, as I've already addressed, the dimensions are going to be 166 pixels wide and 2500 tall and as far as the resolution that could be set in the advanced options and we want to go up to 300 dp I for print quality and as far as the book cover color. It's going to be our current background color, which is white. That's just fine. So I go ahead and I click. OK, and here's our book cover. The next step is going to be to find a location to store it. Normally, I store my book covers in my Pictures directory and Keith and create separate directories for each book cover project I'm working on. So let's go ahead and will say, Save as we'll put I'm going to put this in my skill share directory and documents and in the folder for this class, and I'm going to give it a name of sample cover. It's going to have a type of Ex CF, which is the gimp internal file structure, and we say Save now. The other thing we need to do to use an image is toe export it. Right now it's end gimp so internal format. But if I export it as either a P and G or a J peg, then I'll be able to use it on the Web or imported under other programs. I'm going to choose a J peg image by putting the extension J. P g on my exported file the gimp automatically recognizes that it's J. Peg file and then asked me for the resolution. And 90% quality is fine there. We've just created a white book cover, which is 2500 pixels tall, by 16 66 wide and his 300 peopie I resolution. We've saved it as a gimp file, and we've exported as a J. Peg in the next lesson will start working on the book cover in earnest. 4. Scale and Crop the Image: Hi, everyone here I am back in can stock in this lesson. I'm going to select my image for my cover and then I'm going to size it for the cover and pin it or anchor it to the background image in the gimp. So to begin with, you need to pick a category and we need to search for an image. I want something dramatic. So I'll enter dramatic and noticed. They have dramatic sky and lightning and so on. So lots of more specific keywords. But I'm just gonna go with dramatic and see what I get. And here are several nice images. Some of them have obviously already been Photoshopped, but others are interesting. This one's probably been Photoshopped, but it's an interesting picture. I like it. It's got a dramatic wheat field effect with a dramatic sky. I'm gonna go ahead and I'm gonna pick up this image and use it for the cover. And one other thing that I wanted to show you in searching is that you can select Orian Tash irritation over here so we could go vertical or a portrait orientation, which is more of a book cover. So that will restrict your your searches. So once again I'm going to use this image. It's four credits for a 3000 by 3300 DP. I image and I'll go ahead and accept the license terms and I'll download it. And here it pops up the download window and it asked me where I want to put it Now in my pictures directory, I actually have a can stock directory where I put all my can stock images, and what I do to name them is that I take the word can stock photo. And in between that and the image number, I put hyphen and a name and the name I'm gonna uses the search criteria that I used to find the image. So I'll go ahead and I'll save that down here in the browser. We can see that it's being downloaded and the download is complete. Now let's go over to the GIB. Here we are in the gimp, where I'm going to size that image and paste it down here on the background layer. So let's go ahead and will file open pictures can stock, and it was dramatic. Here's our image. I just double click on it and it opens now what we have to do to size this images, we can see that it's much too wide, so we're gonna add up, cropping the with, but will resize it to the proper height. The height that we want is 2500 pixels. Right now it's 3000 so we need to bring it down a little. To do that, we use image scale image, and we type in the new height of 2500. And then when I click over on the with, it automatically adjusts the with because we have these chain together and it's maintaining the aspect ratio. We can also see that the resolution is 300 which is exactly what we want. So let's go ahead and scale that, and it becomes a little bit smaller now. The next thing we have to do is crop it left and right to make it book sized, and to do that, we use image canvas size. Make sure that the two fields air, not chain, because we don't want to maintain the aspect ratio and change its with 2 16 66 There we go now Down here is showing us that it's cropping it to the left side of the image. I can click center, and it will put an X offset here to make it the center of the image. I always like cutting out the center of the heart of the image, So let's go ahead and will resize. And here we have a book size background. All we need to do now is select all and edit copy, and we're done with this image. Now I can go over here to my background make and I'll edit paced our background. So here were beginning to develop a book cover. This is the background. In the next lesson, we're gonna start adding text to our image, the title in the author name. 5. Free and Pay For Images: in this lesson. I want to talk a little bit about where to find images on the Internet, specifically the background image for your cover. We're going to look at both free and pay for sites where you can find excellent images for use on your book cover. So what are these sites? Well, first, there's the free image sites. One of the best I think out there is Getty images dot com. Now, to get to the actual creative images and the royalty free, it's a slightly longer path. You can pause this lesson and get the U R L and type it into your browser If you want to go there, The easy way to find this is to just say Getty free images. Just search for that near browser, and it will return this URL. Another excellent place for free imagery is nasa dot gov. As long as you accept, this one will primarily have space pictures. Now, in addition to the free sites, there are several excellent pay for image sites out there that I use, actually one that I used to use all the time called Dollar Photo Club. The images were a dollar apiece and I used to like that, but they went out of business. So now my favorite site is can stock photo. It's fairly inexpensive and has a good set of images. Next is Istock Photo. This has even better images, but it's a little pricier. And finally, there's stock dot adobe dot com so you can actually buy your images from Adobe Now. What I wanted to do before proceeding with getting our image and starting to create our book cover is show you some of these sites. Here I am on the Getty Images site, and this is really nice. Noticed this. They have related searches that they can show you that you can bring up. You can enter search criteria for the images you want and these air really nice images, and you'll be just fine as long as you stay in the creative R F images or creative royalty free images, you can use any of these images for free. NASA also has several nice images. They have astronomy, picture of the day and so on. You can go through and find images and video for your website, which is all free. After all, we're paying taxes for something. Next. I wanted to show you at least one of the pay for sites. My favorite, the least expensive can stock photo and show you how it works. You don't actually purchase images directly. What you do instead is you purchase credits and then by images with the credits. For instance, here to get a discount, you get 35 credits for $25 so you're paying about 70 cents per credit. Appear at the top. It shows information on how many credits you currently have and those air taken away as you get images and then you purchase more. So how do you find images? Well, you go ahead and enter a keyword search. Let's say we're interested in flowers. I entered the search keyword flowers and press search, and here I am returned a whole bunch of lovely flower pictures. And once again they have additional keyword searches that I might want to use to find related photos. Now, if I'm interested in any of these photographs, for instance, this one here would be lovely for a Mim. Actually, I could put some text up in this area. I just click on it and it starts showing me the requirements for purchasing this image. Now these air standard licenses for this for these images, which means that you can use the image on book covers and Mihm's on Social Media and so on . What you can't do is make the image the focus of your material. In other words, I can't go ahead and resell this image just the way that it is. To do that, I need to get an extended licence, which is much more expensive here. You can see to make a book cover. I need at least 300 DP I. So I need at least a medium image, and this is the size that goes outside of my requirements. So this would be the minimum size I would need, and it costs four credits. Now it's 70 cents apiece for credits. That means you're paying about 2 80 for your cover image, which isn't too bad less than $3. When you're satisfied, you click the size that you want and the except I accept the license terms Check box and click download, and your image will be downloaded to your computer, where you can open it in the gimp and use it for your book cover. In the next lecture, we're going to select a background image for our book cover, and we're going to size it. 6. Add Text: welcome back in this lesson. We're going to begin adding text toe our book cover. Now. Book covers usually have just a few pieces of text. You don't want to get carried away with it and dominate the cover. You want people to see this beautiful image, and you also want the text to be large enough. That it could be read and which you picked typically put on the cover is definitely the title. Definitely the author's name, possibly some kind of a tagline. And if the author is a best selling author, you want to note that, and that's pretty much it. Through four pieces of information, I'm just going to stick with three pieces of information. I'm gonna put a title, a little tagline and my author name. Now I thought that this, since it's so dramatic, I would give it a dramatic name and do a play on the name Field of Dreams and call this field of nightmares. So let's go ahead and put in that title field of nightmares. Now, the first thing you need to decide selecting text is whether you want light, texture, dark text, depending on the background. Here we have a dark sky, so I'm gonna go with white text. The foreground color is going to be the text color so I can set it toe white. I then select the text tool, and I could select my find. I like engravers, so I just type PNG and the gift finishes the name for me and I wanted to be a Let's say, Let's try six. Let's try something about 100 and it's white. So let's go ahead and start typing or text. Now this is much too small. I think I like it left justified. Noticed that I do have the choice here making it right, justified or centered. But I'm gonna leave it left justified, even though nightmares is so long and then I'm going to increase its size dramatically. To do that, I select the text while I'm still in the text tool and I typed the new size. There we go. That looks like it's actually a little too long. Let's go for 1 80 We're gonna go down to 1 50 now. The reason I'm going down so small is remember, we want to keep 1/2 inch border around year for create space So we're gonna leave a little bit of extra room. This looks kind of small Now. Now what I'm gonna dio is I'm going to increase the interline spacing on this by going to the text tool and increasing interline spacing here and get it spaced out just a little bit . There we go. That might be better. So there we have our title. Now the next thing that I want to do is much smaller. Put the little kind of tagline and I thought of a nice tagline would be Death becomes you. So let's go ahead and will select our text tool again and we'll click and we'll say, Death becomes you. There we go. Now we want this to be considerably smaller. I'll triple click on it to select it. And let's bring it down to something probably more like 80. It could be larger. There we go. Now let's put this right above the wheat and the final thing that we want to put in. And here I'm going to change over to times. New Roman is my author name, and that could be is considerably larger. So let's triple click to select the whole thing and maybe bring it up to 200. Here we go. Now. I'm not a best selling author, so I won't bother putting that on my name. Let's go ahead and move this up. Now this all stands out fairly well. We got lucky with that. You can actually read the text. What we're gonna do in subsequent lessons is work to make this text stand out even more. So I'll see you in the next lesson where we're gonna look at colored boxes. 7. Add Colored Boxes: in this lesson, we're going to look at the use of colored boxes to make text pop. Now this text is popping fairly well, but you'll lose that. This down here, Brian Jackson is blending in a little more because it's light text on kind of a light background. So what we're gonna do is put a darker box behind it to make this text stand out. The way that you do that is, you go just below. Here's the Brian Jackson layer, by the way, which is a little too large. Let's take that down to about 1 60 There we go. That's more like it. Now we want to do is use the move tool and move this over towards the corner. Now let's go ahead and go below the Brian Jackson and will add a new layer transparent, and here will pull a rectangle such as that. Now what we're gonna want to do is put a complementary color into this rectangle. The easiest way to get a complimentary color is to sample colors off your background image , so let's go down to our background image, pick the color picker tool and go to this dramatic grey sky and pick anywhere in there. Now watch the foreground color. Here is I pick it picks that color. So now we have kind of a gray box or we're gonna have a great box. So now we have the gray foreground color to use for our box. We go back to our box layer, pick our bucket, fill tool and Phil whole selection and go ahead and fill it. Now you can see how this text stands out much better against this gray background. Sometimes you can make entire images just composed of colored boxes overlapping each other . They make for interesting shapes. If I say select none, we're now ready to go on and look at another way to emphasize, emphasize text ah, way that we're going to use on the title and the tagline 8. Make Your Text Pop: in this lecture, we're gonna make the title, and the tagline on this book covers stand out by adding an interesting effect. I'm to do some other modifications to the title to to make it look more interesting. Let's begin by going to the text tool going to the title line or layer, and I'll select the text on. I want to put this text back together a little. There we go. Bring that back down to zero. I'm gonna do, in effect to it that's going to stretch out and make room in between. But first, what I want to do is kind of at a drop shadow. Except it's not a shadow because we don't drop it. It's more like a smoky, enveloping thing that makes the outline around the text darker and therefore makes the lighter text pop. Let me show you how to do this. We go to the field that we want to do this on, and we duplicated using duplicate layer and then we go to the bottom layer and we select the text tool and click on it, and we make the text black. This is gonna be our smoke. Now you can't see it at all because it's completely covered by the white layer on top. But when we add a filter, blur Gaussian blur and give it maybe blur of 15 or 10. Let's try 15. You can see the blurriness starts to come out, and this text seems to get brighter because the background is getting darker. But it's the background just around the taxed. It fades out now. If that effect wasn't dark enough for you and want the text to stand out more, just select the shadow layer and duplicated notice how the text now has gotten a little darker and a little darker yet or a little brighter. So that's how you make text stand out by making a shadow at it. Now notice. If you have dark text, you can do the same thing by using white instead of black. I call that a ghost effect as opposed to a smoke effect, and we can go down to this layer and do the same thing. Let's go toe. Let's see it one more time. Death becomes you. We take that layer and we duplicate it. Then we take the bottom version, go to the text tool select it, making sure it is still on the bottom. Make the text black Say OK, this time we can just go up and say, Repeat the last Gaussian blur and you see it begins to pop and let's duplicate that layer one more time and maybe one more time. And now the text is really standing out dramatically from the background. Okay, now what I want to do is I want to show you an effect that we're going to put on this title . But before we do that, we've got to emerge all these layers together so we can treat them is one. So you go to the title and say, Emerged down and then we go merge down to get the first shadow and merge down to get the second shadow. Now the three shadows in the title or all on one layer, and we're gonna stretch this layer using the scale tool. We go ahead and pick the title and we grab it and pull it down and notice what's happening to the tax. It's getting much more interesting. We'll go ahead and say scale and there's our new title. Now I've got to go find out what happened in my box around my author name, and I'll do that before the next lecture, where we're going to talk about ways to highlight boxes. 9. GIMP for Beginners, Book Cover, Final Thoughts: I want to thank you for taking my class all the way to through to the end. And I want to remind you that if this was too confusing for you, I've got several gimp for beginner courses that you might wanna search for and take. Now we created the class Project this book cover to the right, and it's now your job to create your own book cover and uploaded the class to finish the project. Well, that's it for now. I'm headed off to the next glass and I'll see you in the classroom.