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Old 11-26-2013, 03:55 PM   #1
Gregg Bell
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What do you guys make your covers with?

I've been using paint.net and I love it but it's so weak at handling bigger files (like the 1600X2400 I was just working with). GIMP is much more powerful but it's like byzantine hieroglyphics trying to figure it out (even the help is obtuse). Anything free out there that works better?
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:05 PM   #2
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If you're not adverse to online browser-based programs, you could take a look at Pixlr.

http://pixlr.com/editor/

It looks like a simplified version of Photoshop, but still... if you can use this in the end, you could also use GIMP. All image editors nowadays are basically set up the same.

Most of them look similar to Photoshop 7. Since version 2.8, you can (finally) make gimp look similar to that, by docking all its windows.

My recommendation would be to invest some time in learning GIMP's basics. They are the same or similar for all image editors, although the buttons may be in different places. For better or worse, if you need a free image editor to do more than just basic stuff, you will eventually end up using GIMP.

Granted, you could use simpler programs such as Pixlr as a stepping stone.

Last edited by Katsunami; 11-26-2013 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 11-26-2013, 07:55 PM   #3
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I use GIMP for anything vaguely serious in the way of graphics work. The covers of my first two books were done using GIMP, and it's layer features were critical to getting the photos merged as I wanted. I use Irfanview for viewing and very basic manipulations (cropping, resizing, its auto-correct feature can be handy for fast adjustments) and for batch work.

Yes, GIMP does take some learning, but it is very powerful. Learn to use the layers efficiently and all sorts of things become possible. It's text features I find particularly annoying in v2.6, I'm looking forward to trying v2.8 and see what they've done there.

I am far from an expert and regularly have to search out tutorials on how to do various things, but there are lots of them. For example, in some wedding photos a particular blue dress came out purple (or was it the other way ... I can't remember now, it's a while ago, anyway) and I was, with the help of tutorials, able to set up a small script in GIMP to correct the images and so save them from the trashcan.
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:08 AM   #4
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I agree Gimp or Photoshop can be totally cryptic but have been using Photoshop for decades - particularly for image manipulation and have come to an understanding with it. There are some basic tutorials on line. It might be worth spending a bit of time learn, but that is all dependent on your need/desire/etc.

As Kat says there are a few on-line tools I've heard of that allow you to make covers -- I think there is even one in the Amazon Author area.

I suspect there are a number of tutorials about making book covers around as well...I just fly by the seat of my pants.

There are many artists around as well that will do the job for you for a full range of prices. Unfortunately I don't have links but I've seen them posted even here in the writers section.
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Old 11-27-2013, 02:18 PM   #5
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GIMP. Takes a little getting used to, but I haven't had too many problems.
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Old 11-27-2013, 03:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregg Bell View Post
I've been using paint.net and I love it but it's so weak at handling bigger files (like the 1600X2400 I was just working with). GIMP is much more powerful but it's like byzantine hieroglyphics trying to figure it out (even the help is obtuse). Anything free out there that works better?
Why don't you give Inkscape a try. It's free and, IMHO, much more user friendly than GIMP.

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GIMP. Takes a little getting used to, but I haven't had too many problems.
No offense, but, IMHO, your book covers scream "home-made."

Last edited by Doitsu; 11-28-2013 at 02:35 AM.
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Old 11-28-2013, 01:33 PM   #7
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thanks

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GIMP. Takes a little getting used to, but I haven't had too many problems.
Thanks teh, I'm just having trouble getting used to it.

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Why don't you give Inkscape a try. It's free and, IMHO, much more user friendly than GIMP.
Haven't heard of Inkscape. Checking it out. Does it do all the basics GIMP does (resizing, cropping, layers etc.)? Thanks.




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I use GIMP for anything vaguely serious in the way of graphics work. The covers of my first two books were done using GIMP, and it's layer features were critical to getting the photos merged as I wanted. I use Irfanview for viewing and very basic manipulations (cropping, resizing, its auto-correct feature can be handy for fast adjustments) and for batch work.
Thanks GMW. Never heard of Irfanview, but checking it out it says 'for non-commercial use only.' Is it ok to use to make ebook covers? And really, why would you use it when GIMP does cropping and resizing?

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Yes, GIMP does take some learning, but it is very powerful. Learn to use the layers efficiently and all sorts of things become possible.
That's the thing, on paint.net the layers are so easy to use. On GIMP they're disappearing half the time. GIMP just seems unreliable.

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It's (GIMP's) text features I find particularly annoying.
Oh my gosh, yes. The text works properly sometimes, not at all others. And again paint.net's text is so easy to use and reliable. (But when GIMP's text does work it's quite good.)

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There are some basic tutorials on line. It might be worth spending a bit of time learn, but that is all dependent on your need/desire/etc.
Thanks Kenny
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Originally Posted by Katsunami View Post
If you're not adverse to online browser-based programs, you could take a look at Pixlr.
Did not know about Pixlr. It's fun. The UI reminds me of paint.net. But the text graphics seemed weak.



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For better or worse, if you need a free image editor to do more than just basic stuff, you will eventually end up using GIMP.
Sounds like a sentence. "Ten years of hard labor!"

Last edited by Gregg Bell; 11-28-2013 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:10 PM   #8
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Haven't heard of Inkscape. Checking it out. Does it do all the basics GIMP does (resizing, cropping, layers etc.)? Thanks.
I've never used Inkscape, but it seems to be an open source counterpart to Adobe Illustrator. It's a vector-based program, where Photoshop and GIMP are raster-based.

The difference is that PS and GIMP work with individual pixels (like photographs), where Illustrator and Inkscape work with vectors (such as a straight line through two points).

They (PS/GIMP <-> Illustrator/Inkscape) overlap to a certain extent, and all of them can be used to create covers, but they are very different programs. If you work with pictures primarily, then Inkscape is probably not the best choice.
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:12 PM   #9
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Haven't heard of Inkscape. Checking it out. Does it do all the basics GIMP does (resizing, cropping, layers etc.)?
Yes. It does of course support layers and resizing and cropping of images. (You can crop images with Object > Clip > Set.)
The only thing missing is JPEG export. But you can save the result as .png bitmaps and of course as .svg files.
On the rare occasion that I need .jpeg files, I use XnView (freeware) to convert the .png files generated by Inkscape.
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:17 PM   #10
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Another option I just remembered.

http://www.serif.com

Previously, they had the marketing strategy to give away their older version; for example, they'd give away version 6 while they sold version 8. They've changed the setup, but there still is a free Starter version.

In the past, PhotoSerif worked and looked like an (older) version of Paint Shop Pro. Many people who found Photoshop too expensive and GIMP too user-unfriendly but still wanted a free program used Serif PhotoPlus.

Maybe it's still worth checking out.

If you have something like €69 lying around, you might want to look into Corel Paint Shop Pro X6 too:

http://www.corel.com/corel/product/i...id=prod5100069

If it's anything like it was in the past, they have a gamabazillion filters and scripts built-in. It'll change a picture of your dog to look like your neighbor's cat if you need to.
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:27 PM   #11
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If you work with pictures primarily, then Inkscape is probably not the best choice.
I have to disagree. Even though Inkscape is primarily a vector program; it has more than enough features to deal with bitmaps: you can resize them, crop them and apply a boatload of artistic effects.

Why don't you give it a try? Here's a Wattpad tutorial that shows what can be done with it. The end result isn't perfect, but the tutorial shows you some interesting Inkscape effects that you can use for covers.
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Old 11-28-2013, 08:32 PM   #12
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I use Paint Shop Pro. I'm still finding new techniques in it!
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Old 11-29-2013, 05:31 AM   #13
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[...]Thanks GMW. Never heard of Irfanview, but checking it out it says 'for non-commercial use only.' Is it ok to use to make ebook covers? And really, why would you use it when GIMP does cropping and resizing?[...]
I wouldn't recommend Irfanview for editing (or commercial work) - it's primarily a viewer and set up for that, you'd quickly get frustrated trying to do more serious edit work with it. But it's a convenient program to have around, and a few of its "editing" features are handy for quick fixes if you're printing or converting. It's just something I've had around for years and find very useful.
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Old 11-29-2013, 07:17 PM   #14
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I used Gimp on my first cover. Now? I just use my brother in-law. He's a graphic artist by trade. I think he's quite good at covers.

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Old 11-30-2013, 10:20 PM   #15
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I use Photoshop CS 5 for everything now... but before I bought that I was firmly a GIMP user. It is great, free, and works on every practically every machine...

But I stopped making my own covers. It is just not cost effective in time for me.
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