Evelyn Chartres Author

Creating a Cover Swatch

Dressing up the Cover – Part 7

I discovered through trial-and-error that dropping a series of images into a gallery then asking users to comment was inefficient. Some of the reasons for this include:

  • Users tend to ignore titles and will comment on the first, or third image. Unfortunately some sites will vary the order;
  • Users have a hard time comparing covers which are very similar in design. This requires them to look back and forth, which makes comparisons more difficult.
  • Images dropped into a gallery may not exist or be accessible later. The first time I created a sample gallery to compare against, the images became unavailable and was unable to address the issue. This particular behaviour is showcased below:

52-Post-Error.pngTo mitigate the above points, I created a swatch containing all of the images. This permits me to provide titles, a consistent order and can throw in thumbnails to compare how covers will appear at smaller dimensions. That single image will mean users need only click-once to get a view of all versions, which increases the chance of getting meaningful commentary.

Creating a Swatch is straightforward; create a canvas large enough to fit the desired versions. Since Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing lists covers should be least 625 x 1000 pixels, all featured variants meet the minimum.

Using larger covers in the swatch can make it too large to upload at many sites. Additionally, the swatch would take more time to view and require users to zoom-in and out frequently. Hence sticking to the minimum provides avoids a whole slew of issues.

Cutting Down to Size

Before we begin, we need to create usable variations. The files we created contain Layers and Styles which react differently at lower resolutions. Additionally, we want to preserve these originals, so use the Save as Copy feature to avoid modifying the source files.

Open up your Bravo Paint Shop Pro project file then from the File menu click on Save Copy As.

41-Save-Copy-As.pngThis feature permits you to save a copy of the image without modifying the working image.  Select either JPG or PNG formats then click on Save.

Note

Ensure that your save path and file name are correct prior to completing this operation.

42-Save-Copy-As-Window.pngYou will be presented with a warning about losing Layers and Styles through a Merger. This is precisely what we want, since the image is to be resized later. Click on Yes, then open this newly created image.

43-Save-Copy-As-Warning.pngFrom the Image menu click on Resize.

44-Resize.pngA new window will pop-up. Resize to 625 x 1000 pixels or settings that allows you to meet the requirements. Since our examples made use of increments of the minimum size, so the window appears as follows:

45-Resize-Window.pngOnce satisfied, click on the OK button.

Repeat the above steps for each variant;  in this tutorial we did the same for Hotel and India.

Creating the Canvas

Since we are dealing with three variants (Bravo, Hotel and India) we need to create a swatch that permits fitting in all three. We also need to include a buffer since thumbnails will be added as well. So we create a canvas that is:

  • Width — 2500 pixels.
  • Height — 1400 pixels.
  • Resolution — 300 dpi.

From the File menu click on New. This will bring up a new window, replicate the options shown below:

40-Swatch-Create.pngThe colour of your background should be something neutral. This provides a separation between the covers and will not distract the viewer. For the above example, we used a variant of grey.

Once satisfied click on OK and a new image with the appropriate dimensions will be created.

Dropping in the Variants

Now drop in copies of the variations onto the canvas. Click on your copy of Bravo then select the Background Layer. Now from Edit menu, click on Copy or use the CTRL-C keyboard combination.

46-Copy.pngThis will place a copy into your clipboard.  Switch to your Swatch then from the Edit menu click on Paste As New Layer.

47-Paste-As-New-Selection.pngThis will drop-in Bravo, which can be moved anywhere onto the canvas.  Since this is our first entry, place it near the edge on the left and leave a bit of spacing.

48-Selection-Dropped-In.pngNow add-in the thumbnails for Bravo.  Switch to your Copy of Bravo and shrink down the image to a maximum 160×160 pixels.  Repeat the Copy-and-Paste operation done previously then drop-in the thumbnail.

48-Thumbnail-Dropped-In.pngNow we can compare the full-sized cover to the thumbnail.  This permits us to see how the image appears on Amazon.com.  Now we lack a method of seeing how it appears on a black and white display like the Kindle Paperwhite.

Drop-in another thumbnail then from the Effects menu, select Photo Effects then Black and White Film.

49-Black-and-White.pngA new window will appear, I found that Default is sufficient for this step.

50-Black-and-White-Film.pngWhen satisfied, click on OK.

To add in a label, from the Tools Bar, select the Text Tool.  For this example, Arial Black at 28 points set all Black was used.  Adjust as necessary to end up with a result that looks like the following:

51-Text-Tool.pngNow you have the following on your swatch:

  • Main image;
  • Thumbnail;
  • Black and white thumbnail; and
  • Label.

Repeat as necessary for the other variants.

Final Touches

Once finished, crop the Image to remove any unused space.  You should end up with an end-result that resembles the following:

Swatch.jpgNow you have one image that gives you an overview the three covers.  It’s easy to compare one against another and allows you to see how they hold up at lower dimensions and on black and white displays.

Hotel does not display well as a thumbnail or in black and white.  That alone should steer you away from that design.

Create these whenever you wish to compare a sample set of covers.

Taglines and Layer Styles

Dressing up the Cover – Part 5

This is Part 5 of the Dressing up the Cover tutorial and previously we covered Borders and Text.

Make use of the Pick Tool from the Tools Bar to reduce the size of Lady Shade until she fits within the confines of the borders. Take your time to ensure that the resize operation is done using one of the Corners to maintain Aspect Ratio.

Note

Sometimes the Pick Tool will not Resize. Attempts to modify will instead alter the Perspective which is not the desired behaviour. To correct this behaviour change the Mode to Scale.

After completing your adjustments Lady Shade should look roughly like below.

20-Lady-Shade-Adjusted.png

Now is the time to add a Tagline, a sentence or short paragraph which is used to grab a reader. Since we not use complex Layer Styles for this section we can go ahead and create it one layer.

The Liberation Sans Font was used for the tagline. The Font Size was set to 72 Points so we can work on it later. Note that Bold or Italics in the Font Styles were not selected.

To match our example the following line was used:

A vision from the

past becomes a

writer’s deadly

obsession

Once the text is inserted, resized then moved the appropriate location (shown below) the image should resemble the following.

21-Tagline-Inserted.png

Next make use of Layer Styles to finish up the Text Lines and Borders.  From the Layers Panel, select one of your Author’s Name Layer’s then click on the Layer Styles icon.

22-Layer Styles.png

The Layer Properties window will open and feature effects applicable to layers. As seen below, operations range from Reflection and Drop Shadow effects.

23-Layer-Styles-Window.png

For the Title and Author we want to make use of the Emboss style, use the settings above then click on OK to set the Layer Style. This process must be repeated for each layer, so save these settings to use as pre-sets. This will ensure consistency throughout all of the elements.

24-Layer-Styles-Window-Tagline.png

Now for the Tagline Layer, we will adjust Drop Shadow. You can copy the settings found above, to provide a subtle shadow effect to create the illusion the tagline floating over-top the Lady Shade Layer.

Use Layer Styles to Emboss the Borders as well. Once complete the cover should appear as it does below.

In Part 6, we will talk about Notes and Variants.

Borders and Text

Dressing up the Cover – Part 4

This is Part 4 of the Dressing up the Cover tutorial and previously we covered Creating a New Image and Placing Lady Shade.

To continue with our design, we need to add two rectangles that have a Black Border and Fill. From the Tools Bar, select the Rectangle Tool.

15-Rectangle-Tool.png

Create two new Rectangles, one at the top and the second at the bottom and have them in the same Vector Layer to manage. Also ensure the Lady Shade layer is just above the Background Layer else the rectangles will be obscured.

Now create a Rectangle that has a Red Border and Fill. This one will be small and narrow to create a transition between the Lady Shade Layer and the Filler Layer. Duplicate this Rectangle using CTRL-C/CTRL-V combinations then move them over the transition points.

These two Rectangles should be grouped as this permits the application of consistent Layer Styles later on. This Borders Layer should then be placed on top the Filler Layer.

The image should appear like the one shown below.

16-Rectangles-Added.png

Now it is time to add text. For now, we will work on the Title and the Author’s Name. These elements are prominently found on covers, although the prominence of the Author’s Name tends to vary with name recognition.

From the Tools Bar select the Text Tool.

17-Text-Tool.png

As seen above, the Neuton Font was used for both the Title and Author’s Name. Since we are working at high resolutions, setting the Font Size to 72 Points and Bold is enough to both select and adjust at a later time.

Because Layer Styles will be used later on, the Title and Author’s Name are broken into smaller chunks. The image below denotes the different segments by alternating colours.

18-Fonts-Adjusted-Coloured.png

Using the tricks learned in Higher Resolution Blues, we lined up then Link the layers for both the Title (3) and Author’s Name (4).

Note

Make sure to line up the individual elements before making any alterations.  Once dimensions change, replicating the change in individual components is difficult to achieve.  To adjust a line, select all layers by holding down the SHIFT key.

Experiment with these Text Lines until it looks like the image below. Be aware that you may need to move the Border Layers in addition to adjusting the Filler Layers to achieve this result.

19-Fonts-Adjusted-Normal.png

Note

When you want to resize a Text Line, always do so from the Corners. Using the other methods will stretch and skew the Text Line.

In Part 5, we will Add the Tagline then Adjust Layer Styles.