Last week, I talked about writing and planning software for indie authors. But indies wear a lot of hats, so we need more than just a good writing and plotting package. Here’s a list of some graphics programs to look at – as well as some other assorted programs that can be useful for indies. Continue reading “Which Software Is Best for Authors – Part 2”
I know it’s been a while since I promised to show y’all how to use GIMP to make a cover for a box set, but I have an excuse. See, as soon as Bob Hammond heard about it, he immediately demanded that I make him one. The delay has been due to his dithering over which of his many, many titles to include. I finally prevailed upon him to pick three so I could get going on it. He wasn’t happy, but he agreed. He even sent me an image to use for the cover. What a guy, huh?
So what’s this GIMP thing? The short answer is that it’s a lot like Photoshop, but it’s free. You can download a free copy of GIMP here. The longer answer is that GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a powerful graphics program, and for most of us making our own book covers, it has more power than we need. It’s also developed by a community, which is cool in some ways, but brings its own little quirks. If you’re familiar with Photoshop, GIMP may confuse you because some of the commands have different names and may be in different places than you’re used to.
On the other hand, GIMP will make you a nice, free cover for your box set.
Still with me? Okay, here we go. Continue reading “Making an eBook Box Set Cover in GIMP”
As promised, this tutorial will cover the making of buttons, logos, banners, and other graphic types needed by writers. Not as sexy an issue as covers, but very necessary. And it all applies: if you can create a cool-looking logo, you can create a cool-looking title and byline. In fact, if you examine this collection of images I think you’ll see that the difference between a “logo”, a “banner”, a “button”, and even a “title” is pretty abstract. What you’re seeing there, top to bottom, are: the title for an online serial, my personal logo I use for many things including “signatures” in mailings and forums, a custom SmashWords buy button, a dragon social media avatar, a Twitter button in custom colors, three RSS buttons to match three different sites, and a website header. All basically the same thing, using the same resources and simple skills.
And you’ll love this: it’s a lot easier to do these things. Your chances of learning, fairly quickly, to create good-looking, useful graphic doodads is virtually 100%. And there’s better news than that for those less than comfortable with all the talk of installing and learning graphics programs: you can do it all online without having your own programs, and it’s easier to do that way and at least as high quality! Cool, huh? Continue reading “Banners, Buttons, And Beads”
One salient fact about doing graphic design–in this case making your logos and covers and other pictures writers need to go with their thousand words–is that you need to have a graphic program to do it with. This is actually not a problem, but it’s not hard to run into advice and situations that make it seem like a problem. As with so many other things that writers have to learn aside from writing these days, a main issue is knowing what to avoid.
As promised, I’m going to tell you about the programs to do this stuff with, and a bit on how to maximize your use of them. The programs I suggest are all free, or at most very cheap. Let me say a word about programs that aren’t free and cheap. The first thing you always hear when asking about doing your own artwork (or googling for suggestion on how to do something) is Adobe Photoshop. This is a professional program that costs anywhere from $300 to $1000. Most would say that getting what you need runs around $700. That should be enough to convince you to skip it and look elsewhere. But it’s worse than that. It’s a hard program to use, and is set up kind of awkwardly and bassackward. I used to use it and considered it a pain in the butt. For awhile I only used it to bevel type and the “smudge” tool. Now I don’t even have it installed. Almost anything you need to do can be done easier with free programs, and often better. And PS has some glaring problems for people like us. For one thing, its vector structure makes it really bad at shrinking picture size. As one example of what I mean, on Paint.net I can just keep hitting Ctrl Z (just like in all Windows programs, notice?) and delete changes one by one, all the way back. In Photoshop you get one “redo” then have to go into the history and fool around with that. Not a huge human sacrifice, sure, but something you have to learn. There are big thick books on how to use Photoshop. It’s got learning curve like Rosie O’Donnell has hip curve. Continue reading “Your Own Graphics Factories”