Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Covers

So I was recently asked for a few pointers on how I create some of my covers, and as I usually do, I responded by basically writing a book. But . . . that being said, I thought other people might find some of these pointers helpful, especially if you're trying to learn how to create covers or merely how to add some splash to your photos.

You know, when I started making my covers, they were craptastic! 

Back in 2008 when I first decided that I wanted to make my own covers, I started out using a program called Gimp, which is really just a knockoff version of Photoshop. It was free and that was exactly what I needed at the time--just so I could get my feet wet. I only started using Photoshop about six months ago, and I have to say, I love it. But It has taken a lot of practice to be able to do what you see on some of my more recent covers--and even now, they're not as good as I'd love for them to be. But every time I create a cover, I get just a little bit better. 

If you really want to create covers that will knock your readers' socks off, here's just a few strategies that I've used in trying to become a better cover designer, but keep in mind, it will take practice, patience, and above all: Creativity! 

1. Take a picture, whether of yourself or something you find interesting and play with it in the program. Play with all of the buttons inside the program and learn what they do. (If there's one that you just can't figure out, Google it and see what other people are using it for.

2. (I did this a lot) Go to Youtube and look up videos of other people using whatever program you have and watch them create "photomanipulations". Even if you're watching and it all seems totally over your head and you can't see what buttons they're using, it's okay. You're just watching the progression of how they took one thing and turned it into something else. It will really help in the long run, because it will inspire you to think about how you can manipulate your own "basic" images and make them dazzle! (Here's a link to a a basic photoshop tutorial on youtube:

3. Check out DeviantArt. There are tons of photomanipulators--ranging all the way from "newbies" to seasoned professionals who get paid to create art. There's a "resource" section that you can browse through some really awesome photos that you can use to create photomanipulations and play around with. The one thing to keep in mind, is that these photos (most of the time) are not for commercial use. Their owners generally grant permission for you to use them as personal use (practice, for showing to your friends and family), and to post them to your DeviantArt account so other "deviants" can see what you've done.

4. When you've got a basic concept of how to use your program--look at some of the book covers that have really impressed you. Try recreating them (either with stock you have purchased/own, or through resource stock at DeviantArt). You'll learn through trial and error. As long as you never give up, and you keep trying and keep learning from all the resources around you, you'll be able to develop your skills and create some really awesome covers.
So there it is, my "short" explanation for how I learned to make covers. If you guys have any experience or tips or art you'd like to share, leave a comment or share a link!