After I exported the resulting image from FotoSketcher as a PNG file, it was time to add the title and author information to the cover.
My first thought was to simply put a bordered box on the cover with the information. However, that would cover up too much of the image. I liked the whole street scene and wanted readers to be able to see as much of it as possible.
Simply putting the text over the image was out, as well. Aesthetically, it just didn’t look good. The background was busy; text would be hard to read.
The solution presented itself: PhotoScape had the function to create a semi-transparent box (semi-opaque box? Six of one, you know the rest…) on an image. I could create one, then put my text in that. The words would be legible, but it wouldn’t mess up the image too much.
Opening the image in PhotoScape, I chose the “Editor” function. From there, I chose the “Objects” tab at the bottom of the screen and clicked on the “Rounded Box Mode” button.
Before drawing the box, I chose a white background color, since I thought that would look best for the semi-transparent box. I set the opacity level somewhere around 20% (it’s not an exact science, since there aren’t any indicators), and drew my box.
A couple of warnings about PhotoScape — first of all, CTRL-Z is your best friend. You can’t move the box after it has been drawn, so if you put it in the wrong place, you have to undo it and do it again. Secondly, if the opacity level is off, you also have to undo. My suggestion is to draw boxes until you get the opacity level right, and then focus on getting it in the right location.
Once the box was drawn, I was ready to add the text. Again, this was pretty simple — I just chose the “Text” button (also in the”Object” tab). This brought up a text window where I could enter my text and play with font faces, size, opacity, shadow, etc. Since I wanted the title and author to be two different sizes, I did this step twice. The first time I took care of the title and got it the way I wanted in a larger font size. (Note that the font size in the text window only goes up to 100-point. Once you have the text box on the screen, you can drag the text box to make it even larger.)
Once I got that, I created another text box, added the author information, and set the font size smaller. I moved the individual text boxes around on the screen until they were right where I wanted them.
The cover still looked a little plain to me, though; almost as if someone had just plastered a sticker over it with the title and author information. What to do?
I decided to dress it up a little bit with a couple of flourishes above and below the text. Back to the Google/Bing search. I searched for “flourishes”, “curlicues”, “text art”, and anything else I could think of.
One of the challenges was size. Remember, this book cover was 1600 x 2560 pixels, so the flourishes would have to be large, too. It’s easy to find flourishes/curlicues that are about 150-200 pixels wide, but they look horrible once you blow them up. You have to find one that’s about 500-750 and shrink it down.
The other challenge was opacity. I either had to find GIFs or PNGs, or I had to find JPGs with a solid background color that I could convert.
After a while of searching I found one that would work. I also created a copy that was mirror image so the flourishes would be symmetrical.
Once I had my flourishes, I used the “Photo” button on the “Objects” tab to insert them into the image. Since my originals were GIFs, there were some areas right around the flourish that weren’t transparent and caused a bright white edge to appear around the flourish. I played with the opacity a bit to remove these harsher edges.
All I had to do was to take it back into FotoSketcher and add a canvas texture to it. Even though I was happy with the semi-transparent box, it still looked pasted on. I wanted the whole thing to look like a work of art.
I exported the whole thing as a PNG file from PhotoScape and opened the image up in FotoSketcher. I chose “Frame, Texture, and Text Only” from the “Drawing Style” menu. Because I had originally used the “Oil Pastel Sketch (color)” option, I chose “Strong Texture” to make the final image look more like a painting.
(To fully appreciate the difference the canvas texture makes, be sure to click on the two previous images and compare them. And yes, I am aware that the flourishes are different on this image than on the previous image. Laziness has its drawbacks.)
And that was it. I had my final cover. I was ready to upload my eBook to SmashWords.
Next: Formatting, formatting, and (wait for it)… MORE formatting!