It would be nice to gather the tools and general advice on how to create a good book cover (for ebook and/or print).
Those of you with all around talent including graphical design, what programs are you using to generate your very own covers?
Who has hired a graphic designer in the past? What was this experience like? Which platforms to find the right person do you recommend?
How do you make a reasonable, visible connection between your content and the cover?
I stumbled over canva.com and found it quite useful for my needs. In the free version, they have lots of background pictures and preformated elements to design the page. Also lots of ready-to-publish examples, from which you can take inspiration (or more ). Of course, there is always the premium option for more unique designs.
I try to stick to photos, I’ve taken (for which I have some talent, but drawing, no-oh-ah) and thanks to lots of traveling, I have a good database to choose from. Playing with their filters, adding some text or other elements in a couple of minutes and I can have something, I like.
A similar, free option seems spark.adobe.com, but I didn’t actually find book covers as used in print. It seems also a good option, but would need some post-processing.
If you are intending to learn to do it yourself I would seriously suggest paying for a decent program. Now I’m not going to suggest forking up a Photoshop subscription cause that defeats the purpose.
However, Affinity from Serif has some great products.
Affinity is 50 US dollars (per product) and I find it easier to use than photoshop in some aspects. It’s a different interface and focuses on different things than adobe, but the price is great for the product it is.
And Affinity currently comes in three separate flavors.
Photo - your photoshop ‘clone’ Photo manipulation and other things here, but it’s not just limited to photo editing you can draw in vector or raster too
Designer - your illustrator ‘clone’ It can do vector, pixel art, and it integrates with photo as well.
Publisher - your indesign ‘clone’ this is where you could really get down and dirty with your book layout. It’s currently in beta and which means its free to try out
both photo and designer come with ipad apps (at a separate cost)
And another great thing about affinity is it opens and can save as adobe so you can actually send it to someone who might need those particular files.
I dabble with graphic design like much of what I do on my free time it’s because it has a benefit to me as a web designer. I took several graphic design classes. There are tons of free tutorials on effects you can add for that fantasy flair or the steampunk vibe. I used to have tons of references but since no longer a ‘web designer’ I don’t keep up with that resources though I could hunt some down, the medium has since changed with you tube videos though I’m sure.
I like to use unsplash.com and pexels.com for my graphic needs… All licensed to be used for free with attribution (in most cases) I think.
I do all my own book covers – usually simple designs without a lot of fancy paint effects (only because I’m not as adept with paint programs as I am with vector drawing). For a long time, I made do with Inkscape and Paint.net (& occasionally GIMP). But I had used Corel products years ago when I was working in graphic design and page layout and missed the familiarity I had with them. I went looking for deep discounts and found I could buy a legitimate, licensed version of the latest Corel Graphics suite (Draw, Paint, Trace, font management) for a tiny fraction of the list price by buying from a reseller on eBay, so that’s what I use now.
However, if I hadn’t found Corel cheap, I would have gone with the new line of Affinity products (replaced Serif’s PagePlus, DrawPlus, etc.). Excellent products and incredibly inexpensive.
As I had mentioned in my original opening post, I’ve also been using canva for my first published book. Hence, I can tell you, that you can do pretty much anything in there, or just have the front and back separately. I published through an ebook company and it allowed you to calculate the thickness of the book when putting the data and final “between the covers” content. This info can be used in canva to define the total size of the image needed etc.
My total front and back looked like this, with the title in the greyed area, the bench on the front and the lake on the back [Dyrehavn, a park north of Copenhagen].