I’ve finally managed to do it. After correcting the edits made on the manuscript of THWARTED QUEEN, I spent 5 days systematically going through PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 9 ALL-IN-ONE GUIDE FOR DUMMIES, and 2 days creating 5 covers for my forthcoming novel.
Why 5 covers for 1 novel?
Because I’m going to give my readers the option of either reading the whole 500-page chunkster, or reading it in smaller doses book by book. Let me
explain. When I wrote THWARTED QUEEN, it naturally fell into 4 books. Book One (THE BRIDE PRICE) is about Cecylee’s girlhood, Book Two (ONE SEED SOWN) is about her affair of the heart. Book Three (THE GILDED CAGE) is about her husband’s political career, which she participated in. Book Four (TWO MURDERS REAPED) is about her last years. Knowing that some people are really put off by long historical novels, I decided it might be helpful to offer both the long version, and four shorter versions. Hence the five covers.
After struggling with Photoshop on my iMac (not a happy combination), I was finally able to create 5 easy covers that combine both a photo and text that anyone could do. So here are some tips that I thought I’d pass along for how I created these covers using Photoshop.
- I used iPhoto for the preliminary work on the photos, both because I find it so much easier to actually locate these photos, and because iPhoto does a perfectly good job of cropping and straightening the photos. So that is the first thing I do. I crop to get the general shape correct, then I re-crop to make sure that it fits into an image that is 6 inches wide by 9 inches tall, the size of the softcover version of the novel.
- I export this image from iPhoto onto my desktop, open Photoshop, go to File>Open and open it in the Editor in Full Mode. (As you can see from the comments above, I don’t use the Organizer). The first thing I do once I have the image opened in Photoshop is to check its size. What I’m hoping for is that the image is a lot larger than 6 by 9 inches. If it is smaller, I ditch it and find another, because any attempt to make it larger will only degrade the quality of the image.
- I then resize it in Photoshop so that it is as close to 6 by 9 as I can get. If I have to choose, I get it close to 9 inches long, and don’t fuss about the horizontal dimension. I work around this by having the photo opened with the grids and rulers on, and stick to 6 inches wide. If I have to crop it again (because it’s 7 inches wide), and import it into iPhoto and do it that way. I have no idea why Photoshop is so balky in this regard about sizing the image, but there you are.
- Go to Windows>Layers to make sure that you have the Layers panel open. The photo you’re using should be the locked background layer. If you are just going to enter text, go to the panel on the left hand side, click on the text icon (the large T), position your cursor and start typing. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Unfortunately, you’re going to have to go through several tries at this point, because Photoshop doesn’t help you with accurate positioning of your cursor. However, if it isn’t to your liking, you can easily delete your layer, once you have hit the commit button (the green tick). Just go to Layer>delete, make sure that the layer you want to delete is live, and voila!
- Photoshop automatically treats each line of text as a layer, so you don’t really have to do anything else. The only thing you have to watch is to be sure to SAVE each effort, in case the software decides to hang up on you (shown by the colored spinning ball that won’t stop). When you’re in text mode, you use the panel at the top to change font size, font type and color. You can actually type in the font size box, to get all those in-between sizes that you might need. I used this function a lot to be sure I had the largest letters that would fit into my 6 by 9 panel. After all, I want my readers to be able to see the title and my name. I discovered that on most backgrounds, white lettering is easiest to see. The only exception is if you have a light-colored background. In that case, you might want to use either black or dark colored type.
- If you want to add any effects, such as Cecylee’s signature, you have to
- add a layer by going to Layer>Open.
- open the new image,
- select it using the Polygonal lasso tool (the only one I could get to work reliably),
- click on the move tool and move the image from the original window into the one that you’re working on. With the new layer open, Photoshop will pop this image into the new layer.
- Lastly, you can adjust the image by using the right hand panel. I chose darken for the blend mode to make everything go away except the text. I also slid the opacity button up and down to make the image less dominant.
- And that’s it. If you are a newbie to Photoshop Elements 9, I highly recommend a close reading of the Dummies guide.