Ebook covers GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks asphoto retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages. Sigil Format Editing For example, … Continue reading →
GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks asphoto retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.
Sigil Format Editing
For example, one thing I notice on a lot of public domain epub books is that the title and author sometimes span several pages, one for each line. If I look at the section of the ebook in Sigil with code view, I can see where the html is messed up, usually because something gets messed up in translation from one format to another. Using Sigil, I can easily fix this type of formatting issues.
Calibre Format Changing
Speaking of conversion of file format, this is where Calibre comes in. It is a program for maintaining your ebook library on your computer and syncing with your portable devices. It can convert from almost any ebook format to almost any other, assuming there is no DRM on the ebook. A lot of books you buy have this and can not be converted or copied (at least not easily). Most downloads from sites like Project Gutenberg do not have this and can be converted. Of course it is best to download the ebook in the format you want, to avoid possible conversion errors.
Making the Ebook Cover
Switching gears, we get to the meat of this article, the book cover. I assume your book does not have a cover or you are not satisfied with it. So we are going to change it. Depending on the book you can look for existing covers on line to use, or you can create one from scratch. I am going to create my own cover for A. E. Housman’s “Last Poems”. I assume you already know something about using the GIMP.
First I create a new file with GIMP. I chose a width of 600 and a height of 800.
You can look up cover sizes for ebooks, and find lots and lots of different recommendations. 600 x 800 is large enough for some detail and gives a width to height ratio of 0.75. I have seen cover art with ratios as low as 0.66 and as high as 0.80. For example, the Aldiko ereader expects the cover art to be 0.66 (533 x 800 for the size covers I use). You can tell by the white box edges that show up if you do not use this ratio.
Covers will also be scaled depending on the device they will be read on. 600 x 800 tends to work well for me. It allows some detail, and can be easily scaled for smaller displays.
Next I create two transparent layers and label the top one as cover highlight and the other one as cover art.
I select the cover highlight layer and use the square selection tool to select an area from 20, 0 to 600, 800. Then I select the paint brush and circle fuzzy (19) as the brush style. Then from the edit menu I chose “stroke selection”. In the window that pops up I select the ”stroke with paint tool” and select the paintbrush. Then I apply the stroke. This gives me a thin gradient for the edges of the book.
Next I will work on the spine is at the left of the cover. Still on the highlight layer, use the square selection tool again. This time go from 0,0 to 20, 800. For this area I select the Gradiant tool and the brushed aluminum gradient. Click on one side of the selected area and drag straight across to the other side. This should give a dark to light to dark fill.
Now I make the cover highlight layer invisible and select the background layer. I fill this layer with a pattern. For this book I use one of the built in patterns. But there are on line tutorials for making cloth, leather, paper, and a variety of other finishes. You can get an idea by looking at some hard cover books.
Moving on to the cover art layer, I add my text, pictures and any other visual elements desired. In this case I added the book title in big letters, the authors name in slightly smaller type, and a photo of the author.
Making all layers visible, I select the cover highlight layer and change the mode from normal to Overlay. I adjust the opacity to a level that looks good. Then I save the file as a .jpg with a quality of 100%. You can use a lower quality if you want a smaller file size.
Importing and Saving the Ebook Cover
The final step is to open Calibre. I hope that you have already imported the ebook. If not, use the Add Book icon to import your ebook. Now right click on your ebook in the main list and select edit meta data, and then edit meta data individually. Open your picture in GIMP, then select all and copy it.
In the Calibre meta data window, hover over where the cover picture goes and right click. Select past cover. Your cover should now be pated into the meta data. Select OK. We are almost there. The cover is a file in the calibre directory with the ebook. We want to get it imported into the epub file structure.
To do this we need to convert the ebook. So highlight it and use the convert icon. Now regardless of the format choose to convert the book to an epub, even if it is already an epub. Once converted, the cover art will be embedded in the new file. When you load it onto a device that displays cover art, it will be displayed.
Note that in the meta data window you will see all the saved book ebook formats. There should be one ending in .original.epub. This was the old file. The new file should also be the latest version of the epub format. If you want to clean up, you can delete the original file from the meta data window.
You can also open the book in Sigil to verify that the cover art was imported.