As we saw yesterday, creating nice text for your cover can be as easy as typing it in: but with a little effort, you can get some really nice results. If you missed yesterday’s post, go check it out first; it’ll give some context to what we’re doing now.
Once you have your title block arranged the way you want it, you can play with its appearance. You might want to change the colors, add some text effects, or make it stand out more. It’s easy to do–my one recommendation would be to make your name in the same way, at the same time. I did my name the next day, and it took me a while to get it looking the same!
The first thing you need to do is decide what kind of effect you want. It’s best to play around if you don’t have any graphic design experience; there are tons of tricks you can use for really nice images. I found a nice tutorial here on how to make your text appear to glow like iron in a fire; I wanted my text to have a sort of antique/mysterious look to it.
The first thing I did was duplicate the text layer several times; this allowed me to put a different effect on each layer with the original text; otherwise you’re piling effect on top of effect, and the result will look messy. By showing or hiding layers, you can see how they look together.
Then I added a glow effect. Pretty simple with the glow tool; you just change the brightness, contrast, and the radius of the glow. Be careful about too large a radius, as if it goes outside your canvas size, you’ll get square edges when you put it on your cover.
On a separate layer, I did a Gaussian Blur. This creates a sort of haze out of the image, which I’ll set on the bottom layer. I also colored it red to compliment some of the tones in the cover image; this makes the haze blend in. It also helps set the letters apart nicely. It’s almost invisible in the final image, but the result is that the text looks like it’s part of the image, rather than copied and pasted on top of it.
On another layer, I improved the Saturation of the color, which smooths out some of the anti-aliasing. The picture here shows pink text; I actually changed it to a more of a taupe color after taking this screenshot, but you get the idea.
Next, I merged all the layers except the background. Why? This presses them all into the same layer so all my effects will be affected by what I do next. Otherwise I’d have to repeat the next couple steps separately for each layer.
After merging, I duplicated the layer again. It seems counter intuitive, but follow me; now I want to do two separate effects. First, the bottom layer is tinged green. Green is a compliment of the red of my cover image, so it’ll “pop” nicely. But I don’t want green text…
…so on the top layer, I did a transparent gradient. This allows the top layer to be predominant while the bottom layer shows through; how much is up to you. In my case, the green shows up just enough to give the gold/taupe a sort of copper tinge–which enhances the antique look I’m going for. I think.
Finally, I played a bit with the brightness and contrast on the top layer, to bring out the edges a touch. Finally, delete the black background layer, merge everything else, and voila! A nice sharp image of your title block.
From there, you just do Ctrl+a and Ctrl+C, then paste it into your Text layer on the cover image. Follow the same steps for your name, and you’re done. To finish up my cover, I added a small border, but that’s really it–almost all the work went into the text. All in all, it took me more than six hours over two days. Next time, it’ll be less than half that, now that I know what I’m doing!
Now, all of this may look complicated, and I’m not going to lie–it can get complicated. The best thing to do is play around with it–saving your originals frequently–and get opinions from friends and family. The more you tweak, the more you’ll learn. I knew next to nothing about image software before this process, but now I can do a passable cover; all it took was some patience, fiddling around, and good old Google.
This past week has been a flurry of formatting, cover design, and tweaking…but it’s all paid off! The Ancestor and Other Stories has been submitted to both Kobo and the Amazon store, and will be available shortly–there was one final edit I had to make this morning, and it’s just in the final stages now. I’ll provide links, of course, but in the meantime, why not add it to your reading list on Goodreads?