An Indie author friend suggested playing around with pixlr photo editor as a nice tool for working with images and perhaps making book covers. It’s a browser-based editor similar to Photoshop that requires no download, yet it can do many things to alter images and even create them from scratch. In fact, Pixlr can be used entirely for self-publishers who want to design their own covers. For me, a total newbie to this program, my immediate impression was that it had some nice features and also some real drags.
Since I’m a big fan of free images from Flickr’s Creative Commons, I somehow gravitated to this photo from Matthew Mendoza since it seems like a fun image for a mock book cover. These ladies have a great Halloween theme, perfect models for our example ebook. What shall we call it? How about, Indie Galaxy Girls vs The Evil Publishing House. (Remember to only use photos, videos or articles with permission and proper crediting.)
Okay, so we have our lovely models dressed in galaxy garb. The background doesn’t feel very galaxy-ish so let’s find out how well Pixlr deals with this first issue: we don’t need the mall in the background. Using either the lasso or eraser tool, the undesirable mall elements are fairly easily removed giving us a white background, which we can alter later. Next idea that comes to me since guys will be guys–even though our Galaxy Girls are universally attractive, we know that sex can sell ebooks so the cover editor (moi) has decided to give them a boost for sexier crime-fighting power with 6 well-placed clicks of the mouse using Pixlr’s bloat tool. The following changes now render our cover at this stage on the right, leaving us with our heavily endowed Galactic crime fighting ladies sans mall background. Have to admit in a juvenile way, that was fun. Since an alteration was made, the need exists to double-check with the permission owner that it’s okay, but since we’re not selling Indie Galaxy Girls, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Then comes the hard part. I tried and tried for what seemed like hours to get some text in there that looked half decent. True, book cover text font is not my specialty, and this last and very important task just didn’t work at all.
In the end, had to admit defeat. Just couldn’t come up with any text that looked respectable to accompany my Pixlr mock book cover. Perhaps some of you reading this are wizards with this program, but this author was not and didn’t have the time to become one. And so Pixlr was abandoned as a method for ebook cover design, or at least it was deemed good for some things but not others.
Give me Inkscape or Gimp any day. Also free, far more powerful, and (in my opinion) a heck of a lot more intuitive. And if you want to hire some affordable help, email firstname.lastname@example.org for cover design and interior formatting. Or you can read the PC World article by David Daw below for more info on choices.
Want to do some serious image editing without spending a lot of cash? Here are a few of the better image editors that you can download for free on your Windows, Linux, or Mac system. (…keep reading)
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