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eBook and Paperback Book Cover Design Using Canva and Gimp

Self-Publishing? Create your own professional looking book covers; ready to upload to major retailers and distributors.
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790 students enrolled
Created by Karen Prince
Last updated 9/2016
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  • 2 hours on-demand video
  • 1 Article
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  • Certificate of Completion
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Thanks to huge advances in computer technology making your own book covers is not nearly as hard as it used to be. You can use drag and drop image building apps online. My favorite of these is Canva.

For those few things that you cannot do inside Canva, there is also no need to invest in expensive image manipulation software because you can do them in Gimp for free.

Even though designing a book cover can get a little technical, it's a skill you can easily learn. In this course I will teach you the software you need so that you too can get stuck in and create great covers for your books.

Designing images for book covers and designing them for social media banners and posts is very similar, so once you know how to use the software, you can go on to create all the marketing material to go with your book as well.

Who is the target audience?
  • Anyone wishing to design their own book covers including writers of both fiction and non-fiction. It would also be handy for marketers putting out reports and other promotional material.
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What Will I Learn?
Find inspiration for your book covers as well as free, cheap or premium images without infringing upon someone else's copyright
Understand the technical terms used in image design such as image size, file size, aspect ratios and color modes as well as what file type to use when uploading to your chosen platforms.
Know the current specifications for print book, eBook and catalogue covers on major platforms like Amazon and Smashwords.
Design an eBook catalogue cover in Canva using either a template or your own specifications and images
Work out the specifications for a paperback book cover or generate one in Createspace, and then design your cover in Canva with a little image manipulating in Gimp.
Set up and design book covers in Gimp using layer masks and blend modes to create interesting effects.
Convert your catalogue cover images and paperback book cover images to a suitable size to embed within your ebooks.
View Curriculum
  • You need to sign up for free accounts at both Canva and Gimp and be willing to believe that you are perfectly capable of creating a great cover.
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 19 Lectures Collapse All 19 Lectures 02:02:07
1 Lecture 03:31

A quick welcome, and a synopsis of what will be covered in this course.

Preview 03:31
Finding Book Cover Inspiration and Images and Avoiding Copyright Infringement
3 Lectures 17:01

How to find out what kind of covers are doing well for other authors in your genre and where to find inspitarion for designing your own covers.

Finding Inspiration for Your Book Covers

An explanation of the basics of copyright according to my research and the experiences of a couple of my author friends who have inadvertently used copyrighted images by mistake.

Understanding Copyright

In this video I am going to show you my favorite places for finding cheap or free images and then later; where to find paid images.

Where to Find Suitable Images For Your Book Cover
Technical Terms and Specifications for Book Cover Images
2 Lectures 12:13
In this video I am going to run through some the technical terms surrounding image design that you need to know a bit about before you start to design your book cover
Preview 10:27

A list of the current specifications for the catalogue images that go on each of the different publishing platforms and the aspect ratios of the different tablets so that you can choose a size for your embedded eBook Covers.

Current Specifications for Catalogue and Embedded eBook Cover
Designing an eBook Cover in Canva
2 Lectures 20:42
By the end of this lecture you will be able to set up a project using an eBook or Kindle cover template in Canva which is a drag and drop online image design tool.
Setting up a Project in Canva Using a Template

In this video I'm going to show you how to make a cover from scratch in Canva using your own custom dimensions and your own imported images.
Working With Your Own Images in Canva
Designing a Paperback Cover Using Gimp and Canva
5 Lectures 34:05

In this video we are going to take a look at the specifications you need for a print cover. Then we will open up Gimp and learn how to crop Createspace's book cover template so that we can use it inside Canva.

Paperback Book Cover Specifications

In order to use the Createspace paperback template in Canva you need to reduce its size without losing any resolution. In this video I will show you how to crop off the section of the template you don't need inside Gimp.
Cropping the Createspace template in Gimp so that you can use it in Canva

How to open the exact size design canvas to suit your custom Createspace template in Canva and how to set up some guides ready to design your paperback book cover.
Setting up a Paperback Book Cover Project in Canva Using Your Custom Template

In this video we are going to design a paperback book cover in Canva using the guides we set up in Canva based on the Createspace template we imported from Gimp. Then I'll show you how to save the completed cover in preparation for placing it back within the Createspace template to export as a PDF for print.

Designing Your Paperback Book Cover in Canva

In this video we are going to make sure that the book cover you designed in Canva, fits back on to your original template in gimp. Then I'll show you how to export a print ready PDF of your book cover.

Placing Your Paperback Cover Design Back into GIMP and Exporting it as a PDF
Setting up and Designing a Book Cover in GIMP Using Special Effects
4 Lectures 25:23
In this video I'll show you how to set up the right size canvas in Gimp from scratch, with the correct resolution for a book cover.
Getting Started With The Right Sized Canvas in GIMP Right Sized Canvas in GIM

In this video I'm going to start out by explaining the layers panel in GIMP because that is the container you use to navigate your way around the documents in your project. Then I'm going to show you how to blend your images together to produce interesting effects.
Understanding Layers and Blend Mode in GIMP

In this video I'm going to show you how to make a layers mask so that you can see through parts of an image to the layer below. Then we will use the blend mode to turn a castle to pure gold and design a fantasy background for it.

Applying a Layer Mask and Blending the Background in GIMP Applying a Layer

How to use the text tool in Gimp to add a title to your book cover image.
Using the Text Tools to Add a Book Title in GIMP
Reducing Your Catalogue Covers to a Suitable Size to Embed Within Your eBook
1 Lecture 07:33
How to reduce your catalogue cover images and your paperback book cover images to a suitable size to embed within your eBooks.
Reducing Your Catalogue Covers to a Suitable Size to Embed Within Your eBook
1 Lecture 02:00
This wraps up our look at making your own book covers in Canva and Gimp. I hope I have instilled enough confidence in you for you to have a go at making your own. I really hope you are going to do it.
About the Instructor
4.7 Average rating
608 Reviews
6,643 Students
5 Courses
Author, Writing Software Teacher and Book Cover Designer.

My writing life began when I decided to write a quick novel while I was between Interior Design jobs because that was what I had always wanted to do — Yeah, Right! It was a lot harder than I expected.

I bought Scrivener, learned a couple of the main functions and got to work on my novel. It was only at the end of the novel that I discovered I could convert my manuscript to .mobi for Kindle right there inside Scrivener. Upon closer inspection I discovered that Scrivener had some fantastic functions that I had hardly begun to tap in to. I was hooked. Before I knew it, I had told all my writing friends about this cool new thing and was offering to convert their manuscripts, and was urging them to switch to Scrivener in order to convert their own manuscripts. In my enthusiasm I inadvertently ended up being the 'the go' to person for their Scrivener problems so I had to learn Scrivener fast.

Once I delved deeper into the software, I could have kicked myself for not learning it properly in the first place. The time I could have saved! Don't get me wrong. Knowing your way around Scrivener does not make you a better writer — you have to learn that skill separately — but it sure does make everything else in your writing project easier.

The problem is, learning it all via the User's Manual can be time consuming and confusing so I found myself popping around to people's houses to get them started or taking step by step screen captures to email to them. This is no way to work, so I learned how to make screen capture videos so that it would be really easy to learn, and my writers could get on with the important work which is writing great content.

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