...The Tech's Blog
A blog by Paul (Jack) Daniels, of all things technical being an independent publisher and some things not.
Sun, 22 Jan 2012 16:08:03 +1000 397 views

When it comes to doing covers for our books, a lot of people look to use either Photoshop or GIMP, however, for those going the GIMP way, there's another option that is probably a lot more suited to the task ahead, Inkscape.

Inkscape is a high quality open-source/free vector-graphics editing program that is a lot more suited to the task of handling typography, masking, shading and tweaking that is encountered when trying to compose a book cover. GIMP is a fine option for if you're working on raster/bitmap images, such as the background image that makes up most book covers, however when it comes to dealing with the typography, it's time to switch over to using Inkscape.

If I had to pick a single feature of Inkscape that makes it standout as the "must use" tool for doing book covers, it is the ability to manipulate the outlines of fonts to create your own unique twist or signature style that no one else will have. Font outline manipulation was used extensively for the Tree of Life cover. Following up quickly behind would be the fact that you can always manipulate the elements of your cover and you can make the output as large or small as you desire without any deterioration of the quality (limited only by the resolution of any bitmap/raster images you are using).

Recently I updated the cover of Elita Daniels' "Guardian" Adult-Romance Vampire book, it's been 12 months and the cover really needed some more content added to it. Fortunately for me I had done the orignal in Inkscape so it was a simple matter of picking up where I left off. I didn't have to rebuild the image from scratch, there was no loss of resolution. You can sidestep a lot of issues in GIMP by saving the files in its native XCF format, unfortunately it still falls well short compared to Inkscape in terms of preserving the elements of your work.

There is a learning curve to using Inkscape, but that is the case with any tool that you want to use. I think that for book covers, considering how focused on typography they are, using Inkscape makes a lot of sense and will make your life easier than using GIMP. GIMP is great for manipulating bitmaps/jpeg/raster images, but switch to Inkscape for compositing everything together for your final cover.

Some tutorial for Inkscape -

Basic Tutorial

Advanced Tutorial

Getting started with Inkscape

35 tutorials for creating useful drawings