I just spent the past 5 hours (11 PM to 4 AM of May 2013) trying to figure out how to create an e-book cover and adjust colour on an image. Okay, some of you might be going “duah”. Thing is, I’m not a graphic artist and I don’t draw. Illustrator and Photoshop are alien to me. (Update: Photoshop has become a bit less alien to me and I use it a lot more than Illustrator, except when images like the ones in this example don’t open in Photoshop for some reason.) Needless to say the image wouldn’t open in Photoshop. And now you’re wondering, from someone who makes videos, WHY am I trying to create an e-book cover. Simple, so I can sell my own e-books on my website. (Update: Although other projects have priority on the e-book, it still is in the works.) I did mention I had a series of short stories I wanted to self-publish. (Update: those short stories are now chapters of a longer one.) What I found was that I can do all this with Powerpoint and Adobe ImageReady. Let me share with you what I discovered.
So there’s no need to go into the whole complicated process of paying someone to design stuff or going through an external company to format an e-book if you’re simply looking to self-publish and sell on your website.
Macs have a nice little option when in Word and you select Print, Save as PDF. PayPal has a nice little option to help you create your “sell” buttons, price your products, etc. I urge you all to explore PayPal if you don’t already know this. It’s a wonderful tool. (Update: I have also discovered other forms to e-publishing, like Bookwrite from Blurb.)
E-book cover? I found a link to a blog where a guy, William King, who publishes e-books regularly explains how to use Powerpoint to create your e-book cover. Point by point (no pun intended): You can find images on websites that sell them at a nice low cost (royalty free images), and adjust the image to make it a bit different so that it’s not exactly the same (in case your neighbour’s using the same image, type thing). You can create a Powerpoint document, select a background colour, insert the image and adjust it, insert text boxes for your title, author area, anything you want to put on there, play around with font and styles, and voilà. I suggest you visit the blog where Mr. King explains in full details how to do this (it was very helpful for me and didn’t consume too much time).
So I needed to change the colour of the dress of the character in the image. With limited tools and limited knowledge I searched for a while for this. I landed on Adobe ImageReady CS, which I was surprised I had. Then again, I keep discovering things on my new Mac I never knew I had. So ImageReady can’t exactly change the colour in one go. This is what took so long.
(Update: For images that you can open in Photoshop, which I use when I can actually open the image in my older version of Photoshop, you can select the area of which you want to change the colour, with the Lasso Tool. Then you can create an Adjustment Layer and use Hue and Saturation. This allows you to change the hue, saturation and lightness or darkness of the Master image or area (all colour schemes), the Reds, Yellow, Greens, Magentas, Cyans and Blues, individually. There are other methods too, but this is by far the quickest and simplest one to use in Photoshop. No back to how I did it with ImageReady.)
I had to select sections of it at a time (it’s the first tool on the upper left called Rectangle Marquee Tool) and this is only in rectangles and squares. So I’d adjust the size of rectangle I needed, go in Image – Adjustments… There’s no Change Colour option and if your image opens in Photoshop and you know a bit about Photoshop, use that, but if like me, it won’t open, then select Variations. You have several options to choose from, in Adjustments, levels, RGB, saturation. For what I needed, it was quicker with Variations.
You begin with the original image, back to which you can revert at anytime, and you can select lighter, darker, more red, green, magenta, cyan, blue, yellow, pink. I wanted to go from a white/beige dress to a lilac one, so I selected Midtones, determined an intensity, chose cyan first, then magenta, then lighter and clicked ok. Now square by square I did this. If you look closely, you can see that it’s not perfect. But what are you selling? The story within. And from far, it’s not so bad.
See below the original with the white/beige dress and then my version with the lilac dress.
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