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Thursday, 26 January 2012

eBook Cover Design Software


I’ve just finished loading “The Black Ships” on the Kindle Direct site and find myself at loose ends. I can’t get my head back into “Firebringer” just yet so I thought I would put together a quick post about eBook covers. After using Paint.net to do the cover for “Prometheus bound”, I had planned to use it for my latest release - until I discovered an amazing bit of open source software called Blender.
This really is more than just a piece of software, it’s a community. Though the program may look a little intimidating at first glance, there are hundreds of brilliant, helpful users who take the time to create video tutorials. Following the lessons from such visionaries as Andrew Price at his site Blender Guru or the insanely gifted crew over at Blender Cookie, I soon found myself creating realistic images from three dimensional scenes that I built with my own stubby fingers (I wasn’t born to play the piano – that’s for sure).
I’m not ashamed to say that I let my imagination run amok. I was deep in the midst of a complicated scene of a partially destroyed ISS habitat on the surface of Mars when I received a notice on my blog dashboard of a new post from David Gaughran. David’s blog is always worth a read and the post in question included a reminder of the importance of good cover design. He steered readers to Joel Friedlander’s site where, among other things, the importance of simplicity was stressed in the design of a cover that would display at less than an inch in height on the retailer sites.
I took another look at the complicated scene that I had spent an entire day building. It would never work for an eBook cover. I went back to the drawing board and came up with a simple concept – an orbital image showing the sun rising over Mars. Three hours later, I was looking at my new cover.
After I loaded the book, I realized that I could animate the cover. Ten minutes later, I had a short video version of the cover with some music and ambient ship noise. Sure, I can’t put that into the book itself (not currently, anyway) but I can load it to the video link on the KDP book page.

Meanwhile, I can use the various three dimensional models created while learning the software and generate video sequences from them to build a book trailer.
I’ll keep you posted on how that works out.
PS. Animated cover below, not much but it's a start.