3D Book Covers–A Brief How To


PC: Kevin Dooley via Flickr Creative Commons

This post could very well be called “Why I love indie publishing,” but I decided to name it otherwise because while WILIP (acronym for “why I . . .” to spare you the pain of reading the whole phrase each time I say it) is the soul and inspiration behind this, the more immediate and material takeaway is the “How to.”

All right, first things first. I’ve always been and will be a fan of indie publishing. For the sheer creative independence and control, for being in charge of the direction you want your writing life to progress, for the agility you have in veering said life in the direction you choose–I love the indie path.

There’s also another reason, an even more intangible reason, that I like it so much. It’s how much I learn, particularly how many new skills I pick up almost everyday. Of course, you can learn the other way too, but the learning curve is much more gentle because of the longer stretch you’re given to get to your goals. Particularly with the non-writing skills. In the indie world, the goals are more immediate, pressing because it’s your business–you’re the CEO, CFO, COO, CTO . . . you get the point. So, you have to adapt fast or fade.

I should, at this point, also add that not everyone going indie will love having to wrangle with learning new things that has nothing to do with writing. And that’s fine. That’s where they outsource to the fine consultants in the industry who are going to do a great job for you. For me however, I like to keep many things in-house. Not editing though, which I know is not something I can do well, ever. Or illustrating–not my thing. I can draw diagrams, sure. But my human figures are lucky if they turn out like monkeys.

That said, there are things I’m good at, and more importantly, things I’m getting better at every day. One of them is Photoshop. I am in no way all-knowing or super-efficient or near brilliant at PS, but I can do an effective enough job. And I love doing it too. Which brings me to the important part–the 3D covers.

I’ve been experimenting with Facebook advertising–tracking conversions on my website and figuring out issues–for the past two weeks. This weekend, my significant other peeked at my site and made a few comments on the typefaces on my homepage, sound observations all. While I was tweaking the lettering, he went, “Ooh those are cool bags of chips.”

Whoa! Wait a sec–those are my books!

Turns out, from a distance the layout of the book covers looked like how bags of chips would be advertised, not books. Below, the layout in question.

Abstract smoke isolated on black

Realized that I needed a 3D rendering of some sort that would clearly tell anyone that these are books, not a new brand Lay’s have come up with recently.

I had no idea how 3D rendering could be done, but it didn’t feel easy at all. Off I went looking at my budget–looked like going to my graphic designer meant I would have to cut down monthly advertising by a week.

Hmm . . . wonder if I should look at a tutorial for making 3D covers in detail before bailing?

Fifteen minutes of searching the net got me to this awesome tutorial below by Simon Whistler at rockingselfpublishing.com

It’s an awesome tutorial, guys! I don’t want to take away anything from Simon’s presentation by trying to add more to it, but I will simply summarize what you need to get started.

  • Adobe Photoshop: If you have the software, that’s great. If you don’t and plan to do a lot of graphics manipulation, you could get a CC (Creative Cloud) membership. It’s $10 a month and totally worth it. Or you could use a 30 day trial.
  • A visit to PSDcovers: To select the 3D layout you need and download the action. Try searching with “softcover” for the paperback book renderings. It’s all absolutely free.
  • Some time to experiment: You’ll need some time to learn what the tutorial shows, as well as to experiment with the layouts. They might take a few tries. I figured not all layouts that look good in psdcovers website look equally good on my home page because of how the rest of the elements might be laid out.

This is what I got out of experimenting.

Abstract smoke isolated on black

Better? Well, the conversion rate trickled upward some, so guessing it is.

Better or not, I have learned a brand new skill and that makes me quite giddy. I had been planning to add all my book covers to my banner in December and saving up for that, but looks like I might be able to tackle the project myself. Now, for some more practice.

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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Posted in indie pub fangirling, thoughtful thursdays, tutorials

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