I've been having fun making some ads with the free software called GIMP, an image manipulation program. A friend asked me how I made these ads, so I decided to do a little blog about it to help her, and maybe someone else is curious too. If you have Photoshop, you can use that. But, for those of us who are looking for something free, I recommend GIMP. You can check it out and download at http://www.gimp.org/
A big project, like creating a book cover, takes a lot of time and effort and learning the ins and outs of the program. But to do a simple ad like the one above isn't too difficult. If you like creative things, you might enjoy designing some ads for your book.
1.) First, you'll want to download GIMP at the website noted above
2.) When you open GIMP, Click on FILE, then NEW
3.) Choose the size you want. Like 500 X 333 or 600 X 400 (or for Pinterest, something more like 600 X 900). Click OK.
4.) Now, you should see a rectangular box where your picture will be. To the left of the GIMP screen, you should also see two small menu boxes: Toolbox and Layers. (If you don't see them, look under WINDOWS)
5.) For the picture at the top of this blog, I needed to find a picture to use. So I went to a free photo site called Pixabay at http://pixabay.com/. (Sometimes I buy pictures at Fotolia: http://us.fotolia.com/.) For the ad above, I wanted a muted, stormy picture in the background, something that went along with the book. I downloaded (for free) a picture of rain. (Be sure to SAVE AS in a file you can easily find.) Then I took the picture into my Photoscape program (also free) and changed the size of the photo to match the rectangle shape I'd chosen in step #3 above. You can use any photo manipulation program to do that. So I chose 500 X 333. Now, save the newly sized picture under a new name. Sometimes I tweak something several times, so I'll name it rain1, rain2, etc.
6.) Back to the GIMP, click on FILE, then OPEN AS LAYERS. Click on PICTURES and find the file and picture you are going to use (the one you just resized.) Click the picture, then click OPEN. The picture will drop into the rectangle on the GIMP screen. Cool, huh? (If you can't see the picture you just inserted, but you see the outline where it should be, it means it's below the other picture. Do this: Right-click on the picture, then a menu pops up. Click on LAYER, then STACK, then LAYER to TOP. Now, you should see the book cover above the background. Yay.)
7.) Follow the same steps in #6 to bring in a picture of your book. You'll want to resize it first. I used 275 pixels.
8.) To grab hold of the book image, check the LAYER menu and make sure the picture file is highlighted with gray. That means it's now "active." Go to the Toolbox and click on the icon for "moving" as seen in this picture:
9.) Now, hover your cursor over the book cover shot until you only see an arrow and that "moving" icon. As long as there's an icon of a finger, it's not ready. (If you accidentally move the background picture, instead of the book cover, click EDIT, then UNDO. I've done this lots of times.) Now, you can grab hold of your book cover and move it wherever you'd like.
10.) (Optional) To get the book to be angled as my picture is above, Click on the ROTATE TOOL.
Then, grab hold of the book cover shot again and as you move the cursor, a grid will show and you can choose the angle you want. You can always UNDO in the EDIT section. Experiment with rotating and moving and find where you want the cover image to be.
11.) Now, it's time for words! Go to the Layers Menu and click on the file of the background picture to make sure it's highlighted. Next, click on the "A" in the Toolbox. Go to the background picture and click on it where you want the lettering to be. (You can always move it later.) Type your words in the little box. (You can also copy and paste from a Word doc) Then, highlight the words and click in the small menu where it says SANS. Here you can choose the type of font you want, and you can change the letter sizing. Usually, I remove the word "Sans" if I don't want that font, and if you type a letter, let's say "B," then a bunch of font options will pop up. Click on the one you want. Then, highlight the font and put in the size you want. This takes a lot of experimenting. In the example below, I've used Sans and font size 25.
Whenever you want to change the lettering, click the file with the lettering showing in the LAYER box, and click the "A" in the Toolbox, then highlight the lettering to make the changes. If you want to move the wording, click the "move tool" icon as we did above. Remember, you can undo anything. It's okay to experiment and to make mistakes.
I consider these little ads a work of art. They're fun to make and creative. Once you start getting the hang of the GIMP program, it's even relaxing. Hard to believe? I mean it. :)
12.) TO SAVE is different with this program. You'll need to go to FILE and click EXPORT. Then, click on PICTURES and locate the file where you want this photo to go. Click on the arrow near the bottom of the screen that says "ALL EXPORT IMAGES" and choose either png or jpg, whichever you want to save as and click that option. Then go up to the name of the file at the top of the screen and change that to jpg or png in the title. Click EXPORT. Another menu will open and click EXPORT again. Now, this has saved in a file that you can use on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest. You can't change anything from THIS file. But, you should also SAVE AS so you can tweak something or adjust it to make a different wording or picture in the future. It will save as an .xcf file.
Whew. Does that sound too overwhelming? I hope not. Like any new thing, there are steps to learn. If you take each point above and experiment along the way, you'll get used to how GIMP works. Don't be afraid of making mistakes. Lots of authors are making these little ads, and I think they're pretty eye-catching. And way more interesting than showing the cover of the book only.
Have fun with it! I know I am. If you have questions, I'm not a pro, but I'd be glad to help out.
Here are a few more of my experiments...
Here's two I did for a friend...
I have this one on my website:
Yay! You can do it too.
PS...Two days later, I'm adding a little more info. I'm always learning, making mistakes, and figuring things out, especially when it comes to technical stuff. So, I decided on Tuesday afternoon that I'd use the ad with the rain at the top of this page (I really like that one) and do a $5.00 post-boost on Facebook. When it didn't start up within the hour like they usually do, I figured something was wrong. I checked my fb page before I went to bed, and still nothing. The next morning (I live in the Pacific NW) most of the $5.00 had been used for promotion, and over 1300 people had supposedly seen it. Yay! (?) But then, I got a notice from Facebook stating my picture was denied boosting because it had more than 20% writing. Hmmm. I didn't know this little rule. So, in the future, less words and more picture. They said it can look like spam if it's too wordy. The strange thing is that it was sent out, but then rejected. I don't know what to think about that.
Until next time...