When Learning is an Adventure

I’ve never been so busy as I have been since where we could go was restricted by COVID-19. First, I learned how to self publish on Amazon using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). With tutorials, many of them on YouTube, I learned how to format my manuscripts for eBooks and paperback books and how to design my book covers using Kindle’s Cover Create.

The next thing I learned how to do was copyright my manuscripts and also some of my photographs that I use in my cover designs. I learned this with tutorials on YouTube as well.

Knowing that I’d need an author website, I decided to learn how to create a website in WordPress. I learned this reading a book – WordPress to Go bay Sarah McHarry.

After taking a workshop on self publishing, I decided I wanted more flexibility in designing my own book covers than what’s possible with KDP. Not that KDP’s Cover Create isn’t wonderful; I designed some very nice covers with it. But the user is restricted in where she or he can place the text on the covers.

The workshop’s instructor said she uses GNU Image Maniuplation Program (GIMP). Like Photoshop, it’s a photo editing program. Unlike Photoshop, it’s free. So, I decided I wanted to learn this program. The instructor told me there was a steep learning curve, but I was certain I could learn. And if by some chance, I found it too difficult, so what? It’s free.

Well, guess what? There was a learning curve. During the first week I struggled with the program there were many times I wanted to give up. But when I wasn’t thinking I wanted to give up, I was thinking that I didn’t want to pay someone to design my book covers if I didn’t have to.

By the second week, it got a little easier and by this time, I was too invested in it to give up. I’d spent a lot of time learning what I’d learned up to this point.

By the third week, I was doing pretty well. If any of you reading this blog want to try it, believe me, as you get familiar with it, it does gate better. You’’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish with it.

Again, I watched many tutorials on YouTube.

If any of you are curious as to where I’ve found the images that I use, I’ve found many of them on Pixabay. All of the images are in the public domain and all are free to use. Some of the photos I use are from the Library of Congress and some of them are photos that I took.

Here are some of the items I created.

This is Main Street. When working in GIMP, like Photoshope, you work in “layers.” There are six layers in this image: 1. the background with the sky and mountains, 2. most of the buildings, 3. the Assay Office, 4, the boardwalk, 5, the galloping horse with the rider, and 6. the other horse and cowboy. Each layer must be scaled so it fits with the other layers.

The next image, Woman in Butterfly Frame is two layers – the woman’s portrait and the frame. The portrait had to be scaled so it fit in the oval opening.

The next image is a greeting card. I took the photo of the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Fort Street Mall in Honolulu, Hawaii. I then created a template in GIMP for the greeting card and then added the cathedral as a layer. The wording on the back of the card is another layer.

For this greeting card there are four layers: the template, the image on the front, the text in the image (“Thinking of You”), and the text on the back.

This birthday card was easy. The image already I used for the front of the card had the words and artwork in it. I just added it to the template as a layer and moved it into the correct position. Then I added the text on the back of the card. With the “Color Picker” tool, I copied the green in the image and put it into template background so the entire card would be the same color. So, there are three layers in this image – the template, the image and the text on the back.

Last but certainly not least, this is my God son Gabriel. This image is two layers: the photo of Gabriel and the image with the picture frame and the flowers on the desk. I positioned the layer with Gabriel’s photo behind the image with the picture frame. The center of the frame is “transparent” so whatever is behind it shows through.

And there we have it. I began my journey learning the GNU Image Manipulation Program on May 16, 2021. I don’t know how to do everything this program can do, but I’ve come a long way from when I started. It’s been an adventure. Now, I can design my own book covers!