Many times, I see people asking for help with their cover designs and such. Some of them make it completely obvious that they are not using the right tools (i.e. Microsoft Word). Some of them go for programs that are more capable (i.e. Photoshop or GIMP), but still not the best. Today’s post, I will be talking about why the latter is not the best option.
Why are Photoshop and GIMP not good for cover designs? The reason why they are not so great for cover designs is for what their purpose actually is in the computer world. Photoshop and GIMP are just bitmap image editors. Everything that comes from them is an image that relies on pixels to display the photos and any text included. Because they are that way, and people are not usually smart enough to save as a PSD file or GIMP native file format, they actually make things harder to fix. This is especially true if the text were rasterized, in other words turned into pixels in the document. Let us that one made a mistake in the title or the author name. If they were too dumb to make the files mentioned earlier, they would need to use the clone tool to fix the mistake. As the clone tool would be necessary, things will not look exactly perfect, since the more complex the image, the harder it would be to make the use of a clone tool in such a way that nothing would be tampered with. I found this out, when I was creating my very first cover design. Luckily, the background was a solid red, so it could be fixed very easily. The use of a PSD file on the other hand, would mean that I would be more likely to have the layer with text on it, so I could just delete the text layer and recreate it, or even try to fix it right then and there in the file, without need of the clone tool. Second, images produced by either of these programs do not scale well. Like all images, such as jpg images, you can shrink the size and suffer no loss of quality, but increase the size will ruin the quality. This is because pixels need to be stretched and/or added and pixels have a certain position on the screen. So, let us say that you made your cover design but it was too small for the book’s dimensions, this means that you will need to blowup the image, which will create distortion. Next, let us say that the cover design produced has a complex color scheme in which one color for text will not work. With either Photoshop or Gimp, one is out of luck, as text must be all one color, so that makes it difficult to have gooda good color for text contrast. Images produced by these editors do not scale well and the text may need to be fixed via clone tool, if no PSD or equivalent exists.
What do you suggest to be used instead? There are two types of software that will not fall victim to this problem, since on cannot save things to formats like JPEG or PNG directly. Those type of software are vector image editors (i.e. Adobe Illustrator) and Desktop Publishing software (i.e. Adobe InDesign). When either of these are used, the graphics are mainly vector-based, or act like it, thus things can be resized as needed on the cover design. However, the biggest thing is that you can pretty fix the text anytime you want. Text is just treated as a object. This means if one made a mistake, you can easily delete the object, even when the text is converted to an outline, or fix, when text is in its original state. Also, complex background schemes do not matter much because text can have a different stroke color than fill color, if the text is converted to an outline (I have not tried regular mode). Some of this is only easy to accomplish in Photoshop or GIMP if the layers still exist and items are on their own layer, as they should be. Vector image editors cannot usually save to bitmap images by default from the normal save options, and as a result, make editing covers easier.
What is your opinion on the matter? Feel free to comment.