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How I Made My Book Cover with Free Stuff
Posted By: K McCall, 07-09-2009, 05:33 AM

(excerpted from a blog post I made, and definitely meant as a basic tutorial; there's no fancy graphic stuff here)

I made a book version of my 365 self-portraits project over at I like blurb, but they don't give you a lot of options for the cover, unless you want your text to just read straight across. I didn't

I made my cover completely in Irfanview, my favorite quick-and-easy editor created by Irfan Skilhan, so I figured I’d document the steps here in case anyone was interested in doing something similar. I use Irfanview all the time for quick batch editing (i.e. resizing, renaming, etc). As fellow forum-member emr pointed out to me, Irfanview is free if used for non-commercial uses but for a use like this, you might want to consider purchasing a license (US $10 or 12 euros).

The first step was to open the program and then open the file, but I’m going to assume that those steps are rather self-explanatory

This is the image that I’ll be using:

I want the text to go in the bricks as if it was scribbled there. The “text” in this case will read “SELF: Year Two. Photos by Keitha McCall.” Just finding the perfect font took more time that I’d like to admit. I started my search at, a fount of free fonts. “Sketch Block,” the font I fell in love with that was created by Lukas Bischoff, was free for personal use. For the ones that aren't, most either let you make a donation and use them or allow you to purchase them via other sites.

So the bricks are roughly 45 to the bottom edge of the photo, and Irfanview doesn’t allow you to rotate the text box, so we’re going to have to rotate the photo itself. Luckily, that’s easy enough to do. It turns out they need to be rotated 39, so that’s the value we’ll use.

Once the photo is rotated, it’s going to look like this:

The screencap didn’t come out well, but we basically need to draw a rectangle where the text is going to go. The text is always top-aligned in Irfanview world, so draw your box liberally in the brick you want to use. In this case, I’m going to draw around the top 60% or so of the chosen brick.

Next we go to “Insert Text” under the “Edit” menu.

I typed the word “SELF” in the large box and went to “choose font” to make my font selections.

I chose the fabulous “Sketch Block” font, made it bold just to give it that extra bit against those stones, and played around with the size until I figured out that 300 was just enough to fill the block. I changed the color to white (there aren’t a lot of color options), and pressed “OK.”

Now I have this:

I continued to make boxes and change the sizes of the fonts to fill the bricks; “YEAR TWO” was size 130, as was “PHOTOS BY.” “KEITHA” was 170 and “McCALL” was 160.

Once all the text was in, it was time to rotate it back to normal.

This time, we’re going to choose the opposite of the original rotation value, so instead of 39, we’re going to type in -39.

We’re left with a LOT of black borders around the origial picture because of all that rotating, so we need to draw one last rectangle around the photo. Ideally you’d be careful to select only the photo, but with the software I’m using to make my book, it doesn’t really matter - there’s easy picture resizing and cropping built-in.

Now just go to the “Edit” menu and choose “Crop Selection.”

And….there you go! One custom-made book cover, thanks to the talents and generosity of both Lukas Bischoff and Irfan Skiljan!

If you want to see the book preview from blurb, it's here: Self: Year Two | Book Preview
And if anyone has any questions about using blurb, feel free to ask. I've use blurb, shutterfly, and mpix during the past year.

Last edited by K McCall; 07-09-2009 at 06:30 AM. Reason: clarification concerning end user agreement of Irfanview
Views: 7,893
07-09-2009, 05:49 AM   #2
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Very nice. Moved to PP section.
07-09-2009, 05:49 PM   #3
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Location: Melbourne
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great article, I've made a few books with and so far so good. I think what you did with the cover is very cool, great design and cover photo.
07-09-2009, 10:59 PM   #4
Damn Brit

QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Very nice. Moved to PP section.
Doh! I suggested to Keitha that she put it in Everything Else.
Thanks for watching my back Peter.

07-14-2009, 03:47 PM   #5
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Cool stuff Keitha.
You're a wealth of knowledge.
Let us know when the book's ready!

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