Creating Book Covers Workshop: 4 Loading Fonts and Using Text Effects

4 Loading Fonts and Using Text Effects

In this lesson, we will:

  • Learn about selecting fonts and using multiple text layers
  • Learn to align and center text
  • Load new fonts off the internet
  • Manipulate fonts with effects
  • View book covers as thumbnails

4.1 Choosing Fonts

When choosing fonts for your cover, you should opt for thick fonts that will show up well when the cover is displayed as a thumbnail image. Yes, those willowy fonts are pretty, but their thin lines tend to disappear when the cover is displayed as a small image. So, go with the more substantial fonts.

Choose a font style that matches the style of your book. Whether the font is pretty, grungy, cartoony, or professional should be determined by whether the book is pretty, grungy, cartoony, or professional. Use your fonts to tell your story.

Times New Roman in plain and italic is a good choice for subtitles and “New your Times Bestseller” above your author name (should you be so luck).

4.2 Fonts and Branding

We haven’t discussed branding yet, but this is an important issue. Branding involves using common graphic elements on all your book covers to unite them. Whether uniting all the books in a series or all your books, using common fonts on each book cover can help to establish your brand.

For example, you may want to use the same font for the titles of all your books in a series and share the same author name style and location on every book. It’s easy to copy common elements from one book cover image to another or use an existing cover as a template for the next book.

4.3 Using Multiple Text Layers

Each time you add text to an image it produces a new text layer. Each text layer can use a different font, different size, and different color. Additionally, each text layer can be moved around the image independently.

I often use different text layers for each line of text when producing multiline text elements (e.g. titles). Rather than accept the interline spacing forced upon me by including a newline in a text block, I position each line myself (often to crown the lines together).

You may also want to use the technique of displaying a text element all in upper case but making the first letter of each word, or the first word, larger. To do this, enter two seperate text layers, the first with a larger font then the rest of the letters. Align the two layers to produce a word and merge the layers together to form a single word when you’re done manipulating the font information for the text layers.

4.4 Aligning Text

To align multiple text layers along a horizontal plane, I simply zoom in on the text to be aligned (e.g. 2:1) and manually align it. There are more sophisticated ways of doing this, but my way is quick and simple.

To zoom in on your text, select View->Zoom->2:1. Scroll the image manipulation window horizontally and vertically until the text you’re trying to align is displayed and move the text to align it. Select View->Zoom->Fit Image to Window when you’re done to display the entire image in the image manipulation window.

I use the same method to align text along a vertical plane.

4.5 Centering Text

The easiest way to center text on a cover is to:

4.5.1 Select the text box to be centered by selecting the Text tool, selecting the correct layer, and clicking on the text.

4.5.2 Stretch the text box so that the left and right edges of the box are aligned with the left and right edges of the cover.

4.5.3 Select “Centered” from the “Justify:” options in the configuration section of the Toolbox.

4.6 Loading Free Fonts Off the Internet

The GIMP uses the fonts that are loaded on your computer. You can augment your existing font library by loading free fonts off the Internet.

My favorite free font download site is http://www.dafont.com. Go to this site and browse the font list. When you find a font you like, click the “Download” button. When prompted by your operating system, select “Open”. You’ll be presented with an open Zip file. Double click on the TrueType font within the file and “Open” it. Click the “Install” button at the top of the window to install the font.

Note that you’ll have to restart the GIMP to gain access to newly loaded fonts.

Avoid selecting fonts that are labeled “Free for personal use”.

4.7 Text vs Image Layers

Text layers retain all the information related to the text they contain including the font, size, and color. Some text manipulation operations convert a text layer to a graphic layer and this information is lost. Be sure you’ve set your font, size, and color before performing any of the following manipulations since they will turn your text into a graphic.

Note that merging multiple text layers will also produce a merged graphic layer.

4.8 Scaling Text

Use the Scaling Tool to stretch text either vertically or horizontally. I often use this method to stretch my big fat fonts vertically to make them taller.

To use this technique, select the Scaling Tool which is in the third row and fourth column of the icons displayed in the top of the Toolbox. Select the text layer to stretch then select the text box to stretch. Boxes will appear on all sides and corners of the text box. Grab a side and start pulling. When done, select the “Scale” button in the “Scale” dialog box. Select the “Cancel” button to optionally reject your changes.

4.9 Rotating Text

Use the Rotate Tool to rotate text off the horizontal plane.

To use this technique, select the Rotate Tool which is in the third row and third column of the icons displayed in the top of the Toolbox Select the text layer to stretch then grab a side of the box and move it up or down, left or right. When done, select the “Rotate” button in the “Rotate” dialog box. Select the “Cancel” button to optionally reject your changes.

4.10 Shearing Text

Use the Shear Tool to cant text to the left or right.

To use this technique, select the Shear Tool which is in the third row and fifth column of the icons displayed in the top of the Toolbox Select the text layer to shear then grab a side of the box and move it left or right. When done, select the “Shear” button in the “Shear” dialog box. Select the “Cancel” button to optionally reject your changes.

4.11 Adding Perspective to Text

Use the Perspective Tool to make it look like your text is disappearing into the distance.

To use this technique, select the Perspective Tool which is in the third row and sixth column of the icons in the Toolbox Select the text layer to change then grab the rigth top side of the box and pull it down. When done, select the “Transform” button in the “Perspective” dialog box. Select the “Cancel” button to reject your changes.

Note that you can use this technique in combination with shearing and rotation to make text look like it’s racing into the distance.

4.12 Blurring Text and Creating Drop Shadows

You can add a simple blur to text using Filters->Blur->Gaussian Blur. Experiment to see what this does.

A commonly used blur effect is a drop shadow. It’s so commonly used that the GIMP now offers it as a single step function (you used to have to do it yourself). Select Filters->Light and Shadow->Drop Shadow to produce a blurred black shadow just below the text. This effect helps to make light text stand out against a light background.

4.13 Applying Filters to Text

You can apply a ton of effects to text. I find it easiest to use most of these effects via the File->Create->Logos menu option that you experimented with in lesson 1 of this workshop. To use any of the text effects created, delete the background layer (we want the background to be transparent) then merge all layers and layer masks until you have a single layer. You can then copy this text effect to your book cover image as a new layer.

4.14 Viewing Book Covers as a Thumbnail

Periodically, you should view your cover image as a thumbnail to insure that your text is readable in small versions of the image. To do this, select View->Zoom->1:8. Is your text still readable? When done viewing the thumbnail, select View->Zoom->Fit Image to Window to fill the image maniuplation window with your image.

Project 4.1: Load a Free Font

Visit http://www.dafont.com and load a new font onto your computer.

Project 4.2: Try the Text Effect Tools

Experiement with the Scale, Rotate, Shear, and Perspective Tools to manipulate text layers. Add a drop shadow. Play with the drop shadow parameters to see what they do. Experiment with other Filter effects as time and interest permit.

Project 4.3: View the Sample Cover

Open http://www.brianjjaxn.com/images/doYouBelieveInMagic.jpg in your browser. Notice how I used multiple fonts and font sizes to build the text on this cover. I used 12 text layers to produce the text. Notice the different font used to highlight the letter “B” in Believe.

Project 4.4: Update Your Simple Cover

Use the techniques you’ve learned in this lesson on your simple book cover to add multiple text layers and text effects as desired.

Project 4.5: View your book cover as a thumbnail.

### End of Lesson, Copyright (c) 2012, Brian Jackson

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4 thoughts on “Creating Book Covers Workshop: 4 Loading Fonts and Using Text Effects

  1. WONDERFUL!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL OF THIS. I’ve used Gimp before and done a little experimenting but these instructions make it so much easier to understand. I really appreciate the time and attention you put into these blogs.
    Teresa Reasor

  2. So happy to have found this info. I’ve been struggling with GIMP for a few weeks, and am pulling out hair I can’t afford to lose. Thanks for summarizing these steps so clearly.

  3. Great workshop! I have Paint Shop Pro 8 and 10. I also have Photoshop but keep coming back to Paint Shop Pro which I know is dated. Decided to install and learn Gimp because I understand it does most of what the others do. This is really a great tutorial.

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