I began to learn GIMP in January 2012 when I started writing stories and publishing them online. If anything in here is wrong, please PLEASE correct me in the comments. I am always looking to get better at making covers in GIMP, and would love your input.
I noticed that there aren’t a lot of good beginner GIMP tutorials for making ebook covers so I decided to make my own. This program has a steep learning curve and it’s easy to get frustrated by even the most basic functions in GIMP like resizing your image or adding text. There is no substitute for practice, but hopefully my tutorials will help you become better at making ebook covers in GIMP in less time.
Before we start: download and install GIMP. If you don’t know how to download and install a program, you are probably doomed; it’s like trying to bake a chocolate souffle if you don’t know how to buy eggs. Hire someone to make a cover for you instead (either me or another cover artist).
This page is just going to be about making very basic ebook covers. I might do more tutorials later if there is interest, but this is just about putting text on a picture and having it come out looking like a legit ebook cover! I recommend watching the ebook cover tutorial all the way through first and then following along on your second viewing with your own book cover in GIMP, pausing whenever you need to. If it helps, print out this page as a reference or print the PDF.
Italics means it is a tool in the toolbox, bold means it is a tab in the main window. **REMEMBER!** If you make a mistake, just press CTRL-Z on your keyboard to undo your last action. It’s a lifesaver!
Section 1: Opening and Resizing Your Picture
1. Open file and rename it to COVER.xcf. [File->Save As]
2. Resize the layer width [Layer->Scale Layer] to a nice round number like 600, 1000, or 2000. Make sure the width and height are LOCKED; you will only need to change the width.
3. Resize the canvas. [Image->Canvas Size]
- UNLOCK the width and height first.
- Use a 2:3 ratio for width:height (multiply the width by 1.5 to get the height). That means if you have a width of 2000, your height is 3000.
- Move the picture using the move tool or the align tool so that it is where you want it (this will depend on your starting picture).
- Scale picture again if desired using Scale Layer or the scale tool.
Section 2: Using Layers in GIMP to Add a Background
4. Change your layer name in the Layers window by double clicking the name and then hitting enter after you’re done typing.
5. Add a new layer [Layer->New Layer]. Call this one “background.” Use a white fill so it’s easier to see.
6. Move the background layer down under the original layer in the Layers window, either by clicking and dragging or with the little green arrows at the bottom.
7. Use the color picker tool or the color selector in the toolbox to choose the background fill color. Use the bucket fill tool to fill in the background layer.
**BE CAREFUL** If you have the wrong layer selected, you might not get what you expect. Always check the layers window to make sure you have the right layer selected!
8. Add a new layer for your gradient. [Layer->New Layer]
- call it “Gradient”; choose the transparent fill option
- move the Gradient layer to the top of the Layers window above all the other layers
- use the gradient (blend) tool to add in gradients wherever you want them (make sure in the layers window at the bottom you have the fourth option clicked: “FG to Transparent”)
Section 3: Adding Text in GIMP for Your Title and Name
9. Using the text tool, click anywhere on the picture to add text. A box will pop up; this is where you change the actual text. To change font, size, etc, go to the bottom of the toolbox when the text tool is selected.
10. Save your file one last time as an XCF.
11. Right click on any one of the layers in the Layers window, and choose Merge Visible Layers. Clip to image and discard invisible layers. This should combine all of your layers into one.
12. Right click again on the layer and choose Flatten Image.
13. Save your file as BookCover.jpg or whatever.
Optional: Resize your picture using [Image->Scale Image] and resave with a descriptive name, e.g. BookCover200x300.jpg.
WHEW! I hope this helps you to make your own free eBook covers in GIMP! If you liked this tutorial, please consider donating whatever you can using the button below to help cover the costs of hosting. Thanks, and good luck with your book covers!