Cover layout

The idea from the author is to replicate the cover of the first volume which was inspired by a Elvis record cover (more correctly a CD reissue):

The Elvis Today Blog Volume 1 cover.

Book cover of volume 1.

Elvis Today record cover.

Elvis record cover.

On the back of the original LP album the logo is in blue, so this is a natural choice for the second volume:

Blue Elvis Today logo.

Blue logo for volume 2.

The back of the book is going to feature a digital photograph of the author.

Our goal is this cover for volume 2 (showing also the spine and the back):

Cover of volume 2.

Setting up GIMP and Inkscape

If you are used to Photoshop, you will probably be more comfortable with GIMP in single windows mode (Windows > Single-window mode).

Graphic element 1. Elvis silhouette

The spine of the book as well as the back is going to feature a silhuette of Elvis (from the photo on the album).

Using GIMP clean up the scanned Elvis photograph and prepare it for the manual trace in Inkscape. Increase the brightness and contrast to show the hair and erase some background to make Elvis stand out more. If you are unsure about how to work with GIMP, check out our links to GIMP tutorials

Elvis photo prepared for tracing.

In Inkscape, create a new document and import the cover image in a separate layer. It's a good idea to lock this layer. If you are unsure about how to work with Inkscape, check out our links to Inkscape tutorials (especially the Basic tutorials).

Create a new layer. Manually trace Elvis' silhouette using the Bezier path tool. Use a red fill color while constructing the line to better see it. When finished, fill it with white, remove the imported bitmap layer (unlock it first) and save it as a SVG file ("Plain SVG" works often better than "Inkscape SVG").

Elvis traced in Inkscape.

Manually tracing the silhuette in Inkscape.

Next is the title logo, which consisting of three parts: “ELVIS, “today” and “BLOG”.

For the “ELVIS” part clean up the original using GIMP. I then manually trace it in Inkscape and save it as a SVG file (using the same method as for the Elvis silhuette).

"ELVIS" logo in blue.

Elvis logo created in Inkscape.

For the “today” text, first clean it up in GIMP:

  • remove the backgound
  • expand the pink outer border 2 pixels using a second layer (select text, expand selection, create new layer, fill selection).

"today" without background.

Import the image into Inkscape and trace it using the Path > Trace Bitmap tool. Use the following options for the scan:

  • Multiple scans tab
    • Colors
    • Scans: 4
    • Smooth: Checked
    • Stack scans: Checked
    • Remove the background: Checked

"today" created in Inkscape.

Today lettering traced in Inkscape.

Save it as a SVG.

For the “BLOG” part, make a copy of the Inkscape "ELVIS" document and redraw it so it reads "BLOG": turn the "E" into a "B", leave the "L", turn the "V" into an "O" and the "S" into a "G". Save it.

"BLOG" logo.

"BLOG" logo created in Inkscape.

Cover layout

The width of the spine depends on the number of pages in the book. Use the numbers obtained from the Blurb calculator (see Step 3: Template construction) and create a new Scribus document (File > New):

  • Document layout: Single page
  • Size: Custom
  • Orientation: Landscape
  • Width: 274,47 cm
  • Height: 203,21 mm
  • First page is: Right page
  • Number of pages: 1
  • Default unit: Millimeters
  • Automatic text frames: Unchecked
  • Show document settings after creation: Unchecked
  • Margin guides:
    • Inside: 5 mm
    • Outside: 5 mm
    • Top: 5 mm
    • Bottom: 5 mm
  • Bleeds: 3,17 mm

Create a large rectangle using Insert > Insert Shape > Default Shapes: Rectangle. Align it to the margin guides and fill it with black (Properties > Colors).

Now import the graphics. Insert Image Frame followed by Get Image doesn't work for SVG files so you have to use File > Import Vector File. It imports, not links, the image, so that it is fully editable withing Scribus.

If you get a message saying the “File contains some unsupported features.” ignore it and place and resize (using Ctrl + Shift) the graphics.

Convert the imported colors to CMYK: Open Edit > Colors, edit each color and change its color model to CMYK.

Define new styles for the typography: First the default paragraph and character styles. Next styles for the cover text on front and back. (The example uses the DejaVu font, condensed bold white 14 pt on the front and condensed bold white 10 pt on the back.)

Create text frames and copy-and-paste the cover text (or make up your own). Style it using the defined typography styles.

Author photograph

Now we know how much space is left for the author photograph.

Open the photograph (a .jpg-document) in GIMP.

If the photograph is tagged with a RGB-profile, GIMP will ask you if you want to "Convert to RGB working space". Click "Convert" to convert it to sRGB.

Read about enhancing photographs in the GIMP documentation.

Now prepare the photograph for printing:

1. Cropping

Don't crop, we want to use the whole photograph.

Read about cropping in the GIMP documentation.

2. Setting resolution

Use Image > Print Size to check that the resolution is 300 dpi, otherwise change it.

Read about changing the image resolution in the GIMP documentation.

3. Adjusting size

Use Image > Scale Image to set the width to 101 mm's. Let the height adjust to this.

Scale Image dialog.

Read about scaling in the GIMP documentation.

4. Adjusting levels

Use Colors > Levels. to set the black and white point. You ca use this tool to make the lighter parts of the image more white and the darker more black, thus "increasing" the range of mid-tones. Drag the black and white handles closer to the middle to set a new black and white point respectively.

Check Preview to observe the result on the image.

Adjust Color Levels dialog.

Read more about Levels in the GIMP documentation.

5. Adjusting curves and adjusting brightness and contrast

Use Colors > Curves to increase the contrast of the image (if necessary) by moving the curve upwards and to the left.

Adjust color curves tool.

Read more about Curves in the GIMP documentation.

You can also adjust the brightness and contrast using Colors > Brightness-Contrast. Read more about Brightness-Constrast in the GIMP documentation.

6. Adjusting the color balance and adjust hue/saturation

Use Colors > Color Balance and Colors > Hue-Saturation to adjust the colors in the photograph.

For example, many photographs taken indoors are too yellow due to light bulbs or strip lights.

You can improve this by either using Colors > Colors Balance and adjust the color levels (less Red and Yellow):

Adjust color balance tool.

or by descreasing the saturation of the Yellow color in Colors > Hue-Saturation:

Adjust Hue tool.

Read more about Color Balance and Hue-Saturation in the GIMP documentation.

7. Performing touch up; removing unwanted details

Use the Paintbrush, Airbrush and Clone tools to remove unwanted details from the photograph such as dust on the lens.

8. Masking

You often want to separate a foregound object from the background.

If you want to do this, please follow this guide for object separation in the GIMP documentation.

9. Sharpening

We want to compensate for the fuzziness of the printing process.

Use Filters > Enhance > Unsharp mask with the following typical values:

  • Radius: 1,2
  • Amount: 0,5
  • Threshold: 8

Unsharp mask filter.

10. Separation

Scribus handles the color separation.

Save the cover as a TIFF-file.

Final cover

Import the photograph (TIFF-document) into Scribus and if necessary crop it vertically.

Create the "V-O-L-U-M-E-2" rectangle by inserting a rectangle shape, filling it with brown, and placing a text frame above it. Group them together with Item > Group and rotate the group with X,Y,Z > Geometry > Rotation in the Properties window.

Final cover for volume 2 in Scribus.

Final cover in Scribus.