Making Light Novel Covers

Hey, you know those Light Novel covers I make?

I started making them as a joke, and that joke showed a receptive audience. Since they were so easy joke for me to make, and making them helped to inspire the creation of the kind of Light Novel they suggested, I figured it might not be a bad place for you to start on that kind of thing if you want.

Here’s a breakdown of what goes into the making of this cover:

For this example, I’m going to show you some images with a grey checkerboard pattern. That’s how GIMP, the program I use, represents the background of an image, and shows through when you make a space transparent. If you’re not familiar with this, it might look a bit weird.

First things first, was getting my canvas, the image I’m going to work on. If the image has the shape of the cover of a book, it’s easier to think it’s the cover of a book.

In GIMP, I create a new image, and I choose this proportion here, in the templates. An A5 sheet of paper – this is a size you can get – more or less – by taking a piece of common printer paper and folding it in half. If you’re in America, that’d be a Letter piece of paper, and sorry, you’re on your own there, it’s weird. But everywhere else in the world we use a standard that starts at A0, and then A1 which is half the size, A2, half that and so on. A5 is about the size of a small book.

The proportion is going to be the same, no matter what, mind you, so it’s not really that important, because we’re going to scale it down a little bit.

Once we make the image, we scale it down a little bit. An A5 image at 300 pixels/inch has these very large proportions. When you’re making this image for sharing on the internet, you don’t need it to be that big, and being that big will be a bit of a problem for sharing it. If keep the sizes linked, and you scale it down to (say) 600 pixels tall, you get a canvas like this.

That’s our frame. Now, if you’re super picky, you’ll see that the images I use after this point are 600×450. That’s because I messed up making this example, but it’ll do. Anyway.

Okay, so first of all, I took this background:

I just googled search ‘anime background snow.’ And then I jammed in these two:

This was found google searching for ‘anime boy and girl siblings’, I think.there was a background to it, which I cut out, with the magic wand tool. This image started larger, andwhen I shrunk it down, the imperfections of the wand tool were gone.

Then there’s this set of layers. The borders, the font, the text, were all just made with the basic tools. You can make the glow surrounding these things a lot of ways; I like duplicating them, then filling the alpha of layer they’re in with white, then blurring it. This is stuff you should always play around with. You’ll learn about these techniques over time, as you play.

Now, the first step is doing this kind of thing to make jokes. Test out ideas. But if you start making covers for stories you’ve made, or that you want to make, you can use these same techniques for making your own covers.

Now, when it comes to this kind of art there are some rules. There are lots of free assets, if you use google image search you can find works that are marked as ‘free for reuse’ to get backgrounds and stock assets.

You might find yourself looking at art from an artist that meshes with your story. For some art sources like Deviantart, you might find artists are very happy to let you use their art as a cover for a piece of your creative work. Contact them! The worst thing that can happen is you get a ‘no!’

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