Creating a Lulu Book Cover with Pixel

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Add the Pixel graphics program to your LyX-created book to finish the ultimate Lulu on-line book.
The Best-Seller Cover

To review, in the last article we uploaded our sample text document in .pdf format to the Lulu Web site. Now, we need to create our custom cover. With Lulu, you can upload two different images, one for the front and one for the back. Or, you can design your own wrap-around cover, including the spine.

I chose to upload two different images for this tutorial. Wrap-around images look nice, but making one for an 8.5 x 11 book requires 1242 x 810 PostScript points. At 300 dpi, a file in Pixel can be large and difficult to manipulate.

Lulu's standards for an 8.5 x 11 book cover are 2663 x 3525 pixels and no less than 300 dpi. In Pixel, go to File→New, and a creation box opens (Figure 4). Enter the dimensions as shown in the example. In the lower-right corner, you will see the memory requirements for this file are 35.8MB. Press OK, and Pixel creates a blank document template (Figure 5). Now you have a blank page to create your cover art.

Figure 4. New File Creation Box

Figure 5. The 8.5 x 11 Background for the Cover

To keep artwork simple for the tutorial, use your mouse to change the foreground color as shown in Figure 6. Pixel opens a color chooser for you to select nearly any shade you want (Figure 7). Choose your colors wisely. Not all will transfer into the shade you expect during printing. You should consider using a color management system if you have specific needs.

Figure 6. Selecting Colors for the Book Cover

Figure 7. Pixel's Custom Color Picker

Next, I decided to use Gradient G to spice up the background of the cover. Use your mouse to select the gradient button on the left of your screen (Figure 8). Drag your mouse by pressing the left-mouse button from the top of your cover to the bottom. This tells Pixel which direction to draw the gradient (Figure 9). I mentioned earlier that Pixel's operation is intuitive. When you select the gradient button, look to the bottom right of the screen; the program gives you hints on how to use the feature or effect (Figure 10).

Figure 8. Select the Gradient Tool

Figure 9. Drag your mouse to tell Pixel the direction of the gradient.

Figure 10. Pixel's Help Assistant

After the screen updates, you should have a sample cover that looks similar to the one shown in Figure 11.

Figure 11. How Gradient G looks after screen refresh.

Adding Text

Because a blank cover won't do much good on the bookshelf, we need to add text. Adding text is similar to adding color and gradients.

Use your mouse to select the text button (Figure 12). Position your cursor over any area on the working cover and use it to expand the text box. When complete, type and format the text for the cover (Figure 13). After typing the text, use the character controls in the bottom right-hand side of the screen to adjust any preferences with the text.

Figure 12. Select the Text Tool

Figure 13. Entering Text with the Text Box

At this point, you can add other colors, images or just about anything else you like for the cover art.

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For Lulu.com book covers: Inkscape and The GIMP

DG's picture

Not sure if things have changed since the time this article was written, but I just created a book cover for my LyX-produced work for Lulu.com (dust-cover hardbound book) using their single-file upload feature using Inkscape and The GIMP. Perhaps they use a different mechanism for laminated hardbounds or paperbacks.

For dust-jacket covered hardbound books at least, Lulu.com calculates what the page dimensions should be and tells you them in plain English. You then just manually enter them to create a new document in Inkscape (I also used guidelines for bleeds, margins, etc.).

I modified a huge raster image in The GIMP and saved it as a PNG. Inkscape easily allowed me to import the PNG and then do the rest of the design within Inkscape, saving as a PDF to Lulu.com's specs with no problem at all.

**And** I did all this, including the LyX work for the interior pages, on an 8-year-old Mac running a Mac OS X version that came out more than 4 years ago (10.4). I was worried I wouldn't be able to do stuff like this with this machine.

NIce

Kay's picture

Very nice, but haw can you include your cover into a lyx document?

Title of sample book

Anonymous's picture

Why not rename the book from "The Pain of Computers Without Linux" to "The Pain (and Point?) of Having to Purchase Commercial Software for Linux"?

or ...

Anonymous's picture

... even Inkscape for that matter

Pixel???

Anonymous's picture

Why wouldn't you base the graphics part on GIMP rather than a commercial software package that nobody uses to begin with? That's likely why the article has been rated so low by everyone.

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