Book Covers – Transmute

Transmute is almost ready to fly. I’ve got a couple beta readers still flipping through things, but the main text is done. In the interim, I’ve been tweaking the eBook cover and working on the print cover. The print cover is, of course, far more time-consuming. After some back and forth with the good people at Indie Author Support & Discussion, I think they’re pretty much done.

What do you think?

Here’s the eBook version, which has slightly different dimensions than the print version.
And the print version, complete with blurb.

How Indie is Indie?

Late last year I was at Page One, one of the few remaining local independent bookstores in Albuquerque. The other is Bookworks. Both are great places and are generally much more pleasant to hang out in than any of the bigger corporate joints. Anyway, when we were at Page One there was a small spot in the back where some local indie authors were doing a little meet and greet. It was quiet, so I went up to say hello and meet some of the other Albuquerque authors.

So, what was the first thing they ask me? “Who are you published with?”

When I told them I self-published my three they got that look. You know, the one that says, “So, you’re not good enough to get published?”

I shook hands, nodded and smiled, and moved on to see what else the store had to offer.

The whole interaction got me wondering, though. These guys had publishers, editors, book designers, book formatters, and so on. Granted, they were published through a small press, but they had actual publishers and people who, ostensibly, were there to help them out. If their publishers were anything like the other publishers I’ve heard about, the authors had to give up rights to their books and get a pittance from each sale, but they had a larger support structure than I did when I started out.

How exactly is that independent again? If we say you’re an indie author because you’re with a small press, then independence is simply a matter of scale. The difference between publishing through Hachette and a local publisher is just that the publisher is larger and you get even less of a pittance from each sale.

And in return, you get to look down on people who decided to publish on their own.

Does that mean that their work was any better or worse than anything self-pubbed? No, not necessarily. Certainly there’s a ton of crap being self-published these days, but there’s also a bunch of crap coming out of traditional publishers both large and small. Where the publishing happens is largely a matter of choice and has no real impact on the quality of the work. As a buddy of mine says, “Crap abounds.”

Publishing is an interesting world these days. It used to be you had to get a rep, send a manuscript around, and tack rejection notices up on your wall while you drank scotch and hammered out the next great American novel. Now, I can pretty much guarantee you there’s someone out there that will happily publish your book, but that acceptance letter will probably come through a small publisher. Don’t expect much in the way of an advance or help with marketing, though. Unless you’re Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, you’re pretty much on your own making sales. Fortunately for King and Rowling, they’re both excellent authors with a long history, so marketing their books can consist of “New Stephen King novel coming in a few months. We’ve already deducted the cost from your checking account and you can expect the book on your Kindle when it comes out.”

Does all this mean I look down on people who went through publishers? Not at all. I respect the gumption to get out there and wade through the Byzantine maze of publishers and find someone they can work with. That takes a lot of patience and more wherewithal than I can usually muster. And traditional publishers offer some intangible benefits that self-publishing does not. A lot of book awards won’t even look at self-published books. Ditto for a bunch of the bigger book review blogs. Another benefit is you can look down your nose at self-published authors.

Self-published people, on the other hand, get the benefit of keeping the rights to their own works and generally get larger royalties. The downside is you don’t have the resources of a publisher to help you out.

Which means you are well and truly on your own with self-published works. You make the call about how it gets edited, designed, and marketed. Fortunately, there’s an entire cottage industry out there doing cover design, ebook formatting, print book formatting, editing, and so on. In fact, if you need covers or formatting, drop me a line. I’m good and I work pretty cheap. If you take a quick look at the bottom of this post, there are some links to people who can help you format your book, design your cover, provide editing and proofreading services and so on.

In both cases, self-published and traditionally published authors are usually on the hook for their own marketing and that’s the thing that’s truly brutal. You may think pouring your life into a book for a year is rough. Wait until you have to get people to read it.

In case this was a tl;dr moment, to sum up:

There are pluses and minuses to self-publishing or going through traditional publishing routes. Traditionally published authors get more resources, better awards, and also get the ability to look down on self-published authors. Self-published authors get to keep the rights to their own works and usually get better royalties. Both are valid ways forward because when you’re writing the only important thing is someone out there is reading.

In the end, it’s your choice to determine just how indie you want to be. I write, format my own books, and design my own covers. Others are quite content to farm out some of that work. It’s up to you and no one else.

So, either way, if you’re just starting out and are looking for some resources, here are some folks I know that might be able to help you on your way.



Kelly Hartigan

Kim Huther

Michelle Dunbar (email)

Cover Design

Sharon Brownlie

Eric Lahti

Melanie Smith (sells photography, can be used for cover art)

eBook Formatting

Eric Lahti

Print Formatting

Eric Lahti


Melanie Smith

You can also try to send me a review request for this blog.

If you know of anyone who should be added to this list, leave a comment with his or her contact information. At some point in the near future, Ian D. Moore of is going to make a more permanent version of this list.

Simple Shadow Text in Inkscape

Following up on the last post on creating shadowed text in GIMP, I’d like to show you an easier way to do it. As I said in that last post, I’m not a big fan of working with text in GIMP. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine program for bitmap editing, but there are just better tools for dealing with text manipulation. Vector applications like Inkscape and Illustrator give you more flexibility in layout and text work. To show you just how easy, here’s a quick tutorial. Now, I’m assuming you’re at least somewhat familiar with Inkscape. If not, there are lots of free tutorials out there and this post will still be here when you get back.

Step one. Make some text

With Inkscape open, select the text tool (the A) and type something. I was feeling clever, so I typed shadowy. Change the font to something you like and resize the text with the arrows that appear when you select the object with the pointer tool.

2 - Fonted Sized
Molot. 73.95 pts.

Step two. Copy the text

Ctrl + C. Control + V. If you’re on a Mac, it’ll be something similar.

3 - Copied
Double your text, double your fun

Step three. Change the color and layer the objects

Find the text you want to use as the shadow text and change the color to something a bit shadowy-er. I chose a medium-ish gray. Align the objects however you want. If your gray text is on top of the black text, select the gray text with the pointer, go to Object and click on Lower. Or just press the page down key on your keyboard.

4 Layers
Order the text to do stuff. And things.

Step four. Do a bit of blurring.

With GIMP there were a few extra steps here. Since GIMP works on pixels, you have to select the color, grow the selection, and then feather the selection. After the selection is made and the selected area filled with a selected color, a bit of blurring is necessary to get everything looking just right. With Inkscape, all you have to do is click on the shadowy gray text and look for the Blur slider in the fill dialog box. I set mine to 1.7%. Inkscape doesn’t mess around when it blurs things.

5 - Shadowed
Aaaand we’re done.

Step five. Export.

If you want to do your layout in GIMP, you’ll need to export the text as a transparent png file. Select both the black text and the gray text by drawing a box around them with the pointer tool. Look for the Export Dialog and specify where you’re exporting to, make sure to check Hide All Except Selected, then click Export.

6 - Export

Now you’ve got a transparent png file you can import into GIMP and use as a layer on your book cover. Or you can do what I do and pull the cover into Inkscape and do all the layout work there.

Such a sexy, bold statement about something.

Has anyone got any tips to share or questions that need answering? Leave a comment!

Simple Shadow Text in GIMP

I’ve always designed my own book covers. I’m a terrible illustrator, but pretty decent at layout and text effects. Fortunately, there are plenty of people out there who make great images and I can do some manipulation on them to put together a halfway decent looking cover.

Not everyone can do this, and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who look at what I’ve designed and call it crap. That’s fine, I’ve done the same about other book covers out there, too. Graphic design is a pretty personal thing in that what I find attractive may or may not resonate with anyone else. Design goes through trends, some of which are excellent and tend to stick around, others are abysmal and tend to vanish. Ideally, a design should appeal to the maximum amount of people possible, but if you think you’re going to please everyone, you’re fooling yourself.

Anyway, I’ve picked up a few tricks here and there over the years and they seem like good things to share. Ostensibly, this blog is about writing and books, so this is a bit outside the norm, but it’s not too far off base. The first of these tricks is doing some simple text shadowing in GIMP. Ideally, I prefer to work with Inkscape for all my text work because it’s much easier and more flexible once you wrap your head around it, but a lot of people like to work exclusively in GIMP, Photoshop, or other bitmap editors so this post will focus on GIMP. Photoshop and most other bitmap editors work basically the same way. The next post will do the same thing with Inkscape.

The first thing to get used to is the idea of using layers. See, images consist of individual pixels (picture elements, in case you’re playing Trivial Pursuit) and once you place a bunch of pixels in with another bunch of pixels it’s a real bear to separate them. Think about the amount of effort it takes to pull the bourbon out of your soda after you’ve poured them together. Actually, screw that. Just drink the bourbon and soda; it’s a hell of a lot easier.

Anyway, the way bitmap editors work is by selecting pixels based on certain criteria, usually color. In an image with millions of colors, selecting just the ones you want gets to be a dicey proposition. That’s why layers make things so much easier. Drink your bourbon and soda, we’re about to through the looking glass.

Take any image and it can consist of multiple layers. Those layers can be any color you want, including no color at all. When you look at the image with a whole mess of transparent layers, it looks like a single image. The image below is the final product of this tutorial. It looks like one simple image, but it’s actually comprised of three layers that can all be individually manipulated.

7 The Shadow Knows
Click to embiggen.

By using layers, you free yourself from the Herculean chore of selecting individual pixels. Everything is neatly laid out and separated from the other elements so you can tweak one part of the picture without impacting any other part. In GIMP, you create layers by using the Layers dialog and clicking the button for either new layer or copy layer (just hover the cursor over the buttons, it’ll let you know what they do). Photoshop and other tools work similarly. If your bitmap editor doesn’t support layers, ditch it and use something else. It may take some time to learn how to use the software, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. GIMP, by the way, is free.

Step one. Make some text.

This varies from editor to editor, but it usually centers on finding the Text tool and typing. Look for something that looks like an A or a T. Click somewhere on the blank canvas and type something. Working with text in a bitmap editor is still a PITA compared to working with text in a vector program, so you want to make sure you get things as good as possible before you commit everything. In this example, I’ve set the font to League Spartan at 72pt. Use whatever font and size you want.

1 Text
We’re about to find out what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

The final step (not shown here) was to set the text color to red. Once I’ve got my text done, I get this:

2 Red Yo
Red shadows? Sounds like the Commies are back. If they ever left.

Step two. Layer that sucker up.

If you look in the top right hand part of the image above you’ll see the layers dialog with two objects in it: A T with SHADOWY and a grid with Background. Those are layers. You can edit the text layer if you want to. Select the text layer by clicking on it, selecting the text tool from the toolbox, and double clicking on the text.

I’m going to make a new layer by copying the SHADOWY layer. To do that, look for the copy layer button. In GIMP it’s at the bottom of the layer dialog (top left of the picture, above the brushes dialog), and looks like a couple of squares, one on top of the others.

The reason for creating a new layer is so I can work with the copied layer without impacting the text layer. Copying the layer creates an exact duplicate of the selected layer that I can do horrible things to.

3 Layers
SHADOWY #1 is the new layer and a not-so-subtle reminder that SHADOWY is number 1

The visible order of the layers is the same as the order in the layers dialog. The topmost layer is at the top of the list.

Now, like I said before, bitmap editors work by selecting pixels. Because we made a duplicate layer and made the text all red, this is pretty trivial. Click the eyeball next to the SHADOWY #1 layer to hide it, and click on the SHADOWY layer to select it. We’ll put the SHADOWY #1 layer a bit. Hiding it makes it easier to work with the other layers.

Step three. Use the layers wisely.

With the second layer (SHADOWY) selected, go to Edit->Select by color-> and click on the red text. BAM! The text is selected. From here you can do whatever you want to just the text and it’ll be our little secret. Just to make things more fun, we’re going to modify the selection like the mad scientists we are. Go back to Edit and select grow. This grows the selection by a number of pixels. I chose 5 because reasons. Then, since shadows don’t look as good with a hard edge, I went back to Edit and selected Feather. This feathers the selection so it’s not a smooth line.

4 mod select
Selectamundo. Really hard to see when it’s this small. Click to embiggen or middle click to open in a new tab.

Then, because a shadow shouldn’t be red, I went back to Edit and selected Fill with Foreground color. This made the text black, thicker, and slightly feathered at the edges. Finally, go to Edit, select Deselect All. Yes, I know I just told you to select deselect. Let’s blur this out a bit more. Make sure the right layer is selected and go to Filters->Blur-Gaussian Blur. Blur it as much as you want until you get something blurlicious.

Blurtacular. Also, note the layer order has been switched in the Layers dialog. I did that to mess with your head.

Step four. Meet Mr. Opacity

The last thing we’re gonna do with the shadow is lighten it up a bit by playing with the opacity. Each layer can have a different opacity from the rest of them. You can change the opacity by using the Opacity slider. Opacity, by the way, is a measure of how well you can see through something. Something you can’t see through is considered opaque. The cat sitting in between you and your monitor is 100% opaque.

6 Opacity
I can see right through your shadowy heart.

Step five. Final steps.

Now, turn the top layer back on, make sure you’ve got the correct layer selected, and use the move tool to adjust the position of the shadow. The move tool usually looks like four arrows. You can reposition a layer without moving the other layers. This is a good thing.

The final step is the select the background and make it white. Edit->Fill with Background color will work for that. When it’s all done, you should wind up with something like this.

7 The Shadow Knows

If you’re working on your book cover and want to do some text work, use your layers. You can have as many as you want. I think so anyway, I’ve never actually tested that theory. Create one layer for your background image and then as many layers as necessary for your text.

Bam! Layer magic and text awesomeness.

Anyone got any other good tips?

Scrivener, You and I Need to Talk

I’ve been using Scrivener for the better part of the year now. I wrote both Saxton stories in it and started dysRUPT – a sci-fi project I’ve been working on. Overall, I really like the program for writing. It’s got some great features like places to dump research, which was great for all the Navajo words I had to look up, and easy-to-use organization. In fact, all the Saxton stories are currently stored in one Scrivener project. Writing in it is fast and easy. All in all, it’s a great program.

But you know what? Compiling drove me absolutely nuts. Scrivener projects aren’t inherently portable. They can be opened in other copies of Scrivener – and they’ve got a liberal registration process, but you have to compile to get a Word document. That’s not much of a problem. What is a problem is this: You’re supposed to be able to take a project straight to epub or mobi. How freaking cool is that? With Word, I have to load the docx file into Calibre, let Calibre create an epub, and do some tweaking in Sigil, then take the output from that and put it in Kindle Previewer to get the mobi.

Fo shizzle, that’s a lot of steps. It would be awesome to just do my formatting in Scrivener, compile an epub, and take it straight to Amazon’s Kindle Previewer to make a mobi for upload. Or, better yet, go straight to mobi. For the most part, that process works really well, but there’s just one little problem. I can’t seem to figure out how to control where the damned Table of Contents gets placed when I make an epub with the Windows version Scrivener. It just winds up right in front of everything else, which is exactly where I don’t want it to go. Sure, it’s fixable with Sigil, but I was hoping to avoid doing any serious tweaking of the epub.

Before you ask, yes, I did Google it. A lot. I tried multiple ways of compiling and still wound up with a TOC in the wrong place. I even created my own Table of Contents with the appropriate internal links and still got Scrivener’s Table of Contents when I compiled. And it was still in the wrong place. In the end, I compiled to Word, did my formatting there and sent it through Calibre to Sigil to Kindle Previewer.

I know this blog doesn’t get a huge amount of hits, but if anyone has any tips, please drop ’em in the comments. I’d love to be able to use Scrivener all the through the process.

Ah, Refreshing!

The Clock Man‘s gotten dinged a couple times by readers who felt it could have easily been expanded to a full-length novel. Doubtless, it would have been possible; the story clocked in at 34k words, after all. It’s hardly a short story at that length and is leaning heavily toward novel area.

For those of you unfamiliar with what constitutes a short story versus what constitutes a novel let me assure you that there are rules. No one completely agrees on those rules, but there are rules. I tend to follow the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s regulations for its Nebula award categories.

  • Short Story – Under 7,500 words
  • Novelette – 7,500 to 17,500 words
  • Novella – 17,500 words to 40,000 words
  • Novel – Over 40,000 words

Based on their rules, The Clock Man is heading toward the top end of the Novella category. Could I have eked out another 6k words in that story? Sure. Would I have published it as a stand-alone novel at 40,001 words? Probably not. You see, there’s an expectation of length among readers and, no matter what SFFWA thinks, most people consider a novel to start at about 60k-70k words. In case you’re wondering, the total word count of all eight stories in The Clock Man is about 110k.

To put those numbers into pages, the general rule of thumb is 250-300 words to a page. Obviously, this is variable based on page dimensions and type size and text density. Heck, even the typeface can change the word/page count, but 250-300 words per page is the industry standard. That means a 60k word book would be around 240-ish pages and a 70k word book bout would be around 280-ish pages. A 40k novel would only be 160 or so pages. Most readers want the longer books, so I would have had to add around 30k words to that story to put it in the realm of what’s commonly accepted as a novel.

Adding 26k-36k words to The Clock Man wouldn’t have made it any better and would probably have damaged the tale with unnecessary bloat. In my opinion, it was exactly as long as it needed to be. It told the tale of Crow and Chan and set things up for what will become a full-length novel tentatively titled Greetings From Sunny Aluna.

It’s funny; I’ve got the title picked out for a book I haven’t even started writing yet, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out a title for Henchmen 3 and that sucker’s about half written now. BTW, trust me, Henchmen 3 is going to be epic. It’ll tell the tale of Steven coming to grips with being a god and continue with the bad guys from Arise and even loop in some of the missing bits from Henchmen.


But I digress. This post was supposed to be about a refresh on the look and feel of The Clock Man, not how awesome Henchmen 3 (of 4, in case you’re wondering) is going to be.

It’s going to be awesome, though.

So, anyway. I was working on a new Twitter ad for The Clock Man and something about that ad just freakin’ clicked. The ad in question is at the top of this post. I can’t exactly explain what I liked about it, but I just had to see how it would look as a book cover. A bit of tweaking later and I came up with the first cut and posted on IASD‘s Facebook group page. A few people and I went back and forth and the next thing I know, I’ve got this:


Like I said: something about it just clicked. The original is on my Facebook author page if you ever want to see it. The end result is I accidentally redesigned the cover for The Clock Man. It’s not that I was disappointed with the original cover, I still like it. But, let’s face facts here, that new cover POPS like a mofo. Does it capture the feel of the book – or even the story? Kind of. But this is a collection of stories that are only somewhat interconnected so it’s difficult to pick a single image to capture the theme.

In a way, the dragon works as well as anything else.

Now, the technical notes:

The background was hand built in Inkscape. The image is from Vectorstock (drawn by pathique). The font is Akashi. The whole piece was assembled in Inkscape and I used GIMP to do some final modifications like resizing to keep the edges clean.

I find graphic design to be a good way to relax in a way that writing isn’t. I guess it uses a different part of my brain. If you ever find yourself with some free time and an idea, try it out. You might just create something cool.

Just as a side note, I do custom cover design. Drop me a line if you’re interested.

Have you ever redesigned one of your covers because you were bored?

Cover Design With Inkscape

A lot of cover designers prefer to work exclusively in Photoshop or GIMP. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that; both of those are fine programs and do some pretty amazing stuff. But let me try to convince you that there might be a better alternative.

There are two types of graphics programs out there: bitmap and vector. Bitmaps are your usual images. They have a resolution (referred to as DPI) and they have dimensions. Bitmap images are really nothing more than a whole mess of tiny little dots that, when viewed from a distance, look like a cohesive image. Bitmap editors allow you to change the color, size, and position of those dots. Photoshop and GIMP are bitmap editors. They’re tools for creating or modifying dots. The problem with modifying dots is they don’t get bigger very well. As the scale of your image increases the program has to figure out where to add more dots to make the image look the same. As your scale decreases the program has to figure out which dots to take away. Resizing bitmaps is an affair fraught with peril. Usually shrinking things is okay, but scaling them up is a no-no.

Vector programs can use bitmaps (in fact, we’re going to use one), but they primarily work on mathematical formulas that draw lines. Those lines can be simple straight lines or extremely complicated sets of curves. Vectors don’t have resolution – they can be scaled infinitely. Most things created in vector applications are considered to be objects. They’re little chunks of math that define how a thing looks and they’re all distinct elements. That means you don’t have to worry about layers as much as you do in bitmap editors; you just create some objects and move them around. Illustrator and Inkscape are both vector drawing applications.

Today we’re gonna do a quick recreation of the Saxton cover using Inkscape and do a bit of fancy text work to get the logo to look snazzy.

Step one is to get your background image prepped in whatever tool you feel most comfortable with. I resized an image I found on Dreamstime to Amazon’s eBook cover size spec (1563×2500).

Step two is to get a copy of Inkscape and install it. It’s not a huge program and it’s free. Get it here.

Now, with your background image ready to go and Inkscape installed, go ahead and fire up Inkscape. It can sometimes take a while to load, but you’ll be greeted with this when it’s ready to go.


The first step is to set up the document. Go to File->Document Properties or Press Ctrl+Shift+D.


Set the units to px (pixels) and set the Width & Height to your image dimensions – 1563×2500 in my case. Also, clear the check box about showing the border shadow. I hate the border shadow.

You can zoom in and out with the plus key and minus key.

Now, import your image. Go to File->Import and select the file you want. You’ll get this dialog.


Embed the image and keep the rest of the defaults.


Note: the image is pretty small. Don’t worry – this is normal. Select the image by clicking on it. You can use the arrows to resize the image.


If you hold down Shift and drag one of the corners you’ll be able to scale the image. Resize it until it fits page you defined earlier. Remember to scale not warp. Images look really wonky when they get warped.


Now it’s time to get a logo going. We’re going to start by selecting the A on the toolbox on the left. Click it and then click anywhere on the page. Start typing.


It’s small and in the default sans-serif font. Don’t worry. We’re gonna fix all that with a quickness. The first change will be to the font itself. Select the text just like you would in a word processor and go up to the font list on the upper left corner.


I chose Molot, a font I found on I highly recommend making sure your fonts are licensed for commercial use. Some people think any old shareware font will be fine, but you can still get in trouble for using unlicensed fonts.


This is where the magic of using a vector application comes in. You don’t have to change the font size. Remember, these are all objects and none of them resolution, so you can scale them infinitely. Click on the arrow (the selector tool) in the toolbox on the left, then click on the text. You get the arrows and you can resize the text just like you resized the image.


From here I highlighted the text with the text tool and changed the tracking slightly with the tracking option at the top of the application (see little highlighted thingy).

To have a bit of fun, I’m going to select the text with the arrow tool, and then copy and paste it a couple times.


There is a method to my madness. I’m going to use a gradient on one of the objects, then layer it over the other one. In fact, go ahead and make a third copy; it’ll come in handy soon.

To set a gradient, select the object you want and look for the fill dialog. Select radial gradient option (see above).

Gradients in Inkscape work by modifying part of the objects opacity in a predictable way. You can change the base color from black, but I’m going to leave it alone for now.


Note the thin lines on the gradiated image. Those let you adjust the gradient. Put your mouse over the dot at the end of one until the dot turns red and you can change where the opacity fades in and out. Here I took the copied (non gradiated object) and turned it red. You can change the color of an object by selecting it and clicking on any of the color swatches at the bottom. If you want to mix your own color, use the fill dialog. Then I layered the gradiated object over the non-gradiated object. You can adjust the order by going to Object->Raise, or Object->Lower.


Note: the bottom SAXTON is a third copy. The top is the gradiated one layered over the first red one. Also note, I adjusted the gradient lines to change the gradient. Now it’s a little darker, but not too dark. It’s time to add the background SAXTON and offset it a bit. I turned my bottom object black. Just select the bottom word and drag it into place over the others. Move it around a bit until it’s in the right place and lower it to the bottom if necessary.


To make your life a bit easier, select all three objects and go to Object->Group. This will treat them all as a single object that can be manipulated. If you decide later you want to ungroup them individually, go to Object->Ungroup.


Now it’s time to put the words on the background image. I put in a middle guideline on top of the image. Select the image, click in the vertical ruler, and drag to the right. Put the guideline in the center of the image using the middle arrow as a guide.

Then, just drag the grouped objects into place. Now you can you resize all the objects in the group as a single element.


To finish it all off, add some extra bits of text using basically the same steps you did earlier. I’d recommend using simple fonts so the cover doesn’t get too busy. You’ve already got one fancy text element, the rest should be simple.


Bam! Done.

To export it, look for the Export png area, click the export as button and give it a name and location. Click OK. Then click the export button and let Inkscape work its magic.

Easy peasy, right? At the very least it’s a lot easier than all the tedious mucking about with layers you need to do in Photoshop or GIMP. Inkscape (and Illustrator) both have a ton of functionality that’s not covered here. Even if you never use the illustration capabilities of the programs, it’s nice to know you can do layout with them.

Of course, the key to learning a new program is to play with it. The steps here (murky though they may be) are just some guides. Get out there and try things out. Like all programs, there’s a learning curve, but it’s not terribly onerous and the rewards can be plentiful.

Questions? Comments? Leave a note below or drop me an email.