Word of the week: discern \di-ˈsərn, -ˈzərn\ (hear it!) - verb – 1a : to detect with the eyes; b : to detect with senses other than vision; 2 : to recognize or identify as separate and distinct : discriminate; 3 : to come to know or recognize mentally - (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Cover Creation: Stretching My Artistic Abilities

No one has ever asked me: “So, Kimberly—otherwise known as Devon Winterson, author of the dark fantasy novel, The Perfect Player, slated for release in early November of this year—tell me: What is your favorite aspect of all this indie publishing stuff?”

Well, maybe no one's thought to ask, or perhaps no one really even cares. Shameless, blatant forthcoming novel plug aside, I'm going to tell you anyway.


Oh, how I loved, loved, loved creating my own covers! I'd always had somewhat of an artistic eye, having taken dozens of art classes in my youth and using any medium I could get my hands on to create something new and interesting, so designing my own novel covers seemed such a natural course of action. Like eating. Or sleeping. Or tripping over one's own feet. It sounded like a hell of a lot of fun. And it was . . .

. . . after I'd gotten the hang of GIMP, that is.

You see, GIMP was once a monstrous program to me. Something my husband used on occasion, and highly recommended. But it was so foreign, so icky and weird, with too many strange functions that refused to do my bidding no matter how many times I snarled, “Stop having a will of your own, dammit!”

Sheesh, I tell you . . . inserting random transparent layers, then stacking them for its own vile amusement to watch me fume in frustration because I couldn't quite separate them without losing something in the whole process (including my mind). You know, kind of like peeling apart stacks of wet tissue paper (in my mind). And I still don't understand that whole “Alpha Channel” bit. Probably never will.

But, really! What kind of name is “GIMP” anyway? It's like GUI (“gooey”) or BIOS (“by-os”) or MySQL (“my . . . squirrel”?). Pfft. GNU Manipulation Program, my foot. Fine. Keep your stupid layers, then, and your snooty “I'm not going to let you create anything” attitude. Hmph!

So, for a long while, I had abandoned the program. Ignored it. Left it to stew in the juices of my computer until . . . *sigh* I needed to create my own covers. [Insert random dramatic music here.] Only then did I reluctantly crawl back to that smugly smirking (oh, I swear it was!) program, bent on harnessing its power.

And harness it, I did.

Whee! After selecting a picture from Flickr (yes, having contacted the owner, who had slated his beautiful photo under the attribution-only section of the Creative Commons License, I'd obtained gracious permission to use it) I went to work: Copy/paste, copy/paste, layer, layer, smudge! Filter, filter, fill, filter, border, sharpen, fudge! Crop, balance, lighten, lighten, flippy-flippy, scale; bring-it-forward, push-it-backward, add the text and—

Shoot. I hated the text—too rigid, and not enough font variety. Hmm . . . what to do . . . what to do. . . .


A very helpful member of Writer's Beat suggested I browse Cool Text, the Free Graphics Generator site.

Ah, perfect. Back to creating! Onward, forward!

Typey-typey, drop that shadow, pick that color now; resize, rework, shift those graphics, highlight, take a bow.

Yes . . . I stepped back to take a look . . . and promptly tripped over the dog. *&^%$#!

Darn it all, my hip hurt. But there it was: My first ever short-story collection cover, all ready for scrutiny. *revels in warm and fuzzy feelings for a warm and fuzzy cover*

And scrutinized it was, by some knowledgeable people who gave excellent suggestions that I was not only able to implement into that particular cover, but also into subsequent covers for the remaining short-story collections, and for my full-length novel.

Perfect they are not, and neither are they professionally done—they won't be; I'm not a professional cover designer. But I had so much fun, and I learned a lot from a designing point of view whilst I developed and honed my graphics program user skills.

Would I do it all again? Yes, I would, especially since GIMP and I have come to a much better understanding as of late (and well, I kind of have to, really, with five other novels waiting in the wings).

But honestly, having fun and garnering new skills in the process of creation is what I found most rewarding. No doubt readers can and will discern a creator's own enjoyment of, pride in, and excitement for his (or her) finished project, and may be absorbed (secretly—shh!) by this covert passion. 

So while cover creation may be my favorite aspect of this whole process, connecting directly with readers—all filters removed!—I suspect will be the most fulfilling. And yes, I truly look forward to sharing my imagination and my dark fantasy world on November 11th with a forthcoming potential readership.


  1. Beautiful cover.You did a wonderful job. I love the green and the shades various greens behind the white dog. Lovely.

    1. Thank you very much! :D The cover was definitely fun to make, as were the three others I've done so far, once I'd gotten control of GIMP. Lol!

      Thank you for dropping in for a read. I appreciate it. :)

  2. Oh, my goodness, it's so true! What a beast to master. I still haven't learned what all those buttons in GIMP do, nor why they don't do anything when I click them to learn. The GIMP manual is invaluable, though, or I wouldn't even have learned how to use layers.

    Your results are fantastic! Very professional. You've mastered more than I have, that's for sure. How do you get those drop shadows to work!? Guess I'll hit the manual again, LOL

    1. Thank you, thank you! :)

      Dropped shadows? Ah, yes. Those were actually pretty cool to play with, once I figured out how. It's somewhere under the "Filters" tab at the top, I believe. And to get a dropped shadow for the whole thing, save it as a .jpg and apply it to the entire picture. :D

  3. I have a cover I like ... Am I brave enough to reopen GIMP and turn it into a cover that I love? Um ...

    Beautiful cover, Kim.

    1. Thank you, Lorry, for your kind words. :)

      Of course you could re-open GIMP and re-work your cover. But yours is already beautiful; soft with an air of sensuality. Goes very well with your forthcoming novel. :)

    2. And thank you. I did try opening GIMP. I watched an instruction DVD and tried to merge two images into one, as demonstrated. Epic fail! I think I may buy an instructional manual and give it another go, although not yet.

      Looking forward to seeing your cover for The Perfect Player.

    3. Soon, Lorry. Soon. :D *hint, hint*

      And crack your whip at GIMP! Teach it some manners!

  4. It is a beautiful cover!

    I know I tend to get frustrated beyond belief with a program that seems to be taunting me... and that's how I react to Wordpress. Not sure what I'd make of GIMP...

    1. Thank you, William. :D Thank you very much!

      Wordpress! Yes, that program can be daunting as well, actually. I have a good friend who kindly let me browse through a possible mock-website using Wordpress, but I got totally lost and then didn't have enough time to figure it all out. Lol! I probably will eventually; I'll want something a little more professional-looking for my soon-to-be open press site.