How to Make a Book Cover in GIMP

I’ve been discussing covers, and I am supposed to be posting the final part – “How to Make a Pesky Back Cover”, however, I’ve changed my mind. I had some questions on the wordpress blog, so I’ve decided to actually do some short tutorials on making the cover – using the three programs I mentioned: Paint brush, gimp, and Paint Shop Pro

We’re going to attempt to make the same basic cover in each program. Though, you’ll see that it won’t look identical, still, the idea is there.

Yesterday I showed you how to use Paint Brush to make an eBook cover, so today I am going to show you how to make the same cover in Gimp. Why are we doing it in multiple programs? Because, that way you can get an idea of the difference between them.

First, you may need to get GIMP. It’s a free program – go to and ignore the bit about binary installers. I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean, but you don’t need to get anything else. Just click the download link:


If you want to follow along, you can get our sample photo here:

Note this is a BIGGER version of the one we used yesterday! So, even if you downloaded it, you need to also download this one. Why? Because GIMP is a better program, so we are actually going to make a full sized book cover instead of the smaller one we made in paintbrush. Because of that, you will need the handy dandy “Joey Cover Template”:

Yes, it’s huge. IMPORTANT: all information should be INSIDE the red lines. Anything that bleeds into the red might get chopped off when the book is printed!

Okay, so install Gimp and let’s get going!

When you open it, the first thing you may notice is that there are “bits” that are independently floating around. Don’t panic, they’re supposed to be that way. If you’re going to use this program a lot then you can customize all of that, but I’m not getting in to any of that, so we’re just going to leave it as is.


First open the template (you will probably have to MOVE one of those floating “bits” – just click on the bar on top and drag it, like you would any box in windows):



Open your picture in the program:


Now, go to the cover template and find out the size of it by going to image – canvas size:



Highlight the height and copy it by right clicking inside the box and choosing copy:


Now go back to the tree photo and choose image – scale image:


In the pop up box, paste the copied height numbers into the height box – if you click inside the width, you will see that it automatically updates itself to keep the image the same proportion. When you’re done, hit scale:


Now go to edit – copy:


Then go back to the template and first make a new layer by right clicking where it says Background  A new box will pop up, just hit okay, and you will now have two layers in your pallet:


Then choose edit- paste


Choose the move tool


Move the photo where you want it – remember, our photo is wider than our cover, so we’re going to lose some of it. Those dotty lines show you where the photo extends beyond the canvas edge, while what you see is what you’re going to keep:


(Alternately, you can just copy the image without resizing it and use the scale tool to resize the image, but for a beginner, I think the resize, then copy method is easier. It’s personal preference)

Now, make a new layer by right clicking in the layer pallet and choosing new layer, only name this one frame:


Now pick the rectangle selection tool:


And draw a rectangle to create our frame – click where you want the corner to start and then drag it until it’s the shape/size you want (what is INSIDE this rectangle is what will be showing of our picture after we get our frame done)


Make sure the foreground color is set to black, and choose the flood fill tool:


Then choose selection – invert :


And flood fill the frame:


Choose the select rectangle tool again and click once in the middle of the image to unselect the frame. Now click the alphabet tool, and in the tool pallet below the tools, change the options. As you may remember, we used Vivaldi in Paint Brush, so do the same here, also, choose white for the color, just like we did there. What will change, though, is the font size. This is a bigger image, so it needs a bigger font size – in this case 280 (type it into the box). Also, instead of having to use spaces, we can just choose to center the words automatically. Cool, huh?


Now draw a text box (click where you want the corner to start and drag, then release when it’s a good size). If you make it too big or too small don’t worry, it can be resized by dragging the corner smaller or larger.


Now, inside the small pop up, type in our title: Winter’s Chill, and it will automatically appear on our image:


If you need to, you can click inside the text box and drag it around, or resize it. When you’re happy with it, click close on the text editor.

You may notice that we have automatically created a new layer by choosing text – pretty cool, huh?


Now for the author name and tag line. Go to the alphabet tools pallet and change our font to Garamond, and the font size to 180 (again, type this number into the box), then draw a text box at the bottom and type in your author name:


Oh no! It’s too high… well, just grab it and pull it to the bottom, then hit close:


Now let’s do the same thing for a tag line “Once you feel its kiss, you’ll never be the same…” – but wait – there is no Italics! Hang on, we can fix that, just go ahead and make the tag line for now (I changed the font size to 80, btw):


Now choose the shear tool:


It puts a yellow box around our text – grab the corner and pull it to the right until the font looks italic:


Then click the shear button to apply:



Cool, huh? Repeat this for our second tag line (A tale of cold terror) above the title:


At this point, it’s worth looking at our layer pallet again – holy smokes! Where did all those layers come from!? Well, they were auto generated. Snifty, huh?


So, make a new layer (right click, choose new layer) and name it box


Now select the eye dropper/color picker tool:


Then go back to the layer pallet and select the layer with the winter tree photo on it:


Then click inside the image with the eyedropper until you get the color you want to make the emphasis frame. Remember, we want the title to really pop, so we want to pick a subdued/darker color – but not so dark that it disappears against the black:


Now select our box layer again


Then choose the path tool


At this point, you may want to zoom in


Now, draw a path to create our emphasis frame – click where you want it to begin, then click at the next corner – grab the green circles and move them to make the line straight:


Continue around until you have a rectangle:


Now, in the tool pallet choose “stroke path”


Change the line width to 9 and hit the stroke button:


Now click on another tool so you can see your finished cover!

If any of your taglines need moved, then select the layer that they’re on, then choose the move tool and drag them where you want them:


Now SAVE – under file, name it cover. PNG do NOT save as a JPG!! JPG’s have lossy compression, aka they LOOSE information when they save it, and that’s what makes all those hideous fuzzy things you see on a lot of web images:


(note – you may need to use the Browse for other folders) to save it exactly where you want)



Move the slider to 0 for better quality


And you’re done!

cover finished - resized


At this size, your cover is big enough to use for a print book, like at Lulu and Createspace, or you can still use it as en eBook.

Next up is Paint Shop Pro!

11 thoughts on “How to Make a Book Cover in GIMP

  1. ruthannnordin March 11, 2010 / 11:09 pm

    Oh wow. You do a lot of work to make these posts. Maybe you should put all of this into an ebook and sell it for $0.99. You really know your stuff!

    • Joleene Naylor February 19, 2011 / 3:58 am

      Well, it’s now part of the Hoe to Make a Cheap Book Cover book, though I rewrote some of this to make a little more sense 😉

  2. Pen February 18, 2011 / 5:11 am

    Joleene, you are a genius! I’ve tried all sorts of tutorials on ebook covers, but yours is the one that worked (except for fillling colour, but I’ll figure it out). It’s really helped my confidence, now I feel like I can get these self publishing skills up to speed. A heart felt thank you for your time and effort.

    • Joleene Naylor February 19, 2011 / 3:57 am

      You’re very welcome! Glad to know it has helped someone! 😀

  3. lucypireel September 23, 2012 / 5:23 pm

    Hi Jolene,
    Thanks for this incredible useful post! I’ve been stumbling through Gimp, until I found your blogpost. At least now the basics make sense, even to me. : ) Not thst I suddenly am able to create great covers, but at least it’s no longer abracadabra. I still pull up your post if I need a reminder of how to do things in Gimp.

    • Joleene Naylor September 24, 2012 / 3:49 am

      You’re very welcome! Glad to know it was helpful! 😀

      • lucypireel September 30, 2012 / 8:49 am

        I’ve posted a link to your incredible helpful post on my own blog. Hope it gains you more readers.

  4. thommurph November 20, 2012 / 12:34 am

    This is fantastic.

    • Joleene Naylor November 20, 2012 / 4:29 am

      So glad you found it helpful! 🙂

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