Sunday, 20 September 2015

Learning a new skill: 3D book covers

I’ve long wanted to make 3D covers for my Two-natured London boxed sets, but I haven’t had the skill and haven’t found an automatic cover maker for them. So I finally searched for instructions on how to make them with the GIMP software, and found a number of tutorials. I checked a few of them and ended up following these instructions by Lynne Cantwell on Indies Unlimited blog.

It’s a trial and error learning a new skill, but since I’ve created all my covers with GIMP, I at least have the basic skills. But it turns out there is a lot you can do with it that I had no idea about, and a box shape is one of them.

The instructions on the blog are simple enough to follow, at least if you’ve used GIMP before. I made a couple of practise boxes until I had the basics clear, and then set out to design special covers for the boxed sets. I used the existing covers for my Two-natured London books as the basis and designed the ‘spines’ for them that make one side of the box, the side that shows how many books there are in the set. Mine has only two per set, so it wasn’t a difficult task.

The only details that required extra tweaking were a couple of horizontal stripes running through the design that wouldn’t align when I generated the box, but in the end even those came out well enough. And now I have brilliant new boxed set covers that I’m very happy with.

Having successfully followed Ms Cantwell’s instructions, I can recommend them, if you want to create your own 3D boxed set covers. I have one note regarding them though. The instructions tell to generate the box with the .xcf files, which is the GIMP format that keeps all the layers intact. However, they are huge files and it takes a great deal of processing power to generate the boxes. So instead using .xcf files, save (export) your finished images as .jpg files, open them with GIMP and use them to generate your boxes. That way you:
  1. don’t have to merge the layers before generating the boxes. When your .xcf files don’t have merged layers, it’s easier to make changes to them, if the box doesn’t come out the way you want it to. Then you can simply save the changes to a new .jpg file and try again.
  2. save a lot of time generating the box. With the .xcf files, it takes several minutes, whereas it takes about 30 seconds with the .jpg files.
Keeping this little detail in mind, you can easily make your own 3D covers with the same instructions I used too. Happy creating!


  1. Glad it worked for you, Susanna - terrific covers! And thanks for the tip to use jpgs instead of xcf files. I'll have to try that for my next box set. :)

    1. Thank you. :) You gave very helpful instructions. I've been postponing learning this, because I didn't know GIMP can generate the box for me.