How to make a starry vault in paint.net

To start with, choose one or several colours for your background. I chose two shades of purple as my primary and secondary colour (bottom left). Then I used the gradient tool to create the sky.

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I wasn’t happy with it, so I changed the hue.

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Then I used the paintbrush, 5 points white, to dot the sky with stars.

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Then I used free plugin Starglow to make the stars shine.

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You can tinker with the length etc of the “spikes”, and you can choose whether to add the diagonals (which I did).

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I fiddled a little with the Mini, Maxi and Radius. Don’t ask me what those mean. You can trial and error your way to a kind of star you like.

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And, um… done! ūüôā

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How to make fiery letters in paint.net

Release fire större text röd eld

On all my Pax covers, I’ve used fire in both text and image. Over the top? Perhaps. But if you want to use the fiery idea to make your title or any other text more vivid/dynamic/eye-catching, this is how you do it.

First, you need a picture of fire. I took this one during an evening when hubby and me were grilling with friends.

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As you can see in the box to the right, I’ve added a new layer on top of the fire image. That’s where the text will go.

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I used the font One Fell Swoop, which is free and can be found here.

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Write the text anywhere you like, just remember that it’s what’s in the image underneath that will make up the letters once you copy it into a new document. Move it around if you’re not happy with the colours, or change the size.

Next, you use the magic wand to select the letters (still on the second layer, otherwise you select the fire instead).

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Then you switch to the Background layer again and copy your selection. What you’re doing now is, you’re using the text from the second layer as a template for what you want to copy from the fire image.

Create a new document and paste the copied fire text.

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If you’re not happy with the colours, remember you can go back and move the text around and copy new versions.

When you’ve chosen the best version, you can modify the colours and contrast by using Hue/saturation and Brightness/contrast.

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And now you’re ready to copy the text onto a new layer on the cover or whatever it is you’re making!

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If you want, you can change the orientation and size of the text by pulling on the bent arrow thingumajig that appears when you hover close to your selection.

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Done! ūüôā

Of course you can use other images besides fire to make your text pop. In this one, for example, I used rainbow watercolours and changed the hue to mostly blue and green, in order to create the impression of a stream.

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Swirly floral background

Revamped vampires and non-obscene wall colours

Last Communion

So today was a day for covers. My old Last Communion cover was a bit dull, so I reworked it. When I say dull, I mean too little colour. I may dress almost exclusively in black, but I want my surroundings to be vibrant.

When people come to our house, they tend to go, “Oh… this is colourful.” And then silence.

LOL.

So anyway, something else I discovered is that I love texture. I’ve been studying covers that I love, and the things they have in common are the colours and the texture. When you just slap a title on a photo, it can look a bit flat.

Texture gold
My favourite texture

It doesn’t always, but one way to avoid flatness is to put a textured image as your bottom layer, and then work with layer properties as outlined in this post to make the main photo and thus the cover look a bit more alive.

Especially important when said cover sports a vampire, wouldn’t you agree?

Of course, everyone won’t love textures and colours. In fact, my bestselling short story is very sort of mild and just has a few shades of purple on it. I don’t know if it’s the cover or the blurb that does it, but it seems to draw attention. Personally, I’m not sure I would give it a second look, but there you have it. We’re all different.

Anatomy of a cover

RP guldtext gulare kille

So this is my new Rival Poet cover, and I just wanted to share how it came to be – because seeing the constituent parts of things fascinates me, so perhaps it also fascinates someone else.

Fair warning though, it’s the equivalent of telling people how a magic trick is done, or how a poem was put together. Some people hate that. They want the magic to stay intact.

But being an INTP (analytical, dreamy over-thinker extraordinaire), I think there’s a special kind of magic in knowing the nuts and bolts, because in the end, the sum is so much greater than the parts. (Not to toot my own horn… :P)

Anyway, the images that went into this cover were the following:

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Paper, quill, & ink lit by candleTouched by the soft window light

The red one is the wallpaper in my writing room, the second one is a mound of dirt in the basement (there’s a part of the house that hasn’t been “excavated”, so it’s basically mud), and the final two I bought from iStock. The software I use is paint.net, which is free and therefore not super advanced, but then neither am I, so we riff off each other pretty well.

Now, obviously I flipped the guy so he was facing the other way, and I cut the candle, but that’s not the interesting stuff. The interesting stuff is LAYERS. Ah, the beauty of layers. The things you can do! Also, metaphor. This time around, I wanted the cover to better convey a few things in the story, such as the theme of water. Thus the blue-green bits.

But none of the images are blue, are they? Well, that’s where both “hue/saturation” and “layer properties” come in. As you can see in the image below (of my finished, not-yet-flattened cover), there are tons of layers. I’ve never learned to do them from a tutorial, because I’m rubbish at following instructions, so I’ve trial-and-errored my way to a level of proficiency I’m happy with.

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I always work intuitively, too, so I don’t have much of a plan to start with. The reason I’m telling you that is that this is not a tutorial, since I have no idea what I did! I’m sure there are much easier ways of getting the same effect, but this is my method: import a load of images into the programme and play around with hues, contrast and layer properties.

So this text should rather be seen as some kind of inspirational post. Which I guess I should have said at the beginning, but the INTP is also the original “distracted professor” type, so why not let that show? (Actually, maybe this is the sort of scatterbrained tutorial I would personally be able to live with, so maybe there are other instruction-abhorring intuitive thinker types out there just gagging for a rambling post on paint.net, and this is actually the Holy Grail.)

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The image above shows that I used the “additive” layer property for the photo of my wallpaper (which I obviously also turned blue-green with the help of hue/saturation, shown below).

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For the basement mud (turned green), I randomly used the layer property “overlay”. I don’t really know what that means, but there you go. As long as it works, I’m happy.

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As you can also see from the images, some layers are cut, or rather they fade away. I did this when they interfered too much with some other image, mostly with the guy’s face. If there was too much dirt up in the right hand corner, he looked… well… dirty. And Kit might not be God’s best angel, but he’s not a slob. (Unless he’s in a bad mood, but look at him – if they’d had cameras back then, this would be him gazing in post coitus stupefaction at Will the photographer. He’s not in a bad mood.)

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This is what the background looks like without the guy:

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Brightness/contrast is also a fun thing to play around with. As you can see from the original photos, most of them were brighter than they ended up in the final picture. There’s a reason for that too, of course. I wanted half of Kit’s face (oh, and apologies to anyone who prefers to see the guy as Will – that’s fine!) to be shadowed, because he’s such a secretive character, with this hidden side to him, and obviously a literal double life. So. Contrast way up. (Not all the way up, or the picture will turn black and white, but you know. Use your judgment.)

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Finally, the lettering. I’ve been mooning forever over covers with gold relief text, thinking it’s really really hard to do, but then I remembered this:

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If you write the text in Word, you can make it gold with the click of a button! Then copy and paste onto a new layer in the paint.net document, twiddle for a bit with hue and contrast, and hey presto: olden times on tap.

So… I guess that’s all?

Oh, wait, a tip! I actually did watch a few tutorials by a fun guy on Youtube, and he was the main reason I was inspired to learn more about the programme, so a big warm round of applause for Yakobelt, please!