8000x4000px Cover Image for Children's Picture Book

Since my children’s picture book will be printed as an 8x8-inch square, I need an image that is two 8-inch squares side by side, with a bit of extra space for the bleed and for the spine. I decided to create an 8000x4000px image. Procreate will allow 12 layers for an image that size. I could have made a smaller image — say 6000x3000px — but I want to make sure that I have lots of headroom pixels to play with. With an 8000x4000-pixel image, I could conceivably go up to 26-inches square — that would be a hella big children’s book. However, for my purposes, having the extra resolution means that I won’t have to redraw this image to increase the resolution.

I started roughing out the image today. I used the camera in my iPad to take a picture of the thumbnail, then I the photo into Procreate. Once there, I scaled it up to fit the 8000x4000 image. I’ll have to figure out how to fit the title text on the page, that’s for sure.

Speaking of ISBN Numbers

In the United States, there’s only one place to buy ISBN numbers: Bowkers. Bowkers has an unquestioned monopoloy on these numbers. It costs pennies to generate an ISBN number but the least expensive price for a single ISBN number is $125. I do realize that there’s some infrastructure around the ISBN system that will raise the cost above mere pennies, but $125 for a single computer-generated number lays a punitive burden on self-publishers who are not likely to never need hundreds or thousands of numbers. I’m speaking as a self-publisher.

My question is why are there no other options for buying ISBN numbers? Here’s the Bowker price list to mull over.

isbn_price_list.png Bowkers fees for ISBN numbers

Choosing the Cover Image for My Children's Picture Book

I created some cover image thumbnails yesterday, and today my inch forward consists of flipping my favorite thumbnail horizontally. Sometimes and inch of progress is as slight as reversing an image, but I’ll take it. I’ll complete this image using pen and ink, scan it, then polish it up using my iPad and Procreate. It’s a hybrid process.

Of course, the text needs to be fixed and the bar code moved to the back of the book. Next step beyond having a cover image to pony up the money and ISBN number so I can fit my image into Ingramspark’s Cover Generator. Digression: What a baldfaced ripoff the ISBN system is. If’s an unholy deal with the devil.

Sketching Ideas for a Cover Page WIthout Knowing What's Expected by the Publisher

Since I don’t have an ISBN number for my book, I can’t use Ingramspark’s Cover Generator to make a template that can be used to plan a cover image. So…I’m just going to look at some books and make a cover. I’m using Maurice Sendak’s Where the WIld Things Are as my model. I know I’ll need some text for the title, author name (Doukat!), the image itself, a barcode, and some room for the spine. My book has 40 pages, not thick enough to print the name of the book, so the cover image will simply wrap around to the back cover. I’m probably missing some significant details, but I’ll add them in when I have access to the Cover Generator.

I pulled out my project sketchbook, which I haven’t used in 8 months, and did some quick sketches that show the front and back covers as one extended image. There’s one example that uses two separate images, one for the back and a family group picture for the back. I lettered in a rough title and place a mock barcode on the back. In one case my brain got twisted around and I drew the barcode on the front.

After months of drawing digitally, working with paper and pencil felt like coming home. There’s no icon telling me that I have a low battery, no layers, no crazy multiplicity of brushes. Just paper and marking tool.

I’m going to turn one of these sketches into a cover. See if you can guess which one.

Al Fresco Art Club Challenge for Sep 29, 2019: Paint a Common Object, Like a Camera

I was in charge of choosing today’s Al Fresco Art Club challenge. I thought that painting a common object that had simple rectangular shapes, such as a camera, would be something I could easily do. In fact, it would be so easy that I might as well paint two cameras. I chose a Polaroid camera and a Diana Mini.

I dashed off a sketch and painted in the background using some dried paint from last week’s challenge, then blocked in the cameras. About 15 minutes into the hour, I came to my senses — I would have time to paint only the Polaroid — the Diana Mini would have to sit there on the page, an unfinished skeleton, like one of those sketches you might see in the margin of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook. Future art historians will have a field day with my humble painting.

polaroid_al_fresco_blog.png Al Fresco Art Club, Polaroid, Diana Mini Camera, gouache

Chore Day, 9/28/2019 - Cooking, Doing Linuxy Things, and Pondering Cover Pages

Most of today’s pondering has been about my children’s book cover art. I thought it would be a good idea to check the Web for some helpful tips. First I went to Ingramspark.com to look at their Cover Page Generator. Sorry, but you need an ISBN to use that “free” tool. I don’t have an ISBN number yet, so I tried a general search “DIY self-publish cover page template tutorial”. There were 23,000,000 results, which means there must be a lot of DIY self-publishers looking for answers and lots of Web Entrepreneurs ready to provide them. As I expected, all of the links on the first page of results were just ads for miraculous solutions to the cover page problem. Sometimes the WWW is just a pile of garbage and I’m feel like searching for the little piece of real information buried under a dung heap hype.

In the end I decided that I will simply look at an admirable children’s picture book and learn from it. I’m going to use Where the Wild Things Are as my model. It has 50 pages, not counting the cover. I’ll have 40 pages, which means that I won’t have enough pages to print the name of the book on the spine. Here’s what Ingramspark says:

Spine Type Safety: For page counts below 48, spine text is not available. Spines 0.35” and larger – 0.0625” (2mm) left/right sides. Spines smaller than 0.35” – 0.03125” (1mm) left/right sides.