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Does anybody use any software for designing front covers/font/ decorative arts in their work? (2 Viewers)

StarDog2

Senior Member
I should think Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher should work quite well for these tasks. Published by Serif, and they cost around $50 each for a permanent license, Available in Mac, Windows, & iOS. I own Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher and I find them powerful and effective. All three are designed to integrate quite well with each other.
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Media Manager
I use PhotoImpact 12 from Ulead.
Much cheaper than Photoshop, but does the same job (and has a better photocompression tool).
The only weakness is that it bogs down with large volumes of text (back cover).

I NEVER use ANY of the templates offered by Amazon. I choose the bring-your-own, or whichever one can be fully blanked. There is one that only mandates the author image, which I replace with a *.png that is all clear (I don't do author pics.) I build my entire cover in PhotoImpact.

But I am terrible at converting them to PDFs when I need to upload to Ingram. Why can't they just accept high quality images??? What a PITA they are that way. Glad I never paid them any setup fees...since I'm the one doing all the work. ;)
 

sigmadog

Staff member
Media Manager
I use Adobe Photoshop for images and Adobe Illustrator for layouts for books and packages or anything with a non-regular size.

Adobe products are very expensive, and I don't recommend them for casual users. But they have great versatility and can output in nearly any desired format.

Before I retired from the graphic design biz, the Affinity product line was starting to rise in popularity, mainly due to Adobe's shift to an All-Or-Nothing subscriber model, which many of us hated (why should I pay for After Effects, Dreamweaver and everything else when all I use is InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop?). I still hold a grudge against Adobe for this, and each year I cast a curse upon Adobe by burning an old Illustrator manual and mixing the ashes with the blood of a virgin, both of which are getting hard to find.

But enough about my hobbies.

I still have all the Adobe products (the three I use and the fifteen I don't because Adobe makes me) and maintain my subscription for sentimental reasons (I like to complain and bitch).

I agree with StarDog. Why? Because
  1. Dogs ALWAYS agree (most of the time)
  2. Though I'm not familiar with them myself, I've heard many great things about Affinity products
  3. Suck it, Adobe.
 

StarDog2

Senior Member
Yep. I had to get an adobe subscription just to make a few PDF covers for Ingram.
What a PITA that was.
Then it took three months to cancel the damned account.
To quote Charles Brown: "Arrrrgggghhhh!"*


*shoe goes flying.
I have been Adobe free for, golly, 8 years now. No photography stuff (ACDSee & Affinity Photo now), no design stuff. NO Adobe DRM nonsense for ebooks either! There are plenty of GOOD options out there if you choose to use them. As I tell my photography paisans, you are only 'trapped' by Adobe if you choose to be.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Before I retired from the graphic design biz, the Affinity product line was starting to rise in popularity, mainly due to Adobe's shift to an All-Or-Nothing subscriber model, which many of us hated (why should I pay for After Effects, Dreamweaver and everything else when all I use is InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop?). I still hold a grudge against Adobe for this, and each year I cast a curse upon Adobe by burning an old Illustrator manual and mixing the ashes with the blood of a virgin, both of which are getting hard to find.
It's why I held onto my Web Premium 6. I use Dreamweaver daily, and I still use Fireworks for graphics (which is essentially the same as Photoshop) because I started with Macromedia YEARS before they sold out, learned Fireworks, and a several years old version of Fireworks does absolutely everything I need ... mostly integrating client graphics for mastheads and making buttons.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
I have been Adobe free for, golly, 8 years now. No photography stuff (ACDSee & Affinity Photo now), no design stuff. NO Adobe DRM nonsense for ebooks either! There are plenty of GOOD options out there if you choose to use them. As I tell my photography paisans, you are only 'trapped' by Adobe if you choose to be.
If you know a good alternative to Dreamweaver. I'd love to know about it. ;-) I get inspired to look for one every couple of years, and so far one hasn't been out there. Microsoft tried to come up with competing software once, but once I found about it they had already deprecated the product. Technically, I could probably use Visual Studio, but I'd need to take three months to really reeducate and transition myself to designing web apps that way, and it wouldn't get me very much in the way of value.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I curse Canva at every opportunity. It was a contributing factor to my early retirement because I could not compete with "FREE".
Yes, but it is very limited to what they supply and not a professional cover. And, if you use one of their templates it is not exclusive. I only use it for mockups and web banners. I'm still going to use a professional artist for my final book cover.
 

neophyte

Senior Member
I hammered out my book cover in about 5 minutes with some PNGs and Canva. I'm not planning to physically publish, so take my two sentences with a grain of salt.
 

sigmadog

Staff member
Media Manager
Yes, but it is very limited to what they supply and not a professional cover. And, if you use one of their templates it is not exclusive. I only use it for mockups and web banners. I'm still going to use a professional artist for my final book cover.

I spent my whole career providing as much as possible to my clients as original artwork created (or at least art-directed) by me personally. One of my points of pride was that I never used stock art when I could provide original art instead.

What follows is a (somewhat lengthy, but hopefully entertaining) excerpt from a blog post of mine from a few months back. It's mostly about me coming to terms with the idea that my buggy-whip designs are no longer "the Shit" in a model-T world (and please note, Taylor, these are not criticisms of you or your way of working, just the cranky mutterings of an old codger).

-------

I’ve been in the commercial art / graphic design biz for forty-two years. While I know I look old, mentally I'm still in junior high, as indicated by the frequency of poop jokes.

In 1979 I was a senior in high school working afternoons at the Sears Corporate offices in downtown Seattle. My job was doing paste-ups for weekly Sunday newspaper circulars. There was next to nothing in the way of creativity involved (other than figuring out how to squeeze a stock-art image of a Kenmore® washer into a 2” x 3” box along with descriptive text while making the price as big as possible). It was, essentially, the bottom rung in the commercial art field, and I don’t regret it at all because it was a good, practical start. I learned how to manage my time; meet deadlines; size art and type; work with others; ask advice; maintain a clean layout; make straight lines using thin spools of 1pt. tape; and all this while almost avoiding cutting my fingertips off with ultra-sharp X-acto knives.

But mostly I learned I didn’t want to do mind-numbing stock-art circulars for the rest of my life, so I went to college (Yay! Central Washington University!) and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design.

In college it was impressed on my mushy, beer-soaked brain that design isn’t about simple arrangements of elements. Design was first and foremost an Idea that drove those elements and arrangements. The standard way of conveying this is "Form Follows Function", but I think alliteration is dumb (especially when someone else comes up with it first) so I prefer that line's lesser known and slightly retarded but very friendly second cousin, Design Follows Idea.

I won’t bore you with all that has happened since. All I need say is my career and those of my graphic design colleagues eventually became the bridge between old and new technologies.

The computer changed things, and for the better. We ditched our waxers and layout boards for a keyboard and mouse; and we never looked back.

Now we have immediate access to thousands of images and fonts; and making a nifty looking arrangement of elements takes a fraction of the time it used to take. Everything is clean and there’s no technological barrier to going into business for yourself because the tools are ubiquitous.

And that is also the problem. For many it seems the tools have overshadowed the underlying importance of good ideas. That’s a shame because ignoring the value of good ideas inevitably cheapens what we do as designers. Without a solid idea behind it, a “design” is just pointless eye-candy. It’s all too easy in Photoshop to give Queen Elizabeth a chicken head, but should I?

A good friend and colleague wrote to me expressing his frustration that, after nearly a half century of creating solid idea-based solutions for our clients, we now have to compete against free design templates that promise “Everyone can create professional designs!” This turns the traditional Form Follows Function idea on its head. Now one finds a template and generates an idea to cram into it.

Funny how the wheel turns.

In 1979, yours truly, a mush-brained high schooler interested in a career in commercial art could arrange clip-art in pre-set formats, which was considered an entry-level job.

By 2021 anyone can use a free online service to arrange stock art into pre-set digital templates and this is now “professional design.”

Riiiiiight.

There are at least two ways to look at this:

1. As technology advances, old ways of doing things are replaced, and those invested in old ways must adapt in order to survive the new reality.

Or

2. Technology will never replace the need for a good idea to drive the project; and without an idea behind it, you’re not a designer, you’re a decorator.

As designers, we do need to adapt to the realities of the current market, but I think that means doing more to educate clients on what we offer. We know people respond best to ideas. It’s a constant battle to get clients to value ideas over empty decoration. We need to teach them the simple fact that design always follows the idea. Sites that confuse decoration for design only make our job more difficult.

Pre-canned “design” isn’t real design. It’s a pale, flavorless imitation of the real thing, like vegan bacon.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Design was first and foremost an Idea that drove those elements and arrangements.
You give me a bit of confidence in what I do. LOL I always claim to be a "fake graphic artist", because as an artist, I couldn't draw Charlie Brown's shirt. However, I do always have a concept in mind first, and that concept is based on identifying one or more product elements the final image should represent. Then, I look for images and fonts to portray the theme, and try out colors until I find combinations that complement, not compete. And while I will then find stock or premade art (since I can't draw it), I may spend HOURS finding just the one that fits what I'm after. Fonts, and thanks for this, typically come easier to find and match!

None of that means I match up to you, because I do it at need, not for a career, so I don't have your experience or knowledge or resources.
 

sigmadog

Staff member
Media Manager
You give me a bit of confidence in what I do. LOL I always claim to be a "fake graphic artist", because as an artist, I couldn't draw Charlie Brown's shirt. However, I do always have a concept in mind first, and that concept is based on identifying one or more product elements the final image should represent. Then, I look for images and fonts to portray the theme, and try out colors until I find combinations that complement, not compete. And while I will then find stock or premade art (since I can't draw it), I may spend HOURS finding just the one that fits what I'm after. Fonts, and thanks for this, typically come easier to find and match!

None of that means I match up to you, because I do it at need, not for a career, so I don't have your experience or knowledge or resources.
Cool! It's never my intent to make Graphic Design an elite "Members Only" club. Anyone CAN do it if they understand the value of a good idea and how to follow through on that.

So, Kudos to you, VRanger! Rock on!
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Cool! It's never my intent to make Graphic Design an elite "Members Only" club. Anyone CAN do it if they understand the value of a good idea and how to follow through on that.

So, Kudos to you, VRanger! Rock on!
Thanks, but value is value. Take the cover I did with the mouse and the cat. The one I did looked okay if no one had ever seen what you did with it. You gave it a very nice upgrade.
 

sigmadog

Staff member
Media Manager
Thanks, but value is value. Take the cover I did with the mouse and the cat. The one I did looked okay if no one had ever seen what you did with it. You gave it a very nice upgrade.
Thank you. I think that was where my experience came into play. Forty-plus years yields an awfully large bag of tricks.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
What follows is a (somewhat lengthy, but hopefully entertaining) excerpt from a blog post of mine from a few months back. It's mostly about me coming to terms with the idea that my buggy-whip designs are no longer "the Shit" in a model-T world (and please note, Taylor, these are not criticisms of you or your way of working, just the cranky mutterings of an old codger).
I'm not sure why I would take this as criticism when I just spoke in defense of using a professional and declared I would be using a professional artist for my final cover.

I think your work is lovely, and you should keep doing it. There is huge value in an original design from a talented artist and the collaboration that takes place with the author.
 
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