I am very excited to have two graphic gurus with me today! Adaline Raine and Anthony (The Cover Artisan). As a blogger and an author, I have often wondered about the availiability of pictures I have seen online; pondered sharing images; stewed over how to make a simple *%bleeping *&! graphic for my posts…
Graphics are on my mind, but not as someone tech savvy enough to create them. I just want to know how to use them, where to find them, and whom to contact when I have something special in mind. These two awesome artists were kind enough to oblige my questions.
Katherine Deane: Thanks for joining me today, Adaline and Anthony. Help me get started with something little, please. Where should I look to find cool pics for my blog?
Adaline Raine: I go to http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
You have to create an account but the photos are stock images and really free unless you need a larger image. The free ones are fine for what I do.
Anthony (The Cover Artisan): There are a lot of sites out there that offer free blog graphics, however most display an ad or have some sort “free offer” that you have to complete to download the graphics. I tend to stay away from such sites.
I have from time to time used http://www.stockfreeimages.com/ to get a quick image or two… They do require a sign up and your are limited to the amount of free images you can download but it takes only a few seconds to sign up and they have a pretty good variety of images to choose from. I have yet to use the site that Adaline mentioned but from just giving it a really quick look I can tell that it will definitely become part of my toolbox. Thanks!
Katherine Deane: Can I use any old thing I find, or are there stipulations?
Adaline Raine: Do not take google image result photos! ::grin:: They can appear free if there is no watermark but more than likely they are used with permission or are original content.
Anthony (The Cover Artisan): Like Adaline said, do not use google to get your images. They use a very broad search engine to give you results that are most of the time copyright or used for other things. I have had luck in the past by going to public photo sharing sites and using images with the permission from the artist. I have a rule of thumb, if you can not contact the photographer directly or the image in not part of an established photo site, its probably best not to even mess with it.
Adaline Raine: I like what Anthony said. If you cannot contact the photographer and there is no contract on it best to leave it alone.
Katherine Deane: What sites do you recommend for free or cheap or bought images?
Adaline Raine: See question one. This is the best site I have found so far. Sites like Dreamstimehttp://www.dreamstime.com/ have a great selection and search filter but cost money. The only time I would pay for an image would be a for profit printed project. Say that three times fast! If I can not find the one I want I will make it.
Anthony (The Cover Artisan): ( I could only say it fast 2 times:)
The first place I usually go when am looking for cheap or free stock is everystockphoto.com. This site is a collective search for most of the free stock photo sites. They have a great amount of images but I don’t usually use it when I am doing a cover that requires the subjects to be sexy or anything out of the ordinary. I have been using bigstock.com for most of my covers, They offer reasonable pricing and their selection is one of the best available. I have just recently signed up with dreamstime as well, at this time however I have not needed to use it. I am sure that I will in the future, they have some of the best pricing I have seen! 11 credits for $15 is incredible! I think that is another great site to add to your tools.
Katherine Deane: Perfect! Thanks! A friend of mine also mentioned a free area on http://www.123rf.com/browsefreeimages.php. I have had a lot of fun looking through theirs as well.
Katherine Deane: What about making images?
Adaline Raine: I took digital photography and graphic design courses through high school and college. I did website design heavy on layouts for approx. eight years but honestly you can use any software. With a little time and practice – maybe a tutorial or two and you can make your own custom graphics.
I no longer have Adobe Photoshop (the greatest software ever made in my humble opinion) because it just costs too much. I usepixlr.com and it has three levels – Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced and is completely online – no software to download. You can even save layered images to work on later.
The only drawback here is you do not have much selection for brushes. I am a huge brush freak so I miss this feature. I used to spend hours downloading and searching for random brushes. My favorite was feathers – you would be so surprised at the textures you get.
Another option is to find someone to create images/banners for you.
Anthony (The Cover Artisan): I agree with Adaline, Photoshop is the best program for creating faster graphics but like she said it is very pricey. There’s a pretty good amount of alternatives to photoshop out there. I have not used them all but when I’m on a computer that does not have PS I usually turn to GIMP for my basic needs. Its not as powerful as photoshop but it is the closest you can get without breaking the bank. I have had friends that have used pixlr and loved it, I have not personally had the chance to check it out but I have heard great things.
Adaline Raine: To add to my love for Pixlr – I have to add I recently found a way to use any image as a brush. You can download a brush set (they usually have creative license similar to images) then open, crop, and save whatever section you want as a brush. This makes me grin! I missed my brushes SO much. There are also tons of tutorials you can have access to by a few minutes searching. You can usually get a good idea of techniques even if you find hints and tips for other programs.
Katherine Deane: Did you know I actually created the “Author Share” image ? LOL, that was a big deal considering I had never created a graphic before. I used Pixlr. It took me a little bit to figure out, but I think it turned out pretty well. 🙂 (feel free to pat my back a little 😉 )
Katherine Deane: What if I want to pay someone to make an awesome logo or image for me?
Adaline Raine: Yes! This is a great option. You usually fill out a form giving an idea of the image you want and the artist creates a draft and quotes a price unless they have standard pricing which is hard in this field. I prefer the barter system. I’ll promo you if you make me banners or give them a copy of a book or do a review – something simple and not expensive!
Anthony (The Cover Artisan): Most of the work I do is with book covers, social media cover photos and promotional flyers. I have had clients that have tried to make these things themselves and as good as their efforts were the end product came out to be pretty awful. I think that hiring a professional to do the work for you shows a great amount of enthusiasm and pride for your product. I am not saying that you need to hire somebody to do every little thing but I think that it adds a great deal to the validity of your work to have a professional work out the bigger things.
Katherine Deane: How much do these things run?
Anthony (The Cover Artisan): I have a system that I have been working on for a while now when it comes to pricing… I have a base price for the product (cover,flyer,logo, etc.) and I build upon it as the project requires. 9 out of 10 times I don’t charge more than the base price but time and resources are also a variable to consider, I usually don’t charge for the initial time creating but as in some cases I have had to do 5-6 revisions and that usually cuts into other work that I could be doing and as much as I hate to do so, I have to charge a little bit extra.
Adaline Raine: There are SO many variables. You would have to provide specifics. The size of the banner, level of detail, photos, number of images, number of times allowed to adjust the image, font, etc etc etc.
If I were doing a small banner and it was all custom with several re-dos it could range anywhere from $5 to $20 and upwards if there were multiple/varied graphics involved.
There are several freelance sites where you can find artists who may work for less. Just be careful, you get what you pay for. Bartering is the way to go! In this case free does not equal cheap
Katherine Deane: Where can I go?
Adaline Raine: Me! ::laughs:: I actually love making graphics. When I hit a spell with no words or I’m really overwhelmed I take a time out to do banners and such. It is so relaxing for me and I enjoy seeing them all over the net. Image maps are a lot of fun too! I am happy to work out a deal.
I also make custom graphics when someone comes to visit my blog that he/she is welcome to keep as well as cover reveals or spot lights. We both win here since my guest gets a cool memento and I have a blog post
Anthony (The Cover Artisan): I have found that you can pretty much find a professional that specializes in any specific area of graphic arts. I feel that when looking for a designer take account of what their strong skills are and play on that side of things. I like to consider myself a specialist when it comes to the creation of media covers. I do very well at other things but I know that my strong suit is within the design and construction of an attention grabbing cover.
Katherine Deane: Adaline, I loved your graphics for the Spank or Treat Blog Hop! That was fantastic!
And your new blog design looks great!
Anthony, I adored the covers you made for my fellow spanking romance authors. They are absolutely beautiful! Here’s a few I really liked.
Katherine Deane: What is your biggest tip for new authors and bloggers pertaining to graphics and images?
Adaline Raine: Don’t stress about them. The simpler design the better. Some of the most beautiful and eye-catching displays are one photo and straight to the point wording.
Anthony (The Cover Artisan): I could not agree more with Adaline, I think that the secret is to relax and visualize your artwork in the most simple form. One of the biggest challenges I face when doing a cover is when the author and their superior imagination takes hold and they want so many elements added to the cover that it becomes very busy and cluttered. I suggest that you take all the key elements that you want to include and extract the most important few. A phrase that I use often is “Simplicity is key: You can always add paint but it is much harder to remove it”.
Katherine Deane: Thank you both for taking the time to share your graphics experience. You are both very talented in your fields, and I cannot wait to work with you again! Thanks for sharing with all of us!
Adaline Raine: I had a great time being here with both of you! I would love to get together again soon.
Anthony (The Cover Artisan): It has been great hanging out with you ladies, I appreciate all the input that you provided as well as letting me share a few tips of my own. Graphic design is such an overlooked but integral part of just about everything happening this day and age and I love that you would do a feature on the topic. Thank you very much Adaline and Katherine, lets keep in touch! Cheers!
There is a lot of fantastic information to go through, I know. I can’t wait to check out all these sites. So far, my favorite is 123rf. But I am open to trying some new ones! And I am definitely looking forward to working with these two with the bigger stuff I just cannot do on my own.
So, what did you think? Do you have a graphics question or comment? Another favorite site to share? Let’s start the discussion. 🙂
Our fantastic hosts:
Anthony, (The Cover Artisan)
Adaline Raine is an avid reader of spanking romance and is known for reviewing every book she touches! She is currently working on a new novel about a sexy professor and his student with a twist!
Her first title, Marked by the Alpha, literally shows us an alpha male werewolf turning his chosen mate over his knee for some well needed attitude adjusting.
Adaline’s second title, Becoming a Lady, showcases spankings in a historical setting. Our lovely main character is poor and abused so when a tall man drugs her and steals her away from her village she is confused by his actions. He takes his time to teach and guide but his methods include his hand and her hind.
Adaline has also become known for her love of creating graphics for others. She has designed custom banners and buttons for various blog hops throughout the community including “Spank or Treat 2013” and “Winter Spanks 2014” as well as the headers and backgrounds at Bratty Addy. Her exclusive feature, Addy’s Couch takes guests books covers and fashions them into a one-of a kind piece for fun or promotional purposes. Contact Adaline if you would like her to create something for you!
You can also find her on Twitter handle Adaline_Raine or on Facebook Raine.Adaline