Self-Publishing: Perfecting Pictures

More Tales from the Teddies of Rosehill Cottage - Maggie Shaw - Eregendal

The children’s storybook More Tales from The Teddies of Rosehill Cottage is packed with pictures, mostly photographic images with border edging. This gives the book the feel of leafing through a photo album as you read the stories. What a challenge creating those images can be.

I used a green screen background for my first photos of the teddies, but soon changed that. Standard background removal apps left a ghostly green glow around all the furry toys, making the photos useless. The solution was to use a cheap white singe bedsheet instead. The glow vanished and the toy portraits were easy to place in the many different image montages.

The white background sheet hung from a tubular metal frame with clips holding it in place. Part of the sheet was draped over a mobile trolley table which provided a shelf to support the teddies and toys in their poses. Two muslin-covered umbrella photographic spotlights lit the models.

All the toy photos were taken using an I-Pad mini. I had tried other devices, but found the iPad easy to use to create great quality images. As the iPad didn’t have a fitting to attach it to a standard camera tripod, I supported it on a music stand to avoid camera shake when pressing the shutter button.

The final pictures used in the book were created from many elements using three programs: a Pro subscription to Canva, a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, and Paint 3D. Other free to use web-based apps were used afterwards to increase the dots per inch (DPI) of some images for physical print copies, and to reduce the file sizes of all the images for converting the book to an e-pub.

A word of warning is appropriate here about using others’ artwork for your cover and content. Be careful where you source images from and check each image licence to make sure it covers you for the use you intend. Image libraries have apps which crawl the internet looking for licence infringements and will demand recompense if you haven’t paid the correct fee. It is not a defence to say you downloaded the image from a free image library website as that may well be using the image without a licence too.

Getting a proof is a must when printing physical books that contain a lot of images. As well as checking the text, it is vital to adjust image lay-out and colour balance. Correcting parameters such as sharpness, fade and colour saturation can really improve the look of an image on the printed page. The artwork corrections for More Tales from The Teddies of Rosehill Cottage took about half a day to make after seeing the printed results in the first proof.

The illustrations in More Tales took over two weeks to create. A lot of work is involved in designing vivid and engaging artwork for a children’s book. But if you have an eye for layout and detail, it can be a very rewarding task in the process of creating an illustrated book.

Happy self-publishing.


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