Now that you have the images you want for your cover and a design in mind, it’s time to edit images. Before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s make sure you have all you need in place. Do you:

Have public-domain pictures, or have pictures to use with consent of the owners?

Have either Jasc Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop and a manual for your program?

Have a quiet place to work where you can say “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!” without anyone bothering you?

Have about 8 hours to work on a complicated cover image set?

A computer that can handle the program without overheating?

At least two packs of cigarettes (if you smoke), easy snacks that can be eaten by hand with no staining dust/grease, plenty of drinks, and relaxing music?

Once you have all that, you can work. Do not drink alcohol. Do not do drugs. I don’t care if you’re a professional graphic design artist and have done this a thousand times before, you need a clear head. Remember that the cover is the first thing prospective readers see, and, wrong as it may be, everyone judges a book by its cover.

Now today we’re just prepping the images. If you have PhotoShop and know how to use it, great. Since this lesson is aimed at first-timers, let’s use PaintShop pro. It’s a thousand times easier to learn, easier to use, and takes up much less space on your computer.

1. Select An Image to Edit

So, open Jasc, and open up for first image:


If you have a lot in the image and only a need a small part of it, you will need to select the selection tool, and then use it to select the area you wish you use, then cut it to make a new picture.

2. Make a Background Transparent 

Now the first thing to do if you want this to have a transparent background is fill the background into one color. Click the filler tool:


Then make sure you select one solid color for the background


And simply click the background. It’s filled.

Here is where Jasc falls short. It has a transparency tool, but frankly it doesn’t work well. So you have to go online. I like Free Online Image Editor 

Follow their steps to make it transparent and save it as GIF. From now on, use the GIF for editing.

Now, if you’re using a commercial image, often there will be “crackle” around the object. As in the background fill will miss things, and you will have to color it by hand. Photoshop is much better for this, but for beginners with Jasc, magnify the original JPG image:


Next you want to select the paintbrush tool and make it small. It should still be in the same color as your background:


Simply go around the edges and anything that is not part of the outline of the object you wanted should be colored in to match the background. Go slow, do not EVER use the fill tool for this, and every so often go back to a 100% zoom to see any visible mistakes you go.

Once done with that, go back to the online editor and make the background transparent, it should now be crackle-free!

3. Editing Color and Contrast

Next you want all your images in your collage to have the same contrast, and brightness, and often the same color balance. In Jasc, open your transparent GIF or the PNG or JPEG you’re working with and select ADJUST then COLOR BALANCE.


Do not use any all-in one tools, select COLOR BALANCE for full color pictures or GREY WORLD COLOR BANCE for black and white such as we are using.


Here is where you have to play around and get to know your program. Play around with the color balance dial, turning it up or down, see what works best. NO CHANGES WILL BE SAVED AUTOMATICALLY and you can always undo any change.

Here is the black and white balance:


And here is the color:


For color, greyscale, brightness, contrast, each pulls up a similar dialog box with a setting slide. You have to play around and find what works best on your image and feels right. Remember the settings! You’ll want all the images in your collage to be similar.

Go ahead and play around. Try out each and every option until you know what they do. That is the single best way to learn how to use it. Whenever you find the settings you want, once done, be sure to save it:


4. Layering Images

You will often have to put your object with a transparent background onto a different background. This can be done very simply.

First open both images in Jasc. Then click on the image you want to past and hit CTL+C or select EDIT then CUT.

Then click on the background image, and select EDIT then PASTE, then PASTE AS NEW SELECTION:


The cut image will appear over the background and you can move it around until it is seated where you want. Once you have it in place you must save it. ALWAYS save it under a new name, so if you need to change it you have the two original images to work with. Save it as JPG, agree to save all layers as a single image, rename. 

Once you close the cut image it will prompt if you wish to save it. Click no, and you retain the image.

Play around and practice this. This is all you have to do today. Remember what colors do to the human mind, remember to keep edges clean, colors matching, brightness and contrast consistent across all images.

Take your time doing this. Save images at every stage so you have spares. Play around. Make mistakes, learn from them. The next time we will be bringing these images together in a stellar cover. Happy editing!