Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Writer Learns How to Combine JPG Images and Create PDFs

      This week I’ve learned a new skill. I found a way to pull together the covers of my three fantasy novels into a single image for posting on Facebook and other social media.

      For the techy-minded among you, creating a book-cover-collage JPG would be easy, I’m sure. But I had to logic through the steps, using the software that was available to me: much of it old, or free. These are the tools I used:

            WordPerfect 9.0 (copyright 1996–1999 Corel Corporation)
            PrimoPDF 5.1 (copyright 1997–2009 by Nitro PDF)
            Neevia Document Converter (copyright 1999–2012 by Neevia)
            ZoomBrowser EX 5.0 (copyright 1996–2004 by Canon Inc.)

      I’ve never learned to manipulate images in Microsoft Word, but in WordPerfect it’s easy. To make my Facebook author page banner (what Facebook calls a “cover”), I began with a beautiful sunset-on-the-beach photo, a JPG that I borrowed from a Facebook friend. After opening the beach photo in WordPerfect, I opened each cover image for the WATERSPELL trilogy. WordPerfect let me position each book cover, side by side on top of the beach photo, all three books shifted slightly to the right to leave a space for my Facebook profile picture or icon.

      The resulting four-element image (three book covers against background photo), I saved as a WordPerfect document (.wpd). Then I “printed” it, choosing PrimoPDF as the “printer” in place of the laser or inkjet printer that I use for most of my print-outs. “Printing” the WordPerfect document with PrimoPDF had the effect of creating a PDF file.

      Next step: I used the Neevia Document Converter online to convert the PDF file to a JPG.

      After downloading the finished JPG, I used ZoomBrowser EX 5.0 (software that came with the Canon digital camera I got for Christmas 2005) to crop the image to the proper dimensions for a Facebook banner or cover: 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels high. The JPG image I was working from was more than twice the size that I needed for my Facebook banner, so I cropped the JPG to roughly 1750 x 650 pixels, knowing that Facebook would shrink it as needed to fit the space they allow for the “cover photo.”

      From there, it was simply a matter of uploading my newly made three-book banner to use as my Facebook page’s cover photo. I think it turned out great. And I did it all with old software that I’d owned for years, augmented by free software I found online. Not a penny was spent out of pocket.

      You techy types may howl with laughter. But as a writer who doesn’t generally work with images, I am proud of myself for figuring out a way to combine the three book covers of my WATERSPELL trilogy into a single, correctly proportioned image to use on Facebook and elsewhere. Digital publishing is teaching me (forcing me to acquire) many new computer skills. I love it. ☺

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