Fun With Photoshop

Romance Writer WeeklyOur question for this week is “Have you tried any new activity lately? Learn to sew, garden, paint, cook? Binge watch TV? And how is your new hobby helping your writing?”

What I’ve been working on is not exactly a new activity for me. I’ve played with Photoshop a fair amount of the years — but the operative word here is “play.” The last few months, I’ve been doing some serious study to learn how to manipulate the program. How does it help my writing? Well, it doesn’t. At least not directly. It does give me a chance to do something creative that isn’t my book, which means it helps me refill the well somewhat.

There’s another purpose, though. Since the middle of March, I’ve been posting a quote six days a week on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I’ve also been doing the layout, including art. With few exceptions, I’m not using pre-made frames, but picking and tweaking photos or background textures. I do all that with Adobe Photoshop. Yes, it’s an indulgence to a certain extension. But, Canva costs $12.95 a month (paid monthly). I was able to get an Adobe package which costs $29.99 a month. This includes not just Photoshop, but InDesign, Illustrator, full Adobe Acrobat, some video editing programs, and access to all the fonts my heart desires. Okay, not all because I’m always seeing cool ones I want, but there are a lot in that library.

But the real reason for learning Photoshop? Composites. Every time you pick up a romance novel, the cover is most likely a composite. The models are shot on a neutral set, you add in some backgrounds, a few lighting effects, the text, and you have a cover. Okay, it’s not as simple as that, and it’s real easy turn out something that could be subject to cover snark. But when everything works? That is fun.

So I’ve been doing a number of tutorials, some of which I post on my facebook account as works in progress. It is fun to go from this:

Dragon Tamer before Background removal

To this: 

It doesn’t look as if I just plopped a bunch of cutouts together, which I’m quite proud of. This took around 20 hours to put together, watching the video tutorial over and over, re-doing parts several times. I’m still not completely happy with it. But considering this is the most complicated piece I’ve done to date, I think I’m doing well.  

Why spend the effort and energy? Doing my own covers. Yes, I’m serious. I know folks say you shouldn’t, But my big requirement is, “Can I do this without embarrassing myself?” At this point, I think the answer is yes. So, quite soon, you’ll see a revised cover for The Accidental Viscountess, as well as a cover reveal for To Lure a Lord. A Christmas novella is in the works as well, so I’ll be spending quite a bit of time in Photoshop over the next few months. Maybe I’ll do my own Christmas cards …

What about you? Have you taken up any new hobbies or done something different lately? Let me know in the comments. Then, hop on over to visit Jenna Da Sie to see what she’s been occupying her time with (aside from writing, of course).

Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy.