THE PROBLEM WITH EBOOK COVER SOFTWARE
eBook cover software that I have seen in the past, the graphics that they generate were never up to par. Though claiming to use a 3D rendering engine, graphics created by ebook cover software are always very flat in color, very poor in lighting effects, and also very rough around the edges.
Your product graphic deosn’t look real at all. So you never really get to have that nice, photo-realistic ebook cover graphic.
I can name a few names, but I think you can easily do a few Google search and find them.
That is why I have always used Photoshop for my ebook covers. With Photoshop, you can apply filters, styles, effects and you will have a nicer, more real looking ebook covers.
AN EBOOK COVER SOFTWARE AS GOOD AS PHOTOHOP?
But in the past two weeks, I have been checking out another ebook cover software. I make it appoint to check the sample output graphics before I check out the software more thoroughly. What I saw surprised me. It is nothing like what I have seen from any other ebook cover software.
My first thought was, “No way! They must have use Photoshop, GIMP and Paintshop Pro for this.”
But that was just my thought. I still don’t know the truth. So I thought I’d check it out. I downloaded the trial version and tried it out. And what do you know, they do generate nicer ebook cover graphics. I am so happy with their e-covers that I upgraded from a trial version to a full version.
And the software is called Box Shot 3D.
With Box Shot 3D, you can create graphics like DVD, CD, boxes (four variations), book, magazine, brochure and also stand up images (like membership card, website screen shot, photo, etc). By the way, I was also told that current version users will get a free upgrade to
4.9 2.9 (correction), which will include a spiral bound e-cover.
Unlike other 3D ebook cover software, Box Shot 3D has a much more superior rendering engine. That means, the developers spent a lot of time perfecting the final output graphics of your e-covers. When editing the ebook cover in the software, it may not look so nice. That is to make it lightweight so that you doesn’t encounter hiccups when editing your e-cover. But when you are done and it’s time to render the final output, you will get a polished, photo-realistic, 3D-looking ebook cover.
To really put this to the test, I just had to compare ebook covers created by Box Shot 3D with a solution based on Photoshop Action scripts.
So I created two ebook covers using the two methods, Box Shot 3D and Photoshop Action. I try to make them as close as possible. Both of them uses the same ebook cover design, both of them are the same size and both are facing the same angle (almost – I did my best).
I don’t know about you, but Box Shot 3D looks better to me. See the spine, it looks more of a curve. The shape, it also looks more real with better perspective. The one using Photoshop Action script does look a bit distorted.
And the shadow, it falls and fades away much nicer in Box Shot 3D. Sure does look like a real shadow. The one generated with a Photoshop Action, the shadows seems flat and not so real.
CREATING A 360-DEGREE ROTATING PRODUCT VIEW
Here’s another thing that I like about Box Shot 3D – being a 3D rendering software.
What’s good about a 3D engine is that you can create e-covers from any angle or view. You can create a graphic of your product from any 360 degree angle, and even any 90 degree vertical view. In layman’s term, you can view your product from the top, back, front or side, any side.
Using a command line feature (which means I can run software using the C: prompt), I was able to create 36 different images and arrange them into an animation. Now I have a turning product animation.
Now, the image below was created using Image Ready and only uses the GIF graphic format. And on top of that, I only generated 36 graphics, a view for every 10 degree. You can create a much smoother animation if you use Flash together with a full 360 images.
A PACKAGED PRODUCT IMAGE GRAPHIC
I am sure you have seen an image of a packaged product. To tell you the truth, I don’t really like the ones created with Photoshop. Clearly, everything is out of angle and perspective and doesn’t really look real at all.
With Box Shot 3D, you can really create product images one after the other, all with the right angle and perspective. And later, you can bring them together in one single image.
Of course this may require advance graphic editing skills and may take some time. But with some determination, you can have the perfect packaged product.
IT’S NOT ALL GOOD – SOME CONS…
Now, here’s the downside though. Because Box Shot 3D uses 3D rendering to generate the graphics, it may take a few minutes to get your ebook cover created. I mean, first you choose styles, designs, lightings, shadows, view angles, special effects, quality and the rest. And when you are done and happy with the settings, you hit the Render button.
Rendering an e-cover graphic can take from 1 minute to even 10 minutes, depending on your settings and the quality you choose. Being able to generate graphics up to 4000 by 4000 pixels, obviously it takes longer to generate higher quality ebook covers.
DON’T THROW AWAY YOUR PHOTOSHOP ACTIONS JUST YET…
If you already have ebook cover solution based on Photoshop Action scripts, don’t throw them out just yet. I am sure some readers are crying out, “Kidino, I already have DIY eBook Cover (or product ABC or product DEF, etc). Why should I get Box Shot 3D?”
Well, that is entirely up to you. I don’t want to force you into making decisions you feel unnecessary.
But if you ask me, I take both. Using Photoshop Action scripts, you get a wider range of e-covers to create. My DIY eBook Cover has 51 different designs, including soda cans, memory cards, iPod, PDA and a few others. At the moment Box Shot 3D has 21 different e-covers you can create.
And also, using Phototshop Actions, it’s a lot faster too. What takes 3 minutes in Box Shot 3D may only take 5 seconds in Photoshop.
But on the other hand, with Box Shot 3D, you get the flexibility of the 3D rendering engine. With a number of variables to control (shadow, light, angle, etc) you can create ebook covers from any view you want. With the superior 3D rendering, you also get a better looking, more real e-cover graphic.
And I think those are really the cool factors.
THE ANSWER FOR NON-PHOTOSHOP USERS (gimp, paintshop, photoplus, pixia, paint.net, etc)
But if you don’t have Photoshop, or you are the user of other graphic manipulation software, you may want to consider this. My readers have been writing to me asking about an e-cover solution for non-Photoshop users. Some of them asked if DIY eBook Cover would work with their graphic software, which is not Photoshop. And I hate to disappoint them, but in DIY eBook Cover, Photoshop is a requirement.
But I can’t deny the fact that there are hundreds of other image manipulation software out there other than Photoshop. And they are just as good, maybe better. And these software has thousands or loyal users.
There’s GIMP, Paint Shop Pro, Paint.Net, PhotoPlus, and many more. If users of these software have been left in the dark with Photoshop-only e-cover solutions, or even with poor graphics from ebook cover software, then they can be glad that there’s Box Shot 3D now.
So as my final answer, I give Box Shot Pro a 4-star (out of 5) rating.