There is No Box

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Autobiography Book Cover
“Wow, I must be really grown up now!”  So sayeth my wise child on her seventh birthday. She holds her head up high as she inspects the table decorated with such grown-up gifts as flowers, balloons, and fancy treats from the bakery.  I can’t help but think about how much she is just like me. Partly, because she tries so hard to be. The other part, well, lets just say you can’t fight genetics. She’s right- most of growing up is fun, especially dreaming about what you want to be when you grow up. But growing up isn’t all roses. After all, I’m writing this at 3am because my eight-week old baby prioritizes eating over my need for beauty sleep and general sanity. What nerve! Doesn’t he know I have my thirties to plan out? I’m just coming off the crazy train of my twenties and I have a hell of a lot of baggage to unpack. My life “thus far” has consisted more of what I couldn’t do or be rather than what I could. Self limitations came in the form of bad relationships, missed opportunities, and lengthy pity parties. Crawling out of that hole meant re-writing my life story from way outside the box. Forget the box. There is no box.

Creating the book cover for my autobiography should have been a simple two-star assignment. But for a wannabe writer, I dug in deep. The design is purposeful, from the simple curved edge frame to the dual-color fonts and the black and white picture. Minimalist in nature, I kept the design simple and subtle with a plain white background that the picture layered well onto. Here’s the technical difficulties…err um… details:

First I tried to use Gimp for the first time, sans tutorials. Let’s say I put a pin in that idea, and I’ll come back to it later. I decided instead to use a standby, nearly analog tool- MS Paint. Yes, I did almost everything in Paint. Here’s how it went:

  1. Created a white canvas the size and dimension I wanted.
  2. Pasted my photo and placed where I desired.
  3. Clicked on “add text” and added the four lines separately, as they varied in font, size, and color.
  4. For the shadow effect on the 3rd line, I literally just inserted one word on top of the other, at a slightly off angle, and a different color.

After I saved this image, I loaded it into Picnik to see which border I would add and decided on the rounded edge border with a black background. This corner framing was perfect for my title.

Now for a brief venting about GIMP. First of all, it took me forever to find the select tool to move the layers around with. I can hear your laughter, and I’m joining you bitterly. Once that embarrassingly difficult task was accomplished, I tried creating my layers the way I was use to in other programs only to realize how different this one was. I recognize most of the tools, but its going to take watching a tutorial or two and playing around until I’m comfortable. Which I am not yet, but I am look forward to getting there because I do prefer working with layers.

So before I turn thirty, I’m going to work this newbie-anxiety out of my system, thanks to my DS106 community. If only they could do the same for the baby weight.

(Click here to read the details of the assignment and to see other submissions.)

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