I put another of my short stories on Wattpad. For this one, I used a different source for the cover. Actually, I used several sources. So what free images are available on the internet to create your own covers outside of classical paintings?
Photos of figurines
Among art nouveau figurines or older porcelain statuettes, there are many fascinating items. Whenever they are sold at auctions or on ebay, the sellers put up photos on the web. Nobody claims those photos’ copyrights. What is important for the owners is the item itself, so I figured the photos are free. Unfortunately, not too many good photos exist, but you can find one to fit your story if you look long enough.
I sometimes use those images as backgrounds for my covers. I don’t use the entire image, just fragments of it. Sometimes I make tiles to cover the area I need for the background and then copy and paste my main image on top. You can see both elements – a figurine and an abstract background – in the cover for my short fantasy story Pony Exchange. Read here.
This cover looks funky, almost childish, with a trace of humor. It might be a tad too gaudy. I think it echoes the feel of the story. I first went with a different cover – of a real life pony. It was a beautiful image from a private blog. I don’t have rights to it and I’d definitely give the photographer credit. But upon consideration I decided not to use it. It was too much ‘real life’ while the story is pure imagination.
Sometimes, abstract pictures can serve as covers themselves. Not the ones painted by an artist but the abstract images you see on a slice of rock. You can find them if you look for certain minerals and stones. Pinterest has many amazing images. I used one of amber (cropped) for my older fantasy story Amber Spirit. Read here. The story had nothing to do with amber but it has the word ‘amber’ in the title and it mentions the color. And the image is amazing.
The internet has galore of outstanding images, starting from the paintings from the middle ages and ending with the photos of now. It’s kind-of cheating to use a modern photo from a blog, but if the photographer is not a professional, he doesn’t really care. Besides, in many cases, you might have taken the same photo yourself if you traveled to the same destination. To tell the truth, I haven’t used such photos. But I’m going to use an old landscape painting for one of my future stories.
Many are free. You can use them as backgrounds as well or as the main image. I haven’t tried those.
To add more professional looking texts for the titles and author’s name, I started using FotoFlexer. I use it online. It’s a free mid-level image manipulating software. The results are not perfect bit the texts added in FotoFlexer look better than the ones from Paint. FotoFlexer also has some image editing capabilities. You can smooth wrinkles, fix blemishes. I just started using it so I don’t know all the functions, but it looks promising.
Unfortunately, everything I talked about in this post and the previous one will help you create free covers for historical fiction or fantasy, especially fantasy set in a quasi-historical time and place. For a sci-fi story or for modern fiction, you need modern imagery. Some of it is cheap on Dreamstime.com or other online photo buckets, but if you want a complex image, you need an artist.