To work with pictures, you’ll need a photo editor like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Corel PaintShop Pro, Pixelmator, or Gimp. For Kindle-only publishing, Photoshop Elements should do fine. Besides having everything you’re likely to need for Kindle pictures, it maintains the legendary quality of the Photoshop brand, is far less intimidating than its parent program, and is very reasonably priced. You can also find lots of help for it.
For publishing that includes print, Photoshop—not Elements—is no doubt the most capable program you can find. It now comes in two versions. Photoshop CC—Creative Cloud—is the current and most advanced version but is available only by subscription. Photoshop CS—Creative Suite—is the preceding version, still available for outright purchase. That is what I originally used for work on this book and is what I’ve most heavily featured in it.
When I talk about Photoshop without distinguishing the version, I’m talking about CS and Elements—and usually CC as well, though notes on differences will have to wait for a future revision. Specific versions I discuss are Photoshop CS6 and Photoshop Elements 11. Though most of the screenshots here are taken from Photoshop CS, you’ll usually find a similar dialog box in the Expert mode of Photoshop Elements.
By the way, don’t be fooled about this book’s coverage by the name Photoshop, or by it commonly being called a photo editor, or by my many example photos. This book is not just about photos, or even primarily so. Photoshop is the stalwart of graphic artists, art directors, illustrators, and photographers alike. The techniques I describe are ones I’ve learned from using it for everything from photos to illustrations for my own children’s picture books. If photos make up the bulk of my examples, it’s only because I’m no illustrator myself, while I can use my own photos without permission!
In writing this book, I’ve tried to assume that you know little or nothing about dealing with pictures. So, I start by explaining basic properties like format, resolution, and color mode, and then provide a basic course in picture editing. I also give tips on getting the best results from your camera or scanner.
Many of you will want to include pictures in Kindle books that you compose in Microsoft Word. That may well be the most treacherous program you could use for this purpose—but I’ll show you how to do it safely and keep Word from degrading your pictures. (To make sure I got it right, I composed this book in Word.)
Kindle books are built from HTML—the common language of Web pages and ebooks—along with its companion language, CSS. This code provides instructions that help define how pictures in your Kindle book are displayed. So, for those of you with suitable software, workflow, and skills, I’ll also give tips on how to optimize your code for pictures on Kindle.
My focus here is on pictures used to illustrate a book with flowing text—text that adjusts its layout to different screens and also to different font sizes, margins, or spacing chosen by the user. But Amazon offers another kind of book as well: fixed format. In this kind, each page has a static layout and is simply reduced or enlarged to fit the screen.
Though there are disadvantages to fixed format, it may in some ways be the better choice for books featuring pictures more than text. So, toward the end of this book, I discuss a couple of specialized programs you can use to produce Kindle books of this kind, including the Kindle Comic Creator. It’s not just for comics!
Other topics of special interest include tables, screenshots, transparency, children’s books, poetry, cover images, and how to submit your picture files to Amazon KDP.