Standard Ebooks

Art Manual

General notes

  • When you create a new Standard Ebooks draft using the create-draft tool, you’ll already have templates for the cover and titlepage images present in DRAFT-ROOT/images/. The text in the SVG files is represented as text, not paths, so you can edit them using a text editor and not an SVG editor. Then, the build-images tool converts these text-based source images into path-based compiled images, for distribution in the final epub file. We do this so to avoid having to distribute the font files along with the epub.

  • To develop cover and titlepage images, you must have the free League Spartan and Sorts Mill Goudy fonts installed on your system.

Complete list of files

A complete set of image source files consists of:

  • DRAFT-ROOT/images/cover.source.jpg: The full source image used for the cover art, in as high a resolution as possible. Can be of any image format, but typically we end up with JPGs.

  • DRAFT-ROOT/images/cover.jpg: A cropped part of the source image that will serve as the actual image file we use in the cover. Must be exactly 1400w × 2100h.

  • DRAFT-ROOT/images/cover.svg: The SVG source file for the cover, with any text represented as actual, editable text. Must be exactly 1400w × 2100h pixels. Since the final cover image SVG has the text converted to paths, we keep this file around to make it easier to make changes to the cover in the future.

  • DRAFT-ROOT/src/epub/images/cover.svg: The final SVG cover image. This image should be exactly like DRAFT-ROOT/images/cover.svg, but with the text converted to paths.

    This image is generated by the build-images tool.

  • DRAFT-ROOT/images/titlepage.svg: The SVG source file for the titlepage, with any text represented as actual, editable text. Must be exactly 1400 pixels wide, but the height must exactly match the text height plus some padding (described below).

  • DRAFT-ROOT/src/epub/images/titlepage.svg: The final SVG titlepage image, with text converted to paths just like the cover page.

    This image is generated by the build-images tool.

The cover image

There are three cover image templates available to you based on how long the ebook’s title is. create-draft tries to guess which one to use, but it may not be correct. If your novel title is too long to fit in the template create-draft picked for you, you can try a different cover image template. They’re located in the Standard Ebooks tools templates/ folder.

To edit DRAFT-ROOT/images/cover.svg, simply open it with your favorite text editor. Replace “NOVEL” with your novel’s title and “AUTHOR” with the author.

Only use a text editor to edit cover.svg, not an SVG editing program like Inkscape. SVG editors like Inkscape often reformat SVGs and insert all sorts of useless metadata.

You must have the free League Spartan font installed on your system for the cover to render and build correctly.

Cover image SVG rules

  • Both the title and author are in League Spartan font with 5px letter spacing in ALL CAPS.

  • The left and right sides of the black title box must have at least 40px padding. More padding is preferrable over cramming the title in.

  • For the title lines:

    • One-line titles: the line is 80px tall. Example.

    • Two-line titles: each line is 80px tall, and the second title line is 20px below the first line. Example.

    • Two-line, very long titles: each line is 60px tall, and the second line is 20px below the first line. Example.

    • Two-line, extremely long titles: each line is 50px tall, and the second line is 20px below the first line. Example.

  • For the author lines:

    • The first author line begins 60px below the last title line.

    • One-line authors: the line is 40px tall.

    • Two-line authors: each line is 40px tall, and the second author line is 20px below the first line.

  • Once the author and title lines are the correct distance from each other, the group of both should be horizontally centered in the black title box.

  • cover.svg uses cover.jpg as the canvas background.

  • cover.jpg is exactly 1400w × 2100h pixels, and should be compressed to be no larger than one megabyte. This might not always be possible while maintining an acceptable level of image quality, but keeping the file size of cover.jpg as small as possible is desirable.

  • Because cover.jpg is a large image, you should source it from a high-quality scan. This might not always be possible, so it’s allowed to upscale the source image a small amount. But, for example, don’t use a 300w × 500h image as a source; that wouldn’t scale up well.

Cover image artwork rules

Once you’ve set up cover.svg, it’s time to find a suitable fine art painting to use for the cover image.

The paintings we use are all in the U.S. public domain (PD). Your task is to locate a painting suitable for the kind of book you’re producing, and then demonstrate that the painting is indeed in the U.S. public domain.

U.S. copyright law is complicated. Because of this, we require that you provide a link to a page scan of a 1922-or-older book that reproduces the painting you selected. This is a hard requirement to demonstrate that the painting you selected is in fact in the U.S. public domain. Just because a painting is very old, or Wikipedia says it’s PD, or it’s PD in a country besides the U.S., doesn’t necessarily mean it actually is PD in the U.S.

The painting you select must be a fine-art oil painting. We require this to maintain a consistency in the overall style of all of our covers.

Tips for location 1922-or-older reproductions of cover art

To actually demonstrate that a painting is PD, you must locate a reproduction of that painting in a 1922-or-older book.

This can be quite difficult. Many people find this to be the most time-consuming part of the ebook production process.

Because of the difficulty, finding suitable cover at is all about compromise. You’re unlikely to find the perfect cover image. You’ll find a lot of paintings that would be great matches, but that you can’t find reproductions of and thus we can’t use. So, be ready to compromise.

General tips

  • Before you can go looking for a reproduction of a specific painting to prove its PD status, you have to find a suitable painting to begin with. Wikiart.org is a great resource to search paintings by keyword. Museum online collections are another good place to look for inspiration. Once you find a potential candidate, then you can start researching its PD status.

  • When searching for cover art, remember that artist names and painting titles may be spelled in many different ways. Often a painting went by multiple titles, or if the title was not in English, by many different translations. Your best bet is to simply search for an artist’s last name, and not the painting title.

  • Once you locate a book with reproductions, open the book up in thumbnail view and quickly eyeball the pages to see if the artwork is reproduced there.

  • Note that if your IP address is not in the U.S., many book archives like Google Books and HathiTrust may disable book previews.

  • Many museum online catalogs have a “bibliography” or “references” section for each painting in their collection. This is usually a list of books in which the painting was either mentioned or reproduced. This is a good shortcut to finding the names of books in which a painting was reproduced, and if you’re lucky, a search for the book title in Google Books will turn up scans.

  • In cover.svg, the black title and author box always goes in the lower half of the work. Thus, paintings in which some important detail would be obscured by the box cannot be used.

Gotchas

  • Sometimes the catalog record for a book has an incorrect publication year. Please verify the page scan of the copyright page to ensure the book is 1922 or older.

  • In older books it was common to have etchings of paintings. Etchings are not strict reproductions, and so we cannot count them when researching PD status.

  • Oftentimes painters would produce several different versions of the same artwork. You must carefully compare the reproduction in the page scan with the high-resolution artwork scan you found to ensure they are the same painting. Small details like the position of trees, clouds, reflections, or water are good ways to check if the painting is identical, or if you’re looking at a different version.

PD research step-by-step

  1. Your first stop should be Google Books. Google Books allows you to filter results so that you only see 1922-or-older books. You can use this shortcut to search Google Books for 1922-or-older books.

    Google Books is a convenient first stop because its thumbnail view is very fast, and it does a better job of highlighting search results than HathiTrust or Internet Archive.

  2. If you can’t find anything on Google Books, next go to HathiTrust. HathiTrust’s thumbnail view is much slower, but it has a different catalog than Google Books does. You can use this shortcut to search HathiTrust for 1922-or-older books.

  3. Lastly, try the Internet Archive. IA has a similar catalog as Google Books, but you may still find something there. You can use this shortcut to search the Internet Archive for 1922-or-older books.

  4. Once you’ve found a reproduction of your artwork in a 1922-or-older book, you need to find a high-resolution color scan that we can use for the cover. Various museum sites can be good for this, along with Wikimedia Commons, Google Art Project, and Wikiart.org.

PD research resources

You may find these resources helpful in your PD research:

Cover art FAQs

  • I found a great painting, and Wikipedia says it’s public domain, but I can’t find a reproduction in a book. Can I use it?

    No. You must find a reproduction of your selected painting in a book published in 1922 or earlier.

  • I found a great painting, and it’s really old, and the author died a long time ago, but I can’t find a reproduction in a book. Can I use it?

    No. You must find a reproduction of your selected painting in a book published in 1922 or earlier.

  • I’ve found a reproduction in a book, but the book is from 1923. Is that OK?

    No. You must find a reproduction of your selected painting in a book published in 1922 or earlier.

  • I’ve found scan on a museum site. Is that OK?

    No. You must find a reproduction of your selected painting in a book published in 1922 or earlier.

  • But...

    No. You must find a reproduction of your selected painting in a book published in 1922 or earlier.

Museums with explicit CC0 collections

Images that are explicitly marked as CC0 from these museums can be used without further research. Not all of their images are CC0, you must confirm the presence of a CC0 license on the specific image you want to use.

  • Rijksmuseum (Open the "Object Data" section and check they "Copyright" entry under the "Acquisition and right" section to confirm CC0)

  • Finnish National Gallery via Europeana (Use the "View at" link under the "Find out more" header to confirm CC0 license at the museum's site)

  • Met Museum (CC0 items have the CC0 logo under the image)

Cover image step-by-step

  1. Locate an appropriate high-resolution public domain work to use as the cover image background. Name this unchanged file DRAFT-ROOT/images/cover.source.jpg (or .png, or .bmp, or whatever the original file format is).

  2. Crop or scale the source image to create a 1400w × 2100h image that will be the actual cover background. Name this file DRAFT-ROOT/images/cover.jpg and save it at 75% compression (if that looks good enough).

  3. If you used the create-draft script to initialize your repository, then DRAFT-ROOT/images/cover.svg is initialized with the work title and author and what should be the correct font size. If not, copy the cover image template from SE-ROOT/tools/templates/cover.svg into the same directory as cover.jpg. Open your working copy of DRAFT-ROOT/images/cover.svg with a text editor and edit the work name and author, and remove any unused template CSS.

  4. Finally, generate DRAFT-ROOT/src/epub/images/cover.svg by running the build-images tool. (This script also generates the titlepage images, if available.)

The titlepage image

create-draft creates a titlepage image template for you that is correctly sized and arranged, and no more editing should be necessary. If you prefer to create one by hand, here are the various requirements for titlepage images.

To edit DRAFT-ROOT/images/titlepage.svg, simply open it with your favorite text editor.

Only use a text editor to edit cover.svg, not an SVG editing program like Inkscape. SVG editors like Inkscape often reformat SVGs and insert all sorts of useless metadata.

You must have the free League Spartan and Sorts Mill Goudy Italic font installed on your system for the titlepage to render and build correctly.

Titlepage image SVG rules

  • The title, author, and the names of other contributors are in League Spartan font with 5px letter spacing in ALL CAPS.

  • Do not include subtitles in the titlepage. For example, the titlepage would contain “THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY”, but not “THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY: A NIGHTMARE”.

  • If there are other contributors besides the author (for example a translator or illustrator), their names are preceded by “translated by” or “illustrated by”, set in lowercase Sorts Mill Goudy Italic font.

  • Only include the author, translator, and illustrator on the titlepage. Do not include other contributors like writers of introductions or annotators.

  • The titlepage canvas must have a padding of 50px vertically and 100px horizontally. Text must not enter the padding area.

  • The titlepage viewbox width must be exactly 1400px wide.

  • The titlepage viewbox height must precisely fit the titlepage contents, plus 50px padding. Don’t simply edit the template titlepage and leave the viewbox the same; you must customize the viewbox to fit. You can do this by either copying-and-pasting a viewbox from a completed Standard Ebooks ebook that has the same dimensions as yours, or by doing some simple math to calculate the correct height.

  • Title lines:

    • Title lines are each 80px tall.

    • You may split the title into as many lines as necessary to fit.

    • Title lines are separated by a 20px margin between each line.

  • Author lines:

    • The first author line begins 100px below the last title line.

    • Each author line is 60px tall.

    • If an author line must be split, the next line begins 20px below the previous one.

    • For works with multiple authors, subsequent author lines begin 20px below the last author line.

  • Contributor lines (like translator, illustrator):

    • Contributors are both a “contributor descriptor”, like “translated by”, followed by the name on a new line.

    • The first contributor descriptor line begins 150px below the last author line.

    • Contributor descriptor lines are 40px tall, all lowercase, in the Sorts Mill Goudy Italic font.

    • The contributor name begins 20px below the contributor descriptor line.

    • The contributor name is 40px tall, ALL CAPS, in the League Spartan font.

    • If there is more than one contributor of the same type (like multiple translators), they are listed on one line. If there are two, separate them with AND. If there are more than two, separate them with commas, and AND after the final comma. Example.

    • If there is more than one contributor type (like both a translator and an illustrator), the next contributor descriptor begins 80px after the last contributor name.

Titlepage diagram

Spacing in a Standard Ebooks titlepage image