Gas station without pumps

2015 August 7

Draft book cover

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 12:36
Tags: , , ,

I played around last night a bit with creating a book cover, just to have a placeholder on Leanpub until I can get a proper book cover designed.

Small thumbnail (150 pixels wide, 220 high)

Full size book cover, 2250 pixels wide by 3300 high.  That's 8.5" by 11" at 300dpi. (click to get full-size image)

Full size book cover, 2250 pixels wide by 3300 high. That’s 8.5″ by 11″ at 300dpi. (click to get full-size image.)

Thumbnail for book cover, 225 pixels wide and 330 high.

Thumbnail for book cover, 225 pixels wide and 330 high.

I’ve included the images here so that people can see them (and make suggestions for improvement or totally different cover designs—this one looks too much like the “generic” product labels of the 1970s). Also, I wanted to have a URL for the tiny icon to put in my sidebar.

Ideally I’d like a design that is visually striking, and that conveys visually that the book is about electronics. It should look OK full size, but also work as a small thumbnail, since that is how Leanpub displays their books.



  1. I’m terrible in grapics design, and probably my worst talent is cover page design. From my perspective, I like it: simple, to the point. Just one thing: as the book is to evolve, I like to see the version and/or date information on the cover too, makes it easier to find.

    Comment by Erich Styger — 2015 August 7 @ 12:53 | Reply

    • I have a year on the cover, but not a more specific date (there is one on the titlepage inside). The problem is that the cover page update is a separate process from the content update (and the build process is different—I am using Photoshop Elements to create the book cover, but LaTeX to create the content).

      I’ll probably be doing updates to the book every week or two during the rest of the summer, and once a month once the school term starts. The updates may be more frequent during the quarter when I’m teaching from the book, as I’ll be scrutinizing the chapters before each lab and getting feedback from the students about any problems in the book.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2015 August 7 @ 13:08 | Reply

      • Just curious: why not creating the cover page with LaTeX too?

        Comment by Erich Styger — 2015 August 7 @ 13:13 | Reply

        • LaTeX is not very pleasant for doing graphic design—tweaking locations and fonts is slow and difficult. The upload requires a png (or jpeg) file, which is not a native LaTeX output format. Basically, the workflow for creating the cover in LaTeX would be too painful—I’d never make any improvements to the cover.

          For the current cover, I would have some difficulty doing it in LaTeX, because the schematic diagram (output in PDF form by SchemeIt) has a solid white amplifier symbol, which I had to fill with the background color. I don’t know how to do that fix in LaTeX, and patching it before building the cover would be a pain, especially if I decide to change backgrounds. At some point I might want to edit the PDF from SchemeIt to have a transparent amplifier, rather than an opaque one, but for now I just wanted something I could throw together quickly.

          Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2015 August 7 @ 13:21 | Reply

          • I agree with you: sometimes it is all about quick and simple. Not sure if you know TikZ: I use that in my documents to draw diagrams/graphs/etc with LaTeX. It requires some learning, but it is is very, very powerful and neat. Have a look at some of the examples here: There are packages for circuit drawings too.

            Comment by Erich Styger — 2015 August 7 @ 13:57 | Reply

            • Thanks for the pointer to tikz. I doubt that I’ll switch to circuitikz for my book, as I’m not fond of having to place everything on a coordinate grid before I can make connections. I’d rather use a WYSIWYG schematic editor, preferably the same one that I have my students use, so that they can produce images that look like the ones in the book. (SchemeIt is currently my choice, as it is free, reasonably high quality, well-supported, and likely to remain free, as the business model for it is to attract customers to Digi-Key. I just wish it had a reasonable exchange with Eagle, which I use for board layout—the Eagle schematic drawing tool produces terrible schematics and is not easy to use.)

              Most of my non-schematic illustrations in the book are gnuplot outputs, for which tikz wouldn’t be much help either.

              Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2015 August 7 @ 14:52 | Reply

          • And if you really need something that only TeX seems to do well, just produce the pdf and import it into Photoshop Elements (which I also use) at the bit resolution you need for the largest final version.

            Comment by CCPhysicist — 2015 August 8 @ 17:30 | Reply

            • Right now, none of the cover is done with TeX. I did the EKG traces with gnuplot (based on data collected with PteroDAQ—that’s my heartbeat you’re seeing), the schematic with SchemeIt, and the text with Photoshop Elements. I also had to fill the amplifier symbol in Photoshop Elements, since it was an opaque white triangle, rather than an empty triangle. All the interior of the book is done with LaTeX (except the images, which are mostly from gnuplot and SchemeIt, with a few photographs that I took).

              Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2015 August 8 @ 18:02 | Reply

          • Note also that tikz doesn’t require you to manually lay out elements; you can specify relative positioning of elements with it. However, it’s probably compelling to use a tool that students can also use. The other advantage of TikZ is that it automatically uses the same fonts as in the rest of the document.

            Comment by plam — 2015 August 9 @ 15:37 | Reply

    • Ditto on what Erich said. It will definitely catch the eye of your intended market, which is all any cover needs to do.

      Comment by CCPhysicist — 2015 August 8 @ 17:28 | Reply

  2. I like doing figures for Latex documents in xfig, which generates eps or pdf file and a tex file you simply include with \input{filename} Latex and
    pdflatex or dvips take care of all the coordination. You can also set figure text in tex math mode. (Set the special and hidden flags, and enclose the text in $..$, like $R_1$.) Tweaking is no problem at all.

    Comment by chaikens — 2015 August 7 @ 14:04 | Reply

    • I used to use xfig (about 20 years ago, when it was hot new stuff), but I tired of it fairly quickly. It is ok for block diagrams (as are hundreds of other tools now), but it is not great for schematics, which are most of what my hand-drawn illustrations in the book are. For those, I prefer a schematic-drawing tool that understands wires. My current favorite free schematic drawing tool is SchemeIt, supported by DigiKey.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2015 August 7 @ 14:54 | Reply

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