Category: Writing Posts
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HTBook1-3D-smallAs I mentioned in an earlier post, you can create a 3D version of your book jacket by using some of the free and paid sites out there. Those are simple and produce pretty good images, but what if you want something really complicated and slightly lower quality? For that, I turned to POV-Ray. POV-Ray is a free raytracer. It's the same kind of technology used to create all the explodiest and dinosauriest scenes in your favorite movies. In another life I worked at writing 3D rendering software. So when I wanted to create my own 3D book jacket, I grabbed the latest version of POV-Ray and started designing a model.

I started with a model created by Gilles Tran (Copyright 2004 Gilles Tran He licensed his work under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which means I can use (and derive from) his work as long as I give him credit (thank you, Gilles). His model created books, shelves, and a library, so I just pulled out the book part. I also updated his model of the pages, wrapped my image of my cover on the book, and removed a bunch of options I didn't care about. 

If you download POV-Ray and install it, you can use these files to create your own 3D rendering of your book (right-click and save):


HTBook3-3D-smallYou'll have to experiment around with POV-Ray to get the hang of it, but it's not that hard. Just put the image of your book cover in the same folder & udpate 3dbookjacket.pov to point it it. In that file, you'll find a line that says


The first three parameters are the X, Y, and Z size of the book. X is the thickness--if your book is really long, crank that up to 0.75 or even 1.0. Y is the height of the book, and Z is the width. You can see from my parameters that my book is 2.0 tall and 1.5 wide. That matches the width/height ratio of my cover image, so it will look right. If your book image's height/width is not 1.33, then you'll need to adjust the Y and Z appropriately. If math isn't your bag then you might want to go find a thirteen-year-old. If they can't help, find a fifteen-year-old. At least a fifteen-year-old (even if they can't help) will tell you that you're stupid. That's always fun.

HTBook3-3D-zoomI did some fun things with the pages of my model. I wanted the edge to look a little rough so the texture would show up well. My method introduced some stripes into the shadow, but I think it looks pretty cool. I doubt you'd know about the stripes if I hadn't mentioned them.

Some other models I've seen have some diffuse reflection in the upper-right corner, and more specular highlights on the edges. I underplayed those to give more focus to the cover. In fact, the cover image on my book is almost 100% ambient-lit, to make sure that the image is consistent. It looks a little less realistic, but only if you think about it too hard.

If you like messing around with Photoshop and CGI stuff, give POV-Ray a try. It's incredible if you put in the effort. I didn't do that much with it, but I got what I wanted--a nice free 3D book cover to use in my ads. Let me know if you give it a try.