Cover Workshop

General discussion on illustration, art, and the business of same.
Strycher
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Strycher » Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:08 am

Rebecca, I think the no-nonsense font paired with that image look like non-fiction. Like a book about the culture that produced that art. Though, the title doesn't sound non-fictiony.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby MontyApollo » Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:48 am

Strycher,

I really like your cover art, but I can't decide whether I like the title font or not.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby MontyApollo » Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:51 am

Rebecca,

There was a brief instance as I scrolled down the screen that I saw the cover image without the title, and my first impulse was that I have no idea what that image is. In that instant, I personally didn't recognize the art as being Native American. That might just be me though (and I might have recognized it with another second of looking at it.)

I have read the story though, so as soon as I scrolled down and saw the title, it all made sense. Having read the story, I think the cover fits, but it is hard to say how I would react if I had no knowledge of the story.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby austinDm » Mon Jun 10, 2013 9:19 am

I agree with Krystal that it seems more like non-fiction than fiction at first glance. I think part of it is also the black boxes around your title and byline. As a whole it seems... orderly.

It also took me a moment to catch the Native American vibe and realize that this is a closeup of a totem pole. It looks like a bird to me, maybe an eagle, which is cool in itself, but I'm not sure that it screams "read me" at first glance. Maybe something more active with an implied sense of motion?

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Rebecca Birch
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Mon Jun 10, 2013 10:56 am

Thanks very much, Krystal, Monty, and Austin.

Yeah, I was kind of afraid of that. This story is giving me absolute fits in coming up with a cover. It's not a particularly action oriented story. More introspective and atmospheric, and I'm just not finding anything that really works in terms of having a character in the image. I appreciate your comment, Monty, that it fits the story, and I agree, it does, but if nobody wants to open the story, well, there's a problem.

I guess my other question is, does this scream AMATEUR at you?
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soulmirror
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:27 pm

It looks NON-fiction to me, but then I saw it as a totem pole (I was into Pacific NW Native American art etc). As a cover (just imo) it's too-photo-real (hence the non-fiction vibe) to be understood as a "character" etc. It's a totem pole, it's a real object, photographed: if that fits the story, I'd still suggest a wider shot or a different image? But again, I'm just saying how it hit me, two cents etc. From a visual design pov (and that's NOT anything I've studied) the font hits me as too thin and non-fictiony and is overpowered by the black banner strips around it. It's certainly not "amateurish" at all, but some fonts are so common (being on everyone's pc) that they don't say "designed" so much as "typed" if you get my point. wotf008 "Uncommon" grabs the eye better. Value-added. Show the reader something THEY cannot do themselves and you establish a "professional" relationship.

Here's another carving, photo-real ... Something's going on here that'd draw the reader into the story just to know what the cover is "about" ... I like covers that pull you in, what's this story "about" etc

Image
Image
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Ishmael » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:01 am

Rebecca,

I saw this yesterday, but I didn't want to be the first to comment, since I can't claim a whole lot of expertise. Perhaps because I am European, I did not immediately think 'Native American.' That was actually my second thought and 'totem pole' was my third. My first thought was 'Qetzlcoatl ; Inca; carved figure of a deity.'

On further consideration, I did not know what to make of the title. The only Huckleberries with which I am familiar are the eponymous Finn and Doc Holiday in the movie. Other than that I wouldn't know what this word meant without looking it up. This may not, of course, be a matter of any consequence, except to reinforce the notion that our peoples are divided by a common language.

I could discern a conflict between the title and my first impression, since my ignorance of huckleberries does not extend to associating them with Peru. That occasioned the switch from first to second impression of the image. Whether one has long enough to make this switch when scanning cover images on line I'd be inclined to doubt.
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Rebecca Birch
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:16 am

Soulmirror and Ishmael, those are incredibly helpful comments.

Soulmirror, I understand your points and will keep them in mind as I go back to the drawing board (or Photoshop--ACK!!!) and try to rethink how I'm going about this. I am getting just a teeny-tiny hair better at getting images to do what I want them to do, and spending less time bashing my head off the keyboard, so if I can keep my sanity long enough, I may be able to come up with something more inviting/active.

Ishmael, your comments about not recognizing the image are really useful to me. As someone who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, in a place where it's kind of impossible not to run across totem poles at least peripherally, and I can pick huckleberries off the bush, it never even occurred to me that someone might not immediately have their brain go to the same place. Certainly not aiming for Peru!

More work to be done. I'm almost wishing the story *was* non-fiction, because I actually really like the cover, just not for this story, apparently. Thanks again to everyone for your help!
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gower21
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Fri Jun 14, 2013 2:44 pm

Finding good art to use on a Native American themed fiction book is actually really, really hard. Do any of these have the mood you're going for? I just picked the ones that had that mystical/sad that make me think of the story you're making a cover for. Going from a year-old memory of the story though.


http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free- ... ge31257838

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free- ... age4175628

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos- ... age1010013

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photogr ... ge24141012

and because your MC is female, correct?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-y ... ge30021681

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:46 pm

gower21 wrote:Finding good art to use on a Native American themed fiction book is actually really, really hard. Do any of these have the mood you're going for? I just picked the ones that had that mystical/sad that make me think of the story you're making a cover for. Going from a year-old memory of the story though.


http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free- ... ge31257838

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free- ... age4175628

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos- ... age1010013

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photogr ... ge24141012

and because your MC is female, correct?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-y ... ge30021681


I really appreciate you taking the time to look, Tina. Unfortunately, those images are more for cultures in the plains and the east, rather than the northern Pacific Northwest culture the story comes from. Clearly what I need to do is make the story part of a collection and have the cover be less specific to *that* story. Or, you know, magically wave my hands and become a visual artist. Hah! Now that would be a WotF winning story right there. Speculative element all over the place.

wotf004
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Sun Jun 16, 2013 8:31 am

LOL! That was my concern with all the images. Native American theme is so hard to find.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:48 pm

Okay, one more try on this thing. Still not exactly dynamic, I know, but is this at least slightly less non-fiction looking?

Image

Gracias!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:51 pm

Hi, Rebecca! Personally I like this one ... the bird silhouette against the sky is very powerful.

My concern is that I don't think/feel that the mountains in the distance work as silhouettes: they really just appear FLAT and nonrealistic (it's almost like combining the photo-real seascape with a cartoon style? They just don't work together imo) ... We're instinctively used to seeing a foreground (the bird) backlit ... but I wonder when you'd see a near object and a distant mountain silhouetted while the middle area is lit (though I'm sure it could be found, it doesn't "seem" like a united image, it seems like parts that don't quite blend stylistically.)

So I'd be tempted to lay in some differently lit mountains, even if darkly enshadowed, they need some surface texture beyond flat black imo.

Even the bird would benefit greatly imo, by adding some sort of rim-lighting (see how even a little rim light really enhances it around its legs) or fill in the flat interiour blackness with a few feathers or feathers around a piercing eye staring out at the viewer etc.

[ ETA: I just grabbed a quick Raven image to suggest how a little feather/texture or eye might be blended in to fill out the black silohuette? You can find better raven stuff no doubt. A glowing red coal of an eye or etc?

http://bite-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Raven.jpg .. just a thought]

Think Poe's THE RAVEN illustrations maybe? Give the bird some pow!

But mostly (for me) it's the mountains are too flat, they look like flat cartoon mountains where they could be powerful, rim-lighted craggy powerfully surfaced masses rather than flat black silohuette etc. wotf008

I think this could really REALLY be easily finessed into a POWERFUL cover image! Looking forward to seeing what others' insights and ideas can suggest.
Image
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Ishmael » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:06 pm

Coincidence. When I was thinking about e-publishing my novel I came up with a photograph that I had taken myself, featuring a crow on a shattered tree stump. However I never did publish it, so no fear of duplication (with me at least!)

Image

I ask myself what your crow is doing on the sea shore? (Granted it could be a raven - the turned neck could be obscuring the raven's characteristic ruff.) Corvidae are not noted for getting along with gulls, though the field next to mine featured a flock of rooks and another of herring gulls recently. A gull in a field is one thing, a crow by the sea is a much rarer event, at least in my experience.

On the other hand it does not look like non-fiction!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Strycher » Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:46 am

Rebecca Birch wrote:Okay, one more try on this thing. Still not exactly dynamic, I know, but is this at least slightly less non-fiction looking?

Image

Gracias!


What genre is this story? I don't think I've read this one . . .

I like the image, I think it'll look good at a small size.

I worry about the topography. To me, it still doesn't look spec fic. What font is that? I'm by no means a topography expert, but the general consensus seems to be to use a different font for the title than for your byline. The right-justification of the title looks a bit unprofessional to me.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:05 pm

Ishmael wrote:Coincidence. When I was thinking about e-publishing my novel I came up with a photograph that I had taken myself, featuring a crow on a shattered tree stump. However I never did publish it, so no fear of duplication (with me at least!)

Image

I ask myself what your crow is doing on the sea shore? (Granted it could be a raven - the turned neck could be obscuring the raven's characteristic ruff.) Corvidae are not noted for getting along with gulls, though the field next to mine featured a flock of rooks and another of herring gulls recently. A gull in a field is one thing, a crow by the sea is a much rarer event, at least in my experience.

On the other hand it does not look like non-fiction!


That's a nice image, Ishmael! In this case, it is supposed to be a raven. It's Raven with a capital "R," a spiritual being and shapeshifter, so I'm not too worried about it being out of place, since it's not a regular bird. Good things to think about, though.

The good news for me is that I just got my husband to register for Dean Wesley Smith's online cover design workshop, so hopefully he'll be able to take over from artistically impaired me. I really appreciate your feedback on this!
Rebecca Birch
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:09 pm

soulmirror wrote:Hi, Rebecca! Personally I like this one ... the bird silhouette against the sky is very powerful.

My concern is that I don't think/feel that the mountains in the distance work as silhouettes: they really just appear FLAT and nonrealistic (it's almost like combining the photo-real seascape with a cartoon style? They just don't work together imo) ... We're instinctively used to seeing a foreground (the bird) backlit ... but I wonder when you'd see a near object and a distant mountain silhouetted while the middle area is lit (though I'm sure it could be found, it doesn't "seem" like a united image, it seems like parts that don't quite blend stylistically.)

So I'd be tempted to lay in some differently lit mountains, even if darkly enshadowed, they need some surface texture beyond flat black imo.

Even the bird would benefit greatly imo, by adding some sort of rim-lighting (see how even a little rim light really enhances it around its legs) or fill in the flat interiour blackness with a few feathers or feathers around a piercing eye staring out at the viewer etc.

[ ETA: I just grabbed a quick Raven image to suggest how a little feather/texture or eye might be blended in to fill out the black silohuette? You can find better raven stuff no doubt. A glowing red coal of an eye or etc?

http://bite-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Raven.jpg .. just a thought]

Think Poe's THE RAVEN illustrations maybe? Give the bird some pow!

But mostly (for me) it's the mountains are too flat, they look like flat cartoon mountains where they could be powerful, rim-lighted craggy powerfully surfaced masses rather than flat black silohuette etc. wotf008

I think this could really REALLY be easily finessed into a POWERFUL cover image! Looking forward to seeing what others' insights and ideas can suggest.


I love your ideas, Scott. Now I just need to learn the technical skills to be able to implement them. wotf008

I was pretty proud of myself for actually managing to do some very basic layers on this, and successfully using a selection tool. Teaching myself photoshop is a painful process.

Thanks very much, and I'll keep working towards what you're suggesting. It's excellent stuff.
Rebecca Birch
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:14 pm

Strycher wrote:
Rebecca Birch wrote:Okay, one more try on this thing. Still not exactly dynamic, I know, but is this at least slightly less non-fiction looking?

Image

Gracias!


What genre is this story? I don't think I've read this one . . .

I like the image, I think it'll look good at a small size.

I worry about the topography. To me, it still doesn't look spec fic. What font is that? I'm by no means a topography expert, but the general consensus seems to be to use a different font for the title than for your byline. The right-justification of the title looks a bit unprofessional to me.


Krystal, I think I'd call this sort of literary fantasy? I'm struggling with finding a font that really matches the tone. The font is MV Boli, I think. I'll ponder other fonts for the byline, too.
Rebecca Birch
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