Cover Workshop

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

Postby soulmirror » Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:34 pm

Plus, even if you're not the artist you're still using the art to help sell YOUR story? So, for what it's worth, there's something visually very whack about the angle of the near forearm? Bad Poser (or some 3D system) choices there, imo?

I didn't notice it the first time but the second time it hit me instantly. Again, for what it's worth? My own cover art, well, I make mistakes but creatively I reap what I myself sow wotf004 but if you're paying someone else for art maybe consider the forearm?
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:40 am

OK, I've been holding off responding because I didn't want to taint your reactions. But it has been a couple of days now, so I think I can respond now.

First, as always, thanks for all the feedback! Special thanks to Jeanette for the extra effort of trying to separate your knowledge from your reaction.

The actual genre is hard for me to pin down. In fact, the ending is deliberately ambiguous, such that there are at least three different interpretations; and depending on your interpretation, you would place it in a different genre. The closest I can get to describing it is psychological fantasy/horror in a hospital setting. So at least I got the medical vibe across; and Scott, you're not confused at all, you picked up on the fantasy vibe.

The orange is my addition. It has symbolic meaning in the story, and it also added some color to this original:

Image

Besides making it less drab, I felt like the orange in the shadows was kinda... foreboding. But maybe that's just me.

And yes, Scott, the forearm is weird. The arm placement in general is funky. My guess is that the reference image was for an MRI scan of the abdomen, and the patient was supposed to hold his arms out of the way. If I could find a similar image with the arms down, it would be better; but every one this artist has on Dreamstime has the arms in the same position. (They're all the same pose, just the other two have bones and parts of the machine highlighted.) I really like the effect, over all: the transparency makes both the patient and the machine look a bit like phantasms (at least to me). But if I could custom order an image from this artist, the arms would be down.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby E.CaimanSands » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:00 am

I still see no image. wotf017
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:11 am

Another one...

Image

Based on a suggestion from Iris Stone, Tina, and Sarah Hoyt.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:25 am

Here are my ideas:

For starters the moon looks too egg shaped. It's an optical illusion from the triangle shape of the glass and the moon crossing above the lip of the glass. I think if you shrink the moon down to below that line it might help. Also a toothpick in the moon...which might be kinda hard to do--I don't know since I'm terrible with manipulating images on computer. I do all my art on paper with pencils and pens.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby E.CaimanSands » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:47 am

Martin L. Shoemaker wrote:Another one...

image

Based on a suggestion from Iris Stone, Tina, and Sarah Hoyt.


Gator says she's trying her psychic means of seeing. She says the moon looks too egg shaped.

Hmm. wotf005
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:52 am

Again, Gator? Again you can't see my image? Hmmm...

Believe it or not, the egg shape is not an optical illusion. It's by design, though maybe a flawed design. I was trying to show how the glass would distort the appearance of the Moon. I had to work to create that egg shape!

Maybe I got it backwards? I thought the glass would make it look narrower, especially at the bottom.

Toothpick? Hmmmm...
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:59 am

Depends on the angle as to how it will look in water (or glass if not filled with water). The egg shape is if your standing more over it. I'm look straight at it, so it will be more round. Try putting a marble in a glass at home and you'll see what I mean. Fill it with water and it does change the shape. If it goes up over the lip it might cut the moon off at the top and be smaller where it is not in the glass. You might want to see some pictures of it or try doing it at home with a round object in a triangle shaped glass.

ETA: Lesson in perspective. You're going to draw your line for the vanishing point below the moon, below the triangle shaped part of the glass, probably the middle of the steam. I can give you a more detailed reason why I'd draw it there. That is why the egg shape is more pronounced, I think your assuming the perspective line for this picture is higher.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby austinDm » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:04 pm

I agree with Tina that a toothpick would definitely add to the image.

The moon shouldn't be entirely circular, though, and not just because of perspective and distortion and whatnot. It's obviously meant as an analog for an olive and olives aren't entirely round. I'd actually suggest making the moon smaller so that it fits proportionally with the glass.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:46 pm

gower21 wrote:That is why the egg shape is more pronounced, I think your assuming the perspective line for this picture is higher.


I think you're giving me too much credit. I opened up the Effects Browsers, looked at the catalog, and said, "That one will distort it kinda like I think it should!"
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:49 pm

austinDm wrote:I agree with Tina that a toothpick would definitely add to the image.


A toothpick? How quaint...

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I have it on very good authority that the Old Town is favored by fencers...
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:55 pm

Oh. Here's an image comes up when I Google an image for "olive in martini" ... there are prolly better images to match yours exactly, but this shows an idea how distortion increases as you approach the side of glass/viewing angle.

Image

Yours is tricky because you're already making a round Moon become an olive-shape.

One thing that might add visually is to show the surface of the liquid in the glass, too ?

ETA: I see you just added the new image as i typed! I like the fully rounded Moon much more! The Moon dipping into the surface liquid seems odd imo; the surface would be higher/spilling over the near rim of the glass, as is? It might need to go lower, beneath the near rim?
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby austinDm » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:59 pm

Martin L. Shoemaker wrote:
austinDm wrote:I agree with Tina that a toothpick would definitely add to the image.


A toothpick? How quaint...

Image

I have it on very good authority that the Old Town is favored by fencers...


I like this one! You might consider playing with the shape of the moon a bit, but the sword/toothpick works really well with the rest of the image.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:03 pm

soulmirror wrote:The Moon dipping into the surface liquid seems odd imo; the surface would be higher/spilling over the near rim of the glass, as is? It might need to go lower, beneath the near rim?


That's what I'm wondering: does the liquid go "too high", like it ought to spill out of the glass? Especially on the left edge where the arc runs around to the back.

That part of the image was the trickiest for me, laying circles on circles and slicing at the intersection so that the front layer "fit"; but I may not have gotten it quite right. On the other hand, is it right enough? I need to get this story published this weekend, tonight if I can. I think I have time for one more pass at the foreground liquid, but I may never get it quite right.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:22 pm

OK, I lowered the drink line and the meniscus. Thanks, Scott!

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:31 pm

Annnnnnd another one! This one is strictly stock art,

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby dantzel » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:22 pm

Martin, I like the Moon with it's current shape and with the fancy toothpick added in! I agree lowering the water line just a bit might continue to improve the look.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Jess » Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:22 pm

I like the toothpick one better and agree about lowering the drink level. Also, I wonder if you might want to fiddle with the title/author or toothpick color. (I might be wrong, but to me they clash.)

Martin L. Shoemaker wrote:Annnnnnd another one! This one is strictly stock art,

Image

This one feels like an old Heinlein cover to me.

So of course I like it.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:42 pm

Jess wrote:This one feels like an old Heinlein cover to me.

So of course I like it.


Jess, you just gave me a great big smile for Christmas! This story -- this whole series -- is very Heinlein influenced.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Fobok1 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:47 pm

Ok, I tried a few months ago but didn't get much chance to work on it at the time. Now, I'm back to trying to put together a cover. This is my second attempt. (I know this isn't the right aspect ratio for an ebook cover, at least according to Amazon. I didn't think to check until after it was done, but I figure I have many drafts to go before I get this right.) How's it look otherwise, though?

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Strycher » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:58 am

Fobok1 wrote:Ok, I tried a few months ago but didn't get much chance to work on it at the time. Now, I'm back to trying to put together a cover. This is my second attempt. (I know this isn't the right aspect ratio for an ebook cover, at least according to Amazon. I didn't think to check until after it was done, but I figure I have many drafts to go before I get this right.) How's it look otherwise, though?

Image


I like the image, but I wonder if it's cropped for maximum effect? I can't tell why the character is leaning forward. Running somewhere? The font is nice and big but looks flat and out-of-place to me. It doesn't seem to exist on the same color palette as the image and is a bit generic.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:47 pm

I like the colours, the tonal values, but the comment above strikes me as true too: the bright primary red conflicts (imo) with the blue, it's sort of a flat garish contrast compared to the nice flesh and background feel. Again, just my take on it.

EYES are always important: either the character (model etc) makes eye contact with the viewer, or they are a dramatic cue of what the character is looking at (that's basic human psychology, I'm thinking; we follow someone else's gaze instinctively) But (imo) the eyes here are doing neither, they're not even the character "looking ahead" as he's running. It's an empty eyed stare, slightly crossed-eyed. And as such it may not "grab the buyer" like we'd all want our cover art to grab the buyer! ???

The far hand seems oddly angled to me, and the fingers oddly splayed. The space behind the runner could either fall into slight un-focus, or perhaps greater darkness, something to focus attention on the foreground?

Maybe the TITLE should be larger than the author's name?

Just some random thoughts/reactions ... my dos centavos ...

As a general comment, I'd suggest that the cover is essentially a poser (or Poser-esque) portrait, which doesn't tell us alot about the story, doesn't pull us into the scene. Every illustration could have dramatic content, or it's losing alot of potential to help sell the book.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Fobok1 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:26 pm

Thank you both! Very helpful.

I'll probably start from scratch and come up with a different image, one that has a bit more, as you said, dramatic content, so just to clarify that if zoomed out a little, the kid is floating along a corridor.

As for font, I'm really not sure what I should be looking for, especially on a limited budget. I want a font that I can use with both my fantasy and sci-fi stories, so I can keep a consistent look to my covers. I want it to be bold enough that it stands out on a thumbnail.

And the red, yeah, rookie mistake there. I got stuck on 'red attracts sales' that I read somewhere and forgot that it has to fit the image.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Strycher » Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:32 am

Fobok1 wrote:Thank you both! Very helpful.

I'll probably start from scratch and come up with a different image, one that has a bit more, as you said, dramatic content, so just to clarify that if zoomed out a little, the kid is floating along a corridor.

As for font, I'm really not sure what I should be looking for, especially on a limited budget. I want a font that I can use with both my fantasy and sci-fi stories, so I can keep a consistent look to my covers. I want it to be bold enough that it stands out on a thumbnail.

And the red, yeah, rookie mistake there. I got stuck on 'red attracts sales' that I read somewhere and forgot that it has to fit the image.

Thanks again!


Your font choice is probably fine, just the texture/color didn't seem to match the image or the title very well, imo. Also zooming back out and showing that the kid is floating might make an interesting image, even if you loose the facial close-up (I don't know? It sounds good in theory.)

What I've seen other people do with brand is to have one font that you use for your byline regardless of genre, and then put the title in whichever font fits the themes of the book best. With fonts, it's like you have to dig and dig to find the good free ones, but there are a lot of free font sites, so I don't think you should have to buy them.

wotf017 Hope that's helpful.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby dantzel » Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:25 am

How much do people/companies charge for cool fonts?
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Strycher » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:51 am

dantzel wrote:How much do people/companies charge for cool fonts?


Yikes, I have no idea. I've never seriously considered paying for a font before, since so many are free. Browsing at the paid fonts at Urban Fonts looks like they range from $20 to several hundred dollars. But if you're buying a font, it works like software--you are not buying the font, you're buy a license/right to use the font within certain parameters. (Normally, a certain number of times, which would translate into a certain number of ebooks sold before you had to buy the font again/renew your license.)

http://www.fontsquirrel.com/

http://www.dafont.com/

http://www.urbanfonts.com/

If you go for free fonts, just make sure whatever you download is freeware rather than shareware. wotf007

If you need to know what kind of font fits your genre, do a search on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and compare. It helps if you read a little bit about fonts first, so you can spot the characteristics of the fonts professional cover-artists use: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fonts#Font_characteristics (ie Serif versus San-Serif)

There is a whole font-fanatic subculture, so I'm certain if you (not Dantzel in particular, just anybody) do a bit of googling around you could find several useful resources.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Fobok1 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:25 pm

Ok, took the advice of zooming the image out, and of picking a font for my byline and one for title. I tried to make them a little more visually interesting based on some covers I've seen looking at the kindle bestseller list. Also followed Soulmirror's advice and made my title larger than the byline. (Also meant to do the DoF change but I forgot to until this moment. Next draft.)

So, is this looking better? And how about the image? Is the fact that it's obvious he's floating imply more to the story, or should I scrap it and try to recreate something more dramatic?

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby dantzel » Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:18 am

The eyes and the hands don't imply desperation to me, so it's worth trying another image.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Strycher » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:58 am

dantzel wrote:The eyes and the hands don't imply desperation to me, so it's worth trying another image.


While I think that this is a huge improvement, I agree with Dantzel. I think you're headed in the right direction though.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby dantzel » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:57 pm

Strycher said it better. :)
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