Cover Workshop

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

Postby Kary English » Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:08 am

@ Martin - circles, especially if there's only big one, can be hard for the eye to break out of. I'd run your text over the lower half of the orange sun/planet to break the circularity, and I might crop in some to limit the largely empty negative space.

The other thing to be careful of with circles is that tangents feel uncomfortable. Either put your text boldly across a section of the circle, or stay well away from it. If you're touching the edge or nearly so, it can make the design feel cramped.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Kary English » Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:08 pm

Dagnabit!! Y'all have created a monster. Ok, granted there's a plumber here and I have a sinus infection, so it might not have been the most productive day anyway, but I've been designing covers all freaking day and I can't even show them to you because they're for stories I haven't submitted yet. Arggghhhh!

And yes, Powerpoint is quite easy, and you can save the final product as any of several graphics formats.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby s_c_baker » Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:09 pm

P... P... Powerpoint!? wotf014

(Where's that "crying tears of blood" smiley when you need it?)
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Rebecca Birch
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:18 pm

I admit to the same disease as Kary and am assembling in Power Point, although I'm trying to use GIMP as well. So painful. And yes, I've got covers for things I can't share, either. It's nuts!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:37 pm

I like it, and yellow or no, the wonderful curves of the teapot keep me from throwing myself off a bridge somewhere! wotf008 As mentioned, take care with the landscape vs portrait aspect ratio, lest you have unwanted cropping and/or dead space that'll ruin your balance.

Absent some other tip-off (description etc) I'd share the false assumption that it's a book about dieting that's wandered into the wrong genre or Amazon page ... ? So maybe make that a little more obvious to the casual audience?

But I'll join others' positive feedback, I like the image and lay-out!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:51 pm

Rebecca Birch wrote:
Kary James wrote:So... ummm.... at the risk of looking totally stupid, is there a way to attach an image from your computer w/o putting it on a web page somewhere?

Thanks!

Da Newb


I haven't been able to find one. Sure do wish there was, though.


Well ... if you mean how to avoid having to set up an "image hosting" or portfolio site like photobucket or flickr ...

Then if you put something on a facebook page, you can link to it there. (Do other community sites work?)

Image

But if you just mean literally browsing it from off your own computer to post it here ... I don't think so.
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Kary English
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Kary English » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:56 pm

Well, Flikr aside, I've been putting mine one a private webpage.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:49 pm

soulmirror wrote:The second one ... I dunno, is it the Moon?


I hope the readers think so! It looks Moon-like to me.

What I was looking for was a picture of an asteroid violently striking the Moon. The actual title of this piece is "Planet and Nebula" (or something close to that), so it's not actually the Moon. But I figure if it was close enough to rope me in, it should be close enough.

All i can suggest is that the over-all orange simply throws me, I wouldn't guess it's the Moon. It's just a gut reaction, that for it to be "in space" I want space to be blue or black. If there's a reason in the story for orangeness (the story features cosmic fire, kundalini energy, Tang, or a profitable corporate placement deal from the Citrus Growers of Florida ...) then having a rim/periphery where we SEE black outer space, and then the Moon engulfed in orange, would still sell both outer space and necessary orange ...


If I could find a picture like that -- or commission a nice one for an affordable price -- I would definitely go with that. This was just the best I could find on Dreamstime. And I thought it was pretty good for something completely different.

As for using the word "boring" ... my issue was more that a 'boring day OF work' suggests a boring story ... while a 'boring day AT work' is just a set up that tells us all hell is going to break loose soon enough! wotf008


Heh. If you read the story, you'll have a different impression. When I called it "introspective", I was understating. To me, it's a very important, very personal story. It may not be the same for any other reader. We'll find out!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:52 pm

Kary James wrote:Ok, so let's see if this works...

Any thoughts? (I'll license the image if it meets with board approval. :) )

Image


Well, given what soulmirror and Tina have said about yellow, looks like a suicide-inducing cover. But I like it. And though your blurb isn't new by any means, it's still a good one.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:58 pm

s_c_baker wrote:P... P... Powerpoint!? wotf014

(Where's that "crying tears of blood" smiley when you need it?)


Dean has been teaching it as a cover-design tool. I'm a Powerpoint guru (seriously), but I never thought of that. But I do think it might have some advantages. It doesn't have the features of a real graphics program; but thinking of my more successful covers (as judged by you folks), I haven't need those features. Meanwhile, features I have needed would be easier in Powerpoint. When I use WordArt for text effects (which it does pretty well), I have to do some clever tricks to get them into Paint Shop Pro and make them look good. If I were doing the same work in Powerpoint, it would do all of that for me.

I'm almost sold on using Powerpoint on my next cover. Seriously.
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kyle
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby kyle » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:48 pm

Martin L. Shoemaker wrote:What I was looking for was a picture of an asteroid violently striking the Moon.

You mean something like this? http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/1362-ssc2005-01b-Massive-Smash-Up-at-Vega

(The other great thing about NASA images -- no licensing fee. Browse around the site for lots of other great images, and don't forget to also check out the other NASA centers.)

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Kary English » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:53 pm

And if you don't like gray, color is easy to futz with...

Image
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:06 pm

kyle wrote:
Martin L. Shoemaker wrote:What I was looking for was a picture of an asteroid violently striking the Moon.

You mean something like this? http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/1362-ssc2005-01b-Massive-Smash-Up-at-Vega


That's a little TOO massive for me. But it's not bad.

(The other great thing about NASA images -- no licensing fee. Browse around the site for lots of other great images, and don't forget to also check out the other NASA centers.)


I have to correct this just a little bit. Most NASA images are free, but not all. They generally do a great job of indicating the exceptions, so it's not hard to recognize them, but you do have to read the Web page and look for credits. Images from Hubble, radio telescopes, spacecraft cameras, etc., are generally free. I think the argument is that these are data acquired through taxpayer funds. But some other images are more along the lines of commissioned artwork, and are copyrighted. The JPL image use policy is an extended version of the NASA image use policy.

I have looked at some NASA images for covers. I haven't found a perfect match yet. There are a bunch of them that really appeal to me, but I'm not sure they make distinctive covers.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:36 pm

Martin L. Shoemaker wrote:
As for using the word "boring" ... my issue was more that a 'boring day OF work' suggests a boring story ... while a 'boring day AT work' is just a set up that tells us all hell is going to break loose soon enough! wotf008


Heh. If you read the story, you'll have a different impression. When I called it "introspective", I was understating. To me, it's a very important, very personal story. It may not be the same for any other reader. We'll find out!


Oh, no, I wasn't meaning to make any comment about the story, I have no question you've written another great story (Did you see my review of THE MOTHER ANTHONY on Amazon? Luv'd that story!) ... I was just offering my two cents on how the prepositions in the slugline hit me: boring day OF work, versus boring day AT work etc.

Didn't mean to go on an anti-orangist/yellowidian jihad there, either! wotf015
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:46 pm

soulmirror wrote:Oh, no, I wasn't meaning to make any comment about the story, I have no question you've written another great story


I have doubts. I really think this may be one that hardly anyone will appreciate like I do. But as Kris pointed out in a recent post, there are plenty of oddballs of all kinds out there. If one in a million readers shares my tastes on this one, that's still some readers.

(Did you see my review of THE MOTHER ANTHONY on Amazon? Luv'd that story!)


No, I hadn't. Thanks! (My coworker tried to get my to change the ending today, again!)
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Grayson Morris » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:24 pm

Even for NASA images that are free to use: are they free to use for commercial purposes?
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby izanobu » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:27 pm

Check the NASA ones carefully. Some are free to use, some aren't. I think that if they are taken on government owned equipment, they are probably okay WITH attribution. Also, if they have a person in them, they aren't okay. To use another person's image in commercial work in the US, you generally need a signed model release. So play it safe and check who is attributed with the photo and make sure no one is in it. (I am not a lawyer, fyi).

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:09 am

Image
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:11 am

Somebody hep me! Pleeeeeze!

I'm wondering which of two similar versions folks might find more appealing as cover art for my upcoming e-story ... Hoping some feedback will clarify issues! (This thread is VERY helpful, I think we'll all agree!)

The two versions in thumbnail:
version #1Image version#2Image

Full size versions:
http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/403868_365822600100819_100000192460143_1623837_1406674266_n.jpg
http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/395428_365821250100954_100000192460143_1623836_36700973_n.jpg

Again, first impressions are important, so prejudicial afterthoughts/questions are hidden in white:
One major issue is the dithering/jagged edges on the TITLE. I like the jagged edge because I see it as sort of an "Native American/Indian rug" vibe (if you're familiar with those designs) -- plays into the Civil War/General Custer riff -- but I wonder if most people will think it's just JAGGED BAD FONT (which is what it was, it just hit me as serendipity coolness)

Also, the octopus aliens: One's BIGGER, but isn't necessarily "alien species" -- the other is obviously sci-fi alien! How do you think that'll hit the average sci-fi audience?

And I assume we all get the reference to "It's a cookbook!" on the cover! wotf011 That's the first line in the story, the whole thing is a knowing riff/twist on the famous story/Twilight Zone episode. Been done, but here's another one, as they say! But did that make you recoilinside, as a cliche ... or think: "Huh, let's see how it goes THIS time?")


Any feedback / help will be most appreciated! wotf007
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby george nik. » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:47 am

I'd say, purely as a first impression, version 2.
After I looked at them a little more, and read the hidden text, undecided, because I also came to like version 1.
And after more thought, finally, version 2 again.
I think version 1 is quite good, but version 2 is very good, really.

The fonts for the title are better-looking, the fonts for the author's name are MUCH better, and I like the soldier figure on the left side.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:34 am

I like the brightness of the left.

I like the layout and the crispness of the right.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby MontyApollo » Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:59 am

I have no artistic bones in my body, but this is my impression as a sci-fi reader: I like the bigger title on the first, but for some reason I don’t care for the “symmetry” of the two same-sized panels, so I would probably vote for the 2nd.

In regards to your other comments, I didn’t really care for the jagged font. I see what you are saying about the Indian rug look, but I didn’t see it before you pointed it out. I preferred the second octopus alien, but I think the first probably looks alien enough. I didn’t have any problems with the Twilight Zone thing since it was right there with Abe – the combination diverts me from thinking it might be clichéd.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby kyle » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:33 am

Version 2 is overall better graphic design, but, again, shrink that down to Amazon thumbnail size, and your font is going to be completely illegible. The fact that the artwork also has legible text in it in fonts that will survive the reduction better is only going to exacerbate that.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby MJNL » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:50 am

My eye is immediately drawn to the first one, but I think it's the color I find so attractive, because I actually like the layout of the second one better. But my gaze keeps going back to the first.

I think the font and everything you've chosen is fine, but like Kyle says I think the title will be illegible on the second when it's thumbnail size.

Also in the first one, I'm not a fan of the same jellyfish being used twice. But other than that, I kind of think it's the stronger of the two because it keeps demanding my attention, while the other doesn't even though its layout is more appealing.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:25 pm

The one on the left stuck out to me first. I haven't read the other comments or the white yet.

Here are my first impressions:

The font on the left one seems a good size, not to sure about the color agreeing with the blue octopus creature film treatment (bluish-purple color). The two colors purple/yellow blue/orange are complementary so it DOES make the title stand out much more than the one on the right (which is more monochromatic)> But I am not a lover of complementary if it stands out too much and there is something off about it..but it could be my own issues with complementary colors. Although I like the higher use of color in that cover on the left it doesn't work for me as visually pleasing as the one on the right does.

One on the right- I like the composition of the arrangement of pictures. The slight tone of red in the alien picture in the upper left is perfect for the sepia tone cover as a whole. The title blends too much into the background though from a color point of view, maybe a few shades lighter? Maybe a red tone? (although I like the font and placement as well as your name at the bottom strikes me as much more professional looking and striking for the overall look).

OK after reading the other comments and the parts in white:

I agree the font on the right might be too small. Maybe that is the issue I was having with it above and not a color issue at all. Although I like the color of the alien creature on the left (blueish purple) and the feel/emotion it evokes. The one one the left gives off much more emotion than the one on the right. Not sure if that is good or not, it gives me a feeling of fear and horror. If that is the type of story this is than that would be good. The one on the right is more erie, maybe dark humor tone.

That's all I got. Sorry about all the detail in why I like/dont like. I'm hoping my honesty helps with the decisions and paired with the other comments gets you a perfect cover for your story. Also I had a lot of problems with referring to the one on the left vs one on the right and kept confusing them (there's dyslexia for ya) so I hope I fixed all the errors in my post so it is not confusing to read. If you need me to clarify because I messed up my left/right...let me know!

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:47 pm

Thanks for all the great feedback, everyone! You've given me much (much!) to weigh and think about! wotf008
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:40 am

I'm late to the party here, but my thoughts are that I like the layout of number two, but I echo the concerns about the small font vanishing in thumbnail. I also agree that the alien looks creepier in version one and bit more satirical or humorous in version two. Not sure which you are looking for.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:09 pm

Some thoughts on cover design from Sarah Hoyt.

And some always-timely advice from Dean Wesley Smith:

There is one really bothersome problem I have noticed a great deal in this new world of publishing we all live in. Writers and some publishers blindly follow someone without ever thinking. They hear a piece of advice, whether it is from this blog, from Konrath’s blog, from a Kindle board, from Publisher’s Marketplace, and they don’t question it. They just follow it blindly, without investigating the truth behind the claim or advice.

...if you know how you are going to get paid, then don’t listen to my opinion on the topic. It’s your career. It’s your money.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:29 pm

Awesome articles! I've wondered about the size of the name and the title and now I know. The psychology of why not to make your name small is good. It makes total sense. She should have bolded that little part.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:30 pm

Personally though, I've more than once reduced the size of my name, so as not to crowd my cover art.

Way I viddy it is: My name won't sell books, but I'd like to think my cover art does. wotf008

And ... some of her cover art is (just imo) weakish. (Some is VERY nice) But it's easy advice to tell an author to make their name bigger (We ALL like to see our name!) ... it's trickier and more subjective to speak to and write about issues of aesthetic taste. Though taste may make the sale?

But that's just the illustrator side of my Heckle and Jekyll & Mr. Hyde talkin' ... I like my art more'n I like my big ol' who's he, anyway? name to catch the eye. wotf008

Ideally, you could fit both big name/bright picture on the cover. Realistically, not always. If I'm designing something FOR the author, it's their call.
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