Cover Workshop

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

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Thu Mar 01, 2012 3:47 am

Patrick,

My biggest concern is actually your blurb: "A short story by..." While I think it's good to include a word count and approximate page count in your description, I don't think "A short story" needs to be on your cover. I think psychologically that makes it sound trivial and not worth buying.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Patrick S. McGinnity » Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:43 am

Thanks Martin, I never really thought of that, but it makes perfect sense.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Strycher » Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:06 am

I like your concept. I think you will need an outline, a simple black line marking the end of your cover image would serve to differentiate your cover form any white backgrounds. You said this is a reprint? I think you should definitely include where it was first published. I think this will add some credibility to the story (kind of the inverse of what Martin was saying about your current tag line.)

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Patrick S. McGinnity » Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:16 am

Strycher wrote:I like your concept. I think you will need an outline, a simple black line marking the end of your cover image would serve to differentiate your cover form any white backgrounds. You said this is a reprint? I think you should definitely include where it was first published. I think this will add some credibility to the story (kind of the inverse of what Martin was saying about your current tag line.)


As far as an outline, you mean a rectangular sort of box around it, right? So the illustration doesn't just run off the edge of the page? Good idea (assuming I get what you mean, of course). As for where the story appeared first, I was thinking of that for the "back," but that makes it pretty obvious that I am unfamiliar with e-books. Do they even have a back cover? Probably not, so I guess I do have to think about what else needs to be presented up front. Thanks!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Strycher » Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:27 am

Patrick S. McGinnity wrote:
Strycher wrote:I like your concept. I think you will need an outline, a simple black line marking the end of your cover image would serve to differentiate your cover form any white backgrounds. You said this is a reprint? I think you should definitely include where it was first published. I think this will add some credibility to the story (kind of the inverse of what Martin was saying about your current tag line.)


As far as an outline, you mean a rectangular sort of box around it, right? So the illustration doesn't just run off the edge of the page? Good idea (assuming I get what you mean, of course). As for where the story appeared first, I was thinking of that for the "back," but that makes it pretty obvious that I am unfamiliar with e-books. Do they even have a back cover? Probably not, so I guess I do have to think about what else needs to be presented up front. Thanks!


Information that would appear on the back with appear in the product information section. I would put that it has been published somewhere by a "real" editor right up front, because it helps you distinguish yourself from people who have not been traditionally published yet. Many readers still find that to be a mark of quality. Whether or not they're right, I have no idea. wotf017

But, on the outline, yes. Just a box along the outside edge of the image.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:14 am

Good catch on the box around the edge. Amazon in particular recommends this for books with mostly white covers, because otherwise they tend to fade into the background in thumbnail catalogs.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:40 pm

Patrick, I really like your concept for the cover. I ditto Strycher's comments about the boarder on a white cover. I've seen the white ones (although beautiful) fade into the background on Amazon.

The font (papyrus) is a good choice. I know you're going for plain, but there are some subtle things you can do to make it pop just a touch. It will be hard to tell, but will psychologically speak to someone looking at your cover. Plus you want your larger versions on your website to be stellar. Is this cover a mock up on PowerPoint? If so give it a SHADOW (outside, bottom right -- you want the illusion that the sun is hitting it from above on a cold winter day). Go for the most subtle one to test it out to see if you love it or not. Then go to BEVEL and I'd choose "cool slant" for the look of iced overish) then to 3-D effect ("oblique bottom left"). I also experimented on the color and made it a cold blue almost black. It won't show up on a tiny e-book version on Amazon, but when you show the cover on your website it will give it just enough to look professional.

No worries if you love the plain black. I think your mock up looks great. I just wanted to show you the options on the title to give it that pro look. If you'll notice the "plain" covers in bookstores they at least have a subtle outer shadow to set the title and name apart from the cover image.

ETA: Sorry if I sound like a total snot on the color/image suggestions. Again, I really love the concept idea for the cover. I just get really excited about art and topography!! Plus anyone else happening on the forum can see how to get the effects if they want to. The one I lined out was to create a sun-hitting-it-outside-on-a-cold-day feel.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Patrick S. McGinnity » Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:24 pm

Thanks for the great advice, Tina. I was working in Photoshop with which I have very little skill. I'll try the title in Powerpoint once I get the actual drawings pinned down. Thanks again!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Kary English » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:55 am

I don't think I've posted this before, but one of my projects is using my background as a reading instructor / curriculum developer / former Language Arts Special Ed. teacher to adapt antiquated classics to make the language more palatable to the modern reader.

Sorry it's so big. I sorta don't know how to make it smaller.

And yes, this was done in PowerPoint. Won't hold up for print, but fine for ebook covers.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby dantzel » Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:46 pm

Wow! I really like this cover, Kary. I think having the gray/white landscape being interrupted by orange/red text (suggesting fire, I'm sure!) catches the eye quite well.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Kary English » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:34 pm

Thanks! That photo has to be about the perfect image for this story. And monochrome with a color pop is an easy scheme to work with.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:20 pm

The grey vs the colour "pop" and the gleam off the 3D font ... those are indeed lovely! Very nice!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Kary English » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:19 am

Working with muted colors...

Over in the Kindle thread, I mentioned that red can be tricky, and that greens (and yellows) can work if muted. Here's a cover I'm working on. The issue with the red is that it blends into the background and is hard to see, especially if the image is reduced. For this cover, I wanted to pick up the red on the ribbons in at least one other place, but I don't have it nailed just yet.

To me, the muted green works, most likely because it's the complementary (opposite) color of red. If the reds and greens were both bright, you'd get a "Christmas' effect, which is the wrong mood for this piece. Muted colors, however, give you the complementary interest without jangling the senses.

Before I digress further, this is NOT my art. I've left two messages for the artist trying to buy some rights but haven't heard back. Here's his page at DA: http://gunnerromantic.deviantart.com/ Obviously, I won't use his stuff w/o permission, and these are private comps I made to see if the image would work. If I don't hear from him soon (or her), I'll take these down from here, too.

Coupla tips from my art school days.

1) The eye goes to the strongest contrast first. I used this to draw the eye to the title by putting the whitest white (it's actually about a 15% warm grey) next to the darkest dark. There's also some nice resonance between the white text and face, with a good eye line from the M, to the face, to the B.

2) The second highest point of contrast in this image isn't light/dark contrast; it's color contrast. Notice how you can see my name much better when it's green as opposed to red?

3) The little subtitle, A Farthane Story, isn't working in red. I tried it because repeating colors is a useful tool for planning the path the eye will take through the image. In this case, I think the diagonal reds in the ribbons stand on their own. I will probably make both the subtitle and my name green.

4) I split the title onto two lines for two reasons. A) Titles need to be big nowadays so you can read them when the image is just a thumbnail. And B) The split title reinforces a diagonal eye line running from top left to bottom right.

(I really hope I'm not coming off as pedantic here. My hope is that folks who are doing their own covers will find this kind of analysis helpful. Oh, and the title is fake for the sake of preserving my anonymity. The design elements are the same, but the words have been changed.)

EDIT: Haven't heard from artist so I took the images down.
Last edited by Kary English on Thu May 03, 2012 10:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby izanobu » Thu May 03, 2012 12:12 am

I made a giant blog post with forthcoming works of mine and many many covers if you all want to check out a little shiny: http://overactive.wordpress.com/2012/05 ... ver-pr0nz/

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Fobok1 » Thu May 03, 2012 3:49 am

Hello! I hope this thread is open to anybody. :)

My Q4 HM is currently at the final market of the list I want to send it to, so unless I'm lucky and it's picked up, when I get it back (and after pouring through it a few more times to make sure it's polished as possible) I plan to self-publish it.

So, jumping ahead of things a bit (I was bored), I took my first stab at a cover tonight, using a creative commons image (by Elsie, Esq.) and Photoshop Elements. I used to do a lot of graphic design in high school and college, but I'm way out of practice, so I'd really love some critiques and advice please. :)

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Strycher » Thu May 03, 2012 8:08 am

Fobok1 wrote:Hello! I hope this thread is open to anybody. :)


It is open to everybody . . . ::twirls evil mustache:: Except you! Bwhahahahahaha!

I kid. I kid! wotf007

So, what font did you use for that cover? Because it seems super plain to me for some reason.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Kary English » Thu May 03, 2012 11:33 am

@Fobok - I like it! Have you tried using that same deep red on both the bottom and the top? Not sure I'd like it better, just curious.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Kary English » Thu May 03, 2012 11:58 am

This is for my Q1 when / if I ever hear how it fared. The title has been obscured. Any comments? If you've read the story, did I nail the mood / feel / image?

Thanks!
------------------
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Thu May 03, 2012 1:39 pm

Annie, those Gryphonpike Chronicles covers are simply incredibly cool art! I don't know how any cover could be any more professional-looking, big league image! wotf007

Kary, I'm luvin' your cover too!

I might however float a very personal-taste balloon here, more as a general comment than as anything aimed at this one of yours (which again, is nice indeed!): PORTRAITS.

PORTRAITS as cover art. Shouldn't a cover tell us something about what the story will be ... or at least the GENRE ?

As IOTF CONTEST ENTRIES, I've often suggested (ad nauseum, perhaps) that portraiture is weaker than an ACTION or DRAMATIC situation.

I'd offer that it goes DOUBLE for COVER ART. The contest judges can look at a beautifully-rendered Portrait and still judge the SKILL of the Artist ... I suggest the BOOK BUYER simply glances over shelves of BOOKS until one "grabs" them. It better be "more" to it than "pretty girl/moody light" imo.

ANNIE's Gryphonpike Chronicles covers above, even when portraity, still scream (in a good sense: Battle Yell) genre and context ...

But again ... I like yours here. I just wouldn't know for sure what SORT OF BOOK I might be reading from it. A werewolf hand on her, a shadow across her, a mystic constellation in the sky, a cursed object ... a MINOR object might hint that?

But just my personal tastes, and views, there ...

FOBOK ... I'll offer honesty too. The previous comment about the font being common and "everyone's got that on their pc, it doesn't look "professional" ... I'd echo 100%

I use and abuse Photoshop filters to excess ... so I'm equally wary of "single filter click" looking art (again, because I do so much myself!) But really, the "scene" depicted is more than filter-vague, it's ... what's being depicted? vague: Is that space station burning (is it smoke being vented from a damaged 2001 space station wheel? -- though obviously it's only what I'd imagine Smoke-in-vacuum to look like, not the scientific reality. Galactic wisps?)

So ... one two-cent opinion, but my sincere one. There's a stronger cover image out there (or inside you) for you, imo!!!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby morshana » Thu May 03, 2012 6:14 pm

I like that cover, Kary, and I agree that a little hint of what genre it is would be helpful as attention-grabbing.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby morshana » Thu May 03, 2012 6:15 pm

Annie - Awesome covers! wotf010
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby morshana » Thu May 03, 2012 6:21 pm

Fobok - I wasn't really quite sure what the image was at first glance. It was only when I read soulmirror's comment that I realized it was a space station. Of course, it could just be my screen, but it looks really pixilated on my end.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Fobok1 » Thu May 03, 2012 7:06 pm

Thanks for the tips! Yeah, I did use a quick-filter for that, since the original image looks like it's from a video game. (And, now that I look closer at the actual Flickr page, instead of just CCFinder's licensing statement, it's from an astronomy software. Lesson learned there too.)

Ok, going to scrap that image and look for something better, and go font-shopping. Thanks for the advice!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Thu May 03, 2012 7:41 pm

Darn, I'm late.

Fobok--I'm glad you took the font advice and also getting a new picture. It was blurry on my end as well, so try for something higher resolution. Also I think you might want to do something to that font to stand out a bit more even if it is just simple bevel, shadow, or outline. ETA: I went back and looked at it. I see now you have a shadow under the words. I think it is not as flat as I first saw, plus I put my glasses on. That helped....

Annie--love all those covers! so exciting, knowing what's up on the roster for the year from you!

Kary--here is where I differ in opinion. I tend towards liking portraits. I think a good ones that shows a lot of mood will draw a reader in. You want to keep staring at it. You feel you relate to some feeling the face is showing. Sometimes an action shot works better for a story and sometimes a portrait. I can see it being a personal taste thing too--and sometimes you just have to look at what other extremely popular books bought by your target audience did (if you want to send a visual resonance to those readers).

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby izanobu » Tue May 08, 2012 7:46 am

Kary, you might not want to use that girl without more modifications. Here's why:
Image

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Kary English » Tue May 08, 2012 7:59 am

Hrm - thanks, Annie.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby MJNL » Tue May 08, 2012 8:00 am

Oops, yeah, that's the only issue with stock photos. Never know who swiped them first.


And just a friendly reminder: Please, guys, don't post photos or illustrations you haven't licensed yet (unless you have directly been given, or have found, permissions that allow you to do so). Please just link us to the photo--especially if it doesn't have a watermark. I know it's tempting, because it's nice to get opinions on the full effect (layout and all), but we want to protect artists' copyright just as much as writers' (imagine if it were the other way around, and an artist copied your entire story and put it up with one of their art pieces as an example of the type of story it could be a cover for--I know written and visual art don't have quite the same rules, but you get the idea).

If you want to get opinions on layout of unlicensed work, it might be nice to do that in private, just so there isn't public access to the unlicensed image. I'm sure many of us would be willing to do crits via PM as well as here.

Thanks!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Wed May 09, 2012 2:14 pm

Good points indeed, MJNL ...

PS And I luv'd the mist on the other version, I'll admit. Shows us how just a little addition can add alot, visually ...
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:28 pm

My lovely and talented wife has been doing my covers this last year (minus the Mirror Shards covers). I was never really happy with the covers I had for my Digital Sea trilogy so she recently updated them. I love the new versions so much more.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:37 pm

Thomas,

The "stress" on the titles looks like rendering noise to me. I can see that's not what it is if I look closely; but with a casual glance, it looks like someone did a poor job of resizing or color conversion.

And the cover images makes the titles even more incongruous for me. Those are "grabber" images, evocative and compelling. I really, really like those. I like the titles less.
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WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT!
REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT!
Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience.
NNiNN


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