Cover Workshop

General discussion on illustration, art, and the business of same.
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gower21
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:51 pm

Going to have to be another one that puts my vote into sepia tones (and ambers) for this one. Also I think it would make a good house style for the Old Town series. Mother Anthony was different and I LOVED the cover for that one, but for this one you should go with something that will set the tone for the story. Having read the story I agree with Marina and Kyle and now soulmirror that would be a cool feel (If it is old west with obvious space imagery for the picture.) --

I know you put the story project aside for now, but just something to think about. Also you can always change the cover later when you get it the way you want it. And there is nothing wrong with the white and blue (I like the look) it just might be a second choice to something that could work better.

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MJNL
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby MJNL » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:51 am

I think Jess is right-- you're house style doesn't have to mean every cover is exactly the same, minus the picture. I think the general layout and font are enough to keep all your stories cohesive. If you allow yourself to play around with color and texture, though, you can give each story the individual curb appeal it needs. Otherwise you end up with a ton of books that look the same, that all suggest the same type of story--and often, if I'm looking for a book I've already read (usually to refer to it on a forum, or to recommend it to someone) and I can't remember the author or the title, I can remember the cover. Too much sameness and people might have a hard time telling them apart.

But, all we're giving are just suggestions, of course. In the end you have to go with the cover you believe in.
~Marina

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby s_c_baker » Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:02 pm

MJNL wrote:if I'm looking for a book I've already read (usually to refer to it on a forum, or to recommend it to someone) and I can't remember the author or the title, I can remember the cover


Speaking as a librarian, I can confirm that this is true. If I had a dollar for every time a student told me "I'm looking for a math textbook. It's blue and has an eagle on the cover"... wotf001
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Pat R Steiner
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Pat R Steiner » Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:30 pm

My ears were burning . . . so I did a quick thumbnail sketch. (Don't know if this will work--the URL thingamabob.)

http://redkearney.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/scan0001.jpg?w=485

If the link didn't work: Imagine if you will. . . .

lunar landscape, blocky-bunker structure for bar in foreground on right, neon sign in window, matching rectangle of light upon moon rocks stretching across foreground center to left, old fashioned rocket ship in background behind bar, and then our hero, center stage, lifting his beer bottle, outlined by the rising earth. . .

Of course, the beer bottle lip would be the vanishing point on the composition.

gower21 wrote:
So yeah, I got nothing. You should get Pat to draw you something up before he wins IOTF and gets busy being famous!
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Martin L. Shoemaker
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:41 pm

Heh... Did I mention that the whole city is underground?

I know, I know... There I go being literal again...

Other than that, it's a cool sketch!
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gower21
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:01 pm

Just look at the possibilities of that as the cover, Martin! Lets pretend that next to the bar is the hatch to get down to the underground city.

Lots of famous books (with famous covers) are technically inaccurate. For example, the Art of Dancing in the Rain has a Golden Retriever on the cover (and the dog in the book is not a Golden Retriever). The Golden R. pulls reader in because it is a family friendly dog, gets men and woman alike to pick up the book. I've seen covers for other books that have blonds on the front where the main character is a red head, ect. But overall that picture doesn't have to change much to get it accurate, if that is what you want. Love the neon sign at the top and the astronaut holding the beer as well as the beer with glove arm in the air.

(Side note). My best friend worked for NASA (up until a few months ago, now she is an engineer for someone else) She got to test and "break in" all the flight suits. Man, was she living the dream or what??!!

OK, OK, OK...it's your cover.*this is me backing away* I just got excited to see an nice shiny sketch by Pat! When are they going to announce the IOTF winners for Q3? and what about Q4? They are sooo behind.

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soulmirror
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:41 pm

A picture of an astronaut on the moon, in full spacesuit gear ...

Image

... except he's holding a can of beer, or wearing one of those hats on his head with a beer in it attached by a hose?

Image

C'mon.
Image
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Rebecca Birch
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:32 pm

Got my next cover ready for critiques! Any thoughts are appreciated.

Image
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kyle
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby kyle » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:44 pm

Rebecca Birch wrote:Got my next cover ready for critiques! Any thoughts are appreciated.[/img]

What genre is this? This is a great cover for a contemporary contemplative drama.

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Martin L. Shoemaker
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:51 pm

The transparency doesn't quite work for me, Rebecca. I think it's the eye. I can't tell if it needs to be more transparent or less; but right now, the cliff and the eye "collide" when I look at it. I think a little less transparency so I could see the eye more clearly would help.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:53 pm

kyle wrote:
Rebecca Birch wrote:Got my next cover ready for critiques! Any thoughts are appreciated.[/img]

What genre is this? This is a great cover for a contemporary contemplative drama.


It's fantasy - a monk on a secluded island is rescued from drowning by a selkie and faces a crisis of faith when he discovers how she saved him. It was my HM from Q3.
Rebecca Birch
Finalist - 2, SF - 1, SHM - 1, HM - 18, R - 6
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MJNL
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby MJNL » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:56 pm

Hmm. I think I'm with Kyle. I'm not sure it says fantasy. Perhaps a little pop of color--something that implies the fantastic--might help?
~Marina

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:57 pm

Martin L. Shoemaker wrote:The transparency doesn't quite work for me, Rebecca. I think it's the eye. I can't tell if it needs to be more transparent or less; but right now, the cliff and the eye "collide" when I look at it. I think a little less transparency so I could see the eye more clearly would help.


I'll see if I can figure out how to adjust that. Playing with GIMP is giving me migraines. wotf004
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:02 pm

MJNL wrote:Hmm. I think I'm with Kyle. I'm not sure it says fantasy. Perhaps a little pop of color--something that implies the fantastic--might help?


Sadly, the selkie is the only fantastical thing in the story. I wonder if I can find a primitive abbey image somewhere ... maybe that would get the more medieval setting across? Apparently the little bit of robe shoulder isn't doing it!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby MJNL » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:19 pm

I found this: http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-mermaid-image4724408

It might be a little too typical-mermaidy for you, but the color kind of implies stained glass, which isn't so much abbey-esque as cathedral-esque, but...who knows?

Or maybe something like this, if you wanted to go a different direction: http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-pisces-zodiac-sign-as-a-beautiful-girl-image19136382
~Marina

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:00 pm

I agree that the transparency is a little confused, a little "lost in the middle" being both images muddied without one standing out. Definitely, as suggested above, the edge of the cliff is confusing in his eye socket.

One possibility (and it's times like this where sliding layers around until something clicks is lovely) might be to slide the guy's face all the way to the right, then have the shadow side of his face (which is dark anyway) blend up to become the seascape?

I wonder why it's in black and white. Even with a B&W image, you might add colour to give it an over-all colour (replacing greyscale with blues, for instance)? Though of course, old Kindle's will make it B&W anyway ... but at least the Amazon page would have colour! (Unless someone's shopping on their K -- but that's just out of our control. I vote for COLOUR, and the proviso there is to make sure it doesn't turn to mud IF IN B&W ... but design and sell it like it'll be seen in colour. SOON ENOUGH Kindles will be colour, and who wants to go back and re-do it from B&W ...

My biggest issue would be: As others have said above, it looks more like contemporary romance rather than Fantasy. If you have selkies, probably sell it with selkies! As the saying goes, WOTF wants us to establish the genre, and so does cover art!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:12 pm

Still no selkie, but is this at least a general improvement?

Image

There are definite romantic undertones to the piece, so getting a romance vibe off it isn't necessarily a bad thing,
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:06 pm

Personally, I like this colour one alot better, yes!

I'll just offer the observation that to my eye, at first I thought you had a non-erased piece of sky up blocking the capital "B" in "Bind" ... there's nothing wrong there, it's just that the scrollwork interiour of the "B" is more lost against the blue sky than it is against the black shoulder of the "B" in Birch. But it confused my eye for a second or two ... Maybe blurring the jagged cliff edge slightly would reduce that, or lightening the interiour scrollwork of the "B" ???

Again, playing around with layers and blending can solve issues small and large (and the "B" may not even be an issue, I may just need eye glasses or electroshock!)

Does anyone see his eye as being an empty, "dead zombie" eye?

I like the colour though!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby MJNL » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:15 pm

I like the blue a lot better, too.

And my eye had the same issue with the "B"-- And I also think a little bit of blurring might fix the issue.
~Marina

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:19 pm

soulmirror wrote:Again, playing around with layers and blending can solve issues small and large (and the "B" may not even be an issue, I may just need eye glasses or electroshock!)


I do think some blending is called for. The edge between his face and the background -- especially in the middle region -- looks a little sharp and jaggy.

Does anyone see his eye as being an empty, "dead zombie" eye?


I didn't think to describe it that way, but yes, that's exactly what I saw. Is that an attempt to colorize his eye? Or was it a zombie eye in the original?
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:31 pm

Martin L. Shoemaker wrote:
soulmirror wrote:
Does anyone see his eye as being an empty, "dead zombie" eye?
I didn't think to describe it that way, but yes, that's exactly what I saw. Is that an attempt to colorize his eye? Or was it a zombie eye in the original?


It's an original zombie eye, sadly.

I've been seriously struggling with GIMP. Does anybody have any favorite books or other tools for how to use it? The online manual has been more confusing than anything else.

Thanks for all your suggestions and pointers, folks! If I can ever wrap my head around this image manipulation stuff, I can see where it would be lots of fun.
Rebecca Birch
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:36 pm

Rebecca Birch wrote:It's an original zombie eye, sadly.


I wonder if that was why the original transparent version bugged me, then. I was looking for a transparent eye with a cliff showing through it, but I didn't understand that it was a transparent zombie eye.
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WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:07 pm

This is a nice cover--I do have the same nit picks as above. I kinda like the zombie eye, its the only thing that sets me over the edge that this is a fantasy, perhaps. One negative about it is it doesn't give a person too much to "link" to when looking at the cover. Eyes, hands, silhouette, all do a good job in doing this...but it does have a brooding feel to the way he is looking. Liked your change on the background. Maybe a different font to keep the at optical illusion from taking place over by the cliff? Although I do like the font.

I'm wanting more color still with the lettering. Maybe gold (lined with a darker color or black shadowing behind the letters)? Did a quick amazon search for selkie books and this is one of my favorites (and I've even read the series...dont make fun of me!).

http://www.amazon.com/Sea-Witch-Childre ... 24&sr=8-33

It's a romance, but I wanted to point out how nice gold looks with blue. Makes it look rich, enviting, and with all the cool colors a splash of warm gives a promise of a good story. Unless your story has a cool tone to it then you might want to stick with the blue...does it have a happy or sad ending...what kind of psychological message do you want to hint to the readers? Then some sort of tag line in a smaller plain font (maybe white) over by the cliffs.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Rebecca Birch » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:31 pm

That's a gorgeous cover, Tina, you're right.

My story has a resigned/melancholy ending, I'd say. I chose the font because the monk has spent the last many years of his life in seclusion on the island illuminating the Bible and I wanted to echo that thought.

Again, thanks for the feedback, all, and I'll keep plugging away. I haven't fully given up on this one finding a home yet, but if it doesn't I want to be ready. I'm married to a Boy Scout. Be prepared!

wotf007
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:34 pm

Rebecca Birch wrote:That's a gorgeous cover, Tina, you're right.

My story has a resigned/melancholy ending, I'd say. I chose the font because the monk has spent the last many years of his life in seclusion on the island illuminating the Bible and I wanted to echo that thought.

Again, thanks for the feedback, all, and I'll keep plugging away. I haven't fully given up on this one finding a home yet, but if it doesn't I want to be ready. I'm married to a Boy Scout. Be prepared!

wotf007


Ah resigned/melancholy--then you made a good choice with the blue.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby soulmirror » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:00 pm

You could "rubberstamp" (does GIMP call it that too?) some of the surface texture off the near cliffs, and put it onto the far, solid blue cliffs. That would make it look far more like cliffs, not just flat blue that looks as much like sky (or artifact) as it does cliff.
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby kyle » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:14 am

I do think you want to find a way to work the selkie into the cover. Even if it's just a tail breaching the surface of the water, or just a seal-like face, superimposed, peering over the monk's shoulder. Something that tells me this isn't the story of a man coming to terms with the loss of his wife or somesuch.

And as much as I like the simplicity of the black and white, I think I'm going to join the chorus that the color version is stronger.

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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby s_c_baker » Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:46 pm

Married to a boy scout? Isn't that illegal in most states? wotf004

*cough* bad jokes aside, I think his face is way too dark. And possibly too big. It draws my attention away from everything else in a big way--the setting looks just like generic background image, and not important to the story. (And I keep thinking of Dante from Clerks, which is entirely my problem, but doesn't make me think fantasy at all.)

If his face was smaller, and down towards the bottom of the page, that might help with the overall tone--I feel like there's too much focus on the face right now. (and the zombie eye wouldn't stand out as much then, either) The whole-page-face made sense when it was transparent, but I'm not so sure it does any more. Agree with Martin about the artifacting on the sides of his face (but that'd be less apparent too if it were smaller!)

I don't get the impression he's a monk at all. Can you throw in a more monkly picture? I think "cowl" when I think medieval monk, not just "robe."

[q]the monk has spent the last many years of his life in seclusion on the island illuminating the Bible and I wanted to echo that thought.[/q]
Looks a bit young for that, but I haven't read the story.
Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:51 am

I just have time to upload two for feedback before I have to board my flight to San Diego. So you'll have all day to rip me up, and I won't be able to respond.

Image

This one is another tall tale of a guy whose overconfidence creates the opposite of the problem he prepared for. I doubt it will be clear on the catalog pages, but it looks to me like the astronaut in the image has a cocky sneer on his face, perfect for the character.

Image

This one is an introspective little piece about a guy who does whatever it takes to achieve his dream, but the dream will always be out of reach. And that's what he likes about it.

Both images licensed through Dreamstime.
http://Shoemaker.Space
Other worlds from award-winning author Martin L. Shoemaker

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT!
REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT!
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Re: Cover Workshop

Postby gower21 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:16 am

The first one:

Great use of color. I like how your name matches the blue behind and shading in the astronaut and the red of the title matches the red button. It is very psychologically suggestive and eye catching. I like how you've gone from ellipsis in your tag lines to periods, a lot more clear, dramatic, and more punch behind the last sentence tag.

A little bit of a joke...as an after thought about the tag line in reference to your name: "Martin L. Shoemaker-- He had all the answers." My eye of course goes to your name and the title and then the tagline, so I know it is about the story and not you. That, by the way, is not a critique of the cover, just a really nerdy joke about ego and subliminal messages. The positioning is all good, in my opinion.


The Second:

It's a great cover. It doesn't grab me like the first, but it goes with your title and like what your doing with the color and the use of white. My only issue with it is it comes across as a bit flat, but up against the first one I think it would be hard to top it. Maybe some of the others will have suggestions for it, or maybe it is fine how it is and I'm being a bit over critical.

Also a note about your house style. I think it really works. I like the font/outlining and that your mixing up the color depending on the needs of the cover and the art you've chosen. Very awesome. I think there's an importance to creating similar looking covers so readers can recognize your titles without making them all look the same. You're doing it smashingly!


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