I know this has been a long time coming, but thanks to some family emergencies I had to put a few things on hold for a while. Now that I've had a moment to myself, I was able to get started on my dear friend's second book cover in her Zerrin series. As with the Fantasy Book Cover Creation blog I did previously, I am going to take you step by step through the process of how it was done. Step One - is always the same... you start with an idea and a base image...
I used a different shot of the same girl from the Smitten cover to start on Bitten.The problems to overcome with the original picture and challenges I faced with using this one for the cover...
Here's how I tackled those things:Step one - hair color. I know this is going to be my easiest fix, so I got out my handy-dandy burn tool that I described in the previous blog. And I burned her hair until she looked like this:
- Her hair color and texture - again
- that hideous shirt
- Both sides of her body are cut off and the top of her head, making placement a challenge.
She's still not perfect and that hair is nowhere near what I need it to be, but this is how it all starts. I'm showing you the ugly in-between so you don't become disgruntled when trying it yourself. Yes, sometimes things get ugly before they all come together! :D
So, the next step in this process became placement, thanks to her missing body parts. Some times it is not worth trying to work around those missing pieces. These are things that need to be considered when choosing a model to begin with! I knew I could eventually come up with something for her, despite her lack of limbs and missing the top of her head... so this is how I did it...
Again, before I can place the girl, I need a good background image. It just so happens that when I got the other "sea background" for Smitten I was able to snag a couple variations and this is the one I am using for the Bitten cover.Now that I have a background, I need to drop my girl up there into it and make her look as though she belongs. There are few things I need to think about when getting ready for this step.
- Remember, she's missing limbs - placement is important
- Lighting - it's going to be an issue because this background has a definite source of light that will be visible and we want to be able to blend that light into the girl.
- She's going to be underwater, so as I did with the first cover, I am going to have to make her hair light and floaty
Okay, I forgot to save some of my in between moments here, so bear with me. :) This picture is what I call a rough draft. What I have done is placed the girl - making sure that I addressed the following things:
BUT... I don't like it. Her hair is yuk! The author's name is bugging me for some reason. The title is having issues with the lighting, and my damn mermaids have disappeared. Now it looks like "Vampires Under Water" or something. SO... here come the fixes.
- Her arms are both cut off, so I had to make sure she extended out to both sides of the cover.
- The top of her head is cut off, so I had to fluff her hair a bit, and also make it "float in the water. This was all done with the smudge tool.
- She needed bite marks because she gets bitten (hence the title). The blood, as described in the story is a bluish tint...
- Lighting, I added blue tinted light to each of her eyes to make them stand out, I also added a light source located above and to the right of her head.
- Title and author name - obviously have been temporarily placed as well...
So here's what I have done now...
And now, Patria has book cover #2 in her new Fantasy trilogy. Book Three will be on it's way soon, and there are already some pretty cool ideas flying around about that one. It will be a little different. You're going to see a LOT more of our little cover girl from both the front and the back as she's finally going to see her reflection! That's all I can give away for now. Stay tuned for the third and final installment in Fantasy Book Cover Creation...
- The mermaid tale is back and placed just so beneath the title. It catches the light in all the right places, adds a bit character to the cover, and lets people know that vampires probably aren't camped out under the sea after all.
- Makeup... the poor thing was bitten, but she didn't have to be washed out. Seriously, she undergoes a transformation, and the makeup is going to help illustrate that in this cover.
- The author's name - the lighting was toned down a bit and the name was off centered, as it was on the first cover. It just works for some reason - so I stuck with it.
- Hair - the hair has been softened and allowed to float a bit more. Now she doesn't look like a greasy crack whore who's been bitten by underwater vampires! ;) At least, I hope!
I just designed a book cover, for a friend, that I am absolutely in love with. Now, I am going to tell you how I did it!
Yes, I am sharing trade secrets here, shhh, don't tell anyone! Oh wait, this is a blog - on second though - tell everyone! We bloggers love our traffic! ;)
Okay, so it all starts with an idea.
PATRIA: "I have this idea for an amazing story *edit the details here, because you guys just have to check the book out for yourselves when it releases* do you think you can come up with something for the cover?"
So, Patria sends me a link to these images:
Okay, along with these images she tells me I like the blue thingy in the middle as the "firefly glowing mermaid thingy" those are my words, not hers... hers were probably more sophisticated, but I am too lazy to go look them up! So, I say, okay gimme 5 minutes and I am going to send you an idea to look over and you can tell me what you are thinking - about how they are combined. So, literally 5 minutes later I send her a few selections of basically the same image with different lighting going on...one easy-peasy look at a sample possibility. It looked like this:
This is really easy, we're talking a little lighting on the girl with the top light being white and the undertone light being a bluish hue. Then the words have some lighting effects, all of it on a basic black background. Simple enough for a sample. So, my dear friend says something like, "cool, except my character isn't blond. Can you do something about her hair? And I don't like the black background. Can you do something different with that?"
Why, yes, I can.
So, I am going to describe what I did first then show you the finished project. First, I found a really cool water background image to use. For those who don't know, when I say I found an image to use... I am talking stock photos. The rights to use them are purchased! Photo manipulation is a lovely art, but the original artists/photographers deserve their just due too!
So, first thing's first. I burned blondie's hair! Using the burn tool in Photoshop. Her stick straight blond tresses became a beautiful mix of browns and reds. If you have never used the burn tool before, I suggest trying it out! Photoshop (and similar programs such as Gimp) have an UNDO button for a reason! :D Experiment away!
Then, I dropped my new brunette/redhead onto the background. When I dropped her in, an interesting thing happened. Her nose came right up to those bubbles on the left. However, when she was sized down to a proportionate level, the bubbles were above her head. SO... that lead to my next step. I had to go back to the plain image of the watery background and crop out a section of bubbles. Then, because the water is different colors in certain places I had to erase everything except the outlines of the bubbles. Then I drug that image onto the background and positioned it just so... now, it looked like the girl had bubbles coming from her. :)
My next problem, HAIR. I had a great color change, but no one's hair sticks straight down when they are submerged in the water. So I had to make that hair seem to float a little. Also, one of Patria's requests was to make her look a little more cartoony than realistic. Basically a soft touch on everything. So, I used the blur tool in Photoshop. I blurred out every bit of her hair, then I flared it at the ends to give it that wispy under-water look. For the top of her head, I actually cut out the top of her head from the original picture, and attached it to what was already there, to give me the part and the "other side" of her hair that was doing a little floaty thing at the top. :) OH - and I added some lighting to her face to make it glow a little. And voila, this is where we are...
Now, to tackle the glowy thing that Patria wanted. At this point, my teenage daughter came home from school and is looking at what I am doing. She is wildly fascinated by the hair! I earned cool points for that, but then she's like, "so, why is there a glowing water-sperm on the book cover" OH, NO! Now, all I see when I look at this thing is a glowing water sperm. SIGH So, after about 30 minutes worth of a headache trying to find a way to work this in... I start browsing for other ideas. I think a mermaid tale would be really cool. I am lazy though, did I mention that? While I can draw (somewhat decently) I just prefer the instant gratification of photo manipulation. So, I head back to Dreamstime.com and look for mermaid tales. I came away with this image:
Okay, it's obviously a computer created character image, and I don't like the mermaid herself at all. But what I do like is her tail! And her tail is going to look really cool with the same soft touch elements I used on Blondie's hair! So I crop out just the tail from right below her hand, then I flip it and drop it into the image I already have. It gets re-sized and positioned. Then, it gets that soft touch from the blur tool.
And now, I am almost ready to see the finished image. One thing is lacking... the title and author name. Obviously the very pretty lighting effect I used at first on the black background will not work the same on blue water. So, I go with the color of the light that is filtering through the water. And here is the finished project:
So, I send it to Patria for approval and she responds with this, "Omg you are a freaking genius!!!!!!!"Yeah, that made my day!So, then she asked how I did that to her hair, and I thought it would be cool to share with everyone. :)By the way, you can find out more about Patria's upcoming book (series) from her website: http://patriadunn.moonlitdreams.org/smitten.htmlHappy Reading!
You want your book to stand out in a crowd, don't you?
I know this topic has been hashed out all over the blog-o-sphere, so why do another blog on the importance of book covers? Because I still get requests for reviews from Indie Authors who's book would never cross my radar in a million years. Why? They are either lacking any sort of cover image or it's not the greatest in the world.
Who am I to judge? Well, I am a reader. I am a person who believes that the cover of a book says a lot about it. I am also an author who got her start with a rushed, not so great, didn't sell well cover! I do realize, as in my own case, that not everyone can afford to plunk down a massive $500+ for a book cover that some of the artists are charging. For that matter, I had trouble scraping together the $50-a couple hundred dollars it would take to get mine done. Times are certainly tough, but I am not without resources! Are you planning on making a career out of being an Indie Author (at least till that elusive publishing deal comes knocking on your door)? Then, either you need to scrape together some cash or you need to pull up a beautiful program like Photoshop (the cheap Photoshop Elements version works great) or Gimp (freeware people - money is no issue here) and start learning! Don't think that you will be designing the word's most clever book covers from the start, but with a little practice you can manage something a little better than a monotone background with some words thrown across it.
Now, I know, I just shocked the hell out of some of you. Make my own book covers? *GASP* Learn yet another program? *SIGH* Where on earth will I find the time to do that too? My question to you is why not take your time and put out beautiful books (both inside and out) so that you actually make money off of them, instead of rushing to put out something no one will buy?
And while we are on the subject, go peruse through some of the best sellers lists and take a look at what those people, you know - the success ones - have for covers! I don't see many that look like their six year old helped draw the cover, unless of course the book was meant to be read by a six year old. In other words, if you have a hardcore fantasy novel that is geared towards adults - you better come at those adult readers with a cover that is up to par!
Something else to think about before you get started is this: If you have a series or trilogy you may want to think the entire set through as one item! After all, you don't want people to overlook the next book in your series because they couldn't recognize it. Keep the same font, the same basic theme, that darling little yellow bird at the top corner, whatever, so long as readers can easily identify it as a part of the same series!
Another thing to think over is stock photographs. I have seen on many a blog where stock photos should be used sparingly or not at all. Why? Because everyone has access to them and you may end up seeing the same images on several books. This is where I differ in opinion. Those images need never look much alike. I mean, if you are just going to take the stock photo as is and slap it on your book cover and call it good, you may have issues, but with a little finesse, you can take that plain old photo and make it into something amazing! Something, in fact, that if seen on another cover won't even be recognizable as one in the same. Once again, being able to do this will take a little practice. And if you aren't up for the task, find someone who is!
Do you know someone who's great with photo shop and might doctor up an image for you? Even if you toss them a $20 and buy the pizza while they work, it's got to be better than going with what little Susie made in kindergarten last year!
So, I'm done preaching the importance of book covers and I will leave you with my own mishap of a book cover. While my six year old didn't make it, the cover was rushed and didn't sell well. The new cover - thankfully - is selling daily! :D