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!
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