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Cover Art (done for fun, book's not really ready)

Discussion in 'Cover Design' started by Trick, Apr 25, 2015.

  1. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Hi all,

    This is not an official cover. I did it myself only using CC images and heavily modifying them in PDN. Would appreciate thoughts, especially on the impression it gives you. Thanks!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015
  2. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Fixed the torn sleeve issue:

    [​IMG]

    Or is it better if I hint at the tech level of the book? (also, back tattoo fixed)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2015
  3. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Well, my first impression is that it looks like a bad photoshop job. It has a sort of pasted together look. It's not really terrible.... but it's not really good either. The image doesn't really make much of an impression on me other than I've come to find backside views somewhat annoyingly omnipresent. I don't really know what to say other than it just feels average... and not really interesting.
     
    Trick likes this.
  4. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    I'm working on that. I'm pretty sure that him giving off the glow is actually making him seem more stuck on there as opposed to part of the scene. I wish I actually had Photoshop. I'm working with PDN, which is free and thus not as good. I'm getting some plugin functions for exactly that kind of issue, though.


    To be honest, average for my first cover ain't bad. I'm going to keep thinking of ways to keep the theme but punch up the interest.
     
  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    First, stop using PDN. If you have to go free, at least use GIMP.

    The passageway works, but could use some simple effects fiddling. I'm not sure which ones off hand.

    The glow on the figure does not work. If he blends too much with the corridor, you should also run him through some simple effects, like changing the brightness, contrast and saturation to help him stand out. Also, there are more subtle glow effects.

    Whatever the effect is on his hand and the scar on his back, it just looks weird.

    Truthfully, I don't think this is an average cover. I think it can be fixed in a way that makes it about average.
     
    Trick likes this.
  6. skrite

    skrite Scribe

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    what are CC images and what is a PDN?
    pardon my simple questions, but i am looking into artwork myself.
     
  7. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    CC = Creative Commons. Free images, usually requiring that you credit them but not always. And PDN is Paint.net - a free program, originally designed to make up for how bad MS Paint is, that grew a following and has tons of users who create plugin tools for it to make it more and more functional. I really like using it but I am still collecting tools. I've only used GIMP, another freeware design program, once but I think I'll fire it up again per Devor's advice.
     
  8. AndrewMelvin

    AndrewMelvin Scribe

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    One explanation for why images look pasted on (as, unfortunately, they do in this case), is that they often have different lighting sources and textures. To make it look as if the figure is actually standing in the tunnel, you have to try to give the scene a cohesive tone.

    LIGHTING
    The glow, for instance, only emphasizes the fact that the figure is on one layer and the tunnel is on another. There is a red light in the distance, shining towards the figure, so if you have to have a glow (I wouldn't), it should be red, as if the light is bouncing off the figure's chest.

    The two parallel lines (tracks?) running through the tunnel should also have a soft red glow (stronger in the distance, weaker nearer the figure) as in reality they would be hit by some of that red light.

    There are lots of shadows to the left and right of the tunnel, where the brickwork is not so clearly defined, but the figure has very few shadows and in fact is quite bright. Shadows are created by the presence of light, so whatever imaginary light source is hitting the front of the tunnel should match whatever is hitting the back of the figure. You need to think about that light source, and how you could darken some parts of the figure so that the direction of the shadows matches those on the tunnel. I don't use PDN (or even know what it is, to be honest), but in Photoshop you could experiment with the Global Light attribute and Lighting Effects filters.

    TEXTURE
    The tunnel and stones have a lot of texture, but the figure has none; it is much too smooth to be realistic. You need to roughen up the clothing somehow (if PDN lets you do that - in Photoshop you would be using the Noise filter, Blur, etc.).

    Whatever is being revealed on the figure's back and hand (chain mail?) doesn't work for me. It is unclear what it's meant to be, and it's so bright that it distracts the eye from everything else. If the red light is meant to be a train, or the figure's goal/target, I would emphasize that and make that a focal point, rather than something he's wearing beneath his coat.

    I hope some of this might be helpful, but I'm sure there are other people here with better and more technical suggestions.

    Good luck!
     
    Trick likes this.
  9. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    PDN is very functional actually but lacks many tools which I'm still gathering up. I may try GIMP out again though, for the sake of comparison and see if I should switch.

    Hopefully the idea is at least average, the image quality I can work on. I'm trying to keep the dark, magical assassin vibe (which I hope is at least semi-present) but I want to grab people better than this does. I have a high resolution close up of his hand and the glowing tattoo on it is much more obvious. Should I whip something up that is more focused on that, perhaps holding a blade?

    I'm really looking more for comments about it's impact and suggestions for improvement there. If I get the right idea, I'll buy Photoshop if need be.
     
  10. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Thanks for the breakdown. I was aware of some of those issues with it and have been refining it, especially darkening the figure to match. The blue glow is intended to be coming off of the figure but I can see how it looks off and separates him from the background too much.

    On his back and hand are glowing tattoos but I think the scale makes them too unclear. I think I will either bring him closer or revamp the cover to focus on the hand. Not sure yet.
     
  11. AndrewMelvin

    AndrewMelvin Scribe

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    You might want to think about having some of the glow reflected by the floor at the bottom of the picture. If he's glowing that much, some of the blue might strike the stones at his feet and give them a blue tint.
     
  12. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    That's a good point. If I decide to keep an improved version of it, I will definitely do that.
     
  13. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Trick likes this.
  14. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    That is cheap. Is Elements the standard home version or is is a lesser version?

    Thanks for letting me know BTW
     
  15. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Elements is the one I have and has a lot of rich features. The "real" photoshop was about $300 but has recently become a subscription service.
     
  16. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Great. Now it's just a matter of convincing the wife :)
     
  17. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Good luck with that one!
     
    Trick likes this.
  18. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    Elements is free with a Wacom Bamboo tablet.

    Maybe you have no use for one, but if you do, it doesn't cost much more than Elements.

    (Well… it looks like the $99 Pen & Touch is the cheapest with Elements. So really, that's only cheaper than getting Bamboo Pen and purchasing PS Elements. My tablet must've been purchased at a Cyber Monday price or something. My wife got it for less than the cost of Bamboo Pen.)
     
  19. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Normally I'd jump at the bundle but I've got a Lenovo Flex 20; basically, a 20" tablet. I can't justify a second device. Wish I could though.
     
  20. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi Legendary Sidekick,

    Photoshop is free with the Wacom tablet if you live in the USA; if you live in the UK and buy the Wacom here, as I have, you get ...nothing! Grrr!

    I used Paint for a while but have now discovered Gimp and Krita.

    Is this version of Photoshop compatible with Windows 8?

    Presumably Photoshop is better than these free programs?
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2015
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