How do you create your cover art?

Discussion in 'Cover Design' started by Chessie, May 7, 2014.

  1. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Hi everyone! I'm not sure if this thread belongs here or elsewhere, so mods please feel free to move it. :)

    I'm going the self-publishing route, and I currently have 3 stories that need covers. I have decided to do this myself because I love photoshop, and I also want the experience of creating my own cover art, although I am not opposed to working with someone else on this. Anyway, I'm having a difficult time envisioning what I want these covers to look like. So my question is: what have some of you done for inspiration far as cover art goes? How do you come up with the right picture that matches the subject of your book? Thanks a bunch!
     
  2. Scribble

    Scribble Shadow Lord

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    Personally, I would not create my own art, even though I can sketch, paint a little, and use Photoshop. People make their choice based on the cover, and for all that work of writing, I would hire an artist for a few bucks. Prices vary, but I would guess anywhere from 100-300 bucks for a decent work from someone doing it on the side.

    I would work with an artist. At my job, we employe dozens of artists who work on video games, I would select a concept artist - someone who will take your work and interpret it, creating an image to capture the essence of it.

    If my skill with art isn't good enough to make a living at creating visual art, then I am not going to risk my writing by creating the cover.

    Case in point: Lousy Book Covers. If you feel you may create something on par with what is in this list, then step away from the Photoshop!

    Lousy Book Covers
     
    Lovi and Michael J. Tobias like this.
  3. Michael J. Tobias

    Michael J. Tobias Journeyman

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    I concur completely with Scribble. If you're not a professional artist, hire one.

    As far as the concept goes, I generally pick a crucial scene in the story and write out a description for the artist.
     
  4. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Thanks for the advice, Scrib! I don't mind shelling out the money for a good cover. I want to try my hand at it just to see what I can do, but I should add in that in no way do I think my cover art would be professional. :) I have an artist friend that has agreed to help but she doesn't go graphic design, so would that type of artist be necessary for the covers too?

    M. Tobias, thanks for that tidbit. I hadn't thought of that.
     
  5. Scribble

    Scribble Shadow Lord

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    If you don't know any cover artists personally, you can cruise DeviantArt.com and find an artist whose style you like, who has done book covers, who understands how text needs to be laid out, spine, back cover, assuming you may want to print copy someday. I haven`t done it myself, but I am pretty certain DeviantArt provides tools to make these transactions for commissioned art smooth and easy.
     
  6. Kennith E Perry

    Kennith E Perry Apprentice

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    I agree with the others, I'm lucky that I also do both 2d and 3d art using Photoshop, Lightwave, Daz, Bryce and Vue.
     
  7. rhd

    rhd Lore Master

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    Lousy Book Covers[/QUOTE]

    I had to stop scrolling at the third one they're pretty bad.
     
  8. psychotick

    psychotick Dark Lord

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    Hi,

    I'm stunned - none of them are mine!!! (Actually I feel slightly hurt!)

    I do my own covers and I'm no artist. One thing I would say is that it takes time and a lot of practice to get it right - and I'm sure all of mine aren't perfect. If you're curious you can check out my author page: Amazon.com: Greg Curtis: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

    By the way I use any number of programs but not photoshop.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  9. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Greg, which programs do you use? I'm going to hire someone to do them for me now but I would love to play around with creating covers someday.
     
  10. psychotick

    psychotick Dark Lord

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    Hi,

    My frontline programs are as follow. First I get images mostly from the MorgueFiles or Wiki Commons. Morguefile.com free stock photos and Wikimedia Commons What I would say is that you need to pay particular attention to terms of use of the photos and weather you need model releases etc. So for my next book coming out The Nephilim, I got the image from the Wiki Commons, checked the creative commons licence details for it, and then also because it has a face on it, contacted the artist for permission through Facebook.

    Then I use Photoscape which is pound for pound the best photo editing free software out there. It did amongst other things the cube image of Anders Voss. Also it has a filter called water colour or something similar which is incredibly useful at cleaning up images / pixelation. So if you magnify the cover of the Lady's Man you won't see any pixelation on it. GIMP gives me some effects I use regularly. For example the silvered skull in dark elves is done with a GIMP effect as is the weird green glow on Dragon. (I think the effect's called alien glow.) If I need to cut something out or make a background plain I'll usually do that through MS Paint. I know it's crude but it works. To blend images like the woman's face in the sky over the forest inthe Lady's man I used Libre Office draw. It gives two types of transparency, making particular colours transparent and whole images. That was probably the key program I used in blending the various photo elements in Guinea Pig. And recently I found an online text editor called cool text which I did the metallic font for the Lady's Man in. Cool Text: Logo and Graphics Generator

    Other programs I've used include Dreamlight Photo Editor - that provided the whirly magic effect for Maverick - but it is quite limited in some ways. I've also played around with some of the paint.net (not MS Paint) effects. Easy Image Modifier can add a watermark to an image if you want one.

    Feel free to browse my covers and if you're curious about a particular effect or whatever, give me a buzz.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  11. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I wanted to try my hand at cover art too. I started a thread about it but don't really want to try to find it. For me, it wasn't about being cheap, it was a desire to see this one cover realized and if it sucks as a painting, I'll photo edit it (not myself, I don't know how to do that sort of thing) and see whether digital editing helps.

    I totally understand how you feel and would encourage you to try your hand at it, realizing you aren't professional and see whether your art can maybe be used (as I hope mine can) but be honest if a professional comes up with something better. For me, I prefer painting to photoshop, but that's just me. I've seen some wonderful photoshopped covers. Maybe it's just because I'm a bit old school and have a personal relationship with paint. My goal was to spend 20 hours painting and see whether I could come up with something halfway decent before shelling out $400 for someone else to invent something. At least this way, if my image is unusable, I have a concept I can show. Maybe it's a good concept, maybe a totally crap one, I don't know. Either way, I'm glad I tried it myself for my own reasons. I say, if you're passionate about a particular image or cover concept, try your hand at it and it won't be time wasted. Just set a limit on how much effort you'll devote to it. Like I said, for me, it was 20 hours, which I would charge $400 for and I heard that's about the going rate of a professional cover for a self-published author. That being said, it was my hope to submit to an agent and if I go that route, I won't be making any cover decisions.

    Here's my image in case you're curious. Here it is after about ten hours:
    [​IMG]

    And how it looks now, after fifteen: I took a picture every thirty minutes as I painted, in case I wanted to post the process on my website.

    [​IMG]

    I don't have any clue how a cover is supposed to look, color-wise or font or anything like that. I painted the picture big enough to do a full wrap cover minus the binding, so the front cover would cut off on the left, just on the other side of the skull. The left window would be largely covered by a box filled with text. Anyways, my point is, even if the painting never cuts the mustard when finished (and I don't think I'll have it done inside the twenty allotted hours, but it'll be close), I'm glad I tried it and did it. if anything, I have a clearer image of my character, got some good feedback about covers and what they say about a story, and I had fun painting with my friends. I haven't painted anything in over ten years and this was just a happy reminder how much I enjoy it. In fact, I planned a graphic novel a year ago and quit it when I couldn't imagine how to hire an artist to realize my vision for the illustrations, but now I kinda want to give it a try myself, just to see whether it might be good enough. As the cover stands, I'm kinda reinvigorated by your thread to take it back out (I stalled out when I thought of adding the sword and didn't know whether it was a good choice or a mistake) and hand the painting image off to my photoshop friends to see whether they could make it better.

    Best wishes and thank you for inspiring me to follow through.
     
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  12. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Psychotik, thank you for the information and I'll be sure to check out your covers!

    Maiden, your painting is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your perspective with us. See, I would like to get good at doing covers because I enjoy doing things of that nature anyway. I like art and although I can't paint or draw worth a damn, paint type workshops are good fun. I think its something I can eventually do.

    I have reached out to some cover artists but none have contacted me in return. :(
     
  13. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Dark Lord

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    I had to stop scrolling at the third one they're pretty bad.[/QUOTE]

    I... can't... look... away...


    Anyway, I haven't made any book covers but I've got a couple of helpful links for you!

    First there's The Book Designer which is full of advice and help for designing both the outside and the inside of a book. This site also holds monthly ebook cover design awards which gives a lot of examples of well done covers and almost but not quite there covers with commentary on what the designers got right and what they still need help with.

    CreativIndie is another site with a lot of good advice and resources. In particular, I LOVE this post with the best fonts to use for genre covers.
     
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  14. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I'd like to learn more about cover design, just for my own personal knowledge. Thanks for posting that. I always wondered what made a cover successful because there are a lot of theories and some words thrown around like "engaging". I mean... it's nice to hear the word. I would never expect a BORING cover would be sought, hehe, but let's say my cover was boring and not engaging... is it because the color palette I picked sucks? Is it because the cover doesn't convey a message? Is it not engaging because the character isn't in action with a sword in his hand? These are all questions I can't answer for myself so I wanted to learn more.

    I have seen a lot of similar-style cover art and I wonder whether those hit on something because of what they subconsciously convey to a reader or whether they're styled after other similar-tone novels and therefore readers now come to expect certain things of a manuscript with a certain sort of cover. Like, epic fantasy predominantly shows characters in battle or battle-ready on the cover. If I do a similar cover but have a political thriller of a fantasy, will a reader be disappointed? All good information to have.

    When I debated my cover, I really didn't have an idea. I considered putting characters on the cover (a prostitute and her bodyguard, because they're one of three partnerships of characters the book centers around) but it was hard to decide which characters to pick because I have so many. Then, I debated scratching the characters and instead having a mostly black cover, and a letter lying on a desk, with red scroll work, blood dripped on the paper, and a dagger sticking through it. That would certainly convey what my book is about (Written in Red). I began looking for pictures of Venice and considered doing a sunset over the doge's palace or even a nighttime canal scene, thinking maybe painting the city might be the way to go. When I found the skull wall, I HAD to do it. Then, I needed to pick a character and my friend suggested I paint my MC Rafe, because he's the glue that holds all the various MCs together. I had to agree, so I ended on Rafe by the skull wall. Only problem was, he's a rather normal character, dark and broody, not fierce. He's not the swordsman in the book, nor the colorful, conniving prostitute. He's not even really the main POV character. But he does hold it all together. I'm not sure whether he's interesting enough, but that's where I got to on it.

    I could honestly see an agent hating the cover concept, but again, I don't care. If they come up with something better, I'm all for it. I'm nowhere near experienced enough to insist I know anything about marketing a book. THat's one of the reasons I want an agent so badly. I'm just a noob to publishing and all it entails. I need help. I just did a cover in case I need to self-publish (so I don't wast time trying to get this book published while I should be writing others).

    Best wishes as you pursue your vision and I hope my experiences have helped to encourage you to try something new. I live for trying something new. In fact, many times, I just am interested in the journey. I told my husband my concerns, that I've been writing for thirteen years and i'm about tired of it. It was fun when it was all weak first draft crap. It was an adventure when I began learning how to edit and crit and began really polishing manuscripts. Now, I'm not sure what the future holds for me. If I reach the end of WiR, getting it accepted by an agent and published, will I even want to continue? WIll I ever want to begin a first draft again, having spent so much time editing and polishing? I've burned myself out on a couple books I've worked on the last few years. I can't stand the sight of them any longer and I'm not sure I can streamline the process enough to make it worth starting all over and doing this again and again on future books.

    Maybe it's time to take a break and go back to painting. :) Best wishes. I hope you have fun and create unique and special art on your new journey.
     
  15. psychotick

    psychotick Dark Lord

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  16. Lunaairis

    Lunaairis Grandmaster

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    I'm so glad your second link talks about fonts. Fonts are actually the most important thing on the cover and so many writers think they can do it right but they are so wrong. So very wrong.
     
  17. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Psychotik & Mythopoet, thanks for the links! I also liked the font one. Its true, the fonts are so important. I have some things to play with here so I'm going to buy some cheap little photo from deviantart and start my hand at this. :)
     
  18. *LiLi*

    *LiLi* Acolyte

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    I worked with someone, ended up going with some very nice symbols rather than the painted or photo-realistic shots of people (though there's nothing wrong with that).
     
  19. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Resurrecting this thread to say that I've contacted numerous cover artists with banging websites and portfolios...only to hear nothing back in return. Its frustrating and confusing to me that I can't seem to find anyone to at least *talk* to about creating a cover for me. If anyone has links, recommendations, etc I would SO appreciate it!
     
  20. Ankari

    Ankari Staff Moderator

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    I've worked with Nihal and Jose Vega. Both maintain an excellent line of communication and both happen to be members of this site.
     
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