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I need cover design help

Discussion in 'Cover Design' started by Caged Maiden, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Hey scribes!

    I'm not a digital artist. I don't know the first thing about photoshop or gimp, or even paint. I'm pretty much inept at it all. NO I'm COMPLETELY inept.

    So I have a cover, but I want to see what I can do with digital art. Would anyone help me with this project? Last year, I posted a cover that was half done, and some nice folks tinkered with it briefly, and they did some pretty cool stuff in a few minutes. Do we have any talented folks here who would lend me their time and help me design some covers?

    Thanks, I appreciate it. I can post an example of what I have, if it would be helpful. The painting is rather large and meant to be scanned and shrunk to make a standard paperback cover. Right now, I have digital pictures of the painting. This was an experiment to see what I could come up with in 20 hours, and I'm just about finished, but it's just a picture, not a cover. I'm not really sure how to make a cover, nor what makes a good cover. It's entirely possible I've completely wasted my time, but I'm okay with that. I'd just like to talk with someone who understands more about cover design than I do, because I can't seem to understand what makes a cover exciting and tempting to a reader.
     
  2. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    Well, I don't know a whole lot about cover design (beyond the old axiom "I know what I like"), but I have some experience with digital art and graphic design. I'd like to see your example, at least, and I hope I could help, depending on the scale of the project.
     
  3. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Hey, that'd be awesome! Do you want me to email it to you?
     
  4. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    Sure! Do you still have my email, or do you want me to pm it to you again?
     
  5. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Here's what I have so far. I've included the borders, which won't be part of the cover. Anyways, hope that gives you an idea, though it isn't finished.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I would appreciate a PM. I can send you the pics people edited for me, because I think they're a better picture of what's in my mind to go on. THANKS!!
     
  7. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    Excellent! That's a really lovely painting. Didn't expect that level of architectural detail, but it's cool!

    Making this into a cover wouldn't be terribly difficult, beyond the application of a template. It does depend a little on what you want to fall onto the back, spine, and front cover. The skull-placard motif might be a little large to put on the spine. Again, I don't think it'd be too difficult to put anything anywhere, with a little resizing, because there's plenty of blank space, but in the future it might be a good idea to set out to draw within the dimensions of a typical cover template. (I imagine Amazon might have something like that?) Er, assuming that's not already what you've done.

    Off the bat, it'd be a good idea to adjust the color and contrast, restore some of what the scanner's no doubt taken away. A little more red and blue would help, because at the moment it's mostly beige. The window on the left might need some tilting to get back on the level--assuming this is a flat scanning and not a photo? Maybe some experimentation with a subtle filter or two.

    Obviously, I know zilch about cover design, but I think this is definitely something to start with, and not wasted time--even if it ends up being a sketch or practice for the end product. Cover art is so important, after all. And that aside, it's a fine-looking piece of watercolor!
     
  8. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    yeah, it's a photo from my digital camera, so not scanned, and not flat, HA! I think the spine would be solid colored, maybe black? And I don't have a placement for the title or anything, I just wanted to see what kind of art I could do on my own, to set as a benchmark for any artist I might hire in the future. I hoped they might be able to salvage my own attempt and add some digital flair. Thanks for weighing in. I emailed you the other inspiration ideas I had a year ago, so hopefully that will help you see what I was going for.
     
  9. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

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    If you post an ad on devianart you can get it done real cheap.

    Even if your budget is $50.00, someone will want to do it.

    There are very specific sizing requirements for book covers.
     
  10. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Hey girl, PM me about your needs. I've been working through some cover designs for the past 8 months or so. I'm not terrific, but maybe I can come up with something that might help you out. I have a few samples if you'd like to see what I've done. Anyway, let's chat. :)
     
  11. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Wow, the more I look at Alchemy, the more I love her stuff!! She's amazing!!! I'm really inspired to try some digital art, just for concept work. I downloaded seem free photos from free images.com, and I'm going to work on this a little more, not because I can't or won't pay a real artist, but because my mind is so sketchy about what I'm even looking for, it'd help me be a better communicator to just play with it a little and at least understand what's possible.

    Thanks so much!!!

    I'll let you guys know what I come up with, so I can get some opinions on what looks good and what my ideas are conveying. That's the hardest part if you ask me--understanding what certain images convey to other people.
     
  12. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

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    I'm looking at premade cover designs now for my short story.

    I've used deviantart in the past, and also Damonza. Damonza was expensive but I got ebook and print versions, plus poster files for two of my novels.

    Today I'm looking at a website called 'The Book Cover Designer.'

    I'm seeing really decent premade covers for as low as $24.00

    That's incredibly cheap. I wish I would have known about it before.
     
  13. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

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    This sounds fun. I have a few questions. what is the focus, what do you want the reader to grasp about the book simply by looking at the cover. What is the book about, and how does the cover fit into it.
     
  14. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Didn't he have a sword before?

    Never mind. First what you've provided is roughly the right size and shape for a full cover - front and back cover and spine. If you just want a front cover as you would for an ebook you're going to have to crop it - pick the interesting area.

    The other thing I would say is it needs some drama. Your cover gives an idea of genre (ish) basically historical but not necessarily fantasy or anything. You could try playing with the colours with a programme like Photoscape - which is the simplest and most powerful free photo editor out there - to create mood. Or you could add something like a bloody sword or an effect. And never forget the value of a good title / font.

    Best advice, go to the top sellers in the genre your books, stare at their covers, see what they're doing, and emulate them.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  15. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Ok, had a bash at it using Photoscape filters. Darkened the base of the photo, deepened the top for more vibrant colour and sharpened it a little. Gives it a little more drama. But it really needs something more.

    [​IMG]

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  16. TAGallant

    TAGallant Scribe

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    Cover design is of course a different field, but if that painting is your own work, definitely keep at it. I would think you could make some money with illustration.
     
  17. TAGallant

    TAGallant Scribe

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    So far as image processing, I played with it a program called Postworkshop. Here are some examples.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    wow you guys... I'm blown away by what you all can do with digital art. I'm inspired to finish the painting and at least I'll feel good about finishing it, though I simply can't do the digital editing I think it needs.

    As for what I'm trying to convey, I'm not sure. Basically, I wanted to avoid the look of a totally digital piece because I'm a sucker for painted covers, of course, that may be my own limited understanding of how layering digital photos works. So..i'm not against a completely digital cover, but I knew I couldn't do that, so I took out my paints.

    I would describe the book as "Dangerous Beauty meets Assassin's Creed II" and I jokingly say, "Maybe you saw the TV version, Borgias."

    The story is about social reform, but it's told through 5 PsOV, the two main characters being two women who are held together through one man (the guy on the cover), the chancellor of the republic. He's been a partner to the one woman, helping her to bring down the religious leader of the republic after the man murdered her son. He's married to the other in chapter 8 of the story, and that woman is the true MC of the story, with the story beginning in her world and following her as she's married into a world she doesn't understand and isn't aware of until the midway point of the story.

    On the cover, I want to avoid broadcasting the love story because I feel the story isn't a romance (as romance stories have specific requirements I'm not going to meet, so I don't want to disappoint readers who expect those things, like a happy ending, the soap opera themes of "I'll do anything to keep you" and "I'll do anything for love" because I'm certainly not telling that kind of story).

    I think the main thing I want to show on the cover is that it's a historical feeling world (based on 1576 Venice), and that while it may be a fantasy world, the people are all human, the physics of the world is non-magical, and the story is a drama that I hope will appeal to men and women, not specifically targeting women who read historical romance, because again, those readers will be disappointed when the love story doesn't end happily and people begin dying.

    If I compared this book in tone and feel to any other popular book, I'd say it has a very close feel to The Lies of Locke Lamora, but it has a bigger romantic element and since the two main women characters are both romantically involved with several other characters, I don't want to show a couple on the cover, as it might be misleading.

    Personally, I'm really drawn to architecture, so I went that route when I began the painting, and though my original inspired vision was to put the woman with the dead son and her mercenary associate on the cover, my friend suggested I put the chancellor on the cover because he's the glue that holds the two discrete parts of the plot together (the young woman who becomes his wife, and the rebels he's running to bring down the religious leader).

    I hope that sheds some light on what my intent was when I undertook this project.

    If I can convey anything on the cover, it would be that the world is real-feeling, the characters are somewhat dark in their morality and natures, and that the book is yes, a love story, but foremost, it's a tale of social reform, of which the chancellor is the primary vehicle for said reform. He's a secret-keeping ass to his wife, and when she's exposed to his world, the love story turns south, never to return. The ending is bittersweet, meaning the goal is reached, but some of the main characters don't survive the conflict, and their deaths are what really make the story what it is, so I can't change that, or I might as well scrap the project and write something light-hearted.

    THANKS!!!
     
  19. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Hey guys, I have a couple other ideas for this cover, one is a piece of parchment and a leather-looking red cover, so if any of you would be willing to exchange ideas in emails with me, would you please send me a PM? I don't want to post a bunch of random photos up here on this site, but I have some further inspirations, and I'm just trying to get them compiled into something that looks like a cover. I know that's asking a lot, but i'm happy to help with editing or whatever my strengths are in return. I'm just never going to be able to combine the photos i have into a cover, so I'm happy to trade time, though.
     
  20. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Ok, given what you said about the book I went to kindle and looked up Historical fantasy ebooks to look at their cover. It's a mess of cover designs since it's not a single genre and each genre is too broad on its own. However, I found one in the top ranked books which I think meets your needs best:

    Amazon.com: Marking Time (The Immortal Descendants, Book 1) eBook: April White, Angela Houle: Kindle Store

    Your book is essentially character driven so you need to emphasise that on the cover by having a face. Something that shows emotion and humanity, perhaps that people will empathise with - but something they will respond to on an emotional level. Given that your man is of divided loyalties / good vs evil, I would tend to have his face perhaps in darkness, while the city background should be brighter for contrast.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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