1. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cover Art

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by psychotick, Apr 19, 2011.

    Hi,

    My second novel Maverick is almost ready to go on the kindle, and before I do that I need some sort of cover art. The cover I used for my first one Thief, was - well pitiful would be a generous term. I put a copy on my profile page so feel free to have a laugh.

    What I need though is some sort of idea of what the art should be, I'm thinking a scene from the book or something to show my maverick wizard in action, or similar, but alas can't draw a straight line with a ruler. So my question is, how do those of you who've reached this stage go about it? Hire someone? Paint your own? Leave a blank cover? Go for something symbolic but easy to draw?

    All thoughts appreciated.

    Cheers.
     
  2. Infinitytruth
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    Infinitytruth Senior Member

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    Can never go wrong with something symbolic.
     
  3. Mr. Blue Dot
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    Mr. Blue Dot Member

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    I made a free ebook once a couple years ago. I found some art work released under a creative commons license that I liked, and then I sent a message to the artist to ask if I could use it.

    He said he didn't mind, so I shrunk it to size, slapped my title and by line on the picture with photoshop, and included it as the cover. He was actually pretty amused that somebody wanted to use his art, he was a pretty cool guy.

    But that was a free thing, I'm not sure how well it would apply in your situation if you're intending to make money.

    You could always commission a piece of art as well.
     
  4. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Well, having done freelance graphic design for over a decade....and even a book cover/dust jacket or two...Depends on what you want.

    If you want a fully rendered painting of a detailed, fantasy sort; any level of quality will cost you dearly because a good painter will take a good bit of time to do that work. Even then, what will the result be?

    I recently completed a CD package. On the outer black tray cover, I had made a photo-based illustration showing a variation of the cover. It was a tribute of a famous artist and people releasing the disc wanted a painting on the back and commissioned one with a painter. While it's not the worst thing I've seen, I deplored using that instead of the illustration I had made because the painting was very much like a good high schooler in art class. Decent work but not amazing...I think it just knocked a solid design down a notch.

    So...be careful about what you want.

    However, as suggested, if you want something representative of your book but not a fully rendered fantasy painting, then a good graphic designer could do that for a reasonable price.
     
  5. Ophiucha
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    Ophiucha Member

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    If you are hoping to sell copies, I would suggest a professional - graphic designer, painter, whatever. Even if you do get a painter or someone, ensure you have somebody do the title and by line as well. Professionalism means a lot when it comes to sales, and something that looks like some word art slapped on hastily to a pretty photo doesn't get me buying. If it looks like a cover I'd see in a bookstore, it's a cover I could see in my shopping cart. It shows dedication and investment in the project. It makes me think that you have also invested in proper copy editing, marketing, and even simply just your time.
     
  6. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the advice and yes, I don't want my next cover to look amaturish. So having said that found a site for free photos which can be used without copywrite issues etc, its called the morgue (where old photo's come to die?), then downloaded a photomerge program called Merge, and started playing. The end result is my first draft of the cover for Maverick.

    I'm not completely happy with it, the text for a start isn't right, and the photo's don't flow seemlessly, but I like the colours and the concept. Can you let me know what you think. Is it too amateur hour? Does it draw the eye? Does it make you want to die laughing? Does it scream magic and fantasy? (Maverick is a fantasy novel.)

    Thanks.
     

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  7. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    Hmm. Something about that cover doesn't strike me the right way. Not that it's a bad photograph (although I'm sure there are better representations out there) but it doesn't seem fitting for the concept for your story.

    Hearing about the elements of your novel reminds me of playing Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition and one of the new character classes, the Wild Mage. They were mavericks of sorts with a spell failure ratio conversely related to their character level. Failures meant anything could happen and a lot of Wild Mages banked on this happening to further add to their unpredictability and rebelliousness.

    With that in mind, the fire element is good but I'd definitely add something unique to it in order to make it stand out. This might include a pair of hands stretching out the fire like a violent rainbow or maybe even a single hand shaping the fire into an object/statue of sorts. When you're publishing on Amazon, a good cover is one of your best selling points so don't take it lightly.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It does need something - what are you using to produce it ? Personally I'd at least change the colour of the background.
     
  9. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I thought it might be my computer, at first the fire was the only thing I saw, then I noticed the trees in the background, a little too dark background.

    Fire in the forest, is the story set in the forest?
    I think hands cupping the fire might set the right picture, mage producing fire.

    I have only viewed one or two books on Kindle, do they have vast cover art?
    I think the ones I saw were free books(not much art), so I don't know much about pay books on Kindle.
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    ok I didn't see the hands and trees until you told me lol

    Do you have the GIMP? It is a learning curve but free to download. I would lighten the background a bit if you can and allow the hands to stand out or the trees. I think both is a bit much try a clear background and keep the image simple.

    The quality of covers on Kindle varies. However if you are selling it or planning to sell it via Amazon the cover is what shows up on a search etc
     
  11. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for that. Yes Maverick is about an exiled wizard living in the forests, so that's why the trees had to be there. I agree they are dark, but when I sw that green coming through on the colour filters it was just awesome. There are no hands though. I was thinking about putting some in, just to make it obvious, but then I thought it might be too cliche. Maybe V2.

    Cheers.
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Its just very unclear also name and title need to be in something like Yellow, Cream or White to be seen. I can't make out what is on fire.
     
  13. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    Keep in mind that your cover needs to be readable in thumbnail form, since that's how it'll come up in an Amazon search. I can tell you right now that the title and author name need to be bigger, in a different font (sorry, the one you're using now does look amateurish), and in a different color. If nothing else, you want the title and author name to pop.

    To me, the image seems strangely washed out. Definitely not professional-looking. Sorry. :(

    I'd suggest you either do some serious studying about book cover design (what makes a cover work, the importance of typography, norms for your genre), or else you hire someone. There are very decent artists out there who do book covers for $100 or less. Granted, that won't get you original artwork or a top-of-the-line cover, but I can guarantee you could get something that looks reasonable.
     
  14. glenpalmer
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    glenpalmer New Member

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    Dude, I had a similar problem a while back with my first novel Muti.
    Luckily, my niece is a graphic designer so I got one pretty cheap.
    Recently, I came across a site called Fiverr.com.
    It's basically a site where people offer their services for a $5.
    There is a lot of designers on the site. I would recommend you check that out.
     
  15. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the feedback so far. Its morning here in soaking wet Rotorua, and I'm tired from far too little sleep (editing takes so much time), but I came up with a cover that I think is closer to what I want.

    Please let me know what you think, especially about the eyes - not sure why I put them in but they look cool, and the text - I know its black on a dark background but I think it looks good and is still readable.

    Thanks in advance.
     

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  16. Mr. Blue Dot
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    Mr. Blue Dot Member

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    Those eyes are terrible, sorry. The forest is clearer, which is good. As for the fonts, it's not enough. I would change the color and increase the size again.
     
  17. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    Text is quite ordinary, maybe change the font- nothing too wacky, but something less common. Also larger, maybe black text with a white outline to make it easier to read?
    The eyes could possibly be darker, it might work better against the flames.

    Edit:

    Also I think it would pop more if the title and author were different sizes- either Author bigger or title bigger, fiddle around with it.
     
  18. Pea
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    Pea super pea!

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    Go look at other book covers, and emulate them. Though I would recommend you hire a professional if that's at all possible. Books ARE judged by their cover.
     
  19. shadowzeke
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    shadowzeke New Member

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    As someone familiar with graphics, I agree with the others regarding the font. I completely understand you're going for appropriate mood, but it absolutely cannot be black on black. No one should have to strain their eyes to make out the font, because unfortunately, they might not bother. For some, it might not even be possible. It's very difficult for me to read, even on my bright monitor.

    Make sure the text is large enough for small thumbnails with clean, smooth edges. Pay close attention to alignment while reworking it, if it's meant to be artistically placed on the canvas, then place it far enough from the center to prove it was intentional. I don't have the cover up right now so I don't recall the alignment, but it's a good rule! :) And ensure that the font type is modern (for example, one might decide to avoid ol' trusty Papyrus), matches the story, but is also readable. And make sure it's free! Some have lots of legal mumbo jumbo.

    Unfortunately, the photograph(s) seem grainy. And I truly apologize and mean no disrespect, but I feel the the eyes should definitely be removed, or perhaps implemented in a different way. Using the appropriate tools in painting software like Photoshop, Gimp, Paint Shop Pro and probably an assortment of others, you could use a dark paint brush, a smudge tool, and a clone stamp tool to easily create eyes within the fire. If you wanted to run with eyes and fire, that could be fun!

    Also, if working with photographs proves to be too hard, don't forget that simple covers are just as elegant and attractive, if not more, depending on your options. I once created two separate covers for the same book in a college course, and to be honest I happened to prefer the one completely made of vector art, solid colors and shapes. I used Adobe Illustrator, for reference.

    All you'd need is an attractive color scheme (all over the web) and free photographs (stock!) to trace over in Illustrator if you're not comfortable with freehand. After getting a hang of the software, it's fun, easy, and extremely professional. And you don't need a tablet. :)

    I actually recommend using vector software whenever possible when working with commercial projects. I was determined to be stubborn about it until I buckled down to learn in college.

    If you want to do this yourself, genuinely want something as professional as possible, but don't want to hire or pay someone for work.. I truly recommend watching some Youtube video tutorials or search for tutorials around the web (sites, blogs, graphic forums), or even on DeviantArt! There's also E-Books. Sooo many resources for graphic design!

    I hope my advice helps, and I really hope you are able to come up with a cover you love! That must be so exciting, to be creating the cover for your own book! Good luck and best wishes!

    Oh! And make sure to work in high resolution (big sizes!) and DPI for best quality. :)

    Edit: I'm not sure how good of a program it is or its extent of features, but Inkscape is free vector art software, such as Illustrator! Easy to find on Google. :)
     
  20. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Guys,

    Have reworked the text as you advise, the titles now larger again, and I shadowed it with a white effect, and I think its easy enough to read now, even in thumbnail. Actually I have it pasted as my background on the computer so I can stare at it a lot between editing sessions, and I think it looks good. On the other hand I'm no artist.

    Thanks for the advice.

    Cheers.
     
  21. Pea
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    Pea super pea!

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    This thread inspired me to have a go at making your cover, I hope you don't mind. Maybe it will give you ideas or something. :redface:
     

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  22. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Cuz everyone else is doing it. I did one:
     

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  23. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Now that is rather good Jeff :)
     
  24. chacotaco91
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    chacotaco91 Senior Member

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    I mean no offense but I did lol when I looked at the cover on your profile pic.
     
  25. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whoah these guys are good. I say ask Jeff or Pea to design your cover. They seem to have the skills. But a question. Those pictures you used, would there be any copyright infringements with them?
     

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