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Author Topic: Book Cover Design  (Read 32801 times)

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Ice Queen

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Book Cover Design
« on: 09/07-17:08 »

I was reading the Admiral Who thread and the subject of artwork came up. I don't know any artists and can't afford to be paying someone to create something. Is there a way to do something cheaply but still be nice? 
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superpsycho

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #1 on: 09/07-18:06 »

When I have time I'll do a write up that will make the process a bit easier. Till then, this first link talks about it in terms of hard cover book jackets.
Book Jacket Art

Here's another link that does mention e-books.
Creating Cover Art

I don't expect either link to answer all your questions but they'll get you started thinking. I'll try and do a short write up on how to layout something that is simple from a marketing standpoint. Background versus foreground and what you want to be the focus for a reader. It's about catching the eye of potential customers.
 
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Milly

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #2 on: 09/07-20:53 »

That would be great. I'm no artist and need something easy.
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superpsycho

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #3 on: 09/09-03:49 »

The version of the program I use is hard to find. Coral bought the company that made it and changed the program to make it as cumbersome to use as Coral Draw. I still use Paint Shop Pro 7 and sometimes version 9 when I want to use the programming functions.

You can still get old copies of the program from a number of places.


Cover art is advertising artwork and follows the same basic concepts. You’re trying to catch the eye of potential customers. That means you have to know your customer and play to them.

If you look at most cover art, it’s centered around one or two specific items relevant to the story. The background imagery serves, to either enhance the foreground images or at minimum designed not to distract from them.  With e-books and web sales you have to remember the cover needs to do the job at a reduced size.

You’re better off not having a cluttered design. Something basic but relevant is better, especially if your doing it yourself. First, you have to determine the key feature you want to sell about your story. Most often, it’s the MC. You can add in any partner or romantic interest or idiosyncrasy highlighted in the story.   

We’ll use a old classic as our first example: The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein. A story of a man betrayed and sent into the future with his cat. So, what would be the main image you want on the cover? If you’ve read the story, you’d know the cat is important to the story, so we’d want to include it on the cover. There is a romantic interest so we may want to include a female figure. And, we of course have our MC. The setting isn’t important but we have the option of a current or future setting, since we have both locations in the storyline.

If you’ll go to Amazon and look it up you see a couple versions of the cover, usually a man or woman alone with the cat. Sometimes in a futuristic setting, sometimes not.
Amazon search - Door into Summer

As a second example, let’s use The Deposed King’s book Admiral Who. In his story we have our MC, The Little Admiral aka Jason Montagne Vekna, Governor of Planetary Body Harpoon, Vice Admiral in the Multi-Sector Patrol Fleet, a Prince-Cadet of House Montagne, and a sometimes-struggling college student. He does have a romantic interest, who is his wife by accident when he presented her with his sword, a custom he was unaware of and to busy, trying not to get killed, to be concerned about at the time. 

Now, if I was doing a cover, I'd go for a close up of him and her face to face. Let us say about from the shoulders up, with her holding the sword, just below his chin. For a background we could do a ships bridge as they orbit a planet or a maybe her clan and his crew watching in the background. Maybe as if an arena highlighted in glowing light as if from a hole in the ceiling of a cave. Make them young looking, with appropriate costume but since it is just shoulder up, we wouldn’t have to do much. Space images are plentiful and it's easy to create a bridge window. Creating people would be a bit harder but not much, if you don't need detail.   

In both cases, we’re not trying to get fancy, just provide a hint of the story in the imagery. Enough to tease the eye and say, I have a story to tell.

The next thing to know is how to go about generating the art. You need some software like Paint Shop Pro and a Digital Camera. Paint Shop Pro has many features and it’s simple to use. The two features we need are: 1) the ability to convert a photo into a painting or sketch, and 2) the clone brush. The clone brush allows you to selectively copy portions of textures into an image.

The thing about this method is, it doesn’t require skill, just patience as you learn the program and what can be done. You start by getting a couple friends to pose in the appropriate positions. If you have props, like a sword, than that’s great if not we just clone one in along with any costumes.

This site, moguefile.com, is where you can get copyright free images for free. You can use them as long as you follow their terms. Mainly you can't sell their work but you can incorperate them and use them in other ways. Just give them the proper credit due them.

The following conversion was done with a program called FotoSketcher, but be warned, read carefully when installing it. You’ll be asked if you want to install browser toolbars. Be sure to un-check the options if presented or decline any offers before continuing to install.  This program does do a better job of converting the image to look like art than Paint Shop Pro.

Note: Came across another program that does even a better job called Cartoon Generator > Here

Original photo:                                           Converted photo:


As you can see the conversion is enough to look like art for a book cover, especially once reduced in size.

I'll add more when I get some more time but this should be enough to get you started. Feel free to ask questions.
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superpsycho

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #4 on: 11/12-23:08 »

The most basic and simplest version of a book cover is just do a hardcover image with title and author. It can be cloth, leather or cardboard based.

Leather Example reflects one of our members and the book he's working on.
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superpsycho

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #5 on: 03/29-02:20 »

Here are a few versions of potential 'Calibrated Swift' book covers. The one on the left was my original concept. It's simple, keeps the main character as the focus and isn't cluttered. The other two are fine but I think they are too busy. There is no drawing in these. It's all cut, paste, and texture.

Click on image to enlarge
Click to see the original size.
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superpsycho

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #6 on: 03/30-03:09 »

I've added to the image an assortment of weapons. Again all cut and paste, no drawing. The original image was a Halloween costume. I changed the girl modeling the costume to match my character's description. An action pose would have been nice but when you're limited on drawing skills you settle for what you can realistically do and still get the job done. The high heels in this image are not in character but it's not a major issue that most people would even take note of.


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The Deposed King

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #7 on: 04/06-03:06 »

Here are a few versions of potential 'Calibrated Swift' book covers. The one on the left was my original concept. It's simple, keeps the main character as the focus and isn't cluttered. The other two are fine but I think they are too busy. There is no drawing in these. It's all cut, paste, and texture.

Click on image to enlarge
Click to see the original size.

I like your third image the one on the far right with the space themed background.


The Deposed King
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superpsycho

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #8 on: 04/06-08:25 »

I like your third image the one on the far right with the space themed background.


The Deposed King
That was my second choice but would prefer something that more closely matches my vision of her ship. That's the problem when you're trying to avoid drawing, you're limited to what you can find and to any copyright issues there may be. By keeping it plain, you can avoid those problems. Some people can just hire an artist or find a friend to do the work. Most beginners don't have those options.
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The Deposed King

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #9 on: 04/06-08:39 »

That was my second choice but would prefer something that more closely matches my vision of her ship. That's the problem when you're trying to avoid drawing, you're limited to what you can find and to any copyright issues there may be. By keeping it plain, you can avoid those problems. Some people can just hire an artist or find a friend to do the work. Most beginners don't have those options.


Finding an good artist can be a bit of a challenge at times.  Especially starting out.


The Deposed King
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superpsycho

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #10 on: 08/07-12:19 »

The object of a book cover, is to sell books. To do that, it needs to highlight three main things and if possible a forth:
1) The title.
2) The author's name.
3) An Image with something relevant to the story that will catch the interest of any potential reader.
4) The teaser(optional)

     The title, you want to stick in people's mind. If it's catchy, or memorable in some way, even if they don't buy immediately, a good title could entice someone to come back and buy or mention it to others. It also should reflect the focus of the book so people aren't disappointed when they start reading.
     The Author's name can draw readers if they remember another book by the same author they liked, or they heard the name from others. So a prominent author's name can translate into sales. The author's name is also something you want sticking with someone if the like the product, so they can tell others and look for future offerings.
     An interesting image that catches peoples attention is often a big factor in getting someone to at least read the intro. Think of the a book cover as the first step in a sale. It's function is to get people to take the next step, which is to open the book. Or in the case of e-publishing, to go to the book's product page. If it has some action or is sexy then it will likely get attention. Even better if it's both.
     The teaser is effectively a short ad that will catch a readers eye. To do that, it needs to be short, just a couple choice words to tease the reader and get their attention. 'A Harrowing  Adventure' or 'A Heart Stopping Mystery' are examples. Often they're an excerpt from a review.
 
And with e-publishing, the cover needs to do it in a small image so these key areas need to standout in that setting.


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superpsycho

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #11 on: 04/09-14:48 »

In the next step in our example book cover process. I converted the MC of our cover to a cartoon drawing using cartoon generator. It is the first image to the left. The center image is a blend using the original image and the cartoon version. By laying the original (3rd image) as a layer over the cartoon, we can adjust the transparency level until we get a blend that we think will do the job.

In this way we can use photos, cut and pasted with accessories, over a background to create what appears as a professional cover by an artist.

Click to see the original size.
Click to see the original size.
(click image to enlarge)

A simple to do and often used cover for a mystery novel, is a girl screaming. Just take a digital photo of a friend, wife or girlfriend screaming as they look around a door frame. No costumes or special accessories required, just the photo and the ability to convert it to a drawing.

Even if you have to put together a costume, often it's just man hours and not a lot of money. It does take getting used to the application software and not being afraid to try or experiment.
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superpsycho

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #12 on: 04/21-23:05 »

I found another suit image with arms out which will allow me to put weapons in her hands. Here's the original blackwidow costume image on the left and then one where I took out all the seams and the open collar. Then I put in the weapons belts I made for the my original book cover image. I still have more to do; change the boots and put weapons in her hands. Again I'm not doing any drawing, just putting in textures using Paint Shop Pros clone brush.



Click to see the original size.
(click image to enlarge)

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superpsycho

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #13 on: 04/23-21:16 »

Next: Once there are hands with weapons, we overlay the image over a background again then put in a shadow to give it depth. In the story the sword is made of a crystal so it's almost transparent. The image isn't large enough to see the detail but all the items on the belts are individual images of clips, grenades, comm-unit, utility knife, etc.

Click to see the original size.
Click on image to enlarge
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superpsycho

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Re: Book Cover Design
« Reply #14 on: 04/29-12:53 »

Changed the face because I didn't want her smiling. Converted the image to a drawing then added title. Even in the thumb nail size you can read the title and get a sense of the image.

Click to see the original size.
Click Image to Enlarge
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