Sunday, June 24, 2012

Adventures in Cover Art - Pt. 6


This is the last post on the development of the SHADES OF THE PAST cover and it discusses the creation of the back cover, the spine and the integration of all of the elements into the cover flat (the printed art cardboard cover that gets wrapped around the book).

I used Adobe Photoshop to create the back cover and Serif DrawPlus to create the spine and integrate everything into the cover flat (when we created the A SLIP IN TIME cover, I shifted over to Adobe InDesign to integrate the elements for the cover flat – I’ll talk about that in a future post). Please keep in mind that, when you’re working with a print version, the final cover needs to be at 300 dots per inch resolution. And, it needs to be submitted to Createspace in PDF print-ready format. This results in a 20MB (approximately) cover flat to be uploaded to Createspace.

As usual, Anita had an idea of what she was looking for on the back cover (which was based on the Lords of Midnight cover version). She wanted a banner with the book title across the top, a cameo of the couple, the full Julie Beard quote and the write-up she developed for her website. We decided to use a pale blue background for the back cover, with a dark blue spine separating the front and back covers. The pale blue color was chosen to match the shade of blue of the water on the front cover (as closely as we could get it). The dark blue for the spine and back banners was the same color we used for the banner on the front cover.

The back cover banner was created the same way as the front cover banner (as discussed in my earlier post on text and banners for the front cover). The back cover banner text is unenhanced, pure white Monotype Corsiva. The remainder of the back cover text is in 11.5 point Times New Roman, also unenhanced except for bold and italics as needed for emphasis. This point size was chosen so there would be enough room left at the bottom of the cover for the UPC label, which Createspace would insert.

The cameo – now that was quite a bit of work to produce. We took the third Jimmy Thomas photo that appeared in my last post and removed the background (as we did for the front cover “couple” photo). We then found a circular frame in the Dover collection, removed its background and added a color gradient to it. Lastly, we took a piece of the sky from the front cover background to use as the background for the cameo. By placing the sky layer in the background, the couple layer over that, and ring layer on top, we came up with the cameo.

For the spine, we were inspired by the original Lords of Midnight cover. We knew we wanted an imprint at the top, the author name next, a smaller cameo, then the book title. We chose a feather pen with flourish for the imprint, removed the background and reversed the image colors. We created a small cameo using a part of the front cover (the couple) in an oval cutout. And we used unenhanced Monotype Corsiva for the author name and title. For your information, the spine width depends upon the page count. There’s a formula to calculate it. Once you know the width you need, based on the page count, you can allocate the right amount of space for the spine. Here’s the resulting cover flat (without the bleed):

So, we submitted the cover and interior. We went through the review process and ordered a proof copy of the book. It came rather quickly, but it had some surprises for us. As I mentioned in the last post, the proof came out with a MUCH darker cover. We also discovered later that, when we ordered multiple books at the same time, the cover placement appeared to drift, such that spine placement varied somewhat. So, I lightened up the front cover and widened the spine, taking away width from the front and back covers. This resulted in a narrow dark blue stripe down the right side of the back cover and one down the left side of the front cover, which Anita found acceptable. Here’s the final cover flat (with the bleed, an additional 1/8” around all sides):

This post concludes the “Adventures in Cover Art” blog series for the SHADES OF THE PAST cover. I have a few more experiences to share in the development of the VENECIA’S EARTHLING, A SLIP IN TIME and HIS FAIR LADY covers. There will probably be one or two posts on each, dealing with the particular challenges encountered on each cover, not a longer complete series on all of the aspects as we’ve done for the SHADES OF THE PAST cover development. E-mail Anita if you have any questions on cover development. Her e-mail address is:

Late addition: the next cover art post will be on Castles, kilts and moonlit nights - A SLIP IN TIME, which will be released next week. Please check back on Monday, July 2nd.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thanks & a peek at HIS FAIR LADY

Thanks to everyone who emailed me their feedback on the "Castle on the Hill" and the size that Dunraven Castle should be. As always, I learn so much from the different points of view. So as to not "upstage" the couple on the cover, we decided to go with the slightly smaller castle. We tried an even smaller castle but the balance seemed "off." Best leave well enough alone.

Oh happy day! Just as A SLIP IN TIME is about to go out the door, the cover for my next book, HIS FAIR LADY, came in. No, hubby and I didn't create this one. Rather, I fell in love with a premade cover by Delle Jacobs and worked with her to make changes specific to my story. Delle was wonderful to work with and I'm totally pleased with the new cover art.  I'm targeting September for LADY's release. Here is the beautiful new cover - drum roll please ...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Adventures in Cover Art - Pt 5

This post discusses the addition of the “couple” to the front cover of SHADES OF THE PAST. As Anita mentioned before in one of her posts, she and our son Scott were looking at the latest version of the cover and they determined that the cover we had at the time was “missing something.” That cover is shown below:

After some discussions, they determined that the love story was not represented. So, Anita went off to find photos to add to the front cover. She settled on a set of photos of Jimmy Thomas with an attractive blonde lady. All three photos are shown below:

Anita chose the first photo for the front cover (we later used the third photo on the back cover) and I went off to get rid of the background. But, because the background is not a single color (or even a few colors) and there is not enough contrast difference between the background and the couple, I could not use Photoshop’s Magic Eraser Tool to erase it. So, I had to use the Quick Selection Tool and refine the edges of the selection to select only the couple. I saved the resulting image as a PNG file to retain the transparent background and then added it to the cover image. The result of that activity is shown below:

It was about this time that we started getting comments that the castle was crooked. Well, that was normal for a three-quarter view photo, as it was taken off-center (it’s a perspective issue). But, that continued to bother Anita, so I used Photoshop’s Straighten Tool to adjust it.

You’ll also notice other changes we made along the way between these two images – banner, text effects and flourish. We talked about the banner and text (and effects) in the last post, so I won’t repeat any of that here. So, about the flourish . . .

We looked at quite a few collections of ornament, boxes and banners. We chose Ornament 121 from Dover’s Calligraphic Ornament collection, shown below:

This is a jpeg image, so I had to delete the white background (to make the background transparent). Because the background is a single uniform color and there is high contrast between black and white, I was able to use Photoshop’s Magic Eraser Tool to delete the white rectangular background. I then added a brass-colored gradient overlay, drop shadow, outer glow and inner bevel to spruce up the ornament. Finally, I rotated it 180 degrees (flipped it horizontally), because it seemed to look better on the cover in that orientation. We also used individual sections of the plain black and white version, with a transparent background but no other effects, on either side of the chapter numbers and as a hiatus in the print version. The final version of the cover flourish is shown below:

When we got our proof copies of the print version, we discovered that the cover got a lot darker, as the result of the printing process. In particular, the couple came out very dark. So I lightened the couple for the print cover (but not for the e-book covers). The final print cover is shown below.

Next time, I’ll blog on the creation of the back cover and spine and the integration of the three elements into the cover flat. That post should wrap up the series on the creation of the SHADES OF THE PAST cover.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Well, we’re at it again. Previously, Hubby and I held a little vote on three different versions of the new cover for A SLIP IN TIME, “Blue” won the day and features Edinburgh Castle on the hill. I bowed to popular choice which won by a sizable margin (I voted “Gold”), but the castle continued to bother me. The fa├žade is just so plain and nothing like the description of Dunraven Castle in the book which is spotlighted time and again and is integral to the plot.

Hubby endured my grumblings and a good bit of pleading, too (he may say “pestering”), and we tried some new looks. The new castle isn’t a perfect match to the story description either, but much closer – the key elements being Dunraven’s ancient keep, a massive tower rising on one end, and then additions and extensions built over time, in different styles, down through the centuries.

We’d love your feedback as to which cover appeals to you most, and whether, as a reader, it makes a difference if the cover art matches the story – closely, somewhat, or not at all.

Below are three different cover views – Edinburgh castle and two of the alternate castle (Culzean, with a slightly modified tower.)  The difference in the two covers featuring Culzean is the size of the castle on the hill, the last being slightly smaller.  Okay, maybe I am a perfectionist as accused (I won’t mention names), but it’s a matter of perspective and what looks appropriate on the hill. Click on any of the images to see all of them in higher definition.

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Thanks & Enjoy!

Edinburgh Castle (original)

Culzean Castle (larger)

Culzean Castle (smaller)