Tag Archive: artist



     As usual I started experimenting with a basic quick sketch of what I had in mind. I knew right from the start that I wanted to incorporate the title into the image for this one, especially since it was our more traditional two word titles. Naturally I aimed for an actual door, knowing it would be fairly easy to incorporate the word “door” into the wood grain.

       From there I started testing out different color schemes for the wood grain itself. But then I started asking myself, how would a door that had been exposed to the elements for almost two centuries look? So I did some Googling, to find images to get a better idea of what such a door might look like. Here’s a few of the examples I found:

       So now I had a basis to build upon. Yet I also felt that whatever I created should have good strong colors that still gave that weathered yet somewhat foreboding feel. So I pulled out my soft pastels and started laying down some colors in order to start forming the palette I would use in the actual piece.  Of course I also incorporated lettering into the grain of the wood in order to help me build towards the full effect I was aiming for.

      Dark, sinister, ancient-looking yet eye-catching. Satisfied that this was what I want to aim for in the final rendition, I set about putting down the first layers for the actual cover.

       As things have progressed I added some stonework as well as ivy/vegetation to help add contrast as well as frame our sinister portal.  I also experimented with some photo-shopped lettering to get an idea of what the final product might look like on the actual book.

       And since the actual door was intended to open into a family crypt built into a hillside, I decided to get clever and incorporate the letters T. H. E. along with a date to represent the first of the Elliott family who passed through the door (still alive at the time) but never came out. In fact, his body was never found by those who came to investigate… mwahahahah.

       Um… sorry about that. I’m supposed to be talking about book covers not promoting the story.

       Anyway, using the initials this way I managed to get the words “The Door” clearly incorporated into the artwork, with room for our names. Though I may have to extend the bottom a bit more to keep within the restrictions about lettering getting too close to the edges.

       Clearly the above image is not nearly finished. The door itself still needs to be more weathered, and the vegetation needs to be made to look more sinister and eerie. Plus the door itself could use a hand and a lock, don’t you think? But you get the general idea from this and where it’s headed.

        So to clarify, if you set out to try and design your own book cover be prepared.  You’ll need to know the image requirements of whatever self-publishing company you’re using. Test the image out on prospective readers, get feedback. You may also need to do some or as much research as you did for your manuscript for accurate details to incorporate into the cover. And of course, make it eye-catching, intriguing, and alluring. Remember your cover is part of that first introduction to the reader. give them something that makes them want to pick up your book and start leafing through it. Because you may have one of the best stories in town, but if the package doesn’t promise what your story can deliver, it won’t even get a second glance.

       Until next time, take care and keep writing.


As some of you may or may not know, besides being an author I’m also an artist.  I work mainly with soft pastels and charcoal, and have designed and painted the covers for three of our books. Now I  do not consider myself a ‘professional’ cover designer, but I’ve also seen artwork on books that many times had very little to do with what goes on in the story. And as one of the two authors who knows the story inside and out, and as an artist who had taken awards in various art shows over the years, I felt I was qualified enough to give it a shot. Especially when I had a specific image in mind that would incorporate the title of the book into the artwork itself. “It should be a piece of cake,” I told myself.

I suspect a number of you already have an idea of what came next. Our old friend the “Learning Curve” decided to make his presence known.

First there were the experimental designs

I knew right from the start that I liked the title being part of the bridge’s stonework, but the upper half was not quite right. After getting feedback from friends and prospective readers I refined the design into a scene that was straight from the story itself.

This early version with some of the coloring added was well-received by viewers and I continued to flesh out the design.

At this point I found myself at a loss as to what to put in for the background in the distance. Again I drew upon the story itself and added a storm and some shadowy trees which surround the bridge on all sides.

This image was very popular among those polled and of course became the cover for the book. But not before Mr. Learning Curve made his presence known once more. After all my efforts of finding the right image and getting it committed to paper, I still needed to get it photographed and submitted to not one but three different self-publishing routes (Createspace, Smashwords, and Kindle).

To make matters worse, I did not have the money to hire a professional photographer who would already know how to light the image, keep the colors true and rich, and finally format it for submission. Instead I had to do all the photographing, cropping, and then get an image program called GIMP which allowed me to do some serious touching up of the image. It also allowed me to resize and rework the pixels of the piece so that the final image to meet the requirements of  Createspace, Smashwords, and Kindle.

But even then there was a few more things to do. For one thing I had to put my name and whatnot on the image, which I did through GIMP.

Then I tried uploading things and… got rejected. The lettering of the words “The Bridge” was too close to the edge and could wind up being cut off. What to do? Simple, I went back to GIMP and added a black border all around the image. I made sure it was wide enough to protect the image.

This met not only the requirements of the publishing programs, but also helped the image to really pop out at the reader.  In fact I was told by more than one person that the unique artwork and style were big reasons why they picked the book up in the first place. They also told me, they had not been disappointed with the story.

So with all this experience the next book should have been easy, right? Actually it was.  Once more I started with a rough idea, making sure to incorporate the title into the image…

Developed it some more…

Started fine-tuning it…

Too busy in the middle area, so I revised it some more…

Then finalized, with matching computer lettering…

Of course once again, the lettering was too close to the edges so a border was required.

Again, I used GIMP for get the pixels to the right level as well as enhancing colors.

So by now I was an old pro at this right? WRONG! Up until now I’d been able to incorporate the title into the cover image. But now I  began work on a new book “The Vampyre Blogs: Coming Home”, and there was no way I was going to be able to fit all that into the image. Or could I?

TO BE CONTINUED…


Here is the cover I’ve created for my 2nd novel in the Para-Earth Series, which will be coming this Summer.  I’m aiming for late-May or June for the release.

This story takes place during the one month lapse of time mentioned at the end of the first book “The Bridge”. It follows the adventures of Cassandra and Julie out on the west coast. Where they learn that not only is the evil they fought back in the first book truly gone, but a new threat has arisen from the depths of the Pacific. A threat known to Cassandra’s family and which is now hunting her…


Okay no advertising today.  Just some updates.   In the past two weeks I’ve been pretty busy with novel #2 “THE SHIP” which is a sequel to  my first book “THE BRIDGE”.   It takes up with two of the main characters from book 1, Cassandra and Julie and their trip to Santa Cruz California.  The other leading characters from “THE BRIDGE” Alex and Veronica make brief appearances.

While visiting the west coast, Cassie and Julie, must come to terms with their experiences from the first book as well as their budding romantic relationship and how deeply entwined they wish to become with each other.   But they must also deal with hidden dangers on not just one but 2 fronts.  Two of the antagonists from the first book have followed them here and are watching them carefully.  But even more importantly, a new danger has arisen from the depths of the ocean.  And this new threat is known to Cassandra’s family from the day’s when her ghostly guardian Brandon was still alive.

I’ve been going to great lengths to keep the suspense and intrigue of the first novel alive in this book, while introducing new characters and situations, that in turn will lead to even more stories down the road.   I’m very careful about always setting the stage for upcoming installments and try not to throw anything at my readers that will not one day come into play in the future.  I’m striving to keep my audience fascinated and entertained as much as possible.

Now in addition to writing the second novel, I’ve also been working on the cover for the 2nd book.  Here is a sample of the progress I’ve made on it.  Keep in mind, it is not completed and there is more for me to add to this piece as I want to put in more elements to increase the ‘Eerie’ feel I’m striving for:

Cover Update 314

 

In other news, I managed to get “THE BRIDGE” on the shelves of 2 bookstores  that carry Indie author Books.  I’m hoping to get into contact with even more bookstores in the near future.  I’m also expecting a phone call from a local radio station next week,  to set up an on air interview.  This will be my first one, so I’m both excited and nervous.  I’ll be doing some research about being interviewed on radio to help prepare myself so I don’t embarrass myself.

That’s all for now.  I’ll post again in a day or so with more news.  Take care everyone.

 

“THE BRIDGE” is coming….


Just got the word today from Createspace, I have finally formatted the interior of the book, the cover art, the back cover, the spine, etc. to their specifications and it’s is now PRINTABLE!  I know there’s a lot of stuff I just mentioned that some of you may not be familiar with, but you can find out more about it in detail on my other blog:

“Musings Of A Creative Mind” at:  http://allankrummenacker.blogspot.com/

That blog is all about the process of writing.  Now I will be adding things to take into consideration while making your own e-books.

But here, I want to wax a little philosophically.   It hit me after I saw the e-mail saying the book was ready for my final review proof that a lot of my life experiences are coming together in this venture.  I’ve been an artist ever since I was in junior high school, and now those talents came into play in creating this book.

I’m also going to have to start marketing and getting my novel and myself known by going to Libraries, bookstores, contacting local radio stations, and newspapers as well to get the word out as well.  A lot of those same skills I used back in my days of being a Realtor/Mortgage Loan Officer.

But it doesn’t stop there.  I’m going to be considered self-employed by Uncle Sam and anything I make off this book the US Government and the IRS are going to want a piece of come next year.  So now I’ll be tracking all my expenses in relation to selling my book.  Now automatically, Createspace is going to keep 30% of whatever I make off each sale and set it aside for me for tax purposes next year.  But what about my ordering physical copies so I can mail signed copies to those who want ones like that?  What about going to conventions or giving talks?  Heck, even the gas I use going to the post office and back are expenses I need to keep track of in order to claim them on my tax return.  Again, I did all of that before when I was in real estate.

My years of being part of the sci-fi fan community is also coming into play.  I’m going to be offering myself as a speaker at those conventions and trying to sell some copies in person as well.  I have a large network of friends in that community and this book is going to be right up their alley too.  And I know a number of them will be only too willing to help me spread the word and find other venues to spread my work around.

In all it feels like so many aspects of my life are suddenly coming together in this writing venture, and it give me hope.  I can’t help wondering if somehow all I’ve done in the past has been leading up to this career.  And maybe I’m just full it and have just got a head full of  “WOW I’m being published…” and everything seems rosy and I need to take some glasses off.  Who knows?  Time will tell.  But as long as I’m ready to fight and work to make this pay off and spread the word, I’ll hope for the first part to be the truth.

Anyway, thanks for your time and I’ll be posting again soon.  Hopefully with news that the book is ready for sale.  In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of other work to do still.  Like setting up the Createspace store that automatically comes with signing up and publishing with them.  I’m planning on some other items besides having just the novel available.  Some T-shirts and mugs with quotes and images will be available there too.  At least, that’s what I’m hoping.  Stay tuned everyone and thanks for following me.  This journey is FAR from over, it’s only just beginning a new stage…


First of all, I want to wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR!  If you’re going to be on the road tonight, please drive carefully and watch out for others who may not be doing that.  My wife and I will be curled up at home watching one of our favorite movies “HOLIDAY” with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.  Yes, it’s an old B and W but the message it shares is very powerful and personal to us.  That message is simply “Chase your dreams.  Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen.  Even if it means taking risks instead of playing it safe all the time.  Hold onto each other as you go along because there might be pitfalls and you may have to go back to selling peanuts, but believe in those peanuts and each other.  This way after you’ve analyzed what went wrong, you can try again and again until you succeed in making it that dream a reality!”

All of this is easier said than done.  But remember this…. UNLESS YOU TRY, THAT DREAM HAS NO CHANCE OF EVER HAVING A CHANCE OF COMING TRUE!

This is what I’ve told myself time and again as I’ve worked on my writing.  And I’ve taken risks.  I tried the traditional publishing route and it didn’t quite work out.  But during those few years I tried it, I learned a lot.  The industry changed, e-books have evolved and the face of the publishing world changed beyond what anyone thought it could.

So as 2012 comes to a close, I continue to work on the finishing touches of “THE BRIDGE”.  Originally I had hoped to unveil it first by Christmas, then New Year’s Day.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do that.  Every time I think I’ve finished the formatting I discover a new problem and have to work on it some more.  But I don’t mind.  This simply means that my book is going to be in the best possible shape I can get it in.  And since it is my debut novel, my introduction to the world of writing, I’ll take that time to make it perfect.  I want’ to make a great impression with this novel, because “YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION!”  Take the time to make it a good one folks.

So, once more I wish you all a HAPPY and SAFE NEW YEAR!  And I close this year with what is now the final version of my book cover. I know I said that before, but people pointed out “Hey I don’t see your name on the cover…” So here it is.  See you all next year!

Final Version of the cover.

Final Version of the cover.

 


By now,  you all know I’ve been working on the book cover for my Paranormal/Mystery/Sci-Fi novel “THE BRIDGE”.   It’s been an interesting experience, which I do not recommend it for everyone unless you’re an artist yourself.  It has it’s pros and cons.  In my case I love having way more control over the creation of the image that is going to basically be my “Introductory Handshake” to the world.  Remember, this is going to be my debut novel and I want to catch peoples attention who have no idea what to expect when they first see the cover.

Now, I’ve seen images used on books that I thought were interesting but did not always have all that much to do with what actually happened in the story itself.  In fact, I’m sad to say, there were a few where the image was more interesting looking than the story.  But what really got me on occasion was where there was some kind of really cool scene on the cover that never appears in the story.  I felt cheated in a way.  Oh the story might have been a good one, but part of me really felt frustrated by that ‘missing scene’.  Now, I know we all want to capture the audiences imagination and interest, but I want to make sure I’m being fair about it.

Now in my case, since the title of my novel is “THE BRIDGE” I could’ve just gone with a bridge from around the right time-frame as the one in that appears in my story.  But while picturesque, I wanted to add some clues as to what or who the reader may encounter on that bridge.   So I decided to add a figure and one in particular stood out in my mind, the “White Lady”.   She is a ghostly figure who haunts the bridge, supposedly searching for the baby she lost from it many years ago.   But by the same token I wanted to raise some questions in the viewer’s eyes.  Why does her hair seem to flow and move like Medusa’s?  Is she even human?  Are we seeing some kind of Gorgon?  Or is she something much more unique and different?

We all need to get  the viewers attention by capturing their interest in some subtle or intriguing manner with our book covers.  Mind you, not all covers have to be like the old movie posters of Star Wars where we see the tall and impressive Darth Vader looming in the background while Luke and company (who appear much smaller at the bottom) are racing to meet the HUGE threat overshadowing them.  It depends on the story itself.  It can be subtle with an intriguing character who somehow catches our interest with their good looks or pose.  Or can be even more subtle, a building or structure that evokes emotions or a memory that draws the audience towards it.

I’m learning that a lot goes into the creation of a book cover.  Luckily I’ve had years of artistic training to draw upon to help me reason out what kind of image I wanted to use.  Who or what the ‘star’ of the image was going to be and what kind of backdrop or stage would be helping frame it.

Well, the cover is nearing what I hope will be the final stages.  Here’s where it stands now, I hope you enjoy it and that this entry has given you all some good ideas of what to keep in mind when making or getting someone else to make the cover of your book.   Take care.

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The move is over, I’m settled in.  It’s time to get back to the business of blogging and writing.  Thanks for all your patience everyone.  In today’s Blog/Vlog installment, you’ll get to meet an artist who helps me explain how I try to create characters who feel more like real people.  Enjoy.

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