Tag Archive: soft pastels



     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.


When it came time to work on the cover for “The Vampyre Blogs – I: Coming Home” I was finding myself coming up against a wall as far as cover art ideas went.  The other books had been relatively easy because of their two word titles: “The Bridge” and “The Ship”. But this time the title was much longer, so I needed to come up with something different.

Since we were using the word ‘blogs’ as part of the title, I thought about incorporating a computer or laptop into the picture.  So I experimented with Adobe Photoshop and came up with this image:

While very effective in many respects, some people told me they missed seeing my original artwork on the cover. Many said it helped make our books stand out more.  So I began wracking my brains for a a new cover style and wasn’t coming up with much. Mind you, at this point we had not even started writing the novel and decided not to worry about it.  I figured once the story was written I’d get some inspiration from what we created and borrow from a scene in the story.

Eventually we completed the first draft and started work on a second one and I still hadn’t come up with any solid ideas for the cover.  I’d considered showing the interior of a coffin with a laptop resting on top of the occupant who was typing on it.  The logo I created for the original image could stay and I thought that would be great.   However, my skills at designing and creating a convincing laptop in soft pastel was not up to snuff.  Furthermore, our vampyre does not use a coffin at all, so I scrapped that idea.

Finally, Helen suggested the idea of a room in the old manor that belongs to our vampyre, and to have a laptop amidst all the antique furnishings and cobwebs.  Alas, my skills at making a decent-looking computer had not improved as much as I’d have liked so that held me back.  However, another thought did occur to me.  What if I created an image where we are looking out of one of the windows of the old manor and seeing a shadowy figure (our vampyre) on the night he finally comes home to stay.

I quickly began sketching and testing out a color palette for the view outside the window. Since he was coming home during the autumn I figured lots of leaves on the ground would be appropriate, so I whipped out my reds and golds pastels and set to work. As soon as I got the image started I knew I was onto something. Looking over the story I reminded myself that we’d established there was a small family cemetery out back, and it occurred to me that would be the first place Nathan (our vampyre) would go upon deciding to come home for good. And because people associate coffins with vampires, I threw in the shadow stretching from behind him to help prospective readers make the connection of what he was right away.

 

As view outside the window evolved, I still had to decide whose room the window belonged to. To create a touching contrast to the little cemetery and shadow, by making it the room of his little sister who he adored with all his heart. So I researched some toys a little girl might have back in the 1860’s and put them in front of a window.

After I got the image just the way I wanted, I had to decide on how to present the title and our names. First I tried putting the lettering on top of the image as seen below:

I didn’t really care for this as I really wanted the image to be seen, so I went for borders on the top and bottom of the image and placed the words there instead.

  As you can see I wound up having to put borders on the sides as well, because too much of the image was being cut off in those locations.

Up until this point all the books were novels, but Helen and I decided to try a collection of short stories involving characters from our Para-Earth Series. Most of the collection focuses on the characters from “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”, however there are a few that also feature some familiar faces from “The Bridge” and “The Ship”. Of course when dealing with multiple stories, we had to come up with a whole new concept for cover art.

On this occasion Helen asked to be the one to take up the challenge and I agreed, especially after I heard what she had in mind. Instead of a single image, she was planning on doing a number of small pieces that would capture scenes from some of the stories in the collection. Originally the idea was to go with eight images, but due to time and life demands she completed four and we went with those.

We thought about using these on the front cover:

Then the other two on the back:

However, once more once we started putting the lettering over the images, things weren’t working. Dark letters blended in too much, and lighter ones were too startling. So we went with all four, sandwiched between a green border with the lettering:

Again this left the images clean and easy to see, while also keeping the lettering away from the edges without being cut off as had happened on “The Bridge” and “The Ship”. I also really liked this concept as it allowed us to give visual glimpses of what the reader would encounter in the collection.

We’ve already decided to keep doing multiple image covers for future short story collections which we already have under way. But that’s a tale for another entry.

Keeping with creating your own cover art, we recently got back to work on our novel “The Door”, which is a sequel to both “The Bridge” and “The Door”, and focuses on the cast of characters from those books. With this in mind, I knew we’d want to keep the cover for the latest installment in the same style as those two books. So I began sketching and experimenting with designs….

TO BE CONTINUED…


The finished cover. I’m rather pleased with it. Comments are welcome…

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