Confessions of a cover artist

How many authors out there are familiar with cover art forms?  Most of you… But I’m sure you don’t realize what all goes into making a cover.  Why do we ask for the author to hunt for stock photos?  Why do we ask the 9000 questions on the form?  So that we, as the cover artist, can put into a visual representation of what you, the author, already sees.

Some authors are very helpful and find all the stock photos that I need, and can use, without any problems.

Like this:

So, that cover was fairly easy – get the picture, find the right fonts, and boom!  Done.  Easy peasy.

Then you have other covers, like this one:

This cover started out as the request from the author for an Egyptian Princess.  And Steampunk.  Ooookay.  I hunted for hours upon hours for an Egyptian Princess, and all the ones I found were cheesy Cleopatra Halloween type women, you know with the bangs and the heavy make-up?

I finally found this woman, and the rest of the cover started to take shape.  This cover is actually 5 images – the woman, the man, the watch, the pyramids, and the Eiffel tower.  There are also all the other filters, and other elements that you don’t see.  The special effects, the colors, the textures…

Then, there is my favorite part of all, getting the right fonts.  The fonts have been the bane of my cover artist career since day one.  It’s a learning curve, for sure.  Sometimes I get it right (like this one) and sometimes I look back and think, boy, I should have waited and thought about that one some more.  Or had someone else look at it before submitting it.

One of the IH ladies commented that on a lot of my covers I had the fonts too stark white.  And looking back, she was right.  So, now I make a concerted effort to have a more smooth and seamless looking font.  Here’s an example of what she was saying:

She loved the cover, and the fonts were cool, but the stark white font was too much against the darker background.  These are the subtle things that make a cover scream at you, or you just go ‘oh that’s nice’.

No cover artist wants to hear, ‘oh that’s nice’.  Well, at least I don’t.  I want to hear “HOLY SHIT!!!  THAT’S AWESOME.”

When you get one of those e-mails, life is good.

12 Responses to “Confessions of a cover artist”

  1. The title may be a little stark in the white but you don’t miss the title. And any title that has moon or wolf(or cat)in it will catch my eye and make me look closer at the book. Other that the color of the words that is a VERY nice cover. I almost want to by the book based on the cover alone.

  2. V
    I think you are a cover artist goddess.

  3. The covers are gorgeous! You must have the patience of a saint, V! 🙂

  4. The covers are great and I like being able to read the title of the book from a distance so the stark white….didn’t bother me in the least or detract from the beauty of the background.

  5. zina lynch Says:

    I love your covers, but to tell you the truth I never cared who the artist was, I always just thought someone in a corporate office just threw something out. Now I know better *hangs head in shame*. The covers are what first attracts me then the author and title them the cover again, then the back blurb, then the cover again, then the inside blurb and then the cover again. I should have seen that I should give credit where the credit is due and the work put into a cover I never knew.

    • It really is amazing how much is involved. Getting an author to visualize their story is very hard. They have spent days/months/years writing out their story and then all of a sudden now they have to come up with a way to get it from the paper into a photo or series of photos. Trying to interpret what they ‘see’ is a big challenge sometimes.

      But I love it. I really do. 😀

  6. Valerie–this was a fantastic behind the scenes look at what you do. I hope you will continue to share these “confessions” with us. I love learning more about cover art and you, my dear, are wonderful at what you do!

  7. Considering the cover is often what makes people stop, even before they read the blurb, your job is SO vital to me as a writer.

    Beautiful work…and neat to know like any professional you’re continuing to grow in your skills.

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