Sunday, January 29, 2012

ROW 80 Update And Some Pix

Here is the A Round Of Words in 80 Days update for Sunday, January 28. Also a little bit of art at the bottom to let you know what I was doing on my Wed-Fri "weekend." (Which, unfortunately, wasn't much this week.)

Wednesday Day 24 - 76 minutes. I played with drawing widgets. I like having 200 x 200 pixel artwork for the blog (kind of like the ROW80 log to the left), so every now and then I'll just pick a concept and play with it. Today I decided to do a Scarlet Pimpernel, while watching an episode of Leverage. It took almost exactly the length of the show -- about 45 minutes. I also created another quick thriller cover.

Thursday Day 25 - 70 minutes. More drawing. Playing with cartoon silhouette figures. I need practice, though, so you won't see these here.

Friday Day 26 - I took the day off, did some other things. This weekend is also going to be very busy, so I am going to do a little reviewing, so I can maybe get a jump start tomorrow.

Saturday Day 27 - 113 minutes. Not as much work as I'd like, but it was choice! I did an hour of exploratory writing on the break into act three -- that is, the moment where Mick realizes just what's going on, and he and Casey confirm his suspicions. However I still didn't have a vivid idea of the ending itself. I had some rich ideas. So tonight, I did a little more exploratory writing from the middle to get my mind off things... and when I was done I came up with a zinger of an idea for what the ultimate evil plan is, and how it is revealed. I still am a little hazy on how we get to that scene, but I have a feeling I'll be ripping it up a bit with that.

What I've Been Drawing

As I mentioned above, I didn't do as much art as I would like, and some of it is simply not ready to post. But here are the two things I was playing with on Wednesday.

The first is a very quick mock cover concept. Again, not for anything I have in mind. I don't write thrillers, but they are so easy to do a concept for. Once again I was playing with textures, only this time I was looking for a metallic sheen. All I did for the background was create a gradation from light iron blue to dark iron blue, on the diagonal across the whole image. Then on another layer, I did a reverse of the gradation. I used a grunge brush to punch holes in the top layer so the bottom layer showed through.

Then I decided it looked... sharp. A little dangerous. Icy. And I needed a contrasting color for the type, so I just came up with a "blood" oriented thriller title. Then I played with the font. The texture on the font is a "satin" blending effect, and there's a drop shadow to make it stand out.

This is the easiest kind of cover to do, you know?

The other thing I did is less slick, and more work, but still fun. I've been looking at the decorative elements in old books. Some illustrated caps, some just bars and boxes for the beginning or ending of a chapter -- full of plants or wiggles and curls. Sometimes they'll have an animal or something. I like to do these little 200 x 200 pixel illos, because it's a nice size to add to a blog page.

One of the motifs I came across reminded me of a pimpernel, and I decided to play with that. The Scarlet Pimpernel, as you may know, is the mysterious hero of a series of adventure romance novels by Baroness Orczy. His calling card was a sketch of the pimpernel, a common wayside flower with five petals, remotely related to roses. The real thing has pointier petals which are not folded or anything like that, but this is more like the stylized versions you see in deco elements in old books.

Frankly, it makes me hungry for strawberries. I also love using the dots for background shading like they did in a lot of the old printer decorations. Oddly, that's easier to do with a pen than it is with a graphics tablet.

See you in the funny papers.


Gene Lempp said...

Love the art. The thriller cover has a cold and deadly feel to it, evocative. The "strawberry" one reminds me of the art for the 13th and 14th century, possibly on a family banner or crest. Very nice.

Keep up the great work :)

Shah Wharton said...

I love playing around with buttons and covers too. Not as knowledgeable as your good self however. I do all mine with a mixture of guess work and 'wow - how did I do that?' :P Still, I think I've all but created my first tow book covers out of four attempts. A few tweaks will have them finished. I've also created the headers for two of my blow and everything else for three blogs, including buttons. Not bad when I consider how little I know about anything 'graphic or digital' :)

Loving what you have fit into this week. And the way you talked of you 'explorative writing' ( I do this all the time without knowing it had a name above - messing about - :) and how it lead to a great idea - This always happens to me and I am a ball of excitement when it does. Before that, I'm walking blind. X

Dawn Montgomery said...

I love your art. :) I play around with buttons and small graphics as well. So glad you got your zinger idea! That's the best moment, I think.

Keep Writing!

Tracy McCusker said...

Yay! I greatly enjoy the doodles & the cover concept. Thank you for sharing!

I spent quite a bit of my week fiddling around in Photoshop for a cover commission & my chapbook's cover. I used to do mine to television, too, but I came to the conclusion that I couldn't actually watch a show and engage my hands at the same time. I've gone back to listening to music. But sometimes crime/dramas are exactly the kind of inspiring background noise that you need to get something done.

When you aren't fiddling around in Photoshop, do you have a particular process for making covers?

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks, Gene!

Shah: yeah, that's the point of fiddling around -- play with one or two tools at a time, and try all the options and start to see what works. Then when you need an effect, you don't have to rely on accidents -- you've already had the accident, and you know what to do on purpose.

(And come to think of it, exploratory writing is kind of like that too.)

Dawn: thanks. Buttons and small graphics are a way to learn a whole lot of things.

Tracy: my process for covers starts with looking for concepts. I usually spend a lot of time looking at covers and posters -- often old ones. Obviously I look first for examples that suit the story, but then I look for things that are either within my skill set, or which only require that I learn something I've been wanting to learn.

But since I'm still working on my "brand" I haven't really settled on anything. Mostly I'm looking at increasing my sophistication and skills without reference to a particular cover.

Kim Switzer said...

I love the thriller cover! I like the pimpernel, too, and now I want to re-read the story!

The Daring Novelist said...

Hey, and most of the pimpernel books are available at Project Gutenberg. (Or if you prefer paper, there's a company that does solid library editions -- though they are without dust covers, and aren't fancy.)

Tracy McCusker said...

Camille: I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who spends a lot of time staring at book covers!

For some reason, I don't remember if you did the cover for The Man Who Did Too Much. (Because of your willingness to throw yourself into Photoshop, I just assumed that you did!) I get a big silly grin on my face when I see it. It's one of my favorite ebook covers.

Thinking about flexing photoshop skills--I love stretching my wings with tutorials. Especially with font/text tutorials. Abduzeedo has some great ones--some of them are admittedly pretty advanced. But others are easier than they appear and get you thinking about using tools together that you may not have thought of before.

There's plenty of fun ideas in here to get your art brain revved up during the long weekend.

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks, Tracy. I'll check them out. I like to play with tutorials too, except I usually never finish watching them because I start playing before they're done.

And yes, I did to the Man Who cover. (I do all my covers, though I used stock art for Harsh Climate.) Here is the post where I unveiled the whole set of the first three Man Who books: