Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Creating the Cover: Preliminary Fonts and Color Test

When I do a cover, the real heavy duty font work tends to come at the end. I will shop around for the right look, the right color, the right effect, all the way through the process. And at the end I put it all together.

However, fonts are also important early in the process -- especially in this modern day of online purchasing. With ebooks, your customers may never see anything but a thumbnail. Even with paper books, if a customer buys online, they won't see the full sized cover until after they've bought it.

So it's important that your title and name are legible at a very small size. (Even if the subtitles are not legible, and the picture is not clear.) Color also plays into legibility, as well as how the design looks overall.

But the big reason I wanted to look at fonts right now is because I need to know if my design, it's size and layout will work with fonts. And I find that the answer is.... maybe.

Here is a new concept sketch which I did in the class I'm sitting in on. We were playing with color combinations, and the instructor made a couple of suggestions about the foreground figures. I changed the positions of the figures to be more dynamic -- off to the side, facing the castle at more of an angle. I could then make the swashbuckling shadow bigger, and the figure of Alex smaller. This color test is interesting -- matching the frame with Alex and a hot color makes Alex pop. I also simplified the design by dropping the water layer.

It still needs thought and work, but I think this is a good design to test for how it will work with fonts.

The four images below are at "thumbnail" size, which is the size people will see in Amazon lists. I basically took a bunch of Art Deco fonts of different weights, plus another font more associated with swashbucklers, and tried them out. (I'll talk about the pros and cons of those fonts later, when I get to the point of actually making a choice.)

Okay, on looking at this, it's clear that legibility is not much of an issue with this design. However, the image really does dominate the design. I don't have much flexibility to add a subtitle (even an illegible one). And I don't have room to do that "breakout" on the castle roof.

But I really like this design concept.

I like the way the foreground figure of Alex becomes a part of the frame, so it feels like a logo. (It's not strong enough yet, but I'll work on it.) That could be the branding element for other stories in the series. A different swashbuckler pose and a different adventure setting behind the same frame on every book in the series. Plus I think it's something which could work GREAT for future stories with other characters -- a flapper silhouette for Lady Pauline, for instance.

In the meantime, I've got another 500-600 words to write tonight, so see you in the funny papers....

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