Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fun with Covers (and a storm delay)

I'm blaming Hurricane Sandy.

I had to skip an episode Monday because of computer problems.  But I was also having a certain level of creative problems, too. I realize there are some things I have to stop and focus on.

Which is the whole basis of my next set of goals: focus.  So, given that everybody is distracted by the Big Storm (and a whole lot of people may not even have power or internet for a while) I have decided to skip this whole week on Test of Freedom.

I'll talk more about how this focus thing is going to work for this story tomorrow when I post the new goals.  In the meantime, here's the illustration I did for the ep.  I had to do it at the last minute, and so I just hunted down a period engraving for a reference, and recomposed and drew.  I like working with black and white and gray.

On the good side: the prequel to the story, The Wife of Freedom, is finally being offered for FREE on the  Amazon Kindle Store! (In the U.S. anyway.  International stores don't often match the prices the way the U.S. store does.) Other stores where it's already free: Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, Kobo, and in every format at Smashwords.

This sale lasts until Thanksgiving. (Some retailers will continue to offer the free price for a while after that, but I can't predict how long.)

The Case of the Misplaced Hero, almost published.

Okay so here it is, the first final cover of The Case of the Misplaced Hero.  I hoped to have it published by the time you see this, but the computer issues kinda cascaded into that project too. I should have it done by the end of the day, however, and I'll do an official announcement on Thursday.

I'm pleased with the cover concept -- basically characters from the header illustrations, enlarged and polished up.  The type in the logo gave me trouble: I really like that font for the title... but it's so thin that it doesn't up and down-scale well.  Since the upload copy has to be high-rez, it's a long way down from 1600 pixels to 100.

I tried a number of things, but I finally did the one thing I never would have thought of:  I exported as a jpeg at full resolution and then resized the jpeg.

Resizing a jpeg is normally not recommended at all, ever.  I mean, seriously, you just don't resize a jpeg if you can avoid it because every time you re-save it, it recompresses and you lose a little more of the image quality.

But for taking a high rez print image with text, and shrinking it down to the tiniest thumbnail, it works better than resizing the Photoshop file, or resizing a png.

What you see here is actually still legible even at half the size. (Though the smallest text is just barely legible). The little figures across the middle still look like figures, though it's harder to see what they are doing.  But then, they are a design feature, and it doesn't matter if you can see their details in the thumbnail.

Random Pre-Designed Covers

I hope, in January or so, to start selling pre-designed book covers.

For that you need more than a portfolio of designs, you need stock to sell.  So I'm foodling around a little here and there.

I really like the design to the right ("BlueYellowSmear1"), even though it doesn't feel like any particular genre.  It's more abstract and fine arty, so I'm not sure if there is a market for it.  Still, there are a lot of writers, and stories, which don't have a genre.  And something like this has a literary feel, so who knows?

That is one of the problems with pre-designed covers: you have to have an idea of a niche or audience who wants them.

Still, I like the idea of doing the art on spec because most of the cost of designing a book cover -- that is, the billable hours for the artist's time -- is taken up by going back and forth with the client trying to get the thing right.

I'm assuming that is why Joe Konrath's cover guy went to "pre-designed" covers rather than doing work on commission.  It's a better deal for everyone.

So the question is whether I can find my niche, to fit my skills to a demand.

This other cover, "FireMoon." is an image I posted earlier.  Just something I did off the cuff, which doesn't stand alone as art at all.  But when I put it together with type, I like how it came out.  It's got kind of a 'retro' meets 'out of date' look.

This look is has to do with how the font matches the design. They're both just a touch simple and ugly in a way that works together.  The font is Apple's Capitals font, which is a sucky system font available only to Mac users.  Using a different font would have a different effect.

This one would probably be a "bargain basement" type work, though. It's a very specific image that may be hard to match.

That's it for this week's images.  Next week we'll have another Miss Leech cartoon.

See you in the funny papers.

No comments: