Thursday, January 31, 2013

Designing covers for romance eBooks part 2

Continuing on with the theme of my last post, I thought I'd share some of the different versions of the covers I've designed, so you could get a sense of the stages behind each.  It's a lot like watching sausage get made sometimes, but like I said, it's a process.  You're going to end up creating some awful covers until you find the one you're happy with.

We'll begin with the first book in my Consortium of Chaos series, Yesterday's Heroes.  Now, the series is about superheros and super-villains, so I knew I wanted to play into that in the design for my cover.  My first thought was to give a visual representation of this dichotomy, with an outline of a hero and a villain.  This just didn't work for me though, so I tried to just show the hero, and the villains' reaction to him (I don't know where I got the idea to use the little outline of the guy from the men's room sign).  This was closer, but still not right.  I tried changing the colors around and made it look like a sign for some reason, and then liked that a lot more.  The book was actually published for several months before I realized that the spray paint outline should have been in the shape of a heart (some of you probably have the original circular version), but the good things about self-publishing is that changes like that can be made at any time.  I think the heart really adds something to the cover.



Next, the second book in my Consortium of Chaos series, The Son of Sun and Sand.  This one was always in my head pretty much the same way it turned out.  I don't know why, as it doesn't really fit in with the other covers, and doesn't really look "romance novel" to me, but that's just how I saw the design for the cover.  It makes sense in the context of the book though, and I guess you could argue it fits into the theme of iconography.  Incidentally, that's a picture of the scorpion inside a paperweight my sister got me at the Grand Canyon and a shot of our brother's hand.  

I would show Cynic's book next, The Guy Your Friends Warned You About, but the finished design for the cover was basically the first draft of it.  The only change I can remember making is that the background was originally green.  Other than that, it only took me like an hour to complete.  Maybe less.

Next, I have examples of a couple of covers from Cassandra's Elemental Phases series, first up is Warrior from the Shadowland:
You can see that it took me several different tries to come up with the final design.  I really hate some of these, but like I said, it's a process.  Incidentally, the symbol on the guy's chest is the Japanese symbol for shadow, as I recall.  You'll also notice that the alchemy symbol changed between the third and forth versions, and that's just because the symbols change depending on which ancient source you use.  The symbol is actually for "mercury" by the way, as "shadow" isn't something that alchemists used.  The cloud is from a shot I took while on vacation in North Dakota, and the background fog is from an earlier vacation to Moonstone Beach in California.

Job's book, Guardian of the Earth House, ended up exactly as planned, so we'll skip right on to Gion's, Exile in the Water Kingdom.  This one was probably the hardest of all of the covers to design for some reason.  I don't know why.  It just kept coming out looking like a postcard or something.

That's the alchemy symbol for water on top of various types of water.  The first is a shot from the Pacific Coast Highway, the next is a shot of a fountain near my house, and finally a shot of the beach.  Honestly, I'm just glad this cover is done and I don't have to mess with it any more.

Chason's book, Queen of the Magnetland, turned out basically the same as first conceived, but I thought it might be interesting to break it down into its base elements, so you can see how they can combine to form a finished cover.  The first image is the close up of a flower petal, the next is an image showing a magnetic field using iron filings.  I made this image almost entirely transparent, and then overlayed it over the flower.  The next is some iron work on a door in a local theme park, and finally I whipped up my own version of the alchemy symbol for "magnetic" since I couldn't find a clear public domain example.

So, you can see that it is possible for an independent author to create their own covers, whether for romance novel ebooks or anything else.  It doesn't take that long, and best of all, it's free.  While I can't say that my cover designs are better than ones I would have had to pay for, I can say that they are exactly what I was looking for, and I didn't have to try to explain them to a graphic artist.  Plus, designing your own cover for your book can be a lot of fun!


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