Anatomy Of A Book Cover “Evaline Transcendent

This is not going to be my usual Midweek Mumbles ramblings. Instead I’m going to do something a little different, and give you a behind-the-scenes look at some of the steps involved in creating my first book cover design.

How I Made My Last Cover

When I published “Under A Hunter’s Moon”, I had a lot of help with the cover design. Ariel Marie was kind enough to Photoshop the components for me, and all I did was do the type-setting for the text.

What Makes This Time Different?

The cover for “Evaline Transcendent” is a much more interesting journey, because it’s a science fiction story, and there are very few stock photos that could be tweaked to work for what I had in mind.

I wanted to invoke the sci-fi genre right from the start, so setting the cover in one of the ship’s corridor was always part of my plan. The representation of the main character, Evaline, was a more difficult decision for a number of reasons:

  • This is re-release of a story that was originally published in an anthology.
  • Since that release, I’ve been interested in updating it with ideas that didn’t make the original draft.
  • I also wanted to represent Evaline in some way, but in the original story she was only a disembodied voice.
  • To give her more presence that meant either putting an image on a computer screen, or creating a holographic presence, which was not originally in the story.

Was There A Way To Do What I Wanted?

After looking at some ideas for cover designs, I decided to go with a sci-fi corridor with a holographic figure to represent Evaline herself.

Having previously used 3D software, specifically Daz3D,I was already familiar with what was possible with the right tools at my disposal. I did a search through the database of 3D models available, and found a sci-fi corridor that looked matched my list of requirements. Then I took the base female figure and a basic pose and put her into the scene.

After some tweaking, I clothed her in a skin-tight outfit, which had sections I could hide, and then bought a shader that allowed me to turn the textures into holograms.

Once the image was rendered, I transferred it into Canva and overlaid it on a background color, before adding the title and author text.

And here was the first attempt, but there were several issues…

  • The text fonts didn’t match up very well
  • The pose was a little problematic, and too ‘sexy’ for my tastes
  • The presence of the background frame didn’t mesh well the current trends in sci-fi cover designs
  • I wasn’t keen on the colors or the outfit
  • Because of the 3d models, outfits, and tricks I’d used to build this particular hologram I didn’t have a lot of control over how it rendered
  • I also didn’t have any way to adjust the placement of the figure within the final image

So I Sought Help From Fellow Authors..

I approached some authors I’ve worked with in the past, so I could get some ideas of ways we could try and fix the issues. And once I got some feedback, I dove deeper into to capabilities of the 3D software, and online forums, in the hopes of figuring out the solutions. And here’s the result…

I think you’ll agree this is a much better cover. It was created in several steps…

  1. Setup the scene, with the figure in place, posed, and clothed in single color clothing.
  2. Light the entire scene.
  3. Render the corridor background, with the lighting effects already in place.
  4. Hide the figure and clothing.
  5. Render the corridor background.
  6. Remove the corridor and place the figure against a black background.
  7. Set all the clothing colors to solid black, and render the visible flesh areas and hair
  8. Set the figure and hair to black
  9. Add a digital opacity layer to clothing and set the colors
  10. Render just the clothing
  11. Import the individual layers into GIMP2 for editing.

How The Layers Stacked Up…

  • Layer 1 – Background (Mode=Normal, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 2 – Flesh #1 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 3 – Flesh #2 (Mode=Dodge, Opacity=40%)
  • Layer 4 – Flesh #3 (Mode=Lighten Only, Opacity 100%)
  • Layer 5 – Flesh #4 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 6 – Leggings #1 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 7 – Leggings #2 (Mode=Dodge, Opacity=40%)
  • Layer 8 – Leggings #3 (Mode=Lighten Only, Opacity 100%)
  • Layer 9 – Leggings #4 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 10 – Top & Shoes #1 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 11 – Top & Shoes #2 (Mode=Dodge, Opacity=40%)
  • Layer 12 – Top & Shoes #3 (Mode=Lighten Only, Opacity 100%)
  • Layer 13 – Top & Shoes #4 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)

As you can see, that’s a lot of layers… And that was all before I pulled the image into Canva and added the text layers.

So here’s a look at the images that went to the cover…

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And that folks, is how I wasted three weeks of writing and editing time…

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the covers, or even my methods of creating them. Post in the comments below, or email me at timothy.bateson.author@gmail.com

Oh, and just between us… “Evaline Transcendent” will soon be available in the Kindle store… Once I’ve gone through some final edits, and finalized my revisions to the original story. There are aspects of the original story I wasn’t happy with, and plot points I wanted to update.

Reflections On The Terror Attacks In England

I’m not normally one to jump on the news, and comment on it openly. Anyone who follows my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media accounts will see that they remain clear of such things, for the most part. However, this last week has seen the second terror attack on London, in recent months, and I can’t help reflecting on how it affects people.

My heart and prayers go out to the friends, families, and victims of those who have been affected by these blatant acts of terrorism. Even though many of those affected by the attacks grew up with IRA activities as a fact of life, these recent attacks will leave physical and emotional scars that are hard to hide.

For my part, I’m here in Alaska watching the news very closely, and checking in with friends and family back in England whenever I can. Having been born British, and leaving everyone behind when I came to Alaska to marry an American, I can’t help but be concerned by the things I see in the news. And, so far this year, we’ve seen three major attacks…

Attack #1 – March 22nd 2017

  • Location: Westminster, London
  • Casualties: 50 people were injured, and 6 killed
  • A lone driver mounts the curb on Westminster Bridge, and drove through the crowd, then continued on toward Parliament before abandoning the vehicle and attacking people with a knife. He was shot dead by police less than 90 seconds after the attack started.

Attack #2 – May 22nd 2017

  • Location: Manchester Arena, Manchester
  • Casualties: 116 people were injured, and 22 killed
  • Suicide bomber detonated a home-made bomb in the foyer as fans were leaving a concert.

Attack #3 – 3rd June 2017

  • Location: London Bridge & Borough Market, London
  • Casualties: 48 people were injured, and 7 killed
  • A white van drove into pedestrians on London Bridge before three attackers got out of the vehicle and ran into Borough Market, where they stabbed several people, before escaping back into the street where all three were shot dead by police.

Investigations Are Ongoing…

That’s three major attacks in four months, and police are still investigating each of the incidents thoroughly. To date several arrests have been made in connection with the attacks, and time will tell how things move forward from here.

But there’s one thing I know for a fact…

Despite these attacks, it’s just going to bring people closer together…

How Do I Know This?

  • London, and other parts of the UK are no strangers to terrorist attacks, and bombings
  • During World War 2, German bombs fell on London, and other parts of the country on a regular basis.
    • Bombers flew over the cities and dropped tons of bombs in lightning raids
    • the dreaded V-1 flying bombs (aka the buzz bomb or doodlebug) which dropped out of the sky when their noisy motors ran out of fuel
    • the V-2 missile was the first true long range guided ballistic missile
  • When I was growing up, attacks by the IRA (and assorted splinter groups) were a fact of. Bombs went off, people were attacked, and attempts were made to bring down Canary Wharf.

What Happened As A Result?

During the war, and the terror attacks that came later, people refused to let those responsible change their lives more than necessary. During the war, they banded together in bomb shelters, and told stories to keep each other company and pass the time.

When I was growing up, I didn’t let the possibility of an IRA attack deter me from going into the city of London. Even in my mid-teens I’d go into the city on my own to visit museums, stores or the libraries. Sure, I was aware of the possibility of an attack happening, but even then I believed that if we let terrorists dictate our choices, then they had achieved their goals. And I wasn’t going to let that happen, but I did watch out of suspicious packages and activities just in case.

And It’s Happening Again!

In all of the cases above, including the attacks that took place this year, it brought people together.

Now this is the important take-away from all of this, and does nothing to detract from the horrors that people went through. But, people came together to help each other.

  • They came together to help the police and emergency services deal with the situations.
  • Photos and video have been given up for evidence willingly.
  • Witnesses and victims alike have given statements
  • Investigations have been started, and further arrests made in connection with the events.
  • Common people have proved to be heroes

But most importantly, they have stepped up, and proved that no matter who claims responsibility for the attacks, Brits are nothing if not stubborn, resilient, and will not bow down to terrorists.

For my part, I’m proud to have been born British!

“Under A Hunter’s Moon” – Get The First Chapter Of This Urban Fantasy For Free!

Cover and blurb for the "Under A Hunter's Moon" - The first short story in the "Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels" Urban Fantasy series.

More about “Under A Hunter’s Moon”

  • Length:About 4,200 words
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Setting: Seattle and the surrounding area
  • Series: “Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels”

Why am I offering the first chapter for free?

I have written several stories in the “Prequels” series, which are great introductions to the “Shadows Over Seattle” world. Three years ago, this story was featured in “Moon Shadows” and saw my debut as a published author, and remains very close to my heart. I’m also planning to release at least one or two more short stories over the coming months, as I continue to work on the first full novel in the “Shadows Over Seattle” series.

We’re also coming up on my birthday, and the first anniversary of this story being published under the “Shadows Over Seattle” banner. So, for the anniversary of the release I’m giving everyone a chance to try before they buy.

After all, I don’t know about you, but when I’m shopping for books in the store, I tend to read the first few pages to see if the book fits my tastes. Sure, I’ve had some very pleasant surprises when opening a book I’ve not tried reading first, but I still prefer to sample.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a comments from the reviewers…

Here’s what reviewers have had to say:

“I love the dark view taken but also the unique point of view that makes you want to care for the dark creatures.”

“If you like wolves, if you like werewolves, if you like that whole conflict of humanity, and conflict within yourself, you’re gonna love this book.”

“An amazing take on Lycans. I love the dark view taken but also the unique point of view that makes you want to care for the dark creatures.”

“There is that conflict that is driven into the story. That beautiful arc that starts off so well… that builds up to a beautiful crescendo, and then just drops you, and your heart is going to drop when it’s time for it. And you’re going to feel it. You’re going to feel the protagonist’s pain. You’re going to feel everything.”

Get the first chapter of the story for free… Click Here!

Help Stop Bullying By Educating People On The Effects

“Teacher reveals odd tactic to prevent bullying – and it leaves all her students in tears.”

That’s how this video was posted to me over on Facebook, and I’m not normally one to jump on my soap-box. But, there are some videos that I feel really need to be shared, and this is one of them. This video shows just how damaging bullying can be, in a way that those of us who have experienced it can appreciate.

Unfortunately, while this video shows the effects of bullying, it doesn’t educate people on how to deal with the being bullied, or how to handle the bullies themselves. There are so many types of bullying that educating people on how to deal with it will take a lot more than a two minute video.

My Personal Experience Of Bullying

I personally experienced several years of bullying during my schooling, and the schools seemed to consider me to be the problem. I was shy, quiet, and a bit of a book-worm (go figure). Because I ‘allowed’ the bullying to happen by not ‘fighting back’, I was sent to the school counselor for therapy.

Now I’ve never been a violent person, so I wasn’t happy with the idea that I should hit back, and they decided to try and help with my ‘anger management issues’. Apparently throwing a rag around the room was going to help me de-stress, and reduce my levels of anger. They made one mistake… Sure, I was stressed, but I wasn’t angry. Okay, they made TWO mistakes. They left the windows open, and the rag went out on almost as soon as I had it in my hand.

It took several years for me to really break out of the shell I built around myself, and I still have days when I find myself thinking about those years. But, love, care, friendships, and a lot of understanding have helped make things a lot easier to deal with.

Some Thoughts On Bullying

The whole bullying issue has really struck a nerve with me. It affects so many different types of people at a vital time in their lives.
– Kenny Wormwald

We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos and negativity and bullying in the world. And I think if everybody focused on what we all have in common – which is – we all want to be happy.
– Ellen DeGeneres

Children should always be brave and do something about bullying. It’s not okay to stand by and let it happen. Bullies thrive off secrecy. Children should tell someone if they see someone being bullied.
– Imelda Staunton

Here’s My Biggest Hope In Sharing This…

I hope that sharing this video and my personal experiences keeps the conversations about bullying going, and helps at least one person.

Let’s help reduce the instances of bullying, wherever they occur. It’s a problem that extends outside the schools and has a huge affect on so many people. The scars from being bullied may fade, but they are never truly gone. And that’s for those of us who survive the experience. Every time I see reports of bullying, or suicides that have resulted from bullying it brings back those memories of what I experienced.

It saddens me that we have been unable to stamp out bullying yet… So please, LIKE, SHARE, COMMENT!

Don’t let bullying continue by remaining silent!

Midweek Mumbles – 5 Seattle Myths Uncovered

As I was researching Seattle, I wanted to make sure that I was getting as many details correct as possible.

Part of bringing a city to life, even a fictional one, is knowing what the myths of that city are, even if you never feature them. Because, unless you know what people believe about a place, you can’t find ways to show that they’re false, or more potentially fantastic that people think.

I came across a lot of myths about the city. Some of them are actually true, others are popular misconceptions, while others have been made up for various reasons. Here’s a few of my favorites:

It always rains in Seattle

True/False? – Mostly False

There is a rainy seasons between May and October, but it’s mostly light showers rather than the torrential downpours that people envision.

Seattle doesn’t even rate that highly in terms of annual rainfall compared to many other US cities.

Source: Highbrow Magazine

Prostitutes opened the first public school in Seattle

True/False? – False

Rumors were the Lou Graham, one of Seattle’s earliest madames had left money to education funds, but she had actually given the money to relatives abroad.

Instead the earliest teachers in Seattle were the Mercer Girls, who had moved from the Northeast and South during the Civil War. They had been promised high wages and beautiful scenery by Asa Mercer as potential companions for eligible bachelors, though many never married.

Source: KUOW

Seattle is the suicide capital of the US

True/False? – False

Whatever the reason for the title “Suicide City USA”, Seattle is far from warranting such a scary moniker. In almost all studies of the suicide rates, Seattle doesn’t even make the Top 10.

However, my home state of Alaska DOES rate a “Suicide State USA” title, topping off the suicide rates for states.

Source: Forbes

Rent is cheap

True/False? – False

If you’re outside the city itself, rent is reasonably cheap in comparison to the city. But unlike in the past, there are parts of the city where $1000 only gets you a micro-studio apartment. So to live in the city, prepare to live a compact life.

Source: Seattle Socialites

The Disappearing Lake Union Islands

True/False? – True

In May 1962 police filed reports of an island that had formed in Lake Union, but it vanished two months later, only to have other such islands repeat the cycle later in the year.

Interestingly this one is true, and was the result of fill dirt being dumped during the construction of I-5.

Source:My Northwest

Check out the sources above for some other great myths about Seattle, and then share your thoughts, or Seattle myths in the comments…