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…
- Setup the scene, with the figure in place, posed, and clothed in single color clothing.
- Light the entire scene.
- Render the corridor background, with the lighting effects already in place.
- Hide the figure and clothing.
- Render the corridor background.
- Remove the corridor and place the figure against a black background.
- Set all the clothing colors to solid black, and render the visible flesh areas and hair
- Set the figure and hair to black
- Add a digital opacity layer to clothing and set the colors
- Render just the clothing
- 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…
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.