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.

“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!

Book Spotlight – “Conquest: A LitRPG Novel” by Aleric Elos

Overview

A primeval darkness threatens to destroy mankind…

The world’s largest gaming platform in the entire industry is led by a man with many secrets. The popular game DarkForce features the World of Zion which has been plagued by the destructive will of the Leviathan for centuries. What gamers don’t know is that the World of Zion actually exists, and the Leviathan has fed off of the souls of men and his fodder has become scarce. He now turns to Earth with an insatiable hunger. Only a woman from Earth who levels up to discover a divine inner power can challenge Earth’s Apocalyptic Fate.

Where To Buy:

AMAZON

From the Author

Aleric Elos is the Award-Winning Author of The SciFan™ Universe series. Known worldwide as the “Godfather of SciFan”, he likes to play MMORPGs, and since he doesn’t have the software engineering experience to develop his own games he decided to express his creativity in LitRPG form.

Links

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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…

Midweek Mumbles – Pinterest As A Research Tool

Between social media, email and online searches, I get around the internet a lot. And sometimes I come across a search engine, or social media platform that proves far more addictive an useful than I originally expected.

Pinterest is just such a platform, and in the short time I’ve been on there it has become very addictive. But I’ve also been able to turn it into a way of storing articles and images for later, turning it into a research tool too.

What is Pinterest?

According to Pinterest’s own user guide:

Pinterest is a visual bookmarking tool that helps you discover and save creative ideas.

These bookmarks are organized on boards, which allows you to sort your pins into topics. As you use Pinterest more it will start to learn the types of images, posts, or videos that will interest you, based on what you have already bookmarked.

What makes it so addicting?

You can add new pins and new boards at any time, which makes it a very flexible tool for research, but because Pinterest will present you with a lot of suggestions for pinning.

Now, I have a lot of personal interests, and of course, I added those first of all. Then, when I realized that Pinterest users were pinning things from all over the internet, I added topics for my story research too. And that’s when things went a little crazy.

Within a week, I found myself checking back in several times a day, and tagging tens of pins at a time, posting them to my boards so I could check them out later. And I seriously intend to do that some day, especially as a lot of what I have been pinning is potential idea generators for my books.

And on that note…

Get a peek at some of the materials I’ve been pinning about Seattle, the city in which the majority of the “Shadows Over Seattle” series is set in…

 

Book Spotlight – “Lady Blackwing” by Devorah Fox

 

Overview

Mercedes is just trying to make her way through life: taking classes, working her shift as a barista, and writing short stories that she never seems to finish. After a minor accident, she finds herself imbued with startling powers. She projects future events and rewrites the past, with disastrous consequences. Her first attempts to use her strange talents incite a zombie attack and bring an Egyptian goddess to life. Stunned by awesome abilities that she can’t seem to control, Mercedes wonders if she’s been cursed. Can she be cured? And if she can’t, what then?

Where To Pre-Order (Release Date May 10th 2017):

AMAZON, EPub (and other formats)

From the Author

“What if?” Those two words all too easily send Devorah Fox spinning into flights of fancy. Best-selling author of The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam epic historical fantasy series including “The Redoubt,” voted one of 50 Self-Published Books Worth Reading 2016, and ”The Lost King,” awarded the All Authors Certificate of Excellence. She also wrote “Detour,” ranked in the Top Ten Thrillers in Preditor/Editors Readers’ Choice Poll and “The Zen Detective,” a finalist in the Golden Books Award Contest. She co-authored the contemporary thriller, “Naked Came the Sharks,” with Jed Donellie, contributed to “Masters of Time: a SciFi/Fantasy Time Travel Anthology,” and “Magic Unveiled: An Anthology,” and has several Mystery Mini Short Reads to her name. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she now lives in The Barefoot Palace on the Texas Gulf Coast with rescued tabby cats … and a dragon named Inky. Visit the “Dee-Scoveries” blog at http://devorahfox.com.

Links

Website, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Smashwords, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Goodreads, Newsletter