Red Jade: Book 1: Cover (Part 1)

Many processes are involved in the creation of a book. One of the most fascinating is the creation of the book cover. Many options are possible and it is necessary to find the one that best matches your personal vision.

Because I am self-publishing my first book, I have taken on the major expenses that an agent or publisher would otherwise have paid. This has always been a dream of mine and though I could have tweaked my approach, I also have to recognize who I am and work from there. 

Several options were possible for my book cover. I wrote up a synopsis of my vision and submitted it to CreateSpace, which led to a delightful phone consultation with a design specialist. We spoke at length and by the end of the conversation I realized one key fact. If I used CreateSpace’s services, then I would be limited in my cover design. They only utilize stock images from some great royalty-free sites. For me, that wasn’t going to work. I’ve been on those sites, like shutterstock.com, gettyimages.com, 123rf.com, and so on. I’ve found some awesome things, like the colored mystic clouds currently on the top of the blog. Yet even with a lot of mixing and matching, I didn’t understand how they could really match my vision, and even the representative I spoke to seemed hesitant about it.

We live in great times. There were other options.

I found a site, 99designs.com, where you can create a contest. You front the money and the more you put down, the more artists are drawn (no pun intended) to your proposal. These artists then create drafts and send them your way. You choose some favorites, maybe make some comments, and eventually you go on to choose a winner. What I liked the most about this concept was the ability to see many variations of your vision set out before you. I felt it would be easier to find a suitable match using this route. However, I opted to try something different instead.

I went to Elance.com and I posted a job offer. I had 17 bidders all vying to take on the project. It was awesome! The difference here was that all bids were in text form, so no one was drawing up drafts for me. Instead, each artist guided me to a portfolio of their work. Some took the time to select specific pieces for me to examine because they felt it would match what I was looking for. 

A few artists were stock photo pros, so I strayed away from them because I could have just sided with CreateSpace’s team on that. Other artists clearly specialized in science fiction and did some beautiful things, but I needed fantasy and that’s a different beast. One artist’s portfolio had this amazing array of gorgeous drawings, but they didn’t fit the more adult theme of my book. If ever an artist was needed for a children’s fantasy book or video game, this guy was the one to go to.

Then I narrowed down the options to three candidates. It wasn’t easy but these three each had something amazing that drew my attention. One artist had fantastic character designs. Another detailed beautiful landscapes with great balance in color. The third drew scenes that moved me. 

It was a difficult decision, so I wrote to all three of them and tried to suss out the areas I wasn’t sure about. I received three great responses which didn’t quite help me to decide! So I kept looking through their portfolios and their websites and I kept coming back to one artist over the others. I had to trust my gut on this one. And so I decided to select Fyodor Ananiev, whose images created emotion within me.

With his permission, I am sharing the two key pieces that drew me to him: the first, Ruins Battle. I was looking for a battle scene anyway and this was a great indication of his ability to craft a cohesive scene. Every time I look at it, I can hear the swords swinging and the armor crashing, the warriors grunting and crying out in agony, and the eventual cessation that would be a bitter victory for one side or the other. I don’t feel that it is clear who would win in this scuffle and that, to me, is one of the genius touches. No battle is ever certain until it is over, and as I stare at this scene, I can’t tell if the intended hero will win or if the villain with the subtle red hues will conquer them all in the end.

The other piece that captures me is In the Cave. There stands the lone man, surrounded entirely by stone. The jagged edges pierce the sky, surrounding him, and isolating him from everyone and everything else in the world. I imagine him climbing into this cave seeking fortune only to find that loneliness is his only reward. With a lamenting shriek he bellows at the injustice of it, but I wonder if he will ever escape. Was his journey, his sacrifice, worth all he endured? Or was he deposited here by his foes and left to perish unless he could figure a way out, and this was only moments after his arrival? Despite all that, I feel a sense of triumph as he stands there hoisting his gleaming sword overhead. The depth of it clutches at me still.

And so I contacted Fyodor and I offered him the job, which he graciously accepted. I will discuss our working relationship in part 2 of this post. For now, I want to introduce my design partner. He was born in 1991 and he started computer art design in 2005. He is a graduate of Moscow University of Printing Arts in the field of Information Technologies in Design. You can find more of his work at https://tedmxartist.wordpress.com/ and http://ted-mx.deviantart.com/

In Fyodor’s words, “In life, love just very simple things. In art, deviate by being more abstract and generally off-mainstream.”

2 thoughts on “Red Jade: Book 1: Cover (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: Red Jade: Book 1: Cover (Part 2) | Stephen J. Wolf

  2. Pingback: Red Jade: Book 1: Cover (Part 3) | Stephen J. Wolf

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