Choosing a cover artist was only the beginning (for details, check Part 1). Fyodor Ananiev and I had our work cut out for us. I felt confident that we would create something we both would be proud of and would represent my book in the best way possible. [Note: This entry has many photos in it.]
It all started with the description of what I wanted, which was up there on Elance for the artists. The gist of it was a reddish (sunset) theme, highlighting my three main characters, a battle with some of the creatures, perhaps a castle town or tower in the background, on a rolling green field. For the spine I also wanted a magic-emanating red sphere to represent the Red Jade.
The three characters are Gabrion, a warrior; Kitalla, a thief; and Dariak, a mage. Of the three, Dariak is the primary impetus for the quest, so it made sense to give him the strongest representation. Fyodor impressed me with a pre-hire mock-up of my idea, something he certainly didn’t have to do.
Communicating with my colleague through email had its challenges when I was trying to explain certain elements that I was looking for. So I tried my hand at making alterations to his initial scene in an attempt to make the process easier. Here I flipped the cover around so it would print correctly, then added a slew of text for placement, which we were planning to leave up to CreateSpace to fill in. I, of course, threw a wolf (lupino!) in there on the back and I elongated the tower.
There are clearly some issues here, not the least of which were Google-searched images I was using to get the idea across. I didn’t want to mess with the giant eaglon on the cover, so I tucked the main title onto the grass in yellow. You know… because the title was only slightly important. 🙂 I was also estimating the placement of the barcode holder, as well as the thickness of the spine, and so on. Here was one more example of Fyodor’s dedication to the project: he went searching through CreateSpace’s help files and located an actual graphical template to lay out the size and shape of the book, along with a calculator to determine the size of the spine.
Details were next. Should the characters be closer to the front? Should the eaglon be smaller? Should there be mountains? Should the title move? Do we want to add more combatants? Lightning to the tower? Different lettering? What should Dariak be holding? What spell is he casting? How should the Red Jade look on the spine?
While we were refining, there were also many experiments. I asked Fyodor to look over what we had so far and to put his artistic eye and experience to it. What else should we consider? He tested out many things and that email I received from him had ten new variations. He didn’t just describe them, either. He worked them all into the cover so I could separately address each one. My jaw dropped when that email came in, I was so amazed. He tried darker clouds in the sky, more vibrant colors, recoloring the foreground, and so on. I spent a while just flipping between images trying to decide which ones I liked the best. It was phenomenal having the ability to see the actual ideas in front of me. I couldn’t have asked for more.
After flushing out the main ideas, we still had a few things left to consider. The biggest issue was Dariak’s stance and we both felt it needed work. That led to another set of iterations trying to get it right. I wanted him to be dynamic and strong. We eventually got there!
Then, of course, I had to be little silly and throw out the idea of new lettering. Remember, we were going to leave all that up to the CreateSpace team at first. Now Fyodor was taking charge and running scenarios. We tried different colors on the spine and so on. But the biggest thing I had asked for in a half-laughing, half-curious way was fiery letters.
When I saw them, I wanted them. I was concerned that the title was going to vanish but with a little tweaking, Fyodor fixed that too. What an eye for detail! He even slightly shifted each letter by an imperceptible amount just to make them more natural. When you look quickly, the letters seem lined up normally, but they are actually slightly skewed from each other. It definitely skims off the robotic font behind it all and most people won’t realize why (unless they’ve read this). Those subtle details make my cover more and more unique and each day I fell more and more in love with what we were creating.
If you’re looking at all the iterations, you may notice some aspects go back to their original positions and so on. This was part of the process too, seeing how old elements worked with new ones. Sometimes I hadn’t decided on a way to go so Fyodor just kept working new ideas in the meantime. We were nearing the end, however, and it was time to stop experimenting and to settle on the details. I really debated those fire letters but with Dariak casting his fire dart spell at the eaglon right there, they just seemed to make sense to me. His spell essentially lit those letters aflame! Yeah, we’re keeping those.
The images shared with you in this blog entry aren’t even all of them. Some experiments looked great onscreen but when I ran test prints, they didn’t hold well to photo paper. Details were lost in places because of the overlay of ink. I’m glad I have a good photo printer to test those with. Taking all the ideas I loved, tweaking the areas I felt needed more detail, we finally came to an end on the design. At first (before all of this started), I wanted a more photorealistic version but as we went through it all, the natural feeling of Fyodor’s artwork was what drew me to him in the first place, so I decided to stay in his world. I’m impressed with the results and I’m planning on hanging a copy up on my wall soon.
It took me two weeks to choose an artist. Then in a magical and hard-working eleven days we crafted the cover. I sent the file off to CreateSpace to verify that it meets all the requirements. Aside from any last minute tweaks they suggest, here is my new book cover, complete with the actual back material that describes the story. Enjoy!
(In a surprising turn of events, the cover story continues in Part 3!) I guess it goes to show, you never know what might happen in Kallisor. 😉