Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cover Art Part 7: We Made It!

(Part 1 of the Tutorial started HERE) 

We're on the homestretch. The painting has been scanned in to photoshop, and ready for the finish work. (As always, can click any pics to enlarge)

For a re-cap, here was the pencil sketch:

Here is how raw it looked at first scan into photoshop:

Step 9) The text. 
Absolutely make sure you use separate Layers for the text. Pick your font with care. Number one priority: readability, both large and small versions of the cover. I know, I already mentioned that... but it's that important. :-)

The whole point is Communication. If it can't be read, it's worthless.

The legal stuff: If you download free fonts, make sure it says you are free to use it for personal AND COMMERCIAL use. Many are only for personal use only. You can NOT use this for a book cover that will be sold. I found so many cool fonts that I dearly wanted to use, but... nope, they were for personal use only.

I hunted high and low trying to match the font from an old movie trailer for the Wizard of Oz. I couldn't find it, so just came as close as I could to the feel of that font. Here's that neat old movie title page:

Here we are, waiting for touch-ups and text:

Cleaned up the edges; removed the texture where it shouldn't be; added a glow around the silhouette; added reflected light to the flying monkey; added color and highlights to the title 3; added final sparkles here and there.

I experimented with a curved Title, to mimic the shape of a rainbow. But when the cover was reduced any smaller, it was extremely hard to read.

In the end, I chose readability over nostalgia:

And here is what I chose for the Sub-title. It needed to be readable, yet subordinate to the main title. And since the concept that Jules was presenting was the idea of going BEYOND the flying monkeys, I used the Warp Text tool to make that word stand apart.

This part of the design, the three 3's,  was made using a stencil font. I then went to Layer Styles, to Visiblity, and chose Ghosted.

Step 10) Final copies. 
All done! Be sure to save your creation in PSD form if using photoshop, or whatever original format your program uses. Reason: every time you make changes to a jpeg, it degrades the image. Better to make another copy from the original PSD, make any changes, then save it to a new jpeg.

Send your author the needed sizes they prefer, or what's required by the publisher. 

I sent my author:
-a full sized file PSD, 1650 x 2550 pixels, 11.5 MB
-a black and white jpeg, 647 x 100 pixels, 115 KB
-a blog size file, 453 x 700, 45 KB
-a thumbnail size file, 250 x 386, 61 KB
Your requirements may vary, so be sure to check.

So there you have it... 
my journey from this:

To this:

Close up:

I hope this will be helpful to other cover art beginners. And if not, at least entertaining! LOL!

If you are intrigued by her book, I invite you to visit Jules Joyce (HERE) and find out more. Her book will be out this summer... exciting!

And, I'd love to hear what you think of this tutorial! If you like it, I'd be happy as a clam at high tide if you told someone else about it. They might find something in it useful, too. Thanks! :-D

Part 1 of the Tutorial  starts HERE. The Steps are more fully explained in each post. 

The Process Summary:
Step 1) What is the main concept; think simplicity
Step 2) Find out the needed technical stuff: aspect ratio, pixels, file size etc.
Step 3) Do a lot of quick thumbnails, in black and white (pencil or digital)
Step 4) Play with color schemes, which supports your concept best
Step 5) Gather any needed reference material
Step 6) Finalize your sketch; think both large & small image readability, & bold text
Step 7) Transfer sketch to your support if paper sketching; or scan in to computer
Step 8) Continue in your chosen medium, or in photoshop (working in Layers) 
Step 9) Font: readability is priority one; must be allowed for commercial use
Step 10) Final copies. Save in PSD. Send needed sizes to author, or what's required by publisher. 

The ideas here are most applicable to the traditional artist who is using a digital art program to do the finish work. Those making 100% digitally created cover art are a horse of a different color. 

Thanks for reading,


"I know you've heard it a thousand times before. 
But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, 
you have to practice, practice, practice. 
If you don't love something, then don't do it." 
--Ray Bradbury, 1920 - 2012


  1. Anonymous12:14 PM

    I loved this! :D I haven't followed the tutorial because, well, it's lost on me. I wanted to check in and see the final post, tho, and I'm glad I did. Fascinating.

    I'm going to browse thru the previous posts. :)


    1. Thanks Deb! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :-)

  2. I've started using powerpoint for text. Let's me do more. But I hope to be able to start affording people in the near future.

    1. Oh, you bring up a good point, Mary. I forgot to mention (but not sure that it matters) that I did all mine on a Mac. I've seen some of your latest font work, and it's impressive. I especially liked the backwards curve of the title "Backworlds". And I also saw you jazzed up "Stopover At The Backworlds' Edge". It has a lot of energy now. VERY nice!

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