Friday, June 01, 2012

A New Book is Born! Cover Art Part 1

A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled Commission Work: Love It or Hate It?  My usual take on it is... well, not on the Love It side. :-)

But, I've met so many wonderful people in the blogsphere, and sometimes we just connect at the heart level. One of those people was Jules aka Big Girl Bombshell.  

Jules is a writer, and she asked me to consider doing the cover art for her new book (HERE)

Click 3 Times 
Beyond the Flying Monkeys 

 It didn't take me long to say yes! 

In honor of Jules' new book announcement (which is due out this summer), today I'm starting a tutorial series based on her book cover. It'll be a peek behind the curtain at how the art was created.

I plan to cover it all:
  • from the ratty looking preliminary sketches 
  • to playing with color schemes (some were ghastly!) 
  • to what all the symbolism on the cover means
  • to tips on how to create your own cover for that e-book you know you want to write
  • to the finished book cover

I'm sort of new at this book cover thing, so I'll also share with you what NOT to do, based on my own mistakes. :-O

It won't be an exhaustive tutorial, but it'll help you get started, and maybe save you some time and give a general outline of the process.

To begin, here's where we are headed, the finished cover art (can click to enlarge):

Jules was easy to work for. She's a colorful writer, and uses a lot of word imagery. Her book is based upon that familiar favorite old movie The Wizard of Oz, and she courageously and creatively tells her own story.

The cover art Process:
Step 1) Ask yourself, what is the main message? What's it about, the biggest idea, the concept. There are lots of tutorials on the web to help with this if you need ideas. But basically, think "simplicity".

My author had lots of ideas she hoped to convey on the cover, so it was a challenge to make it work, without looking too cluttered. 

Today, I thought it would be fun to explain the symbolism on Jule's cover art. She uses the Wizard of Oz as the source of her metaphors, and I tried to show a lot of that on the cover.
Here's a close-up image (can click to enlarge):

  • Yellow of course, for the Yellow Brick Road
  • Spiral, swirly shapes in background, for tornado, the journey and traveling the Yellow brick road
  • 3 images of the numeral 3, for click the heels together 3 times to go home
  • Blue, for bluebirds in Dorothy's song Over the Rainbow
  • Green, for the Emerald City
  • Red and twinkles on the large 3 in title, for the ruby red slippers
  • All colors of the rainbow present
  • Flying monkey is small and grayed, no longer powerful over us
  • Heart at center for several reasons: this journey taking heart; the tin man wanted a heart; we are on a journey to find our true heart, our authentic self
  • Red and green at lower sides, for the poppy fields, places where we can get sidetracked or led astray
  • Silhouette of the 4 main characters (and Toto); they are copyrighted images, yet so iconic that even as a silhouette, everyone knows who they are
  • And lastly, purple, an exotic color that evokes the story of Oz, the changing colors in it; it is the color of wisdom, spirituality, royalty and wealth.

That's a lot to cram into one book cover! Next time, I'll continue the Steps of the process. Hope this was helpful. If not, at least entertaining, LOL!!

I'll end each post in this series with a link back to the beginning of the tutorial (today's post). The Steps will be 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, and I'd love to hear what you think!



  1. Anonymous8:47 AM

    I LOVE the book cover!!!!!!!!! It makes me want to buy the book. It does.

    I love it all. The silhouettes are perfect, as is all of the other elements. And I really like how you crafted in the word "Beyond" so that the subtitle didn't overwhelm the title.

    And I am absolutely charmed by the hanging 3. I know, of all things in this wonderful and intricate piece of art to grab my attention and tickle my fancy, but there it is. Love that hanging 3. :D

    Wonderful job, Loretta, truly a wonderful job!


  2. "I LOVE the book cover!!!!!!!!! It makes me want to buy the book. It does."

    Wow, that is the absolute best compliment you could have given. In the end, it's not about me or the art, but it's about drawing attention and interest to the book and it's author. So thank you very much for that, it was the most encouraging thing you could have said! :-)

  3. I have to copy Deb and say I want to buy the book too. I saw it on the Big Girl Bombshell website yesterday and thought, Áha! Loretta has captured something special as she created this book cover.'

    I feel privileged to be able to follow your creative journey.


    1. Aww, thank you so much, MargieAnne!

  4. The art on the cover is really awesome. The detail is spectacular. Awesome job!

    1. I appreciate that very much, Mary. :-)