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JayneFowler
12-08-2012, 10:28 AM
Okay, so I would like to attempt to create my own cover if at all possible (though I would prefer to put the money I would have used to hire a designer into professional editing). I'm playing around with some ideas, but can't seem to figure out exactly what I want.

The story itself is YA and centered around people with superpowers, called "Irregulars." The main character is a girl who can turn her skin into metal. I did my best (and spent many, many nights working into the wee hours trying to learn to use GIMP) to make her skin look like it was made of steel.

This is my first attempt at making my own cover and I have no design background (that, and I'm insanely nervous about this) so bear with me. I would really appreciate any input that might help me move in a more professional-looking direction. In particular, I had a lot of trouble trying to decide how to position the text, and in the end I kind of just gave up.

Thanks!

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-HQblIapIgvI/UMLdSUss1UI/AAAAAAAAAAc/5tCCNgPM9BA/s512/PossibleCover.png

sunandshadow
12-08-2012, 12:22 PM
If the title is Irregular you could have some fun positioning it in an irregular way, like maybe a zigzag, or one letter tipping over/falling off. Maybe in a more 3D metallic font.

This skin makes me think a bot more of silver than steel, but it does look metallic. Steel, being a harder metal, holds a smoother surface than silver, and has stronger differences between highlighted regions and shadow regions. Also her lips probably wouldn't be red, but a darker metal color, unless the point is that it's lipstick on top of metal? In which case I'd imagine there would be eyeshadow on top of the metal too?? If you want to keep the bright red lips you might want to balance that out with the title's color and/or the color of the eyes or some eye makeup.

Kerosene
12-08-2012, 03:36 PM
I didn't even know what I was reading for the title. Maybe it'll be best to keep it as a single line across the front.

I'm guessing you used filters or something to color the picture, because I'm seeing artifacts of compression in the color changing and hair. Maybe it's the compression of the picture itself for the forums, or the filtering, or the original picture's detail, or... I just don't know. The best way I can describe it, is that it looks grainy like a jpeg file with compression artifacts. Maybe a pass with the smooth tool or maybe the blur tool, in photoshop or gimp (I'm no photoshop expert).

LBlankenship
12-08-2012, 06:06 PM
If you want, I'd be willing to take a stab at creating your metallic girl. The photo part, at least -- if you want me to do more, or just give advice, that's up to you.

I want to start peddling my services as a Photoshop wiz and designer, but my portfolio has gotten old and out of date. I'm looking to freshen it up with some new work. Just owe me a favor. :)

JayneFowler
12-08-2012, 07:51 PM
LBlankenship, I would be absolutely, positively thrilled (and ridiculously grateful) to have any help I could get, whether you wanted to just take a stab at the image or the whole cover. That image was a pretty good idea of what I potentially would like, but like I said, I'm not even totally sold on it myself/am still not exactly sure if it's the right fit.

The feedback I've gotten so far has been surprisingly... Gentle, compared to what I was fearing. Haha. It has told me the most important thing, though, that I definitely am not ready to do this cover on my own quite yet.

LBlankenship
12-09-2012, 02:52 AM
If nothing else, I will have a portfolio piece and you will know if you want it on your cover or not. :)

Did you buy this photo from a stock site, or is it just something you found? Drop me an email - Blankenship.louise at gmail dot com.

Calliea
12-09-2012, 05:26 AM
You have to make sure that the black subtitle doesn't touch the hair, because the letters get lost in it and make the brain think that maybe there are more outside of the face.

You should also put your name in, even some placeholder made-up one, as it will be an important part of the cover as well.

To get a better impression of metal, try using more contrast. Darker shadows and bright highlights. Also - don't forget to highlight the lipstick!

Those are things I can tell you for now. I've never used GIMP, so I can't give you any specific clues. Photoshop is much better for such things, but obviously, it's not a free software.

Should you decide to acquire Photoshop (or found such options in GIMP, whoever knows, I don't for sure :P):

1. add textures in blending modes, they will fix many mistakes and make the artwork look a lot better. http://www.cgtextures.com/ this site is godlike when it comes to this;

2. burn/dodge tools are wonderful when it comes to making metal textures. http://a-rien.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d26ypvp I did these bracelets using those tools alone and I really had no idea what I was even doing at the time :D For more variety, this dragon too: http://a-rien.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d23yxsf Just burn and dodge.

3. remove photo's colors with simple desaturation and then color it using blending modes (most likely Overlay). It will prevent any artifacts from showing

Gale Haut
12-09-2012, 06:56 AM
I don't think you should give up and hand the cover over to someone. Considering this is a first attempt at using Gimp, I see a lot of potential. If you could just pace yourself a little more, watch some more tutorials on things you specifically are trying to do, and read a little bit about graphics--I really think you could end up with a great cover that you made yourself.



Those are things I can tell you for now. I've never used GIMP, so I can't give you any specific clues. Photoshop is much better for such things, but obviously, it's not a free software.


You can do pretty much anything in GIMP that you can do in Photoshop. There are definitely blending modes in both. But you're right that Photoshop is a much better program. Last I checked it takes a lot longer to do some basic things in GIMP that you can do in almost one click with PS, e.g. clipping masks.

girlyswot
12-11-2012, 01:44 AM
I find the typography really uncomfortable to look at. Almost like it's tattooed on her face. I'd try moving it below her face and maybe have it in the same red as her lipstick? And for some reason, I'm thinking a sans-serif font might work better here.

veinglory
12-11-2012, 01:50 AM
Make sure the author's name appears on the cover.

Rachel Udin
12-11-2012, 09:45 PM
I find the typography really uncomfortable to look at. Almost like it's tattooed on her face. I'd try moving it below her face and maybe have it in the same red as her lipstick? And for some reason, I'm thinking a sans-serif font might work better here.
I'd double on the Sans-serif since serif is usually associated with "formal" and "business" and "upright" which the word irregular is not.

If you want to go totally off grid, you could (I know) go Comic Sans and that would definitely be irregular. (Joking.)

girlyswot
12-12-2012, 02:53 AM
Also, there's nothing irregular about the cover. I understand that the metal skin is her power, but I think you could do something with the composition of the cover to fit better with the title of the book.

ether
12-12-2012, 05:25 AM
My overall suggestions that've mostly been covered by everyone else already anyway... ;)

-Take out the color of the eyes. The lighting in them doesn't look right and with the monochromatic feel of everything else, it just seems off.
- Others have offered good advice already about how to make her skin more metallic.
- Some sharper highlights on the lips might aid in making them look like painted metal.
- I'd use a sans-serif font, keep the title all in one line either below her chin or across the middle of her face. Maybe make the lettering uneven and crooked to tie in with the title some. Not necessary, but it would help. Also, making the text red to tie in with the lipstick color would help.
- Don't forget your author name! Probably along the top.

I think this has promise to be a really kick-ass cover. I'd love to see it again if you work on it more!

LBlankenship
12-12-2012, 05:57 PM
Just so you all know -- I'm working on new art for this cover, and I think I've talked Jayne into tackling the typesetting herself. :) It will be back, and it will be totally different.

Gale Haut
12-12-2012, 06:11 PM
Can't wait to see what you come up with LBlankenship. :)

JayneFowler
12-12-2012, 06:45 PM
Agreed!

All of the suggestions here have been great, and I will definitely be back when it's time to tackle the finished cover. I will definitely still need some help, but I'm so excited to see the finished image that I can hardly be nervous now.

I will take the sans serif font suggestions, for sure. I suppose I chose that because I personally prefer the look of serif fonts, without thinking much about how well it actually represented what I was trying to convey. (Thank goodness for you guys, right?)

JayneFowler
12-14-2012, 01:51 AM
So, with the help of the wonderful LBlankenship, the cover is now completely redone.

This is only a very tentative arrangement of the text, but I was wondering what you guys thought of positioning it over the girl like this? I tried it next to her, over the city, but it felt cluttered with all the lights.

Questions? Comments? Rotten tomatoes?


https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-bOuEZxD7wwY/UMpNYe3nOjI/AAAAAAAAABA/4qn9vluvUwg/s466/photo.jpg

Edit: Looking at it now, it seems I may have dimmed the city lights a bit too much. I will fix ASAP, as long as I'm not imagining it.

Alessandra Kelley
12-14-2012, 03:32 AM
So, with the help of the wonderful LBlankenship, the cover is now completely redone.

This is only a very tentative arrangement of the text, but I was wondering what you guys thought of positioning it over the girl like this? I tried it next to her, over the city, but it felt cluttered with all the lights.

Questions? Comments? Rotten tomatoes?


https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-bOuEZxD7wwY/UMpNYe3nOjI/AAAAAAAAABA/4qn9vluvUwg/s466/photo.jpg

Edit: Looking at it now, it seems I may have dimmed the city lights a bit too much. I will fix ASAP, as long as I'm not imagining it.

Oh, hey, that's not bad at all. And it conveys more about your story.

I'm not much of a typographer, but I like the tentative arrangement.

Rachel Udin
12-14-2012, 07:02 AM
Much better. Though the harsh highlights of chrome aren't coming through to make her look like metal. The highlights should be sharper and the shadows should follow those of metal. The shadows are missing--the reflection. http://www.google.com/imgres?um=1&hl=en&client=firefox-a&tbo=d&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&biw=1469&bih=831&tbm=isch&tbnid=XhrMM3s8UOm4_M:&imgrefurl=http://www.500mania.it/ns/index.php/north_america_store_eng/gear-knob-5.html&docid=H1CwBWG2X0aQpM&imgurl=http://www.500mania.it/ns/media/catalog/product/cache/25/image/5e06319eda06f020e43594a9c230972d/M/V/MV007-2.jpg&w=600&h=600&ei=uJXKUJCbFOXZigK90IDgAw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=1047&vpy=151&dur=2592&hovh=225&hovw=225&tx=121&ty=144&sig=113042725227370251882&page=1&tbnh=146&tbnw=139&start=0&ndsp=32&ved=1t:429,r:6,s:0,i:132

See in this drawn object there are shadows that make it seem like metal? You need that too. Sharp, sharp highlights, very delineated shadows, and then the rest is around middle gray with softer shadows for contours.

As for the typography. At first I liked it and then I balked and liked it less and less I looked at it. I like the type face... but the type setting really doesn't help and I'm not quite 100% why I'm balking. Someone else is probably more articulate as to why. It might be the vertical text...

The leading of the author's name puts me on edge.

JayneFowler
12-14-2012, 07:07 AM
Much better. Though the harsh highlights of chrome aren't coming through to make her look like metal. The highlights should be sharper and the shadows should follow those of metal. The shadows are missing--the reflection. http://www.google.com/imgres?um=1&hl=en&client=firefox-a&tbo=d&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&biw=1469&bih=831&tbm=isch&tbnid=XhrMM3s8UOm4_M:&imgrefurl=http://www.500mania.it/ns/index.php/north_america_store_eng/gear-knob-5.html&docid=H1CwBWG2X0aQpM&imgurl=http://www.500mania.it/ns/media/catalog/product/cache/25/image/5e06319eda06f020e43594a9c230972d/M/V/MV007-2.jpg&w=600&h=600&ei=uJXKUJCbFOXZigK90IDgAw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=1047&vpy=151&dur=2592&hovh=225&hovw=225&tx=121&ty=144&sig=113042725227370251882&page=1&tbnh=146&tbnw=139&start=0&ndsp=32&ved=1t:429,r:6,s:0,i:132

See in this drawn object there are shadows that make it seem like metal? You need that too. Sharp, sharp highlights, very delineated shadows, and then the rest is around middle gray with softer shadows for contours.

As for the typography. At first I liked it and then I balked and liked it less and less I looked at it. I like the type face... but the type setting really doesn't help and I'm not quite 100% why I'm balking. Someone else is probably more articulate as to why. It might be the vertical text...

The leading of the author's name puts me on edge.

As I didn't do the metal, I'm not quite sure that I know how to fix that. I don't think LBlankenship is totally finished the the base image, so that may be something that's getting addressed. This is more getting a feel for what it needs to be when it's done/how close everything is.

Do you have any suggestions? I'm not quite sure what you mean by putting you on edge. And I've been having a hard time figuring out where the title would go if it isn't vertically.

Rachel Udin
12-14-2012, 11:56 AM
As I didn't do the metal, I'm not quite sure that I know how to fix that. I don't think LBlankenship is totally finished the the base image, so that may be something that's getting addressed. This is more getting a feel for what it needs to be when it's done/how close everything is.

Do you have any suggestions? I'm not quite sure what you mean by putting you on edge. And I've been having a hard time figuring out where the title would go if it isn't vertically.

K. My left brain kicked in. It's the principle of conflicting importance. When you make the title that big and vertical over the image, you are conflicting the importance of what's there. Which doesn't make it look irregular at all, just same same, different. Ranking things by size.

I knew it was something... also by putting it over the girl you're diminishing her importance, but by making the text the same size, you're also competing with her which gives me a feeling of "clutter" rather than "irregular".


Vertical text is also generally hard to read and a no-no and won't be so irregular.

I think it's that one... --;; The life of an artist. Intuition comes first before the words to describe what I know to be true.

catherineshanahan
12-14-2012, 01:05 PM
The second one is much butter. I like the fact that the cover in and of itself begins to tell the story.

Gale Haut
12-14-2012, 04:59 PM
I hate to be the dissenter, but I still can't read that title. The author's name also seems way too large considering the arrangement. And at the moment the gray levels between your figure and the background aren't quite matching up correctly.

veinglory
12-14-2012, 07:15 PM
I would guess 'zombie' based on that cover.

Gale Haut
12-14-2012, 07:55 PM
Take a look at how they mapped a texture for Emma Frost's diamond mode. I think the easiest way to accomplish this is going to be to base your image on a powerful photo reference. Of course, I'm not suggesting you copy this image at all, but to use your own photo reference to understand lighting shape and form necessary to give the impression of metal.

http://verybestphotos.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/January-Jones-as-Emma-Frost-Diamond-Skin.jpeg

ZoeYork
12-14-2012, 08:06 PM
I really like it!

Polenth
12-23-2012, 05:01 AM
Right now, it looks like you're avoiding adding any darkness to the metal, but real metal has a whole lot of dark. An example would be the Silver Surfer (you can search Google images just for the name, or try "rise of the silver surfer" to get movie shots in different lighting).

The easiest photo to change would likely be one where the model is lit from a bright light from one direction, as she'll already have the intense shadows for you to texture. Add the bright highlights, and you'd be there.

slhuang
12-23-2012, 09:16 AM
Ooo, I really like the new one! I would definitely pick up that book and flip it over to see what it's about. :)

I don't think it's necessary for the cover art to scream "METAL GIRL!" to everyone, by the way. As long as it looks intriguing, gives the right overall "feel," and fits with the text if people look at it while reading (as in, readers look at it later and think, "Oh, she's metal, I see it!" even if they didn't at first), it works as cover art. IMHO, cover art works as long as it draws people in and is true to the story; it doesn't have to tell the story for you. (Of course, I'm not a graphic artist, but I am an avid reader and a fine artist . . . so FWIW and all that.)

tl;dr: I dig it. Awesome job, both of you.

jesrdesign
12-25-2012, 06:17 AM
I really like the placement of the title.
And I'm with slhuang on this one. The title is more about grabbing the attention of the reader and symbolizing the "feel" and genre of your book than pointing out direct details down to the T.