Originally, when I released my book A Rapturous Occasion on Amazon last Thanksgiving, I knew next to nothing about graphic design or visual art in general. I had been drawing all my life, but never paid much attention to the craft itself or bothered to learn professional techniques. For example, it didn’t occur to me to draw the image large then size it down to fit on the book cover. Instead, I drew it at 100% the size it appears when you hold the book in your hands. I think even novice artists know enough to avoid my mistake. Below you can see the cover from last year.
I’ve seen worse book covers, but I’ve definitely seen better ones as well. The problem here is that it doesn’t necessarily catch your eye, especially when it shows up half the size on an Amazon search. Since that day, I vowed to actually learn how to create art in ways other than freehand. I also invested in a number of artistic tools including a lightbox and several different sizes of pens.
Around April, I finally decided I was ready to make another attempt at a cover image for A Rapturous Occasion. This time, I went the distance and drew my image on a big 11 x 17 sheet of bristol paper. I also spent some time learning about the golden ratio (a concept used for composition that’s based on a mathematic principle that’s far too byzantine to be summarized here). I used the ratio to position the girl’s face (she is Sarah, a central character) where it would hopefully catch the eye first.
In the end, it took three steps to create the image that served as the basis for my cover. First, I drew the central image (below left), then, after botching my first attempt, I drew the baroque style frame on a separate sheet of paper. The third step was tricky; I had to trace the first and second pages onto a third page in ink. I achieved this by using my lightbox–a device that shines light upwards from beneath your sketches, illuminating your lines and making them fairly discernable through your fresh sheet of paper.
The aforementioned process took me days to complete. When I finally had the third image, I had to size it down at Kinko’s, then scan it to my computer, where I added the colors using a free online program called GIMP. Only now do I realize I probably could have simply superimposed the frame over the original image, thus saving me the effort it took to combine the first two images, but it’s too late now.
Speaking of too late, a mere week or two after completing and submitting the new cover to A Rapturous Occasion, I came across some money and was finally able to buy Photoshop. I’m tempted now to go ahead and make a third version of the cover, but this could very likely annoy the book buying public–that is, if people actually bought my book.
My next project will be to make a new cover to my book The Madness of Art: Short Stories. The current one is an embarassing mess right now.
Anyways, here’s the new cover of my book A Rapturous Occasion. My book is available in paperback for $8.99 and is only $0.99 as an ebook.
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Have you had a similar experience while designing a book cover or any piece of visual art?