Book Cover Art Chapter 2: Info Dump to Brainstroming
And we’re back, for another installment of the REUTS Book Cover Art Series. Following Chapter 1: Groundwork‘s success, we’re moving into more of the meat of Book Cover Art design– and by meat we’re referring to charcuterie board type appetizer, because this definitely isn’t the main course!
If you’re following the steps I denoted in Chapter 1, you should have an info dump of author knowledge on your hands. I know I did, and that’s the sign of a great start! You can gather a lot of ideas and inspiration from hearing the author (passionately) describe their book.
So we begin…
The Info Dump
Genre: Urban Fantasy, NA/Adult
(Please Note: I had left this out of our Chapter 1 checklist, but the genre is another supportive piece of information to have. Each genre tends to have its own “style” of cover art, which you can easily refer to for inspiration)
Unofficial Synopsis/Blurb*: “Derek Richards lost touch with his humanity after losing the woman he loved in a horrific car accident. Like flipping a switch, he turned off his emotions–including compassion and empathy–closing himself off from the world. But, three years later, his callous disregard has finally caught up to him.
After watching his current fling angrily storm out, he meanders through the streets of Portland to his favorite spot–a park bench by the river. His peace and quiet is interrupted by a homeless woman, and Derek finds himself entangled in a confrontation where money isn’t the only change at stake.
Now, literally turned to stone, he realizes Karma’s giving him a second chance. Like Ebeneezer Scrooge minus the helpful ghosts, he has to relive all his bad decisions–every selfish, incorrect choice he’s ever made–and reevaluate his life. If he can’t find a way to redeem himself, he’ll spend eternity as a statue. But after what he’s done, maybe he deserves it.”
Author’s Ideal: “Since the park bench is such a pivotal image in the story, I’d really like to feature that. I’d also like to try and keep it recognizable to the setting (Portland, OR). For some reason, I’d always pictured this cover as being almost cheerful. But this really isn’t a cheerful story. (I’m choosing to blame the inspiring song, The Man Who Can’t Be Moved by The Script, for that.) It’s also the first in a series of darker urban fantasies, so for branding purposes, I think we should stay away from my original thought of cheerful.
Something ethereal to capture the shifting feel of the memories he travels through, as well as something with a darker edge would probably work better. Tragedy, depression, anger, and anxiety are all heavy elements, but the overall theme is one of redemption, hope, and overcoming the things that weigh you down. The message I hope people take away from it is that it’s never too late to turn your life around and be the person you want to be. So if we could somehow also incorporate a hint of that hopeful feel, it’d be great. Just so people don’t expect this to be a horror. ;)”
*I was given the manuscript to read, but to respect Kisa’s WIP I’ll only be sharing a blurb she shared with me, which is a good explanation of her story and what the cover should reflect.
So, with park benches on our mind, I began searching all forms of stock images for an image of a useable park bench, or an image that evoked a certain feel, ambiance, etc… Some stock images websites I frequent (from most inexpensive to most expensive):
- www.sxc.hu (free)
- www.DeviantArt.com (free or inexpensive)
- www.bigstockphoto.com (paid stock, although you can get 5 images/day for seven days for free if you sign up for the trail of their premium membership)
- www.istockphoto.com (paid stock)
- www.veer.com (paid stock)
There are many, many, more stock photography websites out there, so shop around and find your favorites. Since this is just the brainstorming phase, I’ll wait to cover approaching an artist requesting permission to use their image in next week’s post (mostly applicable with Deviant Art images).
Kisa and I began sharing park bench images back and forth, creating a cover database, and trying to spark any sort of inspiration.
mahdesigns-stock on dA
I had initially mentioned to Kisa a stark cover, lots of grays, with maybe only a pop of color in the bench itself. That’s when she found the above image and brought to my attention for the the overall feel. We both liked this direction, and then began to search for some bench stock that could be manipulated in our cover art:
Undreamed-Stock on dA
YsaeddaStock on dA
Some more abstract options:
#803790 on sxc.hu
#241005 on sxc.hu
#86329 on sxc.hu
#195336 on sxc.hu
Or a super abstract option (my suggestion):
An aerial shot of the Portland, OR park where the book is set.
This last suggestion was a stretch for me to even suggest. It would take an aerial view (from either a Google Maps or Bing Maps), of the park where the story takes place, with the potential of some sort of map marker denoting the bench. It’s very much so an abstract approach, but because of that, it may be something worth pursuing.
Cover art is very time consuming to design. It’s always better to return to the author with some ideas, opposed to jumping right in to their creation with the possibility of wasting time. With the above ideas as a start (and a couple more swimming around in my head), I’ll come back next week with some initial (and rough… very rough) mock-ups for Kisa to react to. Additionally, we’ll discuss how to acquire usage rights directly from a photographer, if you run in to this particular situation.
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