The launch for ENEMY OF THE FAE has gone exceedingly well, and I am so pleased (and relieved) about that. It even popped onto a genre bestseller list and the entire series has experienced a boost in sales, thanks to the great reviews and word-of-mouth sharing. I really appreciate all the kind words. The positive feedback has been the most rewarding part!
I’m not sure why I get so nervous about launches. They have always been tremendously fun and rewarding in the past, but I will confess to getting a little stage fright on the big day.
But now that it’s over, I can share something I’ve been dying to show you all: the new cover art for Book 4, DRUID LORDS. If you subscribe to my newsletter or my Facebook fan page, you’ve already seen this, but I didn’t show it here before because I wanted to take the time on the blog to actually show you how I did it. I have to say, this is the cover I’m most proud of.
Please note: I’m considering redesigning all my book covers to match this style. PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO ANSWER THIS SURVEY ABOUT MY BOOK COVERS. FEEL FREE TO BE HONEST! IT’S ANONYMOUS! Survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZTBLVH7
The image is about 95% hand-drawn, using Adobe Fireworks to create the centre disk and titles and Adobe Photoshop to add lighting effects, colour shifts, and modify the background, etc. I want to show how I did it, but I’ll try not to get too detailed or technical, so I don’t bore you, but this is to illustrate that by getting to know your art tools, it is possible to create something professional looking without even incurring the expense of stock photos.
The only part that isn’t hand-drawn is the background, which was originally a photo of pavement. Here’s a clip of the original background I got free on a royalty-free backgrounds site:
Getting it to look rusty wasn’t too difficult. I took it into Photoshop. For this part, I can’t really list the exact steps because I was trying something new: a set of filters I got as a freebie from OnOne, called PhotoTools. But, essentially it’s just a set of filters and the effect could be duplicated with other, standard effects if you play around with shifting the colours and saturation, vibrancy and levels.
After I got a good, grungy background, I went into Fireworks and drew the seal. Photoshop doesn’t create illustrations well, but Fireworks is a champ. I’ve never used Illustrator, but I assume that and other programs would do well too. Below is my original seal illustration. This is a lot simpler than it looks. It’s basically circles, dots and a very simple celtic knot that I drew once and pasted seven more times.
But even this looks a lot different than the final product, doesn’t it? This is the part that requires a leap of Photoshop faith, because it doesn’t seem that a simple line drawing could be turned into something realistic, does it? I used a colour-balance effect to dim the bright yellow a bit, then simply applied a copper gradient map. That right there made a huge difference! But I didn’t want the emblem looking like a shiny penny, so I added several adjustment layers playing with levels, curves, brightness and contrast until I got a realistic looking picture with some nice green “corrosion” on it.
I then added a nice drop shadow to give it some depth, but also some lighting underneath, which made it even more three-dimensional. Using a cracked/distressed paintbrush, I added cracks and grooves on the surface to give it some age, then with a lighting paintbrush I downloaded from DeviantArt, I also painted some light on the surface. Sometimes I find it looks more realistic to paint light rather than to try to paint shadows, although using a combo of both can be very effective.
I painted each rune mark with a simple paintbrush, then rotated it on the disk t the correct position. I made two copies of it. The bottom got a bevel and emboss effect, then the top copy got a glow (and was punched out.) Rinse and repeat 7 more times to complete the disk.
Two more layers went over the very top: one was the bright glow in the centre of the disk. The second was a layer of sparkle light effects all over the disk, to make it seem like the magic within was activated.
Then I flattened the PSD as a jpg and took the whole thing back into Fireworks to create the text. Although Photoshop can certainly do text, I like the way I can turn a font letter into a vector in Fireworks, so I can manipulate each letter point by point. Photoshop will only rasterise fonts, which means basically turning them into paintings. I much prefer to drag a point on a vector to stretch a letter than to try to paint it by hand. I am much happier with the results too.
I’m afraid I’ve been just technical enough to frustrate those who want to follow along, all while boring people who don’t care how I made it. XD I hope, at the very least, it was interesting to see behind the scenes!
Please take a moment to answer the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZTBLVH7 And just for quick reference (because I’m asking if you prefer the old style or this new look, here are the first three covers in the series for reference.
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