Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Peek Into The Cover Design Process

Roseanna M. White pens her novels under the Betsy Ross flag hanging above her desk, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When she isn’t homeschooling her small kids and writing fiction, she’s editing it for WhiteFire Publishing or reviewing it for the Christian Review of Books, both of which she co-founded with her husband.

Designing historical book covers can be a challenge--but a fun one. And I was excited to tackle the project for Rachelle Rea and her series that WhiteFire contracted to release in 2015-16!

As a behind-the-scenes encourager of Go Teen Writers, a frequent judge of contests, and a dedicated reader of the blog, I've loved watching the GTWers grow and chase their dreams. And when I received Rachelle's manuscript on my editing desk at WhiteFire, I was excited because I knew her from Go Teen Writers...and a little wary because it's always awkward to give a 'no' to someone you kinda know. Which I've had to do before, LOL.

But as I dove into The Sound of Diamonds, I realized that wasn't going to be an issue here. Because the book is fabulous. And Rachelle is fabulous. And I was immediately excited to get to create some fabulous covers for the books!

But historicals present a challenge. How to find photographs with the right costuming? And in this case, it's a continuity series, so the same heroine needs to be on each cover. But with different dresses. Stock photos let me down, so I turned to the more complicated but better option: photo shoot.

Now, as it happens, I have a gorgeous niece who perfectly fit the description of Rachelle's heroine, Gwyn. Jayna is the right age, the right shape, has the right coloring. And takes ridiculously good photographs.
Moreover, she loves playing dressup in historical clothing and was happy to let me deck her out in the height of Renaissance fashion and make her walk around an old church on a rather cold and blustery day. Thank you, Jayna. ;-)

I called up a local(ish) costume shop and arranged to rent three different gowns in three different hues--because it only made sense to do the shoot for all three covers at the same time. I ordered a diamond(ish) rosary that plays such an important part in book 1.

We took hundreds of photos on that gorgeous but chilly November day, and then I got down to the really fun stuff. Putting together the covers.

Photo selection was key. I started with a few choices for the first gown, the blue one, and tried them out.


Honestly, I had a hard time deciding. But I knew I wanted the rosary in the shot, and I also knew that, because we were missing the glasses that Gwyn wore in the series, we were planning on cropping out Jayna's eyes. So I chose that last photo and zoomed it in to the correct size.
I loved how this left me some empty space in  the upper left to work with my words. But there's a bit too much of a contrast between the door and the blue of her cape--it would be hard to find any one color for the text font that would stand out against both. So I darkened the wood and, while I was at it, faded out the layer at the bottom into the background so that Rachelle's lovely name would have a place to stand out.
Much better! Now, unlike many of my designs, this one didn't require a separate background. Easy peasy then...but it still needed something else. I wanted a texture overtop it to soften and create some layer and light. After much searching, I decided on this one. I faded it out in a few spots (and didn't save it separately beforehand, LOL) to make way for her lovely face.
Fading this out to about 40% opacity gave me this.
Now it was beginning to look like what we envisioned! I decided it was time to start working with the title. The Sound of Diamonds. Beautiful, isn't it? Poetic, and Rachelle draws it out beautifully throughout the story. I wanted to make sure those lovely words got a lovely treatment. I opted to keep most of the words in an elegant but simple capital text. But I wanted some ornateness on Diamonds. After browsing through the wonderful www.dafont.com for a while, I settled on Magnolia and put it together like so.
Just plopping it down on top of the model looked like this.
Not bad. But I wanted a bit of light to highlight Diamonds. I found this free texture.
I set the blend mode to Screen, took the opacity down to 60% and ended up with this.
Next I tackled the series title. This is the Steadfast Love series, and it's set in the 1560s. I wanted a series logo that captured the antiquity of it and also echoed the color of each of the dresses I'd be using (blue, red, green).
That got plopped in that empty space. ;-) And I also added Rachelle's name to the bottom (woot!)
There's just one tiny thing missing--Rachelle and I both have a love for flourishes. So I put one behind her name. =)


And there we have it! The final cover for The Sound of Diamonds, set to release June 15, 2015! The second book will come out 4 months later, the third following in another four months. Those covers are finished too, but they haven't been released yet. You'll have to stay tuned for their cover reveals as we close to their releases. ;-)

Check out The Sound of Diamonds on Amazon!











57 comments:

  1. What a gorgeous cover! One of my favorite parts about working on a novel is reading through my favorite scenes and thinking, "This would look so awesome as a cover." Thank you for pulling back the curtain and letting us see into the process!

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    1. Yessss, I do that too. "Which bit would make a good cover? Aaaaand now I have twelve lined up."

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  2. Thanks, Linea! I love the cover process too, both as a designer and also as a writer! It's always fun to break it down for everyone. =)

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  3. Wow, this is absolutely beautiful! You did a wonderful job, Mrs. White, and thank you for sharing with us! :) I just love how you did this, and it sounds like Rachelle Rea has done an excellent job with her novel! :D I especially liked how you did the series title and Rachelle's name with the swirls. Beautiful work all the way around, and your niece did an excellent job for it!

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    1. Thanks Patience! Jayna had a ton of fun being the model--and I had equal amounts putting the photos into final form. =)

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  4. Wow, this is awesome! I must admit, I've spent some time daydreaming about how the cover of my WIP, The Assassin's Mercy, would look like, if it gets published. No high hopes, it's my first book I'm gonna finish :). A lot of red and black, with flames and daggers...spooky.

    Anyway, that's beautiful, Mrs. White! Thanks for sharing the cover design process. And the book is interesting! I checked it out on Amazon, and I'm a sucker for medieval stories...or around that period, anyway. This is on my to-read list!

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    1. What author doesn't do that?? Always a fun way to pass a few daydreams. =)

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  5. I have a lot of fun making "covers" for my stories. Best way to procrastinate during the brainstorming process, or to save as a treat for myself later on. :) Thanks so much for sharing, I loved it!

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    1. No better way to procrastinate at all! LOL

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    2. Yes, yes, yes, Amanda. I can spend an entire hour just daydreaming potential covers. Even for those stories that I have not even began writing. I'll admit, it's jolly fun, albeit unproductive! :)

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  6. This was amazing! Thank you for sharing the process!

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    1. Thanks, Bianca! It was a fairly easy one, with no separate backgrounds or color changes or tricky stuff, but fun! So glad you enjoyed the peek!

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  7. Wow, that cover is absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the process! :)

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  8. This is super cool! I've always wondered how it works professionally, and this cover is lovely. Thanks for posting!

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    1. Each process is different based on what photos you're using, but I'm happy to share! I have other behind-the-scenes for more complicated covers on my website. =)

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  9. I'm working on the first-and-a-half (is that even a thing? LOL) of my Christian fantasy novel right now. This sounds really fun to do :). I might just do it when I'm not adding/editing scenes in my book XD

    Thank you, Mrs. White :D

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    1. I personally have found cover design a great way to be creative when I can't write!

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  10. That is so pretty. Your niece is gorgeous by the way. :) I can't wait to have my own copy! The cover looks so pretty and the story sounds really interesting.

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    1. You'll love it! And yes, Jayna is just ridiculously pretty and photogenic. But we love her anyway. ;-)

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  11. That is such a beautiful cover. Your niece fits the part in that dress. :) I've never seen the cover process talked about so this was quite exciting to see. Have you ever had instances where a cover really stumped you?
    I can never think of covers. Ugh, I want to daydream, but I can't until everything is finished!

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    1. Oh, I have DEFINITELY been stumped by covers before! But it usually works out that the ones that stump me the worst end up the best. Case in point: http://roseannamwhite.blogspot.com/2014/01/remember-when-we-designed-covers.html

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  12. I love that cover, and looking into the design process. It's wonderful imagining a cover on one of my stories, but I don't know how to make one, though I have one envisioned in my head.

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    1. Imagination often outdoes reality anyway, so enjoy! And thank you. =)

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  13. This was really interesting to see how the design process worked!
    I use Photoshop a lot, actually, so maybe I'll make a cover for my current novel just for fun :)

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    1. That's how I started--just playing around. Then it eventually turned into doing them for real. =)

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  14. I'm all teary eyed right now... I'm so excited for Rachelle. And good job, Roseanna! What a gorgeous cover. Can't wait to read these! :-)

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    1. Our little Rachelle is all grown up... sniff, sniff. And thanks! You'll love them--they're fabulous. =D

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  15. I just love this. :) The flourishes! The swirls! So...fabulous. ;)

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  16. Lovely cover! You and your niece did a wonderful job! Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the process. I have a question, if you would be willing to share, where do you get your pictures (i.e. the texture and light)? I am working on designing a cover, and I am trying to find high quality, royalty-free images. Any help that you could give would be appreciated! Thank you!

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    1. Sure! I usually just Google "Photoshop free texture blue/red/flower/light burst" etc and that leads me to free design packs that other designers put online for use. That usually does the trick--one time I ended up buying one from Shutterstock.com, but just once. Things like flourishes I usually find on all-free-download.com.

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    2. Thank you so much! I will try that!

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    3. I have one more question, if you are willing to share, where do you get your model pictures (other than from photo shoots)? Like the model you found for "Sweet Mountain Music"? If you can't share that, that is perfectly fine! Thank you for all you help!

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    4. No problem at all! I get my models (generally) from:
      www.istockphoto.com
      www.shutterstock.com
      www.fotolia.com
      www.123rf.com
      www.lightstock.com
      www.dreamstime.com

      I've also discovered that occasionally people on DeviantArt post permissions to use their photos/costumes on book covers--most are cool with it if it's just for fun, not all are cool with it if it's for actual commercial use. ;-)

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    5. Thank you ever so much for sharing all of this with me! I really appreciate it! May God bless you!

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    6. You're very welcome, Ashlyn! Sometimes you can also just do a Google image search for "stock photo" + your search criteria (like "woman sword") and that will lead you to other stock photo sites too. =)

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    7. Thank you! I am really excited to get to work on the book cover now!

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  17. Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous!!!! I'm such a Photoshop nerd and really like making book covers and movie posters (sometimes for the teen group at church). Always, always, ALWAYS wanted to see a breakdown of a book cover done professionally.

    Question, though: How much say (if any) does the author get in dealing with the design? Are there ever authors who love Photoshop (like me) and have a particular image in their head? Do they ever get to help/do/suggest things about the project?

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    1. That really depends on the publisher. Generally speaking, authors get initial input--usually in the form of a questionnaire. That gets turned over to the designer, who has free rein. The cover is then sent to the author for approval--easy changes they're usually happy to make. Big changes...those often require an agent, LOL. But working with traditional, bigger publishers, the author doesn't usually get TOO involved. I did actually design my own cover for a free novella in my series with Harvest House, which was exciting. =)

      When I design for WhiteFire, I certainly keep in mind the author perspective as well as the designer/publisher perspective, so I involve my authors more than most. I involve them every step of the way and am happy to incorporate their ideas and images whenever possible. From what I've seen with other presses, this is more common with small presses than with bigger ones. =)

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    2. Thanks so much! This was all really helpful. :)

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  18. I love this post! It's so cool to see how you guys do that!!!

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  19. The cover of The Sound of Diamonds is gorgeous, and it was so neat to see it unfold as you kept on adding new elements.

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    1. Thanks, Ana! My process isn't really quite so neat and tidy, LOL, but for the sake of sharing, I take out all the failures. ;-)

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  20. I always thought making a cover for my book or other peoples books might be fun... :) Thanks for the post, Mrs. White, I really like reading about the cover making process.

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  21. What program did you use to make this book cover? I am hoping to self publish my book in a few months and right now I am exploring options for covers :)

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    1. Thank you for the reply and response :) The cover you made is beautiful!

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  22. That is incredible!! You and your niece are both extremely talented. : )

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    1. Thanks, Allison! I forgot to give credit to my great-aunt the photographer too--they made my job so easy!

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  23. Wow, that is amazingly gorgeous!!!!!!! That is awesome how you did that!

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  24. Wow, that cover is gorgeous! And you're right, that title is very poetic. I added "The Sound of Diamonds" to my To Read pile on Goodreads. Now comes the agonizing wait that always comes when a book I'm excited about still has a while until it's released. :)

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