Monday, June 14, 2010

Ruth Eastman Rodgers


I like the green and the blue and the white.  I happen to like that combination very much, so much that I had my airplane painted with that color scheme.  No, no, I don't have the plane anymore.  It went long ago.  I became a huge fan of the illustrator Ruth Eastman this week who had a terrific eye for composition.  Oddly enough, she was of the Eastman-Kodak family so should anyone be surprised at her visual abilities.

We're not all so gifted with color and composition.  I can't draw worth a darn really, but still with all the graphics programs, we can all manage to turn out a decent cover.

What is my advice to someone who doesn't have the money to hire someone but believes they can give it a good shot?

1. Be able to easily read the title of the book.  The color of the text should contrast as much as possible with the background.  Dark/light.  Try to avoid dark blue and light blue, dark green and light green etc.  It's a little too close and won't show up that well in a thumbnail.  Cool fonts are neat, as long as they're readable.

2.  Stick with clear colors.  I've seen so many covers with dark, muddy tones.  It's very hard for the eye to discern what's going on.  It might work on traditionally published book, but digital, not so much.

3.  Try to have the cover suggest what the book is about.  This is your first meeting with a potential reader.  Give them a good and accurate impression of what's inside.  Or I suppose there is no inside anymore, technically.  What follows.  What awaits them.  Don't make the cover a barricade, let it be an open door.

4. In your desire to give information to the reader on the cover, don't give them too much.  You're working on a small space which can easily become cluttered or crowded.  You don't want to underdesign but you don't want to overdo it either.

David Belasco, the famous Broadway producer, said it must be possible to convey the idea for a project written on the back of a business card.  You should think of one image that best represents your book and go with that.
Don't be afraid to start over.  If a book can be rewritten, a cover can be rebuilt.

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