Thursday, July 5, 2012

Let's Talk About Building A Cover

I needed (I didn't actually think so but I was advised) a new cover for Waiting For You.  Why?  Because some thought the clockface was SciFi.  So then you have the question what freaking stock photo can I find and afford that somehow has something to do with this book.  For some books this is impossible or nearly.  Police Procedurals, thrillers.  Very hard.  Steamy romance novels--pretty easy.  There are lots photos of nude people in a clinch.

What does that have to do with waiting?  Well, nothing.   After hours of looking I found this

I thought it was better than okay but I'm still stuck on the clockface.  The problem with this photo is either easily cured or not so easily.  The first issue is that it's landscape and a cover is portrait.  Unless you make it quite large you're left with white at the top and bottom of the cover.  I've done that a number of times and that's fine but somehow that didn't seem right.

The photo was sold in a number of sizes, usually you can get away with small but I knew I would need more resolution if I was going to enlarge it to fit on the cover template.  Bigger size required.  $5.

Ok.  I buy it and stick it on the template.  Problem.  The girl becomes huge if I enlarge the photo so that it covers the template.  I don't want the girl huge.  I don't want to see her that much.

I have another problem the photo is sold as sunset but while the sun is always setting somewhere I don't see it.  I agree that it's taken in the magic hour before evening but still I'm not getting any tonalities that appeal.  The sky is still blue and it would have been better if they waited a while longer and it softened/became pink.  Maybe they did and that wasn't for sale.  The bad news, I never got the sky right where I wanted.

My first issue was really to make more sky and more grass.  I had to artificially extend the top and bottom of the photo without stretching so that it would cover the template.  Photoshop has a function called Content Aware Fill. I watched the tutorial a number of times.  You need the image on a raster layer (I know, way too technical for some).  A raster layer is just blank, no color no nothing.  It's not the background because that is by default white.  But since this isn't stated, I came to that after too many attempts.  The sky was no problem, the grass was more difficult because the program extended past where the girl is standing  and picked up where you can see that yellowish area so I wound up with two of those.  Didn't want that.

So I never could get rid of that and wound up dropping the whole photo down further than I wanted but still that wasn't that much of an issue.

My next issue to deal with was the sky/color/tone.  This is obviously in focus but I wanted to soften it.  After a couple hours (yes really) of fiddling with various filters and techniques, I abandoned trying to change the color of the sky and instead accepted that increasing the warmth of the image was going to be acceptable.  I tried various fog filters and eventually settled for everyone's first choice of the Gaussian blur.

I picked up the color of the hill in the background for the text color.  Yeah okay.  Still not there for me.  Too blue.  Fiddled some more.  Warmed it up.

 This is the point where you have different but maybe not better.

My rationale for uploading the last is pretty simple.  I think people prefer dramatic, bold saturated colors.  That's all the explanation I have.  The blue does nothing for me.  This is a little dreamier.

So that's an abbreviated explanation of this cover.  It's the image I found/what I had to work with and maybe on a different day I would have wound up with something else.

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