Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Birth of a Cover

Self-publishing my first novel, Escaping Destiny, involved more work than you can possibly imagine - and there is so much more to come. My wife, Briana, thankfully has a background in desktop publishing and handled the layout of the novel in Adobe In-Design. A number of good friends (who I'll thank by name in a blog devoted just to them), were kind enough to volunteer their eyes as proofreaders. And while I obviously wrote the novel, I also designed the cover and put the site together. Now we’ll shift our efforts to promotion and marketing, while I began editing my next novel, The Awakening, which is due out in May.

There's never a dull moment in our world.

The cover began with a photograph that I took on October 10, 2010. I tend to carry my camera with me whenever I'm out and about and have actually exhibited my photography. When I walked downtown to pick Bri up from work, I had our dog on a leash in one hand and my camera thrown over the opposite shoulder. In the midst of a handful of photos from the commute, the leaf and its shadow on the sidewalk stood out. I don't pose or stage the subjects for any of my photos. The leaf and its shadow were simply waiting there on the sidewalk for someone to notice them.

When I went to put the cover together, I needed a photograph that offered the parallel between life and the "shadows" that we leave imprinted on the larger flow or reality. This photo conveyed that concept for me.

The only problem was that the scene that was captured through the lens was too small to use the way I wanted. If I turned it at an angle (as it is on the cover), the edges of the photograph clearly showed. What I needed was more photo - and in this day and age you can do exactly that.

Opening the photo in Adobe Photoshop, I turned it so that the seam in the sidewalk ran horizontally across the photograph. Doing so simply made it easier for me to match lines and angles. Using different sized brushes and Photoshop’s clone tool, I began creating more sidewalk to work with. If you compare the length of the sidewalk's seam in the two photographs, you can see how much I had to add.

From that point, it was simply a matter of turning the photograph so that the leaf appeared how I wanted it for the cover. The rough edges of the image were airbrushed out. The cover began to come together. All of the obviously cloned parts would be cropped out for the final cover.

I chose the two colors of text for the cover so that they matched the leaf and its shadow and tied the elements of the cover together.

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