First Official NSG Blog Post!
The process of creating a book cover. This was the recommendation for my first post. I really have no idea where to start, so I guess I'll wing it!
Like any graphic creation, book designing can be extremely simple to overly complex. It really depends on the type of image(s) being used and the style of the design. Sometimes, a book cover is simply a pretty image with text over the top. Other times, it's a combination of several images intricately layered together, blended with brushes and filters, sometimes all the way down to each individual pixel.
Now, if you don't know much about image resolution, pixels may not make much sense to you. If you don't know much about programs like Photoshop or GIMP, terms like "brushes" or "filters" may be over your head. Just know that these are all things that I have to know about in order to make a cover work.
One of the most difficult parts of being a graphic designer is creating a cover that fulfills the author's fantasy. Many times, I run into a situation where an author has a very specific design idea in their head and they simply do not want to sway from it. Unfortunately, I am not a photographer and don't have the option of just going and taking my own pictures of models in the exact poses these authors want. Because I don't have this option, I'm stuck with stock images as my selection. Though there are several stock image sites, most of them share the same images. Yes, I still have a pretty wide selection to choose from, but some poses are just non existent. OR they're overused. I do my very best to create what the author is looking for, but dealing with someone who's not willing to have a little flexibility can make my job frustrating. (HINT TO AUTHORS: Please try to keep your options open!)
Other roadblocks that are often encountered: the perfect stock image is cropped the wrong way, lighting effects between images are too drastic to blend, trying to blend a non-filtered image with one that already has a filter applied. Though these things may not initially make sense to the author, I do my best to explain it in terms everyone can understand. Sometimes I fail miserably at this.
The #1 issue that most people struggle with (including myself) is typography.
Typography can literally make or break a cover. You can have the most beautiful design and have a tacky font slapped on top, and it'll destroy the entire thing. Even the best of the best struggle with this.
Other common issues: choosing a design that is too complex or too busy, title/author placement, contrasting colors vs. complimentary colors, lack of color vs. too much color
ANOTHER NOTE TO AUTHORS: Sometimes, simple IS better! Anyone who knows me can tell you this tends to be a resounding motto of mine. Believe it or not, too much on a cover can drive a potential buyer off. The human mind is built to compute LESS, not more. So, if you only have one or two things going on, they're more likely to stop and really look at it. Too much can actually cause strain on the eyes.
One other thing I'm constantly doing: research. As a paranormal enthusiast, my personal favorite to design is anything paranormal/fantasy/scifi. Because of this, there are a lot of genres I'm not overly familiar with when it comes to popular design esthetic. And yes, each genre has a fairly common esthetic. So, I research. I look up popular books in a specific genre, check around to see what fonts (typography) are most commonly used for said genre, and color concepts. I'm constantly breaking other book covers down into segments, trying to see where the layers are, etc. It ends up being a very complex adventure.
I have no idea if I covered enough or not, but these are a good number of things I look for while designing.
Questions? Please ask! Other topics you want to read about? Keep them graphically related, and I'll see what I can do!
Rachel A Olson
Single mother of one, published author, southpaw, paranormal enthusiast, nerd/dork/geek/unicorn.