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Designing a book cover

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Justin Swanton
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Designing a book cover

Post by Justin Swanton » Sat March 10th, 2012, 1:47 pm

[For those of you who are happening upon this thread for the first time and can make no sense of this first post, there was a bit of a kerfuffle over the fact, which I admitted, that I had not asked permission for the copyright holders of these images before posting them here and using them in my book cover design (I was under the impression one could use pics without infringing copyright provided they were substantially altered). I have since obtained permission for two of the four pictures - helmet and Antonine empress. The third picture - profile of an old man - I got from a slick internet site that offers photoshop tutorials, had not got permission for their use of the picture either, and had no idea where it came from. A wicked world indeed. The fourth picture, the background sky, I could not locate the source of, there being so many such images on the web.]

Here is a brief look at the process of designing the book cover for Centurion's Daughter.

After thinking up the basic concept I needed a period helmet. A lot of digging on Google Images gave me this:



But I needed an old man's face (the centurion in question is about 60). So I looked around and found this:



I brought both pics into photoshop, deleted the area of the young man's face and then placed the old man behind the helmet (changing him from greyscale to colour and tinting him), resizing to make a neat fit.

I then ran the image through several filters, to give a slightly painted look.

Now for the daughter. A lot of trawling led to this pic (an Antonine empress):



The image was rather low-res, and her eyes were too heavy-lidded. So I increased the resolution of the image in photoshop then added a slight blur to remove the pixelation. The eyes were fixed using the liquefy tool (to raise the eyelids) and the cloning tool, to fill in the irises. I also raised the cheeks a bit to give the look of a young girl.

Now for the background. Hunting through Google Images 'sunset', 'dawn' 'evening' pics ('twilight' was useless) finally got me this:



It was also run through some filters to give it a painted effect.

The pics were blended and adjusted to give the final effect. Then import the final image into InDesign, add lettering, and voila!
Last edited by Justin Swanton on Sat March 17th, 2012, 5:21 am, edited 4 times in total.
Reason: need to eliminate bewilderment
Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus.

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bevgray
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Post by bevgray » Sat March 10th, 2012, 3:10 pm

Since I am just starting into this venture, I chose to do the first cover designs for the series myself.

I wanted something that would carry through for the entire series and found a wonderful, public domain photograph of the Cadet Chapel at West Point. I gray-scaled it in Corel and added simple titles for the series, individual books, and my name. I kept the color scheme to gray, black, and gold; the colors of West Point's football team, the Black Knights.

I'm sure a graphic artist could have come up with something more dramatic and eye-catching but, for this initial effort, I think the covers are okay. If things continue, I'll probably do a second edtion and have a true graphics artist come up with something more polished.

I like your cover, Justin, and I've already downloaded a copy of the CENTURION'S DAUGHTER to read on my Kindle. I'm in the middle of Nevil Shute just now but, when I cycle back to ancient, your's will be the first I read. The sample grabbed me and I'm looking forward to it.
Beverly C. Gray
Army Brat and Lover of Historical Fiction
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Justin Swanton
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Post by Justin Swanton » Sat March 10th, 2012, 4:12 pm

I had a look at the opening sample of Shadow of the Flags, liked it, and downloaded the book (it helps that it didn't cost anything - I'm perpetually tight). I've always been in interested by the American Civil War. Lee was a great general. Always wondered how he managed to bungle Gettysburg.

The image of the final cover of Centurion's Daughter is not that crisp. I tried making a jpeg from the pdf in photoshop but lost some quality. The printed cover looks much better.
Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus.

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Mythica
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Post by Mythica » Sat March 10th, 2012, 4:28 pm

I hope you obtained the rights to alter and use those images, especially for commercial use - or that you confirmed they were all copyright free. Finding something through Google Image search engine doesn't mean it's in the public domain.

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donroc
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Post by donroc » Sat March 10th, 2012, 7:56 pm

I have worked vlosely with my publisher who is also a graphic artist and came up with covers that have satisfied me and received compliments galore for them. Luck of the draw.
Image

Bodo the Apostate, a novel set during the reign of Louis the Pious and end of the Carolingian Empire.

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Post by lauragill » Sat March 10th, 2012, 9:29 pm

I use ancient artwork on my covers. It's sometimes hard to find the right fresco or image, though, because it's so old it's been damaged. And I will admit, it's hard to find Mycenaean or Minoan images through the stock photo sites, so I have to be very creative. That's why my covers have their distinctive look.

By the way, this is the cover for the forthcoming Orestes: The High King.

Image

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Justin Swanton
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Post by Justin Swanton » Sun March 11th, 2012, 3:26 am

[quote=""Mythica""]I hope you obtained the rights to alter and use those images, especially for commercial use - or that you confirmed they were all copyright free. Finding something through Google Image search engine doesn't mean it's in the public domain.[/quote]

No I did not obtain the rights. In the wicked world of graphic design one tends to grab and use images all the time without going through the tedious and frustrating process of finding out who owns their copyright and would they mind if it is used, even altered beyond recognition? If I tried doing things the 'legit' way I would soon be out of a job as I simply haven't the time.

For the book cover I could have taken the time, granted, but I had been told by someone I respected (should have checked up) that if one makes changes to an image it is no longer in copyright. It seems, after investigation, that that is not the case. Oh well. :o
Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus.

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Justin Swanton
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Post by Justin Swanton » Sun March 11th, 2012, 3:28 am

[quote=""lauragill""]I use ancient artwork on my covers. It's sometimes hard to find the right fresco or image, though, because it's so old it's been damaged. And I will admit, it's hard to find Mycenaean or Minoan images through the stock photo sites, so I have to be very creative. That's why my covers have their distinctive look.

By the way, this is the cover for the forthcoming Orestes: The High King.

Image[/quote]

Very effective. Did you recreate the picture from scratch?
Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus.

Author of Centurion's Daughter

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Justin Swanton
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Post by Justin Swanton » Sun March 11th, 2012, 3:33 am

[quote=""donroc""]I have worked vlosely with my publisher who is also a graphic artist and came up with covers that have satisfied me and received compliments galore for them. Luck of the draw.[/quote]

The Rocamora cover is certainly effective. Is the portrait taken from a painting?
Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus.

Author of Centurion's Daughter

Come visit my blog

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lauragill
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Post by lauragill » Sun March 11th, 2012, 3:41 am

[quote=""Justin Swanton""]Very effective. Did you recreate the picture from scratch?[/quote]

No, I did not do anything to the original image.

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